MANN: Incels are Nothing New


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Recently, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the frequently-discussed “incel” problem plaguing Western Culture—weak men with a penchant for undertaking revenge on the society to which they attribute their oppression, often through mass murder. While one could write a book on the reasons these young men victimize innocent lives through their own self-hatred, it is important to understand that these archetypal “beta” males are not unique to the modern age.

If one were to scour the internet for the faces of the recent shootings in Dayton, Ohio, El Paso, Texas, and at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, the shooters all start to look the same: diminutive men who find artificial power at the grips of deadly weapons. Racking my brain for shootings from my childhood, the trend continues backward from Columbine (1999) to Virginia Tech (2007) and Isla Vista (2014). Perpetrators of the same archetype enacted “revenge” on people who hardly if ever personally victimized the shooter. 

This trend, though, proceeds ever further backward, a motif in all forms of media and literature. Superman villain Lex Luthor was small and whiny; he had talent but lusted after the fame bestowed upon the “Man of Steel.” In the Bible, Cain kills his brother because of a reward Cain was not owed. Even in the children’s movie, The Incredibles (2004), the villain was a short-tempered kid who sought vengeance on those who he thinks betrayed him. If this trope has been commonplace throughout human history, why has so much attention to the subject just sprouted in the past couple of years?

The obvious answer is that it must be worsening. Media giants like Vox, Glamour, and The New Yorker seem to think so. In search of answers, I found a database of all school shootings since 1970. The reports found on the database’s website tell a gloomy story of the war zones that are our public schools, at least that is what the authors of the reports would have you believe. 

Unfortunately, it is far too easy to take these terrifying graphs at face value without sifting the data. Closer inspection reveals statistical sins. Many of the shootings included are gang-related, suicides, or, even more dishonest, committed with pellet guns. I encourage any reader to come to their own conclusions about the validity of each entry. Of course, one school shooting is too many but fear-mongering through false reporting helps no honest political participant. 

With that being said, I delved deeper into the dataset with the intention of counting the shootings I associated with the connotation of “mass shooting” myself. Beginning with the premade reports, I expected to find a sharp rise in incident rate and severity. Both statistics were fairly level throughout the past twenty years. With an incident rate dancing between 10 and 60 mass shootings per year, the past three years fall well within that range. Furthermore, the severity of each event was reasonably low over calendar years 2017 and 2019 with the seemingly anomalous year of 2018 housing three of the largest school shootings in the United States to date. It bears repeating that any casualty is too many, but these results are hardly the condemning of the American male that such aforementioned publications would have you believe.

The beginning of any discussion of solutions needs to first define the severity of the problem; chemotherapy would harm the sufferer of a common cold and so too would an excessive solution to this problem do harm. School shootings, while a horrific flaw in American society, have been around for decades and the incels perpetrating them for all of human civilization. Many are quick to propose hasty solutions, namely taking guns or over-medicating young boys. However, a sufficient analysis of these problems renders those solutions ineffective. I do not pretend to know the solution, but now, at the very least, we are beginning to recognize the problem.

Tanner is a born-and-raised West Virginian. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from West Virginia University and currently works as an Actuary. His interests include politics, physical fitness, professional soccer, and corgis.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Tanner Mann

West Virginia University

Tanner is a born-and-raised West Virginian. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from West Virginia University and currently works as an Actuary. His interests include politics, physical fitness, professional soccer, and corgis.

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