on the day of the sandy hook shooting, i was already having a complete meltdown. it was finals. the weekend before finals, specifically. i had run out of my medication, but the prescription i’d gotten in the mail from my parents had been filled wrong at the pharmacy. i was expected to write probably upwards of sixty pages. i had no idea what to do. at the end of that term, i was supposed to be flying to oxford to do a semester abroad there. i had basically been sobbing, alone, for the last twenty-four hours.
i should also mention that my college is probably no more than a two-hour drive from sandy hook.
i was waiting to meet with one of my professors, so i could basically go to pieces in her office. un-characteristically late, she breezed past me sometime after eleven, mentioning something about a phone call she needed to make, and slammed her office door closed behind her. i waited for about a half-hour. eventually she came out, and told me she had to go to a lunch meeting now. that she was sorry, but she didn’t have time to talk that day. she had been crying. (her younger child was a first grader that year; it was his birthday that weekend.)
i spent the rest of the day replaying the same song over and over on my ipod and staring at single spots on the floor until my vision started to do crazy shit. i didn’t really have anyone to talk to. nobody wants to go around complaining about how their brain-medications aren’t working on a day when someone their age, with their brain-labels, just committed mass murder less than one state away.
i don’t want to talk about aspergers, or autism, and violence right now. because i don’t consider that a very convincing argument, or statistical correlation. the only way that you come to the conclusion that there is some direct connection between autism and extreme violence is by pretending like 99% of all daily violence and killing does not happen.
wars. armed robberies. drunk drivers. police brutality. negligence. abuse. hate crimes.
please, ask yourself: are you upset because a violent act has taken place, or because the violent act in question doesn’t make sense to you.
if the latter is true, you should think about why so many other acts of violence do make sense to you.
my only other point is this: the overwhelming majority of “mass murderers” (i.e. people who kill lots of people personally, rather than telling other people to kill lots of people for them) are white men for a reason. they’re the only group of people who could reasonably assume that their problems could be solved if they just killed enough people. nobody else is messed-up enough to think that.
but mostly, i want to answer the unspoken question: “but don’t you think that there’s some connection between mental illness and violence?”
my answer is this: no. i don’t.
i think there’s a connection between “normal” people and violence that people think is “normal” and i think there’s a connection between “abnormal” people and violence that people think is “abnormal.”
if the only kind of violence you worry about is the “abnormal” kind, it’s high time you examine why.
Although we might argue that it would be impractical to write obituaries for all those people, or for all people, I think we have to ask, again and again, how the obituary functions as the instrument by which grievability is publicly distributed. It is the means by which a life becomes, or fails to become, a publicly grievable life, an icon for national self-recognition, the means by which a life becomes note-worthy. As a result, we have to consider the obituary as an act of nation-building. The matter is not a simple one, for, if a life is not grievable, it is not quite a life; it does not qualify as a life and is not worth a note. It is already the unburied, if not the unburiable. (Judith Butler, “Violence, Mourning, Politics” p. 34.)
I’m nine. This is a deeply unfortunate haircut stage. I am wearing a blue fleece and grey cargo pants. My hair is short, and I can’t really describe it other than to inform you that I actually have like four cowlicks. For reals.