Last week, mentally disturbed youth Jared Lee Loughner shot 20 people at a rally in Tucson, Ariz., including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). The left, led by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, immediately capitalized on the bloody murders, stating without evidence that Loughner had been inspired by the "the anger, the hatred, the bigotry" of our current political climate. Over the course of the following days, Dupnik and his allies blamed talk radio, conservatives who spread "mistrust of government," Sarah Palin, Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle and Rush Limbaugh.
There is enough blame to go around for this shooting spree. Unfortunately for Dupnik and his allies, that blame lies almost exclusively with the left.
We don't know much about Jared Lee Loughner. We know that he is a fan of "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto," and that one of Loughner's high school classmates remembered him as a "left-wing ... pothead, quite liberal." We understand that he is interested in the occult (he had a skull shrine in his backyard), that he is fascinated by grammar, and that he loves "conscience dreaming" -- presumably a misspelling of "conscious dreaming," a mental state sometimes enjoyed by drug users.
More than that, we know that he is loony. According to Sheriff Dupnik himself, Loughner has been in trouble with the law repeatedly; he was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. And more tellingly, "there had been earlier contact between Loughner and law enforcement after he had made death threats." Dupnik's office knew that Loughner was expelled from the junior college for frightening behavior -- his classmates said he exhibited "kind of hysterical laughing, kind of creepy ... his hands and his parts of his body were shaking and trembling like he was under the influence of drugs or something like that." Some feared for their lives.
Let's leave aside Loughner's ideology -- we cannot assume that his leftist leanings were either rational or thoroughgoing, since he was clearly mentally ill. Let's focus instead on the two institutions that are supposed to prevent incidents like this: law enforcement and the mental health establishment.
Law enforcement falls under Sheriff Dupnik's domain. Dupnik still has not answered why his office ignored the threats, why they failed to investigate properly, and why Loughner was allowed to roam free and buy a firearm. Even at the most basic level, Dupnik has not explained why Tucson is so crime-ridden altogether.
More importantly, Dupnik blew it on this case, in large part because he appears not to understand the nature of madness. Dupnik believes that true mental instability does not exist. Apparently, all acts of madness must be attributed to others' influence. Not coincidentally, this is the leftist view of mental illness -- the left feels that, as Simon and Garfunkel put it, "the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls" (it's no coincidence that another of Loughner's favorite books was "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," where all the inmates are the sane).
Unfortunately, the leftist view of mental illness has real-world consequences. From the 1950s onward, the left dictated that the severely mentally ill be deinstitutionalized, set loose on the streets of America. Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health suggested that the mentally ill retain "the greatest degree of freedom, self-determination, autonomy, dignity, and integrity of body, mind, and spirit for the individual while he or she participates in treatment or receives services." That sounds nice, but in practice, it has meant skyrocketing homelessness, crime and worse life quality for the most mentally ill. It has meant an inability or unwillingness to institutionalize those like Jared Loughner.
The left has blamed society for Jared Loughner. Ironically, they're correct -- but it's the society created by the left that is responsible, not the vaguely and idiotically defined "violent rhetoric society" of which they complain. Soft thinking has consequences.