Sunday, February 21, 2010

Amy Bishop Part 4 with a side order of Joe Stack

I'm in a brief lull in the middle of a busy time, so this will probably be my last post on Bishop. A few things I wanted to add:

1. I originally thought that Bishop may have had some underlying racism due to the fact that she shot 4 out of 5 people of color in a small department. However, it seems that it may be coincidence. Survivors of the shooting say she simply was making her way around the table and shot in the order that people were sitting. Source.

2. MH made the point that Bishop is an outlier. He's right; she is, simply for being a woman--women rarely are mass murderers. Bishop, though, is also a woman in the field of science, which has been a traditionally male field. I think it's also interesting that she has four children. Women in academia seem to have smaller families; it is well documented how the demands of pursuing tenure in academia do not mesh well with being a parent. Did having that juggle add to Bishop's stresses? I don't know where Jim Anderson's family lives, but Amy's family certainly wasn't in Huntsville helping her out with raising 4 kids.

3. This was one of the most interesting stories I read on the Bishop case. As you know, it's the 1986 shooting in Braintree that fascinates me. I could not believe that Paul Frazier went out there less than 24 hours after the shooting and claimed that the 1986 police had instigated a cover-up. I knew there was more to this story, and there was. Frazier (the chief in 2010) and Polio (the chief in 1986) were at odds in 1986. Frazier was the police union rep; Polio was the police chief who was, according to the article above, taking away some of the police officers' perks.

As I suspected, Solimini's memories of the event, as expressed by Frazier in 2010, do not entirely match up with the police report Solimini wrote in 1986. Frazier made it sound all a lot worse. And now it sounds like he deliberately did so in order to make Polio look bad.

I still contend that after an accidental shooting, one wants to avoid arresting the shooter if one can help it. The worst has already happened, so why add more?

4. And one last thing: A few days after Bishop murdered three people, a man named Joe Stack flew a plane into the IRS office building in Austin, TX and killed one person and himself. But when you read the reports on Stack, you do not hear the same stories you heard about Bishop. Bishop was detached, behaved strangely, seemed to have an anger problem. From reading what the people in Austin had to say about Stack, you'd think he was the sweetest guy around. He never expressed his hatred of the IRS to others.

So again, I don't think it's a given that people planning mass murder (we were lucky Stack's plane killed only one IRS worker; he wanted to kill more, certainly) show signs of their murderous nature before they act. Stack certainly seemed to crack as early as a day before, but for most of his life he sounds like a lovely person to be around, just a little obsessed (for a guy who was pretty well off financially--gee, I'd like to have a 2500-sq-ft house and a private plane) with taxes.

Because maybe that's how becoming a murderer works. It's not something deep within you. It happens when you crack somehow. Amy Bishop happens to have been an occasionally unpleasant person before 2010; Joe Stack happens to be someone who was mostly very pleasant. But something set off both of these people, and they didn't have the psychological strength to pull themselves back from it.

And that led to tragedy.

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