Police have identified the man who shot the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party Bill Gwatney. Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, had been fired from his job at a Target store early Wednesday morning for writing graffiti on a wall. You’ll die of shock to learn he’s been described as an unmarried loner who was quiet but creepy.
No one’s got any word on a motive yet, but I imagine we’ll discover a man with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. He’ll have some personal narrative blaming the Democrats for his woes, although it could just be politicians in general and the Democratic Party headquarters the nearest target when he snapped. His house will likely be full of ammo and guns. He’ll have spent the past few years getting weirder, more isolated, and more paranoid. About the only interesting thing to discover will be why he drove over to the Arkansas State Baptist Convention and aimed a gun at the building manager after killing Gwatney. The rest of it’s going to follow a depressing, predictable trajectory.
We’ve got a lot of very, very broken people in this world.
Someone emailed Michelle Malkin, right wing hatemonger extraordinaire, to tell her she’s responsible. That’s jumping the gun a bit. The man had a wide variety of deranged, hate-filled, kill-’em-all columnists, bloggers, radio hosts, and organizations to chose from. People who like to celebrate violence, dehumanize their enemies, and then play the outraged innocent when someone takes them seriously. We see most of it on the right, but there’s a smattering of it on the radical left as well, so let’s not go blaming the first vitriolic right-wing blogger that comes to mind until we discover who was on this loser’s reading list.
The Arkansas Republican Party’s showing a wonderful streak of humanity in all of this. They’ve responded with empathy and heartfelt kind words for Chairman Gwatney, which gives me a bit o’ hope that partisan acrimony hasn’t completely rotted the entirety of our political system. There’s even a wreath featuring a donkey and an elephant propped outside the Democratic party headquarters. This is the kind of spirit I want to see: the realization that even though we may not be able to stand each others’ political views, we’re all in this world together, and we can care for each other no matter how much we may disagree.
They’ve shown genuine class and decency. I hope others can follow their lead.
My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of Bill Gwatney tonight. They’ve lost a great person, and things are never going to be the same for them. I extend my deepest sympathies, and the hope that memories of all that was wise and wonderful about Bill will eventually overshadow the way he died.