For those that do not yet know, a man named Joseph Andrew Stack flew and crashed a plane into an IRS building in Austin, TX. His lengthy suicide note makes clear that his act was politically motivated – Though the Department of Homeland Security has said that this, at least so far, has nothing to do with terrorism, as surely as the sun will set this evening, those who disagree with or oppose the political views of Mr. Stack will call it an act of domestic terrorism and seek to assign responsibility to everyone who shares some of his opinions or at least has the nerve to speak them publicly. Pro-lifers ought to know this routine by now – hysterical screeds that essentially argue guilt by association or even agreement, new calls for expanded police powers, and though they don’t apply in this case, restrictions on second amendment rights.
I condemn what Mr. Stack did. For right now, our political system is broken and wounded, but it is not dead. We still have a Bill of Rights, and especially a first amendment through which our freedoms of association, speech, and to petition government with our grievances is still in tact. Unfortunately both sides of the political spectrum – and which one is arguing this depends solely on whether or not “their guy”, Obama or Bush, Republican or Democrat is in power – seem to think that the basic idea of the Declaration of Independence is either outdated or immoral. That basic idea that governments can go too far and that the people have a right, and a duty, to resist them when they break their end of the social compact. Though the level of resistance offered today by Mr. Stack (whose soul I shall pray for) was wrong, at least under these conditions, that which is offered by the American citizens who will undoubtedly and unjustly be tarred with the same brush is.
So I want to take this opportunity to not only repeat what most people already believe – that violence in this context and reckless individual behavior are wrong – but to stand firmly in defense of the first amendment right of the tea party movement, and all political dissent, to exist. To reject the double-standard that says “protest is patriotic when the other party is in power, but dangerous extremism when my party is in power.” At least on this blog, I hope we can agree on these issues.
Update: Two things are worth adding to this piece. 1) The media, and especially the leftist blogs, did immediately try to associate Stack and his actions with the tea party movement. 2) Stack was not a member of the tea party movement, as the first link shows.