The abberrant normalcy of Erin Andrews's accused stalker: not actually abberrant | Bleader

Monday, October 5, 2009

The abberrant normalcy of Erin Andrews's accused stalker: not actually abberrant

Posted By on 10.05.09 at 06:49 PM

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Jezebel has an interesting post on Michael David Barrett, the accused stalker of Erin Andrews, who turns out to be a well-off dude from Westmont:

"Two related misconceptions are at play in almost every story of this kind, in which journalists happily quote a variety of friends and acquaintances on a criminal suspect's supposed normalcy. One is the idea that stalkers (or murderers, or rapists) actually look and act totally creepy all the time, and it's a complete shock when one of them also has a job or a house. The other seems opposite but is actually related — the idea (handily dismantled in Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear) that crimes like Erin Andrews's stalking cannot be prevented. If we assume that all stalkers are raving lunatics who foam at the mouth every time they see a woman (or, relatedly, that they are all poor, or homeless, or people of color, or otherwise outside the white middle-class norm), then of course we'll be surprised when a mild-mannered insurance company employee like Barrett is accused. But we're also likely to miss the real warning signs of stalking and violence against women."

I'm not entirely sure I agree. On one hand, yeah. On the other hand, doesn't an article about how a mild-mannered, employed, not-creepy-acting accused stalker highlight the fact that such unassuming folk have the full possibility of being creepy stalkers and that one shouldn't dismiss the possibility? Honestly, I don't know.

If there's a problem, I suspect it's that the story's too fresh to account for any real warning signs the accused stalker might have given off - if the police have the right guy, I have no doubt that they'll out, just as they did with George Sodini. Perhaps the solution is to just say that a dude is accused of doing a thing until there's much more information out there, but I'm just not entirely convinced that a stereotype is being pushed so much as one is being acknowledged.

On the other hand, in re this...

"His neighbors in Westmont said Sunday they were surprised by his arrest. Barrett kept his yard manicured, played golf and enjoyed cooking on a gas grill on a patio behind his $300,000 suburban Chicago town house."

... commenter pesematology has a point:

"Cooking for yourself is evidence of exceptional mental normalcy? I thought it was something you do if you're hungry."

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