[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]