On Loughner

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I didn't have internet for much of the weekend, and so I found out about the lamentable acts of Jared Loughner rather late. Perhaps that's a good thing. You've probably already seen this, but I think it's worth checking out James Fallows' initial thoughts and his follow-up. It's my sense that you guys will want to toss this around a bit. Here is your space.


As for my own thoughts, there are mostly hazy and subject to revision as more information comes to light. They are as follows:

1.) I would never put gun-sights on the districts of my political opponents. Should violence break out, I don't even want to be in the conversation as a factor--contributing or causal. We may never know what caused Loughner to snap. But at night, I'd like the security of knowing that it could not have possibly been me. Perhaps Sarah Palin has that sense of security. I can't know.

2.)  As appalled as I've been over the past couple of years by ads like this, veiled allusions to insurrection, and the otherizing of the president, I've found arguments drawing connections between a "climate of hate" and Loughner unpersausive. Simply put, the case that far-right rhetoric contributed or caused this killing spree strikes me as squishy, and, at the moment, unprovable. In The Times and Post this morning, there are some of the calling-cards of the conspiratorial right. But more relevant, there are hallmarks of severe mental problems, and a troubled home-life. 

3.) I'm amazed at the ease with which you can procure an instrument that will allow you to kill six people, and wound fourteen others, in a matter of minutes. And not just an instrument for which killing is incidental, but one that is made for that purpose. Gail Collins is instructive here. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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