Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Fire From The Texas Sky

Today in Austin, Texas, Joseph Andrew Stack III flew his Piper aircraft into the side of a building on TX 183 that was a local branch of the IRS. As the story unfolded from uncertainty, details unfolded to tell the tale of a man that was clearly depressed, angry, and finally, suicidal.

The question is not whether he was crazy in the end. The question seems to be, for how long did this occur?

As I flipped between CNN and Fox News, the story came together. He started his ending journey with a post of a 6 page manifesto\suicide note that explained why he did what he did. The note was no explanation by any definition of the word. It gives us incite into his mind, which, even Stacks admitted, was difficult to write because of the "storm raging in my head". But it was clear to me at least that Stack had enough and took a wrong turn in his logic to resolve his long-standing issues in his life.

I left the TV on Fox News for no particular reason other than I had a phone call, and the luck of the draw meant Fox News stayed on until my call was over. The 4PM CST hour arrived, and Glenn Beck decided to discuss this story in his usual, questionable manor.

Listen, I don't watch this guy hardly at all, mainly because his style reminds me of those late night televangelists that are so charismatic in front of the camera that it gets scary, and they get you to believe anything. You know, kind of like a sleazy used car salesman. I don't much like him.

But today I wanted to see his take on the big story. Within the first 5 minutes, he called Stack a "madman". I listened to his diatribe, and you can and decide for yourself. But when I think of a madman, I think of people like Stalin, like Hitler, like Hussein, who had a long gestating agenda to oust his opponents and fulfill self-delusional needs for power and absolution. Stack does not fit this description in the slightest. His logic was tragically flawed, and his need to make a statement evident. He was a danger to others and to himself, but there was no evidence of that until after his actions were taken. I don' believe he planned this months ago -- at least, the evidence does not show that to be fact at this point. I believe he simply snapped and took his actions on a path that was only logical and sensible to himself.

But there is one thing Beck and I agree on -- violence on this scale should not be ignored or excused. He was wrong to do what he did, and if he had survived, he would have to answer for his actions and pay for his crime. His actions serve no purpose other than to strengthen the resolve of the so-called lunatic fringe, on the left and the right, and does nothing to resolve the issue or assure the remaining 95%+ of us that would rather solve problems, and not try to kill people. As Beck points out, Bin Laden and McVey are the same in that regard -- killing people does not solve the issue.

So let's go back to my original question -- how long did he plan this eventt? It is still not clear for how long he made his plans. It would appear to have taken a short period of time, and over the next few days I presume we'll learn more about the planning of this event.

One thing Beck attempted to do was to use this as a lesson of how people like Stack make the republic weak. If you read what Stack wrote, he had legitimate concerns, though his thoughts were not entirely coherent, but I hardly think Stack's thoughts make the republic weak, no less and no more than Beck says the news makes you insane. The problem is, Clyde took a left turn and made a connection from the facts as he saw them to a course of action that made no sense to anyone but himself. Crazy? Perhaps. Lunatic? Yes. Madman? No, not by the definition I know.

The irony of this story is that the man was an accomplished pilot. He was single engine, instrument, and multi-engine trained and could have had an excellent second career as a small commercial pilot. Had he been a clear-headed thinker, or even had someone to help him think clearly, he may have been able to get himself out of his troubles. But his purported state of mind evidently prevented that from happening.

I hesitate to say that we should pity this man. He had a lot of trouble, and could have received a lot of help regardless of his previous challenges, and his loss of direction was his ultimate demise. But he took actions that should not be excused.


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