Sunday, February 28, 2010

Confusing Matter of Degree With Type

Frank Rich of the NY Times has written a piece called "The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged".

Before I get to specifics, let me set the stage.

It does not always happen that we consider "type" first, then "degree" second, even though it is fundamental to accurate analysis that we consider type before degree.

For instance, upon examination of certain behaviour, how do we decide which professional to consult about that particular behaviour, a lawyer or a physician?

We have to consider the type of activity first, not the degree of that activity.

If someone is bleeding from the ears, it does not matter how slight the bleeding is (the degree), a lawyer is not the place to send a person with that type of symptom, the physician's office is the place for that.

In governmental issues, including dissent from government decisions, the same method of analysis must be followed if we are to avoid confusion of issues.

In doing that analysis, I like to adhere to the wisdom of the sages who formed our governmental structure.

They laboured under the premise that power corrupts, which influenced their design of the U.S. Constitution.

The cherished document they produced was intended to govern the government, in the sense of dealing with the reality of the corruption of power in an orderly, rights oriented fashion.

It would seem to follow, then, that issues of the use of power, governing, and dissent, should first be typed before such issues are considered under the "matter of degree" analysis.

In other words issues must be typed as issues of corruption of power, issues of function of government, or issues of dissent; the degree of the issue can then be considered coherently afterwards.

The issues of corruption of power are medicinal issues which the physician, the voters, should treat with election medicine; whereas, valid and proper personal opinions in dissent are a matter of civil rights.

Frank Rich, in the article mentioned above, stated:
No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.
(NY Times). If the premise of this Dredd Blog post is valid, the first thing we should do is to "type" the issue of "the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III".

The type of that behaviour should at once be obvious by the use of the word "murder", because it is an illegal type of behaviour, unprotected by the rights afforded personal opinion.

The event evidently confused many in and out of government, because they did not adhere to the proper type vs. degree analysis:
Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, even rationalized Stack’s crime. “It’s sad the incident in Texas happened,” he said, “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.” No one in King’s caucus condemned these remarks. Then again, what King euphemized as “the incident” took out just 1 of the 200 workers in the Austin building: Vernon Hunter, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran nearing his I.R.S. retirement. Had Stack the devastating weaponry and timing to match the death toll of 168 inflicted by Timothy McVeigh on a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, maybe a few of the congressman’s peers would have cried foul.
(ibid, NY Times). If the death toll degree was not 1, but instead was the higher degree of 168, maybe they would have cried foul?

Rich is saying they analyse this in a matter of degree fashion, missing the type of action it was: murder.

Rich mixes together dissent with Tea Party ideology in an incoherent manner, confusing political dissent with murderous behaviour.

It is clear to me that an incoherent national discussion of a murderous event exposes the epidemic of cognitive dysfunction which is propagating into a wide-spread social dementia where violence is seen as a norm.

I have argued that it begins within the government, then spreads to the populace via contagions of propaganda, polemics, and rhetoric.

I also argue that the medicine is a strong educational emphasis on civics for the people, together with actions to get the government back on its medicines, the big pill being accountability.


  1. I agree with the post, but (of course) would like to add that the IRS was really just the tip of the spear for Mr Stack. I got the distinct impression that his "disaffection" with the US Government in particular, and the American corporate structure in general, ran MUCH, MUCH deeper.

    The reason that his story resonates with so many is that so many feel deep down the same way he did, albeit they're not quite (yet) desperate/bold/crazy enough to do what he did. Resistance to the IRS in particular is and will remain on the rise for two reasons: everyone knows at some level that we either are now or soon will be insolvent, and two, its the financial elite that benefit the most from the current tax system, paying FAR less than their fair share, even as they skim unimaginable amounts of money out of the economy in ways that most people would simply find incomprehensible even if it was explained to them.

    Finally, violence IS the norm, from the Federal level on down. The mass psychosis of government sanctioned perpetual foreign wars against shadowy "enemies" that we can't even be sure actually exist can't help but infect the domestic sphere as well. We are a DEEPLY DISTURBED society who has lost our collective way in SO MANY ways its difficult to even know where to start. Joseph Stack is a harbinger of MANY more just like him to come.