Supreme Gentlemen or Radicalized Killers: Analyzing the Radicalization Paths of Involuntary Celibate Killers and the Role of the Online Incel Forums
For its first seventeen years of existence, the involuntary celibate or “incel” online community was largely unknown. What began as an online forum for both men and women to commiserate about their dating woes has morphed into a vitriolic and misogynistic belief system. Incels blame women for creating a sexual hierarchy in society that puts conventionally unattractive men at the bottom and forces them into unwilling celibacy. In 2014, Elliot Rodger, a 22-year old male and self-identified incel, declared a day of retribution, killing 6 people and injuring 17 others. Since 2014, incels have killed over 50 people with many perpetrators detailing their ties to the online community in online postings, videos, and manifestos. The online community plays a crucial role in radicalizing incels by legitimizing grievances and normalizing vengeance against women. However, what is the extent of this online community and is it the dominating factor in an individual’s radicalization path? This thesis will analyze the radicalization paths of three prominent incel perpetrators: Elliot Rodger, Christopher Harper-Mercer, and Alek Minassian. The analysis will reveal that, while all three engaged with the online community extensively, their online postings, manifestos, and videos reveal men in severe psychological distress and while all three were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), they lacked the appropriate mental health support to cope and work on their frustrations with school, friends, and women. While the online community is prolific and provides substantive information on the belief system, it is not the dominating factor in determining a potential perpetrator’s pathway to commit violence. Rather it is an enabling factor that fosters criminal ideation that leads them to commit violent acts against women.
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