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May 27 2014

Guns, Girls and Game – Mental Illness and Ideology’s role in Elliot Rodger

Everyone’s already said their piece about Elliot Rodger. What’s to say?

On Friday, Elliot Rodger took his revenge on society. He went on a rampage that resulted in him killing his flatmates and shooting three innocent by standers. This happened a month after police were first alerted to Elliot Rodger’s YouTube videos and paid him a visit. His videos were angry and promised retribution and to show the world. Rodger took out revenge as he had promised on his “Day of Retribution.”. A 20 minute long spree that left a dozen people wounded and 7 dead.

I didn’t have Internet over the past few days, so for me I didn’t write the hot headed responses. I had the opportunity to think about what I wanted to say on the topic. It also gave me the chance to speed read his manifesto called “My Twisted World”. 

Narcissism is what I thought when I read it. A deep Narcissism. Like every super villain  who takes the time out to explore his plan in great detail, the manifesto contains a gigantic ramble. And take it from me, it is very rambling. It starts with an autobiography of his life.  Part autobiography, part villain speech this 140 page suicide note is his “this is why you suck” speech, only long, rambly and ordinarily ignored.

See, I am no stranger to hate mail. I apparently have been tap dancing with steel toed boots. And I ignore most of them because they are stupid. But there are things like these. That speak of hate and terrible events. Rape, Torture and Murder is just a text away. So we live in a world where the majority of these threats do not ever come to fruition.

It is clear that Elliot Rodger has issues. What they are what treatment he was having we will not know. He was undergoing therapy, but the reason and scale was unknown. But reading his document we find a few things that stick out.

Elliot Rodger was a socially awkward young man who spent most of his time as a social reject and a lonely teenager and had a pathological resentment of the world around him. He had little to no hardship in his life, he was born to a rather upper middle class or even rich family and had all the leg ups one could ask for. What drove him to this?

Was it mental illness or was it ideology.

If you fancy an insight into his mind, you can have read of his autobiography and manifesto.

There is a divide on this between this is purely a mental health issue because normally the PUA/MRA brigade don’t exactly kill people. And lets face it? Their anger and hate stops at that. But I disagree. His targets were chosen and indeed his writings were written with the MRA and PUA ethos playing a fair role. In addition? The guy released this manifesto and his youtube video, both indicating he was a vested interest in the MRA movement.

If we look at the manifesto we do see him portray himself as remarkable. As a catch. Well Travelled, Well Educated, Well Off.

His biggest failing was that he was not tall enough. He writes about how when he was younger it stopped him from going on certain rides with a rather daft petulance. We as adults know why children are not allowed on some rides. It’s because they safety features don’t work on them and they can get hurt.

It is hard to read through his manifesto for many reasons. He is dead, it is faulty and we know what he does. No man thinks himself wicked.

But there is a trend. Of imagined slights and entitlement. Elliot Rodger demanded respect. Elliot didn’t know how to roll with the slings and stones of teenage life. Either he had no guidance or simply could not let go. To him the biggest detriment was his short stature. Now we know that height is important to men. Short Guys Have It Harder. But men who don’t fit into the typical height (And believe me, a lot of women say that I am short when I know I am average or just below average) don’t live lonely lives. It’s not like all women hate short or indeed bald guys.

Again we see a terrifying flawed thinking. He speaks of a hierarchy of cars.

Maybe I am biased. I don’t own a car. I am not rich or powerful. I don’t have wealth in the traditional sense. But I am lucky to have the love of a beautiful lady who didn’t care about all that. And I remember the number of other girlfriends who never cared that I was poor. Or indeed not good looking or tall or buff. I always got dates because I spoke to women and danced unapologetically badly. Sure I would like to dress nicely but I cannot afford it. I am either in shorts and a t-shirt or shirts and chinos (the doctor apparel of choice).

But what I see is a man who assumed that men got girlfriends by sitting around like peacocks. Sure there will be some women (and men) attracted to money but guess what? Money doesn’t really buy you happiness. Money makes unhappiness go away to a baseline but you got to work from that. Elliot Rodger frittered away  his wealth on easy attempts to make money rather than actual work. Elliot never considered that the reason he was ignored was because he was a caddis fly.

Ever seen one? It’s an insect that pretends to be rocks in order to hunt down its prey in rivers. He had the trappings of what he saw as the ideal man. He just never acted like one. He needed to look wealthy so he had a BMW 3 series. Flash, he also had an SUV. He wanted to be rich so he wasted his money on Lottery Tickets. He expected women to hurl themselves at him.

