Thursday, February 18, 2010

Joseph Andrew Stack's Austin Murder/Suicide

The Joseph Andrew Stack tragedy is revealed in his suicide letter. Stack had evidently suffered some kind of breakdown. Unfortunately, no one ushered him into a psychiatrist's office before it was too late. Apparently he killed one other person and injured about 13.

There are a host of ethical questions that surround tax resistance. Unfortunately, Stack cannot be called a tax resister because he had lost his rational mind before he flew his plane into the Austin IRS office.

I do not believe that all violence against the IRS is wrong. In order to be right violence must amount to self defense or defense of property. The IRS is a violent organization that is illegal and engaged in illegitimate theft. However, to be morally right the degree of violence must be appropriate and be targeted against the perpetrators of violence or theft. Indiscriminate violence is wrong, especially because Stack could not know whether the people he was attacking even supported whatever wrongs he felt he had suffered (his statement alludes to but does not make clear the wrong).

Would Kelo of Kelo v. New London have been morally wrong to fly an airplane into the US Supreme Court building? The Supreme Court is obliged to interpret the law, and has failed to do so, facilitating the theft of Kelo's property. It is a violent, illegitimate institution. Kelo is entitled to self defense. But gratuitous violence is still wrong. Four of the justices voted against the decision to permit stealing. Flying a plane into the Supreme Court building would have been likely to injure or kill people who did nothing wrong. So it would have been wrong.

Would Susette Kelo have been right to murder the leadership of the City of New London or the Supreme Court Justices who justified the stealing of her property? I do not think the answer is clear cut. I cannot say she would have been wrong.

In the case of Stack, there were mitigating factors. But he was wrong. At the same time, because we no longer live in a nation governed by law, but by the gratuitous violence of the Internal Revenue Service and the US Supreme Court, I no longer react to someone like Stack the way I did toward Timothy McVeigh.

I wonder if Stack is only the beginning.

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