Joseph Stack’s daughter is calling him a hero. Stack is the guy whose anti-government beliefs apparently prompted him to fly a small airplane into an Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, killing himself and IRS worker Vernon Hunter, and injuring 13 others.
Hunter’s family was offended at the daughter’s characterization.
“How can you call someone a hero who after he burns down his house, he gets into his plane … and flies it into a building to kill people?” Hunter’s son, Ken, said. “My dad Vernon did two tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad’s a hero.”
Flying an airplane into a building and killing indiscriminately for your own pet peeves is a psychotic and chicken-shit way to act. But I’m not surprised at the number of people applauding Stack and turning him into a folk hero.
Anti-government feelings are about as intense as I can recall in the past 40 years. Lobbyists and special interests, bought-off politicians, greedy CEOs, federal bailouts, mindless warring, high unemployment, jobs being shipped overseas, the growing separation between the rich and poor, and many other problems are inciting Americans.
Over the weekend I heard several people applauding Stack.
On Saturday, I was at a party and listened to a couple of guys praising the IRS attack.
One guy, let’s call him Ricky, had claimed his stepchildren on his tax statement six years ago. The kids lived with him and their mother at the time. He had all the school records and everything else needed to prove their residence. But his wife’s ex-husband also claimed the kids on a tax statement. The IRS contacted Ricky saying he owed back taxes and penalties for falsely claiming the kids. He called the phone number listed to appeal, and explained to an IRS worker that he had all the proof needed to justify his tax return. “This woman says, ‘Oh well then I’ll just change it.’ She was being a smart ass.” From that point on, he’s been treated like a guilty person at every turn, he said.
Six years later, he’s spent hundreds of hours and dollars trying to resolve the situation, which continues to drag on. He said the IRS has no interest in his proof of innocence. They only want his money, he said.
He compared the agency to a thug on the street, mugging fellow Americans without any fear of reprisal or oversight.
The other guy in the conversation, we’ll call him Ted, has operated a business for about 20 years. During that time, he recalled being audited three times by the IRS. Each time, the feds accused him of misrepresenting his income on his tax statement, and charged him penalties plus interest.
Each time, Ted said, the IRS was wrong. Each time he appealed the decision. And each time he won his case. But each time he also had to spend thousands of dollars defending himself against false accusations by a federal government that can do what it wants. “They were wrong every time, but I’m the one who had to pay out the nose to prove it,” he said, fuming.
Ted called Stack an American hero and said he didn’t care that IRS workers were killed or hurt because, in his mind, the workers are the ones doing the dirty work. In Ted’s eyes, they’re the terrorists, not the guy in the plane.
This story discusses the number of Facebook groups that popped up in support of Stack’s suicide/murder.
Today I’ve been looking at blog sites and comments sections on various sites. A great number of them agree with Stack’s opinions about the government, and quite a few defend his extreme action.
Here are some sample comments floating around the web:
“sign of the times… ppl are tired of it all – working their lives away to support a spending out of control government that favors big business (i.e. bailout-AIG etc). We most certainly will hear of such incidents again and again until something changes.”
“This is just the beginning of what is about to happen to this country. He is not alone with being fed up with our own government, and the stupidity that is America. I wouldn’t call him a hero only because he targeted innocent individuals who were just doing their jobs… Now take out some of the big wigs who control the IRS and then we have ourselves a hero.”
“Mr. Stack just had enough and took out his rage against his TORMENTORS, even an abused DOG will bite back in time.”
“I do not condone what Joe Stack did, but I do understand it.”
“They declared war on him….so he declared war back.”