Elliot Rodger, the UCSB Shooting, and 5 Rules for Coping with Tragedy

As law enforcement, the media, and the larger Santa Barabara community deal with the aftermath of last Friday's shooting rampage by Elliot Rodger, it's also worth keeping in mind the "5 Rules for Coping with Tragedy" outlined above in a Reason TV video originally released in January, 2011 in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and what Reason ultimately came to call "The Loughner Panic" (after the response to the gunman).

Among the points:

1. Early reports may be wrong.

2. Don't politicize a tragedy.

3. Don't blame heated rhetoric.

4. Put the tragedy in context.

5. Legislate carefully.

More on those rules here.

As noted over the weekend, Rodger left a long playlist of chilling, disturbing videos. He also published a long, rambling, and alternately racist, misogynistic, and thoroughly misanthropic text he titled "My Twisted World," in which he explains his anger at a world that did not conform to his demands:

Humanity… All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. It has made me realize just how brutal and twisted humanity is as a species. All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.   

This is the story of how I, Elliot Rodger, came to be. This is the story of my entire life. It is a dark story of sadness, anger, and hatred. It is a story of a war against cruel injustice. In this magnificent story, I will disclose every single detail about my life, every single significant experience that I have pulled from my superior memory, as well as how those experiences have shaped my views of the world.

There's no question that he was seriously deranged, though it's far from clear what the larger social import of his worldview really is. I've already seen long essays about how Rodger exemplifies all Millennials, or all men, or all Asperger cases—the list will only keep growing. But taking mass shooters as representative of the society that supposedly produces them (through violent video games, too much parenting, too little parenting, too much sexy on TV, prudish attitudes towards sex, etc.) is always a dicey proposition, especially in the first flood of information.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I'm fear I'm soon going to get sick of looking at that douche's face behind the wheel of that beemer.

    God has a plan for every tragedy, and it's for newsreaders to prematurely ejaculate all over the facts and for interests to come out of the woodwork and stand on coffins to further their goals.

  • db||

    Yay, let's all use a selfie this shitbag took as our primary image of him. The media covering this story and other like it, as has.been.noted.time and again, play right.into the hands of these.narcissistic, murderous sticks by giving them the attention the could never get by no criminal behavior, and especially in this case by republishing images and videos the criminal himself would.consider glamorous.

    We hand them what they wanted on a silver platter by allowing them to dictate the terms of their.own infamy.

  • waffles||

    But they are usually dead, so it really just serves up inspiration for the next fuckwad.

  • db||

    Yes, that is the point.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    WILL YOU LEARN TO TYPE ON THAT KEYBOARD ALREADY?

  • gimmeasammich||

    You can't easily take a laptop into a bathroom stall at work.

  • Iucundus (ex Damned Fool)||

    Partisan Law: When life gives you lemons, squirt the juice in your opponents' eyes.

  • Mongo||

    Squeeze my eyeball til the juice runs down my leg.

  • Mongo||

    It's gotta be adult-onset schizophrenia (if that's the term for it).

    Some people go nutzo transitioning into adulthoood. Must be a bio-chemical thing.

    I've had a couple of friends - who were kind of dingbatty growing up but still functional - completely lose it when they hit their mid-twenties.

  • sloopyin??||

    This kid was in therapy since the age of 8, and apparently that therapy was daily from the time he hit high school. There were signs there all along. His parents just refused to treat him like a nutball...probably because they feared what their friends and colleagues might think of them.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Nobody needs more than one personality.

  • sloopyin??||

    How about: This kid was a coddled, spoiled psychopath whose parents didn't bother taking the time to raise him and passed off their responsibilities as human beings when he showed signs of snapping.

  • db||

    They even passed off their responsibility to do anything when they started getting scared of him. "Oh, yeah, our.son is getting really creepy and we're afraid he.might.kill.someone. but we called the cops.once, so it's not our.responsibility now. But it's totally the.fault of guns and gun laws that aren't strict enough."

  • Harun||

    Ennnnnh, I'm not so sure about this line of thought.

    If he was going downhill, they may have not know how fast. And they will err on the side of hope.

