Friend Reveals Insight Into Jared Lee Loughner & Possible Motives

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in News

Mother Jones got an exclusive with an acquaintance of Loughner’s, Bryce Tierney, who described him as sober, obsessed with lucid dreaming and not necessarily political. However, he did have problems with the government in general and was possibly motivated to kill Giffords because she didn’t answer a nonsensical question he asked her back in 2007.

Here’s how that exchange went down in August 2007…

Tierney, who’s also 22, recalls Loughner complaining about a Giffords event he attended during that period. 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.”

On Loughner’s drug use…

In October 2008, Tierney was living in Phoenix, and Loughner came to visit. They went to see a Mars Volta concert with friends, and Tierney was surprised when Loughner said he had quit partying “completely.” Loughner, according to Tierney, said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again, and he was surprised at media reports that Loughner had been rejected from the military in 2009 for failing a drug test: “He was clean, clean. I saw him after that continuously. He would not do it.”

(By the way, an anonymous source within the military has confirmed that Loughner had failed a drug test, but it was in December 2008, not 2009.)

On lucid dreaming…

In college, Loughner became increasingly intrigued with “lucid dreaming,” and he grew convinced that he could control his dreams, according to Tierney. In a series of rambling videos posted to his YouTube page, dreams are a frequent topic. In a video posted on December 15, Loughner writes, “My favorite activity is conscience dreaming: the greatest inspiration for my political business information. Some of you don’t dream—sadly.” In another video, he writes, “The population of dreamers in the United States of America is less than 5%!” Later in the same video he says, “I’m a sleepwalker—who turns off the alarm clock.” [...]

After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, “his theories got worse,” Tierney says. “After he quit, he was just off the wall.” And Loughner started to drift away from his group of friends about a year ago. By early 2010, dreaming had become Loughner’s “waking life, his reality,” Tierney says. “He sort of drifted off, didn’t really care about hanging out with friends. He’d be sleeping a lot.” Loughner’s alternate reality was attractive, Tierney says. “He figured out he could fly.” Loughner, according to Tierney, told his friends, “I’m so into it because I can create things and fly. I’m everything I’m not in this world.”

On one possible motive…a distrust for authority/government/law enforcement/etc…

But in this world, Loughner seemed ticked off by what he believed to be a pervasive authoritarianism. “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar,” he wrote in one YouTube video. In another, Loughner complains that when he tried to join the military, he was handed a “mini-Bible.” That upset him: “I didn’t write a belief on my Army application and the recruiter wrote on the application: None,” he wrote on YouTube. In messages on MySpace last month, Loughner declared, “I’ll see you on National T.v.! This is foreshadow.” He also noted on the website, “I don’t feel good: I’m ready to kill a police officer! I can say it.”

And on another possible motive…just creating chaos…

Since hearing of the rampage, Tierney has been trying to figure out why Loughner did what he allegedly did. “More chaos, maybe,” he says. “I think the reason he did it was mainly to just promote chaos. He wanted the media to freak out about this whole thing. He wanted exactly what’s happening. He wants all of that.” Tierney thinks that Loughner’s mindset was like the Joker in the most recent Batman movie: “He fucks things up to fuck shit up, there’s no rhyme or reason, he wants to watch the world burn. He probably wanted to take everyone out of their monotonous lives: ‘Another Saturday, going to go get groceries’—to take people out of these norms that he thought society had trapped us in.”

More as it develops…


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17 Responses to “Friend Reveals Insight Into Jared Lee Loughner & Possible Motives”

  1. Simon Says:

    So Loughner—an atheist 22-year-old flag-burning liberal Marx fan—developed a beef with Giffords because she gave a “wrong” answer to a borderline psychotic question in 2007. But remember, folks, it’s all the fault of the rhetorical climate the right has created during Obama’s Presidency (2009-2013) and a campaign graphic posted by Sarah Palin in 2010!

    If the left wants a more civil tone in politics, they can start by apologizing for their outrageous rush to judgment this weekend, where they cynically seized upon a totally unrelated tragedy as a cudgel with which to beat their opponents, accusing Republicans—some by name—of being all-but accomplices to murder.

  2. Chris Says:

    bla bla bla simon, repeating the same thing over and over only works on people who stay glued to faux.

  3. Simon Says:

    It must suck, Chris, to find out that your knee jerk overreaction and rush to judgment have been proven completely baseless—and that what you hoped would be a killer talking point turns out to be nothing of the sort. Just a tip: If you want to participate in the “why can’t politics be more civil” meme, try to hide your disappointment that the killer wasn’t a tea partier a little better.

    Does repetition work? Ask the people who’ve been peddling lies about this tragedy how it’s working for them. When they stop regurgitating the lie, I will feel the urge to repeat the truth with less frequency.

  4. kranky kritter Says:

    The possibility of schizophrenia seems even more likely based on additional info.

    All the folks who rushed to judgement were wrong. It’s unfortunate that so few of these folks have the moral courage to acknowledge that. instead, the best they can do is try to shade the conversation towards a different argument they think they can win.

