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January 12, 2011
Moderation In All Things

Just when I'm about to write Brooks off, he goes and says a lot of sensible things.

"Moderation", as he makes clear, is not the same as centrism, weakness, or ineffectualness. What our politics needs is more moderation.

To be moderate--measured and thoughtful--in one's approach to ideas and events does not preclude being passionate about one's beliefs.

Also, shut up already with blaming the Rightwingnuts for Arizona. Stories, even those that came out less than 24 hours after the shootings, make it clear that this young man was mentally ill, and has been for a very long time. As distasteful as I find the Rightwingnut rhetoric*, I have to say that rhetoric didn't make that kid sick. Those of you who jumped into the driver's seat of the Blame Wagon over the weekend should be ashamed.

Sometimes I find myself wondering--if he hadn't fixed on a political target, would he have wound up as another "school shooter"? Who would you have blamed then?

With the stories that have come out in the last 24 hours, it seems to me as though that young man had been crying out for help for a very long time. Why no one helped him get that help--we'll probably never know.

P.S. Others might make a good case of disagreeing with my stance that a sick person is not the fault of someone who never met them.

There's validity in Wright's position. Unless someone points out a specific target to a disturbed person, the disturbed person probably won't focus on that specific target. It does not follow, though, that the disturbed person won't find some other target.


*Rightwing talk radio isn't a new phenomenon and I've always thought the Lefthand side of the blogosphere had as much or more to do with its rise to prominence as anything else. If you pay attention, how can the Republican Party ignore them? If you take them seriously, why would you not expect the Right to do so?

And, yes, Palin is a fame-hungry ignoramus. So what? Don't feed the animals. You also empower her with your attention and your vitriol. Just ignore her. Trust me, she doesn't have the staying power to be a problem in the long term. The more the Left talks about her, the longer her quasi-political 'life' will last.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:49 PM


There's a good argument to be made that his last significant interaction with an institution that could have helped him was his community college, but aside from expulsion - which seems to have been the responsible thing to do (he would more likely have been a VaTech than Columbine shooter at that point) - higher ed just doesn't have the authority or expertise or resources to be a mental health screening clinic to the masses. Though we may have to be, just out of self-defense.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at January 12, 2011 02:04 PM

I don't think it's the responsibility of an educational institution to monitor the emotional/psychological health of every student.

On the other hand, I know hindsight is 20-20 but the young man's history shows a strong pattern of early psychological problems that clearly escalated through the years. Based just on the (admittedly cherry-picked) incidents of his life we've been told about, I find myself wondering why no one on the social media forums or even HIS FAMILY helped him get some help.

Posted by: Anne at January 13, 2011 12:26 PM

I suspect what we'll find is that he fell just outside of a lot of ambits of responsibility, and was only sporadically problematic until the final, rapid decompensation. Unless he didn't decompensate at all, and this was a rational, if nihilistic, act after all.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at January 14, 2011 06:07 PM