Kids, mental illness and violence

There’s a lot of talk about the role that mental illness may have played in the Sandy Hook shootings on Friday. It is important to emphasize the fact that mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it, and that most acts of violence — including deadly gun violence — are not at the hands of mentally ill people. And when it comes to crime, where we draw the line at “mentally ill” is not always easy. Someone can be deemed mentally competent to stand trial and still be severely mentally ill; someone can understand the wrongness of his actions and fail at adequately pleading an insanity defense and still be severely mentally ill. Our jails are packed with disproportionate numbers of mentally ill people.

I don’t know if Adam Lanza was mentally ill or not. It is difficult, though not impossible, to imagine that a person capable of shooting and killing twenty children doesn’t have something severely wrong with his brain. In the wake of these killings, we’ve seen calls for better gun control laws and better mental health care. Both seem like obvious courses of action, although the gun control laws are more straight-forward. Every society is going to have some proportion of people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. We can make a choice to keep the kinds of weapons that can mow down dozens of people in minutes out of their hands. Most other countries already do that and see far fewer gun deaths. There are still acts of violence, but they’re far less lethal. As a comparison, on the same day as the Sandy Hook shootings, a man in China attacked dozens of schoolchildren. Since he was armed with a knife, many of them were injured — but none of them died. Limiting access to semi-automatic killing machines seems like a reasonable course of action.

And of course improving access to mental health care is a good idea — not just in the context of this shooting, but generally. We know that mental health care is hard to come by for people who are low-income or rural or non-native English speakers. But Adam Lanza was none of those things, and neither were many of the men who went on shooting rampages before him. So we also need to talk about things like toxic masculinity. And the terrifying truth is that sometimes, there is no easy “cure” for the mental illnesses that mean a lack of empathy and a propensity toward violence. What’s needed is ongoing treatment and enormous social support for people who are ill, because there’s often not one pill you can take to simply cure a complex problem. This mother, for example, writes about a son who has violent outbursts and who she seems to believe is actually capable of killing her. He’s 13. There aren’t many options for him — the best a social worker can offer is to get him convicted of a crime so that he’s in “the system.” But it’s pretty clear that “the system” is not a good place for mentally ill children (or mentally ill adults). At the same time, this boy is a physical threat not just to his mother, but to his siblings and the people he encounters every day. What it sounds like he needs is ongoing, regular mental health care and therapy in addition to medication (if they can ever find one that works). And he’s not the only one — as Feministe friend Kate Harding also pointed out, there are kids who fit the profile of psychopathy, whose treatment options are less than clear-cut. They need consistent care and monitoring. But no one has a silver bullet.

There are plenty of people (many of them on the Gawker comments to this piece) who argue that children and adults with these kinds of mental illnesses should simply be locked up or over-medicated so that they never hurt anyone.

They’re wrong.

The vast majority of people with mental illnesses don’t actually hurt anyone. And of course all mental illnesses are not the same, and grouping them together comes with its own set of problems. But what’s clear is that we under-invest in treating mentally ill people.

Mentally ill people are not more likely to be violent than any other group. However, there is a small group of people with particular untreated mental illnesses that may be more violent. As the Canadian Mental Health Association points out:

A small group of people with mental illness (those with severe and untreated symptoms of schizophrenia with psychosis, major depression or bi-polar mood disorder) may have an increased rate of violence. In this group, individuals who are suffering from psychotic symptoms that cause them to feel threatened or manipulated by outside forces have a greater tendency towards violent behaviour. In spite of this, with early assessment and appropriate treatment, individuals with severe illness are no more dangerous than the general population. Community treatment programs have also been found to be helpful in the management of behaviours that lead to crime.

We want to emphasize that the actual number of people who belong to this group is extremely small, particularly when compared to the overall number of people who are coping with mental illness.

When tragedy strikes we all want to talk about how it was the work of a “madman,” whether or not mental illness actually played a role. In the meantime, though, funding to mental health treatment has been repeatedly cut, and families like the one linked have to figure it out for themselves — and most of the time, the most terrible consequences fall on the person who is actually sick.

Author: has written 5285 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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373 Responses

  1. victoria
    victoria December 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    Thank you.

    It’s interesting to me that the vast majority of shooters are white males, and yet we’re not falling over ourselves to call for collective measures to round up all the white men, monitor their every move, or prevent them from buying guns. Because that would be simplistic and ridiculous and not address the complex realities of Why This Happens. But when it comes to mad folks, yeah, just drug ‘em all.

    1. Clytemnestra's Sister
      Clytemnestra's Sister December 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm |

      Something like 70% white males, I believe.

      Mother Jones has an article about it:

      Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country… Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old. (See Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998.) A majority were mentally ill—and displayed signs of it before setting out to kill. ”

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

  2. Radiant Sophia
    Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm |

    Thank you.

    I can’t formulate what this means to me and why right now, but thank you very much.

  3. Gerry Dorrian
    Gerry Dorrian December 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

    I was intereted to read the quote from the Canadian Mental Health Association saying that people with mental helath problems with some degree of psychosis can be violent because they feel threatened, ie because they’re trying to escape from a perceived threat. Yet, as you point out yourself, most mentally ill people pose no threat.

    I read in the UK papers that some people think Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and raised my eyes to heaven. I don’t know about the situation over the water, but in GB the situation regarding Asperger’s diagnosis is starting to resemble that re diagnoses of personality disorder, ie a catch-all for people who fall between the cracks of mental health practice, whom clinicians feel unable to provide with a more concrete diagnosis.

    In the bad old days there was a broad categorisation of people who tended to end up in psychiatric care as “sad, mad or bad”. Whatever else might or might not have been going on in Lanza’s mind, I would place him in the third category.

    1. ch
      ch December 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

      I don’t know about the situation over the water, but in GB the situation regarding Asperger’s diagnosis is starting to resemble that re diagnoses of personality disorder, ie a catch-all for people who fall between the cracks of mental health practice, whom clinicians feel unable to provide with a more concrete diagnosis.

      No. I don’t have the spoons to write a full refutation of you right now, so maybe someone else will come along and give you some links, etc., but Asperger’s is, worldwide, under- rather than over-diagnosed, especially in anyone female, really, especially in anyone who isn’t a white, male child.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

        No. I don’t have the spoons to write a full refutation of you right now, so maybe someone else will come along and give you some links, etc., but Asperger’s is, worldwide, under- rather than over-diagnosed, especially in anyone female, really, especially in anyone who isn’t a white, male child.

        Those two statements aren’t contradictory. Asperger’s is underdiagnosed, and a number of people- many whom are mental health professionals and should know better- use Aspergers as a catch-all for behavior that seems ‘weird’ but doesn’t easily fit into another category.

        1. ch
          ch December 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

          True, they’re not contradictory. But I hear this whole “Asperger’s is just being used as a catch-all!” all the time, and I’ve never seen any actual evidence of it. Mainly this meme just comes from outside observers (with no academic or other background in the field) who think they know enough about the autism spectrum to diagnose, or, more frequently, undiagnose people just by observing them.

        2. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit December 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm |

          FWIW, I’ll add the following –

          And I will preface it by saying very clearly that I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone genuinely living with Asperger’s. —

          It’s not exactly a medical journal, but the 11/5/12 issue of New York Magazine quoted a psychologist, David Schnarch, who has observed domestic abusers describing themselves as having Asperger’s in an effort to manipulate their way out of taking responsibility for their abusive behavior. Schnarch mentions that he has “not seen a single case of what [he] would consider to be diagnosabe Asperger’s. But [he] has seen any number of cases of wives accusing husbands of it, any number of cases of husbands claiming to have it.” He recounted an instance of an abuser going out of his way to obtain a diagnosis of Asperger’s prior to attending couples counseling with his girlfriend. Schnarch, the couples therapist, contacted the other therapist, who explained that “he suspected the man had Asperger’s because he said things to his girlfriend that were so cruel he couldn’t possibly understand their impact.” (?!?!) The article goes on to recount that, “as far as Schnarch was concerned, it was an all-too-familiar instance of sadism masquerading as disability.” In these instances, the abusers were absolving themselves, and even drawing sympathy, by falsely claiming to be suffering from Asperger’s. The article also goes on to point out that Asperger’s, on the surface, can resemble willfully anti-social behavior, hence the potential for confusion.

          Anecdotally, my abusive ex went out of his way to spread that word among his friends that he thought that he seemed to have a case of Asperger’s. This was my first clue at the potential for this diagnosis to be used as sort of preemptive defense by particularly clever perpetrators, and that New York Magazine article was my first concrete evidence that I wasn’t just being paranoid.

          As I stated above, I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone living with Asperger’s, and I think it’s reprehensible for anyone to misappropriate this diagnosis for their own selfish and destructive means. I’m sharing the above because I see a lot of potential for harm if people aren’t aware of this kind of diagnostic misappropriation.

        3. Criseyde
          Criseyde December 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

          (Trying to reply to White Rabbit, but no “reply” button pops up there…)

          I’m a long time lurker and, without weighing in on anything else in the thread, I just wanted to say that like White Rabbit, I also have an abusive ex who spread around our social group that he had asperger’s, conveniently only after I and some of my friends confronted him about his behavior. For a time I was so desperate to believe that he wasn’t a sociopath (my therapist thought he sounded like one though obviously that’s a “diagnosis by proxy” I guess) that I bought into it, despite the fact that literally he had like no actual symptoms of asperger’s, no diagnosis, and had never mentioned this until after things blew up about his pattern of abusive behavior. I don’t know how common this is, but it happened to me at least.

        4. Jadey
          Jadey December 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm |

          @ WR

          Ugh, that’s terrible, though I’ve heard of it happening to. It’s also part of the same terrible meme that people with such non-neurotypical brains are more prone to abuse and violence, which is just so *not true*. :( But neurotypical people will buy it.

        5. Datdamwuf
          Datdamwuf December 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |

          Whiterabbit, I am 2 years out of an abusive relationship and basically the ex blamed his depression, drinking and ultimately of course, me. What I wish I could say to all people, if someone is abusing you; it doesn’t matter if they are mentally ill, you cannot fix their problems, you can end up being broken too. And abusers will find an excuse, it does not matter what diagnoses they choose to blame.

        6. Tara
          Tara December 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm |

          I also have an ex who claimed to be an aspie, who actually turned out to be a sociopath.

      2. orangedesperado
        orangedesperado December 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

        White Rabbit — thank you for posting that. I am going to look up the original article. My sister is engaged to a man claiming he has Aspberger’s, but from what I know of it, he showed no symptoms whatsoever(I read a lot of psychology) except for having a mechanical aptitude, which plenty of non-Aspbergers people also have. I am seeing several red flags with this guy and am stumped as how to tactfully approach this.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

          White Rabbit — thank you for posting that. I am going to look up the original article. My sister is engaged to a man claiming he has Aspberger’s, but from what I know of it, he showed no symptoms whatsoever(I read a lot of psychology) except for having a mechanical aptitude, which plenty of non-Aspbergers people also have. I am seeing several red flags with this guy and am stumped as how to tactfully approach this.

          I don’t think anyone is claiming that people claim they have Asperger’s in advance of committing domestic violence, merely to counteract penalty from domestic violence they have already committed.

          I certainly don’t think that if someone says he has been diagnosed with Aspergers, that immediately makes him more suspicious, nor would I recommend an amateur diagnosis. To answer your question, there is no way to tactfully accuse someone of faking a mental illness in order to engage in future acts of brutality with no evidence.

        2. Jadey
          Jadey December 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

          Abuse isn’t something that happens all of a sudden – people who abuse have a long history of such behaviours and do in fact, whether they admit it to themselves or not, have an equally long history of “excuses” on hand. (For the record, Asperger’s is *not* any kind of an excuse, because people with Asperger’s are perfectly capable of not being abusers.)

          For orangedesperado, the most tactful solution is to accept the person’s self-diagnosis, but to refuse to allow it to be used as an excuse for anything. Reading up on people with Aspergers’ own descriptions of their life experiences and any relevant available research might be helpful as a proactive step. Also, in terms of dealing with abusers in general, keep up a close relationship with your sister as much as you can so that he can’t isolate her (which most abusers do) and she can turn to you if she needs to. I’m dealing with something similar in my own family right now – many, many subtle alarm signals about a possible child abuser, but nothing to actually intervene on at the moment. Staying close and in good relations with the parent is the most effective prevention strategy we have. Good luck – I feel for your situation.

        3. orangedesperado
          orangedesperado December 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

          My own history: I had a long(15 year +) relationship with a man who was very psychologically abusive, and he was also very charismatic, charming and extremely skilled at manipulation. It took me a long time to start to understand that what was happening was abuseABUSE — not that he was tired, or moody, or that my transgression was insurmountable and that was why he was so angry. I have read extensively about the dynamics of abuse, been to therapy at a clinic specifically for women in intimate partner violence situations. It really was like a bomb went off in the middle of my life, and years later, I am still picking out shrapnel. So you could say that I am a little oversensitized to this.

          My sister is in her 50’s, and had two bad marriages. Mr.Red Flag lied to her right off the bat and told her he was divorced when he was only separated. He has since gotten a divorce, but my sister (who lives thousands of miles away from me) tells me anecdotes, where the focus is on his “eccentricity” (where I keep seeing manipulative behavior). His “oddness”(I saw no oddness whatsoever) is blamed on the alleged Aspbergers, and his country of origin(he came to North America as a child 40+ years ago). My sister is the only family member I am close to, so I do not want to start WW3. I have listened and asked polite questions, without commenting. I met him, and nothing about his behaviour or history(ie long marriage to someone else, conventional employment) suggested Aspbergers, except that my sister claims he has it(no mention of a formal diagnosis or impairment in his life except for problems in his marriage ). My sister has a tendency to try to put the most interesting spin on her life, and often describes things in an excessively positive fashion, which I think is her way of fighting despair/reality. I have also had numerous conversations with her about the really intense level of hostility/aggression/abuse in my former relationship, but I can tell that even though I am her sister, that she just does not “get” this. When I see her face in repose she looks really unhappy/angry. I wish that someone had stepped in and called out my ex to me,as the dynamic in the relationship tipped over to abuse instead of feeling like I was the problem, crazy, etc.

          The only thing I can think of to brooch this topic is to send her a couple of books, with the premise that I want her to understand what I went through(while hoping that some puzzle pieces might fall into place with Mr.Red Flag’s behavior).

          Sorry for the derail, Feministe. I spent a long time wanting to believe that my abusive ex’s attitudes were a result of mental illness, his own history with an abusive parent, etc., etc. I even thought that maybe he had Aspberger’s, too, for a few minutes, although I now think that what was going on was a deeply flawed character, with severe control issues. In Victorian terms: moral insanity.

        4. Lyndsay
          Lyndsay December 17, 2012 at 10:59 am |

          Well, you know the most information about the situation. I’m not sure what you mean by eccentricity in this case. However, I will say that I’m married to someone with Asperger’s. I didn’t *really* see how it influences his life until I started living with him. I didn’t even see it right away then because I was a beneficial influence on the effects of Asperger’s. I see it now often but it can be easy to hide from people who don’t know you well. Or it can manifest as (mild) aggression and unreliability. Certainly, if someone with Asperger’s is abusive, the Asperger’s is not to blame.

    2. Dawnbreaker
      Dawnbreaker December 17, 2012 at 9:39 am |

      And now I hear the APA has decided to strike Aspergers as separate in the upcoming DSM-5 – with cases reclassified under Autism Spectrum Disorders etc etc. Which will only add to the confusion surrounding reliable diagnosis :/

      1. Sarah
        Sarah December 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |

        Actually, that’s not necessarily true, and I think it’s the right decision to make. Autism is not a single disorder but a spectrum of syndromes each with a unique presentation, and every individual is different. Asperger’s is not as distinctive compared to what we usually call Autism as people seem to think. Many people fit the diagnostic criteria for both, and the differentiation of Asperger’s from ‘classic’ Autism has lead to people repeatedly calling it a “mild” form of autism, which it is not.

        There may be some initial difficulty, but and some people who currently have a diagnosis of Autism may end up with no diagnosis, but this is a good thing, because if they do not have significant impairment or distress, what’s the use of diagnosing them at all? Overall the DSM-V looks like it will be pretty awful, but I think this is one area in which it has gotten things right.

        1. William
          William December 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

          I still think that the way they put the spectrum together, especially leaving out ADHD, is going to lead to a lot of medication and pathologizing that doesn’t need to happen. Sure, the criteria say significant impairment or distress, but I’d bet the farm that a lot of people are going to either conveniently forget about that or transform a small circle of friends or difficult relating to neurotypical folks who don’t share an interest as “significant impairment.” I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve very little faith in responsible diagnosis.

        2. Sarah
          Sarah December 18, 2012 at 12:16 am |

          I don’t disagree that doctors cannot always be trusted to make responsible diagnoses, but they do that already. I think it’s a step in the right direction personally because it makes the neurodevelopmental nature of aspergers very clear, where at the moment the criteria are more behavioural, making it more convenient to over-diagnose people.

          It’s a complex issue as you point out, because some people will clearly meet the criteria who don’t require significant interventions. But the changes will reduce those kinds of diagnosis. They predict that rates of diagnosis of ASDs will fall rather than rise under the new umbrella.

          Also ADHD is not an autistic spectrum disorder, why would they incorporate that into it? I mean yes comorbidity is high but they are totally separate sets of symptoms.

        3. William
          William December 18, 2012 at 7:37 am |

          Also ADHD is not an autistic spectrum disorder, why would they incorporate that into it? I mean yes comorbidity is high but they are totally separate sets of symptoms.

          That depends on who you ask and how you think diagnosis ought to be done. ADHD is not commonly seen as a spectrum disorder but…there is some evidence that there is a neurological relationship which makes them kin, especially when you start to look at sensory processing concerns, distractibility, and emotional lability as a symptom cluster. This might be a little inside baseball, but once upon a time one of the criteria of ADHD was maladaptive emotional response. Way back then we didn’t have an Asperger’s diagnosis and a lot of the kids who were research subjects on the burgeoning ADHD diagnosis would likely have been candidates for an Asperger’s diagnosis today. Since then, the diagnostic criteria for ADHD have moved away from emotional response symptoms and, while we recognize that both people with ADHD and people with Asperger’s have sensory processing symptoms, we tend to just think of sensory integration and processing as a closely co-related OT concern.

          The thing is, when you see a lot of kids with these diagnoses a pattern starts to emerge and co-morbidity starts to look more and more like a shared etiology. ADHD kids don’t generally have the social deficits that Asperger’s kids have and if you’re going to think of the thing which ties Asperger’s to Autism as social deficits, then ADHD would seem a bizarre thing to bring into the discussion. If we think of the spectrum from a perspective of neurotypicality, however, things get more muddy. Increased anxiety stemming from a world that is fundamentally not built for them, sensory processing problems, distractibility (social for people with Asperger’s, sensory for people with ADHD), executive functioning deficits, a distinct propensity for the “disorder” to have negative consequences primarily as a result of society being unwilling to yield to someone whose brain behaves differently, to say nothing of the medications which tend to be used, and we start to get a picture of disorders which are related. Again, if you only think of the spectrum as social deficits it doesn’t make sense, but the spectrum means a lot more than “socially awkward.”

          Granted, I know this isn’t a common view outside of us diagnostic nerds and some folks who work closely with people who have these diagnoses, but there were certainly some of us advocating for ADHD to be moved to the spectrum. The argument is also increasingly showing up at conventions.

    3. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm |

      I can’t speak to the whole of the US but it has been my experience that Asperger’s isn’t generally used as a garbage can diagnosis unless the patient is pretty clearly on the spectrum. Sometimes I see sloppy diagnosis where the logic seems to be “if non-neurotypical and socially delayed but no speech delays then Asperger’s” but ever time I’ve seen a questionable Asperger’s diagnosis its generally in the right neighborhood at least. What I do see a lot of is kids who really ought to have been diagnosed with Asperger’s showing up in my school with Depression, ADHD, or GAD diagnoses.

      Especially when it comes to children he real garbage diagnoses in the US tend to be Bipolar II, ADHD, ODD/CD (if non-white), and Borderline Personality Disorder (if female). Not that there aren’t kids who really have these disorders (although I’d argue that if you’re diagnosing a teenager with a personality disorder you’ve done fucked up and probably need to read about complex trauma), my job is flush with them, but that these are the diagnoses that tend to be over-used and often come with a med list that all but screams “sedation.”

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah December 18, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

        I’m replying to what you said just above about the relationship between ADHD, Aspergers, and Autism. That’s so interesting because some people in my family were involved in a study about the potential genetic relationship between Autism, OCD, and ADHD. I have an uncle with Autism, my sibling has been diagnosed with OCD, and I have several cousins that were diagnosed with ADHD. I can’t remember exactly what the study was all about, but I know it was a genetic study. So interesting.

        1. William
          William December 19, 2012 at 9:34 am |

          Theres definitely something there, especially if you think of diagnosis from the perspective of how functional impairment develops rather than from clusters of behavioral indicators. It really underlines how, despite a century of good work and research, we’re still searching for a paradigm in psychology. Its one of the many reasons I avoid diagnosis as much as is possible unless the patient wants it in order to get services.

  4. XtinaS
    XtinaS December 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

    We know that mental health care is hard to come by for people who are low-income or rural or non-native English speakers. But Adam Lanza was none of those things, and neither were many of the men who went on shooting rampages before him. So we also need to talk about things like toxic masculinity.

    This, yes. There’s a lot of folk calling for improved screening and mental care, but it doesn’t apply here. What’s needed, as always and society-wide in general, is more feminism.

  5. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune December 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. The only “mental illness” most of these violent fuckers have is White Whine, and the last I checked it wasn’t in the DSM. This is not a mental health issue; this is an “assholes that feel like they’re being oppressed eleventy and deciding to kill people to deal with it” issue. I really wish the general public would stop making it about mental health; it’s not.

    (That said, Lanza’s particular case is odd; his focus seems to have been killing people his mother knew/worked with, after killing her, which is statistically very unusual, afaik none of the other mass murderers of recent times have killed family members. My first thought was he was an abuse survivor who snapped, but obviously I don’t know.)

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune December 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

      Two further points:
      1) I used “mass murderer” to refer to spree shooters. Valoniel’s currently educating me on the difference and I meant to say the latter, lol.

      2) Jill, I don’t actually disagree with your article; there are hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of medical care right now in the US. I just think that spree shooters of the sort we’ve seen lately are an issue better addressed by sociologists than psychologists.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune December 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

        Sorry. I made some fairly asshat statements there, and it’s largely bullshit. I’ve been looking up statistics and things, and there’s more going on.

        Sophia, I sincerely apologise for upsetting you.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

          It’s o.k.
          I understand the anger. It is only after a tragedy like this that mental illness is even discussed.

    2. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm |

      I realize that I’m probably going to be attacked for this, but I need to say it.

      I could have been him.

      I suffer from a repeatedly misdiagnosed mental illness. I have no name for it other than the ones the doctors gave me that never seemed to be accurate. O.C.D., A.D.H.D., Autism, Bi-Polar Depression, the list goes on.

      I grew up unable to form close connections with the people around me: My mother, my father, my older sister. I had no close friends. The first time I felt a stable, emotional connection to another human being, I was almost 30. I have been in and out of treatment my whole life. The only people who were real to me lived inside my head.

      I realized something was missing. Every time I tried to form a bond with someone the need for the “something that was missing” would cause me to obsess and ultimately destroy that relationship. And every time my world would fall apart.

      I believe that if I had been raised to confront my problems with aggression and violence, the values patriarchy instills in boys, I would have been Adam Lanza.

      It is easy to blame bad people for doing bad things, and ultimately, the responsibility does lie on the person who commits such acts. But when I look at the perpetrators of these school shootings, I can see how I am only a hair’s breath from being one.

      1. Sarah Harper
        Sarah Harper December 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm |

        But you’re not him.

        And you know why, too: because you weren’t raised to confront your problems with aggression and violence.

        That is the heart of the issue.

        I just posted about this on my blog–trying to understand why.

        I feel for you, Radiant Sophia. (Beautiful name btw.) Hang in there. And let me know if you want to talk.

        1. samanthab
          samanthab December 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

          Thank you, Sarah Harper! You saved me a lot of typing by saying just what I wanted to say.

      2. gwyllion
        gwyllion December 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

        i too feel that i could have been that ‘him’. i have told my therapist(s) many times that i thank my fates that i was not born male because i would have been a very very dangerous person in this patriarchy with that extra big dose of testosterone and with my only acceptable emotional outlet being rage, power and control. My father was a monster – i would have out monster’d him ten fold. It scares the crap out of me.