  • BilboTeabaggins||

    Must have been a messed up kid to not be able to get laid in IV. UCSB is a national treasure of beautiful and slutty women.

    We used to drive down the coast for the Halloween party in college. Such a sad situation.

  • Drake||

    I was thinking the same thing. He must have been putting off some kind of incredible asshole vibe.

  • Harun||

    It comes through on the videos he personally stages for his finale.

    He's probably using maximum charm and made multiple takes.

    Now imagine him on average day, in person.

    I have to wonder if the foreign students were in a disadvantage in judging his craziness due to language issues.

  • sarcasmic||

    Even slutty women don't have much interest in losers who have no self confidence.

  • Hugh Akston||

    That explains so much about my time in college.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've never understood how sharing your personal issues with a stranger who has a financial interest in your continuing to have personal issues is supposed to help you get over your personal issues. Never made any sense to me.

  • Idle Hands||

    That logic also applies to all Doctors/anyone in the service industry.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not really. You're going to get sick again and go back to the doctor. With the talking cure, once you're better you're better. No need to go back. Ever. So it's in the interest of the therapist to never pronounce you cured.

  • Iucundus (ex Damned Fool)||

    Also easier to drag out talk therapy. If your leg is broken or you have cancer, it's much easier to quantify whether you're getting results or not.

  • Drake||

    My rules are:

    1. Never remember their names.

    2. Pay no attention to their bitching, manifesto, ideology, or other bullshit they are trying preach through death.

  • Harun||

    NPR actually had one segment during the entire "Gabby Gifford was killed by GOP and Palin week" that explained this.

    The expert said often these guys just want to kill, and then they create some political issue as a pretense, because they know its not allowed.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    This is the story of how I, Elliot Rodger, came to be. This is the story of my entire life. It is a dark story of sadness, anger, and hatred. It is a story of a war against cruel injustice. In this magnificent story, I will disclose every single detail about my life, every single significant experience that I have pulled from my superior memory, as well as how those experiences have shaped my views of the world.

    Good grief.

  • Drake||

    At some point does he indicate why anyone would give a fuck about a spoiled kid who couldn't get laid?

  • MJGreen||

    Well, he had a plan to make people give a fuck...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    At some point does he indicate why anyone would give a fuck about a spoiled kid who couldn't get laid?

    Don't ask me, I don't waste my time reading that gibberish. There was another snippet here the other day which translated from the original pidgin crackpot as, "Boo hoo, YOU OWE ME."

  • Mongo||

    You know that those two cats in the first photo are considered heroes by a large segment of disaffected society.

  • waffles||

    The kids who tell their dad that Applejacks don't actually taste like apples? I had no idea they had such a large following.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Who are they?

  • waffles||

    Gotta have my pops!

  • Matrix||

    People have been posting all over FB about how this is tied to rape culture or patriarchy or just seeing women as objects and not people, because he wanted girls who didn't want him back.

    Now imagine if a girl went psychotic and killed people because she was rejected by men a lot. Would the same claims be made, "oh she just sees men as objects and not people" or some other BS? I'm thinking 'No'. She might even be seen as a victim of the Patriarchy.

  • Dweebston||

    It's precisely because this doesn't happen that suggests inherent sexual distinctions, the sort of thing feminists excoriate men like Larry Summers for broaching, lay at the heart of differing life outcomes.

    Or maybe patriarchy is repressing all the would-be women psychopaths and serial killers.

  • Matrix||

    Women do go and kill when they are spurned. They just don't go on rampages. They just stick to the object of their affection and that persons' boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse

  • Doctor Whom||

    inherent sexual distinctions, the sort of thing feminists excoriate men like Larry Summers for broaching

    Only when it's convenient for them to do so. In the radfem blogs that I read so you don't have to, the bloggers and commenters have no problem bouncing back and forth between "Gender roles are purely socially constructed" and "Men have an innate difference that leads them to do such-and-such bad thing."

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    It's all socially constructed, but the Patriarch constructs the men in an evil mold.

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    People have been posting all over FB about how this is tied to rape culture or patriarchy or just seeing women as objects and not people, because he wanted girls who didn't want him back.

