Working on bioweaponry dangerous for mental health

The NY Times on the poor suspects in the anthrax mailings whose lives were messed up by FBI harassment made me curious.

I can believe the FBI were jerks. But to blame these scientists’ death on the FBI seems unscientific. First we’d have to look at a control group of scientists working for the Dept of Defense on biological weapons and see how many of them commit suicide and drink themselves to death. Doesn’t it occur to anyone that these folks’ consciences might not be easy?

Salon, in Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News, links to Ivins’ letters to the editor over the years. His letters pushed some of my hot buttons – he sounds like a fundamentalist Christian, the sort of person who sits around arguing if “homosexuals” are “born gay” and writes letters to the editor about how the laws of the United States should “reflect the Gospels”. But then he denounces racism and sexism on the radio, and tries to make an ethical argument about abortion and assisted suicide, saying that religious (or ethical) beliefs lead sometimes to good, like the abolishment of slavery, so that we shouldn’t dismiss anti-abortion activists as trying to impose their religion on others.

His brother thinks he’s a fanatic… “However, Tom Ivins, who last spoke to his brother in 1985, said, “It makes sense … he considered himself like a god”. Hmmm. He was minorly obsessed with a sorority, KKG. He was medicated for episodes of paranoia, way before 2001. this article calls him “a man obsessed with a sorority that he first encountered while an undergraduate, asserting in an e-mail message that the women’s group was waging a “fatwah” against him.”

My knee jerk reaction is actually to figure he is a religious fanatic and anti-Islam and quite likely to crack and go postal. But, I realize that is my own assumptions about a) people who would work for the government making biological weapons b) extreme right wing religious people who want their religion to set and control the law. How can that possibly be a good combination – religious fervor, psychotic paranoia, and secret powerful military research? You might as well hire a bunch of mad-eyed bomb-throwing anarchist revolutionaries (like me) to guard your anthrax vaccine. What the hell, government people? Unless you are actually Robert Koch, I don’t want you messing around with anthrax at all. But if you really must hire someone how about sticking to people who are relatively sane?

One Response to “Working on bioweaponry dangerous for mental health”

  1. Daisy

    Scary, isn’t it? And they didn’t find him, or at least confirm their case, until now.
    I just hope he didn’t leave any clones behind in the department.

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