Sociology professor shoots himself to 'protest Trump'

Trump Derangement Syndrome is now a public health issue, with sufferers of this new form of mass hysteria manifesting a danger to society with violent aggression and extreme self-destructive behavior.  Yesterday, we noted the alleged attempted assassination of GOP congressional candidate Rudy Peters by a man named Farzad Fazeli, who behaved in a deranged manner with an inept and disorganized assassination attempt:

According to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, 35-year old Castro Valley resident Farzad Fazeli walked past Peters info booth making disparaging and profanity laden political remarks about Donald Trump.  Fazeli then became aggressive and reached for a concealed switchblade to stab Peters while making threats.

Now, details are emerging about sociology professor emeritus Mark J. Bird, who shot himself on August 28 in a bathroom at the College of Southern Nevada, on the first day of class at that community college.  Rio Lacanlale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal revealed that Professor Bird:

... was charged last month with discharging a gun within a prohibited structure, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possessing a dangerous weapon on school property, court records show.  He was found bleeding from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his arm about 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 28 outside a bathroom in the Charleston campus K building.

Charleston Campus of the College of Southern Nevada (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons).

Inside the bathroom, campus police found a $100 bill taped to a mirror along with a note that said, "For the janitor," according to Bird's arrest report.  On the floor of the restroom was a black-and-white, .22-caliber pistol and one spent shell casing. ...

A 911 call was made after several CSN employees and at least one student saw Bird stumble out of the bathroom, bleeding, before he collapsed, the report said.  None of the witnesses – who later told police they only recalled hearing "a loud noise" – initially knew Bird was armed and had shot himself, according to the report.

One college employee told police that he held Bird's hand to calm him down as others tried to stop the bleeding.  While waiting for authorities to arrive, Bird said he had shot himself in protest of President Donald Trump, police noted in their report.  The report did not elaborate.

The hundred-dollar bill, apparently some sort of solatium for the poor janitor who would be forced to clean up the mess, is an interesting touch.  It suggests that Bird may have intended suicide, because if he intended to merely shoot himself in the arm, he would survive and be able to pass the money along to the working-class victim himself.

Protest suicides have a long history, but they usually require that the suicide take place in public.  The Buddhist monks who doused themselves in gasoline and burned themselves alive to protest the Diem regime in South Vietnam during the 1960s received worldwide attention because they did so with advance notice to the media.

Thích Quảng Đức burned himself to death at a busy Saigon intersection, June 11, 1963 and made a global sensation (photo credit: Malcolm Brown via Wikipedia).

So far as we know, Professor Bird did not leave a note explaining his self-destructive act, which implies that he did not intend to kill himself, since he would have to explain himself afterward in order to make any sort of point.  We can conjecture that the act was not a sudden impulse that overtook him because, unless he customarily violated campus policy and the law by carrying a concealed weapon, he planned the act in advance and armed himself.

But that makes no sense at all.  If not a public act of protest, what was the point?

It certainly looks like the actions of a deranged man, not thinking clearly, which makes a tentative diagnosis of TDS all the more supportable.

Professor Bird, it should be noted, was an emeritus professor at the age of 69.  This usually means that he has been removed from teaching duties but retains access to the library system and other support activities.  It is normally a sign that a professor has been put out to pasture and is being treated with courtesy and honor now that his services are no longer needed.  Was Professor Bird already in despair at the end of his academic career and blaming Trump for all his troubles?

It should also be noted that sociology has been in a decline in enrollments since the 1980s, with some sociology departments closing on campuses.  I don't have any data about the College of Southern Nevada, but I wonder if the future of his discipline there might have been another stress factor for Professor Bird. 

Professor Bird will appear in court for a preliminary hearing next Monday.  We may learn more then, especially if he pleads temporary insanity for the felony charges he will face.

Psychiatry and psychology, like sociology, have become hopelessly politicized and are unlikely to ever place TDS in the category of a recognized psychological ailment.  So we can expect the problem to grow.  Let's hope self-destruction, not aggression toward others, predominates, so at least the harm can be contained and not endanger innocents.

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