It takes a nearly impenetrable obtuseness to conclude that the most salient thing to know about University of California Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodger is that he was a white male who didn't like women. Yet many liberal commentators have managed it in the painful festival of stupidity that has followed his horrific act of mass murder. The reaction has featured rants about sexism, white privilege and Hollywood, all of which are absurdly detached from the reality of what happened at UCSB. It is usually only the details of these sorts of rampage killings that differ, not the central element: a sick young man not getting proper treatment for his severe mental illness. Rodger's mother had been so frightened by his YouTube videos that she alerted his counselor, and the police visited his apartment. According to The New York Times, Rodger had been prescribed risperidone, an anti-psychotic, but evidently refused to take it. Even without any of that background, it is obvious that Rodger's final YouTube video and his 140-page manifesto promising to exact vengeance upon the women who spurned him are the ravings of a deranged person; as such, it is the derangement itself, not the content of the ravings, that is most important. Nonetheless, some commentators have plumbed his lunacy for meaning as if they were reading “The Bell Jar.”
Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday led the way with a piece asserting that it is “clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in” (his father works in Hollywood). According to Hornaday, “a sexist movie monoculture” — captured by Judd Apatow comedies that often star Seth Rogen — dangerously misled Rodger into believing that he could always get the girl in the end. It is certainly true that our pop culture is coarse and coarsening. But Judd Apatow movies don't make people criminally insane. If lovable schlubs like Seth Rogen are partly responsible for Rodger's rampage, let's go all the way and blame Jonah Hill, too. Salon ran a piece by Brittney Cooper arguing that “white male privilege kills.” Cooper seems to believe that severe psychiatric disorders are something that rich white kids are prone to because they consider themselves so entitled. Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican, actually has a proposal to make it easier to treat the severely mentally ill. Alas, his bill won't get a viral Twitter campaign because it focuses on the real problem rather than exploiting the latest horror for cheap ideological points. Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at email@example.com.