Saturday, May 24, 2014

California Killer

Update: Autism?

One must not try to score points off senseless tragedies, such as the opponents of gun ownership do every time there is a shooting. Nonetheless, at some point the killer's confessed motivation must be considered. Here is what his message said, in part, according to MSNBC.
"I'm 22 years old, and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl," Rodger says 
"College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair.  
"If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you," he says, sometimes laughing at his own audacity. Afterward, he promises, "I will take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there."  
"You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one — the true alpha male," he boasts. 
The Bear will not try to read too much into this, because you never know when it comes to mentally unbalanced persons. One should not assume he had the insight to know what demons he was really wrestling with. The cultural commentary is on the face of it, if you wish to go there. Ultimately, he was in misery, and wanted to wash it away with the blood of innocent people.

Sometimes believing in the demonic makes so much sense.

A good young Catholic man would feel the same temptations, but would not see them as "unfair." He would not feel a sense of entitlement toward the young women he encountered, our good young Catholic man. Well-formed young men are chivalrous -- yes, still. He would know enough about vainglory to beware of the urge to be "the superior one," and if he was particularly knowledgeable, he might even know that the Church considers Pride a capital sin (not to mention Lust), and recall the story of Lucifer.

Are there no evil, demented Catholics? Of course there are. But the Catholic stream runs in the other direction. The culture of the West has left its course, and carries all sorts of evil with its current.

Update: Autism?

There are reports that the killer was afflicted with autism spectrum disorder, although he would seem to be rather high functioning. If this were true, the social awkwardness characteristic of autism could certainly be socially isolating.

If a mental condition can be linked to violent crime, the Bear has probably made the connection in one case or another. In criminal defense, you play the cards you're dealt. You also play the cards you happen to find up your sleeve. (No, the Bear is not making any admissions; he doesn't know how they get there.) The Bear has experience with autism in a capital case, which was, in fact, turned into a non-capital case due to autism and some inventive maneuvering among laws.

People with autism are not violent per se. Any time a person is not well-functioning in society, however, it is not a healthy situation. Could a sense of social isolation and hopelessness manifest in homicidal behavior? The Bear suspects it is possible, but it would be wrong to say "this is because of autism."

Autism is very controversial. It is an epidemic nowadays. Are kids different from how they were in the 50s or 60s? The Bear suspects they probably are, but also suspects the DSM5 covers a multitude of sins.

Guns, autism, anything but a culture that despises virtue and rewards grand homicidal gestures.

Meanwhile, 160 were killed recently in Nigeria, and a few more today, by Boko Haram Islamanics. Culture matters.


  1. I generally think that, in addition to the lack of care for truly mentally ill, we also are a culture in which children are not learning how to deal with feelings of disappointment. It is sad enough that they feel like ending their own lives, but to lash out at the world at large and kill strangers (or some people somewhat connected to the issue, if not personally connected) to make one's point is horrible. And yes, virtue is despised and homicide is glorified. Kids have no sense of respect, propriety, or courtesy.

  2. I see that the young man's father, a director on the "Hunger Games" and other Hollywood films wants to blame politicians and the NRA. Who's glorifying killing and gun use in America? Hollywood. And "Hunger Games" is one of those distopian films in which teens are set in competition to kill one another. Gee, what a great wholesome film.

    I am sorry for the young man and those he killed of course. May God have mercy on his soul.

  3. I wonder if this young man was on anti-depressants, and whether enough attention is being paid to a possible link between these meds and such terrible incidents, particularly when the perpetrator is a young person. I believe that quite a few medications being marketed as anti-depressants are already known to put users at risk for suicidal thoughts, and I'm not convinced that a drug that can make people think about killing themselves might not also cause them think about killing others.

    And this kid's story doesn't add up unless he did, indeed, have extremely serious "issues" when it came to social interaction. Absent such a problem, it is flat-out impossible that a good-looking 22-year-old from southern California, with parents in the movie industry, can't get a date.

  4. Yes, antidepressants carry black box warnings about risk of suicide in young patients. They are infamous for causing changes in behavior, including aggressiveness.

    I think we err if we look for one cause, but it does make sense to look for factors. To put the gun argument in perspective, there was an eerily similar case in which the kid drove his car into a crowd of people.


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