The Mischaracterization of the Lone Gunman

Another day, another disgruntled far-leftie picks up a gun and starts shooting. Thankfully, the officers in question were able to effectively return fire and gave Bedell exactly what he deserved. Deadly force. Score one for the gene pool.

And again, we need to be on the lookout for headlines from the mainstream press tying Bedell to the right, and particularly to the Tea Party folks.  The left–and indeed even some on the right–have a fundamental misunderstanding of the kind of folks that inhabit the movement.  While generally they’re no fan of big government, they’re also not the types prone to violence.  Of the millions of tea party folks who gathered throughout the United States of America since this time next year, not one was arrested, and some rally venues reported the rally sites being cleaner when the rallies were finished than when they started.

Still, that won’t stop the mainstream press.  The Holocaust Memorial shooter was portrayed as a right-wing nut until it came out that he was a Nazi (National Socialist) sympathizer, that he hated “neo-cons,” and that his original target as the offices of The Weekly Standard. Fort Hood shooter and Islamic jihadist Nidal Malik Hasan was originally portrayed as a shell-shocked, war-weary soldier instead of the America-hating Muslim extremist he was.  University of Alabama-Huntsville shooter Amy Bishop was described as a gun-toting wingnut until news broke that she was an obsessive fan of Barack Obama, and would sing his praises to the point where it was “off-putting.”

When it comes to the truth about John Patrick Bedell, who shot up an entrance to the Pentagon yesterday evening, consider this, from Fox News:

John Patrick Bedell, 36, of Hollister, Calif., was identified as the shooter. Officials said they’d found no immediate connection to terrorism but had not ruled it out.

Signs emerged that Bedell harbored ill feelings toward the government and the armed forces, and had questioned the circumstances behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In an Internet posting, a user by the name JPatrickBedell wrote that he was “determined to see that justice is served” in the death of Marine Col. James Sabow, who was found dead in the backyard of his California home in 1991. The death was ruled a suicide but the case has long been the source of theories of a cover up.

The user named JPatrickBedell wrote the Sabow case was “a step toward establishing the truth of events such as the September 11 demolitions.”

That same posting railed against the government’s enforcement of marijuana laws and included links to the author’s 2006 court case in Orange County, Calif., for cultivating marijuana and resisting a police officer. Court records available online show the date of birth on the case mentioned by the user JPatrickBedell matches that of the John Patrick Bedell suspected in the shooting.

Contrary evidence aside, this shooter will inevitably be characterized as a radical right-wing activist.  It doesn’t matter that he hates the armed forces (a domain of the left), that he’s a 9/11 truther (another domain of the left), or that he’s obviously–and thankfully–a terrible shot. The mainstream press wants these shooters to be right-wingers.  They want them to be racists, as we saw when MSNBC described the inherent danger of armed white people at Barack Obama events while showing a close-up shot of what turned out to be a well-dressed black man carrying an AR-15.  They want to marginalize the right. They want to portray us as angry, as violent, as unstable.

And, in doing so, they want to feel better about themselves and their bitterness.

What liberals don’t seem to understand is that, for the most part, we don’t wake up each morning with that same anger with which they greet each day.  More often than not and with a few specific exceptions, we don’t resort to shouting and expletives to get our point across.  More often than not and with a few specific exceptions, we don’t engage in the politics of personal destruction.  We generally have the facts on our side — perhaps we find solace in knowing that the burden of proof is then on the left.

I’ve often wondered exactly what it is that so embitters those on the left who faithfully adhere to an ideology characterized by [mandated] social equality, by pacifism, tolerance, peace and love.  I’ve often wondered why those who, for the most part, are blessedly and blissfully ignorant of the evils and dangers of the outside world seem so intent upon allowing a raincloud to follow overhead all day.

George Will, in a fantastic Washington Post piece from 2006, draws from a Pew Research study and posits that the happiness gap between those on the right and on the left of the traditional political spectrum might have something to do with marriage, with faith, and even with sunshine.  Conservatives, he wrote, have a tendency to be and stay married, to attend worship services, and to live in sunny and warm locales. Liberals do not.  I think he’s right in many ways, but I believe he’s wrong in a few as well.

