Dear Antonios

In the wake of the Santa Fe shooting, America has been faced with yet another incident in a long line of human wreckage. It's a tragedy that could have been avoided. At first, I was angry and heartbroken over the needless loss of life. Until I read your comments and now I am disgusted. You describe your kid as a good boy who was mistreated at school. You must be mistaken because in some ways, you could be describing a younger version of me.

back when I looked like this

When I was a kid, I strove to be a good boy. I did all the right things. I participated in drama club and took zero hour classes. Didn't smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Never attended a kegger. Stayed away from drugs. And I endured years of bullying. Throughout middle school and junior high, into my first couple years of high school, I was targeted by cruel, humiliating, and sometimes violent bullies. Occasionally, I retaliated which got me into trouble. Yet I still tried to keep my head up and be a good, wholesome kid.

Retaliation means I pushed back. When they called me names, I said they were stupid. If they tripped me, I punched them. As a result, I got my ass kicked a lot. But you know what I never did? I never brought a gun to school. I never attempted to murder those who abused me. I often wished for them to be humbled, or publicly disgraced. Yet even in my darkest fantasies, I never wanted to see them dead. That's what makes your son different from actual good kids who are mistreated at school. Good kids don't kill people.

Reportedly, your son felt shamed by girls who rejected his attempts at romance. That was also familiar to me. My high school years where punctuated by girls telling me "no" when I asked them out. One girl turned me down because I was the kind of boy her mom would want her to date. Another told me she wants to date a guy just like me, but not me. There was a girl who said I was too nice. One girl wouldn't go out with me because she wasn't allowed to date. One rationalized we were too good of friends and she didn't want to ruin the friendship. And one gal just frowned and replied, "ew." The worst of all my rejections came when I asked a girl if she'd go out with me and she responded by laughing; after she finished, she paused and said, "Oh, you're serious?" I was rejected by so many girls that I lost count. However, I never asked more than once. If a girl turned me down, I moved on and never made a second attempt. I never sought revenge on a girl who didn't want to date me.

Rejection is a normal part of adolescence. Girls are not obligated to accept every request for a date. No means no. Good boys respect those boundaries. This is why I refuse to believe your claims about your son. One of the girls he murdered repeatedly rejected your son's requests for a date. And it wasn't that she turned him down once or twice, your son made unwanted advances over and over again for four months. In the real world, that's called sexual harassment.

Finally, your son's social media posts suggested he was capable of violence. A t-shirt that read "born to kill." A handgun and knife on his bed. His coat adorned with pins and buttons featuring Nazi iconography. A fondness for fascist ideology from Nazi Germany, to Soviet Russia, to Showa's pre-WWII Japan. Interest in occultic imagery and white supremacist organizations. Nothing here is something that would interest a good boy.

Regardless, you are his father. As a dad, I understand how we want to see the best in our kids. We should never give up on our kids, yet there is a point where we need to be honest about the predicaments they create. Your son killed ten people and wounded another thirteen. I can understand how you love him; I don't understand how you could have the audacity to say he was the victim. Administrators at your son's school and his former classmates have disputed your claims that he was bullied. Some kids described him as a bully. Either way, your son is not a victim. I abhor bullying, but it should not be a death sentence. If your son was bullied, he stopped being a victim the moment he took your guns to his school. At that moment, he became a perpetrator. Being mocked and abused by classmates is not a valid justification for lethal vigilante tactics.

Your son is not a good boy. He is a murderous incel. He is a relentless sexual predator. He is an entitled misogynistic racist. His bullies are not to be blamed. The girls who didn't want to date him are not to be blamed. Critical teachers and coaches are not to blame. He's responsible for his actions and I trust the courts will hold him accountable for his actions. If you want to blame someone for his rampage, take a long look into a mirror.

You failed as a father. Prejudice, antisemitism, and misogyny are learned behaviors. You were either ignorant of his hateful comforts or you did nothing to stymie his bigotry. You failed to teach him that he's not entitled to sex, that girls do not owe him their attention or admiration. Either you share his chauvinistic views, or you were oblivious to the way he treated women. You failed to secure your guns, which he took and used to kill people. Your negligence makes you an unintentional accomplice. You've enabled him and it doesn't matter if you did willfully or unintentionally. As far as I'm concerned, you are just as guilty as your son. To call your son a good boy and a victim is an insult to the true victims of his crimes.

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