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U.S. Census worker found hanged in Kentucky with "FED" scrawled on his chest.
September 23, 2009 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Cancer survivor, teacher, single father, and part-time U.S. Census worker Bill Sparkman was found dead September 12, hanging from a tree with the word "FED" written on his chest.
posted by zoomorphic (314 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of course no one knows much about this situation just yet but I have to say the combination of a hanging and "FED" scrawled across the dead man's chest makes me upset. I would say "my blood runs cold" but I think the cliche would take away the truly honest feeling of sadness and fear this causes me to feel.
posted by josher71 at 6:51 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is a much better way to cover a touchy issue no MeFi
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


(I wrote this for the old post but didn't get it posted before the deletion.)

I, too, was horrified to read about this murder, but there isn't a lot of information available yet. However, thanks to Optimus' Times Tribune link I was able to read about the victim himself and it made me feel a whole lot worse. Sounds like he was one of the good guys, someone who put a lot of effort into his life and fought against the odds, cheerfully.

If you didn't bother to read that link, he was a sports editor and single parent who volunteered at his son's school which eventually led to him pursuing a degree in education on line while continuing to work full time. Then he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. While undergoing chemotherapy he continued working as a substitute teacher as well as working towards his teaching certificate, and presumably, raising his son. Last year he drove all the way to Utah to pick up his degree because his doctor didn't clear him to fly. As of March 14, 2008 he was looking for a job as a Math instructor and it looked like his cancer was in remission.

Damnit.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:56 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by jquinby at 6:56 PM on September 23, 2009


People are saying that area is lousy with meth labs and grow operations, but I don't think anyone trying to cover up the discovery of a meth lab would do something that would bring national media attention and half the FBI to his backyard.
posted by stavrogin at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2009


Nothing to stop someone running a meth lab AND being a crazy right wing asshole.
posted by Artw at 6:59 PM on September 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


The Times has a longer version of the AP article, which includes this bit:
Appalachia scholar Roy Silver, a New York City native now living in Harlan County, Ky., said he doesn't sense an outpouring of anti-government sentiment in the region as has been exhibited in town hall meetings in other parts of the country.

''I don't think distrust of government is any more or less here than anywhere else in the country,'' said Silver, a sociology professor at Southeast Community College.
posted by smackfu at 7:00 PM on September 23, 2009


Bachmann Warns Of Link Between Census, Japanese Internment
posted by billysumday at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


I doubt it's meth labs, it may have more to do with September 12th and the stirred-up people who wanted it to be important.
posted by Red Loop at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:05 PM on September 23, 2009


Can someone copy-paste all the comments from the other thread now? :/
posted by rokusan at 7:05 PM on September 23, 2009


Metafilter has really gone to shit
posted by fire&wings at 7:05 PM on September 23, 2009


Oh hai I just now saw the deleted thread and wouldn't you know the Michelle Bachmann link was in the FPP. To be fair, it was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard this story. You whip up enough anger, something's bound to give.
posted by billysumday at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this a protest against the Constitution?

jesus christ
posted by grobstein at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


(also, Rep. Bachmann can suck a pine cold filled with fire ants)
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


(sorry, "pine cone")
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2009


I wonder if this has any connection to recent remarks (even from high-profile Congress people!) that the Census is hilterian. Nah.
posted by DU at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2009


from the AP:

Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide,

(yea, cuz the soon to be dead always scribe 'FED' on their own chest - a sure sign of suicide.)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hilterian. Nice.
posted by DU at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2009


Way to miss the fucking point of the deletion, guys.
posted by dhammond at 7:07 PM on September 23, 2009


I find it interesting we're not hearing the word "Lynched" more. "Found Dead" indeed, we don't want to say how he got that way.
posted by delmoi at 7:08 PM on September 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


(also, Rep. Bachmann can suck a pine cold filled with fire ants)

Ohhh, can I get a youtube of that?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2009


There are dozens of posts from forums we're not allowed to link to (in posts or comments) on MetaFilter that advocate the intimidation, assault, and even murder of Census workers. I don't think anti-government terrorism is a subject that should be ignored, f&w.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:10 PM on September 23, 2009 [19 favorites]


(yea, cuz the soon to be dead always scribe 'FED' on their own chest - a sure sign of suicide.)

Ran out of space for "UP" maybe.
posted by rokusan at 7:11 PM on September 23, 2009 [9 favorites]


You know, making the teabagger connection is so far beyond premature, and using this currently whisper thin story as an excuse to hop on the favorite political hobbyhorse does no honor to this man's inspiring life or tragic death.
posted by nanojath at 7:11 PM on September 23, 2009 [21 favorites]


There are dozens of posts from forums we're not allowed to link to (in posts or comments) on MetaFilter.... I don't think anti-government terrorism is a subject that should be ignored, f&w.

You can link to some Google searches to help us. We have adblockers and proxies!
posted by rokusan at 7:11 PM on September 23, 2009


I find it interesting we're not hearing the word "Lynched" more

Or revenuers. If I wanna hear 'Fed' I can go to DefCon.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:12 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow.

Whether this has anything to do with teabaggers or birthers or deathers or whatever-the-fuck-ers, this is really just horrible and I can't believe it happened.

There are dozens of posts from forums we're not allowed to link to (in posts or comments) on MetaFilter that advocate the intimidation, assault, and even murder of Census workers.

Really? I feel like such a naive youngin', but can someone explain to me why people would want to murder Census workers? Thanks.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:15 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm going to make an appeal towards "Occam's Razor", why the hell else would he have "FED" scrawled on his chest?

Also, while it is a massive tragedy, let's be honest here, this is news precisely because this is political, bringing it up is definitely relevant in this case.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I don't think anti-government terrorism is a subject that should be ignored

I'm curious...should we expect you to link to every hate crime in the US from now on, with the caption, "See! See! America still has racists/homophobes/sexists/etc!!!"

Or will you only link to crimes that fit your agenda?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ran out of space for "UP" maybe.

Meh, no matter what I'm guess'n we'll get this.

(NSFW if you are a prude. Or your work is a prude. )
posted by rough ashlar at 7:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


.

Absolutely terrible. I keep thinking of my mother, who was a census worker last time around.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are dozens of posts from forums we're not allowed to link to (in posts or comments) on MetaFilter that advocate the intimidation, assault, and even murder of Census workers.
Really? I feel like such a naive youngin', but can someone explain to me why people would want to murder Census workers? Thanks.
barrett caulk explained it pretty well.
posted by Flunkie at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ran out of space for "UP" maybe.

Or space on the left for "K-"
posted by porn in the woods at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2009


I want this thread to stand because I'm interested in tracking how the different media outlets are reporting on it, and MeFi is great at that kind of multitasking watchdoggery.
posted by rokusan at 7:19 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


You can link to some Google searches to help us. We have adblockers and proxies!

I'm a little too bummed about this to find some MeFi-approved way to link them all, but I'll give you one direct quote: "Sorry, but I can’t help but think-— when somebody tells you to get off of their porch, you really should leave."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Eh, murderers look for all kinds of convenient justifications. Bachmann is a cancerous tick, but I'd stop short at laying blame for this.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:20 PM on September 23, 2009


A picture of William Sparkman on his Graduate profile page shows him to be an amiable looking guy, a sweet guy, even. The thought that someone hanged him makes me physically nauseated. Jesus Christ...
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are dozens of posts from forums we're not allowed to link to (in posts or comments) on MetaFilter

Really? Normally, people 'bout these parts would ask for links to back up what you say. In this case, a ROT 13 encrypted list should work to avoid the censors.....
posted by rough ashlar at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this real life?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide,

(yea, cuz the soon to be dead always scribe 'FED' on their own chest - a sure sign of suicide.)


It's because the FED thing was a leak to the AP, not officially from the FBI. So the FBI statements about the cause of death won't reflect it.
posted by smackfu at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2009


You know, making the teabagger connection is so far beyond premature, and using this currently whisper thin story as an excuse to hop on the favorite political hobbyhorse does no honor to this man's inspiring life or tragic death.

So lets make an obit post for somebody of (as of yet - *presses earpiece into ear*) no note.

Delete it and keep it deleted, or leave it alone. Grow a fucking set and lets have all the supposition out in the open or not at all.

We instead having this mealy-mouthed rewording and reposting, leading to the original political content being reposted in the comments anyway. Utterly pointless.
posted by fire&wings at 7:24 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


My name is George Thomas Harned,III. Bill is my first cousin. I hadnt spoke to bill in about 20 years, after he moved from Florida. I can remember sitting on my front porch with him and he sowed me how to dove call with my hands. i also have a picture of him when he had his face painted like a clown. I remember him always wanting me to laugh. Why would someone treat bill this way. Please help the sparkmans find this killer so that thet can not destroy anymore families.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:25 PM on September 23, 2009 [24 favorites]


It's cold in Wellington, NZ today and out on the corner of the street a colleague of mine is standing in the freezing rain collecting money for UNICEF on behalf of his homeland, Sri Lanka.

A country that has been at war with itself since 1983.

My colleague has never known his country not at war, but downstairs he stands, asking strangers for money because he believes above everything that the wounds of the war can heal and a bright future can be built in his beloved homeland.

So how is this relevant?

This FPP sounds like a horror story of the monster that lurks in humanity and I wanted to temper that with a story of hope and promise.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:26 PM on September 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


Bachmann is a cancerous tick, but I'd stop short at laying blame for this.
I'd say the same thing of Wilson.

But on the other hand, if you have leaders who are acting like idiots...what the hell do you expect their constituents to act like? Not an excuse or justification for horrible acts...just an explanation.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:26 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a difference between direct and indirect causation. I doubt we're going to find the murderer's shack filled with pinups of Rep. Bachmann and a note on the door that says "GONE CENSUS-TAKER KILLIN' FER SHELLY".

But when you amp up a climate of fear and paranoia with false charges and reckless hysteria, you own a share of the blame when it gets out of control, even if the murderer never intersected a sentence from you.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


This FPP sounds like a horror story of the monster that lurks in humanity

Ahhh, so you've met your fellow man!
posted by rough ashlar at 7:28 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus Optimus Chyme. Those comments really fuck with me. I mean on 4chan they would mean one thing, but I can't help feeling most of those people seriously meant what they said.

As I said in the other thread don't people understand that the whole point of a census is to improve the quality of life in a community.
posted by Allan Gordon at 7:29 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


If he had stumbled across a meth op or grow plantation, he would have disappeared. He would not have been hung from the neck with a warning message writ large across his chest.

It astounds me that there are crazy-ass bugnuts out there in the mainland of America who are so isolated from reality that they do this shit. Hell's bells, as isolated as Northern Canada is, where you might travel by sled for days to reach the next hut, they don't tend to lynch the census guy! WTF, civilization?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 PM on September 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


That's a little thick there, Samuel Farrow.

and-
making the teabagger connection is so far beyond premature
True enough. I think it's an easy and sadly obvious connection to make; that doesn't make it right. I hope it's not. If it's not this time, something like it is bound to happen again before long. It always does.
posted by Red Loop at 7:32 PM on September 23, 2009


Interestingly, the Census is a backbone of representative democracy -- almost on par with voting itself. Unless we know how many people there are and where they live, we can't assign voting districts or Federal matching funds with any degree of accuracy.

A large-scale revolt against the Census would cripple American democracy and government programs, plungi-

Wait. That's exactly what they want, isn't it?
posted by Avenger at 7:32 PM on September 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


a little thick there, Red Loop.
posted by Red Loop at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2009


We instead having this mealy-mouthed rewording and reposting.

I think a healthy discussion, even one full of disagreements, is an implicit community endorsement that something is worth talking about. And unlike some, I think MeFi's more about the discussion than the links. I can find links anywhere, right?

I agree here, as I did in the other thread, that it's a big stretch to "blame" Bachmann for this, but I don't think anyone is really doing that. The only link is that we're talking about two examples that seem to indicate that it's become more acceptable to be openly and violently anti-government lately (say, since November?).

So A causing B is way ridiculously simplistic, yes. But any discussion of the meta-problem, or of where this is going, or of how to stop it from getting worse will inevitably connect those with mouths like Bachmann's to the problem.
posted by rokusan at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


For those of you calling equivalence, please post links to leftist violence that was a response to the Bush administration.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2009 [19 favorites]


It astounds me that there are crazy-ass bugnuts out there in the mainland of America who are so isolated from reality that they do this shit.

Nothing surprises me. All it takes is one person to do this. One person in the whole country.
posted by smackfu at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2009


Yeah, I followed Optimus's non-links to some of the discussions in question, and fuck.

There are some scary corners of America. And the Internet.

Now I need a shower.
posted by rokusan at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2009


Back when I was but a kid, there was a huge panic about music causing people to kill themselves or others.

I find it very ironic that the self-same people who panicked about Twisted Sister's silly lyrics are not at all inclined to discover that hateful political speech actually does incite violence.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2009 [44 favorites]


As I said in the other thread don't people understand that the whole point of a census is to improve the quality of life in a community.

Its like they'd not read their constitution:

"[An] Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

Told them the number of Indians (not taxed) and freed men then shut up. Perhaps their own wage slavery confused 'em about their own freedom?

(per The final bill, Statute 2 of March 1, 1790, provided that census marshals be appointed, directed to "cause the number of the inhabitants within their respective districts to be taken; omitting in such enumeration Indians not taxed, and distinguishing free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, from all others; distinguishing also the sexes and colours of free persons, and the free males of sixteen years and upwards from those under that age." )
posted by rough ashlar at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two more old stories about Sparkman from his local paper and college graduation.

Angry now.
posted by rokusan at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What are you getting at, rough ashlar?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:39 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm a proud Kentuckian with deep roots in the eastern half of the state. None the less, Clay County is right about where things start to get strange, so to speak. There are a lot of people up in those hollers who don't much care for the federal government (with good reason) and some of them aren't what you'd call productive additions to society. The point being, often all you need to make a bad thing happen is a six pack and a loose justification. Is this Bachmann's fault? No. It's certainly a horrible event, but if you know the geography down there it isn't even entirely shocking. Is she fanning the flames of discontent and giving people that loose justification? Obviously.
posted by Roman Graves at 7:40 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


All it takes is one person to do this. One person in the whole country.

Well, there is that. 1:304 000 000 people are so batshitinsane as to kill a census worker.

And come to think of it, there's no doubt an order of magnitude equally batshitinsane murders chopping hookers to death each month.

Still, it helps to not actively encourage the nuts. Our media is doing us no favours by broadcasting the mania of the likes of Bachmann. Surely there's something more worthy of our attention.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I keep coming back to the word on his chest. I wish we had more information on this. Was he hung shirtless? Was the word written or carved or scrawled (I've read all three)? It just seems very significant to me and I feel like it rules out a drug or moonshine connection. Would pot growers or meth dealers want the FBI sniffing around? This seems like a staged murder for attention.

