Posts Tagged “acorn”

A quick update on my blog entry from September about the death of US Census worker Bill Sparkman, as reported by the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader:

A part-time U.S. Census worker found dead near a secluded Clay County cemetery killed himself but tried to make the death look like a murder, authorities have concluded.

Bill Sparkman, 51, of London, apparently was trying to preserve payments under life insurance policies he had taken out, one as recently as May, which paid benefits if he died as a result of murder or accident, but not suicide or natural causes, police said.

This story mentions the furor that erupted at the time Sparkman had been found:

Police believe he staged the details to try to make it appear he was murdered because he was a federal employee.

He succeeded in some quarters.

In addition to causing a firestorm of media coverage, the bizarre details led to widespread speculation on the Internet, including that someone angry at the federal government attacked Sparkman as he gathered census information door to door.

All those who claimed Sparkman had been bumped off by Michele Bachmann-inspired Right-wing Obama-hating socialist-hunting ACORN-fearing “militia types,” turn out to have been wrong.

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Back in early August I blogged about the immaturity that has saturated the country, and described examples of people getting hurt because of it. Well, it’s possible this has been ramped up from fisticuffs, to homicide. A US Census worker has been found dead, as reported by the AP (via the Hartford Courant):

When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drew on years of experience for a warning: “Be careful.”

The 51-year-old Sparkman was found this month hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery with the word “fed” scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

At the outset let me be clear: The nature of this killing, much less its motive, is not yet known. Suicide has not been ruled out. And even if it turns out to have been murder, it may have had nothing to do with distrust of the government:

Manchester Police Chief Jeff Culver, whose agency is not part of the investigation because the death was outside city limits, said the area where Sparkman was found has a history of problems with prescription drug and methamphetamine trading.

“That part of the county, it has its ups and downs. We’ll get a lot of complaints of drug activity. They’ll whittle away, then flourish back up,” Culver said. He said officers last month rounded up 40 drug suspects, mostly dealers, and made several more arrests in subsequent days.

It could be that he visited some place that drug traffickers didn’t want him to see or had stumbled into an area they didn’t want to be noticed. The jury is definitely still out on this.

It’s plausible that anti-government sentiment was behind this; parts of the country are seething with ideological immaturity. And the Census has drawn particular attention by the extreme Right. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-MN, issued warnings about the 2010 Census and linked it to ACORN, the activist organization that president Barack Obama had worked with. (In the eyes of the Right, ACORN is inseparable from Satan.)

About the only thing that can be said for certain about Sparkman’s death, is that it was not robbery (as the AP notes):

Census employees were told Sparkman’s truck was found nearby, and a computer he was using for work was inside, she said.

Not only that, robbers are not likely to have staged a hanging … they’d have just swiped the computer and/or taken off with the truck, and had done with it. Beyond this, however, almost any motive is possible.

That said, the accusations are flying thick and fast. The Left, typically, has assumed the worst of the Right, from the outset (e.g. Daily Kos):

The real murderers of this man are the Glenn Beck’s, and Rush Limbaugh’s, and Michele Bachmann’s who have spread the deadly poison of hate and fear of our government and the Obama administration across the land.

This is out of line. Not only do we not yet know what the motive was, here — as I’ve discussed at length already — while Bachmann’s remarks about the Census were unnecessarily stupid and paranoid, nothing she said suggested anyone ought to kill a Census worker. In fact, she said that people ought to respond to the Census — but only with minimal information, which they’re within their rights to do. What’s even worse than this are blog comments by Rightists suggesting that someone on the Left — probably from that infernal communist organization ACORN — killed Sparkman and set up his death to look as though it had been done by a murderous Rightist, so as to discredit the Right.

Folks, these kinds of reactions are almost as immature and irrational as the anti-government sentiment that may or may not have cost Sparkman his life. Juvenile responses to juvenile outrages are simply inappropriate. Let’s grow up and use our heads here, fercryinoutloud!

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