On Friday night, a young man by the name of Elliot Rodger, attacked a number of people in a California college town. By the end of his rampage, six people were dead and seven other people were wounded. Rodger turned his gun on himself and died as well. As news spread of the tragic incident in Isla Vista, a town where many students who attend the University of California, Santa Barbara reside, information regarding Rodger’s frame of mind was released. In a YouTube video posted shortly before what a local sheriff called “the work of a madman,” Rodger expressed with pure vitriol that the women who had rejected his romantic advances were the reason for his soon-to-come deadly actions. However, there is one issue, the realest one of all, which seems to be forgotten about; which is that people are dead and others are suffering following a truly heinous attack.
Within hours, people on the internet were locked in a steady debate regarding a woman’s right to reject the advances of anyone they were not attracted to. There was talk of other videos that Rodger had posted online, where it was strongly suggested that he was racist, as well as sexist. An argument on gun control was brought into the conversation as well.
Understandably, people are searching for answers for what transpired in that area of California. A dark, yet almost obvious, sense of curiosity peaks at the moment a situation like this occurs. It happens all of the time: news outlets look into the life of the person at the head of carnage. They dive into the background of who this person was, what led them down this path and just how we can stop it from ever happening again. Somewhere in the mix, it seems as if the compassion for the victims is forgotten about. There is an occasional story or memorial for any victims who have had their lives tragically taken away from them, but it always goes right back to the issues surrounding the crime.
Following the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the lives of the young victims were mentioned a bit more often, but again, it came right back around to the life and mental stability of the killer, Adam Lanza. Lanza was said to have suffered from Asperger syndrome and possible schizophrenia (it was never diagnosed). Gun control came into play almost immediately when people wondered just how someone like Lanza, 20, was able to get his hands on a weapon. Some sections of the story seemed to get reiterated instead of what truly should have mattered: a tragedy that ended the lives of 20 children and six adults.
Many believe that the conversation of these tragedies head in a different direction mostly in part to “social justice warriors.” The website Urban Dictionary defines an SJW as a person who engages in arguments on the internet. Their methods are not always thought out completely and usually, they only speak up to get their comment noticed as opposed to making an positive impact with their thoughts.
The term includes the word “social,” which by its very definition, relates to society. The society that an SJW seems to vent toward is not one that is very inclusive. If social media is supposed to be a way to allow people to connect, that connection frays with every tragedy that occurs in America, including the one in California.
Six young lives have been cut tragically short. Those six lives were connected to other lives within their families, friends, associates and even teachers. The seven who were injured will survive, but they will always remember May 23, 2014 as a day of mayhem, murder and fear. Instead of arguing about how the killer was sexist or racist or misogynist, why is it that things have become more political as opposed to being more about humanity? Is this not a real issue?
Almost 13 years ago, four coordinated attacks killed thousands of people, took down an iconic part of New York City and left the entire world feeling helpless. Following the destruction that the attacks of 9/11 caused, there was an outpouring of compassion, connection and love. There was talk of terrorism and what the world needed to do in times like these, but the stories of how people attempted to rebuild what others tried to destroy was the main focal point. It was beautiful and meaningful. The real issue made itself known and that is what needs to be shown.
The University of California, Santa Barbara has gone through a senseless tragedy and it will be felt for some time. We are so stuck on talking about the wrong issues when it comes to what occurred on Friday night in Isla Vista. People are dead. Other people are attempting to heal, but never really will. This is not the first horrific tragedy that has come across this nation and sadly, it will not be the last.
The real issue is not the misogynistic view of Elliot Rodger. It should not surround how this young man obtained a gun and how we need stricter gun laws. These are conversations that need to happen at some point and yes, they are of importance. But right now, we need to keep in mind that the lives of so many will never be the same. Our compassion, our thoughts and our understanding are needed most for the victims at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The real issue is to begin the healing process. There is “social justice” and there is just being social; being connected to people who need understanding at such a time where there seems to be none.
Opinion by Jonathan Brown