Libs Cry “Lynching!” Over Census Suicide Scam

Rumors on the Internets is an equal-opportunity critic and pest: we make an effort to out and shame anyone who acts a fool, regardless of whether we agree with them or not.

That’s why we can’t resist flaming the people who got all worked up about the death of census worker Bill Sparkman this past September.

Sparkman’s body was discovered on September 12, 2009 hanging from a tree, bound with duct tape and the word “FED” scrawled on his chest. He had been working for the US Census in rural Appalachia, an area that doesn’t cotton to Uncle Sam nosing around in their business.

Sparkman was a teacher, Scout leader and family man who was well regarded for his hard work, punctuality and other virtues. He was a cancer survivor as well. He’d been warned that census work in the hills of Kentucky could be dangerous, due to the presence of anti-government types as well as criminals who don’t want anyone inquiring into their doings.

A thoughtful instant-take by Richard M. Benjamin at the Huffington Post was typical of the reaction to the news of Sparkman’s death:

Is Bill Sparkman — the 51-year old US Census fieldworker found hanged in rural southeastern Kentucky with the word “Fed” scrawled across his chest — a victim of hate crime directed at Uncle Sam? Or the casualty of drug-related violence in a struggling pocket of America?

To date, nobody knows for certain. The FBI is intensely investigating whether Sparkman was murdered; if so, by whom (acquaintance? stranger?); and whether his death is an act of violence against the federal government.

A more heated missive from Allison Kilkenny at HuffPo noted that the death had not been officially classed a homicide, but nonetheless unleashed a rant about right-wing hysteria and the Right’s  obvious complicity in the death of Bill Sparkman:

“Federal” means “Big Government,” and the word has taken on a derogatory meaning in right-wing circles where fear and paranoia reign supreme. I agree with Johnson that this seems like an apparent homicide, but it’s not “nothing else.” By utilizing the branding “Fed,” the killers were clearly trying to make a political statement, namely “Obama: Stay Out.”

The word definitely packs an ideological punch, but not only is it anti-government, it’s anti-Obama. Let’s remember that most of the fringe now screaming about the dangers of Big Brother never made a peep during eight years of Bush’s ballooning executive branch. Suddenly, big government is a big problem, and the “Feds” are to blame…Such paranoia and anger isn’t contained in the woods of Kentucky. The problem is systematic.

Rather than immediately condemn the killing, some right-wing commenters are now using the occasion of Sparkman’s death to chat about their various conspiracy theories all involving the “feds.”

A “lynching” meme began to spread throughout the mindbrain of the left, epitomized by this tweet from “Proudlib”:

As Allison Kilkenny concluded, there was clearly a causal link between the death of Bill Sparkman and the unhinged rhetoric of Fox News:

These kinds of transparent lies would be hilarious to dissect if so many people didn’t really believe them. Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, and Limbaugh not only stoke the fear and anger in the hearts and minds of their listeners, but then they also suggest their audience should then direct that anger at the flavor of the months (gays, feminists, poor people, abortion providers, or the “Feds”). And then they act surprised when a sick person acts on their fear by lashing out violently.

The surprise and indignation from the right-wing is insincere. Violent rhetoric begets violence, and no one should act surprised when a Sparkman-like killing happens again.

And so it was decided…

Bill Sparkman’s death was clearly the fault of Glenn Beck. (Or at least, as Gawker allowed, either Beck or a bunch of hillbilly meth runners.)

Unfortunately for the triumphant shriekers of the left wing, eager to brandish this heinous crime in the face of their ideological adversaries, Bill Sparkman was not lynched.

He killed himself and staged it to look like a murder, so his family could cash in on some recently-purchased insurance policies:

A Kentucky census worker found naked, bound with duct tape and hanging from a tree with “fed” scrawled on his chest killed himself but staged his death to make it look like a homicide, authorities said Tuesday.

Bill Sparkman, 51, was found Sept. 12 near a cemetery in a heavily wooded area of southeastern Kentucky. A man who found the body in the Daniel Boone National Forest has said Sparkman also was gagged and had an identification badge taped to his neck.

Authorities said Sparkman alone manipulated the scene to conceal a suicide. Police said he had talked with others about ending his life, though authorities did not say specifically who in a news release.

Sparkman had recently taken out two life insurance policies that would not pay out for suicide, authorities said. If Sparkman had been killed on the job, his family also would have been be eligible for up to $10,000 in death gratuity payments from the government.

He was not eligible for a separate life insurance policy through the government because his census work was intermittent, Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner has previously said.

While Glenn Beck has yet to satisfactorily respond to the allegations that he raped and murdered a young girl in 1990, I think we can safely declare him innocent in the Sparkman case.

It’s tragic that this man decided he had no other choice but to end his life in this way, but it was wrong for him to try and frame phantom Census-hating hillbillies for the deed, and to have his family have to suffer through the trauma of the circumstances in which his body was found.

Ultimately, the knit-hatted Sparkman is the bad guy here, not Lou Dobbs et al.


The furor over the case is understandable, because as Simon Rosenthal writes (HuffPo again, they went nuts over this story), the 2010 Census is shaping up to be a highly controversial and dramatic process.

The right-wing revulsion to the Census has to do with the fact that it does not distinguish between illegal and legal residents, and the fact that it’s set to count noncitizens in its 2010 count:

Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed. According to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data (2007), states with a significant net gain in population by inclusion of noncitizens include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas. (There are tiny net gains for Hawaii and Massachusetts.)

This makes a real difference. Here’s why:

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

In my opinion, the whole legal/illegal brouhaha is merely symbolic of the larger issue that drives outrage at the potential 2010 Census results: the coming Whiteocalypse, when whites become a minority in America (some say as soon as 2042).

Meanwhile, immigrants’ groups are no happier about the coming census than nativists are; some are advocating a boycott of the census, arguing “Legalize us before you count us.”

Indeed, both sides have a point when it comes to the Census’ decision to punt on the legal/illegal issue and decline to inquire about the citizenship status of a person being surveyed: why should significant changes in Congressional apportionment be driven without regard to the legal status of those granted “representation”? What is the point of giving additional representation to people who cannot exercise the rights of citizenship in America?

Ultimately, the issue is whether the United States is going to grant citizenship under certain conditions to the tens of millions of people living here illegally: “amnesty” or “justice” depending on your point of view.

These are all fascinating issues that were crystallized by the death of Bill Sparkman…

Unfortunately, in the grip of the 24-hour news cycle, too much emphasis was placed on a “murder” that never took place, and a cavalcade of finger-pointing obscured the real issues that we ought to be wrestling with as a nation.

Next time, pundits — more thinky, less blamey.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

One Response to Libs Cry “Lynching!” Over Census Suicide Scam

  1. 0whole1 says:

    I admit to getting suckered on this. I’d like to think I thought that it was a drug-related murder rather than a politically-motivated murder, but …

    The third worst thing about this, after the actual, y’know, death, and the ill-feelings and acrimony the falsehood drummed up, is that it gave Malkin a shiny talking point to add to her jackdaw’s hoard of phoney resentment.

    I’m-a go write backwards “B”s a couple thousand times on the chalkboard now.

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