I wrote 750 words about the shooting in Isla Vista, California, but I don’t think I have anything to add to the discussion. A spoiled brat with an entitlement complex let his imagination run wild and, having never looked inward to consider that his issues might stem from within, decided to take his frustrations out on the world instead of trying to fix himself. That his family intervened and failed is unfortunate, that they could not convince authorities to take action beforehand doubly so.
Everyone is looking for somewhere to place the blame. Some will blame the availability of guns, some a lack of mental health care, some the unfortunate sway of Pick-Up Artist culture. It was all these things and more, culminating in Elliot Rodger making the decision to lash out. The blame falls to him. I say this as a person who find his nation’s obsession with guns disturbing, its lackluster treatment of mental health abhorrent, and the worship of destructive, antisocial behavior unconscionable.
Feminists — a group I’d like to count myself among — are right to be up in arms about Rodger’s rambling, self-aggrandizing schlock of a manifesto. It is trash that I could not bring myself to read end-to-end. It reads like the rant of any other serial killer, focusing vitriol upon everyone but himself, especially women. His greatest obsession was seemingly with the fact that women were not throwing themselves at his feet.
Gun control supporters are right to believe that a person as obviously unstable as Rodger should not be allowed near firearms. Whether he shared the entirety of his issue with his family and therapists is hard to say. His pent-up aggression and rage lead me to believe he internalized much of his frustration. Someone with more experience, time, and patience may be able to better discern whether everything possible was done to manage his obviously volatile mental state.
Pick-Up Artists, and other misogynists, may be too far gone to ever “fix” or “save.” They are already convinced some human beings are objects that exist solely for their pleasure. I don’t know that you can change a group like that. You have to work hard to make sure no one else joins their ranks and hope some of them eventually see the error of their ways. Bigotry and hate isn’t something you can reason out of a person, it seems to me. If they thought reasonably, they’d never have come to their stupid conclusions in the first place.
Inevitably, tragedy of this nature will strike again. It may not be the exact same circumstance. Rodger wasn’t just a misogynist. He was also a bigot and a classist. Though the brunt of his hatred was focused on women, he confessed to loathing people of different races and societal standing. He placed himself above everyone, women most of all, but everyone. Another nut will come to the same conclusion over a slightly different set of circumstances, and we’ll have this same problem all over again.
People will say that these conversations shouldn’t be had in the wake of tragedy. That this time should be spent rebuilding and getting on with lives. These people are wrong. These conversations are important. But they can’t just happen with the ebb and flow of the news cycle. They need to be kept front and center well past the point of trending topics and breaking news.
We, as a society, are failing. We have to do better.