And while I don't want to be too gruesome, a hanging or lynching would probably be amateur hour-- meaning not a quick death. Also, it seems an odd way to murder someone if it is a one on one murder. But then again we don't have any details and for all we know he was killed first and then strung up.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:44 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: "For those of you calling equivalence, please post links to leftist violence that was a response to the Bush administration."

Do fantasies count?
posted by Joe Beese at 7:50 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


Professional Boy Scout, single parent, volunteer math tutor and census taker. The man devoted himself to public service, to helping others, and was murdered for it. For political reasons.

This is now out of control. I don't know where it's heading, and I don't know where it will stop.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:51 PM on September 23, 2009 [19 favorites]


I keep coming back to the word on his chest.

That one of which there is no objective evidence, reported by a single anonymous source about whom we know nothing, particularly including what sort of a view of the alleged writing he or she may have had. Because eyewitnesses are never wrong and the news never reports premature bullshit. Wouldn't want anything to get in the way of getting a good hate on. What garbage.

Was the word written or carved or scrawled (I've read all three)

That's a pretty good indication that shit is getting made up. I am not in any sense a partisan with the people who are being blamed for this. Very much the opposite. But this is really just Metafilter at its worst. Ghoulish and revolting.
posted by nanojath at 7:51 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


This poor man. His poor son.

It's all "Reichstag Fire" and "false flag" over in freeperville
posted by madamjujujive at 7:51 PM on September 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


Unless we know how many people there are and where they live,

Ahhh, but that is where the 'wingnuts' get upset. The long form asks far more than the above 'how many are here' question.

For those of you calling equivalence, please post links to leftist violence that was a response to the Bush administration.

Gotta ask - why is the "Big Government" of the Bush I or II (or Clinton) somehow magically different than the "Big Government" of the O man's time? If "fed" means something (vs a suicide) - how is the actions of "fed" magically different this time? Has "fed" expanded far beyond what it was in 1999? How about 1993 (branch davidian's)?

(Oh, and given I saw a bloody human in a Fed building with 2 local news trucks outside back last century that somehow never made the evening news - can any of you claim that this is the very 1st time in the last, say 20 years, where someone who was tied to government was found dead that could be tied to their government capacity? I'd not be shocked to hear that this poor man is following in a long line of dead men with a "fed" label we've never heard of. Are things *FAR* more worse than is reported in the evening news - and this is something that as not filtered?)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2009


Then there was that Ashley Todd business.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2009


Well, the Times wasn't very kind to Nicholson Baker's book in which a crazy man plots to kill President Bush.

(It's clear from the book that the guy is nuts, if that matters. But he has good taste in steak.)
posted by rokusan at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2009


Do fantasies count?

You're fucking joking, right? No, of course fantasizing about violence and going out and committing brutal murder are not comparable. You should feel bad for even asking the question.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a pretty good indication that shit is getting made up. But this is really just Metafilter at its worst. Ghoulish and revolting.

MeFi's often quite good at dealing with shit that gets made up. The collective here is more trustworthy and accurate than any one media link we could ever post.
posted by rokusan at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


Proposal: Count the whole district as 0 population until they find the killer. No representation in congress, no federal money. They don't want the federal government there? Fine.
posted by empath at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2009 [18 favorites]


Pope Guilty: " You should feel bad for even asking the question."

Eponysterical.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2009


It's always weird for me to see stuff like this. I mean, I went to war, got shot at, shot at others, never got hurt (except a broken wrist driving an ATV off a small cliff while drunk one weekend). And here's this teacher and part-time census worker, just going door to door doing what should be an entirely peaceful job and HE ends up dead.

All that crazy anti-census talk clearly had some effect. Someone should ask the idiots spewing that insane garbage if this is the effect they were looking for. And they should damn well apologize to this dude's whole family for ginning up this kind of ferocity against freaking census-takers.

That crazy stuff about putting Republicans in concentration camps -- ya know, it doesn't seem all THAT crazy right at this moment.
posted by jamstigator at 7:58 PM on September 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


There's a difference between direct and indirect causation. I doubt we're going to find the murderer's shack filled with pinups of Rep. Bachmann and a note on the door that says "GONE CENSUS-TAKER KILLIN' FER SHELLY".

Remember the guy who shot up the Unitarian Church because it was pro-gay? That guy actually had a copy of 100 people who are screwing up America and other books by "movement conservative" type authors. I wouldn't be surprised if, when they catch the guy, it will turn out they are big into the teabagger culture. In fact I would be surprised otherwise.

A large-scale revolt against the Census would cripple American democracy and government programs, plungi-

Actually it would disenfranchise the people who refused to participate, by reducing their voting power. It's ironic that the republicans were the ones where most opposed to using statistical methods to estimate population, because they didn't want poor people to count.

And come to think of it, there's no doubt an order of magnitude equally batshitinsane murders chopping hookers to death each month.

I actually kind of doubt it.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fact the FBI is involved at all is a bit of an indicator that this isn't a simple random killing or suicide.
posted by rokusan at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2009


I have nothing to say except that on a day that was otherwise quite nice, this story made me cry once before, and is making me cry again. This man really hits a soft spot in my heart, and his terrible manner of death makes it hurt.

I am so sorry, so terribly sorry for his family.
posted by scody at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


rokusan: "The fact the FBI is involved at all is a bit of an indicator that this isn't a simple random killing or suicide."

I suspect they would investigate any crime with potential implications of "subversion".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2009


The fact the FBI is involved at all is a bit of an indicator that this isn't a simple random killing or suicide.

I don't particularly doubt that, but the FBI would probably be involved in most cases of homicide involving workers carrying out federal business.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2009


Aren't the FBI involved in all murders of government employees.

I could be wrong, but that's what I thought.
posted by Allan Gordon at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2009


Bachmann opted herself into the cause of Anti-Census Paranoia for her own political advantage. She's obviously NOT campaigning for the votes of people who find this murder to be abhorant and repugnant. And she will pay a political price for it.

I, for one, hope that the Anti-Census Paranoids succeed in not getting themselves counted. At all. And when the Congressional Reapportionment comes, they find themselves "without representation" by their own acts. Sadly, the people who do the census are too professional to let that happen.

Of course, what they really want is to shut down the Census entirely, because the results of the count and the resulting reapportionment will go far toward killing the Republican Party. They are not part of a growing movement, they are part of a dying one, and if they can never regain power through legal means (and they can't), they are going to go down fighting, violently and ruthlessly.

It does tie in rather well with the other 'big event' of 9/12, when Beck and the Tea-Baggers lied brazenly about the attendance to their DC Rally. The Million Phantom March.

But it's time for the Real Americans to stand up to these genuinely Nazi/Stalinist/Khmer Rouge-inspired evildoers and say "9/12 NEVER FORGET BILL SPARKMAN".
posted by wendell at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh hai I just now saw the deleted thread and wouldn't you know the Michelle Bachmann link was in the FPP. To be fair, it was the first thing that popped into my head when I heard this story.

Same here.

In related news:
Michele Bachmann's Census Theories Too Much For Glenn Beck.

Michele Bachmann Gushes About Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly (w/ video).

Boehner, Cantor Rush To Deny Gripes About Bachmann: We're "Proud" Of Her.

GOP Leadership Worried About Damage To Party's Reputation From Base.
posted by ericb at 8:07 PM on September 23, 2009


as isolated as Northern Canada is, where you might travel by sled for days to reach the next hut, they don't tend to lynch the census guy! WTF, civilization?

FFF: The Americans have there own kind of crazy. We've got the Chinese guy who killed the poor kid on the Greyhound, cut his head off and ate his liver, but this was (I am certain) an anomaly.

Imagine this scenario. You're driving across the Trans Canada and stop in Kenora. It's late, you've found a motel, but you feel like a couple of beers before you go to bed. You trudge out to the local hotel tavern--kind of a rough place, with a bunch of rough-looking characters, but you figure it's safe enough for a couple of beers and take your seat at the bar. The bartender, forty-five-ish and struggling, blonde with black roots screaming out for a touch-up, face like 200 miles of bad road but kindly, asks you what you want and she brings you a beer. The guy on the stool next to you says "You're not one of them fucking census takers, are you? Because I will fuck you right up."

[Screeching brake noises] not going to happen. The guy might profess his love to you, ask you what your fucking problem is and why you are such as faggot etc. But "census taking"?

The Americans have there own kind of weird.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:09 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Aren't the FBI involved in all murders of government employees.

And all suicides?
posted by rokusan at 8:12 PM on September 23, 2009


And from the good news department: Operation Rescue is running out of money, after the connections were made between the group and the murderer of George Tiller.

So these things matter, and a lot of 'soft support' for 'the cause' is lost when atrocious acts like this happen.
posted by wendell at 8:13 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Everything I've read about Mr. Sparkman makes me believe that if there's a heaven, he's there now...asking God to forgive his killers.

I'm neither God nor Mr. Sparkman, however, so I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing his killer or killers punished. I strongly oppose the death penalty and I do not partake of America's tendency to celebrate the thought of people being raped in prison, so what will bring a wide, wide smile to my face is reading that the person(s) responsible for this will never again see the world that lies on the other side of the razorwire lined walls that surround a max. security lockup.

.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


All that crazy anti-census talk clearly had some effect.

Its the same 'fragging talk that happened last time. And the time before that. And at least all the way back to 1980's (when at least I've seen documents about.) You have your radar tuned to it now is all - and therefore seems shocking. Anti-Fed talk goes back to at least the 1860's with the issuance of the Greenback. Prob. before, though you'd have to be a historian or someone who tracks anti-fed sentiment.

(oh and human nature - the leaders in the past sucked, and if only others would follow you and your correct thinking, all would be good. Be sure to toss that in the mix when looking over things. Because really - not agreeing with what I'm thinking means you suck-you know that right? *removes the glasses one sees the world* *winks* *replaces the glasses of ones own biases and returns* )

As someone said upthread "don't much care for the federal government" - any questions beyond 'how many ppl live here' are going to be treated with hostility.

This time (it appears if the AP is reporting the correct info) the hostility was *FAR* greater than an uttered '5' and a slammed door in response.

At least, cuz the victim was white, no one is screaming racism. Because I'm not sure I could handle yet another round of 'its racism/no its not' and I doubt the Big O has another new one liner like 'I was black before the election' in him.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why has no one reported on ACORN's involvement?
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:17 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why his murderer wanted us to know he'd eaten.
posted by klangklangston at 8:23 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why has no one reported on ACORN's involvement?
They have; you're just not reading the correct forum. There are at least two distinct ACORN theories floating around on the appropriately insane rightwing websites:

First, ACORN was somehow behind it. For example:

"Someone with the inside scoop on ACORN?"

Or:

"Sounds like ACORN’s MO."

Second, several people who explain it by saying that the murderer probably thought that the guy was from ACORN. For example:

"I can easily picture a pushy ACORN type person pushing the wrong buttons in the rural South." In, uh, "fairness", this person goes on to characterize the hanging as "a bit extreme".

Or:

"I don’t think anyone, talking with [my 84 year old father, who is working for the census], would ever mistake him for an Acorn or Obama minion. I hope."
posted by Flunkie at 8:30 PM on September 23, 2009


Everything I've read about Mr. Sparkman makes me believe that if there's a heaven, he's there now...asking God to forgive his killers.

.

(oh and the . haters from other threads - suck it.)
posted by rough ashlar at 8:32 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for your eloquence.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:39 PM on September 23, 2009


It's all "Reichstag Fire" and "false flag" over in freeperville

Errr, I'm not going to that place to try and noodle-out how this is "false flag", mind summerizing how the "bright bulbs of reason" got that figured out?

Cuz I'm not seeing how a government is gonna get all worked up over the death of a part timer. It doesn't sound typical.


'Course its a new day - local cops arrest drunk black professor and you get to drink with the Pres - so maybe the freepers have something?????
posted by rough ashlar at 8:41 PM on September 23, 2009


Can someone copy-paste all the comments from the other thread now? :/

copy-paste
posted by mazola at 8:43 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What are you getting at, rough ashlar?

The year 2000 pitch - and I found ya a web site reflecting the year 2000 rhetoric.

http://www.lizmichael.com/census.htm

On March 28, 2000, US District Judge Melinda Harmon has granted a temporary restraining order against prosecution of any American who chooses not to answer questions other than the number of people living at their address.

Then there are a few 1990's vintage 'emails'.

I'm betting with the correct subscriptions to 'Liberty Lobby' it would cover the 1980 census. John Birch - back to the 50's. 1940's census has its own, err, "unique" issues.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2009


Errr, I'm not going to that place to try and noodle-out how this is "false flag", mind summerizing how the "bright bulbs of reason" got that figured out?
Because it "sounds like a false flag operation to me". And because (in response to that) "BINGO! We have a winner!". And because (again in response) "Absolutely."

In other words, because because.

That's it, I'm done reading from that cesspool.
posted by Flunkie at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's it, I'm done reading from that cesspool.

*laughing at your summary*

Thanks for the summary - but your quoted reaction is why I don't go there. Glad you took the bullet and reported back.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm not going to that place to try and noodle-out how this is "false flag",

(1) Obama has an evil census plan rightfully opposed by Real Americans.
(2) Obama minions stage a fake murder villainizing all Real Americans who oppose the evil plan.
(3) Population who were once on the fence are now less likely to oppose plan.
(4) Evil plan now proceeds with less opposition.

It's crazy, but that's the theory, basically.
posted by rokusan at 8:59 PM on September 23, 2009


Are you kidding me?

It's obviously a fucking right-wing nutcase provoked by the months and months of very targeted hateful apocalyptic horseshit from Glenn Beck and his whole sick crew.

You need a citation? It was written on his dead chest. I mean, I could be wrong, but jesus, this is disgusting, unambiguous murder to try to intimidate the federal government! All we've seen since the DHS report on the rise of right-wing extremism has been, well, exactly what it was warning about, and now we have a federal employee murdered with the word "FED" written on his chest, roughly a week or two following a march where too many signs to count all but called for open violent revolt against the government.

8 years under a war criminal/torturer and not a single leftist in this country (that I can recall) did anything more audacious than pour blood on himself while dressing like a Abu ghraib prisoner outside a military recruiting center. 8 months into a centrist-liberals term, a census taker is lynched because our government is trying to prevent massive insurance companies from totally fucking the working and middle classes.
posted by Damn That Television at 9:00 PM on September 23, 2009 [108 favorites]


.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:02 PM on September 23, 2009


Som I read all this lunacy about how the census takers shouldn't be trusted because they are going to put you into internment camps and the article I read it on talks about the Glenn Beck Comedy Hour, which is apparently a real thing and not a jokey title for his regular show, and somehow a non-trivial number of people take the census threat seriously and kill a census taker and write FED on his body, but other people call this a "false flag" performed by ACORN? Is that an accurate assessment?

Because if it is I am very ashamed to live here. This is a third world country, from the poorest of the poor to the Senators and Congressmen. This is a puppet regime but the puppetmaster is long dead.

