Hidden within a camouflage tent behind Jared Lee Loughner's home sits an alarming altar with a skull sitting atop a pot filled with shriveled oranges.It's a skull replica, according to the photo caption. I don't know how you can tell from a photo that a candle is "ceremonial" or if/why the potting soil is part of the still life. Would you have found this display frightening if you weren't told it was assembled by a murderer? I'll bet a million American kids have skulls and candles lined up on a shelf or table in their suburban bedrooms and their parents don't even mind.
A row of ceremonial candles and a bag of potting soil lay nearby, photos reveal....
What's more significant — also at the link — is the way Loughner behaved in his college class. The teacher and the other students believed he was dangerously abnormal. We're very tolerant in America, and we love individuality and freedom. We don't interfere with the usual misfits, loners, free spirits, jerks, and idiots that we encounter all the time. But we ought to be able to take action when we can figure out that someone is truly deranged. Loughner — like the Fort Hood shooter — should have been stopped.
I think the lesson from this recent shooting isn't that American need to tone down their rhetoric. (That's an old issue that politicos are inelegantly and often contemptibly grafting onto the tragedy.) It's that we need to see, understand, and do something about mentally ill persons.