In the immediate aftermath of last week's tragic shooting at Arapahoe High School, there was ill-advised speculation right away based on reported anecdotes about the 18-year old shooter's alleged political leanings. Conservative bloggers and pundits became especially concerned about an edit made to a Denver Post story covering events as they unfolded. For example, major conservative blog Gateway Pundit:
After thinking things over, the Denver Post decided to delete the fact that Arapahoe School shooter Karl Pierson was a committed socialist from their news report…
Guess it didn’t fit their narrative that only right-wing Tea Party folks were the dangerous ones.
Todd Starnes of FOX News angrily demanded an explanation:
Why did Denver Post scrub paragraphs about school gunman allegedly being obsessed with socialism?
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 14, 2013
In response, the Denver Post explained their decision to remove this reported anecdote about Arapahoe High School shooter Karl Pierson thusly: "we decided not to have another student apply a label to the shooter — a label the student likely didn't even understand." And in fairness, Denver Post stories about the shooter did note a rant on Facebook attributed to Pierson that is plainly critical of Republicans.
But after watching conservative pundits–mostly outside Colorado–grope for any political angle they could find, anecdotal or otherwise, to invoke as Friday's tragedy unfolded, we are obliged to note a report this morning from Bente Birkeland of KUNC.
The Arapahoe High School shooting hit especially close to home for Republican senator Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch. His son is a junior at Arapahoe High and was on the speech and debate team with gunman Karl Pierson. Harvey is also a good friend of Pierson’s mother – who he says is one of his biggest political backers. [Pols emphasis]
By the same yardstick the conservative pundit class was ready to judge the shooter's own politics, it seems to us that as much could be made of the apparent politics of the shooter's mother–couldn't it? As you can probably see by now, this could very quickly devolve into an endless morass of speculation and reinforcement of existing prejudices. To some extent, that's probably inevitable.
But we believe it's better to not dwell on the shooter's politics, or that of his parents. We'd say the moment he made the decision to walk into his Colorado high school with a gun, politics ceased to matter. For anyone who would do such a thing, they probably never did. And even if that seems naive to you, if you think about it, our view, which we believe to speak for a majority, is one of the reasons you should feel very lucky to live in the United States of America. We would much rather live in a nation that condemns senseless violence with one voice.
Above all, we hope we'll have no need to ever bring this up again. But we probably will.