Poll: Most Americans don’t blame ‘heated rhetoric’ for Tucson shooting
CBS released a poll Tuesday revealing that six in ten Americans polled don’t blame the “country’s heated political rhetoric” for the Tucson shootings over the weekend. More from CBS:
Overall, 57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did. Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated – 69 percent said rhetoric was not to blame; 19 percent said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue – 49 percent saw no connection; 42 percent said there was.
There’s no evidence that Jared Lee Loughner was influenced by “heated political rhetoric” — at this point, his political views expressed in available materials are incoherent, consisting mainly of a fixated, generalized anger at “the government.” As Dr. Bob Dolgoff, medical director of Alta Bates Summit Medical Center’s mental health division, told the San Francisco Chronicle, ”I doubt people who say this is about politics have a good understanding of mental illness.” He added, “It could be conspiracy theories or men from outer space. The important thing here is, why wasn’t he in treatment?”
The absence of evidence hasn’t stopped calls — however virtuous — to tamp down the often incendiary language used in political debate. Pundits and politicians have been quick to ascribe blame to “heated political rhetoric” since the shooting Saturday, but only a significant minority of people agree.