Don't Blame Claude de Contrecoeur or Rush Limbaugh for Jared Loughner

On YouTube the Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner identifies the prime source of whatever phantasmagoria passed in his troubled mind for political thought :   "My favorite activity is conscience dreaming: the greatest inspiration for my political business information." Although clearly he has absorbed something of the renewed debate over the Fed and what used to be called "sound money," he does not cite Ron Paul or any  of the "Gold Bugs", much less the left's usual suspects. No, if we are to take Mr. Loughner at his word, it is not to Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin, but "conscience dreaming," that we need to look for the roots of his crime. Now most observers with an axe to grind apparently passed over Loughner's statement as irrelevant to their established agenda, and the term "conscience dreaming" is likely to have been dismissed by most others as having meaning only in the twisted regions of Mr. Loughner' s mind. But if the Tucson shooter's demonstrated limitations with the language extend to spelling, he may have been referring to what is called conscious or lucid dreaming, the subject of plenty of websites and books.

A flavor of the concept may be suggested by the following excerpt from the work of  a prophet of one  of  apparently several conscious dreaming sects, a French botanist  named Claude Rifet, (d. 2002), who sometimes wrote under the name of Claude de Contrecour:

"What the public does not know is that the vast majority of scientists are only functionaries. They have no real intellectual curiosity and are mostly interested in promoting their status and making money. These functionaries love hierarchy, like the military! They like to establish pecking orders like chickens instead of listening to one another. The mercantilistic society which now prevails would just become extinct as, in our endoreality; we can achieve everything we want at no cost at all. The only cost is learning. In such a future, life would be more tranquil as people would obviously cease to compete and desperately run after "exoreal" objects in order to run, instead, after their own informational objects... When you have access to the informational objects stored into your memory you no longer need money and power to realize your desires. It is far easier to learn how to gratify yourself with informational objects than working like mad to become a millionaire..." Rifet/de Contrecour and other exponents of the notion explain how to access the "informational objects" through the technique some call lucid and some call conscious dreaming.

Conscious dreaming is not the point, and not the culprit. Loughner may or may not have fashioned some version of a bizarre personal quest based on his understanding of conscious dreaming or the law of gravity or photosynthesis -- who knows? The point is that in the world of the Internet there are many mansions. These mansions can be frequented by the skeptical, the curious, the ignorant, the mis-educated or the troubled. What each takes away no one can control, nor is it always possible to control how some distort or misuse what they take away. Notwithstanding everything that has happened in the last few years, the politically articulate remain a minority in this country, and yet they fall persistently into the error of viewing and characterizing every event through the very limited prism of their political interests and beliefs. It does not enhance the crucial debates of policy and political philosophy in which we are engaged to ascribe random crazy acts to the influence of political opponents. Whether the spokesman for the opposition to President Obama and his policies is the mealy-mouthed John McCain of 2008 or Rush Limbaugh, no finely-tempered political rhetoric can ever be fashioned so as to prevent the crimes of a Jared Loughner, and it would be self-defeating for Republicans to fall into that trap.