The joke was the joke of entitlement. He never considered these things extras. I speak as someone who is in a serious relationship with someone from a well off family and as someone who grew up upper middle class and is “temporarily” poor. I have repeatedly stated that my blog’s income is solely until I get a job. After that? I don’t mind using that money for things like charity or indeed as a honorarium or even to help other people be part of the movement. For the time being I accept poverty voluntarily. I just find that the money is nice and lets me socialise during my holidays without having to eat the complimentary bread and drink tap water. I am privileged enough to get some of the opportunities and I also know I worked hard to keep those opportunities.

Elliot Rodger was blind to those. A man consumed by the acquisition of status symbols. For him a girlfriend was just something to be acquired. He never spoke about what he likes in a woman. Maybe I am a weirdo who likes his girlfriend to have a life that isn’t tied to mine. I like the idea that someone is willing to sacrifice everything for you (and vice versa) but doesn’t have to because you respect each other. Elliot just wanted anything and everything. To him he was the Alpha Male.

He bought into that old PUA/MRA diatribe of Alpha/Beta males.

Today I drove through the area near my college and saw some things that were extremely rage-inducing.

I passed by this restaurant and I saw this black guy chilling with 4 hot white girls. He didn’t even look good.

Then later on in the day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw an Indian guy with 2 above average White Girls!!!

What rage-inducing sights did you guys see today? Don’t you just hate seeing these things when you go out? It just makes you want to quit life.

I don’t understand how these guys do it.

Here we are suffering on PuaHate when these lesser, undeserving men that I saw today are walking around with hot girls. It doesn’t make sense.

Oh dear.

Full Asian men are disgustingly ugly and white girls would never go for you. You’re just butthurt that you were born as an asian piece of shit, so you lash out by linking these fake pictures. You even admit that you wish you were half white. You’ll never be half-white and you’ll never fulfill your dream of marrying a white woman. I suggest you jump off a bridge.

Oh My.

PUA Hate by the way is a site dedicated to hating Pick Up Artists, not because they are sleazy but because they rob these men of girls. These are the Nice Guys who have gotten angry.

And before his rampage? He had a youtube video up. The transcript ensues.

Hi, Elliot Rodger here.

Well… this is my last video. It all has to come to this.

Tomorrow is the day of retribution. The day in which I will have my revenge against humanity. Against all of you.

For the last 8 years of my life, ever since I’ve hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires. All because girls have never been attracted to me.

Girls gave their affection, and sex, and love, to other men but never to me.

I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl.

I’ve been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin.

It has been very torturous.

College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex, and fun, and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness.

It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me.

I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.

It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy, and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men, instead of me, the supreme gentlemen.

I will punish all of you for it. (laughs)

On the day of retribution I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB… and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see inside there.

All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.

I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.

You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male. (laughs)

Yes, after I’ve annihilated every single girl in the sorority house, I’ll take to the streets of Isla Vista, and slay every single person I see there.

All those popular kids who live such lives of hedonistic pleasure while I’ve had to rot in loneliness for all these years, they’ve all looked down upon me every time I try to go out and join them. They’ve all treated me like a mouse.

Well now, I will be a God compared to you. You will all be animals. You are animals, and I will slaughter you like animals. I will be a God, exacting my retribution, on all those who deserve it.

And you do deserve it, just for the crime of living a better life than me.

All you popular kids. You’ve never accepted me, and now you’ll all pay for it.

And girls, all I’ve ever wanted was to love you, and to be loved by you. I’ve wanted a girlfriend, I’ve wanted sex, I’ve wanted love, affection, adoration, but you think I’m unworthy of it.

That’s a crime that can never be forgiven.

If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you. (laughs)

You denied me a happy life, and in turn, I will deny all of you life. (laughs) It’s only fair.

I hate all of you, humanity is a disgusting, wretched, depraved species. If I had it in my power, I would stop at nothing, to reduce every single one of you to mountains of skulls and rivers of blood, and rightfully so.

You deserve to be annihilated. And I’ll give that to you.

You never showed me any mercy, and so I will show you none. (laughs)

You force me to suffer all my life, and now I’ll make you all suffer.

I’ve waited a long time for this.

I’ll give you exactly what you deserve.

Have you noticed the problem in this? It’s all about him.

But there is another problem. Why do we care? Why do we look at this grotesque incident and dissect the killer’s motives and mental state.

Elliot here clearly was quite disturbed. His actions and writings prior to the rampage are cause for psychiatric care. That is true. However? That’s not what caused him to kill these targets. His entire rampage was pre-meditated. It was planned. His first step was to kill his flatmates and indeed his family who he hated for various reasons for hating. His second was to kill people at a sorority because he perceived sorority “girls” as slutty and most likely to never like him and finally drive around in the SUV killing pedestrians until he died.

