More Taboo Than Religion or Politics: Correcting Grammar and Coining Money

I guess I would not be much of a blogger or grammarian if I did not write something about Jared Loughner and his rantings about grammar.


I first saw his views on grammar and a few other subjects at YouTube a little after his murderous rampage in Tucson. He made about four videos which include a good deal of  silliness about the U.S. Constitution, Pima Community College police, currency standards and other such stuff, but he also made a number of comments about grammar.

Here is a taste of what he posted at YouTube:

Don’t be scared to know you can’t

find the location of a subject. Most

students can’t locate the subject!

Most people know all the subjects

are for mind control and brainwash!

The students are unconstitutionally paying

for free education!

The students are attending a torture facility!

You know the teachers are con artists?

It seems as though Loughner has been given some fairly basic instruction on how to identify subjects and verbs which is pretty standard stuff in entry level composition courses, Oddly enough, Loughner seems to see grammar as being akin to mind control, and I cannot say I disagree with him entirely on this point. But Loughner takes his critique a bit further and maligns community college teachers as “con artists” in an unconstitutional institution. I have been called much worse on most days, so I will endure the insult and point out that people such as me are clearly threatening to Loughner’s sense of self and are part of the crew who have tortured him.

I am well aware that there are few things in this world as irritating as someone who tries to correct your subject/verb agreement or tells you that “ain’t” is not a word or provides some other nonsensical insight into your speech or writing, but Loughner’s response goes beyond annoyance and attempts to identify grammar instruction as a clear threat to himself and other students.

Oddly enough, Loughner’s critique of grammar instruction is quite similar to his view of money production. He places people who teach issues regarding subject identification on par with those who mint money for the treasury. Here are some of his thoughts on how he will get around the people who print off the money and press out the coins we use:

If I’m thinking of creating a new coin

that’s in my control as treasurer then

I’m thinking my new coin is starting a

new currency system.

I’m thinking of creating a new coin

that’s in my control as a treasurer.

Hence, I’m thinking my coin is

starting a new currency system.

Evidently Loughner sees coining his own money as being an important step to freeing himself from the economic constraints he feels bind him. Behind his anger against his grammar teachers and his scheme for producing his own currency is a mistaken notion that he can ultimately free himself from the limitations that come with these two systems of communication. Each day we communicate with each other through words and money, so fiddling with someone’s spoken and written language is not that much different than fiddling with someone’s money. The people who try to manipulate language and money are the true threats, at least in Loughner’s mind, and are guilty of the worst crimes against humanity, including torture and mind control.

Loughner mentions religion and politics at times in the videos, but these two subjects do not rouse nearly as much anger in him. His ranting focuses on grammar and money because these two areas are so much a part of our views of ourselves and our relations to others.

About Joseph Pendleton

I am the Reading Specialist--Basic Skills at Victor Valley College. I teach the reading courses in the English Department and the basic English grammar courses in the Basic Skills Department. My primary interests as a teacher is in how students retain the information and skills we teach them. View all posts by Joseph Pendleton

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