Shortly after the shooting began in Newtown, Connecticut many Facebook advocates suspected bullying as a root cause. But, it was clear that the media had learned an ethical lesson from erroneously making that link too quickly after Columbine. In fact, Education Week has found that for some time the Newtown School District did everything right to prevent bullying. Later, in response to false reports that Adam Lanza’s mother was a teacher at the elementary school, advocates were intuitively convinced that Lanza was exacting revenge for his mother against an egregious bully boss. By now we all know that Nancy Lanza had no relationship with the school.
Dr. Peter Ash, a forensic psychiatrist told CNN: ”Killers tend to blame others, not themselves, for their problems. Mass killers tend to target people whom they imagine would torment them, or whom they blame for their distress.” Bullying has long been considered a risk factor for workplace shootings but it is not necessarily causal. Joe Scarborough, a conservative advocate of gun rights, spoke for many republicans who were deeply conflicted by the school massacre: ”It is time for Congress to put children before deadly dogmas… For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life and I choose change.” But, not everyone is willing to put rhetoric aside. Yesterday the Workplace Bullying Institute highlighted the massacred teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School as martyrs and denounced the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the incendiary profit-driven Michelle Rhee. None are school teachers. They pontificate from a fly-over altitude…” The WBI article ends with a call to supporters: “To honor these martyrs, the next time the teacher haters rev up in 2013 with proposed legislation, join us in calling them exactly what they are.