In all I've read and pondered these past days, nothing has galvanized me more than Jon Stewart's introductory remarks in his show on Monday night. If anyone could have used the powerful media space at his disposal to parody vitriol and point to it as a direct cause of last weekend's violence, it was Stewart.

He did not. He suspended humor and spoke from the heart about the seriousness of the moment. He admitted that it would be easier to point the finger and find blame, but one can't do that with integrity in this case. And still, he noted, It would "be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn't at all resemble the way people talk to each other on TV."

Amen to that.


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Reflections

Indeed. Amen to that.

Thank you On Being. Thank you Krista Tippett! Thank you for all you do.

Thank you for this. I worry about the "numb" that starts to set in. This helps make one "feel" again and for the better, like he suggested.

I put myself in line with Rachel and Gary. Your programm has never been more relevant than now. Thank you!

Thanks so much for posting this, Krista. What a shining moment for Jon S. It really helps me to hear such a wonderful perspective.

I agree with all of the comments so far. One other thing Stewart said resonated with me: “Let’s at least make troubled individuals easier to spot.” One way we can do that is to distinguish between a "loner" who's actually a frustrated extravert desperate for attention, vs. the "loner" who's a true introvert seeking peace and an ordered mind. (One book that might help: _Introvert Power_ by Laurie Helgoe,, PhD.)

It's amazing that this man, who can be so irreverent and funny, is becoming the voice of reason.....I continue to applaud him and his words.

I was genuinely moved by much of what Stewart had to say, but I was also saddened by his use of the word "crazy" to describe Loughner's actions. Words matter, so, so much, and when we conflate the actions of someone who shoots more than a dozen people with the concept of being mentally ill - all through the term 'crazy', which is indiscriminately used to apply to both situations - we do many people a disservice (including Loughner himself). We increase the social stigma against mental illness - mentally ill people are crazy, right? Given to this kind of violence? They're not like us! - and we obscure what real help might have helped Loughner, if appropriate; what services and information and understanding should be available to all who are troubled and struggling with illness. (We may never know for sure if Loughner truly is mentally ill, since medical records are protected.)

If we mean that Loughner's actions are difficult to understand, let's say so. They are horrifying, scary, troubling; they grieve us deeply. We struggle to make sense of a world in which such senseless violence can occur. Let's use those words instead of "crazy." Let's pick our words with precision and compassion.

well said. indeed it's refreshing and hopeful to see some public figures speaking with reason and civility. of course Stewart does not speak without error, as he is human like the rest of us- but nonetheless a needed voice and perspective in this country.
Thanks for posting this...I may have missed it otherwise. On Being is continually contributing helpful perspectives and conversations....merci beaucoup.

I find myself agreeing with Catherine - that as valuable as it is to reflect upon the lives cut short, it is equally as valuable (or perhaps more so in a preventative stance) for us to take the opportunity to educate ourselves on how to engage, interact, and responsibly follow through on our experiences with persons we perceive to be mentally ill. It may be that tragedies like this are unavoidable with a compelling paranoid personality that is focused on destructiion. However, what I think is more often the case, and rarely celebrated, are the countless lives touched by mental illness, whether a mild depression or severe bi-polar, that make it through another day thanks to the community and conversation that engages them as one of their own. When we treat our communities like extended family, I think we are much more apt to notice slight changes in a concerning direction and feel both the responsiblity and compassion to act upon it.

Thanks for pointing this out, Krista. I've not been a Stewart viewer, but this kind of talk -- with all its little disclaimers and reflective pauses -- is the only kind I want to listen to. Ideologues don't often take that kind of care with what they say and how they say it.

sorry didn't really get much out of that...kinda just rambling on...

An additional step forward for our country will be when the rhetoric of "crazy" for those that suffer from an illness of the mind has the language of compassion surrounding it. The mentally ill are some of the last in our society to be treated with respect and human dignity. When are we going to 'recognize' and TREAT these illnesses that so devastates the lives of those have the illness, their families and friends?

An interesting article re: the "crazy" discussion Catherine brought up:

"Comparatively, pretty much every rampage committed by a Muslim is immediately considered terrorism, with other motives being secondary and tertiary concerns.

What we can glean from this disparate coverage is that mass killings committed by whites are generally done by good people gone bad due to mental health woes, whereas mass killings done by brown Muslims are the work of methodical terrorists. Of course, as it turns out, those two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive."

http://www.good.is/post/like-j...

Even with a weak predictive model, Katherine S. Newman is able to make policy recommendations to respond to and decrease the likelihood of rampage school shootings. Likewise, she has isolated factors that are "necessary but insufficient causes" of school shootings.

I would argue that violent rhetoric functions the same way in political crimes that "cultural scripts" do in rampage school shootings. Further, Media Matters for America has documented the connection between rhetoric and violent incidents.

We should not be so beholden to corporate-owned media standards of balance as to be blinded to careful analysis of the connection between the cultural production of violent rhetoric and imagery and its enactment.

Thank you Jon. Humor isn't always appropriate, and this has been one of the times when it wasn't. I appreciate your sensitivity and compassion.

"Crazy people rule us all."
There it is.