I think it's safe to say that if Elliot Rodger had been a Muslim, Bill O'Reilly would have described his killing spree as an act of domestic terrorism inspired by the teachings of Islam. If he had been an African-American O'Reilly (and Greg Gutfeld) would have blamed what he believes to be a lack of moral values in a thuggish black community and, of course, hip-hop music. But despite the reality that 75% of mass shooters are white, as was Rodger, O'Reilly isn't talking about deficiencies in white culture. And despite the reality that Rodgers was part of a dark, internet culture of woman-hating, O'Reilly gives Rodger a free pass on that, too. In last night's Talking Points Memo, O'Reilly advanced the notion that Rodger was just a lone, mentally unstable gunman, nothing more to see here move along. But given that Bill O'Reilly is a poster child for woman hating and white privilege, should we be surprised?
After the Santa Barbara killings, there has some discussion of Rodger's world view could have led to his actions. On Alternet, Chauncey DeVega writes about how mass murders, by white men, are ascribed to mental illness and not white pathology - pathology that is, on Fox News, seen as a causative factor in any murders committed by African-Americans. DeVega has coined the term "aggrieved white male entitlement syndrome" to describe what some researchers speculate is a factor in mass murders committed by white males: "a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine." For Fox News, masculinity is very important and those who threaten it (read feminists) are very bad. For Bill O'Reilly, the demise of the white, Christian, male power structure is something to lament.
The loss of white male identity ties into the misogyny of Rodger's world view as shown by his You Tube manifesto which contains hateful lines such as " See girls, this is what you get for treating nice guys like shit.” Rodger also read and posted to various misogynistic websites based on the belief that men deserve to have sex with beautiful women and if those women don't avail themselves of "alpha males," they deserve to be denigrated. Rodger, who described himself as an alpha male, said this in his final video: "You forced me to suffer all my life, now I will make you all suffer. I waited a long time for this. I'll give you exactly what you deserve, all of you."
But alpha male Bill O'Reilly, who thinks women who have abortions are selfish sluts, will have none of this. Last night he attacked "crazy ideologues" who "feel the need to exploit" mass shootings. Perhaps inspiring some internet harassment and death threats from his alpha male fans, crazy ideologue Bill attacked a female African-American college professor as a "far left loon" who has the audacity to associate Duck Dynasty with racism. (Yep, as patriarch Phil says, those blacks were so happy back in Jim Crow days...) Prof. Cooper also had the audacity to say that Rodgers was an example of how white privilege produces mass murdering white men. And just to remind his angry, white barcalounger brigade which racial group is the real trouble maker, he mentioned that 70% of Chicago killers are black. While obviously inciting hatred towards this teacher, he accused her of doing the same: "So you, madam, are exploiting the Santa Barbara atrocity and trying to ramp up racial hatred to boot. And Rutgers puts that person in the classroom?"
After attacking Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, for blaming "the killing on Internet sites where frustrated men vent about women" (Notice that he says nothing about Rodger's heavy involvement with sites), he concluded:
"The harsh truth is we're living in a world where more and more people are becoming mentally ill. The reason for that, excuse me, is alienation -- families falling apart, pervasive technology that numbs human feelings and a culture that too often celebrates violence. Boundaries are broken down. But it has nothing to do with racism or bias against women. It has to do with individuals who are so sick they want to destroy other people as well as themselves. Sometimes those people can be helped, sometimes they can't be. Again no matter what society does, there will always be mass murder -- always."
Jessica Valenti of the Guardian has the best retort to the kind of misogynistic denial exhibited by O'Reilly: "The truth is that there is no such thing as a lone misogynist – they are created by our culture, and by communities that tells them that their hatred is both commonplace and justified. So when we say that these things are unstoppable, what we are really saying is that we're unwilling to do the work to stop them. Violence against women does not have to be inevitable, but it is almost always foreseeable: what matters is what we do about it."
So, we can debate why Rodger did what he did, because that’s actually a pretty complex issue. He was allegedly an extremely difficult patient in therapy because of his Aspergers, and I’ve seen people trying to blame that, like it was the only mental issue… what else was he in for?
The manosphere gave him a lot of ideas, but how can we prove that he didn’t have those ideas, and make it a point to only associate with members that enabled that? What were his viewing habits? His gaming habits? Did he watch porn genres like violence, BDSM, Humiliation, or staged rape? Was any of his digital output something that fed into him, that can be proven as far as he was diagnosed?
