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Why it’s a good thing that the Air Force gave a briefing on the dangers of incel terrorism

Not a real picture of the briefing

By David Futrelle

Hearing the news that Air Force personnel at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland were recently given a briefing on the threat posed by the incel movement — complete with slides featuring incel obsessions Becky and Stacy — some reacted with predictable jokes.

“You never know when the Air Force will need to bomb the Incel State,” author and ex-Daily Caller journalist Scott Greer joked on Twitter.

“These guys fly planes?” asked another Twitterer. “I’m concerned. You should only let smart people do that.”

So far, details on the briefing are a little scanty. According to Task & Purpose, a site reporting on military and veterans’ issues,

At least one Air Force base is on the lookout for a sinister new threat: angry men who can’t get laid.

Personnel at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland were recently treated to a threat brief regarding an “increase in nationwide activity” by self-described “incels,” members of an online subculture of “involuntary celibacy” who adopt an ideology of misogyny, mistrust of women, and violence in response to their failed attempts at romantic relationships.

The brief was first made public via a screenshot posted to the popular Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page on Tuesday. An Air Force spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the screenshot to Task & Purpose.

The screenshot in question showed a slide from the presentation featuring an interent-famous incel meme starring supposed female archetypes Becky and Stacey.

Obviously, the Air Force isn’t contemplating any air strikes on incel hideouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, or anywhere else.

The briefing seems to have been intended to warn about the possible dangers of incel rampages by Air Force personnel themselves, many of whom obviously have access to considerable firepower and the training necessary to know how to use these weapons in the deadliest manner.

“The intent of the brief was to educate the Joint Base Andrews commanders on the behaviors and activities attributed to the group to safeguard our Airmen/installation,” an Air Force spokesperson told Task & Purpose.

It’s a good thing that the Air Force is taking incels seriously. We can’t dismiss the real threat of incels because of the absurdity of their beliefs. Terrorists and mass killers are often motivated by beliefs that the rest of us would consider ridiculous.

Son of Sam believed his neighbor’s dog was telling him to kill. Charles Manson ordered the killings at the Tate and LaBianca homes in hope of setting off a race war that would ultimately put him in charge of the world — basing his peculiar eschatology in part on secret messages he thought were hidden in Beatles lyrics. Compared to these two — and to many other mass killers — incels seem almost rational.

As for the memes? They’re a central part both of incel and alt-right culture; they radicalize angry young men in the same way that YouTube videos and books like the neo-Nazi bible The Turner Diaries do. These days, mass killers don’t just pen manifestos; they also leave a trail of memes. The Christchurch killer included references to memes in his manifesto; the Toronto van killer, an incel, left behind a short statement on social media referencing several popular incel memes.

“Indeed,” Task & Purpose notes,

the screenshot [of the Air Force briefing] appeared the day after Brian Isaac Clyde, a former Army infantryman who frequently posted memes that referenced the incel movement alongside anti-government conspiracies to his Facebook page, was shot by federal officers after he opened fire outside a Dallas, Texas federal building.

It’s not clear if Clyde considered himself an incel; his social media was overstuffed with all sorts of memes popular amongst alt-rightists and manospherans and right-wing conspiracy theorists generally.

We learned a long time ago that 4chan’s racist and anti-Semitic memes weren’t just “ironic.” Nor are threats of violence any less serious if they take the form of a meme. Incels make a lot of memes. They’ve also killed a lot of people. Everyone needs to take them seriously.

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weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Dormousing_it,

I hate so much when come prancing into a conversation about the pressure to be extremely thin to helpfully (in their minds) share thei boner notes about how they prefer curvy women. Gee thanks, boys. You’ve solved the issue.

Never mind that for every dude who proclaims his love for a substantial booty, there’s a dude whining about how Taylor Swift has gotten too fat to bang. So even if body image issues and eating disorders were actually about boner opinions, that doesn’t help.

Cindy
Cindy
1 year ago

Perhaps virgins should no longer be eligible to enter the armed forces. It might be a necessary precaution.

Katamount
Katamount
1 year ago

On the topic of hair, being a dude who has maintained the same Clipper Size 2 crew cut for the past decade and a half… gotta admit I enjoy playing with hair styles in MMOs like Star Trek Online.

If I permit my old grump to come out a moment with respect to men’s hairstyles… can’t quite fathom the hipster beard. I’ve seen guys rock man-buns pretty well, but when I see the Civil War beard on anything other than a mountain man, a Sikh or a hockey player deep in their playoff run… I can’t help but think it’s either playacting ruggedness or they’re just too lazy to shave.

You guys aren’t James Longstreet surveying the fields of Gettysburg.

