Connecticut Shooting: Sunday Roundup

Here’s some worthwhile reading on Friday’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Guardian has a story about shooter Adam Lanza. In a nutshell: quiet, no friends, hard working, highly intelligent, possibly had autism. Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo has an early, tentative thumbnail sketch of Lanza’s mother, and it sounds like she might have been a doomsday-obsessed survivalist. UPDATE: here’s a more in-depth piece in The Telegraph: “Sandy Hook Elementary School killer Adam Lanza was taught how to shoot by the mother he murdered, it has emerged.” Yikes.

Alternet has a good summary of gun lobby lies and propaganda. It’s a must-read. Over at Seattle’s The Stranger, reporter Cienna Madrid interviews gun advocates over the shootings. Their comments range from interesting to offensive and demented. Example: “I think that, through the realism of today’s video games and movies, we’ve desensitized people into committing violence.” As another Stranger writer, Paul Constant, wrote here about pro-gun Americans blaming the separation of church and state for the school shootings: “These motherfuckers will blame anything as long as they don’t have to blame guns.”

Want to read about gun control and U.S. politics? The Guardian (yeah, yeah, but it’s the best so I link to it a lot) has an article on President Barack Obama’s political cowardice. And Nikolas Kristof has a smart column in The New York Times:

Look, I grew up on an Oregon farm where guns were a part of life; and my dad gave me a .22 rifle for my 12th birthday. I understand: shooting is fun! But so is driving, and we accept that we must wear seat belts, use headlights at night, and fill out forms to buy a car. Why can’t we be equally adult about regulating guns? And don’t say that it won’t make a difference because crazies will always be able to get a gun. We’re not going to eliminate gun deaths, any more than we have eliminated auto accidents. But if we could reduce gun deaths by one-third, that would be 10,000 lives saved annually.

Esteemed Dog Blog commentator Barb Saylor seems to dislike ferociously outraged rants so she should probably skip this one, which addresses the ugly smears and political legislative attacks public teachers constantly get from U.S. Conservatives.

Fuck the whole lot of you.  You don’t deserve to breathe the same air as our public servants. Would you risk death to shield a child?  No, if the security of your gated world failed you, you’d all be running for the door trying to save your own asses and pushing anyone who got in your way to the ground.

I’m glad Barb consistently pushes for a more sober, less frothy discourse–it keeps us on our toes. Still, things like this need to be said.

Finally, The Blue Review published an excellent article by Liza Long, the mother of a 13-year-old with profound mental illness who could well be on his own trajectory toward violence. It’s titled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”. It’s been widely re-posted in the last 24 hours but in case you haven’t seen it, here’s an excerpt.

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Full column here. I think Barb will find wisdom, value and good sense in it.

I might update this post periodically with more links, so you might want to check back. In the meantime, please have a safe and peaceful night.

Author: Stephen Whitworth

Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth will never, ever pass up a chance to make a Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo pun.

7 thoughts on “Connecticut Shooting: Sunday Roundup”

  1. Thanks for the link. My first impression: this is a hatchet job. The person criticizing author Liza Long is tone deaf to sarcasm and comedic overstatement. For example, she uses the following to suggest Long is unbalanced and wants to murder her children:

    “Dear Progeny of Mine who cannot be in the car together for more than five minutes without erupting into screams that make a Japanese horror flick seem tame by comparison: No, you cannot ever have computer time again. Not ever. Your “I love to fart on you” song may seem whimsical or even clever to you, my dear seven year old. But it makes me want to throttle you.”

    The other examples cited also seem to be misinterpreted as pathological. Long’s writing is lively and stylish, not “a series of vindictive and cruel posts about her children in which she fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away.” Jeez.

    I appreciate the heads-up and I’m a fan of skepticism but for now I’m going to take criticisms of Long with a pinch of salt. I’ll need to hear a better argument to be convinced that she’s using her special needs son to get attention.

  2. Thanks for the links, Stephen. I read Lisa Long’s article, as well as Sarah Kendzior’s (including the updates), first. Both writers have now agreed that the debate needs to be about mental health and the lack of help for parents who struggle with and for their seriously ill children.
    Ms. Long’s article struck me as genuine. I’m just sorry that the comments degenerated into a squabble about which anti-psychotics do/don’t cause diabetes.
    I was not impressed by Ms. Long’s blog. I understand why she has it (she’s under terrible pressure, and she needs an outlet), but Ms. Kendzior’s caveats about children’s privacy, and about the blog’s detracting from the article and the seriousness of the problem, struck a chord as well. Ms. Long is no Shirley Jackson, and her family’s afflictions are far from the suburban foibles of “Life Among the Savages”. (Note the hyperbole? Ms. Jackson’s children did not have life-threatening problems.) Ms. Long’s blog, meant to be humourous and a sanity-saver for her, may very well compound her problems.

  3. I’ve also read the “Daily Kos” article, and while it could be called a rant,it was loaded with a balanced list of things said about teachers in America in general and things done by teachers in Newtown in particular.
    It was an effective piece of writing, full of perspective – not an easy thing to accomplish in these harrowing days.

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