Michael Sean Quinn*
Not exactly. But close. The problem is that the word “hack”
has at least five meanings. Some are related, but not all of them.

of them is a verb that means something like “chop.”  As in, he hacked away at that tree trunk for
hours and still didn’t—or couldn’t–cut it down. (Of course there are
metaphorical extensions, like “He hacked away at his calculus homework most of
the night.”)

A second one is noun and it is used to refer to
persons who aren’t very good, or are on the borderline between below average
and quite awful at whatever topic is under discussion. For example, the man who
couldn’t cut the tree down, a topic just mentioned might well be a hack—the
language seems to open the possibility– though there is no implication in the
words themselves that suggest that the fellow who didn’t cut it down was a

A third use for the term “hack” refers to being angry,
usually at someone, not just in
When anger rises to the level of rage, I think it is not usually
called being “hacked off.” Being hacked-off seems to be a less passionate

The fourth and contemporary use of the word is both as
a noun and as a verb. It refers to nefarious computer activities, to wit, cyber
invasion. Thus, one can hack one’s way into a computer and thereby be a hacker,
“hackor” (to use a possible locution from “legalese”), one who hacks, or maybe,
as slang, simply a hack.

 Naturally, one who
hacks into computers might well not be very good at it; such a person might be
able to get into very simple ones but not the “real” targets—the one with
“real” money in them, as it were. This person would be a hack hacker.
Naturally, such a person might be attached with a knife and cut up a bit (or
seriously) in which case we would have a hack hacker having been hacked,
or a hacked hack hacker. (Of course, if the person who hacks up the hack
hacker might be good, average, or bad at what he is doing.  If he is aweful at it, he would unquestionably
be a hack hacker of hackers, or even a hack hacker of hack hacker.
And so on.)

And now for a fifth meaning. Naturally, a “4h” person
could end up being hacked off, if he thought the poor evaluation of him was
false or malicious—something the rating could be, even it were true. The word
“off” often goes with the word “hacked” in this usage, but not necessarily and
not always. If this is true, then we would have a hacked hack hacker hacked.

At least one of these terms applies to what happened to a
divorce lawyer in New England the other day. It arose out of a divorce case. L
represented W, and H somehow became enraged—something that is also called
“hacked off.” He attacked L in a parking garage, sprayed him with insect killer
and used a hatchet on him.  L sustained
30+ stitches. Thus, L was hacked with a hatchet by H, who obviously was a
hacker—indeed, the hacker here–and who was clearly hacked off.  (There was even a second witness to prove it,
I gather.)

There is, of course, a remaining question, namely, whether H
was a hack at hacking with a hatchet. After all, the target L was not killed. Now,
part of this may result from L’s clever move. Though perhaps, hapless, to a
degree, L never  helpless. Apparently,
the hatchet slipped out of the hacker’s hands and L—whose first name for all I
know was Harold—rolled over on it making it very, very hard for H to grab it
again and use it some more.  Still, H let
the handle of the hatchet slip from his hands, and that’s hackery by
perpetrator in an attempted homicide, if ever I’ve heard it. 

I would certainly not conjecture the emotion condition of L
when he appeared at the sentencing hearing of H—9 years was what he got—and my
sources mentioning nothing about this. I myself would expect him to be a lot
more than huffy. I fact I doubt than any of the trilogy—L, W, and (ex?) H—were
all or at all happy.

There is an interesting sociological question regarding the
legal profession buried in all this—the answer to which that would be helpful
to know. To be sure, violent assaults on divorce lawyers are rare and actual
murders are even more rare. But,  is the
violent crime rate against Ls higher in or somehow near divorce cases—than others?
 After all, divorce litigation is a kind of
hell for many, sometimes even for the attorneys for the litigants.

My impression is that the rate is higher, but my impression
is just that and nothing more. As a sociologist at this point in my life, I
might be nothing but a hideous hack and I should not be hacking away at trying
to construct an answer. I am not doubt an expert on some things, but this is
not one of them.

 At the
same time, however, I am inclined to hypothesize that L was not a mere hack at
lawyering, although he may not have been so good at empathy or human relations—something
nowadays said to be a professional, as well as moral, virtue.