Demagoguery from Tuscon's sheriff 

It was not long after the Tucson, Ariz., shootings that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik went into full-blowhard mode about who was responsible for the massacre.

Hint: It was not suspect Jared Lee Loughner.

According to a story on, Dupnik “used a nationally televised press conference to condemn the tone of political discourse in his state.”

Here is a direct quote from Dupnik, taken from the story: “We need to do some soul searching. It’s the vitriolic rhetoric we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.”

Translation: It is all that darned Rush Limbaugh’s fault. And Sean Hannity. And Bill O’Reilly. And fill-in-name-of-conservative-talking-head-here.

“When you look at unbalanced people,” Dupnik said, “how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this county is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital.”

The county Dupnik referred to is Arizona’s Pima County. When people start popping off the way Dupnik did, perhaps it is best to consider the source.

Dupnik is the sheriff of Pima County. But he is not just any sheriff. Dupnik bears the distinction of being maybe the only sheriff in the nation who has refused to enforce a law duly passed by his state’s Legislature.

Yes, that would be SB 1070. Last year, Dupnik went on record saying he and his deputies in Pima County absolutely would not enforce the “racist, disgusting and unnecessary” immigrant self-identification law.

Some Americans might feel that sheriffs who select which laws they will enforce and which ones they will not pose a greater threat to the nation than “vitriolic rhetoric.” If Dupnik had even an ounce of integrity, he would have resigned in protest of SB 1070, rather than send America on the slippery slope to anarchy by advocating that law enforcement officials refuse to enforce our laws.

Did Dupnik not take some kind of oath during his swearing-in ceremony in which he promised to uphold all Arizona laws?

Yes, we will have to consider the source on this one.

Here is another Dupnik gem about the effect of “vitriolic rhetoric”:

“People who are unbalanced may be especially susceptible to vitriol.”

That is probably true, but Dupnik provided not so much as a shred of evidence to suggest that suspect Loughner allegedly committed his act after listening to right-wing vitriol. In fact, the evidence presented so far about Loughner is that his is a special case, that his reading list included “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto.”

The issue here is not “vitriolic rhetoric,” as Dupnik would have us believe. It is good old-fashioned despicable demagoguery, and Dupnik is a master at it.

He calls Arizona the “mecca for bigotry and prejudice,” conveniently forgetting the Hispanic versus black gang violence in Los Angeles has spilled over to claim innocents from both ethnic groups as victims. And part of that violence is driven by the illegal immigration that Dupnik feels is not a problem.

Dupnik hints that the “vitriolic rhetoric” only comes from conservatives, conveniently forgetting, once again, that it is black and white Democrats who have labeled some black conservatives with the vitriolic “Uncle Tom.”

And if Dupnik truly believes that Arizona is the mecca for bigotry and prejudice where wackos are likely to commit violent acts after listening to vitriolic rhetoric, then why, as sheriff of Pima County, did he not have more deputies protecting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last Saturday?

About The Author

Gregory Kane


Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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