Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
Loughner Belongs to the Insane Party
It goes without saying, and yet must be said, that this attack was horrific and contemptible. I also believe that there is need for a better form of political dialogue in this nation, and that both parties are responsible for heightened tensions between political opponents. Threats, vandalism, and violence against the government are as old as politics itself. They will generally be more extreme against the party in power, since they are actually able to effect change, and they will also be more extreme when the government is failing in its duties or dramatically transforming society. We can and must revitalize political discourse with strong but respectful disagreement—and Christians can provide meaningful guidance.
Yet it was also contemptible to leap to judgment against the Tea Party and its leaders for the murders and the attempted murder of Representative Giffords. There appears to be no connection whatsoever.
Although Americans are inclined to locate everyone on the Left-to-Right polarity, some people are simply off the grid. Loughner is no more a conservative for opposing the American government than Osama bin Laden is a liberal for hating Bush. And although David Wynn Miller, whose also-incoherent writings may have influenced Loughner, is called "Far Right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he is less a member of the Right than the Unabomber (who at least had a recognizable political ideology) belonged to the Left. If you consider yourself the King of Hawaii because you turned the state name into a verb, and if you believe that properly punctuating your name exempts you from tax obligations, you belong to the Insane Party.
And that's where we should leave it. Jared Lee Loughner belonged to the Insane Party. That is the end of it.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.