The aftermath of a shooting rampage includes a lot of confusion — and people hustling to figure out why. But after the UCSB shooting this weekend, in which killer Elliot Rodger made it very clear he harbored misogynistic tendencies, the desire to help people understand has pushed some media institutions to "reveal" the woman who was the "source" of his obsession.
On Sunday, reporter Myles Miller of FOX 5 tweeted a screen capture of some of the headlines about Elliot Rodger's shooting spree, which have turned from a fixation on Rodger to a fixation on Rodger's fixation: A young woman the shooter crossed paths with years ago.
No one made this more clear than the New York Post with their cover and subsequent story today: "The woman the UCSB killer blamed for his misogyny." (The cover shows the face of the young woman who allegedly snubbed Rodger.)
Though her father cooperated with the Post and the Daily Mail for their stories, the subject of Rodger's obsession has disabled her Twitter and Instagram accounts. Did her father know her story would be treated quite this way? Doubtful, and whether he did doesn't much change whether it should have been done in this manner at all.
Some might argue that this is what should be expected from a publication that publishes articles with headlines like "See a thong-clad Kristen Stewart in Cannes movie trailer" for the trailer of a movie called Clouds of Sils Maria about the complex relationship between an older actress, her younger assistant and her young co-star in a movie. But just because a low standard of behavior is expected doesn't mean that behavior should be excused. The Post's biggest competitor, the Daily News, ran the same story but blurred the young woman's face in photos and did not use her name. They also called out to the hashtag #YesAllWomen. If you're going to do a story about the supposed source of an angry man's anger, that's probably the only way to do it and not be raked through the coals for it.
Because, as the Post should remember – and as her father pointed out to the Daily News – this isn't really about any of the women Elliot Rodger was or was not obsessed with:
"It really affected her," he said. "It just baffles me. Everybody loves this girl. Everybody she comes into contact with just raves about her. It was just an illusion this kid built in his own mind, I guess because he couldn't have her."
Image via Spencer Weiner/Getty