Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chicken Soup with Adam Lanza and a few hundred ghoulish American legislators...

This post is divided into four parts:

1) Adam Lanza

2) America's shamelessly ghoulish legislators

3) The customary post tragedy search for scapegoats

4) The Conclusion

Adam Lanza: Search your memory for a young man who is less masculine in appearance than Adam Lanza... Take your time... Now mentally transport yourself back to that wonderful, carefree decade between about age 12 or 13 when puberty really begins to rear its ugly head and about age 22 or 23 when most people who attend college have either graduated or dropped out. Search your memory for those least masculine males one finds in every middle school, high school, and college in America. Remember those guys? How were they treated by their peers? Living inside a physically unimpressive body, lacking social skills, and being an Asperger's sufferer is a miserable existence for any young male in America's steroid obsessed culture, but it doesn't increase the probability of becoming a mass murderer. It only makes you a more attractive target for community sanctioned abuse...and that increases the probability of becoming a mass murderer.

With that in mind, the fact that Adam Lanza was both homicidal and suicidal doesn't surprise me. He was highly intelligent and no doubt knew he would spend the rest of his lonely, disfunctional days playing video games in his mother's basement. What I have no explanation for is Adam Lanza's choice of targets. Twenty year old men who are enraged by the cruelty and ostracism they experienced usually think of the high school or college they attended, not the place where they learned to finger paint. It's possible that he was so timid, so robbed of self confidence that he just couldn't bring himself to attack anything larger. The fact that he killed six adults tends to undermine this argument, except that he killed six unarmed women. And he obviously had a low opinion of women. He shot his own mother in the head while she slept. It's also possible that he obsessed over some long forgotten incident that occured while he was an elementary school student, but that's kind of a stretch as well. Unless some as yet unrevealed fact is reported, we'll probably never know why he chose to attack 6 and 7 year olds. For anyone genuinely interested in preventing similar tragedies, it really isn't important anyway.

The Legislators: What's more important than the killer's choice of targets is the manner in which everyone is reacting. Right now even the most conservative defenders of the Second Amendment are falling all over each other in an effort to ingratiate themselves with registered voters. Over the next few weeks every elected official in America will be blathering ad nauseum about the need for "common sense" gun control. They'll be shamelessly whoring themselves for media coverage with loud, aggressive denouncements of scary, menacing looking, military style "assault weapons". I heard several of them blathering away on NPR this morning.

In truth, none of them give a rat's ass about your child's life. If they did, America would have a single payer health insurance system that covers every American citizen, or at least every American citizen under the age of 18 regardless of who their parents are or how much money they have. Instead, legislators who are now pandering to hysterical voters by ghoulishly feeding off the recently deceased chose to pander to the self interest of the health insurance industry when healthcare was the headline issue. They're so full of donkey squirts I can smell them upwind.

The Search for Scapegoats: Right now, Adam Lanza's computer is being closely examined in a feverish search for publicly acceptable scapegoats. Any website he visited; any person he conversed with in a chatroom; any motorist who drove by his home while he was surfing the web will be considered suspect. Right now the public wants to blame someone...anyone, as long as they can steer clear of The Problem.

The Conclusion" This is going to continue happening for the simplest of reasons. No one with the power to address The Problem is remotely interested in doing so. It's a national embarrassment but certainly no secret that the vast majority of these guys were victims of chronic, community sanctioned bullying. The quickest way to defuse the next one is to convince him that America is switching sides. The bullies will now be punished severely and the victims will no longer be shamelessly blamed for the criminal behavior of others. I doubt this will happen of course. America's love affair with large, violent sociopaths is a hard habit to break.

Perhaps that will change after the next massacre...or the next...or perhaps the next after that. I've been doing this so long I begin to wonder.


  1. You're going to have an even more difficult time convincing people (not necessarily me) that bullying led to this one because

    A. The lack of a suicide note or Internet rantings or anything left behind by the killer.


    B. The chosen targets.

    I'm not even 100% positive that bullying was THE factor in Columbine. I've read Harris' journal and he unironically believed that people should die for the most trivial of reasons.

    The evidence is pretty damning for shootings like Virginia Tech, though.

