Jared Lee Loughner -- Who’s to Blame?

Murderer and Assassin Jared Lee Loughner

 

Was the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords of Arizona the act of an angry, mentally ill lone wolf gunman? Was he a closet liberal because of the reading material he claimed to have perused? Or a right-winger influenced by Tea Party ideology and exaggerated accusations?

I. Introduction

Those who wish to maintain that Jared Lee Loughner was only a “drug addict” (he was denied enlistment in the Army due to a failed drug test and was arrested once for ownership of drug paraphernalia) or was “insane” have missed the point.

Obviously, Loughner probably smoked marijuana -- but how does that differ from a sizable number of people in the United States who also smoke such and are not overly violent?

Equally apparent, Loughner probably suffers from a type of emotional disturbance -- a severe mood disorder most likely; but possibly something like schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, or perhaps schizophrenia. Again, however, how does that differ from the sizable fragment of society that suffers from mental illness of one sort or another, people who are statistically far more likely to harm themselves or be harmed by others than ever commit murder?

After 11 September 2001, there was never any discussion whether the 20 men who were involved in hijacking and flying planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field outside Washington D.C. were “mentally ill,” much less “drug addicts,” even though the acts were every bit as senseless -- and every bit as political -- as the murders that took place in Tucson. For that matter, there was no such talk with Timothy McVeigh after the Oklahoma, no worries of this sort after Joe Stack flew his airplane into an IRS building in Austin, TX in 2010, no concerns when Maj. Nidal Milak Hasan shot his fellow soldiers at Ft. Hood in Texas in 2009.

In fact, none of the would-be terrorists arrested in America over the past 10 years have had their actions attributed to mental illness or suspected drug use -- even though one must wonder exactly how mentally healthy one would have to be under any circumstance to go on a suicide mission to kill as many civilians as possible in order to make a political point or gain power for a cause.

Why is this? Because we tend to recognize that, over and above whatever internal, subjective forces are at work in the mind and emotions of a would be assassin or terrorist, there are also external ideas and beliefs that motivate them. There is a cultural atmosphere from which political killers emerge: there are religions, ideologies and philosophical theories that influence and encourage their actions.

Hence, with McVeigh, knowledge of ideas and beliefs that also motivate the various militia movements became important in understanding his actions. The influence of radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on Maj. Hasan is essential for comprehending his murders. Tax protest movements and widespread anger about government bailouts of corporations form part of the cultural background needed to make sense of Joseph Stack’s senseless action. And knowledge of al-Qaida’s theocratic worldview and aims is held to be the most important thing to grasp in the 9/11 terrorist actions and other plots.

To be certain, some killers murder for fame or from completely delusional motives such as when John Hinkley, Jr. shot President Reagan and his aides; but in this latter case, Hinkley’s “motive” was an erotomaniacal obsession with actress Jodie Foster -- and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric facility.

From recent reports, Jared Lee Loughner considered his attack on Congresswoman Giffords an assassination attempt for which he planned. This means he considered his actions essentially political. If he had a maniacal obsession, it was on a political figure -- Gabriella Giffords -- for some sort of political reason going back as far as 2007 but growing through 2010.

What, then, is the ideological background from which Loughner emerged? What political ideas and philosophies were dominant in his world, the world he seems to have paid attention to according to the evidence of his own testimonies -- inasmuch as these are available to non-law enforcement civilians at this moment? Can we determine anything meaningful at this time from the available materials?

II. The Far Right-Wing Reaction

When Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik addressed the media 8 January 2011, he had a few things to say by way of a personal theory about the influence of the broader culture on the alleged shooter who was, by then, in custody:

‘"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," said the sheriff. "And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

‘When asked by a reporter if Giffords being shot could have been motivated by "prejudice and bigotry," Dupnik responded, "All I can tell you is that there's reason to believe that this individual may have a mental issue. And I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol."‘ [The Huffington Post; Sheriff Clarence Dupnik: Arizona 'Mecca For Prejudice & Bigotry'http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/08/sheriff-clarence-dupnik-a_n_806303.html]

The response of the Far Right was swift, from Fox News to the “blogosphere.” Fox began building a narrative encouraging its viewers to see the would-be assassin as merely insane, a drug addict, a lone wolf with no connection to the broader world, motivated by nothing more than a dubious desire for the mythical "15 minutes of fame." By Sunday, Fox had gone so far as to begin to question Dupnik's veracity and accuracy , and whether anyone should take his assessment as anything more than a purely private opinion, and a flawed one at that.

