Saturday, January 08, 2011

Psychopolitical Psychosis?

Maine woman stabs husband
in the back because “she can’t stand
him and he drives her nuts.”

I assume that no one by now has failed to hear about the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a number of other people at a political gathering outside a Safeway store in Tucson. I realize it is far too premature to come to any conclusions about this event, but following in the immortal footsteps of war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, and paraphrasing his famous saying, “you go to blog with what you have, not with what you wish you had,” I offer the following comments.

On one television broadcast I heard an analyst say there was no indication this was politically motivated. I give him the benefit of the doubt as he made this statement before much information was available. I don’t believe it was entirely apolitical as there are just too many hints that it pretty clearly had a political element to it. I do not deny the 22 year-old shooter is almost certainly a bit insane, but I do not believe his insanity is divorced from politics. First, the shooting occurred at a political even that had been announced as such. Second, Gabrielle Giffords had been a political target previously when the door to her headquarters was smashed after she voted for health care. Third, her rival for office in the last election held a fundraising event in which he urged his followers to come and shoot a fully automatic M16 to help get rid of Giffords. Fourth, Sarah Palin had her on her hit list, and even featured her district in her famous cross-hairs. Fifth, when her father was asked if she had any enemies he replied, “Everyone in the Tea Party.”

While it is true that the web page of the 22 year-old shooter consists of various rambling remarks that are difficult to penetrate there is no doubt they had a political cast to them. He speaks of the abuses of government, his dreams of political business, illiterates in his district, and more incoherent remarks about making new money and so on. He is said to have used a Glock pistol with an extended clip so he could fire many rounds without stopping to reload. I’m not certain this modification is legal, but legal or not it has NRA written all over it. He obviously had plenty of rounds as he apparently wounded or killed at least 17 individuals, including a Federal Judge (who had also at one time been given special protection because of threats to his life after he had decided in favor of some immigrants in a lawsuit against an Arizona rancher). He also shot and killed a 9 year-old girl. Eyewitnesses said he just fired at random after he first shot Giffords in the head, apparently up close and from behind.

While I could be terribly wrong, of course, I must say that in all honesty I am not surprised that something like this could happen after the past few years of hate radio, partisan politics, threats of death to Obama, people carrying their guns to political rallies, threatening to bring them loaded next time, Palin’s comments about reloading, turning to the 2nd amendment if they don’t get their way, and so on. Others have been saying the same thing for quite a while now even though the hate merchants feign complete innocence. What I see here is a young man whose brain represents a scrambled version of Fox/Limbaugh/Beck/ Palin/NRA/Tea Party/racism/and non-stop conservative ultra-right venom, encouraged by the quasi-treasonous party of “no,” their irrational hatred of President Obama, and their repeated desire to see and force him to fail.

Yes, young Jared is probably mentally ill in some sense, but perhaps we are seeing the emergence of an entirely new psychosis, one that has of yet gone unnamed. For want of a better term we might call it the “psychopolitical psychosis,” its etiology grounded in too much exposure to ignorance and hate and its symptoms incoherent political ramblings and irrational violence.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr

Although the exact place of origin is unknown, date palms probably originated around the Persian Gulf.

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