Stop Blaming Society, Start Blaming the Individual Responsible

From guns to video games, we're placing blame where it doesn't belong.

It is all their fault, really.

You know who. Those good-looking young women who turned Elliot Rodger down. All he wanted was to live a happy life, if only they would let him. But they spurned him, again and again, because they were "incapable of seeing the value" in him. And so he struck a "devastating blow" that shook them "to the core of their wicked hearts."

You and I do not think like that, fortunately. We can see Rodger's sick, twisted thinking for what it truly was: a demented delusion, inspired by the unhealthy culture in which he was steeped.

As Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday notes, Rodger grew up in the Hollywood entertainment industry, with its "outsize frat-boy fantasies" and a "sexist movie monoculture" that is "toxic for men and women alike."

Granted, Hollywood does not bear the blame alone. As the conservative periodical Human Events points out, Rodger also grew up in a broader culture—America—that instills in people an attitude of extreme "entitlement" without the leavening modesty of religious faith, which has been pushed to the margins.

What's more, as the liberal periodical Salon observed in "White Guy Killer Syndrome," Rodger was a white male—like so many other spree killers—and he plainly was frustrated by his "failure to . . . access all the markers of white male heterosexual middle-class privilege." To Ken Blackwell of the conservative Family Research Council, the cultural cause behind Rodger's rampage was the campaign for gay marriage.

Others deserving of some blame include the men's-rights movement and, of course, people who support gun rights.

Spree killers are often haunted by inner demons only they can hear. But those of us who pay close attention to the tidal movements of history can, with sufficient reflection, tease out their true motives.

After the 2012, massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association searched its soul and astutely concluded that the real problem was “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry” that promotes violence: video games.

After Jared Loughner's 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona, The New York Times astutely observed that while it might be "facile" to attribute his deeds "directly to Republicans or Tea Party members," nevertheless it was "legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats." Conservatives, the newspaper correctly noted, "have exploited the arguments of division." Those people always do.

But not just conservatives. In 2009 Nidal Hasan massacred 13 people and wounded 32 others at Fort Hood. Federal authorities referred to the incident merely as "workplace violence." But we know better. We know it was an act of terrorism, perpetrated by a Muslim who divided people into two types: those who shared his vision of the world and those who did not.

Muslims and their liberal sympathizers might like to pretend that Islam is not the root cause of so many of the terrorist attacks on the American homeland, but the truth is obvious to the rest of us. The world would be a safer place if there were more like us and less like them.

Which is not to say that Islam is the only cause of terrorism. It has been less than two decades since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring nearly 700. That is why we should be grateful that federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, and independent groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, keep a sharp watch out for any sign of right-wing extremism.

Although to be fair, right-wingers do not have a monopoly on political violence either. During the Bush administration, Homeland Security paid close attention to the threat posed by radical environmental organizations such as the Earth Liberation Front, which set fire to many ski lodges in Vail and which the FBI identified as a leading cause of domestic terrorism.

Radical environmental ideas have inspired other episodes of violence as well. In 1995 newspapers acceded to demands by Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) by publishing his manifesto, which argued that "the Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race." Conservatives quickly made a parlor game out of guessing whether various statements had been made by Kaczynski or by Democratic Vice President Al Gore. It was often hard to tell, which only proves that people who worry about climate change are just like Ted Kaczynski.

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  • C. Anacreon||

    That's "Rodger" with a D.

  • Brandon||

    Who gives a shit? Why would that evil little taint deserve the respect of proper attribution?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Roger Clarence. What's the vector Victor?

  • ||

    Mental illness, maybe?

    Maybe the girls were turning him down because he was creepy and wierd.

  • ||

    The reason people blame society and not the individual is that they fear personal responsibility and don't ever want it applied to them, so they promote the idea that no one has any personal responsibility. People are fucking terrified of personal responsibility.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    THIS!!!!!1111tenplusone

  • BigT||

    It takes a village.

    Same shit.

  • sarcasmic||

    I blame his shrink who I'm guessing kept him dwelling on the past where he stewed and stewed until he finally snapped, instead of advising him to just get over it and move on with his life. Yep. It's all the shrink's fault.

    Obviously psychiatry is the cause and should be banned.

  • antisocial-ist||

    His parents should at least demand a refund.

  • Brandon||

    L. Ron?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

  • Rhywun||

    Ha, that was my very first thought too.

  • CentristClassicalLiberal||

    without the leavening modesty of religious faith, which has been pushed to the margins.

    Afraid of losing your socon readers? Aside from the fact that religion actually does cause violence (abortion clinic bombings, assaults on LGBT people, everything in the middle east etc.) there's a large demographic of socialist, welfare-hogging Democratic voters who are also very religious, homophobic, racist and otherwise culturally conservative. They voted for both Obama and Prop 8.

    Also Elliot Rodger was never officially diagnosed with asperger syndrome. He doesn't seem like one at all in his videos. He obsessed over things that ASD people don't give a shit about.

  • ||

    Speaking of Asperger's, this entire piece was satirical.

  • Brandon||

    It is all their fault, really.

    The first line didn't tip you off?

