Within hours, other people on the web pointed out the woman loved Reagan, made her son hike up mountains, and even wrote about fantasizing about throttling him.
I want to murder my son all the time. I probably want to murder him right now, and he just cheerfully fetched me a cup of coffee. That, however, is not the point. The point is that now, if you say someone must have been insane to shoot up a school full of children without a state-sanctioned purpose, you are saying people with mental illnesses are all mass murderers.
This is—how to say—not a rational response. Which is more dehumanizing: saying someone who would shoot up a school must have something wrong in their brain (an “illness,” “mentally,” as it were) or saying the person is an evil monster?
I got it for hours on Twitter yesterday from people who said I was slurring the mentally ill by saying anyone who would do that kind of violence must be, by definition, mentally ill. I got dozens of haranguing, aggressive tweets from a man who claimed he’d just logically shown there was more of a correlation between rape and mass murder than mental illness and mass murder. (He hadn’t.) He asserted the problem was the “changing narrative” in our culture—so “violent video games” I guess. People said I was an ignorant hack, tarring all mentally ill people with the violence brush. It didn’t matter how often I explained that nobody was saying all mentally ill people are violent, or even more likely to commit violence. There is a difference between depression, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and whatever it is that causes someone to go on a spree killing. I am a big fat asshole.
The picture above is my big brother Jesse. Jesse was the handsomest, funniest guy in the world. Where the rest of us were awkward poorly socialized nerds, he was popular, golden, built like two brick walls. Once he wore girls’ boots to high school, thinking they were unisex. Nobody said a word.
Then he called my mom, from New York, where he’d gone to live after high school. He’d gotten beaten up by a guy for staring at him too long. He didn’t sound right. He came home. He was 19, and believed he was the reincarnation of Brian Jones. He was textbook, classic, immediate diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.