Yesterday, a college student named Elliot Rodgers went on a shooting rampage that left six people dead and seven injured. The video he left behind stating his intentions makes it abundantly clear what his motivation was*:
College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s 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.
Let’s go over what we can reasonably expect to happen now:
Because people don’t do cursory research, his violence will be attributed to mental illness by people and media outlets with no basis for making that assumption, further reinforcing a cultural association between mental illness and violence with no basis in fact.
Because he is white, his violence will not be attributed to problems with his culture, or to hypothetical or wholly fabricated assertions about the violent tendencies of his race.
Because deflecting responsibility is easier than taking a hard look at the roles we all play in creating people like this, he will be written about as a “madman” using rhetoric that deflects the responsibility that our words, media, and culture play in reinforcing the mindset he expresses in his video.
Because the role of culture in creating people like this is insufficiently respected, this instance of violence will rarely be connected to other, similar instances of violence precipitated by similar attitudes toward women.
Because of that same culture, there will be a lot of talk about how difficult it is being lonely and rejected as a guy, which will in many places outstrip the amount of conversation that is had about the difficulty of living in a culture where some people think it’s okay to kill you for not being attracted to them. [Update: some examples]
We can do better than this as a society, but conversations about all of the above need to happen before we will be able to.
* Transcript text grabbed from this excellent post on the subject.