Responsibility, or, You’re Part Of The Problem

Maybe not you, the reader. It’s just the thought that ran through my mind halfway through an article about the goddawful shooting spree in Isla Vista yesterday, as the reporters got into the inevitable interviews with people who had known the shooter.

Patrick Connors, 23, a former classmate at Crespi Carmelite High School, a Catholic school for boys in Los Angeles, said Mr. Rodger had left school before graduation. He said that Mr. Rodger was treated by his classmates as an oddball and that students mocked him and played jokes on him; once when Mr. Rodger fell asleep in his seat, classmates taped his head to his desk, he said.

“We said right from the get-go that that kid was going to lose it someday and just freak out,” he said. “Everyone made fun of him and stuff.”

Congratulations. Mr. Connors. You and your friends need to buy a big damn jug of soap because the blood of Elliot Rodger’s victims is all over your hands. He was troubled, he was an “oddball,” and your reaction as high schoolers was to mock him and tape his head to his desk?

It was more of a speculation when I, among others whom I quoted, wrote about the Adam Lanza shootings — there was less to go on in that case. Let a young person be smart, let him or her be unhappy, especially let that young person be a little socially inept whether as an everyday trait or a hardwired form of neurodiversity like Asperger’s — and wow! It’s open season! Dirt in the desk, clothes stolen out of the locker, dodgeballs in the face. I guess I’m lucky no one ever taped my head to my desk, but then, a few people learned The Fear when they realized that a girl of nine was ready and able to shove a rude, nasty, large kid and the desk he was sitting in out in the the hall and down it before he knew what was happening.

Elliott Rodgers waited for the payback moment till he was old enough to buy a gun. Plenty of people will yack for weeks about how easily he got one. We can leave that subject to them.

Happy Memorial Day, Crespi Carmelite Alumni. You must be so proud.


9 thoughts on “Responsibility, or, You’re Part Of The Problem

    • Thanks. I don’t imagine this mobbing behavior is a total explanation, but I think it can make the difference between a disturbed and sad person who is just disturbed and sad, and one who decides the rest of the world is getting payback. I don’t know where I’d be or what weird ideologies I’d have adopted if I were, I don’t know, a little less intelligent, a little less fortunate in my friends and mentors, a little less inclined to be reflective and sort out philosophical problems.

      There’s a lot around the Interwebz at the moment about the role doctrinal misogyny played in this — unmissable, since shooter Rodger rambled on at (hilarious, if it hadn’t led to random deaths) length about his grievances against women, who apparently had abused him by withholding sex and affection to which he felt he had a right. I’ve just come off reading a succession of screeds by the kind of blogger he favored, full of bizarre nonsense about how men and women should not mingle except for sex, and women should not have the vote, and women lack empathy for men. Those people share in the guilt too, for confirming a distorted viewpoint. But I doubt the desperation that fed that viewpoint would have been so intense had people not felt entitled to use the guy as a social Hacky Sack to be kicked around, just as he eventually decided he was entitled to attention from women.

      I’ve met people who verged on this “only meek and complaisant women are good and all others are out to destroy men” philosophy. Pretty disheartening. They all need to go sit in the corner with the ghost of Andrea Dworkin and try to work it out.

  1. I watched his final video, and it’s been bothering me ever since. He does not look scary. He speaks like a bad actor, especially the three times he does that awful fake laugh, hand on chin, like a bad Bond villain. I wouldn’t have taken him seriously either. Some are saying he had mild asperger’s. I can see that. But… It’s the entitlement he felt that is causing all the talk about misogyny. He hated men for having what he didn’t – but what they had was, to be crude, pussy. Pretty pussy at that. He wouldn’t have settled for an ugly fat chick. He wanted a sorority girl, another status symbol to go with his BMW. He only wanted the kind of girl who only wanted a rich boyfriend… Because he truly believed money is how to get ‘love.’ He HAD money! Why no pussy? It’s not faiiiiir! So yes, a serious failing of society to teach him (men like him?) that women aren’t commodities to be bought by white boys with shiny expensive cars – just because they are white and have the car.

    The bullying… Well. I could have easily snapped a few times if I hadn’t dropped out in my second go of 8th grade to find out what life was like away from bullies. Maybe if I’d had a Beemer and rich producer parents I’d have been forced to stay in the hell that was school…

    • I have to wonder how entitled he actually felt. On the surface and in his conscious narrative, yes. But he strikes me as someone who deep down felt he had been hit with some invisible variety of ugly stick that put him out of the game. True narcissists really believe they are worse than worthless, and all the inflation is an attempt to counteract that feeling — all the putdowns of other people, the villainizing of all but their own yes-men. As I put it to a friend: “They think they suck, so they put all their energy into proving that other people suck worse, and the result sucks.”