While Will cites as evidence the faded and tattered “Kerry/Edwards” and “Gore/Lieberman” bumper stickers often displayed with bitter pride on hybrid vehicles and gas efficient small station wagons as evidence of liberals’ anger, I believe it goes deeper than that.  Sure, a little anger and bitterness can be shown through vehicle adornment, but in my opinion more can be found in the need to constantly look for relaxation, meditation and centering in the countless yoga studios and meditation centers which pepper the coastal countryside.

Will also curiously mentions that conservatives are inherently pessimistic, and that pessimism leads to delight in being proven wrong. I don’t buy it. Though there is a certain level of frustration in knowing the realities of the world and watching as liberals ignore common sense, conservatives for the most part seem to me to be inherently optimistic, though guardedly so.  Many of us, after all, awake in the morning thankful for another day on God’s green Earth, wondering how we might contribute to our success in our lives, whether it’s prosperity at work or just making our families happy at home. I believe that conservatives, for the most part, are conscious of our place in life and in the world, and understand the relationship and consequences between ideas and actions. While I admit to be painting with a broad brush, it seems this bears in sharp contrast to liberals, who seem to partake in organic foods and environmental causes perhaps in an attempt to force themselves into a greater sense of self, of belonging, of necessary cause.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I am painting with a broad brush.  Maybe liberals just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe they accidentally put fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in their bowl of Kashi.  Maybe all Republicans are dumb.  Maybe Rush Limbaugh is brainwashing all of us.  Maybe Dick Cheney truly is evil, and Halliburton his personal Death Star. Still, I can’t help but think that there is something bigger behind such a perspective.

A person must be wired a certain way to perceive the world as a conservative or a liberal, must have priorities of a certain kind, must have a materially different sense of good and bad, right and wrong, essential and non-important. If such a difference exists, why can such a discrepancy not project onto mood?  If such a difference exists, why wouldn’t it manifest itself in ways like we saw with shooters Bedell and Bishop?



  1. Amy says:

    I don’t think this has anything to do with right or left. He was mentally ill. We have done a disservice to ourselves, the mentally ill and their families by being so PC about when a person can be forced to undergo psychiatric treatment. His parents realized he was a danger and asked the police to take him for treatment just a few weeks ago. Since Bedell refused, the officer had to let him go.

  2. YouShouldKnowBetter says:

    Again you have kind of gift wrapped my own thoughts into a more acceptable package than I might verbally deliver.

  3. Michelle Zhang says:

    @ Amy

    Psychiatric treatment only works when the person is willing. It’s a two-way street. It’s not like physical medicine. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped psychologically, even with drugs.

    Except when you fully numb them, like they used to with frontal lobotomies.

  4. PP says:

    No Jesus, No Peace
    Know Jesus, Know Peace

  5. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of mental illness 12:10 …….

    CAIRO – Al-Qaida’s American-born spokesman on Sunday called on Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces to emulate the Army major charged with killing 13 people in Fort Hood.

  6. Vibe says:

    Hate to say it, but this IS why there is a 2nd Amendment. As government gets more and mire intrusive more and more people will do things like that – it will start with the unstable before it moves to the organized. But it is WHY the Gov NEEDS to fear an armed populace. It’s part of the check and balance design – the fault still lies in the Gov for this action.

  7. Amy says:

    @ Michelle Zhang

    It is irrelevant whether or not psychiatric treatment and confinement would actually help the person. It would be a bonus if the person did get help, but that’s not the main issue. The purpose is to protect society from individuals who are insane.

    In the 1950′s, we had over 500,000 mentally ill people confined to state psychiatric hopsitals. With the assinine policies of the 1960′s that closed these places down, we now have less than 50,000 people confined like that. We don’t have fewer insane people now, we just have more of them wandering the streets, most of them homeless.

    Prison and state psychiatric hospitals should not be primarily thought of as places for punishment or treatment. Their main purpose should be to protect society.

  8. Kevin says:

    It is sad to have to admit, as a society, that we cannot help those with mental illness. The fact that many of these individuals are on the streets, with no resources for obtaining care, is shameful. Most people will avoid these individuals when they come across them on the street. The majority of those needing psychiatric help are only dangerous to themselves. Maybe, if we could give “political Correctness” a vacation for the rest of the year, our lawmakers could crack down and deport the massive illegal immigrant population. Then, maybe, there would be more resources available to help those in our society to get their life back on track.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Kevin, dare to dream.

  10. Yikes says:

    I see ‘lone’ battalions in our future.

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