Thanks to a seven-minute YouTube video and a 141-page autobiographical tale of a troubled life, we have a fairly clear idea of why Elliot Rodger took to the streets of a tranquil community in Southern California with enough guns and ammo to carry out a bloodbath, writes Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox for USA Today. Like many other rampage killers before him, Rodger likely felt the need to inform the world of his justification for carnage, Fox says. He may have reasoned that without his written words, society would conclude he was just a deranged man who suddenly snapped and slaughtered innocent victims for no reason.
The intense focus on the contents of the video of his plans and the treatise about his sad life is done in the hope that we may better recognize the precursors and warning signs for mass murder. The reality is that no matter how deeply we probe, it is virtually impossible to identify would-be mass killers before they strike, Fox writes. The real downside to the media-driven dissection of Rodger’s commentaries is in the message it sends to other obscure individuals who may seek the same kind of attention. Although well-crafted and even articulate, Rodger’s words are not worthy of our continued study, at least not on the public airwaves, Fox says.