Some People Need A Refresher Course On The Term “Hero”

In the aftermath of Joseph Stack’s suicide attack into the IRS building in Austin last week, it’s not surprising to see fringe elements of the population celebrating the actions of a clearly disturbed individual; that type of radical, divisive reaction is exactly why groups in the anti-government survivalist movement or the white supremacists, for example (who have already taken to calling Stack a “hero” for what his terrorist act last Thursday) are exactly that:  “fringe elements” of society.

But what’s more surprising — and disturbing — is than any others might be falling in line with that line of thinking.  But there are some, unfortunately, who are.  Stack’s daughter — not surprisingly — called her father a “hero” during a “Good Morning America” interview after the incident, though she has since backtracked on that statement in public interviews.  A Facebook page started in Stack’s honors shortly afterward had added over 2,000 members (though in the grand scheme of things, that number is proportionally almost nothing compared to our overall population).  What’s most concerning to me is the number of people I’ve seen say — whether in print, in person, or on the air — that “what Stack did was wrong … but …”

No, no, no.  There is no “but”.  What Stack did was a violent, unnecessary, and cowardly act that has no defense, and no excuse.  It doesn’t matter if anything he said or believed is or was true, and it doesn’t matter if anything that happened to him along the way was unjustified or not — there’s a right way to go about things, and attempted murder of other innocent people isn’t one of them.

I’m in no way a defender of our government’s behavior in these troubling times.  And I’m sure no one hates seeing the amount of money that gets taken out of a paycheck for taxes more than I do.  But such are the realities of the world we live in, and there’s a way to address the wrongs of our country and our world — but it’s not by killing yourself and trying to kill others to make a statement.  There’s a place to make a statement — and it’s at the ballot box in November.  We all have our chance to make a difference — and that’s by holding our elected officials to higher standards that we should expect them to have, but which have been missing in our elected officials for far too long.  Hold them accountable to actually do their jobs — to work with one another in the best interests of the populations they serve, rather than working for themselves and the special interests and donors that backed them at the expense of their constituents.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Math teacher David Benke with police after tackling a gunman during a school shooting

And for all of the people who are using the word “hero” to describe Stack?  Look around you — because not only are you butchering the language by your misrepresentation of the word, but in the process, you’re missing some real-life heroes elsewhere along the way that deserve you accolades a whole lot more.  Like math teacher David Benke, for example.   Benke  is being described as a hero today because he actually did something heroic — he tackled a gunman at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado yesterday afternoon, risking his own life but saving who knows how many others in the process.  Only two students were wounded in the attack, but if not for Benke’s bravery — and that of a second, unnamed teacher who helped to pin the gunman to the ground until help could arrive — the carnage at the school could have been far worse.

Benke risked his life to save people, Stack forfeited his own to try and kill them.  If you can’t tell the difference between the two, then you’ll never understand what the word “hero” actually means.

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