    3. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen December 16, 2012 at 2:42 pm |

      Yes, thanks for bringing this up mac.

      I also find it very interesting that all of the adults, and most of the children, he killed were women/girls or read as women/girls. (In the list of names there are eight out of twenty-seven that are clearly male or ambiguous.) Yet all we are talking about is guns and mental illness. How about a discussion of the fucking misogyny that’s rampant in our society and the curious fact that the vast majority of spree shooters are angry men?

      But no. It’s the crazies. Every time.

      I am STRONGLY in favor of increased access to mental health care and destigmatizing mental illness. But we aren’t going to get anywhere good with that if we keep automatically linking violence and mental illness, and if the narrative that everyone jumps to every times is “he was crazy.” People are less, not more, likely to go get help if they’re afraid of being perceived as dangerous and violent.

      It is difficult, though not impossible, to imagine that a person capable of shooting and killing twenty children who doesn’t have something severely wrong with his brain.

      I can. It’s called a toxic stew of rage, egotism, a massive entitlement complex and misogyny. I don’t know if that’s an accurate description of Adam Lanza, but we don’t yet know that “mentally ill in a manner that contributed to his violence” applies either. Yet which one is everyone assuming is true?

      I’m really fucking tired of this shit. Especially here, where I thought there might be SLIGHTLY more attention paid to the fact that 19 of the victims were female/read as female than one fucking line in an article otherwise all about how it’s probably mental illness again, oh no what are we going to do with the crazies if we can’t lock them up as kids.

      I’m a little fucking bitter right now, hence the tone. Right now I can’t tell the difference between Feministe and all of the mainstream outlets. Apparently ableism is the name of the game today. Could we maybe, just maybe, consider FOR ONCE stepping away from the automatic jump to the mental-illness narrative and think about what OTHER questions we could ask before we get to the ‘was he crazy?’ bit? Or is that too fucking much to ask?

      1. moviemaedchen
        moviemaedchen December 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm |

        Adding this to my comment in mod:

        “all of the adults” ought to read “all of the adults he killed *other than himself*” were female/read as female.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

          I understand what you’re saying, but he tried to kill as many children as possible, including, I think, all the children in one kindergarten classroom. Do you seriously think he was singling out little girls and not killing little boys? (There were 12 girls and 8 boys in that class.) Or that if there had been male teachers in his line of sight he wouldn’t have killed them, too? This isn’t quite the same as what happened in Montreal years ago.

          But yes, it’s always young men who do this, isn’t it? Almost always white, other than Virginia Tech.

          But there are bitter, resentful young white men, thinking they’re victims and unable to deal with not having the privilege they believe they’re entitled to, in Europe, too, and elsewhere in the world. And whatever his mental state was, whether he was a “psychopath” or just an angry young white man or anything else (and I refuse to speculate about any mental illness, diagnosed or undiagnosed, he may have had), there are plenty of people like that all over the world.

          Guess what the difference is?

        2. suspect class
          suspect class December 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

          This is an actual question because I can’t bring myself to read detailed articles: how many employees at that school were male? Elementary educators are overwhelmingly women (as I’m sure you know). It wouldn’t be hard for me to believe the majority of adults in the building that day were female.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

          I’m sure the adults working there were overwhelmingly women, as is true at most elementary schools. I think there may have been one male teacher at my son’s elementary school.

          Of course, we don’t know, and may never know, why he decided to go to a school in the first place after killing his mother.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

          Well, maybe it’s not always *young* angry white men. Think of the shootings at the Holocaust Museum. And this one just now, which we don’t know would have happened if the guy hadn’t been arrested:

          http://news.yahoo.com/ind-man-47-guns-arrested-school-threat-164928349.html

          CEDAR LAKE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana man who allegedly threatened to “kill as many people as he could” at an elementary school near his home was arrested by officers who later found 47 guns and ammunition hidden throughout his home.

          Von. I. Meyer, 60, of Cedar Lake, was arrested Saturday after prosecutors filed formal charges of felony intimidation, domestic battery and resisting law enforcement against him. He was being held Sunday without bond at the Lake County Jail, pending an initial hearing on the charges, police said in a statement.

          Cedar Lake Police officers were called to Meyer’s home early Friday after he allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire once she fell asleep, the statement said.

          Meyer also threatened to enter nearby Jane Ball Elementary School “and kill as many people as he could before police could stop him,” the statement said. Meyer’s home is less than 1,000 feet from the school and linked to it by trails and paths through a wooded area, police said.

          Young or not, they all have guns. Lots of them.

          And I don’t think anyone should underestimate the copycat aspect. Anyone who thinks Lanza wasn’t inspired by what James Holmes did in Aurora (especially if what I read about his clothing and mask, etc. is true) is kidding themselves. I shudder to think about it, but I have little doubt that someone is sitting there right now reading about this and thinking about how he’s going to do the same, and then there’ll be the next one, and the next one after that. The whole “What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” kind of thing.

        5. speedbudget
          speedbudget December 17, 2012 at 8:59 am |

          There was the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania where the shooter let all the boys go and lined all the girls up before he shot them systematically. And the women’s gym shooting. And the salon shooting.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl December 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

          JFC, Donna, that story hits home for me, literally. I grew up about 15 miles from Cedar Lake, and my parents currently live like 2 miles away.

          I just can’t even rationally participate in discussions about this whole horribly tragedy right now. I have little ones the same age as those poor kids. I don’t know how to not freak the fuck out about it, and trying to figure out how to discuss this with my kids or anyone else without sobbing is beyond me.

          Sorry for the derail, everyone.

        7. White Rabbit
          White Rabbit December 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm |

          @speedbudget

          There was the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania where the shooter let all the boys go and lined all the girls up before he shot them systematically. And the women’s gym shooting. And the salon shooting.

          FWIW, the salon shooter was targeting his ex-wife at her workplace, so it’s probably fair to say that his primary motivation was domestic violence, rather than committing mass murder. That’s still violence against women, but it seems to fall into the intimate partner violence bucket versus the mass murder bucket. And I can’t believe I just typed that sentence WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO?! Ugh.

      2. DSJ
        DSJ December 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

        Thank you for bringing up what I think is the elephant in the room. No, it isn’t always young white men, but it is almost always men. And usually, the first victims are females within their own families or their girlfriends. I mean, it’s not as if a lot of women don’t suffer from mental health issues. Depression is supposedly more common among women than men. But I can’t think of any female spree shooters, and while I’m sure there are some out there, I think I read that 61 out of the 62 last spree shooters were done by men. It’s not too much to say on a feminist blog that any analysis that doesn’t include the gendered dimension of these outbursts of violence is incomplete.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2012 at 5:12 pm |

          I’ve actually seen quite a few people (always women, not surprisingly) point this out, even on mainstream, non-feminist forums and blogs. Unfortunately, there seem to be an awful lot of people out there who’d sooner lock up every “socially awkward” young man between the ages of 16 and 30, than pass meaningful gun control legislation.

        2. Bridget
          Bridget December 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

          There was the “I don’t like Mondays” girl, but I think she was the only one.

    4. Angie unduplicated
      Angie unduplicated December 18, 2012 at 9:59 am |

      Seconded. “Self-will run riot” is not confined to alcoholics and addicts. Some people abuse and kill children. This one let his fantasies out to run wild. The number of guns in the house suggest a stockbroker with fears of the 99%, and the father worked for GE, a company which has laid off thousands so that stockholders could fatten their pockets. These two facts indicate a probable disrespect for the powerless which spilled over into one family member’s attitude and was acted out.

  6. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve December 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    I find it more and more difficult to believe that anyone in this country defines psychopathy or sociopathy as a mental illness. One needs to look no further than the behavior of this countries highest rewarded CEO’s and money management types to find great evidence for this theory. In many fields, some form of psychopathy seems to be a minimum requirement for success.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

      I find it more and more difficult to believe that anyone in this country defines psychopathy or sociopathy as a mental illness. One needs to look no further than the behavior of this countries highest rewarded CEO’s and money management types to find great evidence for this theory. In many fields, some form of psychopathy seems to be a minimum requirement for success.

      Oh, for fuck’s sakes, could this be any more cliche? Or predictable?

      Psychopathy and sociopathy actually mean something. Using them to score cheap points off people whose jobs you don’t like is idiotic and counterproductive. And offensive. I’m not sure if the issue is that you’re legitimately confused about what the terms mean, or if you just think talking about your issues with Wall Street are more important than the actual topic of the thread, but either way, educate yourself.

    2. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen December 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

      Well, Fat Steve isn’t totally off-base or merely voicing an opinion. He’s likely referring to mid-2000s research which examined who psychopaths are, versus who the general public thinks they are…

      “Psychopath” Psychologist Adds Scientific Insight To Loaded Label: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/46444.php
      Is there a psychopath in your office: http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2004/10/04/smallb4.html
      What “Psychopath” Means: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-psychopath-means

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

        Literally nothing you linked supports FatSteves ‘point.’ Yes, psychopaths are not particularly likely to be violent, and yes, they are likely distributed through all walks of life; that does not suggest “In many fields, some form of psychopathy seems to be a minimum requirement for success,” which is just inane.

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 16, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

          Literally nothing you linked supports FatSteves ‘point.’ Yes, psychopaths are not particularly likely to be violent, and yes, they are likely distributed through all walks of life; that does not suggest “In many fields, some form of psychopathy seems to be a minimum requirement for success,” which is just inane.

          All of those articles seem to agree that psychopaths lack empathy. Surely there are plenty of fields where you have to check your empathy at the door, in these fields psychopaths would thrive.

      2. piny
        piny December 19, 2012 at 12:36 am |

        (I’m trying to respond to Steve)

        No, it doesn’t follow that sociopaths would naturally excel in professions where a lack of empathy is an asset; this is like saying that violent killers are likely to become admirals. A lack of empathy might give you some advantages, but it also carries heavy disadvantages. After all, it’s an inability to connect with most people on the most basic level they have. Sociopaths might be good at lying, cheating, stealing, killing, and taking human brains apart like antique watches, but they would have trouble with other components of professional and success for the same reason.

        It’s also possible to train someone out of a lack of empathy for some people without depriving them of their ability to empathize altogether. I think that’s how most bad people are made. I would define the superrich as prone to situational sociopathy: they have human impulses toward connection, but they’ve been trained to see most of humanity as so much wealth fodder because they are so far removed from them. Mitt Romney loves his wife.

  7. vanessa
    vanessa December 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm |

    There is a difference between mental illness (often treatable or at least manageable) and psychopathy. We know, for example, that the instigator in the Columbine massacre was a psychopath. It is possible that the boy in the blog is also a psychopath. we have no idea what to do with psychopaths, because traditional therapy only makes them much, much more dangerous. It’s a real question: what do we do with kids who might actually never get better? They may never develop a conscious. There may be nothing we can do to force them to develop one. So what then?

    1. Jadey
      Jadey December 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

      we have no idea what to do with psychopaths, because traditional therapy only makes them much, much more dangerous.

      The research around that isn’t entirely consistent, actually. The effect has been noticed in some studies, but not as a constant factor.

      Agreed that psychopathy is considered qualitatively different from mental illness (though they may be co-occurring) and that its treatment is found to be particularly difficult.

    2. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

      I’m not sure that “traditional therapy only makes them much, much more dangerous”, but I am sure that it is highly ineffective.

      I’m going to write something that is probably going to be controversial.

      It is VERY easy for a psychopath to outsmart any test or therapy put before them, and the nature of psychopathy inclines psychopaths to do just that. Any form of therapy or analysis is seen as a threat, and responded to as such. Before psychopaths can be helped, in any way, it must be made understood that recovery is in our best interest.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

        It is VERY easy for a psychopath to outsmart any test or therapy put before them, and the nature of psychopathy inclines psychopaths to do just that. Any form of therapy or analysis is seen as a threat, and responded to as such. Before psychopaths can be helped, in any way, it must be made understood that recovery is in our best interest.

        This feels like Hollywood talking. Psychopathy often is connected to a high verbal IQ, which typically manifests as a superficial charm, but isn’t particularly correlated to intelligence in general and doesn’t make psychopaths capable of easily outsmarting any given therapist.

        Obviously, therapists are human and have human limitations, and some are much better than others, but psychopaths aren’t inherently better at tricking them than, say, addicts who often become incredibly practiced at hiding their addiction.

        1. vanessa
          vanessa December 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

          but the evidence is that psychopaths often use therapy to get better at manipulating people.

        2. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

          No, this is personal experience. As one who was able to trick any standard test, and redirect any therapist, and thwart anyone trying to help me for a very long time.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm |

          You are not a representative sample of all psychopaths.

          And I’m going to break one of my own rules about letting people identify; I have serious doubts about self-identifications of psychopathy, especially since the diagnosis itself is far from concrete.

          Vanessa- assuming we’ve read the same studies, that evidence is, at best, largely speculative.

        4. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

          “You are not a representative sample of all psychopaths”

          I’m not a psychopath at all, I think. But I do have a deep, devastating mental illness that impacts every facet of my life. An illness that has prevented me from leading anything resembling a balanced life. And every time anyone tried to help I fought them. Regardless, mental illness alone can’t make someone into a spree-killer.

        5. William
          William December 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

          but the evidence is that psychopaths often use therapy to get better at manipulating people.

          Sure they sometimes do, but thats less playing a therapist than working the system. If a psychopath roles into my office and starts treatment they can tell people they’re getting treatment, they can tell them its for depression or anxiety or drug abuse or whatever, they can talk about the progress they’re making and a boatload of narcissistic fantasies about how I’ve said they’re the perfect patient, all while knowing that confidentiality means I can’t say a word to confirm or contradict them. Meanwhile they might be sitting in my office sending e-mails or talking about their latest sexual conquest.

          In my experience psychopaths aren’t generally very good at outsmarting therapists or tests. Sure, they can dodge an easy and transparent screening test, but more significant psychometric measures are going to show something wrong. Between the MMPI-II, MCMI-III, and a Rorschach its unlikely that a psychopath is really going to be able to hide. More importantly, their charm is superficial and, after a few sessions, it generally becomes pretty obvious what you have sitting on your couch. Psychopaths aren’t often the magical bogeymen of Hollywood, they’re just manipulative people with an excess of narcissism, a paucity of empathy, and a willingness to lie.

      2. White Rabbit
        White Rabbit December 16, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

        I don’t find your statement controversial at all. My understanding of psychopathy/sociopathy comes from reading Robert Hare’s work, and your statement is in keeping with what I’ve learned and observed anecdotally in my own life.

        I’ve asked my therapist and my psychiatrist about this, and they both confirm that folks with these diagnoses are incredibly difficult to work with (in the rare instances where they seek help or are ordered to counseling ), and that many professionals refuse to work with them due to the incredible difficulty of working with them and very low rates of improvement.

        I’m personally fascinated by the subject after encountering more than my fair share of individuals who have the characteristics of psychopathy. I’ve concluded from all of my reading that society would be very well served to learn more about this condition in order to be able to identify it and assemble some tools to deal with it. Personally, my solution is to distance myself from those who display the characteristics, for my own safety, but I would really like to see more efforts made toward identifying/developing therapy approaches that work.

        1. vanessa
          vanessa December 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

          right. i have actually done a fair amount of research about this particular topic, and it does seem that the evidence that we have *so far* is that pyschopathy cannot be cured and that ways that help MOST people with MOST mental illness do not cure psychopaths.

          i dont know where that leaves you if your child is a psychopath. i dont have the slightest idea.

          anyone read the novel we need to talk about kevin?

      3. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

        I’m not a psychopath at all, I think.

        I’m sorry, I thought you had chosen to identify that way based on statements like like this:

        Before psychopaths can be helped, in any way, it must be made understood that recovery is in our best interest.

        Anyways, thanks for clarifying. The only thing I have to add is that psychopathy is not actually a form of mental illness, and- while I absolutely respect your experiences and your right to define them as you choose- I’m therefore not sure having a mental illness gives one any particular insight into how psychopathy works.

        1. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia December 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm |

          Sorry,
          “our” referring to the whole of everyone’s best interest.
          You are right. I’m just trying to put a bunch of barely coherent thoughts down. Hopefully I can get them sorted out and offer a better explanation.

  8. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    I totally agree with the need for better mental health supports for *everyone* on the simple fact of this being a matter of basic human dignity and need, but I was really disheartened to hear the comments about mental illness showing up on my feeds long before I saw a single mention of any type of mental disorder in any official report whatsoever, which was incredibly disheartening and frustrating.

    (I did eventually see a reference to a personality disorder in one news release, but personality disorders are… not what most people think of when they think of mental illness. Even the DSM categorizes them completely differently. They do not necessarily involve a loss of reason – more a pattern of extremely dysfunctional social behaviour, but nearly all of them are very controversial in diagnosis and treatment. Asperger’s is *not* a personality disorder, as far as I know, unless it was very recently proposed for inclusion in the upcoming DSM-V.)

    None of us know the specifics of this case yet (as you say, Jill, there are many aspects of it which seem unique and unprecedented, so I actually shudder to think of the legislation and policy that will be developed from it – I *hate* that we only seem to engage in reactionary policy-making, rather than pay attention to the much more reliable *accumulated* evidence), but if I had to lay my finger on any relatively common theme amongst these acts of violence, it would be the culture of thwarted entitlement of people grasping at unjust privilege.

    1. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen December 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

      Thank you, Jadey. As usual you’ve said everything I’ve been wanting to say, only far, far more eloquently. I have been deeply disturbed by the automatic jump to “it’s because he was mentally ill!” that just about everyone around me seems to be making.

      I’m also deeply disturbed by the fact that the only time the majority of my fellow citizens seem to care about access to mental health care is when someone they assume is “crazy” goes on a rampage, and how often the expression ‘we need better mental health care!’ seems code for ‘we have to do something about the nutcases before they kill US’ instead of any, you know, concern for the actual experience of people with mental illness (or for that matter personality disorders, which as you point out are not exactly the same thing but get lumped in there with mental illness as just another form of ‘not normal’).

      1. ready for change
        ready for change December 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

        My fool of a father just threw the “we need better mental health care NOW before they kill US” line of thinking at me. He’s mentally ill. So am I. Come on, man!

    2. Alexandra
      Alexandra December 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

      Personality disorders are still mental illnesses; they’re simply classified as Axis II rather than Axis I diagnoses.

      There are a lot of personality disorders, by the way, that would not necessarily predispose someone toward this sort of violence. Yes, there’s antisocial personality disorder —

      but there are also:

      borderline personality disorder;
      narcissistic personality disorder;
      avoidant personality disorder;

      etc.

      And schizoaffective disorder, which I think is often talked about as an intermediate between a personality disorder, a mood disorder, and schizophrenia.

      I’ve met many people in treatment for borderline personality disorder in particular, and honestly my experience has been that some are deeply unpleasant, highly dysfunctional, violent people… and some are people who have a long history of failed close relationships who are intelligent and well meaning but have TERRIBLE coping strategies for stress. And some are people who are not particularly intelligent or insightful, and who have problems regulating their emotions in a calm and collected way, but who are no more violent than anybody else.

      1. Jadey
        Jadey December 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |

        Yes, they are in the DSM, but on a completely different axis, because they are not like other mental disorders, which I believe is what I stated. And they are, as I said, characterized by a general pattern of dysfunctional social behaviour, which can, as you have further specified, take on various forms (with ASPD and BPD being the most stigmatized of them, in my experience, because they are associated with such incredibly dysfunctional and negative behaviours). They are classified differently because they are quite different in nature, for the most part, from the Axis I disorders.

        I have a psych degree and work with clinicians on a fairly regular basis, so my understanding of the basics of how mental disorders are classified is pretty good at this point. :P

        My overall point was that people were talking about mental disorder in a very generalized way before the shooter’s diagnostic history was even confirmed (and, as far as I’m concerned, still has not been confirmed as existing and may not even be confirmed as even being relevant in this case).

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 1:51 am |

          Hey Jadey, sorry about this; I misread your comment and responded to it in a knee-jerk “clearing up misconceptions” sort of way.

        2. Jadey
          Jadey December 17, 2012 at 9:22 am |

          No problem – I was a bit cranky at that point, is all.

    3. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

      Even the DSM categorizes them completely differently. They do not necessarily involve a loss of reason – more a pattern of extremely dysfunctional social behaviour, but nearly all of them are very controversial in diagnosis and treatment. Asperger’s is *not* a personality disorder, as far as I know, unless it was very recently proposed for inclusion in the upcoming DSM-V.

      DSM-V is doing away with the multiaxial system, as I understand it, so PDs won’t be a separate category anymore. That said, I haven’t heard anything about the Autistic Spectrum being treated as a PD.

  9. jyames
    jyames December 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    Thank you thank you thank you…

    All over facebook and twitter and elsewhereelsewhere, I’ve been seeing posts and comments that (without hurtful intent) tell the world that people like me (i have schizoaffective disorder) are the problem.

    It’s a strange short-cut. I know that folks mean well, but the message seems to be “you are dangerous, and if you were to change, these things wouldn’t happen.”

    It’s deeply hurtful, and I have had no idea how to respond to it. I’m not a terribly coherent thinker, and I’m allergic to conflict of any sort (weak, i know, aye, uff da). I’ll be sharing this article with the friends who have brought up mental illness as the prime factor.

  10. Miss S
    Miss S December 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

    I’m so annoyed and so conflicted. Part of me recognizes that people with mental illness (myself included) are only being stigmatized further by assuming that everyone who goes on a violent killing spree suffers from mental illness. Part of me hopes that shit like this will get people to wake up to the sorry state of mental health care in this country but I won’t hold my breath. All of me hates that people only seem to care about mental illness if there are outside victims- the people who are suffering alone and in silence don’t matter. All of me hates that no one seems to know the difference between personality disorders and mental disorders- psychopathy is not a mental illness. All of me hates that I’ve already seen comments that everyone with mental illnesses should be preemptively locked up.

    All of me hates that inner cities lose children everyday to violence and they don’t make the fucking news.

    The rest of me is just confused. Are the men who do this sociopaths? Are they inherently violent? If so, are white men more likely than everyone else to be sociopaths? Because the people who do shit like this are usually white men, and I’ve seen studies that indicate that serial killers are most likely to be white men. If it’s biological and innate, how come black women aren’t shooting up schools? How come Latina women aren’t shooting up malls? How come more women don’t act like Ted Bundy?

    1. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen December 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

      All of me hates that people only seem to care about mental illness if there are outside victims- the people who are suffering alone and in silence don’t matter. All of me hates that no one seems to know the difference between personality disorders and mental disorders- psychopathy is not a mental illness. All of me hates that I’ve already seen comments that everyone with mental illnesses should be preemptively locked up.

      All of me hates that inner cities lose children everyday to violence and they don’t make the fucking news.

      This. QFFT.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L December 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

      I think President Obama was referring to that, at least obliquely, in his speech. Children in the inner city in Philadelphia and Chicago and elsewhere may die from gun violence one by one instead of 20 at a time, but it adds up to a lot more than 20 every year, and they’re just as dead.

  11. Marni
    Marni December 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    But it’s pretty clear that “the system” is not a good place for mentally ill children (or mentally ill adults).

    The system reflects society’s attitudes. For example, many ‘therapists’ feel it is their job to ‘mend’ the twisted person (who has probably never harmed anyone in their life, unlike the average merchant banker) so that they can ‘contribute’ (ie. be a low paid slave, despite being highly intelligent) to society in a productive way. (I have plenty of first hand experience that would make the hairs on anyone’s neck stand on end). In this culture, people are conditioned from birth to ignore inconvenient truths about themselves. Until society respects diversity, and acknowledges its failures, mental illness will continue to be used as an excuse to separate ‘them’ from ‘us’. And there will be far more mental illness for that.

    In this particular case however, I agree with the ‘thwarted entitlement’ assessment. And it has next to nothing to do with mental illness, although the guy was probably depressed. As for Aspergers (I am on the spectrum) one of the biggest problems we have is people treating us like we’re sick and stupid just for not conforming. The idea of a ‘cure’ is basically advocating genocide.

    1. EG
      EG December 16, 2012 at 8:08 pm |

      The idea of a ‘cure’ is basically advocating genocide.

      Bullshit. Advocating killing people with Asperger’s would be “advocating genocide.”

      I understand not wanting to be neurotypical if your difference isn’t what’s causing you pain. But it’s not genocide, either.

