Jared Loughner, who allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and killed six others in Arizona on Saturday, is obsessed with grammar. Why? Welcome to the weird world of ":David-Wynn: Miller" and the "Mathematical Interface for Language."
Loughner, who, it seems safe to say at this point, is a deeply disturbed individual, appears to have no real coherent political ideology. But there are several focal points for his conspiratorial obsessions; U.S. currency was one. The other—the one demonstrated in the video above, which Loughner apparently made—is English grammar. Yes: The guy was, maybe literally, a grammar nazi.
The Southern Law Poverty Center's Mark Potok, whose job it is to keep track of the various crazies this country breeds and nurtures, links Loughner's bizarre fixation on language and grammar to the theories of a man named David Wynn Miller—or, as he styles himself, :David-Wynn: Miller. When Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown contacted Miller, he said he "absolutely" agreed with Loughner's assertion that "the government is implying mind control and brainwash on the people by controlling grammar." Miller told The New York Times that Lougher had "probably been on my Web site."
So who is David Wynn Miller? According to Miller himself, he is a "Plenipotentiary-Judge" (and the King of Hawaii); he's also a 62-year-old former tool-and-die maker from Milwaukee. Miller's been selling his particular (and particularly bizarre) strain of the right-wing anti-tax "sovereign citizen" movement/conspiracy for years now, and gotten more than a few people thrown in jail for trying to use his theories. A visit to his website gives you a glimpse into the world of "QUANTUM-MATH-COMMUNICATIONS":
~3 FOR THE NOUN = NO-NO OF THE INFORMATION(IN=NO, FORM=STRUCTURE, AT=LOCATION, ION=CONTRACT) WITH THE FICTION-WORDS ARE WITH AN AILING-(CORRUPTION FROM THE ORIGIN)-MEANING BY THE FICTIONAL, SIMULATION, ILLUTIONAL, PRESUMPTION, ASSUMPTION, GUESSING, PERJURY AND WITH THE LYING-VOLITION OF A FACT.
Uh-huh. If there really is a coherent thread to be found in Miller's extensive writings and rambling seminars, it hinges on the idea that grammar and language are being manipulated (possibly by the U.S. Postal Service), and that Miller has access to a mathematically-derived "true" language.
From there, it gets weird(er). For one thing, Miller claims to have invented "correct-language" after turning Hawaii "into a verb," an action that also crowned him King of Hawaii. He also claims—and this is how he gets play in fringe right-wing anti-tax circles—that adding specific punctuation—"full colons" and hyphens—to your name transforms you from a human into a "prepositional phrase" that can't be taxed. Or, in his own words:
Because I use prepositional phrases, through punctuation, which is classified as hieroglyphics, which makes me a life, l-i-f-e. Now, when you don't punctuate your name ... David is an adjective, Wynn is an adjective, Miller is a pronoun. Two adjectives are a condition of modification, opinion, presumption, which modifies the pronoun, pro means no on noun. So therefore, I'm not a fact. I'm a fiction.
Wikipedia has a list of a half-dozen people who've been fined or even jailed for trying to use Miller's theories in court.
Miller (correctly) points out to Politico that nowhere in his writings does he advocate violence. And Loughner was drawing on more than one conspiracy theory in constructing his fractured account of government and politics. But reading about the "Mathematical Interface for Language" helps put some of Jared Loughner's odd actions into context—asking his algebra teacher, for example, "How can you deny math instead of accepting it?" Or, maybe more pointedly, his 2007 confrontation with Gabrielle Giffords (via The Wall Street Journal):
That interest might have triggered Mr. Loughner's first meeting with Ms. Giffords in 2007. Mr. Loughner said he asked the lawmaker, "How do you know words mean anything?" recalled Mr. Montanaro. He said Mr. Loughner was "aggravated" when Ms. Giffords, after pausing for a couple of seconds, "responded to him in Spanish and moved on with the meeting."
Mr. Montanaro recalled his friend developed "a hate for government and just how everything was systematic...He thought government controlled people too much."