Joe Stack Doesn't Represent Bassists or the Tea Party

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Krist Novoselic's column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. Check back on Friday when he writes about his current listening habits.
I got a call from Jack Endino the other day. He asked me if I had heard that the person who smashed his plane into the IRS building in Texas was also a bass player. "Now bass players will be vilified as terrorists!" I replied half-jokingly. "No," said Jack, "this dude was a nut." I agree. Yes, I'm a pilot and a bass player, and I'm also someone who sees the simple beauty in life.

Taxed Enough Already?, otherwise known as the TEA Party, is the political movement du jour of 2010. Joe Stack, who piloted the plane into the building--killing another person--was a longtime antitax crusader. It's too easy to believe he was so frustrated at the government that it drove him to commit the act. This thinking is fundamentally wrong because it rationalizes what he did.

The IRS building is in Austin, Texas--not a bad place to be a bass player. I spent a lot of time there in the early ought's when I was in the band Eyes Adrift. What a great town! It's a place that celebrates music, and there's a funky culture with a lot going on and tons of drummers, guitarists, and other musicians to play with.

Austin has nice weather, too. I looked at the photos of the burning IRS building and noticed the black smoke poisoning the beautiful blue sky. As a pilot here in the cloudy Northwest, when I see that kind of sky I know it's flying time. There's an old pilots' saying about bad weather: "It's better to wish you were in the air than get in trouble in bad weather and wish you were on the ground." Charles Lindbergh once said, "Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: What more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved." Flying is a wonderful miracle, and it's so offensive that Stack used a small plane as a weapon. Anti-government? Over the years, the FAA has put rules and an air-traffic system together that makes general aviation safe for everybody.

Speaking of government, what about the fundamentals of liberty in the United States? There is a basic right to protest the government. In fact, government buildings are traditional places to protest in front of. There's also the right to associate with like-minded others. Stack apparently did this regarding his antitax ideas for quite a few years. While I disagree with much of what the TEA Partiers are about, I respect that they're coming together in a democratic forum to work for the change they seek.

Like Washington state, Texas does not have an income tax. The idea of a state income tax seems to be radioactive in Washington. Many lawmakers would like to instate one here, but fear of voter backlash stops them. See my point? Our democratic system can reflect the will of the people. And Texas even has two Republicans in the U.S. Senate. The GOP is the antitax party, right?

There's a lot of rancor today within political discourse. But that's populism for you, and it's not right to lump a crazy person like Stack together with people in the TEA Party movement. It's important to be involved, but at the same time don't obsess or crusade with issues. If you can see it, there's much to enjoy in life.

 
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