Lots Of Questions Remain Surrounding Jared Loughner Nightmare

Yesterday on this site, Chris Gary posted a link to a blog report which suggests that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik had ample foreknowledge of death threats made by Jared Loughner to various public personalities in Tucson before finally unleashing a rampage which killed six people, including a federal judge, and severely wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. If the report is true, it both explains and discredits the narrative spread by Dupnik in the aftermath of Loughner’s bloodbath.

But Dupnik’s rhetoric is only one of many sides to the issue of how Loughner transformed from high school loser to mass murderer.

Dupnik, who had previously been in the news for pontificating about Arizona’s law dealing with illegal immigrants (he lambasted it as racist while alleging that his deputies were already rounding up illegals in a fashion the law described), suggested immediately after Saturday’s carnage that “anger, hatred and bigotry” in American political speech was the cause of the attack…

‘When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,’ Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told a news conference.

‘The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. 

‘And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.’

He added: ‘That may be free speech. But it’s not without consequence.’

This earned Dupnik international publicity, but not necessarily approval. On an appearance with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly he fared poorly defending his pontifications…

But while the sheriff offered up a theory of right-wing hate speech driving Loughner’s behavior, he apparently didn’t give too much consideration to the fact that Loughner had already made threats against Giffords, threats Dupnik’s department failed to protect her from. And that’s the subject of the blog post in question which has cast Dupnik’s conduct in doubt…

Jared Loughner has been making death threats by phone to many people in Pima County including staff of Pima Community College, radio personalities and local bloggers. When Pima County Sheriff’s Office was informed, his deputies assured the victims that he was being well managed by the mental health system. It was also suggested that further pressing of charges would be unnecessary and probably cause more problems than it solved as Jared Loughner has a family member that works for Pima County. Amy Loughner is a Natural Resource specialist for the Pima County Parks and Recreation. My sympathies and my heart goes out to her and the rest of Mr. Loughner’s family. This tragedy must be tearing them up inside wondering if they had done the right things in trying to manage Jared’s obvious mental instability.

Every victim of his threats previously must also be wondering if this tragedy could have been prevented if they had been more aggressive in pursuing charges against Mr. Loughner. Perhaps with a felony conviction he would never have been able to lawfully by the Glock 9mm Model 19 that he used to strike down the lives of six people and decimate 14 more.

Whether everything in that post is true, there is documentation that its fundamental gist is on the mark. Moe Lane at Redstate provides it…

Let us be clear: it is not a matter of controversy whether or not Loughner made death threats, or at least it should not be.  As was reported by both local sources (via here) and Reuters, Sheriff Dupnik himself revealed that Loughner had made death threats against at least one person who was not Congresswoman Giffords.  This happened…

Again, we know that there were death threats made, because Dupnik himself admitted that they had happened (that’s the NPR link).  And we also know that Loughner was sufficiently unstable to have been thrown out of college as being, frankly, a menace to the local community.  And when I say ‘thrown out’ I want it to be understood that the police were involved, because they were.  But it could be that this is not actually a true report: a violent paranoid schizophrenic with a history of erratic behavior might have managed to restrain himself to making death threats to one specific person outside of the jurisdiction of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office – thus making him not specifically the problem of one Clarence Dupnik.

But if it comes out that the Sheriff’s office was aware of the threats, and did not act on them, then Clarence Dupnik needs to stop blaming the Right for the murder of six people and start blaming himself.  Because Sheriff Dupnik is not in office to, say, fight partisan battles over state immigration policy: he’s in office to keep the peace.  If he’s forgotten that, the voters will be happy to remind him.

A picture is emerging of Dupnik as a wannabe pundit who would rather hold forth on the issues of the day than do his job – with six corpses as the price the citizens of Pima County are facing for his choices. Perhaps he should resign so that he can become a full-time talking head.

But to engage Dupnik’s attempts to explain the actions of Loughner as a function of our society at large, it appears there’s another set of questions which go even deeper.

It turns out that Loughner attended (but did not graduate from) a high school in Tucson – Mountain View High School – the curriculum of which was designed by a group founded and funded by Bill Ayers. World Net Daily posted a research piece yesterday indicating that…

Since 2003, Mountain View has been part of what is known as the Smaller Learning Community, a network of schools that have been restructured to create a more personalized learning environment where students often have the same teachers and fellow students from grade to grade. 

