The Arizona Shooting: The Last Assassination of the ’60s

Jared Lee Loughner was Hyde without the laugh track

As the media and left-wingers spin the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as an act of Tea Party violence, perhaps even they have a nagging little voice telling them they are overlooking the factors that really led to this tragedy, which claimed the lives of six people — including three septuagenarians and a nine-year-old girl. While the Left has predictably tried to use this attack to smear its political opponents, conservatives have countered that the would-be assassin, Jared Lee Loughner, showed signs of mental illness. Both miss a vital aspect: the perpetrator was raised by permissive parents and joined a subculture of fellow teenagers who abused drugs, questioned authority, and tried to expand their consciousness.

This was the last assassination of the 1960s.

Although Loughner was almost certainly unbalanced, the role illegal drugs may have played in his descent has been ignored. Everyone agrees he was a long-standing, habitual drug abuser. Raised by hippies who let him do what he wanted, he guzzled pharmaceuticals — allegedly including hallucinogens. He partied, lived in a world of his own, and wove trippy conspiracy theories like the hippies the media constantly idolize. Loughner appears to have lived, suffered, and possibly killed by the ideology of the Sixties counterculture.

According to those who knew him, Loughner imbibed this ideology from his parents, who had an aversion to discipline. The Independent quotes an acquaintance:

“His parents were very laid-back, like hippies,” said Jesse Martinez, 17. “They were live-and-let-live people, but not exactly in a good way, and so he grew up doing more or less what he liked.”

By the time he was 14, that involved living the countercultural lifestyle: hanging out, skipping school, and doing drugs with his “friends”:

The crew smoked marijuana every day, and when they weren’t going to concerts or watching movies they talked about the meaning of life and dabbled in conspiracy theories.

For a time, Loughner drank heavily, to the point of poisoning himself, the friends said. Once, during school lunch break as a junior, he downed so much tequila that he came back to class, within five minutes passed out cold, had to be rushed to the hospital and “almost died,” one friend said.

His political views were also stereotypical of the ’60s. Caitie Parker, a classmate of Loughner’s at Tuscon’s Mountain View High School and Pima Community College, describes him as “a political radical,” “left-wing, quite liberal” and “Anti-Flag.” Parker tweeted, “he was a pot head & into rock like Hendrix, The Doors.” His painful internet ramblings have all the hallmarks of the “deep” pseudophilosophers of the era.

Jared Lee Loughner was Steven Hyde from That ’70s Show without the laugh track.

Whether substance abuse or mental illness led to his breakdown, Loughner dropped out of high school. Soon, he became a known entity with local law enforcement. He was cited for drug paraphernalia in 2007 and had unspecified run-ins with the law. A year later, the  Army refused his application to join after he admitted he was a drug user.

He began tuning in other destructive forces, as well. The Associated Press described him as an “ardent atheist,” and in one of his internet postings he wrote, “No! I won’t trust in God!” A friend said his atheist led him to sink into a “nihilistic rut” — the usual trajectory of a hopeless ideology. Perhaps seeking some other power, he erected an occultic altar with a mock human skull in a tent in his backyard.

After high school, he reportedly “sampled” LSD. The New York Times reported his Pima Community College classmates “wondered if he might be on hallucinogens.”

All of the signs of Saturday’s rampage were there — and went unheeded. A 52-year-old classmate, Lynda Sorenson, described Loughner as “mentally unbalanced,” “seriously disturbed,” and possibly “on drugs.” The situation got so bad the college stationed a policeman outside his classroom, but his outbursts and confrontations with students and faculty only escalated. The Wall Street Journal reports PCC suspended Loughner last September; the Associated Press reported he withdrew voluntarily. Both agree the college administration refused to allow him to return without a mental health evaluation.

By then, it was too late. No one had cared enough to reach out to him, get him the psychiatric help he needed, or send him to detox.

All of the destructive personal factors in his personality were a part of the 1960s counterculture the media constantly praise and hold up as a utopian ideal. The media have praised the joys of free narcotics use, elevated demented ramblings to the level of Shakespearean poetry, and refused to report on the lifelong damage this destructive lifestyle inflicts on its practitioners and everyone they effect.

The idea that parents, the shaping force of children’s personalities, should not stifle their unruly sires’ creativity with baggage and rules came to the fore in the 1960s. The father of permissive parenting, Dr. Benjamin Spock, led the antiwar movement and ran for president in 1972 as the nominee of the socialist Peace and Freedom Party.

In that era, drug use transformed from the act of social degenerates to an act of “consciousness-raising.” The media wink at dopers and present them as innocuous fonts of far-out wisdom. Apart from the “Just Say No” decade of the ’80s, Hollywood films about drugs have ranged from scatological to adulatory. The media do not report that LSD — which Loughner may have used — can cause long-term psychosis, including hallucinations and paranoia. Drug abuse experts state “unpredictable mood swings, paranoia and violent behavior” can “set in with just a single use of LSD, and can last for years, even if the person they are affecting has no prior history of psychological problems or disorders.” Loughner’s description of “conscience dreaming” [sic.] may refer to lucid dreaming, but it seems as likely to refer to schizophrenic hallucinations or an LSD flashback.

Either way, the back-story seems to be the media’s praise for “expanding consciousness” through drugs.

Conspiracy theories seem to have taken on a life of their own since left-wingers refused to believe a lone, Castroite Communist named Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy. Suddenly, conspiracies enveloped their field of vision.

The occult seems to have displaced the Almighty as the most popular element in popular culture during the eight years between Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Omen (1976). Images of skulls and inverted crosses cropped up in popular music. The father of the LSD movement, Dr. Timothy Leary, had an abiding interest in Aleister Crowley. (This video, although somewhat breathless, has the details.)

The shooter’s love of hippie music, drug use, left-wing politics, anti-Americanism, rejection of God, conspiracy mongering, occultism, and quest for “deep” meaning all see their antecedents in the media’s favorite decade.

The Left has praised the counterculture lifestyle they once led, glossing over the destructive movement as an “era of peace, love, and music.” Sadly, destroying lives is what the counterculture does best. The media glorify the Haight-Ashbury counterculture of 1967 San Francisco the “Summer of Love.” But even sympathetic reporters and participants describe the homelessness, STDs, burned out minds, and hunger the movement created. A Look magazine reporter wrote of his night in a “filthy, litter-strewn dope fortress,” with “half-a-dozen hippies lying in various stages of drug stupor.” San Francisco Chronicle columnist Joel Selvin spoke of how the situation deteriorated within months from naive idealism to “squalid. The utopian moment had been and gone.” The iconic event of the decade, Woodstock, was hardly a “free love-in and concert”; hippies who had not purchased tickets crowded onto the property, had bad trips on LSD, and ran through their provisions until they had to rely on the National Guard to feed them. Today, these are remembered as the great cultural moments of all time.

The permissive culture, anything-goes lifestyle, and glowing media coverage of a sick era are surely more responsible for Saturday’s tragedy than anything Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann have ever said or done. The greatest tragedy is that no one in Jared Lee Loughner’s life introduced him to their values or their God.