We have answers to some of this, but not nearly enough. All we know for certain is that the aftermath hasn’t changed- It’s still the same “Don’t blame the gun, blame mental health, as long as you don’t point out we’re the side defunding it!” crap i was for Columbine. And everyone’s sick of it- They want studies into why mental illness and autism is up, and not just over the shootings. They want a clear answer on whether or not a person of sound mind can be affected by media. They wanna know why mental health’s so marginalized, and for someone to correct that. They want answers, and they want some common sense from the gun people while we get them.
Never gonna happen, because Fox News, the NRA, and the lobbyists making sure even the most spineless puppets can get things like that blocked. At least for white people- What’d I say on my last post?
While I agree that you can see a connection between Elliot Rodger’s participation in misogynistic websites and his later behavior, including the planning and execution of his massacre, I wouldn’t say that the websites necessarily caused that behavior. I would say that part of Rodger’s acting out is demonstrated by his participation in these sites, which of course encouraged him in that point of view. I would agree that Rodger’s perspective is a chilling one – and it’s a nasty magnification of one of the more unpleasant areas of misogynism in our culture. At the same time, other cultures are also replete with misogynism without having the regular massacres we keep seeing here.
For me, it’s the same thing as Fox News trying to tie violence to video games like Grand Theft Auto, or to WWE matches on television, or even Bill O’Reilly’s unfortunate obsession with Beyoncé. Just because someone watches a violent movie does not mean that they will automatically commit a crime as a result of it. The argument, to me, is similar to the one presented in the Washington Post, where the reader is meant to think that Elliot Rodger had misogynistic thoughts because he watched too many Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen movies.
From what I’ve seen of his writing, etc, Rodger was an extremely disturbed kid who had routinely been rejected by his peers as a teenager. He recounts multiple instances of trying to ask someone out and being humiliated in the process. Now, most of us would just say “Grow up. Life isn’t fair.” and move on. In Rodger’s case, he clearly developed a deep seated thought that he was entitled to some girl being nicer to him, and when this didn’t happen, his resentment festered. And to be fair overall, we only have HIS version of what happened in these cases – for all we know, he acted so inappropriately that the people he was talking to found him repellent. In many of the cases, what he was doing was repellent even in his own descriptions.
The nature of Rodger’s approach to his killings wasn’t just something that he got from a website. He carefully planned this massacre. He knew that he would need two guns rather than one, because he never intended to be captured alive. He knew that he would actually need THREE guns rather than two because one might jam. He knew that he would need plenty of ammunition and the ability to quickly reload. He also knew that he couldn’t just shoot his roommates, since the sound of the gunfire would have alerted everyone in the area and gotten him arrested before he could get out the door. It also sounds like he wanted to cause more suffering to his roommates by the manner in which he murdered them. But he actually spent months THINKING ALL OF THIS THROUGH. That’s extremely chilling. The tone of his entire approach is made even creepier by the calmness with which he delivered his statements.
I do think you could make an argument that Rodger’s massacre is something out of Grand Theft Auto – only played out with real people, with Rodger not seeing any difference. I don’t know that he ever played these games, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had. And, again, I don’t blame the games. Plenty of other people have played Grand Theft Auto without going on murder-suicide sprees.
The place where I think we can make some progress here is looking at the fact that Elliot Rodger was known to be disturbed, was supposedly on medication to help with his problems, and yet was still able to buy not one, not two, but THREE guns and plenty of ammo and clips to load them. And nobody thought for two seconds about this until after he’d gone on his rampage. I’ve heard the argument from the gun boosters about how they have the right to own a gun if they wish. That’s fine. How about the right of the public to walk down the street without living in fear of some heavily armed and crazed person randomly opening fire on us? The individual absolutely has rights in our society, and those rights must be protected. But we have collective rights as a society, and this is one that the right wing seems to ignore.
We’re so lucky to have him looking out for us, eh?
Trayvon Martin gets shot, that makes him a “thug.” Despite that he was the victim, not the shooter.
Nidal Hassan shoots people at Ft. Hood, that makes him a “Terrorist.” Despite that he was constantly described as being mentally ill, and possibly dangerous.
Elliot Rodger shoots and stabs people because women won’t have sex with him… Fox News and the NRA call him “a nice boy with a few emotional issues.”
And a couple weeks ago, there was a picture that went semi-viral, showing a “smart gun” with the text “The only gun Conservatives ever supported banning is a gun that becomes a paperweight if it’s stolen. Wonder who’s rights they’re the most concerned about?”
Yeah, funny how a couple internet jokes can explain the issue better than the media- Isn’t it?