I'm not at all surprised that Sarah Kendzior, writing a vicious post, "Want the Truth Behind 'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother' Read Her Blog" turns out to be on the wrong side of the mother who wrote with anguish about struggling to care for her profoundly manipulative, aggressive and violent teenage son with Asperger's syndrome.
Nor am I at all surprised that she is taking a star turn in the highly-trafficked Gawker and even now bludgeoning the poor woman into a "joint statement" that they will "work together" and "not fight the mommy wars". All the while batting her eyes and claiming she didn't know her post would go viral.
Ugh, ugh, ugh.
Kendzior sure caught the zeitgeist of the many defenders of violent and manipulative Asperger patients and haters of their over-burdened mothers when she wrote on her blog that there was a "real" story behind the anguished woman who said she empathized with Adam Lanza's mother because her Aspie son was so difficult. Kendzior said Lisa Long was a bad mother and a bitch -- and then got her into Stockholm Syndrome and manipulated her into writing a joint statement undermining her original, valid, and necessary blog post. Ugh!
But none of them likely know of Kendzior's own history in her field and her own considerably big social media footprint in a very small pond of Central Asia researchers, and her role as a chronic contrarian on basic principles of democracy, human rights, authoritarianism and Internet freedom. In fact, I sometimes wonder how she and her colleagues at Registan ever get any work done -- they are on Twitter all day. Sarah Kendzior is so manipulative, high-strung and zany, that she once tweeted that she would call the police over my legitimate blog criticism of her analytical pieces, and claimed that normal criticism was "threatening". Needless to say, not only was there absolutely nothing in any post of mine -- all on the record -- that could in any way be considered "threatening" -- obviously no police have ever come to my door over my...blog lol. Meanwhile, her antics in trying to discredit me and others who disagree with her is appalling.
Kendzior -- to give you an idea -- is the kind of person who will use her visible perch to write manipulatingly about what turned out to be a fake Facebook profile of an Uzbek student who committed suicide who never existed -- yet never admit she was the one who really gave the story legs in the first place when others like me critiqued it. She winds up blaming the Uzbek emigre opposition, and not the secret police who obviously planted the story. That's where I first really tangled with her directly -- because I reported on the human rights activist who first took the suicide hoax seriously since it involved an allegation of police torture, and then debunked it herself with thorough research -- although she was never acknowledged by Kendzior and her friends, who had already gotten their loads of traffic gawking from the story.
I've followed Kendzior for years, and in the last year, I've tangled with her directly and repeatedly over what I found to be shocking apologia for the tyrants of Central Asia -- in the most twisted and cunning fashion, by appearing sometimes to be craftily critical of some aspects of their regime, but usually indirectly supporting them by harassing their critics and denigrating the dissidents in these countries. She was the one inciting my banning from Registan.net when I challenged the minimization of the Zhanoezen mass shooting and their ridicule of a respected academic (and abetting the site manager in removing a State Department official's defense of me); she was the one harassing me on Twitter along with her fellow trendy academic Katy Pearce when I stood up to their weird bullying over my perfectly normal analysis of Facebook surges in Uzbekistan; she's the one I've called out for writing a really odd piece this month saying "Don't Talk about Civil Society" (?!) -- and I've written about her strange thesis that we need to stop reporting persecution by authoritarian states on the Internet because that just makes ordinary people who would put up their cat pictures get scared off, and retards progress for the Internet overall.
If this all sounds complicated and strange -- it is. But that's what Saran Kendzior and friends excel at -- they write outrageous things, bully critics, then concoct stories about their critics, and then become earily silent when their handiwork is outed.
In short, Sarah Kendzior has the worst possible ideas in my field of Eurasia studies, doing the job of authoritarians for them -- and with only her aggressive, youthful social media aggrandizement as a means for establishing "cred" -- and not many academic articles, and not respected articles. In fact her lengthy report on media has been criticized by those in the field to the point that I was surprised to discover privately that some rather important people are questioning the report. Sarah holds the fort as what I call the "office wife" at Registan, a web site notorious for its collection of former and current defense contracters and analysts who provide sophisticated thumb-suckers on why we need drones, even though they sometimes kill children.
Kendzior herself lives with her husband and toddler in the mid-West and lives the pampered life of an academic, pretending to be scared about poor academic salaries and the nomadic life, even as she certain earns a decent salary and gets her way paid to various conferences and of course has her husband to back up the family's finances. She is far, far removed from the kind of life a single mother with four children experiences, or even the real Adam Lanza's mother -- who is dead at her son's hand and can't speak for herself.
In her contrarian and vicious take-down, Kendzior accuses the woman of in fact mistreating her child merely because she threatens the child with calling the parole officer or sending him back to state care -- all totally reasonable and normal things to be doing with a child like this. Why? Because a child like this is completely, totally past the point of being able to "go in his room for a time out" or told to behave and he will get a cookie or an extra hour on the Internet. Only the force of the state works, and that's what people have to realize about this situation.
Kendzior even stoops so low as to claim that when the besieged mother says that she feels some days like "throttling" this kid, that this is some evidence that she is unfit, or violent. That's fucking ridiculous; that's just a figure of speech. This reminds me of that notorious, awful Joshua Nightshade of Second Life, ranting forever as he harassed and stalked me and trolled me on my Second Life blog, that if I said I'd like to "wring his neck," that I was some kind of violent person who needed to be arrested. Totally ridiculous and merely another manipulation. It suddenly struck me: is Kendzior herself on the autism spectrum? I had never thought that Kendzior was essentially a board ho seeking attention -- I thought her opinions, while misguided, were genuine. Now I wonder.
