The scene: eastern Kentucky.
The time: today.
The corpse: Bill Sparkman, a census taker hanged near a Kentucky cemetery, the word “FED” painted on him.
Cue theme music: Squeezebox by the Who (all CSI shows must begin with a Who song, and that’s the only one with a banjo in it. Sorry).
So, who lynched Sparkman?
Let’s do a profile of the killer, beginning in his operating area, Kentucky.
America has known for decades that the people of Appalachia live in appalling conditions: sky-high poverty rates, short life spans, cancer, depression and other serious mental illnesses, and alcoholism all feed off of each other. In this region, one in ten is completely toothless – yep, not a single tooth. A doctor who moved there said that the Appalachians were poorer than the people back where he had come from -- India. Kids in the area are hit particularly hard – heavy alcohol abuse, smoking, mental illness; a toddler with a dozen cavities is not unusual.
Appalachia has higher drug abuse rate than cities like New York and Miami. Oxycontin is a major driver (no wonder they love Oxycontin-poster-boy Rush Limbaugh out there), and job-related injuries in coal country drive up the demand for prescription painkillers. Eastern Kentucky has had a rash of hundreds of drug abuse deaths. The drug epidemic is draining the economy, destabilizing families, hurting education, hurting the economy. And again, kids are leading the way – abuse rates are higher among kids than adults; one doctor who tried to educate the adults about the problems among their kids showed them Oxycontin and found that a lot of the adults were so clueless that they didn’t even recognize it, but the kids knew all about it.
Across the decades, Appalachia has slid a long way down the slippery slope: all of this misery and isolation from the rest of the world paved the way for decades of moonshiners, pot growers and meth lab operators, ultimately evolving into underground economies, corrupted blind-eye local governments, and fear that contact with the federal government can lead not only to trouble with the feds but retribution from the locals. Appalachians despise outsiders connected with authority and the government, and not just the snooping revenooers, either: farm country folks see little point to teachers or book learning, and there is a stigma against seeking help for psychological problems. The federal government is not, of course, giving up: among other things they set up a special task force to fight the epidemic of drug activity and related crime out there.
These people are, of course, the people who need affordable health care the most. And they are the ones who re fighting it the hardest.
So our profile of the killer: young, unemployed adult white male, uneducated and short on teeth, drinks and abuses Oxy, works either farming pot or cooking up meth. Almost certainly a gun owner.
And Republican, obviously. Probably a dittohead, possibly a teabagger. This will be a person who listens to Rush, watches Fox, and clings to an almost religious belief that the 2010 census is part of The Big Plot. He gets a thrill up his leg to hear people like Michelle Bachman screeching that the census will be run by ACORN (read: scary Negroes) and will be the first step to invasions by foreign troops, concentration camps, drone-plane attacks against conservatives, and indoctrinating children, Neal Boortz screaming that the census will be used to take away your house and give it to the “moochers”, Michelle Malkin bellowing that the census is part of a plan to let all aliens vote so that the Democrats have an unfair electoral advantage, and so forth.
So a white male loser dittohead with no teeth. We’ve neatly narrowed down our search to…the whole state of Kentucky. And western West Virginia.
Time to call the feds. Because that will definitely settle the situation.