Scanning the internet over the last few days, I’ve noticed a raft of feminists rush to portray Elliot Rodger (the guy who shot up UC Santa Barbara this weekend) as nothing more than a super-committed misogynist. I can see how that would be appealing to their cause, but it has one problem: It’s simply not true. Elliot Rodger was crazy. I’ve read quotes by at least ten mental health professionals saying the same thing, so I don’t think I’m off-base here. But in case you think I am, here’s a short rationale for my diagnosis…
Rodger’s manifesto is very well-written, so I can see how some might delude themselves into thinking that this guy was lucid and full capable of being responsible for his own actions. I’ll admit a certain unease when reading these documents myself, as they are amazingly cold and incredibly detailed. But there are some tell-tale signs of mental illness, such as delusions of grandeur, extreme isolation, and detailed plans that could never come to fruition under any circumstances. Why waste all that time, effort, and thought constructing a system where all women are placed in concentration camps, and you are basically emperor of the world? Any sane person knows that’s an impossibility. They may have some crazy dreams about being leader of the world (although probably not about being leader of a Rodger-type world), or something, but they quickly dismiss them for the ridiculous fantasies that they are. Elliot Rodger did the exact opposite.
There is a question as to whether or not he was always crazy. That, I don’t know the answer to (we do know that he was seeing therapists since age 8). Perhaps he was just disturbed at one point about sexual relations. Maybe at age 18, he was ultra-depressed about not getting laid, but had not crossed over into Looney Tunes-territory. Did some Internet comments and screeds filled with extreme hate towards women propel him into his final descent into madness? That is very possible. But arguing that he was a sane and rational being at the time of the rampage seems like a total miss at best, or a self-serving rhetorical device at worst. As this Forbes article points out, even on forums that are traditionally seen as either somewhat or outright hostile to women, he was challenged by others for his disturbing takes on the fairer sex.
So while it may seem like Elliot Rodger was a person who possessed sanity, due to his extremely detailed and high-level writings, a closer inspection reveals the truth. Blaming the UCSB massacre on men’s rights organizations, anti-feminists, and pick-up artists is wrong, even though it may fit a particular worldview.