You're fine with DoD black projects, the NSA, Echelon, and the CIA, but you are worried about the census?!
posted by Pastabagel at 9:05 PM on September 23, 2009 [8 favorites]


(1) Obama has an evil census plan rightfully opposed by Real Americans.
(2) Obama minions stage a fake murder villainizing all Real Americans who oppose the evil plan.
(3) Population who were once on the fence are now less likely to oppose plan.
(4) Evil plan now proceeds with less opposition.

It's crazy, but that's the theory, basically.


So, somehow the "change" canidate gets worked up over a part time contract worker?

When, really, has the government gotten upset over the death of someone so low on the pay-scale that they have to take a part time job just to make ends meet? (ok, ok. No idea if the Census was a part time gig to make ends meet)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:07 PM on September 23, 2009


BTW, we all know that the census is explicity required by the Constitution, right? Just checking.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:07 PM on September 23, 2009


Here's a post on democratic underground where someone copied and pasted stuff from the Free Republic thread, including the "Sorry, but I can’t help but think-— when somebody tells you to get off of their porch, you really should leave." One
posted by delmoi at 9:09 PM on September 23, 2009


our government is trying to prevent massive insurance companies from totally fucking the working and middle classes.

When did that start happening?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:09 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is terrifying! Good thing there aren't any elections coming up; as a pollworker, I suppose I would also qualify as a "FED"!!! (But as a Marine Corps veteran, I might be able to kill anyone who tries to F with me or my poll peeps!

Also good that I'm in SoCal, and folks are too into themselves to worry about what others may or may not be doing...
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 9:12 PM on September 23, 2009


About twenty years ago I worked for the Census and I had a gun pulled on me. The guy just didn't expect anyone to be out there. A conscientious Census worker will go places where it's not at all clear people live. I visited people without electricity, people distilling moonshine, folks living down logging trails and well off paved roads. The interview questions can be a bit touchy too. Questions included things like the nature of relationships of the people there and income. Some people would refuse to answer until I made it clear they were legally obliged to. In some places the police would escort Census workers since the town or county was very interested in having everyone counted.
posted by Tashtego at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2009 [10 favorites]


Because if it is I am very ashamed to live here. This is a third world country, from the poorest of the poor to the Senators and Congressmen. This is a puppet regime but the puppetmaster is long dead.
Oh come on. This is a country where elected representatives solved their differences with duals. This kind of crazy has always been there. It's kind of shameful that Rupert Murdoch is profiting off of it, but if he wasn't they would be on the internet talking amongst themselves.
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on September 23, 2009


This is a third world country

Not yet, but if health outcomes VS money spent and Education VS money spent and (whatever metric) VS money spent keep slipping, it will be. If you'd like, when the last steel mill closes, I can channel the 'protectionist' Bush the 1st administration about how no 1st world nation lacks steel mills.

To help that slide:
http://www.live-pr.com/en/iran-from-dollar-to-euro-reserves

24.09.2009 05:37:58 Iran on way to make historical fiscal moves converting their reserves to euro from dollar,thus giving US currency down as reserve currency.EU welcome Iran’s moves
posted by rough ashlar at 9:15 PM on September 23, 2009


You're fine with DoD black projects, the NSA, Echelon, and the CIA, but you are worried about the census?

Bah, those things only affect brown people, terrorists, more terrorists, more brown people.... wait, the census? That affects ME!!!

It's a fine line between outrage and hypocrisy.
posted by rokusan at 9:20 PM on September 23, 2009


Questions included things like the nature of relationships of the people there and income. Some people would refuse to answer until I made it clear they were legally obliged to.

And what law was it that compelled the answering of the relationships?

(and if all power comes from the gun barrel - what law was gonna force gun-pulling person to answer beyond what you saw of "1+gun"?)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:20 PM on September 23, 2009


Why has no one reported on ACORN's involvement?

They have; you're just not reading the correct forum.


That's some fucked up shit there. My sick joke is someone else's reality. That's some fucked up shit there.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:23 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is now out of control. I don't know where it's heading, and I don't know where it will stop.

For the record, one man is dead.

.

He was hung and the word "FED" was printed on his chest. That's all we really know at this point. Worse things have happened. Worse things will happen. This is a great version of a great song.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a fine line between outrage and hypocrisy.

You forgot the vertical line of the rope from a lynch'n.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:25 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by tzikeh at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2009


Thank god my grandmother was born in Ireland.

I will always have an out.
posted by Allan Gordon at 9:30 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least, cuz the victim was white, no one is screaming racism.

No but the manner of killing (or staging?) is a bit suggestive, so I'm surprised it hasn't come to that. With so few hard facts the symbolism is open to interpretation and I do find myself wondering, without basis, whether Mr. Sparkman was a proxy for the president.
posted by blockhead at 9:30 PM on September 23, 2009


He was hung and the word "FED" was printed on his chest.

Just to take a step back as advocated above - do "we" "know" that? While I read about this fucked up shit in a re-posted AP article - "we" don't know "the truth".

I'm willing to run with 'guy is dead with 'fed' on chest - and it was a murder' as none of us (I hope) were there as witness/camera operators - 'we' do not 'really know'.

I can't imagine there is not an appointment book with names of the next visits, nor a cell phone involved to narrow down the list of potentional people to ask what they know.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:35 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


You guys really need to move to a real country a.k.a a place with actual healthcare, good minimum wage, politics based on other than lobby-groups and fucking crazy shit like this doesn't happen, regardless of motivation.

I nominate Australia, Norway, New Zealand and Liechtenstein.


Seriously, I know you get great cable, but I wouldn't live there for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
posted by smoke at 9:38 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys really need to move to a real country a.k.a a place with actual healthcare, good minimum wage, politics based on other than lobby-groups and fucking crazy shit like this doesn't happen, regardless of motivation.

All 300 million of us? Really? New Zealand's got the jobs and housing and infrastructure and immigration policy to take us all?
posted by scody at 9:41 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


because nothing bad ever happens in Australia
posted by philip-random at 9:42 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


No but the manner of killing (or staging?) is a bit suggestive, so I'm surprised it hasn't come to that.

Awww, man. now ya harsh'n my buzz. What'll harsh it tomarrow when I wake up and read this thread further is someone will have found where the suggestion has lead where I've already stated I'm not wanted for the reasons I've stated.

Just to cause my head to hurt.

myself wondering, without basis, whether Mr. Sparkman was a proxy for the president.

Well, employees and their actions have been accused for being proxies for corporations, so - as long as we're going with "your fellow man is an ass" - sure why not. All this time I was thinking the president was proxy for his/her big campaign doner's interests...but why not a proxy for the proxy?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:44 PM on September 23, 2009


All 300 million of us?

Naw, "we" leave the Congress, White House + staff and Supreme Court behind.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:46 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by Vibrissae at 9:46 PM on September 23, 2009


Federal employee. Kinda hope the whole "FED" thing is just a rumor, because of shit that has gone down before, and I'd just as soon not go down again.
. for Mr. Sparkman.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 9:47 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


philip-random: "He was hung and the word "FED" was printed on his chest. That's all we really know at this point."

And we don't really even know that. As others have pointed out, it looks like there's one eye-witness account that's being recycled in various news reports.

The whole thing is too premature to draw any conclusions. Maybe it's part of some Freeper/Illuminati/Zionist conspiracy to accelerate the downfall of the US government by stopping the census, or maybe the poor guy just knocked on the wrong door, and ran into someone who was truly batshit crazy. And if it was the latter, they might have been listening to Glenn Beck and Michelle Bachmann, or maybe they were just listening to the voices in their head. Violent anti-government sentiment has a long history in the United States; it's not like it's a new invention.

At the moment I don't see how we can have much interesting or intelligent discussion, because there's too little information available. All we know for sure right now is that some guy, who worked as a census taker and by all accounts seemed like a nice fellow, ended up dead. But without knowing who killed him or why—information that will probably take a while to come forward—it's hard to say exactly how this tragedy fits into any big picture.

I look forward to seeing an interesting FPP when there's something substantive to discuss, but right now it just seems premature to even try. Right now, all I see is a very sad situation involving a good person, and the beginnings of what will probably be a long investigation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:49 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


(I mean, seriously, I get it that lots of people outside of the U.S. think this country is insane, and believe me, there's plenty of us looking for escape routes [my boyfriend and I, for example, are working on getting his dual citizenship to Italy, which will take a couple of years at best, but at which point we can actually start weighing our options in terms of leaving for the EU if it comes to that] but the whole "haw haw, why don't all of you with half a brain just EMIGRATE already" is a really smug, lazy, self-satisfied meme that is neither helpful nor insightful. Really.)
posted by scody at 9:49 PM on September 23, 2009 [19 favorites]


.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by darkstar at 9:56 PM on September 23, 2009


jamstigator: "That crazy stuff about putting Republicans in concentration camps -- ya know, it doesn't seem all THAT crazy right at this moment."
Ya know, this gives me an idea. We don't really need concentration camps. I mean, "time out" camps might be better. We're liberals, we're not really into that whole corporal punishment thing, we like things to be a little soft around the edges. So, you know... You Repubs, you're being a bit naughty... Not particularly adult like, so maybe it's time to go to your corner, mister. And no desert for you.
Isolated from the media, maybe play some ping pong with moderates and liberals at, I dunno, a 10:1 ratio. Not so much an indoctrincation camp as a dedoctrination camp. Or de-extrematization. I dunno. Something to just get their little fucked up circuitry in that skull of theirs to sort of readjust to normal human society again.
Then, like drug addicts, they shan't go back again. We have to make sure that they find a new place with new friends so they don't get sucked back into the little dens of iniquity that they scurry around in.
posted by symbioid at 9:56 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's part of some Freeper/Illuminati/Zionist conspiracy

Look, the Zionists and Illuminati have been already implicated in control of news sources - hence the AP saying 'FED'. But how the hell did the cesspool of the Freepers get as powerful as the Illuminati and/or the Zionists?

Because if all it takes is putting up a web site for under 15 years - I should get cracking on a web site so I too can be as powerful as the Illuminati/Zionist conspiracy in a few years.

(Why am I tasting blood and why is there a hole in my cheek?)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:57 PM on September 23, 2009


This whole story is so disturbing to me ... this poor guy is out there trying to make a few bucks and he steps out of his car on to the set of Deliverance.

I hold anyone that has been feeding into the climate of divisiveness and hate responsible. Never mind the backwoods of Kentucky, I think the guy who carried a "public option" flag through the crowd on 9-12 would have been in serious jeopardy if he didn't have an escort of a half dozen cops. It's ugly out there, I am fearful we will be seeing more of this.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:00 PM on September 23, 2009


I honestly wasn't meaning to be snarky Scody. Just that seriously, from my perspective over here the U.S seems so incredibly dysfunctional I honestly would think of moving. Heck, I've thought about moving from Australia - and probably would except my partner would not allow it.
posted by smoke at 10:02 PM on September 23, 2009


And come to think of it, there's no doubt an order of magnitude equally batshitinsane murders chopping hookers to death each month.
I actually kind of doubt it.


That's crazy talk. Canada had active serial murders of prostitutes in every major Western city. The Vancouver pig farmer slaughtered umpteen women, some freak in Edmonton is heading north of twenty victims, a whole bunch more have been murdered in Winnipeg, there's a remote highway in BC that's should be turned into a graveyard for young female hitchhikers.

IMO, the USA almost certainly has well over 10 serial killers hunting prostitutes in any given year. There are a whole lotta names over the years: [obWP]
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm not leaving the country. If this ship goes down, I'll be one of the last people clinging to the mast. I always thought I'd be holed up with my last 50 rounds fighting off zombies. But hey, zombies, Republicans, whatevah, not really all that much difference.
posted by jamstigator at 10:18 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


In defense of Michele Bachman (first and last time I will ever utter that phrase)...people in Clay County, KY mostly haven't the first fucking clue who she is. A decent chunk of Americans don't even know who their OWN Representative is. Heck, I didn't know who mine was until I was around 20 years old. And I, um, work for Congress.
posted by naoko at 10:21 PM on September 23, 2009


i mean, Christ, I see the woman's name every day and I can't even spell it right. Bachmann. Argh.
posted by naoko at 10:23 PM on September 23, 2009


Good god. Whoever did this might as well have murdered a Horatio Algiers protagonist. Involved in his son's life, a cancer survivor, devout, humble. How absolutely senseless. Godspeed, Mr. Sparkman.
posted by boo_radley at 10:24 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


smoke: okay, gotcha. I do get that the "god, the U.S. sounds crazy, why don't you leave?" notion is probably just the flip-side to those of us here who've been vaguely thinking "well, there's always Canada if things get any shittier..." off and on for the past several years. My knee-jerk reaction to your comment probably comes from the frustration of knowing exactly how difficult it is to emigrate (logistically, financially, professionally, personally, etc.). Sure, it would be great to be able to instantly decamp for somewhere with universal health care and a moderately decent social safety net. But for most people in the U.S., it's not even a remotely practical possibility.

(Of course, this would be different if international borders were as open to human beings as they are to mega-corporations, but that's a topic for another discussion...)
posted by scody at 10:30 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


One hopes that the family of Bill Sparkman, a victim of right-wing terrorism, will file criminal and civil lawsuits against Michelle Bachmann and other members of the GOP who incite and sponsor right-wing terrorist acts that lead up to Sparkman's violent murder.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


rough ashlar, you might want to stop posting until the acid wears off.
posted by empath at 10:59 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:00 PM on September 23, 2009


You're fine with DoD black projects, the NSA, Echelon, and the CIA, but you are worried about the census?!

Well, gee, maybe 30 years of Reaganist anti-government extremism, which preaches that taxes are morally equivalent to Mafia shakedowns and theft by gunpoint, which preaches that universal healthcare via a public option as literal theft of the rich by the poor, who argue that government literally can't do a single thing in a way that benefits society. I can't imagine who would perpetuate such notions.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:15 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


.

I was a Census Worker 20 years ago - the most harassment I got was from the old men sitting on a porch, asking me if I wanted a beer every day. Oh, and from my own mother, who was convinced that I was going to narc on her for her pot. (No, Mom - we don't care about that.)

I feel sorry for the workers heading out this census.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:22 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, gee, maybe 30 years of Reaganist anti-government extremism

Heh.
posted by ryoshu at 11:26 PM on September 23, 2009


It seems that the city of Corbin has been dealing with local census issues during the past few years. From Corbin's Wikipedia page:

Corbin is one of the few cities in Kentucky which lies in two counties. This arrangement has created some problems with taxes, and also the census recordings. The city receives a portion of the occupational tax collected in Whitley County, but Knox County has refused to give Corbin a part of the tax collected there. On March 10, 2008, the City Commission voted to file a lawsuit against Knox County to receive a portion of the tax collected within city limits.


I would be interested to know whether and to what extent this situation played a role in today's tragedy.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:05 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Today's tragic news.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:07 AM on September 24, 2009


And we don't really even know that. As others have pointed out, it looks like there's one eye-witness account that's being recycled in various news reports.

