The first photo I saw of Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter in the Tucson tragedy, was of an attractive young man, high-school or early college age. Shortly after that, a different photo appeared: his hair had been shaven, his eyes glistened, and he had an odd smile–odd because he had just been arrested for murdering six people and injuring at least seven more. He looked at best somewhat gleeful; at worst, crazed (I’m tempted to say demonic). Later a group of three photos showed an even younger Loughner–in one shot he was playing a saxophone. These were the “before” shots. He looked like someone’s son or brother or nephew or neighbor. But the image of a smiling murderer is the one that has dominated. Of course, a strange image is certain to attract more readers and viewers. And, of course, definitely, he is still someone’s son–his parents have suffered a great, great loss, too. I wonder what has been the common response to that “after” image? I doubt it has encouraged sympathy for the young man who succumbed to mental illness. http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2011/jan/23/mental-health
NewsThe Universe Playing Strings, a novel, recently released by the University of New Mexico Press. For details visit R. M. Kinder.