There are selfish, evil, crazy people in the world, and they will always find a convenient excuse for violently expiating their own shortcomings on someone else.
There's a lot to consider here... I wish it were so cut and dried. When we talk about selfishness and causes, it is well to consider that we welcome some decisions, and reject others.
In this case, it comes down to personal selfishness. A person totally convinced that there are evil forces posted against the middle class. I believe that he saw what he did as being the only effective way to "wake up" the "victims" that he saw as being persecuted. That others died, he might have considered as collateral damage, much in the same way that we have taught ourselves to look at the innocent women and children that die on a regular basis, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fields of battle.
So it was individual selfishness... and it resulted in death to innocents. Madness? ... or a deviation from the norms we use to asses culpability? The selfish people that murder doctors that perform abortions. Some measure this by the same standards as Stack, yet there are those who consider them heroes, who have prevented the deaths of those yet unborn.
And then there is the matter of group consciousness, in the active pursuit of policies that they consider necessary to society as a whole. Whether the Posse Comitatus, the Ku Klux Klan, the Taliban, Al Quaida, or the United States decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
Group consciousness that somehow transcends the actions of a "Mad", "Selfish" individual, who transgressed for the sure and certain cause in which he believed. Yet the group decision to take even more lives is somehow made right by the concurrence of a majority, or a loud minority.
As we wait to see whether the United States will drop the bunker buster bombs on Iranian atomic research centers, perhaps we should ask the same questions about how civilized peoples obtain compliance with policies that they feel to be right and good. What happens when there is no apparent "other way"?
I seem to recall something that starts, "When in the course of human events...".
So here's the question. How many people does it take to right a perceived wrong? At what point does it become okay to make a bloody and public statement (including violence) when it appears that all accepted means have failed.
Or perhaps it comes down to just the saving of lives (nuclear bombing of Japan)... If that is the only justification, then what about saving civilization, or existing under the rule of a tyrant, or accepting slavery? At what point is collateral damage aceptable?
I think of the cases where a man loses his wife, or his child to the hands of a murderer, where the murderer is set free in a jury trial, or a legal mistake on the part of the prosecution. I think of those who will die because of a corporate decision that the drugs to save them are too expensive to allow any but the richest people to obtain.
As the newspapers bring more attention to the problems faced by a have/have not society, how many more desperate people will become Insane, or Selfish, or crazy. Are these people really evil?
Are we ready to measure all others by the same measure we use for ourselves? Should we... Should we... be compliant to societal norms? Should the indigent be held to the same moral standard as ourselves... despite mental problems, learning disabilities, or physical deficiencies? The fact that we might be able to go into a survival mode and exist through hard times, does not mean that all could do this.
I find myself a little hung up on the matter of concurrence. Like how many people does it take to make the really big decisions. I have read through the "Insurrection" book cited in another thread... three times, and at each reading, find myself conflicted over the moral decisions posited in the overview of the societal change that we have seen over the past 20 years. memo: insurrection
So back to Joe Stack... I would guess that in having made the decision to make a moral statement that would shock others into action... he failed. It is already a third page story that is now completely forgotten by the media that ran hours and hours of real time coverage. I believe that he will share the same notoriety accorded to other murderers such as Hanson. that the world will go on with hardly a second thought. At the same time, I expect that this is just the tip of the iceberg.