''It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson's occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds.
The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.
And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today's (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, "climate of hate."
Demystification of the world opened the way for real science, including the social sciences. And for a modern characteristic. And for charlatans.'
Will says that this tendency to explain behavior, especially violent behavior, as the result of something in the social environment is characteristic of the mind of today.
He makes the connection between this kind of thinking and the social engineering aims of leftism or ''progressivism'', with its quest for perfecting human nature via a correct system and an ideal (by progressives' standards) society. And because they believe all crime and 'dysfunction' is caused by external influences and society's failures, they look to blame conservatives, or those who are not in agreement with their own utopian schemes.
Will's comparisons to the political assassinations of Presidents McKinley and Garfield are illustrative of how things have changed since that time. Back then, the 'system' simply punished the culprits, by execution in both those cases. Now, society tries to ''explain'' and ''understand.'' I would further add that in earlier eras, after the inroads made by the 'therapeutic culture', the explanations often just relied on 'mental illness' and incapacity. Now, politics is the first resort of those looking for something and someone to blame. Conservatives are to blame; hateful and bigoted rhetoric causes people to become unhinged and dangerous.
As Will mentions, and as Old Atlantic pointed out here on this blog recently, when JFK was assassinated, it was blamed on a 'hateful' climate in the city of Dallas, and the people there, at least the conservative people there, were the real guilty parties, not Oswald. But the disappointment of the media at not finding Oswald to be a 'right-wing extremist' left them without a villain so in desperation they blamed a city and a 'climate of hate.'
The same situation prevails in this case.
Will also mentions Howard Dean's diatribe of a few days ago in which he lambasted Tea Partiers as the 'last gasp of a generation that fears diversity'. Will says:
''Let us hope that Dean is the last gasp of the generation of liberals whose default position in any argument is to indict opponents as racists.''
Maybe the left's flailing about on this story is the last gasp of something. It seems to me that they are overplaying their hand, and that they are losing whatever hold on reality they have. At some point there has to be diminishing returns on this tactic.
Speaking of which, it seems as if there is a glut of stories about this topic, and I wonder how long the media will saturate us with this story. Granted, there are a lot of unanswered questions, but it does seem as if there is overexposure on this news story.
I have not seen TV newscasts since this happened, so I am going by the number of stories on internet news aggregators and blogs. But I think some of us are developing fatigue on this story, especially given the overwrought nature of some of the commentary on the left.