This weekend's tragedy in Arizona, courtesy, apparently, of a deranged young man named Jared Loughner, has created something of a controversy regarding whether he is a left-wing or a right-wing nut. That hardly matters to me. He is a nut, a dangerous nut, and that is THE issue as far as I'm concerned. From the news reports attempting to piece together something of a profile of Loughner that I have read, the picture that emerges is incoherent.
Loughner listed the Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf among his favorite books. Yes, and John Wilkes Booth (President Lincoln's assassin) was an ardent confederate sympathizer, Leon Czolgosz (President McKinley's assassin) was an anarchist, Lee Oswald (President Kennedy's assassin) was a communist. The shooter of President Garfield, Charles Guiteau, claimed he acted on God's command. Nutjobs tried to take out presidents Ford and Reagan. Nutjobs make death threats against presidents and other public figures all the time. Because they are unhinged.
Jesus said "you have the poor with you always," and I suggest the same is true about the crazy.
Two things are especially troubling to me about life in this modern age. One is the lack of basic civility. The idea that we can no longer disagree without being disagreeable, that we must forever have an "in your face" attitude, that our opponents are really are enemies, is bleeding all the rationality out of intelligent discussion in this country.
The second thing is the level of violence we have come to accept as normal. I've mentioned before that I collect classic television shows on DVD. One thing I miss is the way the lines between good and evil were clearly drawn back in the "old days." Heroes acted like heroes as opposed to today's typical anti-hero. I guess this is a simplistic view of things, but hey, I'm a simple guy.
I deplore our modern gun culture and the entire notion of "Second Amendment solutions." Violent rhetoric, violent sports, violent games, violent entertainment. Where will it end? And I'm not talking about censorship, but good taste. Why have we tolerated this disintegration of our values for so long?
Are we not slowly blurring the line between crazy and enthusiastic? I fear this may be so. A left-wing nut or a right-wing nut is still a nut. A sick society only exacerbates a perennial human problem.