Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home Grown Suicide Bomber

You know the story of the day: a man with tax troubles crashed his plane into an office building that housed office space for the IRS. He is presumably dead, two IRS employees were badly burned, and one is missing.

It doesn't appear to be part of any plot or movement, although that's what people thought about Timothy McVeigh initially. (Actually, they initially assumed he had to be a brown-skinned Muslim, because that's what a terrorist is, right? I guess we found out.)

What does appear to be the case, though, is that he seems to have been very susceptible to the anti-tax rhetoric that expresses itself in idiot legal arguments like the idea that paying taxes is voluntary or that getting paid for your labor does not result in income to you. The unhinged manifesto of the guy who apparently did it traces the development of his thinking from his study of certain provisions of the Tax Code. (Or, to be correct, a single provision of the Tax Code; if you study idiot legal arguments you learn that one hallmark of these arguments is that they focus on what they think is the self-evident meaning of a single section, sentence, or clause, to the exclusion of any context that would reveal its true meaning.)

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

. . .

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0.

He goes on, referring to the government as pompous political thugs and their mindless minions, similar to the way the NRA and its allies like to refer to law enforcement as "jack-booted thugs".

What's as scary and disturbing as anything he wrote, since he was apparently just a sad, desperate man, is the reactions of other right-wingers to this act. Here are a few quotes from anti-government types at a discussion board I frequent:

HAHA! Internal Robbery Service 0 Pissed off Patriot American 1! MUAHAHAHHA!

You work for evil you are part of the evil. Well see that is where me and you disagree I don't think it was muslim terrorists that took down the twin towers.

If that happens it only ups the ante for a revolution! You take everything from someone then they have nothing left to give they don't mind giving up their life for their cause.

do you also not think Timothy McVeigh was a terroirist?
He wasn't no. He was a Freedom Fighter. Also one of my hero's

Yep, and be blames the government and taxes for bringing down his business.
==>well, he was right then. take goverment out of business and businesses shall flourish. instead we get goverment involved and businesses stagnate or fail.

the goverment should be fired and gotten rid of for the most part. maybe it is time to go back to the ways of our founding fathers and get rid of 99.9% of the goverment and 100% of federal laws.

From what we can piece together, Stack was someone who became convinced that, for some reason, his income could not be counted as income, and then became unhappy when he was inevitably found to owe taxes on his income. He found congenial to his situation the familiar right-wing argument that taxation=theft.

The problem is, ideas have consequences. In this case, what has become standard overheated rhetoric against the constitutional government of the United States may have led one depressed man to imagine himself part of an army, and to be willing to kill his fellow citizens.

Maybe the right-wingers should think about what they're doing when they shoot their mouths off.

And maybe that should go double for government officials, like Cosmopolitan centerfold and new Senator Scott Brown:

And I don't know if it's related, but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency, they want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things that are affecting their daily lives. So I'm not sure that there's a connection, I certainly hope not. But we need to do things better.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it usually the conservatives who say that we shouldn't bother to try to understand why terrorists do what they do?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

[ ... ] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @zenx, an influential author, said RT @1ndus: Xtreme [ ... ]

March 01, 2010 7:45 AM  

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