I was happy to see that many people backlashed against Kendzior's horrid, nasty take-down of this mother of the autistic child -- in ways that they can never, ever do on the sites she controls (because she bans them) -- not because she couldn't ban them on her personal blog, but because if she did ban so many dozens of them, they'd all be screaming very loudly all over the place at what a fraud she is for pretending to champion contrarian debate and then squelching it when the scrutiny falls on her.
Says Gawker, flush with Kendzior's analysis:
Relatives, friends, and acquaintances have come forward since Friday's tragedy to describe Lanza's real mother Nancy as a gun-loving survivalist who feared the imminent collapse of the world economy and home-schooled her troubled, autistic son and "battled" with Newtown's public school system.
Hmm. I guess we're going to see that this school shooter is actually the result of the religious right, at the end of the day, eh? Gun-loving! Conspiracy-fearing! Home-schooling! Battling authorities! Why, it's a veritable Ruby Ridge!
But let's go over again what Lisa Long wrote, that not only Sarah Kendzior denied and pushed to the side in attempting to invalidate this woman, but Gawker did as well:
o the son had "pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books"
o "His 7- and 9-year-old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to" -- that means there were many, many such incidents.
o "I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me."
o "That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room."
When the boy refused to put on the black pants requested by his school dress code, his mother used the technique that many parents find will work, and expect to work even with a dysfunctional child like this -- she said that he could not play his video games. When she finally got the kid into the car, he continued to argue with her -- then insisted at the end that he should get his video games back, confiscated due to his actual bad behaviour:
o ""Then I'm going to kill myself," he said. "I'm going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself."
So here's a kid who went from threatening his mother with death to threatening suicide. This isn't just talk. This is dysfunction --and I use this word because I think the issue with Aspergers' patients isn't just that they have a specific mental illness, but it's exasperated because every interaction with them escalates their dysfunction and other psychiatric ailments from which they suffer -- too lax and they grow manipulative; too punitive and they grow violent -- and they never grow up and become normal -- ever.
But as with so many cases -- there wasn't any bed for a longer psychiatric stay, so doctors released the kid with a Zyprexa prescription.
So...After the suicide threat, the mom doesn't cave and decide not to give the kid his video games back -- as many might. She digs in, and says, "After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts." But he did. It got worse:
Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn't escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I'm still stronger than he is, but I won't be for much longer.
So here's a kid that threatens to kill somebody with a knife in his hand; he threatens to commit sucide; he bits and screams and hits and jabs on the way to the mental hospital. And the mom's the problem? What the fuck?!
So again: a violent kid that had to be subdued by police and a paramedic, after grabbing a knife and threatening to kill his mother and menaced his siblings...over a request to return his library books (!!!); a violent kid who threatened to commit suicide because his video games were confiscated over his actual bad behaviour ...isn't the problem. The mom is the problem! Huh?! And Sarah Kendzior is digging into her use of the word "throttle" -- like one of her academic linguistic excursions that are no more valid.
But it can and does get worse, because we are dealing with really manipulative characters in these particular type of violent autistic children:
For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, "I hate you. And I'm going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here."
I disagree that this mother doesn't get to blog about this son. She does. She has to because she's dealing with a public menace all along, and the "helpers" around her are set up to coddle him, not her. She hasn't in fact revealed his name in the blog and their name is a very common one -- and if he is this dysfunctional, it's not like he's going to run for office or be a public figure some day. She -- or others -- will be taking care of him for the rest of her life. That's why Kendzior's main beef -- that this woman has publicized her son and ruined his privacy -- is a total red herring. In fact, we need the picture of the angelic little blonde boy that is the type that graces every popular book about these special and different children who can never do no wrong and never conceivably be restrained -- only society is wrong for misunderstanding them, or their parents for not being sufficient martyrs.
There's a strange call here for the "removal of stigma". The problem with that laudable and noble idea is that it is translated into saying that mental illness is not bad, that it is not harmful to others, and that it is not a problem. But mental illness is bad, and is harmful to others, and is a problem -- and people keep medicalizing it and making it seem "special" and "differently abled" and won't confess it's hell. That's why this mom had to keep her diary online -- to avoid going crazy herself. God bless her!
While it might be good if people began to accept it was nothing to be ashamed of to ask for help or get help for a family member, here's the problem with that lovely idea when it comes to this kind of case: that manipulative, burdersome person refuses to acknowledge that he needs help. He refuses to go to the hospital willingly; no doubt she has a hell of a time getting him to psychiatric therapy, too. He then lies about what really happens and says he will get revenge. This is behaviour you shouldn't stigmatize? Really, guys?
By continually whitewashing the disease and its effects on others by mainstreaming and euphemizing and continually "removal of stigma" -- i.e. rendering adult, factual, pragmatic judgement on this cunning disease -- in fact, you don't get people to take it seriously enough and follow the path of institutionalization. Instead, there is the hope that you can edit human nature and make everybody get along with this condition with just an extra hard-working mommy and some pills. Sarah Kendzior is just doing what she always does in analogous situations in her region of study: blaming the victim, minimizing the tyrant, and cunningly accommodating to him.