Gabrielle Giffords, Jared Loughner, and the First Amendment

dupnik_speaking.jpg
Sheriff Dupnik's right: Sand Land is a "Mecca" of bigotry, but be wary of the call to "ramp down" rhetoric

The call has come, from CNN and The New York Times to innumerable liberals, to "ramp down" the rhetoric and invective of politics in Arizona and the United States in general.

The implication is that right-wing, extremist propaganda led to the massacre in Tucson on Saturday.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik helped facilitate this meme with his comments during two news conferences over the past couple of days.

In them, he called Arizona the "Tombstone of America" and the "Mecca" of bigotry, an idea I've offered up in opinion columns for several years now, albeit in different ways.

He also made the following observation, which I think is accurate:

"To try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, has impact on people, especially who are unbalanced personalities to begin with."

And yet, it has yet to be demonstrated with certainty that Loughner was inspired by rightist, wing-nut rhetoric.

But even if such a connection is firmly established, it should not dampen vigorous public debate, which can get outlandish, mean, and over-the-top, particularly on talk radio.

So far, alleged shooter Jared Loughner seems to be closer to the likes of Mark David Chapman (the killer of John Lennon) and John Hinckley (the wanna-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan), than John Wilkes Booth (President Abraham Lincoln's assassin) or Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber). 

McVeigh and Booth were true believers, and neither was insane. 

Chapman and Hinckley, however, were clearly delusional. Both were motivated, in part, not by "hate speech" but by J.D. Salinger's novel of adolescent rebellion The Catcher in the Rye.

Hinckley also was inspired, if you can use that term here, by Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver, and by an unusual obsession with one of the film's stars, a young Jodie Foster.

So the question becomes, what speech exactly do you want to inhibit and why?

Because, to alter a phrase from the gun-totin' right, it's not words that kill people, but bullets and bombs and gas chambers and lethal injections.

The 9/11 hijackers found their rationale for terrorism in the Qu'ran.

Killers of abortion doctors and bombers of family planning clinics have been driven by what they say is Biblical dictate.

During the 1980s, radical feminists and Christian nutjobs joined together to ban such relatively innocent adult fare as Playboy from college campuses. Their rationale? Such material caused oversexed men to rape women.

What then is beyond the pale? Where I'm going is, there's a slippery slope involved.

Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy sought to wrench all Communist influence from government and society during the 1950s. Even those who read Karl Marx and found some truth in his ideas, were considered security threats.

Along the same lines, neo-Nazis espouse hatred toward nonwhites and Jews. Would you deny them the First Amendment right to march and rally in Phoenix as they did so in November?

That event led to a near-riot between the swastika-lickers and anarchists in the streets. Carrying swastika flags could then be considered, hypothetically, an incitement to riot.

But the answer to neo-Nazis is not banning them or even saying the neo-Nazis should not rally.

Rather than suppress speech, the better response is to meet what you consider as nefarious speech with more speech, better speech, positive speech, speech that counters racist canards spouted by the SS-wannabes.

See, here in Arizona, there are very real ideas at war with each other.

Some on the right hate all government influence, or at least the government influence that does not benefit them directly.

Still others despise "illegals," or Hispanics as a whole. So much so that they are willing to pass unconstitutional and bigoted laws such as SB 1070, or ones that aim to undermine the U.S. Constitution: Specifically, the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship clause.

These efforts must be opposed in the most outspoken and strident manner possible, as they were recently when the Phoenix human rights group Puente protested outside a private, Paradise Valley home, where scores of lobbyists attended, paying at least $250 a pop, to kiss the ring of state Senate President-elect Russell Pearce.

The demonstration was peaceful, but attendees no doubt felt intimidated as they had to walk a gauntlet of protesters inundating them with insults and anti-Pearce chants.

Was this wrong? Of course it wasn't. Nor do I have a problem with lobbyists and corporate shills feeling uncomfortable attending such a pro-Pearce event. 