      1. tomek
        tomek December 16, 2012 at 8:56 pm |

        it make me uncomfortable want everyone to be the same and perfect as possible. like it is dystopia world such as orwell write. i understand want to cure bad problem which cause big issue like the full autism or such. but not the mild asperge. this is extreme. let us not condemn those who are strange to us yes?

        it is like the sex research michael baley, whom is call for cure of homosexual. he not homophobic, he just identify what it would be easier to be heterosexual. but he make same mistake as people whom wish to cure all the nerologic diference. difference is what makes us be great as the humans! difference make the wierd people who have produce the great art… the mind what has come up with great science.

      2. Chained Divinity
        Chained Divinity December 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm |

        Honestly, losing a defining characteristic is close to death…

        1. EG
          EG December 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

          No. It is not. Rounding people up and killing them is not at all like developing a process/medication whereby people can voluntarily remove that characteristic.

        2. LMM
          LMM December 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

          Honestly, losing a defining characteristic is close to death…

          Really? If an athlete loses a leg in an accident, that’s “close to death” (in a moral sense)? If a model gets disfigured in a car accident, that’s “close to death”?

          Or is it just that it’s “close to death” when it’s a trait that you personally deem valuable — even if other people dislike it?

          As someone who is on the spectrum, I would take a cure without even a moment’s thought — even a very risky one. Not because of internalized ableism, but because I’m pretty sure I’d be happier that way. (In the same manner, I’d also jump at the chance to be able to do cartwheels and have perfect pitch. It’s not like my list of things that would be awesome to change about myself is limited to having an ASD.)

          And if that means wanting myself to become “pretty close to death,” then I’m willing to accept that.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 16, 2012 at 10:42 pm |

          Honestly, losing a defining characteristic is close to death…

          Yes, thank you for defining my disabilities for me and telling me that losing them would bring me close to death. I mean, I’m my disability, after all. I hear that all the time!

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 7:54 am |

          Honestly, losing a defining characteristic is close to death…

          And thank god you’re here to let people know which characteristics define them.

        5. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub December 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

          Well then, I guess I’d rather be close to death. I’ve got ADHD and NLD and frankly, my life would have been a fuckload easier without either.

          It wasn’t me being a goddamn special snowflake and refusing to conform, for fuck’s sake.

        6. Chained Divinity
          Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 10:31 am |

          …so many different things at once…

          Oy.

          Yes, providing a voluntary process through which a characteristic can be removed is different from lining up people to kill them, principally because no one’s forcing that on you. I’m in fact all for allowing people to change the way they are if they desire to.

          But FORCING medication on people is bad. Lining people up to be drugged against their will is, well…bad.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |

          But FORCING medication on people is bad. Lining people up to be drugged against their will is, well…bad.

          Yes, because that’s clearly what we were all recommending, lining people up against a wall and drugging them. Holy moving goalposts, Batman!

        8. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 11:36 am |

          And if you could just point to where “forcing” medication on people was under discussion?

        9. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 11:37 am |

          Further, even if it had been part of the discussion? It still wouldn’t be advocating genocide. It is perfectly possible for something to be bad, even very bad, without it being genocide.

  12. Emigris
    Emigris December 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    The development of an expeditious personality inventory/assessment index might prove worthwhile for identifying those individuals most likely to snap. There is absolutely no evidence that psychiatric medication, or any medication at all, effectively treats socio-/psychopathy. The available psychiatric medications, even when used conjunctively, often fall short of inducing remission. According to one robust study, if memory serves me, in the journal Police Quarterly, those with mental illness are far more likely to become victims rather as opposed to perpetrators. Nevertheless, more resources and better allocation of resources for severe mental illness among young males seem prudent.

    1. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

      Believe me, an expeditious, comprehensive, difficult to fake personality assessment is the holy grail of psychometrics. Lots of people are trying, or have tried, because the person who gets it right will become incredibly wealthy. Unfortunately, even the best measures we have are limited in their scope. The MMPI-II, for instance, is pretty good at figuring out and differentiating between various means of invalidating a test from answering at random to faking good or bad to outright lying. It covers a broad range of potential problems and can give a boatload of useful clinical information. Unfortunately, its over 500 questions long, requires a skilled examiner to interpret, and isn’t terribly good at predicting violence. The MCMI-III is great at figuring out personality disorders but its almost 200 questions long and isn’t a good predictor of violence in the vast majority of clinically significant situations. Rorschach can be very useful, and is one of the better tests for predicting violence, but its incredibly time consuming, requires a very skilled examiner, and is as much art as science. None of these tests are at all capable of learning anything about someone who just refuses to take the test. Most of them cannot be repeated with any regularity. Other big tests all have similar problems. Thats before we start to think about the dangers presented by false positives.

      Finally, you mentioned “severe mental illness.” Thats not just a term that means “big crazy,” in many states its an actual legal definition. It usually refers to people with Bipolar I, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia, or Schizoaffective Disorder diagnoses. All of these groups are relatively unlikely to be dangerous and all are far more likely to hurt themselves than someone else, even if you’re just talking about young males.

      We need better treatment access, but looking for silver bullets is just going to mean more oppression for people who are already systematically oppressed.

  13. chava
    chava December 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    I keep coming back to this quote in the face of all the “mental illness” assumptions people on both sides have been making:

    “Behind the comedy of the soul experts lay the hard fact that his was obviously no case of moral let alone legal insanity […] the judges did not believe him [Eichmann] because they were too good, and perhaps also too conscious of the very foundations of their profession, to admit that an average, “normal” person, neither feeble-minded nor indoctrinated nor cynical, could be completely incapable of telling right from wrong.”
    (Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem).

    I’ve just become very suspicious of the rhetorical move to labeling people who commit atrocities as “insane” or “sick” before we know a thing about them or their mental health. I’ve started going with “evil” or “bad,” which it itself such a deeply flawed rhetorical move, but perhaps a valuable one in this cultural moment.

    1. ready for change
      ready for change December 16, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

      Perhaps just calling them by what they did is best: murder, spree-killer, mass killer, serial killer. We know what they did. We don’t know why they did it.

      I would be cautious about labeling these people “evil” until all the facts come in. It seems fine to lable a killer as evil until you learn z/s/he was mentally insane, or very slow, or a victim of abuse, or couldn’t understand right from wrong for some reason.

      1. chava
        chava December 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |

        You can label the action rather than the person, for one. I lean on the side of believing that some people are evil, but ymmv.

        What I’m trying to get at wrt the frame shift is that yes, it is in fact possible for a sane person to commit atrocities, and no, expanding the definition of “insane” to “anyone who does things unthinkably out-of-bounds,” doesn’t make logical since. Aside from which, it just re-draws the boundaries of mental illness as always already outside of society, which is a place I’m really not comfortable with.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 2:03 am |

          Cosigning this comment (lol, I wrote cosine, probably because of all the Calculus I’ve been doing today…).

          We rush to place spree shooters in a category that is “other” to ourselves; some prefer mental illness, others godless atheism.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 2:13 am |

          Yes, I hate to get all Godwiny, but there were a great many people, in the Einsatzgruppen and elsewhere, who killed a whole lot more than 20 little children and babies at a time, on a regular basis. Not all of them were sadistic psychopaths (all though some unquestionably were; the “banality of evil” is a way-overused phrase, Hannah Arendt notwithstanding), and there’s no reason to believe that they suffered in general from any “mental illness.” What all or most of them had in common was an ability to dissociate themselves from and dehumanize their victims, so that they saw them as “objects,” or at best as subhumans. We will never know what Adam Lanza thought.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 2:55 am |

          Seriously, if anyone can bring themselves to do so, try reading the article linked below by Vasily Grossman about Treblinka, which is as difficult to get through as anything I’ve ever read, and which I just re-read yesterday after discovering that two of my son’s great-great-grandparents on my ex’s side were exterminated there. It was the first journalistic coverage of the “Holocaust by gas,” published in 1944 while the war was still ongoing; Grossman was also the first to write about the “Holocaust by bullets” in the Ukraine in 1943, covered Stalingrad and Kursk, and wrote probably the greatest Russian novel of the 20th century, Life and Fate.

          Does anyone think “mental illness” was the primary culprit for what was done at Treblinka and and so many other places, and afflicted everyone involved?

          I especially refer to the part beginning about halfway down, with the following passage (trigger warning for extremely graphic descriptions):

          http://dl.dropbox.com/u/47875651/TheHellOfTreblinka.html

          They were then marched down a straight alley, 120 meters long and two meters wide, bordered by flowers and fir trees. This led to the place of execution. There was barbed wire on either side of the alley, which was lined by SS men and Wachmänner standing shoulder to shoulder, the former in gray uniforms, the latter in black. The path was sprinkled with white sand, and those who were walking in front with their hands in the air could see on this loose sand the fresh imprint of bare feet: the small footprints of women, the tiny footprints of children, the heavy footprints of the old. This faint trace in the sand was all that remained of the thousands of people who had not long ago passed this way, who had walked down this path just as the present contingent of four thousand people was now walking down it, just as another contingent of thousands, already waiting on the railway spur in the forest, would walk down it in two hours’ time. Those whose footprints could be seen on the sand had walked down this path just as people had walked down it the day before, just as people had walked down it ten days before, just as people would walk down it the next day and in fifty days’ time, just as people walked down it throughout the thirteen months of the existence of the Hell that was Treblinka.

          The Germans referred to this alley as “The Road of No Return.” A smirking, grimacing creature by the name of Suchomel used to shout out, deliberately garbling the German words: “Children, children, schneller, schneller, the water’s getting cold in the bathhouse! Schneller, children, schneller!” This creature would then burst out laughing; he would squat down and dance about. Hands above their heads, the people walked on in silence between the two rows of guards, who beat them with sticks, submachine-gun butts, and rubber truncheons. The children had to run to keep up with the adults. Everyone who witnessed this last sorrowful procession has commented on the savagery of one particular member of the SS: Sepp. This creature specialized in the killing of children. Evidently endowed with unusual strength, he would suddenly snatch a child out of the crowd, swing him or her about like a cudgel, and then either smash their head against the ground or simply tear them in half.

          When I first heard about this creature—supposedly human, supposedly born of a woman—I could not believe the unthinkable things I was told. But when I heard these stories repeated by eyewitnesses, when I realized that these witnesses saw them as mere details, entirely in keeping with everything else about the hellish regime of Treblinka, then I came to believe that what I had heard was true.

          Sepp’s actions were necessary. They helped to reduce people to a state of psychic shock. They were an expression of the senseless cruelty that crushed both will and consciousness. He was a useful, necessary screw in the vast machine of the Fascist State. . . .

          The walk from the “ticket window” to the place of execution took only sixty to seventy seconds. Urged on by blows and deafened by shouts of “Schneller! Schneller!,” the people came out into a third square and, for a moment, stopped in astonishment.

          Before them stood a handsome stone building, decorated with wooden fretwork and built in the style of an ancient temple. Five wide concrete steps led up to the low but very wide, massive, beautifully ornate doors. By the entrance there were flowers in large pots. . . . .

          The wide doors of the house of death slowly opened, and in the entrance appeared two of the assistants to Schmidt, who was in charge of the complex. Both were sadists and maniacs. One, aged about thirty, was tall, with massive shoulders, black hair, and a swarthy, laughing, animated face. The other, slightly younger, was short, with brown hair and pale yellow cheeks, as if he had just taken a strong dose of quinacrine. The names of these men who betrayed humanity, their Motherland, and their oaths of loyalty are known.

          The tall man was holding a whip and a piece of heavy gas piping, about a meter long. The other man was holding a saber.

          Then the SS men would unleash their well-trained dogs, who would throw themselves into the crowd and tear with their teeth at the naked bodies of the doomed people. At the same time the SS men would beat people with submachine-gun butts, urging on petrified women with wild shouts of “Schneller! Schneller!”

          Other assistants to Schmidt were inside the building, driving people through the wide-open doors of the chambers.

          At this point Kurt Franz, one of the camp commandants, would appear, leading on a leash his dog, Barry. He had specially trained this dog to leap up at the doomed people and tear out their sexual organs. Franz had done well for himself in the camp, starting as a junior SS Unteroffizier and attaining the fairly high rank of Untersturmführer. This tall, thin, thirty-five-year-old member of the SS was not only a gifted organizer who adored his work and could not imagine any better life for himself than his life at Treblinka, where nothing escaped his tireless vigilance; he was also something of a theoretician. He loved to explain the true significance of his work.

          Does it get us anywhere to speculate about whether Sepp or Kurt Franz or any of the others were mentally ill, or exactly what was wrong with them? I don’t think so, even though I know people have been doing so for the last 65 years. And I don’t think there’s much point doing so here.

      2. chava
        chava December 17, 2012 at 2:58 am |

        What all or most of them had in common was an ability to dissociate themselves from and dehumanize their victims, so that they saw them as “objects,” or at best as subhumans.

        I think most people have that capacity; otherwise soldiers would never fight, doctors would never be able to get through their days, etc. It’s something both wonderful and awful in the human makeup: we can get used to anything. I think the question here is, what condition(s) are we used to that is allowing gun violence on this scale and regularity to take place?

    2. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

      “Behind the comedy of the soul experts lay the hard fact that his was obviously no case of moral let alone legal insanity […] the judges did not believe him [Eichmann] because they were too good, and perhaps also too conscious of the very foundations of their profession, to admit that an average, “normal” person, neither feeble-minded nor indoctrinated nor cynical, could be completely incapable of telling right from wrong.”
      (Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem).

      I’ve actually seen Eichmann’s psychometric testing from before his trial; it was used (without telling us whose data we were looking at) as the final in a Projective Assessment class I took back in graduate school (our midterm was Ted Bundy). The professor teaching the class was a Rorschach big-wig who had spent many years working in Israel (and has since moved back). He made the argument that good psychometric testing wasn’t a hunt for a diagnosis but an attempt to identify and understand patterns of behavior, personality, and thought. From that perspective once could easily see how Eichmann was capable of engineering the murder of millions. That doesn’t mean he was mad, but it didn’t mean there was no insight to be had, either.

  14. cliknada
    cliknada December 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    “…most acts of violence — including deadly gun violence — are not at the hands of mentally ill people…”

    One could argue that all are, by definition.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable December 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm |

      By what bullshit, bigoted definition?

    2. Jadey
      Jadey December 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

      Mental illness is a real thing experienced by an enormous number of people (who are, as pointed out above, far more vulnerable to victimization that perpetration, compared to neurotypical people), and not your bullshit shorthand for “people I don’t like”. So fuck you.

    3. Alexandra
      Alexandra December 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

      Just no. Really, just no.

      If you want to dilute and pollute the public discourse by taking words with actual meaning and using them to mean whatever the hell you like, go ahead, but I’m going to call you an idiot and a jerk for doing so.

    4. matlun
      matlun December 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |

      “…most acts of violence — including deadly gun violence — are not at the hands of mentally ill people…”

      One could argue that all are, by definition.

      Not if you include all acts of violence, but perhaps it is close to true if you select some subset such as serial killers or this type of rampage killer. It is all a bit subjective anyway which types of mental abnormalities we classify as “illnesses”.

      Personally, I am starting to dislike the concept of “mental illness” more and more. It describes such a wide category that you can not really generalize meaningfully across the whole group in any way.

      1. EG
        EG December 17, 2012 at 5:58 am |

        It describes such a wide category that you can not really generalize meaningfully across the whole group in any way.

        How is that any different from the category “physical illness”?

        1. matlun
          matlun December 17, 2012 at 8:12 am |

          How is that any different from the category “physical illness”?

          Not at all. But IME we do not really talk about the “physically ill” in the same way as we talk about the “mentally ill” as a group.

          It is of course especially in discussions like this about the dangers to society from the mentally ill that this becomes an issue (ie you risk to aid in stigmatization). But even otherwise when talking about pretty much any issue, I feel it is normally a too general and vague term, and you should be able to be more specific. OTOH I do realize that this can be difficult since the general knowledge about different types of mental illness is limited.

          This is perhaps more just a general emotional reaction from me. As I said, I am starting to dislike the term.

    5. ready for change
      ready for change December 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |

      That was painful to read. Really, really hurtful.

  15. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

    It’s such a double-edged sword.

    I appreciate that we need better screening and greater access to mental health services, but if we only talk about this whenever some asshole picks up a gun and shoots up whatever is accessible, it will only increase the stigma against those of us with mental health issues.

    Instead, when I hear people say that after any tragedy, I hear, “PA, keep your mouth closed about your PTSD. Imma try to roll back your rights.”

    It’s disheartening.

    1. PeggyLuWho
      PeggyLuWho December 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

      “PA, keep your mouth closed about your PTSD. Imma try to roll back your rights.”

      I hear it, too. I’ve been having this deeply unsettled feeling since the focus has shifted toward mental illness.

      That woman’s blog about her son hit me somewhere deep inside. It made me so angry. It’s hard for me to even articulate. It’s just a gut feeling that something is off with her. Everyone on Facebook is saying she’s so courageous, but she sounds hideous to me.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L December 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |

        Posting her son’s photo on the Internet, and describing all his issues, was, to me, an unforgivable breach of trust and betrayal. I doubt he trusts her now, but if he ever reads what she wrote — and he’s 13, not 3 — he’ll certainly never trust her again.

        Plus, I get that parenting him isn’t easy, but she sure as hell isn’t making it any easier on herself by going to war with him over what color pants he wears, and using his intransigence on that issue as her lead example of his “mental illness.”

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 12:37 am |

          Yeah, I agree.

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |

          I don’t know this mother, I don’t know her son, but I really HATE family members/caregivers of the mentally ill who have no respect for their family members’ privacy. One of the hardest things for me to deal with in recent years has been my mother’s tendency to tell everyone about my mental health problems because of how difficult they’ve made life for her – so that I effectively lose control of who knows what about the most difficult times in my life. It is extraordinarily painful to have extended family with whom I am not close know about the crazy, embarrassing, painful things I have done and experienced while very ill. It is humiliating to have acquaintances know that I have been in the hospital multiple times.

          I hate it.

        3. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 12:52 am |

          I agree that posting the picture was a massive mistake; I don’t think I agree that describing all his issues was that kind of betrayal, because I think part of what this mother is grappling with is that when a family member is so messed up, it can be hard to convey that no, this person is not normal. No, it’s not like when your kid throws a temper tantrum. No, it’s not like when you used to say that you wished you were dead. That she’s scared for her other kids, for herself, and has real reason to be.

          My understanding was that the color of the pants was a school dress code thing, and it wasn’t his intransigence so much as how it was expressed. I threw tantrums as a kid, but my mother never had to hide the knives.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:20 am |

          I understand what you’re saying. It’s a tragic situation all around, for everyone in that family. It’s so difficult for me to read about situations like that. But I still think her first obligation is to her child (and all her children), more than to draw parallels with Adam Lanza, and I just can’t believe that putting all of this on the Internet was a good idea.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:21 am |

          Posting her son’s photo on the Internet, and describing all his issues, was, to me, an unforgivable breach of trust and betrayal.

          Donna, I really disagree. a) She’s posted pictures of her family before, it’s not like this is the only picture that’s up on the blog. Also, b) most people post at least a few personal pictures on their blog; it’s hardly a sex tape or a credit card number.

          I doubt he trusts her now, but if he ever reads what she wrote — and he’s 13, not 3 — he’ll certainly never trust her again.

          Personally I’d be more worried by the fact that he’s at least attempted to kill his younger siblings than whether or not he’ll trust his mother in the future. If his behaviour sounds to you like someone who trusts his mother, I’m honestly baffled by that.

          Plus, I get that parenting him isn’t easy, but she sure as hell isn’t making it any easier on herself by going to war with him over what color pants he wears, and using his intransigence on that issue as her lead example of his “mental illness.”

          Really? I can only assume your son never went to a school with a uniform code, then, because those are fairly consistently enforced. Also, as EG said, it’s not what the issue was, it’s how he responded to it. The last time my kid didn’t want to return library books that were overdue, I said “Damn it, chibi, you can’t just keep other people’s stuff” and she wibbled a bit and then said “okay.” I think that right about when someone pulls a knife on their 7yo sibling for the same thing is about where the line is, don’t you?

          And let me note the massive amounts of shame being piled on the late Ms Lanza for not identifying her son’s murderous tendencies. Let me note the fact that nobody will give you a restraining order against a child – especially your own – without documentation, and conversations count as evidence in these cases. Let me also note that this woman is afraid for her children. I adore my wife, but if I thought she might kill my stepdaughter over not getting a mocha at Starbucks, you bet your fucking ass I would be telling anybody who could listen and raise as big a fuss in as many fora as I had to for someone to listen and take it seriously. I have seen this exact situation play out before in the life of one of my mother’s friends; she (and her daughter) spent years enduring extreme physical and emotional abuse at the hands of a very personable, bright and utterly evil boy, because nobody believed her and they all belittled her for not loving him more.

          And all your concern for this boy’s health – what about his younger siblings, who are trained to run and lock themselves in the car because hey, today big bro might decide to stab me for touching his iPad? It’s very nice that you all have so much consideration and compassion to spare for the perpetrator.

          But hey, I guess it’s easier to just hate the mommy. It’s not like we don’t get hated and judged and blamed for everything else or anything.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:24 am |

          Donna, I have a comment in mod, but the tl;dr is don’t judge her until you’ve been there, and since her children are trying to kill each other I think her responsibility is primarily towards the ones that are being systematically traumatised by a violent shithead.

        7. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 1:29 am |

          macavitykitsune,

          Did you miss the bit where HE’S THIRTEEN?

        8. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:37 am |

          he’s at least attempted to kill his younger siblings

          What? I just looked at her blog post again, and I couldn’t find anything like that. Could you please point to where she says he did that? Yes, he threatened his mother with a knife — and I’m not downplaying that — but where does it say he threatened his siblings?

        9. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |

          And about posting her child’s photo on the Internet to illustrate the contrast between his appearance and his behavior, we’ll have to disagree. I think there’s no conceivable justification for it.

        10. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:49 am |

          And I’m not hating the mommy. Or the child. I have no problem putting myself in both her shoes, and her son’s.

          Also: I understand that the school had a uniform requirement. Still, is it really the kind of thing to go to war over, with a kid as emotionally on the edge as this one? What is it they say to parents — pick your battles?

        11. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 1:49 am |

          No, seriously, macavitykitsune, where do you get off in calling a thirteen year old kid a “violent shithead” and a “perpetrator”? Not to mention that the author never mentions that this kid has tried to kill his siblings, or even threatened to do so.

          I have a lot of sympathy for this mother. We know very little about her or what she’s tried to do to help her son process his negative emotions in a safe and healthy way. But it pains me to read her account of their conversations, where her response to his fear and anger and frustration is not to help him find ways to cope with those emotions, but rather to increase his frustration, fear, and anger by punishing him.


          “Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

          “You know where we are going,” I replied.

          “No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

          This just makes me ache inside.

        12. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 1:53 am |

          P.S. Why is it that schools that supposedly exist to help kids with mental health or developmental disability issues feel the need to impose arbitrary school uniforms? Why do they have to set kids up to fail in YET ANOTHER way?

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 2:08 am |

          Did you miss the bit where HE’S THIRTEEN?

          I’ll tell you who’s younger than thirteen – a boy who tried to force my kid to smoke pot, hit her repeatedly when she refused, attempted to break into my house when I was out, told her to let him into the house or he’d get a knife and hurt her.

          Sorry, but thirteen really IS beyond the age when someone gets to pass off pulling a knife on somebody else as cutesy pranks.

          increase his frustration, fear, and anger by punishing him.

          Temporarily committing a violent child to hospital care, where they can take care of his stated suicidal impulses, is punishment? I can only envy you your privilege in never having dealt with someone this violent who is simultaneously threatening to kill themselves. Threats of suicide are fucking traumatic to handle at the best of times; I know whereof I fucking speak, here, having had to deal with someone in my immediate family who thought it was really cool and fun to threaten to kill herself “because Mac was bad”, repeatedly.

          “No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”
          This just makes me ache inside.

          Right, because that isn’t a textbook guilt trip when she reacted to his threatening to kill himself over an evening without video games.

          Oh, and by the way, the other day I told my kid to put away her laundry before she went out to play and she said I wanted her to be alone forever and never have any friends anymore. Words are cheap. Violence is really fucking expensive.

          Donna – I misspoke, he has threatened, not attempted.

          Still, is it really the kind of thing to go to war over, with a kid as emotionally on the edge as this one? What is it they say to parents — pick your battles?

          Right, because the battle when someone at school tries to get him to change and he explodes violently at THEM – and earns himself a police record – that’s so much easier a battle to fight, amirite? Courts are so civilised these days after all.

