Vitriol or Zeitgeist?

by Kiko Matsing

Pima County Sheriff Dupnik Blames Political Rhetoric for Shooting in Tucson

Many on the left like Sheriff Dupnik portray Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner as a disenchanted right-winger inflamed by incendiary talk-radio rhetoric into a violent meltdown, and called for reigning in the “vitriol” (from the right).

Oh wait, the guy’s on their side! Doh!

A classmate of the man accused of shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords this morning describes him as “left wing” and a “pot head” in a series of posts on Twitter this afternoon.

Caitie Parker did not immediately respond to our request for an interview, but her “tweets” in the hours after the shooting paint a picture of Jared Loughner as a substance-abusing loner who had met Giffords before the shooting. She says, Loughner described the congresswoman as “stupid and unintelligent.”

… Parker “tweets” that she and Loughner were in the band together and were friends until 2007 when he became “reclusive” after getting alcohol poisoning and dropping out of college.

She describes him as “quite liberal” and as a “political radical.”

(from Jared Loughner, Alleged Shooter in Gabrielle Giffords Attack, Described by Classmate as “Left-Wing Pothead”, Phoenix New Times)

Smile for the camera!

He did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right…

I really think that this Zeitgeist documentary had a profound impact upon Jared Loughner’s mindset, and how he viewed the world that he lives in.

(from Jared Loughner’s friend says suspect ‘Did not watch TV … disliked the news’)

What is this Zeitgeist Movement?

“The mission of the movement is the application of the scientific method for social change,” Mr. Joseph announced by way of introduction. The evening, which began at 7 with a two-hour critique of monetary economics, became by midnight a utopian presentation of a money-free and computer-driven vision of the future, a wholesale reimagination of civilization, as if Karl Marx and Carl Sagan had hired John Lennon from his “Imagine” days to do no less than redesign the underlying structures of planetary life…

…[i.e., by constructing] a futuristic society where (adjust your seatbelts, now) machines would control government and industry and safeguard the planet’s fragile resources by means of an artificially intelligent “earthwide autonomic sensor system” — a super-brain of sorts connected to, yes, all human knowledge.

(from They’ve Seen the Future and Dislike the Present, NY Times)

Karl Marx, Carl Sagan, John Lennon. Throw in Norbert Wiener and Rachel Carson. Smells like a lefty to me.

If there is any political motive at all in this young man’s killing spree, it’s not fueled by right-wing vitriol, but hallucinogenic dreams of a cybernetic, totalitarian utopia. But that’s a big if. Remember, John Hinckley, Jr. just wanted to impress Jodie Foster.

Betcha this story (or at least this silly angle) dies quickly–like the Pentagon shooting or the Times Square bombing–once more information emerges about Loughner, i.e., when it becomes clear he does not fit any easy narratives of the left. (For example, why did he specifically–and it seems personally–target Giffords? It’s just bizarre.) In the meantime, isn’t it just cynical to use this tragedy to score political potshots, and worse, with such Schadenfreude relish?