As of this writing, it appears that Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who shot Democratic Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, critically wounding her and several bystanders and killing six people (including a child and a federal judge), acted alone. We can't, therefore, directly blame Tea Party activists for his criminal rampage.
Of course, hardcore Tea Partiers blame Democrats in general and President Obama in particular for any offenses committed against government officials. See, for example, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) who, after Joe Stack launched a suicide attack against the IRS, killing a federal worker, essentially said he could understand where the lunatic was coming from. So, in that spirit, we feel justified in taking a moment to attack the attackers. Yes, we blame the Tea Party.
(DIGRESSION: We suppose that should really be "Tea Party," as this is still essentially a decentralized movement as opposed to an actual group of people concerned with the idea of governing. Just one more way this group of thugs is like the mafia: "Tea Party? Ain't no such thing." EOD)
One of the great ironies about Tea Party conspiracy theorists: For all their fears about incipient socialism and creeping totalitarianism, these people thrive on the very freedom thay suspect the government of trying to curtail. In true tyrannies, anyone who complained about their government with even a fraction of the vitriol expressed by the mildest of TP-ers would quickly find themselves in jail or worse. You don't hear about Tea Parties in North Korea--and Koreans LOVE tea!
We also note that Tea Party groups, while condemning Loughner, warn Democrats not to make political hay of this incident. They note that left-wing groups have committed terroristic acts as well. True enough. The Weather Underground comes to mind. But that was back in the 1960s. Throughout the reign of George W. Bush, the major Republican casualties were self-inflicted, arising as a result of sexual hypocrisy and financial impropriety (see Larry Craig, Tom Delay, et al.)--no crazed Naderite took a potshot at, say, Steve King.
We wish Rep. Giffords the best and hope she can recover. We also hope that some good can come of this. We hope that this tragedy forces people to step back, take a deep breath, and tone down the rhetoric that has brought us to this pass.