Paul Jacob

A young man wrote a manifesto and went on a killing spree. This murderer, Elliot Rodger, ended up taking the lives of six people, seven if you include his own death. (I’ll wait for the coroner’s report to see whether it was self-inflicted or the result of return fire.) The massacres took place on May 23, in Isla Vista, California.

Immediately pundits went into overdrive, and social media was filled with mostly ideology-based opinion. Most of the opinion seems, well, a bit off. The big word is “orthogonal” … to the facts. I offer, instead of my settled opinion, a few questions.

Was it a “school shooting,” as often characterized?

The murders didn’t take place at a K-12 public school, private school, or charter school. The self-confessed murderer was a college student, aged 22, who killed three of his college housemates with, from what I can gather from reports, a combination of hammer, knives and machetes. So, the murder spree began not as a shooting at all. He turned his domicile into a “killing chamber,” murdering three young men, and then went off in a car trying to kill more folks by running them down. (He did not succeed. There were injuries from his maniacal driving, though.) Finally, he took his recently purchased guns and went on a shooting spree at a University of California at Santa Barbara sorority house, where he killed two. Later, he killed a young man at a deli.

Doesn’t lumping this massacre in with “school shootings” deeply misidentify the nature of the crimes?After all, half of the victims were killed without resort to guns. The events took place on grounds that weren’t schools as such, but were related to college life.

Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call this a “college massacre”? Or, as I identified it up front, a killing spree?

Was he a misogynist?

Much of his manifesto is directed against beautiful young women who wouldn’t bestow their sexual favors upon him. And he set out to kill, on his fatal last day, as many blonde white women (he called them “sluts” and worse) as he could. But his first set of targets weren’t women at all, they were men. So, on the basis of the body count, his spree was not a crime of misogyny. It was a crime against people.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.