Friday, February 19, 2010

Who Are These People?

Apparently one of them shopped for groceries in my neighborhood.  And lived in a big suburban house like mine.  And played in a band like many of my friends do.  And flew his own plane like lots of people my age wish they could do.  It does not take much imagination to conjure up Joe Stack, the upper-middle class American who seems to have intentionally flown a Piper Cherokee into an office building five miles from my house yesterday morning.

  Joseph  Stack

 In addition to killing himself, it appears he killed one other person.  Another neighbor who lives in another nearby suburb who apparently enjoyed his work, loved his large family, and rode to the office with his wife every morning.

 Vernon Hunter

So, there was no need to research the annual GDP, or the literacy rate, or the availability of water in a poverty riddled nation to try to understand the angst of the Austin Suicide Bomber.  He could not have been more like one of us.  If I'd written his character into a ficticious story, I'm betting many readers of the tale would have told me the character just wasn't believable.  And, really, he wasn't.

He had the wife, the family, the house, the plane, the education, the independence, and the opportunity that frames the American Dream.  But he also had an important bolt missing from his brain - the one that holds back the kind of rationale that advances the theory:  "Nothing changes unless there is a body count."

The change Joe Stack believed required a body count was tax reform. I'm not sure where to turn for information that would help me understand Joe Stack - a man from my neighborhood and my income bracket with my unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

But Joe Stack is not the only unbelievable character in this story. 

Meet Tyler Britten of Texas.

 Tyler Britten
According to the New York Daily News, Tyler was quick to join a "Joe Stack Fan Club" on Facebook yesterday afternoon, a few hours before Facebook removed it. Tyler reportedly posted this comment at the site:  "His sacrifice was for all of us." 

Throw on Emily Waters of Louisville, Kentucky who wrote: Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the Constitution.

Stir in Greg Lenihan of San Diego who tweeted: "Joe Stack, you are a true American Hero and we need more of you to make a stand."

Who ARE these people?

My friend Jane sent me an email last night, puzzling over that very question.  I liked her conclusion: "Can you say Taliban?" 



Anonymous said...

I recommend a 1993 movie "Falling Down" with Michael Douglas about a regular guy who went around the bend one fateful day. In the end his character, Bill, has an exchange with a cop there to take him in.

Bill Foster: I'm the bad guy?
Sergeant Prendergast: Yeah.
Bill Foster: How did that happen?

I am hearing that lots of people are at least sympathetic with Joe Stack...just as audiences were sympathetic with Bill. But while the movie set Bill against the antagonists who bug all of us, Joe killed Vernon.

We do interesting moral algebra when we attempt to identify the measure of injustice that is needed to justify violent retribution. For Joe it all added up. But had he considered Vernon? Maybe he did. And while it is clear that Vernon did not volunteer for this, we at least have proof positive that Joe treated Vernon and himself equally.

We choose violent retribution over and over, knowing there will be innocent casualties, without the slightest intent to commit ourselves personally to die with them...or even be inconvenienced, for that matter.

In the bizarre moral algebra of violence, maybe that at least puts Joe ahead of the rest of us.

- DC

gay said...

Anonymous said, "we at least have proof positive that Joe treated Vernon and himself equally". I say Really anonymous, Really? Joe chose but Vernon did not, how is that equal?

Who are these people? You couldn't have said it better!