Bad and Badder

Watching the news tonight, I am struck by the word “evil” in reference to the shootings in Connecticut.

A disturbed 20 year old young man who lives with his mother, has no friends, hasn’t spoken to his older brother for two years and is remembered only for his nervousness and inability to fit in….that is not evil. I see no possible evil in this tormented soul.

A mother who hoards firearms and leaves them around her house, now that might be evil, since no one could be so astoundingly careless and stupid.

I am dreading the revelations to come.

This entry was posted in Disorders, grief, Horrible Stuff, Words and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Bad and Badder

  1. Jolene says:

    With all due respects, it is not evil to be nervous, to be unable to fit in, or to be a tormented soul. But it IS evil to murder kindergarteners.

  2. andrea says:

    Agree and agree.

  3. Cricket9 says:

    You can read about real evil here:
    Westboro Baptist Church Member Says Group Will Picket Sandy Hook
    A member of Westboro Baptist Church, the group that is known for picketing funerals of soldiers and AIDS victims, says the group plans to picket Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to

    A day after Friday’s shooting in Newtown, CT, where police said 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother and then 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary, Westboro Baptist member Shirley Phelps-Roper posted a message on Twitter that the group would “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

  4. C. says:

    I’ve not followed the case very closely, but you cannot dismiss that it is an evil thought to take innocent lives (and an evil act). No matter how disturbed one is, or just when the next “normal” person thinks about the killing of other, it is an evil act. When you are largely aware of the consequences of killing, which I believe you are when you are 20, it is an evil thing to go through with it.
    I agree that it could have been avoided, though. Which is a very sad and cruel thing, yes even evil, that can be blamed on the upbringing of whoever it was (I have not bothered finding out the guy’s name, since it really is a tragic affair and I insist that if I do not know the names of the victims I should not know the name of the killer) as well as the obviously paranoid parent(s).

  5. Leslie says:

    I agree with you. I suspect that using the word “evil” is a great help for people who have trouble understanding how the world often really works. It is used to separate the “evildoer” from the non-evil bystander/witness/reader of the terrible news: “I’d never do that; I’m not evil.” It comes from a religious belief system in which people are taught that good and evil exist separately, and that evil people choose to do evil things. But the mentally ill are frequently incapable of distinguishing reality from delusion. Chemical imbalance of the brain is not evil. It is tragic and horrifying and often uncontrollable.

    If it makes the public feel better — and somehow safer — to think of people who commit such acts as evil, then they (the public) are unlikely to stop doing so. But really, it’s just simplistic name-calling. It doesn’t increase our understanding. And it doesn’t solve a damned thing.

  6. jlynn says:

    I don’t think it disrespects or diminishes the dead to recognize the pain/rage/madness/confusion/suffering/hopelessness of the young man who killed them any more than it honors them to call him evil. It’s all just so unbearably sad…

  7. Sister Wolf says:

    jlynn – Unbearably sad, yes.

  8. Andra says:

    Guns, guns, guns.
    Why would you want this type of weapon in your house?
    What army are you expecting to invade your domain in the near future?
    It has always been my belief that you don’t need a gun unless you want to kill somebody.
    I might say I “want” to kill a few people in jest from time to time but, seriously, I most definitely do not want a gun. I would never feel safe if there was a weapon in my house.
    Guns kill and/or hurt people. Why the hell would anybody want to do that?
    I also have a 3-year old grandson and a 7-year old granddaughter.
    I cannot conceive of any sort of rational human being wanting to kill them.
    Get rid of the bloody guns.

  9. EricaE says:

    The brother is quoted as saying “He was a nerd”. Can you believe it? He may have had Aspergers which makes you feel completely socially inadequate. He was probably teased or forgotten all of his life (apparently no one at his school even remembered if he finished) and still after that happened his idiot brother called him a nerd in absentia.

    And NO this is not an argument to justify anything the shooter has done.

  10. Deni says:

    We tend to blame the broken and not those that do the breaking. We live in a society were murder is tolerated on a daily basis. It is glorified on the big screen, the little screen, and on video games. We dose people with drugs that have deleterious side effects (for ADD, depression, acne, stress, anxiety, impotence, etc. It’s the quick way, the billion dollar way). People eat and eat because food lacks nutrition, but is packed full of chemicals. Our water is doused with more chemicals that cause illness. Our air is polluted. Most of us are wage slaves, or do jobs we con’t like or care little about. People with little power and money are not valued as equally as those that have either or both. We are told through commercials and magazines and movies and shows that money buys happiness. Possessions are happiness, youth and good looks is happiness. We spend our days not knowing our neighbors, not really having a community, when humans are very social animals. Every child needs that village to grow him and her into a valued member. We blame the symptom and never the cause. We accept murder on a daily basis. We are a culture of death and we don’t even see it. I don’t call the young man evil. I call the gun manufactures evil. Guns have one purpose: to kill. I call the bomb manufacture evil. The war mongers evil. They know what they do. Imagine a world where people said, “No, I won’t make guns, I won’t go to war, I won’t hurt a living being.”
    Evil is sitting on the fence and not taking a stand, not rising up when our world is becoming totally fucked up, and big corporations play us like marionettes.

