Jared Loughner is obviously mentally ill, but the media will not let that fact get in the way of a juicy story. In the hours after the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona when he gunned down twenty people at a Safeway supermarket on Saturday, seriously injuring Arizona congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords, and killing several people including a sitting federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, the media jumped to conclusions about Loughner’s motivations and inspirations.
First they reported that he was a Tea Party supporter who was inspired by Sarah Palin’s 2010 campaign election rhetoric and a map with targets on it; next conservatives pegged him as a progressive liberal inspired by a primary map and strong rhetoric from the Daily KOS. Others looked at his MySpace page and his YouTube videos for answers. All they found were incoherent ramblings about conscience dreaming, burning the flag, mind control, and currency. A book list on his MySpace page listed Alice in Wonderland and the Communist Manifesto as his favorite reading material, among a bizarre list of books.
The media searched for old friends and classmates. Some old high school classmates said he was very liberal, a quiet loner who liked to go to school drunk and smoke pot in the boy’s bathroom in between classes. In college several former classmates said that Loughner was abrasive and scary at times, yelling out odd phrases during class and looking and reacting to people in menacing ways. One report said that Loughner might even be affiliated with a hate group in Arizona that hated Jewish people and illegal immigrants. Another noted a satanic "altar" in his back yard that might show he worshipped some dark force.
But as more and more real information comes in, it is becoming apparent that Loughner was simply mentally ill; and though he seemed to be obsessed with conscience dreaming and government mind control, no one really knows why Loughner did what he did.
Today some more former classmates of the killer say that he was a "big game player." One classmate claims he spent most of his time playing video games and listening to heavy metal music like "Drowning Pool." While these latest media reports take hearsay and vague recollections of past classmates as unassailable truth, I point you back to just a few hours after Saturday’s tragedy when the media began speculating on what would drive this man to try to kill a crowd of people in cold blood with a handgun.
No one really knows why Loughner did what he did, beyond the fact that he is probably insane. Below is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal story on Loughner:
"Mr. Loughner was a scrawny, average teenager with a mop of curly hair. He played saxophone at football games and jammed with a friend’s garage band. In his freshman and sophomore years at Mountain View High School, Mr. Loughner flew under the radar.
‘All he did was play video games and play music,’ said Tommy Marriotti, a high school friend. Mr. Marriotti said much of Mr. Loughner’s free time was devoted to the school band. He wasn’t especially political, Mr. Marriotti said, though he expressed frustration with the Bush Administration."
The Arizona Central report pegs Loughner as "a nice kid" and "disruptive" during his time at Pima Community College. One former student who shared a class with Loughner said the following:
"Chris Walker, another PCC sophomore, said Loughner came to house for dinner ‘all the time.’ Loughner liked heavy metal and classic rock music and was a ‘big video gamer,’ said Walker, 19. ‘He was the nicest kid, quietest guy,’ said Walker."
Loughner was charged with two counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and a count of attempting to kill a member of Congress in a federal court Sunday. He will face additional charges, according to federal authorities.