When a tornado passes through a town and rips everything in its path to bloody shreds, attempting to explain why it happened is not the same as blaming something for why it happened. Only an emotion-driven moralist would try and blame either the tornado or the Earth that enabled it to happen.
Obviously the tornado had devastatingly negative effects on those whom it harmed, but to call a meteorological event “evil” shows a primitive, superstitious, and borderline childish lack of understanding. You need to clinically and dispassionately comprehend the conditions that precipitated the tornado and made it possible. Then—and only then—will you be able to explain it.
And again, because this point can’t be driven home enough, and it’s something that obscures understanding in nearly all human interactions and social discourse, explaining is entirely different from justifying or blaming. Explaining something is a logical act. Justifying or blaming something is an emotional one. If you don’t understand that, it’s likely because you’re more a creature of emotion than of logic. And Elliot Rodger seemed to be almost entirely a creature of emotion, so at least you two have that in common.
Today marks a week since Elliot Rodger recorded his über-icy “Day of Retribution” video all alone in his BMW before his massively publicized and absurdly overanalyzed killing spree.
In the countless pieces that have been published in the wake of his subsequent insane and murderous onslaught, I’ve seen a lot of blaming and almost no attempts to explain. People have blamed misogyny, men’s-rights activists, white privilege, Asperger syndrome, faulty mental-health treatment, guns, video games, the fact that he was a child of divorce, and the idea that he was simply some spoiled fucking brat throwing a tantrum.
As always, people believe what they want to believe. They tend to believe whatever makes them feel better about themselves. In doing so, they wind up blaming Rodger in ways that justify their own existence. Such is the way of the world.
Obviously he was throwing a massive tantrum. No argument there. And to see this BMW-driving 22-year-old bitching about how much he hated wealthy people suggests he was definitely a spoiled brat who didn’t appreciate his own relative economic privileges, even though to call it “white” privilege does a disservice to the fact that he was half-Asian. The fact that he singled out “blondes” for scorn suggests he was motivated more by anti-white envy than privilege. To blame it on Asperger syndrome doesn’t quite explain why the untold thousands of diagnosed Aspies don’t wind up slaughtering a half-dozen people as well as themselves. Same goes for the millions of gamers who never get more destructive than blowing up digitized figures on flat-screen TVs. Same also goes for the millions of children of divorce. Rodger had also allegedly received mental-health treatment since childhood. No one will ever know whether we were dealing with flawed therapists or an unwilling patient, so it’s useless to speculate. Blaming it on men’s-rights activists ignores the fact that he belonged to a message board called “PUA Hate” that was openly hostile toward the entire “pick-up artist” milieu. And in perusing all his statements and writings, I don’t recall him ever once mentioning “rights” or any kind of pro-male legislation.
Which brings us to misogyny. He quite clearly stated that he hated all women and was planning an “Elliot Rodger Revolution” that would see them all dead.
But why? Our allegedly patriarchal and misogynist culture? Seriously? Have you watched a TV commercial lately? They all seem to elevate women to wise goddesses and demote men to the role of bumbling fools worthy of endless derision.
No, I think his reasons were far less social and almost entirely personal. In his final video—in which he talks about his “revenge against humanity, against all of you”—not only women, no matter how much you may want to callously exploit and seize this tragedy for your own mob-mentality herd-animal group interests—Rodger quite clearly stated why he hated the female gender:
I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, never to me….You girls have never been attracted to me.
There you have it, in the soon-to-be killer’s own words. Girls had rejected him. Again—read slowly, please—this is not to BLAME girls for what happened. I don’t doubt that every girl who ever rejected him found him intensely creepy and felt entirely justified in keeping him at arm’s length. They were probably acting on well-founded survival instincts in doing so.
Millions of guys get rejected and don’t wind up slaughtering people. But his feelings of rejection were, I believe, the root cause of what he did. The fact that he acted on those feelings is where his personal culpability comes in.
I’ve found that no one considers themselves “evil,” only others. That applies to individuals and societies. Down to every last person and every last culture, they are all invariably self-justifying organisms. This goes for you, me, Elliot Rodger, and society at large.
Societies can be very, very cruel to its weirdos and misfits. This is not to blame society, either—it’s probably a healthy evolutionary group survival mechanism, no matter how much pain it causes to those who don’t fit in. Most of those who wind up going on rampages such as this “endure an existence of loneliness” for years until they finally snap. And again, millions of tortured nobodies endure such slings and arrows with far more dignity than Elliot Rodger did.
But in his own words, Elliot Rodger felt rejected. That explains his mental state. Then he chose to act on his feelings of rejection. And for that, you can blame him.