Since I live in AZ and frequently report on the crazy things that are said and done in this state, I am sensitive to the question that many pose on the left, “What’s wrong with Arizona?”. Where, oh where should I begin? I only semi-jest…there are so many reasons. However, the latest reason for this question is the massacre that occurred today in Gilbert, AZ. The purported perpetrator of a murder-suicide act that killed 5 people is none other than J.T. Ready, of Minuteman and State Sen. Russell Pearce fame.

Sadly I know the answer to the question, “what is wrong with Arizona?”. I just can’t do anything about it except rant and rave on this blog, vote and volunteer in any efforts to thwart the state and national GOP efforts and the efforts of their surrogates. And make no mistake about it, J.T. Ready, Tea Party Member, AZ Minuteman Founder, LDS Church Elder and White Supremacist was a surrogate of the state’s Republican Party.

How did he get there? How did someone with such an extreme view and ultimately, as is apparent with today’s massacre, such an extreme amount of anger and violence within them become a surrogate of the Republican Party? I will try to answer that here.

Part of what allows for the insanity of accepting someone like J.T. Ready into mainstream politics is the fact that this state has a long history of corruption.1 So long as one has money and/or power it doesn’t matter what one says or does in Arizona. Money/power talks and everything else walks. J.T. Ready, asshole that he was, was politically (and community-wise, religiously-wise, funding-wise) well connected. He knew the powerful and was therefore powerful. He shared goals with the powerful and was therefore powerful. He received money from the powerful and was therefore powerful. He was, probably, a useful idiot who didn’t comprehend the fact that he was being used. I don’t say that to engender sympathy for him as he deserves nothing of the kind. However, I believe it to be true as he was used to stir up anti-immigrant hatred in voters so that they would support the state GOP’s candidates. He was used as a lightening rod to say the things that mainstream politicians like Sen. McCain and Sen. Kyle could not say2  but certainly wanted to imply to stir up their base.

Besides the corruption that has existed since the State’s founding, what else contributed to J.T. Ready’s rise to influence in this crazy-ass state? I think that it has something important to do with the Western, male dominated culture. I find it somewhat disturbing that people in the media in the Phoenix area, who I have listened to today, while they covered this breaking news, are trying to wrap their heads around why someone like Ready, who loved to manipulate the Media and project an image of American values, patriotism and legality, would die this way and leave a legacy of violence against his own loved ones.

They are missing the obvious…J.T. Ready had the classic personality of the kind of man who would massacre his own family. He was antisocial in the most basic sense of the term. Meaning that he was hostile to the established order of society, rude to many who were different than him and rebellious of authority. He had quite the record of rebellion being dishonorably discharged from the Marines for violent offenses and as a civilian had a criminal conviction for a violent offense. The irony of such a man who flaunts societal norms but then rages at “illegal” immigrants because of their illegal status is lost only on those who supported his racist views. In J.T. Ready’s world violence was okay so long as it was in the service of his ideals, but no one else’s.

Ready spoke publically of the use of violence, carried and owned many weapons and was often pictured holding guns. The Gilbert police reported a history of domestic violence calls to the home of Lisa Lynn Mederos, his girlfriend. Anyone who vocalizes a willingness to patrol the country’s borders and shoot at illegal immigrants, many of whom are desperate women and children, is by even the broadest definition of the term, violent.  Multiple domestic violence calls to his girlfriend’s house, demonstrates a pattern of violence3. So we can be reasonably sure he was both publically and privately a violent man.

So we have a history of violence, a history of hatred and rage…what else about Ready would make him predisposed to murder-suicide? The fact that he was Mormon. Now before you take umbrage at this remark, please hear me out. According to experts in the LDS faith, ” The Mormon position on women has changed little since the early 1800’s….Mormonism has created an ingenious system of oppression, in which opposition towards men is tantamount to arguing with God. The Mormon religion makes no distinction between clergy and laity, at least with regard to men” (see Sources McConkie and Laake).  J.T. Ready was mentored into the system of priesthood as an Elder by none other than State Senator Russell Pearce. This status as an Elder would reinforce any already existing preconceptions of his role, his very religious obligation to rule over women. His religion told him that it was his religious obligation to marry women for all eternity4 and if he did not do so, it would be a counted against his very soul and salvation. In essence, he was raised in a culture that taught him that women are subject to a man’s will and if they are not, the man can face damnation. That had to work some crazy influence on his already anti-social mind.

And finally, Arizona still has that Wild West ideal where men are men and women are sluts/madonnas, that right is made by might (i.e., whoever has the bigger and faster gun–gratuitous phallic symbolism completely intended here), and that whoever is left standing is the winner.  A true black/white, wrong/right world where there is no gray area and no room for compromise.  It’s the pure id of Libertarianism run amok. The “Lord of the Flies” attitude of “I’ve got mine and you can’t have any so fuck off”. And that, ladies and gentlemen is what is wrong with Arizona. It is also what is wrong with the Republican Party. And while it is painfully obvious to me and to some of you reading this, it hasn’t hit the average American yet. But it will, eventually, when it is too late to avoid.

J.T. Ready was a result of this environment and as such, was only a symptom of what is wrong with Arizona and the nation in general. But it is an important, key symptom of the nation’s overall disease that, if not stopped, will ultimately be our demise.


1. Besides the long history of corruption with Sheriff Joe, there is the well documented history of corruption by the state’s governors, legislators, etc. When the GOP whines about Pres. Obama’s Chicago influenced thuggery, in reference to Chicago’s tough political arena, they are blithely ignoring about a 100 years of corruption and malfeasance in the GOP in AZ. Of course, the MSM doesn’t call them out on it. That would entail the MSM in actually committing an act of “actual” journalism…not their strong suit lately.