Uhh, no. There is one anonymous official account that was carried by the AP wire. With valid reason for the anonymity, reported directly by a real journalist. There's no reason to doubt any of the details. And a separate individual confirmed on record that an investigation into a "possible homicide" is underway. The Census confirmed that door-to-door canvassing has been suspended in that county.
posted by mek at 12:13 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


More importantly, the story is too juicy not to believe at face value. Who cares if it's true or not?
posted by cillit bang at 1:07 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know the media can exaggerate a lot, leave out important details or even outright lie but finding a dead body of a census worker hanging with "FED" engraved on to the chest seems a little too big of a detail to get wrong or be misrepresented.

Any speculation made after this, though, probably should be ignored.
posted by Pseudology at 2:08 AM on September 24, 2009


I find it very, very easy to believe that this was a politically-motivated crime, and that the killer(s) used the victim as a proxy for Obama. I think the environment in this country is such that it is very, very easy to believe this is what happened, and while I do think we should reserve all judgment until we hear the final story, there's nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam because we're scared shitless and the victim was by all accounts an incredibly cool guy, so the people shaking their fingers at us and accusing us of jumping to conclusions should really give it a goddamn rest.

However:

That crazy stuff about putting Republicans in concentration camps -- ya know, it doesn't seem all THAT crazy right at this moment.

Please don't say shit like this.
posted by hifiparasol at 2:44 AM on September 24, 2009 [7 favorites]


Sorry, I just realized I lectured you for making a blowing-off-steam statement right after I asked others to let us blow off steam. That was uncool. I just want to stress that while talking about putting Republicans in concentration camps might seem like a jokey way to deal with your frustration, it's sort of didn't seem very jokey in your comment, and it's not something we should ever take seriously in any way. But now I'm starting to realize that the idea is so ridiculously absurd that you couldn't possibly have meant it, and I'm having second thoughts about my second thoughts, and it's late and I'm tired and I stayed up late to get some work done but wound up focusing on a horrible politically motivated hate-crime-type-thing which scares me even though I live in a major city and so I really, really, really feel like punching a hole in the wall right now so I'm sorry if it sounds like I took some frustration out on you.

I'ma shut up now.

posted by hifiparasol at 3:03 AM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not a prob, hifiparasol. Yeah, I was blowing off steam, and no, I didn't really mean that we should put Republicans in concentration camps, which is why I added the 'right at this moment' part - I knew that in the morning (which is now), that idea would seem completely crazy again, and it does. But ya know, when they cry wolf enough times without there being a wolf in sight anywhere, it gets goddamn annoying and makes me want to throw them in a pit full of hungry wolves. That'd be a teachable moment.
posted by jamstigator at 3:48 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of overlap between "crazy" and "motivated by the rantings of Beck and Bachmann." It's going to be hard to unwind the two.
posted by diogenes at 4:27 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to come to believe that one of the greatest tortures of being a human being is that I am able to imagine what a just world would be like and yet I live in a world where there is no justice and revenge is the only cold and meager comfort that stands in its stead.

Even if the facts are not correct in this story, is anyone really shocked that this could be happening? Obama getting elected unearthed a deep vein of crazy in this country that was only being incubated by the last eight years of the right alternately stepping on the necks of poor angry people and riling them up with xenophobic hysteria. I realize that things run in cycles and America has always had problems like these, but Jesus wept, I'm not happy about the way things are going right now.

What a terrible way to die, what vile creatures people can be, Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Life is no way to treat an animal." Shit.

I feel so bad for this poor man and his family, I wish him rest and them comfort.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:30 AM on September 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


I was an extremist left-wing activist during much of the Bush years. Man, we blocked so much traffic.
posted by ryanrs at 5:58 AM on September 24, 2009 [27 favorites]


.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:05 AM on September 24, 2009


First of all:

.

Secondly, my husband is from London, KY and we go there quite a bit. I know that SE KY has what my husband calls "shaggy people" moonshiners and meth makers and whatnot, but aside from the occasional tennis shoe over the powerlines indicators, you just don't feel that vibe. London is mostly small houses on big lots and 1 church for every 10 residents.

London does have a federal courthouse, and I have to imagine that local, state and federal law enforcement are all working hard to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Sparkman family and with the government officials who will bring his killers to justice.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:11 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Michael Steele's Obama Administration will rig the Census email to supporters from April 9, 09; comment on TPM the same day (snippage):

Michael Steele is playing a dangerous game with that fund-raising letter, and people are going to die because of it.

Nine years ago, my wife worked for the Census, knocking on people's doors and gathering information. There's no way she'll do it again next year. Steele is making it too dangerous.


(and here is another TPM page that reproduces the email, just in case it disappears from Steele's site)

I haven't been keeping up. I had no idea there was a big Census-is-the-new-Terrorists movement afoot.

This is a tragic, tragic story.
posted by taz at 6:15 AM on September 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


there's nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam because we're scared shitless and the victim was by all accounts an incredibly cool guy, so the people shaking their fingers at us and accusing us of jumping to conclusions should really give it a goddamn rest.

I disagree with this, to be honest. People are being very civil in their responses, and if you want to blow off steam, don't do it on a public message board if you don't want to be replied to.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was just a guy carrying out a census. It is too sad that this is what he gets for just trying to do his job.
posted by FarOutFreak at 6:32 AM on September 24, 2009


There's a lot of overlap between "crazy" and "motivated by the rantings of Beck and Bachmann."

The word you want is "synonym".
posted by anti social order at 6:34 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


My knee-jerk reaction to your comment probably comes from the frustration of knowing exactly how difficult it is to emigrate (logistically, financially, professionally, personally, etc.). Sure, it would be great to be able to instantly decamp for somewhere with universal health care and a moderately decent social safety net. But for most people in the U.S., it's not even a remotely practical possibility.

Aside from not being practical, it's not a moral possibility. The rage, violence, and indifference toward objective truth that we see come up over and over again is due to a systematic failure of the American government. I voted for Obama (and I expect many other people did, too) because I trusted him, and still do, to do his very best to make sure that all Americans have a fighting chance-- a chance not to die prematurely due to being denied healthcare coverage, a chance to receive a decent public education so that they can think for themselves rather than falling prey, time and time again, to the fucked up agendas of the very rich, a chance not to have their taxes misappropriated for ill-advised wars, and a chance to enjoy the benefits of the American constitution.

They're human beings, for pete's sake, and they're suffering. If those of us fortunate enough to be healthy and educated enough to see the bigger picture jump ship, what chance do they have?
posted by oinopaponton at 6:56 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe it was my fevered imagination, but it sure seemed like emigration requirements in English-speaking countries became stricter soon after the passage of the PATRIOT Act.

If I had a young adult child, I would do whatever I could to help them expatriate.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:06 AM on September 24, 2009


There's a lot of overlap between "crazy" and "motivated by the rantings of Beck and Bachmann."

Are you talking about the left or the right here?
posted by cillit bang at 7:09 AM on September 24, 2009


Bachmann Warns Of Link Between Census, Japanese Internment

I hate to give Bachmann any slack, but this actually has a grain of truth in it. The census didn't round anybody up, but the agencies that did the internment did request records from the U.S. Census in finding cities with concentrations of Japanese and Japanese-American residents.
posted by jonp72 at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2009


There's a lot of overlap between "crazy" and "motivated by the rantings of Beck and Bachmann."

Are you talking about the left or the right here?


I don't understand your question. Please rephrase.
posted by diogenes at 7:22 AM on September 24, 2009


The famous "shouting fire in a crowded theater" quote was an analogy used by a Supreme Court justice to explain why telling people to dodge the draft during World War I was not constitutionally protected.

I think it is well past the point where the rhetoric of the right is far more dangerous to all of us than suggesting someone dodge the draft.
posted by idiopath at 7:24 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is just more of the right-wing extremists who are exactly the same as left-wing extremists except that they kill people.
posted by Legomancer at 8:01 AM on September 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think it is well past the point where the rhetoric of the right is far more dangerous to all of us than suggesting someone dodge the draft.

they're essentially doing that, too, at least Orly Taitz is.
posted by empath at 8:17 AM on September 24, 2009


Census, schmensus, you want offensive, you have to take a look at that stupid American Community Survey they did halfway between the last census and now. As well as the questions you’d expect on a regular census form, they added obnoxious personal ones such as “What time did this person usually leave the house to go to work last week?” My mother said: “What, so they know when to come and search the house?”

(Hey, Bush was still in office, and she was still convinced at that point I was going to get put in jail for blogging about how much he sucked!)

If you objected to providing this kind of personal information, they could fine you up to $5000. What annoyed the hell out of me was this: what if the way you earn a living is illegal?

(And I’m not talking drug dealer, prostitute, etc…in some places, being an acupuncturist is illegal. Being a naturopath is illegal. Being an unlicensed interior designer is illegal -- thanks, Florida).

So, while I find it absofuckinglutely abhorrent that someone would kill this lovely person who was only trying to do his job -- and I'm sorry, but I do think it probably was some crazy rightwinger -- I also find it pretty obnoxious that the census people continue to get nosier and nosier each time around. The Constitution says we need to count everyone...

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State

...not ask them how many bathrooms they have or what languages they speak at home and how well (that was in the American Community Survey, too).

Seriously, how is the number of bathrooms you have relevant? Do I need to keep a spare one open in case Kucinich is in the neighborhood and needs to stop by? Maybe one of the nosier questions is what got this poor man killed, and for what?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:27 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


jonp72: "Bachmann Warns Of Link Between Census, Japanese Internment

I hate to give Bachmann any slack, but this actually has a grain of truth in it. The census didn't round anybody up, but the agencies that did the internment did request records from the U.S. Census in finding cities with concentrations of Japanese and Japanese-American residents.
"

Unlike today, when we can outsource our demographic research to corporations like choicepoint. And then use "state security" to demand corporations help us (like AT&T, for example). We wouldn't want Ms. Bachmann to actually think too deep about the issues, now, though... would we?

Spare me the faux libertarianism, Bachmann. Funny thing is, it's usually the right-wing who LOVES to justify rounding up all them "foreign agents". That said, I'm not attempting to justify the atrocious behavior of the US during WW2, and think that it's wrong and despicable, regardless of which specific agency of the government perpetrated such abuses.
posted by symbioid at 8:28 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Right seems to have any number of people who will act, invited or not, as storm troops. People whose lives were not any better, and arguably far worse, under the previous right wing regime. They will go to the wall, risk arrest, act like fools, and, in some cases kill (if it turns out to be such in this case).

This seems similar to Muslim extremism, wherein any number of young people are more than willing to blow themselves up in order to further that extreme cause, even if their lives would be no better, and arguably far worse, under a regime controlled by the ones who strap the bombs to them and send them to crowded places.

I can't think of many Bush haters who would act in such a manner.
posted by Danf at 8:37 AM on September 24, 2009


Interestingly, the Census is a backbone of representative democracy -- almost on par with voting itself. Unless we know how many people there are and where they live, we can't assign voting districts or Federal matching funds with any degree of accuracy.

The census just lets you know how many people there are and where they are. Whether this information is then used for bolstering representative democracy and social programs, internments, or nothing at all, is entirely up to the governments and agencies who receive the information. There's nothing inherently benevolent (or malevolent) about counting people. Fascists have just as much interest as centrists (I was going to say social democrats, but I'm not sure if the US has ever actually had any of those in power) in knowing where you are.

[NOT CENSUS-IST]
posted by regicide is good for you at 8:40 AM on September 24, 2009


I don't know if you realize this or not, but there are whole bunch of states in the U.S, some of which are significantly less crazy then others. The idea that you somehow need to leave the U.S. or whatever because of this is a little crazy. It's not like those other countries don't have their own issues.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2009


.

But speaking as a left-liberal native Kentuckian, he probably just knocked on the wrong door. Meth lab, whatever, identified himself as a federal worker, and got killed as a likely informer. Or he could just got a house of plain old crazies who did it for kicks, but not politics. It happens. Put the same thing in a particularly nasty gang-infested part of LA or Baltimore, and would you be surprised or think it was political as opposed to the usual kind of criminal killing? The hanging was for meanness and because they knew they had the time and isolation to get away with doing it that way, otherwise they'd have shot him.

On the immigration question, I'm here because about 7/8 or 3/4 of my ancestors at some point decided to jump ship and run out on their old countries when they felt the need. It's a fine family tradition and I see no reason to reject it, but legal realities these days make it difficult to impossible.
posted by dilettante at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2009


well, there's always Canada if things get any shittier...

I get a little sick of all of this ‘abandon ship!’ nonsense that people roll around every time something crazy happens that may have political tones to it. Give me a break, in the past year we have:

Elected a black president
Legalized gay marriage in 7(?) states – not enough, but improving
Made the first real attempt at healthcare overhaul in 15 years
Passed hate crimes legislation
Somewhat reversed a total economic collapse (yes, that’s debatable, but whatever)
other stuff I can't remember right now

My point is that the one of the reasons people see the US as a big stinkin pile of crazy is because, by and large, we dominate the news media and our affairs are blown totally out of proportion. I challenge all non US mefites to prove to me that their country doesn’t have problems. We in the US have many, but I for one feel like there is positive momentum here - no matter what the huffpo chooses to headline.

(I hope that didn’t sound too ‘love it or leave it’)
posted by Think_Long at 8:43 AM on September 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


delmoi: I don't know if you realize this or not, but there are whole bunch of states in the U.S, some of which are significantly less crazy then others.

I'll even question this truism. Obama won the primary, the general, and congress by engaging in a total war campaign that forced the Republicans to fight for, and in many case lose territory that had not been contested in living memory. Change may be more difficult in some places than others, but I'm not convinced that state lines are a useful demarcation line.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:06 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think part of what makes MetaFilter work is that the majority of us tend to put our energy towards elevating the tolerant, positive commentary and castigating the banal, unhelpful and destructive bits. It works from the inside out and wouldn't be benefited by many of us leaving and then returning when 'things get better'. Sure, the bad stuff is more salient on many levels, but I don't think it's representative of who we are, and many of us put a lot of energy in making sure we're not seen that way. Despite some sources, here and elsewhere, that try to paint us that way. Not necessarily saying that MetaFilter is a model for how humans should behave or anything, but it's one system that seems to work really well within its constraints. I think there's a lot to be said for this idea of individuals putting energy towards promoting the positive, inclusive stuff and against the noise and destruction. The world seems too big sometimes for making a difference as but one individual, but I think if we all work on making whatever spheres of influence we have effect on as good places to be for more than just ourselves, the spread is cumulative.

In other words, putting that energy into moving around and jockeying for better positions just creates traffic.

End utopian rant. Free hugs for all today!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2009


other stuff I can't remember right now

There's this.
posted by hifiparasol at 9:20 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where were all these "anti-big government" people when President Bush expanded the government? Where were these people who are worried about the government rounding people up when the Bush Administration rounded up Jose Padilla in violation of his Constitutional rights?

There are a lot of people up in those hollers who don't much care for the federal government (with good reason)

Are they pissed off about getting $1.51 of federal spending for every dollar of federal taxes? All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


That crazy stuff about putting Republicans in concentration camps -- ya know, it doesn't seem all THAT crazy right at this moment.

