For all of of us open thread aficionados, here’s tonight’s, squeezed between two very hot posts …
… by Reverend Amy and Mssr. Johnson, the bad-boy, brilliant writer of irony and satire.
Tonight, I’d like to point you to David Brook’s op-ed on the Tucson shootings in The New York Times: “The Politicized Mind.” Yes, well, it IS David Brooks. However, he sometimes makes very astute, insightful remarks, and this is such a case.
Brooks’ op-ed would suffer if I tried to quote from it. It has to be read in full. And I encourage you to do so. But here’s the beginning of “The Politicized Mind“:
Before he allegedly went off on his shooting rampage in Tucson, Jared Loughner listed some of his favorite books on his YouTube page. These included: “Animal Farm,” “Brave New World,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Through the Looking Glass” and “The Communist Manifesto.” Many of these books share a common theme: individuals trying to control their own thoughts and government or some other force trying to take that control away.
Loughner also made a series of videos. These, too, suggest that he was struggling to control his own mind. Just before his killing spree, Loughner made one called “My Final Thoughts.” In it he writes about different levels of consciousness and dreaming. He tries to build a rigid structure to organize his thinking. He uses the word “currency” as a metaphor for an inner language to make sense of the world.
“You create and distribute your new currency, listener?” the video asks. “You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?”
All of this evidence, which is easily accessible on the Internet, points to the possibility that Loughner may be suffering from a mental illness like schizophrenia. The vast majority of schizophrenics are not violent, and those that receive treatment are not violent. But as Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist, writes in his book, “The Insanity Offense,” about 1 percent of the seriously mentally ill (or about 40,000 individuals) are violent. They account for about half the rampage murders in the United States.
Other themes from Loughner’s life fit the rampage-killer profile. He saw himself in world historical terms. He appeared to have a poor sense of his own illness (part of a condition known as anosognosia). He had increasingly frequent run-ins with the police. In short, the evidence before us suggests that Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it.
Yet the early coverage and commentary of the Tucson massacre suppressed this evidence. The coverage and commentary shifted to an entirely different explanation: Loughner unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin. …[AND HERE, BROOKS REALLY TAKES OFF]