Why Talk About the (Alleged) Lanza Audio?

Jan 17, 2014

Credit Michael Travers/iStock / Thinkstock

Ever since The New York Daily News published the audio of a phone call to the radio show of an Oregon grunge anarcho-primitivist, I've been wondering what the hell to do with what appears to be the sound of Adam Lanza talking, about a year before the Newtown shootings.

The case for ignoring the audio boils down to (a) lack of absolute certainty that it's him and (b) skepticism about whether anything worthwhile can be pulled out his remarks and (c) one's desire not to be unnecessarily sensational.

After a few days, though, I decided that (a) the case for the provenance of the audio is circumstantial but reasonable and (b) there is almost unquestionably material in these comments which meets the need for more information about Lanza (if it's him).

I'll go a little further and say that the Daily News figured this out -- quickly -- based partly on the cache of evidence the state squatted on for a year (and also, maybe, from the work of this blogger). So did the state figure this out too?  Did they know about this audio? Did they vet it?If they think it's real, why didn't they include it in their report? If they don't think it's real, why don't they say so? Sedensky's comments to the News are sphinxian.

Danbury State Attorney Stephen Sedensky, who led the official probe of the Dec. 14, 2012 slaughter of 20 first graders and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, said investigators were aware Lanza reached out to a radio show.

“Adam Lanza may have called a radio station, but I do not specifically know whether or not that is Adam Lanza” on the audiotape, Sedensky said.

Well why don't you know? Do you have any plan to find out? To whatever extent Lanza's state of mind is of interest to the mental health specialists still studying this case, verifying the audio would seem essential.

Most of the phone call concerns the Stamford chimp, Travis, which horribly mauled a friend of its owner. The caller -- who is almost exaggeratedly measured and composed in his speech -- seems intent on making an argument that society diverts all of us from our natural state and warps us into shapes that lead us into destructive behavior. The point that should interest us most is his contention that, if we knew everything, we'd understand what tipped Travis into violence. It would not seem "senseless" anymore. 

Anyway, we played a small segment today on The Nose and discussed it. Here is the audio. Approach with caution. It may not be anything you want in your head.