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Adam Lanza: The Stranger

Sam M directs us to this WSJ profile of Adam Lanza. Note this part:

Not long into his freshman year, Adam Lanza caught the attention of Newtown High School staff members, who assigned him a high-school psychologist, while teachers, counselors and security officers helped monitor the skinny, socially awkward teen, according to a former school official.

Their fear wasn’t that he was dangerous. “It was completely the opposite,” said Richard J. Novia, the director of security at Newtown School District at the time in 2007. “At that point in his life, he posed no threat to anyone else. We were worried about him being the victim or that he could hurt himself.”

Long before Mr. Lanza allegedly killed his mother and then blasted his way into a Connecticut elementary school on a rampage that left 27 dead, authorities were concerned about a young man who was unusually withdrawn and socially maladroit. The scrawny teenager with a mop of brown hair evoked feelings of sympathy, not fear, from teachers and the few classmates who even noticed him.

Sam says:

This kid had long been identified as off. Not a little off, either. Extremely off. His parents had money. He was in a good school district. He got resources. Lots and lots and lots of resources. Not sure what to make of that, except this:

If my kid were identified in this fashion, I’d go toss my guns in a dumpster tomorrow. In fact, I have no problem with a law REQUIRING me to do so. And putting me in jail if I fail to comply.

I’d get rid of my guns too, but let me ask you: how would you enforce that law? What kind of diagnosis would trip the law? If paranoid survivalist Nancy Lanza wasn’t frightened enough by her weirdo son’s behavior to lock her guns up or to get rid of them because, you know, he might blow her head off and shoot up a classroom, why are we to think that the prospect of being charged by the state would compel her to do so?

You know I’m not being snarky here; I’m just trying to figure out what the heck we can do to significantly address the problem. So far it seems that everybody believes we have to do something. Nobody wants to hear that life is tragic, and there’s no way to stop this sort of thing every time. Nobody saw Adam Lanza coming. The only person who might have seen him coming, his mother, was either willfully or passively blind. As Sam said, this man was a child of privilege, surrounded by “resources.” The president said yesterday that we are not “doing enough” to protect children. Well, what would be “enough”? Serious question.

Life is tragic, and our control is limited. There is no escaping that hard fact.

Think of these lines from Camus’ The Strangerabout an emotionally detached man, Meursault, who commits an irrational murder:

The trigger gave; I felt the smooth underside of the butt; and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the same time, is where it all started. I shook off the sweat and the sun. I knew that I had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of a beach where I’d been happy. Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.


As if this great outburst of anger had purged all my ills, killed all my hopes, I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world- and finding it so much like myself, in fact so fraternal, I realized that I’d been happy, and that I was still happy. For the final consummation and for me to feel less lonely, my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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