True, no one was shot at or killed. But there were references to the lobbyists being Nazi-like. And you could consider that unfair. Because no matter how hateful and unjust Arizona's stance toward the undocumented is, people are being deported. They are not being shoved into ovens. A huge difference.

I'm saying, be careful what you wish for, lefties, as it can come back to sink its molars into your hind sections. The desire for civility may be a noble one, but civility can be a mask for numerous misdeeds and injustices. 

After all, who among you has the inclination to be "civil" toward Pearce? This guy deserves all the verbal pushback and political censure possible. Just remember, do it with a smile and in a nonthreatening manner. Don't give the other side an excuse to lie about what you're there for.

One last note on Sarah Palin's map targeting Democrats with gun sights. Thing is, New Times has used similar imagery in regards to former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Did New Times want anyone to come to harm? Absolutely not. It's called a metaphor. The idea being that a politico is "targeted" through investigation or political means.

Which is why I am so adamant about rejecting what to me sounds very similar to a call for censorship, or a witch hunt seeking to lay the blame. Because one day it's the language of the right, the Tea Baggers, and so on. And the next day, it's anyone else who has expressed an un-PC opinion.


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109 comments
Barb Beneitone
Barb Beneitone

Am I missing something here? Dupnik's statement to the press never mentioned anyone's name, never mentioned any specific talk radio host and never mentioned any television station when lashing out at the incivility in our nation, which we all acknowledge exists. Looks like Dupnik is guilty of not being a name dropper. The right wing is now invoking Dupnik's name, while ridiculing him for saying it is time for civility. Glen Beck recently had a skit on his show with a fake Dupnik calling in saying he was arresting a paddy wagon full of conservatives. Rush Limbaugh dedicated a 3 hour show attacking Dupnik. After the resignation of 4 Republican party officials in Arizona because of threats from the tea party, I didn't sea an article calling for them to hold any criticism. Sheriff Dupnik has been called many times to investigate political threats of violence and I think his comments on the state of political vitriol is more than appropriate.

JT Ready
JT Ready

Perhaps Dupnik should practice being a lawman more and less of a referee of our rights.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Daniel aka USAdefender,

How sad that you cannot even take responsibility for your own actions. It was you that posted the videos showing Obama in WhiteFace yet now you blame the original designer?I never accused you of being creative. You cannot accept responsibility for any wrong doing or error. That shows a lack of integrity consistent with your straw-man posts.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Gilboy!

Yes I posted Obama with a white face looking like the "Joker". I believe it is still posted and I stand by the video. But let me take it a step further. I not only posted it I also called him a “MORON” on many occasions. How's that for taking responsibility?

USAdefender1 aka Daniel

Asdf
Asdf

It's not much on the responsibility, truth be known. You admit your acts, but not the consequences. That's actually the opposite of responsibility, and that is precisely why people don't trust the liars who represent the Tea Party. With each passing day we learn more about their hatefilled hearts and their lying minds.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Asdf,

What are the "consequences" of my actions? People like you and Gilboy only look to squash opposing views with unsubstantiated claims and lies! Without facts, MORONS like you spew left wing rhetoric in hopes of silencing those who do not see things as you do. Commie BITCH!

USAdefender1

linaimai
linaimai

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JT Ready
JT Ready

This horrible tragedy is made worse by the recent actions of the AZ Legislatur­e including Russell Pearce from the right and Kirsten Sinema from the left. By unconstitu­tionally banning Free Speech and threatenin­g to limit our right to self-defen­se, the illegal acts of one madman are now being magnified by short-sigh­ted politician­s. It would have been far better for throngs of Arizonans to show up and block the despicable lunatics from out of state who wish to disrupt a little girl's funeral, by exercising our own free speech together and with solidarity instead. It is woefully irresponsi­ble for any citizen, especially a public official, not to be armed for self-defen­se and for the defense of the children, or at least to have armed security present. To further ban our ability to defend ourselves in the face of such evident threats only further illustrate­s the idiocy from our elected officials. Instead of playing the blame game here to support our own political agendas, we should all come together to unite behind real solutions. We critically need to overhaul Arizona's mental illness treatment options. I have personally been to the legislatur­e numerous times regarding this very issue and this issue falls mostly upon deaf ears there. Secondly, we need to prevent every criminal, madman, and politician from ever infringing upon our free speech and our right of self-defen­se.

