Sunday, January 09, 2011

Saturday's Events

I'm not going to astrologise on the tragic events of Saturday morning - there will be numerous astrologers doing so, soon enough.

I decided to write a word or two though, because while reading a string of comments on the events and repercussions, I noticed something.

Jared Loughner is the alleged gunman who shot and killed 6 people including a Federal Judge and a 9 year old girl (ironically born on the day of another tragic event 9/11/2001), and put a bullet through the brain of Congresswoman Giffords, who now fights to recover.

Loughner is reported to have communicated via Facebook, MySpace pages, and YouTube videos, with some pretty incoherent ramblings recorded. Among the material is a list of his favourite books which include some seemingly contradictory items
"I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno."

A commenter mentioned that two photographs of Loughner, available at the weekend, showed two very different sides to him: one long-haired, "hippie" looking, the other with short cropped hair, clean cut image. He was described by some as favouring "Goth" style all-black clothing, yet in one fairly recent photograph appears in blue jeans and white T-shirt: bog standard all-American.

The contradictory political ideas mirrored in his booklist might be a red herring, of course, the books could have been listed "for show", he might never have read a word of any of them. Still, they represent the sharp polarization of political thought in the USA at present. The two photographs were no doubt taken a couple of years apart, and young people, as we all know from our own experience, can change rapidly in style and opinions. Even so, I found it rather spooky to realise that the two contradictory images thrown up of of this guy can stand to represent American polarization in general. His actions on Saturday can stand to represent the insane violence and aggression this polarized country inflicts on innocent civilians of other nations. In short, when we look at Loughner, are we looking at a microcosm of our country, a mirror image of ourselves as a nation?

With hope for a full recovery by Congresswoman Giffords, and sincere condolences to all left injured and bereaved by Saturday's events.


anyjazz said...

Good post. If ever there was an example to support some kind of gun control, it’s this one.

The anti-gun people will say: If no one had a gun it wouldn’t have happened.

The pro-gun people will say: If everyone had a gun it wouldn’t have happened.

Use your own logic.

Actually if there had not been inflammatory rhetoric promoting divisive politics these past few years, it would not have happened. “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.”

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ The gun culture here seems to be too deeply embedded for it to be shifted. No reason it couldn't be more tightly restricted though, so as to ensure that mentally unbalanced individuals would find it difficult to own one legally.

Agreed about inflammatory rhetoric. When it comes from one side, t'other side is going to respond, it's human nature. I doubt that either side is completely blameless in this. The right's toxic input is easily identified, and the left spend so much time discussing it, giving it more exposure, even more air time.
It's like a crowd gathering around a toddler who is having a tantrum and cheering him/her on - the toddler then begins to think it's a good thing to do, a way to get attention.

Don't know the answer. This English body sees America as having an unhealthy appetite for excess and drama as part of the national character. Perhaps a century or two more of tragedy will bring more common sense to the scene.

R J Adams said...

I think I agreed with your post when I responded to the comment you left on Sparrow Chat today. America and (many) Americans are to blame for yesterday's tragedy, and all those that went before it. Until this nation recognizes and addresses its inherent immaturity there'll be many more of the same.

Citizen of the World said...

He sounds like he may suffer from bipolar disorder: as without, so within?
As for guns, here in Canada people get their hands on illegal and stolen guns despite all the rules. Of course, almost all of them smuggled from south of the border.
Comments about the immaturity of US outlook remind me of hearing US described as teenagers of the world.
My thought about this tragedy is US psychological state of catastrophe induced by Sept 11 in upward spiral, result of political powerplays and journalistic kowtowing, rhetoric of both estates to blame. A middle way must be sought or 'the centre cannot hold.'

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ You're right. Although, as in individual lives, maturity comes only slowly and from dealing with the challenges life sends. Some individuals mature early, some late, some never really do. Don't know into which category the USA falls - time, and events of the rest of this century might tell.

"How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?"

As Bob wrote - it's blowin' in the wind

Twilight said...

Citizen of the World ~~~ Yes, that's a distinct possibility. Certainly some kind of mental disorder seems likely.

Whatever controls are in place those determined enough would try to obtain a gun, I agree. But things would improve, there'd be less events like Saturday's I feel certain, if controls were tighter.
The type of gun he had meant that so many were injured out of a quite small crowd I think almost half were hit. It wasn't just a simple pistol.

Yes 9/11 must and its repercussions play a part in all of this I suppose. This guy is 22, he was a child of similar age to the one he killed when the Twin Towers were attacked. Sigh.

Vanilla Rose said...

I remember one weekend when there was a shooting at some kind of US citizenship centre on the Friday. And another shooting in another state the very next day, and a third unrelated incident on the Sunday.

I think there are statistics that demonstrate that the US has disproportionately more shooting incidents than many other countries eg the UK.

Yes, there are still shootings here (as with the ones in Cumbria in June last year). And, in the days when the IRA was active, at least 2 MPs were murdered (bombs rather than guns). But there are still proportionately fewer incidents here (in the UK) than in the US.

But the gun ownership laws in Arizona sound as if they are somewhere between very lax and non-existent, and this does not seem to be a good idea.

I suppose it is almost inevitable that Jared Lee Loughner will be executed a few years from now. Clearly, the execution of Timothy McVeigh was not a deterrent.

I hope that Ms Giffords makes a full recovery (and the same for the other people injured), but I note that her owning a gun did not help her.

I agree that IN THEORY everyone owning a gun might help, IF everyone were prepared to be on perpetual alert, forever tense and fearful, and also, everyone would have to keep updating their guns to keep pace with the people they feared.

There are many US citizens whom I count as good friends, but I would not wish to live in the US myself. The USA is much more right-wing than the UK when it comes to major issues such as gun control, capital punishment, health care, welfare, etc, and I really do feel glad to live here.

