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IPFS News Link • Philosophy of Liberty

The Coward (and Idiot) Joseph Stack

• Fr33 Agents / Xaq Fixx

Joseph Stack is in the news for burning down his house then flying a plane into an IRS office and killing two people while injuring 13 others. Some are viewing him as a hero and a martyr of the anti-tax and liberty movements, these people are dangerously wrong.

Stack said in his suicide note “Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer” – He is very wrong here, this alone should brand him as not an ally to the causes at all. Fr33 Agents know of other options, practicing Agorist counter economics, for one, Seasteading for another.

Violence DOES NOT advance the movement or the message. The individual perpetrator is a criminal, a murderer, and a thug. Not only does this bring him to the same moral level as the state, but actually makes him morally inferior to the individual agents. They don’t know that what they are doing leads to or is backed by violence. So until they are taught better, they are as morally culpable as a infant or a parasite. Even if they do, they are not committing violence, they are no more responsible than a tax payer, voter, or politician is for the violent policies of their government. A statist may not be aware of the gun in the room, his weapon was not figurative, his intent was murder.

The effects, of course, spread far beyond the individual. The violent act of an individual are used to paint others as violent, to marginalize the views, and dehumanize anyone who shares an anti-tax, anti-state view. 2 wars are being fought over the extreme views of a very small minority, and a great mistrust of anyone who even looks Arabic or has a Muslim sounding name is pervasive in this country. When you try to sympathize or justify a violent thug’s action, you make it easier for pundits, politicians, Law Enforcement and opportunists (like the SLPC’s Mark Potok) . In addition to negative press, new laws, and popular support can lead to crack downs, increased harassment, and increased scrutiny of people who actually ARE working for a more peaceful, more free, and eventually untaxed stateless society.

His Murderous attack was completely unacceptable and was simply the act of an emotionally and mentally broken man, as was his suicide. Had he not killed and hurt others, his suicide would have been just as likely to change the policies of the government and attitudes of the public, that is to say, NOT AT ALL. His survivors are now left with his debt, a burned out home, additional bills, and the memory of a murderously deranged man. The only thing his Murder/Suicide managed to do was hurt pro liberty movements. He is not a hero, he is a villain, a criminal, and an embarrassment.


7 Comments in Response to

Comment by Freed Radical
Entered on:
RIght on, Larkin! Self-defense against aggression is always morally justified regardless of the level of awareness on the part of the aggressor. It took great courage on Stack's part to do what he did, and I freely admit that I don't have that much courage or perhaps even as much as you did taking it to the man in court and serving time in the man's cage to make your point.

I'm getting tired of all these apologists for the state whining about how Stack (and others like him) "hurt the movement" because the lamestream media will demonize freedom activists, blah, blah, blah. The fact is that the lamestream media are tools of the police state and will demonize and marginalize our ideas ANY WAY THEY CAN whether there is violent resistance or peaceful protest. Look at what they did to Ron Paul before the election, and look at Palin, Beck, and the other Neo-cons trying to co-opt the Tea Party movement to render it ineffective.

Having said that, I personally don't advocate violent resistance because it usually ends badly for the citizen. But that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be morally justified. A uniform, a shiny badge or flag does not give one human being a license to initiate force against another. PERIOD. Perhaps the Gandhi approach is better, although Larkin can tell you that this approach won't stop the bad guys from using violence to steal your property and lock you in a cage. As I recall, the Jefferson et al. were well aware that petitioning the King for a redress of grievances was a dead-end street and they finally had to fight fire with fire or remain slaves forever. ERIC NEW
Comment by Brock Lorber
Entered on:

Larken, you are reaching for a universal rule with false analogies and denying the universal application of the rule.

In each of your analogies below (rabid dog, drug-crazed beserker, Nazi*) there is a temporal difference between the analogy and the act in question, the three aggressors are not threatening property, per se, but life and liberty, and (in two of the three) the aggressors are arguably incapable of reason.

Temporal aspect: in your three analogies there is an immediacy of threat.  However, Stack was in an airplane and the IRS employees were inside an office building – there was no immediate threat to Stack.  To the contrary, Stack was the immediate threat; while the IRS (and all other employees and visitors) were in the building, Stack was engaging in a premeditated act designed to threaten their lives.

If you deny the temporal aspect and apply your rule universally, IRS agents would be justified in immediately executing any aircraft owner that came up for audit on the theory that the plane owner may be a threat someday.

Nature of the Threat: Life, Liberty, Property – Present, Future, Past.  The aggressors in your analogies are threatening life and liberty as an end.  IRS employees (and, by extension, anyone who supports them, including all taxpayers) threaten life and liberty as a means of gaining control of your past.