And this version of reality spread quickly, repeated as common wisdom by those who felt assaulted by Sheriff Dupnik's words. Take this posting on the conservative Examiner.com as representative of common belief on the right:

"It goes without saying that Loughner is a disturbed human being, a man who suffers from marked emotional instability . His notes on MySpace and YouTube are rambling and sometimes unintelligible, particularly when he launches into lengthy screeds on 'English grammar,' which can only be understood by mental health professionals who could possibly find a way to enter into Loughner's inner world. Anyone else, however, would find the attempt to understand Loughner's disjointed and often contradictory language to be a lesson in futility.

"Schoolmates of the alleged shooter describe Loughner as a loner, an ultra-liberal with a penchant for hard rock music, flag burning, and pot smoking.

His reading material is a strange mix, including 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' 'Atlas Shrugs,' and '1984.' But of great curiosity are his self-described favorites--'Mein Kompf' by Adolf Hitler and 'The Communist Manifesto' by Karl Marx. Loughner was reported to have been in the process of reading Marx's Manifesto at the time of the shooting.

"Even more curious are Loughner's 'heroes.' He mentions by name Venezuelan Communist Hugo Chavez, Latin American Communist mass-murderer Che Guevara, American Socialist revolutionary Saul Alinsky, and even Barack Obama.

"Law enforcement officials in the Tuscon area note Loughner's history of various run-ins with the law . He has allegedly made threats in the past and, according to one unconfirmed report, had delivered a direct threat to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords prior to her shooting on Saturday.

"Before the smoke had barely settled from Loughner's alleged gun on Saturday, certain bloggers, Twitter users, and Leftwing pundits on CNN, MSNBC and other mainstream media outlets were blaming conservatives, Tea Party members, Sarah Palin, and Glenn Beck for the shooting.  Yet nothing was said of Loughner's favorite reading material , such as Karl Marx, which, in the hands of an unstable person, could lead directly to violence.

"To blame individuals and groups other than the shooter himself for this despicable act is an exercise in desperation for political purposes. Any person, whether they be conservative, liberal, Marxist, Fascist, or Democrat can go berserk at the drop of a hat if they are already teetering on the edge of emotional collapse. All it takes is one tipping point." (Spelling errors copied from the Examiner article. RVI)[by Anthony Martin , from Examiner.Com; Who is Jared Lee Loughner?; http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-national/who-is-jared-lee-loughner ]

Several things are interesting here, the first being the fast and loose way Mr. Martin plays with the simple facts as they are available. Martin lists Loughner's alleged "heroes" -- a pantheon of Communists, Socialists, and "even Barack Obama." Yet, if one checks Martin's source for making this claim, this is what we find a post on the ultra-Right FreeRepublic.com:

"To: woofie

"From facebook for a Jared Laughner from Tuscon, Arizona, the man named as the shooter. People who inspire him include Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Huo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stalin, and Yassir Arafat. He writes “Fight the Right! Obama and the Progressives will overcome the tyrrany of big business and the racist Tea Party.

"BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!" 21 posted on Saturday, January 08, 2011 4:53:22 PM by Scanian "[ http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2653530/posts ]

A) By the time "Scanian" made this post, Loughner's Facebook account had been closed and could not be independently examined. B) When asked by others for some sort of confirmation of source or proof, such as a screen shot of the Facebook page, "Scanian" never responded. C) After searching the web, this writer could not confirm "Scanian's" claim, either. This list of names could have been made up and propagated by anyone for whatever motives. Until validated by the authorities, it is irresponsible to repeat this list as if it is factually connected to Loughner.

Secondly, Loughner's list of books -- available on his You Tube profile page -- does not include Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; it does include her We, the Living, which Martin does not mention. In any case, both works are far right-wing, libertarian novels, not motivated by "liberal" or left-wing thought in any way. Ayn Rand hated government and was in favor of Ludwig von Mises' Austrian School of Economics (the same as influences Ron Paul and his followers), and was obsessed with the gold standard and angrily opposed anything that smelled vaguely of "socialism." Her morality was extreme egoism, a.k.a. selfishness as virtue and her political philosophy was Laissez-Faire Capitalism.

Moreover, Loughner's list does not include George Orwell's 1984; but it does include Animal Farm. Though Orwell was a democratic socialist, he was no Communist and his novels oppose totalitarianism in any form, right- or left-wing. They do depict the individual opposed by a remorselessly oppressive group or state.

