Some people displayed a crazed hunger for a vicious murderer who was inspired by the criticism of the government that has been so powerful over the last 2 years. Jared Loughner was not that guy, and, of course, they looked ridiculous and despicable jumping to say that he was.
Now, what if it were really true that incendiary political rhetoric pushed mentally unstable individuals over the edge and caused them to act out murderously? Picture such a mentally unstable person reading and listening to the rhetoric that spewed out over Jared Loughner.
I'm imagining a young man who takes it to heart that the Tea Party and the right wingers are ruining America and thwarting our fine President and the Democrats in Congress who set out to bring us hope and change.
He might think: Oh, if only Jared Loughner really had turned out to be the Tea-Party-inspired wingnut the liberals and lefties originally thought he was! How effective that would have been in squelching the right!
This mentally unstable young man decides that he could be what the left hoped Jared Loughner was. "Loughner2" tweaks his Facebook page with the titles of conservative books and joins various right-wing groups on-line. He sets about making Tea-Party-style pronouncements in the comments sections of various left- and right-wing blogs, stressing the right-wing rhetoric he's heard and restating it with a sharper edge of violence. He stocks his house with books written by the right-wingers most demonized by the left. He hangs a big Gadsden Flag on his living room wall.
Then, believing he is sacrificing himself for the greater good of the liberal cause, Loughner2 goes on his shooting spree. The pundits who revealed their raging hunger for a right-wing murderer will finally have the rich feast they deserve, he tells himself. Loughner2, like Loughner1, grins ghoulishly in his mug shot. He steels himself the hatred of the world and the secret pleasure of reading, from his prison/asylum cell, about the left-wing paradise he has made possible.
Do you think that's an absurd fantasy? Then you don't really believe that inflammatory rhetoric inspires unstable individuals to act. If you're one of those who's been saying it does, then admit that you've been lying. Or take responsibility for the effect your words are now having in the minds of the deranged.