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"I wish girls were attracted to me. I don’t know why they aren’t."
May 24, 2014 1:11 PM   Subscribe

California drive-by shooting: 'Son of Hunger Games assistant director' Elliot Rodger suspected of killing six in attack. Rodger embarked on his shooting spree hours after posting an online video detailing his plans for "retribution" for rejection by women.

In his final video, Rodger blamed his plans on his lack of romantic success. "Girls, all I’ve ever wanted was to love you and to be loved by you. I've wanted sex. I've wanted love, affection, adoration. You think I’m unworthy of it. That's a crime that can never be forgiven. If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you." (Slate)

"George Duarte...remembers Rodger from the SBCC Math Lab last fall. “He was always talking about the same thing, how annoying his roommates were, how he’s gonna move to a different place,” said Duarte. “He was constantly annoyed by people. Of course, when you’re that type of person, no girl is gonna want to hear you whine and complain all day." (Santa Barbara Independent)

According to The Telegraph (first link above), "[Rodger] was a regular poster on an online message board called PUAhate [for self-styled haters of “pick-up artists”] where male participants express anger at what they call the “seduction community” and their failure to meet women."

In Rodger's case, the rejection seems to have been largely hypothetical: "All those girls that I've desired so much, they would've all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them." (Jezebel)
posted by a fiendish thingy (1771 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's absolutely awful.

Wait, there's a message board devoted to hatred of PUAs, but through the lens of misogyny? What? Huh? B-barf?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:15 PM on May 24 [23 favorites]


It was pretty clear this guy was a ticking time bomb. For example someone commented in response to one of his creepy threads: "In before school massacre".

He was apparently under the care or multiple shrinks.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Well, that made me upset and uncomfortable.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:19 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


He was apparently under the care or multiple shrinks.

We've really gotta work on mental health care in this country when a kid like this can be under the care of multiple shrinks while simultaneously posting such creepy and unhinged videos, and then subsequently pull off a mass murder like this one.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:21 PM on May 24 [53 favorites]


. . . . . .

Sad
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:22 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


We've really gotta work on mental health care in this country when a kid like this can be under the care of multiple shrinks while simultaneously posting such creepy and unhinged videos, and then subsequently pull off a mass murder like this one.

I agree with the initial statement but I'm not sure it follows from the latter part. It's possible someone could receive top notch care and something terrible could still happen in the same way that someone could get top notch cancer care and still die of cancer.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on May 24 [67 favorites]


My god.
posted by brundlefly at 1:28 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I agree with the initial statement but I'm not sure it follows from the latter part. It's possible someone could receive top notch care and something terrible could still happen in the same way that someone could get top notch cancer care and still die of cancer.

That's true. On the other hand, sometimes top-notch care should mean temporarily reducing a mentally ill person's autonomy when their illness entails credible threats of violence or violent ideation.
posted by clockzero at 1:30 PM on May 24 [38 favorites]


Hegemonic Masculinity and Mass Murderers in the United States, Deniese Kennedy-Kollar and Christopher A.D. Charles, Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 8(2), 2013 Academia.edu and SSRN
This exploratory study examines the act of mass murder as an attempt by the perpetrators to lay claim to a hegemonic masculine identity that has been damaged or denied them, yet that they feel entitled to as males in American culture ... There is no psychological profile unique to mass murderers and many authors have speculated on their motivations. However, in this study, the range of interrelated stressors experienced by the majority of mass murderers threatened their hegemonic masculine identity and these men engaged in violence to protect their identity.

posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:30 PM on May 24 [179 favorites]


Wait, there's a message board devoted to hatred of PUAs, but through the lens of misogyny? What? Huh?

No kidding, that is seriously weird. I kind of want to know more, but I'm reluctant to go look because I can guess what I might find.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:31 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I guess the question before criticizing standard of care is what ratio of people who behave like this go on murder sprees. I have the feeling there are a lot more disgruntled losers with a sense of entitlement who'll never pick up a gun and shoot anyone.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:31 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


I'm not going to link to the dude's last video where he says he's going to do this but you can find it if you look around. But here is a transcript if you want to know just how screwed up this guy was. Really, you might not want to read the whole thing because it is very disturbing. A sample:
Im 22 years old and Im still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for 2.5 years, More than that actually. And I am still a virgin. That has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years i have had to rot in loneliness. Its not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It is an injustice, a crime, because I don't know what you don't see in me. I am the perfect guy. And yet you throw yourselves at all of these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish of all you for it. (laughs) On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every-single spoiled stuck up blonde slut I see inside there.
The dude's crazed maniacal laugh is awful.
posted by Justinian at 1:32 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Dude was definitely unhinged. His speaking style just oozes a sense of superiority. So, how/where/why did he get the gun?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:33 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Bleah.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:33 PM on May 24


I kind of want to know more, but I'm reluctant to go look because I can guess what I might find.

They are apparently already hailing him as their hero, but I saw that on the Daily Mail so I didn't link to it (because Daily Mail).
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:34 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


This guy seems atypical of the disgruntled loner stereotype in that he seems to have, sexual frustration notwithstanding, led a very privileged life. Just a 10 cent observation.
posted by jonmc at 1:35 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


The [family's] attorney is also claiming that the parents told authorities about their son’s videos weeks ago.
Bluh. A whole lot of weirdness in this story.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:35 PM on May 24


This sad, anger-inducing event strongly resembles the shootings at the LA Fitness gym in Collier Township, PA back in 2009.

As in that crime, the motive seems to have been "sexual frustration," a euphemism for narcissistic rage borne of socially-sanctioned male entitlement to the bodies of women.
posted by kewb at 1:35 PM on May 24 [193 favorites]


This all just reminds me of Marc Lépine and the École Polytechnique massacre. /goes to look at videos of kittens and bunnies
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on May 24 [81 favorites]


On a grammatical issue, while I am familiar with attorneys general, "crimes scene" sounds wrong to me:

There were nine separate crimes scene
posted by Dip Flash at 1:37 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


This is a misogynist hate crime. I wonder how many times it will be called out as such.
posted by Summer at 1:38 PM on May 24 [235 favorites]


rtha, that's what I was thinking of too.
posted by ambrosia at 1:38 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


There's something very, very sick in society when there's this attitude among men that they feel entitled to women. If you're good enough you get sex/romance/etc. The fact that women are people and not prizes is something they can't comprehend. And it's not even just this guy, or people who take it to this level. It's really very prevalent-guys who say "aww, come on, it's just one drink" guys who cat-call, guys who tell us to smile. There are varying levels but the idea is always the same- that women are there to provide you with something- company or something nice to look at or sexual release.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:38 PM on May 24 [206 favorites]


I watched another video Elliot Rodger posted, "Why do girls hate me so much?" I was really struck, from that video at least, at how it didn't come off as an "unthinkable" illness he was displaying, in an isolated bubble, but rather it was garden-variety, textbook defeated male pathology. With a large amount of entitlement on display. It's totally just stuff I've heard from other guys before. I think that video is illustrative of the cultural ideas he's accepted and the pathologies he's exhibiting - ones that aren't "unthinkable", on the contrary they're built into the very fabric of how men expect women to treat them. It's all existing on a single continuum. This guy is not uniquely evil, it's just a matter of degree between him and men who react erratically and angrily to women rejecting them or ignoring them. This all emerges out of the entitlement men feel toward women. Mental illness may play a part here, but I'm inclined to look at this as a form of patriarchial terrorism, rather than an unthinkable isolated incident without precedent.

There was a guy in one of my college math classes who began acting erratically in class. One day he stood outside of the door as we were all leaving, and said to each of the women walking out, "I know where you live." He was reported after that, and was pulled from the class. He received counseling/therapy, but then a month later he was sitting right back in his chair in class, as if nothing happened. Male psychopathy toward women is not treated as an unusual threat in our society; some small attempts at therapy and then send these men on their way.

Something you'd never see, mental illness or not: a woman going on a man-killing rampage because good-looking boys are all ignoring her. That's completely unthinkable. But this... is just a heartbreakingly inevitable result of cultural messages, echo chambers, and societal enablement.
posted by naju at 1:39 PM on May 24 [261 favorites]


rtha: I was thinking about the exact same thing. Even though Lépine's entitlement was to a career he felt was denied, partially. This is an even... I don't know, "purer?"... form of rage against women.

Gah. I don't have the words. "Purer" is wrong. Please replace with a better.

Looking upthread, I feel a need to bring together some comments: I suspect that the people in BrotherCaine's comment who will never shoot someone do not make videos whose transcripts read like Justinian's excerpt either.

In any case, . . . . . .
posted by seyirci at 1:40 PM on May 24


Summer: "This is a misogynist hate crime. I wonder how many times it will be called out as such."

Not a misogynist hate crime because society rarely recognizes them, not ideological terrorism because he's a well-off white guy.

But it's all of that.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:43 PM on May 24 [47 favorites]


There's definitely a phenomenon of the entitled male murderer, who thinks women are stealing or withholding from him, embodied in this douchebag to the Ecole Polytechnique dude to the high schooler who murdered a girl for turning him down, and I wish we would call it terrorism. Because I can't find any way at all in which it's not. I mean, I guess it's technically a revenge killing, but they also seem like weapons for fear-creation, to ensure that women know that if they do something like-- gasp-- claim autonomy and refuse an individual with the social hallmarks of privilege (white male), they will be punished for it. On preview, yeah, misogynist hate crime is maybe a better phrase than terrorism, and there seems no way in the entire universe that it's not a hate crime but of course it won't get framed as such.

Also, I urge you to think of this next time you consider saying, or you hear anyone else say, "Well, why didn't she just turn him down or tell him no (or fight back or say something in response to harrassment or whatever the action-policing du jour is)?" It's 'cause many of us are scared that, if we do, we will be physically hurt or killed. Trying to let men down lightly or being a tease or whatever is not something we do because we enjoy it. It's a freakin' survival strategy.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:44 PM on May 24 [130 favorites]


Shooter was influenced by the Men's Rights Movement, meanwhile in Texas, armed guns rights activists threaten, harass and stalk women.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:45 PM on May 24 [20 favorites]


I don't think it's useful to lump mentally ill spree killers in with terrorists. The aims are completely different, the politics are completely different, and the response needs to be completely different.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 PM on May 24 [26 favorites]


This is not a mentally ill killer, this is terrorism. Too much attention is focused in the media as well as in this post on the murderer's mental state rather than the political motivations that led him to his killing spree. Too much attention especially to his whinging about being a nice guy and how women rejected him, which almost if not entirely starts to creep into victim blaming in the media.

Thinking this is just a mentally ill person, nothing to do about, isolated incident, yadda yadda while make sure this will happen again. Because of course the only thing that makes this particular murders unique is the scale of the thing; women are assaulted or murdered on a daily basis by MRA scumbags like him.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:50 PM on May 24 [73 favorites]


ugh
posted by cj_ at 1:50 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


When I opened up this article in my Reuters app this morning, I was not expecting to see a picture of a store that I know well. I lived in IV several years ago with friends who went to UCSB, and on Friday nights we did the same things the victims were doing: walking around in groups, hanging out and talking on the sidewalks. Christ.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:51 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Thinking this is just a mentally ill person, nothing to do about, isolated incident

Except that this is the opposite of how we should respond to a mentally ill killing spree.

The approach we take to address terrorism and the approach we need to take to address things like this spree killer are not at all the same!
posted by Justinian at 1:52 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


To be rich, decently good looking, and sporting a famous pedigree.... and still failing with women. This guy must have seriously set off warning bells in everyone he interacted with.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:52 PM on May 24 [80 favorites]


I don't think it's useful to lump mentally ill spree killers in with terrorists.

If (and I emphasize the "if," I don't know the actual numbers) the two groups overlap demographically, then there is a reason to talk about them together. I'm going to guess that young males predominate in both, probably with some education, but I am sure there are complexities within that.

And in this case, while he sounds to have been mentally ill, he also appeared to have some terroristic ambitions in terms of his anger at women.

I don't see the boundaries as being always so sharp, and definitely not in this case.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:54 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


Why can't we be outraged over multiple causes for a tragedy, instead of minimizing one while maximizing the other, and turning it into a political game?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:56 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


I think because how you view the causes of the tragedy determine what sort of action you take to address the causes of the tragedy. At least that's how I feel.
posted by Justinian at 1:57 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


David Uzumeri has a great piece on how male virginity & the shame we attach to it contributes to this. It's not the whole problem, but it is a piece, and one that I haven't seen discussed much.

And yeah, this is absolutely a hate crime, because it functions as a threat to all women. Every woman who hears about this story now knows that there are men who will kill her for refusing sexual advances, and will keep that in mind when considering her actions.

I don't think it's useful to lump mentally ill spree killers in with terrorists. The aims are completely different, the politics are completely different, and the response needs to be completely different.

His behavior functions like terrorism. Women change their behavior because they are afraid of men like this. Calling it a mental illness individualizes this event, but violence against women who reject men's advances is an ongoing pattern. Women feel terrorized by this.
posted by almostmanda at 1:57 PM on May 24 [185 favorites]


Thanks, the man of twists and turns, for the (poetically eponysterical) reference.

Wait, there's a message board devoted to hatred of PUAs, but through the lens of misogyny? What? Huh? B-barf?

The counter-intuitive contradictions of hegemonic masculinity. This is the sort of thing I mean when I talk about how patriarchy hurts everyone in society, even the "winners." The pathetic banal reality of the Men's Right's Movement and other such phenomenon is that they're products of masculinity's self-contradictions: the patriarchal order creates a phantasmic identity based on sexual domination, and the living out of this identity begins to consume itself. There can only be so many Real Men(tm), and this kid wasn't one of them -- so few of us are. So he's caught between identities -- male but not a Man -- but desperately wanting something to identify with. Hence the paradox that he can despise the men who humiliate him with their sexual prowess as "brutes" and also hate the women he wants for failing to recognize that he's better than the bullies, that he's what masculinity should be.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:58 PM on May 24 [51 favorites]


It seems like after Sandy Hook both efforts towards gun control and increasing funding for public mental health didn't end up anywhere.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:58 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


His behavior functions like terrorism.

Yeah, it definitely does. But that doesn't mean that the way we address terrorism is useful in addressing things like a spree killing! Unless people are arguing that drone strikes and the US army are gonna come in handy here.
posted by Justinian at 1:59 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


God, he even describes himself as a "gentleman" in the transcript. So this is what the deep end of "friendzoned nice guys" looks like.
posted by Iteki at 2:00 PM on May 24 [28 favorites]


I think because how you view the causes of the tragedy determine what sort of action you take to address the causes of the tragedy. At least that's how I feel.

The brothers who committed the Boston bombings were young men who felt disaffected and unheard and who seemed to me to very much have a "I'LL SHOW THEM!" [how powerful I am] [how much they should have paid attention to me] [etc.] flavor to it. It's not identical, but it's not so different to me either.

On preview:

But that doesn't mean that the way we address terrorism is useful in addressing things like a spree killing! Unless people are arguing that drone strikes and the US army are gonna come in handy here.

Well, the way we address terrorism is not actually very effective. So.
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on May 24 [51 favorites]


I guess I'll thank all of the guys who didn't shoot me just because I wasn't attracted to them.
posted by keli at 2:01 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


Oh, to be clear I think the was obviously a hate crime.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it definitely does. But that doesn't mean that the way we address terrorism is useful in addressing things like a spree killing! Unless people are arguing that drone strikes and the US army are gonna come in handy here.

We don't just deal with terrorism through drone strikes. We also address why young men are disenfranchised and what draws them into that life. That seems pretty relevant here, when whole communities exist to prop up men's entitlement and reinforce misogyny.
posted by almostmanda at 2:02 PM on May 24 [15 favorites]


This is just tragic. For the people whose lives were cut short, and for their families.

And for this poor guy and whatever, in the end, broke him to think that this was the best way to feel better. I find it so hard to understand; I totally get the idea of harming as a way of lashing out, but I self-harm, I've never understood "I'm gonna go get a gun/bomb/knife/whatever and kill a bunch of innocent people to make myself feel better."

So many failures on so many sides in this. His mental health care team (who, presumably, he snowed; they'd all be mandatory reporters if he ever expressed desire to cause harm to others and he'd be locked up tout de suite--but it's really easy to play a mental health professional, especially if you've been in the system a while) failed. The authorities failed--they saw the videos. Society failed by instilling this patriarchal bullshit where men somehow believe that they deserve to park themselves in any vagina they want.

And now six innocent people are dead. We have to stop failing people.

The approach we take to address terrorism and the approach we need to take to address things like this spree killer are not at all the same!

Yes, exactly. These are the actions of a mentally ill young man, not terrorism. But the problem of mental health--and respect for women--is a systemic problem we need to address. And for the latter point, 'we' means 'men.' Every time we let another man get away with 'friendzone' or 'that frigid bitch wouldn't let me buy her a drink' or whatever, we are enabling women to be treated like meat, and we are encouraging that culture of male entitlement. We need to do better.

It's not terrorism, but it is a hate crime. And I recognize that some people might find only the slimmest of semantic differences between the two.

It seems like after Sandy Hook both efforts towards gun control and increasing funding for public mental health didn't end up anywhere.

Yeah, where and how the fuck did he get a fucking gun? But you could say the same about so many events over the years.. Columbine, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston and so on. Much is said afterwards, and not one fucking thing is ever actually done to address root causes. Columbine was, what, 17 years ago now? How many massacres have there been since? Is this just a level of collateral damage that politicians are willing to accept so they can get re-elected and never have to approve funding for mental healthcare?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:02 PM on May 24 [36 favorites]


Except that this is the opposite of how we should respond to a mentally ill killing spree.

It is not a mentally ill killing spree though; Murder is not a sign of mental illness, nor is misogyny. This was done by somebody deep into MRA ideology, in a political climate in which violence against women is normalised, an extreme example of what already happens daily.

Saying he was mentally ill means closing your eyes for the dangers of Mens Rights Activists

turning it into a political game

The murders are already political. The victims were not chosen at random.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:02 PM on May 24 [132 favorites]


(oh and rtha I think your comparison to Marc Lepine is spot-on. This is exactly the same thing. How have we learned nothing in the intervening twenty seven years?)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:03 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


To be rich, decently good looking, and sporting a famous pedigree.... and still failing with women.

Have you considered that maybe this isn't a sitcom and that money and looks are not the critieria which women evaluate men by?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on May 24 [110 favorites]


This kid's videos veer from being really sad to disturbing at random and confusing intervals. In one video, he talks about wanting to take a girl out on a date and proving he's worthy. He seems so earnest and genuinely lonely, and then only seconds later, he's talking about how how it's DISGUSTING that girls go for SLOBS and how they NEVER look at him and how one day they'll be SORRY. It's heartbreaking and disturbing, to me.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:05 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


It is not a mentally ill killing spree though; Murder is not a sign of mental illness, nor is misogyny. This was done by somebody deep into MRA ideology

Much terrorism is committed by people deep into Islamic ideology. But we tend to reject the idea that Islam is responsible.
posted by Justinian at 2:06 PM on May 24 [18 favorites]


It is not a mentally ill killing spree though; Murder is not a sign of mental illness, nor is misogyny.

Arguably his rantings about the 'day of retribution' and his delusional view of the world and what it owes him are very, very much signs of mental illness, however.

This whole thing is a heartbreaking mess that, and this is important, could have been prevented.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:06 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


And to add to the tragedy the 'Truther' human bilge who claim no children were killed at Sandy Hook will get more mileage out of this.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 2:07 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Also; murder can absolutely be a sign of mental illness. It isn't always (or even usually) but it can be.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Much terrorism is committed by people deep into Islamic ideology. But we tend to reject the idea that Islam is responsible.

I see you palm that card. We don't think Islam is responsible, no, but we do think the ideology behind Al Quida and Wahabism/fundamentalist Islam is responsible.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:08 PM on May 24 [61 favorites]


Also; murder can absolutely be a sign of mental illness. It isn't always (or even usually) but it can be.

Sure, but it usually isn't, so why the rush to declare it so now?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:09 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Clarification: by saying that "he can also hate the women he wants for failing to recognize that he's better than the bullies, that he's what masculinity should be" -- I mean in that last part that he THINKS he's what masculinity should be, not that I think that
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:10 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I think one subject that should be considered is how the internet has alarmingly been able to channel lots of misanthropic, nihilist, angry subcultures and communities (many warring against each other) and all of that is leaking into real life with real people getting hurt and killed.

It used to be that the main concern is how the internet ties in extremist political groups- jihadists and white power movements and so forth- but it seems like garden-variety misanthropic trolls are arming themselves and committing these atrocities. From what little I've seen about what this guy had posted, he doesn't come across as simply an MRA fanboy. He seems to be someone full of hate and anger, egged on by internet trolls who mocked him in kind.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:10 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


Sure, but it usually isn't, so why the rush to declare it so now?

Because I've seen the guy's youtube videos and he is clearly a wackadoodle? It's really obvious?
posted by Justinian at 2:11 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


Also; murder can absolutely be a sign of mental illness. It isn't always (or even usually) but it can be.

Sure, but it usually isn't, so why the rush to declare it so now?


Because of everything he said and did up until and including the murders, stop being disingenuous.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:11 PM on May 24 [21 favorites]


Southern Poverty Law Center has long been issuing warnings about MRA/PUA groups/ideology 1 2
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:11 PM on May 24 [129 favorites]


Much terrorism is committed by people deep into Islamic ideology. But we tend to reject the idea that Islam is responsible.

You're right. We think religious fanaticism is responsible, bred from a very particular set of cultural circumstances. We don't say it came from nowhere just because 'mental illness'.
posted by Summer at 2:11 PM on May 24 [25 favorites]


Because I've seen the guy's youtube videos and he is clearly a wackadoodle?

Hi. Mentally ill person here. 'Wackadoodle' is about as uncool as calling a queer man a faggot.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:12 PM on May 24 [63 favorites]


He... murdered like 6 people and you're afraid I slandered him?
posted by Justinian at 2:14 PM on May 24 [39 favorites]


The only effective way to address terrorism / hate crimes (I can see this as either), is to explore the pathology and the enabling aspects of the person's society that encourage that pathology. You have to understand the nature of the beast, and then work to correct that way of thinking. It takes societal change and shunning the harmful attitudes that led to the act. That's why it's so important to label things this way rather than dismissing them as isolated incidents. Because this is NOT a fluke, and if we treat it that way, then absolutely nothing is changed.
posted by naju at 2:14 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


You're right. We think religious fanaticism is responsible, bred from a very particular set of cultural circumstances. We don't say it came from nowhere just because 'mental illness'.

I agree with this. Communities that foster extremism and hatred attract unstable, violent men. Even if those communities are not directly, legally responsible, they can be complicit when things like this happen, and attributing this all to mental illness ignores that.
posted by almostmanda at 2:14 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


It seems a little early to declare him definitively mentally ill, or not.
posted by Bovine Love at 2:15 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Hi. Another mentally ill person here. I'm fine with the term "wackadoodle."
posted by Jacqueline at 2:15 PM on May 24 [43 favorites]


It seems a little early to declare him definitively mentally ill, or not.

If he wasn't mentally ill then why was he seeing multiple psychiatrists/psychologists? For fun?
posted by Jacqueline at 2:16 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Yeah, take it to Metatalk if you want, we probably shouldn't do it here.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


He... murdered like 6 people and you're afraid I slandered him?

Would you have called John Wayne Gacy a faggot?

A little respect for those of us who are mentally ill, ok?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:17 PM on May 24 [18 favorites]


Like I said, Metatalk if you want.
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


Because of everything he said and did up until and including the murders, stop being disingenuous.

Because he believes stupid things doesn't make him mentally ill, or every MRA douchebag is mentally ill.

Also " he murdered people because he was mentally ill. Why was he mentally ill? Because he murdered people, duh." is not an argument.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:18 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


Political zealots often look like whackadoos to the noninitiated. Hell, the khmer rouge went around smashing and burning all the electronic devices and TVs in the villages they took over. How is it that people can't see that ideological/political fanaticism is effectively organized, institutionalized, collective mental illness? What's the difference? What separates them? When people do exactly this kind of thing in Afghanistan, we call it political violence against women. When it happens here, regardless of evidence, we say the perpetrator was a lone nut. There's no real difference. It's just how we think about these events in the culture that leads us to apply different standards.

(Also diagnosed with scizoaffective disorder here. Not taking the term personally.)
posted by saulgoodman at 2:19 PM on May 24 [23 favorites]


Martin, have you seen his videos?
posted by Justinian at 2:19 PM on May 24


Good thing that's not the argument I was making, MartinWisse. Could you please engage in good faith?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:20 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Slightly insulting also to all those mentally ill people not murdering people that we're always so quick to label murderers as mentally ill.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:20 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Except, in this case, we have some pretty solid evidence that his thinking was disordered and delusional. Which is the definition of many mental illnesses.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:21 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


As per the shooter's parents he was mentally ill and in treatment. That he was mentally ill isn't in question, it's a known fact.

However, whether his mental illness was a significant factor in his motivation to go on a killing spree is still up for debate.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:22 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


Martin, have you seen his videos?

Yep, standard MRA/nice guy ranting, nothing obviously mentally ill about it.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:22 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


I have friends in Namibia, and recently there have been a number of posts on Facebook about passion killings.

It seems be be the same root issue of entitlement. Girlfriend breaks up with boyfriend, so he kills her. Sickening.
posted by mantecol at 2:22 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


This is just horrific. Why do we condone this kind of hate?

.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:23 PM on May 24


This kid was a sociopath BEFORE he was rejected by women, not after. So sad for the women whose lives he took.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:23 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


This is not a mentally ill killer, this is terrorism. Too much attention is focused in the media as well as in this post on the murderer's mental state rather than the political motivations that led him to his killing spree.

The "spree killing" bucket contains killers with lots of different "reasons". One synonym is "going postal" because work-related spree killings are so common. They're really about the killer's lost honour, and the killing is a way of re-establishing it.
posted by Leon at 2:23 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Yep, standard MRA/nice guy ranting, nothing obviously mentally ill about it.

I think that's a huge stretch. His last video with the crazy laughs was not in any sense standard MRA ranting.
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Not treating this as a mental health problem so that it will be properly honored as misogynist terror is a bad move in exactly the same way as responses to other forms of terror that feel that any non-ideological explanation is somehow disrespectful. It is not. In the case of these sorts of killings, research has made great strides at identifying risk factors--pretty much any university with current safety training not only covers this topic, but *exactly identifies* men like this. I knew exactly what this man's problems were before I started up that video because there's no mystery--we can identify and when we have the political will, intervene early with these men. But the three barriers are general availability of services, the failure to identify this as a mental health issue, and the nature of the crisis--social disconnection is a warning sign, but of course it puts people at a distance.

But defining it as a mental health problem neither removes its connotations as misogynist terror nor as a moral failure. Insanity in the sense of a lack of moral culpability is not the same as mental illness, and since mental illness is culturally framed, patriarchy cannot help but be a factor. So we can *both* identify this as a mental health issue requiring intervention *and* an immoral, misogynist act driven by patriarchal cultural messages. We can do this just as we can identify the political origins of terrorist attacks without necessarily justifying them.
posted by mobunited at 2:27 PM on May 24 [140 favorites]


MartinWisse >

Except that this is the opposite of how we should respond to a mentally ill killing spree.

It is not a mentally ill killing spree though; Murder is not a sign of mental illness, nor is misogyny. This was done by somebody deep into MRA ideology, in a political climate in which violence against women is normalised, an extreme example of what already happens daily.

Saying he was mentally ill means closing your eyes for the dangers of Mens Rights Activists


Murder is sometimes indicative of mental illness, but not automatically so. In this case, the guy who killed these people clearly had mental health issues, though it would be questionable to aver that his issues were the sole cause of his actions. Not all people with mental health issues are violent, and not all violent people necessarily have mental health issues, but it's not a strictly Manichean kind of thing either.

This guy lived in a culture that has lots of very sociopathic and toxic cultural ideas about women, and many of the same kind of ideas about what it means to be a man. It seems clear to me that both his disposition to distorted/pathological thought processes and the sick ideologies he bought into were involved in his actions, at the very least. There might be more causal factors too, but I think it's reasonable to reject monocausality.

That being said, his actions are also part of a bigger social pattern of terroristic, gendered violence which serves to reproduce the domination of women along with many other kinds of behaviors, speech, and norms.
posted by clockzero at 2:27 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


Like I've been saying, he's clearly familiar with MRA groups and their thought, but he's hardly some sort of MRA mujahideen, if anything he seemed to have been ridiculed by other misanthropes on PUAHate and on the Bodybuilding site's Misc subforum. There's a lot of issues at play here, both modern misogynist ideologies and cyberbullying/online trolling leading to real-life tragedy.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:28 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I agree with you mobunited and think that's a great comment. I think this was obviously a hate crime and also that downplaying any mental health aspects of it would be a big mistake.
posted by Justinian at 2:30 PM on May 24


MeTa on the use of offensive language to describe people who are mentally ill, as requested.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:31 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


This kid was a sociopath BEFORE he was rejected by women, not after. So sad for the women whose lives he took

This is an important point. And my, decidedly amateur, opinion is that his rejections involved a good amount of self-fulfilling prophecy.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:31 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Whether he was mentally ill or not is irrelevant to whether this was a hate crime. If this was any other group apart from women we would not have an issue with naming the problem, and the mental state of the perpetrator would not be detract from the nature of the crime.
posted by Summer at 2:32 PM on May 24 [44 favorites]


I don't think anyone here is detracting from the nature of the crime. Cite please.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:33 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


He probably had some degree of MI; presumably that's why he had an extensive clinical therapy team.

It's not the whole story.

I think it's possible that his MI made him more susceptible to the radicalizing influences of the internet hate groups he was an active participant in. I also think that his involvement with those hierarchical and organized groups puts this unequivocally in the terrorism realm, and indeed I think a lot of the concepts that we use when thinking about big-T terrorism are useful here. I think he was radicalized by his contacts on the net, and I think the constant echo chamber of violent rhetoric is intended by some to have outcomes like this, even if they don't control which specific people actually get violent. They want to live in a society where women live in fear, and part of that is the credible threat of violence.

The torrents of internet death and rape threats don't mean anything unless they are, at some level, believable. This guy's attack - and the everyday sexual assaults, regular assaults, and domestic violence - are what give those threats power to shape society. Controlling the culture through fear. This is what terrorism is. Just because an individual footsoldier has MI doesn't mean it's not also terrorism.

And yes, some of our standard anti-terrorism approaches would make sense here. Monitoring hate groups. Looking for warning signs like this guy's videos. That's not a guarantee, of course. It's not illegal to post things like his video. But if they'd been able to get word out to the local LE officers that the video had been posted, along with vehicle description and plate #, maybe someone could have stopped the vehicle for blowing a stopsign before he started shooting or something. Anything.

Preventing stuff like this is extremely difficult, but it is terrorism and treating it as such could yield good results.
I think that's a huge stretch. His last video with the crazy laughs was not in any sense standard MRA ranting.
I watched that video and I disagree. There's nothing there that isn't said constantly. He's a Nice Guy and a Gentleman and he doesn't understand why these sluts won't sleep with him but will sleep with men he doesn't approve of, so he's going to hurt them.
posted by kavasa at 2:35 PM on May 24 [69 favorites]


"We've really gotta work on mental health care in this country when a kid like this can be under the care of multiple shrinks."

Not referring to mental health care as being under the care of "shrinks" would be a good start.
posted by vapidave at 2:38 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Twitter user @violentfanon has been screencapping some of the murderer's comments on PUAHate. This is disturbing stuff; the usual warnings apply. 1 2 3 4 5

And a tweet linking to an archived version of a PUAHate thread, since the site itself is down, for some reason.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:39 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


I think that's a huge stretch. His last video with the crazy laughs was not in any sense standard MRA ranting.

Take away the direct threats and it kind of is standard MRA ranting. And FWIW I think it's time to look really hard at the MRA/redpill/etc movement, because they're approaching the toxicity of big-time hate groups. Their advocacy (such as it is) has thus far been aimed at limiting the rights of women rather than achieving equality, and all of their efforts have been attempts to counter feminism. For example, despite all their bluster about domestic violence, there has not been a single coherent effort on their part to assist with DV services in stark contrast to the many feminists who have worked on doing so for all genders and orientations.

Sure, there was a lot more in play here, but it seems clear that these groups have generated an environment that is a powder keg for people like this guy. Constant exhortations about the evils of feminism (straw and otherwise) putting masculinity under attack isn't too far away from how white supremacists position the threat of subhuman races.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:39 PM on May 24 [53 favorites]


Women don't find annoying whiny complaining guys all that attractive.

He should have done the exact opposite of what he was doing.

This PUA stuff is nonsense, just be yourself, be positive, and compliment the woman on her shoes or smile or whatever.

Learn how to sing or play a musical instrument, do something women find an interest in like dance or plant a garden. Get a hobby, don't go and shoot at people, that is wrong.
posted by Orion Blastar at 2:43 PM on May 24


do something women find an interest in like dance or plant a garden.

Or engineering or comic books or makeup or political activisim or video games or any of the infinite variety of things people find an interest in, regardless of their gender.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:44 PM on May 24 [64 favorites]


Those videos display a typical lack of affect in both voice control and facial mobility--this doesn't always come from mental illness, but it can. If someone mostly-expressionlessly describes to you how awful an entire category of other humans is, I believe you should consider that a serious thing.

Incidentally, it probably doesn't help that online organized misogynists recommend doing this no-affect thing *intentionally* to appear strong and stoic. I have no evidence that this would aggravate the shit out of psychological issues, but I intuitively suspect it.
posted by mobunited at 2:47 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


When I first heard of this, I Googled a misspelled version of his name (Rogers) and the THIRD result/FIRST video was a reposting of his manifesto with the title: "ELLIOT ROGERS---Another TOLERANT liberal PROGRESSIVE---goes on a MASS MURDER! Killing 7!" and description "Oh yea this one is definitely a liberal alright like all the rest! Before you all go spouting your crap about banning guns remember that your side has been responsible for more mass shootings then the pro-gun side!" I'm sure the "Fair & Balanced" news media are taking note of this angle.

It does speak for the realities of male-centered advocacy when "ANTI Pick-Up-Artist" groups devolve into the communities that supported him...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:49 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


How this person made it to 22 is amazing in itself. He was such a dick that he had no buds to GET HIM LAID!!! I just can't grasp how someone could be so alone. I am the ugliest fuck to walk the earth but I still kissed a few girls by the time I was 15 and...just was somewhat on pace with my peers, which means that I spent the greater portion of my time whacking off with no one even on the horizon who would give a second glance. Never entered my mind to kill anyone over it...geez
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:51 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


To me, in those videos he comes across as a very bad actor (with a terrible script) trying to play the role of the "sympathetic" villain, someone who does terrible things but the audience is supposed to understand and sympathize with his motives.

The guy is playing a role, a familiar role, and I think it's worth talking about the toxic stories he was telling himself, the character he believed himself to be, and where he learned them.
posted by straight at 2:51 PM on May 24 [54 favorites]


Did anyone read the full Telegraph article? The guy's grandfather was a celebrated (and apparently very courageous) photographer, the first to photograph Bergen-Belsen. It's very sad that part of his lineage wound up at this terrible, deluded, Nazi-like place. My condolences to the families of all involved.

I read earlier this week that Anne Lamott recently had been trolled pretty fiercely. ANNE LAMOTT, she of gentle and funny writings about spirituality and the writer's craft. There's something very wrong out there when that happens. I'm not sure what the solution is, but people who are on a good spiritual path need to keep speaking out and writing, and I see that happening in this thread.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:52 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


He was such a dick that he had no buds to GET HIM LAID!!!

The idea that getting laid is something ones' buds do for you is absolutely one of the toxic stories I'm talking about.
posted by straight at 2:52 PM on May 24 [164 favorites]


How this person made it to 22 is amazing in itself. He was such a dick that he had no buds to GET HIM LAID!!! I just can't grasp how someone could be so alone. I am the ugliest fuck to walk the earth but I still kissed a few girls by the time I was 15...

I hate to be the person expressing sympathy for someone who seems to have committed a septuple homicide, but this comment scans as a tad insensitive to, um, the many people out there who didn't kiss a few girls by the time they were 15.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:55 PM on May 24 [59 favorites]


Mental stability is like a properly built reservoir. Horrible and violent cultural attitudes toward women are like an improperly built storm drainage system that directs water into unwitting people's homes (people the city planners consider less valuable).

When the reservoir breaks, the water floods the homes of the innocent, drowning them; but afterwards all city planners are willing to see is the faulty reservoir, not the problems with the storm drains.
posted by daisystomper at 2:55 PM on May 24 [19 favorites]


The posts I've seen from MRA guys talk a lot about deserving a mate, wanting to spread one's genes, etc. They don't talk about their desire to be in a loving relationship with spouse or children. So really, it sounds like they are upset about women being in a position to turn down people who wouldn't make good mates.

And in the next breath, they talk about how the need for feminism is dead, and it's just a bunch of man-hating by crazy women.
posted by mantecol at 2:55 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


With all due respect, shockingbluamp, "I can't believe he was 22 and couldn't get laid!" is not the best route to take in this discussion. You're just contributing to the problem.
posted by naju at 2:55 PM on May 24 [48 favorites]


The PUAHate site Rustic Etruscan linked to was scary stuff. Very "wake up sheeple" in its off-center (aka unrelated to reality) view of the world. The whole approach to women is that they're possessions and not actual people in their own right.

I know it's hard to figure out when the site is down, but I have to wonder what makes these guys hate the PUA crowd. It seems like they've got a lot in common. Is this just hating on competitors for the scarce resource of sex with women?

(And for the six dead victims: ...... )
posted by immlass at 2:55 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Seems like having a team of mental health professionals is a clear indication that people in his life thought he was mentally ill, so that's good enough for me. That doesn't mean it isn't a hate crime - but since he is dead, how does treating this as a hate crime change the respose (genuinely asking).

We don't even know yet what his real-life interactions with women were - for all we know he never approached anyone. The online comments were chilling - I think I will not be watching any videos.

Also, personal datapoint of one, if I were in my twenties this incident probably would not have changed my attitude towards men, but if anything would have made me avoid them a little, not give in to any demands (as some posters have suggested).
posted by maggiemaggie at 2:55 PM on May 24


I just can't grasp how someone could be so alone.

As per his parents he was diagnosed with Aspergers as a child and it's common for people on the spectrum to have social difficulties and fewer friends than neurotypicals.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:55 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Seems like having a team of mental health professionals is a clear indication that people in his life thought he was mentally ill, so that's good enough for me.

That and his own parents called the police on him a few weeks ago. Then today his father identified him as the probable shooter before the police had even released the shooter's name because his father knew it had to be him.

Several people with professional responsibility to prevent this sort of thing from happening dropped the ball here.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:59 PM on May 24 [25 favorites]


Hating women isn't a mental illness. Neither is a man feeling entitled to something he wants. They are directly reinforced by society as it stands today. Mental ilness doesn't make someone a killer nor does it make someone more prone to be violent or abusive: some of the worst abuse I have seen female friends go through were at the hands of men who appeared as neuro-typical as can be.

I am saying this a man today: We need to not talk over women regarding lived experience, and maybe at least today, just for today, and just for a little bit, we need to just listen. We, who have not directly suffered at the hand of misogyny and misogynistic violence-- we need to just listen right now.
posted by ShawnStruck at 3:00 PM on May 24 [36 favorites]


This seems as much "terrorism" as the Ft. Hood shootings: not really, despite all the people desperately trying to pretend it is. And while MRA stuff is ugly as wet shit, blaming it for the killing is wildly unscientific; statistically, the number of MRA goons who kill someone–or even commit a crime– is an infinitesimal percentage. If you want to account for an event, you look to what's unusual about the perpetrator. If you want to use an event to score points against a group you don't like (and here, we're back to Ft. Hood), you focus on what they have in common.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:01 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


According to Twitter, 3 bodies were removed from Eliot Rodger's apartment this afternoon.

And a station in Santa Barbara has received his 140 page manifesto.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:02 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Have you considered that maybe this isn't a sitcom and that money and looks are not the critieria which women evaluate men by?

Well, no, it isn't a sitcom. But I've always found that being attractive and wealthy and connected were powerful advantages in attracting the opposite sex, both for men and women. It may not get you a *second* date, but "attractive, rich and connected" will get you a lot more opportunities than "ugly, poor and unemployed." I don't think it's wrong to point out that someone who's unwillingly a virgin at 22 must have had some serious negatives (like, "oozes sociopathy," maybe) to so utterly cancel those advantages out.
posted by tyllwin at 3:02 PM on May 24 [36 favorites]


I read earlier this week that Anne Lamott recently had been trolled pretty fiercely. ANNE LAMOTT, she of gentle and funny writings about spirituality and the writer's craft. There's something very wrong out there when that happens. I'm not sure what the solution is, but people who are on a good spiritual path need to keep speaking out and writing, and I see that happening in this thread.

I don't know anything about this specific incident, but I'm confused by the use of "trolled" here. I am maybe an Old in internet ways, but to me, "trolling" still means "saying shit you don't mean to get a rise out of people." It is not, at all, anything like "send rape threats" or "post sex-based hate messages about someone" and I wish we would stop dismissing - even inadvertently - violent threats and speech directed (in this case) at women as "trolling" as if it's not to be taken seriously.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on May 24 [92 favorites]


but since he is dead, how does treating this as a hate crime change the respose (genuinely asking)

Labeling it a hate crime against a particular group helps us investigate the pattern and work against the culture that perpetuates violence against women. This is an extreme example, but violence against women is incredibly common and the media has a habit of fitting it into other narratives (unhinged rapist, jealous husband pushed too far etc) and labeling it as just another isolated incident. The problem needs to be named.
posted by Summer at 3:03 PM on May 24 [37 favorites]


There are many people who form their identity and morality to an ideology. It happens all the time across all cultures. Religion is a big one. So are political parties and some 'interest groups.' Generally these ideologies are okay and have rules for society to help it function for a better good. Sometimes these groups get off kilter and the in-group out-group thing takes hold where there are promises that some way is the only way and everyone else does not understand or is not worthy.

This isn't a sign of mental illness in and of it self.

What is a sign of mental illness is the exclusion of mainstream social norms (how to talk to women and not see them as a strange other) and the obsession of being wronged to the point where he was willing to kill others to express that. It isn't problem solving behavior. People who are healthy problem solve within in their ideologies. They figure out ways to work within their ideological framework to make things work for them. They create exceptions. (Much like how someone who is racist can have one friend of a different race who is the exception).

In terms of mental health care it gets squigglely. We need better mental health care. But this is such a subset of the population that statistically it's hard to figure out what would even be effective. Secondly this happens so rarely that even people who show signs aren't necessarily going to need long term specialized treatment.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:05 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Misogyny, mental illness (treated and untreated), objectifying women and whatever are not unique to American culture. What is unique is the almost unrestricted access to firearms, the glorification of firearms, The NRA and a total lack of political will. In every killing there is always a relentless pursuit for the "reason"( games, videos, mental illness, misogyny, drugs, poverty). There is one and only one common thread in all killings by firearms--firearms. Until that is resolved ( and I doubt it will be in the next 10 decades) all the other things are of only marginal importance in limiting death by firearms. Of course we should improve mental health treatment--but I assure you--the science is not there nor is the legal framework there to force treatment and restrict rights prior to clear and present danger.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:05 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


What ever happened to just writing a bunch of shitty poetry?
posted by stltony at 3:06 PM on May 24 [37 favorites]


Mor evidence of how fucked up our mental health system is. Even when a person has reliable access to psychiatric services and family support to advocate for them, the system doesn't work. This reminds me of the recent incident with Ceigh Deeds' son in Virginia. His son had a mental health crisis and even though Deeds is powerful Virgina politician they couldn't find a bed, even though there were here available. His son got worse. Then the son stabbed Ceigh and killed himself.
posted by humanfont at 3:08 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


Labeling it a hate crime against a particular group helps us investigate the pattern and work against the culture that perpetuates violence against women.

This guy cleaves closer to the set of "spree killings" than the set of "violence against women".

Of course, he belongs in both sets, but he has more in common with Columbine than he does with a serial rapist. All he needed was an excuse.
posted by Leon at 3:08 PM on May 24


And while MRA stuff is ugly as wet shit, blaming it for the killing is wildly unscientific; statistically, the number of MRA goons who kill someone–or even commit a crime– is an infinitesimal percentage.

MRA is just one of the forms this set of misogynistic behavior takes. They may not call themselves MRAs, but the percentage of men who commit crimes aimed at women that subscribe to the MRA kind of viewpoint is essentially 100%.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:09 PM on May 24 [39 favorites]


USA Today: Lawyer: Family warned cops before Calif. rampage
Shifman said family members called authorities several weeks ago after being alarmed by YouTube videos "regarding suicide and the killing of people."

Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a "perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human," Shifman said. Authorities did not find a history of guns, but did say the 22-year-old had trouble making friends, he added.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:10 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


And while MRA stuff is ugly as wet shit, blaming it for the killing is wildly unscientific; statistically, the number of MRA goons who kill someone–or even commit a crime– is an infinitesimal percentage. If you want to account for an event, you look to what's unusual about the perpetrator.

Misogyny at any level is bad and harmful. Many misogynists harass women. Some misogynists are actually violent. A few actually kill people. This is an extreme form of misogyny, but it's not some completely different thing.

Sometimes the best way to address an extreme end of a bell curve is to try shifting the entire curve a little bit in the right direction.
posted by straight at 3:12 PM on May 24 [37 favorites]


I think what would make this a more terroristic act would be using his ideology to send a message and that his death is some sort of reward/political statement to advance said ideology.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:13 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Women don't find annoying whiny complaining guys all that attractive.

He should have done the exact opposite of what he was doing.

This PUA stuff is nonsense, just be yourself, be positive, and compliment the woman on her shoes or smile or whatever.

Learn how to sing or play a musical instrument, do something women find an interest in like dance or plant a garden. Get a hobby, don't go and shoot at people, that is wrong.
posted by Orion Blastar at 5:43 PM on May 24

Sigh.
posted by futz at 3:13 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


Now not only is he getting his 15 minutes, but people are going to read his 140-page book too.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 3:13 PM on May 24


the number of MRA goons who kill someone–or even commit a crime– is an infinitesimal percentage
?

It's pretty well-established that somewhere between 1 in 5 and 1 in 6 women are victims of sexual assault. It's pretty difficult (impossible) to get good numbers, but it seems likely to me MRA and PUA type people are at least as likely as the average man to have assaulted a woman, groped them, etc.

Also, the argument I made was that he had been radicalized. This is a known process that takes place in other contexts. The young men that left Minneapolis to join al-Shabab in Somalia were radicalized over the net and in-person. Read the screencaps of the dude's message board posts. Explicitly violent rhetoric with explicitly stated goals of getting women to live in fear. Obviously the internet stuff isn't the sole and exclusive mechanism at work here, but just as obviously it is part of it. It is not irrelevant, and unless you're trying to argue that it is I'm not sure what you're doing.

When those cops interviewed this guy, they should have watched those videos. They should have had training about what hate groups and ideology looked like, and they should have known to dig deeper. I'm not saying it's their fault, but I am reiterating my contention that a terrorism-investigation response might have helped.
posted by kavasa at 3:13 PM on May 24 [41 favorites]


Individual women are murdered for rejecting men every single day. The scale of the crime is new, but the background misogyny is normalized. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts we see a copycat within three months. No one would date this guy because it was obvious he hated women, but hating women is pretty much treated as a normal variant.
posted by gingerest at 3:13 PM on May 24 [49 favorites]


I have a LOT of feels and thinks about this. As a college TA, I am very cognizant of being a functional first responder when mental illness manifests. Though they have RAs and advisors and all those people, the TAs are often the ones who notice them falling off the map, or behaving oddly... and besides that, this took place where I live. He's from 40 minutes one way and at school 40 minutes the other. AND I frequently TA the kids of Hollywood folk.

One think I think this really speaks to, however, is how imcomprehensible gender relations on most college campuses are right now. I honestly feel like it makes much less sense than it did 10 years ago when I was an undergrad. The regressive and reactionary sexuality happening in Greek circles, abutting with other empowered, progressive gender discourses.... it's getting really messy and kind of reaching fever pitch, in my anecdotal experience.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:14 PM on May 24 [40 favorites]


Alleged Gunman's Apartment Now A Crime Scene mentions more potential victims, and rants about a "First Phase" that may have started the day before yesterday.
posted by effbot at 3:15 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I think what would make this a more terroristic act would be using his ideology to send a message and that his death is some sort of reward/political statement to advance said ideology.

Well, he did send his manifesto to his local TV station so I think it's looking more and more like "act of terrorism" might indeed be the correct label here.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:15 PM on May 24 [26 favorites]


Thinking more about the apparently counter-intuitive notion of an anti-PUA "gentleman" being at the same time violently despotic towards women. Looking at those screenshots on Twitter of his comments on PUAHate or whatever, it seems to me that while the victims of his violence were women, the "targets" -- those intended to receive the message of his violence -- are primarily other men. It's about competition with the "silverbacks" over who has possession of women and thus civilization itself. As much as he talks to women in his sick videos, I think he's talking through them. They are objects to him, and the punishment he sees himself as doling out is his hysterical way of demonstrating to other men -- both his comrades and their enemies -- the power that he so desperately wants.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:16 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


"On the day before the Day of Retribution, I will start the First Phase of my vengeance: Silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery."

Unbelievable. Disgusting and SO BADLY WRITTEN.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:17 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It is an injustice, a crime, because I don't know what you don't see in me. I am the perfect guy. And yet you throw yourselves at all of these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish of all you for it. (laughs) On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every-single spoiled stuck up blonde slut I see inside there.

The very Nicest Guy has made himself known.
posted by jaduncan at 3:17 PM on May 24 [21 favorites]


He was such a dick that he had no buds to GET HIM LAID!!!

"Surely a girl is a thing that most any guy deserves to get as a gift from his friends unless he's such a loser he has no friends to give him one."
posted by straight at 3:19 PM on May 24 [85 favorites]


Mor evidence of how fucked up our mental health system is. Even when a person has reliable access to psychiatric services and family support to advocate for them, the system doesn't work.

It's pretty well established that anti-depressants can cause suicidal and violent behavior. As far as I know, most mass shooters have been on prescription medication.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Now not only is he getting his 15 minutes, but people are going to read his 140-page book too.

I feel sure he will get no benefit from this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:23 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Joining the dots.
posted by Summer at 3:23 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


I get why my comment upset people. I grew up in a culture in that your friends had your back. My best way to explain is the example of the group of friends in "Good Will Hunting." Buds...just don't let you get away with that shit. If you start acting crazy, you get a beat down, and you do LEARN. And with this code is also that you never, ever, ever, ever hit a woman...or a kid.....or you will be trashed. Sorry folks, but it was the man code some of us grew up with. This guy who killed....never had this kind of support.
posted by shockingbluamp at 3:24 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


The scale of the crime is new, but the background misogyny is normalized.

Which is why I'm of the opinion that it is men who need to take the lead on shutting this shit down.

Which is not to say, suggest, or imply that we shouldn't be listening to women the whole time about what effective strategies are or their lived experiences or anything like that.

But when you're coming from a starting point of "Women are pieces of meat and I deserve them for my pleasure," it's the responsibility of the guy standing next to you to say "WTF? That is wrong and this is why." We need more guys doing that. We need more guys saying "Go tell your mother/sister/daughter that and see how she responds." We need a whole helluva lot more guys ostracizing men who exhibit misogynistic behaviour, shunning men who commit sexual assault, and so on. We need to make these behaviours as unthinkable as.... well, I can't come up with a good simile there.

It's not a woman's responsibility to change a man's behaviour. It is his, and the men around him.

I doubt many MRA/PUA types are willing to listen to women on this matter, is my point. Not that women don't need to be listened to.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:24 PM on May 24 [35 favorites]


I think Saxon Kane has a point with women being (again) props to him. He finally "got" some women. Perhaps more importantly he has finally deprived some alphas of women, in the only way he knew how.
posted by Iteki at 3:24 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Police interviewed Elliot Rodger and found him to be a "perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human," Shifman said. Authorities did not find a history of guns, but did say the 22-year-old had trouble making friends, he added.

Shorter cops: "Seemed normal to us."
posted by bleep-blop at 3:25 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


The regressive and reactionary sexuality happening in Greek circles, abutting with other empowered, progressive gender discourses.... it's getting really messy and kind of reaching fever pitch, in my anecdotal experience.

Can you expand a bit? I too was at university a decade ago, which is a lifetime ago considering the explosion of social networking that has happened recently. Can't really imagine what it's like now.
posted by mantecol at 3:27 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


That PUAHate thread reads like pretty normal MRA stuff to me. My understanding from what's come across my dash today is that it's a forum for people who have had PUA stuff not work and are enraged about it. I've read a fair amount of MRA stuff-- spent a couple years on reddit and read manboobz and some of the specifically anti-MRA boards.

Of course he sees women as objects. Mainstream society sees women as objects and he's not only subscribed to that level of misogyny but has sought out and joined a community for people for whom PUA wasn't enough.

This likely wouldn't have happened if we didn't breed this kind of entitlement into white men, especially the ones who come from privilege. It wouldn't be labeled as "sad" or "heartbreaking" and certainly wouldn't be a sign of our poor state of mental health if it was done by a man of color. If it was done to another specific marginalized group and not women, it would likely be termed without question as a hate crime.

Being heartbroken for this guy just pisses me the hell off, because there's an entire goddamn community of these assholes celebrating their abuses of women on a regular basis. I've seen comments on talking about how spousal abuse is necessary, about encouraging rape, etc. Murder is an escalation of that, but it's not a far one, and it's certainly not a goddamn surprising one.
posted by NoraReed at 3:30 PM on May 24 [91 favorites]


I get why my comment upset people. I grew up in a culture in that your friends had your back. My best way to explain is the example of the group of friends in "Good Will Hunting." Buds...just don't let you get away with that shit. If you start acting crazy, you get a beat down, and you do LEARN. And with this code is also that you never, ever, ever, ever hit a woman...or a kid.....or you will be trashed. Sorry folks, but it was the man code some of us grew up with. This guy who killed....never had this kind of support.

While such a community is & was a good thing for you, they also seem to have potentially problematic relationships to patriarchy (though I suppose most things do). I mean, it's great that you have a fellowship that enforces appropriate conduct towards women. It's problematic if that kind of support requires a woman to be treated as a commodity to be obtained as a favor. That might not apply in your particular case, but certainly seems like the sort of behavior that could be inferred from your description.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:33 PM on May 24 [33 favorites]


Final Videos, Postings Leaked

He evidently made some final posts at Wizardchan before he started killing people. Reading the reaction of the users there as the news came out... I seriously don't even know what to say but my skin won't stop crawling.
posted by palomar at 3:34 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


I googled the involuntary psychiatric confinement proc's for my zip code and found them in twenty seconds. You have to talk to somebody in the courthouse M-F 9-5 to have high probability of success but if his father lived where I live he would not have to try all that hard to at least postpone this crime spree. Are things that different in Santa Barbara County? I tried to find their proc's online but was unable to find them in a minute.
posted by bukvich at 3:34 PM on May 24


“It’s so easy to say that Rodger is something awful and strange, an alien metabolism that somehow processes everyday interactions into poison. It’s so easy that men you know are doing it right now, as you read this—explaining to the women around them that this is about mental illness, not about hate. They’re doing this because they don’t want to admit that the poison is real and they’re drinking it too. They’re doing it because they don’t want to acknowledge that they’re feeding others poison every day. They’re doing it because they don’t want to understand that saying 'this crime of anger and hatred against women is not a crime of misogyny' is the same as saying 'here’s a shot of the poison that just killed seven people. Drink up.'”
posted by naju at 3:35 PM on May 24 [70 favorites]


I think that maybe we need to take a second to recognize that yes he seemed normal to most people. He was talked to by the police. He had an mental health team but no one saw these huge red flags. Yeah the YouTube and works plus his actions obviously show a picture of something very wrong. But this man deliberately hid this stuff from the people who could do anything about it. He planned this. He went to class and led a semi normal life. He had his own apartment. That's partly of what makes this so scary is that nobody saw it coming because he knew enough to get away with being just normal enough. It is easy in the mental health field to commit the schizophrenic who is so delusional he doesn't understand he is telling law enforcement he wants to kill people. It is much harder when someone understands the law and consciously carries out a plan.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:35 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


It’s so easy that men you know are doing it right now, as you read this—explaining to the women around them that this is about mental illness, not about hate.

Heh, my husband and I are having this argument right now and I read your comment to him out loud.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:39 PM on May 24 [19 favorites]


It's pretty well established that anti-depressants can cause suicidal and violent behavior.

Data point: 3 out of 4 of my suicide attempts have been while on anti-depressant medication.

Being heartbroken for this guy just pisses me the hell off

Guess we're different people then, because I can be heartbroken over how many different ways society failed him (including people who are mandated to make sure he causes no harm), just as much as I am heartbroken over six innocent lives ended, and six families traumatized to hell. (And about to be re-traumatized in public by voracious media sharks).

This could have been prevented. That's the real heartbreak. This never should have happened. Did the police or his mental healthcare team ever actually watch the videos? If the answer is no, those six families should sue the shit out of them for negligence. The police knew the videos existed; did the mental healthcare team?

What can we as a society possibly do when you are quite literally telling the police that your son is dangerous and there are videos to prove it, and they just interview him and walk away?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:40 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


this kind of entitlement into white men

A week ago, in of the bodybuilding threads, he complained about how he'd seen a blonde girl in a Honda Civic with an Indian guy behind the wheel. So not just 100% misogynist, but racist as well.
posted by effbot at 3:41 PM on May 24 [19 favorites]


So what's really odd about this subsection of the MRA movement - the incels and the anti-PUA crowd - is that their obsessive need to sleep with women seems entirely focused on impressing men. For these people, it sure seems that homosocial bonding is the ultimate goal of all heterosexual behavior.

The accused didn't want to sleep with women because he loved women - clearly he didn't, he killed at least six. He wanted to improve his standing within a male hierarchy. He saw himself as a "beta male" which meant that women weren't interested in him - and because women weren't interested in him, he'd never move up the male hierarchy.

I can't help but believe that he cared more about what other men thought than anything about women at all. And in some sense, this mass murder was done both to terrorize women and to impress men.

And I don't think it's a pathology. I think we need to accept this as a facet of present-day male heterosexuality - something that I find deeply upsetting. That it's upsetting doesn't make it less true. This is part of being a straight guy under patriarchy, whether we like it or not.
posted by allen.spaulding at 3:43 PM on May 24 [123 favorites]


Heh, my husband and I are having this argument right now and I read your comment to him out loud.

...and it turned into a big screaming fight that ended with me ordering him to get the fuck out of my presence until he stops saying shit like "feminists are crazy too."

I guess we're not going to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past tonight after all. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 3:43 PM on May 24 [74 favorites]


Is it cynical that I find it very hard to believe that anyone would ever know about "PUAhate" communities besides persons-who-have-failed-at-PUA-behavior? Sounds circlejerky.

I'm really sad that a lot of people are dead because some super privileged Hollywood kid was sexually frustrated and bonkers, but that detail jumped out at me as weird, and especially weird to mention in the context of this news like it's even relevant.
posted by trackofalljades at 3:44 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


this is about mental illness, not about hate

This is about what happens at the horrifying intersection of those two things.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:44 PM on May 24 [39 favorites]


"feminists are crazy too."

AAARRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
posted by Summer at 3:46 PM on May 24 [51 favorites]


It’s so easy that men you know are doing it right now, as you read this—explaining to the women around them that this is about mental illness, not about hate.

Women don't have the luxury of not noticing patterns in violent crimes against women. It's on us to avoid it, and we're often blamed when we are the victims of it. To women, it doesn't matter if this guy was mentally ill--"avoid all mentally ill people" is not a strategy to avoid violence. We have to look for more specific patterns. We are looking to prevent this from happening to us in addition to looking for ways to prevent it from happening at all. And holy hell, dudes who are that deep in MRA language make my spidey sense tingle like crazy. That's why women are focusing on this dude's hateful language in addition to his mental illness. We are looking out for our own safety.
posted by almostmanda at 3:46 PM on May 24 [84 favorites]


From my perspective turning this into a thread about mental health treatment and misogyny is the same as threads about bullying causing Columbine, academic pressure for the shooting on college campuses, mothering/parental abilities in Sandy Hook, employee discrimination/bullying in I don't know how many work place shootings, drugs in x( n) robberies, etc. Everyone of these is a valid issue but a huge distraction from the central and consistent issue. I find this not all that different from what FOX news will do as they find an issue/person to castigate and call for all the persons in Santa Barbara to be armed--as if that would stop a drive by killing.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:48 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


It’s so easy that men you know are doing it right now, as you read this—explaining to the women around them that this is about mental illness, not about hate.