Or maybe I’m just jelly that I can’t grow stuff on my cheeks. Either way.

Fashonistah
1 year ago

“Skanty?” Did you mean “scanty” or “skanky?”

Laserqueen
Laserqueen
1 year ago

@Cindy

You can’t be serious. Incels are not necessarily virgins you know. And people who haven’t had sex by 18 (or whenever they would join the service) are not incels.

Talonknife
Talonknife
1 year ago

@Katamount

Or maybe I’m just jelly that I can’t grow stuff on my cheeks. Either way.

I would gladly donate mine if I could. I hate it and I haven’t found any effective way to get rid of it.

Makroth
Makroth
1 year ago

@Cindy

GR8 B8 M8

TheKND
TheKND
1 year ago

@Cindy
So you want the US to be overrun by enemy unicorns?

Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
Rhuu - apparently an illiterati
1 year ago

@Cindy

Perhaps virgins should no longer be eligible to enter the armed forces. It might be a necessary precaution.

Wow. You suck. Seriously, you just suck.

Be better.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 year ago

@kupo:
I love the hair! Especially the layered, multi-coloured, shimmery effect.

My little sister actually apprenticed as a hair stylist at one point. She got to be quite good at doing streaks like that, to the point where people were asking for her personally. Unfortunately, she finished her apprenticeship at a shop with an older stylist who got angry and jealous that people were asking for this younger person who could do things that the head stylist didn’t know how to do. It rather soured my sister on the entire business.

(My sister actually went through a lot of potential careers when younger; now she’s the business manager for her husband’s craft distillery. She has a far better head for business and marketing than he does, and the pair of them are doing quite well and have been winning international awards.)

Viscaria
Viscaria
1 year ago

This happened 10 years ago, but I still think about it sometimes. I was with a male friend and I saw a woman with incredible long hair. “Wow, her hair is so beautiful,” I said. “You know men don’t actually like that,” he said to me, in this vaguely annoyed tone. It was such a magical combination of assumptions:

1) That the validity of my admiration of another woman depended on what men think.

2) That his personal patterns of attraction applied to all men everywhere. (I see this from straight men a LOT.)

3) That women base our style choices on what will please men.

4) That women should base our style choices on the pleasure of men, so he has a right to be annoyed when we get it wrong.

Dormousing_it
Dormousing_it
1 year ago

@Talonknife: Not even electrolysis? I know it’s not cheap, and it can take multiple sessions.

I thought about electrolysis for myself, when I was younger and much more insecure. I decided it wasn’t worth the expense, for something I could manage on my own.

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

@Jenora Feuer
That’s too bad. My fantasy hair journey started with setting up a consultation with a hair stylist, who then asked if I would mind if her new assistant dyed my hair of she oversaw it. I was cool with that, and she was so happy with the results that she immediately promoted him to stylist, wrote a blog post about how great he was with color, then over time helped him get up the clientele so he could be independent and rent her second chair (and of course I remained his client). He moved away, but I’m still with her, in no small part because of how great she treated him.

Amtep
Amtep
1 year ago

I grow a beard because I am in fact too lazy to shave. There’s nothing wrong with that. Fight me.

Katamount
Katamount
1 year ago

@Amtep

Nah, that works for me. 😀 I keep my hair short cuz I’m too lazy to comb it.

Hester
1 year ago

I’m a female virgin in my late 20s. That automatically makes me a risk for terrorism/mass murder? Classy.

Thanks to others here for calling out the virgin shaming, because that doesn’t happen everywhere, no matter the gender of the virgin in question.

Allandrel
Allandrel
1 year ago

I have often maintained a full beard because I am Totally Metal.

@Kupo

OMG your hair is so pretty! Is it a lot of work to maintain?

@Viscaria

The “all men share my tastes” thing is SO WEIRD. Like, I have a huge thing for snarky women with long, curly hair, but I’m observant enough to notice that other people have different preferences than me, so I’ve never told anyone “men prefer curly hair and a deadpan sense of humor.”

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
1 year ago

@Laserqueen: Thanks for that comment. 🙂 While there are a great many reasons I should not be in motorized vehicles, the fact that I was still a virgin in my late 20’s is not one of them.

It is good that incel ideology is discussed as a domestic terrorism threat. I hope that the USAF isn’t the only organisation doing this.

@Kupo: Your hair is flippin’ art. I it when there are different colors in dyed hair.

C.A.Collins
C.A.Collins
1 year ago

I’m guessing Cindy’s comment was on par with the one about the unicorn cavalry, a joke intended to sound like a reverse of something an incel might write about foids.
(The internet so needs a sarcasm font.)

