Women and Children First: Sandy Hook

I chose this title for two reasons:  one simple, the other more complex.  The basic facts state that 7 adults were killed during the Sandy Hook atrocity; that 6 of those adults were women, and 20 children, all between the ages of 6 and 7; and also the shooter himself, Adam Lanza, the only adult male on the Sandy Hook death list.

As far as the public record goes, there is no evidence that the killer was a professed misogynist, nor that he harbored a special hatred for children.  Nevertheless, the gender of the adults that Lanza targeted for execution — beginning with his own mother, who is not included in the death log above — leaves little doubt that a definite, hard-core anti-female bias was fully operational in the lone gun man’s mind.  Moreover, I would suggest that a deep cultural animosity toward women was blatantly manifest in the Sandy Hook Elementary killing spree, a tendency that has been subtly perpetuated by major media coverage of the incident.  Despite the smashed computer, and whatever motivational clues were stored there, if we sequence generic cultural terms like patriarchy, chivalry, and misogyny, a template emerges that indicates the symbolic hard-wire of Adam Lanza’s brain.

To begin at the beginning:  our civilization is fundamentally patriarchal.  The Greeks, the Romans, the Jews of the Old Testament:  these cement cinder blocks of Western culture are full of guys calling the shots, making the speeches, writing the laws, fixing the books, and settling the scores.  The Book of Genesis, for example, provides an archetypal lens for this civilization’s view of women who, we are told, were made from the first man Adam’s rib.  Certainly, this bit of nonsense alone disqualifies the Old Testament as a Biology textbook.  However, beyond a basic reversal of common sense on the subject of physical origins, the rule of patriarchy tends to discredit the existence of women, casting them down.  Not so high up in the order of Creation — except that we frequently find images of the “fair sex” fixed upon pedestals, silver screens, and magazines, all variations on a still-life, trophy-style, wall-mounted theme.

Aye, there’s the Rib!

Which is about where chivalry enters the scene, smoothing over the rough stuff.  Dashing, complimentary, and seemingly free of charge.  As it turns out:  not only can women not protect themselves, they can’t even open doors!  Thank God for the men, whom He supernaturally created first, raising Man right up out of the dust, dry as a bone.  Beyond any and all serpents and sirens of our collective mythology, chivalry masks — or even enshrines — a tradition of viewing females as eminently vulnerable and weak, fragile vessels in need of protection:  not that the Ladies have had much choice in the matter over the centuries, of course.

Only very recently, indeed, has the United States sent women into “harm’s way,” or combat.  It is worth noting in this connection that, based on casualty counts from Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiering in the field has never been “safer.”  For its part, the video gaming industry has seen to it that the kids do not lack for simulated war-like action.  The “kill-shot” is easily within the vocabulary range of the average teenager, even though Thucydides or Clausewitz, Auschwitz or Hiroshima, probably is not.

But to return to the almost indigestible immediate cause of these reflections, it can be fairly asserted that the chivalry switch in Adam Lanza’s brain flipped, and that he killed exclusively the kind of people that any young man should be hard-wired to protect.  Yet, instead of a shining white suburban knight, Sandy Hook got the fully automated predator model, a terrorist-misogynist machine.

To official source, of course, no “authority,” speaks of this massacre in terms of Terrorism.  Neither has the subject of misogyny been mentioned, as if the media had deleted things like the Salem Witch Trials from historical memory.  Only in passing is it even noted that all of the adult victims (minus the killer) were women.  In the lurid light of this mass murder, the national consciousness maintains both a soft spot for terrorism as much as a blind spot for Misogyny.  Moreover, despite all of that “godless humanism” poisoning the well of our educational system, it appears that the ancient soil of old school dichotomies like Innocent Adam/Evil Eve is still capable of nourishing perfectly savage saplings.

And the Kids:  what about them?  Well, as we learned in Vietnam, sometimes you have to destroy a village in order to save it.  Just as the adult female staff members were targeted for execution, so were the kids under their protective care slaughtered:  and that’s a piece of the News that was deemed not fit to print.

So, whatever Adam Lanza’s personal pathology, or his particular, idiosyncratic screw loose, he did not commit this atrocity in a cultural vacuum.  This example of evil did not spring ex nihilo.

If nothing else, then, as this horrific incident has already faded into the annals of the 24-hour news cycle; as this latest mass murder has been recast into the rhetorical cudgel of pompous political debates about gun control, mental illness, home schooling, and the like:  We might all do well to ask ourselves whether such massacres are the inevitable by-products of not only the current state of our culture, but also the deeper sources from which this current flows.  The short answer is, in all probability, yes.  I wonder if the long answer can be any different?

