The horrible story about the shooting of a Congresswoman and a federal judge in Tucson is already causing people — including the Pima County sheriff — to question whether our country’s polarized political climate is responsible.
An armed man walked up to a gathering at a shopping center where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was greeting constituents, shot her, and then began shooting other people — 18 in all. United States District Judge John Roll was killed, as were five other people. The suspect is a 22-year-old man named Jared Loughner. It is not clear whether he was motivated by political issues — or whether, as some of the information being gathered suggests, he was simply a deeply disturbed person tormented into action by his inner demons.
America has always been cursed by the random madman. We have had our share of Travis Bickles whose tortured thoughts turn inward and then eventually are expressed through some kind of twisted and incoherent action that only they could understand or rationalize. It may be that this incident was triggered by some strongly expressed political views, but it is at least equally possible that this was no more a political statement than the shootings at Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or the other random acts by crazy people that have left scars on the American psyche over the years. We would all do well to wait and allow information about the gunman to be collected and analyzed, before we jump to conclusions that strongly expressed political disagreements were responsible for this latest tragic shooting.