What Is an Incel and Why Are Some Incels Celebrating the Toronto Attack?

Willful attacks on civilians by indoctrinated, deranged, or obsessed individuals radicalised with some or the other extreme ideology are always disturbing. What is becoming more and more upsetting is the sheer variety and range of those radical, extremist ideologies. The recent Toronto attack suspect Alek Minassian had his own extreme ideology apparently; his praise for misogynistic individuals and online groups of 'Incel' seems to offer up some - very troubling - clues.

The Toronto attack

On 23 April 2018, a van speeding at 60 kmph over the sidewalk on Yonge Street in Toronto mowed down dozens of people. Ten people were killed and 14 were injured in the deadliest vehicle ramming attack in the history of Canada.

The suspect

Alek Minassian, who was arrested for the killing spree, is a software and mobile app developer with no prior history of criminal conduct. He is now charged with ten counts of murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Victims were predominantly women!

Many of the victims Minassian deliberately mowed down were women. According to the police, the victims ranged between 20 to 80 years of age and were ‘predominantly women’.

Elliot Rodger's Retribution

Watch the YouTube video entitled 'Elliot Rodger's Retribution' to understand the warped, twisted mentality that results in such violent crimes. In the video, Rodger spoke of his motives: how women not being attracted to him and rejecting him was an injustice and a crime for which they would be punished. Sexually active men whom he envied and women whom he desired and was rejected by, were the object of his hatred; people whom he vowed to slaughter.

The Facebook post

Shortly before he drove a van into a crowded sidewalk in a brutal attack, Minassian posted this on Facebook. In his post he references Elliot Rodger, the mass murderer responsible for the 2014 Isla Vista killings of California which left six dead and injured 14 others outside a campus.

The Incel movement

Incel is the abbreviation of the words Involuntary and Celibate and refers to groups of men, who have grudges against women whom they imagine owe them sex. This online subculture consists typically of men who hate women and who also endorse violence and racism. Anger at not having a girlfriend, feelings of unjust rejection and glorification of men such as Elliot Rodger characterize these groups. Several websites ban these violent and misogynistic groups, but they do find ways to band together and express their extremist views.

Radicalised on 4Chan

4Chan is one message board where Incels are still active; where they are free to spew their violent hatred and discuss demented plans for retribution with other similarly twisted people. These are mostly repressed, social misfits who believe feminism is to blame for their misfortunes, their failures and insecurities and that women in subservient positions will end all their troubles. Minassian was radicalised on message boards such as this one called ‘Incel Uprising’ which saw an uptick of activity since the Toronto attack.

The screen grab of the message board displays a characteristically misplaced sense of victimhood, an anti-liberal bent of mind and violent leaning conservatism and misogyny. Scrolling down we also see a savage celebration of what Manissian did, and the view that women are directly responsible for all ills in the world because they refused some guy who decided to take it out on others. This twisted logic believes, and I quote from a comment: “the ONLY way to fix this problem is to take away women's rights and adopt a system of equal redistribution of women.”

I’ll just leave you to process this – I am still trying to come to terms with the bizarre justifications offered for the violent retributions envisaged, the naked hate and the false sense of victimhood these individuals display. That, and the fact that these same attitudes underlie practically all extremist beliefs and behaviors.

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