Pima County Sheriff Dupnik was quick to blame political dialogue for the shooting of Rep Giffords. He was to present information to the press gathered for a news conference and yet went into his own thoughts of the shooter's motives. This was completely unacceptable and, at the very least, unprofessional.
As a law enforcement agent, Dupnik is sworn to uphold the rights of our country's people.
It is not usual for me to agree with much of anything Jack Shafer writes. This article, however, is spot-on.
Our spirited political discourse, complete with name-calling, vilification—and yes, violent imagery—is a good thing. Better that angry people unload their fury in public than they let it fester and turn septic in private. The wicked direction the American debate often takes is not a sign of danger but of freedom. And I'll punch out the lights of anybody who tries to take it away from me.
Inflammatory political rhetoric does not cause a murderous act. Mental illness is behind criminal behavior and in the case of the Giffords attack, the red flags were all over the place on this shooter. He was rejected by the U.S. Army when he went to enlist. He was dismissed from school due to concern over his mental health. He put up videos on the Internet and on other social media broadcasting is beliefs and thoughts.
During the reading of the Constitution on the first day of the new Congress, Rep Gabrielle Giffords read the 1st Amendment. It serves no purpose now to call for limits on political speech. Yes, civility is the preferred manner of conduct. When we limit the speech of anyone, we limit ourselves, too. Freedom of speech was so important to our Founding Fathers that it was in the very First Amendment.
It is not due to political rhetoric that these souls were killed and injured at the hands of a man so mentally ill he carried out his impulses. Our nation has men and women on the battlefields of two wars protecting our country and our freedom.
Sheriff Dupnik no doubt was feeling emotional pressure as well as professional pressure in the immediate aftermath of this murderous attack. It was wrong, however, to let his emotions override his professionalism. Political discourse was not a fault. The mentally ill shooter was at fault.