Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When I'm Wrong, I Say So

I learned this morning that the death of William E. Sparkman, Jr. was a suicide, to my great surprise.
census A Census Bureau worker in Kentucky who was found dead in September with "FED" written on his chest killed himself and staged his death to look like a homicide, state and federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
William E. Sparkman Jr. was found with his hands, feet and mouth loosely bound with duct tape, a rope loosely tied around his neck. Passersby spotted his body Sept. 12 in a remote area of the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky.
The condition in which Sparkman's body was found led to speculation about whether he was a victim of anti-government violence. Area residents, however, surmised he had stumbled upon a backwoods drug lab.
But investigators concluded that Sparkman wrote the word on his own chest from the bottom up. He died of asphyxiation, an autopsy showed.
Witnesses told investigators that Sparkman had discussed ending his life. He had also discussed recent federal investigations of Kentucky public officials and the negative perceptions of federal agencies expressed by some residents of Clay County, Ky., where he lived, investigators said. Before his death, Sparkman also secured two life insurance policies, totaling $600,000, that would not pay out for suicide.
Sparkman was a substitute teacher and one of 5,900 part-time Census Bureau fieldworkers who conduct the annual American Community Survey and dozens of other government surveys each year. Normal census operations will resume in Clay County next month, Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said.
"The death of our co-worker, William Sparkman, was a tragedy and remains a loss for the Census Bureau family," Buckner said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."…
Inserted from <Washington Post>
On September 26, I incorrectly concluded that his death was a murder, brought on by GOP hate speech.  This is an excerpt of what I said:
…Michelle Bachmann and Glen Beck, you have done it.  You have stirred peoples fears until some poor ignorant fool acted on your foul lies and deranged Census Bureau conspiracy theories, and now a man is dead for nothing more than doing his job…
Inserted from <Politics Plus>

I was wrong.  And when I’m wrong, I say so.  You didn’t find it buried under a bunch of other posts.  It’s right on top, the day’s lead article.  I assumed facts that seemed undeniably apparent at the time, but were not true, and therefore I apologize to my readers.  You depend on me for accurate analysis, and I let you down.  I promise to take more care in the future.

To Michelle Bachmann and Glen Beck, I offer no such apology.  Everything I said about the likelihood of their hate speech to stir violence still stands.  This time, I was wrong, but if they and their fellow goose steppers continue in this vein, I’ll be reporting an authentic victim of their rabble rousing far too soon to suit me.


the walking man said...

it was a correct assumption at the time given the known facts at that time. And it is an equally correct retraction with an explanation given the known findings of the state now.

That the commentators in question do spew hate speech under the guise of news and information is also a known fact. They may not be culpable in this death but they are culpable for what they DO inspire.

TomCat said...

Thanks Mark.

Holte Ender said...

Nice touch. If only the commentators you spoke of would apologize when they are wrong, and they are wrong, a lot more often than yourself.

One Fly said...

dammit anyway-Holte beat me to it.

The liars need to spend as much time saying they were wrong as they take spewing them but of course that will not happen.

no harm-hardly any foul here if any. all of us would have done the same thing!

Brother Tim said...

Hmmmmmmm... So the Government's Gestapo says it was suicide.... Well, that sure makes it the gospel. Why does that sound so familiar?

Would you like my very long list of people the government clains committed suicide???? Or died in some freak accident????

I'm going out to put tin-foil shingles on my roof now, I'll be back later. :)

Vigilante said...

Good show, Tom C.!

ivan said...

Straight of you TomCat.

But I keep, for some reason thinking of "Comical Ali", the former Iraqui information minister for Saddam Hussein. Remember him? At the dawn of the American invasion of Iraq, he had said (and everbody laughed): "The American troops will all commit sucide befor ever reaching the Baghdad Airport."

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Wow TommyCat, I am stunned and paralyzed by all the crap our country seems to get itself into. Which is worse the Government who feeds, clothes, fights for, and supplies medical attention in foreign lands, but cannot fathom nor do the same for their own countrymen, women, and children that might be hungry, homeless,without medical attention,rags for clothes, and poor or the media who feeds the minds watching them, all the while giving everyone their opinions, ideologies, and lies knowing full well most will consider it gold because it was spoken on television?

Nice post.
Soft love,

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jasondylan said...

Great Blog TomCat!

I wouldn't be too hard on yerself though.

Hate speech, right-wing hate speech especially has a long history of inciting violence.

Your overall point is correct and to link the violence to o'really and GB is right on, even if you missed the mark on that one.

Peace and keep on truckin!

Marva said...

I will chime in with the others. From what we hear and see from the right-wing hate mongers, it's not difficult to draw conclusions. That we liberals ADMIT when we have been duped by those conclusions is a far cry from the right-wingers who will now hoot and holler about it, somehow trying to show they're "right" in some strange and pathetic way.

It's sad that the guy committed suicide. It's even sadder that he made the strategic mistake of trying to misplace the blame for his death.

On the other hand, the original thought is certainly not outside the realm of possibility.

Jack Jodell said...


You are a very good man of honesty and integrity. While it didn't happen in this case, the hyperbole expressed by Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, Bachmann, et al, will certainly bring about a senseless act of violence in the future, and that will be a very bad day. For they reap what they sow, and what they sow is hatred and violence.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tom. Unlike many of those right-wingers named above, your character is sound.

Jolly Roger said...

This is pretty much the same tack I took. I "apologized" to Ms. Bachmann, but I didn't retract my belief that she's culpable in the deaths of Pennsylvania police officers, Tennessee churchgoers, and DC museum visitors.

Actually, I don't even think you can call it a "belief." It's a fact.

TomCat said...

Thanks Holte, Fly, Vig, Ivan, Marva, and Jack. You guys are most simpatico.

Tim, were this still the Bush Reich or were it local, I would have said the same thing, but I think it better to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least for now. I have no evidence to the contrary.

T!! Long time no see!! Major hugs, old friend!! As you know well, 'spoken on TV' is not my gold standard.

Welcome Megann, after checking your blog,I would be happy to exchange links with you.

Welcome Jason, and thanks.

I agree, JR, but in those cases, the supporting evidence does not provide such a direct link as this one does.

rjs said...

im wearing my tin foil hat along with brother tim; i think its naive to take a rewrite of that story at face value...

TomCat said...

RJ, before I buy such a hat, I need some evidence on which to base the claim.

Brother Tim said...

The only evidence you have to refute the claim is: "That is what the police and government spokesmen say, and you KNOW they're trustworthy". :)

TomCat said...

Brother, you may well be correct, but it's an ad hominem argument. I'd rather leave that fallacy to the GOP since they love it so much.