Back to previous post: Moderation isn’t rocket science

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Wh1te Pr1de Virginia Tech autoposting

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

April 17, 2007

Christopher J. Bishop
Posted by Teresa at 02:59 PM * 36 comments

Via Tom Barclay, who heard it from Sheila Finch and posted it in the current open thread: one of the dead in the Virginia Tech shootings was Christopher J. (Jamie) Bishop, Michael Bishop’s son. From the LA TImes:

Personable’ professor among shooting victims
By Greg Miller, Times Staff Writer
8:43 PM PDT, April 16, 2007

WASHINGTON — Monday’s session of the class in introductory German was nearly an hour old when the shooter entered the classroom in Norris Hall and fired dozens of rounds.

One of the first was aimed at the head of the teacher, Christopher J. Bishop, who wore his hair long, rode his bike to campus and worked alongside his wife in the foreign languages department at Virginia Tech.

Authorities had not publicly identified any victims as of late Monday, but colleagues confirmed that Bishop, 35, was among the 33, including the shooter, killed during the rampage.

His friends said they were struggling to comprehend the violent death of an instructor who was known for his gentle manner and generosity toward students.

“I don’t think he was the type of person who had an enemy,” said Troy Paddock, a close friend whose wife also teaches in the German program. “He was a very friendly person. He did weekly gatherings for students out of class to practice German where they could talk about anything. He was a nice and helpful person.”

There’s more of the LATimes’ story in Tom Barclay’s comment.
Comments on Christopher J. Bishop:
#1 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 03:33 PM:

Seeing the effects here at University of Oklahoma already -- immediate response yesterday was 24-hour lockdown of the dorms for the rest of the semester, entry with swipe card only, and today we had a campus-wide lockdown because someone got panicked over a guy carrying either an umbrella or a rolled-up yoga mat (both stories have come out in official emails). Nobody allowed to leave campus buildings, and some inital confusion over whether to let anyone in (it was decided yes, with ID only). Considering the shooter was a student, this wouldn't do too much good, really...

Campuses are going to be panicky for a while, and this will be right on top of the usual lead-up-to-finals craziness.

#2 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Wow--people unclear on the limits of the acceptable at 12 o'clock. What sort of noxious vulture sees a post of group mourning as a place to post a link to white-supremacist drooling?!

I'd read this earlier via Elizabeth Bear--it's unkind, but somehow tragedy becomes more real when it gets brought to the individual level. It's no longer faceless numbers. I'm saying it clumsily, but I'm grieving for them all.

#3 ::: alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 03:59 PM:

oops. White supremacist post efficiently removed. No offense to Janet intended.

#4 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 04:11 PM:

I didn't know Jamie, but Mike Bishop is one of the nicest men in the sf field (many happy memories of being a guest with him at Orycon long ago), and it's unbearable to think of him and Jeri taking such a blow. I've been hoping for hours that the early report would somehow be all wrong. Alas. Damn.

#5 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 04:27 PM:

Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Oh, damn. Went to Mass this morning, and we prayed for them all: the dead, the wounded, the families, the shooter...

Thank you for letting us know.

#6 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 04:40 PM:

I didn't know Jamie or Mike, but my sympathies to those who do. My opinion of white supremacists has just sunk even lower.
James Nicoll's livejournal has some more links confirming the death.

#7 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 05:24 PM:

The sense of tragedy is only heightened when you read James Bishop's website, watch his art portfolio and read about his projects.

His page "Projects >> Academe" ends with these words: "Then I just need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up."

I'm so sorry. Condoleances to Michael Bishop and his family.

#8 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 05:31 PM:

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.

Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

#9 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Condolences to all his friends and family. To everyone's friends and family.

How do you embrace a whole campus? Because I wish I could.

I find myself oddly reluctant to think about things like the underlying causes, how this will flare up the same old, same old arguments about certain hotshot topics, and bring up more idiots crawling out of the woodwork a la the unwelcome visitor earlier on this thread.

U. of Maryland flagship campus response has been sane---no weirdly increased security, calm and dignified message to the campus community from the President asking for a moment of silence (which did mention how safety of the community was the University's highest priority, but nothing pointing to the sort of response Janet mentions at #1).

#10 ::: Maggie Brinkley ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 06:25 PM:

Even before I heard about this I grieved for the people who had lost friends and families. Having read Mr Bishop's books, I feel even worse about this dreadful affair. My thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the families of everyone touched by this tragedy.

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 06:41 PM:

Rest his soul.

