Amy Bishop’s Politics

Socialist Party LogoGlenn Reynolds, Stacy McCain, Jim Hoft, Lonely Conservative and others continue to point to rather thin evidence that UAH mass murderer Amy Bishop was a “socialist.”  She went to Harvard after all.  And one kid on a prof rating website called her one.   QED!

As I’ve previously noted, her politics seem rather irrelevant.  Certainly, there are lots of socialists on college faculties across the land.  Happily, they almost never engage in killing sprees.

But William Jacobson, an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell, has a point here:

Her politics, whatever they may have been, are irrelevant. She did the crime, and now she needs to do the time (or face the needle).

One thing about Bishop’s politics seems likely, however. And that is that she must never have attended a Tea Party or said something nice about Sarah Palin, or we would have heard about it by now.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    As I’ve previously noted, her politics seem rather irrelevant.

    Indeed. Too bad for the folks hoping she was the next coming of Scott Roeder and Richard Poplawski…

  2. devildog666 says:

    She killed her brother. How do you accidentally shoot anyone three times with a 12 gauge shotgun? Then the case is dismissed by former district attorney William Delahunt, who is now serving as a Democrat U.S. congressman from Massachusetts.
    I guess politics would only be involved if the parties to this were conservative.

  3. devildog666 says:

    The above comment should read: How do you accidentally at shoot anyone three times with a 12 gauge shotgun?

  4. Ohio Granny says:

    One of the things is not like the other? A horrific event happens. The MSM makes a big deal about the politics of the evil doer. What are the chances the politics that are being “exposed” are from the right wing nutjobs but almost never from the leftie moonbats? Almost always. Which is the point Glenn Reynolds et al is trying to make. They are not saying her socialist bent caused her to go off the rails. They are not saying her belief system aided and abetter or contributed to her killing spree. They are saying that her politics is, rightly, a non-issue, as it should be in every case where a person is not yelling Allah Akbar before self detonation.
    That the folks who read this see one thing and not the other is ironic.

    There are entire careers made by people who can document that the politics of some wrongdoer, law breaker, scum bag is always always always prominent when it is a Republican office holder (think Mark Foley) but you can have a Mayor of a city taken out in handcuffs for embezzelment and nary a word about the big D in their name.

    This woman is probably mentally ill or has a personality defect or is a sociopath. She must have been unable to hide her wackiness, hence the denial of tenure. But instead of her boss, her department chair, her co-workers hinting, insisting, demanding she get mental help, the PC climate wanted her to go be someone elses problem. This is not a right or left problem. It is a problem that is historic when dealing with people who are both brilliant and crazy or just crazy. Nobody wants to do the hard thing of saying it out loud and possibly getting sued.

    I think this story is going to be an onion with more stinky layers to come.

    Going all self rigteous on people who point out that her affliations are not spotlighted because they have also pointed out that affliations were not a factor in others is rude. Professor Reynolds is consist. Others should try to rise to his standards.

  5. Ohio Granny says:

    Correction: It should be Professor Reynolds is consistent.

  6. steve says:

    Rod Blagojevich or Eliot Spitzer mean anything? When a person who is a politician is caught in a crime or a scandal, it is always big news. The other side always makes a big deal out of it.

    Then there are the crimes that are committed based upon some ideology. Roeder, McVeigh, Hasan kinds of killings. In those cases beliefs are fair game when assessing their reasons for killing.

    In most murders, people’s political or religious beliefs are irrelevant. You could pick almost any random murder in say, Utah, and conclude that right wing Mormons are killers. Go to Wisconsin and conclude that left wing Lutherans are killers. However, it is just not true. These are irrelevant details used for point scoring.


  7. Ohio Granny says:

    You make my point Steve. Blagojevich and Spitzer were political figures but you didn’t hear Katy Couric gasping that they wore the big D on their T-shirts, like she would have if they had an R after their name. A politican is more than fair game for mentioning their affliation. Like Mark Sanford, who can’t even be whispered without saying REPUBLICAN governor. Even his wife is called the spouce of the REPUBLICAN governor. Mrs. Spitzer isn’t announced that way.

    McVeigh was a nut job whose politics are so fringe that he could represent either the left or the right. He was an anarchist. He killed for his own reasons. Ditto Hasan. Understanding how one believes X and committs Y is another can of worms.

    Amy Bishop didn’t pull out her gun in order to demand socialism. Not that socialism at the end of a gun hasn’t been mentioned by prominent people within this administration. She did it for her own selfish reasons.

    Mormons are right wing and Lutherans are left wing? Wow. I used to belong to a lovely Lutheran church and never knew that pot luck was really a communist gathering.

    The point is that the goose and the gander get different treatment.

  8. Herb says:

    Not that socialism at the end of a gun hasn’t been mentioned by prominent people within this administration.

    Um…I don’t think this is accurate. Who are these “prominent people?”

    Mao Zedong said something quite similar…

    The point is that the goose and the gander get different treatment.

    Yes, this is true in many areas. The best way to fight this is to try to be consistent. (And yes, Reynolds is consistent. Consistently one-sided.)

