Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Jared Loughner: Dodging Blame
A little over two years ago, Jared Loughner drew a 9mm Glock in a crowd assembled to hear Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford. He fired on her and a bunch of other people, killing six and injuring thirteen. He was apprehended at the scene by bystanders and immediately arrested.
In the news today I saw a statement from Loughner's father that says Loughner experienced a personality change after he was expelled from the college he attended and was fired from his job. Can't tell for sure whether the firing came before or after the expulsion, or even if it was that he was asked to stop volunteering at the local animal shelter. He was that unbalanced. When the recipient of free labor asks to you stop working, you're over the edge.
Another story, also from the LA Times, asserts that Loughner was raised in a hostile household. That is hearsay and cannot be confirmed, it's just one of Loughner's former acquaintances telling us this. It makes for great newspaper, so it might be true and it might not.
I think all of this is baloney and Pima Community College, which expelled Lougher, had it right the first time: go away, don't come back until you've proven that you're not crazy and dangerous. It's worth pointing out that Loughner never came back with any such proof, but more than one person has since stated that they feared he might come back...armed.
I think Loughner was crazy and dangerous and has been for a long, long time. I think his parents would have been better able to detect that if they hadn't been so absorbed in themselves, but ultimately now that he's an adult, Loughner himself is answerable for his own actions. But when you look at his mugshot, that's the face of someone who isn't entirely on the same plane as the rest of us.
PCC protected its students by expelling what they perceived, correctly, as an unconscionable threat. But seeing the need for a psychological assessment, are they then entirely in the clear when that assessment isn't made? Should such an observation by people who are presumably smart enough to see the need be allowed to simply sit in a file drawer without raising a flag with anyone else?
Obviously we can't hold PCC accountable for this; the legalities run hard up against the rights of individuals. This is another case where I have to wonder whether people really ought to have all the rights they do.
Lougher's dad wants to dodge accountability for his son's actions, saying the alteration of his son's personality was triggered by his expulsion. But that isn't the case, Loughner's behavior had begun to change long before that; the expulsion was predicated by his dreadful behavior. There are people like Loughner's dad who saw this coming, saw it and failed to act. Loughner is going to die in jail, but he's not the only one who's accountable here. And you can bet those people are never, ever going to admit it.