      I also wonder if he would have recognized a receptive woman if he’d met one. I have seen a classroom-bright, I-can’t-get-girls type dismiss a naked conversational gambit from a vivacious, long-haired torch singer. Literally. If Rodgers had gotten a date, he’d have found fault, of course. She would have smiled wrong, or interrupted him, or something. And he was probably the kind who would never “pay for it” (a nice escort could probably have helped him a lot if he’d actually been open to solutions), even though, as you say, he clearly felt his wealth was one of his good points.

      I don’t dismiss the problem outright woman-hatred or its broader social presence either; it’s pretty creepy to think how the only difference between his and his chat-board buddies’ rhetoric, and American conservative “family values” crap, is basically one of packaging.

      You were brave, and took care of yourself. I admire that.

      • His ugly stick was that he was short. I don’t know how short. So, yes I also doubt he could recognise real interest. He was physically attractive, no doubt. Also, apparently, half-Chinese. So that bothered him, too, as evidenced by his disgusted statements about ‘Indians, blacks and Mexicans’ with ‘pretty white girls’. Never occurred to him the girls might be sisters, friends, part of a social group – nope, just more men with pretty girls he didn’t have. Hell, I’d have slept with him if it would have stopped his murder spree, but I’m surely too old!

        I wasn’t brave, I was stupid and pretty much ruined my own life. But at least I didn’t go on a murder spree!

        • Stupid doesn’t preclude brave. And sometimes a person doesn’t have very many good choices. It’s just personal with me that I admire people who don’t stay in the same place letting other people hurt them.

          I actually did have a few flings with smart, misfit guys where it crossed my mind I might be preventing a bloodbath down the road. Back in the 70s. I mean there was actual attraction because of the smart, but I saw the crazy and disconnected side of them. The one thing it taught me was that repairing crazy is no job for amateurs.

  2. The schoolboys at Crespi Carmalite were mean bullies, and probably still are. But I’m more angry at the teachers and administrators at that Catholic school. And at Elliott Rodger’s parents and the doctors who were supposed to care for him. The bullying schoolboys are obviously culpable, but they were, after all, teenage boys. Adults are supposed to intervene and civilize teenage behavior. The faculty and administrators should be sentenced to a year in prison and allowed only one book to read over and over. “Lord of the Flies.”

    Rodger’s problems were apparently evident at a young age, and he did receive treatment. However, it seems clear that his parents and doctors did not fulfill their responsibilities to this child. I have serious reservations about the wisdom of mainstreaming children with severe emotional or developmental problems. Seems to me that more intensive intervention at an early age by caring parents and by professionals was called for in this case.

    The administrators and teachers at the high school have a lot of soul-searching to do. When a severely withdrawn or otherwise troubled teenager enters high school, warning signs should not be ignored. I believe the school administration and faculty must have condoned an unhealthy atmosphere of bullying, and who knows what else. If it was an all-boys school, the behavior might even have been encouraged by the adults.

    If I were an adult with any responsible connection to this school, I think I might demand that it be closed and burned, and the ground salted.

    • Speaking as someone who was bullied mercilessly, I can say the only consequences the bullies faced in my case were the bruises I left on them when I finally snapped. Funnily enough they decided they did not like those consequences. But not everyone is able to respond like that, and in this era, you’d probably end up in jail for assault instead of the principal’s office.

      I can’t imagine what someone who’s already in mental distress — and being bullied for the signs of it — goes through. (I was just using big words and talking about subjects my classmates didn’t understand; terrible crime.) And apparently a lot of educators — though it’s their job — can’t imagine either.

      I gained some understanding of this when I worked at a university education department. Though I know and admire people who have taught middle school, and have heard them discuss protective approaches they’ve made with young people who seemed to need backup, the majority of students in the program where I worked were appallingly average, interested only in getting the certificate and the job that went with it, mouthing platitudes about their eagerness to help “mold young minds” and generally exhibiting all the sensitivity and responsibility of a stalk of kohlrabi. I can easily picture them regarding Elliot Rodger as a troublemaker instead of realizing he was in a situation where he didn’t belong.

      “Education” has become a sort of factory career, done by the numbers, to way too many people who enter and direct the field.

      • I hope you’re wrong, but I suspect you’re right about many of the people holding down teaching jobs, which are pay well, compared to Walmart (or writing or editing). The thought of factories full of inattentive and unmotivated teachers is scary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s