One of the Influences on Loughner?

One of the odder pronouncements made by Loughner on his YouTube videos had to do with grammar, such as:  “The government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”  Setting aside the irony of the ungrammatical nature of the sentence (or am I just applying the rules of grammar I have been brainwashed to believe?), the statement is nonsensical.

Newsweek, however, suggests the origins of this mode of thinking (such as it is):  Jared Lee Loughner’s Mental State

Loughner’s rambling Internet missives, says Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, likely come from well known online sources of the radical right. Potok, who studies hate groups and hate speech, has combed Loughner’s sites and says his material on grammar, in particular, likely comes from the writings of the Milwaukee-based, far right activist David Wynn Miller. As Potok explains it, Miller “believes in a ‘truth language’ that can throw off the government. If you use the right combination of colons and hyphens you don’t have to pay taxes. Miller is virtually the only person who pushes these ideas on grammar, it’s a very unusual idea, even on the radical right.”

For his part, Miller tells The Daily Beast/Newsweek that Loughner has never reached out to him, but that “I expect he’s been on my website… He’s just repeating things I’ve had up on my site the past 11 years.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center has an article on Miller here: ‘Full Colon Miller’

Miller’s own website is here.

FILED UNDER: Crime, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Miller is virtually the only person who pushes these ideas on grammar, it’s a very unusual idea, even on the radical right.

    So I guess George Orwell is on the radical right now?

  2. Terrye says:

    I think this young man was a sponge for strange ideology. I read that he was also a Truther, which puts him in the same category as Rosie O’Donnell.

  3. @SD:

    The key phrase in the sentence is “these ideas” referring to a specific theory on the politics of grammar. Read the links, it is not an unreasonable assumption,

    This is not what Orwell was talking about.

  4. sam says:

    “Miller’s own website is here.

    Holy Smokes!

  5. Except that none of the passages I’ve seen from Loughner seem to share any of Miller’s views. I don’t see any attribution of magical powers to punctuation markers, no usage of weird acronyms, etc. All I have seen are assertions, albeit inartful expressed, that the government is misusing language to manipulate people’s perceptions. In that Loughner’s complaint seem closer to Orwell’s than Miller’s.

  6. @SD:

    Hence the question mark in the title.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Or Loughner’s problems with grammar are evidence of psychotic disorder. As his mental state deteriorated, and he became more frustrated and paranoid, he imposed a structure on reality that explained his place in it and why he was having difficulties interacting with the world.

    Maybe he found Miller and his website provided some help, but the main takeaway was his rejection of the difference between being asleep and awake, btw/ “conscience dreaming” and “sleepwalking.” It would almost be as if he went to blogs discussing the symptoms of schizophrenia and adopted their language.

  8. Alasdair says:

    Steven – is it de facto “right-wing” to want to “throw off the government” ?

    Isn’t it just as much Fundamentalist Islamic or even flat out Anarchist to want to “throw off the government” ? (At least with respect to US government, that is)

  9. Ronin says:

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