"I'm not saying that that's what the Administration is planning to do. . ."
September 23, 2009 5:27 PM   Subscribe

In June, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann compared the U.S. Census to "internment camps." This week, the body of a U.S. Census worker, Bill Sparkman, was found hanged in southern Kentucky, with the word "FED" scrawled on his chest.
posted by Optimus Chyme (61 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: this is a big story that this post has put a weird nasty spin on - not saying there may not be some truth to it, but it's definitely not a good example of "how to cover a touchy issue on MeFi" -- jessamyn



 
"I'm not SAYING your mother's a whore . . . "

God, these people are un-fucking-believable.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 5:29 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]




Michele Bachmann killed and ate a young girl in 1990.
posted by DU at 5:32 PM on September 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


Denial by Rep. Bachmann of any culpability whatsoever in inciting others to violence in 3...2...1...
posted by darkstar at 5:33 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm not SAYING that Michele Bachmann has the blood of this man on her hands...
posted by grouse at 5:36 PM on September 23, 2009


I'm not SAYING that Michele Bachmann has the blood of this man on her hands...
... but I am.
posted by Flunkie at 5:37 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


By the way, what kind of weird nexus is Woodbury and Waite Park, Minnesota that its population decided Bachmann was a good representative in Congress? Were the towns built on a cursed burial site or something? Heavy metal residues in the water table?
posted by darkstar at 5:38 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


See, this "false flag" operation was planned and coordinated by George Soros and his liberal Illuminati buddies as an attack on Michele Bachmann's patriotic freedom of speech.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:38 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is what domestic terrorism looks like. Plain and simple. Why the hell won't the media start admitting that?
posted by aspo at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2009 [14 favorites]


Also, Sparkman was profiled in the March 15, 2008 Times-Tribune.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2009


This is fucked up.
posted by snofoam at 5:39 PM on September 23, 2009


There are sadly plenty of people out there looking for any reason to hang somebody, anybody. Grab the rope, we gonna have us a hangin'!
posted by deacon_blues at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's going to be a long 8 years.
posted by stavrogin at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


I read this and I just wanted to take a nap. The Obama presidency thus has done nothing but fill me with indignation at the insane (and stupefyingly prevalent) opposition; and all this indignation has done nothing but make me exhausted.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


So we're lynching again, huh? What a country.
posted by rusty at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2009


It's getting to be where a person can't wear a pointy hat and burn a cross without being called a racist any more.

/ht Tom Tomorrow
posted by localroger at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2009


Michele is really crazy...even WITH autotune. She did sound better though.

This kinda sounds like Southern backlash against a Black presidency.

(I'll shut up now.)
posted by snsranch at 5:42 PM on September 23, 2009


.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:43 PM on September 23, 2009


You know, for what its worth, I'm going back on my argument from an earlier post today. Extremism indeed is more pronounced among the far right, and there really doesn't seem to be anything comparable on the left.

I stand corrected.
posted by jefficator at 5:43 PM on September 23, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm sorry to hear about his death, but I am going to say that chances are that this was someone who knew him and who killed him for reasons totally unrelated to Bachmann or the census.

I won't be happy if I'm wrong, but I am going to argue that immediate scapegoating is stupid and irrational.
posted by klangklangston at 5:43 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
KENTUCKY.
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2009


The Obama presidency thus has done nothing but fill me with indignation at the insane (and stupefyingly prevalent) opposition

I don't know if you meant it that way, but I completely agree. I wish Obama were 1/10th the socialist he's accused of being.
posted by DU at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2009


hmmmmm. . . While I am the first to board the bachmann hate bus, I really am uncomfortable with this post. Let's just be careful with who we blame for what until we actually know what happened.
posted by Think_Long at 5:46 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jefficator, way to be a mensch. I appreciate your candor.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:46 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


What we really need in this country is a way to defuse the idea that violence against one's enemies is a legitimate political tool. We're going to have a hard time of it, naturally, since our country is built upon the idea that it's okay to kill someone if they try to raise your (already low) taxes.

Even worse is how the "violence narrative" is almost totally co-opted by the Republican party and the Right. I can't even count how many times I've heard mainstream Repub intelligensia start talking about how, you know, we don't support violence, it's just that the Tree of Liberty needs watering every now and then *wink* so don't try to register our children or take away our guns *wink wink* cuz we know how to use 'em if ya'll know what we mean ;-)

How long has the Right been making these thinly-veiled threats of street violence in American politics? 20, 30 years? At what point can we say that American democracy is genuinely imperiled by our Rightist neighbors showing up to community meetings and voting booths with guns and making vague mutterings about "saving America from tyranny"?

At what point do we say to ourselves: "No, this isn't free speech anymore. This is 40% of the country actively intimidating the other 60%, and we aren't going to take it anymore"?
posted by Avenger at 5:47 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Chances are that this was someone who knew him and who killed him for reasons totally unrelated to Bachmann or the census.

And wrote "FED" across his chest?

