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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Loughner, Cultism, and 'The Truth'

Here's an interesting thought: was Giffords shooter Jared Loughner a member of a weird language-math-legal cult? Dave Weigel notes a mention by Southern Poverty Law Center's Mark Potok that who noticed that "Loughner's confusing YouTube videos about constitutionality, government brainwashing and syntax resembled the work of David Wynn Miller, the self-identified 'king of Hawaii' who writes books and offers seminars about complicated and incoherent theories, mostly about language, and how rectifying language can protect people from the government."

You can find an example of Miller's ramblings here. Weigel includes an embedded video, but it serves only to demonstrate just how incomprehensible the guy actually is.

I actually have some familiarity with Miller (who goes by "David: Wynn-Miller"), because he's actually a cult leader who had some small impact on my community.

The Capital Times, March 2004, courtesy of Rick Ross:

Parents of Russell Gould, 30, whose adherence to the philosophy of David Wynn Miller has landed him in trouble with the law, say their son has been "brainwashed," and they want to take him back to their Wyoming home while his court case is pending.

Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust declined to let Gould out of jail immediately, but he did lower Gould's cash bond from $30,000 to $12,000, a sum that Stella and Bruce Gould may be able to come up with if they choose to mortgage their house.

Still, as their son left the courtroom he looked at his parents and said, "Don't you ever post bail for me."

It was the latest chapter in local courts of the organization Miller, of Milwaukee, calls the Unity-States of Our World, which has its own language and own legal system and whose adherents, like Gould, have been arrested here for serving phony lawsuits on public officials.

A year ago this month, two other members of the strange group, Jason Zellmer, 23, of Oconomowoc and Janice Kay Logan, 46, of Catham, Ill., went on trial here for serving phony legal papers on the police and court officials involved in Zellmer's arrest and prosecution on a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a fight outside a [UW Madison] campus area bar. Gould would have been the third defendant in the case, but he had not been arrested.

Miller has very specific ideas about language that somehow are supposed to have an effect on the legal system -- his cult is one the few that aren't religious, but quasi-legal and quasi-logical. He proposes a very precise method of speech that incorporates punctuation as having definitions like words and an almost mathematical approach to sentence structure. He calls this sorta-kinda language "The Truth" and it's based not only in English and mathematics, but in maritime law. It's truly, truly bizarre and -- strangely -- he doesn't seem to have a lot of trouble finding people willing to buy into it.

"Russell has been seven years with David Wynn Miller, and he has different beliefs about the legal system," his mother said. "He acted according to David Wynn Miller's teachings." She also blamed Russell Gould's hunger strike in the jail on Miller. "He's told him not to eat; he's told him not to participate," in the legal system. "David Miller has led him astray and right now he can't find his way out," she said.

"He is a very dangerous psychopath," Bruce Gould, Russeell's father said, "as dangerous as James Jones." Gould made it clear that he didn't think Miller would order a mass suicide, but only made the comparison because he "has the same type of control."

Right now, there's no evidence that there's any link. "Keep in mind, the only thing connecting Loughner to Miller is Potok's analysis," Weigel cautions. "But I wonder whether Loughner discovered Miller via the 2012 stuff and kept digging. For example, Miller's publications on his web site include ruminations about how to correct and reinvent language."

Maybe, maybe not. In fact, probably not. But it's interesting even if only to bring to light the very, very strange cult figure "David: Wynn-Miller."

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