Please don't say shit like this.


Isn't this exactly the kind of situation the Rex 84 camps are for? They're still around and in decent upkeep. It's a FEMA thing, which makes it a left-wing Clinton conspiracy... except it was a Reagan plan, which makes it a right-wing conspiracy! Fun for everyone!
posted by FatherDagon at 9:38 AM on September 24, 2009


But speaking as a left-liberal native Kentuckian, he probably just knocked on the wrong door. Meth lab, whatever, identified himself as a federal worker, and got killed as a likely informer.

People who run meth labs are stupid, but not that stupid. No one with a meth lab is going to go out of his way to bring an army of FBI agents to the neighborhood.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:45 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


People who run meth labs are stupid, but not that stupid. No one with a meth lab is going to go out of his way to bring an army of FBI agents to the neighborhood.

What about people who run a meth lab in the next town which competes with some meth labs in the neighbourhood?
posted by acb at 9:52 AM on September 24, 2009


I haven't been keeping up. I had no idea there was a big Census-is-the-new-Terrorists movement afoot.

I think they prefer the term "anti-apportion."
posted by albrecht at 9:53 AM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I learned recently that all you need for your own mini-meth lab is a two liter soda bottle, an easily obtainable under the restrictions amount of sudaphed, a few chemicals, and the willingness to risk blowing your arms off.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:11 AM on September 24, 2009


As far as the September 12 link to all of this goes, his body was found September 12 but apparently in a fairly decomposed state according to this.

The actual event would have occurred earlier.
posted by mazola at 10:11 AM on September 24, 2009


People who run meth labs are stupid, but not that stupid.

As another leftist Kentuckian and one who has relatives and acquaintances working in the justice system in that part of the state, let me say yes, they are that stupid.

I too would be really surprised if this had anything other than a passing connection to national events. It's a sad, stupid thing but not unheard of in some of the more isolated parts of the commonwealth.
posted by Mcable at 10:30 AM on September 24, 2009


What about people who run a meth lab in the next town which competes with some meth labs in the neighbourhood?

That actually sounds like a pretty good TV show. Close up shop for a few weeks, commit a horrible crime that can be blamed on a fellow meth dealer, then sit back as your competition is hauled off by the FBI and demand skyrockets.

Here's my favorite part of the article mazola links:
some people wonder if his death in the remote part of southeastern Kentucky known for its meth labs and hidden marijuana fields had less to do with his job than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

JOURNALISM FAIL. Who are "some people?"
posted by hifiparasol at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2009


Who are "some people?"

Judging by the words, weasels.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


People who really want to avoid obvious implications.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on September 24, 2009


From the latest AP story, which has little new apart from fresh reaction:


Mary Hibbard, a teacher in Manchester, said she recognized Sparkman on the news as the census worker who visited her house this summer for about 10 minutes. Hibbard said he asked some basic questions including the size of her house, how many rooms it had and how much she paid monthly for electricity.
"I know he has a Christian background," she said. "You come to my house, we're going to talk religion."

and

Kelsee Brown, a waitress at Huddle House, a 24-hour chain restaurant in Manchester, when asked about the death, said she thinks the government sometimes has the wrong priorities.
"Sometimes I think the government should stick their nose out of people's business and stick their nose in their business at the same time. They care too much about the wrong things," she said.


Kentucky is a different country.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:45 AM on September 24, 2009


Not just the census, but the US government in general collects tons of data that is useful to people doing all types of research and if not all of it, very much of it is freely available. I can't cite anything but I would be very surprised if US government research hasn't helped us solve many important problems.
posted by snofoam at 10:49 AM on September 24, 2009


Kelsee Brown, a waitress at Huddle House, a 24-hour chain restaurant in Manchester, when asked about the death, said she thinks the government sometimes has the wrong priorities.
"Sometimes I think the government should stick their nose out of people's business and stick their nose in their business at the same time. They care too much about the wrong things," she said.


also a guy got killed thanks for your compassion waffle waitress
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2009 [13 favorites]


Census, schmensus, you want offensive, you have to take a look at that stupid American Community Survey they did halfway between the last census and now. As well as the questions you’d expect on a regular census form, they added obnoxious personal ones such as “What time did this person usually leave the house to go to work last week?” My mother said: “What, so they know when to come and search the house?”

Those are just questions to try to study working patterns. It's really interesting. I heard about a history study which used court records to study this sort of thing (looking for witnesses saying things like "well, I was getting off work at about midnight when I saw the body..."), but a community survey is so much more accurate and convenient.

Seriously - for once and for all, I wish that people would stop thinking that researchers are interested in them. No one is interested in you - you're not very interesting. They are interested in the overall patterns of society. The U.S. census is just a great way to get some really big samples, paid for by the government. The only people who use the data are social scientists like epidemiologists and sociologists and (after they've been aged to the proper ripeness) historians.

(not directed at anyone in particular - just silly census and survey paranoia in general).
posted by jb at 11:24 AM on September 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Seriously - for once and for all, I wish that people would stop thinking that researchers are interested in them.

If you don't trust the government (and plenty of people around here certainly didn't during the last administration), why would you trust that the data would be restricted to researchers?
posted by smackfu at 11:40 AM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


For those of you calling equivalence, please post links to leftist violence that was a response to the Bush administration.

IRS dude turned up at my door because there were a few inconsistencies in my paperwork. Turns out it was a misunderstanding and an honest mistake and everything was sorted out in like ten minutes. We had a cup of coffee and chatted for a while and I totally gave that fucker some literature on animal welfare, plus a few simple and delicious vegetarian recipes for him to try out.
posted by turgid dahlia at 11:43 AM on September 24, 2009


turgid dahlia, I think you just described the plot from stranger than fiction
posted by Think_Long at 11:50 AM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


For those of you calling equivalence, please post links to leftist violence that was a response to the Bush administration.

Are we talking leftist = liberal or leftist = overthrow the government? Weren't the anarchists pretty big in various trade protests?
posted by smackfu at 11:58 AM on September 24, 2009


I hope this poor man's killers are found and thrown in prison with no chance of parole.

Those are just questions to try to study working patterns.

Call me a lolbertarian, but I would be a bit taken aback at being asked by a census-taker about the details of my household expenses, my daily work schedule, or the relationships between all members of my household. If someone came to my door on behalf of the federal government, asked me these questions, then threatened me with fines if I refuse to answer, I would become angry. I value my privacy, and while someone may have a very valid interest in 'trying to study working patterns', that does not obligate me to discard my right to privacy and due process.
posted by 2xplor at 12:22 PM on September 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Weren't the anarchists pretty big in various trade protests?

A trade protest is not an act of violence equivalent with lynching a human being and carving words in his body. Jesus fucking Christ.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on September 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


Weren't the anarchists pretty big in various trade protests?

Traffic jams are certainly inconvenient, but I think we're talking about anyone on the leftists whose politics motivated them, for example, to go into a church or museum and actually shoot people to death. Know of any?
posted by scody at 12:26 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


(guh, "on the leftist side")
posted by scody at 12:26 PM on September 24, 2009


smackfu: "Weren't the anarchists pretty big in various trade protests?"

While most would call property damage violence, I would hardly compare it to murder. Or were there attacks I did not hear about?

I think we should bring up the fringe left much more often in public discourse. I mean the real fringe, the overthrow-the-government-kill-all-the-priests-and-bankers style left. The more it gets talked about, the more people will realize that Obama is much more a centrist than a leftist, and the far left in this country is basically a bunch of college kids with no real political engagement or power. Everyone but the far right stands to gain from gaining that perspective.
posted by idiopath at 12:26 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I wasn't trying to say they were equivalent, I was just trying to think of examples of leftist violence. Clearly you have to go to the extremes on both sides to get to the violence, and I'm sure the moderates on both sides wish they could get rid of the extremists.
posted by smackfu at 12:46 PM on September 24, 2009


Yes, pretty much exactly what 2explor said:

I would be a bit taken aback at being asked by a census-taker about the details of my household expenses, my daily work schedule, or the relationships between all members of my household. If someone came to my door on behalf of the federal government, asked me these questions, then threatened me with fines if I refuse to answer, I would become angry.

I have studied history on a graduate level, I've looked at census results and other similar historical documents, I appreciate them for what they are, but there is no goddamn reason the government needs to know who is sleeping with whom or what my boyfriend and I pay for electricity each month, as CunningLinguist quoted from the new AP story:

Hibbard said he asked some basic questions including the size of her house, how many rooms it had and how much she paid monthly for electricity.

They wanna know how many rooms we have and how big the house is, they can call up the county auditor, he's got it all on file for property tax purposes anyway.

The last time I was forced by the government to expound upon the bed arrangements in my household was when my State Department security clearance guy asked me if I was sleeping with "all of" my male roommates. (I resisted the urge to tell him yeah, it's on the chore roster on the fridge, right after 'do dishes.') But that was VOLUNTARY, and I submitted to their stupidity to get my very plum internship.

The census and related queries are NOT voluntary, and I don't feel I should have to give them any more than what the Constitution asks for unless I choose to do so. This isn't paranoia -- I know how aggregate data works -- this is me exercising my right to privacy. Doesn't the fourth amendment protect an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy? If I choose not to give them data outside the bounds of what they are constitutionally allowed to collect, and they choose to use a show of force or authority (by fining me thousands of dollars), aren't they the ones in the wrong?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:50 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


God, I hadn't seen this, that's horrible. Yeah, eastern Kentucky is one thousand kinds of fucked up.

If the people making meth and growing weed are the same ones abusing prescription drugs, they range from accomplished amateur chemists to clueless dumbfucks. So, yeah, while it would make sense for a meth lab related murder to be discreet, in reality who the hell knows. (eastern Kentuckian who used to dispense prescription drugs a couple of counties over from Clay)
posted by little e at 12:53 PM on September 24, 2009


I think we should bring up the fringe left much more often in public discourse. I mean the real fringe, the overthrow-the-government-kill-all-the-priests-and-bankers style left. The more it gets talked about, the more people will realize that Obama is much more a centrist than a leftist

I used to be an active member of the socialist left in this country (and I'm still largely a fellow traveler), and I can tell you, there's nothing to be gained for progressives by painting such such crazy notions as universal health care, abortion rights, strengthening the labor movement, abolishing the death penalty, etc. as "fringe" positions. The real left-wing fringe that you're talking about -- e.g., the Sparts, the Maoists -- could fit in single beatup VW van on their way to a protest in most cities. Seriously, I would bet they each have national memberships that number in the high double-digits or maybe low triple-digits at best -- they're as marginal as it is possible to be, politically.

The right-wing fringe, by contrast, numbers in the millions and have elected officials and major media outlets who help set and promote their agenda. Even the ultra-right fringe beyond the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh -- i.e., white supremacist/Neo-Nazi groups, etc. -- have thousands of members and are growing. There's absolutely no comparison.
posted by scody at 12:56 PM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


The ABC News story on this links the words "body was found hanging" to this: Autopsy: David Carradine Died by Asphyxiation. Classy.
posted by smackfu at 1:00 PM on September 24, 2009


wow, very tasteful.
posted by Think_Long at 1:04 PM on September 24, 2009


scody: "he real left-wing fringe that you're talking about -- e.g., the Sparts, the Maoists -- could fit in single beatup VW van on their way to a protest in most cities."

In case we misunderstood one another, this is exactly my point, and actually talking about this lets us have that perspective in the public discourse - the fact that the fringe right is much more powerful, and much more dangerous, and that there are many more of them. And the fact that gay marriage and universal healthcare are not fringe or extremist positions.
posted by idiopath at 1:25 PM on September 24, 2009


but there is no goddamn reason the government needs to know who is sleeping with whom or what my boyfriend and I pay for electricity each month

Of course there is. There's a direct, obvious legitimate government interest in knowing how many households are composed of multiple unrelated people living together merely to save money, since that tracks directly with poverty and/or high living expenses, both of which the government might legitimately want to ameliorate. The idea that the government has no legitimate reason to care about either how much electricity you use or what the rates are is laughable on its face; knowing these things are vital for planning purposes as well as for figuring out how subsidies to the less-well-off for energy should be distributed to states and localities.

The census and related queries are NOT voluntary, and I don't feel I should have to give them any more than what the Constitution asks for unless I choose to do so.

You're simply fundamentally wrong about this issue.

The Constitution allows Congress to gather information it needs, or thinks it needs, to craft better legislation or to discover how the programs it has enacted are working. If the House or Senate wanted to, they could subpoena your ass and have you in front of the chamber spilling your guts about every single thing they want you to talk about, except for things that would incriminate you. If you didn't answer, off to jail with you until you feel like answering. Congress's power to investigate is vast, and the courts have been deeply reticent to impose any limits upon it.

Neither the House nor Senate is likely to subpoena you, because you like any other individual aren't very interesting.

But do not think for a minute that Congress is not constitutionally allowed to get as far up in your business as it wants to, so long as they're not asking about incriminating information.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:32 PM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


idiopath: ah, gotcha, thanks for the clarification. But to me, I think it's simpler and more effective to leave the Sparts and their ilk out of the discourse entirely; saying "look at the six crazies in Chicago who are still waxing poetic about the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan" is a red (haha, I make joke) herring that, at best, wastes time and energy that can be better spent continuing to fight for progressive advancements.
posted by scody at 1:37 PM on September 24, 2009


"Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide,

"(yea, cuz the soon to be dead always scribe 'FED' on their own chest - a sure sign of suicide.)"


You got to admit if you were going to commit suicide while still allowing a payout on life insurance it would be a genius way of doing it. (Not saying that's what happened).

"I find it interesting we're not hearing the word 'Lynched' more. 'Found Dead' indeed, we don't want to say how he got that way"

Doesn't seem to meet the definition of lynching. IE: lynched != hung.

"Proposal: Count the whole district as 0 population until they find the killer. No representation in congress, no federal money. They don't want the federal government there? Fine."

And if the killer was a passing through crazy from Texas/Missisippi/Florida/Lousiana? Way to disenfranchise a huge swath of people who had nothing to do this the murder.

"Seriously, how is the number of bathrooms you have relevant?"

This kind of data can be very interesting historically. As a WAG it could correlate with wealth levels. And on preview what ROU_Xenophobe wrote; there are all sorts of planning activities that need to know household composition; relative and absolute wealth, etc.
posted by Mitheral at 1:44 PM on September 24, 2009


scody: "I think it's simpler and more effective to leave the Sparts and their ilk out of the discourse entirely"

I thought this as well, but consider the overton window - the public discourse is framed by the extremes, what appears moderate appears moderate in the context of the opposing views it compromises between. If the furthest fringes of the right get attention in the media (which they reliably do), and the furthest reaches of the left are invisible (pretty close to being the case), then the perception of what "center" is is pulled to the right, and Kucinich suddenly looks like a far left outlier, where in the big picture he is not especially extreme.

I didn't bring up the overton window earlier, because I feel like I have been kind of harping on the subject on mefi lately, the concept really fascinates me, and I am more and more convinced that the politics of public opinion really work that way.
posted by idiopath at 1:45 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


It does seem kind of odd, doesn't it, that the guy was killed on the morning of 9/11?

