Ed Driscoll

The 'You Didn't Do That' Society


“Elliot Rodger was not a social problem. He was not a gun culture. He was not a national anything. He was an individual and individuals bear responsibility for their own actions,” Daniel Greenfield writes in his latest essay at his Sultan Knish blog:


The “You didn’t build that” society is also the “You didn’t do that” society. The flip side of Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama’s collectivist rhetoric is that just as no one invents the airplane, creates a company or writes the Great American Novel on their own, no one kills six people on their own. If you killed six people, it’s because of the Second Amendment. If you wanted to kill sorority girls, it’s because of Seth Rogen movies. If you’re a half-Asian who beat and stabbed your Asian roommates to death, it’s because of white (or half-white) supremacism.

No one does anything good or bad on their own. The good that men do gets taxed away for the purported benefit of society and the evil that they do is blamed on society.

In a collectivist system, everyone is responsible for everything collectively and not responsible for anything individually. Everyone but the killer is responsible for his shooting spree. And that means no one is responsible. The problem is tackled with public awareness hashtags and legislation that hurts millions of people who didn’t do anything wrong.

America’s gun owners, like its machete and hammer owners, did not kill anyone. Every day the vast majority of gun owners somehow manage to get through the day without a killing spree. Their tools don’t have minds of their own. The gun culture that liberals talk about does not sneak in through their windows at night and urge them to shoot up the neighborhood.

Elliot Rodger did not kill because he had guns. He bought guns because he wanted to kill. And he wasn’t very good at it, wounding more people than he killed. Like many on the left he believed that guns would make him invincible. They didn’t. And it was the same good guys with guns the left sneers at who put a stop to his killing spree.


Meanwhile at NRO, Kathryn Jean Lopez describes Rodger as a victim of “Toxic ‘Loserdom:'”

In the writings he left behind, Rodger pointed to his parents’ divorce and his first viewing of pornography as perversely formative. “I was shocked beyond words,” he recalled about viewing pornographic images at age eleven. “[T]he sight filled me with strong and overwhelming emotions . . . I was traumatized. My childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me. . . . Indeed, a whole new world had opened up before me, and I had no idea how to prevail in it.” About another incident, he said: “I walked home and cried by myself for a bit. I felt too guilty about what I saw to talk to my parents about it.”

Like most of us, he wanted something more. He wanted something good. A car, games, medicine didn’t help him. In a culture that doesn’t value men as protectors and fathers, all there really was to hope for was sex; this was his only idea of any semblance of pursuing happiness. “This makes perfect sense, because deep in even the most deluded and anesthetized heart, we cannot fail to know that sex is meant to connect us to an Other,” says Ed Mechmann, director of the Safe Environment Office at the Archdiocese of New York. When he couldn’t get what he wanted, there was an “existential anger” about him, “not just against his situation but even against who and what he is,” Mechmann comments. “And so he tried to destroy all that reminded him of the hurt he couldn’t get rid of or make sense of.”

There is a familiarity to this, another “lone shooter” story “which should trouble our consciences and give us pause,” says Hilary Towers, a developmental psychologist. “Our children are growing up in a split-personality culture. We tell them to be ‘good, kind people,’ but they see the adults in their lives — on TV, in movies, on their computers, in their own families — using and discarding people, moving seamlessly in and out of marriages and sexual relationships.”

This is the “throwaway culture” Pope Francis talks about. Why are boys and girls right now sitting in their bedrooms with computers their parents gave them looking at porn or sexting selfies to classmates and strangers? Because they “are searching desperately for intimacy — to learn about real-life relationships through and within their families,” Towers says. “They look to our example to affirm that real, lasting love is possible — that our worth as humans lies not in the quality and variety of our sex lives, but in our status as sons and daughters of a God who loves us unconditionally.”


As Charles Murray brilliantly put it, the left cannot preach what it practices — and thus instead of a normal childhood, “A family friend said Rodger had been seeing a therapist since the age of eight. Apparently he had visited a therapist ‘virtually every day’ during his high school years. By the time of the massacre and suicide at the University of Santa Barbara over the weekend, when he was 22, Rodger reportedly had ‘multiple therapists,'” Brendan O’Neill noted last week at Reason, as the worldview promulgated during the Me Decade implodes upon itself.

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