'Our Next Saint': How Incels Are Celebrating the Toronto Van Rampage
In the wake of Monday's deadly attack, an expert on hate speech explains how online vitriol can lead to very real violence.
Photo of Minassian via Linkedin.
Moments before barreling down a major Toronto thoroughfare in a rented van, ultimately killing 10 people and injuring 14 others, suspect Alek Minassian allegedly posted what sounded like a call to arms on Facebook. “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” the public posting read. “We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
The 25-year-old’s cryptic message, since taken down but confirmed by Facebook to be authentic, has those familiar with the “involuntary celibate,” or “incel,” subculture taking note. The term was originally coined by a queer Toronto woman who was looking for a way to describe a lonely period in her life; today, however, incels today are misogynists who blame women for their inability to have sex and refer to people who are sexually accomplished as “Chad” and “Stacy.” Their anonymous community thrives online in places like 4chan and other forums—before reddit closed down r/incels, the community boasted more than 40,000 members. They consider the aforementioned Rodger—who’s been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the first alt-right killer—their hero; in 2014, he killed seven people, including himself, after uploading a manifesto marked by its hatred of young women.
As Toronto-based journalist Arshy Mann explained in a Twitter thread, “Incels differ in important ways from Men's Rights Activists. While both movements are misogynistic at their core, MRAs deploy a human rights framework to argue men are oppressed. Incels don't talk about rights, they just hate.” Incels become radicalized, he continued, when they try to use “pseudo-scientific/dehumanizing seduction techniques” gleaned from the Red Pill/Pick-Up Artist communities, still can’t get anywhere with women, and become incensed.
What’s been particularly disturbing since news media started reporting the connection between Minassian’s alleged message and the attack on Monday is the reaction from the so-called “manosphere.”
Roosh V., who once proposed legalizing rape and founded the recently designated hate group Return of Kings, tweeted: “Alek Minnasian wouldn't have killed people with a van if the media had not inoculated him and other lonely men against effective game teachers like myself. Sleeping with only two or three Toronto Tinder sluts would have been enough to stop his urge to kill.”There are consequences for society at large when people steep inside these ideologies, and in ultra hateful ideologies, they go on to commit violence.”
Others have actually celebrated Minassian’s alleged rampage. According to a blog published yesterday for SPLC, a person who goes by the handle Crustaciouse wrote on a popular incels online forum: "That moment when this random dude killed more people than the supreme gentleman Elliot. I hope this guy wrote a manifesto because he could be our next new saint."
Writer David Futrelle, who’s been covering misogyny, incels, and the men’s rights movement for years, also reported on a slew of threads that have popped up recently. In one screenshot he shared on his website We Hunted the Mammoth, Futrelle captured the comments of a user named BlkPillPress, who wrote that he’s “glad this shit is happening.”
“What I can’t wait for, the one that I know is going to fuck with normies, really punish society,” BlkPillPress writes in a thread that has since been deleted, “is when the first incel mass rape/serial takes place, when a guy leaves a manifesto after killing himself detailing all the rapes he’s done, that will be the best ER ever because his victims don’t just get to die, and their families don’t just get to ‘move on.’ These women will be traumatized, some might kill themselves …” (ER is a reference to Eliot Rodger.)
In an article for Elle published on Wednesday, Futrelle espouses on the dangers of the incel community, writing: “Incels hate women, yes, but they hate themselves nearly as much, and the incel subculture not only encourages both kinds of hatred, but it teaches them that there is no way out. This is what makes the incel subculture so poisonous to everyone it touches.”
"There are consequences for society at large when people steep inside these ideologies, and in ultra hateful ideologies, they go on to commit violence.”
Earlier this year, the SPLC released its annual hate list, including, for the first time ever, two male supremacy groups. Keegan Hankes, a senior research analyst at SPLC, tells Broadly that they started noticing men’s rights communities, including incels, were being used as entry-points leading people into other areas of the far right. “In some of these online communities, you’ve seen how violent the language is, particularly toward women, [including] unveiled calls to rape and commit violent crimes toward women. We see these communities as representing a real danger in terms of walking people into these ideologies that we know condone and inspire violence.”
Hankes also points out that Monday’s attack and the subsequent response speaks to something the SPLC talks about a lot: “Speech actually has consequences,” he says. “It’s not just the exercise of free speech and people just posting on the Internet. There are consequences for society at large when people steep inside these ideologies, and in ultra hateful ideologies, they go on to commit violence.”
“What’s so dangerous about some of these male supremacy ideas is a lot of it gets cover under the guise of ‘just PC culture gone too far,’” he continues. “It gets a pass in a way that more aggressive and violent speech toward other protected classes do not get. I think with increased attention and media coverage, it’s going to be really important for people to be very full-throated about how toxic some of these ideas are.”