Loughner Belongs to the Insane Party

These things are true and important. Yet the additional point is this: the Left does not believe it can incite its followers to violence, because it does not believe its followers are violent people. Obama can speak of bringing a knife to a gun fight, or Krugman of "hanging Lieberman in effigy," without concern for the consequences, because liberals are rational and peaceable people. The reason they are so absolutely committed to the belief that Tea Partiers will commit violence is because they believe that Tea Partiers are unhinged and violent people. To believe otherwise would be to grant that the Tea Party movement is based on reasonable premises and deserves serious consideration.

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.

1/10/2011 5:00:00 AM
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  • Timothy Dalrymple
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    Timothy Dalrymple is the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Polymath Innovations, a strategic storytelling agency that advances the good with visionary organizations and brands. He leads a unique team of communicators from around North America and across the creative spectrum, serving mission-driven businesses and nonprofits who need a partner to amplify their voice and good works. Once a world-class gymnast whose career ended with a broken neck, Tim channeled his passions for faith and storytelling into his role as VP of Business Development for Patheos, helping to launch and grow the network into the world's largest religion website. He holds a Ph.D. in Religion from Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Tim blogs at Philosophical Fragments.