Will Bloggers Apologize For Rhetoric on Census Worker Suicide?

| by Reason Foundation

By Michael C. Moynihan

Matt Welch eagerly awaits mea culpas (ha!) from those who blamed the suicide of Bill Sparkman on Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, Robert Taft, and Father Coughlin. A few blogs to watch in the coming days:

If conservative politicians and opinion leaders keep stoking fears about the government using census data to steal from or perhaps even round up law-abiding citizens, I am concerned that mentally unstable individuals will commit further acts of violence against census-takers next year. Republicans should condemn the hatemongers and make clear that the census is not only permitted, but required under the Constitution.
-- MyDD

"No Suicide: That's the one thing we know for certain now in the case of the Kentucky lynching….But the most worrying possibility - that this is Southern populist terrorism, whipped up by the GOP and its Fox and talk radio cohorts - remains real. We'll see.”
-- Andrew Sullivan

The gruesome lynching of this Census worker seems to bear a disturbing similarity to some of the worst hate crimes committed across this country. Regardless of what the motive for the killing may have been, why would a murderer(s) take such pains to so blatantly convey anger, fear, and vitriol towards a Census employee? Perhaps because some on the right have created an impression that Census employees are terrifying.

Earlier this summer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) waged a high-profile, wildly-dishonest campaign against the Census.
-- ThinkProgress

Others, namely the type to kill a Census worker and string up his body as message to the government, may call it a retraining camp run by the "Feds."

This is the kind of violent event that emerges from a culture of paranoia and unsubstantiated attacks.
-- Huffington Post

From this profile of the cancer survivor and volunteer, it appears suicide is unlikely. We'll find out. But at some point, unhinged hostility to the federal government, whipped up by the Becks, can become violence. That's what Pelosi was worried about.
-- Andrew Sullivan

Send the body to Glenn Beck…Is it possible that the time has come for the FCC to consider exactly what constitutes screaming fire over the publicly owned airwaves? And what if Mr. Sparkman’s murderer(s) is never found? How many other lunatics will be emboldened to make their own anti-government statement as the voices of Beck, Limbaugh and Dobbs echo in their ears?

Nobody ever intended our public airwaves to be turned over to irresponsible voices. Maybe the time has come for the FCC to worry a bit less about wardrobe malfunctions and a whole lot more about those who would use our airwaves to make a name for themselves at the expense of the public they are suppose to serve–particularly when the expense comes in the form of blood.
-- True/Slant

Back in September, The Washington Post reported that in Kentucky "Residents of impoverished Clay County say most people harbor no resentment for agents of the federal government, and they're baffled by Sparkman's apparent killing." What a bunch of hillbilly rubes! A week after the suicide, from his apartment in Washington, DC, Atlantic blogger and forensic investigator Andrew Sullivan had the case almost cracked, writing that "Suicide does not seem to me plausible, but motives for the murder are still under investigation."

Allahpundit has more here, with a post that links to Jesse Walker's terrific piece on the paranoid center.