- 18 people were shot, 6 killed. The dead: John Roll, 63, a conservative federal judge. Dorothy Morris, 76. Dorwin Stoddard, 76. Phyllis Schneck, 79. Gabrielle Zimmerman, 30. Christina Greene, 9 years old and, in a meaningless but poignant bit of coincidence, born on 9/11.
- Gabrielle Giffords is still in critical condition, but considered to have as good a prognosis as is possible for someone who has had a bullet pass through the left hemisphere of her brain. Her surgeon continues to be highly optimistic for her recovery.
- The shooter was a man named Jared Lee Loughner. He is 22, and has a YouTube channel which reveals him to be plainly insane. His videos include claims that the US government engages in brainwashing and mind control by “controlling grammar,” rants that his former community college is “unconstitutional,” long strings of numbers that he uses to conclude some years “can never begin,” and self-congratulatory identification as one of a small group of “consciousness dreamers.” The videos also contain references to currency and the gold standard that will likely be the basis of any immediate claims of Tea Party affiliation, but to my eyes these screeds are the work of a mind too deranged to be meaningfully placed on a political spectrum. Transcripts here.
- Sarah Palin has, rather predictably, chosen to deny that she has ever engaged in violent rhetoric. She has scrubbed her Twitter feed of her oft-repeated catchphrase “Don’t retreat–RELOAD!” The party line among her supporters to explain the gunsight map is that the crosshairs are and were always intended to be surveyor’s symbols. Utterly shameless and insulting, that.
I don’t have further commentary of my own at this time, and as this is the top story in everyone’s mind there are editorials and articles and analysis in all the usual places. We all know where those are and I’m not going to rehash them. But there are some other people who I think are saying worthwhile things that I want to link to.
- First, commentary from Scott Eric Kaufmann, a professor of rhetoric, back in February of 2010, after the murder of George Tiller. “Rhetoric amounts to more than what you advocate.“
- Christopher Bird’s balanced analysis, drawing a line through this and several other recent violent events. “On The Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords.”
- Abi Sutherland has a deeply pessimistic but interestingly distanced view of the current climate of political discourse, which he equates to the tragedy of the commons. “I’ll change your heart into green grass, and all you love into a sheep.“
Finally, there’s a small weird personal thing I want to point to, though I don’t really like it. Yesterday I got an automated congratulatory message for being a “trend setter.” This turns out to be because I was the first person in my geographical area to tweet about Gabrielle Giffords. I find something about this impersonal message, and the contrast between the content and the context, fairly unsettling. There’s probably some interesting nuance here, but I don’t really care to try to unpack it right now. So I’m just going to note it in case I want to return to it later.