  • CentristClassicalLiberal||

    It's titled Stop Blaming Society, Start Blaming the Individual Responsible. Some still think he (the individual involved) had asperger syndrome. He did not.

  • Brandon||

    So what?

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    Is there any way you could be more disingenuous?

    We hate liberals because they suck.

    We hate conservatives because they suck.

    We hate democrats because they suck.

    We hate republicans because they suck.

    We hate you because you suck.

    You suck.

    Go away.

  • Calidissident||

    Dmitri Medvedev posts on Reason? And is a secret libertarian? When is the coup taking place?

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    . . . . . .

    I don't know any russian.

    Otherwise I'd make a funny joke in russian.

  • CentristClassicalLiberal||

    Considering that i've never seen you post here I don't think you're qualified to say "we".

  • politicsbyothermeans||

    I'm sure RussianPrimeMinister couldn't be a sock anymore than CentristClassicalLiberal is, eh?

  • Chumby||

    So who will Obama blame for using drones to murder innocent moms and kids?

  • Brandon||

    Either Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Bush or Youtube.

  • Sevo||

    'So who will *shreek* blame for using drones to murder innocent moms and kids?'

    Now it's a lock: BOOOOOOOOOOSH!

  • ||

    Anybody notice that the intentional false equivalences in Hinkle's satirical pieces are virtually indistinguishable from the accidental ones he makes in his ordinary writing?

  • Brandon||

    No.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "And although I know a life of crime led me to this sorry fate, still, I blame society."

  • Another David||

    Of course social factors can influence this sort of violent behavior. We talk about it all the time here with police departments. A subculture seeks out and welcomes unstable, angry, violent people, reinforces their persecution complex and delusions of inherent superiority while insulating them from the consequences of bad behavior, and eventually the really bad ones, instead of acting out in minor ways, fucking explode – for instance, by shooting a hundred fucking times into a random car after hearing a backfire.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    So, just to be clear, this kid surrounded himself with other people who thought like he did, couldn't get girls, and blamed everyone other than themselves?

    And then these same people made sure he understood that it was perfectly fine to brutally murder the people he hated and blamed, because there would be absolutely no consequences for his actions?

    After he was done with the murders, he got to go home and collect a paycheck while sitting on his ass all day long?

    The group of people who told him it was fine to murder all of those people came immediately to his defense, right? And spent other peoples money to defend him as rigorously as possible?

    And the DA prosecuting the case, obviously, will convene a grand jury and make sure they only hear evidence proving the innocence of this kid?

    Or, maybe, no, it's nothing like the police AT ALL.

  • Another David||

    So, just to be clear, this kid surrounded himself with other people who thought like he did, couldn't get girls, and blamed everyone other than themselves?
    Yes.

    And then these same people made sure he understood that it was perfectly fine to brutally murder the people he hated and blamed, because there would be absolutely no consequences for his actions?
    Just the telling him it was perfectly fine part.

    The group of people who told him it was fine to murder all of those people came immediately to his defense, right?
    Yes.

    So no, the online dickbags don't have their own legal system like the cops do, but I thought we were talking about social factors, not legal ones. Both groups foster an "it's us against the evil [proles/women and sex-having dudes] that hate us for no good reason, so whatever you do to lash out at them is okay" mentality. You don't think police departments seeking out stupid, violent people, then telling them that they're better than civilians and anything they do is justified doesn't make a difference, and it's all about the legal bias?

  • Edwin||

    can we get something straight here? No libertarians or conservatives or anyone even a little right-leaning ever does blame other people. It's the left who immediately lash out at their boogeymen, using the dead bodies as a political podium.

    We blame BACK, pointing out the bullshit in their logic and how many OTHER things could have contributed to the crazy behavior.

    There's maybe like 5% of right-leaning people who will blame video games, and even that shit was like mostly in the 90's when video games were new. The liberal media just focuses on those few douches to make the rest of us look like asses.

  • Calidissident||

    I'm sorry but that's BS. The left does it a ton, maybe even the most, but conservatives do it a lot as well, whether they're blaming video games, porn, decline of religion, homosexuality, etc. depending on the situation. Even here on Reason, people were blaming progressives for creating a culture of entitlement that then supposedly led to Rodger's shooting.

  • RussianPrimeMinister||

    Of course, regardless of who actually uses those scapegoats, and regardless of how many people back them up, these things will still a whorish amount of attention from the media.

    And that is all anybody other than libertarians will every hear about it.

  • TommyCelt||

    Video games were new in the 90s????

  • toolkien||

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  • Rev-Match||

    "legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats.

    I realize this is satirical, but don't most of these mass murderer pricks usually turn out to be commie's?

  • Calidissident||

    I think most tend to be apolitical, or at least not motivated by politics.

  • LaKeisha||

    Our culture (more and more) seems to believe that everyone should get a trophy just for showing up and participating, and that we shouldn't have awards presentations because it makes those who DON'T get awards feel bad and left out. I'm surprised that school officials don't sit the pretty girls down and tell them: "You cheerleaders and all you other pretty girls can't just be humping the jocks and the cute, cool guys. You have to give the nerdy weirdos a little of that snapper, too."

  • ajweberman||

  • ajweberman||

    The father, mother and therapist never called 911

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