Should Joseph Stack Be Called a Terrorist?

A running NEWSWEEK debate about why and when we decide to call attacks on our country by the loaded word "terrorism."

Late last week, NEWSWEEK staffers debated over email about the "terrorist" label. The discourse went well over three days. Should Joseph Stack be labeled a terrorist? Who decides? Can we, as journalists, apply the label equally to the likes of Stack, the Unabomber, Al Qaeda, Timothy McVeigh or anyone who plans to kill, injure or plan some kind of destruction of government property for whatever reason?

This email thread was not intended for publication, but we wanted to open up the heated debate. Add your opinions in the comment section below.

Devin Gordon , Editor,
We've been having a discussion over here about the aversion so far to calling the Austin Tax Wacko a terrorist-or as the Wall St Journal called him "the tax protester." And I'm wondering if anyone has read yet - or would tackle themselves—a thorough comparison between our ho-hum reaction to a guy who successfully crashed a plane into a government building versus the media's full-throated insanity over the underpants bomber, who didn't hurt anyone but himself.

Kathy Jones, Managing Editor (Multimedia)
Did the label terrorist ever successfully stick to McVeigh? Or the Unabomber? Or any of the IRS bombers in our violence list?

Here is my handy guide:
Lone wolfish American attacker who sees gov't as threat to personal freedom: bomber, tax protester, survivalist, separatist

Group of Americans bombing/kidnapping to protest U.S. policies on war/poverty/personal freedom/ - radical left-wing movement, right-wing separatists

All foreign groups or foreign individuals bombing/shooting to protest American gov't: terrorists

Mark Hosenball, Investigative Correspondent
Certainly McVeigh + Unabomber

Read the rest here.

Also view our most wanted terrorists gallery here.

Join the Discussion