In an article at Salon.com (“The real message of Loughner’s book list“), Laura Miller does an admirable job of exposing the absurdity of attributing political significance to the favorite books list of Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner:
“Loughner is almost certainly insane and… his ideas would have been ignored as incoherent and irrelevant if he hadn’t fired a gun into a crowd of people Saturday. The fact that he did fire that gun, however, doesn’t make his delusions suddenly meaningful. It doesn’t make his list of favorite books significant. Crazy people who make headlines and change history are still crazy.”
“By studying Loughner’s book list for clues to the political leanings that somehow “drove” him to commit murder, commentators are behaving a lot like crazy people themselves… it’s just random stuff with no special significance. The truth about mental illness is that it strikes without regard to political affiliation or ideological orientation, and it turns beautiful minds into nonsense factories.”
Looking for meaning in the delusions of a madman is a striking sign of cultural depravity. I’m not sure which explanation is more disturbing: that it’s being done to cynically exploit a national tragedy for political purposes, or that the purveyors of that nonsense have actually managed to convince themselves that they believe it.