Tucson’s alleged shooter Jared Loughner remains in the online headlines today, and some of those stories only provide more reasons to feel lucky to live in small-city Appalachia.
Readers of the Sunday Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram today can be thankful for the comics, the coupons, the latest sports scores from WVU and Robert C. Byrd High School – and very likely an update on the poor folks caught up in the spectacular crash on West Main Street yesterday afternoon.
Some national news is welcome of course– an update on Rep. Giffords recovery perhaps – but we’ll likely be spared the ‘news’ that Jared Loughner frequented UFO forums and or had any other paranormal interest. The implication of reports such as that in the Washington Post, that an interest in the paranormal should have been a warning to picket-fence-America about his dangerous degree of mental instability or psychotic tendancies, is more than just offensive. It’s useless.
What good is it to speculate about any connection between the Tucson atrocity and flying saucers, when perhaps a better question is, should the country’s Megalomarts be allowed to sell handguns and ammunition to angry young men? Or, what could be a better solution for educational institutions than expulsion, whenever they encounter a student as intolerable as Loughner – what does the state’s mental health facilities offer? What should they offer?
Sometimes people end up on society’s fringe – including the paranormal interest groups, admittedly – simply because they haven’t found any validation, companionship, sympathy, or (frankly) help in the mainstream. Sure, you can have some mental health support out there, if you’re rich enough. Or poor enough, or connected somehow, or just lucky. In the small fraction of population that covers, what if the person needing help is simply too scared to go? Or doesn’t want the stigma of having a ‘therapist’? Or doesn’t realize they need help in the first place?
So the sad truth is, plenty of Americans who need help today will slip through the cracks. Most will hurt only themselves; some will struggle on to a somewhat normal life. But, once in a while, the nation will again face another tragedy, another Tucson, another Columbine, another Unabomber – and what are we doing to prevent it from happening again?
That’s the question the media should be asking this Sunday. Who cares what Jared Loughner thought of UFOs — unless he’d managed to contact the Federation of Benevolent Space Brothers, who are even now planning to fix all our big problems for us. Who’s willing to bet on that?