    The reason he and others are trumping the socialist angle is because he’s reacting to what he perceives to be slights to conservatives. It’s the equivalent of “I know you are, but what am I?”

    I am not impressed. Of course, I haven’t been impressed with Reynolds in some time. Shouldn’t he be in Galt’s Gulch instead of hyping a murderer’s supposedly socialist ties?

  9. Steve Plunk says:

    Reynolds is not trumping up the socialist angle. He is making the point that the media plays it up when the shooter is a conservative or religious whether or not those things had anything to do with motive. It’s commentary about the media, not the woman’s politics.

  10. Herb says:

    “Reynolds is not trumping up the socialist angle. He is making the point that the media plays it up when the shooter is a conservative or religious whether or not those things had anything to do with motive.”

    O RLY? If he’s “not trumping up the socialist angle,” why even mention it? It’s not relevant to her crime at all.

    It’s relevant to his point…but his point is dumb because why would the media mention something that’s not relevant to her crime in the first place???

    Reynolds has no legitimate beef here, just his usual axe-grinding and thumb-chewing.

  11. Phil Smith says:

    You’re absolutely right, Herb. I’m looking forward to reports from you on your success in forwarding this viewpoint at TPM and digby’s blog. Now, toddle on over there and tell them what a bunch of histrionic twits they are for spending hundreds of words on George Girard’s Tea Party attachments and fondness for Sarah Palin. We’ll be waiting.

  12. Herb says:

    Um…who’s George Girard? I googled him, but only came up with stuff on the jazz trumpeter who died in 1957. Maybe I should go to TPM and digby’s blog to see what they have to say on the subject, but maybe what they have to say about George Girard isn’t relevant to Bishop’s socialism either…

  13. wr says:

    It’s amazing to me how any event can be turned into an occasion for right-wing self-pity. In this case a university professor guns down several colleagues, and the “conservative” response is to whine about how the media would have treated this if it turned out she had a certain political opinion. And then they use this hypothetical as proof that the media is out to get them.

    I remember when the right complained about a “culture of victimhood.” Now it’s all they’ve got.

  14. Herb says:

    Addendum: The only mention of a “George” I could find on TPM is about George Bush.

    A quick search for “George” on digby’s blog found mentions of George Tenet, (the fictional) George Costanza, and George Hamilton.

    Nothing about George Girard.

    (Consider this my report.)

  15. Phil Smith says:

    My mistake, not George, but Gregory. Here you go. Have fun in the comments sections telling them how silly they are. I look forward to your report, or at least your admission here that you’ve been missing the point rather egregiously.

    But I won’t be holding my breath.

  16. John S. says:

    but you can have a Mayor of a city taken out in handcuffs for embezzelment and nary a word about the big D in their name

    That’s funny considering how often Fox News has been caught labelling disgraced Republicans with the ‘big D’. I guess that’s them just balancing out the rest of the media for never doing it.

  17. John Cole says:

    Good grief. The reason her politics are not an issue is because they appear to have nothing to do with what motivated her to shoot those people or her brother 24 years ago. She was a crazy person.

    Contrast that to Scott Roeder, Tiller, Poplawski in Pittsburgh (however you spell his name) and the spate of other crazy people who shot people simply BECAUSE OF POLITICS.

    Every day in America, murderers go on trial, and their politics are never mentioned. It is only when their politics serve as the motivation for the violence that it comes up. If it turns out that Bishop shot these people because she hated the pig capitalists on the tenure committee and thought they were Palin supporters, her politics would be relevant. Until then, who cares what her politics were (assuming she even was a socialist).

    Will Republicans ever stop lying and acting like victims? And when will you stop caring what hacks like Instapundit, RS McCain, and Col. Mustard?

  18. Herb says:

    My mistake, not George, but Gregory.

    So let me get this right…you’re so outraged by this story that you forgot the dude’s name?

    Anyway…I clicked the link and, as I suspected, your case is weak.

    Let’s review: Bishop, a supposed socialist, kills three people because she was denied tenure. The media ignores the socialism angle because it’s not relevant.

    Gregory (not George) Girard was busted stockpiling weapons because he was “preparing for domestic and political turmoil.” The media mentions his politics, because -holy moly- they seem to provide motive for the stockpiling, and as such, are entirely relevant.

    Maybe I’m just a liberal commie, but this isn’t a valid criticism of the media so much as it is just case of grinding that “liberal media” axe.

  19. steve says:

    Ohio Granny-I live in a red area of a purple state. The fact that Spitzer, et al. were Dems was mentioned in every report. I dont watch Couric unless she is on when I am visiting a patient’s room. My impression is that reporters routinely identify the party of the villain of the day. Do you have evidence otherwise?

    I dont keep track of what happens on TV, I read, but the one reason that there may be some merit, though I would like to se research to back it up, is that the hypocrisy angle plays better for some things when you are a Republican. Thus, if a Republican commits adultery, it is a much better story given their family values stance, affiliation with conservative evangelicals, etc. For the same reason, limousine liberal sticks much better on Dems. Republicans send their kids to private schools also, while claiming they are “real Americans”, but it is not as hypocritical as it would be for a Dem.


