Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mentally Ill People Live In the Real World [Anthony McCarthy]

The corporate media consensus on Jared Lochner is that he was merely a crazy person who had some unspecified fixation on Congresswoman Giffords and that he was entirely uninfluenced by the poisonous political atmosphere in Tuscon, Arizona or the United States in general. That was the word I heard minutes after the shooting had been announced, before anyone knew anything about Jared Lochner, before there was any evidence of motives in the mass murder. That immediately delivered scenario, mixed with the repeated exculpation of Republicans or tea partiers or right-wing-hate-talk radio, FOX TV, etc, proves that protecting themselves and the Republican-right was the media's motivation in twisting the story in that direction. In order to believe it, though, it is necessary to believe that the ubiquitous corporate media hate campaign against Democrats in congress was inaudible and invisible to Lochner by virtue of his insanity.

A while back I posted a piece about a niece of mine who was severely mentally ill and who died of her illness. She lived with me for ten months during one of the periods during which she was severely delusional, before moving in with one of the series of men who preyed on her. She was quite ill but she was not ignorant of the news, able to comment on the First Gulf War, while taking in a high degree of information about it. Mental illness doesn't wrap its victims in a hood of silence, they are often quite aware of what's said about politics and politicians in the media. Lochner knew who his congressional representative is. I'm not sure of whether or not that puts him in a minority in Tuscon, it is far more than many people who aren't considered irrational know about contemporary politics.

As posted here last week, since the Supreme Court issued their pro-NRA Heller ruling in 2008, there have been many obviously political murders embedded in a massive campaign by the NRA and others to stoke right wing paranoia, often explicitly of, by and for the Republican right. The murders in Tuscon are only the most recent ones. Here, from the time line I linked to last week:

March 21-22, 2009—Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) states that she wants residents of her state to be “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”

April 4, 2009—Neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski shoots and kills three police officers responding to a 911 call to his home in Pittsburgh. His friend Edward Perkovic tells reporters that Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on its way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” Perkovic also commented that Poplawski carried out the shooting because “if anyone tried to take his firearms, he was gonna’ stand by what his forefathers told him to do.”
April 25, 2009—Joshua Cartwright, 28, a member of the Florida National Guard, shoots and kills two Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies attempting to arrest him on a domestic abuse charge. Cartwright is killed in an enusing gun battle with police. Cartwright's wife reports that he was "severely disturbed" that Barack Obama had been elected president. Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner states that Cartrwight was "interested in militia groups and weapons training."

April 15, 2009—Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, is arrested by FBI agents after he openly states on Twitter that he is going to turn the upcoming Oklahoma City “Tea Party” into a bloodbath. Two months earlier, Hayden had written online, “The only thing that is keeping the New World Order from destroying this nation is the presence of over 100,000,000 guns in civilian hands. When guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns. Since we are already criminals in the eyes of the New World Order, and they intend to enslave us all, and to kill those of us who will NOT submit to their slavery, I say to IGNORE gun "laws" and keep your guns (AND ammo) handy.”

May 2009—Data released by the U.S. Marshals Service indicates that threats to the nation's judges and prosecutors have more than doubled in the past six years, from 592 in 2003 to 1,278 in 2008. Federal officials blame a number of parties, including the "sovereign citizen" movement—an unorganized grouping of tax protesters, white supremacists, and others who don't respect federal authority.

May 21-22, 2009—We The People Chairman Bob Schultz hosts a gathering of 30 "freedom keepers" in Jekyll Island, Georgia. The meeting plays "a key role in launching the current resurgence of militias and the larger anti-government 'Patriot' movement." One of the participants, former Texas militia leader Jon Roland, claims the federal government has "been engaging in warlike activity against the American people."

The killers and potential killers in most of the cases listed are clearly aware of the blanket of right wing and pro-gun propaganda that covers the United States. Even Daniel Knight Hayden's arrest, which apparently was due to threats to the Tea Party, is saturated with right-wing paranoia.

The idea that irrational people are going to take in right-wing propaganda and act as you expect them to is pretty irrational, in itself. It's the defining quality of irrationality that it doesn't make sense, it's unpredictable. That a crack pot whose head is swimming with the promotion of paranoia and violence that defines hate-talk radio and the cabloids, will act as the wingers hope is, in itself, irrational. The consumers of their kool aid are armed to the teeth with automatic weapons BUT they are not a well regulated militia, they are not under the direct command of any authority and they are not subject to supervision or control. The army they've set upon us is a far greater danger to the left and federal authorities, as the body count proves, but they are also a danger to Republicans, Republicans holding office and in the judiciary. Which is something the right-wing Republican majority of the Supreme Court might want to consider as they blithely extend the insanity with further constitutional innovations, pleasing to the NRA and its allies. If they haven't noticed before, they don't have any control over who is absorbing the paranoia campaigns and how the less stable in the audience understand it.