Send the body to Glenn Beck
Today we learn that 51-year old Bill Sparkman, a part time worker for the US Census Bureau, was found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery with the word “fed” scrawled across his chest. The FBI is investigating to determine if Mr. Sparkman was a victim of what they are calling “anti-government” sentiment.
While it would be inappropriate to pre-judge the motive behind the murder before the FBI finishes its work, it stretches the imagination to interpret the inscription on the dead man’s chest so as to suggest that the killer(s) fed Mr. Sparkman a good meal before ending his life.
This latest shock to the national system will inevitably lead to yet another discussion about the influence incendiary broadcasters, such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, have on the minds and hearts of those who would commit such a horrible act.
But it’s not only the radio and TV talkers.
There has always been an element of paranoia regarding census taking that has been spread by a small group of conservative leaders. Most notable among them would be Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. It was Bachmann who, as recently as this past June, bragged about how she was going to refuse participation in the census, despite the fact that doing so is a federal crime punishable by a $5,000 fine. Her reason for breaking the law? Bachmann does not wish to assist the president in his effort to create what she charges are ‘re-education’ camps where children would be indoctrinated in the Obama government’s official philosophy. According to Bachmann, such internment camps are the direct result of the national census, as she explained in an interview on FOX News.
If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the census bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations, at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I’m not saying that’s what the Administration is planning to do. But I am saying that private, personal information that was given to the census bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up.
This, of course, is the same Michele Bachmann who used the people’s airwaves to join Sean Hannity in calling for a revolution against our government when she appeared on Hannity’s radio show.
We may never know if Rep. Bachmann’s words reached the ears of Sparkman’s killer(s).
But here is what we do know – we know that words bring consequences. We also know who the people are who make their living delivering words of hatred and intolerance – words they purposefully broadcast in order to stir the passions of their audience.
After all, a passionate audience is a loyal audience – and a loyal audience delivers ratings and top prices in the advertising market.
Here is something else we know, although pointing it out is sure to cause a fuss.
Can anyone recall the last time a liberal cause resulted in murder?
I can hear the conservatives out there screaming, in unison, that abortion murders unborn children every day. And while I appreciate the sincerity and strength of their belief, abortion remains legal under the law of the land. Murdering doctors who deliver abortions does not. Killing federal employees – along with a bunch of innocent children – in a federal office building in Oklahoma, is not.
Killing a census taker because he works for the federal government is not.
Still, the hate talkers who spew their conspiracy theories over the airwaves rely upon the protections of the First Amendment as they whip up listeners to the point where those on the fringe are inspired takes matters into their own hands and bad things happen. Is this really what our Founders had in mind when they protected our freedom of speech? We know that one cannot stand up in a crowded movie theater and scream fire when there is no fire. Why? Because someone might get needlessly hurt. Yet, we allow radio and television talkers to scream fire, day in and day out, without a care for the fact that someone might get hurt.
Someone did get hurt – and it wasn’t just Mr. Sparkman. His son got hurt. His mother got hurt.
Today, Glenn Beck’s ratings will, no doubt, skyrocket as the audience tunes in to watch him defend himself. Same for Rush, O’Reilly, Dobbs, the whole bunch of them.
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.