I find myself rather frustrated lately with the world’s obsessive necessity with labels and their inconsistent application. In my humble opinion, labels are simply a means for the “Labelers” to convince others to accept and believe their manipulative perspective and opinion and to create a pecking order most beneficial to “Them”.

Which leads me to my current soapbox – Tucson Mass Murder Jared Loughner versus Dearborn Mosque M-80s Roger Stockham.

Here is a brief synopsis of each event:

TUCSON MASS MURDER JARED LOUGHNER


On January 8th, 2011, at approximately ten o’clock in the morning, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner approached United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords during a public political event in Tucson, Arizona. It was at that time, Loughner shot and critically injured Congresswoman Giffords and indiscriminately shot citizens gathered to meet her. Loughner discharged approximately 31 rounds in 15 seconds, killing six and wounding 13 (Washington Post).

It was later revealed that Loughner had a personal YouTube channel where he posted miscellaneous entries reflecting his discontent with the current government and policies. In one particularly interesting posting, Loughner defines “terrorist” as “a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.” Loughner labeled himself a terrorist.

It should be noted that Jared Lee Loughner had a few minor criminal infractions prior to this event.

Please see my January 31, 2011 post “Terrorist or Lunatic With a Gun”.

DEARBORN MOSQUE M-80 ROGER STOCKHAM


On January 31, 2011, 63-year-old Roger Stockham was arrested outside a Dearborn, Michigan mosque with explosives in his car with the intent to blow up the mosque. The explosives were identified as class C-fireworks, to include M-80s. According to Fox News, Stockham was charged with 1 count of possession of explosives with unlawful attempt and 1 count of making a false report or threat of terrorism. No one was injured and Stockham was taken into custody without incident.

It was later revealed that on January 31, 2011, at an unknown time, Stockham entered J.S. Fields bar in Dearborn and proclaimed to be a “mujahideen.” A mujahideen is an individual who is a Muslim fighter doing jihad or struggle (Examiner, 2011).

It should be noted that Roger Stockham has a long history of threats and criminal infractions prior to this event.

  1. Stockham plead not guilty by reason of insanity after being arrested in 2002 for threatening then President G. W. Bush. Roger Stockham spent approximately 1 year in the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (Detroit News, 2011).
  2. On September 1, 1979, The Merced Sun-Star, described Roger Stockham as a Muslim convert who attempted to hijack an airliner from Los Angeles to Iran (Bill Warner Sarasota, 2011)

Two separate events, two different perpetrators acquiring two different labels. Jared Loughner is labeled a lunatic with a gun while Roger Stockham is labeled a terrorist. Why?

Now, if the United States defines domestic terrorism as any activity that violates any state or federal criminal code that endangers human life, which intimidates a civilian population with the intent to influence the policy of a government or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping (Cornell Law School, n.d.), how do the acts of Roger Stockham fit these elements?

Well, fireworks can endanger human life and proclaiming to be a Muslim fighter doing jihad in today’s atmosphere can be intimidating to most civilians. Yet, how does his actions influence governmental policy or affect the conduct of a government? I cannot find nor see any indications of such. Where as, Jared Loughner intentionally attempted to assassinate a US Congresswoman and slaughter her political supporters at a political function, sufficiently terrorizing citizens and affecting the conduct of government.

As a retired law enforcement officer, my training and experience compels me to believe that Roger Stockham’s actions fulfill the criminal elements of a hate crime more than domestic terrorism. A hate crime is defined by a 1994 federal law, Public Law #103-322A, which states the following: “a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person” (Religious Tolerance, 2011).

Based on their legal definitions and the world’s obsessive necessity with labels, how would you, the reader, label these men – terrorist or the perpetrator of a hate crime?

I dare to say Roger Stockham’s reported history as a converted Muslim and his intended target being a Muslim mosque influenced his acts to be labeled “terrorism.”  This, of course, is mostly due to the fact that the world ignorantly and erroneously equates anything “Muslim” with terrorism and the extreme politically correct sensitivity of today’s day and age. In addition to this, “Labelers” fearfully reminding American citizens that the “war on terror” must continue at home and abroad in order to eradicate Muslim extremists.

I surmise labels are used to manipulate the masses into accepting the perceptions and opinions of the “Labelers.” Jared Loughner, by legal definition, committed an act of domestic terrorism and therefore, is a terrorist. Roger Stockham, on the other hand, committed acts that fall within the hate crime category and therefore, is an anti-religion (Muslim) hate criminal. As clear as this may be, the “Labelers” want to convince us otherwise.

With this said, we must remember the most important element of all – in the end, regardless of the label applied, the end result is still the same – a crime is a crime is a crime.

Works cited:

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Hedgpeth, D. (2011, January 19) In videos, details of shooting emerge. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://wapo.st/eee7uj

Robinson, B. A. (2009, July 22) U.S. hate crimes: Definitions; State/federal laws. Religious Tolerance. Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_hat3.htm

Sarasota, B. W. (2011) blog retrieved from http://pibillwarner.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/viet-nam-vet-roger-stockham-arrested-in-attempt-to-blow-up-the-islamic-center-of-america-mosque-in-dearborn-the-biggest-mosque-in-the-detroit-area/

Staff. (2011, January 31). Explosives expert: Fireworks in Dearborn mosque plot were ‘enough to be lethal. Detroit News. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/hLVpWm

Staff. (2011, January 31). Calif. Man accused in plot on Michigan Mosque. Fox News. Retrieved from http://fxn.ws/hCUlc3

Taylor-Bonds, D. (2011, February 1). Man who tried to blow up mosque has history of threatening President Bush. Examiner. Retrieved from http://exm.nr/eHAoRT