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Goodbye Jesus

If Ward Cleaver Were Alive Today


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By Mark Ames:




If Ward Cleaver were alive today, he'd rarely be home to see his wife and children; and when home, he'd be an impossible crank, always getting called on the cellphone or buzzed on the Blackberry. The stress from seeing his health insurance get slashed would only be overshadowed by the fear caused by another round of white-collar downsizing and vicious memos from the senior executives implying that more fat was yet to be cut from the company payrolls. Mr. Cleaver would work weekends and forego vacations, and likely vote Republican, forced to choose between the hypertension medicine and the blood-thinner pills since he can't afford both, not under the new corporate HMO plan.... His anger and stress would push him into cursing Canada for being a hotbed of anti-American liberalism while at the same time he'd agonize over whether or not to order his medicines from their cheap online pharmacies. He'd have no time for imparting little moral lessons. "Not now, leave me alone," he'd grumble, washing down the last of his Cumadins with a low-carb non-alcoholic beer while watching The O'Reilly Factor through clenched teeth. His wife June would be stuck at a three-day merchandising conference at a Holiday Inn in Tempe-if they weren't divorced by now-while the Beaver would be standing in front of his bedroom dresser mirror in his long black trenchcoat, clutching his homemade pipebombs, and plotting revenge on Eddie Haskell and all the other kids who call him "gay" and "bitch" and make his life a living Hell...

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The first reports of the rage massacre at the Connecticut state lottery gave the impression that the shooter, thirty-five-year-old accountant Matthew Beck, was a barking lunatic: he had been treated for mental illness and suicidal tendencies, and now he had finally gone over the edge, slaughtering his co-workers with all the deranged purpose of a Freddy Krueger. He played paintball, they noted. At his father's house, where Beck lived his last six months, a sign read, "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." But the most chilling image was that of Beck standing over his last victim in the office parking lot with the gun aimed at the man's head. The victim pleaded for his life and the frightened co-workers, who were hiding in the nearby woods, yelled for Beck to spare him. But Beck just smiled and shot the man in cold blood before turning the gun on himself.


Yet what emerged later from more comprehensive accounts was far more ambiguous than first allowed.


Matthew Beck worked at the Connecticut state lottery as an accountant for eight years. He was considered a hardworking and loyal employee, but near the end he grew angry and disgruntled because he was not getting the promotions he felt he deserved. In our post-Reagan culture, most Americans would instinctively side with Beck's supervisors, operating on the assumption that corporations generally operate like efficient meritocracies rather than crude popularity contests.


Yet in each American's own private experience, we know how profound a role the supposed non-occupational factors-office politics, personal relations, connections, petty malice, attendance at the company barbeque, hygiene, fashion, one's ability to smile and make it look sincere, a sense of humor (or what passes for a sense of humor in the office world), as well as sheer luck and circumstance-play in an employee's ability to advance up the company ladder.


Beck was described by his co-workers as a "diligent and quiet" employee, a subtle way to describe an employee who doesn't play for the company softball team or peck his fellow workers with wacky jokes and anecdotes. Beck had hoped to get promoted at last to associate accountant, which would have made him a supervisor and increased his pay.


But he was skipped over, despite his work and seniority. To make matters worse, less than six months before his murder rampage he was assigned to do data processing on top of his stagnating accounting duties.


This was adding insult to injury-especially as they underpaid him for the new work by roughly two dollars per hour, according to a grievance that he filed and subsequently won.


Was he passed over for promotion because of poor performance? One supervisor whom he spared, Karen Kalandyk, admitted that when it came to computers, "He was so much beyond the rest of us that you tried to use his talents." His problem then? He couldn't communicate. "He couldn't tell us what he knew," Kalandyk said. In other words, he didn't join in the depressing Soup Nazi citation-tournaments with other employees over by the water cooler.


In August 1997, Beck filed a grievance against the state to complain about his unfair treatment. Fellow employees say that around this time Beck changed, both physically and emotionally. He went from being a quiet, diligent worker to a broken and bitter man.


"He was always angry about not being promoted," one supervisor said.


"He became visibly withdrawn into himself [around the time that he filed his grievance]," said John Krinjack, a lottery sales rep. "He took on a severe look, an angry look. He looked like he had lost weight and gotten pale. For a while there, I thought he was really pale."


There is no indication that this obvious physical deterioration elicited any sympathy or support from Beck's supervisors or co-workers. Rather, what they conveyed to reporters is something like revulsion. Clearly he didn't fit into the frat-house, and they did their best to push him out.