  11. Sam says:

    Unfortunately all of us have design flaws, are mis-wired, broken, bitter or socially inept; unfortunately also, some of us have access to guns.

    You cant fix everybody but you can get rid of the fucking guns.

    If you don’t then you are putting guns and the gun lobby before the lives of innocents.

    I’m sure the parents and families of those poor victims would make all the guns in the world disappear if it would bring back their loved ones.

  12. Q says:

    Why would you want your contribution to this discussion to be that Adam Lanza is not evil? Just to be sensational? To stir up ire in the comments section? Well, you got it.
    Irresponsible. Insensitive. Rubbish.

  13. Sister Wolf says:

    Q – The last thing I want is to stir up “ire” or be “sensational.” I’m not talking about gun control because DUH, it’s a given, I have signed countless petitions and have been supporting the Brady organization forever. I’m not talking about poor innocent lives or grieving families because again, it is a given.

    I’m bringing up an issue that seems likely to be overlooked and may prove to further stigmatize the mentally ill.

    Someone should have intervened to give Adam Lanza the social skills he desperately needed. His father is a millionaire. But he was left alone in the care of a gun-crazed “survivalist” to be “hone-schooled”.

    A tragedy for everyone, for all of us.

  14. Bonnie says:

    I did not find your comments “sensational” or controversial. I believe the act of killing was evil but the young man himself was not. He was a sick individual who fell through the cracks and did not get the help he needed. I am angrier at his mother than I am at him. Why collect assault weapons as a hobby? Why train your emotionally disturbed child to use them? There are other hobbies, other things to collect, and many more constructive ways to bond with your child. I am sick at heart over this. I am starting to wonder if the world can ever be made right.

  15. Suspended says:

    I also find your comments justified, Sister. It’s too easy to blame this young man. Anything else would require too much thinking; if we can package him up in a nice “evil” wrapping paper he’ll fit neatly on the shelf and life can get back to normal, quickly, because we’re busy.

    Potentially, we are all “evil.” It’s chance that has kept you from such an existence. What he did was horrendous and as much as I feel for the victims, I can’t help but wonder about his obvious anguish. How sick he was. How alone and empty; emotions that will now fester in the hundreds of victims he has created. Even then, I think “at least they have each other.” He had no-one.

    As a parent, losing my child is my worst nightmare, but now I picture a bigger nightmare, imagining my child, any child, unloved. It’s all so heart breaking and ugly.

  16. Sue says:

    I am not American and I find the reactions to this latest school massacre incomprehensible. I read a number of ordinary blogs written by people I like, so why I am reading comments like “there are no words” and “saying prayers” .

    No. No. No.

    Stop this madness. Why are the arid refrains of the NRA aired so often and not refuted? If I hear one more time the rubbish about guns not killing people I will scream, and as for the madmen who say if the school principal was armed she could have prevented the massacre. Rubbish.

    Why does a suburban Mum need to stockpile assault weapons? Why is living in a “free” society so dangerous? What is so frightening about life in America that people are scared of the NRA?

    I do not understand.

  17. Cricket9 says:

    I don’t understand either. The gun sales in Newtown INCREASED after the shooting, and apparently it happens after each shooting.
    The mom being “passionate about guns”, having several in the house, teaching her “disturbed” son how to shoot, and not a word about any kind of professional help was her son getting, or rather – not getting.
    The numerous comments of Americans on FB along the lines “gun control is not even in the picture, never ever we’ll give up the right to bear arms”. Just in case there is a redcoat in your backyard, behind the shed?
    In that context, I agree with a friend who said “you then may just as well let Iran have nukes. Nukes don’t kill people, people kill people, right?”

  18. Sister Wolf says:

    Heidi – Thank you, great essay!

    Sue and Cricket9 – I will never understand the NRA or the appeal of guns.

  19. I think a lot of appauling, evil acts are carried out and explained away with the ambiguous defence of ‘mental illness’. Whatever the young man had, I can guarantee you there are thousands of people with the same condition who do not walk into a classroom and shoot 20 young children.

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