By now, you’ve read or heard about the terrible tragedy in Santa Barbara last week: some rich white kid shot up a college campus apparently missed the one thing that would validate his entire existence.
The “pretty blonde girl” blamed by Santa Barbara murderer Elliot Rodger for his violent misogyny is “devastated” and living in fear, her father said Monday.
“The whole thing is so creepy,” the protective dad shuddered, saying he fears a “copycat” killer will now target his daughter. “It’s scary. Even though he’s gone.”
Rodger, 22, pinpointed his Woodland Hills, Calif., middle school crush as the person who triggered the rage that ultimately drove him to murder six people and wound 13 others in a horrifying rampage Friday night.
He was 22, and this was ten years ago. She’s two years younger than he is. This is a problem of lonnnnng standing.
He was under treatment by a psychiatrist. His folks (dad is a film director, an assistant director on The Hunger Games. Grandpa shot the famous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp photos when Allies liberated the camp. I can’t snark on that.) had money. Elliot Rodger wasn’t a bad looking guy, had money and had a famous dad.
He was about as privileged a kid as you’ll ever find. He had everything going for him and yet it wasn’t enough.
The police knew about him, even visiting him on April 30, but failing to search the premises after his parents notified them of his very disturbing YouTube postings.
Had they searched (no warrant was issued) they would have uncovered the licensed and registered firearms he had stashed away in anticipation of this incident. How does a kid under serious psychological care obtain legal weapons?
The father (eta of one of the victims) correctly points his fingers at the craven politicians who stand in the way of true gun reform, who genuflect at the feet of the NRA.
But there are others, too, who share a small measure of blame. Like the cops. Like the psychiatrist. Even the guys who beat the crap out of him a year ago because he was drunk and pushing girls off a cliff by a beach. If they had called the cops too, there might have been a bit more warning here.
A lot of people also blame the men’s rights movement, and there’s an element of that, too, in that it allowed Rodger to justify his feeling that he was oppressed by society. He clearly hated women, but it’s also apparent that he hated men too, especially if they were demonstrating any romantic feelings to a woman at all.
The parents, too, might have called his psychiatrist and pleaded with him (we can be pretty sure it was a man) to contact the police with the video evidence and warn them. I’m not sure that the doctor would have done anything – and maybe that’s how it all worked out anyway – but at least the attempt to get this kid the help he needed would have occurred.
But at this point, finding out who to blame will be small comfort to a community in mourning.
It would be easy to analyze Rodger in the vacuum of his homicidal megalomania. That lets the rest of society avoid the overarching tougher questions.
Every woman has, at some time or other, been subjected to some form of abuse at the hands of a man. And every man has, at some point in his maturation exerted undue pressure and attempted to exert power over a woman.
And I suspect an honest discussion of women’s behavior would find that the mirrored effect as well, at least in terms of exerting power and influence over a man, even if only as a self-defense mechanism.
You see, growing up into adulthood is difficult, adolescence is a minefield of emotions and raging hormones and confusion. Adolescence is about gaining control over yourself but more, over your environment. The vulnerability any teenager feels, the exposure to ridicule and social pressures, manifests itself in all kinds of offender behavior.
Once into maturity – and note I’m talking about emotional maturity, not physical. Some people never will reach emotional maturity – these feelings subside, and we are truly adults.
And it doesn’t really matter whether society is patriarchal – it is – or matriarchal – it’s not – or even gender-blind. We can revamp the entire emotional curriculum of life and try to eliminate all traces of power struggles and it won’t change the fact that growing up is scary and leaves us each feeling naked and different.
Until we can figure out how to smooth the passage from childhood to adulthood, we’re setting up generations of kids to act out. And that is the real tragedy of the Elliot Rodger story.