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  • The Rorschach Test for Evil

    Posted by Shannon Love on February 18th, 2010 (All posts by )

    [I did a post on this thread over at Reason and it went long so I decided to turn it into post here. I apologize for the sloppiness. I am pressed for time.]

    We have a modern ritual in which we try to see which political ideology is reflected in the murderous actions of people like Amy Bishop and Joseph Andrew Stack. This is especially true in the case of Stack who left a suicide blog post.

    The key to understanding this guy (and others like him) is to grasp the staggering depth of his narcissism and self-absorption.

    People who carry out these types of crimes have an incredibly invariant profile. It’s always the same in every single one of these crimes.

    (1) They have a seriously inflated sense of their own competence. They believe they are in the top 1% of their chosen field when they are usually merely average or sub par. Since they believe they deserve the top rewards but only get the average rewards, they constantly believe themselves cheated out of money, jobs and status.

    (2) They are incapable of acknowledging responsibility for anything negative that happens to them whereas positive events are entirely their own doing. Combined with (1) this leads them to the logical conclusion that vast forces are conspiring against them.

    For example, in Stark’s case, he refused to accept responsibility for complying with the tax code. Whether he agreed with the code or not, he should have known of and planned for the consequences of defying or just ignoring tax law. That is especially true in business. Yet he writes as if he was surprised that taxes can bite a business person in the ass.

    (3) Any and all events are interpreted solely through the lens of how it affects them. Great sweeping events only have context for them and them alone. In this case, he sees the end of the Cold War, the dot com bust, 9/11 and the recent collapse solely in terms of how these events affected him. He’s not upset that the government spent money to offset economic woes, he’s upset that the government didn’t spend money on him personally.

    (4) He will prove to have a long track record of “anger management” issues, and he will have lashed out at people physically before. There is a good likelihood he abused his wives or partners. (Amy Bishop shot her brother “accidentally” three times with a pump action shotgun. Then she was a suspect in an attempted bombing.)

    So at the end, he has constructed this little story in which the wonderful, fantastic, nearly flawless individual he believes himself to be is constantly cheated, abandoned and conspired against. He who is utterly blameless in all things is nevertheless crushed down by the injustice of the world. Of course someone so wronged as himself is justified at lashing out at any and all targets.

    Presented with two choices — (A) admit his shortcomings, redress his actions and start over or (B) kill as many people as he can while self-murdering to escape the consequences of his own actions — he chose (B) because that was the most selfish action he could take.

    That is the key to the political pattern in his rant. At every juncture, he chooses the political view that is the most individually selfish. When he must contribute to the collective via taxes he creates a rationale for why he personally doesn’t have to pay taxes. When he wants help from the collective, he whines that the collective does not take tax money from others and give it to him. He wants the government to leave him alone in business but then he wants the government to protect him from competition. On every issue, it’s always about what he needs right then and there.

    These people are the very definition of evil. They often reflect some part of every political belief because every political belief has some piece that can be used to justify being selfish and evil. They take only the bad and none of the good from every ideology.

    That is why they become a Rorschach test in which everyone sees evidence of some ideology they despise. Instead of trying to pin them on our political competitors, we might instead take these events as occasions for personal reflection. We shouldn’t just see those we dislike in the faces of these evil people…

    … we should see ourselves as well.

    [Note: I have frozen comments for this thread owing to a possible security issue with one of the commentators. I am leaving the thread up for the benefit of the FBI. — Shannon]

     

    15 Responses to “The Rorschach Test for Evil”

    1. kurt9 Says:

      The Stack case is due to his refusal to comply with the IRS rulings with regards to how contractors are classified for tax purposes. This arouse out of the SoCal aerospace defense contractors in the 1980’s that had a habit of hiring engineers as contractors, but essentially directed all of their work as if they were employees. The problem is that if you work independently, you must file quarterly tax statements on estimated earnings. Most of these “contract” engineers did not do this, which put them in liability with the IRS. This is the reason for the tax law change that resulted in tech contract people being treated differently than other contract people. I think Stack either failed to make his quarterly filings or refused to, year after year, thinking that he could buck the system. The system bit back and he went psycho, crashing his plane into the IRS center.

      Bishop is a rather bizarre psycho case that gets stranger and stranger with each revelation.

      I agree that excessive narcissism is probably a characteristic in both of these people.

    2. malthus Says:

      This guy is a hero!