What, he cut in front of the wrong person at the buffet line?
posted by rokusan at 5:48 PM on September 23, 2009 [11 favorites]


Speaking of batshit right-wingers, she-who-shall-not-be-named was in Hong Kong today blaming last year's financial meltdown on "government policies" speaking out of her ass again.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:48 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think klangklangston is right. We don't know for sure what all the circumstances of this man's death were, or the motives of his killer (I'm going to presume it was a homicide for the sake of argument). And honestly, trying to point the finger at Michelle Bachmann and say she has "blood on her hands" is really no better than her insinuating that the government is going to round up citizens and put them in camps.

At some point, the moral high ground has to be claimed, after all.
posted by HostBryan at 5:49 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to bet it's someone who was very, very interested in the recent Holocaust museum shooting.

.
posted by Kickstart70 at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


2 Samuel 24:

" And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer: Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon, And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men."


The Lord had said that it was a sin to take a census (taking a census was a bad move because it told your enemy how strong your army was). So when David had a census taken, the Lord killed 70,000 Israelites as punishment.

When I talk to fundies, I always ask them what their position is with respect to a census. I generally get blank stares.
posted by flarbuse at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll add my bit of ignorance of the situation: Dueling Banjos
posted by peppito at 5:53 PM on September 23, 2009


From the article:
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the death was a killing or a suicide, and if a killing, whether the motive was related to his government job or to anti-government sentiment.

Investigators have said little about the case. The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and requested anonymity, said Wednesday the man was found hanging from a tree and the word "fed" was written on the dead man's chest. The official did not say what type of instrument was used to write the word.

FBI spokesman David Beyer said the bureau is helping state police with the case.

"Our job is to determine if there was foul play involved – and that's part of the investigation – and if there was foul play involved, whether that is related to his employment as a census worker," said Beyer.

Beyer declined to confirm or discuss any details about the crime scene.
So basically, we have no information about suspects, possible motives or even whether or not the man's death has been ruled a homicide.

Apart from Bachmann's unbelievably incendiary, fearmongering comments, there's not much here. There may yet be, as details about the case emerge, but at this point, there's not much except fear that the two incidents are connected.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 5:53 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Folks, why don't we pause a moment or two to see what comes out of the investigation? Bachman is a clearly a moron, but for all we know the guy walked in on someone hoeing their weed.
posted by jquinby at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2009


"And wrote "FED" across his chest?"

Why not? No murderer has ever attempted to camouflage their involvement by trying to incriminate someone else? That gibes even more if you think about this as something where they attempted to make it look like a suicide first, screwed up, and went with a lynching as the back-up plan.
posted by klangklangston at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


And honestly, trying to point the finger at Michelle Bachmann and say she has "blood on her hands" is really no better than her insinuating that the government is going to round up citizens and put them in camps.

Let the equivocation begin!

When you think about it, hanging a man and labelling his corpse with "FED" is no worse than voting for Nader. Really, just think about it.
posted by mek at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2009 [4 favorites]


At the risk of commenting too much in my own thread, I'd just like to point out that at the two websites we are not allowed to link to on MetaFilter, there are many, many threads about intimidating or killing Census workers who come to your house. If it turns out he carved FED into his chest and then hung himself as some sort of ACORN plot, then I'll apologize for the FPP.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:58 PM on September 23, 2009


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 5:58 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


So basically, we have no information about suspects, possible motives or even whether or not the man's death has been ruled a homicide.

"Lucindia Scurry-Johnson, assistant director of the Census Bureau's southern office in Charlotte, N.C., said law enforcement officers have told the agency the matter is "an apparent homicide" but nothing else.
posted by Justinian at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2009


I don't imagine that anyone is arguing that someone in Kentucky was watching Bachmann on the news and said to himself, "Hey! Yeah! They ain't puttin' me in a concentration camp! I'll kill the first one that comes by!" and then hung him.

The argument is that a culture of extremism is being tolerated at the very least, encouraged at the most.
posted by jefficator at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2009


Thirding the call for patience before pointing fingers.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is horrifying. I mean, literally the scariest thing i have ever read.
posted by djduckie at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2009


... but not denying it might be politically motivated.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:02 PM on September 23, 2009


What is truly unusual is that a murder under investigation that occurred eleven days ago is being broken by an anonymous official, while the Census has suspended all door-to-door canvassing in the county. There is definitely something very serious here, and the FBI is trying to keep it very quiet.

If we're guessing, there was probably already an FBI investigation of a "domestic terror group"/militia/teabaggers underway when this occurred, and they are seeking specific arrests while trying not to inflame the situation. Whoever decided to murder a "FED" is probably hiding in his compound with his firearms stockpile right about now.
posted by mek at 6:03 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


And what is rather irritating is that--if Fox covers this at all--the angle will be "Lynching of Federal Census-taker reflects public outrage with Obama! This poor innocent federal employee died because Obama won't back down from his socialist agenda."
posted by jefficator at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


I will admit that not enough is known about this case to pin in on Bachmann. But let's also not forget that if this case is shown to be unconnected that it doesn't exonerate her wildly irresponsible remarks, both these and others.
posted by DU at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can I get some historical context? Did we have this going on in 2000 when Clinton was president?