    These people are idiots.

    Nothing (appreciable) has changed in the human courtship rituals in thousands of years. By and large, men want sex, women want relationships, they go back and forth until they find the right one, fall in love and settle down. People get hurt, ON BOTH SIDES, along the way. FUCKING GET OVER IT! This "rape culture" and "Patriarchy" bullshit is simply more entitlement nonsense...

    Oh, I should never get hurt or be uncomfortable and if I am it's ALWAYS someone else's fault...and more importantly...SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    Get a fucking life!

  • Soros' Wank-noose||

    SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    This will be on the Constitution's headstone, and throngs will cheer it.

  • WDATPDIM?!||

    That's what Francisco should have said at Hank's party.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    "By and large, men want sex, women want relationships"

    Could you be more specific? I suppose men may want sex more, but they don't necessarily want relationships less. Depends on the person.

  • Shirley Knott||

    What continues to amaze me about this is how everyone, and that includes this Reason post, treats this as a 'mass shooting'. Exactly 50% of the victims were stabbed.
    Everyone is out to get the gun-owner society, but mass stabbings are becoming routine. No coincidence perhaps that they are more dominant in societies with strict gun ownership limits, but here, there, everywhere people get stabbed.
    Dead is dead.
    Prevention is a fool's game.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "everyone, and that includes this Reason post, treats this as a 'mass shooting'. Exactly 50% of the victims were stabbed."

    Excellent point.

  • Harun||

    The radio news just said this would lead to more guns laws, and detailed the killings without mentioning this fact at all.

  • antisocial-ist||

    Psychos can fit almost any narrative. At least some part of their behavior will be racist, misogynist, self serving, entitled etc. Truth is, they hate everybody, that's why they're sociopaths. It's easy to see your favorite evil in them because they have so much evil in them. I might see this dipshit as a progressive, but that's because I see all progressives as sociopaths.

  • Mr. Soul||

    agreed. Conversely, elitists can also fit any narrative. Something bad happen? You didn't heed our wisdom. If you persist in your independent ways, you are evil.

  • JW||

    1. Early reports may be wrong, but who cares? RUN THAT BABY!

    2. Don't Always, always, always politicize a tragedy.

    3. Don't Blame heated rhetoric everything except the person who did it.

    4. Put the tragedy in context BLARGLEGARGLE.

    5. Legislate carefully quickly and recklessly.

    There. Now it fits the contemporary usage.

  • cw||

    Legislate carefully.

    Or not at all.

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    My thought - is not murder already unlawful?!

  • Mr. Soul||

    and we're lucky it is. Otherwise he would have really shot the place up.

    /sarc.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    What this whole incident proves is that psychologically and emotionally disturbed people like Elliot Rodger are not just a threat to our lives, they are a threat to our civil rights. They are a cancer on humanity.

    Cancer is not cured by transforming the cancer cells back to normal, healthy cells. Cancer is cured by destroying the cancer cells. So too, we must destroy this cancer on humanity,. The existence of mentally and emotionally disturbed people like Elliot Rodger can no longer be tolerated. The threat to our lives and civil rights is just too great to try anything else except destroy them. And the destruction must be thorough. Even one psychological or emotional deviant is one person too many.

  • cw||

    I hope you're kidding.

    Who would decide who's a "psychological or emotional deviant" that deserves to be executed?

    Not to mention the whole pre-crime-style of law enforcement...

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you know who else tried to identify and remove psychological and emotional deviants from society?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    Hitler?

    (sorry, missed your post and duplicated)

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.?

  • Brandon||

    Howard Dean?

  • DrAwkward||

    The entire Progressive Movement?

  • JW||

    Poe's Law is in effect.

    If serious...the irony of someone sounding like a psychopath, calling for the murder of anyone deemed abnormal (by whom, exactly?), is too delicious.

  • Hugh Akston||

    So you're saying we as a society should refuse to tolerate those who dehumanize others and advocate violence against them?

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    You know who else...

