The Corner

A Portrait of Loughner

From friends and classmates:

The Loughner they met when he was a freshman at Mountain View High School may have been socially awkward, but he was generally happy and fun to be around. 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.

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.

On his YouTube page, he listed among his favorite books “Animal Farm” and “Brave New World” — two novels about how authorities control the masses. Other books in the wide-ranging list included “Mein Kampf,” ‘’The Communist Manifesto,” ‘’Peter Pan” and Aesop’s Fables.

Over time, Loughner became increasingly introspective — what one of the friends described as a “nihilistic rut.”

An ardent atheist, he began to characterize people as sheep whose free will was being sapped by the government and the monotony of modern life.

“He didn’t want people to wake up and do the same thing every day. He wanted more chaos, he wanted less regularity,” one friend said.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster has been news editor of National Review Online since 2009, and was a web site editor until 2012. His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The American ...

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