Going postal is a symptom of a society run by sociopaths.
In the past week we've seen two well publicized cases of "going postal": those of Amy Bishop and Joe Stack. While Amy Bishop's case rests upon what will likely be found to be a personality disorder and Joe Stack's case looks more like an act of war against the powers that be, few people seem to ask the question: "What triggers people to do things like this?" I do not know enough about Amy Bishop or Joe Stack to answer that question in their cases, but I think if you looked under the surface you would find persons psychologically tortured for their awkwardness. In the spectrum of human mind types, there is a type that is highly gifted intellectually and sorely lacking in terms of social intelligence. I know because I am one of those persons. As a consequence of our inability to smoothly interact with others, we become targets of sociopaths that get their jollies by pushing our buttons. Some of us can endure this form of torture without going postal, but some of us cannot. Show me an intelligent person that has gone postal and I will show you someone tortured by their peers and sociopaths in power.
Over the course of my life I have fallen victim to many of those who live for emotionally abusing the socially inept. When you are mentally unable to notice the subtle social and interpersonal cues that form a current of subterranean communication in social discourse, you mistake sociopaths for friends, backstabber for best-buddies, and frenemies for best friends. After numerous experiences of betrayal by these people, one becomes distrustful and skeptical of the motivations of others. This is perceived as paranoia and paranoia puts forth a wide collection of buttons for sociopaths to push.
It is a well known fact that sociopaths disproportionately rise to the tops of hierarchies. In the wold of work, this means that all the corporate executives, members of the board, the president, and the vice-president of your place of work are all sociopaths. They differ from serial killers only in that they kill indirectly. In way of proof, I will share with you two stories out of many drawn from my personal experience.
Back in the late 1980s, I worked for a software company in Cambridge, MA. This company began its existence as a provider of Artificial Intelligence based products and devolved to its current status as a contractor for Homeland Security. The president of the company rose to her position by being the wife of a famous name (I write "name", not "luminary" because while he has the former, he is not the latter). Her poor art decorates his overpriced and poorly written text books.
While working for this employer, someone decided that I was paranoid (due to the fact that I noticed I was being harassed) and decided that making me more paranoid would be fun. At lunch my choice in food would be discussed and ridiculed. My political beliefs (I was a socialist at that time, now I'm an anarchist) were openly disparaged. However, worst of all were the petty things that were done to make me the joke of the office. Our main working area was a large room with cubicals. In a pattern of rows and columns, rectangular fluorescent lighting units illuminated the office. One day I came in and the only lights not working were over my cubical. I ignored it as coincidence. Later, in a conversation about the harassment I was being subject to, the vice president of the company mentioned the time when the lights were out over my cubical as an example of my paranoia. Apparently, he was under the impression that I had complained about the lights or communicated to others that I thought it was intentional. In truth, I never mentioned it to anyone and never even suspected it was intentional. When I pointed this out to him, he admitted that the president of the company had instructed them to take away my lights because she thought it would be "funny" to observe my reaction. He had, in fact, confirmed that I was intentionally being harassed.
We were all given telephone cards that were billed to the company and told that we could use them while traveling and that we could use them for personal calls as well. The company would simply deduct the cost of the personal calls from our pay checks. One time, while in California, I had an important telephone call to make. To my surprise, my card was rejected by the carrier. I called the issuer of the card to find out why. They told me that the president of the company had called in to have my card shut off. Once again, she was hoping that I would blame her for cutting off my card while denying that she had done so, yet another attempt to push my buttons. She never thought the issuer would tell me the name of the person that cut off the card.
I am sure that I am not the only one that was harassed by this woman. She made a point of ritually defaming previous employees with fantastical tales of misdeeds. For the man that actually came up with the name of her company (a guy known as "Saz"), she told us all that he would run around naked in the back room when no one was there. I asked how she knew he would do this if no one was there and she responded, "Well, I came in one time and he told me not to come to the back room as he was changing." This was on a weekend. Since many of us worked all night long, he very well may have been changing. Nevertheless, she felt it was her duty to defame Saz.
Amongst the others she defamed is a famous computer scientist (one of the most famous). She told us he smelled because his mental illness prevented him from showering. Another person, we were told, thought the CIA was communicating with him. My interpretation of all of this is that it was her way of letting everyone know that if you left the company, she would paint your name with feces.
I did snap while working for her, but it is not my disposition to hurt others when I snap. I responded by taking off in my car and going for a 600 mile ride. Had I been a slightly different person, perhaps everyone would be asking "Why did he do it", like we are now asking about Amy Bishop and Joe Stack.
While the wicked witch of Cambridge was a horror, she is nothing compared to the wicked witch of Austin, Texas.
