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The Dangers of Demonizing: The Real Cost of Our Country’s Dangerous Obsession

April 20, 2010
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For a moment, put yourself in Vernon Hunter’s shoes. You are a 68-year-old black man in America. No doubt you’ve had to experience racism and discrimination, but you didn’t let it stop you. You chose to enter the military out of school and served proudly in Vietnam. You worked hard to support your family, and eventually ended up with a job in the IRS, a government job that provided some security for you and your loved ones.  Your job is to help arrange payment plans for people who owe taxes. You are active in your church, have raised your children with integrity and honesty, and you are looking forward to retirement and raising grandchildren. Likely, you believe that following the rules, being honest and working hard, are virtues that will reward you. And it is likely you don’t pay much attention to the Tea Party crowd or the radical progressives and all the name-calling and vitriol from both sides. Yes, you are in a place where your friends and family love and respect you.

But then along comes Joe Stack and his long simmering feud with the IRS over taxes he does not want to pay on his income as an independent contractor. For some reason, Stack has decided that he is special. He does not have to follow the rules most people do. He is convinced that for whatever reason, he should be free of the responsibility of contributing to a society that educated him, allowed him to forge a career in software engineering (however troubled), enabled him to buy a nice house in Austin, gave him the wherewithal to get a pilot’s license, and even provided him the resources to own a plane.  Yes indeed.  Joe Stack, a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant man in the U.S. is a ‘victim.’

So Joe Stack the ‘victim’ sets his home on fire, which firefighters  try to salvage for the wife and daughter he leaves behind (an effort funded by the taxes Stack won’t pay), drives off  in his car (on roads built by the taxes Stack will not pay), gets into his expensive plane (paid for by the apparently discretionary income Stack does not want taxed), takes off from an airport (likely built in part by taxes Stack will not pay), and flies towards the building where Vernon Hunter works through the FAA secure skies over Austin (an agency paid for by the taxes Stack feels he does not have to pay).

That is when Vernon Hunter, in the middle of a normal Friday at work, is introduced to Joe Stack and he loses his life. He doesn’t know why. He doesn’t have a chance to defend himself. And he doesn’t deserve it.

But there are those who now argue that Joe Stack is a Patriot because he took a stand against the Government.  A deranged man who lied to the IRS, who felt he was special, and who decides that he is going to commit murder because he doesn’t get what he wants, is a Patriot.

And these same people cast Vernon Hunter, a man who served his country in wartime, worked hard virtually his whole life, raised a family, and was loved and respected by friends and family, as a demon IRS worker who should die in the flames of Joe Stacks plane crash.

No….the real Patriot in this tragedy is Vernon Hunter. He is the real American hero; someone who served his family and his country, and lived honestly. He was killed by a cowardly hypocrite who railed against the misfortune that he brought on himself.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. dee permalink
    March 8, 2010 2:40 am

    the tone of the article is one of a government lap dog who says what he needs to say in order to be politically correct. Joe stack was you and Joe stack was me. if you read his final letter, (which teared me up), he worked very hard to build his life and twice was slaughtered by a tax system that employs usury, adding penalties and fees that are so prohibitive, an old man at Stack’s age would have no way out. the man lost everything to this tyrannical IRS system, that has nothing to do with being a citizen as many of the dolts on this thread and in the article imply. taxes only became compulsory in the 60s. You don’t pay taxes to have rights, live in america, prosper in america. that is guaranteed by birthrights and by the constitution. you pay taxes to stay out of jail and to prevent the tyranny of the government from hitting your front door. you can kiss the hind side of the government all you want, but when you spend your life saving, working 16 hours daily, following the rules and then get hit as hard as this guy was hit, by the IRS, you can easily understand why this man, like the founders of this country, decided a blood sacrifice for what he believed in was worth it. Some blow their brains out, others fly planes into buildings. However, most get on some antidepressant, drink, do drugs, commit crimes, cheat on their spouses, get involved in porn, or watch a boatload of TV to pretend that tyranny is not growing in america. when someone stands up they do what all cowards do; blame the victim. He didn’t fly his plane into a black man, he gave up and the black man was a casualty of one man’s personal war against evil. Who else will stand up, not necessarily by killing themselves or taking other’s lives, but speak the truth and live by what they believe in? VERY FEW. I am not saying WHAT he did was right, but I understand. I am not saying what he did was right, but why he did it was.

