Sunday, May 25, 2014

What Makes Someone Do This?

Yesterday, a 22-year old man killed six people, then himself, in Santa Barbara, targeting one of the sororities at UC-Santa Barbara as being representative of the women whom he thought had mistreated him and wrongly deprived him of "their sex, their love, my pleasure" (details found here). We know this because he wrote a 141-page "manifesto" and made a video for YouTube detailing his perceived slights and outlining his plan to seek "retribution."

My boss showed me part of the video, but before finishing it we both said, "I can't watch any more of this." Hearing someone announce they're going to kill random strangers while knowing they've done it is a stomach-turning experience; but hearing this man's smug self-righteousness and pathetic whining was maddening.

Basically, the guy had never had a girlfriend, and he just couldn't understand why women went out with so many jerks when he was "the perfect gentleman"--you know, a gentleman, as in the sort of man who plans to torture and kill innocent people for the crime of being female and the apparently most hideous crime of not being attracted to him. That kind of "gentleman." The entire female sex was guilty of withholding from him something he thought rightfully his--sex, love, pleasure. He always mentions them in that order; he always puts sex first. As much as the guy complained of loneliness, he doesn't seem too concerned with companionship or emotional intimacy; he just wants physical pleasure. And he thinks he's owed it. And since he hasn't gotten it, someone has to pay.

Bashing on a murderer is easy, though. Let's do the difficult thing: let's try to understand what would lead him to such an action. My boss said, "I just can't understand what would make a person do this." I said, "His sense of justice is warped." Here's what I mean:

All evil is at its root a perversion, a twisting, an inflation out of proportion of a good thing. Everything that God has created is good, so anything that exists must be good; but things can get themselves aimed in the wrong direction so that they don't come to their proper end. An arrow aimed at even a sliver of a wrong angle can miss the target completely. A car can take the wrong exit and not reach its destination, or even head off the road completely. If your vision gets blurry, you might think you're headed the right way, but you may well not be; and you can't tell anymore for sure, because you can't see properly.

The good thing in question here is the virtue of justice, the virtue by which people are given what is proper and due to them. To deprive someone of something owed to them is injustice, and in a just society, injustice is met with punishment and restitution.

Now take this young man. He believes that love and sexual pleasure are owed to him, that he has a right to them. His warped sense of justice tells him that any female that does not give him this gratification is committing an injustice against him. Since no one else sees this, he decides to turn vigilante and mete out punishment against those who have harmed him. He feels that what he's doing is justified. That's how he can do something like this.

There's a reason we call such a person "sick and twisted": he's twisted because his notion of the good has been wrenched out of shape, left bent and broken. His car took a wrong turn, right into a group of pedestrians just trying to cross the street. God rest their souls.

No comments:

Post a Comment