It wasn't long after the Tucson, Ariz., shootings before Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik went into full blowhard mode about who was responsible for the massacre.
A hint: it's not suspect Jared Lee Loughner.
According to a story on the Web site www.cnn.com, Dupnik "used a nationally televised press conference to condemn the tone of political discourse in his state."
Oh, this gets better. Here's a direct quote from Dupnik, taken from the www.cnn.com story:
"We need to do some soul-searching. It's the vitriolic rhetoric we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business."
Translation: it's all that darned Rush Limbaugh's fault. And Sean Hannity. And Bill O'Reilly. And fill-in-name-of-conservative-talking-head here.
"When you look at unbalanced people," Dupnik continued, "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 county is getting to be outrageous. Unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital."
The county Dupnik referred to is Arizona's Pima County. When people start popping off the way Dupnik did, perhaps it's best to consider the source.
Dupnik is the sheriff of Pima County. But he's not just any sheriff. Dupnik bears the distinction of being maybe the only sheriff in the nation who has refused to enforce a law duly passed by his state's legislature.
Yes, that would be SB 1070. Last year, Dupnik went on record saying he and his deputies in Pima County absolutely would not enforce the "racist, disgusting and unnecessary" law.
Some Americans might feel that sheriffs who select which laws they'll enforce and which ones they won't pose a greater threat to the nation than "vitriolic rhetoric." If Dupnik had even an ounce of integrity, he'd have resigned as Pima County's sheriff in protest of SB 1070, rather than send America on the slippery slope to anarchy by advocating that law enforcement officials refuse to enforce our laws.
Didn't Dupnik take some kind of oath during his swearing-in ceremony in which he promised to uphold all of Arizona's laws?
Yes, we'll have to consider the source on this one. Here's another Dupnik gem about the effect of "vitriolic rhetoric."
"People who are unbalanced may be especially susceptible to vitriol."
That's probably true, but Dupnik provided not so much as a shred of evidence to suggest that suspect Loughner allegedly committed his act after listening to right-wing vitriol. In fact, the evidence presented so far about Loughner is that his is a special case, that his reading list included "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto."
The issue here isn't "vitriolic rhetoric," as Dupnik would have us believe. It's good, old-fashioned, despicable demagoguery, and Dupnik is a master at it.
He calls Arizona the "Mecca for bigotry and prejudice," conveniently forgetting the Latino vs. black gang violence in Los Angeles that has spilled over to claim as victims innocents from both ethnic groups. And part of that violence is driven by the illegal immigration that Dupnik feels isn't a problem.
Dupnik hints that the "vitriolic rhetoric" only comes from conservatives, conveniently forgetting, once again, that it's black and white Democrats who have labeled some black conservatives with the vitriolic label "Uncle Tom."
And if Dupnik truly believes that Arizona is the Mecca for bigotry and prejudice where whackos are likely to commit violent acts after listening to vitriolic rhetoric, then why, as sheriff of Pima County, didn't he have more deputies protecting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords last Saturday?
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.