Yes, Loughner claims to have read The Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf (I know of no book called Mein Kompf ; perhaps Mr. Martin has access to some list of Hitler's books no one else does). But any student of history should be familiar with both of these, and Loughner had been in Community College before being dismissed last year. Regardless, Loughner nowhere claims that either of these books are more special to him than any other on the list.

Does one have to point out that reading a book hardly means anyone believes in the ideas embodied in that book? Not only must one read such things, but one must act on them or express such beliefs in a positive way before we have some reason to say he is a "Communist" or a "Nazi." Moreover, Mein Kampf is not a work of liberalism -- it is a hateful screed from the farthest point of the right-wing, a vile mix of fascism, nationalism, and racism. It has become part of the Tea Party/American right-wing's mythology that Nazism was a leftist movement (not so oddly, the belief Nazism is liberal was widely argued by Ayn Rand and her followers long before this notion recently became acceptable in mainstream discourse).

That said, Loughner also lists The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Toll Booth, and Plato's Republic and Meno as favorite books, as if all of these are somehow equal in value -- which they may have been to him. Or maybe not. All that is apparent from Loughner's list of books is that he claims to have read a few books and liked them. It does not show he understood any of them, was influenced by any of them. . . nothing. We will have to look elsewhere to see if Loughner exhibited any effects from having read any of these things before claiming there was an influence, negative or positive.

The most telling thing about the reaction from the right, especially Fox News' attempt at a preemptive strike against the influence of Sheriff Dupnik's statements, is this: Dupnik at no time mentioned the right-wing as being the guilty party in influencing the murderer. He simply talked about "vitriol" from "the radio and some TV shows," about "racism," about "hatred," anger," and "bigotry" -- all of which have been problems in Arizona recently. But at no time did he mention any names, any political affiliations, any particular radio personalities or television networks. The right reacted without direct provocation -- and why? A sense of guilt their actions and words may have been involved in causing this disaster? Oversensitivity to even the appearance of criticism?

Or because vitriol, racism, hatred, anger, and bigotry have become the marks by which many people recognize ultra-conservatism in America? And because some pundits and influential people from that ideological quarter understand that rage based on fear is their bread and butter, the source of their power -- and they cannot tolerate any attempt to shut that down. . . much less question it?

III. Back To Tucson

Gabrielle Giffords had a difficult year in 2010. After supporting the Health Care Law and opposing the Arizona "Anti-Immigration Law," Sarah Palin placed Giffords' name on a list of people she wanted removed from office -- placing Rep. Giffords' district under crosshairs on the now infamous "Lock and Load" map. Soon thereafter, Giffords' office in Tucson was attacked, the door glass being either kicked in or shot out. The representative also received threats of all sorts, especially as the election approached.

As NPR reported:

"On Saturday, local Tea Party leaders released statements expressing condolences to the shooting victims' families. They also sought to distance their groups from any suggestion that Loughner was a Tea Party activist or that his attack was politically motivated.

"Giffords narrowly won a third term in November against Jesse Kelly, a Republican backed by the Tea Party. Last June, Kelly held an event promoted with the message: "Get on Target for Victory in November… Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office… Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."

'"They're jumping to this conclusion that it has to do with [Giffords'] hotly contested Congressional race," Allyson Miller, a founder of Pima County Tea Party Patriots, told the website TalkingPointsMemo. "Well, apparently, from what I've seen so far ... it's looking like that's not the case."

"Miller and other Tea Party leaders said they won't change their aggressive tactics in the wake of the shootings." [by Corey Dade at NPR.org; Shooting Fallout: Political Rhetoric Takes The Heat; http://www.npr.org/2011/01/09/132784957/shooting-fallout-political-rhetoric-takes-the-heat ]

Regardless of whether Loughner was directly influenced by the November 2010 race, it remains the case that the Tea Party candidate was, after the violence and threats of the previous year, advertising himself using gun and shooting imagery -- "Get on Target for Victory in November… Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office… Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly."

Next door, in Nevada, Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle repeatedly talked about the possibility of using "2nd Amendment remedies" if the election did not go the correct way . Tea Partiers began showing up armed to political rallies from 2009 on -- one such person had to be removed by the police from a town hall meeting during the 2010 election season with Rep. Giffords after his pistol fell from a shoulder holster in the middle of the meeting.