  2. Tom permalink
    March 4, 2010 6:59 am

    It’s a shame how little confidence you must possess that you would insult an individual for expressing himself over the internet.
    What have you even contributed to the conversation other than a superficial, contradictory, pointless contrary quip and an insult?
    These are called fallacious arguments, the first being a fallacy by reductio ad absurdum, whereby you posited p = ~p, which is of course incorrect, and the second is fallacy by ad hominem.
    What this adds up to would barely be acceptable from someone in their early teens.
    Grow up.

  3. Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles M.S. permalink
    March 3, 2010 11:25 pm

    Tom, it’s a shame you ate all those paint chips as a kid.

  4. Silas Dugood permalink
    March 2, 2010 8:54 am

    Great article – but very sad that a real American patriot died because of this right-wing nut.
    Hopefully there will not be other tragedies like what happened in Austin, TX
    George Will (Conservative writer/commentator) for Newsweek/TV states that in 2009 more than 400,000 copies of Ayn Rand Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged were sold.
    Her book advocates “unfettered markets” – and no government involvement….especially in Wall Street, Investment Banks, and corporations in general. Laissez Faire Baby and “Self” is all that matters.
    From Atlas Shrugged – “By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.”
    Tea-baggers, Republicans and Conservatives – overlook the fact that Ayn Rand was an
    avowed Aetheist and a “Pro-Abortionist” when she wrote this book in 1957 and until the day she died.

  5. Phil permalink
    February 27, 2010 1:22 pm

    True North,
    Great comment! Couldn’t agree with you more. This has happened to me (on a much smaller scale, of course), by losing longtime friendships. I live in an area comprised mostly of the conservative ideology and have been labeled as a liberal peace activist. The local AM radio station blurts out Rush Limbaugh 3 hours/day, 15 hours/week. At other times, Glenn Beck consumes the airwaves…in between weather forecasts and local news.
    Eric Prince has done his best to Christianize his Blackwater (aka Xe) group. I just hope the military doesn’t follow suit. Far as I’m concerned, his outfit should be banned from any further military contracts. The Nisoor Square massacre was a national disgrace.
    Where will it all end? I see more of the same happening until Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Billo the Clown and the Fox News Channel are banned from preaching more hate and paranoia. President Obama is doing his best to help, but with people like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to negate anything he tries to accomplish, we’ll continue on this downward spiral. Even though President Obama has twice the intelligence as his predecessor, people in this area HATE having a black man in charge, and the violence continues…very sad indeed.

  6. True North permalink
    February 26, 2010 12:35 pm

    How anyone can defend the actions of this nut bar is beyond me. He went off the deep end and committed arson and murder. Even worse, acting like a true terrorist, he set out to kill randomly. Which tea-bagging, libertarian leaning Repub is going to be the next martyr for the cause of right-wingery?

    Say goodbye to the America you used to know. No external threat will bring down the country, but the internal decay from within is eating away at the fabric of the American system. There is a significant section of the population that will not accept the result of a fair vote of who should represent them. These same people are almost entirely WASP and are incensed over the election of a black man. Not being the brightest bulbs on the tree, they are gullible and easily manipulated. AND, they own most of the guns!

    Things are never going to go back to normal, because this is normal, and it will only get worse as the country continues to polarize. Expect to see more random acts of violence as the hate mongers like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh continue to crank up the volume. How can a country continue to function when the two sides hate and mistrust each other so much?

    These same people who consider themselves patriots and like to talk of revolution are actually advocating civil war. It would be an act of violence of the white middle class, by the white middle class and for the white middle class. And the end result is that all these super-patriots will end up in those mysterious FEMA emergency camps.

    Perhaps a bigger threat is from the military in the form of a coup. The armed forces have been so christianized that they may decide that they are acting in accordance with god’s will by revolting against the evil grip of Obama style ‘socialism’.

    The USA is heading south on a slippery slope and is picking up speed. Would someone care to tell me where it will all end?

  7. Trudy Springer permalink
    February 25, 2010 7:52 pm

    Great post Dan, you hit the proverbial nail on the head in showing how upside down Teabaggers (This generations Brown Shirts) view things, to hail a domestic terrorist as a hero and brush off the death of Vernon Hunter as the enemy because he worked for the IRS. These people are too dumb to even try and bring facts to them. Keep up the good work.

  8. Tom permalink
    February 25, 2010 8:45 am

    I’m not a bad guy and I’m not some kind of anarchist whack job obsessed with Joe Stack, I’m just an individual with enough libertarian sensibility to understand where he was coming from in directing his anger at the IRS and the Federal Reserve.

    I implore anyone who does not yet hate this institution watch a documentary entitled “Money As Debt.” It can be viewed on Google Video at and the film is fairly short at 45 minutes. It explains the system in very clear terms and decrypts the purposeful obfuscation of the subject by the banking technocracy.