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

@Allandrel
Yeah, it’s a lot to maintain. It needs to be bleached every other session and dyed every session, and I schedule the sessions every 5-8 weeks, depending on the color (some fade faster than others). If I do a solid color it’s easier. Then I can use a color conditioner (my favorite is https://overtone.co/) to touch it up regularly, and only need to refresh every second or third session. But multi-colored is more fun, so I haven’t done that in a while.

Simon
Simon
1 year ago

Legal insanity is a very high bar to clear. When the crime is bloody and brutal even someone as clearly insane as Andre Thomas is found sane because they really don’t want to seem to be letting someone off. (Warning: Link covers violent and bloody unpleasantness)

And not everyone accepts the Manson Helter Skelter stuff either.

Knitting Cat Lady
Knitting Cat Lady
1 year ago

In Germany the question isn’t insanity or not. The question is ‘Are you capable of accepting guilt?’, which means ‘Can you tell right from wrong?’

And if the courts decide that, actually, you can’t tell right from wrong?

You don’t go free. You get sent to a forensic psychiatric unit. Indefinitely. For however long the doctors decide that you need to stay.

Which can be decades without any possibility of parole.

Which means that if you assault someone and seriously injure them and are found to have diminished capacity of guilt you can end up staying a lot longer behind bars than a convicted murderer.

No idea what it’s like in the US, but the so called ‘insanity’ plea is not a get out of jail card. Usually you have to stay longer…

Turan, Emissary of the Fly World
Turan, Emissary of the Fly World
1 year ago

Knitting Cat Lady, that is not really different from the situation in the U.S., except that the standard is not so much “Can you tell right from wrong?” as “Do you understand that this is generally seen as wrong?” The classic examples might be John Hinckley, Jr. and Jeffrey Dahmer. Hinckley believed that shooting the President of the United States would win him the love of a movie star. This showed a disconnect from reality, and a failure to comprehend the consequences of his actions, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Dahmer also tried an insanity defense, but it failed because the prosecution was able to introduce multiple instances of Dahmer hiding his crimes. Whatever the overall state of his mind, he did know that what he was doing was illegal. That sufficed to send him to prison.

Hinckley’s case also goes to your last point. He was not released; he was committed to a mental hospital, and he stayed there longer than he probably would have stayed in prison if he had been convicted. There was suspicion at the time that he was kept so long not because he was considered a danger to others for all that time, but because the hospital administrators were afraid of the public reaction if they let a would-be presidential assassin free.

Dalillama
Dalillama
1 year ago

No idea what it’s like in the US, but the so called ‘insanity’ plea is not a get out of jail card. Usually you have to stay longer…

That’s the case here too, but many people aren’t aware of that fact. I suspect that this is lingering cultural awareness of a couple of high-profile cases early in the last century where rich and influential men were able to plead insanity after murdering their wives, then basically buy their way out of the asylum and went on with their lives.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 year ago

@kupo:
Yes, well, hair stylists are human too, which means there’s no lack of self-important assholes doing the job, just like any other job. And no lack of people who are absolutely great people. Glad you found one of the latter.

My sister is, at least, quite happy with what she’s doing now in any case.

@Viscaria, Allandrel:
That sort of attitude just utterly boggles me. On top of the ‘women should only care about what men think of them’, really, wouldn’t the world be just so much more boring if everybody did have the same basic interests?

@Knitting Cat Lady:
My understanding is that it’s actually pretty close to that in the U.S. as well. But there are two other issues:
– Mental health support in the U.S. is, if anything, even more screwed up than the rest of the health care system. And while obviously a lot of the old asylums were horrible places, tearing them down didn’t necessarily result in them being replaced by anything useful, much less better.
– Most of the public get their idea of the so-called ‘insanity plea’ from TV and Hollywood. And when your idea of how the legal system works comes from a TV series involving a father engaging in a campaign of revenge because the man who killed his wife was declared ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’… well, don’t expect the average person’s idea of what the plea actually means to have more than a fleeting association with reality.

Admittedly, I’m in Canada, not the U.S., but the above still pretty much applies.

anon
anon
1 year ago

If every living creature looked the same and/or only found the exact same look attractive, I dont think we would have evolved from fish lol.

“ew, that fish has, like, …legs? Dont they know fish arent attracted to that?”

Newt
Newt
1 year ago

@Lumipuna (nee Arctic Ape)

The Becky is rated “average 6/10” on what I assume is Objective Female Hotness Scale going from 1 to 10, or something like that. Oddly enough, for men who make a big deal on being below-average looking, incels don’t seem much interested in postulating the properties of below-average looking women.

