An Assassination Attempt In Arizona: Live-Blogging

GIFFORDSBrendanSmialowski:Getty

6.28 pm. Andrew Sprung:

It appears to me that this unfortunate insane individual is of no party or clique.

6.23 pm. I retitled this post once it emerged that Giffords might survive. But others have been killed, including a child and a federal judge, John Roll. And there's a context there as well:

In February, when U.S. District Judge John Roll presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher, the Marshals Service was anticipating the fallout. When Roll ruled the case could go forward, Gonzales said talk-radio shows cranked up the controversy and spurred audiences into making threats. In one afternoon, Roll logged more than 200 phone calls. Callers threatened the judge and his family. They posted personal information about Roll online. "They said, 'We should kill him. He should be dead,' " Gonzales said.

5.47 pm. A reader writes:

I'm a licensed psychologist with 20 years experience. I've watched the Jared Loughner Youtube videos. They show evidence of delusions of persecution. Loughner's less than coherent language also suggests a formal thought disorder. While Loughner can't be diagnosed without a full exam conducted in person, there are significant indications in the videos that he suffers from a psychotic disorder.

I would not rule out drugs as a factor, but he is within the age range that psychotic patients often suffer their first psychotic break. If I had to guess, I'd go with paranoid schizophrenia. If that's the case, his politics are irrelevant. He may not even be fit to stand trial unless and until his psychotic thinking is brought under control with medication.

I have no expertise in this at all, but my impression of his writings and web presence does indeed suggest to me that some mental illness is probably a key part of this. But this does not exonerate violent or excessive rhetoric from the far right or far left: it's precisely the disturbed who can seize on those kinds of statements and act on them. The danger of violent rhetoric, especially involving gun violence, is its interaction with the disturbed. That was Pelosi's message last year.

5.44 pm. The last image Loughner attached to his alleged MySpace page on Christmas Eve (under the headline "My countdown: No one read this! Jizz stain"):

116453

5.41 pm. The ironies mount: here, via OTB, is Giffords reciting the First Amendment only two days ago:

5.35 pm. From the in-tray:

Your knee-jerk reaction to attach that madman to the tea party is disgusting. You are vile Sullivan, absolutely vile! May God damn you with a bullet of your own.

After today, it's harder to ignore threats of violence from the far right, isn't it? That a reader responded to this live-blog by hoping that I be shot is a sign of where we've come. Especially since the writer is also simply wrong. My first take was "Not exactly a Tea Party purist." But the currency stuff is weirdly out there.

5.22 pm. A former friend of Loughner's has a Twitter feed. Money quote:

I haven't seen him since '07. Then, he was left wing.

As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal. & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.

he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix,The Doors, Anti-Flag.

5.06 pm. A photo of the alleged killer.

4.52 pm. We're live-blogging and piecing shreds of information together as best we can. That means that information is provisional and any attempt to understand a mind like Loughner's is close to impossible at this propinquity and with this amount of information. So far, the content reveals a character not far from this reader's diagnosis:

This guy is a sui generis nut...no evidence that I can see of Tea Party influence. His concerns are to create his own reality. The terms: create your own currency, create your own language/definitions. Escape controlling consciousness of the dominant brainwashing powers by sleepwalking.  Create your own laws. Raskalnikov not Sharron Angle.  Reject Constitution, reject God, create your own religion.

The obsession with gold and silver and currency gives me pause. But it would be hard to find a classic Tea Partier with The Communist Manifesto on his best books list - to say the least. It seems to me so far that he appears a disturbed and dangerous individual able to absorb shards of political conspiracy theories and turn them into evil.

4.49 pm. The alleged murderer's Myspace page here. Money quote:

Every US Government Official Agency is illegally accepting payment not in Gold or Silver.

4.43 pm. More Loughner quotes:

"The majority of the citizens of the United States of America have never read the United States of America's Constitution. You don't have to accept the federalist laws. Nonetheless, read the United States of America's Constitution to apprehend all of the current treasonous laws. .... In conclusion, reading the second United States Constitution, I can't trust the current goverment because o fthe ratifications: The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.

No! I won't play debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver! No! I won't trust in God"

And so one moves back to the notion of far right rhetoric lying behind this. "I won't play debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!" is like a parody of a Ron Paul supporter.

4.40 pm. Loughner quote from his YouTube page (which seems just plain nuts to me rather than Tea Partyish):

I'm able to control every belief and religion by being the mind-controller!

The exclamation point clinches it.

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