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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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C.S.Strowbridge
C.S.Strowbridge
6 years ago

“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.”

This is 100% correct. These people are terrorists and need to be treated as such.

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

@C.S.Strowbridge: I agree entirely.

Of course, we could try (and fail) to convince the manosphere of that. They’ll dismiss this person as a troll, or just say he’s “disturbed” and doesn’t represent them.

Or they’ll say we made it up to make us look like victims!

Fun times. [/sarcasm]

Snuffy
Snuffy
6 years ago

As someone (a woman with a minor in sociology) who graduated from U of T last year this is just so awful. The student website has an alert in the news section about increased security. I’m happy that the campus is treating this seriously and not hand-waving the issue (likely because of the Montreal shooting).

kularanini
kularanini
6 years ago

I work at the UofT and much of my job requires me to move around campus. I hear the odd conversation of people talking about it, but the overall mood is pretty calm and business as usual.

I know that sounds pretty uninteresting, but at least the moron who posted the threats doesn’t seem to be creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the general UofT population.

reallyfriendly
reallyfriendly
6 years ago

They will definitely call him out as a troll. It is the easiest way for them to dodge responsibility and give them an out to carry spreading their poisonous message.

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.

Which bulldozer ran over their humanity I wonder?

humbleprogrammer
humbleprogrammer
6 years ago

I’m a former CS grad student at U of T, and am still on the women in CS mailing list and the union mailing list. There are a lot of people talking about the right to refuse unsafe work as a TA, and making sure new grad students have heard about the threat. A lot of people are taking this very seriously.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
6 years ago

reallyfriendly wrote:
Which bulldozer ran over their humanity I wonder?

Why feminism, of course!

Those eeeeeebil wimminz is the root of all eeeeeebil, after all….

[/MRA dumbshittery]

Stace
Stace
6 years ago

For anyone who wants to examine when a warning like this is meant to verbally terrorize, or if it is the start of physical violence, there’s an easily accessible book I’ve read and that I generally recommend to the people in my life and to those I do martial arts with. Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” has a chapter in it where he outlines the problem of “should we take this seriously?”

I’m fascinated by combat theory and I have been for years. So for anyone interested in de Becker’s checklist, I’ve copied part of an essay I wrote years ago on it for anyone interested:

“In confronting a potential hazard, de Becker has presented a system you can use to determine whether or not a perceived threat is actually about to spiral into violence. A lot of harm can come through hesitation, yet we hesitate all the time. It’s a great deal of stress and anxiety to act upon something that has yet to develop. We run the risk of being wrong, and jumping the gun only to find out there was never a gun to jump. We can push a potentially small matter into something much more grand–throwing oil on fire, etc. As I said, stress.

When will a potential violent individual turn to violence? Note that not all of these have to be present to signify violence.

Perceived Justification – When the individual in question feels justified in employing violence, violence will happen. We do not act randomly. We are driven by something. Perhaps the person in question is angry, or feels that a grievous wrong has been committed to them. Perhaps they are provoked. Violence is now a viable response, because he or she can back it up with justification.

Perceived Alternatives – How desperate is the individual? Can the outcome that he or she desires be attained through means other than violence? De Becker warns, “Knowing the desired outcome is key.”

Perceived Consequences – We like to predict the outcome of our actions, and we’ll consider the favourable and the unfavourable. If it’s likely that the individual can commit the violence intended and get away with it, there will be little to hinder the act of violence. Be aware of witnesses, authority, etc. Is here a mob mentality, which creates a perceived protection from being tried or seen as an individual? Furthermore, be very aware if you suspect that the potential attacker is willing to kill him or herself after the act because mortal consequences do not apply here.

Perceived Ability – What does this person have at their disposal? If they decide violence is the way to go, do they believe that they have the ability to carry out that violence? Someone willing to rob a convenience store or mug you may not use a bomb, but they will approach with the belief that they can pull off their attempt. “People who have successfully used violence in the past have a higher appraisal of their ability to prevail using violence again.”

These make up the acronym JACA which de Becker says can be used on large scale examples (Middle-East predictions) as well as immediate threats.

