Is Jared Lee Loughner linked to Tea Party, conservatives, or libertarians? (Gabrielle Giffords shooting)

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Q. Is Jared Lee Loughner linked to the Tea Party, conservative, or libertarian movements?

A. At this time, there's no indication that Loughner was a member of any organized political movement. He was a registered independent who hadn't voted in 2010 (link). The DHS claim that he was linked to the white racial separatist group AmRen is false. Given what we know now, the chances of him being welcomed as a member of any group outside the far fringe is remote [1]. Given his history, the chances that even the teaparties would welcome him to their meetings is slim. He might have been welcomed to fringe groups or a fringe group might have recognized his faults and decided to use him, but there's no indication at all of something like that happening.

Q. Was Jared Lee Loughner leftwing or rightwing, liberal or conservative?

A. He doesn't appear to be neatly categorizable. A former friend claimed that in 2007 he was leftwing, and rightwing hacks are trying to fit his writings into that mold [2]. However, his Youtube videos (last link) refer to distrust of the government, a belief in something like the Gold Standard, and an urging to read the Constitution. None of those are liberal issues. Rather, his ideology - such as it is - appears to be that of a deranged libertarian extremist or anarchist. His rants about mind control are similar to those of fringe conspiracy theorists (some of whom, however, have a glimmer of a point).

Q. Did the Tea Party, libertarian, or conservative movements play a role in the Gabrielle Giffords shooting?

A. In cases like this it's necessary to separate *ideology* from *tactics*. There's very little chance that *ideology* had any role in the tragedy; Loughner probably wasn't motivated enough by his fringe libertarian ideas about gold-backed money to do what he did.

However, the *tactics* of the teaparty movement might have played a role.

For almost two years now, the teapartiers have been all over the TV news throwing tantrums at public meetings, intimidating legislators, threatening revolution, ranting and raving, waving Gadsden flags, waving "We came unarmed [this time]" signs, warning of "Second Amendment remedies", and on and on.

The teapartiers have consistently failed to engage their opponents intellectually; the teapartiers are by and large simply too unintelligent and too mentally unbalanced to engage in debate with their opponents. Instead, they've presented the possibility of violent action as the way to achieve political change. While there's no indication at the present time that the teapartiers' *tactics* played a role in Loughners actions, it certainly can't have helped. Perhaps such things as his Youtube viewing habits will come out at his trial; if he ends up having watched a series of Youtube videos in which teapartiers intimidate politicians the link between their actions and his will become clear.

In brief: the teapartiers created an environment in which crazy people such as Loughner thrive. They also aren't smart and sane enough to clean up their act, and the next Loughner might be someone with clear ties to their movement.

See the tea parties and libertarians pages for past coverage of both movements.

[1] He briefly worked as a volunteer at the Pima Animal Care Center but was taken off dog-walking duties after failing to understand why he shouldn't walk dogs in an area that was being decontaminated for a contagious animal disease (link). He was continually disruptive at Pima Community College, so much so that they asked him to leave (link).

[2] volokh . com/2011/01/10/jared-loughners-anti-war-views (spaces added) is based on Loughner's alleged posts on

On July 7, 2010, Loughner posted his assertion that the war(s) in Iraq and Afghanistan “is a war crime from the Geneva Convention articles of 1949”... In a thread on unemployment, Loughner quotes with seeming approval, portions of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserting “the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity” and “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”

Of course, whether he was expressing an actual political view or whether he was engaging in a language exercise isn't clear.

ADDED: See the excerpts from Jared Loughner's AboveTopSecret posts. The claim by Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy that Loughner expressed leftwing beliefs is absurd.

ADDED: See also
* Claims by Tea Party enablers that Pima Sheriff Dupnik could have stopped Loughner are false
* Jared Loughner: anti-Bush, pro-small government? Intellectually dishonest Tea Party defenders
* Loughner's "Genocide school" video
* Friend's claim that Loughner wasn't political is two years out of date
* Arizona state Fusion Center uses Giffords shooting to smear American Renaissance)
* Glenn Reynolds denies Tea Party's history of intimidation
* first post on Gabrielle Giffords shooting