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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Huntsville-Madison. You Ain't in the Promised Land.

Holy crap. One week to the day after a fatal shooting at a local middle school and some whacko neuroscience professor at the UAH campus shoots up a department meeting because she was denied tenure. Interviews so far indicate she was one of those loony professors we've all had for one class or another - the ones who appear to know the material but cannot teach it. I've always wondered why they bother putting those people in classrooms, but at least this one didn't flip out and kill a bunch of students. Just three fellow professors. She also wounded three others (one of whom was described as being a "staff member" which I suppose could include a secretary, janitor, or some other position).

In case you didn't catch the subtle pronoun cue above, the professor here was a female. A Harvard-educated one, at that. What are they teaching these Ivy League-ers? (Some guy at Yale flipped out and killed a fellow grad student there not that long ago. . . ) Can't really blame the parents here. These are full-grown adults we're talking about. Which makes me wonder how many kids running around today are just powder kegs waiting to explode years down the road.

I guess this didn't take me completely by surprise. This place has a very weird aura. Plenty of great people - don't get me wrong. But, we picked up a very strange Stepford Wives vibe last year at the local ball park. Many people around here seem to feel they are somehow better than everyone else simply because they're here. Never mind that everyone else around here is also here. They're out to prove their worth by building larger, nicer homes and pretending that their kids are all superior. I'm thinking this professor - for no apparent reason - felt sure that she was going to get tenure and probably made some financial decisions based on that expectation. Perhaps she had signed papers to buy one of the many houses for sale locally with prices "from the $500,000s." When she didn't get tenure, she cracked. At least she won't be needing a house for a while.

They're saying that when she was arrested she was clearly in denial that she had killed anyone. She yelled something like, "It didn't happen. They're still alive." As though somebody else staged a mass killing to frame her or something? Nice set-up for an insanity defense, there. If her attorney doesn't claim that she had a psychotic break, I'll be absolutely flummoxed.

But, wait. This woman clearly showed up at a faculty meeting WITH A GUN. Was she expecting the meeting to be ambushed by 9th-grade-wannabe-Crips? Why did she have a gun? There's no place in this town where I feel like I need to carry a gun to protect myself. Well, until recently there wasn't. Now I feel like I should pack at least a .380 any time I'm near an educational institution around here.

This could just be the beginning of the end of a huge facade. There seems to be a silent consensus that this area is some kind of secret Eden where the schools are drug and gang free, we have no crime, everyone makes a gazillion dollars a year, and the streets are paved with gold. That, of course, helps sell houses "from the $500,000s." Within two years, I had already started to see through this. My son spent the better part of 2d Grade practicing the standardized EOG tests. No wonder the schools around here score well on them. They cheat! Now I'm wondering how much of a gang problem the schools have been hiding and covering up. I'm wondering how many meth labs there are IN this county; we always read about the ones in Guntersville but never seem to hear of anything happening right here - just 30 miles north.

There is one twist that I'll be curious to watch develop. Apparently they're also considering this woman's husband a "person of interest." Why? Did she just bring a gun to scare someone? Did her hubby snipe the victims with real bullets from afar while she believed she was shooting blanks? That would have to be the stupidest plan ever, but I think we've all known geniuses who couldn't change their own oil.

Stay tuned. No, really. Stay tuned. It's only been a week and I've already noticed a significant decline in the number of people commenting on the Discovery MS stories. Give it two months and there's a good chance the whole episode will just sort of go away. . .

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