      He took upon himself the task of rectifying a corrupt system and what we need, if anything, is more folks who, like Jesus, ML and MLK, actually act on their beliefs, instead of merely blogging. Let’s deal with the stupidities voiced against him, one by one:

      “(1) They have a seriously inflated sense of their own competence. They believe they are in the top 1% of their chosen field when they are usually merely average or sub par. Since they believe they deserve the top rewards but only get the average rewards, they constantly believe themselves cheated out of money, jobs and status.”

      Apart from the fact that the forgoing applies to Jesus, Socrates, etc., the IT contractors were in fact singled out by the IRS to be cheated out of money and jobs. Doctors and lawyers work as independent contractors without challenge by the IRS; why shouldn’t an IT contractor enjoy that status?

      “(2) They are incapable of acknowledging responsibility for anything negative that happens to them whereas positive events are entirely their own doing. Combined with (1) this leads them to the logical conclusion that vast forces are conspiring against them.”

      Vast forces are conspiring against them, namely the IRS.

      “For example, in Starks case, he refused to accept responsibility for complying with the tax code. Whether he agreed with the code or not or not, he should have know [sic] of and planned for the consequences of defying or just ignoring tax law. That is especially true in business. Yet he writes as if he was [sic] surprised that taxes can bite a business person in the ass.”

      Nobody has the obligation to comply with a tax code that is unfair and discriminatory. The Tax Code, like the Bible, is not self-justifying.

      “(3) Any and all events are interpreted solely through the lense [sic] of how it affects them. Great sweeping events only have context for them and them alone. In this case, he sees the end of the Cold War, the dot com bust, 9/11 and the recent collapse solely in terms of how those events affected him. He’s not upset that the government spent money to offset economic woes, he’s upset that the government didn’t spend money on him personally.”

      Wrong! Those of us, like single guys, taxed, suspected, arrested, accused — all for the sake of the breeders and their brood, have plenty of justification for violence against the unjust accusers, just as the Jews had against Hitler. We do NOT want to repeat the foolish non-violent, subservience of the Jews who went like sheep to the slaughter. Why the hell do you think we respect Von Stauffenberg nowadays? For his acquiescence to oppression? Selfish dude, huh?

      (4) He will prove to have long track record of “anger managment” issues and he will have lashed out at people physically before. There is a good likelihood he abused his wives or partners. (Amy Bishop shot her brother “accidentally” three times with a pump action shotgun. Then she was a suspect in an attempted bombing.)

      So who are your paragons of “anger management”? Could that be Paul Revere, Sam Adams or John Brown? HaHa. Did any of them abuse their wives, and if they did, who the hell cares nowadays? All patriarchs abuse their wives, no?

    3. CommanderCornflakes Says:

      Is Malthus for real? If so, he just happily outed himself as part of the narcissistic/evil class in the most efficient way possible.

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Malthus,

      Wow, you usually don’t get a living, breathing example of raving narcissism.

      Apart from the fact that the forgoing applies to Jesus, Socrates, etc.,

      Just because some great people were poorly thought of in their day or were in fact raving loons or brutal jerks does not mean that anyone who is poorly thought of, is a raving loon or is a brutal jerk is a great person. Your a great person because you do great things not because of your relation to society and your personal failings.

      …the IT contractors were in fact singled out by the IRS to be cheated out of money and jobs.

      Poor babies. They were the first people in history to have a comfy tax loop hole closed up on them. Gosh, that must be the worst thing to ever happen in the whole of history. What a whining little pussy. Do you have any idea what kind of tax and regulatory crap small business people have to put up with every fucking quarter? Boo hoo.

      Vast forces are conspiring against them, namely the IRS.

      No, the IRS is conspiring against all of us. They’re not special. They just convince themselves that they suffer so much more and so much more unjustly than the rest of us schlubs. Well, there not. We all get screwed.

      Nobody has the obligation to comply with a tax code that is unfair and discriminatory

      Yes, you fucking do! You know why? Because they’ve got all the goddamn guns and nukes. You pay your taxes or you fucking die! Do you not understand that? It has nothing to do with morality or any self-serving rationalization of rights. The government always gets its money.

      Everybody pays their taxes like or not. Only a arrogant screaming narcissist would believe that somehow their great moral/political insight would make them immune from the taxman. If you decide not to pay your taxes, for whatever reason, you should be willing to face the consequences. You know what is coming and have no right to lash out at others for the easily predictable results of your own actions.

