Right Wing Radio Host Blames Census Worker Death on ‘Open Borders’

RogerHedgecockThere are a lot of theories floating around right-wing crowds about what’s behind the brutal death of Census worker Bill Sparkman who was found hanging naked from a tree with the words “Fed” scribbled on his chest. The latest comes from right-wing radio host Rodger Hedgecock who seems convinced that the country’s “open border policy” must have had something to do with Sparkman’s gruesome death.

Hedgecock dismisses the possibility that Sparkman was targeted and killed by someone motivated by the anti-government rhetoric being spewed by teabaggers and right-wing politicians who have explicitly bashed the US Census, and instead claims that “illegals” at “pot plantations” may be the cause of forest fires and Sparkman’s death:

Last week, Sparkman’s death became fodder for more attacks on “right-wing violence.” Bloggers wanted to “send the body to Glenn Beck,” and a Time magazine piece speculated that Sparkman was a victim of the culture of another McCain-voting Southern state. Now it looks more like Sparkman was yet another victim of illegal drug operations on national forest land, and possibly also a victim of our still open border with Mexico.

Taking the Census in our national forests is dangerous business. Law enforcement sources say meth labs and marijuana plantations are “prevalent” in the area of Sparkman’s death. Did he stumble across a drug operation in the Daniel Boone National Forest? No one is saying for sure, but the locals believe it…the workers on these pot plantations are illegals from Mexico who live and work in primitive conditions in violation of all workplace safety laws, in a modern day version of slavery…Our open border with Mexico has been changing American society in a number of unpleasant ways. These fires, these destroyed national forest lands, and maybe even Bill Sparkman’s death, may just be the latest way.

andreaIt’s unclear what leads Hedgecock or undisclosed Clay County Kentucky “locals” to come to such conclusions about Mexican drug cartel involvement when law enforcement “cited the prevalence of drug activity in the area,” but also conceded that they had “no reason to believe there was a link to Sparkman’s death.” Some recent arrests related to meth lab activity in the Daniel Boone National Forest where Sparkman’s body was found were all of what appears to be white Kentucky-bred natives. Rather than citing Mexican drug cartels, Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson attributes the drug activity to “tough [economic] times” in his community. Former Clay County marijuana-grower JC Lawson had long bragged about how his enterprise brought money to his impoverished community.

It also seems unlikely that an “illegal pot plantation” worker from Mexico would commit such a visible crime and risk drawing attention to what Hedgecock describes as a lucrative enterprise. Other lo-brow right-wingers have speculated that Sparkman was a pedophile or that his death might have involved “teenagers and the horrorcore rap scene.”

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress

Published by the LA Progressive on October 1, 2009
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About Andrea Christina Nill

Andrea Nill is an Immigration Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Political Science with a concentration in Latin American Studies and Law and Society. Prior to joining the center, Andrea was a Communications Associate at the Immigration Policy Center where she founded the blog, Immigration Impact. Andrea was also a Communications Specialist at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), specializing in bilingual public relations. Andrea was born in Guatemala and grew up in upstate New York.