Hours after the horrific school massacre in Connecticut, evidence began to roll in that the murderer, Adam Lanza, was a deeply disturbed individual with significant social issues and possibly an undiagnosed mental health disorder.
So, naturally, the vast amount of coverage from media outlets focused on the weapons this monster used in the terrible crime.
The facts of the case were so obvious that it became maddening to see the American media not connect the dots that were in front of them. The fact that Lanza chose to murder the school psychologist should have been a clear indication that there was some link between this crime and his reported mental health problems, but it was barely reported, let alone analyzed.
Twitchy collected comments in social media from neighbors and classmates who volunteered that they always suspected something was off about Lanza:
Just an hour ago (still thinking it was Ryan), I spoke to a friend who knew Adam Lanza and said he wouldn’t be surprised if it was him
– Steve Lardner (@stevelardner) December 14, 2012
My daughter went to school w/adam lanza. We lived 6 houses away. He was troubled for sure for a long time. RIP nancy #NewtownSchoolShooting
– Beth Israel (@bethiz) December 14, 2012
So scary that someone so sick and twisted can live down the street from me #sandyhook
– Tim Dalton (@tdalton19) December 14, 2012
The New York Daily News also found many accounts of Lanza’s disturbing social behavior that paint a picture of someone with deeply troubling indications of social disorder:
Lanza’s strange behavior was well-known among his well-heeled neighbors in leafy Newtown, Conn. His antics irked several residents.“Adam Lanza has been a weird kid since we were 5 years old,” a neighbor and former classmate named Tim Dalton wrote on Twitter. “As horrible as this was, I can’t say I am surprised . . . Burn in hell, Adam.”He was also seen as an odd figure at Newtown High School.Even before that, Lanza walked the halls of his middle school carrying a black briefcase while most students lugged their belongings in backpacks. “That stuck out,” said Tim Lalli, 20, who graduated with Lanza in 2010. “It was different.”
Reporting on mental health issues is difficult. It’s hard to find experts who are willing and able to discuss the nuances of mental health, social disorders, schizophrenia, and violent tendencies. Doctors and trained mental health experts are very reluctant to go on television and speculate about psychological issues involving a stranger whom they have never examined nor read about. It would be irresponsible, as well as potentially damaging to all those who live a normal and functional life with their own social disorders and mental health issues kept under control.
What isn’t difficult is getting a political hack to grandstand about their pet agenda while children are still lying in their own blood at a crime scene. Regardless of the facts and the obvious evidence pointing to a murderer with clear anti-social tendencies, the American media insulted and offended their viewers with a barrage of hysterical calls for “real action.”
This grandstanding all came despite the fact that Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.
Reporting on these types of stories isn’t easy, especially when nuanced understanding of mental health disorders and social dysfunction is needed to navigate around stereotypes and avoid fomenting hysteria against those living with these issues.
But TV reporters and anchors aren’t paid handsomely to just do what is easy for them; they are paid to inform and sometimes educate their audience. This was an opportunity to do just that. Instead, they did the easy thing and fomented hysteria against gun owners and 2nd Amendment advocates.
Photo credit: NBC News.