The New York Times’ front page profile on Saturday of professor Amy Bishop, who allegedly executed three University of Alabama Biology Department colleagues after being denied tenure, appears to be an exhaustively reported piece based on “numerous interviews with colleagues and others who knew her.” It portrays Bishop as violent and unpredictable, rejected by Harvard because of mediocre work and shunned by a series of neighbors and co-workers scared off by the suppressed rage that kept bubbling up to the surfaces of her social life, and also someone who may already have gotten away with the murder of her brother years earlier possibly because of her mother’s political connections in her home town of Braintree, Mass.
“Between brilliance and rage” is the caption of the photo of Bishop used by the Times for the story, although the piece makes no case for the former. But is this all the news that is fit to print about the perpetrator of this murder spree in academe? What about the “family source” who told the Boston Herald that Bishop was,
What about the student who called her a “socialist”? What about one report that Bishop complained about a rule issued by University of Alabama administrators regarding underclassmen living on campus because she believed it was destructive of “diversity.” And what about the crowning irony of this case, whether or not she made this complaint: that two of the colleagues she allegedly killed were black and one was South Asian, and that Bishop thus wiped out the 14 person Biology department’s entire diversity in one burst of gunfire?
Considering the politics of Bishop’s ressentiment might have helped fill out the Times’ portrait of a psychopathic time bomb who had already gone off several times in her disordered life on her way to the Big Explosion on February 12 in Huntsville. There is no doubt, as the blogosphere has already noted, that the paper would have pursued even the vaguest hint that Bishop had been a fan of Glenn Beck or was a Tea Party fellow traveler as a major story line. For the Grey Lady, only the politics of the Right is personal.