  20. Phil Smith says:

    I come across as outraged? You have a very low tolerance.

    Regardless, you’re still missing the point. Who these folks vote for is, in most instances, irrelevant. (Roeder is an obvious exception). They’re crazy to start with, and the political angle is just where the worms in their brains randomly cause them to hang their hat. Saying that Girard was driven to his paranoia by Sarah Palin is the intellectual equivalent of hanging John Lennon’s death on Jodie Foster. He’d still be stockpiling weapons if McCain had won, or if Palin had never emerged from Alaskan obscurity.

  21. Herb says:

    Phil, I don’t think I have a low tolerance for anything except crap. Nor do I think I’m missing the point. I get the point, and find it lacking…

    Not the same thing.

    My point is that Reynolds’s criticism is A) partisan immaturity and B) not even valid.

    And frankly, that you’re citing TPM/Digby’s treatment of Gregory (not George) Girard just reinforces what I’m saying. How is that fundamentally different from “I know you are, but what am I?”

  22. flounder says:

    What John Cole said.
    If it comes up that she was writing blog posts at about how she was hoarding guns because she feared the capitalist system was going to deny her tenure, and their day would come soon, then by all means we should discuss her politics at that point.
    Until then, all this double-standard whining is basically Republicans trying to cover for the fact that their message machine is spewing out violent “tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots” rhetoric and they don’t want to be held accountable for that.

    P.S. Yes I know that in a long forgotten, 2006 Huffington Post article, a commenter known a dbaggio69 stated he wanted to strangle Bush with his bear hands. It was the 178th comment.

  23. repsac3 says:

    Stolen from another site, but sums it up well:

    The reason Greg Girard has been linked to the Tea Party movement is because he was active on a Tea Party website. He publicly proclaimed paranoid conservative views regarding his fear for his guns, government takeover, etc., and was heard to opine that shooting “traitors” in the head was okay. He was, in short, committing his crime(s) for political reasons Yes, he is obviously mentally ill, but his politics and political associations/activities are relevant to how he expressed that illness.

    Until we hear that Bishop had been active on lefty websites talking about killing her colleagues for paranoid political reasons (say, to defend socialist principles or kill off conservatives because their very existence is pernicious), we can consider her act, like those of a husband killing his wife and kids out of personal frustration, one of personal/professional passions whose politics are not particularly relevant to the act.

    Hasan’s politics were relevant, Schroeder’s (or whatever Tiller’s murderer was called) were relevant, McVeigh’s, the gun nut cop killer’s, the undie bomber’s, the Holocaust museum attacker’s and yes, even Ayers’s 40 years ago, were relevant to what they did.

    But the guy who opened fire on the health club because he couldn’t get a date, the Columbine kids, the fired employee who shot up his workplace, and Bishop (who shot up hers)? Not so much.Julia Grey @ PoliBlog: Cheap Political Points and the UAH Shooting

  24. wr says:

    Phil — Politics aside, I hope we can agree that Jodie Foster (or the idea of Jodie Foster) had nothing to do with John Lennon’s death. It was Hinckley, Reagan’s attempted assassin, who was hoping to impress Ms. F. John Lennon’s assassin was obsessed only with Mr. Lennon, or his delusion of what John Lennon was.

  25. anjin-san says:

    Isn’t it time for the tea bagger set to demand Amy Bishop produce her birth certificate?

  26. SFAW says:

    Isn’t it time for the tea bagger set to demand Amy Bishop produce her birth certificate?

    You bring up a good point. Extending the argument, we get the following:

    Amy Bishop – Socialist
    Barack Obama – Socialist

    Amy Bishop – Professor
    Barack Obama – Professor (former)

    Amy Bishop – Harvard
    Barack Obama – Harvard

    Amy Bishop – Has not produced birth certificate
    Barack Obama – Has not produced birth certificate

    Amy Bishop – Never tried for killing a sibling

    Coincidence? I think NOT!!

    I think it’s high time that someone alerted Rush, Glenn Beck, and Jonah to the obvious connection. Why, it’s almost as if Obama pulled the trigger in that tenure meeting!! Can he be impeached for that?

  27. Anon says:

    Okay, let’s note that the MSM is talking about her politics.

  28. SFAW says:

    As to the (bogus) idea the MSM only mentions a sinning politician if he has an “R” next to his name: if the Dems had been the self-appointed arbiters of everyone else’s morals – as the Repubs have been for 20 or 30 years now – then you might have something to complain about.

    But since that’s not the case, you might consider stopping your whining.

  29. Phil Smith says:

    Thanks, wr. I was riffing.

  30. Timetester says:

    Remember those crazy liberals who plotted to blow people up and the GOP national convention? That was political and hardly a story the MSM thought worthy of mention. I recall the informer who saved lives was the villain too.

    Also, that Democrat who was shot in Arkansas first thing the left did was blame a republican when it turns out it was not even close to being political.

  31. Timetester says:

    Isn’t it time for the tea bagger set to demand Amy Bishop produce her birth certificate?

    Right after she proves she isn’t Trig’s mother.

  32. SFAW says:

    As the saying goes: I want some of what Timetester’s smoking.