Of course, as already mentioned, this pseudo-militaristic threat-talk got a great boost from Sarah Palin in 2010 after the Health Care vote:

'During the midterm elections, Giffords and other Democratic House candidates were featured on the website of Sarah Palin's political action committee with crosshairs over their districts. Giffords, disturbed at the reference, said at the time, "When people do that, they have got to realize there's consequences to that." '[ibid]

Every commentator at the time recognized the crosshairs to be those of a gun sight. Palin herself defended using weapon and shooting metaphors and pooh-poohed objections that such language might be inflammatory as essentially "silly" and part of the liberal "lame stream media."

Yet, after Gifford's shooting:

"In a Sunday interview with talk radio host Tammy Bruce, Rebecca Mansour, who works for Palin's PAC, said the images of crosshairs weren't intended to evoke violence: "We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights," she said.

"The images were removed from the website this weekend." [ibid]

Mansour went on to say that the crosshairs had really been "surveyor's lenses."

History is already being rewritten by the far right; and at the same moment, the right-wing is labeling claims their violent imagery created a volatile situation, "politicization."

No one would have suggested that drawing the conclusion the 9/11 terrorists were influenced by radical Islamic fundamentalism was somehow "politicizing" the situation or scoring political points during a tragedy. Why, then, does it become such when we look at a homegrown terrorist who was opposed to a Democratic representative, and when that same representative had been attacked verbally with violent language, threats, and property destruction by a right-wing political movement? Why does drawing a parallel between the violent language aimed at the representative and the violent thoughts and actions of Loughner suddenly become off limits and forbidden, something to be considered strange?

No one wants to be the "bad guy" in any encounter and no one chooses to be on the wrong side of anything. Yet this may prove to be an instance when well-meaning people were swept up in a movement, the Tea Party, to such a degree they could not (and cannot) imagine the ramifications of their beliefs, the effects on society of their language, their myths, prejudices, their approach to politics. This may be an instance where a group of people catch sight of their beliefs in action in the form of an assassin and murderer and are shocked.

It just remains to be seen whether they will be more shocked by their own ideas than by the messengers who point out the similarities between their beliefs and those of an angry killer.

IV. Loughner

(All quotes by Loughner are taken from my transcription of his 5 videos on You Tube; you may read these in their entirity here: http://www.hubpages.com/hub/Jared-Lee-Loughner-The-You-Tube-Transcripts)

Again, I am interested in Loughner's beliefs, insofar as we can examine these. Some things we can tell indirectly from Loughner's actions as available through the evidence:

1) He strongly disliked Representative Giffords. He saw her as "illiterate" which, in his mind, meant she was ignorant of "truth. "

2) He thought of himself as an assassin, not simply as a murderer. He stated as far back as November he wished he could kill a police officer, but in materials found in his house, Loughner admits he has planned to assassinate Giffords for some time.

3) Loughner himself seems to have been functionally or partially illiterate in the usual sense; he does not use or understand words adequately nor is he able to express himself clearly in English. This writer thinks much of the commentary that only sees insanity in Loughner's writings actually derives from the fact that the writings are the garbled product of illiteracy.

4) Reports from acquaintances say that Loughner was very interested in Apocalyptic, end-of-the-world theories, especially those involving the year 2012. (More on this momentarily.)

5) Likewise, he is heavily influenced by what he calls "conscience dreaming," misusing the term "conscience" for "conscious."

6) And, as mentioned, Loughner was convinced something he calls "grammar" controls reality, and that "The Government" controls most people's "grammar" and thus their minds. People with controlled minds are said to be "illiterate" -- such as Giffords (see #1, above).

7) Loughner is convinced that beginning any claim or observation with a simple "If A then B; A, therefore B" syllogism grounds everything he says afterwards in an unassailable way. Close examination of the text of his writing, however, seems to show that many of the deductions he is presenting are just examples of deductive logic designed to show the efficacy of a syllogism (or what he believes is his skill as a logician); in other words, some of what he says is not really an argument for the content of the syllogism. Further, apparently he used cut and paste liberally, so his texts often read in a repetitive fashion or more awkwardly than they might have, increasing the appearance of a "disjointed mind" -- in fact, his mind, however affected by disease, probably appears worse than it is by the style of expression.

