When a victim struggles

WHEN A VICTIM STRUGGLES…. James Eric Fuller was one of 19 people shot last weekend when Jared Lee Loughner tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Regrettably, it appears Fuller is not responding well in the aftermath.

The first hint of trouble came late last week, when Fuller said in an interview that prominent Republicans were to blame the massacre. “It looks like Palin, Beck, Sharron Angle and the rest got their first target,” Fuller said in an interview with Democracy NOW. The 63-year-old veteran went on to argue, “Their wish for Second Amendment activism has been fulfilled — senseless hatred leading to murder, lunatic fringe anarchism, subscribed to by John Boehner, mainstream rebels with vengeance for all — even 9-year-old girls.”

All of this, obviously, is deeply misguided, and baseless accusations like these do not belong in any kind of sensible discourse. Making matters worse, however, the intensity of Fuller’s reaction to the violence became even less healthy soon after.

An Arizona shooting victim accused of threatening a tea party leader at a televised town hall meeting also yelled at those in attendance, at one point calling them all “whores,” authorities said Sunday.

James Eric Fuller, 63, was arrested on disorderly conduct and threat charges and taken for a psychiatric exam after he a took picture of Trent Humphries, the co-founder of the Tucson Tea Party, and yelled “you’re dead,” authorities said. The event was taped for a special edition of ABC’s “This Week.”

“Deputies made contact with him, attempted to remove him, and he turned around and yelled at everybody and called them all whores,” Pima County sheriff’s spokesman Jason Ogan told The Associated Press.

Deputies decided he needed a mental health evaluation and he was taken to a hospital, where he remained Sunday, Ogan said. He was to be held for at least a 72 hours, and the hospital will decide if more treatment is needed.

There can be no doubt that Fuller’s behavior was indefensible. People just can’t act this way.

But I also hope the political world watching this will resist the urge to turn Fuller into another pawn in a larger game. A week ago, the man was shot — twice — by a lunatic, and spent two days in the hospital. It’s easy to say from a distance that, after suffering a horror like this one, people should keep it together and keep their emotions in check, but after someone actually endures the experience, I suspect it’s easier said than done.

Here’s hoping medical professionals can help Fuller out, and get him back on track.