Heh, my husband and I are having this argument right now and I read your comment to him out loud.


This might be about hate, but I do think that that medium piece is a bit glib. It seems to be equating all forms of misogyny as existing on a single-dimensional axis. This isn't some kind of sliding scale; it's a bumpy map, and people can co-exist on it while never being at risk of meeting up.


Everyone's a little bit misogynist, it's true...
posted by Going To Maine at 3:48 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


If he were from Afghanistan, the press would report it as an honor killing.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:48 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


The terrifying thing isn't that there are a bunch of obvious red flags in his YouTube videos. The terrifying thing is that these kind of red flags are rampant in the MRA community, with people regularly talking about wanting revenge on women for rejecting them. There's nothing being done about the ones posting stories about the rapes they commit, or the abuse they've performed. It's all publicly available. I'm not talking about some fucking darknet or IRC logs, this is on goddamn reddit.

Here's the deal, everybody: this is normal. When society teaches men-- especially white men-- that they deserve access to the bodies of women, this is what's going to happen. This is within the range of what we teach men it is okay to do if they do not get the access they 'deserve'.

Stop fucking saying 'it's because he's on the spectrum', because it's not goddamn okay to stigmatize and throw people with autism under the bus because it's easier than looking at our culture and saying, yes, violence against women is endemic. Misogyny is endemic. Our culture has a disease, and this is a flare-up, and pinning it on mental illness or on autism isn't how we deal with it.

Do we need better mental health coverage in this country? Yes, but you know who needs it because of something like this? The women who have been abused and terrorized by the sick goddamn society we live in. Not the overprivileged, entitled, racist, virtulently misogynistic assholes who can't deal with women not being served up to them on a silver platter.
posted by NoraReed at 3:49 PM on May 24 [182 favorites]


mantecol, I'm not sure I see past the end of my nose on the issue, or speak very eloquently or clearly about a generalization here... suffice it to say that I am still reeling with culture shock from coming to work at a traditional, Greek/Sports institution of predominately privileged students, USC, having come of age myself at humble, hippie UC Santa Cruz. The strong divisions between Haves and Have Nots, Beautiful People and The Rest, and perhaps even the Popular vs. the Political seem agonizingly clear, in ways I imagine would be very frustrating to anyone with dreams of making the world their own. If I found myself a college freshman today, I think I would be very disillusioned and find the world to be a hypocritical place.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:50 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


So would it be fair to say that his mental illness turned him into a gun, and misogynist culture provided a target?
posted by Mooski at 3:57 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


I'm sitting here and I'm thinking of Anders Breivik. Different continent, different methods, different motive. Still, I am thinking of Breivik.

I am thinking of white men in relative affluence. Men who feel marginalised. Men who are angry and find other angry men on internet fora and blogs. Men who feel like losers. Men who feel threatened by the Other and decide to fight the threat.

Different continent, different methods, different motive.

I think we will see many more of these Lone Angry Man crimes - each with their own unique flavour and motive. And each time we'll find a new sub-genre of message board where people fuel each other's fears and anger.

The great thing about the internet is that it allows people to connect. It is also the downside.
posted by kariebookish at 3:58 PM on May 24 [29 favorites]


News says he had Asperger's disease; maybe if our mental health system was better and firearms were better controlled, this could have been prevented.
posted by Renoroc at 4:01 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Everyone of these is a valid issue but a huge distraction from the central and consistent issue. I find this not all that different from what FOX news will do as they find an issue/person to castigate and call for all the persons in Santa Barbara to be armed--as if that would stop a drive by killing.

Just this past week, a 21-year old university student in Taipei killed four people on a subway train and injured over 20 others with a knife. This past March, Uighur separatists killed almost 30 people and injured 140 others with blades in China.

I think gun control should always be a relevant topic in the face of these events, but the above incidents show that even societies where firearms are highly restricted fall prey to violent attacks of both spree killing and politically-motivated terrorism.

Ideological terrorism is something we will always have with us, or perhaps it is something we as a species finds it easier to understand and explain. But violence committed by lone, disgruntled, otherwise normal seeming people, in the case of both Elliot Rodger and the student in the Taiwanese attack- or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold- that seems less understandable and troubling in its puzzling nature.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:03 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


> I watched that video and I disagree. There's nothing there that isn't said constantly. He's a Nice Guy and a Gentleman and he doesn't understand why these sluts won't sleep with him but will sleep with men he doesn't approve of, so he's going to hurt them.

This bears repeating. Repeatedly.

Mental illness may be an amplifying factor, but these are deeply embedded cultural narratives that are only now really encountering any significant pushback, and that pushback is in turn causing many who have bought into those narratives to become even more entrenched in their positions.
posted by Superplin at 4:03 PM on May 24 [43 favorites]


Data point: 3 out of 4 of my suicide attempts have been while on anti-depressant medication.


Of course all this proves is that depressed people are often treated with antidepressants but that these aren't always as effective as you hope they will be. There is a common, linked causal factor called "mental illness."

And while I do believe there is substantial evidence that certain antidepressants are associated with elevated suicide risk for depressed persons who take them, particularly adolescents, I am not aware of any such association that has been proven for acts of mass murder.

Anyone care to substantiate that claim? It's a fine line between concern and unnecessary stigmatization of millions who rely on those drugs to function.

Alcohol, with which many self-medicate, causes far more violence, while we are free associating on the topic.

Severely mentally ill people are often drawn to violent ideological politics and cohorts. That's why they make very good terrorists. It's not either/or.

Fucking horrible, but it's the not so new American normal. I agree that the only problem that admits of a linear solution is keeping guns away from the criminally disturbed. Fight misogyny with all you got, but it's bigger than a few MRA assholes and way more dangerous when armed.
posted by spitbull at 4:05 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


He evidently made some final posts at Wizardchan before he started killing people. Reading the reaction of the users there as the news came out... I seriously don't even know what to say but my skin won't stop crawling.

Jesus. There's one comment there that talks about how society ("normies") uses sex (who has it, who doesn't) as a measuring stick and then withholds it from some people - the commenter acts like this is personal, as if he himself (and other guys on this board, I guess?) have been personally chosen and denied sex. Because obviously, sex is a thing that everyone is entitled to, and the only reason they aren't getting it is because there's a conspiracy against them.

Regarding the involuntary psych hold: Someone we know is on their third week of an involuntary hold because they threatened to hurt themselves and someone else, and their partner called the cops, and they (our friend) has been unable to even act like they might not harm themselves or someone else. But sometimes people can, and do. This may have been one of those times.
posted by rtha at 4:07 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


Any more information about the bodies in his apartment? I've only found the short links above and unconfirmed reports.

Completely terrifying.
There is supposed to be a press conference at 5.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:08 PM on May 24


I do sometimes wonder what would be posted on MeFi if for a week posts regarding misogyny, homophobia, income inequality, sexual discrimination and racism were banned. One would assume that these are singularly the explanation or much of the human condition. They are never OK and Americans are at extremes on these issues--extremes at both ends of the continuum but the US does not in anyway have a monopoly on them. Loneliness, mental illness, cultural paranoia, child neglect/abuse, drugs, alcohol, cultural stereotypes, fear of rejection, discrimination etc are part of human condition. I am simply sick and tired of the Wild West mentality, the accessibility of guns and ammunition and extremism in all forms whether rhetorically or behaviorally.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:09 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


News says he had Asperger's disease

There's no known connection between Asperger's and violence, so that has nothing to do with him being a misogynistic and racist shithead that killed a bunch of random people. All the talk about mental illness in this thread is speculation based on his acts, not from any professional first hand sources.
posted by effbot at 4:14 PM on May 24 [28 favorites]


Gun control is a valid discussion in the wake of this, but it's not the only discussion and it's not what distinguishes this event, the way I see it.

It's a multi-layered thing.

Layer 1: Person is exposed to or subscribes to [fanatic religious ideology] / [fanatic political ideology] / [fanatic {insert-poison-here} ideology / [fanatic MRA ideology]. I left that last one explicitly named, because that is the specific case here.

Layer 2, optional: Person might be mentally ill, with the potential effects of [lowering inhibitions] / [increasing the severity of reactions] / [being under medication which may lead to violent ideation] / [increasing the vulnerability to suggestion from the groupthink in Layer 1].

Layer 3: Person has access to weaponry, which in the USA tends to be in the form of guns because of easier accessibility.

Maybe I can think of them as a reservoir and pipes. Layer 1 is the reservoir. Layers 2 and 3 channel the outcome.

When we discuss gun control in the wake of an event like this, we're focusing on Layer 3. Which is valid. When we discuss the sorry state of access to and attitudes towards treatment of mental illnesses, we're focusing on Layer 2. That is also valid.

But what makes this case... OK, it's not unique, and it's not novel either, but let's say what classes this with the Ecole Polytechnique case is the specific ideology and thought system of Layer 1. And in this case I believe discussing Layer 1 takes precedence, because we have named and shamed other options that I've listed in Layer 1, but how the MRA ideology is, at heart, a toxic and terrorist ideology has not been brought up into wider discourse. The comments in this thread which give voice and name to this thought, this meme, are the most valuable to me in terms of shaping the discourse on this event.
posted by seyirci at 4:14 PM on May 24 [26 favorites]


If there's any connection between antidepressants and spree killings, I think it's most likely just that psychopaths get depressed too. When you're depressed you just lie around in bed all day, but when the antidepressants start working you finally have the physical energy and mental motive power to get up and do something. For most people that "something" is more along the lines of take a shower and talk to a friend, but for that small percentage of the population with psychopathic tendencies that "something" might be mass violence.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:15 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


It seems like after Sandy Hook both efforts towards gun control and increasing funding for public mental health didn't end up anywhere.

Because there is money to be made creating and enforcing a culture of violence as expressed by the Military-Industrial-Congressional complex pimp'n war and PTSD is just self-help after the fact. (There may be other addressable PTSD - hood disease)

The nation was born of violence and has a history of avoiding the mental health issues of the violence.

Computer controlled drones striking based on metadata is the future to address both issues it seems.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:15 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Ambrosia Voyeur.

On another note, I hope this incident encourages society to take a hard look at MRA and similar movements. They employ circular, pseudo-scientific pseudo-logic that is extremely corrosive to impressionable young minds.

- In what ways can we fortify youth to defend their minds against such rhetoric?
- Regarding young men specifically, how are their needs failing to be met, and what can be done about this on a societal level?
- It's time for everyone to take a stand against hate speech. I have no idea why reddit entertains MRAs, but hypothetically it could be for a reason like "Well if we don't let them do it here, they'll just take their discussion somewhere else and we'll lose revenue." Or maybe, "It would be too much moderation work to try to prevent it." Allowing hateful speech on massively popular sites legitimizes it, and makes it easier for young people to stumble across it. In today's online world full of digital public forums, the duty to "serve and protect" falls to more people than just police officers.
posted by mantecol at 4:17 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, sometimes top-notch care should mean temporarily reducing a mentally ill person's autonomy when their illness entails credible threats of violence or violent ideation.

Simple enough! Just have a person who has Government blessing to make such determinations state the person to be restrained is credibly unmutual!

What could ever possibly go wrong or ever be abused?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:18 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of Marc Lepine and L'Ecole Polytechnique when I was an undergrad in 1989. I'm not sure what it is like for other people, since I am long gone from university, but I do remember December 6 each year.

One of the outcomes of the 1989 massacre was stricter gun control in Canada.

While it's not particularly relevant or even, in the context of the premeditated murder of these young women, even particularly important, the Harper government's efforts to relax gun control in Canada over the past five years or so means the Conservatives will likely never enjoy any more support in Quebec.

I guess what is important is that there are people who remember what happened, who wanted things to change, and managed to change things (stricter gun control), and people still do care.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:20 PM on May 24 [16 favorites]


His manifesto is 140 pages long and apparently talks about how women should be kept in concentration camps and reproduction should only be done artificially. I don't see how one can argue he wasn't delusional.
posted by Justinian at 4:20 PM on May 24 [18 favorites]


Yes, if you have an organization devoted to hating vegetarians*, and you spend lots of time in your organization talking about how all vegetarians should be force-fed meat and then shot, and how they are awful people preventing you from succeeding at life by eating celery, and how when you meet them you want to punch them in the face and strangle them and kill them; and while you personally may be just using rhetorical excess but you make your organization a welcoming haven to angry, alienated people and you approve and reinforce their violent thoughts with social approval when they express them; and then you are shocked -- SHOCKED! -- when someone ACTS ON THE VIOLENCE Y'ALL HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT and insist "It's not all vegetarian-haters! 99% of us aren't violent!", this is a problem.

Every organization attracts people who aren't fully functional and has to take steps to protect itself and other people from sheltering or reinforcing dysfunctional behavior. Organizations that instead protect or promote violence, who provide violent, angry people with validation, are partly responsible when IN A TOTALLY FORESEEABLE HUMAN FASHION, someone who is more angry or more impulsive or less functional than usual takes all that violent rhetoric and turns it into action.

That's pretty much the purpose of a hate group, to provide a protected space (almost always justified in terms of "free speech" and "free association") for angry people to get angrier and angrier and feel more and more justified in that anger, until someone manages to turn the anger into violence. Which will then be met with the dual chorus of "random people" from the group saying "Finally! Good for that guy!" and "officials" from the group saying, "We deplore violence and those people don't speak for us."

It's not exactly disingenuous, because a lot of us all the time rhetorically say things like, "Man, this guy cut me off in traffic and I wanted to kill him!" and it's just a figure of speech. I am sure it has never occurred to some of these guys on PUA sites that some of their cohorts are not speaking rhetorically about violence. But when violence actually erupts, justified by your rhetoric, the correct response is some serious soul-searching for your organization about how you might be contributing to the problem. Immediately retreating into "But free speech is important! But not ALL members of our group are violent!" and so on is a sign of denial and rationalization and that, yeah, you're probably a hate group because you consider violence to be (at most) collateral damage to be tolerated while advancing your hateful agenda.

I'm not very wrapped up in whether we call this a "hate crime" or not, but it's definitely an interaction of the social and the individual, and it's irresponsible to ignore the role that communities that provide validation and social approval for acts of hate and violence play in enabling crimes like these. "Most" members of almost any community are not committing acts of violence, but those communities can still be providing a fertile breeding ground for violence.

*I picked vegetarians because I know of no violent vegetarian hate groups.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:24 PM on May 24 [104 favorites]


I'm a guy unsuccessful with women. Just don't date, ever. I've known a few other guys like this. Most have been okay, harmless, although they may release the occasional oddball comment about women and relationship/gender dynamics, percolated in their brains out of a combination of naivete, social isolation and awkwardness. I don't want to watch the videos or delve further into his writings to get a more personal sense of the individual here, but I think that it's possible that he never approached women and rarely interacted with them. Rather than this action being a reaction to any real world rejection, it may be that he sat and stewed in his own sense of inadequacy. Counted himself out before he ever tried. Strip away the big talk when he's looking to go out with a bang and it just may be that he felt lonely and unworthy. It may be that his anger doesn't stem so much from a misogynistic expectation that any woman he desires should be available to him. Rather it may rise out of a mostly untested belief that something so central to the human identity - relationships, friendships, love, sex - appears easily available to everyone else but is denied to him (and because that has been his reality so far, will always be denied to him). There are a lot more 22-year-old - and 40-year-old - virgins than the 22-year-old virgin would ever believe. He would believe his state is unique, a great shame, a sign that society has scorned him specifically, might think it so unique a state that it requires dramatic response.

(Or not. We always project when we try to understand these murderers. Many unhappy people come up with skewed ideas. But pulling a trigger to bring harm, to end the days of a real living laughing loving person a few feet from you takes a mindset that thankfully few of us ever know.)
posted by TimTypeZed at 4:25 PM on May 24 [53 favorites]


I googled the involuntary psychiatric confinement proc's for my zip code and found them in twenty seconds. You have to talk to somebody in the courthouse M-F 9-5 to have high probability of success but if his father lived where I live he would not have to try all that hard to at least postpone this crime spree. Are things that different in Santa Barbara County? I tried to find their proc's online but was unable to find them in a minute.

It would take a lot more than some alleged YouTube videos and forum posts for a father to get his adult son involuntarily committed.
posted by humanfont at 4:29 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Outliers like this guy have been and are always around. Pick any group, and you'll find posts and vids and other rants about how we need to take up arms and fight back against ___________. A few actually do it.

What I've never understood is why they often target a random crowd. In the middle east, it's often a market place or a bus station. This guy was a student at a community college, but he drove to Isla Vista at UC Santa Barbara...and then just randomly went on a shooting spree. What's the connection?

I suppose you have to be insane to understand the insane?

Seems to be a typical blame game going on now: who is at fault here? Message board? Mental Health Community? A law? Gun control?
posted by CrowGoat at 4:35 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Allowing hateful speech on massively popular sites legitimizes it, and makes it easier for young people to stumble across it.

Might as well shut Reddit down then. If you removed everything that someone found offensive or hateful there'd be nothing left but cute cat pictures. If you shut down TRP do you leave TwoX up? Or SRS? Where is that line drawn? And how much can you alienate what is probably your core user base (young, white, males) before your massively popular website isn't so massive or so popular any more?
posted by MikeMc at 4:41 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Censorship and restriction against "bad thoughts" is about as effective as prohibition against narcotics. The real solution is changing the culture and social attitudes through gradually winning hearts and minds. Unfortunately, that shit's hard.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:44 PM on May 24 [16 favorites]


You need to allow this sort of speech in order to a) provide a relief valve for the crazies and b) figure out who the crazies are.

It's kind of funny Obama and the NSA want to have all this access to our private data, but never seem to be able to prevent any of this sort of thing from happening.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:44 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


I'm a social worker. Involuntary committing someone takes a phone call and some paperwork if all goes well in my area. But the real variables is the hospital social workers opinion and client presentation. Occasionally insurance plays a role as well. Sometimes police do make the judgement call not to pick up if the person is calm and collected. I've had it happen to me when trying to commit someone for suisidality. (She didn't kill herself so you can argue they made the right call but I disgress).

And most of my people are 100 percent aware of the mental health system and sign themselves out AMA after 72 hours. The one that wasn't was quite delusional and they kept her for 5 days and sent her home with a nice injection of anti psychotics that kept her good for about 30 days. Yay medicaid .

To keep someone longer than a temporary hold takes a court order and is not done unless it is very clear and usually there is a long history of behavior.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:45 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


And how much can you alienate what is probably your core user base (young, white, males) before your massively popular website isn't so massive or so popular any more?

I hear you, but the fact that insisting misogynist speech is a no-no can be called 'alienating' young, white males is a large part of the problem, in my opinion.
posted by Mooski at 4:45 PM on May 24 [39 favorites]


And how much can you alienate what is probably your core user base (young, white, males) before your massively popular website isn't so massive or so popular any more?

It is definitely a dilemma, which is why I brought it up. Without outside influence to push it in a different direction, a business will act in its best financial interest. Whether that entails destroying the environment, helping breed hate, whatever.
posted by mantecol at 4:46 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Since my MeMail inbox is now blowing up with messages of concern about me and the state of my marriage, I'd like to reassure y'all that screaming fights are just how we roll and we've already (mostly) made up and I am in fact writing this comment on my phone as my husband drives us to the movies.

I'm still mad at him but we negotiated that I'd table it for the duration of date night if he'd read some stuff about misogyny when we got home. (Any suggestions for quick, effective, persuasive primers aimed at men who are feminist in their actions yet live in a mental bubble where they don't see that misogyny is real and thus say crap like "I'm an individualist, not a feminist"? Or better yet, short videos -- he's more of a videos guy.)
posted by Jacqueline at 4:46 PM on May 24 [51 favorites]


This video of a father, whose son Christopher Martinez is among the victims, is gut-wrenching.
posted by raztaj at 4:46 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


The first thing my wife told me when I got up this morning was this horrifying news. I was a grad student at UCSB in the 1990s and lived across the street from IV for many years. I hadn't been back in Santa Barbara for well over a decade. But on a caprice of a weekend visit, we were in Isla Vista last Saturday, and exactly a week ago were taking a pleasant stroll to the beach crossing the very streets where the rampage took place. This one is hitting home for me.
posted by Numenius at 4:53 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


What I've never understood is why they often target a random crowd. In the middle east, it's often a market place or a bus station. This guy was a student at a community college, but he drove to Isla Vista at UC Santa Barbara...and then just randomly went on a shooting spree. What's the connection?

It's not always a random crowd, it can be family members or others who they feel have slighted them (think school killings). The spree killing is an act by which they regain lost honour. Check this guy out. When he gave himself up to the cops, he said "they would all be dead if he wanted"; it's really about proving your power, worth and honour to your fellow men (spree killers are basically always men). Saxon Kane, way way upthread, was right on the money IMO.

Look at the history of the work "amok" - it was in the DSM at one point. It's not about misogyny, misanthropy, politics, religion, economics, sexual success... those are just the yard sticks to which these guys fail to measure up in their own heads.

If you want to stop it happening, remove the pressure to measure yourself against other men (see the obsession with alphas and betas at the PUAHate forum). You'd have better luck there than removing any individual measuring stick, 'cos they'll always find another one.

nothing left but cute cat pictures

Uh... I really hate cats. Sorry. Close the whole site down.
posted by Leon at 4:56 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


never seem to be able to prevent any of this sort of thing from happening

Those numbers were deemed irrelevant.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:59 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


I hear you, but the fact that insisting misogynist speech is a no-no can be called 'alienating' young, white males is a large part of the problem, in my opinion.

That's a thorny issue no doubt. How to address certain behaviors in a certain without that group feeling "targeted"? As a white guy I can understand the feeling that sometimes one is beset by "enemies" on all sides. Feminists want to emasculate you, groups lobbying for minority groups want to knock you down a peg or three etc... Now, I know that having been born a straight, white male in America I pretty much hit the birth lottery but that feeling is very, very real and it's very hard to ignore. It takes a deliberate effort to resist that message. Many people don't resist, some can't.
posted by MikeMc at 5:02 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


The shooter attended the city college downtown, but lived in Isla Vista, which is not unusual for a lot of SBCC students. I did the same for a year before moving downtown. IV is basically an residential extension of the university campus (though mostly non-affiliated) and it looked he was targeting sorority girls in particular.
posted by book 'em dano at 5:05 PM on May 24


Look at the history of the work "amok" - it was in the DSM at one point. It's not about misogyny, misanthropy, politics, religion, economics, sexual success... those are just the yard sticks to which these guys fail to measure up in their own heads.

That's kind of the crux of the disagreement I was having with MartinWisse early in the thread. If it wasn't women he was mad at for not recognizing his magnificence and power (his actual words) he would have been a white supremacist mad at minorities for their unfair advantages, or a right wing extremist mad at the government for keeping him down, or a religious fanatic mad at our immoral and sinful ways, or any of a hundred other things.

Which isn't at all to suggest we shouldn't do everything we can to address misogyny and its ilk, only that it will not stop people like this man, only change their delusions.
posted by Justinian at 5:06 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


I do sometimes wonder what would be posted on MeFi if for a week posts regarding misogyny, homophobia, income inequality, sexual discrimination and racism were banned. One would assume that these are singularly the explanation or much of the human condition.

When you're a member of a marginalized group and those factors constantly effect how people treat you, then yes, that is an explanation for a lot of your life. When you're a member of a privileged group and you're handed stuff you haven't earned or don't deserve, that is also an explanation for a lot of your life. If we banned discussion of those issues, it would benefit people in the privileged groups, because silence about those issues benefits the people already in power. Got it? Can we be done with this kind of fucking thing now, or do we have to reiterate this kind of point another thousand times to every fucking dude who thinks his dude status makes his opinion fucking matter?

Might as well shut Reddit down then. If you removed everything that someone found offensive or hateful there'd be nothing left but cute cat pictures. If you shut down TRP do you leave TwoX up? Or SRS? Where is that line drawn? And how much can you alienate what is probably your core user base (young, white, males) before your massively popular website isn't so massive or so popular any more?

Are you seriously comparing TwoX and SRS to TRP? TwoX is a shitty fucking community infested with MRAs and transphobes, but it's made to be a safer space for women, a marginalized group. SRS is a forum specifically for pointing out issues of racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fatphobia and other oppressions on reddit, which is a community deeply sick with those things.

If you can't tell the goddamn difference between a community MADE FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM OPPRESSION where those people often TALK ABOUT THAT OPPRESSION and A FUCKING HATE GROUP then I don't know what to tell you, except to get off my fucking corner of the internet, because it's goddamn shitty and intolerant enough without people pretending they're just being dense instead of defending rampantly misogynistic hate groups.
posted by NoraReed at 5:06 PM on May 24 [97 favorites]


Um, Leon, you do realize what your username means, right? ;)
posted by futz at 5:07 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


He is filled with self-loathing.
posted by Justinian at 5:08 PM on May 24


I've read some interesting excerpts from Lundy Bancroft's book and one that's really stuck with me is the case of an abuser who appears to "go crazy" and completely trash the apartment. But in an interview with his partner, she realizes he was only destroying her stuff. I think misogyny is so pervasive that there IS a spectrum. Rodger's problem wasn't "sexual frustration," if he was having sex he would likely be an abuser.

Bringing up whether this was "terrorism" seems to imply the American security state can solve this (the military is no stranger to sexual assault scandals). The police response to Rodger would have been very different if his target wasn't women.
posted by gorbweaver at 5:09 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


I... don't know about that? I mean, he did die.
posted by Justinian at 5:11 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Full text of Elliot Rodger's manifesto.
posted by xekul at 5:11 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Futz: (after Googling) Lion? Interesting. I was going for something else entirely (it's an anagram).
posted by Leon at 5:15 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Out of a US population of 310+ million let's say we have 10 of these types of sprees per year. ( I think that's high but I couldn't find any good statistics off hand) that means it takes 10 years to amass 100 people to study. Depending on their ages, SES, race, gender, and other variables they may not be very alike at all and make up 0.00003 percent of the population.

I think expectations on that we should know and be able to pick these people out is simply impossible. There just isn't enough of them (in the US). Maybe if you look world wide but religious, cultural, and language starts playing a role and it's even harder to untangle.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:15 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Jacqueline, I was gonna tell you to see the movie without him, but since you're already going I'll just say "sit apart from him or hog all the popcorn or something".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:17 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


According to his story, Elliot Rodger had a pattern of violent thoughts and actions that stemmed from sexual rejection.

One of his friends had to dissuade him from throwing a drink, unprovoked, at a group of men and women in a Panda Express. He later confessed to the friend that he wanted to flay any man who is successful with women. He smiled at two women in a car, and when they didn't smile back, he felt insulted and threw a drink at them. He drunkenly hit on several girls at a party, and after being rejected, tried to push several people off a ten foot ledge. Other party goers beat him up in retribution. He regularly fantasized about killing men and women he saw together.

He attended all three Star Wars red carpet premieres. He played World of Warcraft addictively in high school. He drove to Arizona to buy thousands of dollars in Powerball tickets because he thought being a millionaire would get him laid. I find all this perversely fascinating.
posted by Hume at 5:18 PM on May 24 [30 favorites]


If you can't tell the goddamn difference between a community MADE FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM OPPRESSION where those people often TALK ABOUT THAT OPPRESSION and A FUCKING HATE GROUP then I don't know what to tell you, except to get off my fucking corner of the internet, because it's goddamn shitty and intolerant enough without people pretending they're just being dense instead of defending rampantly misogynistic hate groups.

Well that's Reddit's conundrum isn't it? Ban TRP and then it's "Why is it that women can have communities but men can't?" and SRS is, well, SRS (and probably ranks right up there with TRP as far being generally hated). Reddit can't win no matter what they do. /r/Creepshots got shut down but it's back under a new name. Same with /r/ni**ers. Reddit, in a way, is a victim of it's own popularity.
posted by MikeMc at 5:19 PM on May 24


He was also a big fan of GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire. Not sure that's relevant, though.
posted by Justinian at 5:19 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


My sympathies to anyone who wants to dig through that 140-page manifesto. I got through the first paragraph then decided, you know what, my nerves are already shot to hell by the videos, that's enough for one day.
posted by naju at 5:22 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Justinian: His manifesto is 140 pages long and apparently talks about how women should be kept in concentration camps and reproduction should only be done artificially. I don't see how one can argue he wasn't delusional.

Pretty standard stuff for MRA types. Theodore Beale/Vox Day has posted similar stuff, and the right wing of SF fandom has decided he's a sainted martyr. Vile misogyny (often teamed with vile racism) is considered in the acceptable range of political views in this country.

I'm also pretty tired of politically driven terrorism against women being excused with a "pat-pat, poor boy, it was just mental illness".
posted by tavella at 5:23 PM on May 24 [35 favorites]


Previously.
posted by blue suede stockings at 5:25 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


When a white guy violently deprives women of their lives and education, it's mental illness. When men of color violently deprive women of their lives and education, it's Boko Haram.

The only difference I see is degree, race, and place. Sigh.
posted by Ouverture at 5:28 PM on May 24 [28 favorites]


Just skimmed the manifesto and it's mostly an autobiographical account of his life. It's only in the last couple of pages that he describes his ideal, "pure" world--where women starve to death in concentration camps, except for a select few that are bred through artificial insemination, and men are finally freed from the "barbarity" of sex and women. The hate crime accusations earlier in the thread are spot-on.
posted by xekul at 5:30 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


I don't think anyone here is saying that mental illness is the end all be all and that's just it. It is complicated and nobody at this time is able to write a comprehensive list of the interplay between all the factors in this case. That will take a very long time. There is only so much that can be processed and discussed at one time. And more information keeps coming out. In addition most likely most of us do not work in forensic psychology so our opinions are just opinions.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:32 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm actually reading the damn thing -- I'm on page 40 now. He's just turned 13, he's seen his first porno and it traumatized him and destroyed his entire life (his words), he's just gotten into WoW, and his mom, having had her child support drastically reduced by his father, has had to move them to an apartment, which just absolutely disgusts this kid because apartments are for low-class poors. (It doesn't seem to occur to him that his mom had to make that move in part because his dad wanted to pay less child support. Nope, his dad's still an awesome dude.)

Mostly, he reads as deeply entitled and completely unself-aware. The whole thing so far has been a litany of what neighborhood he lived in at what ages, how his father's career was advancing and what a stud he was, what kinds of possessions he had and vacations his family took, how many friends he had and what kind of benefit he got from them (popularity, getting to attend parties with bouncy castles and famous people), and on and on and on. Actually, I just got to the part where he says that he stopped seeing his friends because he moved to this apartment and was too embarrassed to contact them, and also his mom could now have high speed internet so he spent all his time at home playing WoW. But of course he's not to blame for that, it's his friends' fault. Or his mother's fault. Or the universe's fault. Anyone but poor Elliot's fault.
posted by palomar at 5:43 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


The knee-jerk reaction to blame this on mental illness takes the blame off of the misogyny in society and increases the already rampant stigma against people with mental illnesses, who are more far likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. Even if those symptoms manifest as different kinds of entitlements and different kinds of violence in different spaces and different men, all of this is a piece of the same societal disease, and like any bacterial or viral plague, it strikes the healthy as well as the sick.
posted by NoraReed at 5:45 PM on May 24 [23 favorites]


I didn't (and don't plan to) watch the videos, but I've skimmed the purported manifesto up through age 18 so far and (of course realizing that this is pretty much the archetypical unreliable narrator...)

Outwardly, this guy's life doesn't seem so different or awful from many, many other people, and certainly he'd had a much better time of it than many people who don't go on to murder anyone. I didn't see any abuse, sexual or otherwise. No deprivation of pretty much any kind. Just a not super-popular kid with divorced parents who invested a bunch of time into video games because his real-world social interactions were awkward and didn't result in instant comfort.

The primary difference, from what I can tell, is his constant internal dialogue combined with an almost entire lack of expressing it.

Everybody else is having sex. Nobody likes him. He would never be able to attract anyone. He talks about how he went to a party where he didn't know anyone, but "it would only be a matter of time before they detected I was an outcast" and so he left after an awkward few minutes.

It's like that at least up to age 18, but what I didn't see much if any of was an outlet for any of those thoughts. He had friends, but it doesn't mention discussing any of this with them. Ditto parents. He was aware of AIM and Facebook, but no mention of venting there or on Livejournal or someplace.

Frankly, he seems to have started off normal, then had a few negative-but-normal growing-up experiences, but instead of venting them, expressing them, talking about them, whatever, they just festered and spread and rotted him from the inside.

Terrifying, actually.
posted by brentajones at 5:46 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


"Mostly, he reads as deeply entitled and completely unself-aware. "

Yeah, that's some pretty extreme narcissism. On the narcissism scale of 1 to 10, this guy scores a zillion. It is absolutely, positively, serious mental illness.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:46 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


I couldn't watch more than the first few seconds of the video rant. It reminds me too much of how sickened I was by the TV broadcast, by a major network, of the VA Tech killer's tape.
posted by thelonius at 5:46 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


It is absolutely, positively, serious mental illness.

Of course it is. But being absolutely positively seriously mentally ill and being a tremendous misogynist aren't mutually exclusive. His mental illness doesn't excuse or explain why he targeted women.
posted by palomar at 5:53 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


(It doesn't seem to occur to him that his mom had to make that move in part because his dad wanted to pay less child support. Nope, his dad's still an awesome dude.)

Yeah, dad's still awesome because if what you want is to be like dad (successful, famous, etc.), then your role model can't possibly be a fucking deadbeat - if he's anything bad, it's because he's a victim of circumstances, and probably gold-diggers who just want him for his money.
posted by rtha at 5:53 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Not a misogynist hate crime because society rarely recognizes them, not ideological terrorism because he's a well-off white guy.

This likely wouldn't have happened if we didn't breed this kind of entitlement into white men, especially the ones who come from privilege.

When a white guy violently deprives women of their lives and education, it's mental illness. When men of color violently deprive women of their lives and education, it's Boko Haram.

Lot's of statements about how the killer is a white male. But his manifesto says his mother is Malaysian Chinese, and he complains that his Asian appearance made him invisible to the white girls he was attracted to.
posted by dgaicun at 5:56 PM on May 24 [21 favorites]


I'm reading from CNN that the victims in the apartment were all men. I'm sure a lot of people are going to follow that up with "See? This wasn't about gender, he targeted men too" and miss the point entirely.
posted by naju at 5:57 PM on May 24 [19 favorites]


"That's kind of the crux of the disagreement I was having with MartinWisse early in the thread. If it wasn't women he was mad at for not recognizing his magnificence and power (his actual words) he would have been a white supremacist mad at minorities for their unfair advantages, or a right wing extremist mad at the government for keeping him down, or a religious fanatic mad at our immoral and sinful ways, or any of a hundred other things."

I don't understand why you're taking such an extreme position on this. I'm pretty sure we had the same arguments in the marathon bombing thread, where people were taking extreme positions that weirdly deny the interrelationship between institutionalized inequality, hate-filled ideological extremism, and mental health. Each contributes to the end result and it makes no sense to argue that only one thing is important and altering the others won't make a difference. They're all important.

It's perfectly obvious to most of us that there's a symbiotic relationship between violent political extremism and mentally ill angry young men. For that matter, there's a symbiotic relationship between violent political extremism and violent young men who are otherwise not mentally ill.

Yes, as several people have discussed above, there are really and truly some strong cross-cultural correlations about spree killers and those correlations are basically marginalized young men who feel they have been disrespected. And it's quite likely that there's no realistic way to eliminate these killers entirely.

And it's also possible that the number of spree killers like this, being quite rare to begin with, would be about the same regardless of other social forces, as you argue. That's possible. I'm not sure that I'm willing to accept that, but I'll grant that it's a credible argument.

But even if that's true, these spree killers are nevertheless signifiers of the social forces that are also influencing many other people. If a large number of spree killers are enacting misogynist revenge, then at the very least that's indicative of social conditions that are amenable to that path to violence and therefore it's almost certain that many other people, people who weren't predestined toward some form of violence, enact misogynist violence when they wouldn't have otherwise. This is obviously true with racist killings. Maybe the worst of the racist killings are committed by people who'd have killed, regardless. But a bunch of racist killings itself indicates a social propensity for racist violence and that implies that there's a lot of racial violence that is happening that otherwise wouldn't, because there are social forces promoting it. Or with homophobic violence.

It's really quite remarkable that anyone, but especially someone like yourself, Justinian, would ever try to counter claims of the importance of socially acceptable misogyny when a spree killer explicitly enacts his misogynist violence as murder given that it's so obvious, and I know well-known by yourself, that misogyny is a very powerful and prevalent force in our culture. This is a hate crime, this is terrorism of a sort, even if it's been committed by a deeply mentally unhealthy human being who was likely to enact violent rage one way or another.

Also, I read this entire thread before I read the NYT article, and I am aghast at how much the article almost deliberately avoids the context of socially-acceptable anger at and hatred of women given that his words and his known association make it clear that he was motivated by these other people saying the same sorts of things. Like Justinian, there seems to be some weird willful need to have blinders on and see it as nothing other than a tragedy of mental illness.

I can totally understand why people like Nora Reed are getting upset about this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:57 PM on May 24 [56 favorites]


"But being absolutely positively seriously mentally ill and being a tremendous misogynist aren't mutually exclusive."

Agreed. I don't mean to imply otherwise.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:57 PM on May 24


Yeah, I was going to say the same thing as dgaicun. He's not a "white guy" in the usual usage.
posted by Jahaza at 6:00 PM on May 24


News says he had Asperger's disease

Not only is there no connection between autism and violence, autistic people are statistically vastly more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence. Autistic people get killed by their caregivers with some regularity and almost universally the framing of the story is "oh the poor parent they had to bear too heavy a burden."

Certainly the people treating him failed and I'm with you on the gun control thing, but please be careful about bringing up autism in this context, especially when "aspie" and related terms are commonly used as a slur by a lot of people, including ones in a forum he was associated with.
posted by sparkletone at 6:00 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


Ivan: Because correctly identifying the root causes of this man's actions is central to being able to prevent these sorts of things. And I think the history and study of these kinds of mass killings supports the idea that the root cause is not whatever particularly fanatic ranting any given killer spews forth. Those just happen to reflect whatever illness is infecting that society; in this case, society is ill in that we often treat women very badly. And his rantings reflect that.

But were we to treat women perfectly that doesn't mean this man wouldn't still feel marginalized and go on a rampage, it just means he would pick different things to rant about. And possibly pick different targets.

But, again, that doesn't mean that eliminating misogyny and stamping out the kinds of hatred he espoused isn't critical. It just means that it isn't how we'd stop this particular kind of evil (the phenomenon of the mass killing spree).

I feel like you're overlooking that last important point. Saying "We should definitely do everything possible to stamp out hatred of women but we need to do other things as well to prevent mass killings" is somehow turning into denial of hatred of women as a serious problem.
posted by Justinian at 6:09 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


Futz: (after Googling) Lion? Interesting. I was going for something else entirely (it's an anagram).
posted by Leon at 7:15 PM on May 24 [1 favorite +] [!]



My bet for the original arrangement of letters is on "el no", as in a transcription of "Hell no!"
posted by mr. digits at 6:09 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


This guy nails every one of these criteria for narcissism, dominated by the elitist and fanatic subtypes.

I'm not a mental health professional, but I've had to deal professionally with clients who were diagnosed as narcissists, and I recognized these traits immediately.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:09 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


I'm a guy unsuccessful with women. Just don't date, ever. I've known a few other guys like this... Strip away the big talk when he's looking to go out with a bang and it just may be that he felt lonely and unworthy... He would believe his state is unique, a great shame, a sign that society has scorned him specifically, might think it so unique a state that it requires dramatic response.
I'm a guy like this and a lot of the time I feel lonely and unworthy too. To a large extent, guys like me are, in fact, scorned by society because the overwhelming message presented by and to society is that, if you're a 'real man' you'll be attractive to women and you will be accorded all the sex and adoring companionship you want. The constant message to men is that, if you aren't getting that, you are a loser and deserve to be alone. A similar message is sent to women by society, with variations but the same result. Until our society stops valuing people primarily based on how physically attractive they are or because of how rich they are (with a weird sliding scale where more money reduces how traditionally attractive you need to be to be accepted, for males anyway), there will always be people ostracised from society in subtle and pervasive ways. Combine that feeling of being 'othered' with, perhaps, a tendency to be easily influenced, then mix in a connected world where there is ready access to people of like mind but more aggressive personalities and the absolutely inevitable result is going to be violence. Add to the mix ludicrously easy access to firearms and the only surprising thing is that this doesn't happen more often. I'll be very surprised if these kind of attacks don't increase dramatically over the next few years.
posted by dg at 6:14 PM on May 24 [35 favorites]


I looked up his Facebook page. NO FRIENDS. A lot of selfies. The one pic with his dad and brother, he looks deflated. All the rest, he's going for the sharp dressed man look.

From my perspective? Mentally ill, personality disorder AND evil, with heavy emphasis on the latter. I get the feeling he had no ability to feel empathy whatever. Don't blame mental illness on the evil, most folk in that boat are more victim than perp.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:14 PM on May 24


It's not about misogyny, misanthropy, politics, religion, economics, sexual success... those are just the yard sticks to which these guys fail to measure up in their own heads.

Yup.

SO many of these spree killers seem to be doing it because they feel that they have failed social expectations of masculinity--or that society, writ large or small, has failed them in not helping them meet those expectations, or has failed to see how he has in fact met them.

Once they come to believe this, it's a short walk to finding an ideology that allows him to blame a certain subset of society: women for failing to sleep with him; Jews for keeping all the money to themselves; liberal western politics for undercutting his chances to show his masculinity; and so forth.

So I don't see much difference between Breivik and this kid, or the Aurora shooter, or the Columbine kids. They feel they've been disrespected by the world, in the specific by X group, and they're going to Make Their Name. We'll all know his name, now.

A friend of mine who studies this kind of shit says the best thing we could do is stop publicizing these stories, and under no circumstances publish the murderers' names.
posted by suelac at 6:15 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


But, again, that doesn't mean that eliminating misogyny and stamping out the kinds of hatred he espoused isn't critical. It just means that it isn't how we'd stop this particular kind of evil (the phenomenon of the mass killing spree).

So, you think that how to "stamp out this particular kind of evil" is the only discussion that's worth having about this?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:16 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I looked up his Facebook page. NO FRIENDS.

That doesn't mean he never had friends on Facebook. Facebook would have deleted his friends list to prevent any problems.
posted by Justinian at 6:17 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


So, you think that how to "stamp out this particular kind of evil" is the only discussion that's worth having about this?

I don't have any idea how you got that from what I said.
posted by Justinian at 6:18 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


It doesn't matter if it's the blue, green or grey, threads where the community starts speculating about the motivations and mentality of people are the absolute worst.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:18 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Well, Ivan granted that you may be right about the way to stamp out this particular kind of evil, and tried to talk about something else... and... you responded by talking more about stamping out stuff...
posted by LogicalDash at 6:20 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


this is just

i can't believe this


this is aweful
posted by rebent at 6:21 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


"threads where the community starts speculating about the motivations and mentality of people are the absolute worst."

It seems kind of important to me to explore the motivations and mentality of people who commit serious crimes.
posted by mikeand1 at 6:22 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


And I think the history and study of these kinds of mass killings supports the idea that the root cause is not whatever particularly fanatic ranting any given killer spews forth. Those just happen to reflect whatever illness is infecting that society; in this case, society is ill in that we often treat women very badly. And his rantings reflect that.

Please consider that there is also a wealth of data regarding the violence that men commit against women, and that this fits that profile, as well. We are not all in agreement that this exclusively fits a "killing spree" profile--entitlement & narcissism are prevalent in domestic violence, stalking, and other male-on-female violence.

And I'll say it again--when you are a woman trying to avoid violence, affiliation with misogynistic hate groups is really, really important information for you to know about a person. It's much more useful than knowing that someone is, for example, on the autism spectrum.
posted by almostmanda at 6:22 PM on May 24 [34 favorites]


I looked up his Facebook page. NO FRIENDS. A lot of selfies.

There are likes and comments on his publicly visible photos and posts, so obviously he has to have had FB friends at some point. I have several FB friends who have their friends lists hidden, even from other friends.
posted by palomar at 6:23 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Can someone provide some context for Wizardchan? I'm familiar with the imageboard concept but is there a focus to this particular board or Wizardchan in general that would make that thread more comprehensible?
posted by murphy slaw at 6:23 PM on May 24


LogicalDash: Ah, gotcha. I was trying to clarify my position. But that's not stopping anyone else from discussing whatever they wish to discuss.

Anyway, where does he complain about being Asian? I didn't see that anywhere. I thought it was his stepmother who was Asian. I'm not sure how relevant any of that is, though.
posted by Justinian at 6:23 PM on May 24


And I'll say it again--when you are a woman trying to avoid violence, affiliation with misogynistic hate groups is really, really important information for you to know about a person

True enough. It would also be great if other men avoided idiots who affiliate themselves with misogynistic groups. Maybe they'd get the message eventually.
posted by Justinian at 6:25 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


murphy slaw, from Google:
Wizardchan is a Japanese-inspired image-based forum (imageboard) for male virgins to share their thoughts and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin.
posted by palomar at 6:26 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's in his inane rantings manifesto.
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on May 24


Currently about half the threads on 4chan's /r9k/ (nsfw) board are about this guy, which isn't surprising considering his stuff would fit right in there. I don't spend any time there, because it's a cesspool. Of course, it's probably not as bad as /pol/ (nsfw), the news and politics board, but considering that's full of actual hatred and fringe politics and trolls, it's hard to be worse. All in all, it's not a big win for algorithmic moderation.

Thankfully, /adv/, the advice board, has a much more reasonable and caring culture, so if you actually want to do something to help yourself, it's not the worst place to go.

Fun fact: I was the person who suggested that moot add a suicide prevention hotline number to /adv/. There's no way to prove that, of course, but I'm proud of it.
posted by Small Dollar at 6:28 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


Gun laws that enable any mentally ill 20something to buy weapons... what could possibly go wrong?
posted by 3mendo at 6:31 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Do we know that he bought the weapon?
posted by futz at 6:33 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


We talk a lot about people having been radicalized, I think - having gone through a process that ends with a willingness to commit horrific crimes. When we talk about why people are susceptible to radicalization, we often talk about frustration, unhappy home lives, disenfranchisement. We talk about the ways in which people are radicalized - often on websites in which they are made to feel welcome and valuable, in exchange for accepting and repeating progressively more violent statements about the people who are being blamed for keeping them down, and through literature and videos that present a skewed vision of the world designed to appeal to their unhappiness and frustration. A tiny fraction of people exposed to that kind of experience will go on to commit criminal acts. Others will find themselves progressively alienated from mainstream society. Many others will ignore it, or mock it, or flirt with the periphery and then get bored, or be motivated to oppose it.

That path - anger and isolation followed by the discovery of others expressing similar feelings, and the progression through progressively more violent rhetoric ultimately to horrific acts, egged on by specialist communities or media - is often associated with extremist groups with roots in the Middle East or Africa, but the same patterns apply to right-wing hate groups or people who shoot doctors who perform terminations. The people who do it are generally treated as criminally culpable - that is, not insane, or at least not so insane as not to be tried and imprisoned or executed, if they survive.

So... I think it's tempting to think of this kind of horror as the result of a fundamental badness or madness within someone the route of expression of which is almost arbitrary. But I don't think it's a complete picture.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:35 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


I don't think we know anything at all about where he obtained the weapon he used. I'm not even sure if we know what weapon he used yet?
posted by Justinian at 6:36 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Wizardchan is a Japanese-inspired image-based forum (imageboard) for male virgins to share their thoughts and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin.

Even knowing this, I found their internal slang alternately bewildering, offensive and creepy.
posted by sparkletone at 6:37 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I just skimmed through the manifesto and he states that he already owned a glock and was going to purchase two more handguns.
posted by cazoo at 6:38 PM on May 24


I don't think we know anything at all about where he obtained the weapon he used. I'm not even sure if we know what weapon he used yet?

Based on the live tweets from a press conference a little bit ago, he had 3 handguns, all legally purchased with 400 rounds in his car.
posted by Stynxno at 6:38 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I don't think we know anything at all about where he obtained the weapon he used. I'm not even sure if we know what weapon he used yet?

From here:
Three 9 mm handguns—two Sig Sauers and a Glock—were found inside of Rodger's car, along with 41 magazines loaded with ten rounds of ammunition each.
posted by palomar at 6:39 PM on May 24


He had three guns and after the shootout police found 41 loaded 10-round magazines in his car. Once again, it's not just the weaponry, it's the stockpiling of ammunition that is a huge problem in this country.

Also, ABC now reporting that he stabbed 3 people in his apartment before the shooting spree.

I certainly hope we learn more about how the cops gave this guy a pass, and what can be done to better train cops in warning signs.
posted by TwoStride at 6:40 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Thanks, palomar and TwoStride. I've been watching the news on TV. Perhaps that's my mistake.
posted by Justinian at 6:44 PM on May 24


The Sheriff just held a press conference that was carried on local radio with lots of other weird details, like how he put his roommate under citizen's arrest for stealing a candle...

Several news outlets are reporting that he was housed at the Independent Living Institute, which would mean his roommates were also people with mental/social challenges...
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:45 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


One of the pieces of the puzzle that we might need to work on, with respect to all this, is that we need to stop shaming men who are virgins. No virgin-shaming men (involuntary celibates or otherwise), no slut-shaming women. These are two areas where judgment of others, and patriarchial ideas intertwine in ugly ways. There are no "real men" defined by getting laid, in the same way a woman is not "tainted" by sleeping with men. Cultural ideas of where men or women SHOULD be at to not be broken or unlovable w/r/t to their sex lives is toxic, full stop. Also, one thing college dudes really should know is that being summarily rejected, at your age in particular, is totally par for the course and is not a big deal AT ALL. Things get better.
posted by naju at 6:46 PM on May 24 [85 favorites]


I can't quite get my head around the concept of a family calling the police and asking them to check on their son's welfare. A well-off family that appear to live in the local area. I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.
posted by dg at 6:47 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking about a friend who went to the mental health urgent care clinic at his local VA hospital because he had no insurance and needed his depression meds refilled. The initial exchange went something like this:

Q: Are you thinking of harming yourself or others?
A: No

Q: Do you have any guns?
A: Yes

Q: Are they locked up?
A: Yes

That was it. Like my friend would actually answer in a way that would cause them to take his guns were he actually inclined to use them. I doubt the police were any more through than the VA.
posted by MikeMc at 6:49 PM on May 24


Even knowing this, I found their internal slang alternately bewildering, offensive and creepy.

I'm learning about so many weird new subcultures tonight. I wonder if there's much overlap with the cuckolding fetish.

From skimming the manifesto: "I eventually grew to hate him after I heard him having sex with my sister. I arrived at the house one day, my mother being at work, and heard the sounds of Samuel plunging his penis into my sister's vagina through her closed room door, along with my sister's moans."

Jesus wept.
posted by Leon at 6:51 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


What I've never understood is why they often target a random crowd. In the middle east, it's often a market place or a bus station. This guy was a student at a community college, but he drove to Isla Vista at UC Santa Barbara...and then just randomly went on a shooting spree. What's the connection?

I deeply regret watching the original video this morning when it first appeared, before it was clear how awful the content was. He talked about how he was going to go to the [insert misogynistic adjective here]-ist sorority house he could find and kill women, blond women in particular. I think what happened is that he was too chicken to get out of the car and ended up spraying people from the driver's seat instead.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:53 PM on May 24


Fuck, this is awful.
posted by homunculus at 6:54 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.

I think that's a poor assumption. He may have refused to see them. They may have been afraid of him. They may have thought that a visit from the cops would make him back down, or not do bad things, or Send a Message somehow.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on May 24 [37 favorites]


Yeah, I'm actually reading the damn thing -- I'm on page 40 now. He's just turned 13, he's seen his first porno and it traumatized him and destroyed his entire life (his words)

I guessed something like this: it's a kind of one man penis panic.

He was a virgin because he saw himself as irreparably sexually inferior; I doubt he could have had sex with a woman no matter how much she might have been into it.
posted by jamjam at 7:00 PM on May 24


One of the pieces of the puzzle that we might need to work on, with respect to all this, is that we need to stop shaming men who are virgins.

I didn't have sex until I was 23 years old. I remember thinking that there must be something terribly wrong with me. I was shy, and depressive, and I had really, really fucked up ideas about women. I felt like "getting laid" was some kind of word problem and everyone else seemed to be coming up with the answer.

I didn't make any progress socially or sexually until I finally gave up on the prospect of ever "losing it" and just started treating women like human beings, suitable for non-transactional relationships, who didn't owe me anything.

I look at a guy like this and I think that if i was a slightly different temperament, had slightly more self-regard, and had fallen in with a community that reinforced my distorted thinking about women and sex, I could be this guy, or at least one of the guys pouring one out for him as a martyr to the cause.

And it makes me sick to my stomach.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:01 PM on May 24 [69 favorites]


That was it. Like my friend would actually answer in a way that would cause them to take his guns were he actually inclined to use them.

Balancing safety and liberty is always a challenge. In the wake of violence, many people swing way toward safety and that's easy to do if you think you won't ever be the person on the loosing end of "keeping people safe".

Being mentally ill is pretty much the only time a person can be locked up before and without doing anything wrong. I hate how in the wake of horrifying and terrifying events like this, everyone starts acting as if the bar should be lowered and we should be locking up more people before they do bad things, even though we don't have a metric for determining who will do bad things and who won't.

The few times there's been a solid question of danger to others at my job, it's been frustrating to try to make the arguments over and over that so-and-so is clearly a danger, but honestly it should be that difficult because the alternative is lots more people locked up without having done anything wrong.

Psychology's predictive value is horrible. The closest we have to a "definitive" test is the psychopathy one, and that one has a 20% false positive rate, so for every 80 people we lock up and it's good we did, there's 20 more locked up who wouldn't harm others (and keep in mind this test is mostly used on offenders - they already did a bad thing once). I'm shocked at how readily people accept that math when they're reasonably sure they won't be one of the 20%.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:02 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


I'm on page 35, he is 12, and so far every year is the best year of his life.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:04 PM on May 24


It's not quite like virginity necessarily has anything to do with the rites of passage that mark out an adult male: it is that American society has no meaningful rites of passage, and that implicit in the whole messy deal with modernity is that you're supposed to think them not quite necessary. I mean, Bar Mitzvahs? Do people feel like adults after that? Fraternity hazing seems effective, but you don't want more of that. I'm not quite sure that having some formal way to make him a man that he could achieve would have helped, what with the mental illness, but it's a thought. And if you want to take the general phenomenon of virgin-shaming and try to root it out, it would be a place to start.

What's the viable alternative male rite of passage? These rites of passage can be very terrible: the Krypteia and the fraternal hazing in America being fairly representative, if vastly different in degree. But having a viable and positive male ritual of passage would be a force for good: it would stop a lot of this specific form of the shaming, it could give confirmation to those born without male bodies, it could help ameliorate the negative ways that these uncertainties splash out. And there are viable and positive (more positive than hating yourself because you're a virgin, at least) rituals of passage like that: the Mekuyo, the Rumspringa, the Vision quest, and lots more.
posted by curuinor at 7:04 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


I love how the internet lets people form communities around weird little interests and passions and subcultures that they share that they may not be able to find with the people around them so they can find the reinforcement and community of like-minded folks. The flip side is that I hate how the internet lets people form communities around things like the "men's rights" movement because it gives them reinforcement and an echo-chamber of like-minded folks and they can get further and further into the weeds of WTFery.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:06 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


I mean that fraternal hazing seems effective at convincing men that they're adults, not necessarily that they behave like adults afterwards, by the way. In making people behave like adults, it doesn't seem incredibly effective.
posted by curuinor at 7:06 PM on May 24


"This whole thing is a heartbreaking mess that, and this is important, could have been prevented." I disagree. It is pretty much impossible to predict violence, other than that people who have been violent in the past are more likely to be violent in the future. We don't detain people for their possible future crimes. If we had a different society, without easy access to guns, then it might not have happened.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:09 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Time will sort the story out, I hope, BUT if he, with his well documented history was still able to obtain guns...
posted by futz at 7:09 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.
I think that's a poor assumption.

You're right, of course. I have no way of knowing what else was going on or being done to try and help him.
posted by dg at 7:10 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Several news outlets are reporting that he was housed at the Independent Living Institute, which would mean his roommates were also people with mental/social challenges...

This would explain the head-scratcher as to why a BMW-driving, unpopular, upper class misanthrope had not just one but several housemates. And it (as well as the parents calling the police for the welfare check) suggests that the parents may have been very aware of the situation and were doing what they could, for a 22 year old. I'm reminded of the horror of Eric Harris' parents.

Sociopathy, even "just" narcissistic personality disorder, is very, very difficult to intervene in unless someone is actively breaking the law....and self-aware enough to make treatment possible (or even desired). I honestly don't know how much the police could have done.
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:10 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


Obtain = buy.
posted by futz at 7:11 PM on May 24


Looking at some of these threads at the men's rights sites-- that is some sick shit.
posted by sporknado at 7:13 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


The final pages of that manifesto are purer misogyny than I think I believed existed in the wild.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:13 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Page 76 of the manifesto, where he talks about seeing a pretty girl while walking on the beach at Malibu:
I did, however, pass by one young girl, and she was like a goddess who came down from heaven. She was walking alone, in her bathing suit, with her luscious blonde hair blowing in the wind. I coudln't help but slyly admire her beauty as we passed by each other. I was scared. I was scared that she might view me as nothing but an inferior insect who's [sic] presence ruins her atmosphere. Her beauty was intoxicating! And then, just as we passed each other, she actually looked at me. She looked at me and smiled. Most girls never even deigned to look at me, and this one actually looked at me and smiled. I had never felt so euphoric in my life. One smile. One smile was all it took to brighten my entire day. The power that beautiful women have is unbelievable. They can temporarily turn a desperate boy's whole world around just by smiling.

That smile put me in a good, healthy mood for the rest of that walk, but it soon faded away as I realized that I could never actually have a girl as beautiful as that. She probably only smiled out of politeness. She would never go for me. And what is the point to life if I can't have a girl of such beauty? Some men get to have beautiful girlfriends like that, and some don't. I am among those who are denied such a pleasure, and that is why I hate life.
One of the major points I see throughout this guy's story, and I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone: he never actually makes any effort. Up to this point in the story, he hasn't mentioned once actually speaking to a girl and getting rebuffed, let alone speaking to a girl at all. He encounters girls at social events or at school, but he makes a point of mentioning how outrageous it is that they already have boyfriends and have fun with other people (page 78):
In my history class, I had a crush on a really pretty girl, only to find out that she had a boyfriend, and in my psychology class there was this group of popular kids who acted obnoxious the whole time. One of them was a very pretty blonde girl, and she actually enjoyed associated with the obnoxious boys in her clique. The injustice! I hated them all.
There are also several mentions of how easier it would be for him to get women to pay attention to him if he could just be a multi-millionaire, but he refuses to accept any job that he considers beneath him, so the entry-level teen-appropriate jobs offered to him by counselors and family friends are rejected, and he pins his hopes for millionairehood on Mega Millions lotto tickets.

After every experience, he mentions being angry and upset that he once again didn't get the life he wanted... but per his own writings, he made no efforts. He just waited for everything to be handed to him, and waited for his peers to treat him with deference, and when that didn't happen... yeah. I just can't even anymore.
posted by palomar at 7:14 PM on May 24 [40 favorites]


"Sociopathy, even "just" narcissistic personality disorder, is very, very difficult to intervene in unless someone is actively breaking the law....and self-aware enough to make treatment possible (or even desired)."

My understanding from therapists is that narcissism is one of the most difficult mental illnesses to treat precisely because of the intense lack of self-awareness and the pervasive delusion. It is extremely difficult to convince such a person that they are even ill in the first place, much less getting them to turn inward long and hard enough to deal with it effectively.
posted by mikeand1 at 7:16 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


I don't want to read the manifesto, so can someone tell me: was it written over the course of his life (i.e. age 12 was written when he was 12) or was it written more recently?
posted by mantecol at 7:16 PM on May 24


Balancing safety and liberty is always a challenge. In the wake of violence, many people swing way toward safety and that's easy to do if you think you won't ever be the person on the loosing end of "keeping people safe".

