Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s impassioned plea for greater civility and tolerance in politics following the shooting in Arizona has spurred a backlash among far-right politicians and commentators whose campaigns and careers are centered on divisive and indignant rhetoric. Dupnik, who singled out no political party or ideology, condemned the extreme language that could provoke an unhinged individual into violence: “When you look at unbalanced people, 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 country is getting to be outrageous.” He went on to say that “people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American people by people who make a living off doing that. That may be free speech, but it’s not without consequences.”
Now, Dupnik is now himself becoming the target of right-wing fear-mongering. Jon Kyl, one of Arizona’s Republican Senators, denounced Dupnik, saying that his comments shouldn’t have “had any part in a law enforcement briefing” and represented mere “speculation.” Kyl kicked off a campaign to dismiss and smear the Arizona Sheriff. Arizona conservative activist Pamela Gorman, who won national attention over her campaign ad featuring her shooting four different fire arms to “drive the left nuts,” said that Dupnik was only elected to his position because of the county’s Democratic leanings. Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation labeled Dupnik a “leftist sheriff” who is using the attack to “silence” conservative activists and commentators. “”[T]he aftermath of today’s shooting is the official obituary for political civility in this country,” Philips continued, “The left has simply gone too far. There can be no civil discourse with people as crazy as those on the left are.”
Local right-wing talk radio host Jon Justice, who has a long history of anti-immigrant rhetoric, accused Dupnik of making “reckless and dangerous statements” and said that he should apologize and resign over his “horrible comments.” Megyn Kelly of Fox News charged Dupnik with “putting a political spin” on the case and contributing to the same heated discourse he challenged.
The conservative blogosphere has also ratcheted up the anger against Dupnik. Breitbart praised Kelly for holding “Sheriff Dupnik Accountable for Politicizing Tucson Shooting” and the RightNetwork’s blog attacked the “dishonorable” Sheriff Dupnik and dismissed him as a “leftist hero.” Moe Lane on a front page post for the popular conservative blog RedState slammed Dupnik for purportedly peddling “conspiracy theory nonsense” and predicted that he “will lose his next election.”
Evidently, there are still some commentators out there who would rather condemn those who point out hatred and bigotry than condemn hatred and bigotry.
If you would like to show your support for Sheriff Dupnik, please take a moment to sign a letter of solidarity with him against the increasing smears he is facing from the Right.