What Happened to the First Amendment, Sandy Hook?

January 21st, 2016 | Press Releases

In response to Jacqueline Smith and her opinion of Professor James Tracy, two words immediately spring to mind: Toughen up. Strong reaction? Yes. But trampling on the First Amendment is serious and requires a strong response.

Smith claims that Professor Tracy doesn’t have a First Amendment right to “spew his nonsense.” There is no need to go any further in her rambling, disjointed piece. Smith simply does not understand that it is precisely this kind of “nonsense” that the Founding Fathers intended to protect.

Smith may not like, appreciate, or understand Professor Tracy’s thoughts and motives, but he has a right – and some would argue a duty – to critical thinking, and a right to publically espouse those thoughts, however repugnant they may be to Smith’s, and others, delicate sensitivities.

The problem with Smith’s thought pattern, as it pertains to the First Amendment, is that she believes that if the speech is hurtful or offensive to another then it simply is unacceptable and constitutionally unprotected. That’s not how the First Amendment works, as made clear by Smith’s own ugly diatribe directed at Professor Tracy.

Let’s not forget that the Founding Fathers believed that open dialogue was so important that they made it the FIRST Amendment, not the sixth or seventh, etc.   More importantly, that freedom of speech is unabridged and there is no caveat that the speech cannot hurt someone’s feelings.

Smith’s attack on Professor Tracy’s Constitutional rights, ultimately, is due to the Professor’s questioning of the official version of events at Sandy Hook. While Smith claims her concern is that Professor Tracy crossed the First Amendment line by making a request of Lenny Pozner, in reality, anyone remotely familiar with this important case, is fully aware that Smith’s version of events was less than unbiased.

The bigger question, though, is why questioning the official version is so offensive to an alleged “newsperson?” Professor Tracy is far from the only person raising issues about Sandy Hook, as there literally are millions of websites dedicated to questioning the events at Sandy Hook and, one would think, many more millions who read them. Surely Smith is not suggesting that all of these people are not entitled to their views on the matter and must be silenced should they dare speak out publically.

What occurred at Sandy Hook has serious repercussions for not only the families of the victims and others associated with the tragedy, but everyone who is subjected to the legislative policy that has come from the incident.

As Smith well knows, the Connecticut Legislature passed sweeping, costly mental health legislation a full year prior to the release of the investigation. In other words, the legislative action was taken without full knowledge of the facts. Nevertheless, the good folks of Connecticut must not only pay for, but live by, those emotional, not fact-based, decisions. By anyone’s standards, this cannot be called responsible or thoughtful legislating.

Ablechild, a parent organization fighting for informed consent rights as they pertain to psychiatric diagnosing and psychiatric drugs, is intimately aware of the difficulties surrounding the gathering of information about Adam Lanza’s mental health records.

Despite Ablechild filing a FOIA to obtain Lanza’s mental health, toxicology and autopsy records, the state refused to publically release this information when Assistant State Attorney, Patrick Kwanashie, stated disclosure of Adam Lanza’s records “can cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

These records may have provided some insight into Lanza’s actions. But to this day, despite a lengthy and costly investigation, no information about Lanza’s mental health for the five years leading up to the incident has been made publically available. Frankly, there is no information publically available that Lanza did, or did not, receive mental health services in the five years leading up to the incident.   These facts did not stop poorly thought out legislative measures from being rammed down the throats of the citizens of Connecticut.

This is just one example of the problems surrounding this incident. Anyone who read the 6700-page investigation knows there are many more. But, beyond all of this, the issue remains the right to publically discuss any, and all, issues surrounding the official version of events at Sandy Hook regardless of whose feelings may be hurt.

No, Editor Smith, you do not get to decide whose voice is worthy. You do not get to judge whose First Amendment rights are more important.  You may not like the voices you hear, or how they are used. They may be distasteful and hurtful, but every American has a right to that voice. It’s quite possible that Professor Tracy finds your opinion hurtful, and he may even think that you are writing it to purposefully harass him, but even he would have to agree that you are entitled to your damning words.

 

 

Is Sandy Hook Father Asking the Wrong Questions?