      Comparing yourself to jews in the holocaust because you have to pay taxes is disgusting. Your just being annoyed by comparison.

      You just pissed off you’re so fucking incompetent, hapless and utterly unimportant. You’re a loser and you console yourself by imagining you’re engaged in some grand struggle for freedom when in reality your just a whining little bitch.

      I’ve got a smoking building down the street and I really don’t need some ignorant, self-rightous, self-absorbed, selfish little prick calling the sociopath that tried to burn a 12 year old girl to death a hero!

      Do I make myself clear?

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      CommanderCornflakes,

      Is Malthus for real?

      Yes, I think so. I’ve met the type before.

      He fits the profile. He’s a white male with some college who works in a technical field. He is socially inept. He has a string of unsuccessful relationships with women. Most people who know him consider him an angry, unstable person. He seldom admits error.

      He has a grandiose vision of himself at odds with his real accomplishments. Notice his attempt to tie himself via Stark to great historical figures. Gosh, he’s like Jesus and Socrates both persecuted for being so great! See! He’s being persecuted for being so great. He’s a drama queen. We’re like Jews in the Holocaust!

      If he reading this right now he’s sneering and thinking that we just don’t understand how great and brave he is.

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      I apologize for my language in my previous post. I broke my own rule of never cursing on the internet. Sometimes however, only curse words carry the emotional weight you need.

    7. malthus Says:

      Shannon,

      “Wow, you usually don’t get a living, breathing example of raving narcissism.”

      This is not about me, Shannon. I’m just a U of C trained nuclear physicist who doesn’t pretend to rise to level of a Socrates, Jesus, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Kaczynski, McVeigh, Stack or von Stauffenberg.

      “Your [sic] a great person because you do great things not because of your relation to society and your personal failings.”

      Correct. And here we are talking about a man who showed great courage in attacking an enemy of the Amerikan people. What do you know about Stack’s “relation to society” or his “personal failings”? What he did speaks for itself, but I’m glad he posted his manifesto to help crystallize the thinking of wavering lemmings.

      “No, the IRS is conspiring against all of us. They’re not special. They just convince themselves that they suffer so much more and so much more unjustly than the rest of us schlubs. Well, there [sic] not. We all get screwed.”

      You are attacking a man who is fighting your battles for you, a blogging coward.

      “Because they’ve got all the goddamn guns and nukes. You pay your taxes or you fucking die!“

      Both Bin Laden and fellow physicist A.Q. Khan have challenged that idea. Tune in a bit later for the results.

      “Do you not understand that? It has nothing to do with morality or any self-serving rationalization of rights. The government always gets its money.”

      So thought King George before the Boston Tea Party. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.” Maybe the attack on the IRS is the Burning of the Amerikan Reichstag?

      “If you decide not to pay your taxes, for whatever reason, you should be willing to face the consequences.”

      I think Mr Stack knew the consequences and he faced them like a man, not a blogger.

      “I’ve got a smoking building down the street and I really don’t need some ignorant, self-rightous [sic], self-absorbed, selfish little prick calling the sociopath that tried to burn a 12 year old girl to death a hero! Do I make myself clear?”

      Yes, I also live just down the street, and I can’t wait to run into you.

    8. tehag Says:

      Malthus,

      The only people who are allowed to rebel against government oppression are happy, well-adjusted, competent, orderly, and obedient. Others are simply criminals. And when one does decide to rebel, attacks at institutions are verboten. No killing of 12-years olds. Only campaigns of targeted assassination against the actually guilty are permissible. (As we rise from the chain from the poor fool who has to type tax returns into the database who is at the top?)

      tehag

      Who once worked in that building for a few weeks. Sat next a well-adjusted woman who wore see-through blouses.

    9. Anonymous Says:

      This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 2/19/2010, at The Unreligious Right

    10. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I was going to comment that the description of Joe Stack, except for the actual acting out of his fantasies, was a good description of a KailyKos or Democratic Underground regular contributor. Then, along came Malthus to prove me right.

    11. Michael Kennedy Says:

      That obviously should be DailyKos. It’s early.

    12. Shannon Love Says:

      Malthus,

      Yes, I also live just down the street, and I can’t wait to run into you.

