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Killing is not just for the mentally ill.  Angry people invoked by hate and violence kill as well!-Mem

Mental illness expert: Yes, ask whether political climate was a trigger for shooter  

by Joan McCarter

Tue Jan 11, 2011 at 11:10:03 AM PST

Dr. Marvin Swartz, a professor of psychiatry and leading expert in mental illness, told Greg Sargent today that yes, the nation's political climate should be considered in the Jared Lee Loughner case.

"It's a reasonable question to ask," Dr. Marvin Swartz, a psychiatry professor at Duke University who specializes in how environment impacts the behavior of the mentally ill, said in an interview this morning. "The nature of someone's delusions is effected [sic] by culture. It's a reasonable line of inquiry to ask, `How does a political culture effect [sic] the content of people's delusions?'"
 Dr. Swartz's assessment goes directly to the heart of the raging debate over the shooting between right and left. Conservatives have pointed out that Jared Loughner is deeply disturbed, and that there's no connection between his violent behavior and the current political climate -- whether it be violent imagery, eliminationist rhetoric, references to armed revolution or secession, or hints that the political opposition is illegitimate....
Dr. Swartz cautioned that there's still much we don't know about Loughner or more generally about the impact of the political climate on the mentally ill. But he asserted that asking how our politics might have impacted Loughner's behavior was an entirely natural line of questioning.
 "We know the manifestation of mental illness is affected by cultural factors," Dr. Swartz said. "One's cultural context does effect people's thinking and particularly their delusions. It gives some content and shape to their delusions. While we don know whether there was a specific relationship between the political climate that he was exposed to and his thinking, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to explore."

That's coming from an actual doctor of psychiatry, as opposed to a self-certified opthamologist like Rand Paul, whose opinion is worth listening to. But beyond the case of Loughner and whether or not he proves to be so mentally ill as to render the question moot, having the conversation about whether this is the way a civilized country does politics should be a no-brainer.
Target Practice
Robert Lowry, a Republican challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL), stopped by a local Republican event in October. The event was at a gun range, andLowry shot at a human-shaped target that had Wasserman Schulz's initials written next to it. He later said it was a "mistake."
Shooting With The Candidate
Giffords' own opponent, Republican Jesse Kelly, had a gun-themed fund-raiser in June in which supporters could come and shoot an M-16 rifle with Kelly. It was promoted thusly: Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."
Cleaning My Guns
About a year ago, Richard Behney, a tea partier from Indiana running for former Sen. Evan Bayh's seat, told a group of Second Amendment activists that they didn't have to resort to armed insurrection -- "yet."
 "We can get new faces in. Whether it's my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don't see new faces, I'm cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I'm serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote," he said.
Second Amendment Remedies
Erstwhile Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) found herself in June defending comments she had made six months earlier about the Second Amendment.
"People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I'll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out," she said.
Armed And Dangerous
This example is a little older, but it's notable that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is one of the few to win her race after repeated references to guns and violence.
 In March 2009, she said on a radio show: "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country."
We Hunt Democrats
Another one from 2009: Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) told Politico that he hunts Democrats. Asked about the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, he said, "We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition."
Ballots & Bullets
New Rep. Allen West (R-FL) almost hired a Florida talk-radio host, Joyce Kaufman, as his chief of staff. But Kaufman withdrew after media coverage of some of her more fiery statements, such as:
"I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave a Second Amendment," she told a tea party crowd last summer. "And if ballots don't work, bullets will."
Or in 2009 when Republican Rex Rammell, primary challenger for Idaho's governor's seat, joked about "Obama tags" (i.e., the hunting tags that make hunting certain prey legal). That anyone can argue that this has a legitimate place in American politics and shouldn't be a primary topic of conversation right now shows how big of a problem we've got in American politics today.


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