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.”


  1. All I can say is, a guy with his own private plane who complains that the government has reduced him to poverty? That’s pretty rich.

  2. This guy did the exact same thing (on a smaller scale) to the IRS building that the 9-11 terrorists did to the WTC.

    Maybe we should declare all his supporters terrorists – and they would then be covered by the war on terrorism?

  3. So apparently some people believe that it’s okay to fly planes into government buildings as long as your skin isn’t brown.

    Guess what? Nobody likes paying taxes. Fortunately, the vast majority of the population manages not to murder anybody over it.

  4. The government has to call him “insane”
    they can’t call him a terrorist, he was educated in American Schools, he was an American Businessman, he lived an average life in an American State, he listened to American News and ate American Food. Yet he lashed out at a system that was unfair, and unchangeable as he had been taught to do by the system that educated him.

    Joe Stack worked in the system for 50 years and got nowhere and nobody cared about him. He flies a plane into the IRS and now people know who Joe Stack was and what he stood for.

    If Joe Stack, an average american guy can become a terrorist, that means anybody in the country can become a terrorist. This is to dangerous for our government – they will declare him insane. He cannot be a terrorist for that would be an indictment of the system that raised him, that schooled him, and that destroyed him.

  5. Joseph Stack is no hero. He is a criminal and a murderer. He, in no way, represents or emblemizes American ethics or morals. He was a sick man who was out of control. The most patriotic thing he ever did was to end his own life.

  6. He was an irrational insane person who was mad that defense facilities were shut down but didn’t want to pay taxes. Which is it? Pay for big defense with big taxes or don’t. American tax haters all want something for nothing, it is ridiculous.

    The guy fails to file, fails to report income and then plays victim.

    He is a sad case of a misguided nut who made himself into a murderer. He is in no way a hero.

  7. It’s as if no one learned anything from the OK city FBI bombings. I defy anyone to honestly claim that if their spouse/parent/sibling/child had been killed or injured in that IRS building, that they would be okay with Mr. Stack’s actions; that they would feel his complaint against the IRS was sufficient cause for their loved one to die. Or maybe these people who support (or understand) Mr. Stack’s actions feel that the workers in the IRS building were “individually innocent, but collectively guilty”?

  8. This is Vernon Hunter. I formerly worked for the IRS in Austin, Texas. In your blog, you’ve twice confused me with the man who killed me. I am deeply offended by your inattentiveness to my circumstances, and demand both a correction and official apology. Thank you.

  9. I don’t get why some people have so much trouble in life. I went to France and found the French to be quite pleasant.

    I had trouble paying my taxes for 5 years, and then I worked it all out with some nice IRS people over the phone. Seriously! And the guy kind of chuckled when I wanted to pay it off ten times faster than the minimum.

    I went and bought a gun at the gun show and the after the background check the guy says “It’s all a lot easier if you have a clean record, ain’t it.”

    Joe Stack was a murderous whackjob, as are all the psychopaths who support his act of murder.

  10. Joseph Stack was obviously a sick man and apparently his daughter is afflicted with the same disease. While she is grieving for her father, that was a tactless remark to make. But then again if any of us were being constantly hounded by the media in our time of grief there’s no telling what we might say either. The media also has no tact or dignity. What I find hilarious is the lengths that the media is going to in their attempts to try and link a deranged man with obvious liberal leaning to the tea party movement. Next thing they’ll be saying is the tea party has terrorist training camps in Iowa!

  11. Many wars have started for less. I can see a war on irs and the goverment. He just might be the first to end this tax and spend broken goverment.

  12. The Tea Party can publicly denounce Stack all it wants, but a majority of its treasonous members regard him as a hero. It is only a matter of time until other acts of insurrection occur. Get ready for the next civil war. It si coming.

  13. Joe Stack was 18 years old when the Viet Nam war ended in 1975. He did 2 tours? He must have entered service when he was 14. What a HERO!!!

  14. The people who are calling him a hero are no different from the people who cheered when the attacks were made on 9/11. Wait, they are different … because they’re worse for cheering that someone who could do such a thing in his OWN country.

  15. Stack was a disgruntled,paranoid,conspiracy ‘whack job’ who let things get out of control with owing taxes from failed businesses’ etc;let the stress build up instead of getting alternative means to a more safer/non-criminal end(s) to his tax problem(s). No matter what the the IRS or any other public entity is doing to you (short of torture-physically), it is NO EXCUSE to play ‘Kamikazee’ and hurt/kill innocent folks who quite possibly had nothing whatsoever to do with his current/past problem(s)…He was quite simply: a paranoid and COWARDLY CRIMINAL!

  16. Okay, so the guy who killed several women in a health club last summer is a “hero” also because he is taking a stand on behalf of all single people out there who find it hard to get a date? The Columbine shooters are “heros” because they took a stand against high school kids who are bullied? Where does the insanity stop? Society is really getting screwed up–scary.

    What Stack did was evil and cowardly, not heroic.

  17. “Joe Stack was 18 years old when the Viet Nam war ended in 1975. He did 2 tours? He must have entered service when he was 14. What a HERO!!!”

    The victim, Vernon Hunter, did the two tours, not Stack.

  18. I guess one would have to look back on history, Our founding fathers could be considered terrorist against the British tyranny, (There own Government) but they are not, they are considered to be hero’s which they are!! Now we are faced with a new tyranny, the American government. And everyone now is so passive aggressive that we will get walked on into the ground, and smile about it and never left a finger in protest Regardless of what gets taken away. At least wall street got its 20 billion in bonuses from our tax dollars and Haiti’s debt wiped clean. WTF??? At least someone had the courage to give his own life for the base of freedom against tyranny no matter how crazy it seems, He succeeded, Now people are listening. How many lives have been lost throughout history in the name of freedom from tyranny, were to busy fighting for other countries money to give a rats ass about our own people. The thing about human history, we are doomed to repeat it. The one IRS victim I am afraid is going to be the first of many lost in our generations civil war. Because the hard working people “patriots” are going to stand up and say “we have had enough” and are willing to fight and die as did the patriots of the American revolutionary war of 1775, Just seems to be a matter of time now.