Did I draw incorrect conclusions about the killer based on his photographs?

JB writes:

Your narrative as it pertains to the photos of Adam Lanza is too simplistic, and it shapes the entire discussion at VFR in silly ways. For example, contrast the first photo you posted of him,


and another photo of him where he looks like a normal boy:


After selecting the first photo, you wrote,

If the above photograph of the mass murderer Adam Lanza is at all accurate, if he looked at all like this, then he was obviously mad and dangerous, and no one did anything about it, including his mother who left several guns in the house where he had access to them.

In your statement you include the important conditional clause, but then in a later post you confirm your view that Lanza was obviously nuts based on his Tech Club photo:


If you had selected the more normal photo, I don’t think you could have made the same point.

Contrast these two photos, the first of you giving a talk in 2010:


the second a passport photo of you in 1973.


If that’s you in the second photo, one could draw the conclusion that you had terrorist leanings. Just look at it—the wild hair, the lack of facial expression, the mouth slightly open, the eyes filled with malice.

LA replies:

Eyes filled with malice? Up to the point where you characterized that old photo of me, I was thinking you were making a reasonable, though wrong, point; but now I think you’re nuts.

- end of initial entry -

Robert B. writes:

With regards to your passport photo my guess is is that the person who wrote you either wasn’t alive in the late ‘60’s and early ’70s or is too young to remember that time. I see no malice in your eyes, just the usual look of a hippie from that era. Having grown up near Macalester College, I was plenty used to that look at the time. In fact, it is hard to remember anyone not looking like that. I had plenty of friends who looked just like you in high school in the mid ’70s and, truth be known, I wasn’t far from it myself.

The point the writer misses with the photos of Adam is that it is apparent that his mental illness is progressing over time. He most certainly appears to be mostly normal as a child, but as he gets older, one can see the long term affects of the mental illness asserting itself on his still youthful body. However, even in the photos of him as a child they seem to be catch as catch can—in that sometimes he looks “normal” and at other times he does not. His wide eyed stare is not the wide eyes of surprise and joy—they are just that, a wide eyed stare. One cannot tell from the photos how his eye blinking affected this, but too fast a blinking indicates a hyper, heightened sense of alertness, anxiety and possibly schizophrenia. Very slow to almost nonexistent blinking indicates mental detachment such as Dissociative Disorder. It can also be caused by heavy drugs for behavioral modification.

Robert B. replies:

You know, I saw that pic of you and others from the era long ago. I have to say, that if you hadn’t looked like that, had you had a crew cut or something similar, I would not have found you as likable. It was a normal fashion statement at the time—a sort of non-fashion statement if you will.

The alternative was polyester and disco—YUCK!!!. We dressed in cotton (usually blue jeans, but often corduroy), wool sweaters and cotton shirts and usually hiking boots or something similar. Normal leather shoes also fit in—but never tennis shoes. I’ll have to try and dig up a pic of myself from that period for you.

LA writes:

JB sent a further comment in which he said nice things about me but kept justifying his original point. I replied:

Thank you for the compliment, but I am not going to continue this particular discussion with you given your ridiculous statement that I look “full of malice” in that photo and your failure to retract it. Whether I look “full of malice” is not a discussion topic for this site.

JB replied:

Retracted. I probably undermined my point by providing context for your second photo—I should have left it with a question rather than an assertion; perhaps “looking at these two photos, our imaginations could easily draw very different conclusions about the two, even though they are the same.”

You’re a gentleman. I came off half-cocked.

LA continues:

Speaking of photos of me, here I am at the December 8 VFR dinner, photographed by Jeanette V:


When I haven’t had enough sleep the night before, as was the case on December 8, my eyes become tiny, as is evident here, and I’m not crazy about the crooked smile on my face. Other than that, it’s not a bad photo.

I would note that two years ago, at the first VFR dinner, I was totally bald, including no eyebrows. Then, in 2011, when the treatment was reduced somewhat, some light grey hair began to grow back , then it continued to grow and turned darker grey, and now it’s mostly brown as it was before treatment began. However, I haven’t gone back to combing my hair; I keep it short and just push it forward with my fingers like an ancient Roman. One’s life is much simpler that way. For 15 months I never went in public without a fedora. Now I only wear a hat for the cold. I also have eyebrows again, so I no longer look like a neonate. Also, though I now have a normal beard again, I keep myself clean shaven and I am glad to be done with my mustache which I had from 1968 to 2010 when I lost it due to the treatment.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 18, 2012 11:27 AM | Send

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