    If you can come to an understanding of the U.S. Government’s relationship to the Federal Reserve, and by extension your own, you will find far less enthusiasm behind your chest thumping and flag waving and perhaps come to discover that your actual, tangible relationship to Freedom in the pragmatic sense perhaps differs from your previously held, romanticized imago of the term.

  9. Tom permalink
    February 25, 2010 8:30 am

    One last time, for slow people.

    The founding fathers had a decently conceived notion in mind, which fundamentally I agree with. The bankers instituted a fiat currency government-borrowed economy which created a system of inflation through which the money printers could hold hostage the nation, and any nation. They’ve admitted as such in their own words, repeatedly, throughout history.

    As to your comment Danielle, you contradict yourself, or more accurately, allow a technicality to rename something so as not to violate your sense of the situation. If Labor produces Income, which is taxed as an Income Tax, it is a tax on the Labor. If A = B, then B – C = A – C. Yet you tell me A – C isn’t happening, but B – C is. You manage in three sentences to contradict yourself, employ double-think, and call me a greedy whiner while knowing absolutely nothing about me. All this coming from someone who is apparently “highly educated.” It would appear more to me that you are the lazy, greedy one, being that you would far prefer an inherently despotic institution to take your money in exchange for services rather than just do them, or provide a means for them, yourself.

    The concept, even though it is law, is unjust, even if you don’t have the brains to realize it.

  10. Danielle E. (Beth) Lyles M.S. permalink
    February 24, 2010 7:52 pm

    Income taxes are the fairest and most progressive form of taxation. To say that there is something especially heinous about them does not track logically and shows a complete failure of critical thinking ability. Neither your hands nor your labor is taxed or taken away. What is taxed is the income derived there from. You are just another greedy whiner who wants the benefits of civilization without the expense.

  11. Phil permalink
    February 24, 2010 6:43 pm

    I agree with “some” of what you say, but to take a human life and maim others (not to mention destroy a building) because of Mr. Stack’s disapproval of our tax code is criminal to say the least. Nobody likes to pay taxes (including me), and yes, I cringe when I see that 40% of my taxes go to the military complex. I don’t support these wars, either, but I certainly don’t condone killing as a protest.
    I have no interest in understanding a madman or reading his manifesto. I see what he has done and am heartbroken for Mr. Hunter and his surviving family as well as the other innocent victims Mr. Stack injured. He may have had a better civic understanding than me, but I am alive today and am perfectly capable of paying my share. I also know the difference between right and wrong. Obviously Mr. Stack didn’t.
    Your move to another country was probably the right decision for you. I suggest you stay where you are and concern yourself with your own country’s tax codes and stop complaining about ours.

  12. February 24, 2010 5:59 pm

    Tom, can you explain the Boston Tea Party or do you get your history from Glenn Beck? After reading your anti-American-Forefathers rant above, I think you must get your history from that piece of garbage!

    Great post Dan. Vernon was a good man and it’s sad that he served two tours of Vietnam only to come home and at a later date is killed by a SUICIDE BOMBING DOMESTIC TERRORIST American on American soil at his American job.

    May Vernon rest in peace.

    • February 26, 2010 8:33 am

      Hi Kay,

      My thoughts exactly. It’s a huge problem in our country that some only get their information from these crazy people on Fox.

      Of course we also have our crazy politicians like Michele Bachmann, etc.

      Tom, get a grip!!!

  13. Tom permalink
    February 24, 2010 5:49 pm


    If you read what I posted, you would’ve noticed I didn’t make an excuse for the taking of a human life.

    However, your ignorance of our founding fathers and what THEY created and your obeisance to a money-creating, cash stealing scam invented by bankers in the Middle Ages and brought to the United States in the early 1900s, far after the founding fathers rolled around in their graves, well these things practically require a response.

    As a matter of fact, I did move to another country, because the United States has become one giant hypocrisy. The least free nation filled with the biggest cowards, scared of knowledge and hostile towards help. However, I am still an American Patriot at heart, and care for and fight for my nation, in the hopes that one day the right calling, or the rebirth of the Republic, brings me back.

    You have a lot of learning to do, clearly, before you can even understand Joe Stack. Suffice to say a madman had a better civic understanding than you, Phil, and that means time to crack a book.

    And Midge, please, did I say taxes were bad? I basically invited government to reasonably tax whatever they wanted EXCEPT wages. There is no right to tax an individual for doing their job. Income tax on wages is unconstitutional and indentured servitude, only to a government instead of an individual. If I was a gravedigger for example, digging graves all day, just me and my shovel, earning a wage, what is the government taxing? There is nothing to tax but the effort of my hand. It is nothing but a garnishing of the wages by an owner.

