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'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' Blogger Accused of Exploitation in Backlash Over Viral Piece - Do you think the piece was wrong for Long to write?

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM
  • 16 Replies

'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' Blogger Accused of Exploitation in Backlash Over Viral Piece

Posted by Sasha Brown-Worsham on December 18, 2012 

Adam Lanza's MotherWhen Liza Long's brutal and honest piece titled "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" hit the Internet, it was at the perfect time. A nation was in grief over the horrific Sandy Hook massacre allegedly perpetrated by Adam Lanza and we were all searching for answers. Long's essay, detailing life with her difficult, violent, mentally ill 13-year-old, struck a nerve. It went incredibly viral and seemed to be everywhere.

Now, of course, comes the inevitable backlash. And this is just as brutal. Blogger Sarah Kendzior says Long's blog actually never claimed the boy had mental illness before. In fact, Long had previously focused on his love of President Barack Obama and criticized her son for that. As Kendzior says: "Children deserve privacy, especially troubled children." Long's media tour promoting her poor son "Michael" as a potential future mass murderer is the height of poor taste.

Kendzior -- and the many other critics -- have a point.

Personally, my biggest issue with the piece was the line about gun control: "It's easy to talk about guns," she said. Well, no. Actually. It isn't. At all.

If it were, after all, wouldn't something have been done by now? In that one line, I read a political agenda and the fact that her son was once criticized (by her) for supporting Obama kind of confirms that. But that's not such a big deal. In fact, the biggest deal was the exploitation. By titling her piece "I Am Adam Lanza's Mom," she knew it would go far. She used a national tragedy to get her voice heard. But even worse? She used her son. This is where the criticism is the harshest, in fact.

Disability activist Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg was horrified (and rightly so) that a mother would compare her beautiful child to several mass murderers, using her own name and letting it go viral. See below:

... His feelings matter. His feelings matter quite a lot. Because he is a child who needs help, and for that help to matter, he has to feel safe, and he has to feel respected, and he has to feel that his private life has boundaries around it.

She makes a compelling point. There is something that feels just gratuitous and self-serving about it. What first hits hard and powerful feels cruel and off the mark a few minutes later.

It was a questionable decision to write the piece, no doubt. Her political agenda is also clear. But, let's assume she is really wanting to start a conversation about mental illness in this country, it does beg the question: why can't we talk about two things at once? The answer: we can.

Long is right that mental illness needs to be addressed. If her agenda was only to get that done and to use Lanza's name to get there, is that really so wrong?

It's hard to say. What is clear is that the piece is controversial and is stirring a lot of emotions.

Long and Kendzior released a joint statement below:

We would like to release a public statement on the need for a respectful national conversation on mental health. Whatever our prior disagreements, we both believe that the stigma attached to mental illness needs to end. We need to provide affordable, quality mental health care for families. We need to provide support for families who have a relative who is struggling.

Do you think the piece was wrong for Long to write?

by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:29 PM
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Replies (1-10):
romalove
by Roma on Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM
1 mom liked this

She has the right to express whatever she thinks is important.

Better that she doesn't warn everyone there are dangerous non-medicated or treated mentally ill people?

It's not the fault of guns or violent culture or video games or mental illness.

But keep us all safe and don't let it happen again.

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:35 PM
1 mom liked this

When one posts their feelings, they are not wrong.  How we perceive and delve in to those thoughts and feelings are our own.

I can't say she was wrong.

Of course people are going to pick apart her words and add in their own.  It's the way things are done.

She should have expected this, as every one should who puts their thoughts and feelings out there for the world to see.

KenneMaw
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 12:38 PM
1 mom liked this

No I do not.   One of my biggest questions since the tragedy (honestly even going back to Columbine) is what can parents of children with serious mental health issue do?   Sure kids need to feel safe and respected, but when they are truly mentally broken - then what.  When love, support, therapy, meds don't work - then what?!    Nancy Lanza knew her son was very troubled and knew he was getting worse.   she chose to help him alone - her ex husband and other son hadn't seen Adam in over 2  years.   I am sure the police coudln't help her until he committed a crime and we all know that jail isn't the place for the mentally ill.  Doctors couldn't help him because he wouldn't participate and he was legally an adult, so what could his mother do?  he was a time bomb waiting to go off.     What in the world do we do with people, even children, that are mentally broken beyond repair - who are incapable of feeling emotions or pain?   What is the answer for them?  To lock them up?  To integrate them into school even though they may be a danger to other kids?   That is the big question that needs answers.  All of the recent mass murders have had serious mental issues.  It isn't about guns. That was their method. They could have just as easily made bombs.  Until we figure out how to help these type of dangerous people or get them off the streets, I truly believe these tragedies will continue.

jjchick75
by Silver Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM
1 mom liked this

This piece moved me to tears because it was exactly what we went through with my little sister. Nobody took us seriously or would help us and it took her nearly beating a girl to death and ending up in a juvenile detention center before someone finally got her the help she needed! I think it's hard people to hear that this is going on and it's easier to say "Just get rid of the guns". My sister didn't have a gun, she had a bat and nearly took someones life and certainly changed it forever(she is now legally deaf and blind in her left eye and ear, they had to rebuild her face, and over 2 years later she is still in outpatient rehab trying to get back where she was)! Changes need to be made and until the problem is brought to light, those changes can't be made! I say good for her, for speaking out! I know this wasn't easy for her to do and I so feel for her! 

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:06 PM

I agree with Roma and AtoZ.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM
1 mom liked this

I would like to add that I really believe that for every person who picks her apart that there are 5 people who appreciate the blog. I hope the people who were moved by her words will come support her.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:10 PM

I think it was very brave of her to write it.

olivejuice2
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Access to mental health care is an important discussion we NEED to have in this country. Long's voice, and those of people like her, are essential to having a meaningful dialogue. She should be commended for her bravery in sharing her story.

momtoscott
by on Dec. 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM

 No, I think she has every right to write the piece, and I applaud her honesty.  If she had done it anonymously, people would be bashing it as fiction, exaggerated, etc. 

Being the parent of someone with this kind of problem is insanely difficult.  Many people have very little idea of what parents of children whose mental illness is sometimes expressed with violent behavior go through, how isolated these families are, and how hard they work to help their kids. 

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on Dec. 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM

 Yep. All of this, especially the part in red. People are uncomfortable because she's bringing up something that is taboo and that many people in this country would prefer to pretend doesn't exist.

Quoting momtoscott:

 No, I think she has every right to write the piece, and I applaud her honesty.  If she had done it anonymously, people would be bashing it as fiction, exaggerated, etc. 

Being the parent of someone with this kind of problem is insanely difficult.  Many people have very little idea of what parents of children whose mental illness is sometimes expressed with violent behavior go through, how isolated these families are, and how hard they work to help their kids. 

 

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