          Christfuck. I really wish people who haven’t dealt with violent children – or with manipulatively faux-suicidal family members – would shut the fuck up in favour of those of us who know whereof we speak. I’m done talking; y’all don’t have a goddamn clue and are too interested in having your little pity party to actually try and help anyone in this situation. (Yes, that includes him; that home is a dangerous environment for him and he needs long-term goddamn care in the hands of people who can actually give him what he needs both environmentally and medically. Until he’s in such a situation, the only thing circumstances will allow him to be is a violent shithead. It’s not his fault, there’s clearly something medically wrong with him, but refusing to treat him as needed because Fuzzy Feelings and Inside Achings is not doing anybody any good.)

        14. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 2:14 am |

          Why do they have to set kids up to fail in YET ANOTHER way?

          Oh, sweet Jesus. Uniforms are actually soothing to a hell of a lot of mentally ill people because it’s a routine. Do either of you even know what you’re talking about in terms of the systems here and why they’re implemented? I know kids who FREAK OUT if people wear too many colours around them. I know kids who have to wear literally the same thing every day of the week or they’ll have anxiety attacks. I know kids who can’t see certain colours EVER or they’ll get angry/upset/terrified. These, and kids who don’t give a fuck either way, are the vast majority of special needs kids.

          For fuck’s sake, not everyone in the school system is Miss Trunchbull or that guy from The Wall or whoever else the fuck they’ve constructed lately to convince you recreational quibblers that we’re all evil abusive assholes. Things have reasons.

        15. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 2:20 am |

          you recreational quibblers

          Was that really necessary? I mean, if I’m a recreational quibbler, what does that make you, since you’re so willing to call a thirteen year old child you’ve never met a violent shithead?

        16. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 2:27 am |

          That was uncalled for, Mac. Pointing out that you were wrong when you asserted that the kid had tried to kill his siblings is way more than a quibble. If it wasn’t important to your point, you wouldn’t have brought it up, would you?

          And who’s the “we” that Alexandra and I supposedly think are all abusive assholes? Please stop this kind of rhetoric. You know better.

        17. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 6:16 am |

          It is extraordinarily painful to have extended family with whom I am not close know about the crazy, embarrassing, painful things I have done and experienced while very ill. It is humiliating to have acquaintances know that I have been in the hospital multiple times.

          I get that you hate it, but I fundamentally disagree that it’s a breach of privacy. As the family member of somebody who is fucked up, I need emotional support around her behavior. And my family is the same as her family. Am I not ethically allowed to turn to my family for emotional support? My closest friends are by definition people who are going to meet my family every so often at holidays or events. So, yes, they know things about my sister’s behavior that I’m sure she’d rather they didn’t. Too bad. My sister doesn’t like our stepfather, has tried to manipulate our mother into not getting support from him, her actual husband, by claiming it was a breach of privacy.

          I spent some of my life covering up for my father’s irrational rages and actions. My mother spent most of her childhood covering up for her mother’s abuse. Neither my mother nor I are required to sacrifice our own emotional health or to isolate ourselves from our support networks in order to protect the privacy of my sister.

          If blogging is what helps this woman, well, like I said, I cringe at the thought of putting so much personal information out there, but plenty of people do it. She’s no more guilty than anyone else.

        18. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 11:13 am |

          That was uncalled for, Mac. Pointing out that you were wrong when you asserted that the kid had tried to kill his siblings is way more than a quibble. If it wasn’t important to your point, you wouldn’t have brought it up, would you?

          If saying I misspoke and he threatened, not attempted, isn’t an acknowledgment of the fact that I was wrong there, I don’t know what you want. (Or was my comment in mod?)

          And who’s the “we” that Alexandra and I supposedly think are all abusive assholes? Please stop this kind of rhetoric. You know better.

          Not you, just Alexandra, who doesn’t understand that sometimes a special ed department does things (like require uniforms) for a reason, rather than just because we’re cackling into our hands while figuring out new ways for special needs kids to fail. My entire family and several friends (and I in the past) work with special needs kids – and abused kids – of various descriptions. So yeah, I take it a bit personally when people assert that safety measures (and for a whole lot people, uniforms ARE safety measures) are a calculated attempt by special needs educators to ruin someone’s life.

          Neither my mother nor I are required to sacrifice our own emotional health or to isolate ourselves from our support networks in order to protect the privacy of my sister.

          QFT. Don’t want people talking about their emotional trauma? Don’t emotionally traumatise them.

          (And sorry, but having to deal with your own child threatening to kill you is trauma, Alexandra. It’s not the same as your parents; you were not causing them to fear for their lives or your siblings’ daily. Please step away from your own experiences, which are radically different, and actually consider the case.)

        19. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue December 17, 2012 at 11:53 am |

          Mac, I see what your saying. I absolutely think it’s important that people are able to write about their trauma. And the writer of that blog post has been getting WAY too much flak, including people accusing her of being violent herself based on taking her words out of context.

          But the picture really does bother me. Again, I see what you’re saying about her having previously posted pictures, but I think there’s a difference between “Here is a picture of my family” and “Here is a picture of my violent, dangerous, mentally-ill son.” Even if people would have been able to make that connection themselves based on previously posted pictures, it doesn’t mean she needed to do that work for them.

        20. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

          If saying I misspoke and he threatened, not attempted [to kill his siblings], isn’t an acknowledgment of the fact that I was wrong there, I don’t know what you want. (Or was my comment in mod?)

          1. Your comment correcting your previous statement was indeed in moderation.

          2. Even if it hadn’t been in moderation, it wouldn’t make a difference: the article doesn’t say what you’re now asserting, either. There isn’t a single word in it that I can find saying that he attempted OR threatened to kill his siblings. I don’t know why you keep insisting that the article says something it doesn’t.

        21. Shadow
          Shadow December 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |

          The thing is, there are ways for her to reach out to the online community for help without exposing her son’s identity. She could have created a seperate anonymous blog, or she could have reached out to internet fora as an anonymous commenter for example. So the fact that she reached out in a way that lets anyone who knows her to easily figure out who she’s talking about speaks to either negligence or purpose. If it was negligence, I get that it’s a traumatic time for her but I can still think it was wrong to do while being sympathetic to her. If it’s on purpose, I’m conflicted. Maybe she thinks that he’s a real danger to the public, not being there I can’t judge about that. But if that’s not the case, I think it’s wrong and immoral to put his name out there like that and expose him to the horrific treatment he is more than likely to get considering the general public’s fear and misunderstanding of mental illness.

        22. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm |

          Christfuck. I really wish people who haven’t dealt with violent children – or with manipulatively faux-suicidal family members – would shut the fuck up in favour of those of us who know whereof we speak. I’m done talking; y’all don’t have a goddamn clue and are too interested in having your little pity party to actually try and help anyone in this situation.

          You have no idea what I have or haven’t dealt with, or what I do or don’t know. There are a lot of things I’m open about here, because I don’t really care who knows about them, but do you actually believe I would write about things like this on a public Internet forum, given that even though I use a screen name it’s not so difficult to figure out who I am?

        23. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

          Sorry, you’re right, he threatened to kill her and himself. Damn it, I don’t know why I read that. Must have conflated it with the fact that they had an escape plan ready and knew to run already from past experience.

        24. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

          Maybe she thinks that he’s a real danger to the public, not being there I can’t judge about that.

          She says she does. Is there any reason to think that she’s lying?

          I can see wanting to post this in the context of her regular blog, which seems pretty anonymous to me. It’s a blog about her family and its dynamics. Asking that she pretend that trying to mother a deeply disturbed and frightening child isn’t part of that is really unrealistic. We can’t have it both ways; we can’t want there to be resources out there letting people in these situations know that they are not alone, which is so important, and then castigate someone who steps forward, particularly mostly anonymously. This is part of her life, and part of her family. Why would it be OK to expect her to cover it up with a happy face and never mention it on a blog about that family and life?

        25. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

          You have no idea what I have or haven’t dealt with, or what I do or don’t know. There are a lot of things I’m open about here, because I don’t really care who knows about them, but do you actually believe I would write about things like this on a public Internet forum, given that even though I use a screen name it’s not so difficult to figure out who I am?

          I’d expect a bit more compassion for that mother from someone who’s dealt with those things, frankly. Of course there’s the possibility that she’s lying her face off and her son’s a little blond angel, but it’s really rubbing me the wrong way that you’re essentially saying she’s betrayed his trust by naming him on the internet when she’s living in fear.

          Why would it be OK to expect her to cover it up with a happy face and never mention it on a blog about that family and life?

          Because mothers aren’t allowed to be afraid of their child, EG, dontcha know. All mommies everywhere love and only ever love their children, who are of course perfect little angels! And if those kids aren’t angels, it’s probably the mother’s fault anyway, so fuck her. It’s not like kids ever threaten or terrorise or abuse or kill their parents or anything. Now let’s get back to discussing Adam Lanza, who clearly proves all these things are true!

        26. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

          In a way, I think it’s a bit moot whether or not he’s explicitly threatened the siblings or not. He’s actually picked up a knife and threatened himself and his mother. Is it really reasonable to expect his mom to think “Well, he didn’t actually say he’d hurt my other children, so I don’t have to worry about that“? Particularly because if he did, not only would she suffer immeasurably, but she would be subject to legions of people attacking her for not protecting her other children adequately.

          If my child was disturbed and violent, I wouldn’t rely solely on his or her word to assess who was at risk.

        27. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm |

          I’d expect a bit more compassion for that mother

          I have a lot of compassion for her. I happen to believe what she’s saying. I also have compassion for her son. I’m disagreeing with one aspect of how she dealt with the situation.

        28. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

          I think it’s a bit moot whether or not he’s explicitly threatened the siblings or not.

          I agree. Still, if people are going to engage in extended discussions based on what she says, they might as well get what she says right.

        29. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm |

          I’m disagreeing with one aspect of how she dealt with the situation.

          The thing is, Donna, that if he IS attending a school where they’re setting him up to fail, not having the uniform on would just cause another, worse tantrum in school, where they’d respond much less compassionately than she did (his own feelings on the matter aside, being taken to a hospital is less traumatising than being taken to a hospital and then to court). Sometimes it’s not a matter of picking battles, it’s a matter of choosing to take on the worst of someone’s behaviours to spare them the consequences if they chucked that at someone else. Violent high-behaviourals aren’t trustworthy in the sense of trusting them to not be violent at any given moment, and people have to interact with them that way. Hell, SHE has to interact with him that way; otherwise, fuck knows, she might wake up to one of her other kids bleeding on the floor, or a pet eviscerated, or other issues that are classic and consistent with such children.

          He needs long-term in-patient care. Away from a chaotic environment (three other kids in the house counts as a chaotic environment) and a stressed, anxious mother. Honestly, if I could magically help this mother I’d pay for her to be able to put him in care, where he can be safe – and her other kids too. But the way people are demonising her and the school system in the total absence of evidence is just not okay.

        30. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

          Mac, by disagreeing with one aspect of how she’s handling the situation I meant her putting his photo up to illustrate her blog post, not anything else. That’s what I disagree with. And I’ll bet she wouldn’t have done it if her son looked like Gollum instead of, as you put it, a little blond angel holding a butterfly (right before he crushed it, no doubt). She wanted to highlight the contrast.

        31. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

          Sorry, Donna, I thought this:

          Plus, I get that parenting him isn’t easy, but she sure as hell isn’t making it any easier on herself by going to war with him over what color pants he wears

          was the part you were disagreeing with. I’m sorry I’m repeatedly misreading you/this, I’m just really angry over how this woman (and Ms Lanza) are being treated in the media and it’s just…ugh.

          (that said, the fact that she’s giving further interviews and compromising her son’s privacy even more is leaving a very bad taste in my mouth now. One outpouring on a blog that had >10 comments a post, and 30 posts or so in the last two years – that was a personal thing, a moment of venting a very deep fear. Now she’s publicising, and I have different feelings about that.)

        32. Shadow
          Shadow December 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

          @EG

          My mistake, I had missed that. I was under the impression that she only feared (rightfully) that he was a danger to her and her family. In that case, I have no issue with what she’s done

          @Mac

          Because mothers aren’t allowed to be afraid of their child, EG, dontcha know. All mommies everywhere love and only ever love their children, who are of course perfect little angels! And if those kids aren’t angels, it’s probably the mother’s fault anyway, so fuck her. It’s not like kids ever threaten or terrorise or abuse or kill their parents or anything. Now let’s get back to discussing Adam Lanza, who clearly proves all these things are true!

          Uhm no, I have all the sympathy in the world for her. I would support her doing whatever she needed to, to keep herself and her other children safe. My only issue with it was that I hadn’t realised that she thought that he was a public danger. I have seen what happens to kids who are outed to their community as mentally ill and it’s always been horrific. I support her doing whatever she has to to keep herself and her family safe, even if it means that she has to seperate him from them. The only thing I don’t support is mentally ill people being outed to their community unless the community needs to know, because I have yet to see the community that would help the problem, rather than be the problem.

        33. Shadow
          Shadow December 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

          @EG

          My mistake, I had missed that. I was under the impression that she only feared (rightfully) that he was a danger to her and her family. In that case, I have no issue with what she’s done

          @Mac

          Because mothers aren’t allowed to be afraid of their child, EG, dontcha know. All mommies everywhere love and only ever love their children, who are of course perfect little angels! And if those kids aren’t angels, it’s probably the mother’s fault anyway, so fuck her. It’s not like kids ever threaten or terrorise or abuse or kill their parents or anything. Now let’s get back to discussing Adam Lanza, who clearly proves all these things are true!

          Uhm no, I have all the sympathy in the world for her. I would support her doing whatever she needed to, to keep herself and her other children safe. My only issue with it was that I hadn’t realised that she thought that he was a public danger. I have seen what happens to kids who are outed to their community as mentally ill and it’s always been horrific. I support her doing whatever she has to to keep herself and her family safe, even if it means that she has to seperate him from them. The only thing I don’t support is mentally ill people being outed to their community unless the community needs to know, because I have yet to see the community that would help the problem, rather than be the problem.

        34. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

          The only thing I don’t support is mentally ill people being outed to their community unless the community needs to know.

          Well, I don’t know. If someone had informed my mother that my abuser had a long history of erratic moods, explosive tantrums and sexualised violence against women, I don’t think she would have let me spend ten years getting groped by him at every opportunity because she bought into the Happy Family myth that others handed her with a totally united face. I think if people stopped pretending that my grandmother’s not a vengeful, depressed, narcissistic asshole, my mother wouldn’t be stuck with her while everyone makes jokes about how elderly people are so adorably cranky. The community can’t know shit until the family starts talking.

        35. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm |

          http://wonkette.com/493344/sorry-everyone-now-we-are-not-allowed-to-talk-about-mental-health-either

          Maybe Liza Long, who wrote about her violent son, is a lying monster who only cares about pageviews. Or maybe she is at the end of her rope, and her “media tour” I’m seeing ripped apart online springs from actually trying to get help for families like hers. What the fuck do you know about it, you nasty fucking mean girls on Twitter?

        36. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie December 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

          Yay, macavity and pheeno. 100%.

      2. chava
        chava December 17, 2012 at 2:48 am |

        Oh ffs.

        But it pains me to read her account of their conversations, where her response to his fear and anger and frustration is not to help him find ways to cope with those emotions, but rather to increase his frustration, fear, and anger by punishing him.

        “Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

        “You know where we are going,” I replied.

        “No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

        The 13-yr old had just threatened to kill himself by throwing himself from a moving vehicle. She had previously warned him (AFTER HE THREATENED TO KILL HER AND HIMSELF WITH A KITCHEN KINFE) that if he said these words again, she would take him to the hospital.

        You tell me wtf you think she was supposed to do and how this is “punishing him” rather than doing the only thing she could reasonably do, and being impressively consistent about her parental behavior, at that.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 2:59 am |

          You tell me wtf you think she was supposed to do and how this is “punishing him” rather than doing the only thing she could reasonably do, and being impressively consistent about her parental behavior, at that.

          Look, everything about this woman’s account of her life (having read about a year’s worth of back posts on her blog) and of her son’s troubles in the post in question makes me suspect that he is the identified patient in this family. Apparently there has been a messy divorce; possibly abuse from her ex-husband (it’s unclear); custody disputes, financial troubles, etc etc. There has been trauma in this family. It would be surprising to me if one of her children were not acting out.

          While this mother’s parenting may be “impressively consistent” in the limited sample we have (all her own account, btw), I wonder how many of her attempts to deal with her son’s emotional problems have taken place in moments of crisis… of course when your son is at the point of throwing himself out of a car, or stabbing you with a knife, you are in crisis mode; you go to a hospital, call the police etc. But you do not teach people – children – how to handle their own terrifying feelings of anger and frustration when they are in crisis. You teach people behavioral modification and emotion regulation when they are subthreshold, when they are not feeling extreme emotion.

          Finally, I will say that I have allowed my personal experiences to color my interpretation of this article. When I read the snippet I quoted above, I thought of my own terror and rage at being locked up in a mental hospital, against my will, during arguments with my parents. The experience was intensely traumatic; it was a worse and more traumatic experience for me than being raped.

        2. chava
          chava December 17, 2012 at 3:06 am |

          I haven’t combed through her blog, but I will suggest that the trauma, divorce and all, may have been caused by the child’s illness as much as anything else.

          I’m not in their family, and I don’t know. I also fully recognize your point that mental institutions are fucking horrible places.

          I got a little trigger-y myself on this one–the idea of being utterly trapped in a living situation with a violent (if young) man tweaked me right out.

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra December 17, 2012 at 3:15 am |

          This post, from several years back (about the same son, if my age math is correct) provides some context:

          Writing about a hearing in which her son testified that his father and stepmother had abused him.

        4. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 5:50 am |

          And sometimes people are the identified patient because there is something deeply wrong with them. It is horrible to grow up with a fucked-up sibling, particularly when nobody will acknowledge that there is something wrong and abnormal about them. This is not normal acting out.

          You talk about how she’s supposed to teach him to process his negative feelings. Well, how? She’s reached out to therapists and social workers. They’re not helping. Is she supposed to magically just know how to reach this kid?

          Being committed against your will is horrible. What is her alternative here? And what if she just happens to be reporting accurately, and her kid is a danger to her and to his siblings?

          Personally, from my experience, I think that she is doing her other children a real service by acknowledging the problems with this child rather than pretending he’s within the range of “normal.”

          People blog about their families all the time, and they do so with a level of public detail that I personally would not be comfortable doing. But it’s quite common, and I think that picking on this mother specifically for a pretty common cultural practice is not fair.

        5. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |

          I’m sorry, EG. I understand what you’re saying, and I get how hard that is — my former spouse has a younger sister who had very serious issues growing up (and thereafter, although they haven’t communicated for years), and I know how difficult that was for her, and their parents. (It’s still very difficult for their mother, my son’s grandmother, and she’s in her 80’s now.)

          I feel sad for everyone in this woman’s family.

          People blog about their families all the time, and they do so with a level of public detail that I personally would not be comfortable doing. But it’s quite common,

          We’ll have to agree to disagree about this. Sure, people blog about their families all the time. But if their real names are known (like this blogger’s), and they’re going to talk about their disturbed child and imply that he’s a potential mass murderer, they don’t usually put up his photograph. Changing the kid’s first name is not exactly an effective device to preserve his privacy. As I said, he’s 13, not 3, and this is going to follow him forever. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong. The photo was completely unnecessary.

          (It’s in a different universe, but I distinctly remember how furious my son was when he was about 12, when my ex and I were in the middle of the divorce, when he and I got up one Sunday morning and were reading the New York Times and one of us found an article in the New Jersey section about divorcing parents and their kids, which talked about both of us, using his real name and my then-real name; the article was written by a friend of my ex’s. Neither of us had any idea the article was going to appear. My son may have been only 12, but I can assure everyone that he already had a very highly-developed sense of privacy, and felt that it had been seriously violated. And what was said about us was relatively innocuous, certainly compared to what this woman says about her son.)

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 11:29 am |

          Donna, I hear you on the breach of privacy thing. I’ve had personal correspondence published without my consent, and recommended to everyone around me before they bothered to tell me about it.

          However. I’ve also written things about people who’ve abused me that I wouldn’t necessarily want following them around the internet forever. Things I’ve forgiven them for. That said, writing itself was therapeutic. Writing about what I was going through was the only reason I managed to stay sane a hell of a lot of times. So I shouldn’t have done that because The Fee-Fees of someone who was hurting me? X’s asshattery does not require Y’s silence just because well, we can’t talk about X, that would be rude.

          (Of course, if she never talked about her son, never documented anything, and he DID go off the deep end, cue blaming her for never getting enough help, never telling anyone, of course she was abusing him, so irresponsible not to tell everyone he was a risk, what a horrible woman eleventy. And please, please don’t tell me that doesn’t happen. Fuck, Ms Lanza got KILLED and she’s still catching flak for her son’s murderous behaviour.)

        7. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |

          I absolutely agree that blogging in that detail about the family, complete with photograph, is, well, questionable, to say the least. I just think that it’s so very common at this point–and it’s something I wouldn’t do at all, for a variety of reasons (I don’t want photos of the kids I love on the internet because God knows who could get hold of them and use them for what, for one thing)–that I can’t hold this particular woman any more at fault than any of the others.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 11:34 am |

          Also, Donna, she’s posted pictures of her kids previously, as I pointed out. Anyone could hunt down a picture of that boy anyway; if you know what you’re doing, even her removing those pictures before making this post wouldn’t make a difference. (And I’m not talking advanced hacking or anything; I’m talking “knows to use the wayback machine” levels of knowledge.) Might as well post another picture to make the point clear.

          And if posting pictures of your family is a thing one does not do anymore, I guess Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram can all pack their bags and go home?

        9. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. December 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm |

          Yes. I mean this is the reason I’ve remained anonymous here even though I would prefer it otherwise. I’ve shared information about the horrible things I’ve experienced and I choose to maintain the privacy of the people who’ve abused me. Its a terrible form of self-imposed isolation and one of the ways in which social pressures are used to hide abuse. People have to be allowed to talk about their experiences. It sucks and I’ve been on the other side of it too. One of my abusers has talked publicly, using my real name, about what a horrible person I am, and people do believe her. But on balance, I think its more important that we be allowed to talk about our experiences and get the emotional support and validation we need than it is to protect another person’s privacy (with respect to non-medical/non-life threatening information of course).

        10. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. December 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

          Blast it. I meant to blockquote this:

          However. I’ve also written things about people who’ve abused me that I wouldn’t necessarily want following them around the internet forever. Things I’ve forgiven them for. That said, writing itself was therapeutic. Writing about what I was going through was the only reason I managed to stay sane a hell of a lot of times. So I shouldn’t have done that because The Fee-Fees of someone who was hurting me? X’s asshattery does not require Y’s silence just because well, we can’t talk about X, that would be rude.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

          Thanks, Kristen.

          . Its a terrible form of self-imposed isolation and one of the ways in which social pressures are used to hide abuse. People have to be allowed to talk about their experiences.

          Well, yes, but there’s this narrative of Appropriate Abuser and Inappropriate Abuser happening here, see. Kids can’t possibly abuse parents – the parents must be lying, or secretly the abusers themselves!!, or just horrible people ruining their kids’ lives for funsies. However, she could have made exactly the same assertions about a boyfriend and been not only universally believed but probably supported. Mothers talking about violent children is dangerous because then they’re not Perfect Moms anymore, and if we acknowledge that women might be parenting properly and STILL their kids have extreme needs, well, then… dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, or something.

          And speaking as someone who’s survivor-blogged, briefly, I find this roaring insistence that this woman should just shut up to be both insulting and disturbing. I thought this was a community where we trust women. Or does that not count when there’s a cute blond-and-big-eyed child involved?

        12. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

          I too am disturbed by what seems like a condemnation of this mother for talking openly. It seems like some people (and Donna, I’m not including you here–I’m talking about comments on her blog post, mainly, and some on Jezebel, Alexandra’s comments, and Shadow’s position that it would be better for her to seek help even more anonymously than she is doing) find it more distressing that she’s not covering up for her son, not willing to sacrifice her experience of truth and need for emotional support, than they do that he is disturbed, violent, and threatening. But what is going to happen to her when he goes through puberty? Why aren’t we worried about her as well as her other kids?

          It feels like yet another narrative whereby a woman is supposed to cover up and suffer for a male family member who is abusive. Why wouldn’t we assume she was telling the truth? Why is it OK to condemn her for not talking about this anonymously enough? We would if she were talking about any other relative. Do we really think it is so impossible for any child to abuse, manipulate, and threaten a parent?

