Courtesy BoingBoing

I make it a point to avoid political or religious pontification on this blog. It really isn’t why I started it. In the past when I’ve veered into that territory I’ve caused more problems than I care to consider, save for this post from our last Independence Day. That one went well. This one has to do with Arizona, and no, I’m not talking about Machete (which I still haven’t seen).

I’m going to talk about Jared Lee Loughner.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to say about the people shot and killed in Arizona. I didn’t know if I would have anything to say, or if I’d just post on something ultimately arbitrary while victims recover and the manhunt continues, then I checked BoingBoing. And I read. I thought. I tried to understand.

And, ultimately, I felt very sad.

Not because of the senseless deaths and maimings, nor because of the support this action has gotten from certain cells of irrational thought within our country. I felt sad because Jared is an intelligent young man without focus or proper training. He tries to present an argument, a point of view, in a logical progression of statements.

It would work better if his statements weren’t fallacies.

In the transcriptions of his YouTube entries, he produces a series of causal statements, aimed at promoting his point of view as a logical one. However, without evidence to support his statements, he must rely on the arguments themselves. He doesn’t show his work and simply presents one logical conundrum after another. A recent example:

If there’s no flag in the constitution then the flag in the film is unknown.

There’s no flag in the constitution.

Therefore, the flag in the film is unknown.

Burn every new and old flag that you see.

My initial reaction: … Wait, what?

My reaction after analysis is that I haven’t seen logic or philosophy this bad since I took a long, hard look at Baudrillard. What we have here is a deductive fallacy, which in a slightly more coherent form might look like this:

Premise: If Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania, then it is in Pennsylvania.
Fact: Philadelphia is in Pennsylvania.
Conclusion: Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania.

Since Harrisburg is actually the capital of Pennsylvania, it’s easy to see that the problem with the above argument is that it’s operating on a flawed premise. So too with Jared. His premise that the flag is unknown if it’s not in the Constitution is false. The flag is known because the cultural identity of the nation is associated with the flag, and that identity existed before the Constitution was drafted. Its meaning is implied rather than explicit – while the Constitution never states that the stars represent the states and the stripes the 13 original colonies, it’s common national knowledge. Therefore, the flag is not unknown, and the initial premise of the argument is flawed.

Did nobody point this out to Jared? Would he have listened if they did?

This is one of his more coherent arguments. Follow the BoingBoing link above to see more. But here is the conclusion I’ve drawn from looking over and considered these statements.

This young man argued with the void, got no tangible response, and assumed his conclusions to be true. I don’t think there’s anything in the evidence to support claims that he was influenced by anybody active in politics, only that he was proceeding from false assumptions that nobody ever corrected.

The thing that makes me sad is that this all could have been avoided if someone, in person, had called him on his bullshit.

There’s really no blame to be assigned. No hysteria that should follow this event. Yes, it’s tragic. Yes, I feel for the victims and their families. No, I don’t think anybody outside of Jared and the other ‘person of interest’ should be held responsible. The evidence I see is of a young man trying to find his own voice, his own destiny, without influence from religion or the government – anybody in the government.

So let’s leave Obama, Palin and all the rest of them out of this, shall we?

Assigning blame to and calling for justice upon those who had nothing to do with this tragic event is just as unconscionable as pulling the trigger yourself.


  1. Sadly, I don’t think politics will be left out of it. With how he media jumped to point that the victims were all dead while Giffords was still in surgery quite painstakingly points out how much they want something big like that to happen.

    You know, for ratings’s sake.

  2. Jared is suffering from borderline personality disorder if not flat out schizophrenia. The patterns of what is being said mixed in with a point he is trying to get across detail this very well.

    Firstly, he’s obviously come upon some truths that are very hard for him to handle. It is apparent between the lines of the insanity driven prose that he is desperately trying to make sense of it to others and that he isn’t able to handle it. I am serious as a heart attack that there are truths enough about whats going on out there to drive one insane if one is predisposed for it. -Just don’t let that suddenly invalidate me as a commenter/tin foil hatter. There is some serious crap going on and has been for a long time.

    So the question is, how did he find out about these things if he was insane? Chicken or the egg I suppose. However, he may already have had some borderline personality disorder issues that went untreated and was able to notice things others miss.

    How? I guess I can describe it like this, It is like trying to play an xbox360 game called “Conspiracy:The Truth” which to us is super high end graphics award winning game in which many truths are hidden for us to try to find. But for some reason, he’s limited to 8-bit graphics and sprites. With 8-bit graphics, the plot still must be progressed, but that which is hidden sticks out much more due to the limitation of graphics available. So he might be able to see something in there others are missing because those 8-bit graphics can’t hide what is normally to be hidden to us in a high end 256-bit graphic presentation that throws us off with too much eye candy. In fact, earlier on when the 64bit generation came out, game designers realized it is too easy to hide things in games, and it would become too frustrating to play. So now we usually have to be shown the target with some sort of sparkly or shinny effect out of the corner of our eye to further along the plot the way they want it, but the easter eggs, the real truth, is usually still hidden without that for us to somehow find in all that stimulus overload. With such a low resolution so it stands out more, he can see it. But unfortunately, all he has is 8-bit limited experience to define what he’s seeing and it sounds insane to the rest of us.

    That was a weird analogy, but it seems fairly close to what I perceive he was going through. Hopefully it got the point across.

    He felt like he had to lash out and solve all the worlds problems on his own because no one else can understand, and he lacked the social requirement to prevent him from carrying out such plans. So we have what happened here.

    TL:DR, He should have had some help quite a while ago.

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