I’d like to note sadly that in a problem-individual, not all of these signs will be visible to the victim. You may not know your attacker, but someone in his or her family may have recognized these points, or sensed that he/she was capable and very near to expressing themselves violently.

These things can be observed in questionable co-workers, family members, and persons you encounter regularly. The question is whether or not you will be caught in the cross-hairs is present, but hopefully you can identify and predict enough to avoid that. Context will determine how or if you act in the benefit of others.”

Again, it’s frustrating to have so little data from the poster and the lack of that might hinder or make law enforcement less likely to want to follow up. I don’t wish to detract at all on how this is clearly a tactic meant to terrorize women and I don’t feel right suggesting that the person who posted it might only be a troll so we should not put in the effort of being scared. Fear is a natural reaction.

But in considering that this individual tried to persuade terror and silence from others by simply clicking a few buttons anonymously, it hopefully means they are willing to put the least amount of effort in and are not likely to follow through. They also seem to be asking others to do the work, which lends credence to the idea of someone who doesn’t plan to invest much of their own time.

Be safe out there everyone. Never forget how brave you are.

ColeYote
ColeYote
6 years ago

People who post this sort of shit; even if you aren’t serious about it, you’re a POS.

Zeb Berryman
Zeb Berryman
6 years ago

This is fucking awful. That we haven’t even come far enough through initiatives like White Ribbon that something like this can be said. You can’t say something like this in a country like Canada. I remember there was a time when I was actually proud to be Canadian, but as time has gone on I’ve seen my country growing worst and worst. Worst than even that is stuff like this, or looks into the way Canada treats race, when I realize that we haven’t gotten worst, we’re just as bad as we’ve always been.

canuck_with_pluck
canuck_with_pluck
6 years ago

So, of course we can expect the Harper government to start passing laws to restrict the rights of these terrorists, right?

…right?

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ Stace

Love Gavin DeBecker. And combat theory.

Often wonder what the result would be if someone ran these threats through his MOSAIC tool (maybe they do)

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

@Stace: I’m glad you posted that, but in all honesty, I’d rather “jump the gun and find out there’s no gun to jump”.

We’re talking about people’s personal safety here. We’re talking about possible innocent deaths, and while DeBecker does bring up the notion that we have to assess where these are coming from (and even by his standards, this is to be taken seriously), I’d feel a hell of a lot more comfortable knowing that someone’s going to take this seriously and do something about it, regardless if anything happens or not.

banned@4chan.org
banned@4chan.org
6 years ago

How many gangs rent out guns? Has that ever actually happened?

Do gang members with guns for rent take collateral, or do they simply promise to visit your house personally to collect overdue weapons? How do you collect an overdue gun from a renter, when you know he has a gun?

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

Don’t know about N America but in the UK you can hire guns from gangs. It’s pretty much the most common way of obtaining an illegal weapon. Gun control is fairly strict here so it’s a suppliers market which makes rental a good economic model.

pkayden
pkayden
6 years ago

Cowards and their guns. Stupid but scary. Hope the police catch whoever made the threat.
@banned@4chan.org. I’ve never heard of a practice of gangs renting out guns but who knows.

firechild (@firechild)

See this is why we need a new movie/documentary about the massacre in Montreal- the younger generations don’t know enough about what happened, and these dicks need to know someone already tried it and failed and we don’t what this level of stupidity in Canada

Stace
Stace
6 years ago

@Paradoxical_Intention

I hear you. And I respect that initiative to be safe, rather than sorry. When it pays off, it pays off in lives.

The idea/concepts by de Becker are helpful in cases where a flood of threats happen. They help prioritize when a person should be fearful, avoiding the danger of a lot of false threats becoming background noise we/or society deafens ourselves to. Being afraid ALL OF THE TIME is exhausting and if it costs our intimidaters nothing but a few moments on a computer to terrorize us, their tactics will start to ruin our quality of life needlessly. We’ve seen certain MRAs using their computers to harass women and opponents before countless times because it’s easy.

So yes, caution. I don’t want to write out caution. But too much constant, unending vigilance costs us energy; resources; focus; happiness. Ironically, some of the same things we lose if the threats prove true and violence happens, casualties or not. I don’t want this to be a battle where we lose sleep at night no matter what the case is.