          In the other thread, mac and Donna convinced me that I had veered off to an extreme with respect to men who commit violence against women and letting our society off the hook. They were both right. But situations like this one, kids like hers and like the ones profiled in that NYT article were precisely the ones I was thinking of, and when it comes to that kind of sociopathy, I still think that some people are wired wrong and that’s that. Going to the other extreme of assuming that all violent people are suffering products of society who can be changed with the right combination of therapy, respect, and love is, I think, as incorrect as my previous position that environment is immaterial was.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |

          It feels like yet another narrative whereby a woman is supposed to cover up and suffer for a male family member who is abusive. Why wouldn’t we assume she was telling the truth? Why is it OK to condemn her for not talking about this anonymously enough? We would if she were talking about any other relative. Do we really think it is so impossible for any child to abuse, manipulate, and threaten a parent?

          Whoo boy. guess we’re braintwins right now.

          But situations like this one, kids like hers and like the ones profiled in that NYT article were precisely the ones I was thinking of, and when it comes to that kind of sociopathy, I still think that some people are wired wrong and that’s that.

          I think that you’re right, EG. Some people are just born wrong. (Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the huge correlation between physical and sexual abuse in the Lisak study prove that the connection goes the other way too?)

        14. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

          Oh, and yes. Seconding EG in that I don’t see that condemnation in your posts, Donna. I forgot to mention and it’s kind of important given my other comments above.

        15. Donna L
          Donna L December 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

          what is going to happen to her when he goes through puberty? Why aren’t we worried about her as well as her other kids?

          I’m sure the future terrifies her. I know a number of parents who’ve admitted to me (something nobody likes to admit, because people assume you’re a bad parent) that their child, at the age of 11-12 or younger, has hit and/or kicked them during tantrums. I know it’s hardly a desirable situation, but it’s not like it actually presents physical danger to the parent except in very unusual circumstances.

          It’s a very different thing when the kid is 16 or 17, or worse yet in their 20’s, and towers over and outweighs the parent, and continues to be physically violent in exactly the same way they were when they were 8 years old. I know people to whom that’s happened, and it’s terrifying. But I know that some of them wouldn’t report it if their kid stabbed them or hit them over the head with a baseball bat; they’d pretend it was some kind of accident. I understand where they’re coming from; if my son were like that, I can’t swear that I would report it either.

        16. Shadow
          Shadow December 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |

          Since the relevant conversation seems to be going on here, I’m going to address Mac’s reply to me here as well.
          My initial response was because I was under the mistaken belief that we had no indication of whether or not he was a public threat. Since she does, I am in full support of her outing him.
          The rest of this response is an explanation of why I would not be in support of her outing him (or atleast, why I’m currently wary of) if she did not believe he was a public threat.
          I do agree that she is being abused by her son, but to me this isn’t the same as the usual scenarios for two reasons. First, in both situations that Mac described, she’s talking about two adult abusers that the victims are trying to get away from. whereas in this case it involves a mother and a child whom she intends to continue to raise in the same community she’s in right now. I think I wouldn’t feel so conflicted if she was intending to put him into the system. Which leads to my second reason. Because she intends to continue to raise him, he’s going to have no choice but to grow up in this community while everyone knows about his mental illness and struggles. In usual abuse scenarios we want the perpetrator to face appropriate jailtime and to be ostracized from the community in which the victim stays. In this case, the community knows about his illness, which WILL lead to ostracization and, more likely than not, bullying and/or abuse/assault, and as a 13 yr old kid he has no means to remove himself from that situation.
          I do take both of your point that his mother having to try and maintain anonymity could very easily lead to social isolation for her. At the end of the day his mother IS the victim. Maybe this is just one of those situations where I have to shrug my shoulders and say sucks to be you, because although he is victim to a disease, he is in turn victimising others, I’m just having a hard time doing it.

        17. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

          I think I wouldn’t feel so conflicted if she was intending to put him into the system. Which leads to my second reason. Because she intends to continue to raise him, he’s going to have no choice but to grow up in this community while everyone knows about his mental illness and struggles.

          “Putting him in the system” means getting him convicted of a crime and sent to jail, according to her social worker. She’s not choosing freely among a variety of options that would include, say, a nearby in-patient treatment facility where he would no longer be a threat to her and her other children but where she could spend time with him every day. It’s not like she’s saying “Oh, other options are available, I’ve decided to keep him at home because this is what’s best.” The only other option offered her has been jail. This is her community. She needs support.

        18. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

          But I know that some of them wouldn’t report it if their kid stabbed them or hit them over the head with a baseball bat; they’d pretend it was some kind of accident. I understand where they’re coming from; if my son were like that, I can’t swear that I would report it either.

          I know, Donna, believe me, I know. My great-grandmother wouldn’t allow a word to be said against my grandmother, even when she was in her 80s and my grandmother hit her over the head. It’s so painful.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm |

          Shadow, I see where you’re coming from much better now. Yeah, I don’t think we’re disagreeing. Other than that, what EG said.

          I know a number of parents who’ve admitted to me (something nobody likes to admit, because people assume you’re a bad parent) that their child, at the age of 11-12 or younger, has hit and/or kicked them during tantrums.

          Yes. First they’re anxious they’ll be called a bad parent. Then they’ll think nobody’s going to believe them because they’ve spent so much time talking about how their kids are PERFECT. Then they’ll think nobody will believe that kids can be violent. Then they’ll think people will laugh at them for being afraid of a child. Then they’ll think people will be angry that they didn’t talk sooner, before the child hurt them. Finally they’ll think people will demonise them for being secretly abusive, because how else do kids go wrong?

          Of course, the fact that they’ll be right every time might have something to do with why parents just don’t talk about this.

      3. karak
        karak December 17, 2012 at 3:24 am |

        My step-brother was a horrific nightmare of a child. My mother was afraid he was going to hurt me–and he did. She was afraid of him around other people and his violent, dangerous acts got him kicked out of school.

        She begged the police, she begged institutions, schools, therapists, anyone, for anything to either make him normal or put him some place where she was no longer responsible for the violent, dangerous acts he committed. She had zero control over him.

        Literally no one would help us or help him. They told her she needed to “work harder” or “love him more” or “give him time” because, of course, it wasn’t their daughters that were getting deafened in one ear or strangled, and they were very sure that since they dealt with him a few hours a week they totally understood.

        You could be right that there’s something off about the way she projects her son. But unless you grew up with a kid like that in the house–not being that kid, but being afraid of that kid–you don’t know what it’s like.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune December 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

      I appreciate that we need better screening and greater access to mental health services, but if we only talk about this whenever some asshole picks up a gun and shoots up whatever is accessible, it will only increase the stigma against those of us with mental health issues.

      This. This so very hard.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra December 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |

        So often what people mean by “greater mental health services” is more state run long-term psychiatric hospitals.

        Deinstitutionalization has worked out very, very badly in this country, but it happened for a reason – the state psychiatric hospitals were often hellish places full of abuse. It was routine up into the 60s and 70s, for instance, to carry out mass clinical trials on vaccines on disabled children in psych hospitals, just as a for instance.

        Supposedly community mental health centers were supposed to take the place of the psychiatric hospitals. There was supposed to be a continuum of care, with long-term hospitals for the severely mentally ill that could care for those who were chronically and extremely disabled, and for the acutely ill. Then you would have halfway houses, assisted living facilities with regular outreach from a social worker and close longterm psychiatric and psychological care. And all of this would scale down to give people a range of services based on the level of need and disability.

        These mental health centers actually exist in a very few places in this country, and they are crowded, overextended and underfunded. Reagan era cuts to funding are a part of the problem, but frankly no one since Reagan has cared to reinstate such funding, because as a society we are all too willing to put our mentally ill in prisons, or to walk by them as they huddle in corners on the street or beg for change.

        Speaking as someone who has good health insurance, it took me two years to get a diagnosis because it took me two years – two years! – to find an outpatient psychiatrist who actually had room for a new patient. I was in hospital three times before a social worker actually placed me with an outpatient psychiatrist. And I have had good health insurance throughout!

        For someone on medicaid, the situation is grave: it may take months post-hospitalization or arrest to actually see a psychiatrist, and that psychiatrist will probably only see you for a half-hour initial session and fifteen minutes thereafter, spaced sometimes as much as three months apart… and close followup by a social worker or regular individual or group therapy is very, very hard to come by.

        Not every place has a NAMI organization doing support groups or peer-to-peer education, and support groups are really only useful for people who are high enough functioning to find their way to a meeting. In much of this country, mental health care is essentially unavailable.

        Further reading, for those interested:

        Madness in the Streets : How Psychiatry and the Law Abandoned the Mentally Ill, E Fuller Torrey

        Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness Pete Earley.

        I will note that, as someone with a mental illness, I found both of the books at times extremely alienating, because neither author considers for a moment that a high-functioning mentally ill person might read their work — the attitude is very much “How do we help these poor benighted souls.” But there’s good info in both of them.

      2. karak
        karak December 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

        My concern is who the people who run these programs. I honestly don’t think there are enough people in the country who can adequately staff a good outreach, assisted living, or home-care program.

        I mean, it’s not a job where you can give someone a little training and set them loose. I worry that even if we have more money, a variety of need/care facilities and programs, and an army of psychiatrists and counselors, we still won’t have the ground floor staff. It always eats away at me when we talk about mental health needs–we need people and I’m not sure they’re out there,

    3. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

      Instead, when I hear people say that after any tragedy, I hear, “PA, keep your mouth closed about your PTSD. Imma try to roll back your rights.”

      It’s disheartening.

      I suppose its cold comfort to say that your reality testing is dead on here?

      All I can say is that I hear the same thing and I’m trying my damnedest to do what little I can on the inside to prevent it.

  16. amblingalong
    amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

    Honestly, the only thing to do here is reserve judgement about motivations and causes until there’s more information (there may never be more information, to be fair). That means not blaming mental illness, and it also means not immediately trying to turn this case into more evidence for the sociological theory du joure. I’m pretty much the last person in the world to deny the existence of white male entitlement, but there’s something kind of… gross, I guess… about the rush to make this shooting evidence for the rightness of our politics before we actually know what happened.

    This isn’t aimed at any particular person.

    1. Jadey
      Jadey December 16, 2012 at 4:16 pm |

      I agree that we have no idea what happened in this particular case. But there have been so many incidents of mass violence, we’re not just talking about the recent one. At least my comments were meant to be directed that way. Whether or not this particular case fits the same trend (it may very well not – it’s impossible to tell at this point), I think we would see fewer incidents overall if the sublimation of entitlement into violence could be countered. Far more than if we locked up mentally-ill people (which would surely only result in more violence toward the mentally ill). Perhaps more than if we increased gun control.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |

        Whether or not this particular case fits the same trend (it may very well not – it’s impossible to tell at this point), I think we would see fewer incidents overall if the sublimation of entitlement into violence could be countered. Far more than if we locked up mentally-ill people (which would surely only result in more violence toward the mentally ill).

        No argument from me- I really was not aiming my comments at you or any other specific person. I guess I’m just a bit overwhelmed by all the people (again, not just here, and not even particularly here) rushing to make sure this latest tragedy is a perfect data point in whatever social theory they happen to espouse, before anyone really knows what happened.

        Perhaps more than if we increased gun control.

        I actually have zero faith in gun control legislation to accomplish anything at all, considering how many guns we have floating around in this country, and how unlikely it is that the subset of people most likely to go on shooting sprees are part of the subset that would surrender their weapons on demand. Unless we ban both domestic manufacturing and the importation of firearms, and then wait for eighty years or a century for the (literally) hundreds of millions of guns already in private possession to break down, its just not going to happen (obviously such a law would never, ever be passed). The only laws we’ve ever passed have been either incremental (you can have a 9 inch barrel but not 6 inch; 13 round magazines but not 16 round) or against things that aren’t actually particularly dangerous but look scary like thumbhole stocks, and those laws have had essentially zero effect even when they’re enforced.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey December 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

          Yeah, I’m not convinced on the effectiveness of gun controls in a USian context. Even if it’s worked elsewhere, there’s an additional factor at play in the US in terms of the widespread embrace of household weaponry (as a Canadian, I honestly do not understand the desire to have a weapon in the home for anything other than an interest in ballistics physics and the skill of shooting). I’m not sure I want to rule it out, but I feel like either way this latest was not the test case.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2012 at 8:02 pm |

          We’re not talking about hundreds of millions of guns. Everyone who wants to be defeatist about the possibility of achieving anything always brings that up, as if it’s all or nothing and if you can’t do all, then do nothing.

          What people are really talking about is limited to outlawing the kind of firearms, such as the semi-automatic weapons that seem to get used in every single one of these mass murders, that permit someone to fire large numbers of rounds per minute without stopping, reloading, etc. That’s it. It’s a lot harder to kill 28 people when you have to pull the trigger every time and reload, etc. Please don’t tell me that’s “impossible.” Is it perfect? No. Is there any guarantee that buyback programs will get them out of private hands? No. But god damn it, it’s something, and at least it would prevent future mass murderers (and I fail to see why that’s an inappropriate term) from buying them at a gun store. And as politically difficult as even that might be to accomplish, it’s not impossible, and I hate it when people talk as if it is.

        3. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date December 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm |

          I actually have zero faith in gun control legislation to accomplish anything at all,

          So let’s not even bother trying?

          Is the US really so exceptional?

        4. Jadey
          Jadey December 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound defeatist. I’m not sure it *wouldn’t* work and I certainly think it’s worth trying. But I’ve seen people bring up bans that appear to have worked in other countries and don’t take into account that such policies are not always so easily transferred. From a program/policy design perspective, the issue is recognizing that you can’t import wholesale the policy that has worked in an utterly different context (fwiw, *every* country is different – it’s not that the US is more different than anywhere else – it’s just different in its own way) and assume that it will work the same way. Instead, you have to figure out what would *make* it work in the US, which might include a serious culture battle to some extent to lay the groundwork for the appropriate policy.

          So for the record, I don’t believe it’s impossible or that the US is “fucked”, as according to the commenter below, and I’m sorry for my really poor wording before.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |

          What people are really talking about is limited to outlawing the kind of firearms, such as the semi-automatic weapons that seem to get used in every single one of these mass murders, that permit someone to fire large numbers of rounds per minute without stopping, reloading, etc. That’s it. It’s a lot harder to kill 28 people when you have to pull the trigger every time and reload, etc.

          Not to be a jerk, but “pulling the trigger every time” is the definition of semi-automatic.

          As far as reloading goes, a glock 17 has a 17 round capacity, and is probably the most common 9mm pistol in the US (and what the connecticut shooter used, AFAIK); the Bushmaster .223 rifle he used most likely had a 30 round magazine, which is typical for AR-15 style rifles.

          My point is that the ability to fire 28 rounds without reloading is not particularly rare for an AR-15 style rifle, and 15 rounds is perfectly normal for a semi-automatic pistol, and those two types of firearms are a massive percentage of the US’ 230 million guns. It’s not just a small subset we can ban, if we want to prevent people from using weapons comparable to the connecticut shooter.

          I don’t mean to sound defeatist, but yeah, the policy implications are pretty staggering. I don’t think you and I have particularly different beliefs or values, but I really do believe you’re underestimating the scale of what you (we, really) want to accomplish, even if it was politically feasible enacted the most stringent gun laws in the world.

  17. Lyanna
    Lyanna December 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm |

    The “mental illness” claim seems to be a prescriptive or tautological assumption. Anyone who does this MUST be mentally ill, so the argument goes–no normal nice white boy does stuff like this. Obviously whatever drove him to do it can have nothing to do with general social problems.

    It’s a convenient set of assumptions that lets us ignore the toxic effects of misogyny and white privilege.

  18. Lyanna
    Lyanna December 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

    Also, I find it darkly hilarious that people who think gun control is an infringement of their sacred liberty are also the first to suggest that the solution is keeping guns out of the hands of the “mentally ill.”

    As if the mentally ill are a discrete and easily identifiable group, and as if there’s no potential for governmental overreach in identifying such people and, on the basis of their labeling as mentally ill, restricting their rights.

    The rights of white men to carry semiautomatics is sacred; the rights of the mentally ill to basic privacy? Not so much.

    1. ready for change
      ready for change December 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm |

      The rights of white men to carry semiautomatics is sacred; the rights of the mentally ill to basic privacy? Not so much.

      As long as male privildge remains intact, we’ll contort our thinking every which way and throw any number of ‘lesser’ sectors of society under the bus.

      1. yes
        yes December 17, 2012 at 6:01 am |

        Christ. I know male privilege is a phrase with an almost universal adapter to it, but there’s no way you’re not aware that many, many mentally ill people are white males.

  19. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

    Also, can we talk about how much fucking blame his MOTHER (you know, the one he shot dead) is getting for having guns in the house?

    What. The. Fuck.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L December 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

      Nobody that I know of is blaming her for what her son did, but do you really think it’s just fine and dandy that she had semi-automatic weapons in her house that weren’t kept locked up and taught her kids to use?

      1. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable December 16, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

        Am I for gun control? Yes. I really do not see the need for people to have guns, and the laws that make it possible for people to have guns in the US are, as far as I’m concerned, no longer justifiable.

        But as much as I abhor guns, it IS legal to own them, and she DID own them legally. I sincerely doubt she thought her son was going to murder her and 26 other people. If she did, I would agree that it would have been irresponsible to leave them lying around, but I also doubt she would have left them lying around if that were the case.

        So no. I do not think she did a single thing wrong, based on what little has been reported in the media thus far, even if I would have made other choices myself. I also think that he would have gotten guns any other way if she didn’t have this hobby (like actually waiting out the wait period had he no other alternative).

        Here’s some comment threads with good old victim-blaming: from Gothamist, CNN, and I’m guessing pretty much any other article that talks about his mother.

        1. DSJ
          DSJ December 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

          I think we should shift the discussion away from this mother towards more general messages that people are getting, namely, the idea that having a gun makes you safer or prepares you for the worst. Statistically, it does not, quite the opposite. Those who have guns at home are actually putting themselves at greater risk and are much more likely to get shot. I think this woman may have been the victim of misleading messages that are out there about guns.

          As my comment suggests though, I do think there is more to discuss here about just what is legal or illegal. Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it smart.

      2. Angie unduplicated
        Angie unduplicated December 18, 2012 at 10:31 am |

        No, it is not fine, and in many places, it’s illegal to have unsecured guns in a house where minors reside.
        I’m having a difficult time reconciling the babysitter’s statement and the obvious case of Mama taking the future killer to the shooting range.
        All of these guns should have had trigger locks and been in a locked gun safe, and the keys kept away from children.
        Hate to sound simplistic, but “Born to Be Bad” isn’t just the title of a George Thorogood mp3.

        1. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable December 19, 2012 at 8:45 am |

          No, it is not fine, and in many places, it’s illegal to have unsecured guns in a house where minors reside.

          Are 20-year-olds minors in your neck of the world? Curious why this is relevant.

    2. Really?
      Really? December 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm |

      There is clear evidence that her son had some sort of mental illness. She didn’t just keep guns in the house – she was a doomsday prepper. The end of the world is nigh, type stuff.

      http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/12/adam-lanzas-mother-was-an-avid-gun-collector.html

      If she was alive right now, I hope she would be prosecuted.

      1. EG
        EG December 17, 2012 at 6:02 am |

        For what, precisely, should she be prosecuted?

        1. Really?
          Really? December 17, 2012 at 11:38 am |

          Grooming and child abuse.

        2. Esti
          Esti December 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

          “Grooming” is not a crime. Child abuse certainly is, but I haven’t read anything that suggests that she was abusive toward her son. Do I think it’s a terrible, terrible idea for people to keep firearms in their home, regardless whether they have a son with behavioral problems? Yes. But is it a crime? Not if the guns are secured in whatever manner (if any) Connecticut law required.

          Which is why people are discussing legal reform. It doesn’t appear that anything about this situation, up until the point Adam Lanza pulled the trigger on a gun, was illegal.

        3. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm |

          Grooming? Grooming how, precisely? You mean raising her kids with the values she believes are important?

          And you got any evidence that she abused the kid?

      2. EG
        EG December 17, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

        There’s no evidence in that article you link to, by the way, that Adam Lanza clearly had a mental illness.

      3. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable December 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

        “Clear evidence” that you haven’t provided. And also, that article cites that most people thought she was a normal mom. Exactly one person, Holmes, thought she was possibly sketch.

        Color my unimpressed.

        Donna, here’s some mom-blaming at Feministe, in case you didn’t have a chance to look at those other threads.

      4. Donna L
        Donna L December 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

        If this article is to be believed, then the mother and father sound to me like they were both good parents who wanted to do what was best for their son:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/nancy-lanza-peter-lanza-divorce_n_2316461.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

  20. Weekly Feminist Reader: Newtown Shooting Edition

    […] reminder that mentally ill people are not more likely to be violent than any other group. Some more facts and resources from s.e. smith. Plus, any speculation on Lanza’s mental […]

  21. Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic)
    Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic) December 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

    It’s easy for people who think mental illness is someone else’s problem–and not one that effects or can effect them or their loved ones–to rationalize these things.

    It’s also so very cowardly not look at ALL the factors here.

    I’m autistic so this tragedy to effecting me and my fellow autistics pretty heavily as there’s been claims Lanza had autism and now autism is being widely conflated with things it is not, like mental illness, personality disorders and a higher propensity for violence directed at others. Except anyone who actually knows autistics and anything about autism knows that’s all utterly false. Do some autistics have angry outburst? Yeah. It’s usually pent up frustration and sensory overload that just overflows and once the person vents it, they can get control of themselves again. But what autistics don’t typically do is harbor grudges and vendettas, or plan ways to get society back for some [perceived slight against them. We as a group are not like that at all. That’s something else. Can an individual with autism have whatever causes someone to think society owes them and that to get society back, they should go on a killing rampage? Reasonably, one can sat yes. But there’s no indication that autistics are any more likely to have that disordered view of society and their own entitlements than the much larger portion of the population without autism. None.

    Same too of the mentally ill. Same too for autistics who also have an mental illness.

    So if autistics and the mentally ill are off the table, where does this disordered sense of entitlement come from? Perhaps we can find clues in how in cultures that experience rampage killings that the perpetrators are overwhelming male and belong to that society’s dominant ethnic and/or racial group. Ding ding ding. Let’s start talking honestly about that, about how gender and ethnic/racial privilege appears to be playing a role in these individuals’ distorted sense of entitlement, instead of just zeroing in on an already vulnerable and marginalized group, such as the mentally ill and autistics.

    1. ready for change
      ready for change December 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |

      Here, here!

    2. A4
      A4 December 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm |

      Thank you for writing this comment!

      1. Angie unduplicated
        Angie unduplicated December 18, 2012 at 10:55 am |

        Humans are predators, whether by genetics or environment. As predators, any sense of entitlement will result in some of these treating the subject/stigmatized group as prey.
        The existence of gonzo porn, to use one example, indicates that violence can be/is a sexual stimulant to men. Calling this evil or ethically bankrupt is not at all politically incorrect in a world where the only god these men possess is St Peter, and his temple and worship are behind the trouser fly. This is only one possible answer to the histories cited by DonnaL, but it is a likely one.

  22. Alphabet
    Alphabet December 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    When the NRA starts lobbying for more funding to mental health care, then I will believe the gun lobby actually thinks mental illness is a concern. For now, I believe it is just being used as a distraction.

  23. Liz
    Liz December 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

    The only thing that will stop this terrible carnage is banning handguns, semi-automatics and automatics. But, has been pointed out, it’s never going to happen in the USA. So sorry to say, but I think you’re fucked. There’s just going to be more of these massacres. There’ll be tears and prayers, discussions and debates, but nothing will change while the USA holds into this strange and bewildering belief that owning a gun is an inalienable right.

    1. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date December 16, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

      Liz, actually, I do not perceive you as being very sorry about saying this.

      But as an American with a first-grader, I may be overly sensitive right now.

      1. Liz
        Liz December 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |

        The only thing that will stop this terrible carnage is banning handguns, semi-automatics and automatics. But, has been pointed out, it’s never going to happen in the USA. So sorry to say, but I think you’re fucked. There’s just going to be more of these massacres. There’ll be tears and prayers, discussions and debates, but nothing will change while the USA holds into this strange and bewildering belief that owning a gun is an inalienable right.

        Well, I can’t see a solution. Can you? I’m being blunt, but I am sorry about it.

