Loughner, Politico points out, seems to have been influenced by David Wynn Miller, a conspiracy theorist who believes, as Loughner wrote in one of his videos, that “the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar.”
But Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center writes that it’s “hard to say” if Loughner is a right-wing extremist.
“When you look at the Internet material he purportedly produced, the first impression you get is that the 22-year-old now in custody for the shooting of 19 people in Tucson was completely out of his mind, or at least mildly deranged,” Potok writes. “His writings will be virtually impossible for most people to understand, what with his references to unexplained numbers, his fondness for weird syllogisms, his unexplained references and his apparent semi-literacy.”
“At this early stage, I think Loughner is probably best described as a mentally ill or unstable person who was influenced by the rhetoric and demonizing propaganda around him,” Potok writes. “Ideology may not explain why he allegedly killed, but it could help explain how he selected his target.”
Additional reporting by Melissa Jeltsen.
Late Update: Nick Baumann of Mother Jones talked to Loughner’s friend Bryce Tierney, who says Loughner left a voicemail message for him at 2 a.m. on Saturday. “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later,” Loughner said in the message.