U.S. census worker found murdered in Kentucky

I didn’t like it a week or so ago when the press insinuated that an anti-abortion activist’s murder in Michigan might have had something to do with his beliefs, so I’m hesitant to make too much of a reach here, but, when you find a dead census worker strung up in the forest with the word “FED” scrawled across his chest, I think it’s safe to say that the rising tide of anti-government sentiment in this country may be involved. So, while I’m not prepared to come out and attribute this to the tea-partyization of the conservative movement in America, I am suggesting that folks in positions of power on the right, like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin and Bauchmann, take the opportunity to reflect a bit and consider whether or not they’re willing to accept personal responsibility for their role in the drama that is unfolding.

Here, by way of background, is a recent segment on Rachel Maddow’s show about the murder of Bill Sparkman in Kentucky:

Whether or not this turns out to be a murder carried out by an anti-government person or group, I think it’s hard to deny that the shit is beginning to hit the fan. All this talk of “taking back the country” by self-proclaimed patriots, is leading to action being taken. As the rhetoric on the right ramps up, so to, for instance, do the number of death threats against our President…. One can only say “water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants” so many times, before someone acts.

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  1. Posted September 24, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    One thing I don’t get about this case is how it’s only now that we’re hearing about it, some two weeks after the fact. One wonders if maybe they ran out of leads.

  2. Oliva
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I was wondering if that day (17 Sept.) Nancy Pelosi teared up re. potential violence she might already have known about what happened to this man. Not that her recollection of the dark days in San Francisco when Harvey Milk was murdered wasn’t enough to cause her pain, but it just seems like maybe she had also been told about Mr. Sparkman. (Had the thought when wondering, too, about why we’re only just now hearing about this, when it happened on 12 Sept.)

  3. Jim
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Or maybe he wasn’t hanged:

  4. Bill LaLonde
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Scary, scary stuff. Blue & red? That’s pretty close to Blue & grey. we all better get our wits about us soon…

  5. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Really? I’d heard about it. I’d been wondering why you hadn’t blogged on it yet.

    The tree you really want to bark up if you want to blame somebody’s free speech for the violent actions of crazy individuals is probably Alex Jones, fyi.

  6. Larry
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    OK, you got me to google Alex Jones:

    Alex Jones (born Alexander Emerich Jones, February 11, 1974) is an American talk radio host and filmmaker. Described as a constitutionalist and paleoconservative, his syndicated news/talk show The Alex Jones Show airs via the Genesis Communication Network on over 60 AM, FM, and shortwave radio stations across the United States and on the Internet. Mainstream news sources have referred to him as a conspiracy theorist.

    Now I’m entering the rabbit hole.

    See you on the other side.

  7. Evan
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Possible, but highly unlikely that this is suicide. More likely this guy saw something that he shouldn’t have when he visited someone’s home. His death probably wasn’t because he worked for the government, so much as because he had information that could hurt them. The scrawling of “fed” was probably an afterthought. Still, it’s chilling.

  8. Posted September 25, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I was reading about this last night – so awful. I hope they catch who ever is responsible… and that this isn’t the start of an ugly anti-government murder spree :(

  9. Robert
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    It’s ok. As long as the murderer has accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.

  10. Left Cross
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I think this is quickly forming into another historical example of how racism is of convenient use by a class of powerful elites to divide poor and working people. Who else can be found to fund the white male-dominated teabagging “movement” in such an expedient manner?

  11. Kelso
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m not up to speed on my right wing paranoia triggers. Has anyone head rumors, for instance, that Census workers are collecting names for death panels, or Obama’s reeducation camps?

    (Note: I’m serious.)

  12. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Left Cross, the census worker was white.

  13. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I see no nobody has a problem blaming people’s exercising their free speech for the violent actions of crazy individuals.

    I’m curious where you draw the line between quoting the founding fathers and violent lyrics on CD’s.

  14. jean
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Don’t see anybody on this thread advocating limiting free speech or censoring anybody. I see people using their power of free speech.

  15. Oliva
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Some years ago, while living in North Carolina, I went with a friend to protest the Klan but ended up attending the rally/party/pig-pickin’. (No one else showed up to protest, and some goons who’d come up from South Carolina urged us to go in, so we did, wanting but not wanting too to see what was happening there. We hadn’t had time to decorate our car with protest signs, so it wasn’t clear what we’d come for. Please don’t think we enjoyed one second of it–was awful and creepy, and we certainly did not partake of the food or any socializing.)

    It was probably the scariest place I’ve ever been. We left when some men went out back to take down the enormous cross and douse it so they could light it for the big finale, before people dug into the food. (BTW, people had brought their dogs, and all of them, like thirty, were as far away from the people as possible while still being on the property–far, far from the cross.)

    The ringleaders spoke a while, spitting the ugliest bigotry and hate you can imagine. They dismissed “Niggers and Catholics” as such scum that they weren’t worth the anyone’s time. The “real enemy” they wanted to focus on that night: “the international Jew.”

    Pathology, alive and well, some of it shipped in from the state below. There were families, pregnant women and small children, car parkers as if it were a concert or some other summertime event, tons of Confederate flags lining the long driveway at Farmer John’s house (the poster asking us to boycott had the original invitation to “Join the Klan at Farmer John’s”), people in hoods and robes, the gigantic cross to burn, hateful men on a big stage. And those dogs at a great distance from the people.