Later in my career, I worked for another "Artificial Intelligence" company, this time in Austin, Texas. I was impressed with what I had read about this defense contractor, but would later discover it was all bull-sh!t. Somewhere between starting with them and discovering that they were less than honest about their work and accomplishments, I became the target of Mary. At that time, Mary was the head of human resources. She too reached her position of authority by having sex with the president of the company (a man whom she later married). There was a bit advice that everyone gave one another at this company: "Don't get on Mary's bad side." Indeed, while I was a director at this company, Mary recounted to us evil things she had done to people that "got on her bad side." She had reported one person to the IRS (not that he did anything wrong, but she had a friend there). She told me she had reported other people to the FBI (for what, I don't know, but she had friends there too). At a meeting for managers regarding lay-offs, she focused on firing older workers and referred to one as a "f*cking bitch." These people were indeed fired. I guess they got on Mary's bad side.
Well, somewhere along the way, I got on Mary's bad side. Mary did a lot of evil things in the hope of driving me crazy (things her husband later referred to as "hints to leave and a find another job."). These included paying another worker to harass me online with a web appliance that could not be traced back to the company, posting death threats online, dumping useless work on my lap, stalking me online, and even inviting a former romantic interest of mine to the office (read The Story of Bridget). As Mary ratcheted up the harassment, she sent me an email requesting my opinion on a matter. Specifically she asked me, "Steve, I think we need a plan of what to do if someone in our office goes postal. I am especially interested in your opinion. If you went postal, what would you do? Where would you come in? In what order would you take people out?" To this I responded, that I could only guess what someone would do. Being socially inept, I didn't realize at that time that she was preparing for the results of pushing me to snap.
After I left the company, Mary did her usual things. She reported me to the IRS (though I had done nothing afoul of the IRS) and the IRS responded by investigating me. It took a few years to clear up the matter, but things went smoothly when I explained to them why Mary had "reported" me to them: for harassment. She also contacted the FBI and the FBI responded by joining in on the harassment. The FBI even called me at home in coordination with the online harassment campaign that took part, in large portion, on IndyMedia. The important thing about this is that it is a perfect example of how people in positions of power and with connections intentionally try to push their targets over the edge. The hope they have is to induce a blood bath. They do this because they are unhappy unless someone is bleeding.
What got me thinking about writing this little essay is Joe Stack's act of war against the IRS in Austin today. The building he attacked houses the same IRS that was sent after me by Mary. The same complex houses the FBI office where "Stephen B.", special agent, works. He was Mary's FBI dog that was "sicked" upon me. The same complex also houses the CIA.
As you can imagine, when I heard of the attack I had mixed feelings. I understand Joe Stack's anger. I am willing to bet he was pushed over the edge with intent by someone that wanted to see a blood bath. His target seems like a logical one. However, I'd like to point out a few things. Despite the fact that the IRS was set upon me by a psychopath, the IRS never harassed me. They worked with on the issue. My experience with them was that the IRS agents I had to interact with were as human as I am. I do not believe they deserved to be attacked personally. As for the FBI, I think they are all douchebags. This is the same FBI that murdered innocent people at Waco. This is the same FBI that declared Austin IndyMedia to be a terrorist front. This is the same FBI that used a former Austin activist to provoke other activists to engage in illegal activities. Does that mean they should be blown up by a suicide crash? My answer to this, as surprising as it may be, is "no". Even sh!t bags have families that love them. I don't want to see a daughter lose her father. I talked about this with my pre-teen daughter. She said, "What if someone was mad at my school and crashed an airplane into it?" Think about that.
I don't blame Joe Stack for what he did. Surely, he was a suffering soul that snapped. I blame those who tormented him, whoever they are. It is time to ask ourselves, "Why do so many Americans go postal?" All societies have the mentally ill. However, our society is different in that it places into power those with the most dangerous mental illness: Sociopathic Personality Disorder. Indeed, our society rewards those that induce the misery of others for pleasure. The most vulnerable of those preyed upon by these monsters are those who suffer from depression and those with Aspergers. The consequence is a never ending string of unexpected explosions of violence. While we cry for the victims, the sociopaths chuckle and seek a way to profit from the blood on their hands.
There is no doubt that Joe Stack's unfortunate explosion will be seized upon by the sociopaths of the FBI, the police, the CIA, defense contractors, and political "leaders" as reason to acquire more power to torment us. Those of us who oppose the government's headlong rush towards dictatorship will be labeled potential "Joe Stacks". Mark my words. Each individual attack on the beast just makes it stronger. The only reasonable way to bring it down is through non-cooperation. It feeds on the Joe Stacks and Amy Bishops of the world. Don't feed the beast, starve it.
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