In our morbidity, we find few things more engrossing than the minds of killers. We’ll probably never know what precise neurochemical demon haunted Adam Lanza before he killed 26 people in Newtown. But a new audio recording has surfaced that sheds some light on his state of mind, the kinds of things he thought about, and a particularly chilling line of reasoning.
Almost exactly a year before Newtown, Lanza called into an Oregon-based radio show called “Anarchy Radio” and proceeded to narrate in an eerily robotic voice the story of Travis the chimpanzee. Travis was, of course, the domesticated but flummoxed chimp that ripped off his owner’s friend’s face before being shot by police. Lanza even highlights as significant the moment at which the owner stabbed Travis in the back, causing him to look back at her in confusion.
Here’s the 911 call of the Travis incident. Fair warning: it’s extremely disturbing.
The most telling statement comes near the end, when Lanza is assessing whether or not Travis would have been better off in the wild, as some people have suggested. Lanza continues:
“But their criticism stops there and the implication is that there’s no way anything could have gone wrong in his life if he had been living in civilization as a human rather than a chimp….[Travis] brings up this whole question of child-raising. Every newborn human child is born in a chimp-like state and civilization is only sustained through conditioning years on end…Since we’ve gone through this conditioning, we can observe a human family raising a human child and probably even you have trouble seeing it as something unnatural. But as soon as we see a chimp in that situation, we know something is profoundly wrong…Travis wasn’t an untrained monster at all, he wasn’t just feigning domestication, he was civilized…It seems like everyone who knew him said how shocked they were that he had been so savage, because they knew him as a sweet child…Look at what civilization did to him – he was profoundly sick…I don’t think it would have been a stretch to say he was a teenage mall shooter or something like that.”
It is clear the host is extremely unnerved by Lanza. And so are we.