The Wall Street Journal managed to track down what are apparently some comments Loughner made on a gaming site; they're full of his usual conspiratorial nonsense (his lunatic theories on grammar and currency) but they're also, as the Journal notes, "peppered with displays of misogyny." One posting
titled "Why Rape," ... said women in college enjoyed being raped. "There are Rape victims that are under the influence of a substance. The drinking is leading them to rape. The loneliness will bring you to depression. Being alone for a very long time will inevitably lead you to rape."
This is the dark side of the "incel" mindset. (That is, those who turn their "involuntarily celibate" state into an identity.)
Another time, the Journal reports, Loughner
started a thread titled "Talk, Talk, Talking about Rejection." He solicited stories of rejection by the opposite sex. The next day he wrote, "Its funny...when..they say lets go on a date about 3 times..and they dont....go..." Three days later, he wrote, "Its funny when your 60 wondering......what happen at 21."
There is other evidence that Loughner nursed anger towards and hatred of women and authority figures: he apparently scrawled the phrases "die bitch" and "die cops" on a letter he'd gotten from congresswoman Giffords.
As Amanda Marcotte points out, there are a lot of people out there who've responded with anger at the very notion "that misogyny might play a role in the choice of a young man to shoot a powerful woman in the head ... ."
But the fact is that misogyny has consequences, and one of its most common and most predictable consequences is violence towards women. Misogyny plays a role, as Marcotte notes, even when the perpetrator of this violence is "crazy."
What I’m seeing here is that Loughner, mental illness or no, completely absorbed society’s teachings about male entitlement and female sinfulness, that men have a right to have needs filled at women’s expense, and that women give up their rights to bodily autonomy if they do things deemed unladylike, like have sex or drink alcohol.
And just as those who spew hateful political rhetoric -- filled with talk of guns and targets and "second amendment solutions" to political "problems" -- shouldn't be surprised when someone takes that rhetoric seriously, so those who spew misogyny online shouldn't be surprised when someone acts on that misogyny and attacks a woman. As Marcotte puts it,
just because someone has a mental illness rarely means that he’s completely unaware of the world around him. Loughner’s ability with a gun or his thoughts on rape didn’t spring fully formed from his brain, but are the product of an individual interacting with a specific environment.
Those who contribute to that toxic environment -- whether they're Sarah Palin talking about "reloading" or some random woman-hater talking gleefully online about bashing "bitches" -- share in the responsibility when someone pulls a gun and shoots down a female politician he's convinced himself is a "bitch."
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