    And given that: that North Carolina voted for Obama (and similarly Virginia) seems miraculous still and shows that we can (Yes We Can!) edge out evil bit by meaningful bit.

  16. Steph's Dad
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that anyone is saying that people should be silenced. They should, however, be cognizant of the fact that their words have real world implications.

  17. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 25, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    “Now the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community at the University of Kentucky, Cross told TIME that “the idea that hatred for Barack Obama played any role in this is rank speculation and completely unwarranted at this juncture.” Explains Cross: “Resistance to federal authority in the area dates back more than a century, to the era of major moonshine stills.” And for nearly the past three decades, he says, “federal and state authorities have targeted pot growers in Clay and adjoining counties.” It is currently marijuana-harvesting season, probably a particularly bad time to randomly knock on doors in Clay County.”

    More from the source.

  18. jacobsladder
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    This may be what you say it is: “it’s safe to say that the rising tide of anti-government sentiment in this country may be involved”, but let’s not loose sight of a theory of Psy-War which says that maximum psychological effect of this type of attack is achieved by those who may be furthest from the APPARENT motive for the action. Sun-Tzu, or USMA?

  19. Richard
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mr. Achery. While deplorable, the brutal murder of a “fed” in the backwoods of Kentucky is more than likely part of a tradition of anti-government suspicion and hostility among moonshiners, marijuana growers, and now meth lab maintainers. For Mark Maynard to offer this up as an oblique indictment of the Tea Party movement and an accusatory challenge to Limbaugh, et al, demonstrates two things: the opportunistic logic of the left-wing echo chamber; and a suspicion and hostility toward free speech when exercised by the Other Side. You do not like those cretinous masses who cling bitterly to their guns and religion, and you fear the existence of alternate media besides those who offer up a sycophantic “progressive” reportage on an hourly basis. I wonder if you consciously look forward to the day when all these bad people will be silenced.

  20. Robert
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Jacobsladder, so you’re suggesting 9/11 could have been an inside job?

  21. watching laughing
    Posted September 26, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Anybody growing pot, manufacturing Meth, moonshire etc, would be incredibly stupid to do something like this. The last thing these people would want are FBI agents all over the place. Federal agents, finding thier criminal activity and way of making a living, would be lunacy to for these people to do.
    It obviously, a far fringe person or group leaving a message.
    They wanted him to be found that way.

    We’ll see what plays out.

    Watching Laughing.

  22. Billy
    Posted September 28, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    watching laughing…I say ditto.

  23. Acesh
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Well Billy, I betcha his kids and mother are not laughing. I don’t believe hate crimes are logical and who knows what happened to this poor man… but for sure someone knows. I hope they find the person(s) responsible and soon!
    He was a good decent man with a family who loved him dearly.

  24. Meta
    Posted October 2, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    From the Christian Science Monitor:

    Investigators seem to think that something at the crime scene doesn’t seem quite right.

    For example: Though Mr. Sparkman was hung from the neck and asphyxiation was the official cause of death, his feet were touching the ground when he was found.

    “We’re not responding to any of the speculation, the innuendo, or the rumors that are floating around,” says Don Trosper, spokesman for the Kentucky State Police, reflecting the views of Det. Donald Wilson, the lead investigator in the case. “The Kentucky State Police concerns itself with facts.”

    Yet Mr. Trosper agrees that the case is “perplexing” in that police haven’t been able to rule out any of the three possibilities: suicide, accidental death or homicide.

    For some observers, the lynching image, combined with a summer of Tea Parties founded on a state’s rights tradition deeply rooted in the South makes it hard to rule out an antigovernment motive. With US officials reporting an uptick in homegrown radical activity, some of it violent, they say the link appears even more likely.

    “This was such a symbolic and personal anger that I’m led to lean towards someone who has severe antigovernment feelings, perhaps someone seeking revenge,” domestic terrorism expert Brian Levin told CNN’s “AC360.”

    But it’s clear that law enforcement hasn’t yet endorsed the notion of Appalachian bogeymen threatening government workers. In fact, the appearance of antigovernment bias in the death could be a smokescreen to cover up what really happened, says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox.

    Moreover, the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Ky., quoted a local law-enforcement source who urged reporters to look into the circumstances of the death of actor David Carradine, who died of apparent auto-erotic asphyxiation.

    Coworkers and a retired State Police officer who knew Sparkman say they find it difficult to believe that the mild-mannered Eagle Scout could have committed suicide or been involved in something that led to an accidental death.


  25. STP
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    From our own BA:

    I don’t know if this belongs here, in the original thread, or in Robert’s conspiracy corner:


    Basically, the hanged US census worker had committed suicide and staged it to look like a murder for the pay off to his family.

    Glenn Beck is exonerated.

  26. Robert
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Yes STP, it belongs in my conspiracy corner, but only if the guys stupid kids knew about it.

  27. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Amazing how millions of people sitting at their computers speculating about stuff can all turn out wrong.

  28. Robert
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Fortunately, BA, that hardly ever happens.

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