Sure, why not? If we’re going to start blaming cultural influences, let’s go nuts. (So to speak.) Weed, heavy metal, Sarah Palin — was there no dangerous stimulus to which this delicate mind wasn’t subjected?
In particular, a pounding metal song used as the soundtrack for the lone video Loughner marked as a favorite on YouTube — one in which an American flag is burned by a hooded man — contains lyrics that reference bodies hitting a floor. The video for the song itself — a 2001 release from the band Drowning Pool titled “Bodies” — features one of the band’s members screaming instructions to what appears to be a mental patient housed in an insane asylum.
“You’re never sure what caused an individual to commit a specific act,” Brad Bushman, a communications and psychology professor at Ohio State University, told the Washington Post’s J. Freedom du Lac. “But I’ve been doing research on violent media for 20 years, and the evidence is that it leads to aggressive behavior. It’s not the only factor that leads to violence, but it’s one of them.”…
The band reiterated that stance when it issued a statement about the controversy surrounding the song and Loughner on its website on Monday.
“We were devastated this weekend to learn of the tragic events that occurred in Arizona and that our music has been misinterpreted, again,” the statement reads. ” ‘Bodies’ was written about the brotherhood of the mosh pit and the respect people have for each other in the pit. If you push others down, you have to pick them back up. It was never about violence. It’s about a certain amount of respect and a code.”
Follow the link up top to watch the music video. I wonder how much of this stuff we’re going to hear at Loughner’s trial as part of his insanity claims or in the sentencing phase as a mitigating factor. If his lawyer’s smart, she’ll take the “climate of hate” rhetoric and run with it; that’ll turn him into a liberal cause celebre (and earn her lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of camera time) and, at the very least, probably guarantee that he’ll be spared a death sentence lest he be “martyred” or whatever.
Speaking of an insanity defense, here’s a short but informative clip from tonight’s NBC Nightly News revealing something I didn’t know: Arizona actually has no insanity defense. Rather, they provide for a verdict of “guilty but insane,” which means Loughner would be sent to a mental hospital initially and, if he’s able to recover his bearings after treatment, would then be sent to prison to serve his term. That’ll actually make it much easier for a jury to find insanity, I think. If they know there’s no risk of him walking free, they don’t have to strain to avoid the seemingly obvious conclusion that, yes indeed, this guy’s off his rocker. On the other hand, the fact that he left those letters stating that he planned ahead and that he was undertaking an “assassination” will make it awfully hard to say that he didn’t know right from wrong when he grabbed his gun and headed out the door. Exit question: Desperate new defense theory — was he “lucidly dreaming”?
Update: Via e-mail, Ed reminds me that Loughner is facing both federal and state charges, so yes, an insanity defense would apply at the federal level.