Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Wadical Woundup: Guns, Money and Conference News

"Hey, Amy" (Wait For It) "Where You Going/With That GunInYourHand?" For the most complete summary to date of the Amy Bishop Case, the University of Alabama-Huntsville prof who murdered and wounded her colleagues execution-style, go to today's New York Times. As we all know by now, Bishop's post-tenure denial rampage was not her first killing. However, today's story raises a pointed question. The 1986 "accidental" fratricide in Bishop's childhood home was immediately followed by Amy, then a college student, not calling 911 as one normally would in an accidental shooting, but demanding a vehicle from a car dealer, at gun point, claiming that she was being chased by an angry husband. Why did not someone, anyone, at least have her evaluated by a psychiatrist at some point after this and many other, less fatal, episodes of grandiosity? More than one person in Bishop's life was clearly not operating in the land of the real, since the final tragedy in Huntsville was preceded by numerous occasions when Bishop's behavior was violent, vicious and delusional. Added bonuses in the Times Sunday coverage are revelations about the anonymous tips after the Huntsville killings about the possibility that Amy had set a "herpes bomb" in the building; and the scary photo of Amy with hubby James Anderson, one of the people I would be pretty angry at if I had been widowed or orphaned by Bishop. Anderson is a corporate researcher who is also Bishop's intellectual collaborator -- if I were a prosecutor, or a civil litigator working for a bereft family, I would want to depose him about what he knew and when he knew it. Wouldn't you?

A final note: I know the Second Amendment lobby (several of whom are personal friends of mine) would say that if Amy's brother, or subsequently, the Huntsville biology department, had been packing, someone might have taken Amy out earlier. But I'm not sure I want to live in a world where you have to go to family dinners or department meetings dressed by Smith and Wesson. U haz gun control?

U Haz Gunz But No Research Moneyz? Ok, I'll stop. I don't know why Historiann and I think it is so funny to write in LOL cats language -- we've never discussed it -- but we do, and it sure dresses up a news item like this one. The American Historical Association has two grant deadlines coming up: the J. Franklin Jameson Fellowship in American History, co-sponsored " by the AHA and the Library of Congress. It is awarded annually "to support significant scholarly research in the collections of the Library of Congress by scholars at an early stage in their careers in history. PH.D. degree or equivalent required." The Jameson, of which your favorite Radical is an alum (lesson? Classy grad school credentials not required) has a March 1 deadline. On March 15 space history weenies will want to have filed for the Fellowship In Aerospace History, "supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), annually funds one or more research projects for six months to one year. Proposals of advanced research in history related to all aspects of aerospace, from the earliest human interest in flight to the present, are eligible, including cultural and intellectual history, economic history, history of law and public policy, and history of science, engineering, and management." Up, up and away, as Astroboy used to say.

Here's a hint, Junior Historians Guild: small grants like this are not only good for pushing your work forward and signaling to your colleagues that you are serious about your research agenda, they establish what is called a "grant record," which then pushes you up the food chain for bigger, more prestigious grants.

Conference Deadlines Redux: Please note another change in the Berkshire Conference sidebar -- we at Tenured Radical are in receipt of an extended deadline of March 19 2010. Go here for the call. Having trouble getting the panel together? Ask one of the thematic sub-chairs for help, or join H-Women and troll for conference buddies in the listserve like so many other people are doing.

"I was Gonna Go To Barbados, But The Job Market Tanked": Got no plans for spring break? Why not toodle up to Harvard for the 10th annual Graduate Student Conference, "International Society and Its Discontents", March 12-13 2010? It looks like a superb conference, and even if Cambridge (like almost every other college town) has lost most of its independent bookstores, it's still one of the premier academic theme parks in the country. So drift on up, listen to some panels, meet your future colleagues, suck a little air and you will come home smarter. Guaranteed. And if it's like the graduate student conferences I remember, there will be a ton of couch surfing, so don't be shy -- tell the organizers you have no place to stay and I bet they will help you.


K said...

James Anderson is protected from prosecution and/or testifying through a little thing called spousal privilege. He can volunteer his knowledge, but he can't be compelled to testify against his wife. This pisses me off for two reasons: one, he knows more than he's admitting publically but noone will ever get it out of him, and two, I don't get such a privilege. Oh marriage.
He could still be held liable in a wrongful death suit, however, if the families of the murdered can build a decent case that he knew something was up and did nothing to stop it. For example acquiring a random gun and a sudden interest in target practice. Or lying to the media about her tenure situation. Civil suits require a lot less evidence than criminal cases. I'm not a lawyer and the law student I know was completely unhelpful, but if Law and Order is correct, James Anderson could be held civilally liable, just not criminally liable.

Tenured Radical said...

Anderson is not protected by his marital status from prosecution as an accessory to murder: you should check with your resident attorney, but I'm pretty sure of that.

Look at it this way: as with many things marriage-related, what we queers lose on the swings we gain on the roundabout, as the Mother of The Radical (MOTheR) used to say. If your partner goes postal (goddess forbid), and is the object of a civil suit, you are not legally liable for his attorney's fees or the eventual settlement as married heterosexualists are.

Historiann said...

Lolz mak everywunz feel so good! (And so smrt, if dey cn reed what a lolcat sayz!) U no? It's like a seecrit.

(And, as you note--it's a little blogger trick that implies that the item in question is funnier or more interesting or more pathetic than it probably is.)

Man, that herpes bomb kind of freaked me out when I read about it this morning. But, it might buy some people some cover with their partners or spouses: "I swear, I didn't do anything! It must have been a herpes bomb!"

Miss Trudy said...

From the start, when I read the first articles in The Chronicle of Higher Ed, I was thinking "But didn't the husband think it was off that she had suddenly gotten a gun and was practicing at the range?" I mean, I would think it strange, would you? However, maybe he didn't because she reportedly came from a family who liked to do that as a hobby ... all I know is that if I had shot a loved one to death truly by accident, I am sure I would steer clear away from firearms for the rest of my natural life. A lot of things are strange there. For example, if she was the major breadwinner, and he knew something was up, why would he allow her to go ahead and destroy their lives--and their kids lives--like this? Unless he, too, is crazy. Yet the authorities do seem to be cutting the man some serious slack there. And she may believe that if she acts crazy, she will get away with murder. Again. Oh well, the sad juicy saga shall continue for days ahead, I'm sure. BTW, I really enjoy your blog!

Anonymous said...

Re: The Second Amendment issue - The four police officers murdered in Washington state last November were all armed and well trained in using their firearms. They still died. The shooting at Fort Hood took place on a military base where its residents would have had ample access to weapons. Several people still died.
Unless one is ready to be loaded and cocked 24/7 - which in itself presents problems - there is no way carrying a firearm is routinely going to prevent people from being shot by another person with a gun.