The police in Santa Barbara dropped the ball.

I have learned of even more stupidity involved in the Isla Vista shooting. You know how the police went to visit Elliot Rodger a few weeks before his Day of Retribution? Yeah, it turns out they knew he had disturbing videos on YouTube, but the police did not watch those videos. Why not? Because didn’t consider him a threat. See, they got the call from the mental health service, they went to his apartment and talked to him at the front door, and since they figured he was a nice kid, they just walked away and nobody took a look at his YouTube channel.

If they had considered him a threat, they could legally hold him in a psych ward for 72 hours for observation.

Not that he didn’t have mental health care already. He was in therapy, but he didn’t let it do him any good. He was prescribed meds which he did not take.

If he’d done that initial period in a hospital, though, someone might have figured out just how awful this guy really was. If someone, at that stage, had known how much of a danger he posed, he might not have been in a position, less than a month later, to leave a trail of bullet holes around Isla Vista.

Also, if the police had treated him like a threat at the time of the visit, they would’ve checked his apartment, and then they would’ve found his guns. If they’d taken away his guns, some people would still be alive and unharmed who now are not.

Now, contrast that negligence with Prof. Cooper’s analysis at Salon, on the role of white privilege in the Isla Vista shootings:

Can I go ahead and scream yet? A black or brown man would have been violently hauled into a jail and locked up at the first sign of such machinations. His property rights would have been thoroughly violated, and no matter how “polite” and “courteous” he might have been with officers, no reports would have reflected such language.

These coded terms mean that these officers were incapable of seeing this clearly troubled young white man as a threat. How many mass killings must it take to recognize that white male entitlement is potentially deadly? How many YouTube videos must one post outlining an attempt to do harm before it is taken seriously?

How many mass killings, indeed?

#ElliotRodgerFunFact: Suffering no lack of privilege or connection

I’ve learned more about the Nice Guy Mass Murderer since my post on Saturday. For example, he actively advocated for women not to have power to decide whom they fuck. That goes beyond rape apologia into rape advocacy. He was especially angry about men of color socializing with pretty white women. He was biracial (white father/Asian mother) and identified overwhelmingly with whiteness. He characterized women as “evil, sadistic beasts” for sleeping with the wrong men—wait, not even sleeping with them, necessarily, just hanging out with them!, which sort of makes sense about as much as “the food is terrible and the portions are too small” until you see that he wasn’t thinking of women as companions, but as objects to possess and control. I started a hashtag on Twitter: #ElliotRodgerFunFact. Nowhere near the scale of #YesAllWomen, but I’m still pleased to see other people using it.

The mass murder didn’t start outside. Three people were found dead in Rodger’s apartment. At least two of them were his roommates.

This story here from the AP makes me feel a lot worse for Rodger’s parents. I’m sure we’ll wait a bit longer and find out more about how they brought him up, and they’ll be at least partly culpable for his developing such a heinous view of the world, but for now, it seems that his parents were trying to keep their son from joining the ranks of mass murderers. They were really trying, but how do you really handle it when you think your son is a danger to society? He was seeing two counselors, which is noteworthy, and his mother (her name is Chin Rodger, though she’s not named at the Yahoo link) saw his videos in April and got in touch with one of the counselors. The story sounds very much like the police department is trying to deflect blame for not recognizing the danger Elliot Rodger posed when they had the chance. The counselor called a mental health service, which called the police, and the police say they weren’t aware of any videos. Maybe the part about him making homicidally threatening videos got lost in the chain of communication, but that’s the sort of question the police might have tried to ask before they made their assessment.

I’m also hearing from various sources that Elliot Rodger was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is part of the autism spectrum, as a small child. ACCORDING TO FAMILY FRIEND MR. SIMON ASTAIRE, this is untrue. The family long SUSPECTED that Elliot was on the autism spectrum, but he was never diagnosed. It’s cringe-worthy to see speculation about Nice Guy Mass Murderer being an Aspie, as it’s inevitably followed by people equating Asperger’s to mental illness, and mental illness to his inclination to violence. Here’s the thing: researchers have tried to find a correlation between autism and violence. They’ve found no such correlation. EVEN IF our Nice Guy Mass Murderer was on the spectrum, it should not be used to portray autism as a cause of violence.

Whatever mental health problems our Nice Guy Mass Murderer had, he wasn’t left to struggle all alone. He was seeing therapists and his parents were involved in his life. Whatever mental health issues were troubling him, he was able to present to the police as a nice kid, so they let him go on his merry way. He was not isolated, or neglected, or in such dire mental health that he lacked control over his actions.

ETA the part about Rodger not actually being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Nice Guy, Mass Murderer

There was a shooting spree in Santa Barbara last night. I have gathered the following information from The Washington Post, LA Times, LAist, USA Today, and Radar Online.

Elliot Rodger, age 22, was the son of the 2nd unit director of The Hunger Games, Peter Rodger. Just two years ago, he was present on the red carpet at The Hunger Games premiere alongside his father. Elliot Rodger has been identified as the shooter who killed six and injured seven more until he was found with a bullet in his head after crashing his car into a parked vehicle. The black BMW that crashed with the shooter inside has the same license plate number as the car on Elliot Rodger’s Facebook page. With that positive identification, it’s okay to say we know who he is.

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