Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Census Workers Sensing Danger?

I in no way condone acts of violence or threats of violence toward Census workers, or anyone else, but this article over the weekend really got to me.

An unexpected result for some census takers: the wrath of irate Americans
Since they began making follow-up house calls in early May, census takers have encountered vitriol, menace and flashes of violence. They have been shot at with pellet guns and hit by baseball bats. They have been confronted with pickaxes, crossbows and hammers. They've had lawn mowers pushed menacingly toward them and patio tables thrown their way. They have been nibbled by ducks, bitten by pit bulls and chased by packs of snarling dogs.

"Nibbled by ducks?" Seriously? Menacing lawn mowers? Really? Chased by dogs?  Isn't that a typical day for a postal worker?  How can these be put in the same paragraph as "hit by baseball bats" and "confronted by pickaxes?"  Sorry, you lose all credibility when you try to stretch the list with ridiculous items.

So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation's 635,000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases.

Do you have any idea how few incidents that turns out to be considering how many workers there are?  It amounts to an incident rate of .0006%.  Did they also consider that perhaps there are more Census workers this year because of the increase in population?  Never mind that 379 incidents is far less than the number of workers hired with criminal records (at least 1,800 with 750 fired).  And lets take a look at recent headlines of the violence committed by census workers, the sword cuts both ways:

NJ Mom Recognizes Census Worker as Sex Offender

Volunteer Census worker charged with burglary and rape in Indiana

Census Worker's Dog Bites A South St. Louis Man

Census Bureau makes changes after sex offender hired

Trooper kills armed Fairbanks man; mother found dead
(Thom Gruenig was currently working as a field operations supervisor for the 2010 Census)

While the article clearly tries to make it look as though there's an epidemic of crazy anti-government American violence against Census workers, it's simply not true.  I'm sure a lot of the incidents were cases of people not understanding that the strangers on their property were Census workers and not thieves.  This is just another way to try to equate conservatives and libertarians who are skeptical of government with the very few people who threaten violence against the workers.

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