Friday, July 24, 2020

Roy Den Hollander. On Murders And Online Misogyny.

 The Online Incel Movement As Domestic Terrorism

  While lounging in my sick bed I bookmarked lots of stuff for potential blog posts, because I always hoped I would feel better the following day and wanted to be ready (1).  Many of those sources will now never be used as the world of news now moves so fast that even a week-old scandal provokes little interest.

Still, I did make a note of the fact that Canada is now treating a murder based on the online incel theories as an act of domestic terrorism (2):

Police in Canada are treating a machete attack in which a woman was murdered and two others injured as an act of terrorism, after discovering evidence suggesting that it was motivated by violent misogyny.
The move is thought to be the first time that terrorism charges have been brought in a case connected to the so-called “incel” ideology.

The case involves a seventeen-year-old boy who entered a massage parlor in Toronto last February, killed one woman and attempted to kill (at least) another woman.  He was already facing first degree murder and attempted murder charges which have now been raised to the terrorism charge because:

In a joint statement, the RCMP and Toronto Police Service said their investigation had determined the attack “was inspired by the Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremist (IMVE) movement commonly known as INCEL.”

This case joins several earlier cases of murders and mass murders which can be at least partly attributed to various online misogyny sites (3), and at least two other attempts at violence in the US also have incel motivations at their root (4).

When I read about this most recent incel murder case I planned to use it to focus on the dangerous role online hate sites have because of their bubble nature: 

It is not that such sites exist which is the biggest problem (though it is very unpleasant and sad to realize how many people hate perfect strangers they have never met), but their insular nature, the way anyone proposing a more nuanced view is instantly banned, thus maintaining the "purity" of the world inside the bubble,  and the way they distort data, theories and interpretations so that only the most deranged arguments are allowed to prevail.  As at least some of those who frequent such sites are mentally vulnerable individuals (who will also be victimized by the false information they receive concerning their pain), the resulting combination is flammable.

I wrote about my worries about these sites many years ago.  I even contacted some authorities and people expert in the relevant fields.  I don't remember all the responses I received, but I do remember that a common advice was to ignore the incel sites, because they represented an extremely tiny minority, and giving them attention was going  to make them grow.  Besides, what could anyone do about them?

Now that particular advice, about ignoring the sites,  seems extremely misplaced.  But it's the advice many of us follow when we come across a concentrated form of extremist hatred.  It is certainly a common strategy in how many learn to live with the existence of violent misogyny and the easy online access to it. 

Misogyny is sometimes seen as just one of the unavoidable flavorings in our cultural stew and trying to fight it is seen as both pointless and unproductive, like trying to hold back the tide with your hands. I think this is a common form of mental coping:  One minimizes and isolates the risk, tries to avoid it as much as possible while also avoiding thinking about it.

Roy Den Hollander

This is the background against which I read the recent news about the murders Roy Den Hollander committed.  Hollander was a lawyer and a well-known Men's Rights Activist (MRA) who firmly believed that the world was governed by feminazis. He spent much of his career suing institutions for what he viewed as discrimination against men (5). 

Those suits were well known to some of us.  I wrote about one of them in 2009 and the New Yorker wrote a long profile of Hollander in 2007 when he sued nightclubs for charging men more than women at the door. 

Re-reading those now makes me shocked with the rather sarcastic tone of both, including mine.  But then sarcasm and ridicule are also among the few tools that ordinary citizens can use to cope with misogyny or with any other similar hate.  Indeed, it seems to me that Hollander was largely tolerated by many, though that tolerance might have been laced with sarcasm.

Two years ago Hollander received a terminal cancer diagnosis.  It seems  that he decided to go out with a bang by taking some of his favorite enemies with him.  Thus, earlier this July he traveled from New York to California where he killed another Men's Rights lawyer, Marc Angelucci with whom he had had a disagreement.  He then returned to New York and attempted to kill Judge Esther Salas, but succeeded in only murdering her young adult son, Daniel Anderl, and in wounding her husband, Mark Anderl:

Roy Den Hollander gunned down Judge Esther Salas' son in New Jersey on Sunday and badly wounded her husband.

The gunman dressed as a FedEx delivery man before opening fire at their North Brunswick home, police said.

Den Hollander wrote on his website that the jurist was "a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama".

A package addressed to Judge Salas was found inside his car, sources said.

After this second murder and attempted murder, Hollander apparently took his own life.  It is at this time unclear whether the list of names found among his belongings was a longer planned hit list or not.

What Turned Hollander Into A Murderer?

Time, now, to try to understand what motivates men like Hollander to go on a killing spree.  Is it purely a mental health condition, akin to being utterly obsessed with an inaccurate explanation for his rage and unhappiness?

Is it misogyny?  Or is it something similar to the way some ancient rulers had their favorite concubines, horses and slaves killed to accompany in the afterlife? Or was it his badly failed marriage to a Russian woman and some generalized anger he felt at and about her that was the beginning of all things going wrong?

I am not sure that we need to select only one of those explanations, because the next-to-last one is based on the same feeling of entitlement which caused Hollander to rage at feminists and women in general.  His mental health appears to me to have been broken a long time ago, too, and he clearly was closely involved with online misogynist sites, in particular the MGTOW, a movement advocating that men should try to live their lives without any contact with women, but also pretty much based on pure misogyny as the justification for that choice.

Then the truly difficult questions:  Could Hollander have been turned away from the violent path he chose to pursue, and if so, how?  Is it possible that the society at large, and many of us, chose to ignore his clear misogyny and rage at uppity women, and that it is this particular path we are too often taking, as a society?

