The trouble with crazy

One additional thought on the Tucson massacre: I think that the right may be implicitly conceding a point that we should not. Our response to the Krugman-Kos-etc. calumny has focused on the complete lack of any evidence that Loughner was inspired by “violent” rhetoric from the right, and on the growing evidence to the contrary.

But let’s consider a counterfactual. Suppose investigators uncovered a diary kept by Loughner, and in that diary he explained that he was inspired to murder by Sarah Palin and her use of crosshair-like symbols on a map. Suppose that the diary explicitly made every connection in the fevered imagination of Paul Krugman, David Fitzsimmons, and Sheriff Dupnik. So what?

The thing about crazy people is they’re crazy. In a world with countless crazy people, you cannot predict whether some wacko somewhere is going to seize on something you say and do something bad. We can’t hold people responsible for such a fundamentally unpredictable consequence. It would be like blaming Jodie Foster or Martin Scorsese for John Hinckley’s attempt on President Reagan.

To put it more pithily:

Anyone else find it creepy that new standard what we may and may not say is: How will it affect the behavior of an obviously crazy person who may or may not hear it?

(Previous post.)

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