  5. Terry Says:

    The reaction from the left is from an accumulation of frustration with how certain political people on the right have been behaving and the insistence of forcing some of their most controversial positions onto the American public.

    This has been a mixed bag of emotions coming from a variety of sources, with each step bringing a level of concern – I was not alone in being shocked when Palin’s gun sights promotional piece was released. More shocked when just a day later she tweets ‘don’t retreat – reload’ – but calling her out on that just brings ridicule.

    Equally concerned when Bachmann spoke of armed revolution, and how virtually all of talk radio is utterly abusive towards anyone and anything they can find political gain from.

    This isn’t about having different opinions about issues. I have interesting and productive conversations almost daily about politics with people who are highly committed to their views and it has never once broken out into this type of anger.

    Shooting a Congressperson IS a political act, not a random act of violence.

    It’s endlessly interesting how conservatives downplay political acts that do not work within their storyline. Just one year ago someone crashed a plane into an IRS building with a tax grievance. I can’t think of one voice on the right who said it was an act of terrorism or an attack against this country. To the contrary, it was subtly used to prove their point that Americans were frustrated and on the edge.

    I didn’t hear one person say the pilot was crazy. I heard that ‘Americans were fed up’ – and it was horrifying that the right once again used an unstable person’s actions for their political gain. They spent a LOT of time making sure it was not classified as terrorism, even though they have spent ten years trying to classify anything ELSE as terrorism.

    So here we are a year later, and someone else takes it out on the government:

    A Congressperson was shot point blank in the head.

    A Democratic Congresswoman who has been picked on by the right almost continuously for a few years. Someone left a gun behind at a previous rally apparently as a warning to her. Her office’s doors were smashed in when she didn’t vote the way someone wanted her to.

    Yet she was re-elected. The MAJORITY spoke in her district and supported her views and actions on the House floor. But that doesn’t matter to the right. It’s their way or the highway. It’s-a-free-country-leave-it-if-you-do-not-agree-with-MY-view-of-it conservatives never back down even when the majority speaks with their votes democratically. ‘Don’t retreat – reload!’ Oh, those people who voted for the ‘liberal’ were lied to. Misguided. The election was STOLEN by ACORN…!

    Only thugs act that way. The criminal gangs that ran NYC, Chicago, et al acted that way. People who support democracy, trust in the will of the people, believe in freedom – they NEVER act that way.

    It is a shame that a healthy view on limited government and the promotion of a laissez faire society has been wrapped up in such an angry, abusive and reactionary shell. A shell so thick that 6 people dead and a Congresswoman on the edge of life can’t even bring a but of self reflection.

  6. Trescml Says:

    “You suck” “No, you suck”. Are we really that pathetic? Sadly, the answer is probably “Yes”.

  7. Chris Says:

    Thank you terry for taking the time to type all that out, but it’s not going to mean anything for ideologues such as simon.

  8. Simon Says:

    Terry Says:

    The reaction from the left is from an accumulation of frustration with how certain political people on the right have been behaving and the insistence of forcing some of their most controversial positions onto the American public.

    Well, gee, I guess that makes it all right then! I mean, if they were frustrated, they had every right to make a preposterous rush to judgment, spin a ludicrous lie for purposes of demonizing a political opponent, propagandize by saying it was that opponent spin, lie some more, and persist in lying after the underlying assumption had been falsified. Apologies are owed by Olberman, Kos, etc., and until they are forthcoming, “oh we were frustrated” carries not a drop of water.

    Also, you want to explain how the right has been “forcing” its “controversial” positions onto the American public? Until last week, we didn’t control a single branch of government. At most, you could say that the GOP had delayed the Democrats’ attempt to force their controversial positions on the public. And if you mean nothing more than “the GOP has been telling the public it’s views”—yeah, we did, and you found out what the American public thought of that last November, with a nice reminder on the House floor last week.

    This has been a mixed bag of emotions coming from a variety of sources, with each step bringing a level of concern – I was not alone in being shocked when Palin’s gun sights promotional piece was released. More shocked when just a day later she tweets ‘don’t retreat – reload’ – but calling her out on that just brings ridicule.

    You weren’t shocked—that’s a lie—and I doubt anyone was. How can I be so sure? Because EVERYONE with any intellectual honesty, and Jon Chait too, has admitted that this is simply the stock political lexicon in American politics. We always talk in martial terms—targeting races, the rank and file, and so forth. For anyone to claim to be shocked by it is a risible lie, and ignoble with it, since the lie exists for no reason better than to support a ludicrous meme that hopes to connect Palin to the shooting. Why you people can’t simply do what I do and ignore her is a mystery to me.

    It’s endlessly interesting how conservatives downplay political acts that do not work within their storyline.

    Can you even hear yourself? It’s the left that created a fictitious storyline about the right’s rhetoric, tried to fit Loughner’s act into it, and then doubled down into outright lies when the act—or rather, the psychotic, atheist, anti-war, Marx-reading hard left actor—failed to fit into the story. The sound of your collective disappointment that he wasn’t a tea partier is deafening and disgusting.

    Shooting a Congressperson IS a political act, not a random act of violence.