The incel Objective Female Hotness Scale is derived from the GamerGate-approved Objective Video Game Scale, where 7/10 is mediocre, and 6/10 means “so awful I can’t ignore it, and must complain forever”.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@kupo
That pic looks great, really nice hair!

I remember people calling such dyes “galaxy hair” the first times I saw it, anyone else heard that term?

kupo
kupo
1 year ago

@Scanisaurus
Yep, I’ve heard that term. There’s also Aurora borealis hair, mermaid hair, sunset, oil slick, just lots of fun things.

Talonknife
Talonknife
1 year ago

@Dormousing_it

Not even electrolysis? I know it’s not cheap, and it can take multiple sessions.

I thought about electrolysis for myself, when I was younger and much more insecure. I decided it wasn’t worth the expense, for something I could manage on my own.

I’ve thought about electrolysis, but as a 20-year old college student who’s still basically financially dependent on my parents, it’s not really a realistic option right now. I’m also kinda afraid I’ll have it done and then my mind will change when I’m older and I’ll want facial hair again. When I first started growing it in middle school, I was all excited to have a little facial hair, but now I’m tired of looking 40+ at only 20.

Re: the insanity plea, right and wrong actually have nothing to do with it nowadays. A crime is composed of three elements: mens rea (guilty mind), actus reus (guilty act), and concurrence of the two. For most crimes, without one of those elements, you don’t have a crime (strict liability crimes like speeding don’t require mens rea, but they’re the exception to the rule.) A modern insanity defense relies on proving that the defendant had no mens rea – essentially, they committed the act, but lacked the intent necessary to have technically committed a crime. Obviously, this is a very difficult thing to prove, so contrary to pop cultural portrayals, insanity defenses are actually very rare and it’s even rarer for them to actually be successful.

Scanisaurus
Scanisaurus
1 year ago

@kupo
Huh, how fun to know, I never knew those terms!

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
1 year ago

Re: The law and insanity pleas etc.

I wrote a very brief summary about the English perspective a while back. If I’ve got the link right (probably not) it’s here in the unlikely event anyone is interested:

https://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2018/04/08/men-are-oppressed-by-earning-more-than-women-ingenious-mens-rights-redditor-insists/comment-page-2/#comment-2082714

Shadowplay
1 year ago

@Talonknife

Years back, when I finally was granted permission to grow a beard, I invested in electrolysis – but just on the areas I knew I’d never want the beard to grow.
Best investment I ever made. Cut down the whole shaving and maintenance thing by about 90%.

epitome of incomprehensibility

I know it sounds frivolous, but I was also thinking of laser hair removal for time reasons.

How much does it cost to do that to your legs – around 1k? (Plus I hear it takes several appointments.) I’m not rolling in cash, so…maybe I won’t.

It’s just that I’m trying to write and maintain a job (I can’t support myself just by writing yet, and if I tried it full-time, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to focus). I only shave my legs in the summer, but doing so every second day just takes a long time (armpits are small, so less of a bother). If I waste time, I’d rather waste time doing something fun.

Again, this seems silly. There’s no logical reason why I can’t have hairy legs! It’s just that I’m afraid of being seen as messy. Not unfeminine, just unorganized. Now, there’s nothing inherently unorganized about it, but I’m oversensitive about being seen as disorganized, what with my ADHD and anxiety.

Clearly, the only logical solution is to genetically engineer humans – specifically, those living in places with cold winters and hot summers – to grow leg hair in the winter and shed it in the spring. Like, thick hair. None of this wimpy wispy stuff. 😛

Also, @kupo, your blue hair is awesome! 🙂

Andrei Rugamas
Andrei Rugamas
1 year ago

I’m sorry for being incredibly pedantic, but there was a lot of evidence the “The Son of Sam” made up the getting orders from the dog thing because he knew it was a sensational detail cans he enjoyed that type of attention.
Also the motivation for the Manson murders have recently come into question, at least based of this Jezebel article https://www.google.com/amp/s/jezebel.com/what-you-think-you-know-about-the-manson-family-murders-1835688049/amp
To be clear I agree with all the points in the article, I’m just grumpy at work and thought I’d add a maybe not so helpful addition to the discussion

ObSidJag
ObSidJag
1 year ago

@kupo:
Joining the choir 2 say how awesome your hair is in that pic. I have 2 friends who’d completely want 2 rock that look.

I probably would too, but I have neither the patience nor the pocketbook (+ my job frowns on “hair color not found in nature”–even though I don’t work with or get seen by the public).

AsAboveSoBelow
AsAboveSoBelow
1 year ago

comment image

Cassowaries are totally dinosaurs. A cassowary killed a man in Florida not long ago. So, maybe they don’t disembowel people, but they definitely can stab us to death with their foot-knives.