Whenever a tragic mass shooting occurs, the media often scrambles to make sense of the senseless and explain the unexplainable. One of the narratives that are often picked up by journalists in the wake of mass shootings carried out by white men is the story of mental illness. That line of reasoning is noticeably absent from many of the individual and mass shootings that occur among black and brown people.
If it was indeed mental illness that caused Adam Lanza to brutally murder 27 innocent victims (18 of whom were young children) in Newton, Connecticut, then who is to blame for not treating Adam or atleast protecting him from victims to whom he was an imminent threat?
Some critics are blaming his mother.
Gawker published a story on Sunday entitled “I Am Adam Lanza’s mother.” The writer, Liza Long, is described as “a single mother of four bright, loved children, one of whom has special needs.” Long painfully recounts her struggle to care for her son, Michael (name changed) who struggles with mental illness. She writes of the many times Michael has attacked her and threatened to kill her or himself. She talks about collecting all the sharp objects in the home in a Tupperware container that she carries everywhere so he won’t use them as a weapon. She also references her 7 and 9 year-old children, Michael’s siblings, who she trained to lock themselves in her car during Michael’s dangerous episodes.
Her essay immediately drew ire among commenters who labeled her an unfit mother. They argued that Michael is an immediate threat to everyone in his path. As his mother, she has a duty to herself, to her other children who live in fear and to society to protect us from that threat. Readers offered everything from prison to a mental institution to medication as a solution.
Here’s one comment via Gawker:
“If you have a child that you know is capable of committing mass murder you have a responsibility to contain them by whatever means are necessary. Your child assaults you? Press charges. Medicate them. Even if it turns them into a zombie. Have them committed to a mental institution. Even if it’s a sh*tty one. Can’t get them into one? Lock them in their bedroom. Surrender them to the state. They threaten to kill themselves? Let them. Because one day they will kill you. And your other children. And perfect strangers. Just because all the choices are shitty it doesn’t mean that you don’t have choices. Pick one. Do something because they are your responsibility. And for f*ck sake, don’t own firearms.”
Another commenter shed light on how racism blinds society from potentially dangerous white men, allowing them to go unchecked until they commit mass murder:
“There is another elephant in the room we’re not discussing: racism and how it’s putting our entire society at risk when it comes to mass shooters. If a black kid was pulling knives on his family and threatening their lives, just how f*cking long do you think they’d be allowed to remain free, walking among us until they finally snapped? If a black kid made people as uncomfortable as Adam Lanza did, would he make it to 20 years old and a mass shooting of an elementary school before people FINALLY deemed him dangerous? Black kids can’t even listen to loud music in parking lots before they’re perceived as threatening, yet somehow white kids like Adam Lanza and Michael go their whole lives with excuses being made for them before they finally snap and kill dozens.”
What’s your opinion, Clutchettes? Is it that society should rally behind parents of mentally ill children or mothers should bear the responsibility of making difficult decisions regarding their child’s condition? Is racism putting us at risk by criminalizing black men while letting potentially dangerous white men go unbothered until they commit mass murder? Discuss.
May the innocent victims of the tragic Newton shooting rest in peace.