In case you haven't been paying attention to the news this weekend, Democratic Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a bunch of spectators were shot at a street corner political gathering in Tucson. The police arrested suspect Jared Lee Loughner, who left behind a bunch of semi-coherent YouTube videos
. Thanks to Boing Boing
for posting transcripts of Jared Loughner's videos
I find it interesting to try to follow the killer's train of thought–he doesn't share the same reality that most of us do. It looks clear that Loughner recently took a philosophy or logic class and loves the Aristotelean-style propositional logic. The classic example is
- All men are mortal.
- Socrates is a man.
- Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Loughner prefers the conditional phrasing:
If B.C.E. year are unable to start then A.D.E. years are unable to begin.
B.C.E. years are unable to start.
Thus, A.D.E. years are unable to begin.
However, he's not very good at choosing true premises: If you're receiving a grade from Pima Community College class then the grade you're receiving is unconstitutional because of the United States Bill of Rights.
You're receiving a grade from Pima Community College class.
Therefore, the grade you're receiving is unconstitutional because of the United States Bill of Rights. The grading you purchase from Pima Community College is unconstitutional at tuition.</blockquote> His grasp of time is also questionable:
If 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,618 is the year in B.C.E. then the previous year of 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,618 B.C.E. is 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,619 B.C.E.
987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,618 is the year in B.C.E.
Therefore, the previous year of 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,618 B.C.E is 987,123,478,961,876,341,234,671,234,098,601,978,619 B.C.E.
Some points of reference to understand where Loughner is coming from:
Section 10 of the United States Constitution either refers to Article 1, Section 10 (
No state shall… make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts), implying college tuition is fraud because it's not backed by gold, or Amendment 10 of the Bill of Rights (
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people), implying college tuition is invalid because federally-funded education is not part of the Constitution. Both the gold standard and the idea that the federal government isn't authorized to do anything that's not in the constitution have been popular rallying points for Tea Party activists.
B.C.E. stands for Before Common Era, a more politically correct version of Before Christ. Common Era is the politically correct version of Anno Domini (year of our Lord), but Loughner apparently thought you just add "E" to the older abbreviation. (I always assumed that BCE implied existence of year zero, but unfortunately Wikipedia claims that's not true.)
An ad hominem argument is one that attacks a person rather than the ideas he professes. For example, if someone disputed Plato's political philosophy on the grounds that he was gay, that would be an ad hominem attack. Loughner wrote
If I define terrorist then a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon. "Terrorist" is a word that has been used in indiscriminate and ad hominem ways in the last decade. But if Loughner's armed attack yesterday was meant to be a political weapon of terror, then he is a terrorist. However, I'm not sure his YouTube corpus is coherent or direct enough to know what his motives were. Maybe he was just pissed at his Congresswoman for personal (not political) reasons and wanted to kill her without causing terror in the hearts of members of Congress. But with a former Vice Presidential candidate posting an image with gun sight crosshairs over Gifford's district, it's easy to see why people would jump to a political conclusion. Apparently, Palin is trying to unsay that on the Internet.
I define terrorist.
Thus, a terrorist is a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon.
If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.
You call me a terrorist.
Thus, the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem.