Wm J Beck III: This evening, I described to my mother’s brother how her baby boy now & then contemplates burning himself on the capitol steps.
Lynette Warr3n: Not trying to be cryptic. I just want to be clear
Wm J Beck III: It’s literally funny: I never even allude to that without suspecting that anyone who’s ever seen it before will suspect that I’m having an acute episode.
Lynette Warr3n: I know better
Wm J Beck III: It’s not, of course. This is chronic: low-level, but always present.
Wm J Beck III: Well, my uncle had never heard it before. He drew a sharp breath, and said, slowly and quietly: “That’s pretty heavy.”
Wm J Beck III: I was right instantly up in his face: “Well, what the motherfuck do you think it’s ever going to *take*?”
This was by no means the first time we’d heard Beck speak of thinking along these lines. He’s spoken of such matters in chat before, he’s even blogged about it recently. Upon witnessing the chat cited above I blogged an entry contrasting Thoreau’s determination to live in the world “be it good or bad” with Beck’s perspective. Beck soon contacted me and we had another chat. Then he wrote a post saying that Lynette and I seemed to be exhibiting “a good deal of the emotive force of hysterics” and that “Their estimation of my personal devotion to an ideal of freedom rises almost to the level of resentment because I am so serious about it.”
I had already decided to discuss all of this publicly but those comments will help make clear why. I’m doing so because I think that in public it will be more difficult for Beck to sustain the idea that we are resentful of his devotion to freedom or that we are in hysterics. Sometimes an audience can provide a reality check. Since he cares what people think about him I think he’ll find it more difficult to dismiss what we have to say in public than in private.
Beck says he cannot pay taxes. I say the fact that he does proves that he can:
jtk3isme: you pay taxes billy, so it seems to me you can
Wm J Beck III: What did you say?
jtk3isme: i said you pay taxes
Wm J Beck III: I mean: is that really what you intended to say?
Wm J Beck III: What are you talking about?
jtk3isme: you pay sales tax and other taxes
Wm J Beck III: John… have you *never* paid attention?
jtk3isme: sure I have
Wm J Beck III: I wouldn’t pay *those*, either, if I could find a way to stop it, and this fact has a serious implication.
jtk3isme: you do pay them, which means you *can*
Wm J Beck III: I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I will set up a fucking robot to let you know every Saturday that I haven’t burned myself on the Capitol steps. Will you shut your fucking impertinent mouth then?
jtk3isme: not a bit of it
Wm J Beck III: No, sir: I can’t. They’re different things.
jtk3isme: one theft is in princple different from another?
Wm J Beck III: No, they are different in practice. However, let me put it to you this way: by your way of thinking, I just die tomorrow. Will *that* shut you up?
jtk3isme: No, it will shut you up.
Wm J Beck III: You’re implying a problem of integrity, and I know the solution. Is that what you’re looking for?
Wm J Beck III: That should be at *least* as attractive to everyone involved.
Wm J Beck III: Certainly, the punk Swann might be satisfied.
jtk3isme: I’m not implying any lack of integrity for paying your taxes
Wm J Beck III: Look, John: don’t try to bullshit me.
jtk3isme: I say it’s fine
Wm J Beck III: It’s *not*.
jtk3isme: no really it is okay to live in the world, be it good or evil
jtk3isme: they commit a crime but you do not by paying
We’ve had the same discussion a number of times. Every time we do Beck chooses to construe it as an implicit attack on his integrity, as if I were saying he ought not be paying sales tax and other taxes. On the contrary, I’m saying that it’s fine for him to pay sales tax and it would be fine for him to pay income tax. I’m saying his behavior demonstrates that he judges that paying sales tax is better for him than not paying it – else he wouldn’t pay. His behavior demonstrates that he judges he should pay sales tax (which of course is not to say he should have to pay it, he shouldn’t) to get on with pursuing other values.
And he could pay income tax to get on with pursuing his other values.
Paying taxes is no moral crime and it need not be a vice.