Hanged Census Worker Not A Victim of Right-Wing Terror After All

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Remember the wave of right wing violence, like the murder of the census worker?  How Michelle Bachmann and Glenn Beck were muderers, and anyone who said that we should wait to see what the investigation revealed was a lunatic apologist for reactionary terror?

Now it turns out the thing was probably a suicide.  The whole thing is a symptom of just how poisonous our politics have become.  Virtually no one gives their opponents the benefit of the doubt.  No matter how absolutely sure you are that there is only one possible explanation, you can be wrong, and it would be nice if we all remembered that before we launched into the accusations of bad faith.

Update:  Jesse Walker on the paranoid center

I'll just add that the paranoid center thesis didn't rest on whether or not this was a murder. There's a certain number of politically motivated crimes each year, and my position isn't affected by whether one single death is or isn't one of them.

What's important was the leap to judgment. A large number of commentators assumed, apparently inaccurately, that the death was a murder, that the murder was political, and that the motive was linked to one congresswoman's crusade. They made those assumptions because it fit a narrative to which they were committed.

When people on the far left or the far right do that, they're accused of paranoia -- of being so eager to connect the dots that they run ahead of what the evidence actually says. Let this sad story from Kentucky be a reminder that the establishment is just as capable of making this mistake as the fringe.




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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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