Thursday 31 May 2018

Incel, Insane, Incensed

Update below 2019-04-22

On Monday, April 23, 2018, I walked out of my apartment in Toronto into a war zone: streets cordoned off, cop cars everywhere along with SWAT teams and soldiers. At a coffee shop, watching a TV, I found out 25-year-old Alek Minassian had driven a van down a sidewalk killing ten people and injuring another sixteen. What? This is the sort of thing I read about in the newspapers. This is not something which happens in my neighbourhood.

Later in the day, in following the news of the incident, I heard the term “incel”.

Wikipedia: Incel
Incels (a portmanteau of "involuntary" and "celibacy") are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual. Discussions in incel forums are often characterized by resentment, misanthropy, misogyny, racism, entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active women and more sexually successful men. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the subculture as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem", and self-described incels have committed at least four mass murders in North America.

Minassian published laudatory remarks about Elliot Rodger who killed six people and injured fourteen in California in 2014 because women supposedly rejected him.

Just a second. Let me get this straight: Alek Minassian went nuts because he couldn’t get laid?

On that Monday afternoon, I was about to head out to the gym when I was delayed by a phone call. I would have been walking on the very sidewalk Minassian drove down. A man, whom I had never met, would have killed me. This man would have killed a total stranger, someone who had never done him any harm, someone he had never even met, randomly lashing out at whoever had the misfortune of being in his line of sight.

I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that. I’m stunned. But when I think about it, I’m also outraged. Part of me wants to beat that guy senseless. This is so trivial, so self-centered, so twisted in logic, it defies comprehension. If it was a rabid dog, we would phone animal services and they would put it down.

I’m writing this five weeks after the tragedy. Minassian has appeared in court charged with so many crimes, he’ll never again see the light of day. I’ve read the list of victims with short biographies describing who these people were. They were just everyday people with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. This is unbelievably stupid. It’s heartbreaking.

I won’t get into analysing Incel. Experts, more knowledgeable than me, have delved into toxic masculinity. The #MeToo movement represents a reckoning over the subjugation of women within the traditional patriarchy. (Tell me, Harvey, you had no idea what you were doing was not normal.)

What is a just punishment for this crime? Does any prison time, solitary confinement, or even waterboarding equate to murdering ten complete strangers for no other reason than walking on a sidewalk?

Cave of the Patriarchs in 2009
On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli doctor, radicalized by the now disbanded and outlawed far-right extremist Kach movement, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, West Bank, and opened fire on worshippers. He killed 29 people and wounded 125 before being stopped. This is known as the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre. I’ve never forgotten this line from the Wikipedia article:

Goldstein was overpowered, disarmed and then beaten to death by survivors.
-Wikipedia: Cave of the Patriarchs massacre

People were so incensed, they beat him to death. That’s primal.

I watched the video of the Toronto police officer who arrested Minassian. Ken Lam didn’t shoot even though Minassian antagonised him, seeming to look for death by cop. Kudos to Constable Lam.

Published on Apr 24, 2018 by CBC News: The National
YouTube: Ken Lam: The cop who arrested Alek Minassian peacefully (2:42)

What punishment does Alek Minassian deserve? What’s just? Ten people are dead. Ten lives have been tragically cut short, not for some higher cause, not for fighting for truth, justice, and the American way (nod to the opening of the original Superman TV series), but because this young man, upset at his own life, decided not to deal with his problems, but to take his frustration out on others.

In the 1987 thriller The Berkut, author Joseph Heywood tells a fictionalized account of what happened to Hitler after WWII. In this story, Hitler substitutes a double for himself in the bunker and secretly slips out of Berlin to Italy. Suspecting Hitler would never commit suicide, Stalin sends a team of operatives to capture him and bring him back to Moscow.

Hitler is secretly imprisoned in a hanging cage in a sub-basement of the Kremlin which is too small for Hitler to either stand or lie fully. He is fed scraps through the metal bars of the cage and is not allowed toilet facilities. Over the years, Hitler changes to a filthy, senile beast who has his right leg amputated above the knee and his left leg amputated above the ankle as gangrene sets in. -Wikipedia: The Berkut

It’s a work of fiction. But even then, is that punishment enough?