    Oh fuck it.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    This sounds over the top even for H&R, so I'm guessing you're joking?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The existence of mentally and emotionally disturbed people like Elliot Rodger can no longer be tolerated. The threat to our lives and civil rights is just too great to try anything else except destroy them.

    Thank you, Doktor Mengele, for that insightful observation.

  • Flemur||

    text he titled "My Twisted World,"

    -- "Funkijty… Kcc gl ny sullhrjia gi tfjs wgrcm fks dhhi kt tfh fkims gl funkijty, pkrtjeuckrcy wgnhi. Jt fks nkmh nh rhkcjzh oust fgw drutkc kim twjsthm funkijty js ks k sphejhs."

    Why the link to gibberish in a thread that's not about immigration?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    SCOTUS released several opinions this morning. Florida's method of defining the line at whether a capital offender is retarded (and therefore cannot be executed) at an IQ score of exactly 70 without considering the standard error of measurement was ruled unconstitutional (5-4), Secret Service agents who moved anti-Bush protesters away from Bush were found protected under immunity, and police that shot a suspect after a high speed chase did not violate the 4th Amendment on unreasonable seizures.

    More on all of them here: http://www.scotusblog.com/

  • Lord Humungus||

    Thought: If prostitution was legal (and easy to access) then perhaps this incident wouldn't have happened.

  • Drake||

    He couldn't have driven that BMW to Nevada?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    You would think so. He drove to Arizona. To buy lottery tickets.

  • ||

    How dare you try to force more patriarchy on society! Argle bargle gobblidy gook!

  • toolkien||

    I would doubt that. He was probably too good for disease carrying hookers. Special Ones shouldn't have to resort to such tactics - only clean girls happily popped by Himself. He probably would have evolved into a modern Ripper or something.

  • Harun||

    Nah, he wanted arm candy more than actual girl candy.

    He viewed his father as high status because he could get girls.

    He didn't lust after the girl, but the status.

    Thus it also has to be a hot blonde = trophy.

  • Spartacus||

    "All of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women."

    There are probably about 3 billion men who could claim this, and most of them would be less wrong than this dickwad.

  • toolkien||

    When I read the snippets of the manifesto(s), all I can think of is Hitler and his "struggles" in two volumes (seriously). Good old Adolf was pretty much an emo kid who gnawed the ends of his own inadequacies (in no small amount with regard to women) and blamed the rest of the world for not appreciating his genius and artistic competencies (Bullock and Shirer detail the young AH well). AH, somehow, got control over an entire country. What's scary is how many similar folk are motivated to enter journalism, or politics, or law enforcement with the same root emo/ego driven narcissism. Or even more scary, how many people follow such people. AH went out of his way to learn how to persuade people and developed kinetic communication skills that were married to his insanity. We should count ourselves lucky this kid nipped himself in the bud in the larval stage with the least amount of damage (too bad he couldn't have eliminated the need for any dead before cancelling himself out).

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Hitler had the advantage of a country which was incredibly messed up by war, depression, and a narcissistic sense of entitlement already existing in much of the population - if one of these factors had been missing, AH would have had less chance of taking over, IMHO.

  • Paul.||

    But taking mass shooters as representative

    You mean mass stabbers, right?

  • Nit Picker||

    taking mass shooters as representative of the society that supposedly produces them (through violent video games, too much parenting, too little parenting, too much sexy on TV, prudish attitudes towards sex, etc.) is always a dicey proposition, especially in the first flood of information

    Technically, every member of a set is by definition representative of the set to some extent. The question is, how representative?

  • ||

    2. Don't politicize a tragedy.

    Lots of people here have been saying Rogers is a left wing nut informed by left wing sensibilities.

    I am not here to refute those claims...but to add my own claims and politicizations.

    The big bang is bullshit and the bullshit of it pushed Rogers into his killing spree.

    By pushing the Big bang agenda extremist astrophysicists have destroyed the potential wonder of the universe and placed into an unforgiving box which can drive virgin 22 year olds to madness and murder.

  • Brandon||

    That's ridiculous. It's the global warmists, they made the kid feel so wretchedly guilty that he felt he had to offset his carbon emissisons with extreme prejudice.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement