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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Yet Another Case of Blaming Autism for Planned Violence

In The Politics of Autism, I write:
There is no evidence linking autism to planned violence, but in recent years, mass shootings by young men have led commentators in the mainstream media and on the Internet to suggest such a connectionAfter the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, for instance, news reports said that the shooter was on the spectrum. The speculation made little sense to anyone who understood autism. Whereas autistic people have language delays and deficits, the killer had learned English as a second language — and learned it well enough to major in the subject in college. Later on, it turned out that he had an entirely different problem, a social anxiety disorder. Adam Lanza, who committed the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, may have had an Asperger’s diagnosis, but his father emphasized that his behavior stemmed from the psychiatric illnesses that he also had. Nevertheless, the media speculated about Lanza’s place on the spectrum, which worried autism parents. One mother of an autistic child wrote: “This is the first time I'm truly afraid for him. Afraid of what may happen to my son with autism at the hands of a stranger; a stranger who has chosen to buy into the media-fueled misinformation that individuals diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are dangerous and capable of horrendous acts of terror and violence.”
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): All of them were on some SSRI drugs, anti-depressants, what should we think?

CAROLE LIEBERMAN: Well, it’s not really the anti-depressant's fault, but this isn’t a gun control problem either. It’s mainly a video game control problem and access to good mental health treatment problem.[…]

There is a pattern here with all of these school shooters. David Katz is just the latest one. And that is, first of all, there is some kind of mental illness. David Katz seems like he might be on the autism spectrum --

INGRAHAM: Look at him.

LIEBERMAN: He has some depression, certainly. Yes, if you look at -- yes, all you have to do is look at him.

INGRAHAM: Look at his eyes.

LIEBERMAN: If you look at his high school yearbook, yes, they’re so depressed.

INGRAHAM: His eyes, Adam Lanza’s eyes, something dead in their eyes, the eyes are the giveaway.

LIEBERMAN: Absolutely.