where the writers are
Rhetoric and Reason

A man in UK, Mark Papazian, sentenced to 24 years in prison for killing his lover, was also an avid fan of crime novels by PD James and Patricia Highsmith.  What are the implications for these authors and Papazian’s action?   None to anyone with a scrap of intelligence.  



 How is conservative rhetoric (Palin’s map with targets included) related to the actions of the psychotic killer, Loughner, in Tucson?   It’s not responsible any more than Highsmith’s Ripley caused Papazian to kill his lover.  But many are very interested and want to make the connections.  I, too, want to find reasons – rational links – for what people do, regardless of how psychotic they are at the time they do it.   

There is a wide space between cause and influence -- there may be dozens or hundreds of  influences that can be mapped to a direct cause.  Thousands of moments led the Brit to pick up a hammer;  thousands of others accumulated in Loughner and discovering which ones of these are the most important is a matter for criminologists, psychologists and others with sophisticated analytical tools.   

Recently pundits on the left engaged in a blame game of connect the dots that traced Palin’s map with gun sights to Loughner’s behavior and then the pundits on the other side spouted jingoistic versions of freedom of speech.  It would be comical, except that too many lazy thinkers on both sides love the thrill of this inane battle and it is taking up far too much space in their brains that might otherwise be used to think intelligently and with real insight about the matter. 

Palin’s map with gun sights is an atrocious piece of marketing that was put there to appeal to the most gullible minds.  So it’s not difficult to understand why some pundits on the left chose this as an argument – it was as base and idiotic as the original map and I assume they were using it as a way to communicate with the same audience.   The pundits fired back with more outrageous verbal attacks, topped off with Limbaugh’s claim that Loughner is smiling in his mugshot because he knows he is backed by the Democratic Party.  This one blows out all fuses in the stupidity meter.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/rush-limbaugh-jared-loughner-full-support-democrat_n_807543.html?ref=fb&src=sp#sb=481154,b=facebook   

There are many more important matters to be considered when we think about what Loughner did and how it came about.  My list begins with medical care for the  mentally ill, followed by gun laws and further on down list: the dumbing-down of TV news, internet blogs, newspapers and all the rest of the media to appeal to the gullible, easily swayed, thinking-averse public.