I know his body was found on the 12th, but all the reports I've read say time of death has been determined as the morning of the previous day.

So he was killed on the anniversary of 9/11, hung from a tree, with the word "FED" written on his chest. But I shouldn't jump to the conclusion it was an anti-government thing?

I suppose it could have been a political killing intended to inflame partisan political tensions, rather than one actually intended to send a threatening message to census workers or the federal government. Seems like a stretch though.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:15 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the furthest fringes of the right get attention in the media (which they reliably do), and the furthest reaches of the left are invisible (pretty close to being the case), then the perception of what "center" is is pulled to the right, and Kucinich suddenly looks like a far left outlier, where in the big picture he is not especially extreme.

Yes, but this imbalance stems from an extremely deep-seated and complex system of political, social, and economic factors that can't be overcome so simply.

In contemporary terms, the fringe right's ability to exert such disproportionate power in terms of public discourse has been an outcome of Nixon's infamous Southern Strategy 40+ years ago -- but even that's just a chapter in what can be seen as a recurrent feature of much of American politics.

Second, part of the problem of the narrowness of public discourse in the U.S. stems from the narrowness of mainstream politics in the U.S. We have a two-party, winner-takes-all system wholly dominated by coroprate interests. This means we are missing one of the major components that is present in virtually every other industrialized nation: an independent labor party founded on the basic principles of social democracy, not to mention a more general constellation of political parties, platforms, etc. (I mean, not to rehash the Nader derail in another thread, but this the structural issue why third parties are rendered so utterly invisible, and their supporters are either dismissed or vilified.)

Third, we have a mainstream media that is also wholly dominated by corporate interests and a "political" media that is dominated by insider, beltway politics.

In short, right-wing dominance of discourse has essentially been built in to the system -- politically, culturally, socially, and economically -- for decades, if not centuries. In a word, it's hegemonic. So while I agree that progressives have to work hard at expanding public discourse, I don't believe that pointing to a half dozen Sparts at a demonstration in order to essentially say "see, most of the left isn't really like that" is going to accomplish the task.
posted by scody at 2:27 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]



People who run meth labs are stupid, but not that stupid. No one with a meth lab is going to go out of his way to bring an army of FBI agents to the neighborhood.


Earlier this year or late last year people running a meth lab left drain cleaner in a mug on their coffee table . The toddler in the house found it, sipped it, and died. The parents were 14 and 19. Yeah, they can be that stupid. And they do get paranoid.

Interestingly, 3696 people in Clay County - 15% of the population - are on SSI, meaning that (in theory) their sole support is from the federal government. In 2008, 10% of the population was officially unemployed. By July of this year, it was 14.5%. Mayberry it ain't.
posted by dilettante at 2:28 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


scody: "... to essentially say "see, most of the left isn't really like that" is going to accomplish the task"

I think I botched the job of presenting this, I found an excellent article on the Daily Kos that makes a much better argument for how the overton window is supposed to work.

My summary: by playing to the moderates (which the Democrats have been doing in this country for ages now), while the other side plays to the more radical segments of their own camp, the definition of moderate automatically moves to be closer to their position. Restructuring how politicians are elected would change things immensely, but that is a change neither major party will ever let happen if they can help it.
posted by idiopath at 2:35 PM on September 24, 2009


So it appears the census bureau has a few problems, namely:

1. People tend to resent being forced to answer highly personal questions by the govt.

2. People have no idea what the govt will do with that data and worry it might be used against them

3. The govt has done nothing to educate people on why this data is needed and how it will be used--and how it will not be used, i.e., as in creating a dossier on Joe Smith and his three boyfriends.

4. All this confusion/resentment plus maybe some wingnut anti-govt hysteria may or may not have gotten a man killed.
posted by emjaybee at 2:35 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


idiopath, that looks interesting. I will read and get back to you with my impressions. Thanks!
posted by scody at 2:38 PM on September 24, 2009


Where were all these "anti-big government" people when President Bush expanded the government?

(Allmost) All of 'em that ya see now? - yea they were rooting on their guy. Or at least not squak'n because 'their guy' would never 'attack them'. Now they think the big thing that they did not oppose back in the then will be used against 'em in the now and so are squealing like a stuck pig.

But some of 'em were bitching then, just like they are bitching now. And a few have been complaining for years, at least going back to Regan. While its hard to pick out the concerned from the oppertunists (as the concerened want to 'take advantage' of the oppertunity surrounding the interest in their message) the internet does allow searches so one can see how far back their actions match their claims.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:50 PM on September 24, 2009


Are we talking leftist = liberal or leftist = overthrow the government? Weren't the anarchists pretty big in various trade protests?
Wait, anarchists are leftists?

Don't leftists, generally speaking, want government regulation on corporations, government support for social services, and government protection of social liberties?

Don't anarchists, generally speaking, want, uh, no government?
posted by Flunkie at 3:11 PM on September 24, 2009


Well, it's kind of like Libertarians - who are right wing, but supposedly against authoritarian government. I guess it;s where wing based politics kind of joins up at the back.
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2009


I have studied history on a graduate level, I've looked at census results and other similar historical documents, I appreciate them for what they are, but there is no goddamn reason the government needs to know who is sleeping with whom or what my boyfriend and I pay for electricity each month,

Maybe you are a different kind of historian. Because the socio-economic historians would totally like to know what you and your boyfriend pay for electricity (they get very excited about detailed account books), and the gender-sexuality historians do need to know who is sleeping with whom. (they are such gossipy types).

I actually spend a lot of time analysing how many HEARTHS people had in the 17th century. We only know that because the Crown decided to tax people by hearth at one point. I wish they had decided to do a census as well, because I'm having to use their (not very reliable) number of households to estimate the local population. But early modern historians would love to also know how many rooms people had and (even better) how much money they made, what they spent it on, how much they paid for food and fuel, etc. Early modernists look over with eyes HUGE with envy at what modernists and social scientists have to work with - all because of surveys like the census and the American Community Survey.

On preview: the numbers of bathrooms is interesting. What if you notice a pattern whereby people of the same relative income in different regions have radically different numbers of bathrooms, due to cultural reasons? Or you notice that some people live in housing with too few bathrooms for the number of people? How many bathrooms a house has is a big factor in lifestyle and living conditions.
posted by jb at 3:17 PM on September 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anarchists self describe as leftists. They are still for the most part socialist in their agenda, though not necessarily collectivist (some are socialist and collectivist while also being anti-state), and they represent a vestige of a pretty large diversity that existed in socialism that was reduced in the wake of the success of Marx.
posted by idiopath at 3:18 PM on September 24, 2009


Or, if the historical arguments don't sway, I could point out that my mother-in-law is an epidemiologist, and she and her colleagues use the health and welfare information from detailed surveys (like the long-form census) to understand the extent and nature of disabling conditions. They need to know things like how many people live in a house, because that changes how much social support someone might have. How many bathrooms in the house per person might be a good measure of crowded housing.

And as a researcher into bankruptcy, Elizabeth Warren has used the spending data collected over the last 30 years to completely undermine the claim that people spend more money on consumer goods - she found that American middle class families have instead seen an explosion in the costs of health care, morgages, transportation and child care. She couldn't have known this - unless someone asked nosy questions about how much money was spent on what.

Every single one of the questions on a big survey has been thought out carefully - if only because they cost money and for every question which makes it into the survey, there might be dozens or more for which they had no room.
posted by jb at 3:23 PM on September 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the bullshit about The Government Doesn't Need To Know About My Bathrooms is stupid and should be left to third-rate late-night comedians.

I'd respect these objections more if they were factually correct about even half of their claims. But they don't ask who's sleeping with whom; they ask what the relationship of people in the house is to one another. They ask what time you go to work so they can predict traffic patterns. They don't care about whether your job is illegal—the Census barricaded the FBI out in a confrontation about disclosing data. It is constitutional, and it has nothing to do with the Fourth Amendment, as there's no search and seizure going on.

Seriously, if you don't get this, you deserve to have your high school civics credit rescinded, and you should turn in your diploma. It's such basic shit that when I see these wild misrepresentations, I have to ask that uncomfortable "Idiot or liar?" question.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on September 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


I hope that was a sufficiently civil reiteration of earlier, deleted comments, which had much more unbridled, emotional contempt.
posted by klangklangston at 3:51 PM on September 24, 2009


It does seem kind of odd, doesn't it, that the guy was killed on the morning of 9/11?

My understanding is that he was found 9/12 but had been there a while. His mom was told there was bad decomp.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:53 PM on September 24, 2009


New info:

State and federal law enforcement officials on Thursday dismissed the suggestion from a news service report that the man, William Sparkman, 51, might have been targeted because he worked for the federal government, calling that speculative.

..."I think to give this impression that he was strung up because he was a federal employee is giving a bad impression to the nation," said Dave Beyer, spokesman for the FBI field office in Louisville, which is working with state officials on their investigation.

and:
The body of Sparkman, a part-time field worker for the Census Bureau, was found Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky. A rope was wrapped around his neck and tied to a tree; his feet were in contact with the ground, according to the Kentucky State Police and FBI.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:10 PM on September 24, 2009


Seriously, if you don't get this, you deserve to have your high school civics credit rescinded, and you should turn in your diploma. It's such basic shit that when I see these wild misrepresentations, I have to ask that uncomfortable "Idiot or liar?" question.

Oh really? Perhaps you should take your personal insults elsewhere; I'm not impressed, and no one attacked you in this manner for expressing your ill-considered opinion.
posted by 2xplor at 4:14 PM on September 24, 2009


They are still for the most part socialist in their agenda, though not necessarily collectivist

Can one be an individualist socialist? How would that work?
posted by acb at 4:15 PM on September 24, 2009


Anarchists are libertarian leftists, while authoritarian leftists tend to identify as Communists.

Libertarianism and Authoritarianism are not unique to either the left or the right. In America, the stereotypes (stupidly enough) are that the left is authoritarian and the right is libertarian, but this is largely because the Republican Party has been permitted to set the tone and agenda of public discourse for about the last thirty years.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


acb: "Can one be an individualist socialist? How would that work?"

it is a strong current in anarchist theory
posted by idiopath at 4:28 PM on September 24, 2009


oops, too quick with the snarky link, meant that to be the "did you mean", individualist socialism.
posted by idiopath at 4:30 PM on September 24, 2009


"Anarchists are libertarian leftists". This is nonsense. Try here instead.
posted by sneebler at 4:39 PM on September 24, 2009


Dead Census Worker Was Warned To "Be Careful" In Rural Kentucky

FBI: Sparkman Was Found Touching Ground, Not Hanging From Tree
posted by homunculus at 4:40 PM on September 24, 2009


IIRC, the bathrooms question has a lot to do with there being a lot of folk who don't have indoor plumbing yet. They're trying to plan for making modernization more available.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:47 PM on September 24, 2009


True Confession: When the 1980 Census came around, I was living in an apartment in West Los Angeles. I got sent one of the 'long forms' and, between a little left-over paranoia from my own Libertarian-dabbling period and some embarrassment about my answers to some of the questions, I tossed it in a pile of papers "to get around to" later. I never did. Discovered it while cleaning out my piling/filing system late in '81. No Census human being had ever contacted me; still not sure if I was counted at all or if somebody decided "we know there's a single white male in his mid 20s at that address; that's all we need".
posted by wendell at 5:02 PM on September 24, 2009


And I recall there being a bathroom question on the 1980 long form... (I may still have it buried somewhere in my personal papers)
posted by wendell at 5:04 PM on September 24, 2009


"Oh really? Perhaps you should take your personal insults elsewhere; I'm not impressed, and no one attacked you in this manner for expressing your ill-considered opinion."

Ill-considered? I worked on the census in 2000. I got to have all these conversations with shack-dwellers from the ass end of Ypsilanti then.

Seriously, your objections are like hearing someone say that in Y2K, planes are going to fall out of the sky and the we'll have to live off stockpiled lentils—not just stupid, but old, already refuted stupid.

I'm sorry, but not all opinions are equal here, especially ones that are based on specious myths and misinformation. I don't care if you're impressed or not, just as I wouldn't care if you were impressed by my belief that birthers, truthers and creationists are all simps, dupes and morons.
posted by klangklangston at 5:20 PM on September 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


I started crying a little on the L train today thinking about this, and I don't remember the last time I cried.
posted by MoreForMad at 5:22 PM on September 24, 2009


Whenever something like this happens, whenever a crazy wingnut on the right goes off and does something terrible, always a couple people ask, "what about the crazy fringe left?" Let me tell you about the crazy fringe left.

If you're talking about the real fringe, then you're talking about groups like Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Although many people on the left share the approximate politics of these groups, the number of individuals who actually commit vandalism and arson is in the double digits. These few—the craziest—have burned buildings, broken into labs and freed animals, and sabotaged logging equipment. But they haven't killed anyone.

In 2005, referring to the ELF arsons, FBI deputy assistant director for counterterrorism John Lewis said, "Plainly, I think we're lucky. Once you set one of these fires they can go way out of control." Yes, luck is part of it. Also important are careful planning, respect for living things, and not shooting up churches.

For example, compare the ELF's Vail, Colorado arson and the Oklahoma City bombing. The ELF attacked a remote ski resort late on a Sunday night. The resort was closed and no visitors or staff were present. In contrast, McVeigh detonated a 4,800 pound bomb in the middle of downtown at 9 AM on a weekday. It is no surprise the ELF killed zero people and McVeigh killed 168. That shit was not luck.

So that's the craziest of the far left. They burn down unoccupied buildings and vandalize equipment. They commit sabotage, they free animals, they destroy research. But they do not kill people. They don't set out to kill, and they plan their attacks to minimize the risk to people and animals. They do not plan to die in a dramatic murder + suicide in front of the Holocaust Museum.

Among the rest of the radical left, there is a lot of disagreement about the tactics used by the ELF and ALF. Most disapprove. It's seen as politically unhelpful and idealogically problematic. It sounds like a left-wing caricature, but the guys who burn SUVs really do get a lot of shit for burning plastic and releasing toxins into the air. You will find much more support for tree-sitting than for sabotaging forestry equipment.

When radical activists talk about engaging in direct actions, they're generally referring to things like tree sits or handcuffing themselves to the gates of a military base. Sometimes activists will sneak into slaughterhouses or animal testing labs and record video. I personally engaged in what could be called militant bicycling. Militant bicycling that led to multiple felony arrests, mind you, but never once did I injure anyone. Crap like that will get you excommunicated from the activist collective.

As far as joking about killing or torturing Republicans—I see far more of that on Metafilter than I did in my activist group. During group meetings, if someone said something like that, they would always be corrected. The difference was, when you're planning routes and discussing police response, there is a seriousness, a realness, that doesn't exist in an online forum. When you know you're going to be arrested, and one of your co-conspirators starts joking about violence or vengeance, you have to stop and set him straight. There can be no room for nudge-nudge, wink-wink acceptance of violence. If your partner really does fuck up some banker at the demonstration, both of you will end up in prison. So you have to shut that shit down. And we do.

