The Connecticut School Shooting
On December 14, 2012, America was home to a school shooting tragedy. Twenty children and seven adults, including the gunman's mother, were killed in cold blood by 20 year old Adam Lanza in Newtown, Connecticut. Lanza was not the first such mass murderer in the USA and will not be the last. The details of the incident were broadcast on national television across the world, it was headline news in many tabloids for many days. It triggered lots of debate on America's laws, gun culture and the power of the NRA. Reports soon followed of Adam Lanza's personal life and character. Once "intelligent" and "socially awkward" came out I think most Aspies knew what was coming next.
Speculation soon followed that Adam Lanza had Asperger's syndrome. We will perhaps never know whether he did or not. What little is known about Lanza is from family friends, people who passed by him in class.
In the age of the blame culture we have the following suspects.
Society. This is one of the most underlooked factors in terrible events such as the Sandy Hook shooting. If someone feels like a part of society, is welcomed and accepted then it is surely much less likely that they would go on this sort of rampage. However this option requires people to accept some blame. We don't much like that idea.
Guns. It would surely be a lot harder to murder 27 people without the availability of such weapons. But this goes against the grain of American culture and of course the NRA, who can fund barnstorming campaigns championing the logic of an arms race to promote the safety of school children.
Adam Lanza. Naturally Lanza has some responsibility for what happened. This varies depending on your philosophy. If you believe in simple good and evil, whether you think people are born or made that way. How much you believe we are a product of our environment, the people around us and upbringing.
Asperger's syndrome. Asperger's syndrome made him do it. In the land of the NRA and Fox News this seems to be an eminently plausible option. The absence of evidence beyond heresay concerning the diagnosis barely merited a mention.
The fact that there is no proven link whatsoever between Asperger's and violent crime also seemed to pass the media by in the clamour to blame this mysterious condition. It is curious how ignorance can be used to such devastating effect on a group of people. People with Asperger's syndrome are undoubtedly not the first group of people to suffer in this way, human history is replete with such examples. It is worrying however that the more society evolves the less people learn. Rebuttals from psychologists followed some of the wild speculation concerning Asperger's syndrome and the link to the shooting, but the damage was done. Many more will automatically think Asperger's means rampages, violent crime and other negative stigmata.
Most Aspies knew the blame game was coming our way. It has happened many times in the past. It will no doubt happen again in the future. We are an easy target. In America if you blame guns you have to fight against the culture and the NRA. If you blame society then you are blaming thousands of people. Asperger's is poorly understood, is difficult to diagnose and is in a field of a science that is somewhat vague. We have no strong voice. With the negativity attached to Asperger's who is going to 'come out' and admit they are an Aspie? For any prominent names it would be career suicide.
There is little comeback to the negative language used, the mudslinging at Asperger's syndrome by people with no understanding of the condition. It is a free for all. Nothing can be proven or disproven. Asperger's is just there, ready to take the hits until it all goes quiet again.