This is true. My "friend" (by which I meant me of course but I didn't want to put that in the post due to lingering stigmas about people with any type of mental illness) was just surprised at how easy it was. I have no history of violence towards myself or others but it seemed so simple. Then again someone bent on committing violence probably wouldn't show up at a clinic like that anyway.
posted by MikeMc at 7:20 PM on May 24


I looked at the wizardchan thing a while ago, and some of the posts are fantasies of how their scene will be persecuted and victimized by this. Think about that - a man murders at least 10 people, and their reaction is.......self-pity? That's not so good.
posted by thelonius at 7:20 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


"was it written over the course of his life (i.e. age 12 was written when he was 12) or was it written more recently?"

It seems pretty clear that it's written more recently.
posted by mikeand1 at 7:21 PM on May 24


Think about that - a man murders at least 10 people, and their reaction is.......self-pity? That's not so good.
But also not surprising? Seems to be the only thing they know to do.
posted by bleep at 7:28 PM on May 24


No, not a surprise. It's a habit of mind that tends to grow.
posted by thelonius at 7:30 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Psychology's predictive value is horrible. The closest we have to a "definitive" test is the psychopathy one, and that one has a 20% false positive rate, so for every 80 people we lock up and it's good we did, there's 20 more locked up who wouldn't harm others

Just to note that the math doesn't work that way, and that you also have to factor in the incidence of psychopathy in the population being tested. If psychopathy is rare, it would be entirely possible for a 20 percent false positive rate* to mean that for every 80 people we lock up and it's good we did, we also lock up 50 or 80 or 200 people who aren't psychopaths.

*That is, when 100 people who aren't psychopaths take the test, 20 of them are falsely scored as psychopaths.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:33 PM on May 24 [11 favorites]


Wizardchan is their Internet community and they don't want people who have conventional views about sex and relationships to go there and change it. Maybe they're afraid of people making fun of them or harassing them, which is a valid concern, but if they're afraid of "normies" who want to give them constructive advice offered without malice, then they have a bigger problem.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:33 PM on May 24


ROU_Xenophobe is describing the False Positive Paradox.
posted by Justinian at 7:38 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


From the little I've read on wizardchan, I don't think advice from "normies," constructive or not, would be at all welcome. "We" are already the enemy.
posted by rtha at 7:39 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I may have taken them to be a little more grandiose fears than that people will hassle them, or that the board will get taken down, I guess. Like society is going to band together against them or something.
posted by thelonius at 7:41 PM on May 24


His manifesto is 140 pages long and apparently talks about how women should be kept in concentration camps and reproduction should only be done artificially. I don't see how one can argue he wasn't delusional

Actually, this is a common enough idea/fantasy that I first heard it a good 12 years ago, in a completely social setting.

I (female) was on a camping trip with my then-boyfriend and four of his male friends. We all attended a STEM-focused college where the male/female ratio was about 70/30. I don't remember the conversation leading to this, but I vividly remember sitting around the campfire, and one of the guys, Steve, talking about how great it would be if the world were reorganized such that all women were kept as sex slaves in a vast underground dungeon. Reproduction would be through artificial insemination, and he went into some detail about a ceremony boys would go through during puberty: their fathers would take them into the dungeon and they'd pick out their first woman. All women in the world would be captives kept alive for raping.

He finished talking and looked around expectantly for a response. There was a brief silence and then someone changed the subject. Nobody even jokingly rebuked him, not even a "man, that's kinda sick" type response. I felt horrified, but in no way comfortable enough to call him out on it. They had all been friends for awhile, I was (in a way I couldn't have articulated then) afraid of being perceived as a horrible Yoko Ono type.

And you know, besides Steve, these were not misogynist guys. That boyfriend and I were together for years; over time he became as sensitive to sexism against women as I was. They were nice, normal college-aged dudes who purely had not been taught that they needed to speak up about this kind of thing.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 7:44 PM on May 24 [75 favorites]


I read this entire thread before I read the NYT article, and I am aghast at how much the article almost deliberately avoids the context of socially-acceptable anger at and hatred of women


I am reminded of the Chinese press which can (at times) criticize individual acts of well documented local corruption but cannot look at the wider system.
posted by shothotbot at 7:45 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Charlie Brooker on reporting of such tragedies.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 7:51 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


"They were nice, normal college-aged dudes who purely had not been taught that they needed to speak up about this kind of thing."

That at least merited a "WTF dude??!!". I wouldn't think you would even need to teach that, that would seem to just be a normal response by most guys. I've heard guys say some fucked up shit and and in a group setting at least one one person would say something. Not because they they were in any way educated or enlightened on the subject of misogyny but because, well, fucked up is fucked up and good friends aren't the least bit inhibited about calling each other out.
posted by MikeMc at 7:59 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


"I can't quite get my head around the concept of a family calling the police and asking them to check on their son's welfare. A well-off family that appear to live in the local area. I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves."

Maybe they were scared of him and too afraid to go deal with him themselves. Cops are allowed to carry weapons into a situation like that, after all. Family walking in to object to what he wanted to do might have just been his first victims.

"He finished talking and looked around expectantly for a response. There was a brief silence and then someone changed the subject. Nobody even jokingly rebuked him, not even a "man, that's kinda sick" type response. I felt horrified, but in no way comfortable enough to call him out on it."

I'm guessing the guys there also felt "in no way comfortable enough to call him out on it." Nobody endorsed it, but they were shocked and didn't know how the hell to defuse a bomb like that. I'm not saying it's right, but not everyone's gonna know what to do with a guy who publicly admits to thinking stuff like that. While they're out in the woods at night, too.

One line stood out to me from the glosswatch link above: "Women are hated. Until we admit this I see no point in begging for crumbs from the equality table."

That is the case. There seems to be some kind of "bitch should be putting out for me, bitch must die" sort of metamessage going on along with all of the testosterone, at least with some people. Entitlement, testosterone, rage, women being weaker than men...there's just this giant mess of hate out there and this guy embodied it today. Tomorrow tons and tons of other men will be doing something related even if their body count is smaller. Every day, women are the targets of men's rage, whether it's for not putting out or for just freaking existing on the planet.

Another quote from the medium link above:

"Elliot Rodger may or may not have been mentally ill. It is likely he was—it is probably the only reasonable explanation—but hearing this voice was no proof. This voice speaks to everyone. It’s louder some places, it’s more convincing to some people, but it’s always there, a psychic loudspeaker calling out a march cadence. Even choosing not to listen isn’t enough; you have to choose to shout back."

posted by jenfullmoon at 8:04 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


As recently as yesterday he could have been described as a responsible gun owner.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:20 PM on May 24 [43 favorites]


Mental illness + an over-inflated sense of class privilege + an over-inflated sense of male privilege + easily obtained weapons of mass destruction= this young man whose name I don't even want to type.

He wanted to be a rich stud, a warrior with powerful weapons, an all-American male success story.

This masculinity is socially constructed and all of us need to work on deconstructing it, deracinating it.
posted by mareli at 8:21 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


This incident has reinforced my prejudices against young men in BMW's.
posted by humanfont at 8:22 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Wait, so the argument here is that society doesn't provide enough coming-of-age rituals for young men, not that they are constantly pounded with unquestionably virulent messages from society as a whole and then they find communities where they can find and connect to more virulent misogynists, creating an echo chamber in which their violence is not only normalized but encouraged?

Anyone with any passing familiarity with the MRA/Manosphere community and the way it encourages abuse likely looked at this story and said, yeah, of course that happened. It was never an "if this provokes murder" situation, it was always a "when". Because just like abusers often escalate, abusive communities tend to escalate too. Please keep in mind that there are numerous posts on these sites encouraging rape and abuse. Look through the We Hunted The Mammoth archive if you want specific examples.

This is what happens when complaints about communities like the Manosphere are ignored, and when complaints about rape culture, about male entitlement, about patriarchy, and about everything else feminists have been complaining about since feminism existed, are not only ignored but mocked, belittled, and those who make these complaints are stigmatized. This is a direct reaction to the backlash against feminism.

I just want you to know that every time we go into a thread and say "Hey, that was a sexist thing," it's because this culture is invasive. This sickness gets into all of our communities. It poisons our relationships. It rapes, abuses, harasses and murders women. And every person who dismisses it, who wants to to just stop talking about sexism, who lets their friends make misogynistic comments around them-- you're supporting that system, when you do that. You're creating a society that says it is okay to hate women. Silence only serves to support the systems in place, in which it is okay to hate women, in which misogyny will fester into rapists, into abusers, into murderers.

These are the stakes. This is the danger: that our cries of warning will be ignored, that rape, other abuse, harassment-- none of these things will be taken seriously, and when men routinely get away with abusing women, when that is normal, of course some of them will murder. Women are murdered by their spouses and exes and stalkers all the time, that's basically normal. It only makes the news like this, spreading over the internet like wildfire, when they manage to kill more than one, because violence against women is normal and expected.

Silence supports the system already in place, and that system is violent and misogynistic, and it takes lives. Most women already know this, it is why we carry our keys between our fingers, walk along lighted paths, choose masculine handles, take self-defence courses, and reject the advances of men who set off red flags. We know we are in danger of being killed by men. But we live in a society with such a failure to listen to the voices of women that it is entirely possible for men to be ignorant of this, and it so values men over women that these ignorant men are made to believe that their geyser-like, fountainous spoutings of ignorance actually matter. Even when women are actively dying.
posted by NoraReed at 8:24 PM on May 24 [215 favorites]


Looks like he killed he room mates as well. What a lovely creature he was. Fox news link.
posted by gideonswann at 8:24 PM on May 24


I just want you to know that every time we go into a thread and say "Hey, that was a sexist thing," it's because this culture is invasive. This sickness gets into all of our communities. It poisons our relationships. It rapes, abuses, harasses and murders women. And every person who dismisses it, who wants to to just stop talking about sexism, who lets their friends make misogynistic comments around them-- you're supporting that system, when you do that. You're creating a society that says it is okay to hate women. Silence only serves to support the systems in place, in which it is okay to hate women, in which misogyny will fester into rapists, into abusers, into murderers.

Quoting for emphasis, because I can't favorite this comment the thousand times that I'd like.
posted by palomar at 8:27 PM on May 24 [33 favorites]


This reminds me of the recent incident with Ceigh Deeds' son in Virginia.

This is an extremely well done article on Deeds's recent work on the psychiatric holds issue, for anyone who is interested.

The intersection of mental illness and misogyny is something that has been on my mind for awhile (since long before this incident) and something I feel like I haven't been able to articulate clearly. Sometimes when experiencing or hearing about experiences of various sorts of harassment (men catcalling, making threats, exposing themselves, etc.), I have felt sort of uncomfortable being angry at perpetrators who seem like they aren't just like run-of-the-mill jerks but probably unwell in some way. And yet writing it off as simply mentally ill behavior felt like a wildly reductive, inaccurate, and unfair generalization. Thinking today about how misogyny (both in MRA type groups and in the broader culture) shapes people's thought processes and channels their behavior is starting to pull some pieces together for me, but I'm still rolling things around in my mind a bit. Apologies if I've stated anything less sensitively than I intended.
posted by naoko at 8:29 PM on May 24 [8 favorites]


I just want you to know that every time we go into a thread and say "Hey, that was a sexist thing," it's because this culture is invasive.

I can only speak for myself, but: it is valuable and appreciated.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:31 PM on May 24 [22 favorites]


This is such a rare and specific event, an intersection of obvious severe mental illness and extremist internet forums, that I wonder if it is even productive to hold it up as an example of misogyny and call to action. Doesn't it hold it up as something exceptional and newsworthy when the fact is that the most harm is banal and everyday and happening everywhere?
posted by cacofonie at 8:38 PM on May 24


There is a point where things stop being sexist and becomes about power and control . That's why you see domestic violence in same sex relationships as well because it isn't just sexist it is about power and control over someone else.

Sexism provides an outlet for power and control. So do so many other -isms. Focusing on just one isn't the true issue.

I'm not saying sexism isn't dangerous. It is. The culture is terrible and the stakes are very high. I'm saying that beyond sexism is a desire to control others as an extention of one's self and view of the world.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:41 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Mental illness is a difficult and fluid concept, and one I don't think it's worth speculating on too much here. What is absolutely clear is that this was a hate crime - without any doubt, this was a hate crime.

To emphasize that point, and because, like many others, I fear this aspect will get lost in the conversation of mental illness and gun control, I have recreated this salient passage from the 140 page 'manifesto.' I don't think 'terrorism against women' would be too strong given his writings (TW):
The ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female. They are the main instigators of sex. They control which men get it and which men don't. Women are flawed creatures, and my mistreatment at their hands has made me realize this sad truth. There is something very twisted and wrong with the way their brains are wired. They think like beasts and in truth they are beasts. Women are incapable of having morals or thinking rationally. They are completely controlled by their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses. Because of this, the men who get to experience the pleasures of sex and the privilege of breeding are the men who women are sexually attracted to...the stupid, degenerate, obnoxious men. I have observed this all my life. The most beautiful women choose to mate with the most brutal men, instead of a magnificent gentlemen like myself.

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. The decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence. If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid degenerate, stupid offspring. This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation. Women have more power in society than they deserve, all because of sex. There is no creature more depraved and evil than the human female.

Women are like a plague. They don't deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they deserve to be treated as such.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:43 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


Well, that's the thing. It's not rare and specific. People in this thread and elsewhere have repeatedly advanced the idea that it's connected to the broad social context of violence towards women, as well as violence in general being a method for men to acquire and defend honor or status. So catcalling, groping, stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence are seen as intimately connected to this event and others like it.
posted by kavasa at 8:43 PM on May 24 [28 favorites]


I'll admit I've always had sympathies for the so-called Lone Actors, the bullied kids who turn psychotic and snap, not at all above my sympathies for their victims, but the sympathies for those people did exist.

Even I will draw a line here. No sympathy for Elliot. I can't imagine what went through this kid's mind even as I hear his spoken thoughts, and he's clearly sincere. The fact that it's bewildering to me tells me that I need to pay closer attention.

Having said that, now I'll read the entire thread. I generally trust you people's judgment.
posted by quiet earth at 8:45 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Ugh. Dear god that's vile.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:47 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I'll admit I've always had sympathies for the so-called Lone Actors, the bullied kids who turn psychotic and snap, not at all above my sympathies for their victims, but the sympathies for those people did exist.

I totally understand this, and to a certain degree I'm the same way. But not now. Not after I've read that whole damn manifesto. After reading that, I'll just come right out and say it: I'm glad he's dead. I wish he'd only killed himself.
posted by palomar at 8:48 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


(The quote above, I meant.)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:48 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I would never advocate for banning these groups that post vile remarks. But I don't know that these sites allow people to vent. Sometimes I think they allow people to egg each other on, to try to top each other, and give them the impression they're part of a movement, not just a person in need of help. I have no way to prove or disprove this but after watching conversations spin entirely out of control while spreading false information, I just don't know.
posted by etaoin at 8:55 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


I looked up his Facebook page. NO FRIENDS.

There's a privacy option to set visibility of your friends list to "Only Me" so it's possible that he either set it that way himself or someone changed that setting on his account after he died.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:01 PM on May 24


This would explain the head-scratcher as to why a BMW-driving, unpopular, upper class misanthrope had not just one but several housemates.

I lived in IV and attended UCSB in the mid 80s. I lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other guy for $1500 (that like what, $3000 in 2014 dollars?) that is about a block away from where this shit went down. The places on Del Playa were even more expensive. I had friends who had 7 roommates in a 2 bedroom apartment. It was on the beach and obscenely expensive. Even rich kids in IV have multiple roommates.

What blows my mind is I was just there visiting a few years ago and very little has changed since I went there. Bikes and skateboards rule the streets. Cool stores. Shitty overpriced apartments. Parking is a pain in the ass. Friday night people would go out and have fun. The absolute last thing we thought about was the possibility of getting shot by a madman.
posted by birdherder at 9:05 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Also possibly people deFriended after the murders?
posted by gingerest at 9:06 PM on May 24


I'm saying that beyond sexism is a desire to control others as an extention of one's self and view of the world.

If this was the case, women who feel out of control of their lives would murder people more. They don't. And women tend to have more reasons to feel out of control of our lives, since we're often being controlled by the violence of men.
posted by NoraReed at 9:08 PM on May 24 [77 favorites]


Can I just say briefly while I'm reading that I appreciate the actual discussion here, instead of solely attacking this mostly-indefensible individual? I'm getting the attacks aimed at him on Twitter, but that's why I'm here, to get a well-rounded set of viewpoints.
posted by quiet earth at 9:21 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


Nora: Women are also socialized from a young age that this is the way it until we are enlightened otherwise. So it's generally socialized that there is some level of powerlessness women have to accept.

The power and control narritive does play on the perception that whoever is suppose to be in power and enforce that power. Culturally we send those messages to men so of course men are more likely. But women do it too in more subtle ways. Anorexia is all about power and control of one's body. Maybe the pervasive messages have gotten so prevalent that women feel it's easier to control themselves than to control the men around them.

Women do have power and control problems. To say otherwise is ignoring many problems of bullying, judgement , body shaming and other things women do to eachother and to men.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:23 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


Help is out there. I seriously wish the marketing were better so that people would use these resources. From my Twitter feed:

White Ribbon ‏@whiteribbon 13h

Men, If you're feeling chronically rejected, send us a tweet, email, call us. We're a safe space for discussion. Violence isn't the answer.
posted by quiet earth at 9:26 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Wait, so the argument here is that society doesn't provide enough coming-of-age rituals for young men, not that they are constantly pounded with unquestionably virulent messages from society as a whole and then they find communities where they can find and connect to more virulent misogynists, creating an echo chamber in which their violence is not only normalized but encouraged?


The virulent messages are there: this is true. But how would you change society so that the virulent messages are no longer there, and the communities are not viable? It is infeasible to ban them in a society like America, and people are often loath to be educated. How would you do it? What would be the actions to be taken?

If we are to listen to the voices of women more, then how would this happen? It doesn't happen in most of the societies that have ever been in the presence of agriculture: what would be the actions that people would take so that our society would become the special one? If force should be used, then how should it be used, since it usually fucks up things? If persuasion, then how would it happen?

You cannot say that men do not matter, because you cannot say that women do not matter. Of course, in this subject this is a false equivalence: women are clearly in the bigger danger. It is often mentioned that rape more about power than sex in and of itself: wouldn't a more humane relation to power reduce that rate?

You have said a true thing, but history tells us that this seldom works at convincing people, certainly not delusional people. And of course, you have no real obligation to answer any of these questions. But these are some thoughts I had.
posted by curuinor at 9:26 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


"The intersection of mental illness and misogyny is something that has been on my mind for awhile (since long before this incident) and something I feel like I haven't been able to articulate clearly. Sometimes when experiencing or hearing about experiences of various sorts of harassment (men catcalling, making threats, exposing themselves, etc.), I have felt sort of uncomfortable being angry at perpetrators who seem like they aren't just like run-of-the-mill jerks but probably unwell in some way. And yet writing it off as simply mentally ill behavior felt like a wildly reductive, inaccurate, and unfair generalization."

I think you're raising a lot of important questions here, and you've put your finger on the messiness of it all.

There are several threads of thought here that need to be pulled apart. I think the main overlapping--and hence, complicating--concepts here are:

* Mental illness vs. misogyny
* Delusion (which might excuse moral agency to some extent) vs ignorance (which excuses it much less so)
* Delusion- or Ignorance-based hatred vs. deliberate/intentional hatred (with the latter being morally more blameworthy)

None of these are strict divisions whatsoever; nor are they mutually exclusive. The intersection of all these things is made even more complicated by the grey areas: both grey areas in between them, and the degrees of intensity inherent in each concept by itself (e.g., any particular mental illness or deficiency falls on a spectrum).

I can imagine a person who has a specific mental deficiency--perhaps as the result of a physical defect in the brain--who becomes deluded and, on the basis of that delusion, develops an intense hatred of the opposite sex. That person would be in one location of this multi-dimensional space.

Or, I can imagine a person in the polar opposite of that location--someone who is mentally in touch with reality, who is reasonably well-informed, and who, as the result of intentional, deliberate analysis, consciously chooses to cultivate a hatred or bias towards the other sex.

It seems clear that the former person is much less morally blameworthy and condemnable than the latter. But most misogynists probably fall somewhere in between these extremes. I'm guessing that most misogynists are born-and-raised with a certain amount of ignorance and life-circumstance-based factors--perhaps with some degree of mental conditions/illnesses--that cause them to be the way they are, as well as a substantial amount of intentionally/deliberately/knowingly-cultivated hatred.

And it seems to me that we should be careful about pointing to a person who appears to live in one area of that space and implying or inferring a degree of moral blameworthiness as to someone who lives in a totally different place.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:27 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


There's a privacy option to set visibility of your friends list to "Only Me" so it's possible that he either set it that way himself or someone changed that setting on his account after he died.

I'd hope someone at FB has decided to save every single contact he has from the sheer tsunami of abusive messages ("you should have stopped him"), creepily supportive messages and/or trolling that would otherwise arrive. That would be a humane general policy.
posted by jaduncan at 9:29 PM on May 24 [10 favorites]


If we are to listen to the voices of women more, then how would this happen? It doesn't happen in most of the societies that have ever been in the presence of agriculture: what would be the actions that people would take so that our society would become the special one? If force should be used, then how should it be used, since it usually fucks up things? If persuasion, then how would it happen?

Get police departments to start actually responding with humanity and decency to women's claims. Hire more female cops. Promote gun control. Create more narratives with greater variety of women in them. Force boys to read stories about women so they learn to empathize with them like girls have to do with boys. Get websites to actually respond to complaints of harassment and ban people who do them. Take complaints about sexual assault and harassment in mixed-gender spaces seriously. Allow women to have women-only spaces, and make those spaces safe for trans* women, who are especially vulnerable. Call men out on their casual misogyny until they fucking stop. Ban men who use professional organizations to meet women who they harass or assault from those organizations and do so without argument or apology. Stop nominating Vox Day for awards. Prioritize helping women in their careers of choice. Make it so that no misogynistic man can just go through their whole lives without ever having to hear a female viewpoint. Fire misogynistic men so that their female coworkers don't have to deal with that shit. Stop treating service workers like you're entitled to their kindness or affection. Value mothers as much as fathers. Stop marketing fatherhood and motherhood in dramatically different ways.

That's just off the top of my head, I'm sure the ten billion feminist blogs out there would also have other ideas. Assuming you're actually asking this question honestly, and not as a rhetorical gesture equivalent to throwing one's hands in the air and saying "but what is to be DONE" which is honestly what people mean 90% of the time when they say shit like that.
posted by NoraReed at 9:36 PM on May 24 [189 favorites]


Folks have already noted the things I would say; just wanted to agree that whatever mental issues or personal oddities aside, from what I've heard so far the killer was bringing to an extreme conclusion an utterly normal story about what it means to be a man, and that I can't imagine complicating factors which somehow excuse or explain away the role of 'masculinity' in this case. And masculinity as a cultural narrative may hurt both genders, but it sure doesn't hurt them equally.

Also really liking NoraReed's comments.
posted by postcommunism at 9:40 PM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Halfway through the thread.

I still don't feel sympathy for the killer. That said, his pathology is easy to trace on the internet. Try the False Rape Society, which leads to an incredibly messed-up anti-marriage and anti-woman message board (whose name I can't remember). Their misogyny was concise and brilliant rhetorically, and all the more scary for being so.

Here's one such link.
posted by quiet earth at 9:42 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


if that shit is concise and rhetorically brilliant I'm Mark fucking Twain
posted by NoraReed at 9:47 PM on May 24 [29 favorites]


I strongly encourage people linking directly to hate sites to either not do it or to use the nofollow tag, so as to not increase the hate sites' SEO ranking and advertising income.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:48 PM on May 24 [40 favorites]


Actually there isn't much difference these days between follow and nofollow tags, if the referrer is relevant. Which this MetaFilter thread most certainly is.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Those are excellent ideas, some of which I had heard before and some that I had not, NoraReed. I didn't mean the questioning as a rhetorical gesture, but as an extension of a general pessimism about anything getting done by reactions to piecemeal events, no matter how horrible. I am a pessimist in these matters, because that seems to be the best mental model of what will happen, based upon what has happened previously.

The thing to note, however, is that the majority of your suggestions require real power: the power to censure and be heard in censuring, the power to imprison, to harm and destroy the lives of people who do indeed deserve it. So many of the suggestions are just a suggestion that women should have more power, which is a laudable goal and something that hasn't been happening.
posted by curuinor at 9:56 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


Excruciatingly long manifestos for mass murder come from something deeply messed up within, but the language and conceptual frameworks for those manifestos come from something deeply messed up without.

The MRA/PUA/misogyny-cult stuff is like a macrocosmic mental illness, self-validating and self-amplifying.
posted by holgate at 9:57 PM on May 24 [29 favorites]


For those who haven't read it, Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time is a part of the essential canon of modern sci fi as well as one of the founding works of feminist sci fi. In it, Piercy attempts to construct a utopian society purged of misogyny.

Minor Spoiler Alert:
One of the most fascinating concepts to me was the restructuring of the family so that every child had three "mothers" -- who could be male or female -- but no father. The elimination of the patriarchal function was crucial to the elimination of misogyny: the dissolution of the father/mother binary means that child is not socialized into a particular notion of gender/sex relations, where the father is the primary authority (and male, and heterosexual) while the mother is secondary in authority, or even property of the father (and female, and heterosexual). Instead of the Freudian choice of identification between these 2 unequal examples, the child has a far greater freedom in the fashioning of per's* own identity through the more democratic "3 mother" system. As radical as it may seem, I think that such fundamental de- & re-construction of kinship is exactly what is needed if there's ever going to be a meaningful transformation of our society away from masculinist hegemony.

*"per" is the unisex pronoun they use in Piercy's future, short for "person." Isn't that wonderful?
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:00 PM on May 24 [24 favorites]


What happens to adult males in Piercy's utopian society, Saxon Kane? Are they involved in the raising of children at all? What if they want to?
posted by curuinor at 10:02 PM on May 24


One of the pieces of the puzzle that we might need to work on, with respect to all this, is that we need to stop shaming men who are virgins. No virgin-shaming men (involuntary celibates or otherwise), no slut-shaming women.

You know, I've seen a lot more virgin-shaming by men towards other men than by women towards men. Yes, some women jump on that bandwagon, but it's usually a certain set of insecure guys who make the biggest deal out of it.

However, some guys who are sexually inexperienced do get hit by the stereotype "virgin living in mom's basement" that women can refer to also. The thing is, what I personally always found offputting about many of those dudes was not the virgin part, but the unpredictably angry, emotionally stunted, unable-to-get-his-own-life part that usually seemed to come with it.

I mean, I hang out with geeks and am one. I have often tried to befriend, and even flirt with, geeky guys who were shy with women. Shyness is not repulsive to me, nor is being devoted to an odd bit of culture or being really smart. But what did happen, more than once, is that we'd be having a normal conversation and the guy would get all hostile to me all of a sudden--he'd burst out with some weird libertarian crypto-racist rant, or make a cutting remark about women's brains, or just generally reveal himself to be an asshole. It was confusing, but also alarming--I don't hang out with people prone to angry inexplicable outbursts for basic self-preservation reasons. Not to mention the weird racist/sexist shit that was just gross.

And so I became more wary of guys like that, and started focusing my efforts on dudes who were, if not suave, just able to have a normal conversation and treat me with respect. These were also often guys who had dated before and had managed to move out of their parents' house. I'm sure to a lot of PUA types this would be seen as rejecting "betas" for "alphas" but it's really not. It's rejecting assholes for non-assholes.

I don't know where you draw the line on hatred/mental illness. At a certain point, the actions of a hate-group member certainly seem to be those of a person with a sick mind. But it seems wrong to exempt people from responsibility for their decision to view other people as less than human.
posted by emjaybee at 10:02 PM on May 24 [83 favorites]


We've said, over and over and over again, that you have to start calling other men on their shit. That's the #1 thing. Call other men on their shit and stop supporting men who pull misogynistic shit. This means calling out your professional organizations on their shit and leaving them when they refuse to fix it. This means no more supporting comics who lean on rape jokes. This means kicking creepers out of your social group. This means calling out your coworkers and your bosses. And it means doing all those things to be a basically decent human being.

Again, if you google stuff individual men can do, you'll find a zillion things that I'm not gonna bother repeating here, both because other people have done them before and because I don't feel like it.
posted by NoraReed at 10:03 PM on May 24 [65 favorites]


"the power to imprison, to harm and destroy the lives of people who do indeed deserve it."

Harming, imprisoning and destroying lives. Now there's an agenda we can all get behind.
posted by MikeMc at 10:04 PM on May 24


I mean, if you call out your professional organizations and stop supporting comics and stuff, that is harming them. They deserve it and are, presumably, assholes and such, but you are harming them and they will probably take steps to respond.

So you must have the power to harm them, it seems. If you depend on the professional organization utterly and they decide your fate, you can't do that, or at least you're very much hampered in doing that. So it seems power is a pre-requisite, and something that should be considered as a pre-requisite.
posted by curuinor at 10:07 PM on May 24


Whenever I read about MRA groups and the like, I can't help but think of Al Bundy and No Ma'am. Kind of scary how prescient Married with Children was?

curuinor: (spoiler) Well, first thing to be said is that people do not carry children themselves; instead, there's some sort of complex cloning/incubation procedure. The idea being that women had to be separated from the biological act of reproduction in order to be finally freed from masculine control of their bodies. Anyway, because of this "mothers" are not required to be women. Both men and women serve as "mothers," and the parents are not actually genetically related to their children but instead choose to serve as parents.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:08 PM on May 24


From the manifesto: "my mistreatment at their hands has made me realize this sad truth."

Note that the "mistreatment" seems to have boiled down to no girl conspicuously asking him out. No girl did anything to him, literally. And that was "mistreatment?"

Oh, right, they should have just dropped to the floor, rolled over on their backs and spread 'em. Except women are too stupid to pick who to roll over for.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:11 PM on May 24 [16 favorites]


I am struck by the similarities to the Virginia Tech massacre. This passage from Seung-Hui Cho's manifesto (which he also mailed to the media) could almost have been written by Rodger:
You have vandalized my heart, raped my soul, and torched my conscience. You thought it was one pathetic boy's life you were extinguishing. [...] You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off.

You had everything you wanted. Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats. Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust fund wasn't enough. Your Vodka and Cognac weren't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything.
posted by Pyry at 10:12 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I remember the other son of a Hollywood director who killed several people in Isla Vista, although he used his car as the weapon and not guns. I was surprised when I googled it now that it's been 13 years, and that the perpetrator was found legally insane and has apparently been released from confinement.
posted by cell divide at 10:26 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


further insight into "amok" can be found in stefan zweig's novella of the same name.
posted by bruce at 10:30 PM on May 24


#YesAllWomen trending on Twitter in response to UCSB shooting
posted by palomar at 11:06 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


That tag has been really great but it's hard to read for very long because every time I get into feeling solidarity and basking in the wisdom of other women there's another comment from some "not all men" douchebag pissed off about "angry feminists" saying the same shit (often using the exact same phrasing, including totally unironic "not all men"s) I've heard a thousand times before making me start Hulking out and I can't do that right now because these are my favorite shorts
posted by NoraReed at 11:13 PM on May 24 [39 favorites]


Tell me about it, I had to close three browser windows and change my outfit to a stretchier one for rage-squats.
posted by palomar at 11:15 PM on May 24 [17 favorites]


NoraReed, thank you for saying these things. It's hard to say them, and we get so much shit when we do (less from Metafilter than the world at large, but it all adds up), but it needs saying. Over and over until we don't have to say it anymore. Thank you.
posted by cmyk at 11:16 PM on May 24 [27 favorites]


Didn't Hulk only rip his shirts?
posted by matimer at 11:22 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Elliott Rodger was super rich. He had a therapist AND a support network of other misogynists.
He was the child of a hollywood big-shot and he drove a freaking beamer. His dad’s lawyer reports him going to multiple therapists. He was an active member of the ‘manosphere,’ which covers multiple internet communities that have been classed by the southern poverty law center as hate groups.

This is not a matter of him needing help and getting help. He had all the help in the world.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:27 PM on May 24 [41 favorites]


You're welcome, cmyk.

Now if only I could get someone to pay me to write this stuff.
posted by NoraReed at 11:33 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Wow, and I thought I could be crass sometimes.
posted by jaduncan at 11:36 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


In addition to his virulent misogyny, Rodger also seemed to have a heavy dose of white supremacist self hatred.

So here are our killer ideologies-- white supremacy and misogyny.

Curious: For all the people asking for stricter surveillance of the mentally ill and of Youtube-- how many of you are offended and angered by the ever growing prison-industrial state?
posted by wuwei at 11:37 PM on May 24 [6 favorites]


In the media, this case is already well along in the process of being reduced to the comparatively smaller points involved to find a simple explanation. But it's the messy, long-tenured cultural problems that have contributed the most to Rodger's acts.

NoraReed (and cmyk for reiterating the point): Thank you for keeping attention on that big picture. It's helped make this discussion of the incident one of the best and most thoughtful I've seen.
posted by ipe at 11:41 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


>This means no more supporting comics who lean on rape jokes.

Yep. 100%.

>This means kicking creepers out of your social group.

I get the feeling that that's what happened here: Elliot Rodgers got kicked out of *everyone*'s social group, and it made him feel the world had wronged him.
posted by surenoproblem at 11:41 PM on May 24 [13 favorites]


ipe, I think you're onto something big here. There is no one quick fix to stop guys like this from going thermonuclear. It'd be easier if there was, but... there's not. The news wants there to be, because they're better at single talking points. Politicians, same. It's a conflation of other things that all need to be addressed, and we're societally fucked, is why is something nobody really wants to hear. Even though it's true.

It'll take a long time to solve them, and cynically I doubt I'll still be alive to see any of it at least mostly fixed. But the sooner we start, the sooner someone someday can enjoy not being killed because of it.
posted by cmyk at 11:46 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Was this murderer a natural born sociopath who invented a convenient contemporary narrative for a spree that he would have committed anyway? Or was there an ideological turning point? Some combination of the two?

As someone who was 22, very lonely, very touch starved, very depressed and very pacifistic, it’s sad for me to think about some other young man who is reading about all this at age 22 and questioning himself because he may have some superficial traits in common with this murderous asshole.

To the lonely 22 year old men I want to say: "You’re going to be okay. I believe in you."

I wish that I could say the same “be okay” to the victims and families affected by gun violence. I hate that the narrative is once again about the murderer. I hate that the murderer's message of fear to women is being broadcast far and wide.

With regards to MRA... For what it’s worth, feminists have been writing sympathetically about the crisis in masculinity for much longer than Men’s Rights Activism websites were a thing.

I personally think that we need to start the conversation with boys. Boys and girls need to be taught tools in public school about how to deal with impulsive negative emotions. They need to be taught that it’s okay to ask for help. They need to be taught that all body types and sexualities are okay and that everyone has a different rate at which they mature sexually and that’s a-okay. They need to be taught active listening for helping their peers. They need to be taught solutions to domestic violence and they need to be taught how to recognize enthusiastic consent.

Helplessness is also learned. That lesson needs to be replaced in our public schools with designs for self-efficacy and incremental mastery experiences.

As it is, social growth isn’t built into school curriculum. It’s just expected to be a by-product of the circumstance of cramming several dozen kids in one room with one teacher supervising and then giving that teacher some high stakes testing backed curriculum to try to teach. There’s not much attempt that I know of to “train the trainer” in the most important skills for teaching, such as classroom management and social intervention.

Conflict deescalation can be taught to healthy people. Mental control for impulsive desires can be taught to healthy people. Ethical awareness can be taught to healthy people. Start us all when we’re young and malleable instead of waiting for people to be broken before we send them to learn things like CBT and anger management.

MRA, PUA, red pill, white supremacy, religious fanaticism etc... are self-amplifying ideological constructs. Individuals without strong social support systems are especially vulnerable to circular reasoning because they don’t have other people who can act as sounding boards and snap them back into a healthy mindset.
posted by Skwirl at 12:02 AM on May 25 [53 favorites]


So whoever sold him his guns, directly or indirectly, will be going to prison, right?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


The news wants there to be, because they're better at single talking points. Politicians, same. It's a conflation of other things that all need to be addressed, and we're societally fucked, is why is something nobody really wants to hear. Even though it's true.

It would also involve the news media criticising their own sexist and racist attitudes on air, which is something one will very rarely experience. All the "$TOWN's most trusted news!"/if-it-bleeds-it-leads razzmatazz doesn't offer much space or commercial justification for that kind of introspection.
posted by jaduncan at 12:12 AM on May 25


I want to point out a specific fault in this guy's logic: it seems he felt rejected by the world. Yet 99.99999% of people on the planet are ignored by 99.99999% of people on the planet. It's not rejection; it's a physical reality that people's social circles can only be so big, and there's only so many famous people we can keep track of.

I wonder if his Hollywood exposure added another layer of reality distortion. Like, thoughts of 'I am not valuable unless I am famous.' Toiling away to become an actor isn't guaranteed to get you famous. But committing a mass-murder is a surefire fast-track to it.

From that perspective, I think it would be good if we tried to keep the focus off him, and trained it instead on the reprehensibility of the kinds of "movements" he associated himself with.
posted by mantecol at 12:13 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


The guns were bought legally, and if I could hazard a guess based on some information about his going shooting in Oxnard, probably at the place my gun fancying friends often go, the delightfully named Shooters Paradise.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:16 AM on May 25


People keep using the term "delusional" to refer to his violently misogynistic ideas, and I think that is a very poor use of the term - especially since it attempts to cast this in a mental health frame rather than a cultural frame.

Misogynistic ideas are false - like most prejudice, the facts simply aren't there - but they are not isolated beliefs that are largely unshared and which exist in a vacuum. The more general misogynistic ideas are perpetuated in television ads and comedy routines, and even the in the lives of people who would bristle if you called them sexist. The under-representation of women is woven into every level of society - from the political, to the media, to business - and even in fields where women predominate like education and nursing, men in the same field quickly rise to positions of power - much more quickly than women do - because men are seen as more reliable and worthy of power than women even by other women (yay internalized sexism).

And like racist beliefs, misogynistic beliefs offer people communities where many, many other people agree with them and more people simply laugh at the jokes and accept the premises. Jokes about how women are so complicated or strange no one (note that "one" doesn't include women) can understand them perpetuate the idea of women as objects, not people. Video games and movies where the hero gets the girl perpetuate the idea that women are rewards for good behavior, not people.

Gender segregation starting at birth reinforces the idea that men and women are fundamentally different, which forms the foundation for men to not only not relate to women as people, but to also ease the objectification of women. The conflation of "sex" with "women's bodies" both objectifies women and gives men who sexually desire women a reason to localize their sexuality in the bodies of others instead of their own body. Television shows and movies where men have complex plotlines and complicated inner lives, and where women exist as goals, motivators, and assistants perpetuate the idea that the important people in the world are male and that women exist in the context of men.

These ideas are so pervasive that the majority of women have internalized sexism; it's something that comes up fairly frequently in feminist circles. Reminding women that we are women is enough to lower our math scores on the SAT.

Give this climate of the objectification of women even by ourselves, there is literally no basis for calling misogyny - even violent misogyny - "delusional." There is way too much cultural reinforcement of misogyny for it to be unsupported. Yes, it is false, but it is false beliefs that are internalized even by the people to whom they apply, that are perpetuated through both public and private lives, and which are based on pervasive cultural assumptions.

(Similar patterns exist for racism, homophobia, etc... and they often cluster together, but here I'm focusing on sexism primarily.)
posted by Deoridhe at 12:56 AM on May 25 [91 favorites]


As a feminist I kind of dislike the claim that birthing a child is the exact same as being a parent who did not. it leads to justification of less rights for people who birthed and often have a particular bond including lactation and a desire for physical closeness that is not exactly same and when that bond is in place, should be protected. Certainly sometimes the father falls more naturally into the more bonded role early on but as someone interestedin greater rights for parents who are pregnant, birthing, lactating, and the bonds that occur around that,iI don't think we have to make arguments that being a parent who carries, births, and nurses a child eexactly the same type of relationship as one who doesn't.That book that talks about raising infants in incubators and depriving children of their ancestors sounds hellish. There are really great comments all over this thread and otherwise I am just loving the articulate and thoughtful comments.
posted by xarnop at 1:29 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


His fantasy does have sort of a Harry Harlow wire-mother-and-rape-rack thing going on.
posted by Small Dollar at 1:36 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


So all the guns were legally purchased. That's just great. I'm going to assume that they were legally purchased by someone else because if this guy could buy a bunch of handguns we're all screwed.
posted by Justinian at 1:42 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


This one sentence in Nora Reed's excellent comment struck me because it gets to the heart of something I've been pondering this evening:

"Force boys to read stories about women so they learn to empathize with them like girls have to do with boys."

A really important cultural and psychological part of what's involved in this is this pervasive notion in so many cultures that men and women are essentially different kinds of people. The "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" paradigm that is virtually unquestioned in our culture has extremely powerful implications. Misogynists like this guy see women as essentially alien and that message is embedded throughout our culture.

The misogynists will respond, no doubt, that women are just as guilty of this (and to some degree, that's true) and feminists, especially, are very guilty of this (which is quite false) because they, as men, perceive that feminists are always making men out to be bad people, the enemy.

What they don't understand is that even when women have internalized our culture's idea that men and women are two different species, it's still the case that women cannot escape seeing the world through men's eyes, developing empathy for the male point-of-view, and to not see all men as some alien group that hates them and is the enemy.

It's very interesting that this is the sexist view of feminists, and that's revealing in exactly the same way that, for example, small government conservatives believe that all liberals necessarily desire larger government for its own sake. It's projection.

Unlike women, men can internalize this cultural view of the essential alienness between men and women without having almost any interactions which challenge, undermine, or weaken it. They can almost exclusively consume media that's made by men, for men. There's so little motivation in our culture for men to pay attention to women other than, of course, as sex objects and opportunities.

Over my adult life, in terms of relationship and sexual activity, I've had good times and bad times, times of plenty and long periods of drought. This is one of the long periods of drought, and, looking beyond this, this whole last thirteen years has been one where I've been in exactly one short-lived serious relationship. But it's never occurred to me to think about my sex life and my relationships (and how they failed) in terms of "men versus women". If I'm resentful against anyone because I've been lonely and sexless, it's never occurred to me to narrow (or widen) that to a resentment of women as a class. I don't even really understand why I would think in terms of "women" like this. When I participate on dating sites, I think in terms of "people" not "women" because I just don't think in terms of these interactions occurring across some sort of deep divide.

But so many people do. I think it's deeply harmful that anyone does. But it's incredibly toxic that men do in the context of a patriarchal culture where males hear and believe messages telling them that sex is something that they want to "get" from women, that women are the gatekeepers of sex and choose which men are worthy and which are not. You might think, wait, isn't that view contrary to the patriarchal view that women exist to serve men's purposes? Well, the answer is, no. It serves those views because it implies that the only way to correct this horribly unjust treatment of men by women is to set up a huge structure whereby women are otherwise at the mercy of men. Thus the fantasies around the campfire of a society of misogynist sex-slavery.

Because a prerequisite for this way of thinking is to not even really see women as people, to see them as essentially other which then makes it so much more possible to a) have zero empathy such that violence against women is almost outside, psychologically, the moral sphere; and b) to see them as nothing more than cogs in the machine of one's own desires.

Despite the fact that all men have mothers, many have sisters, most have had female lovers and partners, it's the case that men in our culture (and others) are profoundly ignorant about the lives that women lead and the world they live in in a way that has absolutely no comparison from the other direction. Even though our culture tells men and women alike that they're essentially different, the fact of the matter is that women live in a man's world. Off the top of my head, I can think of maybe three or four common things about men and men's lives that there's a good chance the average woman won't know. Maybe, and that's at most. But I can come up easily with five things without thinking for more than a second about women that the average man doesn't know. Worse, men don't know that they don't know. That's what so much of this argument is often about — women will say something entirely commonplace and uncontroversially and self-evidently true to almost all women and because many men who hear this had no clue this was the case and, more importantly, never had any suspicion that it's the case, they simply refuse to believe it. As a man who long ago learned to open my eyes and see, I can't really exaggerate just how blind I've discovered most other men to be. It's quite amazing.

All of this is just restating and emphasizing my point that while the message of gender alienation is universal in our culture, it has very different effects on men than on women because, effectively, men and women are living in different worlds of opportunity. Even though it's the case that women are all around and men interact with women constantly, and intimately, the fact is that it's very easy, if one is inclined, for a man to see women as an essentially unknowable object, not a person. It's much, much more difficult in our culture for a woman to similarly think of men this way. Basically, it's a matter of survival for women to learn and care about how men think, to see through male eyes. They can hardly avoid it, anyway, but even if they could, they'd still by necessity have to do so.

One of the most striking thing to me about this guy's rhetoric, and the MRAs and PUAs and such, is how clear and extreme this idea is, this pretty much not even seeing women as people at all, but as a kind of symbol, a function, a satisfaction of a need. In this extreme form it's self-evidently pathological in a way that most can't deny; it's scary and it's clearly interrelated with serious mental health issues. But, as Deoridhe so nicely wrote in her comment as I've been writing this one, all this stuff is right there in vast swaths of our culture. It's a regular punch line in sitcoms. It's on bestseller lists, guests of daytime talk shows. It's found in the male gaze in our narrative media where men have psychology and history revealed in their appearance while women have ... nice breasts.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:43 AM on May 25 [138 favorites]


This isn't a story about misogyny any more than other similar stories have been about Violent superhero films or Islam or Single Mothers or Video Games. Alienated boys sometimes go crazy and kill, and this, in a country with lax gun laws usually turns out to be an awful thing where innocent runners, women and children are murdered.

I don't know what the answer is. It's not removing hate groups because hate groups just spring up. If you crack down on the MRA groups, there's still going to be Animal Rights Activists targeting scientists and Anti-Islamic nutjobs targeting Mosques and Anti-Facist nutjobs targetting the Anti-Islamic nutjobs.

I don't think that it's about Gun Control either. In countries without guns, men will still go on the rampage, sometimes with guns and sometimes without guns. The last two UK stories thatcome to mind have been the stabbing of a teacher by a 15 year old boy and the Raoul Moat affair. Deaths are reduced in countries without easy access to guns for sure, but the US has its second amendment, and it's unlikely that this will change.

I'm not 100% sure what the answer is. The alienated boys you see near me are unemployed and they have no options and little by way of a future. They're misogynistic and they're racist and they love to go out of a weekend to find someone to punch. They revel in violence, both cathartic and actual. Part of me thinks that they're a new phenomenon which means we can do something about them, but part of me worries that they've always been there and in countries that don't send all the boys off to war, they will always be there.

So yeah...

One thing I don't want to minimise in this though is women's voices. A lot of women are using this situation as stepping off point to talk about the wider subject of violence towards women. In the time since the shooting, more women will have been killed in domestic abuse cases by men than were killed in the shooting. They won't be reported. This is the tragedy, and although I think a less sexist society would just have made this killer choose different targets, we shouldn't be ignoring scared people who see these murders as indicative of a larger problem.
posted by zoo at 2:16 AM on May 25 [9 favorites]


I'm glad that caught your attention, Ivan, because the fact that women have to, from a young idea, be able to not only empathize with boys but put themselves in boys shoes because it's just not possible to spend your whole childhood reading and seeing stories about boys, while it is possible to do so with stories about girls, is one of the best things I got out of my introduction to Women Studies. Media with powerful female characters is sold to girls to make them feel good about themselves and never to boys to show them that girls are humans, too. It's also why there are female versions of male superheroes, video game characters, etc but you'd never see the reverse. This is also why female authors tend to be far more competent writing men than male authors are writing women.

What you wrote about men having female family members and lovers and partners made me think of a line in a Tamora Pierce book where one of the male characters points out how handsome another male character is, and, when the protagonist gives him a funny look, says "I have older sisters, remember? If I don't know what makes girls wiggle their toes, I've had my head in the [river] for seventeen years." It stuck in my head because of the hilarious phrasing, but it's one of those great little bits of worldbuilding that says that the book you're reading is set in a place that isn't here; it's set in a world where men do learn to see from that perspective, at least they do if they've got sisters. There's a lot of reasons that Pierce is a great feminist writer, but the fact that she writes YA and Children's literature that is not only full of women but full of men who understand them, who are comfortable around them, who don't treat them as alien-- it's amazing how the touch of that can turn a plague-ridden high fantasy monarchy with dodgy law enforcement into half a utopia.

But I worked at a children's bookstore, and I had very little success getting adults to buy books for boys that were about girls. The inverse was an easy sell. And I've spent a lot of time talking to friends about favorite books from childhood and adolescence, and the only one I can think of with a female protagonist** that boys did read a lot (His Dark Materials) is by a man, and it splits the second and third books between her and a boy and she spends half the third one unconscious.

I know I tend toward talking about this a lot because children and teen's fiction + feminism is one of the Major Intersections Of Stuff I Am Interested In And Know A Lot About, but I think the fact that boys aren't challenged to empathize with girls in required material for class and that it's not sold to them as entertainment outside of it is really important. Society also, I think, discourages that interest-- little boys who are more into Princess Peach than Mario are likely to get shit for it, which further discourages figuring out a woman's perspective. (Not that you're likely to get a very good gender relations 101 from a Nintendo game, but still.)

*though I saw one of the trans folks I follow on Twitter point out that saying that everyone has mothers is cissexist, and I know this is totally peripheral to the main point but I still feel I should note it because even though I totally agree with everything you're trying to say here I still want to point that out, because I'm learning to cut a lot of cissexist stuff out of my own vocabulary and I hope I'll be corrected
**not counting Harry Potter, which Hermione is actually the hero of but no one in or out of the books really seems to have figured that out

posted by NoraReed at 2:21 AM on May 25 [50 favorites]


Steve, talking about how great it would be if the world were reorganized such that all women were kept as sex slaves in a vast underground dungeon

Let's remember that this isn't theoretical. Men actually do this.
posted by Summer at 2:25 AM on May 25 [42 favorites]


Just a point of information re: white supremacy discussion angle : the deranged killer Rodger here is half-white, half-Chinese ( mother= Chinese Malaysian), as per his manifesto (which is mostly an account of his life) and other sources
posted by Bwithh at 2:29 AM on May 25


So whoever sold him his guns, directly or indirectly, will be going to prison, right?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 AM on May 25 [+] [!]



If the sales were legal, and quite possibly if they weren't, then this won't happen, based on previous track record in the US . I remember a recent case of a gun store connected with sales of weapons for more than 1 mass shooting.
posted by Bwithh at 2:33 AM on May 25


He has some very, uh, interesting views on race:
     My first week turned out to be very unpleasant, leaving a horrific first impression of my new life in Santa Barbara. My two housemates were nice, but they kept inviting over this friend of theirs named Chance. He was black boy who came over all the time, and I hated his cocksure attitude. Inevitably, a vile incident occurred between me and him. I was eating a meal in the kitchen when he came over and started bragging to my housemates about his success with girls. I couldn’t stand it, so I proceeded to ask them all if they were virgins. They all looked at me weirdly and said that they had lost their virginity long ago. I felt so inferior, as it reminded me of how much I have missed out in life. And then this black boy named Chance said that he lost his virginity when he was only thirteen! In addition, he said that the girl he lost his virginity to was a blonde white girl! I was so enraged that I almost splashed him with my orange juice. I indignantly told him that I did not believe him, and then I went to my room to cry. I cried and cried and cried, and then I called my mother and cried to her on the phone.

     How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more. I tried not to believe his foul words, but they were already said, and it was hard to erase from my mind. If this is actually true, if this ugly black filth was able to have sex with a blonde white girl at the age of thirteen while I’ve had to suffer virginity all my life, then this just proves how ridiculous the female gender is. They would give themselves to this filthy scum, but they reject ME? The injustice!
I don't even...
posted by Rhomboid at 2:34 AM on May 25 [28 favorites]


It's like reading a bizarre, horrible Adrian Mole, isn't it?
posted by Kaleidoscope at 2:37 AM on May 25 [24 favorites]


Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women
posted by Blasdelb at 2:38 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Just read the manifesto and it's definitely Adrian Mole: The Darkside.

His mum buys him a BMW and he notes bitterly that she could have bought it for him earlier.
posted by colie at 2:41 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


It's all quite Breivik as well, and he's massively lauded on 4chan/Reddit. There's a kind of digitally-enabled underclass of these guys now, and like the traditional lumpen underclass, they are beyond all hope.
posted by colie at 2:50 AM on May 25


When I see links or references to and quotes from this guy's manifesto in this thread I'm reminded of something Roger Ebert said after he was asked for comments about the role that violent films play in school shootings,
"Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
As important as it is to understand the source of this violence in our culture, there is this sickening way in which it is way too easy to only feed the beast by doing so. When we talk about this specific shooter, like when we talk about any of the other largely interchangable shooters, as if their name, thoughts or perspectives matter, rather than the ones that influenced them or those of their victims, we only confirm how entitled white men are the center of the world and how shooting people is an effective strategy for keeping it that way.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:51 AM on May 25 [44 favorites]


> "In the time since the shooting, more women will have been killed in domestic abuse cases by men than were killed in the shooting. They won't be reported."

I looked up some stats on domestic violence deaths: "On average more than three women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the United States." And you're right, many such deaths are not classified properly so the number is probably higher. What a tally of murders does not tell us is how many more woman are assaulted, terrorized, abused every day. That number is much higher.

I have been very glad to see the rigor here which keeps this subject as part of the conversation despite the discomfort and continual impulse to discount or deny it, and wants to soothe us with false reassurances that the cause is an aberration and certainly it is not us and our daily world.
posted by Anitanola at 2:57 AM on May 25 [24 favorites]


KokuRyu: "One of the outcomes of the 1989 massacre was stricter gun control in Canada.
"

Mark Lepin held a valid, old style, FAC at the time of the massacre. It's very likely he would be be granted a modern PAL which is the current regulation for acquisition of non-restricted firearms if the laws in place today were in place in 1989. Mark Lepin used a Ruger Mini-14 in his spree which is very common long rifle and is unlikely to ever be put on the restricted or prohibited list short of an Australian style "ban all firearms" approach to gun control; which isn't going to happen any time in the foreseeable future. Even the Liberals strongly stated that that sort of confiscation would not happen when they were rolling out the long gun registry. He would have have had no trouble purchasing a Mini-14 rifle under either the current regulations or the more restrictive registration (which is the only thing that has been backed off on) requirements initially put in place after his spree if he had held a PAL.

And despite the friendliness of the Harper government to gun users guns are moved from non-restricted status to the restricted or prohibited list on a fairly regular basis essentially at the whim of the Public Safety Minister. With the exception of individual registration of long guns, gun controls in Canada have progressively tightened not loosened since 1989.

TwoStride: "He had three guns and after the shootout police found 41 loaded 10-round magazines in his car. Once again, it's not just the weaponry, it's the stockpiling of ammunition that is a huge problem in this country."

I'm not going to comment on what a reasonable number of guns to own is because to me it makes as much sense as talking about what is a reasonable number of cars or books or cats to own. However, 410 rounds of ammunition spread out over three guns (so ~140 each) is not a huge stock pile. You are easily going to go through that gaining proficiency in a new weapon. I don't know about handguns but it wouldn't be unheard of burn though 100 rounds in a day target shooting with a long rifle especially if the ammunition is cheap like .22LR. Even if the ammunition was a dollar a cartridge spending ~$100 a day on the hobby of target shooting is pretty well in line if not kind of cheap when compared to many other recreational activities. A day's rallying for example will easily cost me 3-5 times that even without an off.

pocketfullofrye: "Steve, talking about how great it would be if the world were reorganized such that all women were kept as sex slaves in a vast underground dungeon.[...] their fathers would take them into the dungeon and they'd pick out their first woman. All women in the world would be captives kept alive for raping. "

This is the thing that squicked me right out in Larry Niven's Known Space setting: The Kzin (with an assist from the Puppeteers) have bread their females into non-sentience and they are kept in massive harems for the use by privileged males.
posted by Mitheral at 3:33 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I'm reading his manifesto/autobiography because I find this sort of thing fascinating. It's really something else. At some point he tries to persuade his mother to marry a very rich man she's dating, because that would solve all his problems. "She adamantly refused (...). I told her she should sacrifice her well-being for the sake of my happiness, but this only offended her further".
posted by dhoe at 3:36 AM on May 25 [8 favorites]


If this isn't a troll, then I bet we find out this guy is a serial killer. I'm getting a strong Patrick Bateman vibe from him.

. . . . . .
posted by Duke999R at 3:39 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


So whoever sold him his guns, directly or indirectly, will be going to prison, right?

The manifesto talks about him buying first one, then another two pistols, the paperwork and waiting periods etc involved, so I would guess the purchases were perfectly legal and above board. Even if he acted nuttier than a fruit cake or described the 'Day of Retribution' he was already planning in great detail, what are the odds of a firearms dealer refusing the sale of either the weapons or the 41 magazines he also had?

I initially felt a little bit sorry for this guy that society appeared to have failed but, after reading that disturbing manifesto and so many thoughtful comments here, I'm coming around to a view that his 'delusion' is the result of someone voluntarily deciding to blame women for his failure to connect with women despite his unwillingness to do anything other than walk the streets waiting for them to fall at his feet.
posted by dg at 4:13 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


He describes how he goes somewhere, sits down and wonders why girls don't come to talk to him. I first thought the PUA guys were in denial when they say that this is a person who needs their advice, but I do see their point.
posted by dhoe at 4:23 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I'll tell you one thing- those God damn Old Spice commercials need to stop. Like now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:24 AM on May 25 [9 favorites]


"I wish girls were attracted to me. I don’t know why they aren’t."

Maybe it had something to do with you being the kind of creepy, heartless little monster who would respond to this very common male disappointment by murdering innocent people.
posted by Decani at 4:28 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


From here...

Although King doesn’t believe his novel alone caused those four violent school shooting incidents, he regards "Rage" as a “possible accelerant” affecting people whose troubled backgrounds and psychological problems have already driven them to the brink.

I think this reflects my own feeling about this incident. The PUAs and MRAs were a possible accelerant.
posted by zoo at 4:38 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I just decided to start watching Adventure Time to clear my mental palate. Three eps in we are introduced to the Ice King and I had to turn it off.
posted by Iteki at 4:44 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


So after that reddit thread, he set his videos to private. He probably did not like the attention.
posted by empath at 4:46 AM on May 25


On men calling out men for misogyny:

I do this, and it's not easy. Those who know me know that I'm not (generally speaking) quiet or timid about my opinions or calling out injustice, that I'm not afraid of being ostracized for expressing counter-opinions.

People who know me know that I am indeed feminist simply because I am deeply humanist like Theodore Sturgeon, Marge Piercy, Kurt Vonnegut and Ursula K. Le Guin.

And it's still not easy to stand up and speak out against sexism and misogyny.

Recently I was sitting in my local city plaza - initially alone, but then joined by various men from my neighborhood, only one of whom I would actually call a friend. The other men were variously middle to retired age and all single.

This is the sort of city scene where these men are sitting together because seating is limited and we're all basically here for the same thing, to sit outside and smoke their cigars or cigarettes, or in my case to puff my ecig and be "social". I didn't choose to sit with these people, but they sat with me.

All of these other men have a history of leering at women, cat calling them, remarking on their aesthetic beauty or lack of it, etc. Classic objectification.

And this is really common, and it's behavior I don't tolerate in people who I would call friends.

I'm also in the dubiously interesting position because my gender identity is fluid and trans. I appear classically masculine, but I'm not. So my life is filled with this strange sort of perspective like some kind of spy or double agent, seeing how some men talk and behave about women when they think they're only among men, and the things I hear and see are fucking disturbing some times.

So I finally have enough. I don't want to be associated with this. I don't want to be seen to be a part of this group of men. It's also making me personally uncomfortable. I speak up and tell them I'm not ok with it, that it's fucking bullshit to be verbally sexually assaulting women in public and treating them like objects.

And as soon as I do, I'm suddenly considered crazy, or uptight, or whatever. Suddenly I'm the asshole because I'm pointing out to these lonely, emotionally and physically unattractive single that they're behaving like jerks, that I don't want to sit with them while they're doing this.

