Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the chief law officer in Pima County, Arizona, is under attack from the flying monkeys of the Right -- particularly the winged armies assembled by Rush Limbaugh -- for getting up Saturday and telling the truth about the environment of fear and hatefulness that right-wing hate talkers have created in this country, because it was in that environment that Saturday's tragedy in Tucson occurred.
Here's what Limbaugh says:
LIMBAUGH: Sheriff Clarence Dupnik is on the path here of attempting now to expressly personally associate me with this event. We have a law enforcement officer, the sheriff of that county, admitting he's got no facts for what he's speculating about. I don't know. Maybe Pima County would have been better served by a real sheriff, one who spent his time trying to lock up nutbags and criminals, rather than finding ways to excuse them. He hasn't pointed out a single thing that I have said that would inspire such a heinous act.
This means, naturally, that Dupnik and his office are being inundated with vicious hate mail and death threats as we speak.
Dupnik was on Chris Matthews' show yesterday and admitted he "had no idea" the kind of forces he was calling down upon his head for having uttered this plain and simple truth.
But it's important that Dupnik stand his ground -- and that he knows he has the full backing of the rest of non-right-wing America for standing up the way he has.
Because not only was what Dupnik said the truth, it was an important truth that needs to be defended head-on from the all-out assault on it being waged by the right-wing noise machine -- the very faction, in fact, that it is intended to call to account.
The core kernel of hard truth he's been trying to convey is, in truth, a fairly simple one:
There's been a lot of crazy talk coming from the American Right the past couple of years. And crazy talk, especially when it is sanctioned at the highest levels of media and politics, has a powerful way of fueling crazy people who engage in crazy -- horrifically crazy -- acts.
Here's how he put it to Matthews:
DUPNIK: There's no doubt in my mind. Particularly troubled personalities, which is what we're dealing with here, are very vulnerable to the emotion that comes out, especially anger, hate, paranoia, and so forth. And when you were talking about Sarah Palin-- I happen to be a not -- only an admirer and somebody who respects Gabby Giffords, I was involved in her campaign. And you talk about the crosshairs on Gabby Giffords. Well, I want to tell you that her opponent, who was heartily endorsed very vocally by Sarah Palin, had an event, a fund-raising event, where the people were invited I think to a barbecue or something with the -- after the barbecue, if they wanted to, they could each come up and fire an automatic rifle, a semi- automatic rifle. And this same individual had hundreds of campaign ads starting out by saying, Are you as mad at Washington? Boy, I want to tell you, I sure am.
Seriously, do people on the Right expect the rest of us to sit and listen to them talk about how we progressives are a "cancer" out to destroy America, how the Tea Party "a second revolution" and how they need to reserve the right to armed insurrection, to watch them bring guns to public political gatherings because it's their "right", to see them run ads using targets over people, to hear the irrational screaming anger at their rallies ... and then NOT conclude they've played a role when someone shoots a Democratic Congressman in one of the main hotbeds of such angry talk?
Obviously, they do. They have a big awakening coming.
BTW, here's Megyn Kelly trying grill Dupnik on Sunday morning:
This one contained some classic lines, mostly from Kelly, who tried to call ouit Dupnik for his supposed bias --- and thereby revealing her own flaming bias:
MEGYN KELLY: I just want to ask you whether there’s anything you’ve uncovered in your investigation so far that suggests the suspected killer was listening to radio or watching television, and, and in any way inspired by what he saw?
CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY ARIZONA SHERIFF: Well, I know that there had been some contact with Gabrielle Giffords in the past. We have a, as a matter of fact, a letter from her that was dated in 2007 where I don’t know what prompted that particular letter, but she had agreed and invited him to a similar event back in 2007. So there is some history. [2007 -- pre-Palin, pre-TeaParty - Bye, bye Palin and TeaParty cards -Ed.]
KELLY: Right, he according to the criminal complaint he had showed, he had shown up at one of her Congress on the Corners events, and then there was a letter following up I guess in response to that, or there was some correspondence about it. But, what I’m wondering is do you have reason to believe that this particular suspected killer was taking in information or was in any way influenced by the, the vitriol or the rhetoric that you’re referring to that has been, you know, out on the airwaves?
DUPNIK: If your question is specific, I have to be specific and say I don’t have that information yet. The investigation is very, in its very initial phases. But my belief, and I’ve been watching what’s been going on in this country for the last 75 years, and I’ve been a police officer for over 50 years. There’s no doubt in my mind that when a number of people night and day try to inflame the public that there’s going to be some consequences from doing that. And I think it’s irresponsible to do that.
KELLY: Is that, Sheriff, it sounds like you’re just being very honest, that that’s just your speculation, and that’s not anything that’s fact-based at this point.
DUPNIK: That, that, that’s my opinion, period.
KELLY: And, you know, we’ve had some, some people question whether that is something you should be sharing now because tempers are already inflamed, people are upset about what’s happened. The grieving families are still mourning, the bodies have yet to be buried, and is it the time really to be injecting speculative opinion like that into this case by somebody like yourself Sheriff?
DUPNIK: Well, I think difference of opinion is what makes the world go round and round. But I think it’s irresponsible for us not at some point to address this kind of behavior and try to put a stop to it. There’s no doubt in my mind that there are consequences to this kind of behavior. When, when people, allegedly credible people who get up in front of cameras and microphones and say things that are not true and try to inflame the public. When millions of dollars are filtered into this country to buy very vitriolic ads, and they don’t have to be identified, the countries that they’re coming from or the people who are donating them, I think it’s time we take a look at it. I think free speech is free speech, but it’s not without consequences.
KELLY: And, with respect, Sheriff, I know that you are a Democrat, and you ran for office as a Democrat, and I just want to press you on that a little because I’m sure some of our viewers are asking themselves why you are putting a political spin on this when, when they may be asking why you the Sheriff aren’t just focused on the facts, on uncovering the facts?
DUPNIK: Well, I think that it’s more than just a political spin. I’m not sure that it really has anything to do with politics. You know, I grew up in a country that was totally different from the country that we have today. We didn’t have this kind of nonsense going on, and it used to be that politicians from different parties could sit down, forget about their ideology, and work on the country’s problems. We don’t see that happening today. As a matter of fact, we see exactly the opposite. We see one Party trying to block the attempts of another Party to make this a better country. And I think that it’s time that we as a country need to look into our souls and into our hearts and say is what we’re doing really in the best interests of this country or is there something better that we can do.
KELLY: That’s a fair point, you know, separating it apart from what we saw in Arizona yesterday, I mean, you could make the argument that we just need to come together as a country. But I think, you know, people are looking at what happened in Tucson, and what you seem to be telling us, what the Feds seem to be telling us, that we’re dealing with – and I don’t use this term legally, I’m not trying to say anything about how this is going to plead out in a courtroom – some sort of madman, just like we’ve had in the past. The assassination of Robert Kennedy. The assassination of John F. Kennedy. You know, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and you refer to a time gone by. There were madmen then, there are madmen now. And, it just, you know, is it really a place of a Sheriff to stir the pot on either side of the political aisle?
DUPNIK: Well, I guess that’s for the listeners to decide.
Later in the day, Geraldo invited Dupnik onto his Fox News show, and asked him if he wanted to rescind any of his remarks. Dupnik, to his credit, refused to do so:
He may not have been ready for the onslaught. But he's showing more courage than your average Democrat in the face of it.