Bill Sparkman, the Census worker found dead hanging from a tree with the word "Fed" scrawled across his body, was found to be a suicide. This news is sure to cause some darkly amoral celebrating on the right, who will claim that this vindicates their paranoia and hatred they've built up against innocent, hard-working federal bureaucrats as part of a larger anti-tax-for-the-wealthy program. It does not, and I flinch to think of how tasteless this is going to get. Sparkman's death was a tragedy, no matter how you slice it. That he staged it as a murder to get the life insurance payment most likely only speaks to his concerns about his inheritors, probably his son. Depression is a terrible and often deadly disease, and obviously, it distorts people's thinking.

But as much as the hate-mongerers will surely conclude they get 100% off the hook for this, they do not. Sparkman concluded that this was an effective disguise for his suicide because he'd been subjected to so many concerns about his safety working the Census. How realistic those concerns are is somewhat beside the point, since terrorism is about creating the perception of danger. Loud-mouthed threats aimed at government workers, right wing gun nut paranoia about "big government", shirts with "jokes" about shooting liberals---all these add up to an atmosphere of fear that made Sparkman believe that this murder scenario was realistic. His fraud and suicide are evidence that creating a threatening, violent atmosphere is effective, and so no, the hate-mongerers are not off the hook.

I'm disinterested in paranoid speculation that law enforcement is covering this up, especially if you have no evidence, which speculators probably do not. That the feds took this seriously satisfies those concerns for me. Police deal with a lot of suicides that are disguised as something else for financial reasons, and I have every reason to believe they had evidence which made suicide the most likely scenario.