Tuesday, March 03, 2015


Here's a story that got lost because of all the attention paid to Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu today: a New York Times assessment of Craig Stephen Hicks, the man who's charged with killing a young Muslim couple and the wife's sister last month in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Two possible motives have been discussed, as I'm sure you know:
... in the absence of hard facts about Mr. Hicks’s motives, two competing narratives have emerged. The first, which spread almost instantly around the world on social media, was that the shootings were an anti-Muslim hate crime.

Mr. Hicks’s wife, Karen Haggerty Hicks, suggested another motive. The killings, she said at a news conference the next day, had nothing to do with the victims’ faith, but were “related to a longstanding parking dispute that my husband had with the neighbors.”

But even Mrs. Hicks’s lawyer, Robert N. Maitland II, acknowledges the parking dispute theory was speculation on her part. “Here’s the thing: Nobody knows,” he said. “Why did he lose it that particular day?”
It's clear that Hicks was obsessed with parking -- or to put it another way, there's no question that Hicks use the issue of parking as an outlet for his excessive anger.
The housing association allowed residents to have improperly parked cars towed. But Mr. Hicks abused this power until the housing association asked him to stop, his wife’s lawyer said. According to a police search warrant, he kept “pictures and detailed notes on parking activity” on his computer.
And, yes, he despised religion:
There is no question Mr. Hicks had a problem with religion. His Facebook page was full of quotations and memes denigrating Christianity. On Jan. 27, he shared a graphic that may have made reference to Islam: “People say there is nothing that can solve the Middle East problem ... I say there is something. Atheism.”
So it's plausible that he took out his rage on three people who were practicing Muslims, two of whom made a show of faith by wearing hijabs.

But there's a third possible source of Hicks's anger that the Times story mentions only in passing:
On Feb. 5, Mr. Hicks got more bad news: A judge had ordered a March 19 hearing over $14,189.54 in unpaid child support to his first wife, according to court records.
That was five days before the shootings.

Here's a rage junkie who, we're reminded, was not like many of his neighbors, including the victims:
The contrast between the paunchy, balding Mr. Hicks and the rest of the complex’s residents was stark. Many were aspiring professionals and academics at a premier public university. Mr. Hicks was unemployed, taking night classes at a community college in hopes of becoming a paralegal.
He was angry because the victims were religious, and he was angry because, in his parking-obsessed brain, they were parking scofflaws. But I think he was also angry because his own economic failings had put him in the hole for a five-figure sum after of a first marriage that, according to the Times story, was "disastrous" (we're not really told why). He failed at being married when he was young, and it left him in debt, and I think that helped make him angry, and was one of several reasons he lashed out at two young newlyweds and the wife's sister.

I'm not trying to downplay bigotry as a motive. I just think he'd cooked up a huge stew of resentment, with several ingredients, and the pot boiled over.


aimai said...

Oh yes. i agree. The guy was a stew of resentment against yuppies, women, newlyweds, professionals. He was definitely on the way down economically and socially and, as you say, the financial judgment on behalf of his children must have been a last straw. He'd been stalking around for years with that gun in his belt looking for an excuse to use it.

Ken_L said...

The word 'deranged' gets thrown around so often its proper meaning gets overlooked. It's 'behaving in an uncontrolled or dangerous way because of mental illness'. Looking for rational motives is a mistake, because there weren't any.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Nothing says this was a hate crime and everything says it wasn't. The left, looking for another white poster-boy of hate, is disappointed.

Victor said...

Hell, for all we know, he was watching an old 70's cop show, and saw Kojack pull his car into a No Parking Zone in front of a suspect's house, and lost it.

The guy was a powder-keg with a very short fuse.

Victor said...

Hell, for all we know, he was watching an old 70's cop show, and saw Kojack pull his car into a No Parking Zone in front of a suspect's house, and lost it.

The guy was a powder-keg with a very short fuse.

aimai said...

Is "the left" the one's who are arguing that it was definitively an anti muslim hate crime? I haven't seen that. Most of the reports I've seen and the commentary too presumes he's just an ordinary gun nut/asshole/angry white male stuck in a declining social position, with heavy child support payments, and a chip on his shoulder about parking. This is so garden variety american that it doesn't rise to the level of needing any explanation at all. He's no different than the 101 other older white males who go strapped every day, looking for a reason to display their penis extenders to someone they want to frighten or hurt. Sometimes its women or minorities but quite often its other white people.

The only people who are insisting this is specifically anti-muslim is the muslim community (not "the left") and they are entitled to have their own opinion about it since they are on the receiving end of discrimination in this country. They may be wrong about this guy but they are probably not often wrong.

Robert said...

Philo's right. This guy was just pissed about how shitty his life was turning out, so, like a Tea Partier, he decided to hold those who hadn't caused it accountable.