Allan
Allan

Kirsten Sinema's actions have made this tragedy worse? explain, please.

JT Ready
JT Ready

By infringing upon the First Amendment which Gabby defended. Read 1101.

Guest
Guest

Spin this, Sheriff Dipshit; Looks like this lunatic, psychotic dope head was indeed a left wing radical, and registered as a Democrat:

http://i39.photobucket.com/alb...

He targeted Gabby (whom I have always had the utmost respect for) because of her moderate views.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Rob,

Sorry I didn't see your post.

“I would gladly accept Dupniks' statements as outrageous.

As soon as you, Daniel and others will accept and admit that Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer and Russell Pearce are equally responsible and have made statements regarding "hate and rhetoric... inciting extreme anger and hatred."

Let me see if I get the challenge….. If I agree with you, you will agree with me!?!?!?

Only if you stand on one leg, pull on your ear and scream Dodo Bird is a commie and Gilboy is his idiot sidekick then post the video on YouTube and send me a link!

USAdefender1

Rob
Rob

Can't say I didn't expect anything different from you.

Was going to say something about pot & kettle but I think that's been played out.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Rob,

Glad I could be predictable. I only hope that you will take this experience and move forward in life and not need my approval on things to express yourself.

I declare you cured! Move among us and spread the light my son.

USAdefender1

linaimai
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Strohslite
Strohslite

For all you dope smoking, dumb-ass libtards! The truth comes out! Do your homework for real next time Lemons and his butt buddy Gilboy!http://www.infowars.com/libera...

Mistalee
Mistalee

Was David Berkowitz liberal or conservative?

Howzabout John Wayne Gacy?

And who gives a shit, really.

Rob
Rob

I prefer national enquirer or people magazine...at least their websites look like they were designed by someone older than 11 years.

no bias on that site, eh?

Guest
Guest

Rob, meet kettle (black). Kettle (black) meet Rob, one ignorant, mindless waste of space.

Rob
Rob

Wow. I am truly, truly impressed with your unique, thoughtful and poignant response. Truly, I am in awe.

Why do you continue to dance around the challenge?

Debbi
Debbi

So let me get this correct; when the Ft. Hood shooter (radical Muslim) shot people we were not supposed to jump to any conclusions about him or his motive. However, within 20 minutes of this shooting the good sheriff knew exactly what Laughner was thinking, what motivated him and knew everything about his political leanings. I mean even though he had to admit he had NO proof whatsoever about his remarks, he just "knew" it. So now we have the authorities "knowing" without having to prove or investigate? I guess that only works when you're a Liberal.

XSoldier
XSoldier

Rob:Well said. I was just thinking that maybe we should switch Maricopa County's greasy-haired balloon-headed "lawman" for a REAL lawman like Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

Also, has Rep. Jack Harper totally lost his mind?!? First he blames Sheriff Dupnik for this tragedy, then he says he wants all Arizonans to carry guns?!?

I just read that the congresswoman is able to breathe on her own, she is responsive to commands, and she will be in ICU for about another week. That is relatively good news.

I do have a message for Jared Loughner: You better pray to God for forgiveness, because we the people of the State of Arizona cannot and will not forgive you for this pointless and needless tragedy. Nothing you or we do can bring the people, including a 9 year old, back. May justice be quick and swift for you. I personally hope you rot in hell, you useless waste of life.

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Dupnik is a MORON!

