So it’s somewhat startling that Greg Downs, a fiction writer and history professor at City College in New York, thinks I have something in common with Jared Loughner, her alleged shooter. Startling, but spot-on:
Although most people do not erupt into murderous rages, many Americans do think about politics in these very intimate ways, as exchanges between individuals, and those exchanges are often imaginative, even fantastic, among people who otherwise seem rational and sane.
Yes, Loughner was likely mentally ill. All the more reason we should strive to understand his behavior on all fronts – clinical, cultural, et cetera – rather than dismissing his rampage as the inexplicable action of a lunatic. Maybe this is what people really meant when they blamed our "toxic" political climate: that Jared Loughner is more like us than we'd otherwise like to admit.