Who is responsible for what Elliot Rodger did?
The 22-year-old student went on a vengeance-induced rampage last week in a California college town and stabbed three men to death in his apartment, killed two women on sorority row with his handgun, and then shot another young man to death at a local deli. Seven others were wounded in his attacks.
Rodger also published a lengthy manifesto and frightening YouTube video blasting pretty much everyone he knew, but he reserved a special hatred for the college women who failed to give him the sex he thought he deserved.
Days after the event, we’re arguing over who is responsible for this tragedy. IKEA for selling kitchen knives? Smith and Wesson for manufacturing hand guns? BMW for creating cars that can run down pedestrians? College girls for not sleeping with a jerk?
Nope. There is only one thing that made all this possible – Elliot Rodger.
Elliot Rodger is responsible for what Elliot Rodger did.
We can try to blame Rodger’s decision on any or all of the above-mentioned factors, but in the end, Rodger made a calculated decision to make his roommates, sorority girls and a guy at a deli pay for his pain. There is no doubt Rodger was extremely disturbed, and his parents and therapists spent years trying to help him live a normal life; however, Rodger chose his actions, and his mind knew full well what he was doing.
Is this about a war on women?
Social media is now buzzing about Rodger’s hatred of women and how misogyny is infecting modern society. Do I think Rodger was part of a bigger misogynist movement committed to denigrating and harming women? No, I don’t believe such a movement exists, and I view Rodger as one of those rare sociopathic punks who can’t understand why women aren’t attracted to obnoxious men with entitlement issues. Rodger was a very rare breed who he believed his narcissism required others to die for not meeting his needs.
Rodger hated women for not reciprocating his sexual desires. He tried hitting on sorority girls, but his efforts were rebuffed. He wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last man who has made women feel uncomfortable with unwanted sexual attention; however, the vitriol in his manifesto alarmed women all over the country and eventually led to the buzz surrounding social media’s #YesAllWomen.
Yes, ALL women have faced unwanted sexual attention – be it in school hallways, college campuses, on the job, or even walking down the street. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. And it’s not all men, but there a handful of real princes out there. For the most part, the attention is annoying or degrading; however, there are times when it gets downright threatening and scary – stalking, aggressive come-ons, uninvited physical contact, vile and obscene language, and at its absolute worst, rape or murder.
How do we stop this?
Rodger’s war wasn’t only on women; as evidenced by his victims, it was on everyone. Unfortunately for us, there are others, both male and female, like him in our society.
How can we stop them?
Better mental health programs? In order to be successful, those in treatment must adhere to medication regimens and behavioral therapies, and, as we’ve discovered far too often, few people chose to do so.
Stricter gun control laws? People have the right to defend themselves and others should someone open fire or come at them with a weapon. Those who are determined to kill others don’t need a local gun shop; they’ll find other ways to get the tools they need.
A little more compassion for those who are different? Compassion is never a bad thing, but it’s difficult to find it for those whose behaviors threaten or hurt others.
My greatest compassion is for the wounded and the families of those killed in Isla Vista, and my heart aches for Rodger’s parents who tried so hard to save their son and others from his demons.
Compassion for Elliot Rodger? I haven’t found it yet.