Posted on | December 15, 2012 | 49 Comments
“Adam Lanza has been a weird kid since we were 5 years old. As horrible as this was, I can’t say I am surprised . . . Burn in hell, Adam.”
— Tim Dalton, neighbor quoted in the New York Daily News
Let’s face it, if I should die in headline-worthy fashion — losing control at 110 mph while being pursued by state troopers on a two-lane country road with seven cases of illegal fireworks in the back seat of a rented Mustang GT — my friends will say, “Yeah, he was always crazy.”
If I were a software mogul, I’d be “eccentric.” If I were a big-time Hollywood film director, I’d be “controversial.” As it is, I’m just plain crazy and my advocacy of “The Dangerous Lunatic Incarceration Act of 2013” might seem somewhat counter-intuitive. But the fact is, crazy people can only get along safely in a world where there are clear and understandable rules, written and enforced by sane people.
That’s why letting kooks like Maxine Waters and Alan Grayson into Congress is so dangerous. With kooks and dingbats writing the laws, the insanity could escalate beyond anyone’s mad imagination.
A society can tolerate a certain amount of craziness without endangering public safety and jeopardizing the continued existence of society itself. Unfortunately, the police in Livonia, Louisiana, weren’t interested in a philosophical discussion when they clocked me doing 82 in a 45 mph zone that night in March when I was desperately trying to make it to the next day’s Rick Santorum campaign event. So the law was enforced, my rental car was impounded and, all things considered, I was lucky they didn’t arrest me.
The Rule of Law is a magnificent thing, and the discretion left to law enforcement officials — who can exercise their judgment about whether a campaign correspondent’s deadline frenzy justifies extreme speed — has occasionally allowed me to plead my way down to a warning citation. If the cops never really brought the hammer down and fined the hell out of me, however, dangerous vehicular anarchy might ensue.
If everybody drove like me, your morning commute could turn into a cross between a demolition derby, the Talladega 500 and Mad Max.
That’s just one kind of crazy: The daredevil thrill-seeking extrovert, the sanguine id-monster who transgresses boundaries as a kind of sport.
And I’m pretty sure my kind of crazy is ultimately less dangerous than the other end of the extrovert/introvert spectrum: Moody loners, who quietly nurse their resentments and conceal their twisted insanity behind a facade of silence. Ace of Spades on Adam Lanza:
What we have here, it seems, was a Strange Young Man.
What do you do about Strange Young Men? The state can attempt an intervention, but that’s a nice, euphemistic way to say “interfere with their lives for no better reason than the fact that they act oddly.” Most people who act oddly or are socially inept are perfectly nice and law-abiding. (I’m one of them.)
On the other hand, you can strictly observe their freedom to be odd ducks, and suffer the occasional calamity when it turns out that this particular odd duck was the one you should have checked on.
Indeed, and Ace’s self-recognition of his own “socially inept” qualities is what prevents him from being dangerous, unless you’re a douchebag who should stray within range of his withering sarcasm. (Just ask Jackie Mackie Paisley Passey what that’s like.) Ace knows who he is, and has found ways of coping with it and — here’s the key insight — he doesn’t blame other people for his own unique situation.
Which really isn’t all that unique, after all. We’re all kind of crazy in our own way, and our patterns of craziness are not so distinctly individual that they cannot be categorized and labeled by diagnostic experts. But if you think back on your college days, every psychology major you ever knew was crazy, so why should we trust their expertise?
Sometimes, you just have to trust your own gut hunch about this stuff, and err on the side of caution insofar as your own safety is concerned:
“A deeply disturbed kid . . . He certainly had major issues. He was subject to outbursts . . . one of these real brainiac computer kind of kids . . . Adam had a lot of mental problems . . . a gamer who ‘rarely spoke.’ . . . He was weird . . . He was quiet.”
Doesn’t it seem like a lot of people had gut hunches about Adam Lanza, but for some reason didn’t feel like they could do anything about it? What is it about our culture that inhibits people from exercising common-sense judgment that might prevent a “deeply disturbed kid” from killing 27 people before killing himself?
In a word, liberalism.
