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advocacy of violence antifeminism elliot rodger misogyny oppressed men terrorism threats

U of Toronto on edge after online commenter urges men to “start firing bullets into these feminists at your nearest Women’s Studies classroom”

Robarts Library at the University of Toronto
Robarts Library at the University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is on edge in the wake of online comments urging a mass shooting of feminists.

Last week, an anonymous online commenter on BlogTO urged men to “rent a gun from a gang and start firing bullets into these feminists at your nearest Women’s Studies classroom.”

Here’s one of the threats, screencapped by a woman who posted it on Twitter and alerted police:

threattoronto2

(I’ve crossed out the name of the other commenters.)

It would be convenient to toss this off as the bad joke of a shitposting troll. But Canadians remember well what happened when an angry man with a gun took his own personal antifeminist crusade to a Montreal classroom in 1989: 14 women shot to death.

And sadly. as I hardly need to remind regular readers here, numerous women have been slain since then by mass shooters with a grudge against feminists and women in general, from George Sodini to Elliot Rodger. This past May, a University of Mary Washington student and feminist/LGBT activist named Grace Mann was murdered after being the target of online antifeminist threats.

The University of Toronto is taking the threats seriously; in a statement released today, the school president assured students that “we have increased the presence of our own police on all three campuses.” The Toronto police, for their part, say that while “no credible threat has been identified” so far, they will continue with their investigation.

Threats like these, whether “credible” or not, are a kind of gender terrorism, designed to keep women in fear online, on campus, in the world in general.

If you’re at the U of T or in Toronto, please post any additional information you run across in the comments here; there’s also an ongoing (and generally non-awful) discussion on Reddit’s UofT subreddit as well as on Twitter.

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Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
“Has anybody written a petition yet to demand that the SPLC finally classifies MRAs as a hate and terrorist group on the level of neo-Nazis and the KKK? If not, I think it’s high time we write one ourselves.”

I would make one but don’t know how.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

Doesn’t the SPLC just define groups based on criteria they apply?

I can see how drawing their attention to examples where the MRA movement fits their criteria and inviting them to consider applying the definition might be helpful.

However a petition is more like putting the proposition to a vote. It’s argumentum ad populum and I don’t think SPLC works like that.

Fruitloopsie
Fruitloopsie
5 years ago

This video is a few months old and trigger warning.
http://youtu.be/JO1Yesw8D0k

cupisnique
cupisnique
5 years ago

I used to be a TA at UofT and have a lot of people on FB that still are and one of them posted this: (CUPE is the TA union)

Yesterday, I and several other CUPE members attended a meeting with the Provost and the VP Human Resources. A representative of the police was there. Other unions, the Faculty Association and faculty from Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies also attended.
Student unions, curiously, did not appear to have been invited, and the Provost confirmed that students in the two departments named in the threats—let alone women students across the campuses—have not been alerted that they are at particular risk within the overall nondescript threat laid out in the Provost’s email.
Most shockingly, it was revealed by a professor from WGS that an online threat containing nearly identical language was reported by the professor to the Provost in June. The response was that the University would investigate, and the prof was told to stay quiet. Yesterday the Provost confirmed that no concrete action was taken in response to the June threat.
It was also revealed that an earlier version of the most recent threatening blog posts was made using the name of a U of T professor. She was not contacted by the University to explain that she had been individually targeted by the threat. In fact, she learned of the existence of the threats only when police showed up at her office door and grilled her for four hours.
I have no piece of advice or commentary on all this other than to say that I and many others left the meeting feeling absolutely sick and quite afraid. There is no question that U of T has placed its image above the safety of our friends and colleagues. I am so proud to be part of a union with strong women leaders like those who have organized this rally. It, and the Women’s Caucus behind it, are desperately needed.

cupisnique
cupisnique
5 years ago

I should mention the original post was from an event page for a rally

“CUPE 3902 WOMEN’S CAUCUS DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GENDERED VIOLENCE”

Elisabeth
Elisabeth
5 years ago

“And what is worse than that is along the line you will find some people justifying the murders to some degree (if/when they occur) in the manosphere that will leave you sick to the stomach.”

My first encounter with MRAs online was a blog where they talked about wanting to have a “Marc Lepine Day” to commemorate the killing of 14 women. Isn’t that lovely?

epitome of incomprehensibility

Yes, I think this is terrorism by definition. The terrorism aspect comes in not just with the (threatened) violence, but with the threat-poster’s goal of creating terror (literally, as in fear). I think before 9/11 terrorism wasn’t associated with mass violence as much as it has been this past decade and a half – but take that assessment with a grain of salt, since I was only 13 when it happened.

The other part of the terrorism definition is having a cause, and like others have mentioned misogyny doesn’t get taken seriously enough in many cases like this.

RosaDeLava
RosaDeLava
5 years ago

It worked! Praise be to the Mammoth!
I’m afraid it’s not possible escape the MRA hatred like that. Charlotte did what she did for her own sake, and they’d rant about “beta bucks” or whatever – and she’s plain, so not their ideal woman. This creature would have to look like Jane and happily drop to her knees to lick the boots of her designed lord and master when commanded – then maaaaaybe they’d be cool with her.

