I have decided to weigh in and add my three cents to the discussion on the killings in Santa Barbara recently. I spent a great deal of time yesterday reading the thoughts that various authors had on the killings. All of them were, in my opinion, well intentioned. All of the authors recognized a problem existed but I think that many of the authors missed the boat because they fell into the trap of using the tragedy to advance a political agenda. I will avoid mentioning any specific authors by name, as this is my article and I want the focus, as well as any criticism or praise, on those thoughts; not someone else’s. With all of this said, my thoughts are below.
1. The first thing I noticed about the articles I read was that all of them blamed one thing or another for the tragedy. Some blamed misogyny (more on this later), others guns, others the poor state of the mental health treatment, and still others Hollywood movies. Here’s an idea…blame the crazy guy who killed six people. I say again…blame the crazy guy who killed six people. It is without doubt that this guy was mentally unhinged. He had been going to therapy for over a decade and he still wasn’t getting better. On the other hand, though, he was also able to convince the police that he was stable and not a risk to anyone when they came and interviewed him at his house. To me, these are the marks of a sociopath. What mechanisms exist to identify sociopaths?
2. I want to spend a little more time on misogyny. One particular author focused her entire article on an alleged undercurrent of misogyny that is accepted and sometimes even promoted in our culture. I will say this. I will be 34 years old in a few days, and all of my years of living I have never met a single male who hated women. In fact, I’ve never even heard someone I knew or met talk about someone they knew who hated women. Granted I know a fraction of a fraction of a percent of all the males in the United States, but if misogyny is such a problem, shouldn’t I have at least crossed paths with one misogynist (I know this is not a convincing argument, but I do this intentionally to make a point) in my life? A couple wackos posting message about hating women on forums on the internet does not constitute a nation-wide trend. Even a couple hundred wackos doing this does not constitute a trend. Why, then would this author argue this point so vehemently? Some of the responders to the post claimed she hated men, others that she hated white men, still others that she had “daddy issues” from her time growing up. I neither know the author nor presume to guess her motive. What I will do, however, is lump her in with the group below.
3. This is the group that is using this tragedy to advance a political agenda. The first words out of people’s mouths after this tragedy were how this was the fault of the NRA for not helping advance gun control laws. Well, California has the strictest gun control laws at the state level in the country. And has been pointed out in multiple places, the killer used LEGAL handguns with LEGAL magazines to do his killing. Oh yeah…he also used a knife on more than one of the victims. Doesn’t sound like gun control could stop that. In addition to anti-gun politics, the reactions to this incident were rife with blaming men for every ill in the world. I have read so many statements like, “Every woman worries about getting raped whenever she walks down the street.” or “Every woman worries about getting killed by a man while every man worries about just getting rejected by a woman.” that I can no longer tell you what articles they came from. As a man, I can in no way relate to either of these concepts from a woman’s point of view, especially if she really and truly felt either of the ways identified in these quotes. I do not walk down the street worried about getting raped, by a man or a woman. Nor do I worry about getting killed by a man or a woman on a daily basis. Even when I travel overseas I do not worry about these things. But I must ask, how many women actually feel this way? I cannot think of any woman I know who think these things. And if they are not common thoughts by women, then why does it take a murder of men and women for this to come out into the public eye?
4. My last thoughts are that aside from everything else in this tragedy, the coverage of this even just confirms the idea that the “target” of the attack is more important than the actual act carried out. If this guy had written a manifesto about how he hated straight, white men, then this would have receive nowhere near the attention that it did. Converseley, if the targets of his hatred had been blacks, Hispanics, Muslims (who aren’t an ethnic group they are followers of a religion, but now is not the time or here the place for this argument), or any other group determined to be in need of special behavior towards, the uproar would have been just as bad. Why can’t we focus on the crime and the victims the same in every crime, no matter what minority or majority they belong to?
After all, isn’t that the goal and intent of a color blind society?