      If that is a threat be aware I am a Texas and I have both the ability and the willingness to use lethal force in self-defense of myself and others. Unlike you and Stark, I’m perfectly willing to suffer the consequences of any actions I take.

      Of course, it would be my luck to get shot in the back by some pansy-assed, murder-suicide coward. (See below)

      But by all means look me up. I’m easily found. Heck, send me your contact info and you can come over for coffee. If nothing else, I want to see the look on your face when you meet up with a real adult who believe you might have just threatened their family.

      Now, as to the substance of your sniveling little rant.

      This is not about me, Shannon

      Oh it is all about your. Your just weepy and whining as Stark.

      Let’s see how you fit the profile:

      White Male: Confirmed by writing pattern.
      Some College: Confirmed subsequently by describing yourself as, “University of California trained“. However, it is very unlikely that you actually have even a bachelors degree. More likely, you merely majored in physics as an undergraduate before dropping out. You have never actually worked as a physicist. You blame your lack of attainment on other people.
      In a Technical Field: Yep, physicist, although that is not your actual job. More likely, you work as programmer or other computer related field and you do so at an ordinary level. You probably describe yourself to other like, “Yeah, I’m a physicist but I do computer work to pay the bills.”
      Poor relationships with women Yep, self-described as single.
      Socially inept: Yep, the incoherence of your first post and your inability to understand how it would be interpreted by most people confirms that.
      Inflated sense of self-importance: You did analogize yourself to great people in your first post. You describe other people, but not yourself, as “wavering lemmings”. You believe that you have a superior understanding of the world to such an extent that it justifies acting violently. You see someone who on their own self-granted authority, took it upon themselves to kill for political reasons. You have no concept that you might be overreacting or perhaps just plain wrong. Most significantly, you think that Stark’s acts are important in the grand scheme of things because you think you are important in the grand scheme of things.
      Selfish and Self-Absorbed Check. The great crime of the state that springs first to your mind is that people like you are unjustly taxed to support the effort to keep the human species from going extinct. You think being forced to pay for children when you have none (thank [insert deity here]) is every bit as bad as being having yourself and everyone you love marched off to the gas chamber. You have a staggering martyr complex.

      Let me just add that children must be cared for regardless of the political circumstances of the moment. Children in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia still needed to be cared for. It is the function of all adults to care for all children however indirectly. Everything we do devolves down to getting the next generation up and running.You just man up and do what you have to, when you have to with what you have.

      The fact that you value your own immediate unenlightened self-interest more important than the survival of the species truly reveals the degree of your self-absorbtion. You don’t care for humanity or any subset of humanity down beyond yourself. (Right now you’re thinking, Why should I? What has ‘humanity’ ever done for me?” The thought that it isn’t even about you never enters you head.)

      Your self-absorbtion is further revealed by the fact that you claim to be seeking political reform/revolution yet you analogize parents and children to animals in a clearly pejorative manner. Why do you think that will advance your supposed political goals? What practical political purpose does it serve to make people think you hold them contempt and regard their children as vermin? We could just write this off to your stupidity owing to your social ineptness but I think it more likely that you simply don’t actually care about political reform/revolution. All you care about lashing out angrily, inflating your self-esteem and creating a fantasy in which you are a martyr.

      And here we are talking about a man who showed great courage in attacking an enemy of the Amerikan people.

      Wow, I had no idea that 12 year old girls were enemies of the “Ameri-k-an” people. This will certainly make me more wary of girl scouts in the future.

      Stark’s acts weren’t for the common good. He tried to kill individuals whom he believed had personally wronged him out pure vengeance. He started with his ex-wife and her daughter and then struck at the specific IRS office were his case was handled. His political manifesto is just his self-serving rationalization for his own personal vengeance. True political revolutionaries do not use political violence to revenge personal insults.

      Most revealingly, he struck out in the way most counterproductive way possible given his supposed political beliefs. Had he simply committed suicide in some attention grabbing method that didn’t harm anyone else, the entire focus of the story and debate would have been what the evil IRS did to drive him to such extremes. Instead he chose the one method guaranteed to make the IRS the victim and to link in the minds of the general public people who oppose the IRS with foreign mass-murdering terrorist.

      You are attacking a man who is fighting your battles for you, a blogging coward

      I did not need individuals who intentionally set out to burn children alive to fight my battles for me. Neither do I need individuals who are so stupid and self-centered that they set back the causes for which I struggle. Stark’s actions might as well have been those of an agent provocateur custom designed to increase the power and prestige of the IRS and the political complex surrounding it. A few more people like Stark fighting my battles for me and I’ll have an IRS agent living in the spare bedroom.

