Monday, January 10, 2011

What we've got here is a failure to communicate.

Cool Hand Luke [Blu-ray]
(Guard in the movie, Cool Hand Luke, pointing gun at Luke as the Cap'n identifies the problem.) 

You remember the old riddle: "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no living creature there to hear it, does it make a sound?" The answer, we were told, was no; there were vibrations, but without an animal or human with ears to translate the vibrations, there could be no sound because sound, by definition, is the perception of vibration.

To Jared Loughner, logical arguments such as this were his life, and in a recent video he posed another:
"If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem," the 22-year-old wrote Dec. 15 in a wide-ranging screed that was posted in video form and ended with this: "What's government if words don't have meaning?"
Most who read that quote undoubtedly find it totally meaningless. A discussion of the phrase "ad hominem," however, helps to explain what Jared was unable to express clearly:
An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:
1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B makes an attack on person A.
3. Therefore A's claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).
Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong."
Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest."
Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"
Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't believe what you say."
[Source: Fallacy Tutorial Pro 3.0 by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, which appears at the website The Nizkor Project. Note that Nizkor is a group that is anti-revisionist, opposing the holocaust-deniers.]
The question Jared asked about the meaning of government in his video is one that was on his mind for at least three years. According to reporter Justin Pritchard of AP, Jared was present at one of Congresswoman Giffords' first events called “Congress on Your Corner” in 2007:
At an event roughly three years ago, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took a question from Jared Loughner, the man accused of trying to assassinate her and killing six other people. According to two of his high school friends the question was essentially this:

"What is government if words have no meaning?"
The strangely worded query caught Giffords off her guard, as it likely would any of us, particularly at a public event where we were the center of attention, but Jared felt her inability to answer meant she was not intelligent. Possibly it led him to believe she should be assassinated, but it is not quite clear what or who influenced him to believe that. As Pritchard explained:
Mistrust of government was Loughner's defining conviction, the friends said. He believed the U.S. government was behind 9/11, and worried that governments were maneuvering to create a unified monetary system ("a New World Order currency" one friend said) so that social elites and bureaucrats could control the rest of the world.
Jared's friends were interviewed by Pritchard for his Associated Press article and offered a great deal of insight to their friend.
"He appeared to be to me an emotional cripple or an emotional child," Coorough said. "He lacked compassion, he lacked understanding and he lacked an ability to connect." Cates said Loughner "didn't have the social intelligence, but he definitely had the academic intelligence."

"He was very into the knowledge aspect of school. He was really into his philosophy classes and he was really into logic and English. And he would get frustrated by the dumbed-down words people used in class," Cates said.

Loughner expressed his interest in grammar and logic on the Internet as he made bizarre claims - such as that the Mars rover and the space shuttle missions were faked. He frequently used "if-then" constructions in making nonsensical arguments. For instance:
"If the living space is able to maintain the crews life at a temperature of -454F then the human body is alive in the NASA Space Shuttle. The human body isn't alive in the NASA Space Shuttle. Thus, the living space isn't able to maintain the crews life at a temperature of -454F."
Other writers have speculated that Jared may have a form of autism that causes him to behave in the socially isolating manner he has exhibited for at least five years. They call it Aspergers Syndrome.

Failure to Communicate

It's all about communication. If words have no meaning, i.e. if the representatives we elect don't hear us when we speak, are they really our government? Conversely, if they don't tell us the truth, do we have the right to learn the truth for ourselves outside the authorized government's classified system?

 Researchers have been through all this many times before. It has been well documented that Lee Harvey Oswald, for example, was taken in by military intelligence while in the Marines, then sheep-dipped and reassigned to an unnamed agency. He was then given instructions that would make it appear he was a Communist after he was in fact ordered to pretend to be a defector to the Soviet Union. After that "defection," he was welcomed back and used again; told to infiltrate pro-Castro groups to gain information. He was then tossed on the heap where useless agents end up, dead and unable to tell his story about his work on behalf of the government he loved.

Government Secrecy

We have also read about other agents who worked in another division of that same agency Oswald was assigned to whose job was to create hallucinogenic drugs that would help them create a so-called Manchurian Candidate who would kill to order and not remember later what he had done. Once that agency lied to the American people and escaped accountability for illegal research on their victims, they tested the drugs they created on innocent populations, possibly for the agency's own profit through cut out entities.

It's a sordid tale about government and its failure to communicate with its own citizens. Jared was right about that. But was he a victim of this government or just a poor unfortunate boy with an autistic syndrome?

Unfortunately, the truth will be hidden from us. We may never know for sure.

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