Let’s Blame The Victims: Newtown Tragedy, And America’s Amazing Misunderstanding of Gimps In General
By now, the press has gotten over it’s first instinct and is finally starting to figure out a few things by doing things reporters normally do.
Like talk to neighbors, previous teachers, schools, and of course the surviving family. If not do a little research themselves (which can be a dangerous thing, since all I’ve seen so far is stupid stereotypes ponied up by reporters who don’t have a fricking clue.)
But here is what is emerging.
Apparently the shooter had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological condition which dramatically affects cognitive function and the ability to communicate, particularly with other people although not with computers, and depending on what other circuitry in the brain is also affected, causes synaptic faults, like faulty wiring in a house, and in the human variety, creates responses if not interpretations of outside stimuli that differ significantly from “most of us.” Particularly if there sometimes are additional co-morbidities, which in some cases, also affect the ability to apparently “feel” pain.
Or, more accurately, pain as the able bodied understand it.
Except that too, is often a myth conveniently stifled by stereotype on full display here (AGAIN.)
While there are individuals who report the inability to feel physical pain (which is in fact a physical, not “mental” disability), such as PWDs who are paralyzed and sit in wheelchairs and ALSO experience lack of pain reception awareness in the brain, is actually a cognitive disability in all cases (even if caused by different specific reasons in every individual who has this kind of circuitry and wiring deficiency), specifically, the messenger relay system that reports physical pain to the brain to protect the body from danger, malfunction or damage. Or are broken (think about Christopher Reed, paralyzed from the neck down). He couldn’t feel pain either. Nobody ever claimed he was a psychopathic killer. Why? Oh, that’s right, he didn’t kill anyone. He also couldn’t move any part of his body. AND he was a Hollywood star. Once the headliner actor in a movie called SUPERMAN.
The more accurate way to discuss just this one aspect of a condition suffered by many different individuals with all sorts of disabilities, there is a very easy way to explain this concept in a simple way. It’s called damaged plumbing or wiring, to make a more accurate analogy.
That DOES NOT MEAN that such individuals do not suffer mental pain or distress (in fact they often do). That’s what leads to outbursts of temper, anger and frustration.
Imagine knowing you are being made fun of, and have no way to explain what is going on. And suffer unrelenting teasing, abuse, and all the rest that is also called, particularly in American High Schools “the hazing ritual of high school.”
Guess what? It’s painful enough when you don’t have anything else going on.
With a clear disability and perception of the stigma all around you, trust me, your days are filled with humiliation. Every single day. If not pain of a devastating kind.
Unlike sociopaths if not psychopathological conditions, where the pain of OTHER people apparently is not processed by the individual with that kind of disability, in this kind of situation, that is not the case.
The shooter at Sandy Hook clearly could feel pain. And was often terrified. So much so he would actually shrink to the walls when other students passed him by.
That is a classic case of showing PHYSICAL FEAR.
And like many with Aspergers’s relied on rituals. Like keeping close watch if not tight clutch on his briefcase (for of which of course he was relentlessly teased, mocked and humiliated by other students).
How would YOU handle that kind of crap?
Not to mention the divorce of your parents. Change like that is very, very hard for anyone. Much less a person who has a disability that is manageable only by creating infallible rituals. Which is not exactly how life works now is it?
Remember the movie starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman called Rain Man? Did anyone discuss the inability to feel pain in the character played by Hoffman? NO. In fact, it actually showed a person with a disability just like the shooter in Connecticut, that frequently and fairly accurately showed that people who suffer such disabilities often feel pain that we (as the “able-bodied”) are incapable of both experiencing if not understanding. Not to mention what is probably Cruise’s best performance of his career as the typical “able bodied” jerk, for most of the movie, who had no clue what his own brother needed, thought, felt and was good at. And in the latter case, exploited it to try to save his own butt.
Very accurate, I have to say. Across the disability spectrum.
Don’t like that mirror image, Cruella Deville? Tough cookies. Most of you act like that. Look in the mirror again. If you have the courage to do so.
Does that make US the sociopaths because we don’t understand much less feel THAT kind of pain? Or admit we contribute to such suffering?
So why is this even an issue in this situation?
The fact is, that poor kid probably was terrified most of his life. Perhaps that’s why mom, rather dumbly, taught him how to shoot. To protect himself. Without realizing (or being counseled) that this was most probably not a good idea. Particularly around her son.
Dumb idea. But one also never apparently caught by the healthcare professionals involved either. And that is criminal. Far more criminal that what that poor kid did. In fact, it may be in fact exactly why this happened. Where is the blame of “no feeling of pain” if not gross incompetence, being leveled at the doctors and nurses, and school officials and the social services agencies which do this all the time, not to mention the highly paid medical staff the family could afford.
Want scapegoats? THEY COME FIRST ON THE LIST. Even though, of course, Aspergers in particular is not linked to violent behavior. But you don’t give a gun or shooting lessons to a kid who doesn’t come wired with a restraint or ability to understand what is a threat and what is not.
But then that is what happens when overwhelmed families break up too, usually leaving the gimp kid with the mom. As is what happened here. As is what happens all the time. And I’m sure she loved her son and meant well.
She just didn’t understand the disability. And that is the fault of the medical professionals who treated her son, and were supposed to also teach her.
And they failed. Where is the blame leveled against them? If not a healthcare system which in general hasn’t done its homework either, particularly with this kind of disability.
But do not mistake the crap you read in the media as true.