Mountain View was part of the Smaller Learning Communities throughout Loughner’s entire attendance there, from 9th grade until he withdrew without graduating before his senior year.

The high school received grants to research the concepts of Smaller Learning Communities and work to implement them.

Ayers himself is considered one of the fathers of the Smaller Learning Communities, often providing lectures to schools on the subject. For example, a 2001 lecture at Lewis & Clark College featured Ayers at a workshop entitled, “A Simple Justice: Building Smaller Learning Communities to Know Our Youth.”

Smaller Learning Communities had its conceptual genesis in 1991, when Ayers founded a group, Small Schools Workshop, which provides training and resources to teach schools on how to implement the Smaller Learning Communities.

Small Schools Workshop is a recommended agent for how to implement smaller schools curriculum, including at Loughner’s alma mater, Mountain View.

Ayers’ Small Schools Workshop has the stated goal of providing support for teachers who want to create smaller learning environments. Ayers reportedly recruited a radical activist, Mike Klonsky, to head the Workshop. Klonsky still serves as director.

The Small School Workshop originally was associated with the University of Illinois in Chicago, where Klonsky previously taught in the education department alongside Ayers, who retired from the university last year. The group was headquartered for a time inside the university’s department of education building.

In 1995, with Obama as its chairman, the newly formed Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC, a school reform organization, gave the Workshop a grant of $175,000. The CAC provided another $482,662 to the Workshop over the next few years.

The WND piece couches the Small Schools Workshop connection to Loughner largely as a hit piece against Obama and Ayers. I’m not overly impressed with that, but I do think it grazes a subject worth examination.

Small Schools Workshop has a website, though it’s not particularly loaded with information as to the curriculum its affiliates use. On Klonsky’s blog, at which you’ll find lots of interesting information in support of initiatives like “Wear Red For Ed” and detailing how there’s a war on against teachers. At neither site can you find detailed descriptions of what is taught at these small schools, so it’s a bit of speculation on my part that Loughner read The Communist Manifesto, a book he said on his YouTube page was among his favorites, in high school.

I make that speculation because as a freshman at Southern Methodist University I was surprised to find the Communist Manifesto on the course syllabus in an English Literature class. And I understand that it is anything but uncommon to see the works of Karl Marx taught in high schools and colleges – and not as electives. I also make that speculation because the book appeared alongside a host of other boilerplate high school readings like Brave New World, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp and Through The Looking Glass on Loughner’s list of favorite books. And based on the offerings of Loughner’s YouTube page and the rather unimpressive quality of them, I’m going to hazard a guess Loughner didn’t read a whole lot outside what he was exposed to at Mountain View High School or perhaps Pima Community College.

And that brings up another question, which is this: is it really a good idea to be teaching Marx and Engels to adolescents? While The Communist Manifesto was greeted with derision and complaints to the dean during my freshman year at SMU, taught lovingly as it was to a class made up largely of fraternity and sorority pledges with an occasional divinity student or scholarship athlete thrown into the mix, a class full of impressionable and immature 16-year olds is a little different matter. Undoubtedly, most of them will respond to Marx by noticing the crashing boredom he engenders.

But for an emotionally disconnected misfit like Loughner, a work like the Communist Manifesto which paints a picture of a dehumanized, stratified and cold – though purportedly just, equal and scientifically perfected – society inevitably and necessarily brought about by violence seems like a really bad idea.

Loughner isn’t the first screwed-up kid exposed to that book who ultimately checked out of productive society and revolted against it in unacceptable ways. We got a taste of that phenomenon in Louisiana last April when thugs led and inspired by an anarcho-communist “book collective” beat Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief fundraiser and her boyfriend on a French Quarter sidewalk, hospitalizing both.

So if we’re going to try to learn something from Tucson, rather than join Dupnik in engaging in irrelevant discussions about Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, when there’s no indication Loughner was influenced by those messages in any way, perhaps we should question whether high school kids should be subjected to radical, antisocial and murderous ideologies as literature at a time when many of them are trying to deal with raging hormones and what is often the misery of high school life. Clearly, reading Karl Marx didn’t help to socialize Jared Loughner. Is it wrong to question whether he might have been better off without public funds being used to familiarize him with the work which inspired more murders than any other in human history?

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