I would be very happy to hear that the authorities can narrow down and reveal the source (someone pathetically sad), and provide adequate security to the most vulnerable and targeted.

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

Apparently, Dan Perrins is already claiming that this is feminists doing it to themselves, and AVfM is trying to target the campus to put up bullshit posters and stickers.

https://twitter.com/TakedownMRAs/status/642471337877831680

https://twitter.com/madhatressTO/status/642382976161062912

Paradoxical Intention
6 years ago

Stace | September 11, 2015 at 6:06 pm
The idea/concepts by de Becker are helpful in cases where a flood of threats happen. They help prioritize when a person should be fearful, avoiding the danger of a lot of false threats becoming background noise we/or society deafens ourselves to. Being afraid ALL OF THE TIME is exhausting and if it costs our intimidaters nothing but a few moments on a computer to terrorize us, their tactics will start to ruin our quality of life needlessly. We’ve seen certain MRAs using their computers to harass women and opponents before countless times because it’s easy.

So yes, caution. I don’t want to write out caution. But too much constant, unending vigilance costs us energy; resources; focus; happiness. Ironically, some of the same things we lose if the threats prove true and violence happens, casualties or not. I don’t want this to be a battle where we lose sleep at night no matter what the case is.

In a perfect world, yes, we wouldn’t spend so much time worrying about it. But this isn’t a perfect world. This is a world where if it does happen, we’ll be blamed for it. So, we have to be hypervigilant. Not because we want to be, or because it’s the “best option”, but because we have to be, or else.

It is tiring. It is hard. It is awful that we have to do such a thing.

But we still have to, because it’s either that, or we get questioned when it does happen why we weren’t in the first place. I’d rather waste resources and worry than have to start dealing with why I wasn’t or why we weren’t once the bodies start piling up.

Believe me, I’d love to not have to worry about this shit, I’d love it if a single asshole or a group of assholes didn’t have the ability to set women on edge, but we don’t have that luxury.

I would be very happy to hear that the authorities can narrow down and reveal the source (someone pathetically sad), and provide adequate security to the most vulnerable and targeted.

Agreed.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
6 years ago

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.

Tracy
Tracy
6 years ago

Whenever an MRA accuses feminists of planting threats, etc, I assume this must be something that the MRA in question does. Since MRA-types accuse feminists of this pretty much every time there is some sort of threat against women posted anywhere, then they really, really must use this as a tactic an awful lot.

And not getting dates, or affording condo fees, or not being married at 30? Have fuck-all to do with feminism. Like, seriously. All of their ‘arguments’ are just fucking snark, and not even clever snark at that.

I’m glad UofT is taking this seriously, and I hope they find out who this shitster is and lock them in a room full of grumpy camels with IBS.

Alan Robertshaw
6 years ago

@ Stace

Are you familiar with the ‘Code [Colour]’ system that a lot of police forces and military etc use?

It’s a way of describing vigilance and alert levels in individuals. So Code White is you’re somewhere totally safe and you can completely switch off, Code Yellow is that you’re in a potential threat zone but there’s nothing currently indicated so you can operate at a moderate alertness level etc.

If you like combat stuff you might find it interesting. There’s a parallel with the more systemic alert and response levels. Obviously if you’re something like a government agency you have to assess threats. There’s not the resources to treat them all as top priority. Also if you have a lot of false positives that’s counter-productive.

Similarly on a personal level, I can completely understand Paradoxy’s point about hyper-vigilance; but it’s mentally exhausting to keep that up all the time. Well resourced agencies will make sure individuals get enough Code White down time to keep them sharp, but a lot of police forces don’t do that. The problem there of course is that cops get frazzled and lose judgment skills; they end up shooting everything that triggers a threat response, and we can see the problems that causes.

You read any of the Dave Grossman stuff? I think you might like it.

alternatesteve90
6 years ago

I hope the Canadian authorities can track this guy and take him in before something actually happens.

@Alan R: I think I’ve heard of Mr. Grossman, but mainly regarding his stance on violent video games: unfortunately for him, his arguments on that subject were rather less than any sort of impressive to say the least…..to be fair to him, though, I haven’t read much else of his work.

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