Bloggers Know Joe Stack is America

by francine Hardaway on February 20, 2010

The day an unbalanced, disgruntled Texan named Joe Stack flew a small plane into the IRS offices in Austin, I wrote an immediate blog post about it. As always, I wrote it to collate and express my own reactions, which were surprisingly strong. Only when I finished the post did I look back on it and realize how I really felt, which is what the writing process does for me. I felt a surprising empathy for this Joe Stack after I read the six-page manifesto he left on his web site explaining why he did it, so I wrote about it. To me, he was more than another “crazy.”

I never expect many comments on my posts, although occasionally they are re-tweeted by three or four loyal readers. This one has had dozens of comments, almost all from people I don’t know. I think they shared my opinion that he was more than just another crazy.

The interesting point about the comments is that they are thoughtful, long, and substantive. While some of them berate me for sympathizing with Joe even a little, and others berate the US, the federal government, the population, etc, and still others relate their own stories, that’s not what made me devote more space to this subject.

Why I’m so impressed is because people took so much time to think and write in their comments. Admittedly, most of the big blogs get lots of comments, but I don’t.  And long comments, long enough to be their own posts, are even more rare. Clearly, I hit a nerve. But that’s not the point either.

The point is that people are willing to devote time and energy to expressing the opinions and frustrations to relative strangers online. It means there is hunger for a real discussion or dialogue, and an opening for change. The “attention gestures” represented by comments on blogs, by re-tweets or by other recommendations, seem more accurate to me than typical political pollsters in gauging the state of public opinion and the relative importance of one issue over another.

This week’s incident and the microcosm of my blog comments catch the essence of what the US has done to its citizens over the course of the last, say, thirty years. From the 80s, known even then as the “me”decade, to the mortgage bubble, we have all been told we’re entitled to all the consumer goods and life experiences credit can buy.  We’re told this by both government and advertising, which during my lifetime has penetrated the surfaces of everything I see and become embedded in everything I hear.

Of course these high expectations become a sort of inner cattle prod, fomenting entitlement and dissatisfaction, culminating not only in Joe Stack’s actions, but in the  fear, anger, and unmet “needs” of an entire population. This population  can elect and unelect any party or person it wants, but out problems are internal, not external.

IMHO, we don’t look at this enough. People are desperately trying to be heard, and I’m not sure who is listening.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

WWWoDEMOCRATZoORG February 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Joe Stack appears just another antigovernment antitax conservative in the class of Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building during another Democratic Administration. Oh and by the way Bruce Ivins the anthrax killer puts the lie to the Republiklan party talking point that we had no terrorist attack since 9-11. Mr. Ivins appeared an anti choice conservative, it got revealed by the FBI in 2008.

By the way, I saw your article in the Huffington Post about Medicare Part D.


Sign this petition where you can demand a fix to the Medicare Prescription drug benefit

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Please consider writing an article on my petition. We need to get the word out.

sarum February 21, 2010 at 9:06 am

Yes, some of us are quite literally dying to be heard. Our culture has (d)evolved to where attempts at civilized discussion and exchange of information is met with overt hostility. Blogs like this are pretty much all that is left to us. Personally I am of the opinion that much of the divisiveness is fomented by an unseen hand. Got to watch “Braveheart” on TV the other night and realized that we do it to ourselves – human nature apparently is such that until our back is to the wall we cannot bring ourselves to unity of purpose. Meanwhile I am daily grateful that I have stood by my own moral code throughout my life even though it cost me success on many levels many times and especially financially. My gut instinct attracted me to Joe Stack and it appears there is much more to his story.

Joe Stack's client list is an interesting read:

Now I go to check if my insulin deprived husband has made it through the night or if he is just sleeping in.

sarum February 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

Oh yeah – P.S. . . . . I talk to people around the world and it sure looks to me that US citizens are financing affordable healthcare around the planet with our high costs of care and Rx. Then for those nations who never got on their feet enough to attempt to institute a national health care system – we just out and give it to them or we do through NGO's or faith-based organizations. Sure too many still suffer but the fact is that charity begins at home – or should anyways. For many years I have been saying they are killing the goose that laid the golden egg – the US working class – the goose is just about dead now. I don't know how they expect to continue their lifestyle without the goose.

The IRS is just the tip of the iceberg. It's really a rough choice – the few jobs that remain – to have to stick it to someone just like you in the name of your employer just to keep your own family eating. . . and there but for the grace of God go I.

I liked the most recent “Maxine” that was sent to me – “Congress says they are looking deeper into the Bernie Madoff scandal. Well ain't that just great. The guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 TRILLION disappear!!”

Pretty much how most of us feel every time we look anywhere at anything anymore.

My husband is walking and talking today – so far. We spent $50 of our food money on a 10 day supply of an inferior insulin that the Doctor warned us might kill him as it has known complications. His sugar was approaching 400. We can't afford more than 10 days of it unless we turn the utilities off but we already looked into that and locally people who are doing just that are being prosecuted by the city. Not sure exactly what grounds but it made the news.

Hattie February 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

My feeling was that Joe Stack had a fatal tantrum. Not ever having learned self control at the appropriate age, he just kept carrying on until he self destructed.
I'm not really hard hearted, but he did kill someone besides himself, after all, and he could have done even more damage than he did.

hardaway February 22, 2010 at 7:13 am

A fatal trantrum. I like that!

Anonymous December 30, 2010 at 2:12 am

Joe Stack saw through the BS that we are all fed by our Governments and our industry, banks, etc. Unfortunately, he is gone but the world needs more people like him; not to crash an airplane into a building, but to bring to light the garbage we are fed by our institutions.nIf every citizen of this world would question one decision made by our leaders, we would have a much more conscious state and may prevent idiocies like Irak, Enron, the latest economice crisis made in USA, etc…nnOpen your eyes, he did.

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