I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom during this Memorial Day weekend. Freedom that was hard-fought by men and women, many of whom gave their very lives defending it. And while we should always be thankful for their service, I’m glad we have a day set aside specifically to remember these selfless Americans.
But in the wake of this day of remembrance, I can’t help but think of the stabbings and murders that took place this weekend at the college my son once attended. Six people – four men and two women – were killed. And others were injured. Some were stabbed and some were shot. Why? For some sort of twisted “retribution” this deranged murderer felt for women who had rejected him sexually.
Now before you think I’m going to go on some rant about the freedom to carry guns or the need for stricter gun control, think again. I’m not even going there. Guns are a huge problem in this country, but I don’t believe that is the heart of the issue here.
(Side note: I do believe people have a right to own guns. But I think along with that right comes an extremely high level of responsibility. I think it’s tragic that there is absolutely no consensus among Americans as to how guns should be regulated and made accessible. This simultaneously saddens and frightens me. I hate guns. Always have. Police should be armed; our military should be armed; and I respect the rights of hunters to carry firearms. I also completely understand the desire to own a gun to protect your home and your family. But there is still a lot of work to be done regarding the whole process of how guns are sold, registered, handled, stored and used. Guns end up in the wrong hands far too often. And the consequences are, more often than not, deadly.)
OK fine, so I went there.
My finer point is that while we enjoy many freedoms in this country, there is still an inherent fear among many women to freely speak their mind. Or to freely live their lives. Or to freely make a decision about whether or not they’ll have sex with someone. The women this murderer targeted were penalized for exercising their freedom to choose with whom they will engage, date or have sex. He was rejected. And as such, he killed them. And he killed men as well during this stabbing and shooting spree.
I read the murderer’s 140-page (poorly written) manifesto. I refuse to link to it, but you can Google it. To say it was disturbing would be the understatement of the century. In one of his many rants on YouTube, the UCSB killer made it clear that his anger stemmed from “girls” rejecting him and “giving it up” to other men. He was angry. He had been rejected. And his choice in how to handle this rejection was to “seek revenge.”
He talks about how unattractive he felt.
He describes in eerie detail the hatred and loathing he felt for these women.
You can see the patterns repeat over his pages “I felt unattractive.” “I had a temper tantrum when I didn’t get my way.” “I will get my revenge.” By all accounts, he was a spoiled brat with a distorted view of the world.
As I read his chilling words, it appears the vitriol spewed from his mind with great ease.
Are there mental health issues that should be part of this investigation? Of course.
Is it fair to question by what means he obtained his weapons? Yes.
But I’d also love to see a larger discussion focused on how and what we are teaching our young people. How does sexual rejection affect a young man so profoundly that his only solution is to write pages and pages of a manifesto, record hours of video expressing his anger and outlining his plans to kill, and then act on those murderous impulses by taking innocent lives?
And why are we not more outraged at how dismissive he is toward these women? An online friend of mine said it better than I could in her post “Girls Aren’t Sluts.” She’s absolutely right when she says that it’s much easier to commit horrible crimes like murder when we dehumanize the victims by calling them “sluts.” Somehow it make it more OK to the twisted mind if people aren’t seen as people, but rather as “less than.”
I don’t know why these young women rejected this guy. But what I do know is that IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY THEY REJECTED HIM. No means no. They expressed their rights over their own bodies, their own lives and their own relationships. And it cost them their lives.
I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on Earth. I sincerely believe that America is the greatest country. I honor those who fought for our freedoms and I respect those who are serving today. Which is why it angers the hell out of me that we still aren’t there yet when it comes to freedom and justice for ALL, are we?