That is the basic difference between how the left and right handle their respective extremists. The left has their extremists more or less under control. We have a strong culture of non-violence that exists even at the fringes of the movement. We do not have a 'take out as many as you can' martyr mythos. No left-wing gunman will be called a hero if he dies in a shoot out with the Feds. You want to have a confrontation with the police? Go stage a sit-in at the courthouse. We'll send someone from the National Lawyers Guild when you get arrested. That's how we do things on the left.

Note: The above applies to radical left activists of the 90s and 2000s in the United States. Prior to that, and internationally, YMMV.
posted by ryanrs at 5:23 PM on September 24, 2009 [20 favorites]


One more observation from my childhood in Eastern Kentucky: when someone referred to a "Fed" it was almost always being used a synonym for law enforcement, usually DEA or ATF. That makes me even more convinced he stumbled on a meth lab or pot farm.
posted by Mcable at 5:29 PM on September 24, 2009


Proposal: Count the whole district as 0 population until they find the killer. No representation in congress, no federal money. They don't want the federal government there? Fine.

No federal:

Income tax
Social Security tax
Medicare tax
Tobacco tax
Alcohol tax
Gas tax

No:

War on Drugs
FBI
ATF
EEOC


They probably wouldn't mind being detached from the federal government. Shit, they could get more money selling untaxed smokes over the intertubes than they get from the federal government.
posted by MikeMc at 5:52 PM on September 24, 2009


I think this is a stupid argument but for the record, Kentucky gets back $1.51 from Washington for every dollar it sends. That number has been rising since 1985, when it was about 1:1.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:15 PM on September 24, 2009


sneebler: ""Anarchists are libertarian leftists". This is nonsense. Try here instead."

Two quotes from the article you link:

Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology

Since the 1890s from France, the term "libertarianism" has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States; its use as a synonym is still common outside the U.S.
posted by idiopath at 6:23 PM on September 24, 2009


individualist socialism (sorry about the lazy and poor links before, I should not rush out the door and try to post to mefi at the same time)
posted by idiopath at 6:31 PM on September 24, 2009


Ah. I apologize for having misconstrued the meaning of "Libertarianism" in the US context.
posted by sneebler at 6:40 PM on September 24, 2009


So, this guy was an Eagle Scout and Boy Scout leader?

Maybe he was killed by a gay atheist, seeing as how Boy Scouts is such a bastion of religious bigotry and homophobia. Surely Mefites should know better than wave a Boy Scout banner as evidence of someone's goodness.

Bill Sparkman may have been a great guy. But Boy Scouts arguably wasn't one of his better associations.

It's sad that I find it necessary to speak out. But Boy Scouts has tended to be presented as something pure, good, and especially American. Sorry, I can no longer find them to be any of those things. I find any such suggestion highly offensive.
posted by Goofyy at 4:33 AM on September 25, 2009


What a bizarre thing to complain about in this thread.
posted by smackfu at 6:25 AM on September 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


smackfu: What I find even more bizarre is that Boy Scouts of America has chosen to be the way they are. Coming in 10 hours after the previous comment, I figured it was like a footnote.
posted by Goofyy at 6:50 AM on September 25, 2009


My understanding is that he was found 9/12 but had been there a while. His mom was told there was bad decomp.

I'm basing the Sept. 11th date of death on this:
On September 12th, the body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year old part-time Census worker and teacher was found in a remote area of the Daniel Boone National Forest, in Clay County, in rural southeast Kentucky. Sparkman reportedly had died on the morning of the day before.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:54 AM on September 25, 2009


"Since the 1890s from France, the term "libertarianism" has often been used as a synonym for anarchism and was used almost exclusively in this sense until the 1950s in the United States; its use as a synonym is still common outside the U.S."

See, this is the kind of thing that's causing so many of our problems. We in the US are practically choking to death on our own historical ignorance.

Too many of us think we believe passionately in ideas we don't actually even understand.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:00 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


TPM have confirmed that "Fed" was written on Sparkman's chest in black felt tip marker.
posted by PenDevil at 7:01 AM on September 25, 2009


I'm basing the Sept. 11th date of death on this:

Huh. Well, that's from a TPM blogger's roundup of other people's reporting, and I think it must be a mistake: it's not reflected in any other story that I can find. Indeed, Sparkman was missing for at least two days before his body was found.

Agreed that ranting about the Scouts seems oddly misplaced here.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:10 AM on September 25, 2009


Don't think so. Also breaking, as PenDevil noted:

Coroner Confirms "Fed" Written on Sparkman's Chest
posted by saulgoodman at 7:14 AM on September 25, 2009


Yes, klangklangston, since calling out my mother was so successful yesterday, I'm glad to see you've managed to reframe your argument in such a way as to only insult my education.

emjaybee summed it up pretty nicely with:

So it appears the census bureau has a few problems, namely:
1. People tend to resent being forced to answer highly personal questions by the govt.
2. People have no idea what the govt will do with that data ...
[and so on]

I am coming from a position where yes, I have been asked HIGHLY sensitive personal questions about my living situation by government officials. The difference between that and the census and related surveys is that answering those questions was voluntary, would not have gotten me fined or put in jail if I refused to answer, and were tied to a rather nice reward if I cooperated.

I can appreciate the desire for raw data, whatever its intended purpose. But if you're striving for accuracy, why not ask the county assessor how many bathrooms I have? (They know. It's on file). Why not ask the electric company for billing data and payment patterns? (If your reasoning is that it might be useful to identify populations in need of payment subsidies or other assistance, the electric company is going to be able to give you MUCH more precise information anyway).

So keep calling out my education, and telling me to turn in my diploma, klangklangston. I think it's a privacy issue, you clearly do not, and both are a matter of opinion. I have a right to mine and you have a right to yours. Calling the basis on which I have made my judgments on releasing personal information specious myths and misinformation is really obnoxious, because as I've stated, some of my reasoning is based on past direct experience.

That my mother made a crack about the Bush administration using the time she leaves the house to figure out when to break in was her making a nervous joke, but it was also based on everything in the news at that time about Total Information Awareness and other programs. Last I heard Feingold's bill to prevent that kind of datamining hadn't gone anywhere, so who knows what the government is up to still? And if it makes me uncomfortable as someone who knows a bit about databases and other technology, can you imagine how mysterious and discomfiting it is to someone my parents' age? They can't be the only ones.

As for the intended use of the data, I think the numerous governmental data security failures -- and these are the ones we KNOW about -- are proof that giving them any more information than is necessary is unwise. Again, people my parents' age who aren't as technologically savvy hear a news story about some government flack losing a laptop with a zillion social security numbers on it and they think "my god, someone's going to steal my identity and my puppy, then charge several abortions and porn DVD rentals on my credit card! oh no!"

If the census really wants to solve the perception problems it has re: how data is protected, they should stop burying the information several layers deep on their website, and give a little more information about how and when identifying information is stripped off the personally-identifiable file. Data breaches happen even if you swear for life to protect the data, because no system is perfect.

It seems to me that not only is there a perception problem, there is an educational problem that could be fixed by explaining more clearly, and publicly, how things are linked and not linked, how things are processed and used, and how things work. All you hear is "answer this or you're going to jail," so of course people get resentful, and the technophobes freak out because all you ever hear in the news about government data management is how fucked up it is, so now you're resentful and mistrusting, and neither is a good starting point for gathering accurate data.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:39 AM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Of course, these are teabaggers we're talking about, so I'm not sure how well just telling them things works.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on September 25, 2009


I think it's a privacy issue

This is utterly incompatible with this other thing you said:

But if you're striving for accuracy, why not ask the county assessor how many bathrooms I have? (They know. It's on file). Why not ask the electric company for billing data and payment patterns? (If your reasoning is that it might be useful to identify populations in need of payment subsidies or other assistance, the electric company is going to be able to give you MUCH more precise information anyway)

That second thing only makes any sense if you don't actually believe there's a real privacy issue in play. If you did, what you'd object to is the information being disclosed to the federal government. As it is, you seem to be objecting to being personally asked questions the answers to which the government could obtain by asking other people.

some of my reasoning is based on past direct experience

But when you state your experience, anybody who isn't you can see how it is completely irrelevant to the Census, because it was a completely different agency asking completely different questions in a completely different context.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:03 AM on September 25, 2009


"But if you're striving for accuracy, why not ask the county assessor how many bathrooms I have? (They know. It's on file)."

Keep in mind that the Census is a national program. While your county may keep track of how many bathrooms you have (and I'd bet that because of illegalunreported renovations the county's numbers are significantly low) some places you don't need so much as a building permit to erect a 25 bathroom McMansion. These places have no idea how many bathrooms their citizens have.

Similar circumstances arise under occupancy and relationship questions. Many places in the states it is illegal for more than FOO number of unrelated people to live together. However it is extremely important to planners to know the demographics of their area.

"Why not ask the electric company for billing data and payment patterns?"
The electric bill may not be billed to the resident. My tenant for example pays 1/3rd of our utilities but doesn't have a single utility bill in there name.
posted by Mitheral at 8:57 AM on September 25, 2009


"I am coming from a position where yes, I have been asked HIGHLY sensitive personal questions about my living situation by government officials. The difference between that and the census and related surveys is that answering those questions was voluntary, would not have gotten me fined or put in jail if I refused to answer, and were tied to a rather nice reward if I cooperated."

The other difference is that the census did not ask the same questions as a security clearance. Pretending they did is either stupidity or lying.

"I can appreciate the desire for raw data, whatever its intended purpose. But if you're striving for accuracy, why not ask the county assessor how many bathrooms I have? (They know. It's on file). Why not ask the electric company for billing data and payment patterns? (If your reasoning is that it might be useful to identify populations in need of payment subsidies or other assistance, the electric company is going to be able to give you MUCH more precise information anyway)."

Because the census is an independent agency, and because having multiple sources for the same data is important. From the FAQ:

I've never seen anything this intrusive. Why do you ask such detailed questions?

The ACS questionnaire asks very detailed questions because we are required to collect specific information for federal and state government programs. For example, long-term care providers and community planners use information about disability to help them decide where to locate services and facilities. Federal and state government transportation planning agencies use journey-to-work information for roads and public transit development. You can find Fact Sheets on the ACS Web site that explain why we ask these questions.

The government already asks for a lot of this information. Why are you asking for this information again?

Although other government agencies collect some of the same information, we cannot use it for several reasons. First, we cannot obtain all of the required data from administrative records. Second, administrative records do not contain the data for everyone. Third, data may not be usable because of differences in collection periods or definitions. In addition, the ACS was designed to provide up-to-date information for federal and state agencies. Administrative records usually are not as current as the data that we collect.

So keep calling out my education, and telling me to turn in my diploma, klangklangston. I think it's a privacy issue, you clearly do not, and both are a matter of opinion. I have a right to mine and you have a right to yours. Calling the basis on which I have made my judgments on releasing personal information specious myths and misinformation is really obnoxious, because as I've stated, some of my reasoning is based on past direct experience."

It's not a matter of opinion to allege that this has anything to do with the Fourth Amendment, any more than it's a "matter of opinion" that Obama was born outside the US, or that the world is 4000 years old. Further, as your judgments are based on false equivalency between two wildly different question sets, it's you promulgating the myth and misinformation. So, no, despite your "reasoning" being based on past experiences, it's still stupid. Sorry, your opinions are bullshit.

"That my mother made a crack about the Bush administration using the time she leaves the house to figure out when to break in was her making a nervous joke, but it was also based on everything in the news at that time about Total Information Awareness and other programs. Last I heard Feingold's bill to prevent that kind of datamining hadn't gone anywhere, so who knows what the government is up to still? And if it makes me uncomfortable as someone who knows a bit about databases and other technology, can you imagine how mysterious and discomfiting it is to someone my parents' age? They can't be the only ones."

Except that if you take a moment to think about it, it's really not connected at all. Even with recent studies showing a fair amount of granularity (especially in underpopulated tracts), the government has a compelling interest in knowing the answers to the questions they ask on the ACS. And vague, unfounded fears about the government and technology are what we mock the elderly for, not celebrate. Her ignorance isn't a defense and neither is yours.

"As for the intended use of the data, I think the numerous governmental data security failures -- and these are the ones we KNOW about -- are proof that giving them any more information than is necessary is unwise. Again, people my parents' age who aren't as technologically savvy hear a news story about some government flack losing a laptop with a zillion social security numbers on it and they think "my god, someone's going to steal my identity and my puppy, then charge several abortions and porn DVD rentals on my credit card! oh no!""

Again, this is stupid. First off, the information is necessary. Second off, the identifying information is stripped upon data entry—the government can see that a person with your name and address responded, but cannot tie it to specific responses. The form is then destroyed.

"It seems to me that not only is there a perception problem, there is an educational problem that could be fixed by explaining more clearly, and publicly, how things are linked and not linked, how things are processed and used, and how things work. All you hear is "answer this or you're going to jail," so of course people get resentful, and the technophobes freak out because all you ever hear in the news about government data management is how fucked up it is, so now you're resentful and mistrusting, and neither is a good starting point for gathering accurate data."

Oh, yeah, totally, man, education problem, perception problem. Which you're making worse by linking to things like that bullshit Rutherford Institute lunatic, and your own jibber-jabber conflating security clearance questions with "How much do you pay to heat your home?" So yes, you have an education and perception problem, one that should have been remedied by a high school civics class.

You can obviously find your way around on the web, and the census has handy 800 numbers for anyone to call. You could have answered most of your objections within three minutes of non-paranoid googling. I don't think it's too much to ask that if my fellow citizens are stupid about the census, they at least not endeavor to spread that stupidity—nor should they feel particularly aggrieved about being called stupid, when the remedy is so close at hand.
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 AM on September 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


What's absurd about all this anti-census BS is that, sure I realize the nature of the questions have changed over the years, but the census has been carried out without any serious mainstream controversy since practically day one, and it's always probed into people's personal information. And yet, now it's considered a "conservative" position to call an essential, age-old, constitutionally mandated governmental institution into question over objections rooted in paranoia and ignorance?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:22 AM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Too many of us think we believe passionately in ideas we don't actually even understand.

That should be the official motto of the Internets, right there.
posted by darkstar at 10:16 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The U.S. Census: Oppressing America Since 1790
posted by scody at 11:14 AM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


All I know is that I'm a little worried about that call for census employment I was hoping to get this fall.
posted by josher71 at 12:37 PM on September 25, 2009


This guy is from Kentucky. I consider him a suspect.
posted by dersins at 1:17 PM on September 25, 2009


This guy is from Kentucky. I consider him a suspect.

Oh, man. I haven't seen that dipping tobacco canister tamping forearm motion since I was at college in a hicktown. He's gotta be guilty.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:42 PM on September 25, 2009


Yeah, if anyone is still reading this thread and doesn't consider TPM enough of a source, CNN has also confirmed that the coroner's report included "Fed" written on the victim's chest with a felt-tip marker.

