Hot Yoga Incel Shooter Case Study Depressing, Not Particularly Helpful
In 2018, 40-year-old Scott P. Beierle shot six women in a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, killing two and then killing himself. It's a story we've become frighteningly accustomed to by now — angry misogynist man spends life dropping red flags every five minutes before finally murdering a bunch of people because he's mad that women have rejected him.
This week, the Department of Homeland Security's National Threat Assessment Center released a case study on Beierle, highlighting the many ways in which it was clear from the beginning that he was headed in this direction, and attempting to address the ways we might prevent similar incidents in the future.
The case study recounts these many, many red flags — sexual harassment of colleagues and students when he was working as a teacher, police reports, stalking accusations, and several incidents in which his "behavior with women" resulted in court-ordered mental treatment — noting that there were myriad missed opportunities to address his behavior before he decided to go on a killing spree, and that cooperation between multiple community systems can help with addressing these kinds of threats early on.
It is further important to note that misogynistic violence is not restricted to high-profile incidents of mass violence. Misogyny frequently appears in more prevalent acts of violence, including stalking and domestic abuse. No matter the context, responding to the threat posed by these beliefs requires collaboration across multiple community systems, including law enforcement, courts, mental health providers, and domestic violence and hate crime advocacy groups.
The Hot Yoga Tallahassee case study demonstrates the opportunities that exist to prevent targeted violence while drawing particular focus to the risk posed by misogynistic extremism. Highlighted throughout the case study are behavioral threat assessment themes (see table on page 5) that were evident in the background of the Hot Yoga Tallahassee attacker. These behavioral themes are frequently seen in the backgrounds of other attackers and, as such, should be the focus of community-level violence prevention efforts to identify and intervene with those who pose a risk of engaging in targeted violence.
These included the following:
- Self-described misogynist, aggrieved by his inability to obtain a relationship or sex with women
- Openly admired Hitler and Aryan Nations; other members of online social networks referred to him as a Nazi
- School district personnel recommended he not be hired for a teaching position due to concerning behavior during the application process
- Multiple school firings related to inappropriate behavior with female students
- Three arrests connected to incidents of groping women in public and trespassing on FSU campus after warning when seen following female coach
- Served a lease termination by apartment complex after assaulting a woman at the swimming pool
- Additional law enforcement contacts for destruction of property, following women on campus, and inappropriate contact with students while teaching
- Friend’s wife reported violent and misogynistic writings to law enforcement
- Court-ordered mental health treatment on at least four occasions due to behavior with women and mania
- Banned from local bars for behavior toward women
- Parents slept with their door locked, removed him from his niece’s birthday party for touching young girls, and had his brother remove a firearm that he kept
- Brother suspected him of being a serial sniper in DC
- Roommates compared him to Ted Bundy
Unfortunately, many of these things are something no one can do anything about. We can't arrest people for bad thoughts or even for writing multiple songs about how they sure would love to murder a lot of women. While it's lovely that the report recommends that there be more collaboration between various entities to identify these kinds of threats before something like this happens, it fails to address the more concrete ways in which this can be done.
I have been covering and monitoring these people for longer than almost anyone other than David Futrelle of We Hunted The Mammoth. Right now, I think the best thing that has been done, insofar as containing the threat, has been to remove the incel/MRA boards from sites like Reddit, which makes them less immediately available to those susceptible to the ideology. However, in Beierle's case, he wasn't as involved with incel sites as much as he was with anti-feminist ideology.
As this report makes quite clear, much of Beierle's issues with women started in school, as early as eighth grade. One thing that needs to be looked at is inoculating boys against this kind of ideology from an early age by encouraging appropriate interactions with girls, discussing misogyny as an actual problem, teaching social skills that promote empathy, and identifying problematic behaviors early on without dismissing them with "boys will be boys" attitudes.
One of the incredibly disturbing aspects of Beierle's story is the fact that he was able to keep getting jobs as a public school teacher or substitute teacher despite losing several of these jobs due to his behavior towards female students. Hell, the fact that he was able to get these jobs at all after the multiple disciplinary issues he had in college as a result of this behavior and getting discharged from the military as a result of this behavior is concerning to say the least. It might have been one thing if he were just repeatedly accused without anything coming of it, but he did get in trouble, he did get fired for this behavior and just kept right on being able to teach. Middle school. That seems bad!