This much said, what else can we gather by looking at Loughner's available writings? First, let's go to the point claimed by many right wingers that Loughner can be written off as deranged -- so we needn't, then, pay any attention to the sorts of ideas and beliefs that may have influenced his actions, because anything, including The Wizard of Oz might have set him off. (See the quotes above by Anthony Martin from Examiner.com to get an idea of the position. Except, as we shall see, The Wizard of Oz may have played a larger role here than imaginable.)

Loughner, to be sure, seems obsessed with what he calls "grammar" and "literacy." For example:

"...my hope -- is for you to be literate! If you’re literate in English grammar, then you comprehend English. The majority of people, who reside in District-8, are illiterate -- hilarious. I don’t control your English grammar structure, but you control your English grammar structure."

And:

"...reading the second United States Constitution, I can’t trust the current government because of the ratifications; The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar."

And:

“If I’m the mind controller then I control the belief and religion.

“If you’re editing of every belief and religion reaches the final century then the writer for every belief and religion is you.

“You’re editing of every belief and religion reaches the final century .

“Thus, the writer for every belief and religion is you.

“You control every - thought, action, and lifestyle - for the person or people as the mind controller.

“I’m able to control every belief and religion by being the mind controller!”

And:

“If you’re literate in English grammar then you know English grammar.

“You don’t know English grammar.

“Thus, you’re not literate in English grammar.

“Most of the teachers and students at Pima Community College are illiterate.

““If I’m thinking of creating 1 new symbol and number then I’m thinking of adding 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system.

“I’m thinking of creating 1 new symbol and number .

“Thus, I’m thinking of adding 1 new symbol and number to the current alphabet and number system.

“You control the grammar!”

And:

“You don’t allow the government to control your grammar structure, listener?"

***

“What’s government if words don’t have meaning?”

Before becoming exasperated and writing this off as the product of disease, think for a moment. There have been academic theories that claim language (probably what Loughner means by "grammar") influences and controls perception:

"The linguistic relativity principle, or the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis,

[1] is the idea that differences in the way languages

encode cultural and cognitive categories affect the way people think, so that speakers of different languages will tend to think and behave differently depending on the language they use."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

(I am indebted to a poster on The Daily Kos called cocivo who half-humorously proposed that Loughner may have been a "Sapir-Whorfist extremist."

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/1/8/162319/7237)

An even more likely influence has been identified in the person of a conspiracy theorist called David Wynn Miller, or, as he prefers to call himself, ":David-Wynn:Miller." Miller's website proclaims:

"The English Language Has Been Deliberately Modified to Enslave Us!

"Have you ever wondered why the world has become the way it is? Like a "Splinter in the Mind" that something is not quite right with our present reality?
"The Root of the Deception is with the Language...
"In 1988 the mathematical interface for language was discovered. The man who made this discovery then set out to correct the world's legal institutions. That man is JUDGE :David-Wynn: Miller.

"JUDGE :David-Wynn: Miller seminars explain and introduce Quantum Language/Syntax Sentencing. He explains when, how and why our language was bastardized over the last 8,500 years and by whom! Gain understanding of why, when, how and whom [sic] omit words...."http://www.davidwynnmiller.com/gclid=COus47e2saYCFRRg2god2mqumg

And:

"David believes 6th April 2012, is when Quantum Language will be established in mainstream society globally. This he believes is a very positive step for mankind as there is only correctness in Quantum Language, comparatively there is only correctness in anything Quantum; be it Physics or Mathematics as it is accurate. There is no ambiguity with Quantum Language."

http://www.davidwynnmiller.com/about.html

Slate.com's David Weigel looked into observations that Loughner's garbled ideas and Miller's equally confusing ideas may be linked:

"...on MSNBC's Countdown, the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok commented that Loughner's confusing YouTube videos about constitutionality, government brainwashing and syntax resembled the work of David Wynn Miller, the self-identified "king of Hawaii" who writes books and offers seminars about complicated and incoherent theories, mostly about language, and how rectifying language can protect people from the government.

"Carrie Budoff Brown talked to Miller, who said he never met Loughner but agreed with his statements on YouTube."

***

"...Keep in mind, the only thing connecting Loughner to Miller is Potok's analysis. But I wonder whether Loughner discovered Miller via the 2012 stuff and kept digging. For example, Miller's publications on his web site include ruminations about how to correct and reinvent language.

