We all know what happened by now, there’s no need for me to rehash it. Instead, I’m going to address some things about Friday’s tragedy. Where to start is the only problem.
MENTAL HEALTH: First I want to address the whole Asperger’s issue. It’s being reported that Adam Lanza may have had Asperger’s syndrome which is a disorder on the Autism scale. As I’ve said multiple times on this site Asperger’s does not impair the sufferer’s ability to tell right from wrong. Several school killers and plotters have tried using Asperger’s as a defense. The one that leaps to mind is John Odgren who stabbed his classmate to death, James Alenson, at their Massachusetts high school. He was sentenced to life. To my recollection and through the stories that I’ve posted on this site no suspect ever claiming Asperger’s as a defense was ever acquitted.
My greatest fear is that with all these claims of Asperger’s as a criminal defense would not only lead to legitimate Asperger’s sufferers being labeled as potential mass murderers but that an Asperger’s defense will eventually lead to killers going free just because some quack testifies that they have Asperger’s. Not to mention that Asperger’s is not a mental disorder but a neurological one.
The other thing people have been saying in the wake of this tragedy is that it highlights the lack of mental healthcare in this country. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. As someone who has a mental illness, I was able to get as much help as I needed. The problem was it’s not an overnight fix. It took years for me to finally get the right treatment, and I’m a much better person because of it. There is no quick fix and a lot of people with mental illnesses get frustrated and impatient in trying to find the right help.
Another issue is that when people are receiving the right treatment start feeling better than think that they don’t need the treatment anymore and stop. Again this isn’t like a cold where you can just take some pills for a few days and everything is ok. Mental health issues can be a lifelong matter that you may have to deal with.
Also in this day and age, there is still an issue of social stigma where mental health issues are concerned. Some of the more ignorant among us think there’s some kind of weakness in admitting that they have mental issues or see someone with mental issues as damaged goods and beyond repair.
Lastly, there is a conflict in this country between mental health and civil rights. Unless someone is an immediate danger to themselves and others they cannot be forced to undergo treatment. Adam Lanza was 20 years old. By all rights, he could not be forced to undergo any treatment if he didn’t want to as a legal adult.
There is no perfect solution when it comes to mental healthcare and acts of extreme violence. What the country needs is more education however too many people are too entrenched in their beliefs rather than facts.
GUNS: One of the more pro-gun arguments I saw on Friday and yesterday is that our teachers should be armed. One of the more frequent arguments I saw in this regard is that Israeli teachers are armed and the last school shooting there was 39 years ago that was committed by Palestinian terrorists. Here are the parts that they’re leaving out in that argument. In Israel, all citizens are required to serve in the military, so they actually receive training in not only the weapons but in situations like an attack on a school. The other thing is that Israel is a country that is constantly at war and under attack. That would never work in the US. First off required military service will never happen in this country secondly can you imagine trying to tell the teachers’ unions in this country that they’ll be required to not only carry firearms but undergo training in them? It’ll never happen. Also, with no offense to teachers, some of them among you are not the most outstanding citizens. We can’t hardly go a week without hearing about some teacher that was engaged in illegal activity usually involving one of their students. Now give them guns. Yeah, I don’t think so.
The anti-gun argument was about the ease of which American citizens have access to guns. By most accounts, Nancy Lanza was a responsible gun owner and avid collector. I don’t know about the laws in Connecticut but if they’re anything like the gun laws in New Jersey it probably takes an act of God before you can own a gun. There is no pattern in school shootings on whether the guns were obtained illegally or not. In Columbine and Red Lake, the guns were obtained illegally, in Virginia Tech and NIU they were not.
There is also a lot of ignorance when it comes to guns as well. A lot of people do not know what the terms in relation to guns mean. Some people will hear terms like automatic, semi-automatic and assault rifle and automatically think we’re talking about machine guns. Machine guns are fully automatic by the way and are illegal to own anywhere in this country if memory serves me right. The three types of guns I mentioned all have one thing in common. One trigger pull means one bullet.
Again when it comes to solving gun crimes in this country there are no easy answers. You can’t take the guns away from responsible citizens until you do something about all the illegal guns that are out there. Solve that problem, and you probably have a Nobel Prize on your way.
FAME/INFAMY: Another thing I noticed in the past couple of days was people saying that Adam Lanza’s name should never be published as it gives them the fame or infamy that they were looking for. I wholeheartedly disagree with this. I think that history’s most vile monsters should never be forgotten. In my opinion, it’s similar to those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
Also, let’s look at this realistically. Prior to Friday, in my opinion, there were four major school shootings in what I call the modern era. There was Columbine, Red Lake, NIU, and Virginia Tech. If you went up to the average person on the street not only would I doubt that they would be able to tell you who the shooters were in those instances most of them probably couldn’t even tell you that there were shootings at Red Lake or NIU. Most people only know the names of the most infamous of criminals. They remember names like Lee Harvey Oswald, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, Charles, Manson, Osama bin Laden, and the like. I doubt almost anyone could name Jeff Weise or Stephen Kazmierczak. For most of these shooters, their ‘fame’ is fleeting at best. Even if Adam Lanza did want fame there’s not a lot he can do with it from hell.
MISINFORMATION: Nobody should be really surprised by this one. We live in a society where we need information now regardless of whether or not it’s correct. Somebody on Twitter said that they have never seen the media act so irresponsibly in a time of tragedy before. I replied to them, I have, it was 13 years ago. How much misinformation was reported at the time of Columbine that still persist as pervasive myths today? In that time the national media really hasn’t learned anything and I doubt they ever will. Journalism in its myriad forms is not about reporting the truth anymore, it’s about being first and getting as many eyeballs as possible on their particular outlet.
It also didn’t help that a lot of people on social media wouldn’t wait for any kind of verification before repeating it ad nauseam on their respective profiles. How many times was Ryan Lanza’s Facebook passed around before it was confirmed that his brother was the shooter? We weren’t exactly helping ourselves with that one.
THE VICTIMS: Let’s never forget who this is really about. It’s not about your religion or lack of one, and it’s not about your political views or your favorite politician. It’s about the over two dozen people, mostly small children who tragically and needlessly lost their lives on Friday.
Charlotte Bacon, age 6
Daniel Barden, age 7
Rachel Davino, age 29
Olivia Engel, age 6
Josephine Gay, age 7
Ana Grace Marquez-Greene, age 6
Dylan Hockley, age 6
Dawn Hocksprung, age 47
Madeline F. Hsu, age 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, age 6
Chase Kowalski, age 7
Jesse Lewis, age 6
James Mattioli, age 6
Grace McDonnell, age 7
Anne Marie Murphy, age 52,
Emilie Parker, age 6
Jack Pinto, age 6
Noah Pozner, age 6
Caroline Previdi, age 6
Jessica Rekos, age 6
Avielle Richman, age 6
Lauren Russeau, age 30
Mary Sherlach, age 56
Victoria Soto, age 27
Benjamin Wheeler, age 6
Allison Wyatt, age 6
One name I purposely left off the victims list was Nancy Lanza and not for reasons you may think. She most definitely was a victim. Please keep that in mind as the Lanza family has to also deal with this tragedy. Ryan Lanza and his father not only lost a son and brother and a mother and (ex-)wife but will probably live with the guilt of this tragedy. Please keep them included with your prayers and thoughts of all the victims.