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The big story right now is the murder of a federal judge, John Roll, and the attempted murder of Representative Giffords (D-AZ) by a deranged young man (the police have him in custody and are currently seeking a possible accomplice) at a mall in Tuscon. A number of other people were also killed and wounded including a 9 year old girl. The Sheriff has publicly called out the right wing demagogues who whip up “prejudice and bigotry” and lamented that Arizona seems to have become the “capitol of it.”

All of this is about to kick off a debate in this country about how responsible for right wing political violence are Republicans like Sarah Palin and others who are trying to ride the Tea Party to political power. Tea Partiers will say that this is the act of a lunatic and that it has no connection to politics at all. I agree that the man the police have arrested is probably mentally ill. But that does not mean that these murders are a-political or have no connection to the rhetoric and policies of the right.

This is the much talked about Sarah Palin crosshairs map (story continues after the picture)

The man may have been insane and murderously suicidal. But the nature of his murder/suicide is a product of right wing politics and policies. His choice of targets and the weapons he used (and therefore the number of victims) are the products of the politics of the American right.

There are murder/suicides occasionally in the United States. The overwhelming majority of them are obviously apolitical affairs in which somebody snaps and kills their family and then kills themselves. These kinds of events spike when the economy goes south. There have been a couple of incidents like this near where I live. They were well covered and there is no ambiguity at all about their nature. There is no mention of politics or anything that could even be called politics by a deranged mind. These are entirely personal tragedies.

Jared Loughner’s backyard (story continues after picture)

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