Incel-related violence has claimed the lives of more than fifty people since 2014
This week marks the 9th anniversary of the 2014 Isla Vista massacre, a tragedy that illustrated the threat of violent misogyny driven by online radicalization. Six young people were killed, all of whom were students at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB): George Chen, 20; Chengyuan “James” Hong, 20; Weihan “David” Wang, 20; Katherine Breann Cooper, 22; Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20; and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19.
Since then, Elliot Rodger's 2014 Isla Vista rampage has been referenced in a number of subsequent mass attacks and acts of violence. These references are made by individuals who idolize or express admiration for Elliot Rodger and are not direct copycat attacks. A few notable examples include:
Toronto Van Attack (April 2018): Alek Minassian — the perpetrator of the Toronto van attack — referenced Elliot Rodger in a Facebook post prior to his attack. Minassian expressed admiration for Rodger and referred to the "Incel Rebellion," suggesting a motive rooted in incel ideology.
Tallahassee Hot Yoga Shooting (November 2018): Scott Beierle — who targeted a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, before taking his own life — mentioned Elliot Rodger in videos and documents he posted online. Beierle expressed sympathy for Rodger's actions and subscribed to misogynistic and hateful beliefs.
Allen, TX Attack (May 2023): Mauricio Garcia — who killed eight people in Allen, Texas — reposted misogynistic content borrowed from incel forums and used terminology like ‘foid’ or ‘Stacy’ to suggest an affiliation to the inceldom.
Although targeted mass violence driven by and connected to violently misogynistic ideology such as, the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre or the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, occurred prior to 2014, the spike in incel-related violence sky-rocketed following the UCSB attack. Trending phrases within online incel communities such as “Day of Retribution” highlight the power of viral hate circulating on mainstream sites like Youtube, which Elliot Rodger used to post his infamous manifesto. These narratives may be transformed into ideological fodder for martyr-hopefuls seeking a similar revenge on the ‘gynosphere.’
Incel-related violence has claimed the lives of at least fifty people since 2014. This number continues to grow; in 2020, the foiled plans of an Ohio incel reveal aspirations to kill upwards of 3,000 people. This May, eight people were killed in the Allen, TX shooting, the perpetrator having reposted content from incel forums in a social media profile.
In the wake of the 9-year-anniversary of the Isla Vista killings that left six dead and 14 injured by a self-proclaimed incel, analysts at Diverting Hate continue to monitor online chatter within fringe platforms where incels frequent. Upon analyzing rhetoric on these platforms, users continue to propagate conspiracy theories regarding Elliot Rogers, idolize him, and pay tributes to his actions, making it clear that these platforms provide inspiration and continue to encourage violence against women. Diverting Hate aims to intercept and combat the radicalization of gender-based violence and hatred on these platforms.
UCSB’s Commemoration can be read here.
Photo: Sindhu Ananthavel / Daily Nexus