The “meme” in much of the press is blaming right wing political talk for the tragedy in Tucson. Well, this is not new: I remember a similar paranoia against the right after JFK was killed in Dallas, never mind that his killer was a communist who had earlier tried to kill General Walker, a real right wing nutcase.
When Bobby Kennedy was killed, by a mentally ill Palestinian (Christian, not Muslim), there was more soul searching about the “sickness” of America, which was a bit strange since there was a lot of left wing violence at the time, which was played up in the press as glamorous and freedom loving, since the victims tended to be faceless policemen or innocent “church ladies” like Myrna Opsahl.
In the sad crime of Tucson, it turns out that the perpetrator was mentally ill, so there is now a backlash against those who were spinning it to get back at the Teaparty types who won the last election.
I agree with the president:
Â ”At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized â€” at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do â€” it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds,” the president said.
President Cool says Chill
So expect a lot of other tired talkingpoints to be brought out.
Gun control is one. Actually, I agree with this one.
So far missingÂ discussion is the one about how to recognize schizophrenia. This devastating mental illness is one of the most common reasons for mental disability, yet few laypeople (unless they have someone in their family suffering from it) understands that the person is sick, not lazy, not a “slackard” and not a normal misunderstood person.
Actually, as a physician, I am a bit happy that the shooter wasn’t on medications, or else the anti medication types would be out pointing their fingers at the medicine as the cause of the symptoms, not at the symptoms that were not completely treated by the medicines.
But there is actually another item that might be at the root of the killings, and no one has brought it up:
The persistence of the paranoid conspiracy theories that are all over the internet, both on youtube and blogs, and on late night talk shows on the radio; and for those with schizophrenia or becoming psychotic from mania or depression from bipoloar disease, these theories tend to take over their lives.
These conspiracies abound in some Islamicist sites, and are partly behind Dr. Hassan’s murders at Fort Hood.
And how many Europeans and Americans hated President Bush so much that they believe that thousands of ordinary folks in the government covered up the 911 attack? Shame on them too, because a lot of them aren’t really scientists, they are merely into it for the money.
But all of these things are the fringe. What someone really has to look into is the constant stream of rabid murders and conspiracies in the entertainment industry.
People enjoy them (heck, I enjoy them) but like anything, a constant diet of garbage tends to poison the mind, be it the pornography of sex or the pornography of violence or the pornography of evil conspiracies.
Again, this worry isn’t new: The original film “The Manchurian Candidate” was almost removed from circulation for years because it’s plot too closely resembled the assassination of President Kennedy.
A paranoid doesn’t need a film to inspire murder (although the parallels between the Matrix and Columbine are eerie), but I worry when films justify murder or violence with the implication that it’s okay to kill if you have a good reason. Think “Kill Bill” and a lot of lousy imitations and you get the idea.
This is simply not true, and it’s about time for someone in the media, or maybe someone in the churches, to start reminding folks that forgiveness and charity are necessary if you are to live a good life.
As for my title? Yes, there was a Stephen Sondheim musical of that name, that won a few Tony awards in the earlyÂ 1990′s.
And the musical, which posits the killers in a carnival atmosphere explaining and justifying their crime, puts the real “Blame” (where else?) on the American people:
By developing the characters of historic assassins out of the slim biographical information found in the daily news, Assassins prompts us to consider their motivation. “(Sondheim) confronts pain in order to cauterize the decay and heal the sicknesses which lurk at the core of our society”. Departing from the humanism of his previous musical Into the Woods, Sondheim suggests that political murderers are a product of the American political culture (Joanne Gordon).
This is complete nonsense. You want political murders to be part of a political culture, come here to the Philippines and count up all the mayors, governors, candidates running for office, reporters, and human rights activists who are assassinated by persons unknown.
In contrast, in the US, most murders are drug gang related, or alcohol/drug related personal murders. The daily body count in the inner cities of the US are what need to be stopped, for these deaths are preventable, and include innocent children and teenagers among their victims.
Political murders? One or two a year, even though guns are owned by nearly everyone in many state.
So if you want to go on and point fingers, remember to put crime into perspective, and recognize that civility in political discourse, not censorship, is what is needed, at all levels of society.
But at least be honest and stop exaggerating.
Nancy Reyes is a physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at MakaipaBlog.