Kaleymorris said...

A very interesting observation you have made. It made me think of the very thin line between genius and insanity.

Gian Paul said...

If armed violence occurs because of poverty, as it happens in many countries other then the US, there may be a "rationale" there. Even for a corrupt police force "sympathizing" with some criminals.

But in today's America it's own gunslinging past, glorified by a very influential industry of yours, not the arms producers, as some might imagine, but Hollywood, is so-to-say "bearing fruit". The Rambos and the Exterminators etc. serve as a model to the way politicians talk and some feable creatures then believe they should act. Very immature indeed.

Wisewebwoman said...

I had many emotions/thoughts when I first read about this.
I thought of Palin and her "gunsight" depiction of Gifford posted on line (which she immediately pulled down)
I thought of Jared working for Gifford
I thought of the bipolar status of the US
I thought of the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, unacknowledged for the most part.
I thought of the fear based culture of the USA overall.
I thought of the NRA pulling everyone's strings, puppeteering behind the scenes.
I thought of 43 million on foodstamps, all of them without healthcare.
And I thought: situation is quite hopeless.
there isn't one single adult in charge.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Hi! Yes, it's a very different culture here, especially in some western states such as Arizona (Texas and our state of Oklahoma aren't far behind!)
The United States' sacred Constitution, its 2nd Amendment and the way it was written (and is now interpreted) has much to do with the gun culture having become embedded so deeply.

In the UK I recall no incidents on the level of Saturday's events - outside of the many years of IRA activities on the mainland , which were bad on another level entirely, and can't be compared - not really.

I don't know whether Loughner will get the death penalty - it'll depend on whether he's declared mentally unstable I suppose - not sure on Arizona's state laws though.

If I had a choice (I don't) I'd choose to live back in the UK.
There are some compensations here, many in fact, and those are what I try to focus on. :-)

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~~~ Hmmmm - or a circle with the ends meeting - somewhere - somewhere not very pleasant! :-)

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Hollywood and the US film industry was been one of the shining lights of achievement - originally. As in most other areas, they never know when "enough is enough". In the past decade or so it, and TV presentations have slid down a slippery slope into a mass of slime. There are occasional bright spots, but few and far between. And yes, I blame the violence and horror depicted in modern movies for de-sensitizing young people. Agreed 100%

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ You've given us a depressing, yet accurate list of the ills of the USA today.

There are not enough adults in charge who are free of ulterior aim ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$).
There may not be any in fact.
I wouldn't care which side of the political divide someone sat on if they had integrity......because if they had integrity they'd do what their constituents were asking them to do. Instead of this they do the opposite 9 times out of 10.

Who knows, these very points may be what drove a mentally disturbed 22 year old to do what he did.
But violence achieves nothing but more violence.

Vanilla Rose said...

On a positive note, the US has (in theory) separation of Church and State, and no monarchy. That makes sense. I think I heard on the news that Oklahoma is now the only US state left where the condemned person can opt to be killed by firing squad.

Jared Loughner seems (as far as anyone can tell so far removed from the situation) to be very insane, but I believe the same was said of the late Aileen Wournos.


I did, however, find a cheerful news story coming out of the USA on 8 January 2011.

Vanilla Rose said...

Googling "arizona" produced the following suggestions:

"arizona shooting
"arizona death penalty
"arizona state university
"arizona cardinals".

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Thank you for your additional thoughts.

Separation of church and state is supposed to be in place - but many would say it's "in theory only" ! Religion plays a much bigger part in politics here than it does in the UK.

When we enter a court house, around here, we often find ourselves confronted with the Ten Commandments either as a sculpture or a piece of artwork!

Yes Oklahoma is pretty backward in almost every respect. When I first arrived here in 2004 my first thought was that it was like stepping back into the

Thanks for the uplifting link. Sure,it's not all bad!


Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~~ I'd considered doing a post about Arizona. It was the last of the contiguous (mainland) states to be admitted to the Union - 1912. Might still do it if I can raise the enthusiasm. ;-)

Vanilla Rose said...

I didn't realise that, what was it before it was a United State? Was it independent or was it part of Mexico?

Last year, walking to someone's house, I decided to see if I could recite the names of all 50 states. I can! I usually hesitate a bit on the Is or the Ms or both.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Before becoming a state it was known as "a territory", as were most other states before statehood, although the original 13 were "colonies" of Britain. I had to learn the names of the original 13 states for my citizenship exam. LOL!

At one time what is now Arizona (or part of it) was part of New Mexico territory.
New Mexico is nothing to do with Mexico the country, by the way - it's just the name of a US state, and a lovely one too - one of my favourites.

Vanilla Rose said...

New Mexico does, however, does seem to be in the general vicinity of Mexico. At least compared to New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York!

Another difference seems to be that the UK does not seem to have a tradition of right-wing groups leaving mainstream society and doing their own thing. For people who do go "off the grid", literally being off the mains electricity grid is sort of the end in itself. "Yes, we produce all our own carrots and bathwater here! We don't need nasty multinationals to do it for us!"

Right-wingers, across the whole spectrum, from those who are just rather small-conservative and traditional, to the deeply obnoxious, all seem to feel they belong in the mainstream.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Yes it's geographically close - and at one time NM was part of Mexico. The state has a very checkered history!

The most important difference, I think, is in the vast difference in size between UK and USA.

UK's size is only comparable to a big US state (looked it up and it seems that Wisconsin is the same physical size as the UK, but of course population density is much different).

There's a much better feel of togetherness in the UK - even though there isn't the same overtly nationalistic or patriotic feeling people have in the USA.
It's all to do with size I reckon.
Size does matter. ;-)