No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”
I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.
God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.
And with this, I've noticed that the national media focus has seemingly way-too-easily shifted to problems with the mental health-care system rather than on gun violence in our country. True, available mental health care is indeed horribly deficient in the US. For the poor and lower middle class, that is. That distinction is an important one.
Reading Ms. Long's story, I feel terrible for her. But, in truth, her own dilemma has NOTHING TO DO WITH the situation that the murdered Nancy Lanza and her murdering son Adam Lanza were involved in. Why? Because Nancy Lanza, divorced from her financier husband in 2009, got $289,800 in alimony this year. This alimony was scheduled to continue through 2023 (when Adam would have been 31).
With $289,800 per year--and a millionaire father of the child who would almost certainly pitch in more for his son's treatment, at the very least if forced to do so legally--you can afford all the mental health care and private facilities you could ever hope for. Nancy Lanza had every available opportunity for getting her son treatment. Which differs VASTLY from the extremely meager options available to the lower-middle-class blogger Liza Long (who took a job at a local college because of their health care, which nonetheless--like most city/state jobs--doesn't offer long-term treatment for the seriously mentally ill).
So Ms. Long's now-famous blog post is actually a huge red herring in this particular case.
In the Lanzas' case:
1) As I mentioned above, Nancy Lanza could afford the most extensive, sensitive psychiatric treatment for her son. For whatever reason, she chose not to take advantage of such treatment.
2) After the 2009 divorce, Nancy Lanza was ordered by the court to attend a "parenting education program." From what I've read (see above "alimony" link), it was an amicable, generous divorce settlement; it doesn't sound as if the husband stipulated that she attend such a program out of spite.
3) Nancy Lanza was a known gun enthusiast, who on at least one occasion took her mentally disturbed son to the shooting range with her. The latter is unwise in itself. But then there's more...
Her former sister-in-law said: "She was stockpiling food. We talked about prepping a lot. She was getting ready for the economic collapse."
Stockpiling food? "Prepping" (a term common in the "survivalist" community) for "the economic collapse"?
Who might have REALLY needed mental health care in this case?
Blogger Liza Long's heartfelt but, ultimately, simple-minded argument is that since she's been unable to get adequate care for her own son, she feels Nancy Lanza's pain. But Nancy Lanza had her own set of mental issues going on.
There is no health-care system in the world that could have gotten the wealthy, on-the-surface-normal Nancy Lanza to treatment. Or forced her to get treatment for her son, Adam. She refused both, when she could have easily afforded it. She apparently felt completely comfortable in her "survivalist" world (her basement, where son Adam hung out, allegedly covered, according to a visiting plumber, in corresponding weapons posters).
(Addendum: It was reported earlier today that Adam Lanza's computers/hard drives were completely smashed, thus hindering authorities' attempts at tracing what he'd been doing online. Reported that HE most likely did the smashing.
#1: Your Internet trail isn't determined by your hard drive. Please. There are IP paths all over the place for authorities to look up.
#2: Why so sure that the son did the smashing? Maybe the mom caught the son looking at something inappropriate and destroyed everything herself in a rage? For a kid whose only connection to the world was through his computer, maybe that -- combined with end-of-the-world rhetoric -- was the tipping point. Just guessing.)
It's EASY to say: "Oh, we need a better mental health-care system in this country!" True, we do. But in THIS particular case, it was the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons to a mentally unstable mother, and subsequently to her son, that caused the tragic mass murder of babies at school.
I hope no one forgets that.
A rather mean (but logical) "p.s." to blogger Liza Long: On the front page of her "Anarchist Soccer Mom" website is the slogan: "I'm a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, with a whole lot of Sacco and Vanzetti thrown in."
Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were famously executed, probably unjustly, for a particular 1919 bombing incident that they were not necessarily involved with. Despite their probable innocence in this particular case, they had, however, long been associated with violent anarchists:
From the Wikipedia "Sacco and Vanzetti" entry:
...The men were believed to be followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination. Galleani published Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), a periodical that advocated violent revolution, and an explicit bomb-making manual called La Salute è in voi! (Health is in you!). At the time, Italian anarchists – in particular the Galleanist group – ranked at the top of the United States government's list of dangerous enemies. Since 1914, they had been identified as suspects in several violent bombings and assassination attempts, including an attempted mass poisoning. Publication of Cronaca Sovversiva was suppressed in July 1918, and the government deported Galleani and eight of his closest associates on June 24, 1919....
Can I point out to mom blogger Long: If you're proudly proclaiming how in tune with violent anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti you are... Then why are you now decrying your own son's violent anarchist behavior? Violence is OK for others, but not for your own family? Think about that. Maybe you really ARE Adam Lanza's mother. In a BAD way. (After all, isn't deciding to wear the "wrong"-colored pants to school and then violently fighting over the personal right to wear whatever he wants a PERFECT example of anarchist philosophy?)
Maybe some of you folks out there need to think twice about what thought systems you're passing on to your children. They just might take you literally. SURPRISE!