Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Loughner and Madness...

10 January 2011

One would think after listening to those who are trying (for obvious reasons) to ignore the political and ideological contexts of Mr. Loughner's actions--the shooting of Representative Giffords, Judge Roll, and others--that the right wing discourse Loughner used and apparently believed in--his obsession with the gold standard and language as power--is irrelevant to why he acted in the way he did. For them Loughner is simply "disturbed" or "mad".

The argument that Loughner was "disturbed" or "mad", however, raises fundamental questions about "madness" itself. We have to, in my opinion, distinguish between biological and genetic forms of mental illness and the the social and cultural labeling of certain types of cultural discourse and cultural behaviours as a form mental illness.

The argument over whether the latter is a form of "madness" in the same way the former has stimulated academic and intellectual debate over this issue for some time. Some social scientist and humanities scholars and intellectuals have long argued that "deviance", or at least some forms of "deviance", are socially and culturally constructed and thus reflect power and power of categorisation imbalances in broader society and culture (Becker, Taylor, Foucault).

So are right wing apologists trying to use the power of classification in this instance to distinguish themselves and their "acceptable" and "mainstream" political and ideological beliefs from the "mad" and hence apolitical actions of Loughner? Do they fail to contextualise Loughner's actions with other acts of political assassination recently including that of the bloke who, pumped up on right wing radio rhetoric about liberals as traitors, went into a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee to shot liberals and the killing of a doctor in Kansas for performing abortions? If right wing radio jockeys are right then are these two individuals "mad men" too? If right wing talk radio jockeys can categorise the acts of these individuals as mad does that mean that they don't have to look in the mirror and ask questions about whether they may have contributed to a climate which led to violence, violence against "liberals"?

On the Knoxville Shootings see...

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