Here's what worries me. Well, a lot of things worry me about the Tucson shootings. But at this moment, I worry that the pendulum, which must swing, will swing toward all mentally ill. Yes Loughner doubtless suffers from a mental illness. He must because no sane person, we know, could do what he did. If a sane person did do what he did then that sane person must be evil. We know how to deal with people who we suspect suffer from a mental illness. A person without soul, a person evil, is out of the leagues of most of us and, frankly, quite a bit more terrifying than someone who hears voices instructing unspeakable acts.
The solution cannot be, though, to judge all people who suffer from mental illness as though they, too, could change a peaceful Saturday morning at a grocery story into a massacre. If we go that route, then we must acknowledge that each and every one of us is at some time or other in our lives mentally ill.
When we find ourselves in those uncomfortable moments of insanity do we hope to be deprived of our civil liberties? Do we hope to be shut away or subjected to stigma? I would think and hope not.
The events in Tucson are unspeakable and beyond the range of expectable human experience. On no level do I condone them.
However, to say that Jared Loughner is mentally ill and then close the conversation is far too simplistic a reaction. Human behavior, good or bad, is complicated and inspired by many vagaries throughout the life span. We are fragile and the systems in which we try to function are equally fragile. Jared Loughner has failed the hopes we hold for each other. Possibly, though, on a more complicated level, we -- meaning all of society -- failed the hope he held for his place on the planet. If he, indeed, shot those people (we must by law presume he did not until proof determines otherwise) he is truly responsible sane or insane for his behavior. However, let's take just a little peek into the society we all call home.