In the aftermath of crazed killer Jared Loughner's murder of six people and wounding of many others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, there has been a rush to exploit the tragedy for political purposes.
Without any actual evidence that Loughner was influenced by or even listened to any of Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck's "right-wing rhetoric," Democrats leaped upon the opportunity to lay blame on their political and ideological opponents for the act of a mentally disturbed individual.
But the facts that we do know are that Palin, Beck, and Rush Limbaugh never had any direct contact with Loughner. They never told him, or anyone, to go out and commit acts of violence.
This brings to mind the people who try to lay blame for teen suicides on Heavy Metal bands that the perpetrators of their own deaths listen to. In those cases, some conservatives exploited an opportunity to attack something they disliked with absurd allegations. As one empirical study observed to discredit such contentions, " it seems more plausible that those angrier after listening to preferred music were individuals with some combination of personal characteristics and/or life situations that have resulted in a general proneness to feeling angry, and that these characteristics and situations are tied to reduced reasons for living."
Now the tables have turned and the left is engaging in the same absurd, expolitative hysteria. What Jared Loughner did was because of what was going on in the warped mind of Jared Loughner and not because of American political rhetoric.
In a case brought against Judas Priest following the suicide of two young men who listened to their music, the Heavy Metal band's lawyer said, ''the risk that ideas may cause undesirable behavior'' in a small and unstable segment of the population ''is a small price to pay for a free society.''
There is no proof that in the Loughner case it was the ideas espoused by Republicans that inspired his actions, just as there is no proof that music causes suicides. Even if there were, the principles of the First Amendment and that of personal responsibility should matter even more.