The Tuscon Shootings

The information that has come out about Jared Lee Loughner indicates that he is simply mentally disturbed. Aside from some vague anti-government notions, he doesn’t seem to have any clear political ideology. A story that he was connected to a white supremacist group now appears to be baseless. He was angry at Giffords because she was dismissive towards him at an earlier meeting. Of course, the reason she was dismissive was because he was saying things that made no sense.

The only real conclusion we can draw from Loughner’s case is that our society doesn’t know how to deal with people who are mentally ill. People knew that Loughner was disturbed, but they didn’t know what to do about it. (Similarly, people knew that Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, was mentally ill, but they didn’t know what to do about it.) Pima Community College told Loughner that he had to get a psychiatric examination before he could take more classes. Loughner responded simply by not taking more classes.

Every now and then one hears a story about police officers shooting somebody who is mentally ill. The police always claim that they acted in “self-defense”, but it is often clear that they simply didn’t know what else to do besides start shooting.

I don’t know what to do about this problem, but it is one we need to think about.

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