    2. Safiya Outlines
      Safiya Outlines December 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |

      Past – Speaking as a Non-USian, I find it incredibly horrible (for want of a better word), that no matter how horrific or frequent the rate of mass shootings, nothing ever seems to change with regards to USian gun control.

      Whether it’s due to “freedoms” or defeatism, nothing changes. So to an outsider, it looks like someone repeatedly crashing in the same car.

      I think USians do need to hear that large swathes of the world find owning a gun to be utterly bizarre and unnecessary. That the rate of gun deaths in the US and the failure of politicians to do any thing other then say “how sad” is deplorable.

      I know some may complain about the timing of such statements, but if not now – when?

      1. ready for change
        ready for change December 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |

        I know some may complain about the timing of such statements, but if not now – when?

        Now is when! Tippy-toeing around the gun lobby feelings of the victims’ families isn’t protecting anyone.

      2. EG
        EG December 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm |

        Believe me, we know. Many of us agree. I do not think shfree was unhappy with Liz’s feelings, but with the glibness of her phrasing.

        1. shfree
          shfree December 17, 2012 at 12:04 am |

          Actually, that wasn’t me that responded to her. And I’m definitely on the side of gun control, here.

        2. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 12:08 am |

          Crap. Sorry, shfree. Total brain blank.

      3. konkonsn
        konkonsn December 17, 2012 at 1:21 am |

        I live in IL, the last state in the US to not to allow concealed weapons. And just days before this tragedy, federal appeals court judges struck down that ban.

        I am terrified. People don’t realize how irrational they are on a daily basis. I’m not worried about an anonymous shooter in my workplace or going through a public park. What scares me is that I have to think twice about standing up for myself in public. About confronting some white guy in the grocery store because he says something stupid to me. About making a mistake while I’m driving and causing someone to road rage. About turning down a guy (and then if he finds out it’s because I’m a lesbian? Yeah, women have already been beaten to death for that shit. What would I do against a gun?).

        White men who like gun laws are at the top of the food chain; they are rarely afraid that someone might beat them up for standing their ground, so they don’t even think about what its like for the rest of us who suddenly realize our abusers are going to have better means to “teach us.”

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

          What scares me is that I have to think twice about standing up for myself in public. About confronting some white guy in the grocery store because he says something stupid to me. About making a mistake while I’m driving and causing someone to road rage. About turning down a guy (and then if he finds out it’s because I’m a lesbian?

          I feel your pain. I really do. And I always, always feel grateful, reading these things, that I moved from one regulated country to another. No, it doesn’t stop all violence, but my chances of escaping an enraged guy with a knife vs a gun are so much better.

        2. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah December 18, 2012 at 7:15 pm |

          I think this is so true and worth saying–that straight white dudes with their guns are at the top of the food chain and they don’t seem to perceive the idea of “more guns” to be scary. I am not anti-gun, per se, but the idea of more guns is frightening to me because of what you said: “People don’t realize how irrational they are on a daily basis.” They act like every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a concealed weapon would have the wherewithal to accurately determine a threat exists and to act appropriately in that instance…when what would probably happen is someone would be having a bad day and perceive threats where they did not exist. Um…George Zimmerman, anyone?? I mean Treyvon Martin was not a threat, but you sure couldn’t have convinced George of that fact.

        3. Lyanna
          Lyanna December 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

          I feel for you, I really do. The standard conservative response to your complaint is, well, YOU should be packing heat too! Then you’ll have nothing to fear! Stop being such a sheeple who expects the government to protect you!

          Which is not only all kinds of clueless about the likely response of law enforcement to a lesbian killing a straight white male in self-defense, but it’s also filled with utter contempt for anyone who wants to live in an actual civilization, not a combat zone.

      4. Past my expiration date
        Past my expiration date December 17, 2012 at 6:30 am |

        Past – Speaking as a Non-USian, I find it incredibly horrible (for want of a better word), that no matter how horrific or frequent the rate of mass shootings, nothing ever seems to change with regards to USian gun control.

        Safiya — Speaking as a USian, I find it incredibly horrible too.

      5. Kerry
        Kerry December 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

        I just wanted to echo the characterization of gun ownership as “bizarre and unnecessary.” As a US citizen, I feel the same way, and have always found those who staunchly advocate them for self-defense to be rather paranoid and apocalyptically minded. After all, you wouldn’t need a gun for self-defense if so many other people didn’t have them, right?

        However, my boyfriend is one of those weirdos who owns a gun (I’m working with him on his apocalyptic mindset), and I have to admit having one in the house made me feel safer (it generally makes me feel less safe) recently, after receiving strange and borderline threatening emails from a mentally unstable (per my reading, no official diagnosis) former coworker.

        The key word, though, is FEEL safer: it was probably actually much, much more likely that the gun would go off accidentally or be used against me somehow, or that I’d shoot myself in the foot (literally) if I tried to use it. But, having experienced that elusive feeling of “safety” that gun owners discuss, I can confirm that it feels very real and visceral, even though I know intellectually that it is mostly illusory.

        So gun ownership rests on feelings; gun control rests on facts. Which one is likely to win out in the USA?

    3. yes
      yes December 17, 2012 at 6:11 am |

      Ah, the only thing more frustrating than bullshit is smug bullshit.

      If every gun disappeared from the private sector tomorrow, things like this would still happen. The body count would probably be lower in some/many cases, but you’d still have this kind of thing happening. Mass shootings would be replaced with mass stabbings. Maybe smaller body counts, but it’s not some magic fix. Take a look at the rash of school tragedies in China, for example.

      1. EG
        EG December 17, 2012 at 6:20 am |

        The body count would probably be lower in some/many cases, but you’d still have this kind of thing happening. Mass shootings would be replaced with mass stabbings. Maybe smaller body counts, but it’s not some magic fix.

        You know what? I’d be fucking delighted with lower body counts. That’s the goddamn point. God forbid the children I love should ever be in this kind of danger, a lower body count would be just what I was hoping for.

        1. A4
          A4 December 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

          Maybe smaller body counts, but it’s not some magic fix.

          Only Magic Fixes will be considered as possible future policy.

      2. Past my expiration date
        Past my expiration date December 17, 2012 at 6:40 am |

        Mass shootings would be replaced with mass stabbings.

        I am astonished, every time, when somebody brings up this argument: that there’s no point in doing anything about guns, because knives.

        No. Let’s do something about mass shootings. And if they get replaced with mass stabbings, then let’s do something about that too.

        (And, like EG, I am also astonished by the dismissal of “maybe a smaller body count” as an unmeaningful result..)

        1. Andie
          Andie December 17, 2012 at 10:04 am |

          I totally agree.. that last mass-stabbing in China? How many kids died in that?

          ZEE-FUCKING-ROE.

          Getting stabbed sucks, I imagine, and would be traumatic as all hell, but THOSE kids are still ALIVE.

        2. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue December 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |

          Cosigned. For some reason people have this idea that if gun-control doesn’t eliminate all violence everywhere ’til the end of time, it’s obviously a failure and we shouldn’t bother.

      3. Lyndsay
        Lyndsay December 17, 2012 at 11:34 am |

        Really, I have not heard of mass stabbings happening in most places with few guns. A couple people are stabbed, others can try to run and those stabbed are more likely to recover. No, the same thing is *not* guaranteed to happen if guns are not available. People are not always willing to find the weapons that will take the most lives, if it is too difficult.

      4. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 11:43 am |

        Maybe smaller body counts, but it’s not some magic fix.

        “Fewer people died” doesn’t seem like that good a thing to you?

        Fascinating.

      5. yes
        yes December 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

        Okay, I’m just going to blanket-respond to everyone, because it’s mostly the same knee-jerk, straw man argument being railed against.

        Yes, a smaller body count would be great. I never said otherwise, even if it’s effective to pretend I did. Smaller body counts overall is one of the reasons I favor gun regulation. I never said I didn’t.

        What I was actually responding to was the bullshit notion that guns “cause” these kind of things, and that eliminating pistols would prevent this sort of thing from happening at all. It wouldn’t. The presence of guns made this situation deadlier, but it didn’t cause it. There are a lot more issues at play here than guns, and acting like that’s the whole fix is just lazy license to not address other problems.

        If you want to argue that a total ban on firearms would decrease the scale of mass slayings, that’s fine. I generally agree, even if I’m somewhat uncomfortable with that trade-off. But that’s a very different argument from what Liz said, and that’s why I called bullshit.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey December 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

          I guess it didn’t occur to you that what people on this thread were already talking in terms of gun control about was reducing the amount of harm that can be caused by more effective means of killing – no one was proposing that guns themselves cause these events, just that they up the body-count considerably.

          So you might want to rethink who it was that came up with the “knee-jerk, straw man argument” first.

          (I don’t like the callousness of Liz’s comment, but technically all she said was stopping the “terrible carnage”, which, imprecise as it is, can easily refer to reducing the overall amount of death, which I think is how the rest of the commenters took it. Hence their responses to you.)

        2. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom December 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

          I’m pretty sure everyone here is aware that guns don’t shoot of themselves nor kill of themselves. A person who wants to be violent is awfully hard to stop. But –
          In the same year as the Dunblane massacre (16 children, one teacher and the attacker dead), a man attacked children and adults at a primary school in Wolverhampton with a machete. Nobody died, despite one of the teachers almost having her arm cut off.
          Guns make it too damned easy to kill. That is the point of them. That is why they exist, because they make it damned easy to kill. Otherwise we never would have moved on from swords.

        3. yes
          yes December 18, 2012 at 1:06 am |

          It did occur to me, which is why I wasn’t talking to those people. It’s why I wasn’t talking to you, Jadey. I wasn’t addressing the whole thread here. I was talking to Liz, who claimed this carnage could be stopped by a gun ban. Stopped, not “incrementally reduced.” That’s not a semantic nitpick, that’s an entirely different point, and one phrased in a pretty shitty way.

        4. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

          “incrementally reduced.”

          Huh. The difference between 20 dead children and zero dead children doesn’t seem “incremental” to me.

        5. yes
          yes December 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm |

          The difference between twenty dead and nine dead, eleven injured is incremental. My objection is in pretending the second scenario doesn’t happen if you ban guns.

    4. Brokenlol
      Brokenlol December 17, 2012 at 10:31 am |

      Liz,

      Considering the incredible amount of regulation that surrounds automatic weapons already, combined with the fact that I don’t think a legally owned automatic weapon has been used in a crime in a very long time, it seems quite pointless to impose further regulation on currently very small number of legal automatic weapons.

      However I do agree with you, a ban on handguns, and semi-automatic long guns, no grandfathering, no loop holes, and no bullshit is the only thing that would really make a difference.

      If actually passed, it would be the 1st piece of effective gun control since the institution of the instant background check system.

      Instead, all we are likely to see is another ineffective AWB which will simply funnel money into gun companies which make alternatives to the AK/AR platforms. (Alternatives that provide the same function)

      1. Liz
        Liz December 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

        Thanks for that information. I certainly didn’t mean to be glib up thread. But, given your Supreme Court seems to interpret the Second Ammendment really broadly, how can banning hand guns actually occur? This is what I mean by ‘fucked’. It should be an easy thing to do, but it’s awfully, awfully hard.

  24. ready for change
    ready for change December 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm |

    I was shocked and deeply disturbed by the shooting of those innocent schoolkids. It’s awful. There aren’t words. I read small biographies of the victims in the newspaper. All I could think is–those innocent little 6 and 7 year-olds! The beautiful adults who tried to protect them…what a horrible loss!

    Children. This time it was our young children.

    Who next?

    Why, why, everyone aks? Even if the detectives give us a reason for the shooter’s actions, I don’t think I will really understand it. Was he mentally ill–a “crazy madman”? Can we write it off that easily? Isn’t that just an excuse for a society that chooses not to provide for its mentally ill? Why is it so hard for the disenfranchised to get the mental health care we all need them to get? We have to take better care of eachother.

    I am so tired, so sick of these regular mass shootings. America has got to stop sacrificing innocents to the cult of violence.

    Can we not institute guns laws restricting access to semi- and automatic weapons? I understand why people want guns for self defense–that’s fine by me. Hunting? I don’t agree with it morally, but I see it has a role in balancing the ecosystem. Ok. What I don’t understand is those hyper-patriots who think they are going to be able to protect themselves against some future government tyranny…I mean really, with the variety of weapons of mass destruction available to the U.S. military, is it reasonable to think a people’s militia with automatic guns could do diddly squat?

    These patriotic but misguided gun enthusiasts aside, who else needs semi- and auto-matic firepower…who other than drug dealers and criminals? What do these lax guns laws really protect if not the profits of the worst element of society?

    1. Raja
      Raja December 17, 2012 at 4:52 am |

      “What I don’t understand is those hyper-patriots who think they are going to be able to protect themselves against some future government tyranny…I mean really, with the variety of weapons of mass destruction available to the U.S. military, is it reasonable to think a people’s militia with automatic guns could do diddly squat?” Ask the Taliban in Afghanstan, the insurgents in Iraq; the Vietcong in Vietnam. All of them have less superior weaponery than the US military and have the average fighter has little more than the automatic weapon perhaps an rpg if he’s lucky yet still they have been able to give our troops plenty of hell. If a sizeable portion of citizens decided to go gurellia warfare on our military than yes they could actually do diddly squat as people around the world have defeated more advanced armies (including ours) with just that

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan December 18, 2012 at 1:02 am |

        Oh bullshit. The kind of people who fucking love their billion guns are the problem; they’re gonna be totally on board with whatever government starts lining people up against the wall. (You think that white male gun collectors are going to be the ones lined up? Hell no.) Or they’re going to be isolationist paranoiacs who murder their families and hide in their bunkers.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 7:41 am |

          Oh bullshit. The kind of people who fucking love their billion guns are the problem; they’re gonna be totally on board with whatever government starts lining people up against the wall.

          Evidence, please?

          I’m for gun control too, but I’m pretty sure your assertion that having an interest in collecting guns = being totally down with genocide is full of shit.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |

          Really? You think that white male gun collectors will ever be the ones getting their rights tromped on? It seems far more likely to me that they’ll have the same privileges as always, and be fine with keeping them to boot. (See: History, White men)

        3. Donna L
          Donna L December 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

          You think that white male gun collectors will ever be the ones getting their rights tromped on?

          No, but a lot of them think that’s what’s going to happen, once Obama turns the government over to the Satanist-Communist UN and starts sending in the black helicopters.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

          Really? You think that white male gun collectors will ever be the ones getting their rights tromped on? It seems far more likely to me that they’ll have the same privileges as always, and be fine with keeping them to boot.

          1) ‘Gun collectors,’ which is what you originally said, != white male gun collectors. The only two gun collectors I know are a black veteran and the coptic egyptian who runs the convenience store under my apartment buildings. Both are very nice people, despite the fact I think their hobby is pretty odd.

          2) You didn’t say ‘gun collectors won’t have their rights trampled on,’ you said ‘gun collectors will be on board with lining minorities up and shooting them.’

          Like I said, I’m for gun control, but the whole “owning guns makes people EVIL and GENOCIDAL” shtick is neither useful nor based in reality.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 12:40 am |

          ‘gun collectors will be on board with lining minorities up and shooting them.’

          Yep, white male gun nuts will be onboard with that kind of government. Is what I actually said.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 19, 2012 at 2:03 am |

          Yep, white male gun nuts will be onboard with that kind of government. Is what I actually said.

          For christ sakes, your OP is six inches away…

          You wrote:

          The kind of people who fucking love their billion guns are the problem; they’re gonna be totally on board with whatever government starts lining people up against the wall.

          I have yet to see a shred of evidence that suggests gun collecting is tied to approval of government-sponsored genocide.

          This is just a stupid statement. You can disapprove of owning guns without trying to make the case that everyone who does it TEH EVULZ.

        7. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm |

          http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/in-gun-ownership-statistics-partisan-divide-is-sharp/

          Gun ownership is much more prevalent among Republicans than Democrats. It correlates strongly with political affiliation. Now which group has shown itself more willing to throw minorities — including women — under the bus recently, hmm?

        8. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 6:34 pm |

          Oh, and from the link:

          “White voters were substantially more likely to own guns than Hispanics or blacks. But white Republicans were more likely to own guns than white Democrats.”

          Sooo who was cool with lining people up against the wall? Could it be white Republicans? Who own the most guns?

        9. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 20, 2012 at 10:39 pm |

          This is getting absurd. For one, that’s a horrible, horrible misuse of statistical correlation (the fact that a correlates with b and b correlates with c means that a=c?) and for another, the fact that Republicans pursue less minority-friendly policy does not equate to advocating another Holocaust (and I say this as a member of an ethnic minority).

          For fuck sakes. Is it really so hard to make your point without literally claiming owning guns makes you a Nazi?

  25. shfree
    shfree December 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |

    You know, I don’t give a good god damned whether or not he was mentally ill. He wanted to commit suicide, which is all well and good, as far as I’m concerned. However, ultimately he became an asshole of epic proportions when decided to kill a bunch of people before him.

    In 2008 a banker in the city where we lived bludgeoned his wife and three children to death before driving his car into a bridge support, because he was about to get nailed for embezzlement or something. My daughter was nine at the time, and she went to school with all three of those children, and read stories to the youngest, a kindergartener, on a weekly basis. So this whole thing brings up a lot of ugly memories in this house, and thus, to put it simply whether or not he was mentally ill isn’t germane to the discussion. He was a monster who felt it necessary, for whatever reason, to kill people before he turned that gun on himself. And I don’t give one flying fuck as to what that reason is, if I believed in hell, I would hope he rots in it.

  26. Chained Divinity
    Chained Divinity December 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm |

    So, something I find rather aggravating…

    I’m finding on here a lot of comments about how “male privilege” and “white privilege” are what’s causing this whole problem, and, honestly, IF those two things play a role, casually disregarding the idea that a white man might be underprivileged in society is the lion’s share of the problem. Or at least my theory goes…

    I mean, the things that the majority of feminists/staunch anti-racists disregard the possibility of DO indeed happen some of the time–women abusing men, etc., but there’s a huge difference in the RESPONSE between the two. And sadly, from what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced, these things go one of two ways.

    a. The people in charge favor the man
    OR b. The people in charge favor the woman.

    There’s never a middle ground, and that’s part of the damn problem. And worse, because men are taught to solve their problems directly and with aggression, they have the greater inclination towards disproportionate vengeance.

    (Though, by the way, mental illness is by FAR a greater factor than “White Whine” here. )

    1. Donna L
      Donna L December 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

      So you’re really suggesting that he may have been a “victim” of “the people in charge” favoring women over him, and this was his revenge?

      1. Jadey
        Jadey December 16, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure that was covered under “thwarted male entitlement”, but what do I know?

        Because by “underprivileged”, Chained Divinity, what you are referring to is, “can’t deal with the fact that he’s not going to be treated like he’s the king of the goddamned universe”.

      2. Chained Divinity
        Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 10:25 am |

        Eh-heh, no.

        I’m suggesting that acting like national trends such as the “privilege of white males” apply to every, local, scenario is kind of stupid, and what people–even people in the local scenario–tend to do.

    2. Anon21
      Anon21 December 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

      I mean, the things that the majority of feminists/staunch anti-racists disregard the possibility of DO indeed happen some of the time–women abusing men, etc.

      Yeah, feminists and anti-racists do not disregard this possibility. It may not be their central concern because it’s not the typical case, but the fact that women can abuse men in, for example, intimate relationships is often acknowledged if you actually spend some time reading feminist blogs.

      1. Chained Divinity
        Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |

        …not entirely the problem I’m talking about.

        What I’m saying is that MAYBE, the reason why we see a greater abuse of women by men than vice versa is because we’re looking at abuse in only one dimension. The direct, “I-beat-you-up, I-insult-you, I-grab-your-ass” kind.

        Meanwhile, we KNOW there are cultural differences between the way men and women are brought up. We KNOW that in general, women are taught less to respond directly to their problems. But responding indirectly…through rumours and things of that ilk–totally off the radar of everyone’s thought. Totally. And so only the men get blamed.

        1. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |

          No, men engage in emotional abuse and men spread rumors as well. Life is not Mean Girls.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |

          What I’m saying is that MAYBE, the reason why we see a greater abuse of women by men than vice versa is because we’re looking at abuse in only one dimension. The direct, “I-beat-you-up, I-insult-you, I-grab-your-ass” kind.

          …have you ever actually read any anti-domestic-violence work? I mean, I’m not even talking academic papers, I’m talking graphics that turn up on Google Images. Pretty sure those cover a hell of a lot more than beating, insulting and ass-grabbing.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 11:41 am |

          Life is not Mean Girls.

          BUT I R DISAPPOINT

        4. tomek
          tomek December 19, 2012 at 11:51 am |

          No, men engage in emotional abuse and men spread rumors as well. Life is not Mean Girls.

          but it is more field of girl. you know it was woman tina weymouth whom wrote mean girls? so she know that she is talking about. boys dont have that kind of capability like girl have for social engineer attack enemy

        5. Chained Divinity
          Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

          No, men engage in emotional abuse and men spread rumors as well. Life is not Mean Girls.

          macavitykitsune
          12.19.2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink
          …have you ever actually read any anti-domestic-violence work? I mean, I’m not even talking academic papers, I’m talking graphics that turn up on Google Images. Pretty sure those cover a hell of a lot more than beating, insulting and ass-grabbing.

          @EG: Yeah, and women physically abuse men too. Doesn’t mean they do it to the same extent.

          @maccavitykitsune: I did one better. I looked at and found the specific categories discussed commonly as methods of abuse.

          They are:

          Physical aggression or assault (I-beat-you-up)
          Sexual Abuse (I-grab-your-ass)
          Emotional Abuse (Also called psychological abuse, I’ll get into more detail onto how this proves me right when I’m done)
          Controlling (If you click the link, basically I-insult-you)
          Intimidation (Not too far from I-beat-you-up)
          Stalking (we all know what this one is)
          Passive/Covert Abuse (e.g. neglect–might cover what I’m talking about, might not)
          Economic deprivation (There are kind of grey areas where this might or might not be abuse)

          So, yeah, I’ve read the material. And I’ve also read the specific passage on psychological abuse:

          Guess what it says in the “prevalence” section! Though there was one study that said men and women do it equally, the majority of studies suggest that women do it more than men!

          Strange how I was right about that, hmm?

        6. Chained Divinity
          Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

          Okay, my links didn’t show up.

          Well, I’m still getting used to the post system, so…
          For the general definitions of Domestic abuse

          For the stuff I said about psychological abuse

        7. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date December 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

          you know it was woman tina weymouth whom wrote mean girls? so she know that she is talking about.

          I am a woman. I speak for all women everywhere about everything.

          (Yes, I do too. Stop disagreeing with me, you pesky other women!)

        8. Chained Divinity
          Chained Divinity December 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm |

          To disassociate myself from the fellow citing her, I didn’t even know who Tina Weymouth was until people started talking about her.

          I’m getting my data from a couple of academic papers, and my own experience.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

          Guess what it says in the “prevalence” section! Though there was one study that said men and women do it equally, the majority of studies suggest that women do it more than men!

          Strange how I was right about that, hmm?

          Seriously? Greater prevalence in exactly one kind of abuse (and it’s only greater prevalence, not sole claim) versus far lesser prevalence in all other kinds of abuse does not translate to “women abuse as much as men”.

          ….that makes about as much sense as saying that because there are more female teachers than male, we actually have equal representation in everything, we just don’t know it yet.

        10. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date December 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

          Love that Tina Weymouth.

          (Oh gosh. Do I feel silly.)

    3. EG
      EG December 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

      I mean, the things that the majority of feminists/staunch anti-racists disregard the possibility of DO indeed happen some of the time–women abusing men, etc., but there’s a huge difference in the RESPONSE between the two.

      Yeah, feminists and anti-racists: why don’t you concentrate on all the problems all the time regardless of severity, impact, or how widespread they are? After all, it’s your job.

  27. Jadey
    Jadey December 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm |

    I was out of the loop the last couple of days, but I’ve checked through recent news releases from reputable sources (ones not inclined to speculate, that is) and I am convinced that there is absolutely *zero* confirmed information about Lanza’s psychological profile.

    So any references to Lanza’s particular mental state are highly unwarranted at this time. As for the male privilege issue, there’s also no clear evidence that that was a definite factor in this particular instance (although it’s certainly a factor in how it’s being handled in the general discourse), though I stand by that it is a much stronger trend in these types of events then mental illness is.

    (It also turns out that his mother did *not* work at the school. So there’s that, as well. Basically, no one has any fuckin’ clue about why this happened. Except that he probably wouldn’t have been able to kill so many people if he hadn’t had a semi-automatic weapon.)