On a note that’s actually related to the post: While the message doesn’t feel like a threat to me, mostly because it’s not saying that is something that will happen, it’s still pretty scary. Even if, currently, the poster has no intention of resorting to violence, his views are worrying, and it’s possible that he would think it justifiable in the future. And while I don’t like the idea of them trying to terrorize people into doing what they want, it’s still seems better than an actual call for action.

epitome of incomprehensibility

Hm. I meant to add another thing, about what cupisnique quoted:

Most shockingly, it was revealed by a professor from WGS that an online threat containing nearly identical language was reported by the professor to the Provost in June. The response was that the University would investigate, and the prof was told to stay quiet. Yesterday the Provost confirmed that no concrete action was taken in response to the June threat.
It was also revealed that an earlier version of the most recent threatening blog posts was made using the name of a U of T professor. She was not contacted by the University to explain that she had been individually targeted by the threat. In fact, she learned of the existence of the threats only when police showed up at her office door and grilled her for four hours.

That would piss me off. In part, I can understand not wanting to alarm people by reporting anonymous threats, but I’d rather be contacted by the university than by the cops – and she was questioned for four hours as if she were a suspect of something. Way to treat targeted individuals, administration and police.

epitome of incomprehensibility

No – did the blockquote wrong again! Anyway, the last paragraph was what I added.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ epitome

This is the definition we use in England

Section 1. –
(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where-
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government [or an international governmental organisation][3] or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious[, racial][4] or ideological cause.

(2) Action falls within this subsection if it-
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.

(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.

Of course, we’ve had a lot of experience with terrorism over here and trust me, we were well aware of the mass violence aspect before 9/11; PIRA saw to that.

cupisnique
cupisnique
5 years ago

That doesn’t feel like a threat to you? I guess he didn’t say specifically that he planned on doing it, but the fact that he seems to be familiar with the group he wants to target suggests he has some personal vendetta against them and maybe just not the (idk what to call it) actual strong enough desire to do it himself (although I suspect if he felt he could completely get away with it he’d have little problem doing it himself), and perhaps in the future he just might decide it really is worth throwing away his own life. He’s obviously thought it through enough and felt strongly enough about it to go posting this multiple times, and by encouraging others to do the same he might be inspiring someone else if not himself to carry out the act.

epitome of incomprehensibility

@Alan – Thanks! I guess I was right, or partly – I’d forgotten the part about one possible intent of terrorism being to influence a governments’ actions. But, yes, in English law at least it seems it can also include threats of violence.

And thanks for the gentle reminder not to be too North America-centric. The English/Irish conflict has certainly been a violent one. I don’t feel qualified to comment on it except to mention there was a somewhat similar situation (to the IRA in the British Isles, I mean) in Quebec in 1970. The FLQ, a radical Quebec separatist group, kidnapped and murdered a federalist (i.e. non-separatist) politician Pierre Laporte, and then prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau controversially invoked the “War Measures Act.” (For some present-day context, the Liberal Party candidate for PM, Justin Trudeau, is his son). So you have a group with an arguably legitimate claim – the English conquered French land back in the 18th century, though people conveniently forget the First Nations whom both of them took it from – engaging in terrorist tactics.

Mind you, Quebec politics today are mostly peaceful. Separatism and federalist politicians don’t tend to kill each other anymore, at least… Personally I’m a bit cool towards nationalism in general. I mean, if the ground I’m living on should change to Quebec instead of Canada, it wouldn’t change the soil composition unduly. But I might have to speak French more and I can’t keep all the verb tenses straight 🙂

/Canadian politics

epitome of incomprehensibility

Um, so I said I shouldn’t be so focused on North America, and then I ended up talking about stuff that happened in it for two paragraphs *rolls eyes at self.* Sorry, Alan. For a more organized version of that story there’s the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Crisis

@cupisnique – Oh, it definitely sounds like a credible threat being targeted against a specific person/specific groups; I just meant that the Internet’s (sorta) anonymity makes the person who made the threat difficult to find, so I can understand the impulse of the university not to tell the prof when there was only one message like that. I’m not sure it was for the best of purposes or the best response, though, and I’d also like to see misogynist violence more strongly recognized and condemned.

RosaDeLava
RosaDeLava
5 years ago

@cupinisque
Oh, he (I assume it’s a he) posted multiple times? I’m sorry, I missed that.
He clearly has an issue with feminism and the imagined trend of false rape accusations, and I imagine he would be happy if he knew there was a mass-shooting at a feminist meeting, but I don’t feel like he’s willing to do it himself. This commenter in particular didn’t strike me as a threat of this magnitude, but I imagine he can be plenty dangerous in other situations – as you pointed out, he is not afraid of inciting others to do it.

Don’t get me wrong; I think this should be adressed by the university – and I wish it could be done with a “hey, let’s fight sexism!” but I know it’s not that simple – but it doesn’t sound, to me, like he would pull the trigger.

Now, about telling someone who would be willing to do it where they can rent a gun… that would not surprise me.

Stace
Stace
5 years ago

On a related topic:

https://www.reddit.com/r/GamerGhazi/comments/3kmpuy/gamergate_supporter_arrested_by_fbi_for/

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/crime/2015/09/10/prosecutors-announce-federal-terror-arrest-orange-park-man/72027082/

Incident of an online endorser of violence being investigated successfully and proactively by authorities. The first article outlines this alleged individual’s involvement in various hate groups. Some familiar.

Andrei
Andrei
5 years ago

Just more proof that mysoginy is a mental illness