I hate politicians who embrace the banal as the solution for problems that are beyond solution. They should be chained together and tossed into the ocean (hopefully inside a bag weighted with cement blocks). There are those nitwits who insist that all we need is more gun laws. We need, they pontificate, to ban assault weapons and require more background checks. They spew this blather while ignoring, in the case of the Connecticut killer, the fact that that the guns used were acquired in a state with onerous gun laws. The guns were obtained by the killer’s mother after undergoing a background investigation and waiting period. More gun laws will not prevent the murder of 20 kindergarteners.
The problem is one of mental illness. The Anarchist Soccer Mom published a testimonial that is must reading:
Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.
“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.
“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”
“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”
“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”
I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.
A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.
That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.
We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.
Please take time to read the full post. This mother confronts a problem that cannot be solved by passing a new law. The cause of her son’s mental illness could be related to the consumption of wheat or genetics or a combination of the two. Cure? Perhaps none. Treatment consists of medicating and hoping the kid will cooperate and take the pills. Easier in theory and difficult in practice.
I wish there was a magic solution to such problems. There is not. I ache for the parents who grieve for the lost of their little ones. Those children did not deserve to die like this. But, deserve or not, they are dead. It is natural to seek for answers and solutions in the wake of such a horror.
So, what is the answer?