He never managed to do part 2 and his rampage was quickly halted.

Elliot was clearly a sick man who needed help but never got it. What kind of help we will never know because while in therapy we don’t know what kind of therapy and since he is dead we cannot really examine him. We see narcissistic tendencies. We see arrogance, we see anger and hatred and depression and mood swings and a whole plethora of states. We see a delusion created where women have  joined some sort of “no Elliot club”. His obsession with sex and girls creates that love hate relationship where he desperately wants a girlfriend but cannot acquire one due to a variety of reasons that we can speculate on.

But here is where we stop. Elliot here is mixed race. Half Asian. His mother is Chinese, but he looked white enough to get a dialogue.

This dialogue. Read what I just wrote. There is a problem with it and it’s a meta-problem with the issue. See? Elliot is being “humanised”. We want to know why a poor young lad would do something like this. What could drive a young man with so much privilege to kill? And we see an emphasis on his mental health. Elliot killed because he was loco for coco pops.

Sure. I agree. Mr. Elliot was not firing on all cylinders here. But we are ignoring one important thing.

But that doesn’t explain why he picked these particular targets. Oh and don’t think I haven’t been noticing the MRA and PUA communities getting mad about their association with a woman hating Men Going their Own Way type. He was part of PUA Hate, which was a website where men hated women for having the audacity to fall for those PUA (Pick Up Artist) jerks. In our rush to find out what DSM entry suited him the most, we forgot that ideology plays a role too. To say mental health was an issue without looking at the echo chamber that encouraged that sort of thinking and hate as a co-morbidity is frankly daft.

Sure men died, but they died because they were brutes. In Elliot’s mind? The women who he never approached to speak to ignore d him to date these horrid men. His entire hate was aimed at women and his scorn at those around him who had relationships.

Its why he lashed out against his flatmates. They were men but the reason they died was because they were tarnished by the enemy. Girls. That’s why he wanted to kill them. Sure he killed more men than women but his manifesto is filled with a specific statement that it was his perceived rejection by women that lead him to this. He explicitly explains his actions. To eschew the role of the MRA and Pick Up Artist community in creating an environment where the response to “Fuck BItches” is “Right On Broseph” then you create an environment of hate where you can blame a mythical cabal of women getting together solely to screw over men.

And that is nonsense. Sure we can point out that it was his misogyny that drove his attacks and his hate. The man himself admitted it.

But no. I am told that patient history is unreliable. That it is, but that’s the reason we have doctors. It is the art of taking a patient history and reading between the lines and asking questions that are important.

Let’s say a woman comes in complaining of missed periods. That is the subjective issue. The objective issue is that the doctor knows what causes missed periods, using that information the doctor confirms his suspicions and comes to the diagnosis of “Pregnancy”.

Elliot Rodger may have not been healthy mentally, but it was the MRA/PUA party line that he bought. Hook, Line and Sinker. He didn’t see women as people but as possessions. And then he saw them as inferior. Attracted to inferior people like Black, Asian and Indians. He was so caught up in the PUA diatribe that he couldn’t laugh at himself and turn disadvantages to character. In Short? Elliot Rodger may have been mentally ill and autistic, but he was also misogynistic and racist and entitled. These are both the same side of the coin when it comes down to this. He didn’t see the world in a physiologically normal way and the dialogue of hate from the MRA/PUA explained his own issues.

If we look generally? People with Mental Illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. But let us be fair. This was a contributory factor. And let us be fair so were the guns. And I would say the biggest factor was the ideology. He may have not understood girls and been shy but it was the PUA/MRA who told him that it was because girls are evil and the men who date them are probably dicks.

And this ties in with something else.

See? The press over the past few days described Elliot Rodger as white. And we saw the usual excuses come out. Guns and Mental Health Care played a role in his rampage. As did ignoring warning signs but frankly? If the cops responded to every two bit threat online we would never be done seeing them since they would be too busy trawling through the mountains of threats that pass through the Internet every single day that amount to nothing. But in general the dialogue has been one of Mental Health and Gun Control.

A lot of people speaking about the MRA movement and its role in this and perhaps a watershed moment to look into its membership are being ignored because the bulk of MRA are not violent. Well the bulk of Muslims are not violent too but we take their terrorism very seriously. We cannot rule out ideology any more than we can rule out mental health from this scenario. We like having hard answers. But in cases like this we may not get a definitive thing to blame.

