In the aftermath of the recent Santa Barbara spree-killing, the latest public mass-murder in the only country in the developed world that seems to suffer them almost annually but which is loathe to do anything about it, much has been made of the mental state of killer Elliot Rodger. Specifically, in response to his at-length, self-expressed misogyny and loathing for women he thought he was entitled to favours from, many have been falling over themselves to say, well, actually, he was mentally ill, so his misogyny wasn’t his inspiration to murder seven people. The gist of this commentary is that because Rodger was (apparently) mentally ill, what he himself said was his murderous motivation – put simply, his contempt for the kind of women he desperately desired but could not “have” – is secondary to him being a raving nutter. Others are saying that his murder-spree couldn’t have been inspired by his hatred of those women whose affections he could not attract because he also killed some men (never mind that misogynists do hate other men, routinely describing any man not up to their mammoth-hunting standards as “beta” or deriding any man who appears to lean toward feminism as “manginas” – and never mind that killers often take precautions by eliminating potential witnesses).
I take issue with these keyboard diagnoses of Mental Illness™; I feel they’re unhelpful and they they’re deflections perpetrated by people who, for whatever reason, appear to feel incredibly uncomfortable discussing both misogynist undercurrents in society and certain groups, as well as mainstream, everyday, unapologetic sexism. I will of course grant that mental illness might well have played a part in this atrocity, but as I’ll discuss (modifying some blog comments I’ve made today elsewhere) mental illness is by no means a prerequisite for irrational, vengeful brutality.