Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rush to Judgment in Connecticut


A few thoughts on this catastrophe in Connecticut, as the story and its ramifications are being sorted out.

1. As an old street reporter and city editor who's been around the track a few times, it seems to me that the police on the scene, from the earliest moments onward, behaved with brilliant professionalism in unspeakably difficult circumstances. This includes the first responders. If there is any flicker of human hope in this story of unmitigated horror, they (and those heroic teachers, below) give it to us, and attention must be paid.

2. What's to be said about those teachers at that school, the ones who died trying to protect little children, the others who handled a horrific situation with clear-eyed aplomb? They showed true and literal courage under fire, and we must honor them always.

3. Please, media, let's not rush to canonize the killer's slain mother. (Link). That's because, from the initial outlines at least as seen in this Washington Post story today, the mother, perhaps paranoid, was a gun nut with a clearly troubled son, whom she yanked out of school to home-school (uh-oh). At the same time, the mother nevertheless evidently raised that clearly troubled son, known to have difficulties getting along with others, as a budding gun-nut, and provided that clearly troubled son with ready access to powerful assault weapons. [UPDATE: The knee-jerk media so far have not advanced this story factually with a cogent profile of the evidently paranoid, gun-nut mother. The right-wing-loon blogosphere, hair on fire as usual, are starting to pick up on some speculation that the mother was a "prepper," that is, a survivalist laying in guns and ammo and supplies for an apocalypse that this crowd is always expecting. But from all I can see, the sources for this speculation are a few vague comments in two chronically half-assed British newspapers (yeah, uh-oh there), the Daily Mail (double uh-oh) and the Independent. We need serious reporting on the mother's demeanor and behavior before this horror was unleashed.]

4. Let's look more closely at the media hand-wringing, water-carrying on "mental health intervention," which usually consists of  encouraging the manifestly rapacious therapy industry to have more money to intervene even more in the worried-well general population. Meanwhile, as always, the mental health industry will continue to shrug off, if not totally ignore, the seriously mentally ill population. The seriously mentally ill, you see, tend to be resistant to treatment, difficult to handle and, alas, short on insurance reimbursement money. Big question to pursue: Given his evidently manifest emotional troubles, was this young mass murderer already receiving mental-health treatment -- and, if so, what kind, and by whom, and to what effect? This would not be the first time that a mass murderer turns out to have been already under psychiatric care. Link.

Just asking. I wish the media would do the same.


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