It’s a question of blame, really.
I’m not questioning who his natural parents are, that seems solidly established. The question I’m really asking is whose bastard is he… ideologically? Why did he turn out to be the heartless bastard that made the news?
The popular knee-jerk response is as predictable as it is worthless. Was there a gun involved? Yes? Then he’s *obviously* the NRA’s bastard. Blame the guns.
The problem with this position is — I would hope — obvious even to a child: not all of the victims were shot. Some were shot, certainly. But some were stabbed. He also ran some over with his car. If we blame the NRA for the gun deaths, do we need to blame German Engineering for the people he ran over?
No. There is a simpler explanation. The gun, the knife, and the car were each just a means to an end. Why? Because even a weak person can overcome a strong one given adequate means.
Predictably, people are blaming mental illness. This excuse sickens me. Mental illness isn’t new. How many people with anxiety, depression, OCD, or even schizophrenia are living quiet lives among the rest of us? It’s in insult to the rest of them to just write this off as a “crazy person doing crazy things.” (Even if some make strong cases for their position.)
So why am I suggesting that to merely chalk this up to mental illness insults our intelligence twice? Not only does it ignore the overwhelming majority of people with mental disorders NOT going on killing sprees. But it also writes a blank check of irresponsibility to the offender, and suggests that this was inevitable. We don’t do this with other people, do we?
If someone spend months planning (as Elliot Rodger did) any other crime, would we dismiss it as a mental break? If it were an identity theft scheme, the serial firebombing of churches, or some other crime spree we’d denounce him as a villain, not excuse him as chemically imbalanced. Even if early claims of a specific medical diagnosis are accurate, the planning involved undercuts any claims that it was merely a random, irrational, and impulsive act.
Whatever his mental state, he still made a choice.
Something led him to that choice. But what?
It’s been well-reported that this darwinian holdover parked his butt in front of video games for hours on end. Is he then the video game manufacturer’s bastard? Shall we blame them?
Sorry, that just doesn’t fly. How many legions of slackers sit in a chair killing imaginary bad guys like it was their job? Do they ALL go on killing sprees? Hell, some can’t even be bothered to go upstairs for another bag of cheesy-poofs, let alone run down random passers-by.
What makes him different? Should we blame Hollyweird? (Well THAT question comes close to home, considering that’s what his dad does for a living.) Where’s our Hollywood mea culpa from the people so willing to point fingers at everyone else we’ve mentioned? Don’t look for one.
And we probably shouldn’t. Sure, they influence the values of a culture (Hollywood plays an active role in social engineering), but that same influence hasn’t driven the rest of us to the same crimes.
Should we blame the parents? I wouldn’t. Sure, parents shape us profoundly. But they cannot dictate who we ultimately become. How many people who rose up and became “great” did so having overcome their own horrific, impoverished, or abusive childhoods?
Suppose he really did have “daddy issues” or whatever. That would still be no excuse. Too many others have risen above them.
You know that if there was the remotest connection to “religious mania” that would be splashed all over the news. But he was not religious. A single screenshot of his online interactions reveals an atheist, and darwinist, misogynist, and racist — a petty, cruel and violent guy. Clearly, we can’t blame a God he didn’t believe in.
We have learned that he was a whiny, sulky jerk who treated everyone else as a means to his own private ends. Women existed (he thought) to gratify his physical urges. Others owed him kindness that he was unwilling to show others.
He even told his mother to marry a wealthy man. (The Prada-wearing BMW-driver thought more money would make him happy.) She “should sacrifice her well-being for the sake of my happiness.”
Whatever finally catalyzed those thoughts into actions, we have seen that his attitudes, and behaviours — however horrifying — actually fit within a known system of thought. That system was developed by the philosopher best known for saying “God is dead”.
Using people as means to an end. Power-hunger. Misogyny. Pitilessness. Rejection of moral codes. Despising “lesser” humanity… none of those things would be foreign to “ideals” proposed by Neitzsche: “‘Enemy’ shall ye say but not ‘villain,’ ‘invalid’ shall ye say but not ‘wretch,’ ‘fool’ shall ye say but not ‘sinner.’”
Rodger said “sex, love, companionship — I deserved those things… but girls are not sexually attracted to me.” (Deserved?) “That is a problem I’m going to rectify. I in all my magnificence and power, I will not let this fly.”
Whatever the myriad factors at play in his twisted world, and whatever launched his sociopathic ideas into actions, he was already living life Nietzsche’s way long before he made headlines.
Whose bastard was he? Well, since ideas have consequences…
My money’s on Nietzsche.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.rstreet.org/2014/01/20/game-over-for-video-game-violence-alarmism/