As families mourn the victims of Elliot Rodger's rampage near UC Santa Barbara, more has been revealed about the moments leading to the students' death. For one thing, it turns out Rodgers emailed his manifesto to two dozen people — including his parents and his therapist — before going on his killing spree. For another, his manifesto shows that his rage wasn't only about the sexlessness and lovelessness in his life: it was about getting power. And women were just a symbol of that.
On Friday, only minutes before he allegedly opened fire on several UCSB students, Rodger sent his manifesto, titled "My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger," to as many as 24 people, including his mother, his father, and his psychologist. His mother opened and read the file at exactly 9:17 p.m. Friday, called 911 and then both she and Elliot's father, The Hunger Games assistant director Peter Rodger, set off to try and stop him. They were both on their way when they heard about the shooting.
Although much has been made about Rodger's misogyny and generally sexist attitude (and so it should), his 140-page manifesto shows that he struggled with feeling powerless — and inferior — in general, not just because of his virginity. And so, though this frustration manifested itself most strongly in his response to women, his resentment towards those wealthier than him is also very telling.
He writes in his manifesto:
I couldn't help but feel a bitter form of envy at all of the rich kids at the concert. They grew up in lavish mansions, indulged in excessive opulence, and will never have to worry about anything in their pleasurable, hedonistic lives. I would take great pleasure in watching all of those rich families burn alive. Looking at all of them really drilled in my mind the importance of wealth ...Wealth is one of the most important defining factors of self-worth and superiority. I hated and envied all of those kids for being born into wealth, while I had to struggle to find a way to claim wealth for myself. I had to be ruthless, and do whatever it takes to attain such wealth. After all, it was my only hope of ever being worthy of getting a girlfriend and living the life of gratification that I desire.
Not only that, but at one point, Rodgers became obsessed by the idea of winning the Megamillions lottery, calling it his "destiny." As much as anything, it seems as though his loss of the lottery — and the subsequent realization that he might never become a millionaire — is what might have pushed him over the edge. He writes:
I knew I was always destined for great things. This must be it! I was destined to be the winner of the highest lottery jackpot in existence. I knew right then and there that this jackpot was meant for me. Who else deserved such a victory? I had been through so much rejection, suffering, and injustice in my life, and this was to be my salvation. With my whole body filled with feverish hope, I spent $700 dollars on lottery tickets for this drawing ...Without the prospect of becoming wealthy at a young age, I had nothing to live for now. I was going to be a virgin outcast forever. I realized that I had to start planning and preparing for the Day of Retribution, even though I hadn't yet had any idea of what day that would be.
Of course, really what this shows is what reports have already made clear: Elliot Rodger, who was at one point diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger's, was a deeply unhappy young man. But it also makes clear that his girl problems were only one side of the story, just one part of the social sphere from which he felt excluded. As much as pointing out how our culture of gender inequality helped build Rodger's sense of entitlement is critical, it's also important to not lose sight of the fact that he felt entitled to money as much as he felt entitled to women's bodies — or at least, so his manifesto would suggest.
In response to the Friday's tragedy, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who has recently proposed a mental health bill, highlighted the importance of improving the country's mental health system. “Our hearts break for the victims and families affected by the tragedy near Santa Barbara,” Murphy said, according to ThinkProgress. “We pray for their souls to find peace. But I am also angered because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it.”