Monday, March 01, 2010

The Online Response to Joseph Stack's Terrorist Act...

A week and a half ago, Joseph Andrew Stack, fed up with Big Government, taxes, and entitlement spending, decided to fly an airplane into a building that houses the IRS in Austin, Texas, killing one innocent 68-year-old veteran in the process. Most reasonable Americans wouldn't consider this a "protest" action, but murder. Terrorism.

One thing that's fascinating is the response online to Stack's suicide-murder. Geekosystem reported that within hours, several Facebook groups appeared in praise of Stack. Among them: "Joseph Andrew Stack, we salute thee," "The Philosophy of Joe Stack," and "The Joe 'Take My Pound Of Flesh' Stack Anti-IRS Fan Page."

The Facebook groups each differ slightly, but the sentiment is largely the same. As one of them self-describes, "This page is NOT to glorify his actions, but simply to say that after reading his note, we can agree with and sympathise with Joe Stacks’ thoughts." Or another: "Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and is turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on."

Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote a revealing op-ed about how the most disturbing aspect to this story isn't Stack's suicide-murder, but rather the shocking willingness of politicians to sympathize with him. Congressman Steve King was quoted as saying, "It’s sad the incident in Texas happened, but by the same token, it's an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the I.R.S., it’s going to be a happy day for America."

Other reactions online echo that response. From Facebook groups, to blogs, to Twitter, to actual fan sites, it's stunning how much sympathy for Stack is proliferating on the internet.

Tons of other news organizations and blogs are covering this angle, and I don't want to simply regurgitate the same old stuff. I'll just add that, from an internet perspective, one of the most promising developments has been the counter-reaction. After the initial wave of pro-Stack content, there has been an enormous online backlash of people using the same web outlets - blogs, Twitter, etc. - to condemn the attack. For example, dozens of Facebook groups have since been created describing him as "NOT a hero" and a "terrorist".

The internet may indeed provide the nutjobs out there with a soapbox. However, it also provides that same outlet for the too-often silent majority of reasonable citizens. Thank goodness for that.


Post a Comment

<< Home