Jared Loughner. He was competent and skilled on the saxophone, but he quit.
Jared Loughner was like the young killer Kimveer Gill of Quebec in so far as Gill thought that "life sucks" Loughner fancied himself a student of philosophy, and, as Sixty Minutes reports, he believed that it all added to nothingness. Like Gill he was not close to the ancient Greek Epicurus, who proclaimed that life was worth living. Two of Loughner's friends told Sixty Minutes that Loughner was interested in the philosophy of nihilism.
Nor was Loughner close to the thinking of Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre, two philosophers falsely accused of nihilism. These were two philosophers who were humanitarians, who believed that life was worth living and decidedly anti-fascist. Loughner was more like those fascists who celebrated death. His friends told Sixty Minutes that Loughner was obsessed with the film "Waking Life." In this film, according to Sixty Minutes,
...a man walks through his dreams listening to various philosophies. A character in the film echoes something at the center of Loughner's apparent delusions: that big government and media conspire to silence the average guy. To protest his lack of voice, the character in the film sets himself on fire.
An article in the New York Times, January 16, "Looking Behind the Mug Shot Grin" describes Loughner as,
...marked by stinging rejection – from his country's military, his community college, his girlfriends and, perhaps, his father; that he, in turn, rejected American society, including its government, its currency, its language, even its math.
He became intrigued by antigovernment conspiracy theories, including that the September 11 attacks were perpetrated by the government and that the country's central banking system was enslaving its citizens. His anger would well up at the sight of President George W. Bush, or in discussing what he considered to be the nefarious designs of government. "I think he feels the people should be able to govern themselves," said Ms. Figueroa, his former girlfriend. "We didn't need a higher authority." Breanna Castle, 21, another friend from junior and senior high school, agreed. "He was all about less government and less America," she said, adding, "He thought it was full of conspiracies and that the government censored the Internet and banned certain books from being read by us." Among the books that he would later cite as his favorites: "Animal Farm," "Fahrenheit 451," "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto." Also: "Peter Pan."
In 2007 Loughner attended one of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' community meetings. At that meeting, Loughner asked Giffords a meaningless question: "What is government if words have no meaning?" Giffords didn't answer his question. Interviewed by Sixty Minutes, one of Loughner's friends said, "I think that anyone who didn't connect to his lines of thinking he had disdain for."
The mass murderer Timothy McVeigh was angry at the government. Gill was angry at a lot of specific kinds of people, and Loughner had his enemies. But he wasn't angry with everybody. Like McVeigh he still believed that he had friends. At 2:05 A.M. on the day of his attack against Giffords and others he left a message to a friend, Bryce Tierney, a call that went unanswered. Loughner said,
Hey. Hey it's Jared. I just want to tell you 'good times.' Peace out. Later. [Peace out, according to Sixty Minutes, "is slang these days for goodbye."]
When Loughner left the cabdriver that took him to the scene of the shooting, Loughner wanted to shake his hand.
In shooting Giffords and others with her, Loughner must have believed that he was attacking the forces arrayed against him. His shooting was an expression of power.
Twice, Loughner had acquired a tattoo of a bullet. And he took photos of himself with his pistol, naked expect for a red g-string. In some photos, writes the New York Times, "...presumably mirrored reflections, he holds the gun by his crotch; in others, next to his naked buttocks."
If someone buys a new marking pen, he is inclined to want to use, and Loughner made his marks.
Loughner was at man's most dangerous age: old enough to have acquired a lot of failures and not yet settled into any kind of work or sexual relationship. And his failures aggravated his mental incompetence.
A few disturbed young men might find meaning in life and satisfaction in religion, but Loughner was no more equipped for genuine religious sentiments than he was for the philosophies of Camus or Sartre.
But this is not to say, as the psychiatrist and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer has, that Loughner's "thoughts were unrelated to anything in our world." (Washington Post, 01/12/11)
We can agree with Krauthammer that Loughner was insane. But, it would be simplistic to describe Loughner merely as delusional. Not all delusional people think alike or act alike.
A landlady described a tenant she had who had not taken his sanity pill and stripped his clothes off and put him on the stove, creating a fire. If his head had been filled with some of the stuff in Loughner's head and acquired a pistol as Loughner had, maybe he would he shot at her.
Copyright © 2006-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.