Opinion

Commentary: Joe Stack is no hero for flying plane into IRS office

Ken Hunter has a right to be upset. The man who killed his father by crashing a plane intentionally into a Texas IRS building is being portrayed as hero on Web sites and even has a fan page on Facebook.

Hunter's father, Vernon Hunter, was the IRS employee killed in the Austin building the plane hit. "How can you call someone a hero who after he burns down his house, he gets into his plane ... and flies it into a building to kill people?" Ken Hunter said. "My dad, Vernon, did tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad's a hero."

He's right. Yet in the cockeyed view of some people, suicide pilot Joseph Stack is being hailed for striking a "courageous blow against the tyranny of the U.S. tax code."

Let's be clear. Plenty of people have a bone to pick with the IRS. An audit often feels like a root canal done with a hammer.

But it's crazy and criminal when private individuals fly planes into buildings with the intent of killing other people. That's how the 9-11 suicide pilots, spouting their own grievances against the U.S. and our government, were labeled when they flew planes into the World Trade Center tower. So Stack's actions differ - how?

The rambling, 3,000-word screed he left before he went on his suicide mission included rants about his financial problems and his hatred of big business. But most of it focused on his fights with the IRS, including one after he failed to file a tax return because he said he had no income. He cited a 1986 change in the tax code affecting software contractors like him as the source of his problems.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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