The murder of three University of Alabama at Huntsville biology professors last Friday (and the attempted murder of three other individuals) is a clear tragedy. It is especially difficult for those of us in the academy who can very easily identify with what it might be like to be sitting in a small room filled with colleagues to then be confronted with the surprising and terrifying sight of one of those colleagues producing, and then firing, a gun.
As I explained at my site the other day, while I teach in the state of Alabama, I am not affiliated with UAH. Still, the events are such that enhance my empathy for the victims, their families and the broader university community because of my profession, my state of residence, and my past interaction with UAH faculty at professional functions.
One of the troubling aspects of this story (to me, anyway) is that some have sought to make cheap political points out of the situation (see here and here for a discussion). Really, there has not been presented, to date, any political motive for these killings. Indeed, the only place to this point that politics appears relevant, is the fact that Bishop was involved in the slaying of her brother in 1986 and the then-DA is currently a member of Congress. Certainly one could see the question of whether the 1986 case was handled properly might be raised in a re-election campaign (although it would appear that the person in question has already decided to retire).
However, the attempt by some to either make political sport out of the event, or to use it rectify what they see as bad behavior by the media in other shootings/events (see some of the comments here, and really a lot of places in the Blogosphere where this is being discussed or this post at the Washington Examiner), really is disturbing.