"'FOR THE CORRECT-SENTENCE-STRUCTURE-COMMUNICATION-SYNTAX-LANGUAGE(C.-S.-S.-C.-S.-L.) BY THE PLENIPOTENTIARY: David-Wynn: Miller: CLAIMS:

TRUTH:

FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FACTS ARE WITH THESE CLAIMS OF THE OPERATIONS AND METHODS WITH THE POINTS OF EACH FACT WITH AN OPERATION OF A WHOLE WITH THE REASONING OF THE PARTY'SKNOWLEDGE.

~1

NUMBER-VALUE(COUNTING): 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.

~2

LETTER-VALUES:A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,V,W, X, Y, Z

~3

SYMBOLS: +,-,X,-,=,/,?,@,#,$,%,^,&,*,(),>,<,~,!,[],{},:,",etc. '"

"In his "introduction" video, Loughner ruminates about how to create a new language, and thus a new currency."

[Slate.com; Posted Sunday, January 09, 2011 3:22 PM | By David Weigel; David-Wynn: Miller; http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2011/01/09/david-wynn-miller.aspx]

[Another interesting article called Before the Shooting, Jared Lee Loughner Waged a War on Grammar can be found at http://motherboard.tv/2011/1/10/before-the-shooting-jared-lee-loughner-waged-war-on-grammar--2]

What is truly interesting about Miller in this context is more than his odd theories about language and governmental control of people through language; he is also connected to an influential right-wing tax protest group:

"David Wynn Miller (born 1949) [1], also styled :David-Wynn: Miller, is a former tool and diewelder[2] and current Americanactivist in a tax protest group affiliated with the Sovereign Citizen Movement.[3]  Defendants in court cases have unsuccessfully attempted to use Miller's language or ideas in courts of the United States and Canada."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Wynn_Miller

Why is the Sovereign Citizen Movement important? It is directly connected to beliefs about the gold standard and the worthlessness of paper money, and to conspiracy theories about the Federal Government. Jared Loughner certainly echoes such beliefs in his writings:

"...the current government officials are in power for their currency, but I’m informing you of a new currency! "

***

“The majority of citizens in the United States of America have never read the United States of America’s Constitution.

“You don’t have to accept the federalist laws.

“Nonetheless, read the United States of America’s Constitution to apprehend all the current treasonous laws.

“You’re literate, listener?

***

“No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver!

“No! I won’t trust in God!

[NOTE: Much has been made of this sentence - "I won't trust in God!" -- claiming that Loughner is an atheist. He may or may not be, but the context of the sentence seems to suggest he means he won't accept the validity of paper money, referred to obliquely by the words written on it, "In God We Trust." RVI]

***

“All purchases for an educational course in the United States as of now are unconstitutional in the United States of America because of Section 10 in the United States of America’s Constitution.

***

“The grading you purchase from Pima Community College is unconstitutional at tuition.

***

“Don’t trust the current government, listener!”

Before we explore the tax protest links, notice what Loughner says above about purchases being "unconstitutional... because of Section 10...." What he is talking about is a topic near and dear to the radical right and libertarians: the invalidity of paper money not backed by the gold standard. While this used to be an idea considered less than mainstream, Tea Party activism has pushed it into the State Houses in some places such as Georgia:

"Bobby Franklin, a Republican state legislator from Georgia, has introduced a new piece of legislation that, if passed, would force Georgians to pay their taxes in gold and silver coins.

"Here's what his Constitutional Tender Act sets forth:

'"Pre-1965 silver coins, silver eagles, and gold eagles shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall use to make any payments whatsoever to any person or entity, whether private or governmental. Such coins shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall accept from any person or entity as payment of any obligation to the state including, without limitation, the payment of taxes; provided, however, that such coins and other forms of currency may be used in all other transactions within the state upon mutual consent of the parties of any such transaction.'"

***

"Franklin, who has made a name for himself through his radical history of legislative proposals, has brought up similar bills before, arguing Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution sets forth that no state shall "make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts."'

[Georgia Legislator's Bill Would Require Taxes Be Paid In Gold And Silver;The Huffington Post | Nick Wing First Posted: 12-30-10 10:17 AM | Updated: 12-30-10 03:54 PM; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/30/georgia-bill-gold-and-silver_n_802618.html]

It seems likely, then, that Loughner is influenced, not only by David Wynn Miller's language theories, but also by Miller's associates, the right-wing tax protestors and their views on the gold standard as well.

Let's look at the nature of the anti-tax group Miller is a member of:

"The redemption movement comprises adherents of an Americanconspiracy theory[1] created by Roger Elvick. Redemption theory involves claims that when the U.S. government abandoned the gold standard in 1933, it pledged its citizens as collateral so it could borrow money.

