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"It's almost become a normal thing for us to accept. It's not normal. Life doesn't have to be like this." Who spoke these words, and why? You might have read them on the news, only to have forgotten — because the person who said this, Richard Martinez, is right. Richard Martinez is the grieving and angry father of Chris Martinez, a 20-year old whose life was tragically cut short by yet another crazy young person with a gun (and a knife, exceptionally) last month.
"Oh, another one?" I thought when I heard the news about the Santa Barbara mass killing, during which Elliot Rodger killed six people and himself. This is a sentiment many people share. The killing spree took place on May 23 2014. That seems like such a long time ago now, and before we know it we'll be talking about the next mass shooting. Only briefly though, because we have become desensitized to this violence. Let's remember, though, that the victims' families will hurt forever. And let's remember, too, that our loved ones could be next.
"Too many people have died, and there should be not one more," Martinez cried out at the memorial service for the victims. "How many more people are going to have to die in this situation before the problem gets solved? [Politicians] have done nothing and that's why Chris died."
Blame The Hunger Games?
Elliot Rodger's father is the assistant director of The Hunger Games movies, and some have blamed the fictional trilogy for the crime he committed on that day. Can we really blame Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, or the fact that the shooter's dad worked on the films? No. We, as a society, are to blame when we misunderstand books like those to the point that we think they could provoke violence in someone. The Hunger Games are supposed to make us feel horrified by totalitarian regimes and people killing each other. Unless we read them through a terribly warped lens, that is exactly what the books do.
Though Rodger had an autism spectrum disorder previously officially known as Asperger Syndrome, that was not to blame for the shooting either. While some Aspies are violent, aggression and the urge to kill people are not part of the symptomatic picture of this form of autism. We, as a society, are to blame when we point to neurological differences as easy answers, instead of looking deeper. By discussing Rodger's autism at length, we risk stigmatizing autistic people instead of trying to find a solution to mass killings.
Blame The Parents?
Shall we blame Rodger's parents, then? Though previous statistics suggest that a full 100 percent of serial killers were abused as children, we cannot get out of this situation by mindlessly pointing the finger at Elliot Rodger's parents, or the fact that they were divorced. At the moment, all we know is that his parents did take action when their son posted very disturbing things on the internet. They called the police and were driving to Santa Barbara when they heard about the shootings.
We don't know whether Elliot Rodger's parents played an important role in shaping their son into a violent killer and before that, a twisted misogynist who was angry he couldn't get a girlfriend. Perhaps they did. Explaining what happened by saying Rodger must have been abused or his parents must have been terrible parents is passing the buck, however.
If Elliot Rodger's parents abused him, or gave him the idea that it was perfectly acceptable to treat women as objects, they share in the blame. Can we blame them if they sought help for their troubled son time and time again, only to be met with inadequate reactions, though? I don't think we can, and that is exactly what appears to have happened at this point.