Sheriff Dupnik Calls Out Right Wing Rhetoric in Giffords Shooting

Despite the fact that he is now the focus of national attention, Pima county sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik is not one to mince words.  A local law enforcement officer for more than 50 years, Dupnik was quick to condemn the “anger, hatred and bigotry” after the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and was one of the first to point to the “vitriolic rhetoric” as a contributing cause to the Arizona tragedy.

Some on the right have already attacked Dupnik as exploiting the shooting for political gain.  But these attacks largely ignore the consistency in Dupnik’s rhetoric long before the events over the last weekend.

Dupnik was one of the first and most vocal opponents to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, and he’s been equally critical of the state’s extremely lax gun laws.  While such positions may make him a darling of the left, he’s also on record as saying that schools should check to see if their students are in the country legally and report those results to the federal government. 

To that end, Dupnik is in the perfect position to shine a critical light on the fevered political rhetoric that has enveloped his state and this country. 

It’s an examination that is necessary and one that is long overdue.  For far too long short term political or economic gain has come at the expense of reasoned political discourse.  Violent images pepper campaign posters and talking points, though candidates are quick to walk away from them at a time like this.  It’s so bad I wonder if this country is even capable of having an informed political debate anymore.

In fact, if any good were to come from the senseless deaths of over the weekend it would be an overall change in political tone.  This is more than just walking away from the “reload” rhetoric pushed by the likes of Sarah Palin.  This means ending the nostalgic embrace of the Confederacy currently popular among the right, and it means an end to the casual references of “rebellion” and “secession” unless those choosing to employ that rhetoric are comfortable embracing the catastrophic consequences when those words get away.

I for one hope Dupnik continues his critique of our political rhetoric, and I hope his honest and plain-spoken manner catches on with others.  Attempted assassinations on elected officials and the murder of innocent bystanders cannot be tolerated.  Nor can those who stoke those fires.  Heated debate and dissent are critical to a functioning democracy but poisonous and reckless rhetoric will be its undoing.

photo courtesy of David Shankbone via Flickr


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Michael Cunningham

"If Palin has the right of free speech, reprehensible or not, why hasn't Sheriff Dupnik?"

Reprehesible is a different issue that lying!

Michael I.
Michael I.5 years ago

If Palin has the right of free speech, reprehensible or not, why hasn't Sheriff Dupnik? Or is stating a view contrary to the Right, however bigoted, the new capital sin? Do you know the origin of the term 'blood libel'?

Sandra S.
Sandra S.5 years ago

...There is hatred on the right as well. There is over-the-top rhetoric. And these murders in Arizona should remind conservatives that there are boundaries, lines that should not be crossed.
Hate is hate; it doesn't matter where it comes from.

Sandra S.
Sandra S.5 years ago

Murder in Arizona and the Gross Exploitation of It | O'Reilly Factor:

"The New York Times, MSNBC, Paul Krugman and others are furious that their far-left vision is falling apart, so they are using a terrible tragedy, using it to attack their perceived political enemies. That's what this is all about: the failure of the far-left agenda. Because the loons are furious, they are now accusing people of being accessories to murder. How despicable is that?

President Obama struck exactly the right tone on Saturday when he said this:

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not surprising that today Gabby was doing what she always does: listening to the hopes and concerns of her neighbors. That is the essence of what our democracy is all about. That is why this is more than a tragedy for those involved. It is a tragedy for Arizona and a tragedy for our entire country. What Americans do at times of tragedy is to come together and support each other.

Well, that is good leadership from Mr. Obama. Unfortunately it's not happening.

Also, I would like to see the president call out the far-left thugs who are exploiting these murders, who are so full of hatred that they can't even allow people to grieve before turning the tragedy into a political circus...

Sandra S.
Sandra S.5 years ago

President Obama and the Smear Merchants | O'Reilly Factor

MONTEL WILLIAMS, HOST, "MONTEL ACROSS AMERICA": So Michele [Bachmann], slit your wrists. Go ahead. Why not? And if you don't want to, I mean, or -- or you know, do -- do us all a better thing, move that knife up about two feet. Start right at the collarbone.

MIKE MALLOY, HOST, "THE MIKE MALLOY SHOW": I'm waiting for the day when I pick it up -- and pick up a newspaper or click on the Internet and found out he's choked to death on his own throat fat or a great blob of saliva or something. You know, whatever. Go away Rush. You make me sick.

ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": He is an enemy of the country, in my opinion, Dick Cheney is. He is an enemy of the country. Lord, take him to the Promised Land, will you? See, I don't even wish the guy goes to hell; I just want him to get the hell out of here.

“…there is vicious rhetoric on the right as well, and both sides should heed Mr. Obama's call.
These are tough times in America. Robust debate is needed. But enough's enough with the hateful, ideological loons.”

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": We live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations, and I wouldn't blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine.

Sandra S.
Sandra S.5 years ago


"the report was released recently, not the timing of the threats!" The report was NOT released recently. It was released 2 years ago. It is being re-reported for the second time in light of the recent Sarah Palin nonsense.

"Suggestion: do some reading of history and psychology before you open your mouth, else you are liable to put your foot, or both of them, deep into your throat!" It was meant to be nasty not merely metaphorical. Hypocritical coming from someone later calling for intellectual discussion, not emotional knee-jerk reactions. You have no idea how to even begin being civil to others who do not hold your point of view. That is crystal clear.

Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR5 years ago

All this moron has done is muddy the waters sufficiently to ensure calls for mistrial and absolutely end any chance of a conviction/death sentence.

The sheer stupidity of making political comments even before the investigation into this made any headway highlights the fear this department/sheriff has of being caught short over earlier contacts with this murderer.

No one should be proclaiming this guy as anything more than a political hack. Have we seen any other law enforcement types doing anything so politically blatant in recent history?

Frank S.
Frank S.5 years ago

The racist heritage of the Tea Party, is what is leading the nation in hate speech. Think I'm joking? Then why did Rand Paul try to rescind civil rights in business? Why did Tom Tancredo try to bring back literacy tests for voting? Why is the Tea Party for segregation in North Carolina schools?

Enraged, Maddow Explains ‘Racist History’ Tea Party Is Embracing
by Glynnis MacNicol | 9:58 am, February 9th, 2010

“Video below. Watch till the end. Perhaps Glenn Beck will be inspired and focus his next “historical” documentary on American Civil liberties instead of communism, etc. Apparently, some people are dearly in need of a refresher.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010 09:21 ET

Rand Paul takes outdated stance on segregation
The Tea Partier thinks private businesses should be exempt from the Civil Rights Act; the same argument as in 1891
By Blair L. M. Kelley