"He looked a little evil in a way," said another accountant, David Perlot. "He talked a little sinister, like. He struck me as odd, not the kind of person that I wanted to get close to."


Was he always this way? Was he born weird and evil, or did his experience at the Connecticut lottery somehow deform his personality? Here is how a shocked childhood friend, Herbert Vars, described Beck: "He was the all American guy. He was Mr. Clean-cut."


Another childhood friend said that going back to elementary school, he had never even seen Beck argue with someone. "I would never have expected it from him," he said, noting that they had continued to hang out and even hike together until Beck's downward spiral.


Yet after eight years as an accountant with the state lottery, he was "odd," not the type that "I wanted to get close to." His missed promotion had less to do with his work performance, and more to do with the conditioned behavior his superiors wanted of their underlings. Beck did not have the cheerful attitude that masters prefer.


Two months after filing the grievance, Beck took a medical leave, suffering from the effects of stress. He was falling apart. It must have been painful for Beck to not only work for and take orders from people who refused to promote him, but worse, for people who ordered him to work more for no extra pay, people who must have been quietly and subtly getting their revenge on him for filing the grievance. Beck's relationship with his girlfriend suffered. He moved back home with his parents, underwent treatment at a psychiatric hospital, and started to take psychiatric medicines. He even tried committing suicide.


For someone clearly intelligent, industrious, and quiet like Beck to get rejected and mistreated by his workplace after eight years of hard, quiet, diligent work, which even after his shooting spree was described as "so much beyond the rest of us that you tried to use his talents," was a cruel and disrespectful harassment.


It must have struck him as an injustice of cosmic proportions. When he was finally denied his promotion, he essentially saw it as the end of his life.


While on leave, Beck turned whistleblower. He went to the local newspapers exposing corruption in the Connecticut Lottery. In November 1997, lottery officials admitted that they had inflated their figures for years by rounding up numbers to the nearest half million.


"They need to increase (revenues) by thirty million dollars and they're under a lot of pressure to let other things take a back seat," Beck told the New London Day newspaper.


He also exposed to the Hartford Courant how some store clerks were cheating the system by "fishing" for instant winning tickets. The clerks would punch code numbers into lottery computers until they came up with the winning combination and then they'd take the cash. Lottery officials at the time of the shooting spree refused to comment on this allegation.


Beck also tried to interest reporters in his own employment grievance against the lottery. But they didn't bite. According to an Associated Press story, here is why: "The Courant described him as frothing at the mouth and said his eyes were 'wild,' while the Day described him as 'scruffy' in appearance." There's quite a difference between appearing scruffy and frothing at the mouth-perhaps what they simply meant was that Beck didn't smile much.


Try to understand Beck's profound sense of dislocation. Here he worked for the state lottery, which by definition is already a sleazy enterprise, a government-run scam that preys, like all gambling dens, on the desperate dreams of predominately lower-class fools. And even in this officially sanctioned scam, the state was scamming its own scam to make the scam look like it was working! Yet the same corrupt supervisors who were fixing the scam were, at the same time, passing judgment on Beck's life, condemning him to stagnation not for being a bad worker, but for not being one of the boys. And Beck was the crazy one? He was expected to shut up and take it?


"I saw no prospect that my condition would ever be changed. Yet I used to plan in my mind from day to day, and from night to night, how I might be free."


-The Narration of Lunsford Lane, a slave memoir published in 1842


Otho Brown, the lottery president, told the media that the lottery's practice of inflating figures had been stopped. Brown was the man Beck later shot in the parking lot.


In January 1998, Beck won the first part of his grievance against the lottery. So he wasn't imagining his injustice. But the damage had already been done-he was crushed.


While still awaiting the grievance board's ruling on his back pay, Beck decided to return to work. His colleagues were openly hostile upon seeing him return. They had him marked as a loser.


As one employee, who asked to remain anonymous, told the New York Times, "He knew he wasn't going to go anywhere. Management distrusted him."



In February 1998, just a week after returning to work at the lottery, one of Beck's supervisors gave him the task of tracking lottery employees who were given state vehicles as a fringe benefit. It must have been like salt in the wounds: "Why don't you monitor other privileged employees who gets the perks we've denied you?"


The office massacre took place on March 6. Like the word "stress," "office" is far too simple a word to describe both the oppressive spirit of the place and also the typical degrading interior. It cannot describe how, by sheer dehumanizing design, it flattens you with that horrible fluorescent light, those white walls, beige cubicle partitions, the trim industrial carpeting, the disinfectant-scented restroom stalls, and the buzzing vending machines . . .


