Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz., addressed the media after the attempted assassination of Democratic U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the assassination of Federal Judge John Roll at Rep. Giffords’s “Congress on the Corner” public event in Tucson, Ariz. He stated that Representative Giffords was likely the specific target of the attack, declaring, “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. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”
Representative Giffords expressed the same concern in an interview after her office was vandalized and trashed, protesting the animosity and weapons rhetoric aimed at her by conservatives as she was targeted with gun sights in the midterm elections. Congresswoman Giffords protested, “For example, we’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action.”
Those consequences blazed forth on the morning of Jan. 8, as innocents were assassinated and savagely murdered in a Safeway parking lot in a hail of semiautomatic gunfire by a homegrown terrorist, complete with his right-wing-inspired “this U.S. Administration isn’t legitimate” rhetoric posted on the Internet.
Sheriff Dupnik, a seven-term sheriff of Pima County, spoke up candidly, unconcerned with the numerous ongoing death threats he has also received: “Let me say one thing, because people tend to pooh-pooh this business of all the vitriol that 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.”
Sheriff Dupnik further declared, “... It’s time that this country take a little introspective look at the crap that comes out on radio and TV.”
Right-wing commentators who relentlessly encourage violence and inflame anti-government hatred, attempting to delegitimize President Barack Obama’s administration with their discredited and unpatriotic “Birther” demagoguery, along with Representative Michele Bachmann who’s insisting that “[Democratic] members of Congress should be investigated for their anti-American views,” should rethink their imagery of guns and the violent overthrow of our government. For indeed, there have now been consequences. And there will be yet more violent consequences if they don’t stop.