Friday, September 25, 2009

Anti-government sentiment as motivation for a hate crime?

It has certainly happened before, perhaps the best example being the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building by Timothy McVeigh and co. in 1995.

More recently however, a news report out of Kentucky suggests that hate for the federal government may have led to the killing of a census worker, who was found earlier this month hanging from a tree in a remote part of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County, Kentucky, population 23,828. The word "fed" was reported scrawled on his chest, and medical examiners have ruled that he died of asphyxiation.

A longer Associated Press piece about the incident was published a few days ago. It includes this interesting quote from a retired Kentucky State Trooper, Gilbert Acciardo, who knew the 51-year-old victim, Bill Sparkman:
'I told him on more than one occasion, based on my years in the state police, 'Mr. Sparkman, when you go into those counties, be careful because people are going to perceive you different than they do elsewhere,''' Acciardo said.''Even though he was with the Census Bureau, sometimes people can view someone with any government agency as 'the government.' I just was afraid that he might meet the wrong character along the way up there,'' Acciardo said.
Read an Associated Press update on the matter here. The man who found the body is now reporting that it was naked except for socks, and that the man's hands and feet were bound with duct tape.

1 comment:

Yooli said...

This story seems to bring up a new side of the rural myth discussion. Most of time in class, we talk about the rural myth being overly sentimental and idealized. Yet, there are definitely stereotypes of an uglier nature that also play out in the mainstream media. Stories like these surely don't help those negative stereotypes, but hopefully it will bring light to some the real issues facing rural America: spatial and cultural isolation and the need to tailor and specialize government programs or services to meet the needs of rural inhabitants. If someone as benign as Census worker can get such a violent reaction, it seems to me that the government probably doesn't have that much of a presence in that area in the first place. Who's fault is that? Have the inhabitants of that area always rejected government interference, or did the government just never bother to go there?