Sandy Hook Revisited

I wrote and spoke the above analysis of the Sandy Hook massacre within days of that atrocity occurring 7 years ago.  I am of the same mind now as then about the incident:  that it’s the story of a dystopian misogynist nightmare, in reality.  The authorities investigating Sandy Hook, however, reached a very different conclusion. As a matter of historical record, they discerned “no motive” for Adam Lanza’s mass murdering carnage, as if a team of ostriches had conducted the investigation, instead.  Could it be that the authorities simply preferred to see “no motive” rather than admitting misogyny?

Apparently, despite the explicit details of the Sandy Hook crime scene, the myth that misogyny is not a core cultural trait, or bias, is still being propped up — and not just by our expert-ostrich investigators.  There are those who deny that Sandy Hook happened at all; that it was, in fact, a hoax, or “false flag” operation, presumably staged to “take away our guns!”– whatever that means.

A simple background check shows that the American citizenry is exceptionally well-armed; further, that all of those guns are highly unlikely to be confiscated any time soon.  Indeed, the United States has out-gunned the rest of the planet during the last 3 quarters of a century, beginning with the atomic bomb-punctuated end of World War 2, when American global hegemony was mass murderously announced through two smoking mushroom clouds.  America, it can be said, loves its “nukes” almost as much as its guns.  So much is obvious.

What is also obvious is the fact that Sandy Hook took place in an affluent white suburb, and this fact flies in the face of “American exceptionalist” belief, a belief that all of our sacred guns are said to protect.  The horror elicited by a young adult white kid from a prosperous community methodically executing women, and the first-grade children under their care, is incomprehensible to the “America First!” mentality.  “White people don’t do like that!” shrieks the “American exceptionalist”– and quickly changes the subject to gun rights, mental illness, “black-on-black crime,” or anything else but…

Psychologically, then, the Sandy Hook hoax story doubles down on the official narrative – that there was “no motive” — by denying that this “exceptional” display of misogyny ever happened in the first place.  The “take-away,” as folks say:  misogyny doesn’t really exist.  Count longtime Washington Post journalist-opinionist Karen Tumulty an adherent of this “See-no-misogyny” point of view.

In one of the few articles I’ve been able to find on the subject (as if the “subject” were taboo), Zach Schonfeld’s May 28, 2014 Newsweek article “Mass murder and misogyny, paired yet again,” concerning an apparently misogynistic murder spree in Southern California, quotes this telling Tumulty tweet: “Too many people seeing Santa Barbara as misogyny.  It’s about mental illness.”  To say the least, Tumulty’s trite tweet carries an Ark-load of ostriches.

As the Newsweek writer Schonfeld correctly notes, misogyny and mental illness are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, Elliot Rodger, the killer in the Santa Barbara (or Isla Vista) massacre, had been the ongoing subject of a psychiatric surveillance regime. His parents were Hollywood-types, and they were concerned.  As it turns out, their “privileged white male” offspring had been clinically diagnosed with something esoterically known as “pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified”; so, maybe Tumulty’s tweet has a point after all?  Well, not so fast.  Elliot Rodger left behind a rather lengthy diatribe spelling out his hatred of women, including the logically intended consequences of his hatred so-spelled-out.  The murderous actions that Rodger subsequently committed unequivocally fill-in-the-blank of “disorder not otherwise specified”–“otherwise” known as misogyny.  Unsurprisingly, it is not a Freudian slip to say that the American psychiatric community is also on board the “See-no-misogyny” train.

The patriarchal bias — Father knows best! — has millennially deep roots, and its defenders are as institutionally numerous — and committed! — as they are reflexively blind to any evidence of misogyny, even where it stares them unambiguously in the face.  Perhaps the ultimate, unwitting irony of Tumulty’s tweet is that it tends to exonerate a “privileged white male” of the crimes he committed, since he was the real victim — a victim of, you know, “mental illness” — as opposed to seeing him as the misogynist murderer he certainly was.

However modern we collectively pretend to be, it appears that some crazy Ancient ideas, patriarchal to a fault, still rule the roost.  Innocent Adam and Evil Eve, indeed!

Todd Smith lives, writes, and observes the Brave New World Order in St. Louis. He can be reached at bartlebydick@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Todd.