    No, shooting a Congresswoman is not necessarily a political act. Had Loughner been robbing the joint and just happened to shoot Giffords, there would be nothing political about it. And what’s more, you make a serious error in flattening all political acts into a single category. Loughner shot Giffords, so far as we can tell, because she failed to comprehend that the government warps our minds through its control of grammar. That may properly be classified as a political act, but it’s obvious on the face of it that you can’t stop there: what kind of political act was it? This was the politics of a delusional psychotic, with only the slightest connection to reality, let alone to any political viewpoint. This wasn’t John Wilkes Booth but Charles Guiteau at best.

    And when you artificially flatten all political acts into “a political act,” that allows you to make disgraceful insinuations like this:

    A Congressperson was shot point blank in the head. A Democratic Congresswoman who has been picked on by the right almost continuously for a few years.

    Without having the nerve to come right out and say it—that would be disgusting but it would at least have the virtue of not being cowardly—you are implying a connection between the “picking on” and the shooting. Whether such a connection would be valid if Loughner was “on right right” is an issue we need not decide; the relevant point is that whether or not Giffords was “picked on,” the attack was motivated by an incoherent babbling psychotic, not someone in thrall to “the right” and its talking points.

    Just one year ago someone crashed a plane into an IRS building with a tax grievance.

    Interesting spin on Joe Stack: Implicitly, you’re saying “he was a tax protestor, basically a tea partier.” Of course, neither his suicide note nor any other evidence bear the charge out.

    I can’t think of one voice on the right who said it was an act of terrorism or an attack against this country.

    Another lie. I did, and if you search the archives of leading blogs on the right, you’ll find that plenty of other people did, too.

    Stop the lying and spinning, and start apologizing for the cynical, disgraceful way you people have conducted yourself these last four days. And you say we should do some self-reflection? The first rule of propaganda is projection. You ought to be ashamed.

  9. daniel noe Says:

    To back simon up further:

    Terry says that the shooting of a congresswoman is a political act. Was the shooting of Reagan by Hinckley also a political act?

    Terry says that nobody on the right claimed Stack was crazy. Strange, I never heard anyone on the right suggest anything else (except that he was perhaps, in addition to being crazy, a left-wing ideologue). At the time, they were trying to distance themselves from someone the left was trying desperately to tie them to. I wonder, has Terry EVER listened to right-wing media?

  10. blackout Says:

    @KK: “All the folks who rushed to judgement were wrong.”

    Clearly, but so are those who are comfortable turning this into yet another “but he said…!” exchange that attempts to ignore all possibility of a broader context. One doesn’t have to draw a straight line from the sort of rhetoric we’ve been discussing and Loughner’s actions to consider that rhetoric, and the climate it engenders, as worthy of condemnation. The idea that a causal linkage has to exist before we can agree that it’s escalated to unacceptable levels is myopic.

  11. blackout Says:

    @Terry: “The reaction from the left is from an accumulation of frustration ”

    That doesn’t excuse it at all, Terry, but I do find the shock and hurt from the Right to be amusing.

    I do find it interesting that conservatives can’t bring themselves to take the sensible position of thoroughly denouncing the rhetoric under discussion while mounting their defense (Simon half-hearted stab aside), but then admitting that someone under your tent might be even the tiniest bit “wrong” is simply not in the play book. No, better to simply denounce the rush to judgment and continue to deflect attention away from the broken political discourse and the clear contributions to its coarsening by your side’s noise machine and punditry.

  12. blackout Says:

    @Daniel Noe: “Was the shooting of Reagan by Hinckley also a political act?”

    It makes sense to wait until Loughner speaks to his motives (if he does) and for the dust to settle. Hinckley is probably not the best example as he’s one of the few assassins (attempted or successful) to seemingly have no political motive in the classic sense. It does seem clear that he attacked Reagan because Reagan was a politician, but I don’t believe that any other assassin in our nation’s history committed their crime simply to impress an actress. Loughner, at least from early returns, seems far more politically charged, regardless of any discernible ideology.

  13. Tillyosu Says:

    Loughner, at least from early returns, seems far more politically charged, regardless of any discernible ideology.

    What is your basis for this statement?

  14. Chris Says:

    Well it appears he was opposed to the government, and had something personal against her…

  15. Simon Says:

    He was opposed to the government because it was controlling people’s minds by manipulating grammar, Chris. The guy’s certifiable.

  16. blackout Says:

    @Tillyosu: “What is your basis for this statement?”

    Comments of friends and acquaintances, the same info everyone else has. And remember, this is in the context of Hinckley. It’s not hard to propose that almost every assassin’s motives are more politically charged as Hinckely, at least by his admission, seems almost uniquely apolitical. As I said, it’s fruitless to discuss his motives until he chooses to speak to them, but comparing him to Hinckley seems to lack rigor.

  17. Why The Media Shouldn’t Be Blamed For The Arizona Shooting | Prose Before Hos Says:

    [...] says we all need to look in the mirror, An American Family, 300 Million Strong, The Real Problem, Friend Reveals Insight Into Jared Lee Loughner & Possible Motives, The Giffords Tragedy: Is the Media Partly at Fault?, Infants Playing with Flamethrowers, and [...]

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