And so I get up and sit somewhere else away from these men. I might be the topic of conversation for a while. Whether or not I'm a fag might be discussed, or what my problem is, etc. Another common reply is "women want this, why else is she dressed up like that?" which just makes me angrier.

If I do it online on reddit or other places (hell, it's happened here on metafilter) I'm accused of being a "white knight" or that I'm only doing it to earn brownie points to simply fake being sensitive for the purposes of getting laid, like good behavior is only ever for a reward, sexual or otherwise.

And I don't really care, and I'm personally happy to self-ostracize. It's not much of a sacrifice to sit alone, which is what I wanted in the first place anyway, these neighborhood men sat at my table, not vice versa.

But it's still not easy, even for me.

My main point is that it would likely be much less easy for someone who was cis-normative male or whatever. It's probably not unlike speaking out against racism while being white in the Deep South past or present, if not even more complicated.

And, yes, "not easy" is never an excuse not to do the right thing.

Yes, speaking up and calling out the sexist behavior is the right thing to do.

But it's not easy. To do so in male culture doesn't usually mean ostracizing a minority from your group. It often usually means ostracizing yourself from a majority. It can mean choosing to be alone, to limit social and even career-related prospects.

And this is not ok. This sexism is still pervasive. Depressingly, I'm not sure if it will ever go away. At least not in my life time. And, if anything, it seems to be getting worse.
posted by loquacious at 5:12 AM on May 25 [87 favorites]


I don't think that it's about Gun Control either. In countries without guns, men will still go on the rampage, sometimes with guns and sometimes without guns. The last two UK stories that come to mind have been the stabbing of a teacher by a 15 year old boy and the Raoul Moat affair.

This shouldn't be a gun control discussion, in part because there's no point - this isn't going to affect the regulations of the sale of guns in any meaningful way - but those are actually pretty instructive comparisons. Ann Maguire's death was the first time a teacher had been killed in a British school since the Dunblane massacre in 1996. That's 20 years, nearly. In the Dunblane massacre, 16 other people were also killed, along with the murderer, who had access to firearms through legal purchase. That massacre is the reason why legal private ownership of handguns in the UK is now effectively impossible, of course.

In the case of Raoul Moat, three people were shot with a sawn-off shotgun over two days. Moat was a criminal, in the sense of someone who had been convicted of a crime and sent to jail, but he didn't have the kind of criminal connections that would have enabled him to get access to an automatic weapon. Sawn-off shotguns are slow to reload and have limited range, and it is pretty much impossible to accomplish anything like the American model of spree killing if they are the only tool you have access to.

The worst spree killing in the United Kingdom in recent years took place over nearly four hours, and resulted in 13 deaths. The perpetrator had a shotgun and a bolt-action .22 rifle, so even to do that he had to move from place to place, using familiarity or surprise to get close enough to use the shotgun or killing from long range with the rifle and moving on.

British spree killings are specifically not rampage killings, because the set of people with access to automatic weapons is so small that the chance of somebody in that set also having the other factors that make somebody a spree killing risk are very small indeed.

This doesn't change the toxic environment or the misogyny of the stagnant pools online, or the relentless normalization of violence against women. But there is a lot of misinformed or dishonest argument about how knife and gun crime functions outside the US, and it's best not to muddy the waters with it. The price of the free availability of automatic weapons - be they pistols or rifles - is that when people go on rampages, they can usually hurt or kill more people in a shorter space of time, because that's what a huge amount of research goes towards helping automatic weapons to do more efficiently in the face of mechanical and regulatory obstacles.

Whether that's a price worth paying for the benefits conferred by easy and legal citizen access to automatic weapons is another question, and not one worth getting into here, but it's not a huge leap to notice a feedback loop between the sense of frustration and impotence of this kind of thinking, and the empowerment promised by cultural narratives around firearms.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:45 AM on May 25 [25 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. Hey, probably not the best idea to celebrate *not* having a specific kind of thread derail by actually instigating the derail you say you don't want to have. (Also, folks, let's try to be responsive to concerns about language when referring to people with mental disorders generally. Thanks.) ]
posted by taz at 6:07 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I had a thought last night, that the rush of men attempting to convince women that this is about mental illness rather than misogyny is at least somewhat rooted in men trying to be helpful and supportive. Telling women "No, this isn't about hatred of women, this isn't about you, you don't need to be worried. Only a crazy person would do and say those things!" is sort of like saying "They hate us because of our freedom!" It denies responsibility, while at the same time assuring everyone that things are going to be okay, and we just need to keep on doing what we're doing. It's saying we couldn't have prevented this, and it's not really our responsibility to prevent this.

But women know better, and I wish men would believe it this time. This isn't random--it's common, and it's predictable. We know to believe men who say they hate us and are going to harm us. I'd wager that this guy set off all sorts of red flags in everyone who knew him, which is part of why he was alone. Women are fantastic at noticing and avoiding violent men, because we have to be. We do it consciously and we do it subconsciously. That's why it's incredibly frustrating when men dismiss the role misogyny plays in this, and focus on the perpetrator's poor mental health. Saying "This guy was just crazy, men don't believe this stuff! He's just spouting off whatever craziness he could find!" is so false that you aren't even having the same conversation women are having right now. We know better. We know that when someone says "I am going to kill women because I hate women" he means exactly that.
posted by almostmanda at 6:25 AM on May 25 [86 favorites]


A thing: when you say " a lot of men hate women", I have noticed that men often respond by saying "oh, that's not true, men want to have sex, men want to have relationships, how can they do that and still hate women?" But the thing is, it's perfectly possible to want to have a relationship or sex and still hate women. I think a lot of men actually do hate women, like, really hate them. And the reason that stuff like this shooting won't be recognized as a hate crime is that we have a cultural narrative that it is completely normal for men to hate women. (Just as when the cops kill black men, that isn't recognized as a hate crime - because we have a racist cultural narrative that people of color are always-already suspect.)

Something I will never forget: years ago, my father said to me in the course of some conversation about gender, "The thing you need to understand is that most men think women are stupid". He didn't see this as evidence of sexism, just the way things are*, the way men are.


*In my father's defense, my father obviously doesn't think most women are stupid and has had - in a very introverted life - several friendships with women who he has praised to me for their intelligence and accomplishments, plus he has always supported me in thinky stuff and in general I have never observed him to treat the women around him as if they were stupid.
posted by Frowner at 6:35 AM on May 25 [43 favorites]


Justinian: "So all the guns were legally purchased. That's just great. I'm going to assume that they were legally purchased by someone else because if this guy could buy a bunch of handguns we're all screwed."

It's never been very hard to own a gun in the US. I've known some pretty far out people who owned them.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


On the upside, seeing headlines today like "VIRGIN KILLER" or "RAGE OF A VIRGIN" will hopefully dissuade copycats out there. I can't imagine this guy foresaw his infamy getting written up that way.
posted by fungible at 6:47 AM on May 25


I'd hardly categorise it as a "rush of men".

almostmanda: I'm going down the "not misogyny" road, not to try and be helpful and supportive to women???, but because I think men going on killing sprees is often incorrectly blamed on some other factor, and we need to be wary of doing that.

The Batman Killer didn't go on a killing spree because of Batman.

Anyway - this whole thing made me look up recent murder statistics.
posted by zoo at 6:49 AM on May 25


Using that database, I think this view is the most telling, especially when you scroll down and see how many of the 26,356 women killed by men were killed by men who were close to them and how domestic abuse is just lumped into "Other arguments" so it easily becomes the #1 motive.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:57 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


On the upside, seeing headlines today like "VIRGIN KILLER" or "RAGE OF A VIRGIN" will hopefully dissuade copycats out there.

Unfortunately, these headlines could also further stigmatise virgins and make them feel inferior in meainstream society. See also: "DERANGED KILLER" vis-a-vis the earlier discussion of mental illness.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 7:02 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I'd hardly categorise it as a "rush of men".

I'll refer again to the post on Medium that naju referenced upthread: this is a common thing that women are experiencing right now. Men have a vested interest in this not being about misogyny. So, when do we get to talk about the role of misogyny in male-on-female violence? Because someone literally said " I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it." and then killed women. It's a big deal that women are saying "Maybe that whole punishing women thing is relevant here." and men are telling us "Nope, he was just crazy." It's happening on Twitter, and in this thread, and with people I know in person.
posted by almostmanda at 7:10 AM on May 25 [64 favorites]


RIP Katherine Cooper, Veronica Weiss, & Christopher Michael-Martinez, and the other, as yet, unnamed victims.

I don't pray, but my thoughts are with their families.
posted by Fence at 7:13 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


But the thing is, it's perfectly possible to want to have a relationship or sex and still hate women. I think a lot of men actually do hate women, like, really hate them. And the reason that stuff like this shooting won't be recognized as a hate crime is that we have a cultural narrative that it is completely normal for men to hate women.

I think it's even easier for men to hate women because they want sex. If a person thinks someone (whom everyone regards as axiomatically less valuable and important) controls a resource to which that person feels entitled, hate is the natural consequence.
posted by winna at 7:13 AM on May 25 [30 favorites]


Wow, his grandfather shot this picture. I was convinced it was commented on in either "Gender Trouble" or "Sexual Personae" but I just checked both and couldn't find it.
posted by dhoe at 7:21 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Because someone literally said " I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it." and then killed women.

People. He killed people. Starting, apparently, with his roommates.
posted by Leon at 7:28 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


> He evidently made some final posts at Wizardchan before he started killing people. Reading the reaction of the users there as the news came out...

Reading through that now. They're mostly complaining that he was two steps away from a "normie" and are citing his bodybuilding.com posts. I don't go on either board much, but from what I know wiz is more reclusive and BB is more macho.
posted by postcommunism at 7:28 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I did a summer session at UCSB. I'm a blonde girl who, on Friday nights would walk around IV with my girlfriends, go to parties, flirt with boys. I don't think I am misunderstanding when I say I am EXACTLY the sort of girl he targeted and killed. I had nightmares last night.

I do not consider myself a fearful person. I try to call people out when they are being sexist. I disengage with people who set off my danger radar. But my main takeaway of this is to be scared. I hadn't ever delved into MRA or PUA rhetoric before and it's terrifying to me to learn that there are thousands of people who are bigger and stronger and have more power than I do who wish me such ill. And the fact that they are in an echo chamber egging each other on quite literally gives me goosebumps.
posted by chatongriffes at 7:40 AM on May 25 [71 favorites]


He explicitly stated that he was targeting women, and his largest number of victims were women. Just because the guy who attacked the Jewish Community Center or the guy who attacked the Holocaust Memorial hurt non-Jews doesn't mean they were not antisemitic attacks. This was explicitly, admittedly an act of misogynistic violence, and the only reason to say otherwise is because you wish it wasn't so.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:50 AM on May 25 [71 favorites]


Have there been any studies about "antidepressant discontinuation syndrome" and its relation to these types of incidents?
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 7:55 AM on May 25


> People. He killed people. Starting, apparently, with his roommates.

Look at the context in which he did so.
You will be the only man left, with all the females. You would be able to have your pick of any beautiful woman you want, as well as having dealt vengeance on the men who took them from you.
He was not telling himself a story about unreasoning violence, he was using/given a very specific framing.
posted by postcommunism at 7:56 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


his largest number of victims were women

He killed two women and four men, plus himself for a total of seven dead. (I'm totally not trying to make a "see, it wasn't about women" point. I'm just relating it because I was confused earlier about the numbers and had to look it up. )
posted by Rhomboid at 8:00 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


He did also injure several more people (I don't think their names/genders have been released).
posted by oinopaponton at 8:04 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


It seems pretty clear that he had a problem with his roommates in particular and with women in general. The fact that he killed his male roommates doesn't somehow disprove that he was also a misogynist.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:07 AM on May 25 [12 favorites]


He did start shooting outside of a sorority house, which he explicitly mentions as a target.
posted by bperk at 8:09 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I can't quite get my head around the concept of a family calling the police and asking them to check on their son's welfare. A well-off family that appear to live in the local area. I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.

If you can't get your loved one to respond to your phone calls and you believe them to be in danger/dangerous, it's oftentimes the only option family members/mental health workers have. Once, I successfully advised a family member to make a welfare check call on a client and it prevented at least one death.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:13 AM on May 25 [9 favorites]


Just a point of information re: white supremacy discussion angle : the deranged killer Rodger here is half-white, half-Chinese ( mother= Chinese Malaysian), as per his manifesto (which is mostly an account of his life) and other sources

the reason there keeps being a focus on white supremacy is because he was focused on white supremacy. he was glad his "asian side" didn't show, he became angry at men of color who had white girlfriends (describing those men as filth), he hyper focused on the white patriarchy ideal of beauty, he went on about his british aristocratic roots. he told other asian men that it didn't matter what car they got or what job they had-that their race would always keep them from being on a level playing field with white guys. it is perfectly on topic to discuss how white supremacy played into this.
posted by nadawi at 8:16 AM on May 25 [44 favorites]


Yes, the two women that he killed were at the Alpha Phi sorority house.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:16 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


So all the guns were legally purchased. That's just great. I'm going to assume that they were legally purchased by someone else because if this guy could buy a bunch of handguns we're all screwed.

It seems to me that the guns used in most, if not all, of the mass shootings in the U.S. over the past two years (if not longer) have been legally purchased by the person or persons who carried out the act. This guy didn't have an arrest record, didn't have a history of problems with the cops or any other governing body that might prevent a gun purchase from going through. We all know background checking is a farce, but we don't know what kind of mental health reporting history he had (did he actually get an official mental health diagnosis for a condition that would prevent him from legally owning a gun, and if so, would a properly run background check have pointed that out?), and given that gun store employees probably deal with a fair number of mild weirdos, I'd bet there was nothing about this guy that set off anybody's internal alarm bells when he went to make purchases. And if a guy at the gun store has every legal right to buy a gun, and he meets the scant criteria necessary to make the purchase, and he doesn't do anything so weird that he scares the gun store employees, of course they're going to make the sale.

I'm not sure how or why that surprises anybody at this point in time, given how many mass shootings we have every year with legally acquired guns and ammo.
posted by palomar at 8:19 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


However, 410 rounds of ammunition spread out over three guns (so ~140 each) is not a huge stock pile. You are easily going to go through that gaining proficiency in a new weapon.
But do you need all of that at home? Wouldn't it be great if people had to keep their extra ammunition at the gun range? It might either cut down on some sprees or provide one last opporunity for someone to notice that someone else is... not quite right anymore.
posted by TwoStride at 8:21 AM on May 25


But do you need all of that at home? Wouldn't it be great if people had to keep their extra ammunition at the gun range?

I imagine that it isn't quite the same around Santa Barbara, but for those of us who live relatively rurally big gun ranges with safes and staff aren't really a "thing", to discuss this point on a general level.
posted by mr. digits at 8:30 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Well, I should've written "aren't necessarily a 'thing'"...
posted by mr. digits at 8:31 AM on May 25


So would it be fair to say that his mental illness turned him into a gun, and misogynist culture provided a target?
posted by Mooski at 6:57 PM on May 24 [4 favorites +] [!]



Ok, i know this is kind of far up thread, but it's been bothering me since yesterday and I haven't been able to put into words why until now (and, let's face it-I'm not the most eloquent person in the world, and that's doubly intimidating on this of all websites)

No, no, no, no. This thinking right here is placing %100 of the blame on mental illness. Oh, he was crazy. He was going to kill someone, right? And that is the kind of thinking that's offensive to mentally ill people.

But moreso, it creates this defeatist attitude that's terribly unproductive. This is a hate crime. He didn't murder people because he was crazy, he murdered people because he was entitled. Because he's been bombarded with images that dehumanize and objectify women. To him, I have no humanity, I do not deserve the rights to my own body.

And that's why he thought it was reasonable to murder those people-they were standing in the way of what he thought was rightfully his. Like a farmer killing wolves who go after his goats, and then the goats for not producing milk.

I wholeheartedly believe that the reason this all happened is because we live in a time that fosters and nurtures the idea of women as a conquest. And I think the solutions need to reflect that. Yes, we need better gun control, definitely need better access to mental healthcare, but we also need to take a long, hard look at where our values are as a society, and how we got to a point where women are regularly threatened, harmed, or murdered for being autonomous.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:32 AM on May 25 [31 favorites]


>I can't quite get my head around the concept of a family calling the police and asking them to check on their son's welfare. A well-off family that appear to live in the local area. I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.

dg, his parents had been checking up on him, as well as noticing the videos he was posting online, and it seems the police call was an attempt to have him involuntarily committed to an inpatient facility because they realized he was becoming dangerous. If the person you're trying to have committed is a legal adult, that requires a call to emergency services; in this case that was the cops rather than EMS, and the cops decided he seemed normal enough and let him go.

Wrt mental illness-- Rodger was obviously profoundly disturbed, he was under the care of multiple psychiatrists and was living at a facility for mentally disabled adults. So were all of the housemates he murdered, none of whom went on to become spree killers.

Ugh. This entire thing.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:36 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


Alienated boys sometimes go crazy and kill

I don't want to pick on any one response because I hear a lot of stuff like this, but these responses feel like "it's just a lottery until some man-hater draws your number and kills you". There are things we can do about misogynist killers (spree killers and single-victim murderers) before they kill and those things start with society acting like women are people, not walking, talking sex dispensers.

Also, NoraReed has been right on in this thread a lot, and has said what I have to say before I could get it out onto the e-page more than once already.
posted by immlass at 8:38 AM on May 25 [16 favorites]


Yeah, 400 rounds isn't much of a "stockpile" -- I've shot through more than that in a 2-day defensive handgun course.

Also, given that prices fluctuate quite a bit, there are plenty of non-sinister reasons to "stockpile" ammunition. My husband and I stock up whenever it goes on sale at Walmart just like we would with any other shelf-stable good that we know we're going to use eventually.

And no, there are no staffed gun ranges in our town where we could store it. We do all our target practice on our own private land or on land owned by friends and family, just like everyone else in our local area.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:40 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


was living at a facility for mentally disabled adults.

I've seen this said a few times, but it doesn't appear to be correct. Per verified news reports and information from his own manifesto, he was living at the Capri Apartments, which are furnished apartments for college students. They offer roommate matching services and their website has a page specifically aimed at parents looking for housing for their college student children.
posted by palomar at 8:40 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I posted on my livejournal. I apologize if this far down the "mental illness" issue has already been picked apart... But... This is what i posted on my LJ...
Holy shitballs.

So that killing that happened at UCSB by a hunger games assistant director's son. The video is just fucking insane.

I'm kind of pissed that some mefites are in denial over his clear mental illness.
There is no excuse for his actions, and yes, the PUA/MRA movement is dangerous and full of very problematic people. This video shows the mind of one individual who was infected by such horrible thinking.

As a guy who has been rejected in the past, who has had self-pitying thoughts and can understand where they come from (and who still occasionally gets his pity-party on), I can understand where these feelings of rejection come from, and the anger the "what's wrong with me?" feeling... then the inability to accept that there might be something wrong (the way you approach women, the way you treat them, the way you reach for someone who isn't really "your type", etc...)... And indeed, this whole "you're not a man if you don't get laid by the time college is over" is just as insidious and rotten as the inverse of "Wait til you're married". Both are social mores that must be combatted... Both, ultimately, stem from the same source: Patriarchy.

That said, watching his videos, there is some form of... I would guess a personality disorder. Some form of narcissistic element is very very very clear. The "I am god" and "you are animals"... The sort of sense of deep importance and pride he puts in himself, and this "pretty girls" as if he demands it from them, and they MUST submit. MRA/PUA mentality fits his mind very well, as it is that sort of thinking that dictates that women OWE them something just cuz they're men, and if they're rejected it's certainly not their fault it most be "YOU girls" (as he says in one of the videos).

I don't understand how someone can watch these videos and not see a clear sense of mental issues.

I don't think it's fair to say the cause of his actions are pure mental illness or mere MRA/PUA/RedPill bullshittery. It's a combination. That, however, does NOT excuse the toxic environment of the movement. I think many people who try to say there's no mental illness involved are taking a reactive approach as if by saying that if there is mental illness involved it excuses the MRA from their role in his actions, and that does not follow. Not a bit. Social environments play a role in an individual's formation. Individuals act within a social environment. Individuals are complex entities with conflicting inner desires that may or may not be met by the outside world or by themselves. Thoughts can fester.

It's clear this individual has something wrong with him, and I would hazard a guess that the girls who told him "no" understood this and saw it. "I am a perfect gentleman" (he exclaims in an authoritarian, almost demanding to be recognized, and most definitely chuffed in this proclamation). I see the seeds of narcissism very deep here, the insecurity he feels towards himself, the need to project and outwardly gain status via self-aggrandizement... If it isn't NPD, it's certainly some other personality disorder with similar traits.
I don't know what else I can say, but that there are multiple factors, mental illness is one of them, but it does not negate the fact that there is a social component (not meaning his rejection, but the environment of MRA/PUA) that is a substantial contributor to his way of thinking and that this movement, as it continues to fester, will continue to spawn more and more dangerous actions to innocent lives.
posted by symbioid at 8:40 AM on May 25 [9 favorites]


When incidents that are declared to be terrorism are reported in the news and discussed on the internets, people are perfectly willing to talk about who the victims are and what made the terrorists target them (because they hate our freedom, because we are Americans, etc.).

So far, on news reports about these shootings, which, in spite of the manifesto he sent to news orgs ahead of time, is not being talked about as a terrorist attack, there has been no reporting or analysis of his misogynist motivation or of how much he wanted to target one very specific group for punishment.
posted by rtha at 8:41 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


I imagine that it isn't quite the same around Santa Barbara, but for those of us who live relatively rurally big gun ranges with safes and staff aren't really a "thing", to discuss this point on a general level.

I don't want to derail this into the specifics of gun control, but I've been shooting all my life and have literally never once been at a range that would meet this description. It might be a great idea, just understand that it implies creating an entire infrastructure that does not currently exist.

I can't quite get my head around the concept of a family calling the police and asking them to check on their son's welfare. A well-off family that appear to live in the local area. I guess they had more important things to do than check on him themselves.

I have known several people who have called the police to check up on a child, usually when they were concerned about a combination of drug use and self-harm. Particularly with an adult child (a phrase that sounds like an oxymoron) who isn't motivated to or capable of seeking help himself, calling the local police is one of the only mental health safeguards that exists in the US. I don't think it's a great use of the police and I'd much rather that there were other tools available, but at least for the people I've known in this situation it's been the only tool that they could access.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:42 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Even his attacks on men were framed through the lens of misogyny. The salient quotes:

“If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you,” he says. “You deserve to be annihilated, and I will give that to you.”

Roger is stoic as he details his plans to “slay every single person” he sees on the street.
“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male."

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:42 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


I still cannot get over the fact that the police thought he was a-OK. If there's any point to be made about mental illness here imo it's about stereotypes of what a ~dangerous mentally ill person looks like-- eg not a wealthy, well-dressed, young man who's capable of speaking politely to the police.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 8:46 AM on May 25 [17 favorites]


Even his attacks on men were framed through the lens of misogyny.

Exactly. His hatred of other men comes from his belief that they were partly responsible for preventing his access to women.
posted by Green With You at 8:50 AM on May 25 [19 favorites]


#YesAllWomen trending on Twitter in response to UCSB shooting

I might end up tweeting for the first time in forever. If I can get my Hulked-out fingers to hit the right keys.....
posted by rtha at 8:51 AM on May 25


The problem here is not misogyny or racism, any more than the problem at Columbine was video games. The problem is that a mentally ill person had easy access to a semiautomatic weapon. Any attempt to parse this further is playing right into the hands of the gun manufacturers, who want to lie and say that every killer is a rational cold-blooded monster so they can deny that their products are at all responsible.
posted by miyabo at 8:52 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I said this elsewhere -- this didn't happen in a vacuum. If you insist that there's only one cause for this problem, you're doing a massive disservice to the victims, their families, and our society, because if we keep pretending that the shit he said in that manifesto ISN'T a problem, things are just going to get worse.
posted by palomar at 8:57 AM on May 25 [28 favorites]


He wanted to kill women. He could have done that without guns, too. Misogyny is the primary problem.
posted by winna at 8:57 AM on May 25 [19 favorites]


He wanted to kill women. He could have done that without guns, too. Misogyny is the primary problem.

Three guys with a knife. Lunacy was his primary problem.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:01 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


In his manifesto his original plan was to go to his father's house and kill his five year old brother so that the boy wouldn't grow up and surpass him with women. (He acknowledged that he'd also have to kill his stepmother, but he tried to plan his attack for a time when his father would be away, because he knew he'd choke if he tried to kill his dad.) Then he'd steal his dad's Mercedes SUV and use that to mow down as many pedestrians as he could on the streets of Isla Vista, as well as shooting them.

He still would have killed people without the guns. Stop pretending his killing had anything to do with having access to guns, and look at the 140 pages he wrote telling us EXACTLY WHY HE DID IT.
posted by palomar at 9:02 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


maybe there's not a lot to get out of emphatically ranking which parts are the most broken. walk and chew gum, people.
posted by nadawi at 9:03 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


I still cannot get over the fact that the police thought he was a-OK. If there's any point to be made about mental illness here imo it's about stereotypes of what a ~dangerous mentally ill person looks like-- eg not a wealthy, well-dressed, young man who's capable of speaking politely to the police.

Particularly poignant to me (and this is a multi-layered problem with no easy solutions) is that there seems to be a steady stream of stories about police officers killing schizophrenics who aren't armed, or at least not armed with a firearm, after their parents call for assistance; and here we had someone capable of and prepared for mass murder, complete with ample firepower on site, and he was walked away from with a handshake.

Police are not social workers or mental health professionals and ideally would have one on a ridealong for these calls with the chronic mentally ill--or at least more training.
posted by blue suede stockings at 9:03 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


If the person you're trying to have committed is a legal adult, that requires a call to emergency services; in this case that was the cops rather than EMS, and the cops decided he seemed normal enough and let him go.

Is this really the case in Santa Barbara? Where I live you do not call the police. The last city I lived in, you do not call the police. Apparently your rank-and-file law enforcement officer is not trained to do this job competently. In Houston you talk to a judge. In New Orleans you talk to the coroner. (That last one sounds really weird but as I understand it this is a job for a government lawyer, not a law enforcement officer.) I am skeptical that you call the cops in Santa Barbara when you want to get someone committed. I also do not understand why the Santa Barbara government does not seem to have this information where I can find it with a search engine in under a minute.
posted by bukvich at 9:04 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


rtha: So far, on news reports about these shootings, which, in spite of the manifesto he sent to news orgs ahead of time, is not being talked about as a terrorist attack, there has been no reporting or analysis of his misogynist motivation or of how much he wanted to target one very specific group for punishment.

My problem with insisting on the "terrorist" label in these cases is that the word has been inextricably linked to a very right-wing framing, not only in how many people view the perpetrators, but also in how our government approaches law enforcement. There is, of course, a great deal of overlap between, say, al-Qaida-linked extremism and people like Timothy McVeigh, Scott Roeder, and this asshole, but I think we're fighting the last war by spending so much effort to reclaim the terrorism label. "Hate crime" captures the nature of something like this perfectly, IMHO, and has the advantage of being more detached from the "war on terror" framing.

I'm not saying we just roll over and give up when words are misappropriated, but this issue is important enough that we ought to try to avoid clouding it with larger discussions about the post-2001 approach to fighting terrorism as a tactic.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:05 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


It's all quite Breivik as well, and he's massively lauded on 4chan/Reddit.

It's interesting to reflect on 4chan here...

I'm not even defending 4chan's "honor", as of course 4chan has no honor. Rather, it might be interesting to contextualize 4chan and /r9k/...

4chan has sub-boards whose memberships not only do not overlap, but which are actively hostile to one another. For example, /r9k/ and /pol/ are widely and correctly known to be garbage. 4chan's /r9k/ board is known as the "bawww mon visage quand no girlfriend" board. Moot even tried to kill it once, but he brought it back after being besieged by complaints. (People say that he would love to kill /pol/, but the fear is that the /pol/ecats would then spill over into all the other boards.)

So, even within the world of 4chan, which as we all know is not exactly a feminist paradise, and which is also widely known as a geeky place for geeky people, people's opinions about this guy are about the same as MeFi's. This kid was a dangerous narcissistic asshole, whose unjustified anger was something which we see reflected in other sketchy, creepy, scary men.

Bringing this back around to the PUAHate (and Wizardchan): it's worth noting that this kid didn't even fit into the PUA "community". This kid did not relate to geeky pursuits, he did not relate to other young men who had problems dating, he did not relate to young men who even had some sort of ambition to get better at dating women, he did not even relate to other super duper sexist young men who were trying to use behavioral algorithms to date women. This kid's horny carapace of narcissism and entitlement was beyond all of this.

To show 4chan's more typical view on this guy, here are some choice quotes from a random thread on /tv/:
in that video he talks like george lucas wrote his dialogue.

seriously, just like anakin

...

>Go to /r9k/
This is never a good idea

I did peek at some of the worse boards just to see their reactions. Even /b/ and /pol/ seem to recognize that this kid was a laughable tool for the most part. /r9k/ is truly broken

...

You know, it's weird. I know a guy a couple of years younger than me. I was introduced to him through my girlfriend at the time... who he'd had a massive crush on until I came from nowhere and got with her. I was that other guy from so many stories.

Anyway, he kept writing songs about her, had similarly poor tastes in music, and we found out his younger brother had got laid when he still hadn't. Tried to be nice to the guy but he became a massive douche[....]I totally forgot my point, the guy looks like rodger. Like same face shape, proportions, similar mannerisms. I actually heard him bitch a few times about how girls wouldn't like him like that... iunno, some people just sad, mang.

...

I'm reading some of this guy's crap. I used to be a writing tutor in college, i cant even count how many losers i met who thought just like him. Most of them werent crazy enough to shoot a bunch of people, but it was the same mindset.

They all think they're geniuses, even though they're all fairly dumb. They cant write for shit, but always have aspirations to set the writing world on fire with their amazing literary skill. They all got sent to me because all of their writing is just a collection of narcissistic babbling, fuckers cant even stick to whatever the assignment is.

A 140 page manifesto? Shit dude, the unibomber's wasnt even that long, and he actually had some pretty interesting things to sya.

...

Good news if you're wondering if you're as psycho as that guy: You're not. Because if you were as psycho as that guy, you wouldn't be wondering about it, you would be sure you weren't

...

>Pushes what people want to be friends with him away and ignores them
>Wonders why he is alone in the world and why no one likes him

...

notice how he states multiple time his gf has to be "beautiful"
he doesn't seek love as he would let himself believe, he just want to be noticed and envied by others

little narcissistic prick

...

>give me your sex
>I deserve pleasure
>pls respond
>muh BMW

He's kinda a less dedicated, more realistic Patrick Bateman

...

I can't wait to The Last Psychiatrist writing about this.

...

My mum was like "oh this 22 year old american killed all these people because he didn't have a girlfriend... you don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend either, do you? I hope you wouldn't be so silly"

I was all like jesus christ mum give me some credit here

...

>liked GoT
>didn't wait until after season 4 finishes to embark on his rampage
Doofus

...

He was clearly not right in the head. He seems to think that women should be throwing themselves at him for arbitrary reasons like his car, and he struggled with human interactions and was searching for a perfect girlfriend who would not come.

posted by Sticherbeast at 9:05 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


bukvich, you're looking for this.
posted by palomar at 9:06 AM on May 25


do we actually know they called the cops? their lawyer says they called "authorities" which doesn't necessarily mean the local police department. has there been any corroborator from law enforcement about the call or the response?
posted by nadawi at 9:06 AM on May 25


While he did kill people without guns, the fact that a person as mentally disturbed as this was legally allowed to purchase 3 guns should be alarming to people. His original plan was to go to a sorority and kill everybody inside, which would have required guns.

It's very fortunate that he didn't carry out his original plan, and I wonder if he attempted to go there but something stopped him from carrying it out.
posted by ryanfou at 9:07 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


The problem here is not misogyny or racism, any more than the problem at Columbine was video games. The problem is that a mentally ill person had easy access to a semiautomatic weapon. Any attempt to parse this further is playing right into the hands of the gun manufacturers, who want to lie and say that every killer is a rational cold-blooded monster so they can deny that their products are at all responsible.
posted by miyabo at 11:52 AM on May 25 [+] [!]


I'm not going to say it's the problem, but I will say it's the biggest problem. And your argument just does not follow. NRA wants to blame sociopaths for deaths instead of guns, so we cant call this kid who hates women a misogynist?

Misogynists are not "cold blooded", they are not necessarily mentally ill. They are every day people who buy into the media's portrayal of women as service providers (either sexual or romantic, etc), and not as people. Your thinking, and it's rage-inducingly common, is that this type of behavior is isolated instances, perpetrated by the lone dudebro. When in reality misogyny is saturated in our culture and is perpetuated by the majority of men, and experienced by women on a daily basis.

And I'll say it again:the solution we come to needs to reflect this fact.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:07 AM on May 25 [18 favorites]


You cannot ban mentally ill from having guns. It's like banning men from having guns. Most mental illness is not deadly. We already have a problem (in this state) that all people who are Involuntary hospitalized loose access to guns. If a police officer gets Involuntary hospitalized for suisidality because of PTSD they loose their livelyhood. It creates a culture where people don't get help because they lose rights.
Blanket rules and bans lose track of the complexity of these issues and have unintended consqeuences.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:08 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


The Batman Killer didn't go on a killing spree because of Batman.

Dude, if you're going to do this, at least do the groundwork. The connection between James Eagan Holmes' actions and Batman remain questionable - initial reporting said that he was dressed as Batman (incorrectly - he was wearing tactical combat gear) or had his hair colored and style like the Joker (again incorrectly - his hair was dyed red/orange, not green), and referred to himself as "the Joker" (later retracted). You're confusing motivation with location, as the media did in the first, confused few hours when they were scrabbling for viewers and put any unfounded rumor on screen, because the news media are horrifyingly irresponsible.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Holmes did not write a 140-page manifesto detailing his reasons, and identifying Batman as the reason for his actions. Holmes' motivation remains unclear, and the legal system has yet to determine whether he can be tried as a sane person.

This is not that case. This is a case where somebody explained at length, across more than one medium, that he hated other men for being more successful with women than he was, and hated women for being more interested in other men than in him, and that he was going to commit murder as a result of this.

Being mentally ill and having diminished capacity due to that mental illness when committing a criminal act are different things.

Any attempt to parse this further is playing right into the hands of the gun manufacturers, who want to lie and say that every killer is a rational cold-blooded monster so they can deny that their products are at all responsible.

This is incorrect. The NRA has been blaming gun crime on mental illness for a very long time - see this NRA article:
Since 1966, the National Rifle Association has urged the federal government to address the problem of mental illness and violence. As we noted then, “the time is at hand to seek means by which society can identify, treat and temporarily isolate such individuals,” because “elimination of the instrument by which these crimes are committed cannot arrest the ravages of a psychotic murderer.
The gun lobby constantly argues that failures in the federal mental healthcare system is the issue in these situations, in order to shift responsibility onto mental healthcare rather than the ease of acquiring guns. It is the same argument as "people would kill each other with knives or bricks if guns were not available". It's true in some ways, untrue in others, and advanced with a particular goal in mind.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:08 AM on May 25 [16 favorites]


i do think it's an interesting note that he acquired the guns himself. often in these sort of spree killings the shooter has used family to get the guns.
posted by nadawi at 9:08 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Lunacy was his primary problem.

I don't know or care what his primary problem was. His problems are over. I care about the problems that affect the largest number of people. Lunacy isn't going to be a big problem for most people -- most mentally ill people never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by somebody who is mentally ill.

And yet misogyny is an everyday, destructive, murderous force in America. Whether or not the fact that he hated women is the main issue, it is an issue, and it is an issue that effects the rest of society. His acts were the vanguard, the extreme of a sort of behavior that effects women all the time, and his violence was an extreme version of a violence that effects women relentlessly. Mad or not, his wasn't an act that existed in isolation, and his death won't see the end of it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:08 AM on May 25 [51 favorites]


The problem here is not misogyny or racism, any more than the problem at Columbine was video games. The problem is that a mentally ill person had easy access to a semiautomatic weapon. Any attempt to parse this further is playing right into the hands of the gun manufacturers, who want to lie and say that every killer is a rational cold-blooded monster so they can deny that their products are at all responsible.

It's not an either-or. The misogyny in our culture contributed. The vitriol and hatred that is entrenched in the MRA and similar movements contributed. The failure of both our mental health and law enforcement, as well as their abilities to communicate with each other, contributed. The ease with which he was able to obtain guns contributed. The hyper-masculinization, paternalism, and wild success in the walling off of mental health and domestic violence in American gun culture contributed.

This was not just misogyny or a failure in the system or guns. It was all of the above and more.

Three guys with a knife. Lunacy was his primary problem.

And why did he kill those three? The knife was just so he didn't raise any alarms, the gun was always going to be the best and easiest way to kill and maim the others.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:09 AM on May 25 [8 favorites]


I'm listening to a report about this on NPR right now, and the thing that's amazed me most is that apparently the front door of the sorority he targeted was locked. The residents reported hearing loud, aggressive knocking for a minute or two. He couldn't get in, so he shot two people standing outside.

I don't know or care what his primary problem was. His problems are over

I care, because he's not the only one afflicted by one of these big "problems" and they didn't die with him.
posted by rtha at 9:12 AM on May 25 [10 favorites]


He wanted to kill women. He could have done that without guns, too.

Yes, he did. And yes, he could. But it would have been significantly more difficult without the firearms he owned. That's the danger of guns; there's no time to think that last-minute "Should I do this?"

It's just point, squeeze trigger, target of your hatred is dead.

And for what it's worth, this is what I tweeted on the issue, rtha:
@Daniel_Gadsby It is up to men to combat misogyny and yesterday's tragedy.. "Not ok, bro, and here's why" needs to be said more often. #yesallwomen rt please
He still would have killed people without the guns. Stop pretending his killing had anything to do with having access to guns

It had plenty to do with guns and how easy it is to kill people with them versus hitting them with a car.

I am skeptical that you call the cops in Santa Barbara when you want to get someone committed

In Toronto, the cops are exactly who you call, because they are the only people with the legal ability to take someone into custody. Had to do it with an ex-roommate (who had uttered death threats), who ended up on a 30-day psychiatric evaluation hold at CAMH. At our (exbf and mine) request, no charges were ever laid; the dude needed help and here at least, that's what you call the cops for.

(Obviously the situation is different if you're already in a hospital. But if you tell your therapist on the phone that you're planning on killing/harming yourself or others, particularly children, it is the police that show up at the door and take you to the hospital, where they then do the Form 1 (I think it's Form 1, might be 3) paperwork to have you committed).


Lunacy was his primary problem.

Could we not use this word please? ctrl-f Taz who made a very specific comment about word usage here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:13 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


I said I don't care what his primary problem is. I think it's splitting hairs. And I think it's splitting hairs at the service of minimizing the misogyny that he himself found enormously important, that he himself identified as the motivations for his actions, and is precisely the thing that is most likely to continue to impact people.

I should have said I don't care about the hair splitting. But that's not true -- I do care about it. I think it's a problem, and I think it should stop. I don't think we should be minimizing his murderous misogyny in favor of a narrative of mental illness, which I also think does a disservice to the mentally ill.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:17 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Here is Chicago the police are exactly who you call too. Even as a mental health professional. Outpatient Mental health professionals dont have the resources or ability to forcefully take someone to a hospital. I'm trained to talk to people. I'm not trained to restrain someone in the community at their home and take them to a hospital.
I did some training in California and i think it is the same way there.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:18 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


do we actually know they called the cops? their lawyer says they called "authorities" which doesn't necessarily mean the local police department. has there been any corroborator from law enforcement about the call or the response?

FWIW, the manifesto includes their visit from his point of view.
posted by brentajones at 9:18 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Where I live you do not call the police. The last city I lived in, you do not call the police. Apparently your rank-and-file law enforcement officer is not trained to do this job competently. In Houston you talk to a judge. In New Orleans you talk to the coroner. (That last one sounds really weird but as I understand it this is a job for a government lawyer, not a law enforcement officer.) I am skeptical that you call the cops in Santa Barbara when you want to get someone committed. I also do not understand why the Santa Barbara government does not seem to have this information where I can find it with a search engine in under a minute.

I'm speculating that what happened was they requested a welfare check, which is not the same as requesting someone be legally committed, at all (though it could be the first step towards bringing them in for evaluation for an involuntary hold). You can request one if your employee hasn't been at work or answering the phone, or your neighbor's mail is piling up and they're supposed to be in town, or if a relative sounds like they're going into diabetic sugar shock or suicidal, etc. These are very routine and low key. I had a 20-something roommate who was depressed after moving to a new state for a stressful job (where he had no friends or family after a breakup, to boot), and one night a couple police officers stopped by to have a brief, calm conversation with him in our living room after a sister halfway across the country was alarmed at some overly dramatic statements he had made during a phone call. Nothing resulted except (poor guy) embarrassment, since he was not actively in danger of self-harm and already under the care of a mental health counselor. Ironically, the fact that Rodgers was already in treatment, with alarmed (i.e. engaged) parents, may have made the situation seem less critical, in terms of law enforcement involvement.
posted by blue suede stockings at 9:18 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Note that there is a difference between a committal and a hold. A hold is usually a short period where someone can be hospitalized (1 to 3 days) regardless. Hospitals use this time to get documentation if a committal is required. After that it requires a court order. Now most holds never ever end in a actual committal as that is a very difficult process.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:22 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Where I live you do not call the police.

Who else can you call that will send a couple of people to check on an adult in a dangerous situation late on a weekend night? I've never lived somewhere with an alternative to calling the police in that situation that I've been aware of.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:24 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


NoraReed: "Hire more female cops."
This is one of the things that really has stood out to me after moving to Germany. Most of the time I see two cops walking or driving down the street, there's one male and one female cop. It makes a big difference to how I perceive the presence of police.
posted by brokkr at 9:25 AM on May 25 [27 favorites]


If a police officer gets Involuntary hospitalized for suisidality because of PTSD they loose their livelyhood.

No, because they are not entitled to be employed as a police officer. They can do many, many other jobs that don't require carrying a gun. If they want to continue to serve their city, they can become an EMT or firefighter or dispatcher. There is no Right To Be A Police that is infringed upon when a cop gets charged with domestic violence and gets his gun taken away.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on May 25 [18 favorites]


I read the manifesto. I wish I hadn't. A couple of things that stood out - the manifesto is a completely warped account of his life, without almost any empathy or understanding of other people. His dominant emotions that he describes are rage and jealousy. People exist as they are useful to him only.

He purchased the guns and planned this over six months in advance. He meant to kill in April, but had a cold so delayed for a month to when his father was away on business. He meant to kill his little brother and stepmother before killing his flatmates.

He was obsessed with winning the lottery and The Secret. He didn't do the NLP/PUA type tactics. He barely ever spoke to a woman his own age from fear.

He spoke to the police, terrified they would ask to see his room and see his guns. He was able to keep calm and control himself and convince them to go. He was frequently able to "act normal".

He writes of attacking couples before. He threw coffee on people, and at a party when he was drunk, tried to shove people, mostly women, off a 10ft ledge, but ended up breaking his ankle. He was then very angry none of the women from the party had come to comfort him and offer sex as he was in physical pain. He ran from the scene or lied to cover up his attempts.

He was also very racist, and hated being part-asian. White, then Asian, then Hispanic, then Black in his racial hierarchy.

Prostitution or sex wasn't his goal. He wanted to be sexually desirable, not so much to have sex. Sexually desirable to him was power.

The manifesto is awful. You get glimpses of people trying repeatedly to reach out to him, all the steps his family took and the support, and how he writes of them as - nothing. He's going to kill his little brother who loves him because he hates that he might have a happier life than he has had. He's very, very broken and high functioning. So much hate.

The family's statement has made it clear that mental health issues were involved. Asperger's can co-exist with mental illness. And hate.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:26 AM on May 25 [59 favorites]


No, no, no, no. This thinking right here is placing %100 of the blame on mental illness.

As I respond, I should probably mention that my internal biases may make it impossible for me to see this as you do: I'm a white male, living in the (southeastern) United States, with the leisure time to be discussing this on a personal computer in my own home. Nonetheless, I'm going to try to explain the logic that makes me disagree with your statement above:

The young man we're all talking about was both frighteningly typical and an aberration.

He was typical in that his life experiences in U.S. culture had taught him that men measure themselves against other men by the desirability of their possessions, and that women were simply another type of possession. That they were the one sort of possession that he did not have and felt he could not have seems to have been an obsession with him. Our culture also tends to teach the 'if I can't have one, no one can' philosophy, and he appears to have embraced that philosophy.

He was an aberration in that he concluded killing people was his solution to his 'problem'. With the information available to me, I would say this conclusion and the resultant actions were a product of mental illness.

Where you and I appear to disagree is in whether or not the young man represents more than one problem, and that seems to be a common theme these days as well: insisting on a single cause for something as complex as this defeats all the causes associated.
- Misogynist culture plays a role here
- So does mental illness
- So does access to weapons that make killing large numbers of people trivial
None of these things are less true for them all being true.
posted by Mooski at 9:26 AM on May 25 [39 favorites]


I said I don't care what his primary problem is. I think it's splitting hairs. And I think it's splitting hairs at the service of minimizing the misogyny that he himself found enormously important, that he himself identified as the motivations for his actions, and is precisely the thing that is most likely to continue to impact people.

This is one of those cases where both sides are right. Humans are social creatures. They crave connection. Mentally ill people who feel disconnected from society at large need connection and they latch onto a group who have figured out the cause of his problem and have someone to blame. Because wanting to blame others for a shitty situation is also a human thing. It just feels right to a loner. It all makes sense.

And on the other side of the coin, militant MRA factions are no fucking bueno for a mentally ill person to hook up with. But since they're already disconnected from society shame isn't an effective emotion to keep someone from hooking up with them. And for someone who's mentally ill and looking for answers, all it takes is one person with a distorted thought process to take things to their "logical" solution for something like this to happen.
posted by Talez at 9:27 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


absolutely, the society he lived in failed by giving a mentally ill person a fucking awful narrative and set of assumptions through which to view the world and his place in it, and it is failing others (pretty much everyone) in this way literally all the time, to all kinds of terrible consequences.

that failure was compounded by online communities that spectacularly failed to consider the consequences of their actions or probably worse.

that society also failed by letting him have free access to firearms that lots of people probably knew he shouldn't be trusted with, and it's failing in that way all the time too.

a number of mental health and law enforcement professionals, and others around him, failed to recognize the extent of his issues or act on them sufficiently, for whatever reason, and I'm sure they're all feeling that right now

and he failed too, because those failures are not insurmountable, and he had every opportunity to act other than he did. even if he was suffering himself (and I do think that he must have been, in spite of his circumstances), he had a choice at every point and he chose to make others suffer.

I'm not really convinced much further sense can be made of it. some failures are chronic and some seem to have been acute. it could have been stopped or mitigated lots of places, if this thing or that thing had been better. nothing was good enough. we're responsible for identifying and working on everything we can
posted by Nomiconic at 9:32 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I won't say the PUA community caused this. But I will say that their reaction is icky.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Well, I think it is important to note that militant MRA folks aren't the only problem here. He actually seems to have had very little to do with them ans held them in contempt.

We have a problem with a pervasive socially constructed atmosphere of misogyny that seems to be invisible to men and everyday to women, so that an indicent like this is, for many women, juat an extreme version of everyday violence that is directed at women, and for many men is an expression of an incomprehensible madness.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:34 AM on May 25 [14 favorites]


This is a detailed timeline of events as of late last night. Three of the dead have been named, they were still notifying next of kin for the others at the time of the article. The total death count of seven includes the three roommates found dead at the apartment, those three have not been named.
posted by palomar at 9:34 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I read the manifesto. I wish I hadn't.

Likewise.

I did find his relationship with Addison Altendorf quite interesting though. Addison was someone Elliot identified as having successfully 'made himself popular' (something Elliot had failed to do) and hated him for it. At one point, Addison also insulted Elliot by saying "No girl will ever fuck you", which obviously didn't help. Yet apparently they maintained contact over facebook and had 'philosophical' discussions. Later still, Addison is quoted as saying something along the lines of "You're really intelligent, don't do something rash".

I think a lot of people around Elliot feared something would happen. That's part of what is so horrifying, you feel that it could easily have been prevented if someone had intervened more effectively than the police.
posted by knapah at 9:34 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Before buying a semiautomatic weapon -- which has no real use for hunting or for self defense -- you should need professional training, a six-month waiting period, and a one-on-one interview with a state employee. That's what we require for a car, I don't think it's too much to ask for a specialized machine whose only purpose is to kill humans.
posted by miyabo at 9:48 AM on May 25 [25 favorites]


I also read Breivik's manifesto. The parallels are striking.
posted by knapah at 9:49 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


We have a problem with a pervasive socially constructed atmosphere of misogyny that seems to be invisible to men and everyday to women, so that an indicent like this is, for many women, juat an extreme version of everyday violence that is directed at women, and for many men is an expression of an incomprehensible madness.

That invisibility, precisely, is why I think men are responsible for changing this attitude. Women didn't create, reinforce, or support it. Men do. (And, ok, co-opt women through various means into supporting the misogyny). It's up to us to call out every sexist (and, frankly, any -ist) comment. It's up to us to teach other men that, shockingly, women are people too with independence and agency and that must be respected and celebrated the same as it is for men.

This helps everyone. Reagan's economic bullshit about a rising tide was nonsense; but a rising tide in social justice and equality does lift all boats.

So come on, men. Let's fix this.

(And, again, I want to be perfectly clear that what I am saying does not in any way suggest that we shouldn't listen to what women want and need and act accordingly. What I am saying is that we are the problem; therefore we must be the solution.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:51 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


I would like to see published what medications he was on and if there was any evidence of sudden stoppage or snorting them.
posted by Brian B. at 9:54 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Before buying a semiautomatic weapon -- which has no real use for hunting or for self defense

Please educate yourself about what a semiautomatic weapon actually is and how it works before declaring that it has no use for hunting or self defense. Being able to fire the next round without stopping to manually reload is in fact *very* necessary for both hunting and self defense because a single bullet is often not sufficient to kill an animal or stop an attacker.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:57 AM on May 25 [17 favorites]


Based on the amount of time it takes to write a 140 page manifesto I'm highly highly doubtful this had anything to do with a change in medication(on a new drug or stopping one) or drug use.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:57 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


"I don't know or care what his primary problem was. His problems are over. I care about the problems that affect the largest number of people. Lunacy isn't going to be a big problem for most people -- most mentally ill people never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by somebody who is mentally ill."


Well, it's also true that most misogynists never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by a misogynist. As for which problem affects the largest number of people, I don't know whether it's misogyny or mental illness, but that's not really a good reason to ignore mental illness.

I feel like there are a lot of people here intent on denying the mental illness aspect of this occurrence because you want to use this crime as a vehicle to attack misogyny, but the mental illness factor is complicating the narrative and making this guy look slightly less like the specific type of monster you want to present him as.

To which I say, I'm all for attacking misogyny, and the heavy role that misogyny played in this event ought to be plenty of ammo for that, if that's your goal. But you're doing all of us a disservice if you try to pigeonhole this as driven by strictly by misogyny, because that's pretty clearly not the total reality here.

Some of us do care about the broader question of what is driving people like this to mass murder, apart from the broader problem of misogyny. We shouldn't be ignoring one factor because of the existence of another; we need to look at all the causes.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:58 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


Well, it's also true that most misogynists never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by a misogynist.

Well, they may not get killed by one, but most women are liable to have their life negatively impacted by one, which is why I described him as being a vanguard of a very common behavior.

And I certainly didn't say I think that this is exclusively about misogyny. I said I'm not interested in any discussion of it that tries to identify mental illness as being the only important motivator, at the expense of a discussion of misogyny.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:02 AM on May 25 [15 favorites]


Based on the amount of time it takes to write a 140 page manifesto I'm highly highly doubtful this had anything to do with a change in medication(on a new drug or stopping one) or drug use.

I could probably churn out 140 pages of that drivel (I'm only partway through) in a single night with the help of some snorted Adderall. Which is obviously not something commonly used by university students.

I'm not saying that drugs (legal or recreational) were a factor, but it also doesn't mean they weren't. It would be very interesting to know a) what medications he was on, b) how compliant he was with his medication regimen (probably impossible to know; blood tests at his autopsy will show titers of whatever medication in his bloodstream, but won't say much about whether he was taking them properly a month before, for example), and c) what if any drugs he was using recreationally. Speaking from experience, MDMA + SSRI = bad news bears.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


mikeand1: That sounds a lot like what I was arguing yesterday, really. Although I probably took it even further.
posted by Justinian at 10:03 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


That's what we require for a car,

I had a cursory driving test at 16 (during which the evaluator chose to ignore what should have been a failing mistake on my part, ironically). Since then I have driven in at least half of the US states and in perhaps five or six other countries. The only revaluations of my driving have been one or two multiple choice tests (sometimes required when moving to a new state) and a few easy vision tests. Every five years or so I pay a little bit to renew online, no visit to the dmv needed. Definitely never an interview and no further practical exams.

Buying a new firearm, even in the current lax environment, is more invasive and time consuming. Getting a concealed carry permit is yet again more intrusive (with fingerprinting and usually a required class) and more expensive.

I'm in favor of creating more safety checks and legal hoops for gun buying, but truthfully we'd probably save more lives by improving the checks and education for drivers.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:16 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Before buying a semiautomatic weapon -- which has no real use for hunting or for self defense -- you should need professional training, a six-month waiting period, and a one-on-one interview with a state employee. That's what we require for a car, I don't think it's too much to ask for a specialized machine whose only purpose is to kill humans.

Clearly, there is a problem with mentally ill people with a predisposition to violence having easy access to weapons. We have driver's exams before giving out driver's licenses to people who want to drive cars; no rational, sane reason why we couldn't administer mental health exams to gun operators.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Well, it's also true that most misogynists never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by a misogynist. As for which problem affects the largest number of people, I don't know whether it's misogyny or mental illness, but that's not really a good reason to ignore mental illness.

Well, but to flip this: Most mentally ill people will never kill anyone, and most people who are killed are not killed by someone with a diagnosable mental illness.

I really don't read any here as saying anything like there was no mental illness here, let's ignore that, it was "just" misogyny. I see a lot of people acknowledging the intersection of mental illness and the (far end) of misogyny, especially as encouraged/enabled by certain kinds of online forums.

It's not misogyny or mental illness, and I don't think anyone here thinks that. I do see, in news reports all over the place, an almost complete focus on the mental illness aspect (even as they discuss the manifesto!) and what they call his "social isolation." I have not heard an mainstream media reports use the words sexism or misogyny (though it is totally possible they have and I've missed it).
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on May 25 [11 favorites]


I've seen NPR use the word misogyny in their coverage of this story, but I don't know if that's considered mainstream media?
posted by palomar at 10:19 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I feel like there are a lot of people here intent on denying the mental illness aspect of this occurrence because you want to use this crime as a vehicle to attack misogyny, but the mental illness factor is complicating the narrative and making this guy look slightly less like the specific type of monster you want to present him as.

The tone of this apart, I don't think anyone is "denying the mental illness aspect of this occurrence". Denying it is not the same as suggesting that emphasizing the role of mental illness to the exclusion of other factors stigmatizes the mentally ill - most of whom have to live difficult lives made more difficult if they are constantly under suspicion of being about to embark on a spree killing, happens to be exactly the tactic the gun lobby adopts in the face of spree killings and ignores specific elements of this actual case in favor of, for example, vague statements about previous, dissimilar cases.

Someone who kills other people for no sane reason is clearly not wholly stable, but simply saying mental illness is meaningless - a court, judge and experts are still attempting to establish whether James Holmes' mental illness is forensically relevant, and if so how.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:20 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


People should be more kind to each other.
posted by buzzman at 10:20 AM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Well, it's also true that most misogynists never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by a misogynist.

The other side of that, though, is that I would be surprised if most murderers weren't committed by misogynists. Not necessarily for reasons of misogyny (though the statistics about domestic violence speak loudly), but because having a hateful and reductive view of the world fits well with a willingness towards violence.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:21 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


I feel like there are a lot of people here intent on denying the mental illness aspect of this occurrence because you want to use this crime as a vehicle to attack misogyny, but the mental illness factor is complicating the narrative and making this guy look slightly less like the specific type of monster you want to present him as.

Zero people are claiming his obvious and confirmed mental illness didn't contribute to this happening. We are insisting that the misogyny element not be forgotten. It's really easy for men to have a conversation exclusively about how this fits the pattern established by past spree killings and ignore the explicit messages of hatred involved. But for 50% of us, this was a cold reminder that gendered violence is a real thing we have to worry about. Women can't ignore the misogyny aspect of it and how it affects them.
posted by almostmanda at 10:24 AM on May 25 [44 favorites]


But for 50% of us, this was a cold reminder that gendered violence is a real thing we have to worry about. Women can't ignore the misogyny aspect of it, and how it affects them.

Yup, exactly.

From the manifesto:
I cannot kill every single female on earth, but I can deliver a devastating blow that will shake all of them to the core of their wicked hearts. I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.
That sure looks a lot like hate speech to me, designed to make a specific group of people afraid. Replace the word "female" with the name for any other group of people, see how it sounds, and then tell me that shouldn't be a factor in how we discuss this issue.
posted by palomar at 10:29 AM on May 25 [81 favorites]


I'm not even defending 4chan's "honor", as of course 4chan has no honor.

The weird thing about 4chan, especially /b/, is that it's fundamentally nihilist: anon would never write a rambling manifesto because anon thinks everything you believe and hold dear is stupid.

Mentally ill people who feel disconnected from society at large need connection and they latch onto a group who have figured out the cause of his problem and have someone to blame.

It reminds me a little of the Kingsley Hall approach to treating severe mental illness by putting people in secure environments where they could live out their symptoms. That was controversial and short-lived, in part because the boundary was permeable.

Certain online communities offer a fucked-up mirror image of group therapy that can far too easily be directly enacted upon the world. And I wish I knew what could be done about that.
posted by holgate at 10:33 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Clearly, there is a problem with mentally ill people with a predisposition to violence having easy access to weapons. We have driver's exams before giving out driver's licenses to people who want to drive cars; no rational, sane reason why we couldn't administer mental health exams to gun operators."

Max Fisher of The Atlantic on how firearm ownership differs in Japan:

"To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you'll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years."

The result: In 2008, the U.S. had over 12,000 firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11.
posted by bluecore at 10:34 AM on May 25 [30 favorites]


It seems like people have some idea that "real" terrorism and "real" hate crimes AREN'T ever committed by people who are mentally disturbed. Like every single suicide bomber is obviously a 100% rational actor and not ever a person who was mentally ill and had that illness exploited by an ideology. Like if it turns out that this guy had some sort of diagnosable illness, that somehow makes him unique.

No. The only difference is, in his case, people WANT to find an "excuse" for his behavior, so they can handwave it away.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:34 AM on May 25 [15 favorites]


I'm getting really tired of mental illness being used as an umbrella term for a catagory of people so wide and diverse it almost has no meaning. Mental illness is everything from a simple phobia of spiders to schizophrenia. In fact the CDC states that approximately 10 percent of the population suffers from diagnosable depression at any given time. And the way mental illness works is once your diagnosed your mentally ill forever. It's not like a virus where you have it or you don't.

We need better vocabulary. What that vocabulary is I'm not sure but mental illness is just to broad to effectively use.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:37 AM on May 25 [23 favorites]


Is anybody actually arguing that? All I see are people saying that its important to identify all the causes of this situation so it can be effectively addressed and we shouldn't focus on one thing because that will make preventing these tragedies less likely.
posted by Justinian at 10:37 AM on May 25 [3 favorites]


He purchased the guns and planned this over six months in advance. He meant to kill in April, but had a cold so delayed for a month to when his father was away on business. He meant to kill his little brother and stepmother before killing his flatmates.

That's just...i don't know, it's almost as if English language just doesn't have words for this sort of craziness. "I've made these plans to kill a lot of people, but shit, I have cold. Gotta reschedule." My mind boggles that.

His ramblings sound somewhat similar to diary one of the Columbine killers kept. Just full on rage and hatred for the world and what can only be described as a lunatic desire for vengeance against it, despite being better off that most of the world. There was just some fundamentally bad wiring in his head.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:37 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Reading through the misogyny vs. mental illness debate, I don't see a clear "winner." Which suggests to me that both played a role. However, there are clear differences between the two that I think it's important to keep sight of. Hopefully I'm not oversimplifying to the point of absurdity. Feel free to augment or modify the list.

