Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What do you do when you think government is fucking you over?

For some interesting background on Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year old charged in the Arizona shooting, see this piece at Mother Jones, based on an interview with a close friend. Key passage (emphasis added):

[Bryce] Tierney, who's also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period [2007]. He's unsure whether it was the same one mentioned in the charges -- Loughner "might have gone to some other rallies," he says -- but Tierney notes it was a significant moment for Loughner: "He told me that she opened up the floor for questions and he asked a question. The question was, 'What is government if words have no meaning?'"

Giffords' answer, whatever it was, didn't satisfy Loughner. "He said, 'Can you believe it, they wouldn't answer my question,' and I told him, 'Dude, no one's going to answer that,'" Tierney recalls. "Ever since that, he thought she was fake, he had something against her."

Tierney says he has "no clue" why Loughner might have "shot all those other people." But, he notes, "when I heard Gabrielle Giffords has been shot, I was like 'Oh my God...' For some reason I felt like I knew... I felt like if anyone was going to shoot her, it would be Jared."

Loughner would occasionally mention Giffords, according to Tierney: "It wasn't a day-in, day-out thing, but maybe once in a while, if Giffords did something that was ridiculous or passed some stupid law or did something stupid, he related that to people. But the thing I remember most is just that question. I don't remember him stalking her or anything." Tierney notes that Loughner did not display any specific political or ideological bent: "It wasn't like he was in a certain party or went to rallies... It's not like he'd go on political rants." But Loughner did, according to Tierney, believe that government is "fucking us over." He never heard Loughner vent about the perils of "currency," as Loughner did on one YouTube video he created.

The sense we get from this interview is that, yes, Loughner is indeed mentally disturbed -- in an apparently existential sort of way -- and that he held a grudge against Rep. Giffords.

But while he may not be overtly political or partisan, he certainly seems to hold views that one can place on the right -- specifically, anti-government views connected to paranoid conspiracy theories.

Again, I want to stress that there may not be any direct connection between conservatism and the shooting. Loughner is not a card-carrying member of the Republican Party and does not appear to be a Tea Partier.

But this does not mean that what he did (or, rather, is charged with doing) may be detached entirely from the broader, right-wing political context that may very well have informed his thinking to some degree.


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