A Portrait of a Disturbed Assailant
January 10, 2011
Saturday’s tragic shooting in Arizona still poses more questions than answers. But nearly all of the available reports paint a picture of the alleged gunman, Jared Loughner, as an individual who suffers from severe mental illness. At a local community college, according to the New York Times, Loughner had a history of outbursts that frightened students and instructors so much that administrators called police—and, eventually, forced him to withdraw.
Slate’s Jack Shafer has posted a characteristically irreverent piece on “The awesome stupidity of the calls to tamp down political speech in the wake of the Giffords shooting,” as the piece’s sub-title describes it. I haven’t personally called on anyone to tamp down their political speech since the Giffords tragedy. But had I been moved to comment, I would almost certainly have joined the ranks of the awesomely stupid. As it happens, I think Shafer’s anti-anti-hate speech position hinges on three analytical mistakes.