First, you deny the ends/means difference: "it implies that they have the RIGHT to treat us like cattle, BECAUSE they're stupid, unthinking robots."  Then, you rely on the ends/means difference a la suicide bombers: "Even suicide bombers who are completely in the wrong are not cowards. Could YOU give up your life for something you believe in?"

You seem to believe that no thinking, reasoning human could have a rational basis for belief that your property is not, in fact, your property.  You ignore the libraries of scholarship on the subject and universally declare forfeit the lives of anyone who doesn't.

But, in doing so, you justify an ends/means argument: that is, you claim you are justified in doing something that would be "moronic", "robotic", and "unthinking" for an IRS employee to do.  Applied universally, your rule would justify the execution of a bank customer for overdrafts caused by simple math errors.

Reason: Rabid dogs and beserkers aside, Stack "reasons" that "violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer," and you "reason", "the only thing that deters thieves and attackers in most cases (and this is true of government thugs and "private" criminals) is violence."

Just off the top of my head, safes, vaults, walls, mountains, and oceans are all things that deter thieves and attackers more effectively than violence.  Why are these not reasonable?

* By Nazi I'm assuming you mean an agent of a Nazi government and not a baker who may be a member of the Nazi party like a Republican or Democrat.

Comment by Mad Joker
Entered on:

"Stop!" or I'll yell "Stop!" again! You are sad patriots. You are neither understanding nor committed patriots to the cause of freedom.

Comment by Larken Rose
Entered on:

When someone initiates violence--whether it's a carjacker or an IRS bureaucrat--the two options are: 1) allow injustice to occur, or 2) use force to try to stop it. The latter is often dangerous, or ineffective, or unwise for other practical reasons. But that doesn't mean it isn't justified.

Whether an aggressor understands what he is doing is NOT what determines whether defensive force is justified. If a rabid dog attacks you, do you let it bite you while you try to explain to it the nature of its disease? If someone whose brain is fried on PCP comes at you with an axe, do you do on-the-spot drug rehabilitation counseling, or do you use whatever FORCE is necessary to STOP him? Every aggressor, for one reason or another, thinks he is doing the right thing. Does that make them all blameless? The Nazis no doubt thought they were doing the right thing, too. So what was the answer there? To hold sensitivity and non-aggression philosophy seminars, or to shoot them? 

This article implies that it's wrong to forcibly defend yourself against a thief or an attacker, unless and until you see to it that the attacker is morally and philosophically completely aware of what it is he is doing. What that logically implies is that we have an obligation to passively allow ourselves to be robbed and controlled by morons, BECAUSE they are morons. In other words, it implies that they have the RIGHT to treat us like cattle, BECAUSE they're stupid, unthinking robots.

I can find things to complain about concerning what Joe Stack did. But for the author of the above article to claim to be pro-freedom, while condemning in principle the use of force to resist attackers, makes no sense. If I own myself (and I do), I don't have to ask nicely before resisting anyone else's attempts to treat me as their property.

The question of practicality, long-term results, what counts as being "innocent," deterrent factors, etc., is another discussion (or ten). The point is this: if you don't believe the individual has a right to defend himself, by force if necessary, against aggressors, then you don't believe in freedom. (I have to wonder what the author thinks about gun rights. After all, what's the point of having the ability to defend yourself if you have no right to do so?) Yes, if freedom can be achieved without violence, that is vastly preferable, for everyone involved. That's why I spend so much of my time writing and talking about these things, instead of shooting at fascists. But in the end, as Joe Stack understood, the only thing that deters thieves and attackers in most cases (and this is true of government thugs and "private" criminals) is violence.  

(P.S. Calling Joe Stack a "coward" is idiotic. Even suicide bombers who are completely in the wrong are not cowards. Could YOU give up your life for something you believe in?)


Comment by Michael Ochoa
Entered on:

My thoughts exactly!!!  The US has always used violence to gain suppose peace.

Comment by Rocky Frisco
Entered on:

I wonder what Jefferson, Hale or Henry would say about Stack. 

Comment by Richard Stone
Entered on:

 Violence is not the answer, it accomplishes nothing. If you will study history you will find that most major changes in history came about thru violence. It seems to be mans nature and effective. Would we have a United States of America if it were not for violence? I guess we could forget about the Revolutionary and Civil war. Those that we now consider revered patriots were considered to be traitors, cowards or terriorist by the other side at the time. I guess it depends on who wins to determine who is the patriot and who is the terrorist or traitor. The government should not wage war against it own people, it could end up with a new hair cut like Custer.