Also very concerning is the fact that he was able to buy a gun in the first place, because he might not have been, had the system handled some of his arrests for groping in a less stupid way. This one in particular:
Soon after, on June 1, 2016, SB approached a woman sunbathing at the swimming pool of his apartment complex in Tallahassee. After the woman refused his offer to apply sunscreen on her body, SB slapped, grabbed, and shook her backside. Law enforcement was notified, and SB was arrested and charged with battery. However, the charges were ultimately dropped after SB completed court-mandated counseling with a sex-addiction therapist.
Counseling with a sex-addiction therapist? Really? That's what they thought this was? Sex addiction?
That's not sex addiction, that's misogyny and violence. That's about power and control. His problem was not that he was just "too horny." If he were "too horny" he'd be out there getting arrested for condom thievery. His problem was that he felt entitled to women's bodies and reacted with rage and violence when told "no."
It's not surprising that nothing came from the various stalking allegations throughout his life. As easy as it is to get someone thrown in prison for decades for a minor crime, it is basically impossible to get an order of protection on a stalker. I know multiple women who have dealt with stalkers and it has been nothing less than hell for them to get any help from the criminal justice system, if they get it at all.
Freakishly, even if they do get one, "there is no federal ban on gun ownership for stalkers convicted of misdemeanor crimes and who are subject to restraining orders."
Unless we can do something to stop the Scott Beierles of this world from getting guns in the first place, it's almost ridiculous to be discussing how to stop them from going on killing sprees in other ways. Especially since it's clear that "sex addiction counseling" doesn't help.
The response to this report on the incel boards has been largely positive, largely because it doesn't recommend actually doing anything to prevent these crimes. One user was particularly charmed by the fact that the Secret Service did not classify incel murders as terrorism:
In policy or law, it’s important to pay attention to what people say—but it’s equally important to pay attention to what people don’t say.
And what the U.S. Secret Service didn’t do was describe the Hot Yoga incident as “terrorism”, despite calls by SJWs to label “misogynist extremism” as such. Nor was Elliot Rodger’s 2014 shooting or Roy Den Hollander’s 2020 shooting described as “terrorism”. Indeed, not once did the words “terror”, “terrorist”, or “terrorism” appear in the 28-page, 10,230-word report.
The NTAC report is emblematic of American law enforcement’s broad refusal to describe incels or “misogynists” as terrorists, and rightly so. While self-described “CVE [Countering Violent Extremism] practitioners” —from feminazi activists to far-left academics—argue that inceldom should be considered terrorism, government officials and lawyers are reluctant to cave into SJW hysteria and make such a classification. A similar dynamic unfolded across the pond last year: after Jake Davison killed his mother and four others with a shotgun in Plymouth, England, SJWs sought to have the incident classified as “incel terrorism”, only to be rebuffed by senior officials at UK Counter Terrorism Policing.
In any case, the reasoning is technical but straightforward: very broadly speaking, terrorism is the use of mass violence to further a political or religious cause, and (accusations of) “misogyny” in and of itself is neither explicitly political nor religious. A term as loaded as “terrorism” is and should be a legal, not political, decision.
Except it is actually terrorism, because the goal of these killings is to reestablish male dominance (a political goal) and make women scared of rejecting men sexually (a socio-political goal). This is why, for years, these types have been sharing their dreams of a "beta uprising."
The betas applauded and realized that if 20% of the men get all of the women, then they outnumber [alphas] 4 to 1. After one week all women were enslaved by the beta uprising and distributed equally among the male population. — from the original "beta uprising" post on 4chan incel board r9k.
It's not likely that labeling these acts as terrorism will have any effect on future incidents, but the fact that this information pleases those on these boards should be concerning. The comments on the post mostly reflected annoyance with the fact that there was any focus on them at all, claiming that they are more likely to kill themselves than others. However, there is a difference between killing oneself due to depression exacerbated by a terrible ideology and killing others as a result of belief in a terrible ideology.
It's great that government entities are taking this more seriously. It's certainly a step in the right direction. But unfortunately, this is as much a missed opportunity as anything that occurred in Beierle's life. We have to do better than this if we want to prevent these kinds of crimes before they happen.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse