Larry Naman had had enough of arrogant and unresponsive politicians, and so he shot one. This past summer, the (media-described) drifter took aim and shot at the head of Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox—a run-of-the-mill politician in Phoenix, known primarily for how loud and how often she can shout “police brutality.” But thanks to an alert security official, the bullet missed its mark and struck Wilcox in the backside. Naman not only admitted his actions but explained his motivation: frustration over Ms. Wilcox’s critical vote in favor of ramming a new sales tax—to build a Major League Baseball stadium for the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks —down the throat of the Phoenix community.

The levy, which was imposed without a public vote, was rationalized to Maricopa County residents as a small price to pay for the respectability that professional baseball would bring. Surely, the fact that the tax was temporary covered up any mistakes made in its implementation.

Such an argument ignored the seeds of discontent that were sown long before Naman shot Ms. Wilcox in order, in his words, to “restore democracy on the non-candidate side of the ballot.” Those seeds had first sprouted during the primary election campaign of 1994, when Jim Bruner, the former chairman of the Board of Supervisors who had steered the stadium tax through the labyrinth of loopholes designed to avoid a public vote, lost his bid for a congressional seat. Next came Ed King, another tax supporter, who failed in his 1996 reelection bid for the Board of Supervisors. This left among the trinity of pro-stadium forces only Mary Rose Wilcox. When she won reelection in 1996, the backlash against the Bank One Ballpark was presumed to be over. Of course, as Larry Naman demonstrated, it wasn’t.

From her hospital bed, Ms. Wilcox blamed Naman’s attack on the evils of “hate radio,” which ostensibly had driven Naman to madness. But Naman’s statement was too articulate to fit the profile of a deranged drifter, and the chatter on the radio and in columns in the alternative media expressing sympathy with Naman’s thoughts (if not his actions) made it clear that this shooting had touched on something important about the state of our democracy.

As Libertarian Party member Ernie Hancock told Barry Graham of the weekly Phoenix New Times: “[when] every single peaceful means to regain our freedoms [is exhausted], you cannot stop the people from rendering their own version of justice. Those that are frail of mind or spirit will be the first ones to go over the edge. The violence will start small, and it will grow. And it’s all due to the fact that you are violating the rights of individual people and eliminating peaceful alternatives.”

Hancock’s comments were prescient. A month after the Wilcox shooting, the Arizona Republic reported on a rash of recent attacks on politicians in the Valley: a Phoenix council member had to dodge BB gunfire at her house and had her tires slashed; police hauled off an activist who refused to surrender the lectern at a Scottsdale City Council meeting; and a Gilbert (Arizona) councilman feared for his life and ran for an exit as angry citizens hurled insults at him. As Peter Drake, a private land planner in Phoenix, told the Republic, “The populace feels powerless to influence events. That leads to fear and ultimately to anger.”

Meanwhile, the construction of the Bank One Ballpark goes on in Phoenix, and Mary Wilcox continues to recuperate. Did Wilcox deserve to end up in a hospital bed? Of course not. But as Barry Graham concluded, “it was her arrogance that put her there, and what happened to her should serve as a lesson to her and everyone else.”