#12 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 07:16 PM:

If I were a believer, I would pray. As it is, I can only offer my heartfelt condolences to Michael Bishop and his extended family.

#13 ::: suzanne moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 07:27 PM:

How do you embrace a whole campus?

Exactly like this. By writing, thinking, praying, sending good thoughts. By remembering, and encouraging others to remember. By driving the bad, arrogant, and heartless people away while we mourn.

By reminding us that we're not going to be left alone in our grief. Our arch-rivals - University of Virgina - declared it Hokie day and most of the campus wore /our/ colors of marroon and orange.

Suzanne - alumni

#14 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 07:40 PM:

I didn't know this would hit so close to home. Huge amounts of condolence to Mike and Jeri.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 07:46 PM:

I said this on thread #83, but I'll say it again... My condolences to Michael Bishop's family.

#16 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 08:05 PM:

I regret that I never knew him. My condolences to the Bishop family for their great loss.

#17 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 10:26 PM:

Thank you, James for that bit of scripture.

I feel so badly for everyone, and my prayers are for all their families to find peace with it. This is Truly Aweful.

Schools are supposed to be a safe place. Parents aren't supposed to be burying their children.

As I got into the car today NPR was all on the story(again), I just started crying (again) (then I'm pretty good at crying and driving attentively, I learned while papa was dying...)

#18 ::: Will A ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 11:03 PM:

Collective hugs, and mingled tears.

#19 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2007, 11:36 PM:

Christ, poor Michael. I don't know what to say. This is just awful. Evil is so goddamned banal.

#20 ::: Tilt ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 12:28 AM:

I just found out about Jamie a little while ago. My wife and I knew him and his wife when we all lived in Carrboro, NC. Steffi was part of my wife's knitting group and walked our dog for us on occasion; we all had "game night" gatherings together. I didn't know Jamie well, would have liked to know him better, but then they moved to Blacksburg.

I didn't even know his dad was an author. Turns out I have one of his books on my "to read" shelf.

My heart breaks for his wife, Steffi.

He was gentle. What happened is incomprehensible.

I'm grateful to be able to offer this memory to this community, to share grieving for all the victims, but especially for Jamie.

#21 ::: Tom Barclay ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:05 AM:

I don't think 'banal' is the right word, Corey. Evil *is* a new, fresh, raw thing when it befalls someone who is, in the literal sense, innocent.

'Diseased' is probably better. Everything they're telling us bespeaks someone who was flying laps around Paranoid Narcissist Hell for years. It's a disease that tells you you're not sick. He chose to cultivate his hate rather than ask for help.

This excuses nothing. It explains much. He made choices and commited murders.

LeGuin had it right in THE DISPOSSESSED: killers want to kill themselves, but suicides want to kill everyone else.

We're all in these crosshairs.

Healing and comfort to the Bishop family. Peace and serenity to us all.

#22 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 04:05 AM:

... [weeping, and prayer for the living and the dead] ...

#23 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Mourning, anger, fear.... This morning I got an email from a friend who lives in Virginia and has teenage daughters. It read in part: When I picked [the elder daughter] up from the bus, her first question was "Am I old enough to own a gun?"

Though I'm not a believer, I'd like to be able to pray for some better end to the wonderful lives lost in that shooting -- and for brigher times in our country. (The death count in VA also makes the similar tolls from recent Baghdad suicide bombings seem all the more appalling.)

PS: I'm not trying to start a debate about gun control here. It's way too late for that. And the more I find out about Jamie Bishop, the more grief I feel for a man I never knew.

#24 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 01:27 PM:

Michael Bishop's works are well worth reading, Tilt. Not easy, and well worth it. And he himself is one of the kindest people I've had the occasion to spend time with, little though it has been. I just hope he takes the chance to read here.

And the debate about suicide would be a very different discussion, Tom Barclay. I don't think LeGuin has that one right, in one of the few times I'll passionately disagree with her.

#25 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 06:22 PM:

Barclay@21: I'd have to disagree with LeGuin on that as well, but I say that, biased and having been severely depressed enough to have had suicidal ideation myself. (Don't worry--I got therapy. I'm much better.) I never wanted to hurt anybody else, I just wanted my own pain to stop.

Re: Jamie Bishop - Even before I found out that it was Michael Bishop's son, my boyfriend and I were already saddened by the fact that it was a German class that had so many victims. (I know that sounds weird, but we're both taking German language courses, brushing up. It's an identification thing, I guess.) But then I was looking at Jamie Bishop's website and his digital art, and man, I'm just struck all over again about how much a horrible brutal waste it is. My thoughts are with his family at this time.