"According to Elvick, the government created a fictitious person (or "straw man") corresponding to each newborn citizen with bank accounts initially holding $630,000. The theory further holds that through obscure procedures under the Uniform Commercial Code, a citizen can "reclaim" the straw man and write checks against its accounts.[2]

Its adherents sometimes call themselves "sovereign citizens".

***

"Classes are often set up to teach the intricacies of the theory, and books have been published about it in the underground press. Canaanite law is held to be an important source of law and The Wizard of Oz (presumably because of the scarecrow character, i.e. the "straw man") and The Matrix trilogy are held to have important symbolisms in reference to this theory,[6] and there is also said to be some connection to the New World Order. The American's Bulletin sells an extensive product line related to the sovereignty myth.[7]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Citizen_Movement

One thing that immediately leaps out is that The Wizard of Oz is considered, in some way, a story that embodies a myth on which a new law can be established; and, not surprisingly, The Wizard of Oz was mentioned buy Loughner as one of his favorite books. Was it mentioned because he finds a deeper significance in it than a children's story? It seems at least plausible that he may have.

The Anti-Defamation League provides some further interesting information on these "sovereign citizens' movements":

The "sovereign citizen" movement is a loosely organized collection of groups and individuals who have adopted a right-wing anarchist ideology originating in the theories of a group called the Posse Comitatus in the 1970s. Its adherents believe that virtually all existing government in the United States is illegitimate and they seek to "restore" an idealized, minimalist government that never actually existed. To this end, sovereign citizens wage war against the government and other forms of authority using "paper terrorism" harassment and intimidation tactics, and occasionally resorting to violence.

***

“Origins: Çirca 1970; fully developed by early 1980s
Ideology: Anti-government, some white supremacist elements
Outreach: Vigilante courts, seminars, shortwave radio, the Internet, "schools of common law"
Notable Episodes: 1996 Montana Freeman standoff; 1997 Republic of Texas standoff Tactics "Paper terrorism," including frivolous lawsuits, frivolous liens, fictitious financial instruments, fictitious automobile-related documents, and misuse of genuine documents such as IRS forms; various frauds and scams
Hot Tactic: "Redemption"

***

“On May 20, 2010, two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers were killed and two Crittenden County sheriff’s officers wounded in two linked shootouts involving an anti-government sovereign citizen with ties to Ohio and Florida.

“The sovereign citizen, Jerry Kane, was a “guru” in the movement who traveled around the country, often with his teenaged son Joseph, holding seminars in which he would teach his anti-government conspiracies and pseudo-legal “solutions.” Kane specialized in a set of sovereign citizen theories called
“Redemption;” he told audiences that his theories could get them out of their mortgages.
***

“The tragic incident occurred during a rise of sovereign citizen activity nationwide in 2009-2010. In two incidents in April and May, a Tennessee sovereign citizen, Walter Fitzpatrick III, and a Georgia sovereign citizen, Darren Huff, were arrested in connection with attempts to make “citizens” arrests of various local officials in Monroe County. In April 2010, a sovereign citizen group calling itself Guardians of the Free Republics issued ultimatums to all 50 governors to vacate their offices within 72 hours.
***

“Members of the sovereign citizen movement engage in a variety of seemingly bizarre activities. [Terry] Nichols, for instance, several times repudiated his allegiance to federal and state governments. He tried to pay a credit card debt with a fictitious financial instrument called a "certified fractional reserve check." Brought into court in Michigan in 1993, he refused to walk to the front of the courtroom and denied the court's jurisdiction over him. Even when he wrote addresses on letters, Nichols made sure to use the abbreviation "TDC" to indicate that he was using the federal zip code under "threat, duress and coercion." These exhibitions of behavior might seem odd or even humorous, but the same ideology that led to those activities also helped lead Terry Nichols to assist Timothy McVeigh in building a bomb that would kill 168 people and injure hundreds more.“

http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/SCM.asp?xpicked=4

(Detailed information on the Sovereign Citizens' Movement can also be found through the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

While David Wynn Miller shows no overt interest in violence in his writings, it is not difficult to believe that, by studying Miller and then moving on to the ideas of the Sovereign Citizens, Loughner may have picked up some violent right-wing beliefs that tied together his obsessions with governmental control, the gold standard, and "grammar" or self-labeling things "legally" as a means to liberation from "illegitimate power" (i.e. the Federal Government and its agents... such as, evidently, a U.S. Representative from Tucson). All of these are, oddly, linked in this movement, or easily capable of being linked -- and this fringe group has a history of violence going back to the ultra-right Posse Comitatus.