2. Senators Kyl and McCain say some pretty stupid and crazy things but even they can’t espouse “white supremacist” nonsense and get away with it…at least, not yet. Give it time……as extremist views become more mainstream in conservative circles, we will see such thoughts expressed more regularly. It has already begun in the War on Women, but no one but women want to acknowledge that. Just you wait…….

3. If it turns out the domestic violence calls had nothing to do with J.T. Ready, I will stand corrected.

4. Technically according to LDS doctrine, women cannot enter the “Celestial Kingdom” without having been sealed in marriage “through the veil” or some such nonsense. Even in the most innocuous interpretation this is offensive. If there is a God, why would he exclude women from heaven if they weren’t married? A just, loving God wouldn’t. As if a vagina disqualifies someone to enter the Pearly Gates. You know what I think? The Pearly Gates are the vagina and everything else, including all religions are mankind’s avoidance of that one, fundamental truth.


McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. Salt Lake City, Bookcraft Inc., 1966.

Laake, Deborah Secret Ceremonies, a Mormon Woman’s Intimate Diary or Marriage and Beyond. New York, Dell Publishing, 1993.

  1. And don’t forget ALEC…

  2. Wow. You express it so well. It’s nice to know someone else who feels the same way about what goes on in Arizona. I can’t understand why other people can’t see it and I really can’t understand how these right-wing extremists can get away with what they have been doing. Good post, Tina.

  3. alopecia says:

    It’s not the geography, it’s the crazy. A couple of years ago, Kevin Drum observed that if you get thirty miles inland from the ocean in California, politically you might as well be in Idaho.

    What seems to make Arizona different from Orange County (to pick but one well-known hotspot of anti-immigration conservatism in California: is the level of official support for the crazy. I’m not sure if that means Arizona politicians are less media-savvy than the California subspecies or if being seen as a lunatic is seen as less of a disqualifier in Arizona. It may also be that there’s less of a counterweight to the extreme Right in Arizona: Loretta Sanchez—a moderate-to-very-slightly-Left-of-center Democrat—represents a chunk of Orange County in Congress, for example, and for that matter California Republicans are less “an armed society is a polite society” pro-gun.

    J.T. Ready certainly would have fit in very well in much of California, but he might not have thrived, at least not to the same degree.

    • drangedinaz says:

      It is the “less of a counterweight” thing AND the large disparity between rich and poor. While the middle class is shrinking all over the US, it is very pronounced in AZ. All that money and all that crazy = Arizona

  4. Kita Kazoo says:

    As an exmo – I agree with your Mormonism connection. It was just what I was thinking the whole time I was reading the first part of your post. Sad truth, all “isms” create dangerous thought patterns of absolutes which can only end badly.

    Even though your state has this religious overtones, I must tell you that the politics in Michigan are just as messed-up right now. I’ve been home, (after living in Utah for 12 years) for 3 years now and I am appalled by the changes that have occurred while I was gone.

    It is as if the 1%/GOP/Tea Party has been allowed to run wild destroying every semblance of sanity and the American Dream. The red brains are in control and acting like greedy fools.

    Thanks for writing about it.

  5. I remember when the whole Julian Asange and Wikileaks scandal broke. High profile people like that woman from Alaska…Sarah Palin , commented, “Someone like him should be shot.” Then some time afterwards the Arizona Governor was shot. I think people like her are accountable for encouraging insane and violent behavior as well.

    • drangedinaz says:

      Actually was a Conngresswoman from Tucson area that was shot, Gabrielle Giffords…I certainly held extremists like Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, etc responsible for encouraging such vile behavior. However because of the First Amendment, a person can say almost anything. So all we are left with is our own speech against such things and our power to vote.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Very well written and thoughtful post, in which your reasoning is very clear and you make many points that I think are right on target. Here in greater Boston, I’m a long way off from Arizona, but nationally I see all too often the symptoms of the same disease that you describe here. It’s very disturbing and the only way to counteract it, is by not becoming apathetic, but by making an extra effort to be vigilant and pay attention to what is really going on.

    And then do what you have done here – keep speaking the truth and do what we can to get others to listen. Then we need to form strength united in numbers and become politically active. We need stand up and do all that is required to make our claim on what we believe that this country should really stand for.

    We need to do this with courage and conviction, in order to stop corruption, greed. intolerance and fanatical hatred from destroying our nation. Because that is exactly what will happen, if we are passive and we don’t make a committed and determined effort to stop it.

  7. AZ is as corrupt as I’ve ever seen. It’s a heirarchy of narcassists and pederasts who will gangstalk anyone who is deemed a threat and spin doctor any legitamet complaint. They prey on the vulnerable and this is the norm. It’s not the sun that screws people up here (as so many claim) but a complete lack of humanity. They drive eachother mentally ill and the doctors are more then happy to slap on a misdiagnosis. PTSD does not exist here because everyone has it. It’s a sick community and I just don’t have the answers… or the fight in me to deal with these pigs anymore. My only suggestion.., nuke em!

    • drangedinaz says:

      Well, I can’t get on board with the nuking part, but the general sentiment, certainly. It’s a struggle to live and work in a place where greed overrides all other concerns–even the most basic welfare of the least among us. I can throw a rock and hit someone who calls themselves a Christian but I could set off a nuke and never hit one that really is.

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