Could the court system itself have somehow intervened when it became crystal-clear that he was suing all possible entities as a private vendetta?  And what are the responsibilities of all those online misogyny sites which actually may have been able to reach him? 

I don't have the answers that we need, but I do wish to finish with a quote from one of the newspaper articles I quoted, because it reflects something which deserves more attention (6):

“Misogyny is probably the most overlooked ideology that fuels men’s violence, '' Horgan said. “This ideology is out there, it's pervasive, and we are barely paying attention to it outside dramatic acts of violence like this."



(1)  It was not possible to write in the state I was in then.  Whenever I tried, I made more spelling mistakes than words and every chain of thoughts ended up in a knot.  Even writing a shopping list was hard work, like trying to swim across a pond full of oatmeal porridge. 

At the same time, my creative thought processes worked just fine (well, at least fast) and produced the most outlandish and hilarious models of the world and people in it!

(2)  The state of Texas in the US also regards the incel movement as part of domestic terrorism.  Though it is not that important how the threat is named, it is important to take it seriously, and if naming it a form of terrorism helps in that I am all for it. 

(3)  Elliot Rodger was a well-known mass murderer motivated by his feelings of entitlement to sex and by his beliefs in the theories of the online incel movement.  In 2014 he killed six people and injured fourteen others in Isla Vista, California.

Chris Harper-Mercer murdered nine people at an Oregon community college in 2017, citing Rodger as an influence. Scott Beierle shot up a yoga studio in Florida in 2018, killing two women and injuring four other people. Alek Minassian ran his van into a crowd in Toronto in 2018, killing 10 people and injuring 16, and also cited Rodger as an influence.

(4)  Some more recent cases of violence based on the incel movement are these:

Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda threw a 5-year-old boy over a railing at the Mall of America in a fit of outrage that women wouldn't have sex with him.
In May, 20-year-old "incel" Armando Hernandez live-streamed his shooting spree at an Arizona shopping mall, apparently targeting heterosexual couples. Just last month, another "incel" blew his hand off trying to make a bomb designed to kill "hot cheerleaders".

The total number of killings so far attributable to the movement in the US and Canada is around fifty.

(5)  Some of his suits, such as the one against the male-only military draft, can be defended, or at least understood, on feminist grounds, too, though of course the draft is not currently in use.

Others, however, were considerably more frivolous.  I wrote about his 2009 suit which argued that having women's studies in colleges without men's studies is discriminatory.  The problem with that suit was that the women's studies were created because much of the rest of all universities were all men's studies at the time.  (How weird to think that women's studies are a vanishing breed today!  Hollander got his way, I guess, even when not winning the suit.  Or others got his way for him.)

But it is crucial to realize that Hollander did not base his suits on the idea that men and women might have some inherent kind of equality and that this has been violated by what he weirdly saw as an anti-male bias in a world run by feminazis. (Isn't that hilarious?  Feminazis are a dying breed, too, now, and only a few years ago all sorts of weird people saw them running the world).

His views about women seem bifurcated:  On the one hand he was one of those nudge-dudge-did-you-see-that-rack-walk-past guys (with strong feelings of entitlement to those bodies) and on the other hand he venomously hated both feminists and professional women.  He also criticized one men's rights movement part in a way which tells us about how he defined masculinity and femininity:

“I don’t belong to that group of wimps and whiners,” he wrote. “They’re trying to win back their rights by acting like girls instead of men.”

Hollander certainly detested feminism, in general, and wanted to toss as many hammers as he could find its works.  But his grievance lists were odd.  From 2007:

He reached into his pocket and produced a typed forty-one-point list headed “Discrimination against men in America.” (Sample gripes: child-custody laws, circumcision, “5% of females have borderline personality disorder.”) “What I’m trying to do now in my later years is fight everybody who violates my rights,” he continued, bringing to mind a combination of Leon Phelps, Che Guevara, and Travis Bickle.

I call his grievance lists odd because they are actually mostly not grievances against something women have created. 

The draft, for one example, was made men-only because the military in the US (and in all other countries I know about) earlier explicitly excluded women from serving in the military.  Even today those who fight against women's presence in the military are often men who share the other anti-feminist values with Hollander.

Likewise, the cheaper door charges for women in nightclubs is something the clubs created for business reasons:  Lower door charges for women will attract more female customers, more female customers will attract more male customers looking for a date.  Thus, the reason why women "enjoyed" this perk is not because feminists demanded it.  In fact, the underlying reasoning is pretty sexist and objectifying, because women are used as bait for the fatter wallets of the men they attract.

(6)  I have never heard of a mass killing which would have been motivated by misandry.  Indeed, none of those supposed feminazi-rulers-of-us-all that Hollander so hated ever engaged in acts of murder on misandric grounds (and most likely on no other grounds, either).  I think it's worth thinking about this difference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Housekeeping Issues

I am trying to put together links to the most useful blog posts from my archives (which span almost seventeen years), especially on the topics of neurosexism, pseudoscience, and sex-based oppression.  I was one of the very few people who wrote about them to amateurs, so perhaps the front page should offer easier access to them.  I was also almost the only one who wrote about the bad popularizing of research into gender and sex, and I think the archives should be easier to search for that topic, too.

What would be the best way, in your opinion, to create easy access to posts which still are useful and have not dated?  Something in one of the side columns?

And if you have read here for a longer time period, do you remember any particular posts which you found especially enlightening?  I could add unrelated posts if they get votes.  Like  adding not only Ms Universe, but also Ms Congeniality.

Anything else you would like to remain available online?  Thank you for any help.