Sunday, December 16, 2012


Insight from


What transpired in Newtown, Connecticut today beggars belief. I've been through Newtown as a college student, and Norman Rockwell could not have painted a more exquisite little hamlet. But this would be a howling tragedy in Compton, or Detroit, as well. Slaughtering toddlers, children, is so especially heinous as to cause all of us to take a moment, and grieve for our imperfect species. History is replete with our ability, and often our tendency, to be monsters. But to shoot one's mother in the face, and then slaughter her kindergarten class? I don't know what to say about that.
Forget the political poseurs. They will be, and are, raising their needy heads. I have no desire to enter the fray of gun-free-zones versus heat-packing librarians. I've eaten herring before, and did not particularly care for it.
What we do have, however, is a seriously psychotic individual acting out a rage that is incomprehensible to the vast majority of us. Shooting toddlers. Someone, somewhere, brought this upon this village. I find it inconceivable that this fellow awakened this morning and thought for the first time Today is the day I go berserker.
Again, I do not see this as a gun issue. It is a crazy people issue. I have no facts, I am intuiting here, but I would wager this young fiend, who is by various descriptions autistic, Asbergian, schizophrenic, has a well-documented history of aberrant, dangerous behavior. I am by no means casting aspersions on the autistic. I have friends with autistic children. It is a heart-rending challenge, but it is by no means this. This is something else entirely.
No, there are some dead kittens quietly buried, some violently aggressive behaviors salted away, some red flags screaming Institutionalize this young man! that we, as family members, as community members, are often too loathe to do. We are historically a nation of fixers. We think we can fix that bad hatchling. Also, of late, we are a nation of cringers. We cannot summon the spine to do what sometimes must be done. We have deinstitutionalized every mentally ill person in the nation, to prowl the streets and haunt our commutes. To defecate in our common areas, and terrify our children. Our sense of compassion is noble, but most certainly displaced.
I'm not so much a believer in Good and Evil as I am in Biology. Mother Nature often gives birth to some troublesome mistakes. If you don't believe me visit a Ripley's museum. It's relatively easy to repair a cleft palate. It's not so easy to fix cleft souls. They are harder to detect, and as impossible as quicksilver to get one's hands on. But they indicate, as the medicos say. The flags go up. The shots are sent with regularity across the bow. The question is how do we deal with these indicators as a society?
We are often mocked in the South for locking our crazy aunts in the attic. My family didn't, but I can think of one or two who should have been. There's a good reason you lock the crazy aunt in the attic. I would posit there's a good reason that crazy half uncle never returned from that hunting excursion. If I'm a rancher and my cow gives birth to a two-headed calf I'll either 1) parade it around for money or 2) asphyxiate it. I'm not going to leave it with the herd and pretend it's okay. Because it's not. It's eventually going to kill itself because the one body struggles with satisfying two competing brains. It's cruel to treat it normally.
I figure this Lanza fellow was like that calf. Mom and Dad certainly couldn't parade his abnormalities around for money, but they refused to institutionalize him. And eventually those two minds had had enough. Tough love is a hard thing. I'm glad I've never had to make such choices. I would probably flagellate myself senseless if I institutionalized my child. But I'd sleep like a baby compared to what I would feel if my child had done this thing we witnessed today. That, of course, is assuming I wasn't the first one killed, like Mom.

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