Mother Jones has an interview with Loughner classmate Bryce Tierney who says he’d been thinking about offing the “fake” Gifford for a long time. When he heard the news Tierney knew at once who the shooter was. Loughner recorded the progress of his thoughts in a “dream journal”, the touchstone for someone who believed that most people were asleep; and that only people like himself were fully awake. He told his friend, “life means nothing.” Shortly before he went on his rampage, Loughner left a message for Tierney. “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later.”
Evidence is gradually emerging that Loughner was not a “Black Swan”, but the whitest of swans. The Washington Post has printed emails from his community college classmates expressing the fear that he would run amuck in class. His professors took him aside. Loughner had several run-ins with the law.
He had a skull-shrine at home.
Everyone saw something coming, yet no one took decisive action. Part of the problem may been the normalization of crazy behavior. When weird is cool and “conscious dreaming” evokes the Matrix and the movie Inception rather than the arrival of the funny farm wagon the line between madness and eccentricity gets a little blurred.
Things are always clearer in 20-20 hindsight, but are there any set of rules that can reliably anticipate the next wacko? Or is this kind of thing just an occupational hazard of the modern world?