Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joseph Stack; A Troubled Man and A Tragic Demise

A few hours after hearing the news about a plane crashing into a building in Austin TX, apparently piloted by Joseph Stack in an act of vengeance, I felt as if there was an epidemic of homicidal craziness striking out in all areas of the country. At the University of Alabama- Huntville last Friday Professor Amy Bishop allegedly shot and killed three colleagues and wounded several others in a dispute involving tenure. Today in New Jersey Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem pleaded not guilty to charges of throwing his two year old daughter off of a bridge into the icy waters below after snatching the baby after a rift with the child's mother.

I listened to the news in Austin this afternoon as it broke...and I heard the bits and pieces come in about the crash; that there was an IRS Office in the building, and the question came immediately- was there a connection ? Was this an accident or was it a deliberate act of violence.

After more information came in, and we found out more about the pilot, Joseph Stack, we began to get a glimpse of a once promising life that fell out of control. Stack was an engineer who believed his life was destroyed by the Internal Revenue Service. Before setting his home on fire and setting foot in the plane Stack wrote a rambling six page suicide note that aired his grievances against the wealthy, organized religion- in particular the Roman Catholic Church, Former President George W. Bush, and above all, the IRS.

I printed out his letter...after two pages of reading it became nearly incomprehensible, and more angry and paranoid with its Big Brother references. But even though Stack was angry at the government and its operation, he didn't seem to adhere to a specific political ideology. That fact seemed to stand out- he had no agenda other than revenge.

His solution to his problems was to burn down his house, and fly a plane into IRS offices to take out as many people as he could. Fortunately, there were no fatalities as of this writing, though two people are in critical condition and one person is unaccounted for.

Was this an act of terrorism? Some will say no. But to paraphrase what a commentator on CNN said today- had this event taken place in Baghdad instead of Austin we'd be calling Joseph Stack a suicide bomber.

And that's what this writer shall call him- a sad, twisted, angry domestic terrorist who's solutions to a troubled world included doing his best to make it just a little bit worse.

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