One local reporter described the state lottery office as a "nondescript warren of offices . . . a maze like collection of cubicles and small offices, connected by narrow hallways to still more offices in the one story concrete block building."


The New York Times reporter on the scene offered this picture: "It is an ordinary building, beige, with a warehouse in the back, but to many people, the headquarters of the Connecticut Lottery is a place of fantasy where the big winners go to pose with the big cardboard check. They follow the bright yellow "Prize Claim Center" sign into a special reception area and collect jackpots from six hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars.


"There is another entrance, one used by the secretaries, accountants, data processors and other employees who keep the Connecticut Lottery humming. They must punch in a security code to enter the rabbit's warren of cubicles and partitions.


"An outsider could easily get turned around in this maze, but Matthew Beck, an accountant, had worked at the lottery for more than eight years. He knew where he was going, and on Friday morning, he knew what he wanted to do."


In other words, an office just like any other. Did the journalists who wrote these descriptions understand that they were describing part of the murder spree's cause?


It was Casual Friday at this nondescript warren of offices, a day which most well-conditioned American workers greet cheerfully. But in its own subtle way the concept of Casual Day is just another demeaning reminder of how much power the company has over you, even commanding how you look and dress, when you need to stiffen up and when you can relax. Even slaves had their version of Casual Friday. As Robert Anderson noted in From Slavery to Affluence, "The slave on a plantation could get together almost anytime they felt like it, for little social affairs, so long as it didn't interfere with the work on the plantation."


Matthew Beck wore jeans and a brown leather jacket for Casual Day. At the start of the workday, Beck was seen speaking to his former data processing supervisor, Michael Logan. Logan was the first to deny Beck's grievance over his nonpromotion, before the complaint was taken to a higher authority. And Logan was the IT manager who oversaw Beck's humiliating and illegal added workload for no extra pay the year before, when he was moved to data processing work. A co-worker said that Beck looked "real ticked off" while talking to Logan.


Linda Mlynarczyk, the chief financial officer and Beck's senior supervisor in the accounting wing (another key oppressor from his experience), walked past and told Beck to take off his coat. It was thirty minutes into the work day and keeping your leather coat on was not in the spirit of Casual Day. But Beck wasn't in a Casual Day mood. So he answered her curtly: "No."


Logan finished talking with Beck and walked back to his office. Beck sat at his cubicle for a few minutes, staring off into space. At 8:45 am he stood up and walked into Logan's office. After a brief confrontation, Beck pulled out a military-style knife and plunged it into Logan's stomach and chest, killing him.


He then backtracked toward the front of the building and barged into a meeting room. Again, the privileged-class meeting room acts as focal point for the raging insurgent. The meeting was led by Mlynarczyk and attended by four other employees in the accounting department.


Beck keyed in on his objective: the CFO herself. He pulled out a Glock 9mm semiautomatic handgun from his coat, pointed it at Mlynarczyk, and said, "Bye-bye." He shot Mlynarczyk three times, killing her. Just a few days before she had met with Beck to explain to him his new duties, now that he had returned to work.


It is not hard to imagine how uncomfortable that meeting must have been for the humiliated, aggrieved Beck; nor is it difficult to imagine the subtle way that a supervisor who dislikes her employee can transmit contempt.


Mlynarczyk had previously served as mayor of nearby New Britain, a city of seventy thousand with a large ethnic-Polish population. She was the first Republican to be elected mayor of New Britain in twenty years-and she was tossed out after just one term. Her single term was marked by controversy over the fact that she had privatized the city cemetery and named her fianc_ the corporation counsel. She also forced the city union to make concessions to lower expenses and make New Britain more "business-friendly." While she may have been for the free market and fair competition, when it came to her own fortunes Mlynarczyk practiced familiar Old Europe rules of the back-scratching nepotism sort. She was the first mayor in Connecticut to endorse Republican John Rowland for governor, so when she lost re-election and he won, the victorious Rowland duly appointed her CFO of the state lottery. As CFO, she was responsible for the lottery's numbers which were later admitted to have been cooked-though she never took a fall for the lottery accounting scandal. Beck got destroyed by her and other supervisors for much less. Meanwhile, her patron, Governor Rowland, was forced to resign as governor in the summer of 2004 in the wake of a federal corruption probe and numerous ethics violations that were building toward an impeachment. He was the first Connecticut governor ever to have been fined for ethics violations prior to his resignation.


Beck shot Mlynarczyk dead. But rather than shooting the others in the meeting room, employees whom Beck knew well, "He just lowered the gun and walked away," said mid-level supervisor Kalandyk, the same one who had complimented Beck's intelligence in the New York Times. "I made eye contact, and his eyes were dead."


