We are all loonies now
by Don Hank
There is at least one report that Jared Lee Loughner may be associated with the so-called “patriot movement,” sort of second cousins to the Libertarians. Indeed, he thinks (if it can be called thinking) exactly like one.
In the early 90s a business acquaintance of mine invited me to a meeting of a group he called “patriots.” They sat around discussing the Constitution and heroic people who defy the government on the basis of what they considered to be their constitutional rights. One of the first things I noticed was a frequent ear-grating misuse of the word “whom” (in the subjective case) by some of the speakers who seemed to be accepted as authorities by the rest of the group.
I was told that one of the guys in the group specialized in baiting the cops by driving around in a car without a tag. Whenever he was pulled over, he pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his glove compartment and showed the officer a clause protecting the right of free travel. This he interpreted to mean that the government could not force anyone to buy a license to use a car. This same gentleman was unemployed, spending most of his time fighting the “fascist” government. He couldn’t afford to pay his mortgage but claimed no one had the right to evict him, again, supposedly based on the Constitution. He had a sign on his door stating that the “owner of this house is a Christian gentleman” and something to the effect that no one had the right to evict him, alluding to the dear Constitution he claimed as his all-purpose personal shield. The group seemed to accord him a special degree of respect.
Another guy in the group, who was dependent on a prescription antidepressant, was obliged to leave his apartment upon expiry of his lease. He had made a pest of himself, going around challenging people, including his fellow tenants and his landlords, on the constitutionality of various laws. Like Jared Lee Loughner, he had made himself unwelcome everywhere, including in areas he had staked out as his turf.
This evicted “patriot” sued the landlord in court and told the judge it was his Constitutional right to have his lease renewed, but did not cite any particular part of the Constitution. It was as if that document was for him what a silver cross is to a vampire’s intended victim. Just brandishing it before the enemy makes you invulerable. The best he could come up with, following disjointed statements, was “my freedom was bought at the price of patriots’ blood.”
He seemed to be conflating the Founders with Jesus. At any rate, the judge did not accept the argument.
This “patriot’s” case best spotlights what is wrong with a very tiny segment of the US population, who are neither leftists nor conservatives. They claim to love their country but what they mean is themselves. The Constitution in no way calls for security for renters or restricts the right of property owners to rent to whomever they want to. It is in fact Statists who argue that landlords should not be entitled to freely choose whom they may or may not rent to but should rather be constrained by the State to rent to a percentage of minorities corresponding to the general demographics. The plaintiff in this case was in fact arguing for a kind of affirmative action for himself.
Claiming to be a “sovereign citizen,” this plaintiff was in fact demanding that the State intervene on his behalf against the wishes of his landlord. While claiming the Constitution as his defense, he was in fact using a liberal-progressive interpretation of that document.
It was just such a tragic and self-centered misunderstanding of the Constitution that seems to have motivated Jared Lee Loughner in his war against his Pima Community College. The college had learned early on that Loughner was extremely disruptive and posed a potential threat to his professors and classmates, and as a result, had seen fit to expel him. But Loughner asserted on his web page that they had deprived him of his First Amendment right to free speech.
There always will be people out there like Loughner and the patriots to whom I was introduced in the early 90s.
But these people most certainly are not conservatives, quite the opposite. They outwardly pretend to share our concern for the Constitution and for the way it is being trampled in our courts and legislatures.
But in fact, their concern is for themselves, their own selfish interests, and they are, in their own way, attempting to usurp and distort the Constitution for personal gain and power. In this way they are no different from the power happy activist judges in our courts. What these Statist patriots demand on their own behalf, the Statist Left demands in the name of social and economic justice. The difference is razor-thin.
Thus, seen in this light, the loony Left, in accusing conservative talk radio and TV hosts and politicians like Sara Palin of inciting loony Loughner to kill, is in fact trying to distance itself from a man who is arguably one of their own. They are succeeding in part so far because naive people on the other side have allowed themselves, out of fear, to be branded by their lies and people in the amorphous center believe them. They really ought to see through the subterfuge.
But looniness – in this case, manifested as the mental incapacity to see through a relatively transparent smoke screen — is spreading epidemically thanks to the wondrous distortive power of the press.