Gee, there are about five things I could rant on today, but since my intestines are revolting against me in what can only be the worst, bile-laden coup d’etat in the history of human gastroenterology, I’ll spare you and keep the subject matter down to two things, maybe three…if you’re lucky. But the Jewish part of my genetic coding– the one that seems to come to the forefront when I’m sick, compels me to share with you that I continue to have sporadic bouts with 100° fever , complete with muscle aches and pain (even my hands hurt) and a lethargy and malaise that could make a sloth seem industrious.
Don’t worry…I’ll live, but the good news is that I’ve also lost four pounds to the Houston sewer system. That means I’m about 21 stomach flues away from reaching my goal weight. Hot damn.
Now, on to the business at hand.
The state’s iconic capital city is a place where I once called home. In my twenties, I thought Austin to be the coolest place on the planet. It was and still is liberal, hip and bohemian and let’s make no mistake, Austin tries damn hard to stay that way. Well, its wonderfully self-appointed status of being a blue oasis stuck in the middle of a red state, was shaken to the core today when 53-year old Joe Stack flew his Piper Cub airplane into the second floor of a seven-story office building in Austin. This edifice housed a division of the Internal Revenue Service, a federal entity which Stack made abundantly clear, he didn’t like at all.
One must then ask the question,”what makes a man snap like that?” The same thing was asked about that crazed Korean student who killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech three years ago. We questioned Timothy McViegh’;s motives, the shooter at the Luby’s and at Fort Hood, both in Killeen, Texas and of course, there were the 19 hijackers who killed themselves and roughly three-thousand others to glorify their version of God and martyrdom.
I understand emotional stress and even passionate belief, no matter how skewed I think it is. I can understand how life feels when God seems like He’s “piling on”. There’s no reprieve. It’s one thing after the other, like a unyeilding domino affect with each crash worse than the last. You’re unemployed and that’s compounded by the fact that you’re in debt up to you uncle’s asshole; your marriage is on the rocks and getting worse by the minute; the bank is dying to take your house away; creditors call every hour; you have back taxes; your three months late on your car payment; you have two kids about to graduate from High School and they have visions of higher education dancing in their heads. You’ve all but depleted your savings and the term “retirement” now only exists in the dictionary. You’ve used yours to pay bills and food for another month.
What’s the difference between a person who’s beaten down, but not out and the person who ends it all and leaves behind a body count in his or her wake? What made 900 people believe Jim Jones’ insanity and drink cyanide laced Kool-Aid in the jungles of Guyana some 32-years ago? I suppose if they were gullible enough to think he could lead them to a utopian life in a banana republic in South America, surely they were gullible enough to believe he could lead them into a spiritual “promised land” in the afterlife.
This…that…it all makes my head reel. Sociologists, psychologists and behaviorists will discuss this man, this Joseph A. Stack and his modus operandi in great detail over the next few days. His pathology and motivations will be discussed to the point of delirium. His life, from childhood to this past Wednesday will be the subject of debate. The question of “red flags” will come up and then we’ll wonder if any of them were flying at full staff. Did anyone notice anything wrong? Could something have been done?
These experts will delve into their own form of Monday morning quarterbacking, just as they did with McVeigh, Charlie Manson, Jim Jones and his 900 member flock of sheep, George Hennard and that idiot James Huberty, who went “hunting humans” at the McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California in the early 80’s. All of them now, are nothing more than sad, tragic footnotes and obscure Wikipedia entries.
But the problem is, it will happen again. Death, taxes and tragedy are the only certainties we have in this life. And when a narcissist decides to end his; when he decides he must exit this mortal coil, it must be done so with bluster and bravado. But what made this man different? People snap every day and of the ones who aren’t mentally or emotionally cohesive? Well, at least most of those people will have “the decency” to only off themselves and no one else.
Joe Stack said in a multi-page suicide note/manifesto/rant that change can’t come about without violence. Actually, he’s right on one level. Air travel is made safer every time there’s a crash, regardless of the reason. But that’s hardly something that can be said about life with any degree of “across the board” accuracy.
Delusional, sick Stack did the only thing delusional sick man felt he could do: he killed himself and possibly others by crashing a plane into the office building that housed his federal nemesis. But Stack was wrong. Nothing significant will change as a result of his actions.
The Echelon office building in Austin, will be rebuilt. The FAA might take a closer look at the submission of flight plans for small aircraft prior to take off and more people will know Joe Stack’s name, for a while anyway and accompanying that will be descriptives such as, a kook; a nut…a whack job loser who got into financial straights and didn’t have wherewithal to get himself out of it.
In the end, Joseph A. Stack did nothing but eliminate himself from the earthly equation and frankly, that made this a red-letter day for Darwinians.
And now I must break for nausea as you enjoy this video which is on a much brighter note: never doubt the dexterity of dogs ever again.