Mental illness:
- Not a learned condition
- In a word, would not be described as "bad"
- Greater social acceptance would likely lead to a decrease in violence and mass murders


Misogyny:
- Learned condition
- In a word, could be described as "bad"
- Greater social acceptance would likely lead to an increase in violence and mass murders
posted by mantecol at 10:41 AM on May 25 [8 favorites]


Mooski, this might be the part where you're going wrong: He was an aberration in that he concluded killing people was his solution to his 'problem'.

No, that is not the part where he is an aberration. Men murder women all the time; that's hardly ever of note except as a statistic. The aberration part is where he a) wrote 140 pages of manifesto and b) accidentally displayed a lack of any sense of others as human beings to the point that he makes avalanches look comforting and cosy. That's the part that's weird.

Usually when men murder women it's a lot more complicated, facades-wise, deliberate targets-wise, with people stepping up to be like "but he was such a great guy!" Not this dude. I have seen exactly zilch of this reaction posted anywhere other than the cops. That is the other part that is deeply strange.

That he told us who he was and what he wanted and meant it? Not strange at all.

Declaring that the shooter must have been necessarily mentally ill and that being mentally ill/having access to guns, etc., is the important part about all this only makes sense in a world where making misogynistic threats that he intended to follow through is an unusual occurrence that only would happen under extreme circumstances like, say, impulse reduction from mental illness.

I really wish this were the case. It's not.
posted by E. Whitehall at 10:49 AM on May 25 [15 favorites]


There's certainly misogyny at play here. I believe it's also fair to say that misogyny and mental illness are not mutually exclusive. Is it possible that the killer's potential mental illness could have exacerbated the misogyny? Misogyny is widely regarded as having a cultural basis, but the biology of untreated mental illness (or perhaps rejected treatment) could easily have pushed this behavior over into the "abhorrently violent" realm. At least in this case, they seem inextricably linked together.

In short: without the confluence of misogyny/mental illness/access to destructive forces (guns, knives, whathaveyou), we wouldn't be talking about this. It can't be broken out into one thing on the list. It has to be all of them working in terrible concert.
posted by conradjones at 10:53 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


E. Whitehall: Going on a spree killing is without question an extraordinarily unusual occurrence. You're wrongly trying to conflate domestic violence killings and this kind of spree killing. They are not at all the same and have very different etiologies and have to be addressed in radically different ways.
posted by Justinian at 10:54 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]


There's certainly misogyny at play here. I believe it's also fair to say that misogyny and mental illness are not mutually exclusive. Is it possible that the killer's potential mental illness could have exacerbated the misogyny?

No one ever says this when poor black men commit murder. Then they're just "thugs," and no one ever, ever suggests that they might have some mental health issue. But if it's a rich (half) white guy, suddenly everyone is falling all over themselves to explain his behavior as a tragic illness that happened to him.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on May 25 [65 favorites]


We disagree on what constitutes an aberration.

Again, it is no less a misogyny problem for it also being a mental illness problem or a gun control problem.
posted by Mooski at 10:57 AM on May 25


I've been trying to wrap my head around the "virgin" part of this discussion, as well as the "rites of passage" part, along with all the misogyny and entitlement. I understand how sex becomes a rite of passage and a mark of maturity. But it seems to me that we've done very poorly all along to reduce the concept of sex to a single and very specific sex act.

The fact that engaging in this one sex act, regardless of how you got there, or what else is going on, or whether it's even enjoyable for anyone involved, is a rite of passage that changes both parties involved from one kind of human (virgin) into another seems profoundly weird and unhelpful. And inaccurate (obviously).

The framing of this particular sex act also tends to reduce one party into an object to be acted upon, even though there's nothing really inherent in the act that demands that kind of framing. That a man like the one in question should feel both required to, and entitled to, stick his cock in a lady to make himself a Real Man is not a surprise, but it is fucking stupid. It creates an arbitrary hoop to jump through, it reduces sexual expression in a bizarre way that turns it into something more akin to a getting a driver's license, and it turns women into objects to be used by men for their own gain. But those words still have those meanings when you really look hard at them.

I understand why there's an argument about how to understand what's happened, and whether it's best understood as an individual case where a particular combination of factors resulted in something unthinkable, but the roots of this man's thinking are plainly visible in our most common of tropes, assumptions, and language. If would be nice if it would force us to rethink some of these things.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:59 AM on May 25 [16 favorites]


Well, it's also true that most misogynists never kill anyone, and most people will never be killed by a misogynist.

From Chuck Wendig: Not all men, but still, too many men.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:01 AM on May 25 [6 favorites]


He meant to kill his little brother and stepmother before killing his flatmates.

'Mental illness' is such a broad term. I think the focus should be on his desire to harm others and his thinking he would be justified in doing so. I'm sure there are people who suffer from Asperger's and more serious 'mental illness' who struggle with relationships and being bullied without any desire to kill people out of revenge.

Maybe the best thing to do as a society is eliminate acceptance of mysogony and make more of an effort to help young men struggling with social isolation. If more people knew this guy better, maybe he could have been committed, or prevented from following through on his plans some other way.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:01 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


showbiz_liz - I rarely see mental illness discussed when non-white, non-upper middle class murderers are reported on by the media. I agree there's a gap in this dialogue here. Also, we're far too likely to rely on prisons as mental health care "providers" in the United States rather than providing adequate care.

However, I also don't see 140 page manifestos with some seriously "out there" text provided to the media in a lot of the cases you refer to. In this particular instance, I think the murderer himself laid the groundwork to drive this discussion toward mental health. I also don't think it's any excuse for his behavior for a variety of reasons, but that's a different discussion altogether.
posted by conradjones at 11:01 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


They are not at all the same

I really, really disagree with this. Men who abuse and kill their girlfriends or wives seem to feel entitled to a level of control over and obedience from their partners that they don't get. That doesn't seem so different; in absolute per-incident numbers are they different? Yes. But not in the sharing of a fundamental attitude, no.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on May 25 [26 favorites]


Justinian: How is it a spree killing if it was planned several months in advance?

I mean, I agree spree killing is different from other forms of murder, but this wasn't spree killing as far as I can tell -- this was premeditated murder. He said he was going to do it and he did it. How is that not premeditated?
posted by E. Whitehall at 11:03 AM on May 25


Eh? Spree killings can be pre-meditated and most are. A spree killing doesn't mean a spur-of-the-moment killing, it means a mass murder which occurs at more than one location.

It's no wonder there's a lot of confusion over this is we're not even clear on what kind of crime we're talking about.
posted by Justinian at 11:06 AM on May 25


(The distinction between spree and mass murderers is pretty iffy, though, so if you want to think of it as a mass killing rather than a spree killing that's probably even better)
posted by Justinian at 11:08 AM on May 25


My bad, Justinian! I was working off a different definition of spree killing. I suppose it's the word "spree" -- I think of the impulse definition of spree, not the many definition, and that's how I generally see spree killing used as a term -- impulsive, multiple acts of murder.

Mass murder might be more accurate, absolutely. Thanks for pointing that out -- that was a cultural thing I hadn't even noticed.
posted by E. Whitehall at 11:11 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it avoids confusion over the word "spree" which a quick googling suggests is becoming deprecated perhaps for this very reason.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on May 25


Well, the distinction is pretty clear... a spree killing is the killing of more than one person in more than one location, with those killings taking place within a short space of time. The definition is being deprecated as not useful to law enforcement, but not to merge it with mass murder, but to define it as a form of serial murder distinct from mass murder, IIRC.

Honestly, though, Justinian, I'm not sure what you're aiming to achieve by arguing so hard on taxonomy. Especially when you argued above that this definitely could not be called terrorism, even though terrorism actually is an imprecise term, in the way "spree killing" or "mass murder" are not - there's no generally agreed criminal definition of terrorism, and this was pretty clearly a violent act intended to cause terror, driven in part by an ideological conviction.

So, to work back, what are you seeking to achieve by arguing for this terminological bright line? What's the positive outcome that is achieved?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:25 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that spree killing is defined in contrast to serial killing. In the latter, the murders are carried out more or less one by one in episodes with long time periods in between ; with spree killing, the homicidal crimes happen all in one big episode. Both can be pre-meditated or impulsive .
posted by Bwithh at 11:28 AM on May 25


I don't care one way or the other what term anyone uses to refer to it as long as its not confusing. But it absolutely matters how we think about these killings because, as I said and as even the briefest of research will support, the causes and treatments and ways to prevent this kind of killing are quite different from the incredibly more common kinds of misogynistic domestic violence.

It's not inherently about terminology, it's about being a very different phenomenon which some people seem to be either unclear on or disagreeing with a distinction being made. I don't see how that's unclear?
posted by Justinian at 11:31 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Oh, and then Whitehall and I started talking about a tangent because that's what happens in threads. Eh.
posted by Justinian at 11:32 AM on May 25


But it absolutely matters how we think about these killings because, as I said and as even the briefest of research will support, the causes and treatments and ways to prevent this kind of killing are quite different from the incredibly more common kinds of misogynistic domestic violence.

We are not in agreement about this. Please stop stating it as fact. This man's attitudes and actions have a lot in common with perpetrators of domestic violence, and many of us believe that there is a lot of common ground in how to address them.
posted by almostmanda at 11:39 AM on May 25 [31 favorites]


With respect to the limitations of police officers as first line screeners (via welfare checks) of potentially dangerous versions of mental illness, bear in mind that many recent mass shootings prove that professional psychiatrists and psychologists don't do a particularly good job of predicting which of their patients will act out violently. It's just not like Law and Order out there.

Anyone who has ever struggled with a severely disturbed or addicted relative or friend to try to get "the system" to "do something" about a clear trajectory toward harming self and/or others knows that most of the comments on this subject in this thread are facile at best, ignorant at worst of the reality of involuntary commitment, patient rights, legal battles costing thousands of dollars, fractured and divided families and friendships, and blunt brutality that is "doing something" about an adult in crisis in the United States, irrespective of city or state. They differ, but only in degree of Byzantine and maddening focus-- some states are more civil libertarian, some more authoritarian, etcetera.

As I'm involved in such a situation now, and hardly for the first time in my life (it will happen to many of us!) I'm not at all ready to blame the family or believe some little part of "the system" somehow "failed" in a definable and reparable way.

Only on television. Grown ups need to understand that there is no "system" except in the broadest and most abstract sense. To a certain extent this is justified by appeal to liberty, a point that bears serious consideration. But mostly it's just under-resourced humans fucking shit mostly up in a rough approximation of doing their level best to save a few lives. Inevitably, there are failures.
posted by spitbull at 11:41 AM on May 25 [22 favorites]


From Chuck Wendig: Not all men, but still, too many men.


Wow, that's a truly terrible post on the other end of that link.

It's currently fashionable to falsely assert that it is impermissible to challenge false universal generalizations about men. That is sophistry. False generalizations about any group are bad, and it's bad enough to make them. The current sophistical fad adds an additional layer of confusion. Not only does it pretend that it's permissible to make such false generalizations (but only about men), it pretends that it's impermissible to challenge them. That's nonsense. Everyone should always challenge false generalizations about any group, no matter what group they belong to, and no matter what group the generalizations are about.

In order to condemn bad actions and bad attitudes toward women, there is no need to say false things about all men, nor to suggest them.

Some men are bad and violent. So are some women. It seems that more men are; and men are bigger and stronger, so their badness and violence are more dangerous.

But it may be worth remembering that men are more often the victims of violence than are women.

This isn't a battle between men and women. This is a battle between bad, crazy people and good, sane people. The killer in question was bad and crazy. He had a lot of shit attitudes about women. For that matter, he had a lot of shit attitudes about human beings in general. But he seems to have killed twice as many men as women. How is it that this is so easily ignored?

This probably isn't the time--and I'm pretty sure it isn't the place--to try to have a serious discussion about these issues. It is difficult enough to get a clear view of something like this. But once something is seen largely as an opportunity to trot the hobby horses around the track, the odds of seeing the thing clearly drop to near zero.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:59 AM on May 25 [7 favorites]


But it absolutely matters how we think about these killings because, as I said and as even the briefest of research will support, the causes and treatments and ways to prevent this kind of killing are quite different from the incredibly more common kinds of misogynistic domestic violence.

I do not agree that there is such a difference. The cause of these most recent killings has obvious roots in a misogynistic narrative that tells men they are entitled to female attention and that women are inferior beings who should be under the control of men. Domestic violence, I would argue, shares those roots. You are arguing that they don't. Can you explain?
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on May 25 [14 favorites]


try to get "the system" to "do something" about a clear trajectory toward harming self and/or others

Committing someone involuntarily should require an extremely high bar obviously, but we should not need such a high bar to separate them from their firearms if they are on a 'clear trajectory,' imo.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:01 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


The focus on his mental health really speaks volumes on the state of the American justice system.

Because what people are really asking when they talk about whether a killer is mentally ill or not is whether or not they're someone we feel comfortable stamping the word "EVIL" on and throwing them down a hole forever, or maybe having them killed by the state.

If you're not quite "crazy" enough, we don't have to give a shit about how you got the way you are, we don't need to learn anything from it, and we don't have to care about whether there's anything that could have or can be done for people like you.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:02 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


Very sick people tend to be poor at jumping through hoops. I don't think it really matters that much what the hoops are, whether it's a psychological evaluation or a safety class or a mandatory dance competition. The point is to make sure that they're a careful, mindful person who has really thought their decision through, and is not acting in a week-long episode of mania.
posted by miyabo at 12:03 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of this hinges on whether or not evil is a subset of mental illness or not.

I don't think it necessarily is but it certainly can be a comorbidity.

What DO we know? We know that he was concerned about himself, period. We know that he did NOT see himself as an inferior being, but instead, a superior one who DESERVED his desires and was enraged that they weren't being fulfilled. We know that instead of looking inside himself for the reasons, he instead looked outward, blaming others for not providing him with what he felt he deserved.

And as a result of him not getting what he wanted, he simply desired to destroy and wreak havoc.

Because of his pride and arrogance he cut himself off from what could and should have been the help that would have allowed him to achieve what he wanted.

Is that an illness? If so, why don't we have thousands upon thousands acting out as he did?

A few decades ago a then famous psychiatrist wrote a book about the concept of evil. Wish I could remember the name of it. I think it's worth looking at in this case, at any rate.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:05 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Just to keep going on my mental illness is a useless term rant. Using mental illness as a term is looking at a population that is bigger than the number of African Americans in the United States.
Saying guns should be banned for people who are mentally ill would actually impact more people than banning ALL African Americans from ever owning a gun.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:06 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


AlexiaSky, a number of states will confiscate or not sell firearms to people who have been hospitalized and/or declared mentally incompetent. People with run-of-the-mill diagnoses of depression and in treatment for same are not at the top of any list for having their guns taken, so please stop acting like that's what people are talking about. If someone has a documented history of threatening to harm themselves or other people, do you think they should get to buy or keep guns no matter what? I don't think you do.
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


No I don't. But people are not making the distinction at all and we don't have a good term to make that distinction. It makes me very angry. Calling for Stricter gun control for the mentally ill covers everybody until someone clarifies something.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:14 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


But he seems to have killed twice as many men as women. How is it that this is so easily ignored?

There were seven deaths. One was Elliot's. Three were his roommates, who he had expressed a strong desire to kill because they were annoying, low-class, and so nerdy that they could never get girls, and he believed that they deserved to die because they could not get girls. He shot three women in front of the sorority house, two of them died. The rest of the shooting victims were completely random, because he was driving his car and firing the gun out the window, and at last report only one of those victims had died, a man by the name of Christopher Martinez who was standing inside the IV Deli Mart when he was shot.

According to the manifesto and the multiple videos he left behind, Elliot's primary motivation to kill was that he had been denied sex. He wanted to kill all the pretty blonde women he had lusted after and never had the guts to talk to, because they would not fuck him, and he wanted to kill the men they talked to and smiled at and laughed with, because those men were denying what was rightfully his by not recognizing his superior alpha male status. These are his words. It disturbs me that you're working so hard to deny that misogyny played a part here.
posted by palomar at 12:16 PM on May 25 [89 favorites]


I don't care one way or the other what term anyone uses to refer to it as long as its not confusing. But it absolutely matters how we think about these killings because, as I said and as even the briefest of research will support, the causes and treatments and ways to prevent this kind of killing are quite different from the incredibly more common kinds of misogynistic domestic violence.

Honestly, that sounds like you're aiming to win an argument nobody is having. E Whitehall said that the killing of women was not an abnormal decision for men to make (or at least not so abnormal a decision as to be describable as an aberration):

Mooski, this might be the part where you're going wrong: He was an aberration in that he concluded killing people was his solution to his 'problem'.

No, that is not the part where he is an aberration. Men murder women all the time; that's hardly ever of note except as a statistic. The aberration part is where he a) wrote 140 pages of manifesto and b) accidentally displayed a lack of any sense of others as human beings to the point that he makes avalanches look comforting and cosy. That's the part that's weird.


The phrase "spree killing" wasn't actually mentioned by Whitehall, I think - you brought it in:

Going on a spree killing is without question an extraordinarily unusual occurrence.

So, you refuted a statement Whitehall hadn't made - Whitehall was saying that this horrific tragedy had to be considered as part and in the context of a continuum of violence against women, and the readiness of men to use threaten and to employ violence against women without consequences. Not that domestic violence and spree killing were the same thing forensically.

The terrorism thing again is a bit askew - you're arguing, kind of aggressively, that calling it terrorism would mean it would need to be addressed by "drone strikes and the US army", so people shouldn't use the term here. But this is clearly not actually the case.

On the level of bare facts, counter-terrorism operation are generally led by civilian agencies, with military support being brought in as needed. The military, and military UAVs, provide resource, but if we're committed to accuracy the military generally takes the lead in operations against insurgents, not terrorists.

On a more conceptual level, "terrorism", as I said, doesn't have a defined rubric - there is no universally agreed crime of terrorism, but rather criminal acts are terroristic in nature. The killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Britain was terroristic in intent and execution - it was a violent act committed for ideological purposes with the intention of causing terror - and was dealt with by the police, as was the Admiral Duncan bombing in '99. The Unabomber was called a terrorist, not I think inaccurately, and was dealt with by the FBI. Ramzi Yousef was caught by the FBI and the DSS. Dealing with international terrorism is the job of a large number of agencies, many of them civilian, most obviously the CIA.

Is Scott Roeder a terrorist? Clearly, he committed violence for ideological reasons, with the intention of causing terror to other medical practitioners who performed terminations. I would be OK with calling that at least terroristically inclined, but I don't think that changes how it should be handled. I do think we have a cultural reluctance, and specifically a reluctance in the media, to call white people terrorists.

Anyway. Clearly, this is not going to be investigated as a case of domestic violence, nor did anyone suggest it should be. Nor is drawing attention to a climate in which violence against women is normalized going to change the criminal investigation. Likewise, calling it "terrorism" here, on MetaFilter, is not going to lead to military involvement. These are lenses and perspectives being used by people, many of them with an informed perspective on the cultural invisibility of less egregious (but relevant) acts of aggression driven by hatred of women, to examine a traumatic event.

Like I say, I don't get what you're aiming for, here, exactly, although I think there are some methodological problems with how you're aiming for it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:17 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


I'd say I'm aiming for exactly what everybody else in the thread is aiming for; talking about the situation and its implications and causes.
posted by Justinian at 12:19 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I wonder of the past several mass shooting episodes how many of these people were on various kinds of SSRI's? I'm not trying to make a case for this, it's that I've read claims by commentators that negative reactions to SSRI use makes people go berserk. Perhaps that's a simplistic reasoning. I wonder if on a per capita basis if crimes of this nature have risen over the past 100 years? Guns were just as prevalent 100 years ago.
Certainly there's always been a segment of society who are bat-shit crazy. What I wonder is whether for some people if their SSRI use isn't a strong causative factor. I would think this guy would more than likely be using an SSRI. This is the only link I've found that discusses this. Given our society routinely over-medicates people with a variety of substances it's not too big a stretch of the imagination to think our primitive tinkering with brain chemicals drives people in the wrong direction.
posted by diode at 12:19 PM on May 25


I went to UCSB, I lived within walking distance of Isla Vista. I had friends who went out partying on Fridays, and could have been in the same places. So this all has a personal tinge of horror to me.

Yes he was insane, yes he lived in a misogynistic culture, and yes he had access to guns. It's not a binary situation. The question is, what are we going to do? And bear in mind, that since this happened, something like eight women have been killed by men.
posted by happyroach at 12:20 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


that I've read claims by commentators that negative reactions to SSRI use makes people go berserk.

SSRIs can sometimes raise a person's level of functioning before they've dealt with their own negative impulses, thus enabling them to carry out plans that they were previously unable to get their shit together enough to carry out.
posted by KathrynT at 12:21 PM on May 25 [23 favorites]


Three were his roommates, who he had expressed a strong desire to kill because they were annoying, low-class, and so nerdy that they could never get girls, and he believed that they deserved to die because they could not get girls.

Jesus, so he wanted to kill the women who wouldn't have sex with him, the men who were having sex with the women he wanted to have sex with, and the men he thought were unworthy of sex?
posted by nath at 12:22 PM on May 25 [13 favorites]


Apparently he was prescribed risperidone and decided not to take it after looking it up online.
posted by knapah at 12:22 PM on May 25


He pretty much wanted to kill everybody except for himself...
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:23 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


From the Chuck Wendig essay that is a "truly terrible post":
I understand that as a man your initial response to women talking about misogyny, sexism, rape culture and sexual violence is to wave your hands in the air like a drowning man and cry, “Not all men! Not all men!” as if to signal yourself as someone who is not an entitled, presumptive fuck-whistle, but please believe me that interjecting yourself in that way confirms that you are.

...Instead of telling women that it’s not all men, show them.

Show them by listening and supporting.

Show them by cleaning the dogshit out of your ears and listening to their stories — and recognize that while no, it’s not “all men,” it’s still “way too many men.”
posted by palomar at 12:27 PM on May 25 [49 favorites]


Pretty sure he wanted to kill himself as well. The only group he omitted from his rage was other male virgins.
posted by ryanfou at 12:35 PM on May 25


I'd say I'm aiming for exactly what everybody else in the thread is aiming for; talking about the situation and its implications and causes.

Fair enough - in which case, I'd suggest that nobody at any point has said that this situation is domestic violence, and that your argument for not mentioning terrorism - that terrorism is something necessarily dealt with by military force - does not reflect how terrorism works as a term.

More broadly, I think it's OK to let people speak a little more loosely, and to make use of metaphors and draw inferences from their broader experience of surviving in a sexist society, given that this is a horrific and upsetting event, and that what is said on MetaFilter is not actually going to change the way the investigation is conducted.

Anyway, this is heading for derailsville, so I'll leave it there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:35 PM on May 25


I'd say I'm aiming for exactly what everybody else in the thread is aiming for; talking about the situation and its implications and causes.

Then I still don't understand why you keep insisting that these crimes have nothing in common with domestic violence killings and must not be conflated with such, and I really wish you would explain how you come to this conclusion, or point me to where you did if I missed it.
posted by rtha at 12:37 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just as much misandry as misogyny in the manifesto. He hated and wanted to kill everyone who was less lonely than him. Then I watch the vid and he doesn't strike me as particularly unattractive. Plus he's sitting in his own beemer? Plus his dad's a successful director in h-wood? Plus he's got his school trip paid for? Did he ever stop to think that others might be envious of him?

All during reading the manifesto I want to call out "join a club!", "get a hobby!", "pick up an instrument!", "do anything but sit around and brood how you aren't getting any!". But I'm probably not addressing the real issue which appears to be compounded mental illness.
posted by telstar at 12:37 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


The advantage men have in combating misogyny is an increased likelihood that misogynists will listen to them. Gotta keep chipping away at these beliefs.

This guy hated so many people, I wonder who he would have listened to. Maybe his father--he intentionally planned to do this at a time when his father would be out of town.
posted by mantecol at 12:39 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just as much misandry as misogyny in the manifesto.

Given that he literally wanted to round women up and keep them in concentration camps for rape and breeding purposes, I don't see how you can possibly say that.
posted by KathrynT at 12:46 PM on May 25 [78 favorites]


> Yeah, just as much misandry as misogyny in the manifesto

This is really not true. It is clear throughout that women are blamed for sexuality and sexuality is his bane, the thing motivating his rage. Women are the hateful cause, no matter who he punished.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:48 PM on May 25 [32 favorites]



This guy hated so many people, I wonder who he would have listened to. Maybe his father--he intentionally planned to do this at a time when his father would be out of town.


I think he was too wrapped up in his own self importance and fantasy that everybody should just know he is deserving and awesome and should be laid by all attractive women for an intervention.

This isn't somebody who never heard 'go talk to a girl you might have better luck that way. '

He missed thousands of not millions of social cues, advice, and social norms over his lifetime. He either ignored advice, completely missed advice or vilified the advice. Therapists, and psychiatrists didn't help. Law enforcement didn't help. Family didn't help. Money and resources didn't help. Health insurance didn't help.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:49 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I've been skimming the "manifesto"/autobiography and it's beyond surreal. It veers between "it was then that I realized that I had to kill everyone so that no one else could enjoy having sex" and "I was super-excited when the new World of Warcraft game came out" and "how embarrassing that mother had to move into a condominium with only four bedrooms".

J.G. Ballard *wishes* he'd written this.

For that matter, *I* wish J.G. Ballard had written this. Instead it's apparently a real thing, and more people have died in another random shooting. Which is not so hard to believe as I'd like.
posted by uosuaq at 12:51 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


The advantage men have in combating misogyny is an increased likelihood that misogynists will listen to them.

I really wish this were true. You'll note that the misogynist in this instance was equally adept at writing off men.
posted by mikeand1 at 12:53 PM on May 25


> People with run-of-the-mill diagnoses of depression and in treatment for same are not at the top of any list for having their guns taken, so please stop acting like that's what people are talking about

And Jesus Christ, who cares if it is. I have a run-of-the-mill diagnosis of depression and I would happily be prohibited from gun membership if that's what it took to get some common sense going here.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:54 PM on May 25 [30 favorites]


To restate my first point above in what is hopefully a clearer way -- misogyny is a pretty uniform phenomenon in my experience and really closely interrelated across a lot of different kinds of violence against women. In the end it has all just felt like a matter of degree.

Because I don't care if the guy or guys this time round hate me a little bit or hate me a lot - it doesn't matter, the point is that they hate me. I care that they feel entitled to inflict that hate on me. The only difference is in how they choose to express that entitlement and how much.

We're talking here, specifically, about a man who felt so wronged, so grieved, by his virginity that he felt the need to punish strangers over a span of years, culminating in murder, for what seems (from his videos) to have felt like an incredible cosmic injustice done to him against everything he believed he was entitled to have. Like a woman willingly touching him would have been the last piece in a jigsaw of self-esteem, calling forth the Inner Elliot that was suave and cool and amazing and had a gorgeous girlfriend (so he must naturally be suave and cool, or he wouldn't HAVE this girl, right?) and if only he had that final piece, everything would have been different.

I think that's where misogyny and MRA boards and forums and vblogs and ex-PUA artists comes in. It takes this kind of fear and rage and inadequacy and directly posits women as the barrier between Now-You and You-Only-If-She-Touches-Your-Dick and there is so very little in culture to oppose that idea. So little about the idea of settling with yourself first. I see nothing in his manifesto that indicates that he ever learned to settle with anything, much less himself as he was. Is that a mental illness thing? The all-consuming extent of it, maybe. But I've met quite a few men like that, men who just don't like themselves at all and expect women to be their mirrors and show selves that they could pull on and hope to be enough.

So while I can see how a criminal and legal definition could be useful and helpful in separating out domestic violence/spree killing/mass murder/serial killing, I don't think it's helpful to use those definitions to divide up things in theory that aren't all that divided in (my) experience. It's not that far a step at all from saying "the only thing you're worth is ..." to saying "you're not worth anything because you're not even doing that one thing". And it's not too far from looking at people who seem to have their suits of You-Only-If all buttoned up tight while being told that it is all their fault, all these other people's fault for taking what you want, and beginning to wonder what the hell is wrong with them that they don't understand how much you deserve it too.

Because, yeah, everybody is actually entitled to some measure of self-reflection/contentment/settling. They're just not entitled to use other human beings to do it. Sometimes I think whether one of the largest functions of misogyny, one of the most enduring, is attempting to eliminate that distinction entirely. The chaff around male virginity and PUA plays awfully well into that narrative.
posted by E. Whitehall at 12:56 PM on May 25 [19 favorites]



Some men are bad and violent. So are some women. It seems that more men are; and men are bigger and stronger, so their badness and violence are more dangerous. But it may be worth remembering that men are more often the victims of violence than are women.


I don't think you quite got the point of what Chuck was trying to say in the post I linked. Wanna try a reread?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on May 25 [13 favorites]


Anytime anyone puts their self-worth and identity in the hands of other people's actions it is a recipe for disaster and disappointment.

I think culture does this with men way way way to often in a way women don't experience. Having sex with another, being able to win a fight, being a 'protector', having other people listen to you/being a leader, preforming well in sports that are dependant on a team and so forth.
It seems to me that self worth for men is more action based and less relationship based.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:10 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


I think it behooves us not to further folklorize the supposed demonic effects of SSRIs or other psychiatric drugs. The casual assertions that are repeatedly being made here are exaggerations and misunderstandings of the clinical literature (KathrynT has the most obvious mechanism about right above).

Taking an SSRI for its intended purpose under the supervision of a doctor makes many formerly functionally handicapped people able to live a fulfilling life, as in millions. Over prescribed, abused, used too carelessly or without adjunct therapies, yes. And even likely to play some role in triggering violent behavior on some individuals under some circumstances -- as can craft beer. But the pop mythology that taking a course of Zoloft (or whatever) might trigger a homocidal rampage in some otherwise safe and merely mildly depressed person is not, to my knowledge, evident in any science.

Homocidal rampages lie at the far end of possible human psychopathology, along with other crimes of cruelty. Otherwise "fine" people don't just switch one day and become killing machines. In retrospect there is always a developmental explanation for many aspects of violent psychopathology. It really is not a "silicon chip inside her (his) head" that some drug "switches to overload." It just seems that way from a distance. Tons of bad code had to get written and ported to that chip to produce a mass killer.

SSRIs raise many serious concerns and their efficacy and safety are the subject of many legitimate debates. But it's become urban legend now that they are a causal factor in spree killings and that gets repeated (above, e.g) more as something like a fact at the peril of focusing on much more obvious causes, ultimate, proximate, and in between.

To call mental illness a factor in this latest hideous atrocity is not at all to dismiss or diminish misogyny as equally causal, along with guns and other factors. But I think as repulsive as this act is as an act of gendered violence, it calls attention to the culture of violent misogyny from which this dude developed. Like all complex human events, this one has many causes, and it's silly to rank them in a competition for Most Salient Explanation.
posted by spitbull at 1:16 PM on May 25 [20 favorites]


This probably isn't the time--and I'm pretty sure it isn't the place--to try to have a serious discussion about these issues. It is difficult enough to get a clear view of something like this. But once something is seen largely as an opportunity to trot the hobby horses around the track, the odds of seeing the thing clearly drop to near zero.

Do you intend to engage in the conversation at hand at some point, instead of this completely invented one you have constructed in your head? You've misrepresented the point of the article you linked to, the point of almost every single person here, and the problem with the "not all men" retort in one fell swoop. The nature of this latest bit of horror is varied, but trying to hand-wave a very relevant cause away to grind your axe once again only makes the problem worse.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:30 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


Given that he literally wanted to round women up and keep them in concentration camps for rape and breeding purposes, I don't see how you can possibly say that.

And he wanted to kill the men. I mean seriously, read the manifesto. He ends up hating all the men in his life, too. The guy was a misanthrope through and through. The only thing he appeared to love was perceiving himself as above everyone else. Trying to hang all that on misogyny seems like specious reasoning to me.
posted by telstar at 1:50 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


He hated all the men in his life because he perceived them as getting the things he was entitled to, i.e. all the pussy. I fail to see why it's hard to understand how misogyny is involved there.
posted by palomar at 1:55 PM on May 25 [52 favorites]


It's hanging on misogyny because his hatred of women was driven by them not having sex with him just because he wanted them to, and his hatred of men was driven by them having sex with the women he wanted to have sex with him.
posted by nath at 1:55 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


He seemed to think that his motivation was more specifically about hating women and wanting to punish them, and I don't see any reason to doubt him on that.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:55 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Trying to hang all that on misogyny seems like specious reasoning to me.

But it's not. Look at the reasons he gives for hating the men around him. Over and over again it's through a lense of misogyny. Yes, he hates men too, but he hates them because they're more successful with women. He wanted to kill his brother because his brother might grow to be the same. His hatred of his roommates was tied into how they were hopeless and weak when measured by his gross, horrifying standards, a huge component of which is based on misogyny.
posted by sparkletone at 1:57 PM on May 25 [21 favorites]


No one ever says this when poor black men commit murder. Then they're just "thugs," and no one ever, ever suggests that they might have some mental health issue.

The videos, the manifesto, his mental health team, his parents affirming that he was mentally ill--these would all seem to suggest that mentioning mental illness as a factor here has not one single thing to do with racism. At all.

bear in mind that many recent mass shootings prove that professional psychiatrists and psychologists don't do a particularly good job of predicting which of their patients will act out violently. It's just not like Law and Order out there.

Well for one it's surprisingly easy to fool a psychiatrist or psychologist. For another, one of the great unanswered questions here is whether his mental healthcare team knew about or had seen his videos or rantings online. If they did, as I said above, they should be sued into oblivion for negligence. If they didn't, it's because he was high-functioning enough to successfully hide those things. I suspect the latter is the case here; I can't imagine any mandatory reporter anywhere looking at those videos or rants and not going "Oh. Shit."

The cops, however, definitely knew about the videos. Did they watch them, or did they think the parents were overreacting, had a five minute chat with the guy, and bounce? That's my guess, and if so, they should be turfed from the force immediately and also sued into fucking oblivion. I mean, when parents come to you and say "Our child is deeply disturbed, is making videos talking about killing himself and others and posting them to the internet, and has access to guns," one can hardly be blamed for expecting the police to do something of a more thorough job in assessing his state. E.g. taking him into custody for a psychiatric hold and figure out what to do next.

Apparently he was prescribed risperidone and decided not to take it after looking it up online.

Jesus. I'm assuming you have this information from a reliable source? Because if so, that's terrifying. He may well have wanted to keep feeling the way he was feeling. (Yes, I know it has side effects. But they're relatively rare. This, however, from Wikipedia may have been what actually dissuaded him (emphasis mine):
In 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled a lawsuit claiming that Risperdal caused hundreds of male patients to grow breast tissue. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson face many claims that consumers were misled by both marketing and product packaging of Risperdal. [cite]
So it's entirely possible, given how maladjusted his worldview seems to have been, that he refused medication because he thought it would make him look like an inferior; a woman. (From his POV I mean).

OTOH if it was being prescribed to him because of psychosis or delusion, there could be a bunch of reasons he'd refuse, and I find it pretty damn weird that if a mental healthcare team is going so far as to prescribe antipsychotics, they wouldn't be taking means to make sure he's actually taking the things. There are better medications for dealing with irritability in autism-spectrum people, and it would do nothing for his social skills. So if it's true he was prescribed Risperdal, it was most likely either for psychosis/schizophreniform disorders or bipolar I/II/NOS.

A kind of perfect storm of failure happened in this tragedy, and once again I say it could have been prevented. When I see her next week, I'm going to ask her what the gold standard is when prescribing Risperdal and how much she would follow up to ensure compliance.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


The videos, the manifesto, his mental health team, his parents affirming that he was mentally ill--these would all seem to suggest that mentioning mental illness as a factor here has not one single thing to do with racism. At all.

I didn't say "he can't possibly have been suffering from any mental illness." I said "it sure is interesting that people give a shit about that in this case but not other cases." But, of course, you knew that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:01 PM on May 25 [10 favorites]


No, actually, I didn't. Snark: unnecessary.

I would assume that if this boy's skin had been darker and his bank account smaller, and all other circumstances the same, we'd still be talking about his mental health status because it is pretty vitally important to understanding what went on here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:05 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


It's very, very unsettling to me the degree to which people are focusing on mental health, here and elsewhere. It seems pointed and unusual, even compared to past shooting sprees. I get the sense that people are holding on to it tightly because there's a fear of contemplating any alternative. That this was a clear-headed bloody-minded effort from someone who has absorbed virulent ideas. He's stated very clearly what his motives, ideas, and attitudes are. It's up to us whether we want to look unflinchingly at them, or deflect to another cause. What he's written and said is outlandish, but only insofar as it's a horrific amplification of MRA values, which are a horrific amplification of wider cultural norms.
posted by naju at 2:13 PM on May 25 [43 favorites]


The weird thing about 4chan, especially /b/, is that it's fundamentally nihilist: anon would never write a rambling manifesto because anon thinks everything you believe and hold dear is stupid.

I can't speak for /b/, as the last time I was on there for more than a few seconds was maybe 2008, but I don't think it's really true at all that 4chan is nihilistic. 4chan is more like the id of a certain portion of the internet, and oftentimes "smart people acting stupid on purpose"...except even then not really, especially on the specialty boards like /p/ and /tg/, where the trademark 4chan tone is heavily modulated.

Even just from what I'd quoted from /tv/, which as a board is usually as silly/awful/FOR YOU as the rest of the place, you see that their reaction to Rodger was quite thoroughly grounded in, well, you know, basic ideas of right and wrong, propriety, respect of human life, etc. From what I saw, people weren't even halfway agreeing with anything the kid said and stood for. From what I saw, one person wrote a post trollishly agreeing with Rodger, and people promptly responded to the post with pictures of fedora-wearing neckbeards, "you're real edgy dude", etc.

Again, I'm not saying this to defend 4chan, as 4chan does not deserve, require, nor even want a defense.

What I am saying is, one would think that the Rodgers of the world would have an outlet on a place like 4chan, where the place is heavily male, where the male gaze is omnipresent, where the word "feminism" itself might raise an eyebrow, where nothing is forbidden and everything is permitted...but the Rodgers of the world actually really don't fit in there, except in the sewers of /r9k/ (and maybe /pol/).

Rodger is certainly a product of society's misogyny in general, and his hate certainly draws from that. It doesn't take away from that to also recognize that he would have been a reject even in the darkest and weirdest corners of the interbutts, even among other sexist men. His overwhelming narcissism and apparently constant urge to isolate himself from other humans was thoroughly interwoven with the thoroughly misogynistic attitudes which he had inherited from society at large. I wonder how much of his online communication only served to isolate himself further - would he constantly test others' boundaries, waiting for that moment where he would become too much for them?

I'm not even entirely sure what my point is any more.

I'm still getting over the fact that there is apparently a sub-sub-culture devoted to ultra-misogynistic men who are upset even at the PUA "community", for apparently not helping them get laid? I guess? And there are enough of those guys to form their own boards? That's just...wow. That is a deep cut from the hate library.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:16 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


Fox news really got to the bottom of that one.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:17 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Behind the Sexist Ideology that Preoccupied A Mass Murderer
posted by Asparagus at 2:19 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I work with the chronically homeless. These people are known for having all kinds of serious disorders and not being in touch with reality.

Medication adherence aside from talking to them about it and hospitalizing them for a couple days if they become too out of touch is the very best we as mental health can do. Occasionally these days we see more Outpatient anti psychotic shots that don't turn people into zombies and last for awhile. But for someone who isn't treatment adherent there is nothing I can really do and the shots eventually get out of their system and it is a waiting game.

I see clients all day. I don't have time nor should I be expected to Google all of them all the time. I'm not the police. I'm in a helping profession. Besides it messes with the therapeutic relationship to find out things about someone before they are ready to tell me. Easiest way to get someone not to come back would be along the lines of 'So I searched the Internet and found out your really embarrassed about being a virgin do you want to explore that? '
It's also ethically blurry.
We do have what is called ' The duty to warn' if we find out about threats. If the parents sent the YouTube links to the professionals and they didn't do anything them yes absolutly someone should be held accountable.

Anti psychotics are given for lots of reasons including sleep. Sometimes doctors give it just to slow somebody down (i cannot tell you how many crack addicts I have met with a prescription for at least one anti psychotic.) I've also seen it used to treat PTSD hypervigilance.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:19 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


The only way you could see as much hatred of men as hatred of women in this man's writings and videos is by ignoring a fair amount of misogyny because it's normal, a part of the background radiation of our cultural lives. It takes more misogyny to even register. But his hatred of men is more individual and rooted in envy besides. His hatred of women is general and rooted in entitlement.
posted by NoraReed at 2:38 PM on May 25 [54 favorites]


The idea that this is a failure of 'the system' seems to be the most logical fit here, to my mind. More accurately, the failure of anything systematic to exist. It's pretty easy to see how the confluence of some form of mental illness, a huge degree of misogyny, a conscious decision to punish people (which may be partly an outcome of mental illness) and ownership of weapons set all this in motion. Well, it's easy to see now that all those factors are known. It's also pretty easy to see how none of the range of people involved who had some capacity to do something weren't aware of one or more of those factors. Did his family know about the guns? It's not as if he was a regular firearms user - the one time he fired a gun prior to this, it made him physically ill to think about what he was planning to do. Did the mental health professionals know about the guns? Not likely - surely that would have triggered a much stronger set of responses. Did the cops (who, it turns out, were likely the last chance to stop this) know all these things? Had they had a chance to see the videos? I doubt there was a single person who had enough information to reasonably foresee this.

Unfortunately, events like this are the price of freedom to some extent. The freedom to have your personal information kept private, to have and express whatever fucked-up and hateful views you want and the freedom to own pretty much whatever devices designed to kill people you want. They're not going to stop happening until society decides that the price of all that freedom is simply too high.
posted by dg at 2:40 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


Oh, Jesus. Apparently he sent his manifesto to his parents and at least one therapist before starting the attacks. CNN.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:42 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


fffm: The reliable source on his being prescribed Risperdal is his manifesto. He specifically mentions it being prescribed, then says that he looked it up online and because of what he read, he decided not to take it. Here's the quote from p. 125: "The doctor ended up dismissing it by prescribing me a controversial medication, Risperidone. After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take. I refused to take it, and I never saw Dr. Sophy again after that."
posted by augustimagination at 2:43 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


The words 'unreliable narrator' come to mind. I haven't gotten that far into the manifesto yet (it's way too much to take in except in small bites, for me). Does he say why it was the absolute wrong thing for him to take?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:45 PM on May 25


moonlight on vermont: If the person you're trying to have committed is a legal adult, that requires a call to emergency services; in this case that was the cops rather than EMS

In Santa Barbara County it pretty much has to be the cops; all other avenues for getting someone assessed for a 5150 (involuntary hold) have been closed besides the police, even if the 5150 is on the basis of gravely disabled, not danger to self or others. Evaluation is usually based on a fifteen to twenty minute interview, and many people will comply and hold themselves together under those circumstances; one of the gravely disabled holds I facilitated was predicated on me assessing my client's ability to access homeless services, and thankfully emergency services believed me, not him.

Medication adherence has become harder to guarantee. Right now in Santa Barbara there are less than five board and cares (where medication observation is standard), one program for doing med observation for clients who live independently, and a handful of other programs, none of which can legally support med observation because they are not licensed. Funding cuts in SB County in 2008 closed easily 50% of the community based mental health programs. The county currently has around twelve inpatient beds and should, based on population, have between forty and fifty.

A higher standard for 5150s is unlikely to have change anything. People make aggressive, violent, an threatening videos all the time. People contact other people to make threats all the time. We Hunted the Mammoth contains links to thousands of incidents of people saying things very similarly, in writing and in video, to this young man. I don't know of any woman who hasn't received at least one death threat online, including myself, and there are hundreds of women who have received hundreds of thousands of death threats, including ones which indicate the threatener knows where the woman lives. The vast, vast majority of these people will never act on their threats; a tiny minority will, and the tiny minority will plan well enough in advance to not get caught (a tautology, since if they got caught they couldn't act on it).

The only thing which might set the seriously threatening people apart from those who just want women to shut up and won't act to make us shut up is if there is a higher social cost (among peers of the person) to making these kinds of threats. I leave how to do this as an exercise for the reader.

Re: types of mass murder and states about it

Serial killers kill one person (very rarely two or more) over a long period of time with refractory periods after each murder.

Spree killers kill multiple people in at least two locations within a short period of time with a negligible refractory period.

Mass murderers kill multiple people in one location.

Continuing evidence shows that a portion of spree/mass murderers also have aspects of family annihilation, which means they start with killing the people at their home, then go to kill someplace else. All three types of mass murder require organization and planning to a certain extent since they are usually done with weapons which must be acquired.

Statistically, the rate of mass murderers/spree killers with diagnosed mental illnesses prior to committing their crimes is the same as the general population - around 30%. This strongly implies no relationship between mass murder and mental illness as we use the term in our country; people with a history of violence - even gendered violence - are rarely considered mentally ill, though they may pick up a criminal history depending on their location, level of poverty, and racial background. Rates of violence by people with mental illnesses is lower than the national average. Rates of violence against people with mental illnesses is higher than the national average. It is likely that homelessness accounts for some of the difference, since rates of mental illness among the homeless is relatively high.

Many people, post mass murder, tend to use a "no true Scotsman" argument that killing a lot of people a priori means they have a mental illness; this is inaccurate and harmful to people with mental illnesses, as again statistically people with mental illnesses are less likely to be violent than the national average. It's also largely meaningless since the term "mental illness" covers such broad categories of people, but the stigma persists and results in many people who could be successfully treated for their mental illnesses avoiding treatment due to both social costs and often economic/job costs.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:46 PM on May 25 [56 favorites]


Does he say why it was the absolute wrong thing for him to take?

No, and as I recall, that is the only time he mentions any medication at all.
posted by palomar at 2:50 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


That's sort of what makes me worry there; this kid decided he knew more than the doctor, didn't even consult with the doctor, and simply refused to see the doctor again.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:52 PM on May 25


The only way you could see as much hatred of men as hatred of women in this man's writings and videos is by ignoring a fair amount of misogyny because it's normal, a part of the background radiation of our cultural lives. It takes more misogyny to even register. But his hatred of men is more individual and rooted in envy besides. His hatred of women is general and rooted in entitlement.

Yes, exactly. Besides, his hatred/envy of men appears to only show up in the context of jealousy over how well most other men can relate to women.

...

Rodger reminds me of the concept of the Žižekian "heretic". For Žižek, the heretic is the figure who subverts the prevailing through over-adherence: the person who breaks the rules by following the rules too closely. Rodger had fully absorbed the idea that beautiful women are objects to be earned by men in exchange for the money, valuable objects, and good looks of me. Rodger took this idea to its literal, absurd, tragic conclusion. According to Rodger, if you are a man, and if you are wealthy and good-looking, then you are entitled to receive at least one free beautiful woman. You don't even have to do anything! She should just show up. So, if you are wealthy and good-looking, then you are being WRONGED every single time that a beautiful woman does not become "yours" as soon as she sees how wealthy and good-looking you are.

Rodger wasn't just overly-literal: he was so narcissistic that he wrote a manifesto before running amok. He essentially wrote a 140 page book explaining how society was wrong, and he was right. In response to having failed to "earn" his girl, he proceeded to essentially "explain" to society why it had failed to follow even its own rules!

Either way, Rodger did not fit into even the sexist fringes of society.

However, his overly literal adherence to a certain traditional conception of gender relations was nonetheless a representation of the misogyny present in his culture. His attitudes did not develop in a vacuum. The fact that his actions and attitudes were so extreme doesn't mean that they were in no way representative of general societal beliefs. Think of it as how a product safety recall will typically be based on just a relatively small portion of injuries - the product is defective, and we know this because in certain rare cases, the defect caused this extreme result.

...

Statistically, the rate of mass murderers/spree killers with diagnosed mental illnesses prior to committing their crimes is the same as the general population - around 30%.

I like your comment, but, this doesn't seem responsive to the idea that mass murderers and spree killers would be predominantly mentally ill. "Was not previously diagnosed as mentally ill" does not mean "was not mentally ill at the time of the shooting".
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:54 PM on May 25 [26 favorites]


The vast, vast majority of these people will never act on their threats...

Nevertheless, the threats are still an infraction I would think, and a good enough reason to take their guns away and mandate some sort of therapy.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:55 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


The words 'unreliable narrator' come to mind.

I hear you. I'm thinking the same thing, reading through it. It seems, though, from some of the various news reports corroborating other events he describes, that his unreliability is more in the form of leaving huge amounts of detail out than it is about making things up. Because of that I'm inclined to believe the sections where he describes that he saw therapists and was prescribed medications (although I'm guessing that his take on what was actually discussed during his appointments is fairly skewed).

He's very vague through the whole thing about his specific experiences with therapists and psychiatrists, but the main thread I got was that he had been seeing a number of mental health care providers starting from a fairly young age (11-12, maybe?) and, as an older teenager and adult, began to resent that they didn't view his problems the same way he did. In this particular instance, it sounds like he got fed up that the doctor was viewing this as his problem and prescribing meds, instead of joining in with him in his narrative about how everyone else needed to be taught a lesson.
posted by augustimagination at 3:02 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


his unreliability is more in the form of leaving huge amounts of detail out

Yeah. In fact it seems kind of odd that he wouldn't explain why Risperdal was the wrong medication for a magnificent gentleman like himself--and why no others were discussed or suggested.

Ugh I just realized this manifesto reminds me way too much of A Confederacy of Dunces.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:07 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Really? I don't get that at all, but I do get the comparisons to Patrick Bateman and American Psycho that I've seen in the media.
posted by palomar at 3:10 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I like your comment, but, this doesn't seem responsive to the idea that mass murderers and spree killers would be predominantly mentally ill. "Was not previously diagnosed as mentally ill" does not mean "was not mentally ill at the time of the shooting".

How are you defining "mentally ill"? I know of no DSM category which covers: "Thinks women owe him sex" or even "thinks he should be able to have sex slaves". Both of these things, when they occur, are treated as criminal infractions, not mental health infractions, if they are considered infractions at all (in the case of "women owe me sex" it's more of a cultural norm; 'I bought her dinner, why won't she give me at least a blow job, the slut').

The studies I've seen take mass murderers, primarily school shooters since that used to be the main data set, and track their level of diagnosis in the community. They can't be diagnosed for something before they do it, however; everything is based on symptoms. Are you really saying we should start adding things like "says women owe him sex", "thinks virgin men are losers," or "thinks blond women shouldn't have sex with black men" to the DSM?

Nevertheless, the threats are still an infraction I would think, and a good enough reason to take their guns away and mandate some sort of therapy.

How.

Seriously, I'd love to hear how in a society where people want therapy and can't get it, where thousands of people are returning from war and can't get therapy they desperately want, we're going to mandate therapy for people who don't want it based on bog standard sexist threats.

We can't currently get enough men to say "that's not ok" to their peers when their peers make threats against women; how in the nine worlds are we going to somehow make something a legal mandate?

And even if it did somehow become illegal, evidence from similar crimes indicates it would do nothing except maybe give the police another axis by which to harass men of color. In fact, rape happens to be against the law, and for years now women have done their part by having rape kits done even when cops tried to convince them not to, and thousands of those rape kits were improperly stored and thousands more they just didn't bother testing. There is a literally nauseating amount of evidence of something which is already a crime which is being ignored by the police, and you want to make something else a legal mandate to solve a complicated problem?
posted by Deoridhe at 3:14 PM on May 25 [17 favorites]


We do have what is called ' The duty to warn' if we find out about threats. If the parents sent the YouTube links to the professionals and they didn't do anything them yes absolutely someone should be held accountable.


From what has been repeated in the media, the parents saw the videos, called his treatment team who watched them and called the police to do a welfare check on him. Cops showed up, had a quick chat, decided that he was a perfectly nice young man and bounced.

Back when I worked in half-way houses this happened very frequently, with the person usually ending up in a locked facility a few days later, when their condition deteriorated even further. I don't know why family and treatment team members aren't taken more seriously when they make that call ; I don't know why a person has to suffer even more and become even more of a danger to self/others before something is done. It's totally fucked.
posted by echolalia67 at 3:16 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


palomar, I mean the narcissism, me-against-the-world, I'm not broken the world is, that sort of thing. There's a similarity in how this (real) boy and that (fictional) man viewed the world, and their overwhelming senses of entitlement.

I don't know why family and treatment team members aren't taken more seriously when they make that call ; I don't know why a person has to suffer even more and become even more of a danger to self/others before something is done. It's totally fucked.

Seriously. Even a 72-hour psychiatric hold in April would have prevented this, presuming that his parents or the cops then went and looked through his apartment.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:19 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure this guy's actions make for a good "teachable moment" about misogyny in society, because this guy was misogynistic in the way that Hitler wasn't a fan of matzoh-ball soup and Narcissus enjoyed relaxing by the local pond. He's so far off the scale of "entitlement" that he makes cats look like seeing-eye dogs.
I absolutely do *not* wish to diminish or contradict anyone's comments on this thread about misogyny. I only want to suggest that pointing out the influence of societal misogyny is more helpful in the context of people who aren't so completely fucked in the head that no one's going to identify with them anyway.
posted by uosuaq at 3:21 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


We've tried that. We've tried pointing out everyday misogyny, but lots of people, women included, tend to write it off as not serious enough. Trite, even. All in good fun! Boys will be boys! Take it as a compliment! Maybe showing the logical conclusions of that kind of thinking will help.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:25 PM on May 25 [73 favorites]


He's so far off the scale of "entitlement" that he makes cats look like seeing-eye dogs.

I'd dispute this. I think he's definitely at the far end of the scale, obviously, but he's not in a qualitatively different place than the guy who tried to get me to sit on his lap when I was walking down the street and grabbed my arm and hissed "someone's going to give you what you deserve someday, bitch" when I refused. They're different, sure -- but they're not SO different that I think they're two entirely different phenomena.
posted by KathrynT at 3:26 PM on May 25 [54 favorites]


Echolalia yes. I mentioned upthread where I've made a call as a mental health professional and the cops said she's fine and didn't bother to get them evaluated. Everything turned out just fine in that case though.

It is very very messed up.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:27 PM on May 25


How are you defining "mentally ill"?

For one thing, are we talking about whether people are mentally ill, or whether they have received a proper diagnosis? Those are two separate concepts.

For a working definition, for better and for worse I could turn to the DSM-5's definition of a mental disorder:
A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.
I know of no DSM category which covers: "Thinks women owe him sex" or even "thinks he should be able to have sex slaves". Both of these things, when they occur, are treated as criminal infractions, not mental health infractions, if they are considered infractions at all (in the case of "women owe me sex" it's more of a cultural norm; 'I bought her dinner, why won't she give me at least a blow job, the slut').

As far as thinking goes, merely thinking that women owe you sex, or that you ought to be able to keep sex slaves - neither of those are criminal infractions at all. You can think what you like. Neither would either of those constitute mental disorders per DSM-5 - however, they could be if these issues were clinically significant and reflective of the categories of individual dysfunction described in that para.

The studies I've seen take mass murderers, primarily school shooters since that used to be the main data set, and track their level of diagnosis in the community. They can't be diagnosed for something before they do it, however; everything is based on symptoms.

Of course they cannot always be diagnosed before they kill people. However, being diagnosed with a certain mental disorder is not the same thing as actually having a mental disorder. One can be misdiagnosed, or one can lack a formal diagnosis.

Are you really saying we should start adding things like "says women owe him sex", "thinks virgin men are losers," or "thinks blond women shouldn't have sex with black men" to the DSM?

No, nobody has said anything of the sort.

What I am saying is what I had said: the fact that only 30% of these killers are diagnosed as mentally ill before they had committed their crimes is not responsive to the question of whether or not those killers were mentally ill at the time they had committed their crimes. Those are different concepts, even if they are related.

This does not take away from the other problems which can exist with reflexively chalking up these crimes to mental illness.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:31 PM on May 25


Risperidone is an antipsychotic. Clearly the doctor who prescribed it could see what was going on. I find this detail so frustrating, as I take Risperidone for my Bipolar mania and it works. I hold normalcy in my hand every day when I shake the pill out of the bottle. If he'd taken it, who knows how things would have turned out for him. Maybe he would have just been an asshole, instead of a murderous asshole.
posted by Biblio at 3:54 PM on May 25 [16 favorites]


I'd dispute this. I think he's definitely at the far end of the scale, obviously, but he's not in a qualitatively different place than the guy who tried to get me to sit on his lap when I was walking down the street and grabbed my arm and hissed "someone's going to give you what you deserve someday, bitch" when I refused. They're different, sure -- but they're not SO different that I think they're two entirely different phenomena.

Agreeing and expanding - it's been mentioned upthread, but We Hunted The Mammoth is a good place to get a sense of the vehemence and violence of the far end of the manosphere (TW, NSFW, bring brainbleach). The end of this particular example is egregiously horrific, but the rhetoric Rodger was using to work himself up to it is by no means unique.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:55 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


How are you defining "mentally ill"? I know of no DSM category which covers: "Thinks women owe him sex" or even "thinks he should be able to have sex slaves". Both of these things, when they occur, are treated as criminal infractions, not mental health infractions, if they are considered infractions at all (in the case of "women owe me sex" it's more of a cultural norm; 'I bought her dinner, why won't she give me at least a blow job, the slut').


It's not these beliefs that say mentally ill to me, it's that after living in Isla Vista for two years and never talking to a woman of his own age he thinks they have all rejected him. Thinking that all the women in a town (to whom you've never spoken) have all rejected you is mental illness not ideology.
posted by Jahaza at 3:57 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Deciding to exact revenge on those women because they denied you what is rightfully yours is ideology, though.
posted by palomar at 3:59 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


wait

is someone unironically saying this guy was so misogynistic that we can't draw a line between ordinary everyday misogyny and his crime

and is that same person implying we can't draw a line between ordinary everyday German anti-Semitism and Adolf Hitler

is that what I'm reading

have I misunderstood
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:04 PM on May 25 [21 favorites]


@Hildegarde: Maybe showing the logical conclusions of that kind of thinking will help.

I guess in a sense this guy might represent the "logical conclusion" of that kind of thinking (although his "logical conclusion" seems to be closer to a "final solution" than simply returning to the happy days when women were chattel). But just because you've tried pointing out everyday misogyny and it's still going on doesn't mean pointing to a lunatic will work. That's basically what I was trying to say.

@KathrynT: I guess I consider this guy "off the scale" because of his obvious insanity and the murder spree, but you're right, if he'd just had one gun and used it to rape one woman, it wouldn't even make the news. Again, I'm just wondering whether this is a *helpful* example to highlight the phenomenon of misogyny.

I felt a little nervous just making my last post (seriously, y'all, the White Man's Burden is *heavy*), so thanks for disagreeing with me politely.
posted by uosuaq at 4:05 PM on May 25


I miserably failed the sensitivity to misogyny/white man/priviledged test some posts ago (as was pointed out by NoraReed). Let me quickly try the Mental Illness, Freedom, Rights, Guns issues. I have some level of confidence in this as I ran an organization(for 20 plus years) that did nothing but emergency psychiatric assessment/intervention including about 2500-3000 +/- assessments annually for involuntary commitment/treatment. And I am comfortable generalizing to most States, the UK and Ireland because of consulting arrangements. State and Federal case law (and State statutes) clearly establishes that persons can not be detained/held/involuntarily hospitalized or ordered for treatment on an emergency basis except when there is "imminent" danger to self or others. Not, likely danger,probable or maybe danger etc. With additional due process including, probate/civil hearings,persons can be detained at a lesser standard but this takes time and usually some level of initial cooperation from the person and their willingness/ability to make themselves available for evaluation or to decompensate so they can be held involuntarily. There are also well establish rights (US Supreme Court) that a person has the right to refuse treatment unless very specific criteria are met. The bottom line is that if one is going to maintain legal due process, the right of the individual to participate in their own treatment and to refuse medication unless court ordered ( and this is not easy practically or legally) you are going to have people who kill themselves or others. To think otherwise is to assume a level of science, practice and organizational discipline that simply does not and can not exist. The cracks are not only "mental health system cracks", but knowledge, science and practice gaps in mental health treatment. When coupled with the second amendment, due process and human imperfection some of these deaths will be with guns and unfortunately semiautomatic guns. In the UK where guns are much harder to come by there are significantly more obstacles to purchasing OTC medications used in suicide attempts. Same in Ireland. Guns+due process+civil and individual rights+imperfect science+humanity (imperfect institutions)=mass killings. The solution(s)--many have already been posted. At the risk of again offending some posters--I really think (from a psychiatric perspective) that if he was as ill as these posts and reports indicate if it had not been women (misogyny) he targeted it might just well have been men, gays, minorities, ethnic groups are simply "people". Which is not to say that misogyny did not play a critical role in this particular mass murder nor that is not an extremely valid social cultural problem. I would imagine that there are similar, biological, chemical, structural, individual developmental, social and cultural phenomena whether it is Sandy Hook (children), Aurora( people), Universities (students/faculty) or Churches (participants). Finally, I also think the it may not necessarily be as much about misogyny as it is about masculinity/maleness and the associated cultural/social/biological issues. Men seem to be much more able and willing to kill anyone/anywhere under almost any circumstance. Therefore--my absolute commitment to the economic/social/political rights, freedom and emancipation of women. Even I, a somewhat tired,old,privileged,white male thinks it is time to turn over the reins for a century or two and see what happens.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:06 PM on May 25 [7 favorites]


miyabo: "Before buying a semiautomatic weapon -- which has no real use for hunting "

Ya, that isn't true.

diode: "I wonder of the past several mass shooting episodes how many of these people were on various kinds of SSRI's? I'm not trying to make a case for this, it's that I've read claims by commentators that negative reactions to SSRI use makes people go berserk. Perhaps that's a simplistic reasoning. I wonder if on a per capita basis if crimes of this nature have risen over the past 100 years? Guns were just as prevalent 100 years ago."

