[quote]Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry
Mama’s gonna make all of your
Nightmares come true
Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you
Mama’s gonna keep you right here
Under her wing
She won’t let you fly but she might let you sing
Mama will keep baby cozy and warm
Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe Ooooh Babe
Of course Mama’s gonna help build the wall. ~ Roger Waters[/quote]
A few days have passed since the unthinkable happened at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut, snuffing the life out of 28 human beings, most of them children.
America has proceeded to analyze with what typically passes for circumspection in this country; that is political posturing, grandstanding and the not so uniquely American tendency to exploit any given tragedy for a particular cause.
We have seen the shooting spree blamed on race, masculinity, guns, lack of guns, video games, lack of prayer in schools, permissive culture and a failure of school security, just to get us started.
Underscoring all this fodder for politicians and cable news programs, has been the more reasonable investigation into the mental health problems of the killer, though that seems a given considering the nature of his acts.
Sane people don’t slaughter roomfuls of children.
It is the nature of that illness, I think, which needs to be investigated, and just as importantly any factors in his life which may have exacerbated his condition. My concern is that the wrong questions are being asked, possibly leading to some very unfortunate conclusions.
We see this already with the autism advocates having to make public pleas for people not to infer from this incident that Autism is a precursor to mass murder. Their concern is legitimate, considering the number of autistic children and adults in this culture that might become the targets of misguided people out of fear and ignorance.
Still, there are some questions that need to be asked in the aftermath of this tragedy; some of them very tough. But they need to be asked anyway.
We know some basic facts about the killer. He was a 20 year old male who was socially withdrawn and isolated. He had a history of mental health issues, some of which were manifested by periods of complete withdrawal from his surroundings and difficulty experiencing pain. He apparently required special supervision while working with soldering irons in a school shop class because he could burn himself and not feel it.
As a result of his mental health issues his mother pulled him from mainstream education and into home schooling. He acquired a GED, but apparently had no direction in life that would take him out of the home and into more autonomous living.
It also can be reasonably speculated that his mother, Nancy Lanza, had mental health issues of her own.
On the day of the killings she was his first victim, whom he shot in the head, not once, but four times. What sort of rage drives a young man to kill in this way?
Is it not fair to question, then, whether the obvious rage he felt toward his mother played a role in his other actions that day?
We know some things about his family life. He was a product of divorce, and the father was largely absent from his life. His mother received a very generous divorce settlement, which included a large upper middleclass home and somewhere between 200 and 300 thousand dollars a year in maintenance and child support.
We do not know precisely why the father, who lived within a reasonable distance, was so rarely around his children. We know he had remarried since the divorce. Was it that he was a neglectful father who just didn’t care?
Or perhaps he’s a man who divorced a very troubled woman and considered a home and a quarter of a million dollars a year a fair price for escape.
We have indications that the mother was still angry at the father over the divorce. According to a landscaper who worked for the mother, she was “still reeling from it.”
So, now, we have an emotionally disturbed young man, largely cut off from the society in which he lived, by his mother, who then became his primary, if not exclusive source of contact with other human beings. No school, no real friends; 20 years old with a GED and no job. Not much of a future to look forward to.
And there may been pressure in the home to keep things just that way.
It appears that more questions should be asked about the nature of the mothers relationship with her son. They apparently lived life quite isolated together, even sharing adjoining bedrooms. Even though Nancy Lanza was aware her son was autistic, she was reportedly quite disturbed by the aversion to physical affection so common with that condition.
A family friend, Rich Collins, stated, “She would get very upset that he wouldn’t let her hug him.”
It must be asked. How upset? It must be asked to what degree this woman’s personality, her possibly unhealthy need for affections he could not give, played a role in the pressure cooker that was obviously forming in his mind. We need to know how much of a demand she may have placed on him to fulfill her emotional needs after divorcing his father.
Could that kind of trigger play any role in making him angry enough to shoot her in the head four times?
And keep shooting until he finally killed himself?
As has been revealed in many media sources, Nancy Lanza has oft been characterized as a ‘survivalist nut’ who stockpiled food, water and guns, and was either a member or avid follower of the Doomsday Preppers.
In a conversation with WHDH-TV, Nancy Lanza’s sister confirmed the speculations.
Last time we visited with her in person we talked about prepping and you know, are you ready for what can happen down the line when the economy collapses,” said the gunman’s aunt, Marsha Lanza.
The reporter asked, “Survivalist kind of thing?”
“Yea,” said Marsha Lanza.
It appears that at least part of the mother’s idea of how to handle this situation was to keep her son sequestered with her in a home that was building into a fortress full of deadly weapons.
And by all indications she taught her isolated, mentally ill son how to use them. He certainly did not get access to them or learn to use them with such proficiency on his own.
One might also have to wonder why someone living above the standard of 99% of the planet, and who did not even have to work for that standard of living, was so obsessed with weapons and future catastrophe.
And yes, we have to question whether her actions in some way led to a horribly self-fulfilling prophesy.
Did Nancy Lanza’s decisions, emotional instability and poor judgment ultimately play a role in all those dead children?
We do not know for sure. But we know enough to ask these questions. And as the days ahead pass, and more information comes to light, we will find out whether these questions hit home.