The bulk of the issue was the ideology, his mental state precipitated the violence but the ideology is what alienated him and made him think this way.

But one final point. While reading this 140 page manuscript of malice I remembered one thing. The nice boy next door. It is something people of colour notice about horrendous crimes committed by white (or white looking) people. There is always a drive to ignore ideology and portray the perpetrator as a man pushed to the edge. When it is Asians or Black people we are told that it is how we are..

Remember Adam Lanza? Described as ” Shy and Intelligent”.

When  a white guy shoots up a school the media writes up a dating profile. When someone brown does it, it’s “Suspected terrorist”. Which I must point out is less likely to get you any action.

See, we are happy to accept that the 9/11, 7/7 and indeed the various other violent actions of non-white people are due to ideology.

But when the guy is white? It has to be something dysfunctional and pathological. Even Fox News jumped on that bandwagon but then promptly fell off by claiming he was homosexual.

When a White Nationalist Kills A Black Person after writing a post about how those uppity black people are getting what’s coming to them, it is racism. When it’s a Homophobe shouting slurs it is Homophobia. Then surely this is someone who hates and denigrates women and the men he sees as betraying his gender.

Elliot Rodger was both. Dysfunctional and Mentally Ill. And A Racist and Misogynist. This perfect storm lead him to his rampage. I am sure the “Boys Next Door” articles will start soon too. But for now? I haven’t seen any real description of his supposed merits.

This is a tragedy. Remember the victims, not the killer.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    I have long thought there is another reason why this kind of clearly ideological attack isn’t labelled terrorist, and that was something mentioned to me by a friend about her time working in a women’s shelter: ithat f she had to single out the occupation of the largest number of violent men whose partners she’d helped, it was no contest.

    Police.

    It’s a great occupation for an abuser, for all kinds of easing-the-path reasons, and with a work culture already primed to respond to conflict with controlling (and hopefully controlled) aggression, and with strong values of unswerving support of one’s embattled colleagues.

    The reluctance of people within that culture to embrace the idea that misogyny counts as an ideology, and women as an identifiable group as a target of that ideology, is thus to me sad but not yet surprising. It’s a lot easier to be suspicious and othering to an ideology whose proponents aren’t sitting next to you at briefing…

  2. 2
    kraut

    He was an arsehole that thought himself entitled to a life of his choice, without working for it. Good riddance.
    The problem with rich kids that are stuffed to the hilt with crap they think they need – again without working for it and no appreciation what the cost are and therefore without appreciation. Again – good riddance.

    i never bought my kids a bike, a car. I cosigned for their loans, and they worked it off – beginning at fourteen. That taught them the value of thing – because it was tied directly how much work they had to put in to get it. It taught them the value of work, it taught them responsibility – all things this arsehole was lacking. He was a whiner, a complainer, a weakling. Again – good riddance.

  3. 3
    Marcus Ranum

    I think another reason it’s appropriate not to label this attack as terrorist is because terrorism usually has some kind of political or social agenda. The FBI, in fact, used to define terrorism as “an attempt to influence the political process through violence or intimidation” until they stepped away from that definition because it too closely matches how the USg does business. Elliot doesn’t have an ideology, really – it’s deadly solipsism and is truly pointless (it’s not like killing others then himself was going to get him laid by blonde sorority girls) I agree with many of the commenters on FTB that it’s bad to immediately pigeonhole him as “crazy” (in the sense of non-neurotypical) but his ideas were so self-contradictory at many levels that they were incoherent. It’s not an ideology, either – it’s a pastiche of a bunch of ideologies that share a common core of misogyny and self-hatred. The self-hatred contradicts the vanity and sense of entitlement. The desire for women (even as objects) contradicts the hatred of them.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    He was a whiner, a complainer, a weakling. Again – good riddance.

    Not when that “riddance” takes down a bunch of other people who had nothing to do with it. That’s not “good” in any usage of the word.

  5. 5
    kraut

    Good riddance meaning he cannot perpetrate such lunacy again. Of course – if he had just shot himself, I would not have him labeled arsehole.

  6. 6
    smrnda

    I will agree that this guy was mostly a bunch of disorganized ranting, but I think there are enough points that I could say he’s got an ideology, though without any real blueprint for implementing it politically. Basically, he thinks that women should not have a say in who they enter relationships with or have sex with. There’s no real concrete method for creating a society where women have this right taken away or how women will be assigned to men in his dude-bro dystopia, or how women will be kept down, but I think that’s a coherent enough to be part of a platform. It’s at least as coherently anti-woman as many anti-Black white supremacist platforms.