    1. Donna L
      Donna L December 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm |

      Basically, no one has any fuckin’ clue about why this happened. Except that he probably wouldn’t have been able to kill so many people if he hadn’t had a semi-automatic weapon.

      Exactly. To me, that’s the one certainty in all of this, the one thing that isn’t the product of speculation, the one variable that we know would have changed the result if it hadn’t been present.

  28. Jean
    Jean December 16, 2012 at 10:37 pm |

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  29. White Rabbit
    White Rabbit December 16, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

    Also – thank you to Jill for writing this.

  30. Raja
    Raja December 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

    “Seemed like a nice guy though was often quiet.” This is one commonality that seems to follow a lot of these shooters.

    1. Esti
      Esti December 17, 2012 at 12:32 am |

      That’s just what people say when they didn’t know the person particularly well. When family and friends don’t want to talk to the media in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy, the media finds whatever neighbor/local convenience store clerk/preschool classmate who is willing to go on TV, and since they don’t actually know the perpetrator they make generic statements like that.

    2. William
      William December 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |

      Of course it is. Angry, hypermasculine, and entitled is practically the definition of a Superhero.

  31. Alexandra
    Alexandra December 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

    What I haven’t seen discussed on this particular thread, and what I think is, at this point, more germane than either Lanza’s possible mental health problems or sense of white male entitlement, is the role of media hype in encouraging mass murders.

    Deaths from gun violence have been decreasing since the early 1990s – as has most crime in this country – but mass shootings are on the rise:

    Mother Jones chart

    I wonder how much this has to do with the 24 hour news cycle, particulary television news. So many of these shootings are murder-suicides, and we’ve known for decades now that when a dramatic suicide is publicized in the news, copycat suicides are highly likely to follow. One example is Mount Mihara in Japan, where almost a thousand people jumped to their deaths in the space of one year.

    Because of this, many newspapers and other news outlets will refrain from reporting extensively on suicides, even dramatic ones.

    These murder-suicides – from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook – offer notoriety, revenge, and oblivion, a potent combination for young men who may feel disenfranchised by society for a variety of reasons. As long as mass murder-suicides are given days or weeks of media attention, with graphic footage, sirens blaring, speeches from elected officials etc, they will exercise a psychological pull on a certain kind of person.

    So, yes, mental health care for people prone to violence both against self and other is critical. But not everyone who is attracted to murder-suicide is mentally ill in the sense of having a mood disorder or psychosis (or, given the huge population of veterans in our country, PTSD or TBI). How many men kill their wives, or girlfriends, or children every year before killing themselves?

    At this point, I believe meaningful gun control is essentially impossible. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled in favor of broad, rather than narrowly construed, gun rights, the powers that be in our legislature are either beholden to the NRA or afraid of it, and we have upwards of 300 million firearms in this country. Short of a mass confiscation effort, I’m not sure how we could meaningfully reduce the number of assault weapons or semiautomatic handguns in this country.

    I do think increased access to mental health care is important (although I am in favor of an increase in community mental health centers, rather than long-term psychiatric hospitals, for civil liberties and humanitarian reasons). But I think the most immediate and concrete thing we can do is to stop popularizing the mass shooting as a method of suicide. Stop watching the 24 hour cable news cycle. Write to your local newspaper or NPR affiliate and ask them to keep the coverage of such tragedies moderate and undramatic. Don’t encourage copycats! We’ve had one already since Friday: Birmingham hospital shooting.

    1. Datdamwuf
      Datdamwuf December 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

      I agree with you, the media hype plus 20 years ago these news stories would not be broadcast to the entire world.

  32. Raja
    Raja December 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    And while its more than 10 years old this; http://www.antilife.org/files/marilyn.html still seems surprisingly relevant everytime I read it.

  33. xzaebos
    xzaebos December 17, 2012 at 1:10 am |

    Of ALL the reasons that this guy killed these children, of ALL the things he could have experienced or felt, “White tears” is the first assumption?

    That’ll help plenty of people, I’m sure.

    1. konkonsn
      konkonsn December 17, 2012 at 1:27 am |

      Well, so far it’s the only assumption that won’t hurt plenty of people.

      (Also, the first assumption? Really? Did you read the post and comments, or just ctrl+f “feminsts hating on whites” and reply?)

      1. xzaebos
        xzaebos December 17, 2012 at 8:30 am |

        I suppose you have a point.

        And no, not the first at all.

  34. Random Thoughts On Our National Disease | Southern Beale

    […] • Some interesting conversation on mental health issues and access to mental health services are here. […]

  35. Mary Joan Koch
    Mary Joan Koch December 17, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Mental health care is still in its infancy. The so-called miracle drugs have not worked miracles, yet insurance companies prefer drugs to therapy. Mental illness is now seen as a brain disease, so family, schools, society are not seen as the contributing or major factors.

    “The shortage of psychiatrists across the United States is so dire that presenter, Peter Jensen, M.D. at Mayo Clinic, says if he and all of the child psychiatrists in the country saw every child with a mental health problem – they’d only be able to spend one hour treating each one per year.’ As a result, family physicians with no special training in psychiatry or psychiatric drugs are treating troubled children.

    1. EG
      EG December 17, 2012 at 11:52 am |

      The so-called miracle drugs have not worked miracles,

      They have for me and others I know. They haven’t worked miracles for every condition or everybody, but that’s a different thing altogether.

      Mental illness is now seen as a brain disease, so family, schools, society are not seen as the contributing or major factors.

      I don’t think that has much to do with understanding mental illness as a brain disease. That has to do with our culture’s bizarre insistence on individualism and refusal to engage with environmental factors. Lung cancer is most certainly a lung disease, but that doesn’t mean that environment isn’t a contributing or major factor. We acknowledge that with lung cancer and asthma, but we really fail to with most other illnesses, mental illness included. It’s not unique in that regard.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong December 19, 2012 at 2:19 am |

        /cosign what EG wrote, but I do agree that in some ways mental health care is still very much a primitive science; its hard to believe that diagnoses aren’t largely subjective when the DSM changes so much, and I’m fairly confident that in fifty years we’ll look at a lot of what we do today as comparable to bloodletting.

    2. Malkavian
      Malkavian December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

      Counseling hasn’t done too much for me. I’ve had maybe one good one out of many, too.

  36. Mary Joan Koch
    Mary Joan Koch December 17, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Mental health care is still in its infancy. The so-called miracle drugs have not worked miracles, yet insurance companies prefer drugs to therapy. Mental illness is now seen as a brain disease, so family, schools, society are not seen as the contributing or major factors.

    “The shortage of psychiatrists across the United States is so dire that presenter, Peter Jensen, M.D. at Mayo Clinic, says if he and all of the child psychiatrists in the country saw every child with a mental health problem – they’d only be able to spend one hour treating each one per year.’ As a result, family physicians with no special training in psychiatry or psychiatric drugs are treating troubled children.

  37. Au Contraire
    Au Contraire December 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |

    Great article. Just wanted to add that I know of at least one organization that does work in helping children develop empathy and emotional literacy. I hope that the US starts to look at a strategy of prevention, intervention, and, yes, gun control in the wake of this tragedy.

  38. Donna L
    Donna L December 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  39. Really?
    Really? December 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    Is jail really the worst option for these kids? I mean, criminal gangs are fairly well disciplined hierarchical structures and I’m not convinced that your son mugging a bunch of old ladies for drug money is a worse outcome than shooting up a bunch of kids.

    Society is very lenient with violent white men. I can’t help feel that all the “I am spartacus” bullshit this has spawned is because of this. Would a black killer be getting the same sympathetic spin? I’m just not sure why a 16 year old drug dealer from the Bronx has to go to juvie, but we’re going to twist ourselves into pretzels to justify why a violent psychopath shouldn’t “enter the system”. It guess it’s only a tragedy when white people go to jail!

    1. EG
      EG December 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |

      Kids are routinely raped in jail, in both adult and juvenile facilities. I don’t find that acceptable for anybody.

      If you don’t think that a mass killing is significantly worse than mugging somebody, though, I suspect our values are so far from being aligned that we won’t agree on much.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |

        This.

      2. Marni
        Marni December 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

        But you’re happy to blame it on autistics and other weirdos, and would like to see us all locked up …

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

          Pardon? I can’t believe EG would ever suggest such a thing. Where are you getting this?

        2. EG
          EG December 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

          I suspect Marni is referencing the fact that, contrary to what she said, I pointed out that the development of some kind of treatment that would allow adults with Asperger’s to voluntarily alter their condition has nothing in common with genocide.

          You can obviously see the logical connection between that stance and advocating locking up all the “weirdos” and autistics, right?

          No, neither can I.

      3. konkonsn
        konkonsn December 17, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

        If you don’t think that a mass killing is significantly worse than mugging somebody…

        I actually read Really?’s statement as saying that our system seems to perceive muggings as worse than mass killings as we are more likely to lock up people of color who commit lesser crimes than white people who commit greater crimes.

        Although, I am otherwise confused about Really?’s post as it seems zie is saying that we should lock up kids before they commit crimes. Is this the correct interpretation?

      4. Really?
        Really? December 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

        You misunderstood my point. We are perfectly happy to see muggers enter the system but violent psychopaths like this kid get a pass.

        1. Really?
          Really? December 17, 2012 at 11:25 pm |

          But he likely committed crimes. The woman who wrote the “I am Adam Lanza’s mom” piece described her son repeatedly committing crimes. He punched, kicked her, threatened violence, attacked other people. They are all crimes. The argument that a teenager should not be sent to jail for crimes is a different argument. But violently attacking someone is a crime.

        2. Really?
          Really? December 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm |

          The argument on this thread is that (young angsty privileged white males) committing crimes shouldn’t go into the “system”. Isn’t that what the lament re the lack of mental institutions is about? People are describing acts of violence and threats to commit acts of violence but making the argument that extreme age and mental illness negate culpability for these criminal acts. Please don’t distort my argument because it’s simpler to refute.

          A black mayor will get arrested for driving a car but a young white boy can threaten to kill everyone and society just bends further backwards to justify his actions. The best thing for society is basically a revolution. When no schools are safe, instead of just inner city ones or ones filled with minorities, then as a society we will have to deal with the toxic white supremacy and misogynistic culture which leads men like this to act.

          Very little difference between this guy and the rapists on the last post. Broader culture feeds a toxic stew of entitlement. Racist paranoids arm themselves because Obama is bringing the end of the world (!). Of course, then he shoots everyone and there’s lots of handwringing and blaming of the NRA. Why not just throw up a post on the GMP about how society is really to blame.

        3. Miss S
          Miss S December 18, 2012 at 12:56 am |

          Jill, I think (and I could be wrong, because I don’t think I’ve read anything other comments by this person) that Really is pointing out that when black men commit crimes like mugging, no one asks whether they have a mental illness. Everyone just assumes he’s a bad guy with no morals. When white men do it, everyone wants to figure out if it was a mental illness, or whether he was a sociopath, or what caused him to do this.

          Someone had a really good article about this, I’ll see if I can find it.

        4. matlun
          matlun December 18, 2012 at 5:21 am |

          @Miss S
          When anyone commits a mugging, we do not assume mental illness. It is not a relevant comparison. Race does not come into it.

          Mugging or other crimes for an obvious personal gain appears rational. The reason for the assumption of mental illness is because this type of crime seems impossible to understand so that you get the gut reaction “Nobody sane could commit this action”.

          Even monstrous crimes do not normally get this reaction as long as they seem understandable. Eg if they are seen as consistent with some goal or ideology. It is the pointlessness that is key to the reaction.

        5. Leisa L. Gaughan
          Leisa L. Gaughan December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

          I’ve always been a fan of this option. It disappoints me that the system concentrates on punishing past acts of crime rather than preventing future occurrences.

        6. EG
          EG December 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

          The argument on this thread is that (young angsty privileged white males) committing crimes shouldn’t go into the “system”. Isn’t that what the lament re the lack of mental institutions is about? People are describing acts of violence and threats to commit acts of violence but making the argument that extreme age and mental illness negate culpability for these criminal acts.

          Yes. My argument is that putting 13-year-olds in jail, where we know they will be raped and abused, is a terrible idea. Terrible, sadistic, and immoral. I stand by that. Further, good luck getting the victim of these crimes, his mother, to co-operate.

          Racist paranoids arm themselves because Obama is bringing the end of the world (!). Of course, then he shoots everyone and there’s lots of handwringing and blaming of the NRA.

          Do you have any evidence that Lanza was racist or paranoid? If he was paranoid, in the clinical sense, then yes, I believe that negates responsibility for his crimes, because he is mentally ill, and he certainly needs to be somewhere that ensures that he cannot hurt anybody else, but people who are mentally ill in that way are not able to understand reality properly, and so it is unfair to treat them as though they are morally culpable.

          The best thing for society is basically a revolution.

          Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before, all my life. Can you find me an example of this working out?

        7. Really?
          Really? December 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

          Yes. My argument is that putting 13-year-olds in jail, where we know they will be raped and abused, is a terrible idea. Terrible

          I don’t think the fact that people are raped in prison is the trump card you think it is. Because if that’s the case, NO ONE should be going to prison. NO ONE deserves to be raped. Not 13 year olds, not 20 year olds, not 50 year olds. So yes, rape is bad. Unless you are against prison across the board, so what?

          Further, good luck getting the victim of these crimes, his mother, to co-operate.

          If by this you mean that parents won’t call the police on their kids, again, so what?. There’s a recent story of a Congressman explaining how his son smashing his girlfriend’s head into a mailbox is a “mistake”. Parents will always believe their kids. Do we let other people ordinarily walk for that reason?

          Do you have any evidence that Lanza was racist or paranoid?

          His mother was a prepper who was stockpiling food and weapons for the end of the world. Preppers are filled with racist hateful paranoia. Frankly most racial violence is fueled by it. But I guess by your reasoning, that’s totally fine!

          If he was paranoid, in the clinical sense, then yes, I believe that negates responsibility for his crimes, because he is mentally ill

          There’s no culpability in your world, is there? But tons of sympathy. Like I said, where were all these Spartacus’s when the black beltway sniper was caught? Oh, wait, nobody cared because he wasn’t a middle class awkward white guy who reminded them of themselves.

          Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this before, all my life. Can you find me an example of this working out?

          My guess is that dismantling white supremacy and privilege in society will be very painful for people like you who depend on white privilege to get leeway and sympathy for your “issues”. Personally, I support harsh sentences for all. Let’s bring back mandatory sentences for crack cocaine AND powdered cocaine. Let’s harshly punish EVERYONE! When middle class white kids suffer like everyone else, society will soon wise up.

        8. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

          His mother was a prepper who was stockpiling food and weapons for the end of the world. Preppers are filled with racist hateful paranoia.

          Preppers prep for incredibly diverse reasons. The only common psychological profile I’m aware of is recent loss of a loved one, and even that’s tenuous.

          You seem to have a bad habit of making sweeping blanket statements that have little connection to empirical reality.

        9. EG
          EG December 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

          I don’t think the fact that people are raped in prison is the trump card you think it is. Because if that’s the case, NO ONE should be going to prison. NO ONE deserves to be raped. Not 13 year olds, not 20 year olds, not 50 year olds. So yes, rape is bad. Unless you are against prison across the board, so what?

          Actually, I am against prison as it currently stands. Sometimes, it’s the least bad option. I do not think it is an acceptable option for a 13-year-old whose crimes as they currently stand are pummeling his mother when he doesn’t yet have the strength to hurt her and threatening her and himself. You clearly do, for reasons of your own.

          Parents will always believe their kids. Do we let other people ordinarily walk for that reason?

          This isn’t a case of belief; this is a case of getting her to file charges and testify. Do you see that happening? Realistically? If so, I don’t think you have much experience with parents who have been abused by their children.

          His mother was a prepper who was stockpiling food and weapons for the end of the world. Preppers are filled with racist hateful paranoia. Frankly most racial violence is fueled by it. But I guess by your reasoning, that’s totally fine!

          Most racial violence is fueled by racist hateful paranoia? Yes, OK, you can have the tautology award, provided we’re using “paranoia” in the informal rather than the clinical sense, because I don’t think most racist violence is the result of mental illness at all. But that doesn’t actually demonstrate that his mother was racist or that he was, or that his killing of what seems to be almost entirely white kids was the result of racism. But do go on frothing; it won’t convince anybody, but it seems tomake you feel important.

          There’s no culpability in your world, is there?

          You haven’t been reading the comments here very long, have you? But sure, go on believing that not holding untreated paranoid schizophrenics culpable for the behavior they engage in during psychotic breaks is obviously the same thing as not believing in culpability at all. You don’t seem to have the intelligence to comprehend complexity. I guess that may not be your fault, but I do hold you culpable for it.

          Like I said, where were all these Spartacus’s when the black beltway sniper was caught? Oh, wait, nobody cared because he wasn’t a middle class awkward white guy who reminded them of themselves.

          Any evidence that Lanza was “awkward”? You keep making these statements about Lanza and his mother as though you have access to information that we don’t. I don’t have sympathy with John Allen Muhammad because, as far as I know, he was not suffering from any mental illness, which makes him culpable for his crimes. Similarly, I do not have sympathy for Lanza, because, despite what you have asserted, there is no evidence that he was suffering from any mental illness, either. I have sympathy for Liza Long’s son because he is young, but I have far more for Liza Long. Your failure to understand this is the fault of your poor reading comprehension, as well as your above-noted difficulties with handling complexity.

          My guess is that dismantling white supremacy and privilege in society will be very painful for people like you who depend on white privilege to get leeway and sympathy for your “issues”.

          You realize that you wrote this in response to my asking you if you had any evidence at all that revolution would be the best thing for society? An answer that would have been relevant would have been for you to bring up the Haitian Revolution. What you wrote has no bearing on the question at all. I just wanted to note that.

          Now, as to your assumptions about me, I really cannot be offended, given that you seem to make wild assumptions about any and everybody with no evidence at all. But rest assured that I have never made any violent threats or attacked my mother, and I have no plans whatsoever to open fire on any group of people, so I have no personal investment whatsoever in any sympathy or understanding you are so outraged about seeing extended to Lanza or Liza Long’s son (personally, I haven’t seen any, but you seem to believe “Thirteen-year-olds should be raped and abused in jail” is some kind of expression of deep sympathy and understanding, so perhaps our standards are different).

          Let’s harshly punish EVERYONE! When middle class white kids suffer like everyone else, society will soon wise up.

          Ah, I see. You’re one of those “beat the poor” types, convinced that if enough people are just made miserable enough, they will rise in bloody mass revolution and found Utopia (no doubt you sneer at social workers and others who try to ameliorate people’s suffering as being the band-aid corps of the bourgeoisie, merely working on behalf of the ruling classes to give people false hope and/or keep the poor happy enough to forestall the inevitable revolution). You really must try to come up with something original. Anyway, I must ask again…evidence? There are plenty of societies in which the large majority of people suffer under tyranny. There are plenty of examples of immiserated groups turning on each other, rather than rising up arm in arm.

        10. Donna L
          Donna L December 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

          The best thing for society is basically a revolution . . . . My guess is that dismantling white supremacy and privilege in society will be very painful for people like you who depend on white privilege to get leeway and sympathy for your “issues”.

          Are you sure you’re not Philip Finn, Mr. Misogynist Revolutionary White Guy, back here under a different name?

        11. Miss S
          Miss S December 19, 2012 at 12:53 am |

          Really, maybe I did misunderstand. I thought you were making the points brought up in this article:

          http://thefeministwire.com/2012/12/nice-white-boys-next-door-and-mass-murder/

          With Columbine there was tacit understanding that these boys’ acts were symptomatic of a potentially imperiled national heritage. Conversely, any time violence erupts in a black or Latino context it’s a racial indictment, an indictment of a community, not a reflection on the rogue acts of lost boys from salt of the earth homes.

          “whenever white men commit mass murders it is just a freak isolated incident, but when we look at other crime statistics for minorities the reason given is that it is something innate to their culture, to their family. It is those people.”

          Which is true, in that some people do believe blackness is inherently bad and criminal. In fact, the article references a study about that.

        12. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 19, 2012 at 2:10 am |

          no doubt you sneer at social workers and others who try to ameliorate people’s suffering as being the band-aid corps of the bourgeoisie, merely working on behalf of the ruling classes to give people false hope and/or keep the poor happy enough to forestall the inevitable revolution

          Just reading this gives me weird nostalgia-anger flashbacks to sociology classes at uni.

    2. Really?
      Really? December 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

      @amblingalong

      You can believe whatever you like. Whenever white people get scared, everyone else pays. White people stockpiling weapons because of unnamed boogeymen and free floating fears is just the history of American violence. From lynching to modern day discrimination. Please go ahead and deny it! All those people who went out and bought guns when Obama was elected are completely psychologically healthy and totally non raicst.

      1. EG
        EG December 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

        You have a remarkable ability to avoid the question. Amblingalong asked you if you had any actual evidence that preppers, who long predate Obama’s presidency (Y2K comes to mind) are any more racist than the average American; this was on the heels of my asking you if you had any evidence that Lanza and/or his mother were any more racist than the average American. I know it’s difficult for you, but do try to address the actual question.

  40. Kara
    Kara December 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    Reading the accounts and the analyses of the shooting, I see a lot of people throwing around the phrases “semi-automatic weapon” and “semi-automatic handgun”… and it bothers me as much as the way that the phrase “mental illness” is being thrown around as well.

    Because while “semi-automatic weapon” and “semi-automatic handgun” are completely accurate descriptive phrases, they are being used in ways that I consider to be overly simplistic and very manipulative, and that really distort the (needed) conversation about guns in the US.

    Semi-automatic simply means that the gun does not need to be manually cleared and chambered with each round. (In other words, one trigger pull, one shot.) The vast majority (maybe more than 90%?) of handguns manufactured are semi-automatic, and (depending on which set of statistics you look at) between 40% and 70% of all rifles are semi-automatic.

    I regard specifically calling out something as a “semi-automatic” (especially something like a handgun that is almost by definition semi-automatic) as a scare tactic, because it encourages people to make the jump in their heads to “fully automatic” or “assault rifle/weapon”, and they then start to make all kinds of assumptions that simply are not true.

    Magazine capacity, bullet type… those are separate discussions.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 7:46 am |

      Yeah, above some commentators were talking about how we needed to ban semi-automatic weapons in favor of guns that require the trigger to be pulled once per shot, which pretty much proves your point.

      The reason that this is important to talk about is that a ton of gun-control legislation has been crafted by absolute ignoramuses to ban things that look/sound scary (flash suppressors, collapsible stocks, threaded barrels) but don’t really have any influence on how dangerous a given weapon is. People who don’t understand things tend not to write good policy about them.

      1. Kara
        Kara December 18, 2012 at 10:51 am |

        *nod*

        “Semi-Automatic” is simply a technical description of the most common modern firing mechanism. (As opposed to bolt-action, lever-action, or any other manual firing mechanism. And you really only see manual action on some rifles and shotguns.)

        Even though I not a huge fan of the NRA (for various reasons) I can certainly sympathize with their position when they are dealing with a lot of knee-jerk reactions and calls for “increased gun control” by people who have not bothered to educate themselves about the basics of modern firearms or firearm legislation, and thus have no idea what they are talking about.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |

          As long as the NRA adamantly opposes ANY gun control legislation, it doesn’t get to complain that what people are proposing is the WRONG gun control legislation. I think there’s been more than enough condescending criticism from people whose comments are noticeably devoid of any specific suggestions as to what might actually work or be helpful, such as restrictions on magazine capacity or bullet type, as you mention above (but without any details). If people have nothing useful to offer with their technical expertise, maybe they don’t have to jump in as the 10th person saying “this won’t work” to every suggestion that those without expertise bring up.

        2. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue December 18, 2012 at 11:47 am |

          Even given that that’s what semi-automatic means, I still don’t think that a severe restriction on semi-automatic weaponry would be such a bad thing.

        3. Kara
          Kara December 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

          And here I thought that I was jumping in with my “technical expertise” to correct some gross misconceptions about about firearms that were being tossed around…

          But since you want SPECIFIC suggestions for how to change gun legislation…

          1) Put strict controls on the kinds of magazines that civilians are allowed to purchase. i.e. ban high capacity clips. What is high capacity? 5 rounds? 7? 10? That will need to be worked out.