So all this "shit is being made up" stuff in here can stop now, please. As expected, it's all real.

CNN burying this story so deeply is a bit annoying, though.
posted by rokusan at 1:50 PM on September 25, 2009


So all this "shit is being made up" stuff in here can stop now, please. As expected, it's all real.

I think the reasonable thing to do was to be somewhat skeptical of the story until confirmed by a non-anonymous source. Going off half-cocked based on rumors is what causes this kind of thing in the first place.
posted by empath at 2:30 PM on September 25, 2009


I've used census data in graduate research. Examples of research me or my classmates worked on:

- patterns of racial segregation over time
- children in poverty living with their grandparent(s) - helped tailor social programs
- commuting patterns over time and space - helps figure out where to build roads/public transit
- auto ownership by census tract - helps figure out where transit is needed
- distance driven to work, time taken, time left for work - transit/roads again
- mode of transportation - you guessed it
- housing prices over time - measured the effects of gentrification on current residents of a poor neighborhood
- people moving from suburbs to cities (this was difficult to glean from ACS data)

I hope this gives some idea of why these questions are useful.
posted by desjardins at 3:17 PM on September 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


BTW, it is extremely difficult to get individual datasets from the ACS. The professor I worked for had to get a security clearance, and even then she was only allowed to look at the record while in a locked room, and could not make copies or remove it. As her assistant, I wasn't allowed anywhere near it.

This is not to say the Census bureau is immune from security leaks or rogue agents, but they do take your privacy seriously.
posted by desjardins at 3:22 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see klangklangston addressed a lot of this above (I've only gotten around to reading the thread now).

Even with recent studies showing a fair amount of granularity (especially in underpopulated tracts)

They don't release the data if the tract is below a certain population, to prevent being able to narrow it down to specific persons (at least they didn't in 2005-2007). I don't remember the exact threshhold.
posted by desjardins at 3:38 PM on September 25, 2009


Going off half-cocked based on rumors...

They weren't rumors, was the point. The original AP story cited an unnamed source, which is as valid a news report as any other, unless we're now counting AP stories as "rumors." If anonymous sources aren't allowed, half of the stories in last Sunday's Washington Post are also toast.

People were twisting the unnamed source into "an unknown eyewitness" and such, which was the real sowing of confusion.
posted by rokusan at 3:42 PM on September 25, 2009


Oh christ:


He was stripped naked. Eyes taped shut. Gagged. Bound hand and foot. Throttled. And his Census ID was taped to him.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:20 PM on September 25, 2009


Yeah, see -- NOW you can freak out.
posted by empath at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like a suicide to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:45 PM on September 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh god. Oh, god, no. It's worse than I thought.

I hope someone prints out this article and nails it into Michelle Bachmann's forehead. (It wouldn't really hurt her, after all, since she's as thick as a fucking brick.)
posted by scody at 9:47 PM on September 25, 2009


Meth labs! Meth labs!
posted by Artw at 9:54 PM on September 25, 2009


Disgusting, regardless who did it. I hope they find who did it, and determine it beyond doubt. There's at least one sick fuck who needs rounding-up. Killing people is never cool.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:05 PM on September 25, 2009


Meth labs! Meth labs!

Now we can add Methers to Birthers, Truthers, Fraudsters, Tenthers, etc...
posted by empath at 11:07 PM on September 25, 2009


Fortunately, this kind of thing tends to bring down the full fury of the FBI, and they almost certainly have a record of the doors he was knocking on the day he was killed, so it shouldn't take long to find the people responsible.

What I find fascinating is the almost total refusal by Republicans to even consider the possibility that this could be politically motivated. They're willing to consider any other possibility, from meth dealers to suicide to the latest meme circulating the right-wing blogs, that his affiliation with the Boy Scouts means he was killed for being a pedophile. Awful, awful people.
posted by EarBucket at 4:46 AM on September 26, 2009


Fortunately, this kind of thing tends to bring down the full fury of the FBI, and they almost certainly have a record of the doors he was knocking on the day he was killed, so it shouldn't take long to find the people responsible.

From a message board:
Even though I work for the Census, I can't say this with certainty since I'm not aware of any case law in these circumstances.

But I am quite certain that the contents of the computer and any Census address lists, are covered under Title 13 or 15. According to the documentation that I have read. These cannot, under any circumstances including evidence of criminal activity be disclosed to other agencies, including law enforcement.
What are the limits of sharing information here?
posted by mazola at 6:48 AM on September 26, 2009


Yeah, this is totally a Law & Order moment—The Census can't give them that information. However, it shouldn't be that hard to find people who remember talking to him, so that they can at least narrow down the canvas area. Likewise, he may have had non-official information with him, or may have used Mapquest or something similar to plan his route.

We also don't know what he was doing in his field work for the census, or at least I haven't seen anything definitive, and there's a fair amount that happens prior to actual survey collecting that's not confidential. In my pre-census work, they had us going and simply noting anything that was a "dwelling," temporary or otherwise, so that it could be included on the later follow-ups despite not being residentially zoned. Like, we had to go to hotels and ask if they had had anyone who lived there for over a month in the last year—then later on, we had to return to those hotels and actually pass out surveys to anyone who was living there. That we'd gone to these hotels could be disclosed until we actually went and surveyed them. Likewise, if we saw crimes outside of our census duties, we were supposed to report them—like, if I saw people cooking meth in their house that I was surveying, I wasn't supposed to say anything. But if I saw some hit and run traffic accident, that I was supposed to report.
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 AM on September 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Fortunately, this kind of thing tends to bring down the full fury of the FBI, and they almost certainly have a record of the doors he was knocking on the day he was killed, so it shouldn't take long to find the people responsible."

Even if the investigating team finds out his route it is entirely possible the murderers were canvased by him last week/month/year or he was just known by the whack jobs as being the local census taker. And then the build up to 9/12 or some other slight, imagined or real, set the murderers off.

All you'd need is the whackadoodle to get audited by the IRS for undeclared income or their sister get cut off from welfare because they were living with their gainfully employed boyfriend. The crazy somehow concludes the census was responsible and he goes after the local census taker.
posted by Mitheral at 10:40 AM on September 26, 2009


I wonder if Crazy Person News will be reporting on how the guy who killed the privacy-invading census taker can't be found due to privacy measures taken by the census.
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on September 26, 2009


It seems we have a confession.
posted by empath at 12:50 PM on September 26, 2009


Ah, but a computer someone said might have been in a truck wasn't in a truck! She's off the hook! Case closed, it must have been meth heads.

I'm wondering if anyone if anyone will be coming back to that shocker first paragraph as all the get-outs for this not being exactly what it appears to be slowly go away.
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on September 26, 2009


I love how when conservatives scream for the blood of liberals, the government, and brown people, they get very upset when people look at them after a crime has been committed that was obviously motivated by their sentiments.

"I was just saying, every day for six years on television, that all milkmen should die. Why would you think I have anything to do with the recent Milk Man Murders?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:26 PM on September 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe, having eliminated themselves as suspects, the methers could launch a hunt for the true killer, OJ style?
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on September 26, 2009


Bachmann dodges question about murdered Census worker

That's just weak! She should have answered that she'll track down those meth deaqling ACORN operatives if it's the last thing she does.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on September 26, 2009


Even if she has to tap every phone in America!
posted by darkstar at 3:06 PM on September 26, 2009


I love how when conservatives scream for the blood of liberals, the government, and brown people, they get very upset when people look at them after a crime has been committed that was obviously motivated by their sentiments.

Of course. According the Party of Personal Responsibility's actual code of responsibility regarding political violence, every liberal/progressive ever born is responsible for everything Bill Ayers ever did, said, thought, or might have thought (even decades after said action/utterance/thought); that's just old-fashioned common sense.

However, when a right-winger directly suggests taking up arms against census takers or abortion doctors, and then census takers or abortion doctors are murdered, not only is there no connection, it is actually symptomatic of the liberal victimization and criminalization of conservatism to even suggest that there might be a connection.
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I think ryanrs pretty much nailed it way up there:

The nutso extremist lefties wreck property and possessions. The nutso extremist righters kill people.

The far lefties seem to agree the nutso extremists should be locked up. The far right support a number of talking heads who actively promote the behaviours of the nutso extremists.

And the proper left and right, the ones who aren't far or extreme or nutso? It turns out that they're actually both about the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:28 PM on September 26, 2009


Another difference is extremists on the left generally don't target individuals. If we make a list of the Top 10 Most Evil, it's probably a list of corporations. The right seems to get so much more personal with their hate, what with the home addresses and such.
posted by ryanrs at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2009


Maybe we need better social education. It really wasn't until I attended a 30000-person university campus that I encountered a mind-boggling range of upbringing, cultural customs and baits, attitudes toward work and play, sexual behaviours, political ideologies, etcetera.

It was some eye-opening.

IMO, what we (Canada and, sure, the USA, and every other first-world nation or first-world wannabee) should be doing is investing in Youth Army Corp. A mandatory four years of serious work in doing peacekeeping and infrastructure building in third-world nations. In return, they get a lifetime of education and employment support.

The more risk, the more reward; while service would be mandatory for citizenship, it should be service that repays with interest. We, the public, would be paying significantly into the social service of our youth. In return, those youth should rightly expect repayment through opportunity for superlative post-secondary education and increased opportunities to "go big" in their personal employment/venture path. More risk is more experience is more reward in the end.

From my university experience, the more mature the student the more likely they were to excel. Something about having experienced "the real world," even if it were only as real as working in a generic job for a few years, taught them to really value their educational and social opportunities. They really were the best balanced between learning and playing. I expect most everyone who served would come back with a real good appreciation of the opportunities available to them, and their ability to help their fellow global citizens survive.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:44 PM on September 26, 2009


Well, it's not like theres a complete lack of unpleasant lefties out there in the world, from your violent animal liber to your Maoist guerillas in Nepal or whathaveyou. However I think theres something to be said for the whole Overton Window theory that people on MeFi are so keen on when waht we see is a bunch of hippies with signs being portraid as the equal and opposite of the stormfronty/KKKish types at the edge of the teabagger/birther/deather/mether movement . I'd expect to see some kind of cognitive dissonance kicking in at some point though - these are violent delusional extremists, armed conspiracy theorits and now quite probably killing people - it's got to be quite hard to keep it in your head that that's the direct counterpart of some dude who chants "no blood for oil" or signs poor people up to vote.
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're trying to instill liberal values, focus on the University, not the overseas volunteer mandatory work. After all, Mormons kids do unpaid work in third world countries and when they come back they're still Mormon.
posted by ryanrs at 10:06 PM on September 26, 2009


Clay County annoyed at being depicted as full of methlabs
posted by Artw at 11:04 PM on September 26, 2009


It annoys the shit out of me how Malkin is so effective at negating response.

So, I mean, that article is based on a fundamental misrepresentation, but the only way to argue against it is through reasoned, point-by-point rebuttals that take time. And not only that, a successful rebuttal will be ignored by everyone but a minority of people who have kept up with this news, and read Malkin, and are interested in a rebuttal.

Or you get stuck leaving the reeking bullshit stink up the discourse.

It reminds me of a professor of mine saying that one of the problems that democracy always has to contend with is people who want to negate democracy.
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 AM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


it's got to be quite hard to keep it in your head that that's the direct counterpart of some dude who chants "no blood for oil" or signs poor people up to vote

NOT WHNE THEY SIGN THEYM UP TO VOTE FOR SEATH PANELS AND BABY GRINDERS AND TO GRAB JESUS OUT OF HEABVEN AND MAKE HIM DOI THE GAY SEX WITH OBAMA THOSE PEOPLE AREW ORSE THAN SOME FREEDOM FIGHTER WHO JUST WANTS TO KEEP THE WORLD SAVE FOR DECENT GODGREARING WHITE EPOPLE LIKE ME

Note: all typos honest; i typed like that head-beating-animation guy and didn't correct. I'm not sure how I typed 'godgrearing' myself but it sounds painful.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2009


So, I mean, that article is based on a fundamental misrepresentation, but the only way to argue against it is through reasoned, point-by-point rebuttals that take time.

My dad once included me on a rather long email fwd about how all the Founding Fathers were Christian, and how the US was founded as a Christian nation.

I took the time to go quote by quote, finding the original sources to show that a significant percentage of the quotes were taken out of context or entirely fabricated, then collected a set of quotes from the same people which rather explicitly showed their antipathy to organized religion, etc. I spent about an hour on it and reply-all'd back to everybody that he sent it to.

The end result wasn't that he stopped being so fucking gullible, only that he just stopped including me on email forwards-- which I guess is a victory of a kind.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on September 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


empath, last year, I decided to do the same thing. Rather than just deleting all the forwarded email political spam from my relatives, I decided that my silence was assent and so I needed to respond.

To the nephew that emailed me a racist photoshop of Obama, I responded that I thought it was racist. To the brother that emailed me a political screed about how candidate Obama had flip-flopped on a particular issue, I responded with a web link documenting how he had been consistent in what he'd said and followed it up with a link on how McCain had flip-flopped on literally dozens of issues in the past few years. And to the uncle that sent me an email about how Al Gore's house was using too much electricity and that undermined any credibility he had on climate change, I emailed him back a set of stories on how Gore had taken an old, incredibly energy inefficient house, and was in the process of fitting it with photovoltaic panels, ground loop heating, etc. and was in line to earn an award and high rating for energy efficiency on the home. On each of these responses, I copied everyone who had been cc'ed in the original email to me.

You know what? Not a single mind was changed among the original senders. But two things happened. As with your experience, I stopped getting ignorant political spam from my relatives. And I even got a few private emails back from some of the folks on the CC list expressing thanks for responding to that crap. Both of which I consider a huge victory, not just in political discourse, but in life, overall.

There's something to be said for responding, cogently and in reasoned detail, to ignorant screeds even when you don't expect to change the others' minds.
posted by darkstar at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't really want to be following this story, but it keeps sticking around in the back of my head. I hope the only further news is good (in an investigative sense) news. Ugh.
posted by cortex at 12:23 AM on September 28, 2009


Census surveys halted in rural Ky. county
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2009


Dunno if this has been posted here before: gory details.

Suffice to say, he was murdered and put on display.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM on September 28, 2009


I wonder if Malkin will have the integrity to update her "THIS COULDA TOTALLY BEEN A SUICIDE" screed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:06 AM on September 29, 2009


For anyone still reading: a fund has been established to help Josh Sparkman's, Bill Sparkman's only son -- "a 19 yr. old who lost his only parent, and he is currently struggling to pay for his father's burial, a memorial service, the mortgage on his father's home, and his basic needs like food, water and electricity." I know this has been haunting me ever since I first read the news, so I'm grateful there's at least some way to do something.
posted by scody at 3:17 PM on October 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


(guh, plz forgive typo in first line)
posted by scody at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2009


Has there been any update on this whatsoever from Hillbilly PD?
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on October 15, 2009


None, evidently; they haven't even ruled it a homicide yet.
posted by scody at 5:15 PM on October 15, 2009


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