Another colleague in the room noted that Beck "gave him a grin or a smirk" before walking out.


In the hallway, there was pandemonium as workers screamed and fled through the maze of cubicles toward the warehouse.


Mlynarczyk's office was located in the executive suite, which worked out well for Beck. Next to her office was that of Frederick Rubelmann III, vice president of operations, who opened his door and asked, "Is everyone okay?" Rubelmann was one of the executives who had rejected Beck's promotion to associate accountant. Rubelmann confronted Beck head-on-and was shot and killed.


By this time many of the hundred employees had escaped to the gravel parking lot. Beck sprinted after them, hunting down his last and biggest target, Lottery president Otho Brown. It was the fifty-four-year-old Brown who had final say on signing off on the rejection for Beck's promotion. Now, hunted and pursued by his disgruntled worker, Brown was leading the employees toward a nearby forest for safety. Beck staggered outside and sprinted after his co-workers, the left leg of his jeans soaked in his victims' blood. Some employees dove into ditches, others dispersed, sinking into the soft mud.


Brown apparently detoured back to the gravel parking lot. Some employees claimed that he was a hero, trying to save his employees by using himself as bait to draw Beck away from them and toward him.


Brown was caught alone in the gravel parking lot, trying to flee. Beck, an avid jogger and hiker, quickly overtook him. Brown backpedaled as Beck closed in. The Lottery president held up his hands and cried, "No, Matt!" then tripped and fell on his back.


Beck stood over his boss with the Glock aimed at his head. The employees who had safely hidden in the forest marsh yelled out at Beck not to shoot. One fellow accountant yelled, "Matthew, don't! Matthew don't!" while others screamed. Brown pleaded for his life and held his hands up defensively. Beck stood over him for a moment, breathing hard. He raised his pistol-Brown put up his hand to shield himself-and fired twice. Brown went still as the employees in the woods screamed and cried. Beck stood for a moment, walked around Brown's limp body, then shot the corpse again, causing it to jerk.


Just then a white police car came tearing into the parking lot. Beck put the pistol up to his head and shot himself through the temple. Somehow the gun went off twice. His body collapsed to the ground.


Was Matthew Beck crazy? As one supervisor in the meeting room who survived described his choice of victims, "They were the people who had the power in the Lottery. They were the ones who had turned down his promotion."


His parents released a statement to the press, noting, "His murderous act was monstrous, but he was not a monster, as his friends and family can attest."

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hey, now! nothing wrong with long, black trenchcoats. have one myself, they're sexy :HaHa:

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hey, now!  nothing wrong with long, black trenchcoats.  have one myself, they're sexy :HaHa:



Well, on you probably anything looks sexy. Just leave the pipe bombs down in your basement where they belong though, ok?

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I can sorta understand why he did it, but my condolences go out to the families of his victims. One thing that many people in power fail to realize is that their actions have consiquences and can come back to haunt you. Take France in the 1700's, pre-communist Russia, and the Cuban slaves in the 1800's. The people in power had constantly abused the people under them for the sake of their own greed and eventually they pushed the people too far and things got very bloody.


The aspects of greed, uber-materialism, assimilation, meaness, and panic (not just in America) has been crushing our spirits and deteriorating our humanity that it's almost not surpising that some people snap.

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I can sorta understand why he did it, but my condolences go out to the families of his victims.  One thing that many people in power fail to realize is that their actions have consiquences and can come back to haunt you.  Take France in the 1700's, pre-communist Russia, and the Cuban slaves in the 1800's.  The people in power had constantly abused the people under them for the sake of their own greed and eventually they pushed the people too far and things got very bloody.


  The aspects of greed, uber-materialism, assimilation, meaness, and panic (not just in America) has been crushing our spirits and deteriorating our humanity that it's almost not surpising that some people snap.



Great comparisons. Yeah, I don't agree with his actions either, but on some level I understand him and the writer of the article highlights some important points from the tragedy I think. I'm definately glad to be working for myself now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Though the acts themselves weren't exactly right, I think it puts them into context. Like Yaoi mentionned you can't put people down and expect them all to take it with a smile. This is just a case where things got wayyy out of hand. I can't help but feel some sympathy for the shooter. His life must have been hell and I can't blame him for hating them. But shooting them is another thing altogether, he should have gotten help before he broke down... Anyways, it sucks others must suffer the consequences of a few obnoxious managers' actions, such as their families and my condoleances go out to them.

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