That kid suffered a kind of pain that is so devastating most of us don’t understand it, much less experience it.
That was the reason he pressed himself up against walls, for example. That was why he was shy. And of course, he didn’t fit in. And that is why he had trouble looking people in the eye.
In other words, the perfect target for schoolyard bullying, teasing, torture, violence.
Doesn’t ANYONE remember what it was like in junior if not high school to be the “nerdy” outcaste?
That’s what High School is known for. Particularly in America.
And it’s also why the family withdrew their child from public school.
Why the shooter’s mother taught her child to shoot, however, is beyond me. I personally think she was probably a victim too, as was the whole family (which although the alimony and support were there, the family did something very common in this kind of situation when a child or even an adult develops a very complicated disability.)
They divorce. The woman usually gets the full burden of caregiving. And the other members of the family send a check, but don’t give the gimp and the mom much thought after that. Given the complete lack of support at any price, not to mention the ignorance of most doctors, if not the understanding of such disabilities themselves even by medical professionals much like parents, it is hardly surprising that the family dissolved. Or this tragedy occurred.
Happens all the time.
So does what happened to me. Your family decides to flush you down the drain and leave you some place to die.
Sound brutal? Once in a lifetime? Actually, no.
Brutus, the faults on this one lie within ourselves, not the stars.
While seeking to find “victims” or those on whose shoulders the blame rests, neither of which is terribly productive unless you also seek answers and are prepared to do something about it, is where we now are at least in the mainstream media, and of course the real issues are still not being addressed.
And here is another, easy to understand example.
Remember when Obama made jokes about his bowling skills early in his first term in the White House, and compared himself to a Downs Syndrome individual, with regards to bowling?
Do you think that the Downs Syndrome folks (who understood the message very well, and in fact challenged the President to a match) didn’t feel pain? If not abject humiliation?
WRONG. They did. Thus the challenge that came back to the White House, only to be ignored.
At the time of that unbelievable statement (for which the President ONLY apologized to the Kennedy grande dame who started the Special Olympics, not those with disabilities themselves, since all of us, no matter what the disability, obviously don’t DESERVE an apology because we are so subhuman), I was at the worst point of my condition and couldn’t speak. And also denied healthcare.
The muscles of my larynx were literally in uncontrolled spasm mode, causing neuropathic pain, the inability to speak, drooling, and when I could force words out, people thought I too was “retarded.”
I was beaten up daily for a period of four months – every time I left my apartment. I was refused service at a Fed Ex office in mid town Manhattan, while the growing line behind me kept telling counter staff to “get the retard out of the way.”
Trust me, that hurt. But then I also don’t suffer cognitive deficiencies of the sort that the Lanza kid did. I made the counter staff very aware they were misconstruing the situation, and in a loud voice, on my cell phone, called the destination (the Governor’s office in New York State) and LOUDLY explained the issue so the packed Fedex office could understand what was going on. It hurt like hell, as speaking still sometimes does, but that was my response.
Lanza did not have that capacity. So he fought back in another, very tragic way. And worse, one taught to him by HIS OWN MOTHER.
So no, I don’t like the way this conversation is devolving (as it always does.)
Lanza felt pain, humiliation, frustration, and all the rest.
Why do I know that?
Trust me, I felt pain too. Constantly. I still do. Of both the physical and mental kind.
So this crap that is being spouted in the media right now, about attempts to blame someone, anyone, except the true perps (which include the media who have largely avoided the subject of disability, even after the Olympics this year along with the medical system and our political debate), not to mention the really “retarded” ideas about healthcare provision and reform if not the stigma that surrounds any discussion of even moderate understanding of common, modern concepts of disability (of any kind) this is exactly the vacuum that is responsible, if not the true source of blame if not in fact what is at the bottom of the “mystery” the mainstream media can’t seem to figure out.
Gee, I wonder why?
Oh, that’s right. Less than 1% of anyone who WORKS in media has a disability. Much less one that is visible. Maybe that’s why, apart from apparently an unwillingness to do some research, if not independent thinking, the vast majority of the media (with the notable exception of Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe on MSNBC who has a child who suffers from a disability somewhere on the Aspergers to Autism scale) JUST DO NOT GET IT. Nor do they care to.
Good question. But I think it has a lot to do with ignorance, if not a prejudice that is also linked to dollars.
Of all kinds and in several verticals.
Fox News, apparently, has told its staff to not bring up gun control.
Where is the channel that discusses what life is really like in America for those of us who suffer ANY type of disability?
Oh, that’s right. We are all so freaking “defective” that not only are we invisible, we don’t get the chance to participate in even THIS debate.
While I am not about to judge the family who will bear the brunt of this tragedy the hardest, and already has, I am an unstinting critic of a society that literally refuses to look in the mirror and do what most of us gimps are FORCED to do if we stand any chance of surviving, if not managing our disabilities.
Admit, FINALLY, that Denial is not a River in Egypt.
This society is what creates such tragedies.
No apologies allowed.
And if blame, confusion, superficial coverage, or limited debate is the order of the day, the only ones we have to blame for this unbelievable but totally predictable and preventable disaster is to understand that we, as in all Americans, ultimately bear the brunt of the responsibility to make sure that these things never happen again.
That’s not really all that popular on Capitol Hill, DC, the political sphere, on mainstream media, or even of conversation at the state level.
The fact is, we brought this, like all the other tragedies of similar ilk, if not the ones that never make the news, on ourselves.
Time to change.
Or face more of the same.
TIME FOR A CHANGE.