The Complex Legacy of Joseph Andrew Stack
One of the rationales of masochists is that if they're going to feel pain, they at least want to be the ones inflicting it. (It's about control, see, as well as a cocktail of guilt, rage and fear.)
Couple that with the dictum, "Live by the sword, die by the sword" and what you get is yesterday's crash into the IRS building of the little plane that couldn't; a fitting end for Joseph Andrew Stack who, analogously to Pope Boniface in Eyeball's brilliant comment, had been banging his head against the unresponsive wall of the IRS for years.
Who, in the end, suffered more from his act - the IRS or Stack himself? His suicide note is articulate, lucid and apparently sane which is perhaps why it was removed from one of its original websites "due to the sensitive nature" of yesterday's event. However, even though the customer had exceeded his bandwidth, credit has been extended "for informational purposes," ie: the site directs you to where it's still available.
But Stack seriously undermined his credibility by his penultimate act - the torching of his own house the day after his wife, fleeing his erratic behavior, took his daughter to a hotel. The public could be forgiven for interpreting that, rather than the IRS, as the proximate cause of his suicide.
Like a number of social movements recently, Stack was a brew of despair-driven clearsightedness and misguided action. His definition of capitalism - "From each according to his gullibility; to each according to his greed" - is seriously catchy but he was also his own disinfo agent. Killing innocent people along with himself while the IRS brushes itself off and goes on with its business surely missed his mark.
Perhaps that's his real gift to posterity: To show us that violence is not the way.
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