Sandy Hook was the national tragedy that broke me. Almost two years later, I still can’t look at the images of terrified and crying children evacuating their school while heroes, honest-to-fucking God heroes, whether they were teachers, police or first responders steeled themselves and walked through fire to get those kids to safety. I imagine the children in my own life being put in that situation for barely a second and forget it. And for a short while, the entire country felt the same way. This was going to be the time when we all stopped for a minute and went, “This is getting goddamn ridiculous.” But then the moneyed arm of the NRA with the full weight of American stupidity behind it took off the cast it wore for show and went right back to work harder and more dead inside than ever as gun laws actually became more lax because surely you see the problem wasn’t too many guns, it’s not enough! Rabble rabble rabble! And so Sandy Hook was forgotten – except for when it makes a great Christmas present anecdote, you betcha – until today when a New Yorker interview with Adam Lanza‘s father Peter became the must read article of the day and pulled Sandy Hook out of the dusty box labeled “Just one of those things that happen because F’EEDOM!” In it, Peter Lanza details the deterioration of Adam’s mental state in his own pursuit of figuring out why something like this happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future. It’s a depressing look at a father’s attempts to process having your son commit such a heinous and violent act that bleakly ends with him wishing his own son was just never born. Except what really boggles the mind, and yet goes unspoken the entire time by Peter, is that Adam’s dwindling mental state was readily apparent to his mother Nancy who – as Peter unfortunately learned much too late – was downplaying the severity of Adam’s behavior. As you read the interview, it’s abundantly clear this was a sadly troubled young man, and yet his mother KEPT A FUCKING ARSENAL IN THE HOUSE. The entire article delves into the psychology and biology that may have caused Adam to snap, but the reason for why, and even moreso how this happened is right fucking there. And naturally the shitbird response to that will be, “Well, he would’ve found other weapons.” And you know what? Maybe. Maybe Adam Lanza would’ve built a pipe-bomb or somehow purchased his own firearms because this is a country that believes in Jesus-shooters for everyone, but that would’ve at least put some sort of friction between him and his goal besides, “Where can I find an assault rifle? Oh, wait, right here on the couch because mom think gun safes will slow you down during Armageddon.” Which brings me to probably the most profound passage of the whole interview:
For him, the crime defines the illness—as he said, soon after we met, you’d have to be crazy to do such a thing. He found the idea of Adam’s not being insane much more devastating than the thought of his being insane. Peter has searched the psychiatric literature on mass killers, trying to understand what happened to his son. He came across the work of Park Dietz, a psychiatrist who, in 1986, coined the term “pseudocommando.” Dietz says that for pseudocommandos a preoccupation with weapons and war regalia makes up for a sense of impotence and failure. He wrote that we insist that mass killers are insane only to reassure ourselves that normal people are incapable of such evil.
Photo: Episcopal News Service