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Elliot Rodger, gaucho . . . and vengeful shooter

So his name was Elliot (not Elias) Rodger, and he was a junior at UCSB (mascot: the gaucho). I’m sure there will be interviews and comments coming from students and professors. Would his choice of major have given us any clues? Will Americans say, “At least he was a Brit and not one of us.”

The May 25 Daily Mirror newspaper front page headline was “Shooting rampage horror: Brit student kills 6 after he’s snubbed by girls.” And then a page 4-5 spread by Christopher Bucktin started by shouting in 2-inch tall ink, “I will slaughter every single blonde slut I see.” A collage of photos and a screen shot from Rodger’s Facebook page were accompanied by a sidebar with Elliot’s grandfather George Rodger’s photo of Jewish survivors at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Wait, what?

I have to assume the Mirror has photo editors, but to show a photo of Holocaust survivors in the sidebar entitled “Killer’s sick fantasty” was truly shocking. From that headline, I had assumed that Elliot had some twisted fantasy about Jews or Holocaust survivors, but, no, his fantasy was killing all the men in the world and then having his “pick of any beautiful woman.” Shame on writer Karen Rockett. The comments about George Rodger’s photojournalism career may have been interesting, but the photo was alarming and inappropriately distracting.

Elliot Rodger was born in Lambeth, South London, and supposedly lived what one can only assume was a privileged life in Calabasas, California, with his father and step-mom. Anybody receiving a BMW 3 Series car (for his birthday or graduation or whatever) is living a privileged life. No mention has yet been made of Elliot’s mother or if she died or when his parents split or how he got on with his dad or step-mom or if he ever saw his British relatives (reportedly an aunt, uncle, and four cousins in Ashford, Kent).

As a woman and a former UCSB co-ed, I am numb at the thought that young men roaming campus would feel such entitlement to sex with women. As a mother of three college graduates, I am horrified that students could disappear so quickly from this earth at the hand of an emotionally ill child. As the daughter of a filmmaker dad, I cringe that others will analyze how that kind of industry, that kind of talent, that kind of family is asking for trouble. My own parents divorced when I was attending UCSB, and I sank into a deep depression at a time when I was supposed to be having (as my mother had often told me) “the best time of your life.” As a blonde woman, gaucho alumna, filmmaker’s daughter, and child of divorce, I can only ask that we pay thoughtful attention to each other–perhaps especially to UCSB and other colleges’ sons and daughters–and offer peace, solace, and a listening heart in the hurting days ahead.

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