Politics

Friend Reveals Insight Into Jared Lee Loughner & Possible Motives

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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…