The Hartford Courant in Connecticut has partnered with Frontline on PBS to provide a lengthy account of the awkward, troubled life of Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old murderer who killed his mother, 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and then himself.
It's a fascinating read that illuminates the life of the Lanza family but sadly gives no real insight as to what ultimately caused Adam's shooting rampage. According to those who knew the family, Adam's response to world was to withdraw from others, not to get angry.
In all likelihood we'll never really know why Adam snapped. He destroyed the hard drive of his computer prior to his rampage, and the contents remain out of hands of investigators so far. Even if we knew why Lanza acted the way he did, what good policy could come of it, given that he had absolutely no history of prior violence before the rampage?
But of course, people speculate, and sometimes people who speculate are in positions of authority, and so we end up with atrocious stories like this one from CBS News that theorizes that Lanza saw himself in some sort of competition with Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik:
Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the "easiest target" with the "largest cluster of people."
Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of "score."
After CBS published the story, the spokesman for the Connecticut State Police department called the theory "mere speculation," which is nicely diplomatic. CBS added an editor's note with the spokesman's response, so it reads as though they didn't even try to get any sort of official verification of the anonymous claims before running with it.
Some journalists are still writing about video games like it's the Jazz Age:
They've also recovered what they called a "trove" of video games from the basement of Lanza's home. Sources say Lanza spent countless hours there alone, in a private gaming room with the windows blacked out, honing his computer shooting skills.
Unsurprisingly, the CBS story is getting a lot more distribution than the Hartford Courant piece.
I visualize a modern-day remake of Chicago, with the lyrics from the pivotal "Press Conference Rag" changed to "We both reached for the controller." And from speakeasies during the prohibition, to creepy swinger dens from the '70s, and now video-game man-caves, why haven't we banned basements yet?
Stay away from jazz and liquor, kids. Oh, and dancing is still dangerous, too. According to this NBC report, Lanza also excelled at Dance Dance Revolution. Sure that might not seem like it fits into the "violent video game" narrative some are sticking to, but it has the word "revolution" in its name!