I am willing to grant Rich Lowry that the primary cause of the Santa Barbara massacre was the mental illness of the perpetrator. But I think it’s unsupportable to argue that his mental illness explains everything and that cultural messages had no influence whatsoever.

In this case, the murderer helpfully explained the source of his anger, which was envy and jealously fueled by feelings of inadequacy. He hated people who had and enjoyed the things he wanted and could not have. His mental illness explains his irrational hatred, but it doesn’t fully explain his feelings of inadequacy which were developed in a cultural context.

It doesn’t take a mental illness to seek out advice on how to better attract women, and the advice he received in the Pick-Up Artist community encouraged this young man to see women as objects to be conquered rather than as individuals to be courted. In this sense, the Pick-Up Artist community bears more responsibility for the massacre than the Beatles did for the Manson Gang’s atrocities.

So, while I think that it’s true that some people are spreading the blame around too cavalierly, the attitudes the killer had didn’t develop in a vacuum. There were people who were not suffering from any mental illness who encouraged this man to view women the way he did. I don’t see the harm in pointing that out.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com