“I WAS ONLY DOING MY JOB”: Why Lois Lerner should be tarred and feathered

When John Adams defended the shooters of the Boston Massacre the essence of the defense was that the soldier, who fell under pressure from a raging mob—largely led by John Adams cousin Sam, accidentally fired into the crowd launching a barrage of shots from the other English troops killing several in the crowd. The defense was that the soldier was simply doing his job as a servant to the Crown and the uniform. Later of course John Adams would take up the patriot cause more and more until he would be an eventual President of The United States. However, the foundations of his argument hastens back to the many evils often perpetrated by individuals in service to a system created by collectivism and uttered by the simple words—“I was only doing my job.”

The term is used daily all across the world when phrased as an explanation for something that goes wrong. The presumption is that the individual is somehow disassociated from an act because of service to a system and the requirements of surrendering thought to collective action. When somebody does something bad against someone else they often look for the escape—“I was only doing my job” to alleviate responsibility for their actions.

For instance, when a cop gives an expensive ticket to a housewife on her way to the grocery store and she declares that the only reason she was getting a ticket is because she’s driving a nice car, lives in a nice area, and has a nice life and can therefore pay the ticket without further trouble for the court—the cop says—“I am only doing my job.” With those simple words the officer shrugs off any personal responsibility for decisions and surrenders his actions to the benefit of the collective whole even though he did target the housewife instead of the Cheech and Chong look-a-likes who might have been in the next car. The housewife was an easy target, low confrontation type who typically pays the fee without any trouble. The other types might not even have the money for the fee creating defaults in court, time in jail, and all kinds of further work for the officer, so he picked the housewife for a ticket and blamed the system he served.

When a White House spokesman lies to the public to defend a president guilty of many crimes—the spokesman claims that “I was only doing my job.” When a lawyer defends a murderer whom he knows is guilty but provides a defense anyway doing whatever may be done to get the client off the punishments for the accused crime the lawyer says—“it is my job.”   The term itself refers to the notion that crimes can be committed so long as they are for a collective causes within an institutional system—but if that same act is committed between individuals, then punishment is expected.

This term, “I was only doing my job” is an old archaic notion left over from our primitive past as nomads and hunters and gathers where a village chief pointed the society they led to the higher cause of collective salvation. Modern society is only a few hundred years removed from this type of remnant behavior, so the type of individuality represented by American philosophy has not yet been biologically accepted as a new static pattern socially. People are still socially, mindless creatures trying to figure out where they stand in the grand scheme of things and their personal focus is still centered on service to a system over their own impulses to think. This is what is meant when someone declares, “I am only doing my job.”

Responsibility is not lost to the phrase, just the acknowledgment of an imposition. It is impossible to blame a system blob like presence like the “federal government, or a corporation over the individual behavior of the participants. When the police declare that they are just doing their job to kick in doors and arrest people for charges more politically motivated than attempts at justice—they are allowing the institution and their service to it to guide their thought instead of contemplating the value of an order given by a “superior.” When something goes wrong, they declare—“I was just following orders.” In this fashion the current IRS scandals was thought to be avoided as the participants taken individually are likely good people who shop at the same stores as everyone else, raise kids, see movies and eat at restaurants. But when they were asked by Lois Lerner to perform illegal actions of activism they said to all who questioned them, “I am only doing my job.” In this way many crimes were committed by the IRS because the leader at the time was a political activist using the arm of the IRS for personal conquest of opponents to a big government philosophy.

When Commissioner of Customs John Malcolm was accused of telling on tea smugglers in Boston in 1773 he was stripped, tarred and feathered and paraded around the city as a victory against tyranny. Before the lynching the man attempted to declare—“I’m just doing my job” hoping that it would relieve him of judgment by the angry mob who was sick of taxation without representation and the monopoly power of the tea supply company to levy taxes. The mob, led again by Sam Adams and witnessed by his cousin John held the Commissioner responsible for his individual actions not as a member of the East India Company or a favored member of the Crown in England—but as an individual who made a conscious decision to participate in a system perpetrating tyranny against the colonies. The difference between then and now is that the Sons of Liberty involved in the Boston Tea Party were holding individuals accountable for their evils instead of allowing the responsibility of a “system” to suck blame like a black hole—and this forced change.

By those who resent America the Boston Tea Party is often thought of as a terrorist act comparable to something like the World Trade Center attack, or the Boston Marathon Bombing. But there is a distinct difference that must be brought to light. The radicals of Islam, and other related tribal mentality terrorism is utilized to attack the collective mass through fear to have an impact on the institutions represented. For instance, the World Trade Center attack was designed to strike at the American economy as an institution by attacking a collective symbol—the sky scrapers of economic activity. The essence of the Tea Party attack in 1773 Boston was to remove the mask of individual responsibility to collective evil—by negating the term—“I was only doing my job.”

The crises that John Adams felt—America’s second president—was that he had defended that institutional position when defending the Red Coats during the Boston Massacre. Because of his fair and civil defense of the Crown’s army, Adams was offered into the elite circles of the King’s personal advisors as a reward. Yet Adams turned away from this being appalled by the actions leading up to the Boston Tea Party ultimately he made the decision as a very good lawyer to stand behind individual merit instead of collective sacrifice. By the time he was nominated to attend the First Continental Congress, he had evolved as a person who could argue in defense of men guilty of crime by declaring that “they were only doing their jobs” and begin holding people accountable for their individual actions in spite of their role in the institutional representation.

Much evil is conducted behind the façade of goodness to an institutional cause. But this does not get people off the hook of judgment. They are still required to be good people and to make decisions based on what’s right as an individual–opposed to an entity functioning as a tyranny because of institutional commitment to non-thinking collectivism. The Boston Tea Party was an act of accountability—in not allowing individuals to hide behind institutional evils.   The 9/11 terror attacks were collectivist attacks upon an institution thought of as American imperialism. In that circumstance the terrorists were individuals serving a collective desire—whether that desire was world bankers advancing their investments, or crazed lunatics committed to Islam it does not matter. One was an act of aggression for the good and one was for the bad. The difference between good and bad in this case is the commitment to individual value or collective based institutional assessment. America was formed upon individual value and it is there that the great differences reside. It is why John Adams came to realize that his cousin Sam was actually not such a provocateur and was actually standing for something unique on the world stage—a commitment to justice as judged by individuals as opposed to institutional preservation. In this case the term, “doing my job” has roots in the value of the individual instead of institutional concerns and does not allow vile acts to be performed behind a curtain of indecision, such as what has been happening at the IRS which dictates another type of Boston Tea Party where the individuals helping conceal the crimes should be tarred and feathered in pursuit of justice that has value where it is otherwise vacant. And this should be the fate of Lois Lerner so to send the message that institutional preservation is not going to hide behind the evils, lies and deliberate crimes of IRS leaders and their political activism paving the way for attacks against value. She was not “doing her job,” she was allowing tyranny to spread through institutional corruption and that deserves punishment.


Rich Hoffman