Nice Guys Finish Last, Then Go on Killing Sprees
The case of Elliot Rodger's shooting and stabbing rampage at the University of Santa Barbara last Friday that ultimately claimed seven lives provides commentators both professional and amateur alike with a crossroads of much that's wrong with this once-great nation of ours. It is about male entitlement. It is about white entitlement. It is about the sense of entitlement gun owners feel. The number of touchstones this latest mass shooting provides is mind-boggling.
While it would be a stretch to say the late Mr. Rodger represented virtually everything that is wrong with the country, it would be an equally reckless stretch to say that Rodger was an anomaly, the exception rather than the rule. And Rodger's horrifying rampage through the USB campus is like a cross between Leo Durocher and Bret Easton Ellis- It's a case a "nice guy" finishing last for the last time and getting some payback.
What you see above is a reproduction of the video Rodger put up on Youtube mere hours before Friday's rampage (Youtube's "community," oddly, took it down right after the spree because, apparently, the threat of violence is much more intolerable than the videos of people actually getting killed that Youtube keeps in circulation). If you can stomach his jeremiad against women who refused to sleep with him, you'll note he comes across as a bad amateur actor essaying a screen test for a badly-written villain, complete with the bitter fake laughs.
The performance (and this is a preamble for horrid performance art, make no mistake about it) is chilling only in retrospect when one combines it with the killing spree that was promised. In it, Rodger essentially whines about being 22 and still a virgin and unmistakably makes a case for white male entitlement. His 141 page manifesto/autobiography on Scribd, which is getting roughly 1000 hits a minute (At this writing, it's up to 158,600 reads), is about as repugnant a commercial for white, male entitlement as the laudatory comments it's received from people tuning in for the freak factor, the cybernetic equivalent of police band owners running to the scene of every accident or natural disaster.
Looking at this kid's sense of histrionics, it's not difficult to see why females by and large found this young man so repugnant. He felt women should have willingly given their vaginas to him by dint of his alleged descent from British aristocracy and he was a racist. We have no idea what his family's finances are like but one gets a strong sense he came from the landed gentry and the sense of entitlement that goes hand in hand with what one lawyer successfully argued was "affluenza."
Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood
It's inconceivable to those of us still in full possession of their mental faculties to see how a self-proclaimed "nice guy" can then justify going on a killing spree. But this is part and parcel of the necessary delusion that monsters like Rodger require. The fascists felt they were doing a public service ridding the world of Jews. American presidents of both parties think little if anything about ending human lives from thousands of miles away as long as they were ended against a backdrop of Communist aggression or Muslim terrorism. And Republicans think they're doing a public service by denying the neediest among us food stamps, Medicare and Social Security.
Elliot Rodger had, at best, parochial ambitions, most likely personal ones. Like many young men with raging hormones, he simply wanted to get laid and be accepted by the opposite sex. But never once in the face of these countless rejections had Rodger looked within himself, as would many of us, for the root cause of this rejection. And his mindset, while personally motivated, is absolutely indistinguishable from the almost invariably white entitled male gun fanatics who'd begun targeting women with terrorist tactics just before Rodger's rampage.
Violence, as I'm sure many of us can agree, is the first refuge of the morally and intellectually defeated. They're too immature or too willfully ignorant to engage in a fruitful dialogue and think using domestic terrorist tactics on those they perceive to be weaker makes a suitable substitute for rational debate. The persecuted mindset is also as common a trait as the psychological protocols we see in serial killers: Everyone's out to get us (despite still comprising the vast majority of the population), everyone's out to get our guns (despite the Obama administration doing or threatening no such thing).
And the sense of entitlement is encouraged when one white man after another gets away with taking innocent lives and having his spoiled upbringing blamed. George Zimmerman, an honorary white man, proves with every violent incident of just how much this country has gone to the dogs just by staying out of prison despite being every bit the loose cannon Rodger was.
And it would be easy to say that somebody failed young Elliot and perhaps somebody or some people had. He was, after all, under mental care but even the best psychiatrist or psychologist is powerless to overcome and counteract an ingrained sense of white entitlement that, more often than not, is infused with an unhealthy dose of racism and misogynism
Until we as a nation grow a set and learn to connect the dots and note that most gun fanatics are angry white males, exactly the type still surrounding Cliven Bundy and sighting down on federal agents, then nothing will ever change. There's no substitute for pushback. And it seems the only ones doing the pushing back, and successfully at that, are those selfsame angry white males acting against the public welfare with an inexplicable sense of entitlement and persecution.