    I will gladly pay taxes for schools, roads, etc. But not for illegal wars and bailouts (hypocrisy again [free markets?]) and not through a despotic labor tax. Not in the United States of America, land of the free.

  14. Phil permalink
    February 24, 2010 12:22 pm

    Pull your head out of your ass! There is NO excuse for taking a human life. If you can’t live by the rules set up by our founding fathers, I suggest you move to a different country or STFU.

  15. Dewain Lightfoot permalink
    February 23, 2010 10:24 pm

    Excellent article. It’s a shame the anti tax nuts can’t see the forest for the trees.

  16. Hodges permalink
    February 23, 2010 5:14 pm

    Does these Blogs mean Free Speech is back??? Where was this clown when the Republicans and Bush was spending your tax dollars?? Talk about uneducated emtionally immature.

  17. Tom permalink
    February 23, 2010 1:50 pm

    “and eventually ended up with a job in the IRS, a government job that provided some security for you and your loved ones.”

    Maybe I say f*** you and your job security with the U.S. government, unconstitutionally squeezing the citizens of their hard-earned income through labor. Obviously it is a tragedy for an innocent man to die, but it is an unethical crime to participate in the corporate-banker collusion to shakedown the population.

    Tax interest earnings, tax luxury purchases, tax all sorts of stuff, but don’t tax the earnings of an individual for the work they do with their bare-hands. That is fiscal enslavement, it is not free, it is not Constitutional, and someday idiots will wake up to this. Just because things like unfair taxation, cannabis prohibition, DUI checkpoints, etc. have existed for a long time and seem inevitable does not mean they are. Blindly following police state/plutocratic law is not good citizenship and it is not what makes a good American.

    Joe Stack might have done the wrong thing, but he did it for the right reasons. If IRS workers want sympathy, they can quit their job, give up their job security for doing unethical work, and get a job being a boon to society rather than another government drain on the public coffers, which should be fairly accumulated.

    In my mind, neither Joe nor Vernon were living lives that enrich the planet, or the lives of their cohabitants, and both could have been doing something different, and something helpful with their lives. Then Joe wouldn’t have had to go the way he did, and Vernon may have not been employed by an agency which enjoys the righteous derision of a hundred million people.

    • February 23, 2010 7:00 pm


      Sorry but I have to disagree. There is never, ever, a reason when it’s ok for one person to take the lives of others…for taxes? Please….

      I am a 1099 contract consultant and I have been there, where loop holes were closed and you could no longer write things off and lower your taxes. I may have been ticked off but they were right. I was taking advantage of the system and I was angry. But… I did not go out and fly a plane into a building.

      You can rant all you want about Government taking to much but you are also the person who wants services, roads repaired, bridges built, library’s opened etc. That’s how it happens pal. We have some of the lowest taxes in the western world.

      Get over yourself…

    • February 24, 2010 9:08 am

      In reply, I have just one question…you don’t happen to have a pilot’s license do you?

  18. Alwyn Burger permalink
    February 23, 2010 1:23 pm

    Joe Stack did not “fail” in all areas and he DID pay taxes, if you read his manifesto properly you will understand his frustration at paying unfairly. You are no different to those who make him a Hero, because you are just on the opposite side. I rather see him as an intelligent man who worked very hard all his life. I find it very sad that he had to resort to that final act, I find it incredibly sad that Vernon died unjustly and others got hurt. The culprit here are the politics and those in power, THAT my friends is Joe Stack’s point. Open your eyes…

  19. February 22, 2010 9:21 pm

    Great blog Dan. This is a very disturbing story.
    I hope Mr. Joe has prepared for what awaits at the pearly gates!
    What in the world is wrong in our country that someone would call such a man a hero.
    He is nothing more than a common terrorist!

  20. February 22, 2010 9:10 pm

    Just proves how sick this country is when you praise a person who failed in all areas of his life and had no regard for the lives of others when he crashed that plane into the building. Yeah, a real hero!

    • Ron permalink
      February 23, 2010 5:09 pm

      To explain something, does not necessarily justify
      How do you explain the murder of 1 million Iraq civilians?

      • February 23, 2010 6:49 pm

        Yes, The war is a horror and it is a war that no one wanted but we were lied to and the Bush/Cheney administration plowed forward.
        My question to you would be what does one thing have to do with the other. This blog post talks about an individual who made several decisions with little regard for those around him. He was not part of a war, he was not part of a movement to the best of my knowledge and because he was angry at the IRS he did something that would effect many lives other than his own and he knew it.

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