A grisly crime from a bygone era…or so we thought

This tragedy is really shocking, both for its savagery and the way it seems to confirm every cliché about American politics and culture in the book.

Census Worker Hanged with "Fed" on Body – CBS News

A U.S. Census worker found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment.

[...] He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.

In terms of psychological and popcultural resonance, this is akin to a missionary getting cooked in pot in Africa (though I think the last record case of such cannibalism was in Irian Jaya in the 1960s). And it's just as explosive politically.

First the Oklahoma City bombing (or the "Murrah Building bombing", as they call it here in OK) by a rightwing anti-government militia in 1995, and now this.  I have to say it: This is what you eventually get when you demonize government for a generation. No one in the government-is-evil cottage industry (a de facto corporate lobby, really) would obviously advocate such a crime, but they certainly make it a lot easier for such irrational hatred and conspiratorial lunacy to develop among those so inclined.

Poor man. The guy was just doing his damn job, not to mention providing a service that's ultimately to the benefit of these rural communities (which get undercounted in the census and denied the resources and political pull they deserve as a result).

I don't mean to make light of the crime, but this could be the worst thing for Southern PR since "Deliverance". Not that it'll probably make a huge practical difference these days, given how so much economic and political power has shifted southward over the last 2 generations.

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  • http://www.vacationrentalsad.com Abbee Lee

    …no way, how terrible is that? I hope the FBI can get more details. That word FED scrawled on his chest is gruesome. What kind of person would do that?

  • http://yourkeeper.blogspot.com/ Walter

    It is kind of ominous, in the first revolution, they used tar and feathers to get their point across. I fear the worst is yet to come.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/dbrutus TM Lutas

    I’d be more inclined to guess that it was a moonshiner or free lance pharma guy (grower or chemist) lacking in gray matter who decided to do this. In that scenario, the killing would be motivated by the desire to buy time to move the operation or get the harvest in and a secondary desire to mau mau government agents not to go poking their nose too far past the minimum necessary to get their jobs done, something that would tend to protect this sort of criminal enterprise.
    There might be a political angle to it but usually the poli people do more than just put one word out like ‘FED’. The Unabomber had his gargantuan manifesto and even the militia people tend towards pithy statements like “Ruby Ridge” or “remember Waco”.
    I hope that they catch who did it. I really hope he isn’t on my political side but if he is, I’ll certainly repudiate him. It’s a pity when that doesn’t happen.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/dbrutus TM Lutas

    I stopped back to let you know that Stacy McCain is doing significant independent reporting on this case and local opinion seems to be similar to my own shoot from the hip. It’s a scary area that has yearly police crackdowns to try to interfere with the marijuana harvest around the time of the death. It also seems to be a traditional methamphetamine and moonshine area.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks, TM. I think I read recently that it turned out to be an insurance scam. The man was trying to make a suicide look like murder so that his wife could collect.