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Census Worker's Death Was Suicide, Not Right-Wing Political Violence

3:09 PM, Nov 24, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Rachel Maddow, Sept. 25, 2009:

"Now, on the record, law enforcement authorities remain cryptic. This reporting however paints a most troubling picture. None of the details of Bill Sparkman`s death that we have learned since we first found out about this point away from the possibility that he was killed for his affiliation with the United States government...All of these new details do create the expectation, I think, that we will hear something more specific from law enforcement. As you know, Ron, we`ve been hearing recently that they haven`t even determined whether this is homicide, suicide, or an accident. To found a body that was bound hand and foot, gagged and with a federal employee identification tag taped to the body and then it defaced with the word "Fed," we`re starting to get to a point where it`s hard to imagine that this could be anything other than a homicide.

That said, we're still waiting for law enforcement conformation on that, aren't we?"

"Good Morning America" with Diane Sawyer, Sept. 24, 2009, did a segment entitled, "GOVERNMENT HATE CRIME? CENSUS WORKER KILLED ON ROUTE?"

Mark Potok, Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center on MSNBC's "The Ed Show, Sept. 24, 2009:
"I think the bottom line is it's a very rural area, and these are the kinds of areas where sometimes, you know, real white hot anti-government sentiment thrives. I think it's probably worth saying that I know that back in `95, immediately after the Oklahoma City bombing, I remember "USA Today" did a poll and found that 39 percent of Americans at that time felt that the federal government was an imminent threat to their liberties as Americans. Quite incredible.

I think that we are at a similar point in history right now, you know, where we've seen this anti-government sentiment very much whipped up by militia certainly but also the whole scene that we've seen develop around town halls and so forth."

On Sept. 23, 2009, Rachel Maddow just about begged an AP reporter to confirm her suspicions: "We`re all wondering if is -- should be taken as some indication that this was a crime related to anti-government sentiment.

Are you able to report anything? Are you hearing anything about even circumstantial evidence in that regard? Is there any way to know even whether federal and law enforcement getting involved is an indication that they think that might be true?"

Allison Kilkenny, Huffpo: "This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks. Personalities like Glenn Beck have irresponsibly accused the government of running FEMA concentration camps, and constantly stoke the fear of 'the Feds' taking over."

Brad Friedman littered his post with caveats before ultimately going to same route (and using that lovely piece of art): "With all of that in mind, however, it's admittedly damned difficult not to look back at the kind of wildly-irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric being slung casually across the airwaves to millions of viewers and listeners every day by folks like Bachmann, Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, and all the rest, without pondering questions such as: 'What the hell are these people thinking?' and 'Do they not realize that people are actually out there paying attention to what they have to say?'"

Village Voice:
"Village Voice Media's True Crime Report blog cited the recent 'rage against Washington . . . especially in the rural South,' and said the death had ;all the makings of some anti-government goober taking his half-wit beliefs way too far.'

People for the American Way put this video together of right commentators talking about the census, while drawing this connection in the about box:

There are many unanswered questions about the tragic hanging death of Bill Sparkman, a US Census Bureau employee, in rural Kentucky. But one thing is clear. Right-Wing leaders like Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and media outlets like Fox News have whipped up hysteria and paranoia over the 2010 Census.