    Perhaps the main difference with him and other people we’d label terrorists is that is that most terrorists have allies – even if they kill themselves in a suicide attack, they imagine that they are advancing the cause or status of others who are still living. This guy is exuding hostility in so many directions that I’d imagine that he’d turn on any supposed MRA-sphere ally if the other guy seemed to get more attention from women.

  7. 7
    Marcus Ranum

    he thinks that women should not have a say in who they enter relationships with or have sex with

    Not really. He wants to be wanted. But he’s not. Which makes him angry. It’s contradiction layered in contradiction. He wants to be wanted but doesn’t want to do the things he’d be expected to, to be wanted. His attitude is this “my way, or the highway” with no value-basis to argue why his way is even relevant.

    is that most terrorists have allies

    I disagree. Most important is that terrorists have to have enough of an ideology to stand up to basic scrutiny. Guys like Rodger could hardly argue a political agenda; even Vox Day would (probably) laugh at him and distance himself — Rodger was that incoherent and contradictory. Terrorists have to have enough broad appeal to be able to enlist others.

  8. 8
    Phillip Hallam-Baker

    This idea of calling everything that is bad ‘terrorism’ does not help. Terrorism describes a tactic, it is an analytic term not a moral judgement. There are plenty of things that are not terrorism that are equally bad or worse.

    Rodger was not a terrorist because he didn’t have any demand. Terrorism is a tactic whereby the threat of force is used to extort concessions. If there is no demand then the attackis something else.

    It is not a particularly effective tactic either. There are very few cases where a terrorist campaign has achieved its demands. In fact rather more common is the case where a ‘false flag’ attack like the Bologna railway station bombing is used as a pretext for a right wing coup. Hitler did not come to power through the ballot box, he came to power by burning down the Reischtag, blaming the act on the communists and arresting their MPs, thus making it possible to pass the enabling act. The worst case of terrorism in post war Europe was in fact committed by Italian fascists trying to create a pretext for a coup.

    It isn’t a coincidence either that it is the right that gets into a panty-twist about failing to call things terrorism. Romney’s attack on Obama for not calling the attack in Benghazi was essentially part of the right wing fiction that only they understand the proper procedure of chest thumping in such circumstances. Because what really matters to them is that the US make empty rhetorical declarations as a substitute for action. And of course he got his head mown off because he didn’t do his homework and he stuck to his charge after being given a chance to retract.

    There is a special kind of stupid that is a white man born to a life of privilege thinking that he is going to best a black man by throwing random insults at him.

    Terrorism is a specific problem that demands a particular set of policy approaches that are utterly irrelevant here. The MRA/PUA scene is dreadful but they are hardly planning to follow up with further attacks.

    This was not a terrorist attack, it was an attack made possible by the NRA and their worse-than-pedophile supporters. Without the gun he could only kill people in their sleep. The US has had ten of these murder sprees this year alone. Most countries have an average of one a decade. Its the guns and the politicians that enable the gun psychos.

  9. 9
    SallyStrange

    Rodger was not a terrorist because he didn’t have any demand.

    It seemed like he was pretty clear about demanding that women have no legal rights and that they adore him and have sex with him. And also concentration camps for women. Not the most coherent set of demands, but still demands.

    Those don’t count why?

  10. 10
    Marcus Ranum

    It is not a particularly effective tactic either.

    Resorting to it is an implicit admission that you cannot affect the political process through proper channels. So, yes, in that sense, it’s a tactic that admits defeat.

  11. 11
    Marcus Ranum

    It seemed like he was pretty clear about demanding that women have no legal rights and that they adore him and have sex with him.

    No, because he was planning to be dead. There’s no realistic way that he could have expected things to work out according to his desires and his decision to end the whole thing by killing himself (so as not to have to confront the inevitability of utter defeat) is an implicit admission of that.

    His idea of how the world should be had nothing to do with the world as it is, and he had to know that his ability to re-make the world was nil. His actions made as much sense as the extreme wahhabists who want to re-establish the caliphate. It’s clearly not going to happen (and if Qutb, Zawahiri and Bin Laden had been rational they would have realized that the fact that political islam wasn’t rallying to their call was an indicator that their call was going to faiil. Instead they took it as a reason to double down.)

  12. 12
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Marcus Ranum, did you read his manifesto?

  13. 13
    jay

    I’ve recently read a short ebook titled “ptsd/bipolar misdiagnosed”. It’s the best common sense approach to mental health i’ve ever read. The mental health professionals had their chance with him. Elliot wanted help, but received nothing except a bill for services rendered.

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