I do not know how to explain the violent acts of Elliott Rodger which occurred in Isla Vista, California last Friday. That is, I cannot identify all of the relevant facts, nor parse all the contributing causes, much less prescribe the means by which we may prevent any recurrence of such events. I know there are some who are sure that greater gun control is the answer, though I’m not sure how that would have helped those that Rodger stabbed with a knife and wanted to run down with his automobile.
There are, however, two factors which stand out to me – which I doubt the news media will consider important. First, there is the divorce of his parents. Note this sentence from the first article linked below:
Mr. Rodger was, from a young age, emotionally disturbed, particularly since the divorce of his parents when he was in first grade, family friends said.
In my lifetime, American society has made divorce much easier to achieve and much more socially acceptable. I don’t see how these new social mores have helped Mr. Rodger or his parents.
Second, this young man gave sexual frustration as the reason for his rage. Again, from the first article linked below:
He spoke of the women who rejected him, the happiness he saw around him, and his life as a virgin at the age of 22.
Rodger himself explained his frustration with virginity in this way:
“For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires. All because girls have never been attracted to me. In those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness. “I do not know why you girls aren’t attracted to me,” he said, “But I will punish you all for it.”
Although Rodger was 22 when he “exacted his revenge,” he had made the decision that it was an appropriate course of action for him when he was 19.
In truth, Mr. Rodger had been planning his “Day of Retribution,” as he called it in that manifesto, for three years, from the summer day that he moved into a small apartment with two roommates, the first time he lived away from home.
I did not read that Rodger was frustrated because he was not married. Rather, he was frustrated that he wasn’t having sex. Where could he have gotten the expectation that he should be having sex as an unmarried teenager? We have no farther to look than today’s society – what is called “pop culture.”
A culture that believes there is such as thing as “no-fault divorce,” revising the legal code to support it, and that believes it is better to teach the young to practice “protected sex” rather than to teach them to confine sexual activity to marriage is going to produce a great many troubled children and adults. Not all of these victims will act with the rage than animated Elliott Rodger, but that won’t exonerate society for the harm it has done by its slavish pursuit of personal autonomy and pleasure.
Divorce divided the young Rodger against himself and complicated whatever other problems he may have had. And his sense that society regarded him as a “loser” for not having partaken in sexual activity soon after the onset of puberty further complicated his life. I wonder how many people who champion popular cultural values will notice these as contributing factors.
Parents’ Nightmare: Futile Race to Stop Killings (New York Times)
Video Rant, Then Deadly Rampage in California Town (New York Times)
(HT: Albert Mohler Briefing)