  2. The path from being bullied to becoming a mass murderer is not simple, neat, and linear. Transforming an adolescent into a killer is a probabilistic process much like drinking and driving:

    If enough people drink and drive, an unpredictable number of them will become killers.

    If enough people are bullied, an unpredictable number of them will also become killers.

    In both situations, bullying and DWI, the activity in question merely increases the probability of a bad outcome.

    Adam Lanza may not have been beaten up on the bus every day but he certainly was deprived of any significant sense of belonging. When you are socially isolated, you begin to compensate by living a fantasy life in your head. And since every American male wants to be heroic and feel powerful, he no doubt created a fantasy world where he was the lone hero, surrounded by enemies, facing almost certain doom at the hands of evil scientists who want to imprison him in an institution where he'll be prodded and poked for the rest of his life. Then the intrepid hero sees an opportunity to escape. While the evil overseer slept, he used her own weapons against her. Then he attacked the nursery of evil where tomorrow's horrors were being trained. But before he could finish his mission an enemy soldier threatened to wound him and take him prisoner so he disengaged from the weak, pathetic body in which he was imprisoned and downloaded his soul back to Mission Headquarters...blah...blah...blah...so on and so forth in the world of ludicrous fantasies.

    If I can come up with this crap on the fly, you can bet he could construct a pretty complex fantasy world for himself over the course of several lonely, socially isolated years.

    Community sanctioned bullying detaches the victim from reality. What sort of fantasy world he constructs for himself and who or what his targets will be is up in the air. And don't bet your life on gun control. That's a ludicrous fantasy as well.

  3. I do not understand why you needed to make his thoughts so complicated. Why do you assume that he believed in some supernatural fantasy where he "downloaded his soul back to Mission Headquarters" instead of stating that after noticing the incoming police he decided to commit suicide. He might have been just an angry guy who wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, like the official news stories often speculate about mass murderers; why is it important for you to emphasize that he constructed a fantasy world?

  4. The "official news stories" and I handle these kind of stories differently. Neither of us has any way of knowing what Lanza's thoughts were, but what I refuse to do is pretend that he was just another kook who's behavior was not influenced by his adolescent experiences. No one appears to be making a significant effort to determine why he did this. That indicates a strong reluctance to embarrass someone who matters. And that means it's going to happen again, and again, and again until the public is willing to address the source of the problem.

  5. I do not doubt that he was bullied. Actually, most of your assumptions about his thoughts seem quite likely. I just do not understand why you think he became detached from reality and pretended his soul transfers to headquarters after mission completion. Everything about your interpretation of his perspective can be transformed into a more reality-based thinking, where he indeed was depressed because he would forever continue to be terrorized by bullies in a society full of them, and in addition to the suicide invoking thoughts of remaining a loser for the rest of his life feared his troubles would only get worse when someone who suspected his creepiness of being some mental disorder would force him into a psychiatric hospital where he would “be prodded and poked”. Also, your guesses about his reasons for target choice both make sense; his revenge on society would target its most vulnerable and precious members…your second guess is not so far-fetched; attacking his elementary school as a symbol of bullying rather than high school or college, is not completely unique; this rings true in the case of Carl Ericsson, who even though was bullied by many later on, remembers his first bully because he represented the origin of his victimization.

    I think that this thought process is also insane but believe it is more probable than Mr. Lanza becoming delusional from being isolated and playing video games.

  6. We'll never know what kind of fantasy world he created, if any. But I'm betting he created something because that's been the standard method employed throughout human history for rationalizing whatever it is you want to do.

    Religion is a common fantasy world used to rationalize all kinds of awful behavior up to and including genocide. The Old Testament is full of stories where the "chosen people" massacred those who were already living in their "promised land."

    A devotion to the greater good of achieving some higher purpose is another common method. The Nazis created the fantasy that the Germans were some sort of superior race who needed to dispose of inferior people in order to make "living space."

    The United States, particularly under the leadership of Andrew Jackson killed off all those native Americans who were standing in the way of "manifest destiny."

    Flip through the pages of a few history books. You'll find many more examples. What would make you believe that Adam Lanza is any less imaginative than the rest of us.

  7. Just because you gave some examples of crimes against humanity that were inspired by delusions does not mean that all horrendous violence is.

  8. You are mathematically correct...but it's still likely that he conjured up a few imaginary friends to egg him on a bit.