Violent crimes across the board have been trending downwards for decades in the US. I'm a fan of the theories that posit at least some of the decline being the result of freer access to abortion post Roe and the phasing out of leaded gas.
posted by Mitheral at 4:10 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I guess I consider this guy "off the scale" because of his obvious insanity and the murder spree, but you're right, if he'd just had one gun and used it to rape one woman, it wouldn't even make the news. Again, I'm just wondering whether this is a *helpful* example to highlight the phenomenon of misogyny.

But -- OK. To pull from the real-life example I posed above, that guy didn't have a gun. He wasn't obviously a "danger." He was a guy in a suit enjoying the summer air in front of his office, out drinking a coffee, with a couple of other guys, and I walked in front of him carrying my own coffee, and he said "Hey, pretty girl, come sit on my lap." His buddies didn't do anything to stop him, and he obviously didn't see any reason why it would be problematic to lay hands on a total stranger and threaten her with violence in broad daylight. That's normal. That is a normal thing, that normal men do; he was a normal guy doing normal things, and his actions didn't raise any eyebrows or give anyone any pause. As much as we might all like to believe that no, that guy was a sicko and a creep and decidedly unusual, the reaction of the men with him and the other people on the (crowded city) street around us indicated otherwise.
posted by KathrynT at 4:15 PM on May 25 [35 favorites]


For people who want to argue the fine logical details of this horrific crime as if it were a game of Clue, I ask that before you post you remember that this man wanted to kill every woman on earth except for the ones imprisoned in camps for sexual purposes and reproduction. And that he went out shooting at random women as part of his grand plan.

For a lot of us this isn't a freshmen philosophy seminar because we happen to be in the group he thought should be in a camp or dead.
posted by winna at 4:16 PM on May 25 [85 favorites]


Killer's psychiatrist (who also treated Paris Hilton) has previously drawn criticism for how he practices and divided his public and private roles.
posted by Jahaza at 4:23 PM on May 25


(Plus, the guys threatening women with violence - on the street or on the Internet - may have no intention of making good on their threats personally, but they create a smokescreen for the ones who do have that intention. Like, the Secret Service used to investigate personally every threat to the President's life that came to their attention, no matter how apparently frivolous. I can't imagine how that would be possible today, when a Twitter account might threaten to kill him six or seven times during a single TV appearance...

And most women don't have a 24-hour security detail looking out for them - they just have their own instincts about whether a particular email or tweet or blog comment telling them they are going to be raped or murdered is worth contacting the police about.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:29 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


Cracked nails it, as always.
posted by Melismata at 4:31 PM on May 25 [14 favorites]


@KathrynT -- Agreed. That's "normal". And it needs to be called out and dealt with, the same as, for example, racism, which has its own scale. But I think it's too easy for people, when an *egregious* example of sexism or racism turns up, to say "hey, I'm not Donald Sterling*/Elliot Rodger, so I'm fine". If you use the *worst* examples, you may not get your point across.
I may well be wrong about this. I'm just trying to think about how to get the point across to those who are ready to hear it.

* Grudging apologies to Donald fucking Sterling for comparing him to a murderer.
posted by uosuaq at 4:34 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I may well be wrong about this.

I think you are, but not in the way that you think you might be. See, when women tell stories like that mine, one of the common responses is "OK, but did you really feel that threatened? I mean words are just words; he's not going to do anything, best to just ignore it. So he touched you? BFD! you can't let fear run your life."

I think showing the continuum between the guy who thinks that life is a competition and a hot girl is the prize, to the guy who catcalls women, to the guy who uses violent, gendered language when a woman turns him down, to the guy who threatens actual violence when a woman turns him down, to the guy who actually USES violence when a woman doesn't comply with his desires the way he wants her to -- I think THAT'S the way we can start to shine a light on how toxic this kind of misogyny is. Or at any rate, I don't think it's actively unhelpful.
posted by KathrynT at 4:39 PM on May 25 [42 favorites]


Ugh, god. I feel a bit fucked up saying it, and i've mostly kept my mouth shut... but watching the ramp up of media response to this whole thing all i see is more and more mentions of how he was ~autistic~ so he was obviously scary and abnormal and no one needs to worry about a normal guy doing this, he's like some lizard person you wont see again! don't worry!

As someone on the spectrum, it's just like oh great yet more reasons to never admit to anyone that i am unless i already know them REALLY well(or they are, or are experiencing something similar) and don't think they'll just randomly blurt it out to the wrong person. Every time the media throws us, collectively under the bus again it just increases the stigma.

I've never met someone on the spectrum who went down this path. I can vaguely understand how it would happen, but it just seems even more unlikely than your average neurotypical joe off the street. If you have to carefully watch other people, be instructed, and learn from trial and error(and in the modern day, lots of reading online and essays by people who have been mistreated, including women, as a sort of "what not to do") how to act like a normal person... it's pretty easy to look at the structure of society and go "Oh, ok, what these guys are saying is obviously not reflecting reality" and end up well... the opposite of this.

But nah, a bunch more people now are going to take this and go "autism makes you a delusional weirdo who cant interact with normal society and who thinks the problem is everyone else having a conspiracy against them!"

And how much can you alienate what is probably your core user base (young, white, males) before your massively popular website isn't so massive or so popular any more?

The fact that sites like this(but especially reddit) care only about attracting the largest userbase, and intentionally opt out of really policing much of what's going on there until they end up on the news for child porn kinda speaks to part of the problem as well. They'd rather be a free market bastion for hate speech than lose some clicks. This is sort of the disgusting face of the internet in 2014, right there. It's the yin to the yang of what caused the downturn in MeFi traffic, honestly.

That at least merited a "WTF dude??!!". I wouldn't think you would even need to teach that, that would seem to just be a normal response by most guys. I've heard guys say some fucked up shit and and in a group setting at least one one person would say something. Not because they they were in any way educated or enlightened on the subject of misogyny but because, well, fucked up is fucked up and good friends aren't the least bit inhibited about calling each other out.

I get it, i guess. I lived with a guy like this for a year. Me and two of my roommates called him out constantly. The other two who had been his good friends for years just... never really said anything. They'd just kinda remain silent or go "heh... ok dude". Quite a lot of men will just sit by and let other men say things like this without any comment. and i just... don't get it. Never did. Both me and my other male friend who called him out are weird, and had a nontraditional education(homeschooled for a while, went to a weird alternative high school) but i always found myself wondering, are most men just socialized to nod and grunt at this kind of shit?
posted by emptythought at 4:46 PM on May 25 [15 favorites]


diode: "I wonder of the past several mass shooting episodes how many of these people were on various kinds of SSRI's"

I've heard it's Twinkies.

e-Psychiatristy notwithstanding, you're not going to see many actual psychiatrists making public diagnoses of people who are not their patients, because that's a clear breach of ethics (both AMA and APA).

Why do these things sometimes seem to come in clusters? As the Charlie Brooker snippet linked earlier with "Park "Iceman Interviews" Dietz illustrates, part of it is to do with implicit media adulation:
We've had twenty years of mass murderers, throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, if you don't want to propagate more mass murders, don't start the story with sirens blaring. Don't have photographs of the killer. Don't make this 24/7 coverage. Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of Anti-Hero. Do localize this story to the affected community, and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week.
Publishing these people's screeds online is just a new way of creating copycats. I see a few similar tomes every year -- though thankfully not usually as long -- and there's a lot of that stuff out there. Making one or two famous inspires envy in others, and envy is key here.
posted by meehawl at 4:49 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


@KathrynT: I still don't feel like we're disagreeing that much. I brought up the example of rape at gunpoint above, as the far end of the "normal" spectrum, which (as I said) wouldn't even make the national news like this story has.
Maybe I should put it this way: bringing this Rodger guy into it is like Godwinning the discussion. People might stop listening. People need to listen.
posted by uosuaq at 4:50 PM on May 25


I'm not so sure that his feelings about women were genuine, nor the cause. I feel like they were a (mimicked) symptom. So much of what he wrote (which I didn't finish, my eyes got tired) reflected back onto the situation the feelings he claimed to have now.

And as a gay man... I find it *really* hard to believe that if what he really wanted was to get laid that he couldn't. He could walk into any club in my area gay or straight and go home with someone, regardless of his attitude. Maybe we're a bunch of whores around here?

Maybe he did really feel the way he said he felt, but I also wouldn't doubt the possibility that he maybe found a group that he could 'fit in' with as long as he said the right things. He wasn't good at any of the sports he tried (not enough to stand out), and he fell behind the trends more often than not.

While what he claims his feelings are about women are wrong, I don't think that's the ultimate cause. I think he latched onto it at some point as a reason for feeling the way he felt. So yeah, that kind of thinking needs to go the way of the Dodo... but I think I saw someone else upthread that said it could have been any other such group, and I agree.

His writing also talks of being 'bullied' and the way he described it was certainly not the way I was bullied growing up, but I can see how a person of privilege would perceive it that way.

There's just so much going on with all of this, and I don't jive with it all being blamed on his feelings towards women. And my heart goes out to the families affected, and to the friends... of every party involved... whose names are now forever tied to the event.
posted by one4themoment at 4:58 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


Let's call the Isla Vista shootings what they were: misogynist extremism - by Laurie Penny
As soon as women began to speak about the massacre, a curious thing happened. Men all over the world - not all men, but enough men - began to push back, to demand that we qualify our anger and mitigate our fear. Not all men are violent misogynists.

Well, there have always been good men. Actually, I firmly believe that today there are more tolerant, humane men who recognise and celebrate the equality of the sexes than there have ever been before. Today, what I hear from many men and boys who talk to me about gender justice - decent, humane men and boys of the kind the twenty-teens are also, blessedly, producing in great numbers - is fear and bewilderment. Who are these people? Where do they live? And the unspoken fear: do I know them? Might I have met some of them, drunk with them? If the wind had changed when I was growing, if I had read different books and had different friends, might it have been me? If any man is capable of this, is every man capable of it?

Well, those are the correct questions to ask. What I hear more often, however, is “not all men”. I hear that age-old horror of women’s anger drowning out everything else. Not all men are like this. Don’t look at us. Don’t shout at us. Please, don’t ask us to stand up and be counted.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:59 PM on May 25 [27 favorites]


We had a small workplace shooting by current standards a few weeks ago in Atlanta. The father of the shooter was very open and helpful about talking to police and the media. He had no idea what had happened or why, but he freely admitted to possible mistakes in his raising of his son and joined everyone around him in being simply horrified and saddened--his only request was that people don't use his son's name, that he does not want his son to be remembered so that no one might glorify him, so that no one else might be inspired by him to do the same thing. It struck me as a remarkably sane and humane response by an absolutely devastated human being. (In keeping with that father's wishes, I'm not even going to link to the story.)

About all the misogyny, I just don't even have time or energy anymore. This is the world we live in, that I live in every single day as a woman, and it has completely worn me down long before I read this thread.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:02 PM on May 25 [24 favorites]


If you follow some of the links people here supplied you can that there are lots of other people with misogynistic views that aren't much better than his. Are those people mentally ill? If so, we have a huge problem, what are we going to do about it? But if this misogyny isn't evidence of mental illness, if it's part of our society and is (at worst) wrong-but-tolerable then we have a huge problem. What are we going to do about it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:05 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


I don't think I can risk looking at the "Manifesto," so maybe somebody can answer a couple of questions for me: is it 140 (8.5 x 11, 10/12 Microsoft Word) pages? So really huge? Were there lots of little fixations, or do blonde hair and throwing drinks at people stand out in particular?
posted by zbsachs at 5:06 PM on May 25


bringing this Rodger guy into it is like Godwinning the discussion. People might stop listening. People need to listen.

People stop listening because they don't want to hear it. In particular, men don't want to hear it unless they're willing to step back from the idea that a woman owes them something (attention? sex?) because she's female and they're male, and that a guy like Rodger is the far end of a continuum that they're on somehow. The problem is not the language but the concept.

We had a Schroedinger's Rapist discussion once here. Somebody opened the Rodger box, as it were, and found Schroedinger's Murderer.
posted by immlass at 5:10 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


The stepmom is a big focus, along with the changes in custody schedule... the blonde hair doesn't last long, the throwing drinks is I think a sentence... he talks about the coming and going of his various friends James being one of the biggest (whose hair is apparently regal?) and his fascination with travel and being upper class and his love of video games and escape into World of Warcraft III and WoW... (I stopped reading after a while... it's really more like 140 pages of a paperback... the format was awful... dunno if it's equivalent to 8.5x11)... If you have more questions lemme know (in essence not a lot of little fixations and a lot of pressing his current world view back onto those memories)
posted by one4themoment at 5:10 PM on May 25


I’m disinclined to view Rodger through the lens of mental illness.

Instead, I view him as evil. He’s an evil product of a fucked up culture. And it’s really too bad when he got beat up in Isla Vista that it was only his ankle that broke— because if it had been his neck the shooting spree never would have happened.

He is an expression of the values of a large section of American society, especially the Hollywood-entertainment world. There are plenty of rich, sexist bro-dudes running around Topanga date-raping women and fist bumping their way through school, and eventually, up the corporate ladder where they will oppress the shit out of everyone they possibly can, from their subordinate employees to the people whose pension funds they loot. The difference is that Rodger couldn’t succeed in that world. I don’t accept that this problem could be helped by “more access to care,” since Rodger was a guy with considerable financial resources to seek help of all kinds, from therapists to “relationship coaches.” He made a moral choice.

His writing is , as I mentioned above, white supremacist, misogynistic and also classist. What jumps out at me also is his self-hatred. He’s the son of a Malaysian Chinese mother and a British father, and yet all he can talk about is how disgusting Asian people are. He talks about how much he enjoys first class air travel, expensive food, his father’s house, and his shame at having to live in an apartment. Rodger embraced the values around him, which was a moral choice. The classism, racism and misogyny that Rodger displayed had to come from somewhere. One can’t discount the surroundings of Topanga/Malibu, and his wealthy private school classmates and their families. I have to wonder if any of Rodgers WoW playing friends ever questioned the values they were absorbing. It’s pretty clear that Rodger himself never did.

What to do about it? I find it interesting that so many people are calling for more laws, more surveillance and more aggressive law enforcement response. We’re already the leading jailer in the world. We already have a surveillance society with draconian laws and punishment. I’m curious to know how asking for more surveillance of Youtube, and asking people to dime out anyone they think is a weirdo violent misogynist is going to make this any better? Please tell me, if that’s your preferred strategy, how this isn’t going to just turn into one more way that vulnerable people are going to be targeted both by the state and by people with an axe to grind.

I want to step back too and look at the rhetoric of the “rule of law.” That’s the catch all solution right? Everyone wants more rule of law. Let’s prosecute these jerks to maximum, throw them in jail. That’ll show them.

Except…that’s what we’ve been doing since the ‘70s. We’ve increased surveillance. We’ve made stricter laws. Prosecutors have less discretion. We’ve criminalized all kinds of behavior, made prison harsher, kill more people both with the death penalty and via officer involved shootings. We have very professionalized prosecutors, and consistent law school education that ensures lawyers are all consistently indoctrinated into a common standard of practice.

The rhetoric of rule of law even extends to the MRA community, which sees itself as trying to enforce rights for men. But what are rights? In the court system, a right is something that court must allow you to do, or bar the government from doing. What this means in effective terms is that if you feel your rights are violated, you go ask a judge for a ruling. If the judge agrees, then you get an order telling the other person to give you your rights. But what’s behind the order? In almost all cases, failure to comply means that law enforcement will come out and punish you, either by taking something from you, or putting you in jail. So all this really is, is the outsourcing of violence. What that means is that people can sit back and say to themselves, I’m a nice person, I would never hurt anyone, if I have a dispute with them , I go to court and settle it like that. What goes unsaid is that it’s all backed up by violence anyways, but in a way that lets the majority of people in society to feel good about themselves as “nice” people.

What the hell does this have to do with MRA? In talking with friends who’ve been on the receiving end of MRA crazytown, it seems the MRA people really believe that they have a “right” to female affection. What their rhetoric is really saying, is that they believe that they can use violence to force a woman to pay attention to them. That’s what “rights” are really about, when you strip away the story.
posted by wuwei at 5:11 PM on May 25 [15 favorites]


And I find it odd that to me, it sounds like his dad was dating his step mom long before the divorce... but to him his dad just plucked her out of thin air...
posted by one4themoment at 5:12 PM on May 25


And I find it odd that to me, it sounds like his dad was dating his step mom long before the divorce... but to him his dad just plucked her out of thin air...

Yeah, that's another thing that makes him an unreliable narrator. Add it to the other examples upthread.
posted by palomar at 5:21 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


I’m disinclined to view Rodger through the lens of mental illness.

Instead, I view him as evil.


This is handwavium.

1) He was, obviously, diagnosed with at least one mental illness.
2) He was, obviously, delusional about a great number of things.
3) Calling something 'evil' is a really great way of not having any discussion about causes and whys and wherefores and who failed whom and how to prevent these things in the future. "Oh, he was just evil" is a nice little soundbite, but it adds not a single thing to our understanding of this tragedy. It's a wallpaper word, not an informative.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:29 PM on May 25 [14 favorites]


No. I'm refusing to give him the excuse of saying that he's mentally ill. He made moral choices, as I discussed above. I think trying to put this on mental illness is a refusal to admit that our society is wrong. We made this asshole.
posted by wuwei at 5:33 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


— I don't think I can risk looking at the "Manifesto," so maybe somebody can answer a couple of questions for me: is it 140 (8.5 x 11, 10/12 Microsoft Word) pages? So really huge? Were there lots of little fixations, or do blonde hair and throwing drinks at people stand out in particular?

— The stepmom is a big focus, along with the changes in custody schedule... the blonde hair doesn't last long, the throwing drinks is I think a sentence... he talks about the coming and going of his various friends James being one of the biggest (whose hair is apparently regal?) and his fascination with travel and being upper class and his love of video games and escape into World of Warcraft III and WoW... (I stopped reading after a while... it's really more like 140 pages of a paperback... the format was awful... dunno if it's equivalent to 8.5x11)... If you have more questions lemme know (in essence not a lot of little fixations and a lot of pressing his current world view back onto those memories)

Sorry if this seems trivializing, but these little things seem to me to be strange indicators. From what I've gleaned, he is tempted to throw his orange juice on a black kid called Chance I think it was, some friends prevent him from throwing his drink at strangers at a fast food joint, he later throws a drink at a couple in a car? And he hates Chance in particular because he was involved with a blonde, the idealized girl on the beach was a blonde, etc.

Blonde is obviously enough the most obvious expression of his obsession with race. Throwing drinks is a highly socially inappropriate gesture, especially, perhaps, from a man; his friends even stop him at one point (I can imagine them wounding him by calling it a "weak move"). In the hothouse fantasies of movies and television, his later choice of projectile is shown, by contrast, as the archetypical weapon of the strong.

Also, to those people (way upthread) who keep saying *this loser didn't even try*—it should be pointed out that this is also an upsetting aspect of our culture, where Sadie Hawkins Day is a kind of bizarro world.
posted by zbsachs at 5:36 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


I don't think anyone here has excused his actions because he was mentally ill.

Yeah, our society is wrong. Yeah, to some extent we created this asshole. And 100% yes, we need to eradicate this misogynistic rape culture yesterday.

But it's not only society; mental illness seems to be a very, very large factor here and it's very odd that you're so intent on discounting it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:38 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


1) He was, obviously, diagnosed with at least one mental illness.

Point of clarification. I haven't been keeping up with the latest, but I thought this is definitely NOT the case. He has been diagnosed with Asperger's, which is a developmental disorder rather than a mental illness. And as sparkletone noted upthread, there is no known connection between Asperger's and violence, or Asperger's and any of the hatred he espoused.
posted by naju at 5:40 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry? Could you be more specific about what you find odd about my comment?
posted by wuwei at 5:41 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


The thing, for me, is that even if you believed every vile nugget of his 'ideology', going on a murder spree and then killing yourself would still not be anything approaching a rational course of action. It's not as if he starts from terrible, immoral premises and ends up at their natural conclusion-- rather, he starts from terrible, immoral premises and ends up at a course of action that is totally irrational even in his own worldview.
posted by Pyry at 5:43 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


ends up at a course of action that is totally irrational even in his own worldview.

It's a rational course of action if you consider this an act of terrorism -- he certainly wouldn't be the first terrorist to martyr himself to advance an ideology.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:50 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


The interesting thing to me (in a giant mess of ew, gross) is the I'm most deserving/I'll never get it so why bother even trying tension.

For example, the girl that smiled at him on the beach - I guess instead of smiling she was supposed to beg him to let her blow him or something. But later he feels like she would never have liked him anyway and doesn't even kick himself for not saying hi. In spite of all his superior, alpha male bluster, he suspects deep down he's unlikeable.

I also think Wong gets it slightly wrong in this specific case in the Cracked article. It's not even that he was promised 'A' beautiful girl to live happily ever after with. It's that there is a fundamental score, a single measure of success in life. His measure of success was about how many women were willing to offer him sex. [Which, IME, isn't that unusual for men in their 20s]

It was always about competition with other men. Getting laid once in a while would not have been enough. A beautiful woman who adored him would not have been enough. There would always be someone getting laid more or with a more beautiful woman. He hated women because they were the corrupt authority figures, the cheating referees, giving goals to the undeserving team.

So while I think he was definitely misogynist, and casual misogyny is a thing, and I've been reading #yesallwomen all day long and thinking right on!, I think his main problem was the obsession with needing the "score" to be fair combined with his narcissist belief that he was better than everyone else. What he needed wasn't a dose of #yesallwomen "women are people too," it was "life is not a strict competition, sex is not the score, and besides, you are not that special."
posted by ctmf at 5:50 PM on May 25 [16 favorites]


One can be irrational and yet not be mentally ill.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:52 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


Thanks, Western capitalist society, for programming our youth this way. Top job, it's working good.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:16 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


One can be irrational and yet not be mentally ill.

One can also be irrational and mentally ill, and still be a moral actor, and thus be considered morally and legally responsible for criminal actions.

The bar of mental illness at which people are no longer considered able to act as moral agents - where an affirmative defence of "not guilty by reason of insanity" can be offered and agreed by the jury - is generally high.

Guilty but mentally ill, or diminished capacity (the Twinkie defence mentioned above, where diminished mental faculties make premeditation impossible) are guilty pleas, accepting culpability but asking for an impaired state caused by mental illness to be taken into account in sentencing.

(Obviously, the law varies hugely from geography to geography, but California AFAIK has no provision for a "guilty but mentally ill plea", does famously have a diminished capacity plea, and uses a relatively broad definition of insanity, where the defendant has to prove either that they did not know what they were doing, or did not understand that what they were doing was wrong - so, was experiencing a break with reality beyond simply having a skewed and unrealistic view of it.)

Since this case will never go to trial, and Rodger will never be examined by a psychiatrist attempting specifically to evaluate whether he was criminally insane, or has/had diminished capacity at the time, the mental illness avenue is a hypothetical based on currently limited information and a rambling "manifesto". However, it does seem that at least while he was making videos and writing screeds that he understood what he was planning to do, and that he understood that what he was planning to do was illegal, and he was not being made to do it by any other force than his own desire for revenge.

However, there are circumstances where a multiple murderer has been apprehended, and has stood trial, and has been considered both sane and culpable - most notably the case of Anders Behring Breivik. Morally repugnant, legally culpable and mentally ill are not in any way necessarily exclusive of each other.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:33 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


A mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behavior (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.

Ok, look... I get that quoting from the DSM is great when defining a mental illness, but so is actually reading it.

Under the definition of the DSM, he wasn't mentally ill; his thoughts and actions are consistent with a misogynistic culture, much like his belief that he could win the lottery is not a delusion but rather a cultural trope. In several cultural sub-groups, the men who speak violence against women and perpetrate violence against women are praised and the men who murder are considered martyrs for the cause of equality. The people blamed by those sub-groups are women, and the message is clear - none of you are safe.

And outside of those sub-groups a thousand apologies and he was just 'mentally ill', and a thousand minimizations of women when they say "I don't feel safe" and a thousand untested rape kits all reinforce who is really important.

Misogynistic thoughts about how women are the gatekeepers for sex and should give men sex, and are teases so men should take sex from them is an expected response to the common stressor of not getting the sex one wants if one is male. They are the frequent topic of comedy shows and routines, and women who object are "humorless". Women frequently receive violent threats for refusing sexual advances from strangers, and usually are asked what they were wearing if they talk about it.

Domestic violence is common, and often believed to be the fault of the women who are beaten (men who are beaten are usually mocked or ignored). People killing their partners is also common; I think the stats in the US are three dead women and one dead man a day, on average. Lots of people murder without being diagnosed with a mental illness.

His thoughts and words all all within the bounds of the society that exists in police reports, restraining orders, and murder statistics. It's the society that exists every time a woman warns another woman against an important man because he "keeps refilling your glass" and "gets handsy" if you're alone with him. It's in the warnings about what streets and school hallways to avoid. It's in the avoiding of those places by women being viewed as normal and expected, instead of unusual and odd. It's violent and anti-social, and it warps peoples lives, but it isn't mental illness.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:48 PM on May 25 [35 favorites]


Deoridhe and others have pointed out a key thing: violent rhetoric and direct threats of sexual assault and murder are just considered the normal thing for any woman with a public internet presence to endure. People (mostly men) are desperately trying to paint this guy's opinions as extreme, but they are well within the normal background range. I pointed out earlier that Vox Day, hero of the SF right wing, is barely a degree off this guy -- he's said the women should be stripped of the right to vote, kicked out of universities, that if a woman has sex outside of marriage that anyone should be free to rape her, that the government should supply all men with sex bots, etc. Yet a major SF publisher is happy to be on a Hugo slate designed to support him.

Rodger wasn't nuts, he was the logical outcome of a culture of violent misogyny that is tolerated and coddled.
posted by tavella at 6:52 PM on May 25 [50 favorites]


Under the definition of the DSM, he wasn't mentally ill

You have changed the subject. This is not why the DSM-5 had entered the conversation. We had been discussing the general rate of mental illness among spree killers and mass murderers, and how we could or could not determine such a thing. I was not talking about a wild diagnosis for this particular person. A wild diagnosis for this particular person has no bearing on whether 30% of mass/spree killers being diagnosed as mentally ill before they had committed their crimes is responsive to the question of whether or not those killers were mentally ill at the time they had committed their crimes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:24 PM on May 25


zbsachs, the most striking thing about the memoir to me (and my father, who read it over my shoulder-- we've lived in some of the less $$$ neighborhoods in the West Valley and were morbidly fascinated to recognize malls and landmarks) was that it was 140+ pages full of repetition and fixations. He lists place and brand names, is heavily repetitive (phrases like 'exquisite" for food and "beautiful blonde girlfriend" for women get a lot of play). I worry this will sound cliched to the point of being disrespectful, but tone and repetitive language are REALLY A LOT like Bret Easton Ellis' writing, particularly American Psycho but also Less Than Zero, which takes place in the same peer group and the same city. Also, do you remember the parts of American Psycho where Patrick uses mimicry to try to sound either cultured or like a normal person, and fails completely? The music or pop culture reviews where he's trying to approximate what a normal person would say about some work of media that they like? There's a lot of that going on.

The thing that jumped out to both me and my father was the indiscriminate listing-- he writes like a very young child, dumping huge amounts of information without being able to really process them or tie them together. "And then we drove to the school and then we picked up my sister in my mom's new car and then we drove home and then we had snack and snack was peanut butter crackers," that kind of shit. My father's observation was that he didn't seem capable of making generalizations, summaries, or abstract concepts. In fact the ONLY abstract idea in the whole thing is the "revelation" that women are evil and withholding sex from him. He goes for most of his life viewing "beautiful blonde girlfriends" as the ultimate accessory that mark the worthy vs inferior men, and curses the universe for its unfairness at denying him one. And then, when he's around 21 and driving back and forth across the CA/AZ border weeping hysterically and obsessively trying to win the lottery, he realizes that women aren't objects or prizes that will be awarded to the coolest kids. They're people, with agency, and that means that they're with other men and not him because they've CHOSEN not to be with him. This is when the switch flips, and the objects of his rage stop being the other men around him, who he resents for being the unfair recipients of hot blonde girlfriends, and starts really really hating and blaming women. Because it hadn't occurred to him that they had been choosing, this entire time, and they hadn't been choosing him.

There's also, as other posters have noted, a lot of unreliable narration-- he never seems to pick up on the fact that his father had been dating his stepmother for some time before his parents' divorce, and there's other stuff that to me says volumes. I actually disagree with wuwei that he was normal for Topanga/Calabasas boys-- when someone from his family background graduates high school and the family has NO expectation that they'll get a job, or go to school other than one or two perfunctory community college classes, or do anything other than sit around playing WOW, that's usually a sign that there's been something wrong with that kid for quite a while and the family has long since reconciled to the idea that they are not really capable of being an independent, functioning adult.

Pardon the glibness, the neighborhood familiarity is REALLY creeping me out.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:25 PM on May 25 [58 favorites]


I pointed out earlier that Vox Day, hero of the SF right wing, is barely a degree off this guy -- he's said the women should be stripped of the right to vote, kicked out of universities, that if a woman has sex outside of marriage that anyone should be free to rape her, that the government should supply all men with sex bots, etc.

Ok, but which of these are logical outcomes for Vox Day given his beliefs:
A) Vox Day rapes one or more people.
B) Vox Day donates money to misogynistic causes.
C) Vox Day votes against the interests of women.
D) Vox Day kills his roommates, goes on a drive-by-shooting spree, and then kills himself.

I would say A,B, and C are logical (expectable) outcomes, while D is not.
posted by Pyry at 7:27 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


wow I was going to comment again but moonlight hit most of my major points...
posted by one4themoment at 7:32 PM on May 25


While it isn't super statistically likely that Vox Day will do #4 specifically, he normalizes A-C for his fan base and makes it increasingly likely that one of them will do D. Also, it is basically inevitable that they're already doing A-C, and society is pretty much okay with that and doesn't really do anything about it.
posted by NoraReed at 7:37 PM on May 25 [30 favorites]


One last point... am I the only one that gets the gay vibe? Like he was overcompensating to the point of what happened?

I hate to bring it up but... after reading and watching the videos and... I just get the vibe...

Is there any history of his parents stance on such an issue? As in this was a last I tried your way and I failed kind of deal? Could that be the reason for the unreliable narration? Could he be leaving out significant details that would point to such?
posted by one4themoment at 7:39 PM on May 25


No, Fox News also got the gay vibe. I don't see it, and I think it's just throwing theories at the wall to see what sticks, but there you go.
posted by palomar at 7:44 PM on May 25 [10 favorites]


... *shrugs* I don't watch tv only NetFlix... but I totally got the vibe from his Internet presence... What did Fox say about it? Memail me if you want to keep it out of the thread but I'm genuinely curious.
posted by one4themoment at 7:49 PM on May 25


one4themoment, I didn't get a gay or bi vibe from him, no. He is super sexually fixated on women, and outside the "King Arthur haircut" thing about his kindergarten friend, only seems to register other men and their appearances when he spots them as part of hetero couples and ranks himself as either superior or inferior to them, then has a covetous-of-blonde-girlfriend meltdown.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:50 PM on May 25


There is a note somewhere that he lived in a supported apartment, not independently. He writes about crying for long periods frequently without any sense social stigma about it - a girl in his class smiled at her boyfriend and ignored him so he goes to the bathroom and sobs for an hour. He cries in front of his family and it's not a sense of grief crying, but of a very short emotional range. There is no awareness of other people's pain except as justice. He's just blank.

I saw no hints of homosexuality. He was not particularly sexual, more possessive. Sex wasn't about pleasure but desire of women for him. He liked food and pretty objects, but cost and relative status mattered most.

He didn't seem to enjoy other people's pain or pleasure particularly. Only how it ranked up in status. The Bateman comparison is very apt.

I keep thinking about his mother. I am in much much slighter similar circumstances but close enough to know that in some universe, I might have been in that small horrific club. But not that small - all the parents who've raised murderers and rapists and spree killers. His brother and sister. When you are the victim of violence, it's a tragedy but you have a path to follow. When your family member has caused this tragedy - where do you go?

He planned to kill himself, drugs and gunshot, because he did not want to be in prison.

Also his parents called 911 as soon as they read the first sentences of the manifesto he emailed to them. Friends of the family tried to help him. So much help.

This is unusual in how much help he did get and how well he evaded that help. It's terrifying.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:54 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


You can do a Google search for Fox News's reports on this story and see what they said pretty easily. I honestly don't enjoy hunting for the bullshit they say so I'm sorry I can't do it for you.
posted by palomar at 7:56 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


It's been almost exactly 20 years since Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered. I was shocked at the time that the crime was not seen as primarily about domestic abuse, The women I knew seemed to be divided strictly on racial lines about the verdict and the men didn't care about her death.

When misogyny flies under the radar, as it did in that case, it becomes more entrenched in our culture. This is just one of the reasons so many of us are arguing here for full recognition of the role misogyny played in these California murders. Comment after comment in this thread, among the best of the best on the web, has stressed the intersectionality of factors and the continuum of misogyny underlying the behavior that erupted there. Again and again, someone has sought to downplay the role of misogyny.

Over the last few decades we have seen our culture change, to some it seemingly turned on a dime, about gays in the military, same sex marriage, mainstream acceptance of LGBT people. This has happened despite the efforts of Tea Party and the Religious Right. The tide has turned when even the Boy Scouts of America have reversed course and are now saying they'd have no problem with gay scout leaders. Women, it sometimes seems, are the last legitimate target.

For anyone following the dismantling of access to abortion, the rhetoric is married to misogynistic rant. The steady stream of misogyny online is palpable.

I believe that young people will make this world different for women as has already happened to a great extent for people of color and LGBT people. I know those job are not done yet--might never be, but it is better, vastly better. I also believe a great many deaths were at the heart of what caused society to change its mind on both of those fronts. Deaths of civil rights activists as well as multitudes of black martyrs in this country on the one hand and gay, lesbian and trans victims of hate crimes as well as a generation decimated by AIDS on the other.

We women speak and shout because this is happening to us and we fear if you don't listen and help make the story different for men and boys, it will just keep on getting worse for women and girls and it won't stop until many more people are killed.

What is important is to take away from this conversation some bit of enlightenment about what one can do to fully see this ubiquitous misogyny and to begin to change it. It's hearts and minds time and we are the people who can speak out. Nothing changes on the national stage until it changes in our hearts and minds. We can think and we can speak. It makes a difference to do so.
posted by Anitanola at 7:59 PM on May 25 [34 favorites]


moonlight on vermont,
I should have been a little clearer. What I was trying to say was that Rodger had attitudes that seemed to me to be consistent with his wealthy upbringing and philandering father. As you pointed out, his father was probably seeing the second wife before he divorced the shooter's mother.

viggorlijah,
That's why I say this was an evil/moral choice problem. Rodger had every advantage in terms of access to help. Sure, his family situation may have been ugly. But he had access to mental health care. He had people in his life who were trying to pull him out of the mental corner he put himself in. But he chose not to take that help.
posted by wuwei at 8:01 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


"It's interesting, 'cause he seems gay" is the first thing someone I work with wrote back to me when I sent along the main video. My gaydar hadn't gone off, but I admitted it might've been overwhelmed by my bad actor radar. (It seems strange to me that his laugh is being called "crazy" when to me it seems to be so clearly a misguided affectation. If that video were part of a movie you would write it off as hopelessly amateur.)

In any case, I kind of think it's a distraction from the way this whole event points toward the violence and rage bubbling up underneath a culture of misogyny that implicates and/or threatens all of us. (And I'm...suspicious of what seems to push a good number of commenters -- less here than elsewhere -- toward a weird legalistic denial of that.)
posted by nobody at 8:04 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


But he chose not to take that help.

Most likely he didn't believe he needed it; that is a major problem in treating certain personality disorders. Look at his manifesto--he's the only sane person in a world gone crazy, according to him.

Why would he take any help if that is his worldview? Mental illness, and treating mental illness, are a hell of a lot more complicated than just "He had access to help."

I'm in Canada. Healthcare is free, including mental healthcare (though the waiting lists, oy...). There are crisis lines. Etc etc. And yet, I've attempted suicide twice in the last 12 months. I have access to amazing care, a case worker who's actually invested in my well-being, phone numbers of crisis lines memorized, and an upstairs neighbour whose door I can knock on any time day or night if I'm having a crisis.

And yet, two months ago--to the day, in fact--I swallowed every pill I had. I didn't seek out help, even though it was ready and waiting for me. You know why?

Because I didn't want help. And I don't have the delusions and sense of entitlement he did. He had no reason to seek help, because he didn't believe there was anything wrong with him.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:17 PM on May 25 [17 favorites]


Wuwei, I don't think he had the ability to make that choice or see it as a choice. In his narrative, morality doesn't appear. He makes no references to moral acts beyond social status and power. He repeatedly writes that his mother disappoints him by not forcing herself to marry a wealthy man who she does not love because this means less wealth for him. He does not see why she brings up her happiness or love at all.

He may understand theoretically and follow social rules of morality, but they are externally imposed without empathy.

Can you be evil if you have no sense of good or evil? His misogyny and hate for everyone is also - it certainly comes from the cultural stew he's in. He sought out a structure to view the world as he understood it and MRA fit perfectly. But he is an outlier both for his extreme lack of empathy and his access to support and help.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:25 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Interesting point. I keep thinking about how he rescued his little brother (or some other kid) from drowning at one point. To me that seems like a moral intuition. He was by his own admission not a very physical guy, but he jumped into a pool to stop someone from drowning. It's obvious to me at the end though that he had gone to a dark place where he was willing to kill his 6 year old brother, Jazz, to prevent him from one day enjoying life. God that was the worst part of the entire manifesto to me, because it so clearly signaled a person with no emotional ties at all.

Kids take time to develop morality and it seems to me at some point Rodgers clearly did not get there.
posted by wuwei at 8:34 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


The idea that this is a failure of 'the system' seems to be the most logical fit here, to my mind.

This phrasing assumes that the system's design deals with this sort of problem, and I think a lot of people would argue that it simply does not. Every time the question of untreated mentally I'll folks comes up here I suggest Pete Early's fantastic book CRAZY. This time will be no different.

It's a hard read, but an important one. Early opens with the story of trying to get his son committed because he's off his meds and, his family believes, a danger to himself. This was in Virginia, where a decade-plus later Deeds's son would be turned away from treatment because of a lack of a bed. (Or, in fact, lack of awareness of an available bed) It never seems to get any better,

Early covers in detail how much the criminal justice system has become how we cope with the mentally ill and explores the changes to commitment and care that got us here. It's a fascinating reveal that none of the people whose legal challenges led us to this point thought this is how it would roll out. They thought that when the ability to forcibly warehouse people indefinitely was removed that OF COURSE the system would wise up and get people the real care they needed.

It's a sobering lesson that "fuck it, burn it down, the replacement couldn't be any worse" often reflects a failure of imagination in just how bad things really can be.
posted by phearlez at 8:34 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


naju: (quoting an article from Medium) "'here’s a shot of the poison that just killed seven people. Drink up.'”"

With regards to this event, I've been following only the discussion in this thread and had not yet clicked through on any links so you can imagine my surprise upon finally doing so and encountering one of my photographs being used as the header image for that Medium piece.

Even being associated with this event in such a tangential manner leaves me feeling unclean. At least I agree with the bulk of Zimmerman's message.
posted by komara at 8:38 PM on May 25 [2 favorites]


And I'm...suspicious of what seems to push a good number of commenters -- less here than elsewhere -- toward a weird legalistic denial of that.

Well, I guess the difference is whether you see this as an extension of a culture of misogyny, or whether you see it as part of a different pattern of violence (Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook). So while I can see the merit in the argument that a culture of misogyny normalizes violence and thereby increases the likelihood of this type of extreme event, personally I think this fits more strongly into a pattern of school shootings in which the circumstances are similar but in which there is surprisingly little commonality among the self-professed motivations of the perpetrators.
posted by Pyry at 8:42 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I did a cursory search for fox on the whole gay angle and didn't find anything on any of their main pages. Were you implying that I was repeating fox news rhetoric or were you implying that I had come to the same conclusion as them? I see you've gotten three favorites palomar about how it's not your responsibility to google for me, and yet I presented my honest opinion unbiased of news reports... but based on first hand accounts (his writing and his videos). So please provide the Fox evidence. I *honestly* want to hear what they had to say.
posted by one4themoment at 8:44 PM on May 25


Dude...seriously?
posted by Hildegarde at 8:49 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


Dude.. fox news guest? And why on earth would I search for Fox Gay I already know how they feel. *I'm* gay.
posted by one4themoment at 8:53 PM on May 25


It's the top news story. It's right there. It's extremely easy to find. You don't need palomar to find it for you.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:58 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


And if that's all you've got, Dr Ludwig... I'm sorry to everyone here for saying it, but she's right. He could have been jealous that none of the men chose him. He seriously could have. I have been there. That's why I want to know WHY he was seeing so many people about his mental problems.
posted by one4themoment at 8:59 PM on May 25


Stop asking everyone to do your homework for you, it wasn't cute in 5th grade and it's not cute now.
posted by elizardbits at 8:59 PM on May 25 [18 favorites]


I'm not sure his sexual preferences for gender even really matter. He is relating to the world as objects and formulas. Nothing is dynamic. It's him doing the right thing and what should in his head happen next never happens because his equation completely lacks humanity.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:00 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


I'm not asking anyone to do my homework for me... I'm sorry that "fox gay" brings up the story when "fox news elliot rogers gay" doesn't...

And yeah it does actually matter if he was in the programs he was in to try to reverse that...
posted by one4themoment at 9:02 PM on May 25


What matters is that he could have been trying to convince himself and everyone else that he was heterosexual when he wasn't... and that could have been the ultimate cause... but everyone here is focusing on the whole misogyny thing... which while a problem doesn't seem to be the main cause... but nobody wants to hear it... read about how he revered the female role models in his life... don't just assume that his final words were what he really felt in actuality.
posted by one4themoment at 9:09 PM on May 25


Well, I guess the difference is whether you see this as an extension of a culture of misogyny, or whether you see it as part of a different pattern of violence (Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook) ... think this fits more strongly into a pattern of school shootings in which the circumstances are similar but in which there is surprisingly little commonality among the self-professed motivations of the perpetrators.

The self-professed motivations are irrelevant. The commonality is young, angry men, lashing out at a world that hasn't given them the things they feel they deserve.

But I don't see any dichotomy between 'extension of a culture of misogyny' or 'different pattern of violence.' Misogynistic culture (in the global sense as well as in the very intimate MRA/PUA crowd) planted the seeds for this to happen. Echo-chambery (anti)PUA forums watered that particular poisoned plant, and a combination of some sort of mental illness and easy access to firearms were its tragic fruit.

This horrific thing happened at the intersection of a whole bunch of broken society, the misogyny so prevalent in our society, mental illness, failure of authorities to investigate some truly terrifying videos properly (I mean seriously, the therapy team was concerned enough to alert the cops for a wellness check, and didn't follow up?), entitlement, and easy access to firearms.

Any single one of those problems could have been prevented, and seven people would still be alive today. There are a multitude of approaches to take to solve these messes, and the best part is they're all necessary. Rape culture as a whole needs to be attacked--from the inside, by men, standing up for what's right. Cops need to do better with wellness checks--why wasn't there at least a social worker along for the ride? And so on and so forth.

FWIW I haven't gotten a gay 'vibe' from him at all.

but everyone here is focusing on the whole misogyny thing... which while a problem doesn't seem to be the main cause

Misogyny absolutely is one of the main causes here. It's kind of baffling that you can read this thread and then come out with that statement. If misogyny wasn't the main cause, what was?

don't just assume that his final words were what he really felt in actuality.

say what now
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:14 PM on May 25 [17 favorites]


It's been a crazy weekend (I graduated from law school, y'all!) but I wanted to tell you about Isla Vista. I'm a UCSB alum, I guess I just want to let you know/remind you that IV is a real place. I'm old now. I graduated from UCSB in 2002. A year earlier, David Attais used his car as a weapon on a busy Saturday night and killed four people. But IV stayed IV. IV is dirty, expensive, gross, and loud. It's one big housing department violation. The bluffs are eroding and the stilts that keep the ocean-side Del Playa homes standing are going with them. The rent is out of this world expensive and there's no place to park. Here's an excerpt from the Santa Barbara Independent that explains a lot, but not all, of IV's problems:
To an exceptional degree, Isla Vista — about a square mile of densely packed and hormonally charged humanity — has always been notably disconnected from any broader urban context, a municipal orphan disowned and disavowed by any government agencies that might possibly play the role of foster parent. In fact, when the City of Goleta incorporated about 10 years ago, its founders took pains to exclude Isla Vista from the boundaries for fear that UCSB students would become enfranchised, take over the government, and enact some form of rent control.
Every generation of graduates will tell you IV was "cooler back then". By the time I lived there, there was a BofA ATM (students burnt down the actual bank during Vietnam protests) and the fire department was religious in its couch patrol, soaking any couches left on curbs with water because couch bringing was a sport. But I never locked my doors. I lived about 40 feet from the ocean. Parties thrown by Del Playa residents were free and everyone was invited. You'd walk from front lawn party to front lawn party in the middle of the street. You walk wiith your red solo cup turned upside down-hopefully avoiding a "minor in possession" charge by IV Foot Patrol (Sheriff's Dept). Like most small towns, IV ends up in the news mostly when something has gone horribly wrong. IV will always have problems. It's a town of huge houses and open air apartment complexes, where the balconies, alleys and front lawns are just extensions of kids' homes. It's almost exclusively populated with 18-22 year olds who age in and out every year. And for its very long list of faults, it was magical.
posted by atomicstone at 9:15 PM on May 25 [9 favorites]


Here, some reporting on bullshit reporting: 'Homosexual Impulses' Cause Of Santa Barbara Shooter's Killing Spree Suggests Fox News Expert
posted by nicebookrack at 9:16 PM on May 25


What matters is that he could have been trying to convince himself and everyone else that he was heterosexual when he wasn't... and that could have been the ultimate cause... but everyone here is focusing on the whole misogyny thing... which while a problem doesn't seem to be the main cause... but nobody wants to hear it... read about how he revered the female role models in his life... don't just assume that his final words were what he really felt in actuality.

Unlike you, I'm not a mind reader and tend to believe when someone writes an entire novella on their motivations that they aren't in fact concealing their real agenda behind some bullshit story only you and fox news have concocted.
posted by winna at 9:20 PM on May 25 [40 favorites]


One4 there had been documentation that this guy subscribed and actively participated in online communities that supported misogyny. And now here we are with repressed homesexual urges have him this terrible conflict and that's why he did it. Please. Fox is just spinning the sinner angle. Because a white male that fits in with patriarchy and hasn't had sex before marriage really is to close to their ideal .
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:21 PM on May 25 [15 favorites]


Plus then they get to blame the gays and avoid calling a white man a terrorist or having to use the words 'hate crime.'

God I fucking hate Fox.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:22 PM on May 25 [15 favorites]


Ugh.

He must be a repressed homosexual. Totally ignoring the misogyny. Gross. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.
posted by futz at 9:23 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


Let us know when being a gay man who doesn't watch Fox news makes you an expert on the mindset of a 22 year old dude with asperger's and god knows what else who makes a bunch of videos about not being able to get a girlfriend, joins a bunch of men's rights comms for dudes who can't bag a lady, and then commits premeditated mass murder.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:31 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


"Unlike you, I'm not a mind reader and tend to believe when someone writes an entire novella on their motivations that they aren't in fact concealing their real agenda..."

But, we have established that he's an unreliable narrator. Of course the fact that he's dead precludes anyone from definitively establishing any motive other than what he explicitly spelled out in his manifesto and videos.
posted by MikeMc at 9:31 PM on May 25


[Folks, let's please quit the examination of one4themoment's opinions and knowledge. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:33 PM on May 25


About the unreliable narrator thing.

Everybody is an unreliable narrator. We all have beliefs and values and world experiences that impact our interpretation of the world.

He had no self awareness and doesn't understand causality. He has no empathy and objectified women and men. He places everyone on a scale of prestige and value.

His narration of his perspective is actually quite clear. He states his point of view and his reasons and tells everyone this is why.

It doesn't make sense to most (hopefully all) of us. It shouldn't. Because he is missing so much and his perception is skewed. But in terms of him explaining his point of view his motives and reasons he is reliable.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:45 PM on May 25 [4 favorites]


Why was my comment deleted? I honestly did not understand who one4 was responding to. It was a genuine question.
posted by futz at 9:46 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


futz, a lot of one4's comments were also deleted - your question would have been out of context.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:49 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Christ. I just glanced through the manifesto and am echoing the above observations that this is definitely heavily inspired by Bret Easton Ellis and Catcher in the Rye.

I haven't read into the whole story of this awful state of affairs, but I would be very surprised if he waited 141 pages before releasing this to somebody. Any info on who might have read this before it was widely distributed?
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:11 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


What matters is that he could have been trying to convince himself and everyone else that he was heterosexual when he wasn't... and that could have been the ultimate cause... but everyone here is focusing on the whole misogyny thing... which while a problem doesn't seem to be the main cause... but nobody wants to hear it... read about how he revered the female role models in his life... don't just assume that his final words were what he really felt in actuality.

You are perhaps unfamiliar with the idea that Homophobia is a Weapon of Sexism (.pdf). This is a book by Suzanne Pharr, which talks about how not wanting to be or be seen as gay - about why being gay (especially being a gay man) is bad is a thing that has its roots in sexism. Because being gay is the like being a woman. Worse, actually - being female, which is both a biological and social status that is inferior; in sexual terms (the only ones that really matter), it means being fucked, not being the one who performs the fucking. Receiving is passive, and therefore bad.

Misogyny is not somehow the opposite of being gay. They are not unrelated. They are intimately connected. Someone who is afraid - profoundly, violently afraid - of being (seen as) gay is going to hold deeply, profoundly, violently negative feelings about things associated with being (seen as) female and (things seen as associated with) womanhood.
posted by rtha at 10:16 PM on May 25 [41 favorites]


turbid dahlia: "I haven't read into the whole story of this awful state of affairs, but I would be very surprised if he waited 141 pages before releasing this to somebody. Any info on who might have read this before it was widely distributed?"

Well, he e-mailed it to his parents (who called 911 and started driving to IV to look for him), one of his therapists, a TV station, and a bunch of other people in the couple of hours before he started killing people, but given that the manifesto talks about how terrible it would have been if his "writings" had been found during the welfare check in April, I think he probably kept this as a big secret. (I haven't read the manifesto and plan not to; this is just gleaned from the CNN piece and a tweet someone linked above.)
posted by gingerest at 10:23 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Misogyny is not somehow the opposite of being gay.

Ach, missed the edit window. Thanks to a bad cut-n-paste, this should have read:

Misogyny is not somehow the opposite of afraid of being gay.
posted by rtha at 10:26 PM on May 25


That's kind of my point... what would you latch on to if you were vehemently trying to not be perceived as gay?
posted by one4themoment at 10:33 PM on May 25


Well, I don't think it would be my hatred of and disgust with the opposite sex.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:37 PM on May 25 [11 favorites]


And now "Roosh" of PUA-land who says:

We live in a society where being shy, normal, or a little awkward is duly punished by entitled American women who have been encouraged to pursue exciting and fun casual sex in their prime with sexy and hot men as a way of ‘experimentation.’””

He then explains when women have “passed their physical prime” they then select a “nice guy” with whom to settle down, with the understanding that he is “expected to keep his mouth shut when a trickle flow of informational torture reveals that his bride-to-be has experienced more than a dozen different penises in her vagina, anus, and mouth—the same mouth that is supposed to kiss his future children good night.”

I mean, this guy is basically saying that he could have helped the killer because he knew more successful methods for getting women, but I don't see a hair's worth of difference between them otherwise. Is Roosh insane? Or just filled with hate?
posted by emjaybee at 10:46 PM on May 25 [3 favorites]


[Hey guys -- as always, bringing over the most awful stuff you can find online to repeat here really isn't great.]
posted by taz at 10:50 PM on May 25 [12 favorites]


mjb, a big problem I've been seeing in the discussion of Rodgers' hate vs Rodgers' mental illness is the idea that his misogyny was so extreme that it should, by itself, qualify as a symptom of mental impairment. I think this is obvious denial and apologism, and it's obfuscating the real discussion about the role the exact same tenets play in countless incidents of abuse, even if they never escalate to mass killings. Roosh is filled with hate rather than insane because he is, afaik, capable of functioning on his own in society, he hasn't committed any felony hate crimes lately, hasn't spent most of his adult life weeping in public in response to watching couples socialize, and isn't dodging his psychiatrist's recommendation of powerful antipsychotics. These are the factors that make me say that Rodger was disturbed as well as being violent, not his hatred of women.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 10:53 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


But I don't see any dichotomy between 'extension of a culture of misogyny' or 'different pattern of violence.' Misogynistic culture (in the global sense as well as in the very intimate MRA/PUA crowd) planted the seeds for this to happen. Echo-chambery (anti)PUA forums watered that particular poisoned plant, and a combination of some sort of mental illness and easy access to firearms were its tragic fruit.

Well, that's the big question, isn't it? If Rodger had never found the MRA crowd, would this massacre have been averted, or would it have still occurred but under a different rationale? Was misogyny the seed of this tragedy, or was it simply a mask of hate he put on to try to give legitimacy to his rampage?

In the long list of school shootings the motives have rarely been straightforward. After Columbine the nation was caught up debating whether it was bullying, video games, or perhaps music that drove them to kill. After Virginia Tech the debate was on bullying and mental health. The motives for Sandy Hook remain completely opaque.

I think the reason no comprehensible motives are to be found is because there actually are no motives beyond the killing sprees themselves. The rampage becomes an end in itself, and everything else is part of the narrative the killer tries to build around himself, his self-mythology.

A number of people have remarked on the somewhat, well, scripted affect of Rodger's words and mannerisms. I suspect this is because in a way it is scripted, he is acting according to an internalized mass murderer script that he has seen played out in the media time and time again. He hews so closely to the script that, consciously or not, he picks the exact same guns (a Glock and a Sig Sauer P226) as Adam Lanza, who in turn modeled his killing spree on Columbine.
posted by Pyry at 10:54 PM on May 25 [5 favorites]


He hews so closely to the script that, consciously or not, he picks the exact same guns (a Glock and a Sig Sauer P226) as Adam Lanza, who in turn modeled his killing spree on Columbine.

Eh, I wouldn't read too much into his choices of specific guns other than those are both really popular models -- I think most people I know own one or the other. (I'm a Kahr P9 gal myself, but I have little girly hands.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:02 PM on May 25


I would definitely agree that our obsession with serial killers/making them famous has an influence. Isn't the Scary Serial Killer also a masculine power fantasy (for a sick subsection of people)? If you can't be the hero, you can be the villain; either way you are more powerful than the rest. Female serial killers don't get the same kind of treatment, most of the time.

I'm not sure how we could approach/report on serial killers that wouldn't continue to feed into this dynamic, though.
posted by emjaybee at 11:03 PM on May 25


(just wanted to clarify per a discussion with taz that the Roosh link wasn't just "behold the endless amount of shit out there" thing but about the idea that extreme misogyny=mental illness since Roosh is not known to be mentally ill. But I think moonlight on vermont's response took it there already, so thanks moonlight.)
posted by emjaybee at 11:06 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


Eh, I wouldn't read too much into his choices of specific guns other than those are both really popular models -- I think most people I know own one or the other. (I'm a Kahr P9 gal myself, but I have little girly hands.)

I wouldn't be surprised if it's a coincidence. But on the other hand, the chance of picking the exact same two guns has got to be pretty low (he even remarks how expensive the Sig Sauer was!), and I have the feeling that it was intended as a kind of perverse homage to Adam Lanza. (Christ, what a fucked up thought).
posted by Pyry at 11:13 PM on May 25


But on the other hand, the chance of picking the exact same two guns has got to be pretty low...

Not really. "Which handgun should I get -- Glock or Sig Sauer?" is a perennial debate in defensive carry circles (my husband has a Glock and my brother has a Sig Sauer), so it's not surprising that someone obsessed with status and having the best of everything would answer "Why not both?" to that question.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:26 PM on May 25 [6 favorites]


Pyry: "Well, that's the big question, isn't it? If Rodger had never found the MRA crowd, would this massacre have been averted, or would it have still occurred but under a different rationale?"

Don't underestimate the reinforcing behavior of an echo chamber. It can be the difference between thoughts and action.
posted by spiderskull at 11:29 PM on May 25 [8 favorites]


The thing that scares me about things like this is that could have been me. The Columbine thing could have been me. I was miserable and lonely as a teenager, and resented people all around me, wondering why *other* people got to be happy, but I didn't. I had a lot of lonely nights where I cried myself to exhaustion, wondering what was wrong with me, and a lot of times I felt like the world was what was wrong, not me. I wondered why I couldn't find a girlfriend, why I couldn't have what, to me, obviously everyone had.

For whatever reason, I didn't turn out like this guy, or Dylan and Clebold, but I easily could have. I think it's a credit to the people around me, the people I had assumed didn't care about me. And it's not that I'm all better. I can be horribly suspicious of other people's motives, and I nearly automatically assume the worst. I've seen the poison about alpha and beta behavior, and I find identifying parts of myself with the beta bullshit, which I know is bullshit, but when I'm at my lowest, it just seems to fit so well. In a way, I'm glad I grew up in a time before forums supporting this crap were so common and easily accessible. Who knows what would have happened if I had had a chorus of voices commiserating with me, rather than people trying to smack some sense into me.

The other thing that's hit me, reading this thread, is that, for my own part, MetaFilter has been a key part of identifying the behavior and language that I have used as not just inappropriate, but truly wrong, and something that I need to change to become the person I had thought I was, and it's still an ongoing process. The thing is, while a lot of mysoginist behavior is just obviously wrong, so much of the behavior I've seen called out here (and elsewhere) is behavior that I'd grown up having it confirmed as proper behavior. So much of the behavior that women, here and elsewhere, have come forward and said, hey, stop this shit about, it's stuff that I was utterly unaware of. Through places like this, I've been able to try to start figuring things out. I'm lucky enough to have a place like this where I have people telling me exactly why behavior X or phrase Y isn't acceptable.

The thing is, and this is my own opinion, but I think the vast majority of men and boys don't have anything like this, don't have a place where things can be explained to them. What they do have is a worldwide echo chamber filled with male aspirational figures who act in horrible ways, and say and do awful things, and never get called on it. I can't, myself, even begin to truly understand the shit any woman goes through on a daily basis, but at least I've found a place that can get me to shut up and listen for a while.

One of the things that hit me the hardest was the person in the yesallwomen tag saying "I've spent the last 19 years teaching my daughter how to avoid being raped. How long have you spent teaching your son that?" I'm stunned by how little I've understood, and how far I need to go to understand what women go through, and I have no idea how to get other men to even begin to acknowledge it.