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history in absolute terms of total casualties. Over 60 million people were killed, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion). -Wikipedia: World War II casualties

Alek Minassian killed ten people. Do we arrive at a point where the crime is so horrendous, so monstrous, that no punishment is sufficient?

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Survivors”, first broadcast on October 9, 1989, the Enterprise meets an alien being of unimaginable power.

Kevin [Uxbridge] reveals that he is a Douwd, an immortal energy being with vast powers. While traveling in human form, he met Rishon, fell in love, and settled with her on Rana IV. When the planet was attacked by an aggressive, destructive species called the Husnock, he refused to join the fight in accordance with his species' pacifism. Rishon actually did take up arms to defend the colony - and was killed in the ensuing battle, lost to Kevin forever as bringing the dead back to life is something beyond even his extraordinary abilities.

Stricken with grief and wanting revenge, Kevin lashed out with his vast powers and wiped out the entire Husnock species—over 50 billion. Horrified by his crime, he chose self-exile to the planet, creating the replicas of Rishon and their house with which to spend the rest of eternity and using a recreation of the Husnock ship as intimidation to keep their privacy. Picard states that they are not qualified to be his judge and they have no laws to fit the magnitude of this crime. The Enterprise leaves Kevin and his illusion in peace, and Picard confirms he will issue a warning not to visit the planet.
-Wikipedia: The Survivors (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Published on Sep 13, 2017 by biene
YouTube: Star Trek TNG - The Survivors (4:42)

Kevin: “Are eleven thousand people worth fifty billion? Is the love of a woman worth the destruction of an entire species?”

Picard: “We’re not qualified to be your judges. We have no law to fit your crime.”

Final Word
Alek Minassian, Adolf Hitler, or Kevin Uxbridge: What punishment fits the crime or is the crime greater than anything society currently has? Somehow, The Berkut did present an idea beyond the easy way out: suicide for Hitler and death by cop for Minassian. But even then, does The Berkut match the death of 60 million people?

Like all human beings, I’m going to die. It may be from old age, but more than likely, it will be a health issue: heart attack or cancer. And I could die in an accident, statistically a car crash. However, by a stroke of luck, I didn’t die on a Toronto sidewalk mowed down by a crazy person. Minassian will spend the rest of his life in jail. He’ll get room and board. He’ll get counseling, treatment, and may someday be considered a normal. Ten people are dead.

#Torontostrong memorial
Olive Square, North York, April 27, 2018.

Wikipedia: Toronto van attack
The Toronto van attack was a vehicle-ramming attack that occurred on April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A man, alleged to be Alek Minassian, drove a rented van at speed through the North York City Centre business district, deliberately trying to hit pedestrians, killing 10 and injuring 16, some critically. The attack started at the intersection of Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, and proceeded south along the sidewalks of Yonge Street to near Sheppard Avenue. The 25-year-old Minassian was arrested uninjured just south of the crime scene, after attempting to provoke a police officer to kill him. The arrest was made at 1:32 p.m., seven minutes after the first 9-1-1 call reporting the incident was made. The incident is the deadliest vehicle-ramming attack in Canadian history.

Wikipedia: 2014 Isla Vista killings
On May 23, 2014, in Isla Vista, California, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself inside his vehicle.

Before driving to the sorority house, Rodger uploaded to YouTube a video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution", in which he outlined details of his upcoming attack and his motives. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him and that he envied sexually active men and wanted to punish them for being sexually active.

After uploading the video, Rodger e-mailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript to some of his acquaintances, his therapist and several family members. The document, titled "My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger", was made available on the Internet and became widely known as his manifesto. In it, he described his childhood, family conflicts, frustration over not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, his contempt for couples, his disgust for interracial couples, and his plans for what he described as "retribution".

