|Edmund C. McGarity|
When Mike McGarity became our new next-door neighbor in December 1998, my wife and I only needed a few encounters with him to have this burning question: "Where in the hell did this guy come from?"
Having lived in Alabama for 30-plus years, I've gotten used to Southern accents and even have come to find some of them charming. But McGarity has the kind of backwoodsy accent that makes the flesh crawl. For example, a dog is a "dogue" (rhymes with rogue). Between his voice, belligerence, and intellectual shallowness, McGarity appeared to be the sort who was raised in the sticks, perhaps by wolves. (In retrospect, we owe a sincere apology to wolves--and people in the sticks.)
Imagine our surprise when we learned that McGarity grew up not in moonshine country but in the fashionable Birmingham suburb of Homewood, complete with its "excellent schools" that real-estate agents love to tout. And McGarity's father, Edmund C. McGarity, was not a bootlegger but a business executive, one with multiple academic degrees.
Heck, Mike McGarity and his siblings grew up in privilege compared to Mrs. Schnauzer and me. She's the child of a steelworker and a stay-at-home mom. I'm the child of a postal clerk and a nurse (who was a stay-at-home mom for most of my upbringing).
So why did all four of the McGarity boys wind up with criminal records? And why did one of them, Mike McGarity, prove to be by far the most difficult jackass Mrs. Schnauzer and I have ever encountered? Why did the McGarity household seemingly fail to turn out one decent human being among its males? (Nancy McGarity Lawrence, the youngest and the one girl among five children, turned out OK, best I can tell from a check of public records.) Did the parents' divorce, in 1973, cause severe psychological wreckage?
The McGarity "men" clearly did not turn out well--two of them died young--even though they had advantages that many of us never have. Edmund C. McGarity recently died, and here is part of his obituary. He obviously was not a stupid or unaccomplished guy:
Mr. McGarity graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. degree in Business Administration in 1951 where he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, Delta Sigma Pi and Phi Kappa Phi. He received his law degree from Jones Law School, Montgomery, AL, in 1964. He worked with U.S. Pipe and Foundry Company, Birmingham, AL from 1953 to 1975 serving as controller (1965-68), Vice President (1968-75) and Vice President/Treasurer/Administrator (1970-75.) After that he worked with U.S. Home Corp., Clearwater, Fla. 1976-1990. He was employed by Dr. Michael Vitkin from 1990 to 2011 as Vice President/Controller.
This guy was vice president of a major Birmingham corporation, with a law degree, and all four of his sons have rap sheets of varying severity? How does that happen? And why did one of his dysfunctional brats wind up living next to us?
Edmund McGarity initiated a divorce action against his first wife, Lenora T. McGarity, and it was finalized in 1973, splitting up a family of five children (ages 11-20 at the time). Is divorce that traumatic? Is it the simple answer for why the McGarity "men" turned out the way they did?
We have been known to dabble in dime-store psychology, and my guess is that the McGarity household was screwed up long before the divorce action commenced. We have written several times about sociopathy and it's growing prevalence in American society. What exactly is sociopathy? It's a form of personality disorder that is resistant to medication and therapy. Here is how we have described it, based on our reading of works by Robert Hare, a leading expert in the field:
Antisocial personality disorder, also called sociopathy or psychopathy, basically refers to a lack of empathy for the rights and feelings of other people. It is notoriously difficult to treat, partly because those who have it almost never acknowledge that they have a problem. It's the people around them--family members, neighbors, coworkers--who suffer.
I'm not qualified, of course, to diagnose a complex psychiatric disorder. But when I look at the McGarity family history, and consider the words "lack of empathy for the rights and feelings of other people" . . . well, it gives me serious pause.
We already have provided a summary of Mike McGarity's criminal history. Here are summaries of his brothers' criminal records, from Birmingham Municipal Court records. Keep in mind that these are only from one jurisdiction, in a low-level court. It does not include possible violations of statewide laws in Alabama, or in other states. And it does not include possible violations in other municipalities.
Our sample size might be small, but here in black and white is more evidence of the troubled environment that produced our toxic neighbor:
Marshall McGarity Criminal Record
Alan McGarity Criminal Record
William McGarity Criminal Record