blorky: (Default)
[personal profile] blorky

There's a great line in "The Way of the Gun" where a character says "20 million dollars isn't money - it’s a motivation with an all purpose adapter."  It can be modified into a useful truth by saying "Religion is a motivation with an all purpose adapter."  Religion is the underlying motive for MLK and those dedicated to undercutting his cause, to Paul Farmer and Muqtada al-Sadr, for Rabbi Joseph Eckstein and Khairallah Talfah.  Religion provides the basis for the purpose of your choice.

Crazy is the reverse.  It's a purpose looking for a motivation.  When all is said and done, I think we'll discover that Jared Lee Loughner's issue was some bum luck with genetics, bad neurochemistry, drug abuse that was the result of trying to self medicate, and potentially a handful of physical or sexual abuse.  That he latched on to some incoherent mashup of gold standard and Constitutionalist rhetoric doesn't mean that those discussions were understood rationally in any meaningful way.  That the Army wouldn't accept him at a time when they seem to be accepting anyone says to me that their testing showed he was gay or psychotic, and I'd bet on the latter.

There's no way of knowing whether the famous bullseye map provided input into this kids plans.  I think that if Loughner was living in Nowhere, IA, he'd shoot up the local town meeting instead of this Congressman's town hall meeting.  While it's fair to say that the bullseye map was bad politics, there have been similar maps/"targeting" rhetoric from the DCCC.  The imagery isn't as explicit, but I think that's because it doesn't appeal to the left's base, not because the DCCC has any greater reluctance to use inappropriate strategies. 

It's also not useful to say that the bullseye imagery shouldn't be used because it can prompt borderline psychotics to act out.  There is no reasonable way to restrict one's speech so that you'll never provide the adapter for crazy people.  That thinking also bans "Catcher in the Rye" and Jodie Foster.

It IS fair to say that the bullseye imagery was bad politics.  It used the language and rhetoric that appeals to it's base in a way to make them feel more powerful (as does the "second amendment remedies" rhetoric) without improving the quality of the discussion.  Again, both sides do this, but the language used when promoting inappropriate solutions is keyed to appeal to the base, and the Left's base doesn't respond to the same thing that the Right does.


On the other hand, I do think that some of the excessive rhetoric will be scaled back because this incident will promote a self-imposed chilling effect based on fear of a media backlash, not because of any genuine desire to improve the debate.  19 round magazines will be restricted in a flurry of self-rightousness, to no effect on the broader issues of spree killers or crime in general.  While I'm a RKBA advocate, the loss of 19 round magazines doesn't feel like much of a burden.  Time will tell what other restrictions will come of this. 


Seeing as I've simplified both religion and psychosis into elegant aphorisms, it's also worth doing the same to politics.  The first thread on CNN that reported on the shooting had comments from people CERTAIN that the killer was


 - a liberal

 - a Tea Partier

 - an immigrant

 - a birther

 - a lesbian

 - a radical Islamist

 - an anti-immigrationist

 - an open carry advocate

 - a gay person


The eye brings what it sees to seeing, indeed.  It would also be nice if there were a self-imposed chilling effect on the desire to fit all stories into the narrative you want to be true.

[edit: It's most likely that he was rejected from the Army b/c he dropped out of HS.]

Date: 2011-01-10 04:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You forget mine: I posited that he played too many First Person Shooter games.

It's awfully hard to resist waving a bloody flag if you see one lying around.

But, yes, I agree with you on everything here. Thanks for making it public. :-)

Date: 2011-01-10 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
re: FPS - heh - I did forget that one, and saw also someone certain that he was an atheist.

FWIW, everything's public with the exception of a very few entries around the time that my father passed away.

Date: 2011-01-10 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Also, thanks for reading and I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy year.

Date: 2011-01-10 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is the most thoughtful post I've seen on this topic. I especially like this: "Crazy is the reverse. It's a purpose looking for a motivation." I will have to use that at work when I'm trying to explain crimes stemming from mental illness.

I think people would be shocked at just how much mental illness is out there, and how nearly impossible it is to treat it. I have talked to a number of mentally ill folks who explain why they go off their medication so often, and frankly I can't see a way to stop it without imprisoning them. A good 20% to 30% of our department's calls for service are mental illness-related. Probably more if you include the alcoholic transients whom I just don't realize are self-treating with alcohol (as opposed to the ones I know about).

Date: 2011-01-10 06:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There are some actual legitimate shrinks on my f-lost who may step in and tell me I'm fulla crap on that one.

The problem is that people take the statements from an irrational person and attribute rationality to them and go from there. "I did it because we're not on the Gold Standard and nobody is literate." has as much connection to reality in that person's sensorium as does "I did it because the government implanted wires in my neck when I was in the Army and they make me do things." The reasons don't have any real meaning.

Date: 2011-01-10 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And the solution is not make a law to stamp out evil government implantation of wires.

Date: 2011-01-10 07:19 pm (UTC)
elizilla: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elizilla
I have a close relative who is as you describe, a purpose looking for a motivation. I could picture him doing this type of thing, and I'm glad he has never fallen in with any second-amendment activists - they might not mean to do it but they could put his feet on this kind of path, very easily. I am afraid of him and I'd be even more afraid if he started listening to talk radio.

One of my coping mechanisms, is to never wear clothing with words or letters printed on it when I am expecting to see him, no matter how innocuous. Random letters and words mean things to him, that don't necessarily have anything to do with what they might mean to anyone else, and his reactions can be scary. Some t-shirt from a local 10K run could make him think I was his enemy. Best not to have anything for his mind to glom onto like that.
Edited Date: 2011-01-10 07:20 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-01-11 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank goodness you know his reactions well enough to take protective measures. Some people live w dangerous, ill persons, but they never change their approach, and bad things keep happening.

Date: 2011-01-11 07:35 pm (UTC)
elizilla: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elizilla
On the other hand, if he's not provided with these kind of words, he'll find something with dire significance somewhere else. The urge to find that pattern, so overwhelms him that he's absolutely going to find it. So by striving to not provide it, we leave him to fly off in some completely unforseen direction. Maybe it would be better to think of just the right thing to say, to channel whatever the hell is coming.

Just something I think about in my darker moments...

Date: 2011-01-11 07:37 pm (UTC)
elizilla: (Default)
From: [personal profile] elizilla
Also, silencing much? I don't have bumper stickers on my vehicles anymore either.


blorky: (Default)

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