PJ Media

With Loughner, Time to Talk Parental Responsibility

Just so we’re clear from the start, dear reader, I am not — not — about to opine that Jared Loughner’s parents could have definitely prevented their son’s mad rampage with a gun last week in Arizona. No human being could ever make such a godlike assumption. Believing that one has the ability to read others’ minds is one of the markers of insanity.

This is a fact of life — which makes the entire progressive meme of the past week no more enlightened than an actual witch hunt. Who did this? It was a witch! I’m sure it was a witch! Why did he do it? It was a spell! I’m sure it was a spell! What to do? What to do? Burn the wicked witch! Burn her! Burn her!

Now, there’s simply no need, among sane, reasonable, modern human beings, to debate this any further. The “let’s see how far we can dumb down progress” progressives have been shamed — first by Mom-in-chief Sarah Palin (otherwise known as the witch of confused imaginations), and then by the progressives’ own leader, President Obama.

Of course, these mad romps into the wilds of witchdom will continue just as long as there are fools who can be persuaded that illogic and insanity can be forced into the orderly space where logic and reason reside.

But for the rest of us, there remains an elephant in the room with the Loughner tale: parental responsibility.

Palin, for her part, skirted this issue as much as she possibly could. In her kitchen-table speech (otherwise known as Facebook), she took the childish witch-hunters to task on the most crucial point in this entire public debate — personal accountability.

Collectivists of the socialist bent will always see societal responsibility as both the cause of and the remedy to every problem, because this is the foundation of their entire worldview.

Most Americans, however, still abide by a Judeo-Christian moral code that puts parents in the first line of accountability for minor children. Jared Loughner is no longer a minor, but while he was still a minor, grave signs of mental, spiritual, and behavioral decay were apparent to all who knew Jared. As more and more details have become known through interviews with friends and neighbors, there were many indicators that Jared needed major intervention in his life.

Now that The New York Times has actually reported a few real facts regarding Loughner, his own parents’ failure to intervene before tragedy struck is all the more glaring. From the Times’ in-depth article:

Not long after showing up intoxicated at school, Jared dropped out. He also dropped out of band. Then, in September 2007, he and a friend were caught with drug paraphernalia in a white van.

Something was happening to Jared Loughner. It was clear to his friends, clear to anyone who encountered him.

Apparently, Jared’s deterioration was “clear to anyone who encountered him” except the two people with both the legal and moral authority to get him the help he needed. This is not only sad. In any Judeo-Christian universe, it is a gravely sinful disregard for one’s own parental duty — one’s duty to God, to one’s child, and, yes, also to the society of which that child is to become a productive part.

No one can say from afar, much less in hindsight, whether Jared’s parents could have prevented this tragedy. But it is entirely within our purview to ask why Jared’s parents so shirked their own duty as parents. Why was Jared’s obvious deterioration left unaddressed by the only people who could have stepped in?
I’ve read everything that has been published so far on Jared Loughner. His parents remain silent. I’m certain their agony at this point is excruciating. But America will do herself no favor by failing to ask the tough questions about the role this family’s moral or religious bearings played in this senseless tragedy.

Loughner was still living at home under his parents’ roof. While still a minor, he was drinking alcohol excessively and dangerously. He was using hallucinogenic substances. He dropped out of school. He purchased a gun that sells for $400-500, yet he had no job. He had access to an automobile that he did not pay for himself. He constructed an occultist shrine in his own backyard. He listened to violent, blaring music with immoral and hateful lyrics.

There isn’t an item in this long list that would not raise the hairs on the back of a good parent’s neck and prompt him to action on his child’s behalf.

Even the most casually observant parents could not have possibly failed to see these aspects of their son’s life. Most of the parents I’ve known would have been prompted to stringent action to save a son clearly close to an abyss.

Jared’s parents could have buried their heads in the sand and not seen some of these signs. But Pima Community College officials personally talked to Jared’s parents last fall, letting them know in no uncertain terms that there were grave problems with Jared’s mental health. The know-nothing, see-nothing excuse evaporated completely at that point.

It’s not as if parents don’t have many tools at their disposal.

Jared’s mother worked for Pima County, which I am certain provided excellent medical insurance. Mental health professionals are covered by all comprehensive insurance plans. Why was Jared not immediately taken for evaluation and help the minute he showed up at his public school intoxicated — while still a minor child? Why was Jared allowed to stay under his parents’ roof without being forced into a drug counseling program? While Jared was still a minor, he could have been forced into a residential mental health facility.

Why was Jared allowed to conceal illegal drugs in his possession? Responsible parents routinely search the belongings of untrustworthy minors. Responsible parents will even get police help if they are unable to control a minor child.

Why was Jared given the money he needed to continue his destructive behaviors? Apparently, Jared not only obtained the money to buy his gun, but also enough expensive ammunition to do frequent desert target practice with friends. Why was a drug-using, alcohol-abusing, sick teen given enough extra money to destroy himself — and eventually others?

These are the tough questions that will inevitably haunt Jared’s parents — probably for the rest of their lives. If Mr. and Mrs. Loughner are doing real introspection at this point, then perhaps good will eventually come of this heinous tragedy. They might, at some point in the future, become spokespeople for a new call to parental responsibility.

Until such a time as this society decides to hold those truly culpable to account, we should expect a growing trend of tragedy at the hands of out of control youth with access to cash, cars, drugs, and weapons — all purchased indirectly by their own parents.

Some of these youths will be found mentally ill.  Some will simply have gone unhindered to the dark side.  To their victims, none of it will matter.

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