Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, who is overseeing the
investigation of Saturday's mass shooting that critically wounded Rep.
Gabrielle Giffords (D), became an overnight sensation with his remarks
that the "vitriol" in today's political discourse contributed to the
incident and that Arizona has become "a mecca for prejudice and

Dupnik's name was a top search term on Twitter Saturday night, with
many of the tweets thanking him for his candor, and overnight, a
Facebook page titled "Clarence Dupnik is my Hero" sprung up.

In a news conference Saturday evening, Dupnik condemned the
"atmosphere of hatred and bigotry" that he said has gripped the nation
and suggested that the 22-year-old suspect being held in the shooting
was mentally ill and therefore more susceptible to overheated messages
in the media.

"There's reason to believe that this individual may have a mental
issue. And I think people who are unbalanced are especially
susceptible to vitriol," he said during his televised remarks. "People
tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol we hear
inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing
that. That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

His remarks especially resonated with liberals, who even before the
name of the suspect was released suggested that the shooter may have
had been incited by the tea party. There is no indication that the
suspect, Jared Lee Lougner, identified with the tea party or was
politically conservative. During the campaign, liberal pundits and
politicians asserted that the sometimes militant language some
conservative politicians used could incite violence.

MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann, who acknowledged and apologized
for his role in the acrimonious political climate, praised Dupnik's
"extraordinary" comments at the close of his show on Saturday.
Dupnik's remarks drew criticism from conservatives.

"We have no idea at this point the motivation of this murderer's act.
Yet Dupnik took his moment in the spotlight to drive a political wedge
into the event," local conservative radio host Jon Justice said in an
e-mail to the Tucson Weekly. "They were reckless and dangerous
statements made by someone who should have known better. He should
have been using his time to help bring the community together."

Dupnik, 74, a Democrat who has served as Pima County sheriff since
1980, is known for his colorful and often bluntly partisan commentary.
Last year, he refused to enforce Arizona's aggressive new law
targeting illegal immigrants, calling it "stupid" and "racist." He
coined the phrase "political fornickaboobery," to describe the motives
he felt were behind the crackdown.

He has called the tea party "bigots," and on Saturday, he had similar
words about Arizona's reputation. "The anger the hatred the bigotry
that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and
unfortunately I think Arizona has become sort of the capital," he
said. "We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Yet Dupnik has also argued that the state should not be obligated to
educate illegal immigrant children, and a group of fellow Democratic
officials in 2009 asked him to apologize after he said 40 percent of
students at a particular school district were illegally in the
country. He refused.

His remarks on Saturday further ingratiated him with liberals who have
often taken issue with another Arizona sheriff - Maricopa County's Joe
Arpaio, a Republican and frequent speaker at tea party events who has
clashed with federal authorities over his aggressive tactics in
dealing with illegal immigrants.

Pima is a border county of nearly 1 million that includes Tucson, a
Democratic-leaning city, and overlaps with the 8th congressional
district, which Giffords represents. According to the Pima County
sheriff's office web site, Dupnik is a 50-year veteran in law
enforcement, having first served in the Tucson Police Department in

Marxism-Thaxis mailing list
To change your options or unsubscribe go to:

Reply via email to