Re: The backlash against ‘I am Adam Lanza’s Mother’

Emma Teitel on our need to vilify what we don’t understand

The good news is that President Obama has followed up on last week’s platitudes with something that resembles action:

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” he said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.” The Obama administration has renewed its support for the assault weapons ban that expired under Bush in 2004, and assembled a gun-control task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden. The team has vowed to offer “concrete proposals” on gun regulation in the new year.

The bad news is that the damage is done: 28 people are dead.

And we continue to mistrust and vilify things we don’t understand, like a mother who writes a heart-breaking article about her mentally ill son, and–God forbid–makes a few jokes at his expense.

That’s what’s happened this week when “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” went viral, and its author, Idaho English teacher Liza Long was slandered by an anthropologist named Sarah Kendzior, who took it upon herself to “expose” Long as an attention-craving nutcase.

In Kendzior’s words:

“Liza Long, the woman who wrote the viral post “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” is being held up as a heroic woman warranting sympathy for bring the plight of her mentally ill son to the public.

Her blog tells a different story. Long has written a series of vindictive and cruel posts about her children in which she fantasizes about beating them, locking them up and giving them away.”

Here are some of the allegedly “cruel” and “vindictive” excerpts from Long’s blog, Anarchist Soccer Mom:

“Dear Progeny of Mine who cannot be in the car together for more than five minutes without erupting into screams that make a Japanese horror flick seem tame by comparison: No, you cannot ever have computer time again. Not ever. Your ‘I love to fart on you’ song may seem whimsical or even clever to you, my dear seven-year old. But it makes me want to throttle you.

And you, the 11-year-old in the back, if you even touch your brother again, I will call your parole officer.  I quit! Let the state take care of you and your compulsive inability to stop poking people.

We are in therapy because said father decided that he would abdicate his parenting responsibilities to the juvenile correction facility (i.e., he had his 11-year-old incarcerated for not doing his chores, something I will admit I have fantasized about but never really considered as a viable parenting technique)…”

I’m no anthropologist but the highlighted segments above (Kendzior’s emphasis, not mine) don’t strike me as cruel or vindictive. “Lame” would be the right word–as in lame jokes about domestic life you’d hear on Roseanne, or Home Improvement, or Married with Children. Maybe Kendzior doesn’t have cable?

The bloggers have apparently reconciled, but the backlash against Long continues. Message boards and Facebook pages are rife with rants denouncing her as a fraud, an unfit mother who tricked us into feeling sorry for her–as if purity and earnestness are the official prerequisites to sympathy. Who knows what kind of screed we–or Sarah Kendzior for that matter–would be putting out if we were in Long’s position.

More importantly, who wants to know?






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