          2) Either completely ban or do a much better job of regulating gun shows. There have been plenty of studies that show that current legislation regarding background checks and waiting periods is not very well followed or enforced at all at gun shows. (Established brick-and-mortar stores, on the other hand do a good job with the background checks and wait periods)

          3) Completely ban all phone, catalog, or internet sales of magazines, ammunition, and firearms accessories. You want to get any of those, then you need to get yourself to one of the above mentioned established brick-and-mortar stores and make the purchase in person. Where you can be ID’d and background-checked and the person selling you the stuff can be sure that you are who you say you are and that you are permitted to be buying what you want to buy.

          I do not think that there is a point to try to ban specific classes of guns (unless you are talking about preventing civilians from getting their hands on modern military issue fully-automatic weapons, in which case I am all for it) but making it more difficult for people to purchase guns by eliminating some of the more questionable/grey-area markets for firearms and accessories is possible.

          Can we do a better job of pinpointing specific people or types of people who we want to prevent from ever legally owning guns? Well, felons are already prohibited from gun ownership. I am not sure if it is possible to go any further than that without violating people’s civil rights or rights to privacy.

          Not that any of my suggestions would have made one whit of a difference in this particular case with this particular shooter, but they might make a difference in other cases in the future.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

          I think there’s been more than enough condescending criticism from people whose comments are noticeably devoid of any specific suggestions as to what might actually work or be helpful, such as restrictions on magazine capacity or bullet type, as you mention above (but without any details). If people have nothing useful to offer with their technical expertise, maybe they don’t have to jump in as the 10th person saying “this won’t work” to every suggestion that those without expertise bring up.

          Donna, you know I think you’re great, but this is really off base. It’s not condescending to point out grossly incorrect statements like “semi-automatic weapons are more dangerous than weapons which fire once per trigger pull.” It’s also not totally out of the realm of reasonable discourse to point out problems with a potential policy even if one doesn’t have a fully fleshed-out alternative on hand.

          That said, if I could do whatever I wanted policy-wise, I would probably do some combination of gun show regulation, prohibiting online sales, expanding and standardizing the NIBIN (the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network), and limiting magazine capacity to something like 10 rounds.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

          Oh, and Kara snaps up all my points before I get there. Not adding phone/mail-order acquirement to Internet ordering was dumb, not sure why I overlooked that.

        6. Donna L
          Donna L December 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

          I apologize for getting annoyed; it seemed to me that several people had already explained what semi-automatic means, and that repeating that explanation while chiding the uninformed — without offering specifics about what to do — was unnecessary.

          In terms of the suggestions people have now made, this article suggests that at least some of them (like banning high-capacity magazines) are exactly what’s being pursued:

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-18/lawmakers-vow-tougher-gun-laws-as-obama-weighs-next-steps.html

        7. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 19, 2012 at 2:06 am |

          I apologize for getting annoyed; it seemed to me that several people had already explained what semi-automatic means, and that repeating that explanation while chiding the uninformed — without offering specifics about what to do — was unnecessary.

          Reading through my comments again I see how my response to Kara came off as a jab at you. I apologize- that wasn’t intended.

      2. Thomas MacAulay Millar
        Thomas MacAulay Millar December 18, 2012 at 10:58 am |

        I am also deeply frustrated by people trying to formulate policy without understanding the basics. Folks on the netroots left usually appreciate that that doesn’t work and try to get a grasp of policy topics like Medicare before weighing in on them; this is not different.

        The “assault weapons” ban mostly targeted guns that look military, rather than their functional aspects. Rifles with flash suppressors and bayonet lugs are not more deadly in a mass shooting. The exception to that was magazine capacity.

        My view is that the major limitation we can hope to impose on firearms is magazine capacity. For the non-gun folks, the magazine is the thing that holds the cartridges. If you’ve ever seen an action movie, when someone shoots all the bullets, they take the magazine out and replace it with a full one. Well, we’re not going to eliminate semi-automatic pistols. There are loads of them out there. But some of them have extremely high magazine capacities — fifteen, even twenty rounds. And high-capacity magazines are not just limited to pistols. Some rifles have even more: the banana-shaped magazines that people associate with the AK-47 is thirty rounds, and there are various configurations of coil or drum magazines with really absurd capacities. Magazine capacity is what determines how many shots a weapon will fire before the shooter has to remove the empty magazine and replace it to reload, and reloading is probably the most critical factor in whether someone can rush the shooter and stop the killing. It’s also the factor that determines how many shots someone will fire in a panic.

        I’ve never hunted and I know a lot of people here wish we could eliminate it, but that won’t happen. However, how many rounds do people need in a removable magazine for hunting? Nobody puts seven shots in a deer. Many hunting rifles have non-removable magazines with a five shot capacity — because that’s plenty! Competent hunters want to produce a kill as close to instantly as possible with the first bullet, and have a follow-up shot if they don’t manage that. For dangerous game like bears, having a few follow-up shots is … comforting. But nobody needs a fifteen round magazine to hunt bear.

        The real objection will come from varmint hunters. Big game cartridges are not the ones that assault rifles are chambered for. (I could go on about the historical derivation and meaning of “assault rifle” as distinct from “battle rifle”; I’ll spare everyone.) Rifles in small, assault rifle calibers like the .223 Bushmaster Lanza had, to the extent they have a hunting application, are not for deer or elk or bear. They’re for varmint hunting, like woodchucks and prairie dogs. Some people like to kill small, cute animals in large numbers and they want to be able to keep popping off shots from where they are laying without having to reload, and fifteen or thirty round magazines are convenient for varmint hunters. Well, fuck’em. Reducing mass shooting is worth making varmint hunters switch magazines every fifth or eighth shot.

        Semi-automatic handguns are not for hunting. They’re for target shooting or for shooting people. The benefits to self- or home-defense from high capacity handgun magazines are largely made up bullshit coming from people who use a handgun as a phallic substitute. Aside from special military and law enforcement applications, high magazine capacities are unnecessary (and even then, dubious, but that’s another debate).

    2. samanthab
      samanthab December 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

      Yeah, y’know what? I’m a human being. My diagnosis of mental illness is not comparable to the categorization of a gun. I am nothing like a gun. Thanks for the cruel nonsense, though!

  41. Todd Miller, Ph.D.
    Todd Miller, Ph.D. December 18, 2012 at 9:46 am |

    The mentally ill, as a group, are less likely to commit crimes. However, 80% of all mass murders are committed by people with psychotic delusions 1, 2. A mass murder is where a person kills a large number of people at the same time.

    Typically, mass murders have paranoid schizophrenia. Most people with paranoid schizophrenia are not violent at all. However, some have delusions that lead them to be violent such as the Aurora shooter.

    Domestic terrorists are the other group that commit mass murders and they suffer from delusions of hate for certain groups. For example, the Sikh temple shooter.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan December 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |

      I absolutely agree that it’s not relevant to lump “crime” or “violence” (or non-neurotypicals) all together, and then profess that mass shooters can’t be mentally ill because autistics are less likely to be wife-beaters or something. Some types of mental illnesses lend themselves to some types of violence much more than others, just like some types of mental illnesses lend themselves to victimization, etc., especially if people want to pool psychopathy in with stuff like anxiety disorders and call it all “mental illness.”

    2. matlun
      matlun December 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm |

      @Todd: I basically agree with you, but I am feeling a bit nitpicky, so:

      they suffer from delusions of hate

      How can anyone have “delusions of hate”?

      Hate is a subjective emotional state. If they feel hate, then they do hate that group and it is not a delusion. They may of course hate the group based on delusional grounds, but that is semantically different, surely?

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong December 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

      Typically, mass murders have paranoid schizophrenia.

      This seems like an odd assertion. Are you specifically limiting your argument to spree shootings, or are you really covering all instances of mass murder (like political purges, for example)?

    4. Vi
      Vi December 21, 2012 at 12:43 am |

      Most spree killers in the USA have not had paranoid schizophrenia.

      Also, we as yet have no idea whether or not the Aurora shooter experienced delusions. The article you linked to does not state that he did.

    5. Vi
      Vi December 21, 2012 at 12:44 am |

      Your statement is even less accurate if you apply it to all mass murderers and not just spree killers.

    6. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable December 21, 2012 at 9:45 am |

      The mentally ill, as a group, are less likely to commit crimes. However, 80% of all mass murders are committed by people with psychotic delusions 1, 2. A mass murder is where a person kills a large number of people at the same time.

      Giant, self-entitled douchebags, as a group, aren’t likely to commit crimes. However, 80% of all mass murders are committed by giant, self-entitled douchebags 1,2. A mass murder is where a person kills a large number of people at the same time.

      Implication that we should be doing something about giant, self-entitled douchebags.

  42. Donna L
    Donna L December 18, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    For anyone who think that Lanza’s mother should just have had him “committed” because of his alleged problems, there are now stories saying that she had filed papers for conservatorship, and that his anger at that supposedly had something to do with his motivation. Who knows?

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/12/18/fear-being-committed-may-have-caused-connecticut-madman-to-snap/?intcmp=trending

    1. EG
      EG December 18, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

      I’m sure it’s still her fault, somehow. She’s a mother, after all. Probably she should have filed them sooner. Or not have volunteered at the school. Or sprouted wings and flown him to the moon. Something like that.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 12:46 am |

        Well, she could have not given him training and access to high-capacity guns. If she were so concerned.

        1. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 12:52 am |

          Or his problems might not have manifested significantly until after she had done so. Or she might not have been able to admit to herself that he was a danger until recently. Or she might not have given him access and he took it anyway.

          But sure, her mothering is to blame, of course.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong December 19, 2012 at 5:39 am |

          But sure, her mothering is to blame, of course.

          While I agree that a lot of the rush to blame mothering is absurd (and misogynistic), criticizing the decision to make large amounts of firearms available to your children doesn’t seem to fit into that category. Just my two cents.

        3. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 7:20 am |

          Normally, I’d agree, to a point. But when the mother in question has been shot to death by her son, I find the victim-blaming more than a little grotesque.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          Well, she could have not given him training and access to high-capacity guns. If she were so concerned.

          Yes, because he was clearly always violently mentally ill and zoo animals ran from him, Omen-style, so she had years of warning. Because shooting isn’t a sport that lots of parents and children enjoy and the kids DON’T grow up to be spree killers. Because she knew ALL THE THINGS and totes chose to make them “available” to him while he babbled sweetly about dead children in her ear. Because people can’t, I don’t know, steal keys or break doors anymore.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

          Yes, giving an unstable adult access to firearms in your house = mothering. And it’s her mothering I’m criticizing. Sure, whatever. 9_9

        6. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

          And again, you know she gave him access once she understood he was unstable…how?

        7. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

          Seriously, you know that? Or hey, do you think it’s possible that he had the access before she realized that he was a danger? Or hey, here’s a thought, maybe she tried or wanted to take access away from him, but was frightened of him? Or she did take access away from him…and then he broke in? Why is it that you’re jumping to the most blameworthy scenario?

        8. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

          I’ve noticed that in news reports, the number of victims is usually now given as 26, rather than the total of 28 dead. I understand not including Adam Lanza himself in the total. But shouldn’t his mother be counted? Wasn’t she his first victim? To me, not counting her, and not considering her as one of the victims, is pretty close to saying that she “deserved,” because of her alleged mistakes, to be shot in the face four times.

        9. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

          Why is it that you’re jumping to the most blameworthy scenario?

          I’m not jumping to any scenario; he used guns that she stockpiled for the massacre. However he got his hands on them, I find it ridiculous to pretend she had nothing to do with his being so heavily armed.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

          I’ve noticed that in news reports, the number of victims is usually now given as 26, rather than the total of 28 dead. I understand not including Adam Lanza himself in the total. But shouldn’t his mother be counted

          Oh, jesus, I hadn’t noticed that. God, that’s disgusting, and Donna, I think you’re on the button re: the unspoken blaming there.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm |

          Also, Bagelsan, she was trying to have him committed. That doesn’t sound like a person who’d hand him weapons with joy and abandon to me.

        12. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. December 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

          I’ve noticed that in news reports, the number of victims is usually now given as 26, rather than the total of 28 dead. I understand not including Adam Lanza himself in the total. But shouldn’t his mother be counted? Wasn’t she his first victim? To me, not counting her, and not considering her as one of the victims, is pretty close to saying that she “deserved,” because of her alleged mistakes, to be shot in the face four times.

          Oh, that is sick. I was puzzled by the difference, but I thought it was just an error. I can’t even…

      2. EG
        EG December 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |

        I’m not jumping to any scenario

        You are jumping to the scenario where she says “Hey, kid whom I’m trying to have committed, here’s the keys to the gun cabinet. I’ll be in my bedroom,” rather than the scene where she teaches him how to shoot when he’s eight, gives him access to the guns when he’s 16, and oh, I don’t know, he has his first psychotic break at 18 or 19, and she’s too scared to get the keys back from him. Or where she does get the keys back, and he goes to the hardware store, buys a hammer, and smashes the cabinet open.

  43. Donna L
    Donna L December 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm |

    A piece by Sady Doyle on the “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” blog post:

    http://sadybusiness.tumblr.com/post/38237160177/no-actually-youre-your-sons-mother

    I pretty much agree with it, and I’m still having a major problem with the readiness of some people here to characterize a 13-year old child — whose issues apparently did not begin until his parents’ divorce — as a violent psychopath, a scary alien monster who should be put away, someone whose inner life is irrelevant, and someone who has no more “privacy rights” than an adult abusive boyfriend. Despite his virtually complete powerlessness and inability to speak for himself. And before anyone claims again that I don’t have compassion for his mother, I very much do. Nor am I labeling her as a “bad mother.” She’s a human being trying to do her best. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to question the choice she made in writing this article, and directly equating her son with a mass murderer . Not everything is good guys vs. bad guys.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L December 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

      Perhaps I should add: we all bring our backgrounds and life experiences to our opinions on issues like this. So do I, as the parent of a child who is and always has been a wonderful human being (emphasis on the human), but whose parents separated when he was 10 years old, and who had to deal with their extraordinarily contentious five-year divorce process, and, at the end of it, with his father’s gender transition. He did not have an easy time coping with everything. I managed never to lose sight of that. More details than that I don’t need to provide.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 2:07 pm |

      characterize a 13-year old child — whose issues apparently did not begin until his parents’ divorce — as a violent psychopath

      I did not find any instance of the word “psychopath” being used in relation to “Michael”. Not by me, not by anyone. I called him violent, but pulling a knife or hitting or kicking are violent acts, unless we’re redefining that in this thread too.

      a scary alien monster who should be put away

      Well, if that’s what you’re taking away from my comment here: “Yes, that includes him; that home is a dangerous environment for him and he needs long-term goddamn care in the hands of people who can actually give him what he needs both environmentally and medically.” then what the fuck ever, Donna. It’s like you think nobody’s ever taken away from their homes for necessary medical treatment. And that home? Not a good place for him, as I repeatedly pointed out. But of course that isn’t convenient to your argument, so you’re going to ignore it.

      someone whose inner life is irrelevant

      Again, I’m terribly curious where you got that from, since I made no such arguments. Neither did EG or Kristen or anyone else on that thread.

      and someone who has no more “privacy rights” than an adult abusive boyfriend

      Jesus fucking Christ. I guess all us mommies should just shut up and take the abuse silently when YOU decide that we’re not being Really Abused Enough. Because you know Liza Long’s life better than she does. I mean, our fault, right? We spawned them, now we have to take it. (This argument isn’t unfamiliar to me.)

      Also, when I was talking about privacy rights, I was referring directly to her being allowed to talk about it, not to her media tour. I pointed out that I felt the exact opposite about that; that while the original post was a rant on a personal blog that had, what, four readers? the media tour wasn’t and was exploitative.

      But, you know, I guess I’m just an ableist child-hating fuck.

      And please, don’t “some people” me. It’s cheap and below you, particularly since the (factual) claims you made were all statements by me.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L December 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |

        I didn’t say I was quoting you. It’s what I took from what you said, beginning with calling him a “violent shithead.”

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

          And then there was telling people who disagreed with you to shut up.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

          My point being that you were the only person who told anyone to “shut up.” Sorry, “shut the fuck up.” I wish there were an editing function. My point was that someone whose real name is known has no business posting their minor child’s photograph. And equating him with Adam Lanza. You’re still talking about him as you would about an abusive boyfriend, and it’s not the same thing. That doesn’t mean she needed to “shut up.” As I said, it’s not all good guys and bad guys.

          I’ve said enough about this. I think Sady Doyle’s piece speaks for itself.

        3. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

          We spawned them, now we have to take it.

          One last thing: to a certain extent, yes, you do, although obviously there are limits. It is part of the job. I speak from experience.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

          It’s what I took from what you said,

          I dunno, try “taking” less and “reading” more? Since, you know, two of your claims are patent bullshit (psychopath, needs “putting away”) and two were taken out of context to an insulting degree (his inner life is irrelevant, he has no privacy rights)?

          Re: telling people to shut up:

          I really wish people who haven’t dealt with violent children – or with manipulatively faux-suicidal family members – would shut the fuck up in favour of those of us who know whereof we speak.

          Not people who disagree WITH ME. People who haven’t dealt with THIS SITUATION. If you’ve dealt with this, then fine, disagree with me. That was the clear implication of my statements. Your misreading is bordering on malicious here.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

          One last thing: to a certain extent, yes, you do, although obviously there are limits.

          Well, by your comments, I can only extrapolate that to mean that you believe that having a knife pulled on you, being slapped and bitten and called slurs isn’t enough. I’m really fascinated by your differing standards of persecution where mothers are concerned.

        6. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |

          isn’t enough

          Enough to be concerned? Enough to make sure that whatever can be done for one’s child is being done, whatever that may mean? Enough to seek support? Of course. Enough to post your child’s picture on the Internet when you’re blogging under your real name, and to directly equate your child with a mass murderer? No, it’s not.

          And I refuse to put name-calling in the same category as physical violence and pulling a knife. I don’t know too many parents of teenagers who haven’t had to deal with that, at least on occasion. It’s simply not the same thing. If you haven’t had to deal with it, that’s wonderful.

          your differing standards of persecution where mothers are concerned.

          Really? You don’t think I count as a mother for purposes of this discussion? You think I have something against mothers? Are you fucking kidding? What I do have different standards for is children and adults, especially when it’s your own child. I just do, and that’s not going to change.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

          It’s simply not the same thing. If you haven’t had to deal with it, that’s wonderful.

          To quote you: you don’t know what I’ve been through, you don’t know what I’ve dealt with. How about you take your assumptions.

          Really? You don’t think I count as a mother for purposes of this discussion?

          Of course you do. And saying that that makes your statements invulnerable is exactly as fucking ridiculous as saying women can’t be misogynists.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

          What I do have different standards for is children and adults, especially when it’s your own child. I just do, and that’s not going to change.

          Cool. Stop willfully misinterpreting my statements and I actually won’t have a problem with yours.

        9. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 3:53 pm |

          And saying that that makes your statements invulnerable is exactly as fucking ridiculous as saying women can’t be misogynists.

          Speaking of misinterpreting!

        10. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

          OK, I really will stop now. I don’t like fighting with you.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

          Donna, I see what you meant now, I think. Sorry. Also, if I implied even accidentally that I don’t consider you a mother, I’m sincerely sorry; that thought was never in my mind. (I do think that you and I and fostering women etc are in a different position (with different expectations/responsibilities) from birth mothers, but to say we’re not mothers is ridiculous.)

        12. EG
          EG December 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

          I’m close to saying something along the lines of “Mommy, Mama, please don’t fight!” Honestly, I know it’s easy to get fired up about parenting issues–goodness knows I do it, too–but I hate seeing two of my favorite commenters at odds. You two are both so smart and thoughtful that when you disagree, I can’t help but think that there must be some way in which you both are right, some perspective that allows for both understandings in a way that we’re just not seeing.

        13. Donna L
          Donna L December 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm |

          I’m sorry too, mac.

    3. DSJ
      DSJ December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

      I have to say, I see both sides of the question here, but I don’t see how this article got so popular. We don’t really know enough about the Lanza family to say who out of any of us is really comparable to any of them. The best explanation I can think of is that the article forces us to think about whether the people we love and trust the most could turn on us in a violent way. I find that to be incredibly tragic. It seems like this is what Sady is reacting to here. These mass killings and murder-suicides are having such an effect of the nation’s psyche that we’re now turning to being suspicious of our own family members– our own children.

    4. Mariah
      Mariah December 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |

      Thank you for saying this, Donna. I completely agree.

  44. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    All right, seriously, once and for all, the tl;dr of everything I’ve said on the thread:
    1) Long had the right to post that article. I don’t like the picture, but she might as well since it’s hardly a secret now anyway.
    2) “Michael” is not safe in his home. Neither is anyone else, while he’s there. He needs long-term care by professionals who know how to/can help him. This is not a punishment; it’s necessary care for a mentally ill person.
    3) “MIchael” is violent, and his siblings and mother are living in an unacceptably abusive environment due to his presence.
    4) People who are being abused have a right to speak about that abuse no matter who the abuser is.
    5) I do not believe Michael is a psychopath; if I had to armchair diagnose I would go with child-onset schizophrenia, since he seems genuinely affectionate when he’s not violent, unlike the artificial charm of an actual psychopath, if Long’s right about that. THIS IS NOT HIS FAULT any more than my anxiety is mine.
    6) I strongly disapprove of Long’s media tour and the subsequent attention she’s gotten, and believe that she is damaging Michael’s life in bringing attention to her cause.
    7) IM A CHILD-HATING MONSTER AND ABUSER RARRRGH. Just kidding.

  45. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune December 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

    Jesus fuck.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/18/utah-6th-grader-takes-gun-to-school-says-parents-encouraged-him/

    An 11-year-old boy in Utah reportedly told classmates that his parents recommended that he take a gun to school for defense after the recent mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

    According to KSTU, students at West Kearns Elementary School notified teachers after the sixth grader pulled a .22 caliber pistol out of his backpack on Monday morning.

    “At recess, he pointed a gun to my head and said he was going to kill me,” fellow classmate Isabel Rios recalled.

    Raw Story (http://s.tt/1xjRs)

    But please, feel free to gabble on about how this has NOTHING TO DO WITH GUN CULTURE, y’all.

    1. Henry
      Henry December 20, 2012 at 12:59 am |

      It is all about gun culture. A gun culture that thinks it’s ok to teach your “troubled” kid to target shoot – cause that builds character. And here to hand an unsupervised child who normally plays with hotwheels and toy trucks a pistol. The NRA’s belief in a self regulating responsible gun owner society is a fiction. If they want to preserve gun owner rights they need to get on board with a proper training and licensing program. We do the same before we let people drive cars. And if you want to drive the really big stuff you need a class C license, obtained after extensive studies. Spree killers have overwhelmingly used legally obtained weapons. Query if they had no access to such would they have obtained them anyway?

  46. Sarah Harper
    Sarah Harper December 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm |

    Just posted on my blog again about this:

    http://pissedoffwoman.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/witch-hunt/

    The article was deeply triggering for me to write (and especially, to collect the links for), but I’m hoping it’s worth it.

    1. Marni
      Marni December 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |

      Excellent, straightforward post. Keep it up!

  47. Mariah
    Mariah December 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    I think everyone should read these, especially if you’re not well acquainted with discussions of mental health issues from the POV of neurovariant people/people with psychiatric disabilities or if you’re not familiar with anti-ableism (and if you’re a feminist, I think you really should be familiar with these issues from the perspective of the oppressed group).

    On the scapegoating of “crazy”: a neurovariant perspective on recent shootings:

    http://imaginaryplaygrounds.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/on-the-scapegoating-of-crazy-a-neurovariant-perspective-on-recent-shootings/

    Responses which highlight the ableism and problematic aspects of the popular ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’ article by Liza Long:

    http://aboutbeautyandbrutality.tumblr.com/post/38126384887

    http://thegirlwhowasthursday.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/

    http://theyouthrightsblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-response-to-i-am-adam-lanzas-mother_16.html

  48. beth
    beth January 8, 2013 at 10:16 am |

    What I sent to Kirsten Giloibran goes double here shame on you

    Your comments on “dangerously sick” are not just flat out wrong they are inflammatory hate speech and are right out of Nazi Germany as it is the elderly and women and the poor are far more likely to be treated for depletion and all of those groups are more likely to be victims of violence and now to suggest that they are de facto violent is insane and marks them as targets further if it is known that these already vulnerable groups whose word is all but worthless in court can’t protect themselves it is all but extermination. Most of us do not get protection from secret service and do not live in gated communities.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17182626

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/mentally-ill-not-more-violent-says-study-2072187.html

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525086/

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