To me, all of the people trying to say it's not that he was a mysoginist, he was crazy, or look, he killed men, too, so it's not a sexism thing, it's a part of the dismissiveness that makes the whole thing so fucked, the idea that behavior that makes the life of half the world miserable isn't a *real* problem, or even the reason someone would kill, even though that person specifically said he hated women and wanted to kill the ones he felt most likely to shock and terrify as revenge for his own delusions. I can't imagine a clearer example of mysoginist terrorism than this, but we've got tons of people, from the not all men squad to the PUA scum who seem to be saying that, if only this guy had employed their repugnant tactics that treat women as objectives in a game, he would have had sex and 'been fine,' falling all over themselves to qualify and rules-lawyer over what, and who, exactly, gets to decide what is and isn't hatred of women. I honestly don't understand how any of this gets better.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:32 AM on May 26 [94 favorites]


The thing is, and this is my own opinion, but I think the vast majority of men and boys don't have anything like this, don't have a place where things can be explained to them. What they do have is a worldwide echo chamber filled with male aspirational figures who act in horrible ways, and say and do awful things, and never get called on it.
Not just your opinion. Plenty of us grew up in an environment where those were the only role models available to us. Before I get jumped on, I'm not making excuses in any way. Somehow, us men that didn't take that on board as truth or found out the truth later need to figure out a way to spread the message that, just because someone you look up to treats women like objects, doesn't mean you should aspire to be like them.
posted by dg at 2:16 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


There's something in our culture that makes "he would have killed anyway" feel intuitive in response to these supposedly "senseless" killings, but do we have any basis for that? It seems worth being suspicious of this claim precisely because there's comfort to be had -- especially in terms of being able to deny any societal culpability -- in considering the drive to commit mass murder somehow fundamental, inextricable to who they are. (Only a mass murderer could commit mass murder, we tell ourselves tautologically, and every mass murderer will find a reason to.)

There's also a categorical difference between using these events to put a spotlight on a toxic culture of mangled masculinity vs. earlier rushes to place blame on video games and violent movies. You can accept a feminist reading of these events without also retroactively accepting that violent cultural products should have been banned after Columbine.
posted by nobody at 5:23 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


So all the guns were legally purchased. That's just great. I'm going to assume that they were legally purchased by someone else because if this guy could buy a bunch of handguns we're all screwed.

He has no significant criminal history. He does not appear to have been previously held under a 5150 otherwise out under court order care. There were no restraining orders against him. He was over 18. He would have passed the background check.
posted by humanfont at 6:03 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted. As restless_nomad requested above, it would be better to drop the focus on making it all about one person's opinion here.]
posted by taz at 6:52 AM on May 26


(edited my comment to comply)

humanfont, that's exactly the problem. He shouldn't have passed a background check. That kid should never have had anything more dangerous than a butter knife.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:56 AM on May 26


This is completely an aside, but because I work in film it's jumped out at me.

Articles keep referring to the shooter's father as either a "Hollywood director" (22.6 Million google results when combined with "Elliot Rodger") or an "assistant director" (29.1M results), specifically on the Hunger Games.

His credit on the Hunger Games is really "2nd Unit Director" because he directed the intra-diagetic propaganda spot (which is, debatably, a more prestigious credit than Assistant Director, traditionally an entirely uncreative role, though it also means he had no hand in production of the movie shoot itself). And he's primarily an advertising director, though he did direct a documentary a few years back in which he asks people on the street whether they believe in a god. These are basically his only two film credits.

(For comparison "'Elliot Rodger' 'unit director'" shows only 12k results, and "'Elliot Rodger' 'commercial director'" shows fewer than 1.5k results.)

I'm not sure why I'm bothering to mention this. Hope it's not too much of a bother that I am.
posted by nobody at 7:42 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


There is a "Elliott Rodger is an American Hero" Facebook page, which has been set up to "pay tribute" to someone who "made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against feminazi ideology". One of the status updates on the page reads, "Feminists, whether you like it or not, you are the cause of this incident. You have empowered women to essentially bully and reject people, and in this case it would seem that this happened to some poor kid with Autism. A generation of self important narcissistic cows have been raised rather than the nicer ladies of the previous generations. Who's fault is that? That's the feminist's fault." I'm not cherry-picking either - the whole page is like that. I've reported it for hate speech twice, and both times Facebook claimed they examined the page for hate speech and decided it didn't violate community standards. Unbelievable.

Last year it took months of public pressure to get Facebook to remove a page that essentially existed to call a teenage gang rape victim who later committed suicide a slut, so it'll probably take a long time to get them to remove this page. By contrast, when I posted a picture of knitted elephant shorts for men (the junk, as you might expect, was in the trunk) to my knitting blog's Facebook page last winter, the photo was removed within a few hours and I was given a 12 hour time out to reconsider my community standard violating ways.

Fuck you, Facebook. I hate you so much right now.
posted by orange swan at 7:46 AM on May 26 [82 favorites]


Well. You can't stop selling Americans guns. I don't mean you shouldn't, which is another question. I mean you can't. There is no party with the political will and the political capital to stop the widespread sale of firearms in the US.

With that in mind, you also can't stop people buying guns because they look squirrelly, or have a weird feel to them. An individual shopkeeper can (although gun sellers who exercise their right to refuse service will be targeted by gun rights activists and probably see their business suffer terribly), but that person, absent an official notice saying "do not sell this person guns", can just cross the street and buy a gun somewhere else.

Should there be a register of people who have issued death threats on the Internet, or put up YouTube videos explaining how other people are worthless and should be exterminated, or sent terrifying manifesti to their parents? Maybe, but it's not workable, because of the Vox Day issue above - there are far too many people exhibiting behavior on the Internet that would make them look potentially dangerous.

Any attempt to do this would be totally unworkable because of the sheer numbers involved (a) and would be a political minefield (b). You'd get Prom Queens looking sad on Fox News because they were denied a sale because of an essay they wrote in English class, with a cut to video of scary youths in hoodies buying legal firearms.

And you can't give everyone who wants to buy a gun a psych evaluation - there just aren't enough trained people in the country to do it, or people who would want to risk the malpractice suits and/or revenge killings. Even if you could set up such a system, you might be looking at waiting lists of months, which again no party has the political will or capital to create. And of course the system would be imperfect, and people would slip through.

Even if that system was perfect, nobody could predict when somebody buys a firearm whether they would become a danger to others at some point in the future due to an unforeseen circumstance. Alexis Aaron believed that he was having thoughts placed in his head through extremely low frequency radio waves. However, he had a decade of legal adulthood during which he had nothing on his medical record, and although he had been arrested several times he had never been prosecuted. Would the gun lobby in 2012, have agreed that that should exempt him - and many, many others, including respectable [*cough*white] people who just had a little too much to drink once in a while, or got a little heated during an argument - from being able to purchase or own a firearm?

The gun lobby talks a lot about mental illness in the aftermath of spree and rampage killings precisely because of the near-impossibility of selecting for mental illness at the point of sale. So, when the lobbyists emerge from what must be a very well-used briefing room this time, or the next time a spree or rampage killing takes place, they will once again blame mental health care services for not identifying that the killer was dangerously mentally ill and preventing them from getting access to firearms. They are demanding that other institutions do what is effectively an impossible job, and one made harder, of course, by the campaign against centralised registries of gun ownership.

However, if anyone seriously moved toward limiting the right to buy firearms on a precautionary basis, which is the only way this could work, the gun lobby would go nuclear. Why not, after all, stop Americans from buying steak knives, or power tools, on the suspicion that they might be used at some point further down the line to kill? What kind of incipient fascist government takes away second amendment rights from citizens because they had a bad day and vented on the Internet, or told their doctor about some bad dreams they were having? And so on.

So, while it seems common sense in hindsight to say that somebody who used the guns they bought to kill innocent people should not have been able to buy those guns, there is a huge lobbying apparatus designed to ensure that they could, while simultaneously theatrically nodding its head and agreeing that they should never have been sold the guns, and that the healthcare service should (somehow) have identified them as a precrime risk, while letting all the people Tweeting about their second amendment solutions to government tyranny continue to buy guns, because they are just expressing patriotic sentiment and celebrating the American individual.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:46 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Just from the information we know at this point, I don't see how a background check process could have prevented him from buying guns, unless you are imagining a super intrusive and labor intensive FBI security check process where they call your parents and friends. He seems to have had the ability to act normal (like when the deputies came to his place for the welfare check), so he would have passed an interview, and there's no central registry of people who have accessed mental health care.

I'm not at all arguing against background checks, just that in this case I don't see how it could have worked.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:48 AM on May 26


I'm reading the #yesallwomen feed on Twitter and have contributed a few items of my own to it. About how I've been hassled on the street by strange men thousands of times. About how I've lost count of how many female friends have been physically abused and sexually assaulted by men they were dating. About how I grew up being cruelly treated by my oldest two brothers who were still slapping me around when they were in their early twenties and I was an adolescent girl, how my parents never disciplined them for it (my father egged them on, my mother told me "if you wouldn't get so upset, they wouldn't do it"), how my brothers have never apologized for anything, how they have continued to freely insult and ridicule me to this day though they're now middle-aged. About how so many men have said derogatory things about women to me, i.e., that "women don't work", "women don't care about anything but what's in a man's wallet","women are evil", "women are crazy", and how they lash out at me when I respectfully try tell them why it's offensive. And how despite the fact that this is a significant amount of abuse and harassment, I still feel I've been one of the lucky ones because I know so, so many women who've had it so much worse than me.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 AM on May 26 [12 favorites]


(The above in response to:

He shouldn't have passed a background check. That kid should never have had anything more dangerous than a butter knife.


Although more of this applies to Facebook and the Bay Area dream of neutral platforms and self-regulation through status monitoring than is comfortable.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:50 AM on May 26


The hell of the #yesallwomen thing is that even there there are women saying "not me though" and using it as an excuse to pitch gun rights by implying "if this really does happen to all women why do feminazis want gun control".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on May 26


That strikes me as something of a non-sequitur, EmpressCallipygos. But I suppose I'm already steeped in the crazy feminazi culture or something.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:57 AM on May 26


According to this story, the deputies who did the wellness check on him never saw the videos he made and were not aware that it was because of the videos that his parents had asked them to do the wellness check.
posted by rtha at 8:02 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


orange swan, I reported that Facebook page as hate speech, and I posted a link to the page on my own wall asking my friends to please report the page if they have time. Huge numbers of flags in their queue might spur them to take it down faster. If anyone here would like to report that page, please do, it'll help.
posted by palomar at 8:06 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


unless you are imagining a super intrusive and labor intensive FBI security check process where they call your parents and friends.

Hey that sounds like a great idea actually. When are you guys going to start doing this?

Oh, right, never. 7 people dead is acceptable collateral damage for people to buy people-killing machines.

According to this story, the deputies who did the wellness check on him never saw the videos he made

I thought it was the therapy team that made the actual call to the cops, or have I messed up the timeline? I thought it was concerned parents > therapists > cops.

Even if it was the parents, how the fuck did the information about the videos not get passed on to the cops? Seriously? How?

I'd be willing to bet some heads are going to roll over this, and within a few months there are going to be at least six lawsuits naming various parties.

The way this has become the usual online tribal argument between Team Misogyny and Team Mental Illness is so depressing. Is there nothing that can't be churned into social media tribal warfare propaganda?

Except, uh, it hasn't really. Some of us are focusing on different aspects of what caused this tragedy, which is not at all the same as pretending they don't exist.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:07 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


The Facebook page is gone, orange swan and palomar.

This exists though. As a memorial for the victims.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:12 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


The Guardian reports that Facebook page has been removed..

Thank god because I was very squigged out about having to go there in order to report it
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:14 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


orange swan, i agree with you that facebook is a bad thing, and i have a suggestion which may help. don't look at facebook, and don't post stuff on it anymore.

there's a tradeoff for that convenience. mr. zuckerberg, his ad network, the shadowy figures who funded him initially, and a passel of total strangers get access to your social graph, the details of your daily life, pictures of clothing you knitted, etc., etc. when you use email instead, you're in control. you can limit the readership, at least in the first instance, to the addresses you put in the "to" field. i don't know of any email services that would give you a 12 hour timeout for sending a picture of elephant shorts to your friends.

IF ENOUGH OF US STAND UP AND TURN OUR BACKS ON FACEBOOK, CEASE AND DESIST FROM USING IT, NOBODY WILL PAY IT TO RUN ADS ANYMORE, AND FACEBOOK WILL DIE! WHO'S WITH ME ON THIS?
posted by bruce at 8:15 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Hey that sounds like a great idea actually. When are you guys going to start doing this?

*So* much easier said than done, as you probably know, since you're not a stranger to the politics of American gun control. Please, please don't snark and sneer about this - it's not like we're unaware, it's not like it's a thing that is new to us. If it were this easy, it would be done already. The sneering is not really helpful and as someone who totally agrees with you, I don't even enjoy it, at all.

I thought it was the therapy team that made the actual call to the cops, or have I messed up the timeline? I thought it was concerned parents > therapists > cops.

From what I've read, it was his parents who called the cops directly, though I think I remember reading somewhere (probably linked in this thread!) that they also called his therapists.
posted by rtha at 8:15 AM on May 26 [6 favorites]


At least as of right now, a new page was created about an hour ago on FB, looking exactly like the old one that was taken down.

Hopefully it won't last as long, but someone isn't getting the message.
posted by ambrosia at 8:19 AM on May 26


I'm not sneering. Full actual background checks would have kept guns out of the hands of this guy, Adam Lanza, and God knows how many other people who went on to kill and kill and kill.

The attitude you're sensing is bone-weary frustration that nobody with power in the USA is looking at the body count that racks up every year and does nothing about it.

Year after year after year we hear about some angry frustrated young man somehow getting his hands legally on guns and then going and making holes in people. What is it going to take for something to be done about this? At what point do people stand up and say "The right to have a gun is not worth the collateral damage they cause?"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:22 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


a word about the parents, remember, they're hollywood people, and they, their lawyer/spokespeople/etc. are going to script this to cast them in the best possible light after they enabled their son to do this awful thing. they are going to paint themselves as prophets whose alarms went unheeded, when in actual fact, they provided their son with enough support to buy three guns which he used on people, and a fine sports car which he used on people. the parents owe society an accounting, which should be regarded with skepticism.
posted by bruce at 8:23 AM on May 26


You mean the same parents who got him into therapy, who were so worried that they warned the therapists and the police, and were frantically searching the area for him as soon as they saw the manifesto?

'Uncharitable' is the least offensive word I can use to describe what you are saying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:27 AM on May 26 [40 favorites]


The sheriff's office has said his parents called them last month; do you think the sheriff is in on some conspiracy to make the parents look good?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:27 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


That Facebook page was pretty obviously a parody.
posted by empath at 8:29 AM on May 26


We have no evidence the parents were enablers in this particular crime, and in fact they actually seem to have been the ones most concerned about where he was headed.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:30 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


No one can guarantee your safety. Or rather, anyone who can guarantee your physical safety can also completely eliminate it whenever they see fit.
posted by wuwei at 8:30 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Full actual background checks would have kept guns out of the hands of this guy,

I don't know how you can say this as if it's a given truth, because from what we know, he didn't have a serious criminal record (certainly not a felon) and he'd never been declared mentally unfit, and just being in treatment for mental health issues is not something that keeps someone from getting guns legally. Did I miss something that you're referring to that would have prevented him from buying guns? What exactly do you mean by "full actual background checks"?
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


That Facebook page was pretty obviously a parody.

Maybe, but I think it cut a bit close to the bone. I thought this was quite sincere until I read this.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:32 AM on May 26


Oh, and if what you mean is that there should be a different kind of background check mandated for gun buyers, then that's a horse of a different color. The background checks they did on him are the ones mandated and allowable by law - there's not some other kind of check they *could* have done, but didn't. There is no other kind (allowed by law), as far as I know. Some of our gun-owning mefites can probably clarify and correct.
posted by rtha at 8:33 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


none of us knows for sure what really happened, all we are hearing is the narrative, and i don't trust the narrative. what i can tell you is that when i was in college, i couldn't afford a gun, and i could only afford the worst piece of shit car you ever saw for junior and senior years. one of the problems with this guy is he had too damn much money. i plead no contest to the charge of being uncharitable, but i don't think i owe any charity to anybody in this situation except the victims and their families.
posted by bruce at 8:34 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


What exactly do you mean by "full actual background checks"?

Exactly what I said above: talking to friends and family, for one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:37 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


ROSF, I was wondering how to phrase a similar post. By contrast, the UK system requires an annual report from your GP to maintain a hunting rifle licence, which is rubber-stamped by the police (who absolutely have a central record of gun owners and make impromptu visits). There is an extremely low threshold for taking the guns off you (a messy divorce would be plenty). As mentioned above, you can't get handguns, and you need a very good reason for a rifle ('target practice' would get you laughed out of the room). So yes, a UK-style background check would have stopped him getting guns (but wouldn't stop him knifing people or making a nailbomb, and may make gun-owners less likely to seek medical help as somebody mentioned upthread - this is definitely a problem for the armed forces).

The UK has an entirely different attitude to guns though (our police don't have guns, there is no culture of hunting, so wanting a gun is a bit of a red flag in itself). Bear in mind that just being found in possession of an illegal gun (ie it's locked up in your house and the police find it) will get you a mandatory 5yr minimum sentence, on top of whatever you were actually done for. I just cannot see UK-style regulation ever getting traction in the US. I also don't see how you can take guns off citizens and not off the police - your police seem to shoot first and ask later too. The whole culture needs to change before you are going to be able to bring in root and branch reform of gun laws. And the number of guns in the UK is probably barely into 5 figures (certainly even when I lived in a village and went to school with Young Farmers, nobody had guns), which makes it easier to regulate.
posted by tinkletown at 8:37 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


there is no culture of hunting

In the UK? Are you serious?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:41 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Exactly what I said above: talking to friends and family, for one.

But that's not what the law permits. Should it be different? I think that's a discussion for a different thread, but the background check that was done was the one required and allowed by law.
posted by rtha at 8:42 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


I am aware of those facts.

Those facts need to change, or every 4-6 months there's going to be yet another of these.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:43 AM on May 26


The Facebook page is gone, orange swan and palomar.

Score one for the social pressure applied by those who care about truth and respect, but still... fuck Facebook for not deleting the page the minute they became aware of it. They should have deleted the page because it was the right thing to do, not because a legion of their users shamed them into it.

That Facebook page was pretty obviously a parody.

I do not believe that it was, but supposing for the sake of argument that it was, parody is supposed to be distinct from the real thing, and that page wasn't. Therefore it was only adding to the misogyny out there instead of undercutting it, and was rightfully deleted.
posted by orange swan at 8:44 AM on May 26 [9 favorites]


> one of the problems with this guy is he had too damn much money

It's good to figure out what went wrong so we can work to prevent similar incidents. I don't see how anything would be better if he had driven "the worst piece of shit car" like you had. I drove a '74 Pinto when I was in college and that's not what stopped me from killing anyone.

Poverty is not the solution to growing up in a sexist culture, having easy access to guns, or poorly treated mental health issues.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:44 AM on May 26 [15 favorites]


orange swan, i agree with you that facebook is a bad thing, and i have a suggestion which may help. don't look at facebook, and don't post stuff on it anymore.

Let me tell you, for a minute there I wanted to do exactly that. But it'll hurt me more than it'll hurt them. I use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, and to promote my knitting blog. Without it I'd be even more horribly lonely than I already am and make even less from blogging than I already do. I just can't afford to take that kind of a hit.

My best hope is that Facebook is eventually made obsolete by the rise of some other social media juggernaut.
posted by orange swan at 8:53 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


if he couldn't afford the guns, his weapons would have been limited to a baseball bat and a fishing knife. sure, he could have killed a couple of people, but not an entire sorority house. but for the grace of the woman on the inside of the alpha phi door not opening it when he was pounding on it, he would have slaughtered every single one of them. if he had invaded it with a baseball bat and a fishing knife, the women could have fought back with their own sports equipment.

i agree that the sexist culture, easy access to guns and poorly treated mental health issues contributed to this, i was just adding another factor that i don't think has been getting enough attention. happy now?
posted by bruce at 8:53 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Under the definition of the DSM, he wasn't mentally ill; his thoughts and actions are consistent with a misogynistic culture, much like his belief that he could win the lottery is not a delusion but rather a cultural trope.

According to his "manifesto", he was prescribed risperdal by his psychiatrist. Was that because of his not being mentally ill?
posted by Jahaza at 8:55 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


if he couldn't afford the guns, his weapons would have been limited to a baseball bat and a fishing knife.

Guns are not exactly chewing gum but they are also not prohibitively expensive to someone who really wants one. A handgun costs less than a piece of shit car that runs. It costs less than a college course. It costs less than a month's rent for a shitty studio apartment. And someone who is actively planning to use a gun to kill people is likely to be willing to scrounge up the cash even in the case where it is a hardship.

It's just not an issue primarily of money, and putting it on Hollywood parents letting the kid have access to money, instead of every single other thing in play, doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
posted by cortex at 9:00 AM on May 26 [18 favorites]


"When are you guys going to start doing this?"

Never. See "lack of political will" above. Not to mention the fact that are already more guns in private hands than there are people in this country. There's no way even a significant fraction of those can be recovered (and be prepared for bloodshed if the attempt is made).

I'm not sneering. Full actual background checks would have kept guns out of the hands of this guy, Adam Lanza, and God knows how many other people who went on to kill and kill and kill.

IIRC Adam Lanza used a rifle owned by his mother, Klebold and Harris used a "Straw Buyer" as they were underage and many school shooters used guns owned by family members. Not to mention the fact that private party, person-to-person, sales are entirely unregulated. If you were in the neighborhood I could sell you a pistol and box of hollowpoints in the time it takes you to hand me the money.
posted by MikeMc at 9:00 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


You know what, I feel like sitting here telling people "just don't look at it if it bothers you" is a terrible response to the issue of seeing shitty things like "parody" pages praising a murderer. I'm a little sick of living in a culture where my gender reduces me to an object and being told to toughen up if I don't like it.
posted by palomar at 9:06 AM on May 26 [29 favorites]


If you were in the neighborhood I could sell you a pistol and box of hollowpoints in the time it takes you to hand me the money.

That is horrifying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:08 AM on May 26


I'm the first one to speak up against guns (I broke up with a guy because he owned one, and won't visit the homes of anyone I know who has one), but I really, honestly don't think access to guns were the main issue here. This guy's first three victims were stabbed. He was a bomb waiting to go off, and his family knew it. Whether the police did their job or not, we don't do a good enough job in this country of watching out for each other. How many saw this guy's ramblings on YouTube and never did anything about it?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:10 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


i agree that the sexist culture, easy access to guns and poorly treated mental health issues contributed to this, i was just adding another factor that i don't think has been getting enough attention. happy now?

Not particularly. Poverty doesn't prevent violence--breeds it, in fact. And his parents, according to reports from other people, did their best to have him treated.

So while his parents might be some factor in this, they're not a factor worth considering. They tried.

but I really, honestly don't think access to guns were the main issue here. This guy's first three victims were stabbed. He was a bomb waiting to go off, and his family knew it.

Indeed he was. But minus those guns, he wouldn't have been able to kill other people so quickly and, ugh, efficiently. It was sheer dumb luck that the sorority house door was locked and the girl wouldn't let him in. If he'd had a knife, he wouldn't have been able to do quite as much damage. He had three guns and 400 rounds of ammunition. If he'd gotten into that house all those girls would be dead. And probably the ones in the next sorority over.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:15 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering, that's a good point. I just think there were so many times in this kid's life that he should have been deemed a danger to society.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:17 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Mental illness doesn't make a person more likely to be hateful or misogynistic or violent. Autism doesn't, either.

Claiming that mental illness or autism could "explain" why this man decided to murder women and people who fucked women and people he deemed unable to fuck women perpetuates the stigma against mental illness and autism by making those "disorders" into monster-creating boogeyman, and by essentializing autism and mental illness. This was a *person* not a disorder, and he made *personal choices* that were appalling and destructive (and, for what it's worth, I think his choices were evil).

His misogyny was expressed by the way he essentialized gender, so the essentialization of his autism and (possible) mental illness(es) are especially disturbing to me.

The vast majority of ASD and/or mentally ill people would never ever ever do anything like this, and are not ticking time bombs. I know that plenty of the people reading this thread understand that, but it's bothering me to see this "explanation" get thrown around because it seems to paint autism and/or mentally ill people as inherently dangerous because of their autism and/or mental illness and that is a stigmatizing, ableist, and dangerous assumption in and of itself.

Oooph just had to get that out.
posted by rue72 at 9:17 AM on May 26 [15 favorites]


I just think there were so many times in this kid's life that he should have been deemed a danger to society.

No argument from me, here. April would have been a good time for the cops to have actually looked at the damn videos.

it seems to paint autism and/or mentally ill people as inherently dangerous because of their autism and/or mental illness

Nobody in this thread is doing that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 AM on May 26


In Taiwan last week, a man killed four and wounded twenty four with a knife. That happens with some regularity in China as well as. Let's say we ban all guns, and are able to successfully get them out of all hands. Even, say most of the police-- we move to the way things are done in the island paradise of the UK. Okay fine.

I would like to ask what the next step will be when our admittedly violent, misogynistic, hyper-winner-take-all capitalist nation is still suffering from routine spree killings?

What would make you feel safe then?
posted by wuwei at 9:25 AM on May 26


The lack of guns? I mean, maybe that's a trite answer but you're trying for some gotcha here and I am disinclined to indulge you.

Fewer guns = fewer people dead by guns

This is a very simple thing to understand. It is equally simple to understand that having a gun (vs a knife) makes it far easier to kill multiple people, while also making it hard to subdue the attacker; that gun could get pointed at you next. Guns are impersonal; they deal death at a distance.

Knives are far more personal, far less likely to be fatal, and wielded by people easier to subdue, even by civilians, specifically because wounds inflicted are less likely to be fatal.

In Taiwan last week, a man killed four and wounded twenty four with a knife.

And what do you think the death count would have been if he'd had a couple of handguns instead?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:30 AM on May 26 [13 favorites]


What's your point, wuwei? That because it's still possible to kill people even if you don't have a gun, that we might as well give up?

But to answer your question: NoraReed has some good suggestions for next steps.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:31 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The guns aren't my point at all. I'm talking about existential dread. I'm asking people a simple question-- how will you feel when the guns are all gone (which might be possible actually) and the killing continues?
posted by wuwei at 9:33 AM on May 26


In the UK? Are you serious?

I think it's more that there's a different culture of hunting...

Fox hunting - the best-known form of hunting in the UK - is now illegal, but was previously done with horses and dogs, not guns (and still is, covertly, insofar as a bunch of men in red jackets on horses shouting and blowing horns can be said to be covert).

Generally, hunting for food with guns is just not something meaningful numbers of people do on a regular basis, though - not enough wild land, not enough wild life. Hunting for game - wood pigeons, pheasants or grouse - is done using "fowling pieces" - that is, single or double-barrelled, breech-loading smooth-bore shotguns. Regular game hunters (or farmers, who need to scare off or kill foxes or rabbits) might well own their own guns - but for many it's an activity where you go to a country estate for a weekend of team-building or recreation, and use guns provided by the organisers.

So, there's a history of hunting (and/or poaching) in the UK, but what hunting is done with guns is largely done with smooth-bore weapons with one or two shots available before a reload, not least because it's easier to get a license for that kind of weapon. Even that relatively simple process involves submitting an application for a license to the police, in writing, with photos and a character reference: you can't walk into a shop and buy a gun.

Also, there are no bears and very few wild boar, so self-loading ("semi-automatic") rifled-bore long guns above .22 rimfire are totally banned. You're just not going to meet anything big enough and dangerous enough to justify them, so there's no hunting justification, and self-defence is not a justification for buying or owning a firearm*.

(I mentioned upthread that the relative ease of getting a license for a smooth-bore, one-or-two shot gun, or getting hold of one without a license, is why sawn-off shotguns are often used in firearm crimes in the UK, making it very hard to perform a US-style spree or rampage killing, because of the need to reload frequently).


* Although if you do own a licensed firearm, it is allowable to use it in self-defence, although reasonable force applies. You can't shoot someone who is running away from you, for example, and not expect to be arrested.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:33 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


I'm talking about existential dread.

But what is the point? What conclusion would you like us/you to come to in admitting that something is so fundamentally broken in our society (and not just ours, we're not that special) that even if guns are banned people still hate each other and find non-gun ways to express their rage and disaffection? I am despairing. That is my answer. What good does that do you, or any of us?
posted by rtha at 9:35 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


After I picked up the handgun, I brought it back to my room and felt a new sense of power. I was now armed. Who's the alpha-male now, bitches?
Elliot Rodger's manifesto
posted by ryanfou at 9:38 AM on May 26


Those of you who have I-could-have-been-this-guy moments; can you speculate as to why that way of thinking appealed to you? Did your family teach you toxic masculinity crap, or was it all peers/society? Can you imagine ways in which you could have been raised that would have inoculated you against that?

Asking because I have a boy-kid. His dad has said he knew guys like this and can't really articulate why he didn't turn out that way, but says he just could never take that step into hatred even though he experienced plenty of bullying and rejection from girls. He had a good relationship with his mom, I suspect that helped.

But it would be good to know more, if you have any insights to share.
posted by emjaybee at 9:38 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


rtha,
Precisely. Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere, whether by well-spoken urban liberals or glib "Texan" politicians is how we've ended up with a prison-industrial state at home, and death from the skies abroad.

There are limits to our power.
posted by wuwei at 9:38 AM on May 26


And if you think about it, that refusal to accept that there were limits TO HIS POWER is how Elliot Rodger got to the fucked up and evil place that led him to kill all those people.
posted by wuwei at 9:40 AM on May 26


The guns aren't my point at all. I'm talking about existential dread. I'm asking people a simple question-- how will you feel when the guns are all gone (which might be possible actually)

Much, much safer when crossing the border.

and the killing continues?

Assumes facts not in evidence. To use your Taiwan example, there's really not much you can do about someone who's been planning such an attack since childhood. Earlier detection of sociopathy would help, but that would require a massive investment in mental healthcare that no politician--at least in North America--seems willing to make.

In five minutes, that guy killed four people and injured a couple dozen others. That's seriously fucked up in any case; he must have been moving incredibly fast. People defended themselves with umbrellas for God's sake.

Tell me, how much use is an umbrella against a 9mm slug? How many more people would have died in Taiwan if he'd had a couple of handguns?

Again:

Fewer guns = fewer dead people


There are limits to our power.

There are. That doesn't mean we shouldn't push those limits as far as we can to stop innocent people from dying because some asshole felt like pulling a trigger a whole bunch of times.

Evil exists in the world.

As I said way upthread, this is handwavium. Call something evil and there you go, it's neatly explained and pigeonholed and wrapped up in a nice bow. Unfortunately that contributes not a single iota of information or understanding of why and how these things happen and how to prevent them from happening again. 'Evil' is a wallpaper word used to cover up huge cracks in arguments.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:43 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


> Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere, whether by well-spoken urban liberals or glib "Texan" politicians is how we've ended up with a prison-industrial state at home, and death from the skies abroad

Are you saying we're supposed to accept that there will always be evil (which has religious connotations for me; I don't know if that's how you mean it) and give up trying to improve society?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:44 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Wuwei, dude, self-aggrandizing hypotheticals about the personal courage required to stare into the abyss do not trump the actual, happening-now emotions being felt by people in response to a thing that happened in the world.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:45 AM on May 26 [19 favorites]


Fewer guns = fewer dead people


That's so obviously true, and you can't even sell THAT to people. Thousands of little kids die in gun accidents/shootings each year and you cannot get the 2nd Amendment believers to change their stance on anything.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:46 AM on May 26 [16 favorites]


Handwavium is continual banging on about unrealistic gun control ideas without acknowledging the legal and political context that exists here. It's a sweet idea, but very straightforwardly it isn't happening. If multiple mass shootings (including of cute white children) and the shooting of a congressperson didn't create a possibility of this, I can assure you it is off the table at this point in time.

We can acknowledge that as crappy and unfortunate, but then it is time to move the conversation forward.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:47 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


I have in fact acknowledged the reality as it is on the ground, so uh, not really sure what point you're getting at. Or you're just having yet another dig at me, in which case, please don't.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:49 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere, whether by well-spoken urban liberals or glib "Texan" politicians is how we've ended up with a prison-industrial state at home, and death from the skies abroad.

There are limits to our power.


Gosh why hadn't I realized that my desire to be seen as a person instead of an object will inevitably lead to dystopia so I should just fold my hands and give up?

Maybe because it's an incredibly stupid, cynical and lazy idea I dunno.
posted by winna at 9:53 AM on May 26 [51 favorites]


Yeah I mean seriously, that's nihilism that would have made even Nietszche go "Hey, maybe you should go play with a puppy or something."

Striving against what you term as 'evil' is, in essence, exactly what being human is all about. You're talking about giving up, wuwei. That helps nobody.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:55 AM on May 26


Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere, whether by well-spoken urban liberals or glib "Texan" politicians is how we've ended up with a prison-industrial state at home, and death from the skies abroad.

Fuck this bullshit. This is nihilistic assholery. I do not accept that the evil that manifests (for example) as murderous misogyny is just OH WELL something I give up on changing or fighting against, or that fighting against it is responsible for creating drone diplomacy and the prison-industrial complex. I mean what the fuck.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on May 26 [33 favorites]


OK, so we all agree that if someone stands for election promising that if elected they will end evil everywhere we should be suspicious of that, and also that if there were no guns bad things would still happen?

IANAM, I think this would be a good place to leave this argument.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:11 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere,

welp.. I guess we should just pack it in, repeal child labor laws, disband the police, reinstitute slavery, and invade Canada.

now excuse me I'm off to burn down the neighbors house

DON'T JUDGE ME!!

{/}
posted by edgeways at 10:18 AM on May 26 [12 favorites]


Pick Up Artist Site On Mass Shooting: ‘More People Will Die Unless You Give Men Sexual Options’

Christ on a cracker, I fucking hate people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:22 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


"Go fuck yourself" is a sort of sexual option, I suppose.
posted by cortex at 10:23 AM on May 26 [65 favorites]


It's one of the few options open for women over a certain age.
posted by goofyfoot at 10:28 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Time covers the "most powerful #YesAllWomen tweets" though I'd say they left out a lot of good ones.
posted by emjaybee at 10:30 AM on May 26


I've got a sexual option for this guy: he could stick his dick in a wood chipper.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:31 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


emjaybee, last night my husband and I were discussing his experience with how he was raised and why he went through a brief period of being A Nice Guy. I can tell you what he told me and throw in a couple of my observations as well.

He's in his 40s now, raised by a single mother in a very matriarchal family. His contact with his out-of-state father was infrequent enough that it didn't play much of a role in his upbringing. In his late teens and very early 20s, my husband was the stereotypical nice guy. However, he was steeped in emo and angst, not bitterness and anger like the killer.

He was fortunate in that eventually a couple of women actually sat him down (at different times) and said, "you're a great guy but here's your problem. Here's the trouble with your line of thinking." He listened and credits their honesty with changing his behavior for the better.

By all accounts, my husband shouldn't have gone down the nice guy path since he was raised by and surrounded by strong women. On the other hand, the women he was surrounded by growing up are somewhat controlling (to put it mildly). I didn't know him as a child but I see how the other males of varying ages in his family are currently treated and I strongly suspect there is a correlation between the womens' behavior and the trend of the males in my husband's family to be varying degrees of Nice Guy.

There is a very strong undercurrent of "be a good boy and make mommy/aunt/sister happy." It's easy to see, at least in the case of my husband's family, how spending your childhood being nice and sweet as the only way to gain approval from the women could easily translate into a Nice Guy attitude once they reach dating age.

So, that may not be much help in terms of how to raise your son but perhaps it's a data point of some sort.

Aa an aside, I am eternally grateful to the women who took the time to show my husband better ways to behave. You would be proud to know him now.
posted by _Mona_ at 10:37 AM on May 26 [8 favorites]


I find it disturbing that the PUA slimedwellers have changed the meaning of 'nice guy' so radically.

When I was growing up, being a nice guy was something to be proud of. Now? Not quite so much, because of those misogynistic assholes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:43 AM on May 26 [4 favorites]


how will you feel when the guns are all gone (which might be possible actually) and the killing continues?

How do you feel that seatbelts and airbags are legal requirements for operating a vehicle, even as people still die in car accidents?

Personally, as I am a rational, sane, empathetic person who values the reduction of avoidable human suffering, I can see the obvious utility in seatbelts and airbags, which save lives that would have otherwise perished in an accident.

I would feel good that guns were off the list of legal options for crazy people to act out with. It would mean many fewer avoidable deaths. I would feel pretty fine with it, honestly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on May 26 [7 favorites]


I have to keep reminding myself that I'm a nonviolent person who believes all life has value. Because many of the people like the PUA linked above speaking of the problem of "secual access" seem to be going out of their way to self-identify as people I wouldn't miss if they died in a hail of bullets.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:46 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The corpse in the library
I never said give up. That's the classical conservative argument, i.e. "the poor will always be with us." I'm saying something a little different. What I'm saying is, how much are you willing to give up to get what you say you want? I'm asking people to directly confront how the desire for a guarantee of physical safety has driven the rise of surveillance, the NSA, imperialistic war both at home and abroad. I'm asking people to stop and carefully consider that they may never be able to eliminate people like Rodger, and how the effort to do so has unintended consequences that we're living with right now. Maybe some people would like to live in a more intrusive surveillance society if it means that we can drastically reduce the number of people like Elliot Rodger in circulation. I don't think it would even be that hard, since we've built most of the infrastructure already. I'm very much interested in improving society if you look at my post history you will see pretty clearly that I have regularly advocated for precisely that.

Please let me clarify what I mean by evil, since it does have religious connotations, as you say. In secular terms, I am talking about about unpredictable threats. Rodger had all the advantages in terms of access to help. He was also in the mental health system-- he had seen therapists who, under CA law have a duty to report imminent threats. But they failed. Now you can say that if the system was better, that never would have happened. But all systems have points of failure, and sometimes, you can't even know what the point of failure is until it happens.

winna,
You absolutely should be seen as a person, and misogyny is unacceptable. Of course we should fight it, and, I never said "give up." All I'm asking, again, is for people to carefully consider the unintended consequences of particular choices of action (criminalization of the mentally ill, increased surveillance).

rtha,
Again, I never said "give up." I said, acknowledge limits to power. There's a difference. Can you see that? We can work very hard to solve a problem and still understand that it will never be 100% solved, and that some solutions may make everything worse. Which is what I'm saying we've done with the surveillance society and the police state.

Regarding guns, generally, I do think it's possible to remove them all from civilian hands. The only problem is that there is a substantial number of people (admittedly outside the coastal cities) that don't agree with such a policy. Though they are easily lampooned and many probably have relatively poor fashion sense (is it still normcore if it's unintentional?) some can be counted on to resist it with force of arms. Some of those people will also be, incidentally, members of the security services. That's not an insurmountable problem though, since this is a rural/urban or coastal/interior split, you can simply pit one against the other. Add in a little racial and religious animus and you're back to the old playbook of recruit one group to kill another.

If we brought the full coercive power of the state, along with the mass media (excepting Fox News) onside with such a campaign, it doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility.

So then, we come back to my comments above about limits. How much violence are you willing to inflict on these people to get what you want? And are the kind of institutions you would have to empower to do this, the kind of institutions you want to live with?

Anyways, I've gone on too long here and feel like I'm threadshitting, so I'm happy to bow out if that's what people prefer.
posted by wuwei at 11:05 AM on May 26 [3 favorites]


how will you feel when the guns are all gone (which might be possible actually) and the killing continues?

There are basically no guns in the UK and consequently hardly any spree killings. I was born in London over 40 years ago, have been here ever since, and I've never seen a real gun or heard one fired or ever met anyone who had either (actually scratch that, the police near Downing Street and the US embassy now carry guns, as of a few years ago).
posted by colie at 11:05 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


If you're feeling particularly frustrated or helpless regarding the misogyny of all this, contact your local news outlets and express your desire to see this story treated as a hate crime. At the very least, a hate crime in addition to or compounded by mental illness.

And please keep the educational resources coming. Efforts like We Hunted the Mammoth and the Southern Poverty Law Center are awesome, but it's going to take a concerted effort to drag this manosphere far enough into the light where we can watch it burn.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 11:06 AM on May 26 [1 favorite]


My fella was a 34-year-old virgin when we met. It was startling to learn that, but I was far more surprised to hear that he'd never smoked weed.

He was a feminist, suspected he was on the autism spectrum, read Metafilter (this was in the early oughts), bald, and awkward as hell. He was also kind, and goofy, and knew things I didn't. Catnip!

He never thought he'd have a girlfriend. I wonder why this killer didn't consider weird girls, rather than the ones he was told to desire.
posted by goofyfoot at 11:11 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


> Again, I never said "give up." I said, acknowledge limits to power.

Here's what you actually said:

> Evil exists in the world. Always will. Refusal to accept this and the desire to try to end it everywhere, whether by well-spoken urban liberals or glib "Texan" politicians is how we've ended up with a prison-industrial state at home, and death from the skies abroad. There are limits to our power.

You didn't say "There are consequences to wanting the government to interview everyone you've ever met before you are allowed to purchase a gun." You didn't say "The expanding security and surveillance state is, um, not without its downsides!"

You want us to acknowledge existential dread (thanks! already at that station!) and you handwavium'd about "evil" without defining what you mean when you use that word. You don't get to be surprised if people misunderstand you, or if you have to use a whole lot of paragraphs to explain what you *really* meant earlier.
posted by rtha at 11:18 AM on May 26 [14 favorites]


There's ample room to suggest that the cure for evil is worse than the disease, which is a reason to consider the supply-side versus the demand-side option to avoiding it. The supply-side, like the prohibition era, would lead to a reaction based on good intentions but ultimately corruption and unintended negative outcomes. It targets the production or supply of the problem, the symptoms that may result in banning guns, forums, movies, games, mentally ill people, etc. All of those are political quicksand, and thus a dead end. The demand-side approach would promote a healthy and responsive society and distribute good things like education, safety training and mental health services, then linking those to the gun's background check to minimize the intrusion on everyone else. Furthermore, this can be done privately by demanding insurance or bonds for gun owners, no further government required.
posted by Brian B. at 11:20 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Today's headlines in Finland have been about a court case of two 24 year-olds, a man and a woman, who have been planning a mass murder in University of Helsinki. They had been discussing the act through Tor, but included one person too many to their discussion.

(The following is from prosecutor's side, the defense claims that they never intended to fullfill their fantasy, from timeline in Finnish: )

Their initial date for the act was supposed to be 20.1. Young man travelled from north to Helsinki in 15.1. The man had located two Helsinki gun stores and their opening times and his plan was to rob one of them to get the weapons he needed and then immediately do the deed. On 17.1. they scouted the locations, on 19.1 they move to hotel in the centrum. On 20.1. the man decides to postpone the gun shop robbery, because the whole operation needs more planning. On 23th the man contacts with a third party who has posted mass-murder positive messages in some board and asks if she would be interested to join the plan. The third party declines after few messages are exchanged and later tells to his friend, who tells the police, and soon searches and arrests are made. The police finds a crossbow, handcuffs, hundreds of bullets, 3 pistol clips, hunting knives and poison gas ingredients.

I see two interpretations for the story. First is defense's claim that they wouldn't have done it anyways. It was only talk, a shared fantasy and they always would have found an excuse to postpone it. The other interpretation is that they were going to do it, but difficulties with getting the guns gave enough delay for the plan to leak and to be stopped.

+1 for making bad plans fail more often.
posted by Free word order! at 11:22 AM on May 26 [29 favorites]


I'm asking people to directly confront how the desire for a guarantee of physical safety has driven the rise of surveillance, the NSA, imperialistic war both at home and abroad. I'm asking people to stop and carefully consider that they may never be able to eliminate people like Rodger, and how the effort to do so has unintended consequences that we're living with right now.

This argument seems to conflate the rise of the surveillance state with the existence of sensible gun control. Assuming that there is a sliding scale from no surveillance of anything to total surveillance of everything ignores the fact that many different portions of society require different degrees of surveillance. The fact that the intelligence community has a surplus of funding to monitor signals intelligence while the NRA has been able to keep the BATF from maintaining a registry of firearm's owners to limit the potential for domestic violence would seem to be prima facie evidence of this.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:23 AM on May 26 [11 favorites]


goofyfoot, I don't think logic could be applied to the killer's actions. He was obsessed with the idea that "hot, sexy blonde girls" were rejecting him and no amount of evidence would ever have convinced him otherwise.

As for the PUAs talking about how they could have helped him, in his horrible "manifesto" he says that he had visited a friend of his father's who was "successful with the ladies" and was willing to offer him pointers (eek). He apparently rejected the pointers.

One thing that struck me in the "manifesto" was how so many tried to reason with him, but he rejected all of it.
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:24 AM on May 26 [5 favorites]


I wonder why this killer didn't consider weird girls, rather than the ones he was told to desire.

The killer never considered any girls. He was never rejected. Smiling at some stranger and then being ignored is not a rejection, even if you're wearing a nice shirt. Neither is seeing a black man hanging out with some white women.
posted by leopard at 11:25 AM on May 26 [17 favorites]


The killer never considered any girls. He was never rejected. Smiling at some stranger and then being ignored is not a rejection, even if you're wearing a nice shirt.

OK, nobody actually knows that for sure. Taking his manifesto as truth of anything isn't really evidence.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:27 AM on May 26


The phrase 'consider weird girls' came as a very welcome opportunity to break out a smile in all this hideousness. Do it, guys. :-)
posted by colie at 11:27 AM on May 26 [2 favorites]


I reported that second "Elliot Rodger is an American hero" page, which seems to be some kind of parody of the first one and just got a notification that Facebook reviewed it but will not remove it. Dah.
posted by daninnj at 11:30 AM on May 26


OK, nobody actually knows that for sure. Taking his manifesto as truth of anything isn't really evidence.

This guy churned out a 140-page manifesto explaining his rage towards the world, how he wanted to put women in concentration camps, and how he humiliated he felt from seeing other people enjoy themselves. Then he went on a killing spree in which he murdered his roommates, some random sorority girls, and some random bystanders.

Conspicuously absent are any mentions of actual encounters with women. Even his killing spree doesn't involve any women that he knew.
posted by leopard at 11:37 AM on May 26 [8 favorites]


I don't hate weird girls, why would I wish this guy on them?

But honestly, there is no "kind" of girl that works for someone who actually hates all women, so it seems like a pointless question. As others have said, even if he'd had a hot blonde girlfriend appear like magic, it wouldn't have been enough; after all there would still be lots of other hot blonde women who weren't worshipping him. Or that were hotter than the one he had, in some twisted metric (not to mention the injustice of making some woman responsible for this guy in any way). Hatred is not appeasable, it just finds another target.

That's why it's wrong to blame rape on "sexual frustration" because if that were the case, you could prevent it by making sure everyone had access to a prostitute once in a while. Sex is just the weapon, but rape and assault have always been about power over and destruction of women. This guy, so far as we know, skipped the rape step and went straight to destruction, but of course many rapists also escalate to killing their victims.

This was not someone who could be loved by the right woman back into humanity (and that's such a gross cliche anyway). He rejected any and all paths to being a decent human being, so that he could spend more time with his hatred until he finally exploded in violence. Why he chose the way he did is what troubles us; we want a solution or a way to keep more like him from happening.
posted by emjaybee at 12:02 PM on May 26 [37 favorites]


What I'm saying is, how much are you willing to give up to get what you say you want?

What exactly am I giving up by living in a society that expects people to wear seatbelts and drive cars with airbags? The country didn't turn into some dystopian nightmare when car makers had to add these technologies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 PM on May 26 [8 favorites]


He didn't want to have to lower himself to actually ask anyone out. He seemed to think that women should just be flocking to his door, propelled by the gravitational field of his awesome alphaness.
posted by octothorpe at 12:07 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


$1 says if any girl/woman had actually asked out this douchebag, he would've disliked and rejected her for being a pushy slut.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:14 PM on May 26 [35 favorites]


I started reading this thread a few days ago. I think the thing I find so horrifying about this isn't that I have an 8 year old goddaughter I just visited who I love to pieces and this is the world where she's growing up. I'm freaked out because just 15 years ago, I was a cute girl who was irresponsible with young men's affections and part of me feels like, there but for the grace of God. I got hurt, emotionally and physically, in relationships and spent time with some unsavory characters. Plus I was flirty and led people on, intentionally and unintentionally. And I can't read about this without feeling lucky to have emerged with the few scars I have.

To me, that's why this feels like a hate crime. Because I don't look at his targets and think they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but because I think, that could have been me.
posted by kat518 at 12:19 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


He didn't want to have to lower himself to actually ask anyone out. He seemed to think that women should just be flocking to his door, propelled by the gravitational field of his awesome alphaness.

Bingo. In a way, this guy's behaviour (and the entire PUA/MRA nonsense), and its consequences, are a microcosm of the American Dream. The idea that all you need to do is tick off the right boxes and success and a good life will come to you.

Realizing that's not at all how the world actually works leads to despair in some, homicidal rage in others. In that very limited sense, what he did was no different than postal workers shooting up their workplaces; they have been forced to realize their dreams are just air, and lash out.

I don't know how to counter that kind of existential despair; I don't know what we as a society can do to help these men living lives of quiet desperation. Fuck, if I can't do it for myself (please note I have the existential despair, not the 'go kill lots of people' part), how can we possibly address the ~180 million men and boys living in North America?

It is an unimaginably vast problem to tackle, when the world as a whole is facing how many unimaginably vast problems?

How do we teach boys to grow up with reasonable expectations, and respect for women?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:19 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


I keep being tempted to wade in here and give local, anecdotal info, though I know it doesn't make a difference to the people who just want to rail. But the Hollywood Parents thing, yuck, drop it. I'm as cynical and as working-class shoulder-chipped as can be, and living in the Rodgers family's vicinity, and teaching at USC in the film program, I get to know lots and lots of kids this age from industry families. There's a lot of variation among them, and generally speaking they are as down-to-earth and as kind and sensible as can be. In fact, my bias leans TOWARD the industry kids in favor of other stripes of kids who grew up with similar wealth. It's a creative profession that depends on good interpersonal skills, which I don't know if I can say about accountancy or law or other high-paying dad jobs that pop in my imagination. Everything I've read about this family leads me to believe they are interesting, worldly people who dealt with a psychotic adult child just about as well as they could.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:31 PM on May 26 [21 favorites]


People with mental illness are still part of the culture, and they reflect the culture. I can't bear to read the manifesto, but what I've read about Rodgers show someone profoundly narcissistic and unable to have a relationship, however cursory. Also profoundly unrealistic about relationships and about women, probably fostered by spending time with people like the ones at stoppoa. And here we are in the US, in a culture steeped in violence and misogyny, with guns easily available.

I don't know how his mental health care providers missed his rage and missed his suicidal plans. He seems to have been miserable, and I feel bad for all the families of the victims, including his.
posted by theora55 at 12:35 PM on May 26


Hi! I'm a man!

This fucker's awful fucking actions are clearly the result of deep embedded misogyny. You're deluding yourself if you think otherwise.

Speaking again, as a man, I think there are a couple of things that are making other men uncomfortable, unwilling, or unable to see that. Those things are:
  1. We only outgrow our own misogyny through difficult struggle, and are not entirely okay with admitting that enough to recognize it in others.

  2. We are still, to varying extents, caught up in a misogynistic mindset, and thus have a difficult time seeing as appalling attitudes which we can somewhat relate to. (Emphasis here, though, on varying.)
I'm not saying this as an criticism of or an excuse for other men. If anything, it's a criticism of our entire culture, which is rotten in countless awful ways. I've been drafting, over the last couple of weeks, an essay about how misogyny affects men for the worse, though in the aftermath of this atrocity that'll probably be put on hold for a least a while longer, if not indefinitely.

The short of it is: men are taught from a young age that women exist to affirm their own self-worth. They prove men's menliness. They provides men's lives with meaning. They are an outlet to every mode of gratification that our culture deems worthy of emphasis, from the hedonistic to the "noble", i.e. sanctified relationships in the eyes of God. This mindset is pervasive throughout more parts of our culture than various groups would like to believe, i.e. there are a number of "liberal" and even "progressive" cultures that still see sex as a goal to aspire towards, even if it comes in the guise of "free love" or something similarly lofty-minded.

The sick double reacharound of our culture is: at the same time as they're teaching men all these things, our culture attempts to persuade or batter women into thinking essentially the same things. There are enormous industries dedicated to telling women that they exist only for men, to providing them with ways of hating themselves unless they make ridiculous efforts to appeal to men, to sending them narratives packaged with the end moral of, "Wouldn't it be lovely if we could all give men exactly what they want out of us?" The result, beyond being highly damaging to women in a lot of ways I still can't entirely comprehend, frequently reinforces all of the notions which men, especially young men, have been pressured into accepting. It creates a mindset that is highly toxic, and far more difficult to escape than something as absurd as that ought to be (and the mindset is certainly absurd). I hesitate to call it outright brainwashing, but it is something similar. Acting like this is merely a mild cultural irritation would be, I think, a pretty major mistake.

I was talking the night before the shootings to a victim of assault and near-rape who was telling me how pervasively her attacks reinforced for her the idea that she was fit for sex and little else. It's not just the instance of rape itself. It's the way that such incidents play perfectly into a certain social message that this is what the relationships between men and women ought to be: woman as a tool for men to use, fit for being used and thrown away. Stated bluntly like that, perhaps it seems ridiculous; compare it, however, to the actions of a would-be rapists, and not only that but to the responses of people to women who claim they've been raped — "You must have been leading him on!" "Surely you wanted this, on some level." "X is an upstanding guy and I can't imagine him doing this unless it was some kind of a mistake" — all suggest this relationship between women and men without outright saying it in quite as ugly a way as it's intended to be. (All three of those responses come directly from my friend's account, by the way. No exaggeration necessary.)

The word "desensitization" has become something of a joke among people I know, mostly because of video game panics, but it is an important word to throw about here regardless. The culture we live in desensitizes men to women's lives. To the possibility that women exist beyond men's needs for them. To the notion that women are capable of being anything more than subjects of a male perspective.

I say this because I know it to be true, from firsthand experience. I was raised by thoroughly decent human beings, grew up reading a fair amount of feminist literature, had a decent number of female friends who I wasn't constantly trying to bang. In perhaps 90% of my interactions with women, I was a fair-minded regular person who did shit like listen to people and enjoy their company and treat them like, well, people. Men and women alike. But when hormones kicked in, pretty much the only ways that I learned how to respond to my overwhelming emotions involved an increasing amount of shittiness towards the poor recipients of my affections. I say "learned" because I am still aware of at least a couple incidents where I was taught to behave certain ways, by my peers, that I accepted because, hell, I was a young kid at the time and what the fuck did I know?

I remember admitting a crush to a boy in the locker room, thinking about soft hair and light eyes and all the usual silly fun distraction-y things, and hearing him ask: "You wanna feel her titties? You wanna stick your dick in all her holes?" I was shocked, because no I hadn't thought about any of that, but then... what do you do? If that's what boys are supposed to want, I guess I ought to go about wanting that. I was thirteen at the time.

I remember a boy talking about a girl I liked when we were both eleven, talking about how he was gonna fuck her in the bathroom, he was gonna show her what a man was like, and I mean we both had high-pitched squealy voices, we both had no fucking clue what men were like, but he heard it somewhere, maybe an older sibling. And when you're young and have no idea of how to process your feelings, locker room culture is like a cold war-style escalation where you incorporate all these feelings and try to outdo everybody else, confused, alone, scared, ridiculous. Frightening.

I couldn't count the number of instances where my friendship with a girl ended over my increasing frustration with, like, what the hell was I supposed to do? I'd talk to her, I'd be all friendly and stuff, I'd genuinely appreciate her company, why wasn't I getting fucking laid? Surely she knew what was happening here. Surely her locker-room friends had told her all about the ritual the way all mine had. Was she just being a tease? Was I somehow incomparably ugly? What the fuck was the problem?

I recently had a conversation with an old crush of mine, where she told me what middle school gossip circles were like and I told her about my experiences, and I think we were both horrified by how violently, aggressively sexualized male discussions over women got, not in the abstract but in the sense of "here's what you're supposed to do when you think you like a woman". And then we all went about acting like that was the right way to behave and like if we just followed all the steps, we would get what we wanted, no resistance, no worry. Until things went wrong, at which point we all worried plenty.

Nothing that anybody I know did approached the level of psychosis that Rodger displayed here — at least, not to my knowledge. (I wonder how many rapists I secretly know.) But I can absolutely see where the logic that Rodger developed came from. There's a profound lack of communication between the sexes, especially at young ages, and the result is that men frequently develop horrifying, dehumanizing ideas about the women they encounter. It's not just a matter of "expectation". It's a matter of completely goddamn misinterpreting human behavior, cultural norms, and what the hell signals mean. And it is pervasive as a motherfucker.

Rodger displayed clear signs of narcissism, sure. He was at the very least a little bit loopy. But his entire process of alienation and hatred towards others, which he did us the kindness of comprehensively documenting, was rooted in misogyny. In a profound incapability to acknowledge women as thinking, living, conscious beings. In a similarly profound inability to understand himself or other men except in their capacities to "retain" women, or to think of society as anything other than a game in which "women slept with" is equivalent to globally-tracked points.

He proposes keeping women in herds, for the pleasure of men. Why? Because women aren't people. Because men deserve women. Because society is all about men having women whenever they want. That's not too far off from our cultural norm. I hate to say it but it's true. There're a lot of men who've got the capacity for empathy, for recognizing women as people far more effectively than Rodger did, but those men have still got at least a shadow of this pattern imprinted on their minds — at least, a whole lot more men do than anybody should ever feel comfortable with.

It has been said before that insanity is not an inability to see logic — it is a seeing of far too much logic, more than is really there, more than can possibly be healthy in a world governed by a certain amount of ridiculousness and absurdity. It's connecting patterns together until the whole world makes sense, against its will, against reality. It's insisting that your rules on how the universe ought to be matter more than anybody else.

By this definition, I think, our culture's misogyny is itself a low-grade form of insanity, a series of rules and logic which cannot possibly make sense but which we act as if they do. Its victims, in a sense, are both men and women — but the male victims pass on their "victimhood" in the form of violence against women, so ultimately women lose twice. I don't think misogyny alone drives people to kill or commit crimes, but misogyny sure as shit makes it easier. It raises anxiety and tension, encourages delusions, encourages thinking of women as victimless targets of a crime. I have heard the logic of too many rapists, read too many screeds against women, to think otherwise. Whatever they have wrong with themselves is enhanced, fueled, amplified by misogyny. Whatever issues they're dealing with are given a concrete explanation in the form of misogynist thought. Misogyny was Rodger's outlet, and though I think it is possible for misogyny to exist without violence erupting — and I thank god, because I went through that myself (and am still going through it) — I can't believe the claims, amidst a society that sees far, far, far too many rapes, assaults, and murders of women, that mental illness or access to guns were the only, or indeed the primary, factors at play here.

It ought to be deeply troubling that misogyny is a factor at play here. It is deeply troubling. It is a problem without an easy solution. If you look for one, it is at the expense of women who suffer daily, violently, from the problem at hand. It is a serious and terrible problem, which is why we should be acknowledging it, and talking about it, and admitting that the problems run deeper than we would like to think. To do otherwise is to open the door for more incidents like this one. At this point, it would be delusional to think that this will not happen again, and for precisely the same reason.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:39 PM on May 26 [124 favorites]


The idea that I should have to submit myself and my family to a police interrogation and review of my medical history in order to exercise my constitutional rights is not something that I could support.
posted by humanfont at 12:44 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The idea that I should have to submit myself and my family to a police interrogation and review of my medical history in order to exercise my constitutional rights is not something that I could support.

Yeah, and I wish I owned a printing press. Not all constitutional rights are as straightforward as they seem.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:46 PM on May 26 [38 favorites]


Had such a thing occurred, there would have been fewer dead people in Santa Barbara this weekend.

This comes back to a question I've asked before: how many deaths like this are acceptable as collateral damage before you start questioning how important that constitutional right really is?

Think about that. Your opposal to deeper background checks is exactly what put three legal guns into this boy's hands. Period. Had his parents been asked if he was responsible and stable enough to have guns, the answer would have been a big fat NOPE.

And more innocent people would be alive today.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:48 PM on May 26 [9 favorites]


Except, uh, it hasn't really. Some of us are focusing on different aspects of what caused this tragedy, which is not at all the same as pretending they don't exist.

