2014 Isla Vista Killings

2014 Isla Vista Killings

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Overview

2014 Isla Vista Killings were a killing spree that took place near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara on the night of May 23rd, 2014, which claimed the lives of six students and wounded 13 others. The perpetrator was identified as Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old student at Santa Barbara City College, who was later found dead in his vehicle.

Background

On the night of May 23rd, 2014, a 22-year-old University of California student named Elliot Rodger went on a mass killing spree near the Santa Barbara campus in Isla Vista, California, killing seven people, including himself, and wounding 13 others. The spree began in the evening with the fatal stabbings of his roommates in his apartment, Cheng Yuan “James” Hong, George Chen and Weihan “David” Wang, and continued with a series of drive-by shootings and vehicular assaults near the campus, which resulted in the deaths of three students Katherine Cooper, Veronika Weiss and Christopher Michael-Martinez. After engaging several police officers on the road and crashing into a parked vehicle, Rodger was found dead in his vehicle with a self-inflicted bullet wound to his head.



Image courtesy of New York Times

Notable Developments

In the aftermath of the shootings, more details about Rodger’s mental health and family background surfaced through the news media, including the fact that the shooter has seen multiple therapists since he was eight years old and that he was diagnosed with “highly functional Asperger syndrome” as a child.

“Retribution”

On the night before the shootings, Rodger posted a chilling video manifesto titled “Retribution" onto his YouTube account, in which he detailed his plans to attack and what drove him to such a violent act. In the video, the 22-year-old student ranted about how he would “punish” women for their mistreatment of him, including the sorority girls of Alpha Phi.



Well, this is my last video, it all has to come to this. Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity, against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me.

“My Twisted World”

In addition to the video manifesto, Rodger e-mailed a 138-page written statement titled “My Twisted World” to about thirty people, including his psychologist, his family members, former schoolteachers and childhood friends. In the 107,000-word statement, Rodger revealed in details how he felt humiliated to be ignored by his peers, especially women at his school, and to remain a virgin at his age. On May 24th, American journalist Matthew Keys uploaded the full-length version of Rodger’s manifesto to Scribd.[12]



Online Presence

Elliot Rodger had a YouTube account and a Facebook account, both of which have been removed since the shootings, as well as his own blog titled Elliot Rodger’s Official Blog, where he wrote about his feelings of loneliness, rejection and envy of others. On May 20th, three days before the shootings, Redditor eatingfriedchicken had submitted one of Rodger’s monologue videos (shown below) from his YouTube channel to the /r/cringe subreddit.



He was a member of Bodybuilding Forum, where he reportedly complained about his lack of interactions with women on Tinder and his extremely misogynistic views raised the alarm of other members on the site. According to the Mirror’s interview with an acquaintance on the site, many had thought he was a “serial killer in the making.”

“Due to the frequent trolling on the forum, we all thought he was just a master troll. It’s unfortunate he was serious."

“Several members said that he was a serial killer in the making months before it happened. So I guess some members got a bad vibe. I didn’t think he was a serial killer in the making. He just seemed like a guy who didn’t know how to talk to girls."

Rodger was also a member of the anti-women and anti-PUA group PuaHate.com according to the Daily Mail. The online group focuses on detecting “the scams, deception, and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to deceive men and profit from them.”

#YesAllWomen

On May 24th, one day after 22-year-old Elliot Rodger shot and killed six students, injuring 13 others, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was introduced by Twitter users AnnieCardi and Gildedspine, both of whom have made their Twitter account private since it took off. The hashtag came as a response to the manifesto videos Rodger had posted on YouTube prior to his attack which suggested he would kill women because he had been rejected romantically by women. Within four days, the hashtag was tweeted out more than 1.5 million times.[13] On May 26th, the Twitter account @Yesallwomen[14] was created.

RapGenius Annotation Controversy

On May 25th, News Genius, a sister of site of hip hop music reference site Rap Genius, published Rodger’s 141-page manifesto with annotated commentaries and analysis from the site’s co-founder Mahbod Moghadam (shown below). In his notes, Moghadam praised Rodger’s style of writing as “beautifully written” and jokingly insinuated that Rodger may have had mixed feelings towards his sister because she is “smokin hot.”





Later that same day, the inappropriate nature of these remarks were first pointed out by Gawker in an article titled “Rap Genius Cofounder’s Creepy Comments on Elliot Rodger’s Memoir,”[10] which included numerous screenshots of the aforementioned annotations before they were removed from the site. In response to the article, Moghadam released an apologetic statement via Gawker’s tech business news site Valleywag:

“I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up.”

“I got carried away with making the annotations and making any comment about his sister was in horrible taste, thankfully the rap genius community edits out my poor judgement, I am very sorry for writing it.”

On May 26th, Rap Genius announced the resignation of Mahbod Moghadam on its website in the wake of the controversy:

However, Mahbod Moghadam, one of my co-founders, annotated the piece with annotations that not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.

Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a new Rap Genius user, it would be up to our community leaders, who set the tone of the site and our approach to annotation, to delete them and explain to the new user why they were unacceptable.

Were Mahbod’s annotations posted by a Rap Genius moderator, that person would cease to be an effective community leader and would have to step down.

And Mahbod, our original community leader, is no exception. In light of this, Mahbod has resigned – both in his capacity as an employee of the company, and as a member of our board of directors, effective immediately.


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