Posts Tagged ‘Jared Loughner’

“Labelers and Labels: Why Do We Care?

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

Terrorist or Lunatic With a Gun

On January 8th, 2011, at approximately ten o’clock in the morning, alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner approached United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona) during a public political event held at a Safeway in Tucson, Arizona. At that time, Loughner shot Congresswoman Giffords in the head. Then Loughner turned his weapon on several citizens standing in a line to meet Giffords and indiscriminately shot them. According to the Washington Post, Loughner allegedly discharged approximately 31 rounds in 15 seconds, killing six and wounding 13 people before witnesses tackled him to the ground.

The alleged actions of Jared Lee Loughner created a political windstorm in regards to gun laws, mental health care and political rhetoric accountability and responsibility. Yet, nagging questions still linger; why did Loughner do it? Is he a terrorist or just a lunatic with a gun? With all of this in mind, it begs the question; was the Tucson shooting an act of domestic terrorism or the acts of an emotionally disturbed person?

In order to assume the appropriate socially required label for this event, several key components must be examined. First, Loughner’s mental culpability (mens rea) has to be considered. Mental culpability refers to the mindset of the individual perpetrating the act –whether he or she knowingly, intentionally, negligently or recklessly commits a crime.

According to the timeline released by authorities, the night before and the morning of the shooting, Loughner was busy. He dropped off film at a Walgreens and checked himself into a Motel 6. He posted a statement on Myspace telling his friends not to hate him and eventually made his way to a Wal-Mart, at which time he purchased ammunition and a black bag (Nakamura, Horwitz, Hedgpeth, 2011).

Shortly thereafter, Jared Loughner summoned a taxicab that picked him up at a Circle K and drove him to the Safeway. Upon arrival, the taxi driver and Loughner enter the Safeway together, at approximately 09:54 am, in order for Loughner to break a $20.00 bill to cover his taxi fare (Nakamura, et al., 2011).

The Washington Post reported that Loughner was seen in security videos exiting the store and intentionally circling back around towards Congresswoman Giffords’ public event. The security video showed how Loughner quickly approached Giffords with the firearm in his hand next to his leg. Loughner knowingly raised the firearm and shot Giffords in the face, just above the left eye, from less than 3 feet away. After which, Loughner turned his firearm on the attendees and intentionally shot them until he was subdued, by witnesses, while attempting to re-load his firearm (Nakamura, Horwitz, Markon, 2011)

The image conjured up by the published timeline is that of a calculated and premeditated act of violence, not the crazed psychotic lone gunman on the brink of a mental collapse first reported. It is, of course, important to consider Loughner’s “bizarre” behavior months, if not years, before this event. However, Loughner’s behavior, actions and decisions the night before and the morning of the shooting indicate that his mental culpability was knowingly and intentionally to commit this crime.

It should be noted: on 01/19/2011, ABC News created a virtual re-enactment video depicting Loughner’s deliberate actions during his shooting rampage. The video was constructed from the images captured by several security cameras in the immediate area: Jared Lee Loughner Surveillance Re-Enactment in Virtual Reality 1/19/2011 .

Secondly, in order to label an act an act of “domestic terrorism”, it is imperative to know the legal definition of “domestic terrorism.” According to the United States Criminal Code: Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 113B, Section 2331 defines the term “domestic terrorism” to mean activities that:

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended
(1) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(2) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(3) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States (Cornell Law School, n.d.).

The first element required is an act dangerous to human life in violation of federal or state law. Jared Loughner allegedly shot 19 people, in which 6 were killed, thus fulfilling the first required element.

Next, the act appears to be intended to influence government policy by intimidation. The act of an attempted assassination of a US Congresswoman is, in itself an intimidating act. Furthermore, Loughner’s self published rhetoric regarding how US currency is not legitimate, he will be the treasurer of a new currency, how words have no meaning, rants about the US government’s involvement in the September 11th terrorist attacks, as well as how the US government was trying to trick him (New York Times, 2011) reflects discontent with the current government policy and wanting change.

Additionally, on Loughner’s personal youtube channel he declares “I define [a] terrorist”. He writes: “…a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.” This “self-determined” declaration increases the probability that the shooting rampage was a premeditated act.

The third element, to affect the conduct of a government by assassination is not a required element, but simply an additional category for an act to fall within. In this incident, Loughner’s attempted assassination of Giffords is self-explanatory and all “normal” political conduct came to an abrupt halt directly after the incident. Lastly, the act took place on US soil.

In the final analysis, Loughner’s actions indicate that he knowingly and intentionally shot US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the additional 18 victims. This act exudes a warped perversion of political ideology and motivation.

Also, according to the United States Criminal Code’s definition of “domestic terrorism”, this act fulfilled the required elements to be labeled “domestic terrorism.” Therefore, based on the totality of the circumstances and the known facts surrounding this case at the time of writing, Jared Lee Loughner is a terrorist and is responsible for committing an act of “domestic terrorism” in Tucson, Arizona.

References

ABC News. (2011, January 19) Jared lee loughner surveillance re-enactment in virtual reality. ABC News. Retrieved fromhttp://youtu.be/C4oZQxtSBow

Cornell University Law School. (n.d.) Title 18: Legal information institute. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002331—-000-.html

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Hedgpeth, D. (2011, January 19) In videos, details of shooting emerge. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/18/AR2011011806483.html

Nakamura, D., Horwitz, S., Markon, J. (2011, January 15) Police depict a busy, focused loughner on morning of shooting. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011404927.html

New York Times. (2011, January 19) Jared Lee Loughner. New York Times. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/jared_lee_loughner/index.html?scp=2&sq=loughner%20postings&st=cse

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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.