      Like all murder-suicides, Stark was coward. He wanted to lash out but he wanted to escape responsibility for having done so. The goal of real warriors is to dominate and control the enemy while surviving to go on to build a better peace. They don’t go out in a self-serving, counterproductive, blaze of self-imagined glory and leave others to clean up there mess and continue the fight. If his true goals where political, he would have hung around to turn his trial into podium for his ideas. He would have suffered arrest, trial and imprisonment for the greater good.

      He was just a little whining wimp and so are you for admiring him.

      So thought King George before the Boston Tea Party. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Every generation needs a new revolution.

      The founders well understood that if they failed, they would hang. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to the cause of freedom. That didn’t act shocked and amazed that the King set troops against nor did whine about the cosmic unjustness of it all.

      Stark writes as if utterly shocked that the IRS screwed him over or that there would be consequences for not doing his taxes. He tries to frame himself a visionary revolutionary but then complains that when we he boldly walked up and kicked the dragon of the state that the dragon kicked back. If you’re going to stand up the state, for whatever cause, you have to be willing to personally suffer the consequences of doing so. You can’t use those consequences to go on a self-interested killing spree.

      Maybe the attack on the IRS is the Burning of the Amerikan Reichstag?

      I hope not because that would mean that the IRS would use the attack to launch a sweeping expansion of its powers using the attack as a pretext. (I am assuming you don’t Hitler’s use of the Reichstag fire as something positive.)

      I think Mr Stack knew the consequences and he faced them like a man, not a blogger.

      You have a strange definition of manhood. Men do not kill children. Men do not fight with a callous and selfish disregard for innocent bystanders. Most importantly, true men always accept responsibility for their actions.

      When you grow up, perhaps you’ll learn that lesson.

      I also find it revealing that you castigate those who write and persuade for political reasons while at the same time venerating the Founders who are most venerated for the ideas they left us. We don’t venerate Washington because he was such a great warrior, we venerate him for his political integrity. Jefferson was militarily hapless and Franklin was too old.

      Ideas are the ultimate weapon because people fight for ideas.

      So, to summarize:

      (1) Stark was a whining little, self-absorbed pussy who killed for personal reasons.
      (2) You’re a whining little, self-absorbed pussy for excusing and admiring him.
      (3) If you ever give me a reason to believe your are a creditable threat to my loved ones (or anyone else for that matter ) you will die unless the law gets you first and locks you up somewhere where I can’t get to you.

      I think for your own safety you should fine another forum to bloviate on.

    13. bobmark Says:

      I belive Amy Bishop only shot her brother once, firing another shot into a wall, and a third while discarding the gun.

    14. malthus Says:

      Shannon,

      You insult me. U of C refers to University of Chicago, the home of Enrico Fermi.

    15. Shannon Love Says:

      Malthus,

      You insult me. U of C refers to University of Chicago, the home of Enrico Fermi.

      That’s what insults you? Really?

      I think you should be worrying that I think you just made a physical threat against my family. You might want to hastily clarify your intentions before I decide you meant it.

      You have just made a very, very dangerous mistake. In the best case scenario it might just lead to humiliation or the loss of your job. In the worse case, it ends with your imprisonment or death. You may have well crossed a legal and moral line that will have serious consequences for you.

      I have to operate on the assumption that your admiration of Stark will lead you to emulate him. I have to operate on the assumption that you area near delusional, borderline sociopath we might fixate on my family instead of the IRS. I have to operate on the assumption that like Stark you are willing to kill and then commit suicide to avoid responsibility. (That means that the law may not be able to deter you.) I have operate the assumption that like Stark you are willing to murder however many innocent bystanders, even children, to get to me.

      Let me clear, awful things might happen to you and me but they will not happen to anyone else. You are not going out in a blaze of self-imagined glory. You are going to rot in prison or die ignobly.

      This is not internet bluster. If you read my post history you will see that I have longed maintain a willingness to what ever it takes to protect people. I come from a western rural culture in which people handle their own immediate security and it is expected of me that I will accept prison or death to defend my loved ones.

      You need to wake up. This is not a game and the internet cannot hide you forever from someone like me.

      Do you understand me?

      More importantly, do you believe me?