Re: The backlash against 'I am Adam Lanza's Mother' -

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

  1. They’re both a couple of losers. Long: who exposes her kids to public ridicule? Shame on you. The reason they are that way is clearly because of you and your husband (not just your husband). Bad parents == bad children in your case. Kendzior: get a hobby.

  2. Did anyone notice she described kinda attempting to murder her son in her blog?

    Below she’s describing her decision not to scale a dangerous cliff face…
    and her failure to tell her son not to, her failure to warn him of the
    danger and how she sort of goads him into making the attempt–the attempt
    she feels has a 75% chance of ending in death

    “I am not going to even pretend I wasn’t tempted—a sudden picture of
    Jesus standing on a mountain top with Satan, surveying the world,
    flashed through my mind. But my confidence factor was a mere 25%–in
    other words, I was only 25% sure that I could cross the space beneath me
    and cling to the other side.

    Nate started playing with his rope, putting a few “Man vs. Wild” moves into practice as he swung the teal nylon cord across the abyss, catching it on the opposite side.

    I had already made my decision when I said to him, with utter calmness,
    “Crossing that crevasse is a selfish act. If you want to do it, I will
    stand here and take your picture when or if you reach the summit. But
    it’s selfish. And I will not follow you.”

    I was speaking to myself. But Nate heard me. For several minutes. he
    thought about what I said, and in the end, he too decided not to cross. I
    knew exactly how courageous that decision was.”

    The “decision” she’s referring to is “choosing” not to die. Is there anything that can be done to rescue this boy from his mother?

    • Hogwash. You don’t know what the cliff face was like. You don’t know how fit or capable she is versus how fit and capable her son is. You don’t know how close he came to actually doing it – whether she would have abandoned her hands off approach for a panicked plea instead, had he actually been in danger. Every parent has done that.

  3. She splashed her kid’s photo across the Internet and compared him to a mass murderer so she could get on TV. That is despicable.

  4. She should have done it a different way… like not use his picture for one. I can understand a parent coming out and talking about how they have a child with mental illness, but she used her real name. She should have changed everyones names, not just the boys… especially since it’s useless when she put his pic up. All anyone has to do is look her up, see the picture and realize who exactly the boy is. Someone who is too young, and at the moment not capable of defending himself.
    Talk about mental illness, but don’t point fingers. We need to more aware of this situation but why have someone who is now going to get made fun of in public and maybe end up ‘snapping’ like people before him? People from their hometown will know who he is at any rate because she used her real name.

  5. Emma, in one of Long’s blog posts, she insinuates in all seriousness that her ex-husband made an attempt on her life. Did I miss that episode of Home Improvement?

    There is a real possibility that Long herself is mentally ill. Why should it be so taboo to consider it? There is not supposed to be any stigma against mental illness anymore. That’s the whole point.

    Your own magazine has published pieces about living with narcissistic parents and the impact it can have on children. Multiply that to malignant levels, add paranoia and a preoccupation with death (it’s all in her blog) and it does not sound like a picnic for a 13-year-old who is reminded every day that “It’s impossible to predict what will set him off”.

  6. Are you a “writer”. Or just a gossip? The child’s mother sounds uncannily like the all-too common grown-up brand of bully. They do exist, you know. I’m with Kendzior. The anthropologist. Don’t speak up/out – and simply put, you’re part of the problem.

  7. Are you a “writer” or just a gossip? Sadly, the mother sounds uncannily like the all too common brand of grown-up bully: Most specifically, the kind that thinks its ok to ridicule children. They do exist you know. I’m with Kenzidor. The anthropologist. Don’t speak up – and you become part of the problem.

    • She wasn’t ridiculing the children. She was writing a humour blog. I don’t believe for one minute she actually said that to her children.

  8. Wow. I don’t know if we’re all just rabidly looking for contrary opinions and gotcha moments, or whether we’re becoming more naive about the people around us. Strangely, people seem to take it as a given that Liza Long being (possibly) narcissistic or having (arguably) poor judgement regarding the use of her son’s photo, and Liza Long writing a moving and illuminating response to the tragedy in Newtown are mutually exclusive. How bizarre that we could think to pick apart her later recalled, stylized accounts of the more trying aspects of parenting, and use them to dismiss her – not just her writing, but *her* – as a person. How about simply asking yourself whether you think the things she describes in her (in)famous article are true? Or, close to true. Or perhaps totally subjective, but at least reflective of how *she* feels in the situation. Why does anybody care whether they think they would like her if, say, they actually knew?

  9. I think the blog posts, although they sound cruel to us, realistically illustrate just how frustrating, difficult and hurtful it can be to raise that kind of child day in and day out. I imagine that it would be exhausting and isolating, and sometimes you might even hate your child. But I am not under the illusion that I would fare any better with such a child. Are you? I think people who criticize her haven’t given it much thought.

    • Although I do think that her son’s identity should have been better protected.

  10. Many of you people just don’t get what it’s like to be or live with someone who is mentally ill. One of you accused her as being part of the problem. Well I have news for you. Everyone who goes about spreading hate and intolerance and disdain for others is part of the problem. We live in a society where each of us sits upon a pearly white throne, casting judgement upon all the lesser humans below us. THAT is the problem with our society. All I see here is proof of the stigma towards mental illness and those who live with it, whether as the ill or those who care for them. You have NO idea what it would be like to care for a child like that, and instead in your high and mighty perfection you blame, no you scandalize, an imperfect and troubled mother who deals with a very distressing situation. Few of you understand or give a darn about understanding, because all you care about is justification of yourselves and demeaning others as a short lived means of lifting yourselves. No people, that is not that answer. There is a simple message sprinkled throughout our society that many seem to like on the surface, but that few want to take to heart. If you want to see the change, be the change. If you want to see violence end, refrain from violence, even verbal violence (and by the way I spot more than one grown up bully on this message forum). If you want to see the mental illness stigma go away treat the mentally ill and those who care for them with compassion and understanding. Because you have zero idea most likely what kind of hell on earth it can be for those people.

    I for one am not perfect, I make many mistakes and I am sure I have made at least a few in this post. But let’s get real people. The problem with our society isn’t with other people, it’s with ourselves. So let’s fix ourselves, and then help others do the same. At the end of the day the only part of this world we can change is ourselves, and once we’ve done that, we can go about serving and helping and teaching others to become better and happier people. I am sorry if this came off as finger pointing, but some of these comments just upset me, being a person with chronic mental illness. Some people will always justify, and retort, and play devil’s advocate, maybe because they’re afraid to face themselves in the mirror and ask hard questions about what kind of person they are. But some of you out there are good hearted, decent people who don’t live in fear of being seen as ‘lesser’. For those people, have compassion on Adam Lanza, his mother and his family. Don’t join Captain Critic and the Judgement Brigade, because that is the attitude that causes these horrors to happen, little by little, generation by generation.

    There are simple principles to making this world a better place. Tolerance of others. Honesty with ourselves. Desire to do good. Serving our fellow man. Acknowledging our shortcomings and trying to overcome them. Patience with the shortcomings of others.

    I know that recent events are horrific and difficult to explain. But let us return evil for good, not evil for more evil. Especially this time of year when our hearts are meant to be open and lifted towards our neighbours.

    Think about it.

  11. The more I hear about this lady, the more I am convinced that her child is not special needs; he’s just never received discipline and he’s playing his mother like a fiddle to get what he wants.