#26 ::: Jeff VanderMeer ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2007, 10:02 PM:

Words can't express how sad I feel about Mike and Jeri Bishop's loss. They're two of the nicest people in the universe, as was Jamie. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. It just makes me so sad.


#27 ::: Kristen Chew ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 01:03 AM:

This is so hideous. My own son's name is Jamie, and I've been holding him ever so much closer since I heard. He's only three. My deepest sorrow and thoughts to the Bishops. I can't begin to imagine their grief.

#28 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 08:53 AM:

This was sad news. I never meet his father, but reading Philip K. Dick is dead, alas had been the bright spot of the week that I had. I wish I had more to offer.

#29 ::: Kathy Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 03:10 PM:

I did know Jamie and you couldn't hope to find a nicer person. My heartfelt condolences to Stefanie and his family.

#30 ::: Charles Coleman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2007, 09:59 PM:

I worked with Jamie every day for 3 years, before he moved into the UNC language lab and then to Virginia. All of us who knew him liked and admired him so much. It's been horrible trying to deal with his murder, and I can't imagine what those closest to him must be going through.

I'd like to say that the words of support from those of you who didn't know Jamie, but who spent some time looking at his site and learning about his life, have been a great help to me at times this week.

#31 ::: Tale ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2007, 06:55 AM:

From a gallery of photos, Christopher J. (Jamie) Bishop stood out to me. I don't know why. Maybe his long hair, or maybe just some kind of affinity. I am a literary type in my 30s and I speak German as a second language. If it helps any, Christopher J. (Jamie) Bishop seems to be someone I would have really liked. I wouldn't have ever known about him if not for these events.

#32 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 03:35 AM:

Contributions may be sent to:

Jamie Bishop Scholarship (for German Majors)
Virginia Tech Foundation
University Development
902 Prices Fork Road
Blacksburg, VA 24061

A full news item on the scholarship fund can be found at:

#33 ::: April Williams ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2007, 01:02 PM:

I knew Jamie from my childhood. I couldn’t believe something like this could happen to him. My heart breaks for his family. Like the others, they didn’t deserve this.

#34 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2007, 04:27 PM:

As of this moment the funeral for Jamie Bishop has been set for 3:00 p.m. for Thursday, April 26.

Media Policy: There will be no designated areas for the press during the service. Of course, all are welcome to attend, but no recording devices of any kind will be allowed into the service. Furthermore, no interviews will be allowed on church property Thursday, April 26 following the service. This decision has been made at the family's request. Thank you for your reverance and understanding during this tragic time in the life of our community.

With a heavy heart,

Matthew Mitchell, Pastor
[The First United Methodist Church of Pine Mountain
206 McDougald Ave. North, Pine Mountain, GA 31822]

#35 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2007, 06:54 AM:

"Jeri and I would ask that you send this donation, if it's not too late to inform you of our preferred recipient, to the Jamie Bishop scholarship Fund in Graphic Arts / Advancement Office / LaGrange College / 601 Broad Street / LaGrange, GA 30240. There is another scholarship fund, this one in German, at Virginia Tech, but my feeling is that the folks in that area will take care of that one.
expressions of sympathy and support from all over have helped us......
Bless you for writing.
Michael and Jeri Bishop"

#36 ::: Clark E. Myers ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2007, 12:59 PM:

My wife Jeri and I, parents of Christopher James (Jamie) Bishop, thank every member of your society for acknowledging the sudden death of our son at Virginia Tech on April 16. He died, of course, along with thirty-one other innocent students and professors, and we grieve for them and their families as well.

Not only do we wish to thank you for sending flowers on the day of Jamie's memorial service here in Pine Mountain, but also for grieving with us and for us -- Jamie's entire family, including his widow Steffi, his sister Stephanie, his grandmothers, and several others -- in our loss of this talented, earnest, gentle, and energetic young man.

(Not to romanticize Jamie, for he would hate that, let me note that he could occasionally, if rarely, be as onery as a pitbull and as hotheaded as an umpire-baiting relief pitcher, at least with certain designated family members.)

Of course, we remain devastated by this incident, and helplessly hungry for our son, and cannot imagine our hunger ever wholly departing (nor we would want it to), but at least we are not starved for sympathy or support, and we are grateful to everyone in the Atlanta Science Fiction Society for lending us their hearts.

God bless you all for caring. And please share this message with your members.


Michael and Jeri Bishop

P.S. For more about this matter, I direct you to Thanks again.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.