In one of the most remarkable press conferences I've ever seen, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik called out for an end to the violent rhetoric that leads to acting-out by people who are 'unbalanced' not once, but three times.
Calling Arizona a "Mecca for prejudice and bigotry", Dupnik spoke sharply about the rhetoric coming from radio and television sources.
Mr. Dupnik called the shooting a "very sad day for Tucson" and a "horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime." And then he blamed the crime on the rhetoric -- presumably political rhetoric -- in the country.
"When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government," he said. "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to "do a little soul searching."
He added: "The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in."
Later, he said: "It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That's the sad thing about what's going on in America: pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office."
In addition to his condemnation of rhetorical violence, he gave a few extra facts about the case. He said they were investigating a package received by Rep. Giffords' office, and that they were looking for a second suspect who he later referred to as a "person of interest". He is described as a white male in his 50s. He also confirmed 19 injured, 6 dead. 5 died on the scene, one died at the hospital. The one who died at the hospital was the nine-year old child referred to in earlier reports.
The presence of a second suspect, or involved person, suggests there is much more to this than an unbalanced person showering a crowd with bullets, but without details it's just too early to tell. Just now on MSNBC, Eugene Robinson said that the violent rhetoric now is coming exclusively from the right wing, and they should be accountable for it.
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