Before the triumphant cultural hegemony of liberalism — before we were persuaded that people with “personality disorders” should be viewed as victims and before the ACLU decided that the rights of kooks trumped any concern about public safety — the Adam Lanzas of the world were institutionalized, generally with the assent of their own families. Mom and Dad might have been disappointed that their kid turned out to be a nutjob, the family might feel some shame over having spawned a schizo, but they recognized that the greater good of society took precedence over their personal sympathy for the hopeless loony.
Back in the day, a lot of kids grew up with a vague knowledge about Uncle Bud or Aunt Dora, who flipped out and got sent to the State Hospital.
Kids’ knowledge of this stuff was vague, because it was gathered through overheard conversations among adults in the next room, and the shadow of stigma was something everybody instinctively understood about mental illness. We can look back across the decades and view that era as benighted and barbaric in some ways, but there were a lot fewer kooks on the streets and everybody’s lives were safer because of it.
Fast-forward across five decades of Scientific and Social Progress, and you find people embracing their psychiatric diagnoses with shocking enthusiasm, discussing their symptoms and medications the way some people used to make cocktail-party talk about astrology.
“Hi, I’m Jenny. I’m a Scorpio.”
“Nice to meet you, Jenny. My name’s Paul and I’m ADD borderline OCD with bipolar disorder and chronic depression, but the Elavil, Prozac and Adderal seem to be working pretty pleasantly today, so I don’t feel like committing suicide just because I haven’t quite finished alphabetizing my BlueRay DVD collection. Wanna dance?”
Before we turned society into one great big group-therapy session — before every minor deviation from the norm was analyzed, categorized, diagnosed and medicated — people didn’t view their problems through a psychiatric lens or think of their unhappiness as a function of abnormal neurochemical reactions that could be adjusted with prescribed dosages of serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.
Crazy people didn’t write bestselling memoirs about their mood disorders and then make the rounds on TV talk shows. Yet in just a couple of decades, we’ve gone from Listening to Prozac and Prozac Nation to Will Everybody for the Love of Dear God Please Shut Up About Prozac?
We’ve normalized and mainstreamed mental illness to the point that it seems like every other person you meet is some kind of kook.
The President of the United States is a raging narcissist, 52 percent of American voters are his co-dependent enablers, and when Jesse Jackson Jr. cited mental illness as the cause of his resignation from Congress, my first thought was, “OK, one down, 534 to go.”
But what am I talking about?
Is this just another one of those dreaded flashback tangents, a lingering side-effect of that ill-fated afternoon in 1979 when I decided to mix psilocybin mushroom tea with Bolivian flake cocaine? Am I just writing this on my blog as a sort of literary therapy, because no publisher in his right mind would pay me for such lunatic gibberish? There is a shortage of insane publishers and a surplus of insane writers, a market factor that probably explains why I haven’t yet gotten rich enough to be considered “eccentric.” But I digress . . .
No, wait — there is a point to this demented screed! Actually two points:
- People with common sense recognized that Adam Lanza was dangerously crazy, which is why they’re still around to talk about how crazy he was. You’ll notice that Adam’s brother Ryan Lanza (accidentally misidentified as the shooter by “professional journalists”) hadn’t had anything to do with his brother since 2010. Ryan knew his brother was dangerous, and did his best to put himself out of danger. But none of the people who recognized Adam’s evil craziness as a danger felt empowered to do anything to prevent him from going on a murderous rampage. Which brings me to my second point . . .
- Hit the Freaking Tip Jar! What the hell, do you think I’m crazy enough to write this stuff for nothing?
No, by God, I’m not one of these amateur crazies. This is my full-time job, and turning insanity into an actual career has made me a role model for the aspiring mentally ill everywhere. Wackjobs who might otherwise be tempted to heinous crimes are instead leading productive and useful lives as conservative bloggers. Just ask Bob Belvedere.
People may ask, “Stacy, how dare you make fun of these poor suffering victims of mental illness?” To which I answer that if I ever started taking this stuff too seriously, it would drive me nuts.
Also, Adam Lanza wasn’t a victim.
Adam Lanza was a perpetrator. And to repeat a memorable quote from Dirty Harry, “Well, I’m all broken up about that man’s rights.”