August 14th, 2014 | Breaking News, Press Releases

In a recent article in the pressherald.com, father of Sandy Hook victim Avielle Richman, Dr. Jeremy Richman, is looking for answers, saying “we’re scientists. We ask ‘why’ for a living.” So one can only wonder why he’s failed to ask the questions that scream for answers.

As the father of one of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, Dr. Richman is on a broad, all encompassing mission to understand the workings of the brain of those who commit violent acts. Clearly this is a noble cause. But Ablechild cannot help but wonder what action Dr. Richman has taken to understand the murderous behavior of his child’s killer, Adam Lanza.

Specifically, it is well known that Ablechild sued the state of Connecticut in order to have Lanza’s medical/mental health records, autopsy and toxicology reports released for public review. Ablechild was denied this request as the state randomly concluded the non-profit was “not a stakeholder.” Ablechild believes that we all are stakeholders.

But it seems impossible that the state would deny a request by the family of one of the victims. Clearly the Richman’s would be considered “stakeholders.” Did Dr. Richman contact Ablechild to lend his support in these efforts? No. Has Dr. Richman ever requested that the state release this important information? Ablechild is unaware of any of the victim’s families requesting this information be made public.

It is no secret that Lanza had mental health issues. The problem, though, is that the State Police investigation of the shooting incident provides no information about Lanza’s mental health “treatment” after 2007 – five years prior to the shooting.

The public is aware that Lanza was “treated” at the Yale Child Study Center for OCD and was prescribed two antidepressants – Celexa and Lexapro – experiencing serious adverse reactions to both psychiatric drugs, as reported by his mother. But that was five years prior to the shooting.

What mental health “treatment” did Lanza receive after his “treatment” at Yale? It seems unrealistic that this grieving father would initiate this daunting brain campaign without having investigated every possible lead for answers about the man who killed his daughter.

After all if Lanza had been receiving mental health “treatment” prior to the shooting that consisted of psychiatric drugs, that information may be useful in understanding Lanza’s violent behavior. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed “Black box warnings” on all antidepressants as they may cause suicidal ideation and a host of other adverse reactions, including mania, psychosis and hallucinations.

Prior to the shooting was Lanza prescribed one or several psychiatric drugs to “treat” his OCD? Nobody knows. This information has not been made public. Has Dr. Richman made an effort to meet with Peter Lanza to glean information about Adam’s mental health “treatment?”

As a neuroscientist who has worked with pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Richman cannot ignore the fact that psychiatric drugs may actually cause violent behavior and, thus, information about Lanza’s mental health “treatment” may actually help understand his violent behavior. Failing to request specific, detailed information about Lanza’s mental health history seems odd.

Furthermore, has Dr. Richman, or any of the victim family members, requested information about the sealed, stamped envelope found in the Lanza home addressed “for the Young Students of Sandy Hook Elementary School?” Does Dr. Richman, or any of the victim families, know what was inside that envelope? Have the family members questioned the State Police about how the DNA of a convicted offender from New York was found on that envelope, while Adam and Nancy Lanza’s DNA was eliminated?   Do the family members wonder why, out of thousands of pieces of paper removed from the Lanza home, this particular envelope was fingerprinted and tested for DNA? What made this piece of evidence so important?

Additionally, has Dr. Richman, or any family members, questioned the State Police about the oddities of the ballistics report. For example, have any the family members raised questions about the weapon used to kill Nancy Lanza – the Savage Mark II rifle? Testing revealed the weapon has no fingerprints or DNA from Adam Lanza, but does have DNA for some unknown person.

Dr. Richman’s desire to understand the workings of the human brain of those who commit violent acts is a noble cause, but one cannot help wonder why Dr. Richman, and the other family members, appear to have no interest in the mental health records of the man who killed their loved ones or, for that matter, the ever increasing number of oddities in the official investigation of the shooting.

Ablechild believes these are basic questions that may help provide the answers that Dr. Richman is seeking and, also, make sense of the millions of dollars that were immediately appropriated by the State Legislature for increased mental health services.

 

 

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