There are times when even the capture of the culprit fails to quench people’s thirst for justice. This usually happens in the wake of horrific, mind-bending crimes, like the shooting in Arizona last week that killed six people and injured scores of others. The gunman’s intended target, a congresswoman, has barely escaped with her life.
But in the heated aftermath – sparked by comments by the Tucson Sherriff who was a close friend of two of the victims – there seems to be a wider indictment being brought by some in the media. He suggested that a general political climate of intolerance caused these events. These comments seem to be inspired more by grief over losing a couple of close friends than any actual evidence that publicly disclose about the motivation for these crimes. Following suit, pundits and commentators began to blame everyone - from Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh to Arizona’s gun law and even the gunman’s poor parents- for what happened. Almost everyone is being blamed except, of course, for the gunman himself. Of the scant evidence that has emerged about the troubled shooter thus far, he seems to be a mentally unbalanced loner with a sick celebrity obsession and a penchant for violence. This act does not bear the markings of a rational person with any coherent political viewpoint or party affiliation.
On a broader level, however, perhaps the desire to lay blame on the Tucson event points to a collective desire to reconcile the abnormal. It creates a need to explain the unexplainable. This is why we get conspiracy theories - the JFK assassination, 9/11 Truthers, etc. Sometimes the world is what it is. But nevertheless we will try to explain it, and generally we look to societal influences. Yes, the gunman bought the gun legally at a gun store. Yes, we live in an age where political rhetoric – sometimes inflammatory rhetoric – fills the airways. And yes, we live in a society where the mentally insane are not imprisoned before they commit crimes. All of these factors could have contributed in some way to the very specific event that happened in Tucson. Could have. However, as Occan’s Razor states - sometimes the best solution is the easiest solution - and in this case, all signs are pointing to Loughner being a schizophrenic psychopath.