This movement's libertarian/anarchist leanings may also explain how an alleged flag burner and pot smoker is also a right-winger; there are groups on the far right that believe that society should place no limitations on any sort of activity (this is interpreted as "tyranny") and they see the flag as the symbol of an illegitimate, tyrannical government controlling its citizens with a false currency and manipulative use of language, especially in law.

V. Aftermath

 

In the end, Jared Loughner is responsible for his actions, no matter who influenced him -- if and to the degree he is mentally competent.

Yet those who have created an atmosphere of hate, violence, and fear in America are equally responsible for their words and actions. People who have encouraged their followers to mix guns with political rallies, people who have openly advocated "2nd Amendment remedies" if their supporters' candidates don't win by the ballot, people who go on the airwaves daily selling gold and paranoid anti-governmental conspiracy theories -- all of these are responsible for creating the culture of violence and terror that feeds fringe groups and fringe beliefs... and feed the Jared Lee Loughners of the world.

It remains to be seen whether Loughner will claim his share of responsibility in the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and the murder and maiming of many others. The law and the government he so desperately feared will pronounce sentence on him regardless of whether he chooses to recognize it or not.

As for those the sheriff of Tucson pointed to on the radio and the television who stir up hate and black fictions... they are of the far right and they feel no remorse and no sense of responsibility. As usual, they live in the land of do as you please. That could end, though, or could be made less comfortable. We don't have to listen to their shows, we don't have to buy the products of their sponsors, and by no means are we bound to vote for the candidates they urge us to support.

When their speech goes over the line (and we, as a society, get to determine where the line is), we need no laws to reign them in: all we need is a vigilant populace willing to call their bluff, write complaint letters, essays and editorials. The right-wing lives off public opinion -- and they will starve and shrivel should public opinion turn against their methods.

It's up to you.

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Comments 5 comments

Richard VanIngram profile image

Richard VanIngram 5 years ago from San Antonio, Texas Author

metajen -- Amen. Excellent post. You sum this up better than I could.


metajen 5 years ago

I can't help but think that Jared's is largely a case of accumulated misfortune. I would bet that Jared: had an elevated IQ; had a mental disturbance which was exacerbated by drug use (who are we joking, he probably went farther than pot); and lived in a community where his intelligence was unappreciated and drugs were readily accessible. So, I would hypothesize that he, feeling socially isolated, cut himself off from the world through his "conscious dreaming". Eventually, he was so far removed from society that he lost all sense of and desire to exhibit socially acceptable behavior. Furthermore, he would have become so far removed from reality that his rationality would be compromised. Both his anti-social behavior and lack of rationality would have created a lack of morality, and when coupled with a pre-existing mental disorder as well as an acquired drug addiction, this situation was bound to end badly.

What did he need? Perhaps medication, therapy, admittance to an institution, or maybe just a friend, guiding hand, or role model, though most likely he was lacking all of these.

Certainly outrageous outbursts by the far-right didn't help anything and may have planted in Jared seeds of radicalism, but they are certainly not the only ones at fault.

Someone knew Jared, and they surely knew he had a problem. Let's just hope that the next Loughner gets the care and assistance he needs. With modern medicine and the courage to act on our concerns, we can use our own judgment, despite whatever garbage the media decides to spew, to help prevent future tragedies.


Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 5 years ago from New York

The extent of your research is apparent. I totally agree with the title of your hub:

Jared Lee Loughner -- Who’s to Blame?

It seems to contain a valid question and the most obvious answer too. Q.


planetway profile image

planetway 5 years ago from Centre of the Known Universe

Very well researched. We seem to be thinking along similar lines, although I took a slightly different angle over here:

http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Banality-of-American-V...


AWingedLion profile image

AWingedLion 5 years ago

Very insightful. You've taken some time to try to really understand what this young man has written instead of just accrediting it to "craziness". Although, there is no doubt that he is truly disturbed he is obviously not pulling these ideas out of thin air.

Thank you for your insight and taking the time to share how some of the radical right wing ideas can be dangerous.

Let's hope some will be able to see the error of their voicing violence as a solution. Words have power. They affect us. We have to watch what we say as humans. All freedom comes with a responsibility of using it wisely.

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