After the Tucson shooting, Sarah Palin was being blamed for the shooters motives. The Tea Party was being blamed for inciting violence. The Republicans were blamed for vitriolic rhetoric meant to fire up the base and extremist. While all of these events may be harmful to civility, they did not cause Jared Loughner to shoot 20 people, killing six of them.
Loughner showed troubling signs of in college. He had at least five interactions with the campus police at Pima Community College. Classmates said he would act inappropriately during classes. Former classmate Lydian Ali said, "A girl had written a poem about an abortion. It was very emotional and she was teary eyed and he said something about strapping a bomb to the fetus and making a baby bomber."
He created disturbing videos detailing his hatred of the government. He thinks the government is applying mind-controlling techniques through the use of grammar. He does not trust the U.S. currency because it is not backed by gold or silver. He had a previous interaction with Rep. Gabrielle GiffordsÂ’ at one of her Congressional events. Loughner held an intense dislike for Giffords because, in his mind, she had not sufficiently answered a question he posed to her. The question he asked? Â“What is government if words have no meaning?Â”
Sarah Palin and the Tea Party use political rhetoric to incite their base to action. Her poster with crosshairÂ’s identifying target seats in Congress was a bad idea and, if she had hindsight, probably would not do it again. Leaving the poster on her website after the election was a mistake. Her twitter message, Â Â“Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: Â“DonÂ’t Retreat, Instead- RELOAD!Â” was probably not the best message to convey.
All of the things Sarah Palin and the Tea Party said and did, in hindsight, give weight to the idea that this is what caused Loughner to take action. But they did not cause him to obsess over Giffords. They did not cause him to act in the strange manner described. And most important, they did not cause Jared Loughner to walk into that parking lot, pull out a Glock 9mm, and pull the trigger. No one can be blamed for that but the shooter himself.