Adam Lanza took the lives of twenty-eight people on the 14th of December, 2012. Twenty of those lives belonged to six and seven year old children. Six of the lives he took belonged to staff at Sandy Hook Elemetary School. The gun man also took his own life. That makes twenty-seven. Since that awful day, list after list of the victims names have been shared and passed around social networking sites or posted on various blogs. Conspicuous by its absence is the name of perpetrator’s first victim, Nancy Lanza, his mother.
Nancy was, by all accounts, an avid gun collector. It was she, it is reported, that taught Adam to shoot and it was her legally obtained guns that he took to the elementary school and stole twenty-six lives with after he had killed his mother and before his suicide. Nancy’s death is uncomfortable. There is a distinct aroma of victim blaming whenever she is discussed. The facts are that we still don’t know why Nancy had such an arsenal, why she taught her child to use those weapons or what else she passed on to him in terms of the appropriate or otherwise employment of said guns. It seems ludicrously unlikely that she undertook to train her son in order that he could, one day, shoot her in the face then go on a bloody rampage in a school. No bell tolled for Nancy Lanza during the official Newtown memorial service.
The one notable attempt at empathising with Nancy Lanza, I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother, garnered huge amounts of attention for its author, Liza Long. In it, Long compares her thirteen-year-old child not only to the CT gun man but also to Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris who carried out the Columbine High School massacre of 1999, Arizona gunman Jared Loughner and Virginia Tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. In this utterly despicable piece of pity porn, Long bandies the idea about that Lanza was suffering from a mental illness – a conclusion she has jumped to with, at that point, zero confirmation of this being the case. Further, she assumes that her child and all of the murderers she names share a mental pathology. Often described as raw and honest, the post is more a cry for attention than it is a cry for help or understanding.
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg, herself an autistic woman, addressed the fact that long had disclosed so much about her son and her negative feelings towards him so very publicly on her blog Disability and Representation. Her piece, No, You Are Not Adam Lanza’s Mother and Yes, Your Kid’s Privacy Matters, should be read in full but here is a very important point Cohen-Rottenber stresses:
I’m not even going to speak to the issues that the article raises about the mental health system. I can’t even get that far because I’m so appalled that any mother, a day after 20 children are killed, would use her own name to write about her 13-year-old son and suggest that her son is like the person who killed them. There isn’t any moment when it’s appropriate to compromise a child’s privacy in that way. But when people are raw, and hurting, and scared, that’s a moment when it ought to be perfectly obvious that you don’t do it.
Equally dispicably, others have set the blame for these massacres firmly at the door of the murderers’ mothers. We should, at a time where birth is “medicalised” not be surprised by the CT shooting but shocked that such events aren’t more common still. At least that’s what some “natural” birth advocates believe. Within hours of the news of the Newtown massacre this egregious attempt to make money from the tragedy appeared on Facebook:
Suzanne Arms is trying to raise $35,000 to finish a propaganda film to encourage women to unnecessarily risk their lives and that of their babies by attempting to birth at home. “It takes a lot to kill a baby,” says contributor Nikki Lee. According to Ms Arms, creating a killer is easy.