Discourse and delusion

Disrespectful political rhetoric prevents unity and progress.

Daily Editorial Board

The political rhetoric surrounding the tragic shooting in Tucson, Ariz. demonstrates just how harmful political discourse has become. While political messages likely did not provoke the massacre, finger-pointing on both sides of the political spectrum threatens to obscure the true causes of the tragedy. Jared Loughner attempted to assassinate Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and in the process killed six and injured thirteen. Considering LoughnerâÄôs unfortunate descent into paranoid delusions involving mind control, illiteracy and the gold standard prior to the attack, his motives more likely lie in delusion rather than mainstream political discourse. Professors and classmates had reported concern about LoughnerâÄôs disruptive outbursts and hostile behavior before he was suspended from classes pending a mental health exam. Yet after the shooting, media outlets were clogged with allegations that some violent metaphors of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party âÄî both of which the shooter was unaffiliated with âÄî had motivated Loughner. Friend and coworker Timothy Cheves told the Washington Post that Loughner was frustrated and âÄúa radical against both parties,âÄù but this did not prevent the ensuing political melee. Even at the memorial for the shooting victims, the audience cheered President Barack Obama and booed ArizonaâÄôs Republican Governor as if it were a political rally and not an occasion to mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives. Lawmakers should tone down their heated political rhetoric and focus instead on preventing future violence through increased mental health awareness instead of using a tragedy to score cheap political points.