The Media and the Santa Barbara Shooter

by

Here’s how it goes: a shooting. Multiple deaths. Words like ‘loner’ pop up and bob around on the surface. The phrase: ‘Didn’t fit in’. ‘Outsider’. Deaths confirmed. Terrorism? Not mentioned. OK then. White male, gotta be.

We ask ourselves the question ‘Why?’ even though, in this day and age, if we don’t know why, we soon will. The serial killer rarely performs these days without an arrogant digital imprint somewhere. We find it. Devour it. Tweet it. Retweet it. Come up with grandiose statements which sound like they’ve come straight from a really bad daytime TV show. Journalists and twitter commentators swarm into overdrive. “How could this man fly under the radar?” they bleet darkly. Of course, we know why. Because he’s male, intelligent, from a nice family, educated, affluent, relatively innocuous, even – under different circumstances – attractive looking, and, to all appearances, white.

“What does it reveal about our society?” now this is the big one. It could reveal a need for gun laws. It could reveal the dangers of video games. It could reveal the futility of America’s police. It could reveal rampant white supremacy. Entitlement. Elliot, conveniently, ticks pretty much all the boxes and reveals an obnoxious personality which manages to span pretty much all unpleasant ideologies over a 141 page manifesto. Reams of endless hate and self pity are dredged up from the young killer’s blog, vlog, manifesto and transcriptions of everything in between. The liberal media quickly decide that ‘the angle du jour’ will be – misogyny.

Jessica Valenti in The Guardian makes the fatuous point that Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree is “Further proof that misogyny kills”, as if the feminist movement and history has been lacking ample evidence up until this moment. She bolsters her argument by quoting her friends’ tweets, as if they too are the “further proof” that White Feminists have needed that they’re a peculiarly oppressed and tormented species. Delving onto twitter, other feminists resort to bad drama: When you are an affluent man who benefits from white supremacy, knowing how to talk to the police gets you a free pass… TO MURDER. @thetinavelazquez writes. In fact, everyone from Salon to The Guardian to The Atlantic to The New Statesman to The Huffington Post to Twitter, all basically say the same thing: Elliot Rodgers killed because he hated women, although they all seem to be conveniently missing each other’s articles and acting as if they’re the only ones drawing such a ‘radical’ conclusion.

Let’s cut the crap. Killers are not usually attracted to nonviolent philosophies, peaceful ideologies and challenging systemic oppression. Quit fucking acting like it’s a surprise Elliot Rodger was a misogynistic, racist, sex starved, white male privileged fuck either formed by, or attracted to, the kinds of ideologies expressed in his disgusting
fowlermanifesto.

It’s of absolutely zero surprise to me that Elliot Rodger’s blog, vlog, manifesto and everything in between reveal a singularly unpleasant screwed up hateful little fuck that embodied everything that could possibly be wrong with society today. The dude murdered a bunch of people. What were we expecting? That he adopted stray cats and rehoused them? That he had Hello Kitty bedsheets and sponsored a Nepali girl through Christian Aid? Cried at ‘The Bachelor’? Fuck’s sake, people. Intersectionality – there, I said it! But don’t dismiss it for a headline, folks. Elliot Rodger hated women because he had never had sex. He despised people of color. He played World of Warcraft and had no friends. Society rejected him – or he rejected society. He jerked off a lot. He was a virgin. His parents had paid for him to have social skills counsellors. He had a shrink who had expressed concern about his behavior more than once. He had a stepmom – Soumaya – who has a reputation for being a kind, loving, gentle woman with a ferocious talent for acting, a woman who loved her only biological son and was deeply concerned about her weird stepson. He planned to kill both his stepmom and her son on his rampage. His family called the cops on him (who does that?! I read online somewhere. People who think their kid is a killer and have no other fucking option, moron, I thought in response). But let’s not forget – the insane can make any ideology fit their madness.

The urgency to krank out an important Op Ed – an essential opinion, a lesson to take home, something to digest about our society – is nonetheless pervasive. Killers only get about a week of airtime (Poor Kim. Worst time to get married.) Something pompous and important must be declared! We’ll pretend it’s the first time we’ve written it. We’ll pretend we care, but really, next week, we will have forgotten. Remember the names of any of the Sandy Hook victims? Columbine? Of course you don’t. They’re news. Political points. They’re opinion pieces, soundbites, tweets. Sandy Hook wasn’t misogyny, it was all about gun laws. Columbine too. Elliot – he changed the dialogue a little. Got the woman angle in there. Throwback to Damini. Remember her? Of course you don’t. You’re part of the problem. How could this happen? How could we let this happen? How could we ignore this man’s marked misogyny, racism, tendency towards violence…. already composing the next Op-Ed, one eye turned to the incoming wire declaring the next grand tragedy.

Of course we fail to see the obvious. Too busy counting how many retweeted us, how many likes we got.

Ruth Fowler is a journalist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She’s the author of Girl Undressed. She can be followed on Twitter at @fowlerruth.

 

 

 

Ruth Fowler is a journalist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. She’s the author of Girl Undressed. She can be followed on Twitter at @fowlerruth.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics