A college student who posted videos that documented his rage against women for rejecting him killed six people and wounded 13 others during a spasm of terror on Friday night, the police said. He stabbed three men to death in his apartment and shot the others as he methodically opened fire on bystanders on the crowded streets of this small town. The gunman, identified by the police as Elliot O. Rodger, 22, was found dead with a bullet wound to his head after his black BMW crashed into a parked car following two shootouts with sheriff's deputies near the University of California, Santa Barbara. The police said he had apparently taken his own life.
The closer one looks at the circumstances surrounding the latest American mass shooting, the more gut-wrenching it appears.
After most shooting rampages, it's common for the public to wonder what the gunman might have been thinking, as we look for some kind of rationale to explain a tragedy of this magnitude.
But in this case, such questions have already been answered: Rodger hated women, a fact he made abundantly clear in a series of YouTube videos, one of which he recorded a day before the shooting spree and which has since been taken down. In it, Rodger elaborates on his plan to seek "retribution against humanity."
"I do not know why you girls aren't attracted to me," he said, "But I will punish you all for it."
Rodger also appears to have published a 106,000-word manifesto of sorts, detailing his intentions and motivations. In it, he describes himself as "the true victim."
Though media accounts vary slightly, the gunman reportedly had three semiautomatic handguns and more than 400 rounds of ammunition, all of which was purchased legally, at the time of the slaying.
Unlike so many mass-shootings, there was not one crime scene in Southern California on Friday night, there were 10, as the shooter executed his plan from location to the next.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown called the rampage "premeditated mass murder," the "work of a madman."
Noting the larger context, Jessica Valenti argued, "We should know this by now, but it bears repeating: misogyny kills.... [T]o dismiss this as a case of a lone 'madman' would be a mistake. It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill -- who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it -- but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger's reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious."
Amanda Hess added, "Rodger was also allegedly a member of PUAHate.com, a website for men who feel they've been tricked by the Pick-Up Artist pyramid scheme, which takes men's money and promises to teach them how to have sex with women. (And not just any woman, but one who scores at least a 7 on the PUA decimal rating scale of female attractiveness.) PUA Hate is a community devoted to criticizing the Pick-Up Artist movement and 'the scams, deception, and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to deceive men and profit from them.' It is not, however, interested in putting an end to the PUA community's objectification of women; it simply complains that the tips and tricks don't work."
As of this morning, the L.A. Times reports that 11 of the 13 people wounded during the assault required treatment at area hospitals. Four had been released, two were listed in good condition, three in fair condition and two in serious.
Richard Martinez's son, Chris, was one of the victims who did not survive the slayings, and he spoke to reporters yesterday about the "craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA" whom he holds partially responsible. "Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris's right to live?" Martinez asked.
Update: If you're on Twitter, spend some time following the #yesallwomen thread. It's important.