Santa Barbara And The Blame Game

isla vista memorial

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Whenever a tragedy like the one which claimed the lives of seven people in and around the campus of the Santa Barbara City College sets national headlines ablaze, both the headline writers and the headline readers engage in America’s real favorite pastime: finding someone and/or something to blame. To be fair, human nature hates a void as much as the rest of nature; so it’s perfectly reasonable to follow the “what” with a “why.”

And some of us manage to turn someone else’s tragedy into another of America’s favorite pastimes: blaming the wrong culprit. Never let it be said that the vultures missed a chance to roost in Isla Vista, Calif. Even before the families of the victims had a chance to lay their beloved children to rest, everyone from the usual anti-Bill of Rights hate groups and their low-information “gun ghouls” to the pseudo-intellectuals who appear to do most of the philosophical heavy lifting for the left struck up the blame band.

Now, we can all obviously grant a pass to Richard Martinez. The father of one of Elliot Rodger’s victims took center stage following Rodger’s rampage, venting his grief-stricken rage on completely unconnected parties to Rodger’s shocking crimes. “Chris (Michael-Martinez) died because of craven politicians and the NRA.” Of course, the National Rifle Association has been tied to the gun ghouls’ whipping post for years now, so it’s not shocking that the organization’s name would pop up. I’ll assume that the unfathomable sorrow of losing a child drove Martinez to finger the NRA, although its “guilt” is an absolute fiction created by so-called “progressives.” The guy lost a kid. I can’t even begin to imagine how that feels or how I’d react, so I’m simply going to express my profound condolences for his far more profound suffering.

However, comedian Albert Brooks deserves no such quarter and will subsequently receive none from me. Brooks said: “Thanks, NRA.” Like many of his fellow ghouls, Brooks carefully ignored the fact that Rodger began his bloody run by stabbing people. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I figure who better to weigh in on insane people committing violent crimes than a guy who was kinda funny in the 1980s?

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) managed to commit the dual logical crimes of not only blaming the wrong culprit — appearing on CBS to push so-called “gun control” laws, which would not have prevented any shootings – but of doing so while the bodies of the victims had yet to grow cold. Perhaps Blumenthal, whose previous Senatorial service was notable only for his fictionalized resume, might have thought roosting on the remains of the Isla Vista tragedy would boost his profile. Then again, he might simply have been bringing his considerable expertise in imaginary military service to bear on a real tragedy.

While Brooks and Blumenthal blamed the wrong people, others blamed the wrong aspects of society. According to Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, Rodger’s violent outburst shares a direct cause-and-effect relationship with Hollywood:

As Rodger bemoaned his life of “loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire” and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as “the true alpha male,” he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA… For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny.)

I’ve seen quite a few films, and I’m a white male; so by her estimation, I should have left quite a body count in my wake. Assuming a few other white guys have seen the same films, the United States ought to be a corpse-strewn wasteland.

Likewise, the accusation that video games deserve some of the shame is ludicrous. Millions of kids from preteens to 40-year-olds play “Call of Duty,” one of the most popular video game series in existence. Even I hop online from time to time to try my hand at pretend combat. The worst fate I have ever endured as a result involved being yelled at in Korean by someone who, judging by the voice, was either a preteen boy or post-teen girl. Either way, the only thing that was wounded was my pride.

Rodger was a deeply disturbed, vastly overindulged young man who managed to rocket into tragedy, fueled by inner demons and money. A son of Hollywood privilege, he rode into infamy behind the wheel of a BMW, which most people can’t even rent, much less own. But even with a background littered with mental illness and a clear lack of discipline, Rodger alone committed his alleged crimes. As hard as it must be for some people to accept, sometimes bad and/or twisted people do bad and/or twisted things. Sometimes, they commit their crimes with guns; other times with knives; other times with explosives; and still other times with executive orders. Unfortunately, too many of us are unable to accept the fact that, more often than we’d care to admit, the answer to the “why” isn’t likely to bring much in the way of closure. Of course, that same ingrained nature that drives us to seek answers also drives us to ignore the answers we find if they don’t fit into our preconceived notions. As a consequence, we end up spending more time inventing explanations for horrors like the one that one lone madman visited upon Santa Barbara than we do learning to prevent the next one.

–Ben Crystal

Personal Liberty

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.

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