To describe quickly and looslely, the notion is that crosshair graphics and the use of the common language of competition and combat contributes in a very substantial way to violent actions, especially by mentally unstable individuals.
I don't buy it. That is to say, I think any such language is a feeble spit into the ocean of human motivation. Your mileage may vary. If it does, then maybe you think altered individual motivations can result from curbing aggressive, mean-spirited, and angry political talk. Even if so, you have to ask yourself whether you think such a substantive change is even remotely likely.
What troubles me is this: the pissing contest about the relationship between so-called inciteful political rhetoric and violent individual actions has sucked up all the bandwidth. The result is the loss of a legitimate opportunity for a broad spectrum of Americans to focus in a meaningful way on how to recognize truly serious mental disturbance and to respond usefully. Here's Dr Helen with a useful takeaway:
My point is that as long as schools and society simultaneously place the rights of the mentally ill above other citizens while refusing the mentally ill the help that they may desperately need, we will continue to see mass killings like the one in Arizona. People will seemed dazed and ask "why?" until they forget and another horrible killing takes place.Many of us understand that it's sort of politically incorrect not to have the utmost respect for the rights of the mentally ill, and that bureaucracies will, by law, enforce that perspective. I think we need to do better than that. When the classroom environment suffers and the disturbed person in question is really not benefitting, we owe it to all concerned to ask what we're achieving.
It's extremely important to note that the vast majority of folks who have some mental issue represent no threat at all. Among the ranks of those who have mental disorders, most are invisible and highly functioning members of society: our friends, family, and colleagues. They might be obsessive-compulsive, or suffer from chronic depression or one of its analogues. They may have had a serious breakdown as the result of a cascade of unfortunate and highly stressful circumstances, and then bounced back. Many of them stronger and less brittle for the experience, believe it or not.
But there are some number of folks who suffer from fairly serious mental disturbances, and who are prone to deteriorate quickly if they are unmonitored and untreated. Or treated and monitored in a haphazard or threadbare fashion, which is quite sadly the rule and not the exception. Even among these ranks of folks who have periodic psychotic episodes, there's usually no general threat to public safety even if interacting in public with such folks can be painful and disturbing.
The point here is that we would probably all benefit from increased awareness that uninstitutionalized folks who have serious mental issues do periodically deteriorate and suffer psychotic breaks, and when the deterioration starts, these folks need assessment and treatment. The worst of all possible worlds is for bucks to be passed and asses to be covered.
Ideally, Pima CC and other schools should not simply suspend such a student on the condition of getting a psych eval. They should do their best to make sure that eval and treatment occurs. Classmates of disturbed individuals should at the very least make a calm expression of concern as an official written statement to school administrators. And schools should have an expedited process for this.
We won't fix episodes like this by toning down how we talk about politics. But we could mitigate the frequency and severity of such episodes if we beef up both individuals' understanding of serious mental illness and the cultural framework for ensuring appropriate treatment. If we can do that instead of obsessing about inciteful rhetoric, the lives lost in Arizona will not have have been entirely in vain.