The murders in Santa Barbara are fucking horrendous and there are many issues wrapped up in this. Misogyny and gun control are two that jump out right away. There have been thoughtful and intelligent things written about both those issues, and the fact that people are discussing them is fantastic.
But whenever there’s a horrific mass-murder like this, the overwhelming reaction when discussing the killer is some version of “What a crazy piece of shit.” And I get it. Lives have been taken for absolutely no reason. It makes you want to go fucking Game of Thrones on whoever was responsible for it. But someone who commits murder on this scale, the way that this was done, is most likely someone with a mental health issue. And when we label someone as “a crazy piece of shit,” it allows us to move on, as if there’s nothing you can we do about it because that’s just WHO this person was. There are crazy pieces of shit out there, right? Well, consider this: if someone has cancer, we don’t define that person AS cancer, we say they “have” cancer and we talk about ways we can help them “beat” cancer. If someone has schizophrenia, what do we say? “That dude’s a schizophrenic.” Someone cuts themselves in their dorm room? “He’s nuts.” There’s nothing you can do if someone IS something, right? That’s just who they are.
It’s not easy to deal with mental health issues because they don’t always fit neatly into tangible symptoms and cures. It takes a lot of patience to discover them and even more patience to defeat them, and you don’t get a nice pretty test result at the end, saying everything’s great. And because results don’t happen quickly, and when they do they’re difficult to see, it’s just much easier to give up and look at the population as people who are crazy, and people who aren’t. But I can promise you this: if we treat mental health the way in which we treat every other affliction, then we can work to defeat it and stop the next Santa Barbara. Otherwise, I guess there’s just a bunch of crazy pieces of shit out there, and what’re you gonna do?