Some folks have claimed that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party folks have a causal role in the terrible shooting in Arizona. As evidence, they point to Palin’s infamous cross hairs and her use of violent metaphors. In the case of the Tea Party, they are supposed to also have contributed to creating a context of violence.
While the idea that Palin and the Tea Party are responsible is appealing to some folks, the evidence for this seems to be entirely lacking. While the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, seems to have had an interest in politics, he also seemed to have had a drug problem and also serious psychological issues. Loughner apparently showed signs of serious problems while a student and this resulted in him being removed from class and finally being removed from the community college.
As to why he might have focused on Giffords, the cause seems to be an incident that happened three years ago when he was a student at the community college. He went to one of Giffords’ meetings and submitted a rather unusual question about what government would be if words had no meaning. Giffords apparently did not answer the question in a way that satisfied him. This, it is alleged, is the main cause of his dislike of Gifford.
As such, the most likely factors seem to be a combination of drug use and psychological problems that were focused onto Giffords by that incident. As such, Sarah Palin and the Tea Party have no connection to this and they should not be blamed.
That said, there are still some legitimate concerns about Palin’s use of violent rhetoric and the infamous cross-hair map. I will, however, not be discussing these now beyond saying that Palin would seem to need to step up to address this matter.
As far as who is to blame, the obvious answer is this: the person who shot those people on that Saturday. At this point, that shooter is supposed to be Loughner.
Of course, as the media psychologists point out, it can be claimed that others are to blame as well. The parents. The community college. Society.
On the one hand, this blame sharing seems to miss the point that people are responsible for their actions. The person who pulled that trigger over and over again is the one that is responsible. He did not have to go there that day. Going there, he did not have to pull the trigger.
On the other hand, no one grows up and acts in a perfect vacuum. Each of us is shaped by factors around us and, of course, we have responsibilities to each other. If Loughner was the shooter, then it seems that there was considerable evidence that he was unstable and likely to engage in violence. As such, it could be argued that those who were aware of these facts and failed to respond bear some of the blame for allowing him to be free to kill and wound.