I know of one guy at my work who was worried about getting the "long questionnaire" (and he did end up getting it) and really didn't want to fill it out because the he thought it gave the feds too much information. That was my personal extent of the census worriers.
posted by SirOmega at 6:06 PM on September 23, 2009


But let's also not forget that if this case is shown to be unconnected that it doesn't exonerate her wildly irresponsible remarks, both these and others.

but then it probably doesn't qualify as a quality fpp.

at the risk of sparking anger; I am sometimes surprised how we as a group are so demanding of facts, evidence, and citation - yet we participate in extreme speculation at the drop of a right-wing extremist pin.
posted by Think_Long at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2009


What is truly unusual is that a murder under investigation that occurred eleven days ago is being broken by an anonymous official, while the Census has suspended all door-to-door canvassing in the county. There is definitely something very serious here, and the FBI is trying to keep it very quiet.

Or there's no story here, the suspension is a precaution due to the investigation and the "official" is spewing third hand made up bullshit.

Can we calm the fuck down until we know whether any of this actually happened?
posted by cillit bang at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2009


Trying to link Bachmann to this crime as an FPP is reprehensible. That there are anti-government fanatics on the right is well known. Timothy McVeigh didn't need a Congresswoman to tell him to bomb the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, as an example. The anti-govt fringe has always existed, and trying to connect Bachmann's comment to THIS SPECIFIC ACT is disgusting, bad form, and reeks of partisanship. There is absolutely no proof to this claim whatsoever, and wild speculation doesn't lead to any uncovering of the truth.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


If there were some kind of hate index that measured hatred of fellow citizens, you guys down there would have to lead other Western countries by miles. Civil War doesn't seem out of the question.
posted by larry_darrell at 6:11 PM on September 23, 2009


I didn't read the FPP as "Bachmann caused this."

I read it as "a new, ill-informed anti-government wacko-ness is growing in the country, and now it's not just empty talk (Bachmann) it's concrete (this killing)."

Two signs of the same crazy, in other words. Still might be a stretch, because no, we don't know enough about this second event, but it's not an unreasonable connection.
posted by rokusan at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nth-ing the discomfort with the connect-the-dots here. Bachmann's a scary loon, and right wing extremism is real, but there are other imaginable reasons for violent anti-federal sentiment in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
posted by neroli at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2009


There is absolutely no proof to this claim whatsoever, and wild speculation doesn't lead to any uncovering of the truth.

Hey--you don't see me putting down your hobbies, do you?
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I murdered someone for personal reasons, and they happened to be a census worker, and I was looking for a way to mislead the investigation, scrawling "FED" on their chest might strike me as an effective way of going about it.

But I voted for Nader - so what do I know.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2009


"Can I get some historical context? Did we have this going on in 2000 when Clinton was president?

I know of one guy at my work who was worried about getting the "long questionnaire" (and he did end up getting it) and really didn't want to fill it out because the he thought it gave the feds too much information. That was my personal extent of the census worriers.
"

As a census worker in 2000, and particularly as one in Michigan, which has the Michigan Militia, yes, there was a lot of weird bullshit about how the government was going to use the forms to figure out who had guns and to come exterminate them. I spent a lot of time talking down dudes from the lead-paint side of Ypsi who thought that somehow the government was going to use the question about indoor plumbing to tax them/round them up.

The answer was basically that the government really didn't care about any individuals, and only wanted aggregate data. Also, there are huge penalties for disclosing census info, so it totally wouldn't be worth it for anyone to do it, really. Not unless you wanted to go to jail for a million years.
posted by klangklangston at 6:14 PM on September 23, 2009


There is absolutely no proof to this claim whatsoever, and wild speculation doesn't lead to any uncovering of the truth.

I can absolutely see what you're saying...see my comment above.

I think the point here is that this was on NO ONE'S radar screen. I for one had no idea that the census could provoke this kind of rage.
posted by jefficator at 6:14 PM on September 23, 2009


I didn't read the FPP as "Bachmann caused this."

I read it as "a new, ill-informed anti-government wacko-ness is growing in the country, and now it's not just empty talk (Bachmann) it's concrete (this killing)."


It's also really bad that a (formerly?) mainstream political party is stoking and possibly believing the insanity. I also didn't read it as a) caused b) but as both being symptoms of a psychotic breakdown on the right.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:15 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't these people understand that the whole point of the census is to improve the quality of life in the community.

...I could understand it if this was a result of a lack of education, and I'm not saying our educational system is the best, but it's better than this.

A fucking school teacher. I know that no political operative is going to quit over this, so the only thing I can really hope is that they understand how fucking soulless they really are.
posted by Allan Gordon at 6:17 PM on September 23, 2009


If someone murdered him to cover up a grow operation or a meth lab, I think they would be smart enough to make it look like something banal, like a robbery instead of something that would attract national attention, inflame demagogues and bring the FBI to the area.
posted by stavrogin at 6:17 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Lord had said that it was a sin to take a census (taking a census was a bad move because it told your enemy how strong your army was). So when David had a census taken, the Lord killed 70,000 Israelites as punishment.

On the other hand, God specifically told Moses to take a census (Numbers 1:2), and no one was punished for that. So if it's a sin, it's a highly conditional one.
posted by baf at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


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