Are we really reading the same thread? because i'm still getting caught up on this beast, but i've seen a lot of what they're talking about. Is that a hyperbolic way to describe it? yes. Is there plenty of "don't call this mental illness" and "don't call this misogyny" wrapped up in whatever bun or frosting they think sells their point?... yea, for sure. Sometimes there's a "just" thrown in there, but the point they're selling is still exactly the type of thing that he's describing. There are absolutely people here who are essentially 100% against one or the other.

I also, after digesting and sleeping on a lot of this thread have to agree with the very early comment in here. Something feels deeply gross to me whenever MeFi starts trying to spitball what was going on in someones head and project their assumptions onto them, and starts trying to internet psychoanalyze them. I realize that ship has totally sailed, but it still squicked me out multiple times in this thread. It's ok when it's more generally about commonly held opinions in society or whatever, but when it starts getting in to "this is what i think was going on in this persons head" it just makes me wince. I'm not really telling anyone to stop, but just like... take a moment to think about what you're saying and how presumptuous it can come off.

Oh, and i just spent some time talking to a friend of mine who literally just a couple weeks ago moved back from going to UCSB, and living in IV. She's a blonde lady who hung out in... exactly the area this happened. She hasn't been able to get ahold of anyone who can confirm who was shot, and thinks she might know someone who was and is just completely distraught... ugh.
posted by emptythought at 12:49 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wish I could exercise my constitutional rights as easily as people can buy guns: that I could get an abortion without jumping through umpteen billion hoops and that I didn't have to worry about being shot by misogynists as I walk down the street.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:49 PM on May 26 [61 favorites]


there's a tradeoff for that convenience. mr. zuckerberg, his ad network, the shadowy figures who funded him initially, and a passel of total strangers get access to your social graph, the details of your daily life, pictures of clothing you knitted, etc., etc. when you use email instead, you're in control. you can limit the readership, at least in the first instance, to the addresses you put in the "to" field. i don't know of any email services that would give you a 12 hour timeout for sending a picture of elephant shorts to your friends.

IF ENOUGH OF US STAND UP AND TURN OUR BACKS ON FACEBOOK, CEASE AND DESIST FROM USING IT, NOBODY WILL PAY IT TO RUN ADS ANYMORE, AND FACEBOOK WILL DIE! WHO'S WITH ME ON THIS?


The problem is no one uses email anymore except for receipts and signing up for things.

The generation coming just after me and my mid-20s friends seems to have solved this though, with stuff like snapchat. It's not perfect, but the gist of it is correct and it'll be improved with time. You control who sees what and for how long. When your timer expires, it's gone. That can be cracked fairly easily right now, but if people want actual security it will come.
posted by emptythought at 12:53 PM on May 26


Meanwhile, I just fielded the fifth call in 12 hours to my cell phone of someone fapping? or something, and not saying anything. #YesAllWomen
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:55 PM on May 26 [8 favorites]


The idea that I should have to submit myself and my family to a police interrogation and review of my medical history in order to exercise my constitutional rights is not something that I could support.

The expectation that innocent people need to unnecessarily forfeit their lives to exercise arms manufacturers' constitutional rights to turn a profit is one that seriously needs to be questioned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 PM on May 26 [8 favorites]


That is all kinds of fucked up and would have me getting those numbers traced and a new number for myself ASAP. Jesus, Ambrosia. That's awful.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:56 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


He didn't want to have to lower himself to actually ask anyone out. He seemed to think that women should just be flocking to his door, propelled by the gravitational field of his awesome alphaness.

Disagree. It seems pretty clear that he had severe social anxiety.
posted by gyc at 12:57 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, I just fielded the fifth call in 12 hours to my cell phone of someone fapping? or something, and not saying anything. #YesAllWomen

Jesus. I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in Happiness was a twisted exaggeration, not real life.

Who even, like, thinks to do that? Where do they get it in their head that this is a good idea?
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:02 PM on May 26


You know what, I feel like sitting here telling people "just don't look at it if it bothers you" is a terrible response to the issue of seeing shitty things like "parody" pages praising a murderer. I'm a little sick of living in a culture where my gender reduces me to an object and being told to toughen up if I don't like it.

Especially when it's in the context of internet culture, in which there's a large mixture of "it's just the internet, it's like that" and a general attitude on most major websites and social media services that it's better to err on the side of not deleting something than delete something that would cause an uproar, or imply that they aren't essentially a "common carrier" of content 99% of the time except when they act just often enough that they can pretend they actually do anything.

Hate speech is implicitly allowed besides a few token takedowns on basically all social media, and the majority of the largest sites on the internet. Why make excuses for it? Why defer culpability in this from the administrators and moderators(and more likely, the policies under which the moderators work) of said sites and services?
posted by emptythought at 1:03 PM on May 26


Nobody in this thread is doing that.

It's swirling around the internet and media at large right now though, and i understand the frustration and feeling the need to say "this is how i feel about this". It's not really bringing shittiness from the rest of the world in here, as much as it's going "this is bad, and i'm happy that i'm surrounded by other people who presumably also recognize the problem"

Or at least, that's how i took it as someone who was alternating between cringing, actually hurt, and dreading what this was adding to the collective consciousness after seeing what's been flying around in the greater discourse.
posted by emptythought at 1:07 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wish I could exercise my constitutional rights as easily as people can buy guns: that I could get an abortion without jumping through umpteen billion hoops and that I didn't have to worry about being shot by misogynists as I walk down the street.

Odd, isn't it? The right to life is described as unalienable in the Declaration of Independence, but I guess strict constitutionalists have a laser-like focus on that one document...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:07 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


(That wrt not being shot by misogynists. Although "liberty and the pursuit of happiness" feel pretty relevant to having the liberty to get an abortion, also...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:12 PM on May 26


The right to life is described as unalienable in the Declaration of Independence,

Abortion was practiced then and the "right to life" didn't apply to modern slogans about controlling reproduction.
posted by Brian B. at 1:18 PM on May 26


I wrote and deleted a long rant about gun control, but I don't want to derail the thread. Suffice to say, I am for background checks, in fact a Japan-style system sounds marvelous. Because here in Texas, I can't even go out to Chipotle with my kid without worrying about a bunch of gun-worshippers crashing the joint with their giant dangerous pointless weapons.
posted by emjaybee at 1:19 PM on May 26 [11 favorites]


Abortion was practiced then and the "right to life" didn't apply to modern slogans about controlling reproduction.

Yeah, I realised almost immediately that that could be read as anti-choice rather than pro-not-getting-shot. I'm very much in favor of women having control over their reproductive decisions, and also women not being shot by misogynists, and I think the Declaration of Independence would agree on both counts.

[The Founders: a bunch of white knighting betas.]
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:22 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I remember admitting a crush to a boy in the locker room, thinking about soft hair and light eyes and all the usual silly fun distraction-y things, and hearing him ask: "You wanna feel her titties? You wanna stick your dick in all her holes?" I was shocked, because no I hadn't thought about any of that, but then... what do you do? If that's what boys are supposed to want, I guess I ought to go about wanting that. I was thirteen at the time.

Rory, i just wanted to say that this is one of the best posts i've ever read on this site. Flagged as fantastic. I hope you finish your essay at some point, because this is great stuff.
posted by emptythought at 1:24 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I remember admitting a crush to a boy in the locker room, thinking about soft hair and light eyes and all the usual silly fun distraction-y things, and hearing him ask: "You wanna feel her titties? You wanna stick your dick in all her holes?" I was shocked, because no I hadn't thought about any of that, but then... what do you do? If that's what boys are supposed to want, I guess I ought to go about wanting that. I was thirteen at the time.

Exactly. I was running in a group with boys talking like that when I was ten. Ten years later, I was around frat guys who were telling rape jokes to each other to see how much more offensive they could be. Statistically, some weren't really joking. It's impossible to overstate how thoroughly we're socialized into this, and how early on it starts.
posted by naju at 1:50 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


can you speculate as to why that way of thinking appealed to you? Did your family teach you toxic masculinity crap, or was it all peers/society? Can you imagine ways in which you could have been raised that would have inoculated you against that?
I spent my adolescence in an all boys boarding school, and so I think I would have been particularly at risk for exposure to this toxic combination of status anxiety, male hyper competition, and believing that girls are an alien species. Add to that this belief that the world functions just like a classroom where all you have to do is say the right things and demonstrate the correct forms of knowledge for a reward and I certainly did have my share of awkwardness, confusion and frustration in my university years.

I believe that a large reason for dodging the corruption into outright misogyny was having an extremely positive relationship with my mother and that most of my views on sex and relationships were formed by my mom. At an early age, I was told by her that one may meet many people before finding their love and that implicit in this is rejection, and that in the same way that I am free to reject someone with whom I may not feel a close attraction , others may feel the same about me -- And That Is OK and part of the world.

A bit hand in hand with that was seeing various members of my family struggling and sometimes succeeding and sometimes feeling. We were taught at an early age that life is work and it is disappointment and it is failure and you are measures by what you achieve despite your setbacks. You are entitled to nothing. You get some privileges by dint of not being born in a slum or ghetto but the universe owes you fuck all and you get what you do by virtue of hard work and doing right by others.

I was taught that helping others is a virtue, but I did turn that into martyrdom and Being Nice not in the generic creepy guy variant but in the less misogynistic and mor universally human variant of just doing good things for others with the express intent of being rewarded. I learned that it was dysfunctional because enough people called me on it. But I include it here to say that the struggle isn't just won at adolescence or young adulthood. This can be something we work and refine throughout our lives because we are struggling against a toxic social culture that profits when we indulge in our baser instincts
posted by bl1nk at 1:53 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


That was the part that my old acquaintance was shocked at the most, I think. At first you say "there's a problem with how boys obsess over girls" and the response is, "trust me, we girls were boy-crazy too!" Then you describe exactly how boys are obsessing over girls and........ oh. Shit. What the fuck.

Not enough men realize what a problem that is and (possibly) not all women realize how horrifically twisted the male perception is of women from the age of, like, 8 on. Probably younger for a lot of guys. By the time you hit adolescence and the hormones REALLY kick in, you've already been taught comprehensively how you ought to respond to those feelings, and "entitled" doesn't begin to describe the nightmare of what's jammed inside little kids' heads.

(I worked as a camp counselor for a few summers, and attempting to deprogram 11-year-old boys is one of the funniest and most depressing tasks I've ever had to perform. Not that I was at all successful, of course. Why would you trust a grown, experienced guy's experiences when your equally-ignorant peers are lying to you about how sexually experienced they are?)
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:56 PM on May 26 [12 favorites]


Yeah, and I wish I owned a printing press. Not all constitutional rights are as straightforward as they seem.

Did I miss a post? You want a printing press buy a printing press. There are no legal restrictions on them. You could probably even finance it. Of course a PC and a commercial quality laser printer would probably serve you just as well.
posted by MikeMc at 1:57 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


But his entire process of alienation and hatred towards others, which he did us the kindness of comprehensively documenting, was rooted in misogyny. In a profound incapability to acknowledge women as thinking, living, conscious beings.
...
It has been said before that insanity is not an inability to see logic — it is a seeing of far too much logic, more than is really there, more than can possibly be healthy in a world governed by a certain amount of ridiculousness and absurdity. It's connecting patterns together until the whole world makes sense, against its will, against reality. It's insisting that your rules on how the universe ought to be matter more than anybody else.

By this definition, I think, our culture's misogyny is itself a low-grade form of insanity,


Look, misogyny is everywhere around us, it's like water, and it has profound and harmful consequences on all of us. And Rodgers was a hardcore misogynist. And the PUA/MRM communities can go fuck themselves.

But on page 121 of the Rodgers manifesto, he describes his last-ditch effort to "save" himself. He goes to a party but doesn't know how to interact with anyone. He starts getting frustrated and angry. He sees an Asian guy talking to a white girl, the sight of which fills him with rage. He had always assumed that he had suffered from lower status because he was half-Asian, so "how could an ugly Asian attract the attention of a white girl, while a beautiful Eurasian like myself never had any attention from them?" He glares at them and then "decided I had been insulted enough." He bumps the guy, stumbles off and later tries to push some girls off a ledge.

Rodgers assumes that the world plays out according to a simple deeply misogynistic formula which insults him and causes him great pain and suffering. Confronted with some stark evidence that this formula does not actually apply -- that women are not mindless automata -- how does he react? He feels even more insulted and full of rage.

There is "logic" here, but it's not the logic of misogyny. The logic is that nothing is ever his fault and everything is a grave personal insult.
posted by leopard at 1:58 PM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Rory: That's a great comment. The only point of contention as far as I can tell (at least for me, other people may be different) is whether dumbass' actions are a reflection of society's misogyny rather than a result of it. Which may sound like a distinction without a difference but as we've discussed in the thread is, I think, an important one.
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on May 26


Which may sound like a distinction without a difference

It is. Reflecting society's misogyny is therefore acting as a result of it. Acting as a result of society's mysogyny is reflecting it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:23 PM on May 26 [8 favorites]


As someone on the receiving end of misogynist speech and actions, I don't really care if it's coming from someone reflecting society's misogyny or what. It is, in its effects, a distinction without a difference.

The guy in KathrynT's comment - were his actions a reflection of or the result of? What *is* the difference, if the effects are indistinguishable?
posted by rtha at 2:23 PM on May 26 [19 favorites]


It is.

No it isn't. If it's caused by society's misogyny then stopping misogyny would have prevented his actions. If it's rather a reflection of it then in the absence of misogyny he would still have done something similar and the only difference would maybe have been choosing different targets to rant at.

Maybe that's better, I don't know. But it would still result in a bunch of dead people.
posted by Justinian at 2:28 PM on May 26


I literally have no words to describe how offensive that hair-splitting is, particularly given rtha's statement right above yours.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:37 PM on May 26 [8 favorites]


the only difference would maybe have been choosing different targets to rant at.

In the world we live in, maybe if he'd chosen different targets to rant at, his violence wouldn't have been blown off so easily. We live in a world where violent misogyny is normal; it happens all around us, at every level of society, in all our media, and is largely ignored or excused. That's how a guy can post a video in which he says that women don't deserve to live except as breeding stock and the police can say that he is a perfectly polite, pleasant man.
posted by KathrynT at 2:39 PM on May 26 [29 favorites]


If the guy was a sociopath, the misogyny, while disgusting and pervasive, is a red herring here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:39 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


NB, KathrynT, the police never watched the videos. Parents and therapists did.

The police bloody well should have, obviously.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:40 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


It's hard not to read the purpose of your hair-splitting, Justinian, as yet another round of "well, let's not go rushing into discussing sexism, guys, unless we're absolutely sure there are no other factors at play." (Honestly, I think "what could have 100% for sure stopped this precise instance of violence" is the red herring, the purpose of which is to stop any such discussion in its tracks.)
posted by nobody at 2:44 PM on May 26 [25 favorites]


(Honestly, I think "what could have 100% for sure stopped this precise instance of violence" is the red herring, the purpose of which is to stop any such discussion in its tracks.)

Agreed.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:46 PM on May 26 [6 favorites]


Various media are now posting bikini pictures of a woman mentioned by name in the manifesto.
It's unbelievable. Does anybody doubt that she will now be the victim of death and rape threats?
posted by maggiemaggie at 2:48 PM on May 26 [6 favorites]


I just don't understand why Rodgers' parents and therapists or other people who saw those videos didn't report them to the police. They were clear evidence that the guy was a danger to others.
posted by orange swan at 2:48 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


It's hard not to read the purpose of your hair-splitting, Justinian, as yet another round of "well, let's not go rushing into discussing sexism, guys, unless we're absolutely sure there are no other factors at play."

Yesssss, because "his actions were a hate crime and a reflection of society's misogyny" sure sounds exactly like that. Right.
posted by Justinian at 2:49 PM on May 26


I just don't understand why Rodgers' parents and therapists or other people who saw those videos didn't report them to the police. They were clear evidence that the guy was a danger to others.

They did. The police spent a cursory amount of time talking to him, did not watch them, and concluded he was a normal kid.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:50 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


They did. The police spent a cursory amount of time talking to him, did not watch them, and concluded he was a normal kid.

Hindsight is 20/20, okay, but if you believe your child is in imminent danger to himself and others, and the first police don't take you seriously, you go to another set of police. You call back. You go up the chain.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:51 PM on May 26


Beat me by thirty seconds, DM.

The parents and therapists were obviously concerned. I want to know why the cops didn't watch the videos; the therapy team are mandatory reporters and the videos are online anyway, so there's no problem with breaking confidentiality there.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:52 PM on May 26


Not sure why Rodger's crime can't be a reflection and a result of wider cultural misogyny, honestly. Don't see any reason it couldn't be both. And either way, like rtha said, the same people get hurt in the same ways. Can we call this nit picked?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:55 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


Hindsight is 20/20, okay, but if you believe your child is in imminent danger to himself and others, and the first police don't take you seriously, you go to another set of police.

There are varying criteria for what constitutes the legal definition of imminent danger. I don't disagree with your general point but, as has been explained further up this enormous thread, it's just not that easy to confine someone who isn't literally shouting death threats from the roof — weapon in hand.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:57 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


but if you believe your child is in imminent danger to himself and others, and the first police don't take you seriously, you go to another set of police. You call back. You go up the chain.

Excellent point. The therapy team should have done this, as they were the ones who knew his mental state best and could interpret the videos better. It shouldn't have been a 'wellness check,' it should have been an 'imminent danger to self or others, here's the paperwork for the psychiatric hold.'

I don't disagree with your general point but, as has been explained further up this enormous thread, it's just not that easy to confine someone who isn't literally shouting death threats from the roof

Uttering a death threat is exactly how I had a former roommate placed under psychiatric evaluation.

This guy uttered several.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:59 PM on May 26


That's how a guy can post a video in which he says that women don't deserve to live except as breeding stock and the police can say that he is a perfectly polite, pleasant man.

KathrynT, I really hope you are being rhetorical here, but if not, that is a very tragic line of thinking.
posted by ryanfou at 3:00 PM on May 26


KathrynT, I really hope you are being rhetorical here, but if not, that is a very tragic line of thinking.

Yes. It is.

Though not, I suspect, in the way that you seem to be intending.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:03 PM on May 26 [14 favorites]


I don't think she's being rhetorical at all. That is how bad our society is. Had those cops actually watched the videos I have no doubt at all there would be seven more people alive in Santa Barbara today.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:03 PM on May 26


Depending on the 911 operator and the police the amount of information that tthey police will take from you before doing a check varies. There is no confidentiality on the videos as they on a public website anyway. Anybody could watch them. It's not like handing over letters or other documents from am office.

The mental health team followed the law. They did exactly what they were suppose to do. Unfortunately we send police officers who have no training in mental health to make the call.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:05 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The next time someone questions whether something is really misogyny, just remember this. Someone LITERALLY declared a "war on women" and everyone's like "yeah, but is that really a result of misogyny?" Someone LITERALLY wanted to keep women in concentration camps for breeding purposes. "OK but can we really blame misogyny for this?" It's hard to imagine something more misogynistic than this. On one hand you have people constantly asking the bar for misogyny to be raised because they don't believe it. And then when something like this comes along that meets the impossibly high standards so well that you can't argue against it, then people ask for the bar to be LOWERED because it's "too much." Do you see why that's frustrating?
posted by naju at 3:06 PM on May 26 [150 favorites]


The mental health team followed the law.

The Aurora shooter's psychiatrist also warned police that he was a ticking time bomb. Apparently, something is wrong with this system.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:07 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


We should have dedicated police teams worth mentalhealth specialists who respond to these calls. It's absurd that we do not.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:07 PM on May 26


I demand a million extra favourites to give to that comment, naju.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:07 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


And then when something like this comes along that meets the impossibly high standards so well that you can't argue against it, then people ask for the bar to be LOWERED because it's "too much."

I think there's a difference between misogyny and the ravings of a sociopathic lunatic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:10 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


No it isn't. If it's caused by society's misogyny then stopping misogyny would have prevented his actions. If it's rather a reflection of it then in the absence of misogyny he would still have done something similar and the only difference would maybe have been choosing different targets to rant at.

This line of argument is foolish and pointless, since we are so far from ridding our society of misogyny (in order to tell if some people's attitudes are reflections or results?) that I cannot see how you can be seriously arguing that it matters so much that there is a difference.

We do not live in a society without misogyny. We never have. We perhaps never will. But we can work towards one where attitudes like this guy's and those all over the PUA boards are taken seriously, and where women who have the nerve to talk on the internet about sexism don't get rape threats, and if they do, the threats are not dismissed by nice guys as "oh just trolls ignore."

Please spare me this absurd concern that we must investigate whether or not Rodgers' hatred of women was a reflection or a result. Because even if you can right here prove to everyone that there is a big difference and it really matters there is not a fucking thing anyone can do about it right now. Not a goddamn thing.
posted by rtha at 3:12 PM on May 26 [28 favorites]


> I think there's a difference between misogyny and the ravings of a sociopathic lunatic.

Really? There's a way to HATE half the people of Earth and NOT be sociopathic and crazy for doing so? Please explain.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:12 PM on May 26 [15 favorites]


I demand a million extra favourites to give to that comment, naju.

Yeah seriously.

Additionally, posting things like "if he was mentally ill/a sociopath then that is the problem, not misogyny" seem to be putting WAY WAY WAY more emphasis on what sociopathy/mental illness is like than seems appropriate. Like, narcissism and psychosis are really bad, yes, but there are plenty of narcissists who don't get it in their head to kill their younger brother, kill their beta male roommates, and attempt to rampage inside a sorority. Even psychotic ones.

Acting like people exist separately from the cultures that define them is, like, human monster-excusing 101. With all respect to a lot of people here who I do think are trying to argue in good faith, it reads to me like a lot of attempts to other this guy rather than admit that many of his problems are square one for modern culture w/r/t male-female relationships, which they are.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:12 PM on May 26 [16 favorites]


I keep seeing people saying that, but when I ask them "okay, so where'd the idea to kill all women come from?", they can't answer. Can you answer? Where'd that idea come from?
posted by palomar at 3:12 PM on May 26


Really? There's a way to HATE half the people of Earth and NOT be sociopathic and crazy for doing so? Please explain.

C'mon, really? Why be fighty about that? Misogyny is disgusting and does not always indicate someone is a violent sociopath.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:14 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


the ravings of a sociopathic lunatic.

Those ravings are not without cultural context. That asshole who shot those people (who ended up not even being Jewish!) in the parking lot of the Jewish community center a few weeks back: Does him being diagnosed as a sociopath mean that violent anti-Semitism really doesn't exist?

Being a sociopathic lunatic and being a misogynist are also not mutually exclusive categories.
posted by rtha at 3:14 PM on May 26 [28 favorites]


On the subject of misogyny: Let's get to the meta-discussion at hand. Equality vs. misogyny.

The whole feminists vs. MRA narrative, a lot like gun control, is one of those Manichean discussions that don't seem to lead anywhere, and ultimately both sides are talking past each other and just doing their own thing with the already converted, instead of having any sort of meaningful dialogue.

Certainly, as with so many of these debates in the post-Bush era, you can say one side is clearly correct, and the other is a reactionary bunch of troglodytes etc., etc. But that side is still populated by people, as human as you. And their beliefs, as terrible as they might be, are still based on legitimated grievances. And yes, it well might make one despair and throw one's hands up frustration at the appalling things these people believe. To mock them as idiots instead, completely disconnected from reality. But then, they think of you in the exact same way, and so both sides silo themselves off, refusing to interact with anyone except one's own in the best way the internet is capable of. So what happens next? If the sort of victimized thinking that partly created Elliot Rodger is caused by patriarchy's effects on men, how do feminists reach out to men?

Also, if we are to change the culture, where do we start? How do we get young men to realize there's more to life than competing over idealized, objectified, women, and start treating women as people? And how do we do that without making it seem like some sort of Tumblr sjw Rainbow Coalition agenda designed to emasculate them?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:17 PM on May 26


Does him being diagnosed as a sociopath mean that violent anti-Semitism really doesn't exist?

Of course not. I'm saying in this case, it's possible this guy was going to target any population that he felt unworthy of his ilk.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:18 PM on May 26


AlexiaSky: The National Alliance on Mental Illness gives mental health crisis intervention training to police forces. As a best practice, the ideal is to train a fraction of your force as specialists and have them respond specifically because if you train 100%, you end up with a lot of cops who don't care just going through the motions.

I don't know if the training goes into handling someone who had (in my armchair assessment) sociopathic traits. Many, many sociopathic mass murderers have managed to talk their way out of scrutiny when facing the police.
posted by Skwirl at 3:18 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The whole feminists vs. MRA narrative, a lot like gun control, is one of those Manichean discussions that don't seem to lead anywhere, and ultimately both sides are talking past each other

Positing facts not in evidence. I'm pretty sure feminists understand the MRA people about a billion times better than vice versa.
posted by Green With You at 3:19 PM on May 26 [12 favorites]


rory marinrich: I mean tragic in 2 ways. If you think that police officers or society in general would be knowledgeable of such degrading statements towards women and subsequently refer to that person as a polite and pleasant man, then that is certainly tragic if it actually happened, and tragic if you thought it could happen based on previous experiences in your life.
posted by ryanfou at 3:19 PM on May 26


Why be fighty about misogyny? I can't believe you just asked that. I really can't.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:20 PM on May 26 [11 favorites]


Hindsight is 20/20, okay, but if you believe your child is in imminent danger to himself and others, and the first police don't take you seriously, you go to another set of police.

There are varying criteria for what constitutes the legal definition of imminent danger. I don't disagree with your general point but, as has been explained further up this enormous thread, it's just not that easy to confine someone who isn't literally shouting death threats from the roof — weapon in hand.


To keep beating my Pete Earley and his book CRAZY drum, you can read the first chapter of his book online. It details his inability to get his son checked in for treatment despite in-person, hands-on efforts.

Some snippets from it, listing some of the incidents as his son Mike started having psychotic issues.
Mike hadn’t slept for five nights. He’d spent most of his days wandering aimlessly through Manhattan. He’d walked twenty miles one day going nowhere. He’d also become fixated on a friend named Jen, only she didn’t know it. He was convinced they’d soon be married. He told me his plans shortly as his friend dropped him off.

“I’ve got to save her,” Mike said. “I’ve got to save Jen.”

“From what?”

“Evil.”

...

Although confused, Mike seemed to be thinking rationally. We brought him home. Two days after that, he got up early before everyone, slipped outside and decided to go for a drive. About a mile from the house, he let go of the steering wheel and shut his eyes. He told me later that he’d not been sure if he had been awake or dreaming. He figured the quickest way to find out was to turn loose of the wheel.

The car crashed into a parked sedan.
After some back and forth and in and out of treatment centers, Mike has a breakdown and Earley tries to get him admitted, after telling the above stories and more to the admitting nurse. And waiting. And waiting.
For the next two hours, we waited. Two hours! No one came to help us. No one poked a head in to ask if we were okay. Mike was still reading the same magazine. He was starting to discern secret messages in the text. I was beginning to seethe.

“This is incredible,” he giggled.

Another hour passed and then, unbelievably, another. I’d always prided myself on being polite, patient. But four hours! It was midnight now. I couldn’t believe we were still waiting. What was the hold-up?

“I’m leaving,” Mike announced.

“Just a minute,” I said. I rushed into the hall and waved down a nurse. A few minutes later, a doctor entered the room. He was in his thirties, clean-cut, and all-business. As he came in, he raised both hands as if he were surrendering to enemy troops.

“Sorry you’ve had to wait, but we’re busy, and there’s not going to be much I can do for you,” he said.

I thought: You haven’t even examined my son! But the doctor explained that the intake nurse had already warned him that my son believed all medicines were poison.

The doctor asked Mike: “Do you know who I am?”

“You’re the witch doctor. Ow-ee-ow-ah-ah.”

The doctor grinned. This isn’t funny, I thought. I blurted out: “He’s been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.” I began to explain how Mike had been hospitalized at Dominion Hospital twice and how he had not been taking his anti-psychotic medicine for at least five months.

But the doctor cut me short.

“What’s happened before this moment doesn’t really matter,” he declared.

I was stunned. “It doesn’t matter?” Would you say this to a patient complaining of any other illness?

“On the drive here from New York, Mike asked me how I’d feel if someone I loved killed himself,” I said. I wanted this doctor to understand how serious this was.

He turned to face Mike and asked: “Are you going to hurt yourself or anyone else?”

“No!”

The doctor glanced back at me and shrugged.

I couldn’t believe this was happening.

“He’s delusional!” I exclaimed. “For godsakes, he’s been reading the same magazine page for four hours.”

With an irritated look, the doctor asked Mike: “Who’s the president of the United States?”

“That idiot George Bush.”

“What day is it today?”

Other questions followed: “Can you count backwards by sevens from a hundred? What does the phrase ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk’ mean? How about the words: ‘A heavy heart?’”

Mike answered each question easily. Then he explained that he was God’s personal messenger and that he was indestructible.

The doctor said: “Virginia law is very specific. Unless a patient is in imminent danger to himself or others, I cannot treat him unless he voluntarily agrees to be treated.” Before I could reply, he asked Mike: “Will you take medicines if I offer them to you?”

“No, I don’t believe in our poisons,” Mike said. “Can I leave now?”

“Yes,” the doctor answered without consulting me. Mike jumped off the patient’s table and hurried out the door. I started after him, but stopped and decided to try one last time to reason with the doctor.

“My son’s bipolar, he’s off his meds, he has a history of psychotic behavior. You’ve got to do something! He’s sick! Help him, please!”

He said: “Your son is an adult and while he is clearly acting odd, he has a right under the law to refuse treatment.”

“Then you take him home with you tonight!” I exclaimed.

Before the doctor could respond, we both heard a commotion in the hallway. Mike was screaming at his mother because she had told him that he needed to take his medicine. “You drink beer, why not take your medicine?” she’d asked. “Alcohol is a drug.”

My son was so out-of-control that a nurse called hospital security. I was glad. Maybe now they will medicate him, I thought. But before the security guard arrived, Mike dashed outside, cursing loudly. I went after him. Meanwhile, the doctor told my ex-wife that it was not illegal for someone to be mentally ill in Virginia. But it was illegal for him to treat them unless they consented. There was nothing he could do.

“Even if he’s psychotic?” she asked.

“Yes.”

Mike couldn’t forcibly be treated, the doctor elaborated, until he hurt himself or someone else.
Then later:
Unsure what to do next, I slipped into my office and called the Fairfax County police.

“Until he breaks the law, we can’t get involved,” a dispatcher told me.

Patti telephoned a friend whose daughter has bipolar disorder. The friend told her: “I had the same problem when we took our daughter to the hospital. I yelled at her doctor: ‘Do I have to wait for my daughter to hang herself before you’ll treat her?’ And he said: ‘Yes. If she attempts suicide, then we can do something. Sorry, but it’s the law.’”
posted by phearlez at 3:20 PM on May 26 [26 favorites]


Let me be more lucid: misogyny is sociopathy. Every time. The end.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:21 PM on May 26 [16 favorites]


Why be fighty about misogyny? I can't believe you just asked that. I really can't.

Yeah, that wasn't what I said. I'm saying that it's ridiculous to imply that all misogynists are sociopaths. There are tons of men in this thread who admit to having had wrong perspectives on how to treat their fellow human beings. Doesn't make them sociopaths or violent.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:22 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


it's possible this guy was going to target any population that he felt unworthy of his ilk.

Well, sure! But the thing is, he didn't. He targeted women. He wrote up a 140 page manifesto talking about how much he hated women, and how badly he wanted to punish them for never choosing him and always choosing other, inferior men. His stated mission was to strike fear in the heart of every woman. Says so right in his manifesto. But I guess we can't take this guy's word for his own motivations, because obviously misogyny isn't a thing that inspires anyone to kill, not ever.

Come the fuck on, buddy.
posted by palomar at 3:23 PM on May 26 [31 favorites]


Like, narcissism and psychosis are really bad, yes, but there are plenty of narcissists who don't get it in their head to kill their younger brother, kill their beta male roommates, and attempt to rampage inside a sorority. Even psychotic ones.

I'm not really that interested in having a proxy debate about whether misogyny is a big deal or not (my position: it's a big deal), but by this logic there are plenty of misogynists who don't get it in their head to kill their younger brother, kill their beta male roommates, and attempt to rampage inside a sorority. There are literally billions of such people.
posted by leopard at 3:24 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


And their beliefs, as terrible as they might be, are still based on legitimated grievances.

name some terrible feminist beliefs & some legitimate MRA grievances, please
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:24 PM on May 26 [32 favorites]


I'm saying in this case, it's possible this guy was going to target any population that he felt unworthy of his ilk.

And in this context, the marinade in which he steeped, that population was women. Hating women and wanting to control us and subjugate us is not rare or crazy or fringe. The world is packed with people like this, though they usually exhibit their feelings by controlling our schooling, our reproductive rights, our property rights, our ability to decide when and whom to marry, whether or not we will get to live if we report being raped, etc. rather than just gunning us down. Sometimes, of course, they kidnap large groups of us. Then the media can use euphamisms for our fate like "sold into marriage" rather than "sexually enslaved, raped, and killed."
posted by rtha at 3:24 PM on May 26 [30 favorites]


> I'm saying that it's ridiculous to imply that all misogynists are sociopaths.

Please, please realize how tortured, backward and disturbing what you're saying is. Hating people for their sex, having deep-seated biases against women by virtue of their just being women, IS. SOCIOPATHIC. Women are people, part of society, a big part. It is tautological.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:24 PM on May 26 [26 favorites]


Skwirl: the problem is the training is not near enough and they don't even always respond. To be a licensed clinical social worker in my state it takes a master's degree and 3000 hours of supervised work experience and then the actual test. They need a actual practitioner to go or with them nor somebody who sat through a 40 hour course.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:24 PM on May 26


Sociopathy is not just a biological or genetic phenomenon. Sociopathy can be induced by a culture as well.

Ours is a society of many low-grade sociopathies bouncing into one another. Misogyny is among the most prevalent and potent.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:25 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


We should have dedicated police teams who respond to these calls. It's absurd that we do not.

Here in Toronto at least there's a specific number you can call that sends cops, yes (in case someone needs to be taken into custody), but they bring a psychiatric nurse with them. Cops scope out the scene to make sure there's no danger, then wait outside while the nurse does the actual wellness check. Seems like a pretty smart system to me.

I keep seeing people saying that, but when I ask them "okay, so where'd the idea to kill all women come from?", they can't answer. Can you answer? Where'd that idea come from?

From, as I keep saying, the toxic intersections of hate (as aided and abetted by the PUA crowd), failure of authorities to act properly (cops should have been told to watch those videos; therapists should have pushed a lot harder for a committal), systemic society-wide misogyny, easy access to weaponry, and as disclosed a diagnosis of at least one mental illness.

It was a perfect storm of awful. And if you could take any one of those things above out of the equasion, you'd probably have heard of this guy's name.

Which is also why this problem needs to be attacked on multiple fronts: teaching boys to treat women like people, not objects they are entitled to; eradicating the MRA/PUA bullshit from the earth entirely; a mental healthcare infrastructure that treats a broken brain with the same serious and lack of stigma as an ER deals with a broken arm; serious, wide-ranging changes to gun control to keep deadly weapons away from dangerous people.

It's a lot of work to do. It's almost overwhelming.

And their beliefs, as terrible as they might be, are still based on legitimated grievances.

Are you honestly saying with a straight face that the MRA assbags have legitimate grievances? Seriously?

If the sort of victimized thinking that partly created Elliot Rodger is caused by patriarchy's effects on men, how do feminists reach out to men?

The same way they have been for 50-odd years? By saying "We are all equal."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:26 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Certainly, as with so many of these debates in the post-Bush era, you can say one side is clearly correct, and the other is a reactionary bunch of troglodytes etc., etc. But that side is still populated by people, as human as you. And their beliefs, as terrible as they might be, are still based on legitimated grievances.

I generally don't say this, because it's obvious and dismissive, but... dude. Cit. req.

On a tangent, although not as big a tangent as I'd like, this seemed relevant, especially given the discussion of Vox Day further up the thread.

N.K. Jemisin's guest of honor speech at WisCon 38 addresses the institutional response:
During the month or so that it took SFWA to figure out what it wanted to do with this guy, a SFWA officer sat on the formal complaint I’d submitted because she thought I had “sent it in anger” and that I might not be aware of the consequences of sending something like that to the Board. A SFWA affiliate member posted a call for civility on his website; in the process he called me “an Omarosa” and a “drama queen”, but of course he didn’t mean those in a racialized or gendered way.

In a semi-secret unofficial SFWA forum there was intense debate — involving former SFWA presidents and officers, and people who weren’t members at all — about why it was desperately important that SFWA retain its harassers and assaulters, no matter how many members they drove off, because their ability to say whatever they wanted was more important than everyone’s ability to function in genre workspaces, and SFWA’s ability to exist as a professional association.
#yesallspacewomen.

Another pretty amazing fact from that speech - the owner of the MedievalPoC Tumblr, a woman, gets about 30 death threats a month. For pointing out that there are people of color in medieval art.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:27 PM on May 26 [20 favorites]


Yeah also, it is surprisingly easy to sell feminism/treating women as equal to people once you can get them over that initial hump of paranoia.

To this day, every time I interact with any woman ever I get this embarrassingly strong sense of elation along the lines of, THANK GOODNESS YOU ARE NOT A SPACE ALIEN AND I CAN UNDERSTAND YOUR FEELINGS AND BEHAVIORS. Feels good man.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:28 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


Positing facts not in evidence. I'm pretty sure feminists understand the MRA people about a billion times better than vice versa.

Granted, this is me falling into an appeal to ignorance fallacy, but it seems like whenever feminist sites bring up with MRA, it's to denounce them and dismiss them as a load of reactionary bigots. Which, to be fair, merited. But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups? Why not understand the roots of their anger? And then attempt to work to address their anger, while uplifting the cause of women?

[And yes, I understand with equating Jezebel with the totality of the huge sprawling umbrella of ideologies known as "feminism" (as broad an umbrella as say, Marxism, or Christianity), is an over-generalization]

name some terrible feminist beliefs & some legitimate MRA grievances, please

Saxon Kane spelled it out way better than I could.

I'm not saying that the arguments they bring up are legit, but certainly their anger is based on something, no? When electorates vote in reactionaries, there's reasons for it.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:29 PM on May 26


But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups? Why not understand the roots of their anger? And then attempt to work to address their anger, while uplifting the cause of women?

Because the roots of a lot of their anger is, "Women owe me something and they're not coughing up." It is hard to acknowledge that when you're simultaneously suffering from the shitty actions of people who buy into that ideology wholesale.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:30 PM on May 26 [18 favorites]


Ambrosia Voyeur, you are calling a number of people in this thread sociopaths for mistakes they have made, based on the way they grew up. It's not cool.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:31 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Psychopathy (or sociopathy) is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior.

By that definition, sociopathy is admired by much of society, American more than others, and is commonly TAUGHT to boys as "the way to succeed".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:32 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen, sociopath is not an insult, it is a description. Whether or not somebody's a sociopath because brainfrizz or because of the way they grew up, the description is still apt.

I would absolutely call certain of my younger behaviors sociopathic. Isn't it common to describe people of a certain age as "little sociopaths" already? This is the exact same thing, only the sociopathy in question involves perceiving women.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:34 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]


But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups?

You first.

Why should I, as someone who believes that women are people, consider as legitimate the arguments of those who believe women are inferior and here only for the pleasure of and at the tolerance of men? Why must I engage on their terms?

I think you should go to those MRA boards and make your case there for them to reach out in the spirit of understanding.
posted by rtha at 3:34 PM on May 26 [36 favorites]


Saxon Kane spelled it out way better than I could.

MRAs' legitimate grievances, per Saxon Kane's comment, would seem to be against patriarchy, yet they all attack feminism & women for some reason

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:34 PM on May 26 [15 favorites]


I totally agree with the sentiment Ambrosia is trying to get across if not the precise medical or psychological definitions.
posted by ryanfou at 3:37 PM on May 26


Men should be angry and confused. Men have been lied to their entire lives about makes a man a man and how they can them sex without ever discussing that the sex part comes with another human being and not a fleshlight.

Women are angry and so are men. Some men figure this out and are good people and other men retreat to these spaces where that can bemoan that the fantasy they were taught isn't real and how unfair it is and then take it out on the people who won't give them what they want.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:37 PM on May 26 [11 favorites]


But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups? Why not understand the roots of their anger? And then attempt to work to address their anger, while uplifting the cause of women?

They turn to such ideologies because they have a lot of internalized misogyny and there's a group of people who have an explanation ready that fits their already existing worldview to explain their problems. The root of their anger is that they feel they aren't getting what they're owed by society. In some cases they have experienced legitimate injustice. Fortunately, by working to dismantle the patriarchy feminists are advancing both their cause and the cause of men who experience hardship in this system.

The problem with MRA types is that due to their internalized misogyny they don't recognize the kinship they should have with feminists. And because of their internalized misogyny they aren't liable to listen to feminists either. It's like asking why didn't ask slaves just explain things better to slavers. If you believe that a group of people are less than human in some way there's no reason to listen to them.
posted by Green With You at 3:38 PM on May 26 [17 favorites]


I'm not saying MRAs' arguments are legitimate. "Legitimate grievances" was not the best phrasing. But I mean something is happening to cause them anger, and thus funnel it into these ideologies.

Sorta like economic doldrums and endemic corruption and loss of faith in the democratic process causes people to back fascists, perhaps?

I'm not advocating that people take MRAs at their word, and consider their arguments as valid. I'm saying that maybe we should examine why the way they think they do. See why they construct such arguments. Because it has to be based on something.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:41 PM on May 26


But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups? Why not understand the roots of their anger? And then attempt to work to address their anger, while uplifting the cause of women?

Because that examination has already happened. When women say "patriarchy hurts men too", This is exactly what we mean by that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:42 PM on May 26 [52 favorites]


> Ambrosia Voyeur, you are calling a number of people in this thread sociopaths for mistakes they have made, based on the way they grew up. It's not cool.

No, I'm definitely not calling anyone who ever "made mistakes" sociopathic. That would be something a Big Bad Feminazi would do, I guess. I, real life man-smoochin' feminist, however, am saying that misogyny is tautologically sociopathic. I'm just gonna let the English language go ahead and back me up on that.

Anywho, as I am, as previously stated, very much a part of the local and specific culture of this story, very upset by the specific intersectional problems of which it is a symptom, and since beginning online discussion about it have (hopefully randomly) begun to be subjected to harrassing phone calls. So, as much as I'm enjoying a bit of a return to MeFi after a long hiatus PhDing, I think I need to just wrap it up and let the others talk. I'm gonna catch The Lego Movie in 3D at the theater where you get to put your own butter on the popcorn (choice!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:43 PM on May 26 [16 favorites]


I live in Georgia. Right here, where I live, white people used to form gangs and torture black people to death, then leave their bodies hanging in trees for the world to see. Ordinary people did this, and then went home to their families, jobs, and churches. Ordinary people are capable of engaging in sociopathic behavior. This should not be something that is really needed to debate.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:44 PM on May 26 [52 favorites]


Because it has to be based on something.

AlexiaSky answered your question already, Apocryphon:
Men have been lied to their entire lives about makes a man a man and how they can them sex without ever discussing that the sex part comes with another human being and not a fleshlight.
So did Green With You in the comment right above yours.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:44 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]


But I mean something is happening to cause them anger, and thus funnel it into these ideologies.

Yes. They have been taught that they are entitled to certain things (attention from women, e.g.), and they feel they are not getting it. They are angry at women, not at a system that wrongly taught them they are entitled to attention from women. This is not an unsolved mystery.

The solution is not "give them the attention of women." The solution is "teach children that other children, regardless of what is or is not between their legs, are human beings, and no one is entitled to the attention or sexual favors from anyone just because."
posted by rtha at 3:45 PM on May 26 [23 favorites]


Ordinary people are capable of engaging in sociopathic behavior.

Someone who lynches another human being is not ordinary.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:46 PM on May 26


MRAs' legitimate grievances... would seem to be against patriarchy

Yep, the 'legitimate grievance' most referred to, inequality in Divorce Law (and judges handling Divorce), originated well before Feminism-as-we-know-it, as a result of paternalistic attitudes toward men's and women's roles in Marriage.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:47 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Someone who lynches another human being is not ordinary.

There was a time and a place when that was not, strictly speaking, true.

If we still have a civilzation around in 2-300 years, they are going to look back on this (societal misogyny) and go what the actual fuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:49 PM on May 26 [14 favorites]


Someone who lynches another human being is not ordinary.

Mob behavior allows ordinary people 'coverage' to contribute to extra-ordinary behavior.

You could say that killing another human being in general is not 'ordinary', but today is a holiday set aside to honor people whose job it was to do just that (but were, regrettably, the ones killed - there is no Memorial Day for civilian victims).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:51 PM on May 26 [6 favorites]


If we do know the reason, then what would be an effective way to reach out to those who don't? How do we reverse the culture? Something like the Good Men Project?
posted by Apocryphon at 3:54 PM on May 26


This guy thinks he couldn't get laid? Try being a women near 50.
posted by goofyfoot at 3:54 PM on May 26 [11 favorites]


.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:55 PM on May 26


But why not also examine why men turn to such ideologies and groups?

Because stage 4. In both directions.
posted by ctmf at 3:57 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to brush off the comments from people saying that we should give a shit about why MRA sorts feel the things that they do. The main reason that I've been meaning to write an essay about this subject — and the reason I don't feel comfortable doing it in the wake of this story — is that I feel there's not a whole lot of attention paid to the pain of attraction you deal with when you also happen to be in a culture that is as anti-women as ours is. It's kind of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't-type situation. And the fact that, like I said, our culture places a lot of pressure on young women to try and be exactly the type of object men are told women ought to be, at least outwardly, can make it even trickier. One of the reasons I'm taking as long as I have to draft/think about this essay is that I want to be really, really careful about observing the ways in which this dynamic exists without accidentally going too far and giving people, like, ammunition to justify male behavior by saying "see? it's just really haaaaard when women buy cute clothes and read cosmo, man!"

I do believe there is a lot of genuine pain here, even a little bit beyond the point where it's rooted in delusion. I have made a lot of efforts to be less of a piece of shit person, but I still bump into a situation every couple months where I wind up feeling depressed or mopey for an evening because something something somebody I met, but the only possible action I can picture taking would be unfair to whichever person triggered the irrational mopiness in the first place.

Here's the thing, though: I care a lot about that because I am a straight man who's dealt a lot with feeling injured or upset over things and can relate a whole ton to guys who might go from those feelings to taking horrible actions. Given a completely neutral environment, I'd love to spend some of my time reaching out to those people, providing them with ways of recontextualizing their feelings, and figuring out methods of working out those feelings that feels satisfactory without completely fucking somebody else over in the process. The key word, there, is neutral. In an environment in which women are constantly made the targets of men, let alone... I dunno... slaughtered in a not-quite-random act of malevolence and hate, it is unbelievably unfair to ask people who have been made to feel like targets to immediately sympathize with the sort of culture that spawned this killer.

When things are decently okayish, it's well and good to say that we should spend some time trying to empathize, trying to understand, and if you happen to be detached enough from the violence being committed that you don't have to fear it yourself, like I am, then maybe it's a little bit easier. But there is value to be had in dialogue that consists of "this is NOT okay, this IS horribly misogynistic, and WE HAVE A PROBLEM", without any immediate attempts to feel bad about the poor mass murderer who just mass murdered. I wrote a whole thing above saying I empathize with this guy, and I still feel like there is something majorly problematic about asking people in this thread to please think of the poor MRAs. It's the same reason why I'd feel terrible about sympathizing with a KKK member, or an anti-Semite group: it's well and good to assume humanity on the other person's part, but peace and love cannot be the only tool we've got in our bag, because it is absolute folly to try and peer into the hearts of the people who're convinced they've gotta kill you just to teach you a lesson.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:59 PM on May 26 [18 favorites]


The New York Post (no link because screw those guys) just posted a bikini shot of one of (the only?) the women mentioned in Rodger's manifesto and wrote that the photo showed "[t]he aspiring model whose childhood rejection of Elliot Rodger lit the fuse that turned him into a murderous madman".

Clearly it was this woman, who interacted with Rodger when she was 10 years old, who caused this tragedy. I'm out of the emotional energy to be angry at this point, honestly. Anyone who still thinks that we don't have a misogyny problem in our society has simply not been paying attention.
posted by jess at 4:03 PM on May 26 [82 favorites]


Jesus wept
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:05 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


That's pretty fucked up.
posted by Justinian at 4:06 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Anyone who still thinks that we don't have a misogyny problem in our society needs has simply not been paying attention.

Nobody in this thread has said that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:06 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


hey, agreement. jinx.
posted by Justinian at 4:06 PM on May 26


[super difficult topic folks, make a real effort to show that you are making an effort, if in fact you are.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:10 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]


Nobody in this thread has said that.

Arguing about whether or not this was sociopathy or misogyny or whether it was a reflection of or the result of societal misogyny is really tiresome and feels pointless and like some people would really rather not acknowledge that misogyny levels are toxic and murderous and that there must be some other reason instead of or in addition to.
posted by rtha at 4:10 PM on May 26 [15 favorites]


“Had Rodger been well-versed in the art of the pick-up, he no longer would’ve wanted to intern all women and systematically starve them to death in concentration camps, as he describes in his manifesto. Of course, he still would’ve wanted to kill women, because he was fucking crazy. But if he’d had sex, he might not have wanted to kill them, like, as much. Also, check out Strategic Dating Coach! It has more than 200 likes on Facebook, so that’s pretty cool.” (link to news story, NOT the 'Strategic Dating Coach')
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:11 PM on May 26


There's an internal contradiction in Rodger's (PUA/MRA-derived?) worldview: on the one hand, women are powerful gatekeepers who block the way to male fulfillment and happiness; but on the other hand, they're not-really-human creatures who can and should be manipulated and/or controlled. This mixture of desire, fear, and contempt comes through in his hateful rhetoric. If he didn't desire women (as an abstract goal, not any particular woman); if he didn't fear them; if he didn't hold them in contempt; perhaps he wouldn't have exploded the way he did.

I can see parallels in hateful rhetoric directed against other groups: Jews are powerful and scary but also weak and disgusting; Blacks are naturally servile even though they wish to rise up and kill us all; the gay lifestyle is repulsive and unnatural but also so addictive that it cannot be withstood. Perhaps these attitudes have more to do with the person and less to do with the target than we imagine? Perhaps Rodger was predisposed to some sort of hatred, but if things had been different he might have ended up shooting Jews or gays instead? I wish I knew more about this sort of thing.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:12 PM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Nobody in this thread has said that.

Okay, but I didn't say anyone had? I find it pretty upsetting, honestly, that when I write something like "misogyny is prevalent in our society" your immediate reaction is to imply that I'm overreacting or speaking out of turn. I really am not interested in getting into it with you here, but you should perhaps consider your reaction and how it could be interpreted.
posted by jess at 4:13 PM on May 26 [23 favorites]


Nobody in this thread has said that.

No, of course not. The party line goes, "You can't blame any of this tragedy on misogyny when it's obvious that the killer was mentally ill." Did I get it right?
posted by palomar at 4:13 PM on May 26 [7 favorites]


If we do know the reason, then what would be an effective way to reach out to those who don't? How do we reverse the culture? Something like the Good Men Project?

It depends - are you looking for an overnight fix? Because that ain't gonna happen. It will only happen in increments.

But the way you reverse the culture is by doing exactly what we are doing here. Talking about this incident, examining how misogyny contributed to it, and - most importantly - accepting the role misogyny played in this incident, and continues to play in thousands of other, smaller daily incidents. So that way a) you can check your own behavior if you are about to commit even a minute act of misogyny, b) you have the courage to check the behavior of others, and c) so the next time something like this happens we don't waste so much time in handwringing over "but how can we get to the root of what makes men do this" when we women have been telling you again and again the answer to that question since nineteen-sixty-fucking-two.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 PM on May 26 [18 favorites]


The New York Post (no link because screw those guys) just posted a bikini shot of one of (the only?) the women mentioned in Rodger's manifesto.

I posted about that an hour ago but nobody noticed.

You just know the tabloids are running around trying to get dirt on everyone who is mentioned in the manifesto - and he mentioned a lot of people by name. I hope they all have good lawyers.
posted by maggiemaggie at 4:15 PM on May 26 [5 favorites]


By the way, I can testify that MetaFilter and discussions like this one made me a lot better at seeing my own gender-related blind spots and being less shitty towards women I know in general.

As proof I offer up all my comments from 2009-2011 inclusive. Please do me a favor and don't actually check up on that.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:15 PM on May 26 [20 favorites]


The party line goes, "You can't blame any of this tragedy on misogyny when it's obvious that the killer was mentally ill." Did I get it right?

The party line might, but not necessarily anyone on Metafilter.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on May 26


Way upthread I pointed out (but did NOT link) a reposting of his manifesto with the title: "ELLIOT ROGERS---Another TOLERANT liberal PROGRESSIVE---goes on a MASS MURDER! Killing 7!" and description "Oh yea this one is definitely a liberal alright like all the rest! Before you all go spouting your crap about banning guns remember that your side has been responsible for more mass shootings then the pro-gun side!"

There are some very very wrong people who are using this tragedy atrocity to support their own very very wrong agendas. Asa result, anything that smells of "supporting an agenda", even if it goes far to intelligently explain what happened, will inevitably get blowback. There are obviously multiple contributing factors - societal misogyny IS an important one - for Rodger's rampage. But events like this ultimately fail as 'learning opportunities', especially with so much effective disinformation being sold as information these days.

My personal philosophy has evolved in recent years to "It's never just one thing. Things are never that simple."

on preview, as Rory Marinich courageously admitted, some people DO learn from the opportunities... just never enough
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:24 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


The New York Post (no link because screw those guys) just posted a bikini shot of one of (the only?) the women mentioned in Rodger's manifesto.

I posted about that an hour ago but nobody noticed.


Not only did they post several pictures but also the name and location of her place of employment. I would like to say they should know better but I know they don't.
posted by MikeMc at 4:25 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


I don't think she's being rhetorical at all. That is how bad our society is. Had those cops actually watched the videos I have no doubt at all there would be seven more people alive in Santa Barbara today.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:03 PM on May 26


Feckless FFM, I got the impression she thought the cops had seen the videos. I hope you are right.

Anyways, if ER had succeeded in his original plan, who knows how many girls would have been killed had he been able to enter the sorority and there wouldn't be any question about the sexism.

But for me this was about sexism + mental health + gun violence and gun control + racism. Most misogynists do not go on murderous rampages, and we want to prevent those in addition to fighting misogyny. Stopping murderous rampages might be an easier nut to crack than getting every misogynists head out of their ass. And I'm not in any way suggesting we shouldn't fight both battles.
posted by ryanfou at 4:26 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]


Not only did they post several pictures but also the name and location of her place of employment.

Obviously positioning reporters/photographers there awaiting the Attack of the Elliot Roger Fans for a future front page.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:28 PM on May 26


In stark contrast to the poor girl being named and shamed by the media for her "involvement" with this guy, here's another person named in the manifesto. Let's see what kind of treatment he gets.
posted by palomar at 4:28 PM on May 26


I hope this can be tolerated as an aside and not come across as an attempt to change the subject, but in light of my earlier aside, it's interesting that the NYPost article writes:
Rodger’s dad, Peter Rodger, worked on the 2012 blockbuster “Hunger Games” as a second unit director, collecting background shots and scenery footage
which, unsually so far, gets the father's credit on the film correct, but then elaborates with a textbook description of a 2nd unit director that doesn't comport with Rodger's actual role.

It's weird seeing such an almost irrelevant detail getting mangled everywhere. I guess I had this fantasy of newspapers fact checking every single declarative phrase. (Maybe that's just the New Yorker? They don't have an article up yet.)
posted by nobody at 4:34 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]



There is a "Elliott Rodger is an American Hero" Facebook page, which has been set up to "pay tribute" to someone who "made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against feminazi ideology". One of the status updates on the page reads, "Feminists, whether you like it or not, you are the cause of this incident. You have empowered women to essentially bully and reject people, and in this case it would seem that this happened to some poor kid with Autism. A generation of self important narcissistic cows have been raised rather than the nicer ladies of the previous generations. Who's fault is that? That's the feminist's fault."

Oh, fuck that poster. I know girls in their 20's who have never had sex and manage to cope with it without going on a killing spree.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:34 PM on May 26 [7 favorites]


Ryanfou, the number of lives lost to misogyny is probably a couple of magnitudes higher than the number of lives lost to "murderous rampages", even ones caused my misogyny itself. This was an outlier, but women are highly vulnerable to male violence. According to this study by WHO, 38% of women that are killed, are killed by their partner.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:35 PM on May 26 [15 favorites]


When women can't get laid, they think the problem is with them. They starve themselves and spend tons of money on clothes and makeup and when the pain gets really overwhelming they harm themselves.

When men can't get laid, they think the problem is with the people who won't fuck them.

~not ALL men~
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:37 PM on May 26 [48 favorites]


Society would be so much better if men who didn't get laid were spending all their money on makeup.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:38 PM on May 26 [36 favorites]


Yeah, Apocryphon... quite a lot of work has been done on the men's rights movement, and why men get into it. Usually aggrieved men - often because they cannot get a girlfriend/sex/a better-looking girlfriend/a better job/visitation or custody rights after a divorce - find a community that tells them what they want to hear, which is usually:

1) Women are basically animals, ruled by simple emotions and behavioral rules. By buying my book/DVD/personal training session, you will get a set of rules which you can apply to exploit these rules and get women to have sex with you. You are not getting the women you deserve now, but we are going to change all that.

2) The legal system is artificially biased towards women, and that is why you are having difficulty getting custody, or have to pay child support. Feminists have infiltrated the justice system, and made normal interactions between men and women, such as a corrective tap once in a while, into a huge deal. Men get screwed by divorce, but we are going to change all that.

3) Feminism and affirmative action have made it impossible for white men to succeed in business. You are right to think you are more talented and intelligent than your female boss. She is there because of affirmative action, or because she had sex with the right men. But we are going to change all that.

But they don't change all that, because many of their grievances are hallucinatory, and their understanding of others is eccentric to the point of orthogonality. So, they complain about their lot, and fantasize about retribution. There's very little productive activism coming out of the manosphere on issues that should be close to their hearts, like prostate cancer, sexual assault in prison, promotion of single fatherhood as a valid and normal lifestyle and so on. So, the complaints get more baroque and the punishments more terrible, until you end up with meticulously planned strategies for putting women in camps, taking away their vote, forcibly impregnating them and so on.

And it turns out that PUA techniques are not as 100% guaranteed effective as was promised, so they have to deal with that yawning cognitive gulf. Either you start getting more aggressive with younger and more vulnerable women, getting them drunk, travelling to poorer countries to raise your relative affluence and ability to buy those drinks ... or you decide that the techniques never worked, and you were being lied to and fleeced by the PUAs, and that women (that is, attractive women to you) won't have sex with you because they are evil, and/or stupid, and intent on dating assholes because they do not respect your wonderful qualities, and will only do so once they have had sex with lots of bad boys and are looking for a steady source of money.

(If you think I am overstating the case, and have brainbleach handy, this perfect gentleman on Thoughtcatalog, home of the angry jemble, runs through this process in an imaginary conversation with a woman who ditched early on their first and only date, ten or so years later. He's insistent that she forced him to take her to an expensive restaurant by mentioning it, and then went home with her $100 steak in a doggy bag to feed to her boyfriend, in a weird sort of charcuterie/cuckoldry collision:
Face it, you’d get sick of me and my nice guy ways. I’ll remember your birthday and our anniversary and I’ll buy you flowers on both. I’ll treat you with respect and you’ll get bored. I know damn well you’re going to end up cheating on me, and I don’t plan on giving you half my stuff when you do. I work hard for what I have and now that I’ve achieved a little success I would love someone to share my life with. But that’s not going to be you. You thought I wasn’t worthy of you back then and I feel you’re not worthy of me now.

Now that the bad boys have used you up and moved on to women 10 years younger, so have I. It’s a funny thing, now that I’ve achieved a little success, drive a nice car and have stability in my life, I’m getting attention from those girls too. I don’t need you anymore. I’m not in the mood to deal with you, your issues, or your ex and his issues. I’m not looking to help you raise the mini-me version of some guy you used to bang. I want my own children someday, not the offsprin