Simon Cottee

Academic and Author

Watching Murder: ISIS, Death Videos and Radicalization

“Watching Murder fills a conspicuous gap in the literature by providing an authoritative dissection of one of the more prominent—and chilling—features of contemporary terrorism: so-called jihadi snuff videos. Cottee brings his usual perspicacity, verve, and clarity to explain how ISIS harnessed social media to manipulate global opinion and communicate a carefully constructed image of the group designed simultaneously to repel and appeal to its multiple target audiences.”

Professor Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University and author of Inside Terrorism

"In this book, Simon Cottee interrogates himself, and his readers, about why some people find terrorist atrocity films both repulsive and irresistible. These films often contain important information for counterterrorism, but not all of us are willing to risk PTSD in order to decode them. As we have come to expect of Cottee, he is perpetually, provocatively sceptical of any and all received wisdom. Lushly written and researched."

Professor Jessica Stern, Boston University and author of Terror in the Name of God Buy Watching Murder at Amazon

Watching Murder: ISIS, Death Videos and Radicalisation

The men who watch gore porn

In his review of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a spectacularly violent horror film that set the stage for the even more spectacularly violent slasher films of the Eighties, David J. Hogan described it, approvingly, in this way...

We need to talk about Salvador Ramos

t's been over a week now since Salvador Ramos burst in to an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and fatally shot 19 children and two teachers. Still a question remains: why did he do it?
One answer is that he was evil: evil people do evil things. Another is that he was crazy: crazy people do crazy things. And yet another is that he was made to do bad things because of all the bad things that had happened to him: Ramos reportedly had a childhood speech impediment and was subjected to bullying because of this.

Are Mass Shooters Really Radicalized Online? My Research Says No

There is a demand for crazy on the internet that we need to grapple with," former President Barack Obama said in April at an event on disinformation hosted by the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics and The Atlantic. He could not have known that Payton Gendron, who says he became a racist online, would brutally murder 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo in a racially motivated mass shooting just one month later, making the task of grappling with the dark side of the internet even more urgent.

Fear, boredom, and joy: Sebastian Junger’s piercing phenomenology of war

This article explores the emotional attractions of war and military combat. Using Sebastian Junger's recently published book War as a central point of reference, it elucidates and supports the idea that, for combatants, war is often experienced as a profoundly exciting and existentially rewarding human activity. By bringing into focus and helping to conceptualize the raw appeal of combat, Junger's account of war can be enlisted as a resource for understanding the positive emotional drives behind acts of terrorism.

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance

Despite being a brute and massive fact of human experience, evil is often denatured within liberal-leftist discourse: it is redescribed, recalibrated, recategorised. People do unspeakably terrible things all the time: no liberal-leftist will deny that. But there is a general reluctance on the liberal-left to name these things, still less the persons who do them, as evil.

The Fall-Out: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence

To speak very generally, there are two kinds of left apostate: there are those who break with the left in order to move elsewhere (usually to the right, though not
always) and there are those who repudiate certain beliefs or modes of thinking within the left in order to strengthen other competing traditions within the left, which they see as more authentic and valuable.

Sir Leon’s shadow

Sir Leon Radzinowicz was one of the last great exemplars of modern criminology. Yet he remains, 32 years since his retirement from the Wolfson chair of Criminology at Cambridge, an almost unrecognizably distant figure, largely unexamined, if not completely eclipsed, in the existing histories of the discipline. This, partly, is because many of the questions which Radzinowicz himself confronted are quite different from those which exercise criminologists today. But it is also, more decisively, because Radzinowicz’s status as a thinker has never quite recovered from the critical assault to which his radical antagonists subjected it. My aim in what follows will be to re-examine the validity of that assault and to clarify the significance, if any, of Radzinowicz’s ‘pragmatic position’ for contemporary criminological thought.

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