It seems to me that there are several issues here that are becoming conflated in the wake of the shooting in Arizona.

1. The “alleged” (really?) killer’s motivations:

a. Trying to align him with one party or another seems futile and ultimately wrong. His list of books included the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and the Republic-so does this make him a leftist, rightist, or an Athenian democrat?

b. It seems rather, from what has been reported about him (and his past), that he is more of a nihilist and anarchist, and thus couldn’t care less about any party which are all a vehicle for government, which he ultimately distrusted (along with all forms of authority).

c. He seems to have traits of the Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopath) in the psychologically defined sense of the word. No empathy for others, lack of remorse, and so on. I hope we haven’t fallen so far in our political discourse to attribute such characteristics with “the other” party.

d. He was apparently academically smart, if socially retarded (as in undeveloped). A lot of claim has been made that his “arguments are incoherent” but in actuality, if you dissect what he’s saying, he often talked about language and its arguable lack of meaning, which again, is nihilistic (and smacks of deconstructionist rhetoric as well). Incidentally, given how some words are tossed around with little understanding of their actual meaning (“ x person is Hitler!”), there’s something to be said for precision in the language we use.

2. The media’s role in pointing the finger and getting facts wrong:

a. This is not a new phenomenon. I think we can all agree that much of the media is sensationalist and entertainment-driven, rather than being involved in reporting researched facts. This is a failing, yet there is also a high demand for it, demonstrated by the ratings of various shows and outlets. It seems if there’s a desire to change it, the media needs to be held accountable via their ratings.

3. The vitriolic political discourse in this country:

a. Sure, for most of our (and any) country’s history, political “debates” have been heated, illogical, and downright nasty. But it seems to me, if we want to advance as a civilization, it’s time to evolve out of this and have measured discussions that lead to solutions, not vacuous finger-pointing while the status quo (and those in power) remain the same.  That being said, one side does seem to have a near-monopoly on using violent imagery and rhetoric in their political discourse as compared to the other.

b. Again, it seems to me that if we want change in the government, we ought to stop electing the same politicians time and time again. Ultimately, there needs to be more parties involved and campaign finance reform. These two changes will go far to enact the “will of the people” as opposed to continuing the gridlock of two stagnant and bloated parties that dominate our political landscape.

c. Further, it feels odd that the vast “middle class” of the country are the most vehement in their attacks against each other.  News flash: we’re all in the same boat people! You don’t see the top 10% of Americans (who own over 80% of the country’s wealth) protesting in the streets or getting in each others’ faces (while holding 73% of the country’s private debt).  But they certainly bankroll the remaining 80% to go after one another to shift focus away from this fact and to prevent any real change.

Links:

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/31/AR2010123102550_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010123103464

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