Wikipedia: École Polytechnique massacre
The École Polytechnique massacre, also known as the Montreal massacre, was a mass shooting at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that occurred on December 6, 1989. Twenty-five-year-old Marc Lépine, armed with a rifle and a hunting knife, shot 28 people, killing 14 women, before committing suicide. He began his attack by entering a classroom at the university, where he separated the male and female students. After claiming that he was "fighting feminism" and calling the women "a bunch of feminists," he shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women to shoot. Overall, he killed fourteen women and injured ten other women and four men in just under 20 minutes before turning the gun on himself. His suicide note claimed political motives and blamed feminists for ruining his life. The note included a list of 19 Quebec women whom Lépine considered to be feminists and apparently wished to kill. It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern Canadian history.

Wikipedia: Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
The Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, also known as the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre or Hebron massacre, was a shooting massacre carried out by American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein, also a member of the far-right Israeli Kach movement. On February 25, 1994, Goldstein opened fire on a large number of Palestinian Muslims who had gathered to pray inside the Ibrahimi Mosque at the Cave of the Patriarchs compound in Hebron, West Bank. It took place on February 25, 1994, during the overlapping religious holidays of both Jewish Purim and Muslim Ramadan. The attack left 29 people dead, several as young as twelve, and 125 wounded. Goldstein was overpowered, disarmed and then beaten to death by survivors.

Wikipedia: The Berkut
The Berkut is a 1987 secret history novel by Joseph Heywood in which Adolf Hitler survives World War II. It is set in the period immediately after the fall of The Third Reich. This book pits a German colonel and a Russian soldier from a secret organization against each other. The German, Günter Brumm, has been given orders to safely get the Führer out of Germany with the remaining resources of the Reich at his disposal, while Vasily Petrov, the Russian, has been given orders by Joseph Stalin to capture Hitler with the full resources of the Soviet Union at his disposal. In essence, Hitler says "Get me out of Germany, alive", while Stalin says, "Get me Hitler, alive." The book explores Brumm and Petrov pursuing their goals.

Wikipedia: World War II casualties
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history in absolute terms of total casualties. Over 60 million people were killed, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion)... World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 50 million to more than 80 million. The higher figure of over 80 million includes deaths from war-related disease and famine. Civilians killed totalled 50 to 55 million, including 19 to 28 million from war-related disease and famine. Military deaths from all causes totalled 21 to 25 million, including deaths in captivity of about 5 million prisoners of war.

Wikipedia: The Survivors (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
"The Survivors" is the third episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 51st episode overall, first broadcast on October 9, 1989.

Update: Apr 22/2019

Toronto Life - Apr 22/2019
The Man Behind the Yonge Street Van Attack By Katherine Laidla
As a teen, he was brutally bullied for his autism. He couldn’t connect with people, couldn’t find a job, even the army didn’t want him. That’s when he snapped, mowing down 26 people in broad daylight. The untold story of Alek Minassian, a year after the deadliest mass murder in Toronto history

CP24 - Apr 5/2019
Debilitating injuries described in mounting lawsuits against alleged van attacker
Traumatic brain injuries, spinal fractures and internal bleeding are among the litany of ailments described in a mounting number of lawsuits against a man accused of killing 10 people and injuring 16 others in a van attack in Toronto last year.

Lawyers involved in the suits against Alek Minassian believe the cases, which the court is working to pull together in one large proceeding, will take years to come to a resolution.
Amir Kiumarsi, a chemistry instructor with Ryerson University... He suffered a traumatic brain injury and several skull fractures, spinal fractures, traumatic internal injuries including a displaced kidney and numerous other injuries throughout his entire body, the claim says.

Amaresh Tesfamariam, nurse... has a complete spinal cord injury, multiple spinal fractures, rib fractures and a traumatic brain injury. She cannot move her body below her neck, cannot breathe without a machine, suffers a total loss of independence and a profound and permanent loss of her cognitive ability.

Catherine Riddell... lost consciousness, suffered a brain injury, hurt her head, neck, shoulders, arms, back, legs and arms. She fractured her spine, her ribs, pelvis, scapula and suffered internal injuries including a collapsed lung.


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