USAdefender1

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

As much as I find your ignorance exceeded only by your lack of eloquence (or lack of any constructive use of the English language) I must congratulate you on one accomplishment: the ability to break wind through a keyboard.

Self-styled "patriots" are empty suits. They talk a lot of shit and do nothing to make the world a better place. You, sir, are nothing more than a sad, linguistically-challenged, nothing-burger. You are to intelligent discourse what Jared Loughner is to constituent outreach events. If you have nothing intelligent or constructive to say it would be wisest to say nothing. But saying nothing while saying a lot is what you have done best in all of your rants on this website.

Is this the only place where you get any attention? That would explain why your postings are so childish...

XSoldier
XSoldier

Really? Then what, per say, is the MCSO shurf or Sheriff Paul Babeu, who like to see their own faces and hear their own voices on the idiot box?

Let's see: the MCSO shurf has cost taxpayers $45 million in lawsuits and payouts, gets us sued because he suffers from sporadic Alzheimers, has Amnesty International condemned jails, has more than 40,000 felony warrants unserved, etc. Sheriff Paul has a deputy who feigns being shot at by illegals, is unable to find the illegals or their drugs, then, the deputy tries to intimidate a reporter, which results in his termination, which should have happened in April 2010. Then, the bald-headed fool goes on national TV and blames Dupnik, someone he has never met, and lays blame for this tragedy on him? How is Sheriff Dupnik liable for this?

Asdf
Asdf

USA will never answer you directly, you've exposed him as a fraud.

Rob
Rob

Why have you run from my challenge?

USAdefender1
USAdefender1

Dupnik is a MORON! Oh and now the rest of the nation knows it!!!

Stay on topic.

"Really? Then what, per say"

USAdefender1

USAdefender1

BC1
BC1

Agree with most of your article. And it very much IS a slippery slope.

Not sure countering right extremist screaming, lying rhetoric with similar volume and accuracy from the left works, though. In fact, no one (my opinion) wants to invite either of them to lunch or a friendly beer. Extremists of any ilk are just unpleasant to be around. It's the message that does the influencing and it seems the Right does a better job at pandering to the fears and concerns of the public as opposed to denials and attempts at reassurance from the Left.

Adrenaline trumps quiet assurance every time - a human thing. Also, our culture frames success and failure far too often in terms of warfare and conflict; "Political battles" will never be such unless lots of real bodies are spread around. "Fights" in Congress or the Legislature are not real, unless the Senators and Reps are physically beating on each other - not. "War" between the Left and Right just isn't - those of us who have been to war know this clearly.

But there are people who BELIEVE, and don't understand the difference between rhetoric and reality. They're not (necessarily) insane, they're just humans a little more trusting and easily influenced than the majority. More willing to depend upon that adrenaline than restraint and reflection. It's their country, too, but our brand of Democracy demands more of it's Citizens. Yes, we need Doers but we also need Thinkers. Between them is much miscommunication, and today these gaps are being twisted and used for - frankly - evil.

We probably just have to endure this period. Certainly the economic reality-checks are long overdue, and as we make the long descent to (hopefully) a safe landing I hope we begin to move slowly back towards the Center. Much real pain and real suffering ahead. If we can't come together as a society to face the new realities we will assuredly fall apart into very real warring factions. Do you WANT your kids and grandkids speaking only Chinese?

TomDegan
TomDegan

One of the tragedies of history is the fact that Lee Oswald never had the chance to testify in his own defense. I'm not one of these people who believe that the man was some kind of patsy who was framed for killing President Kennedy. I have no doubt that he was the one (and the only one) who pulled the trigger of the Manila Carcana rifle that ended JFK's life. But I have a theory:

Oswald was an extreme left winger - the type of which no longer exists in this country: a committed Communist. I believe that had he been living in New York or Boston or Los Angeles - or even Atlanta - when the president rolled into town, he never would have attempted assassination. But he wasn't in any of those cities. He was living in Dallas, Texas. In November of 1963, Dallas was the right wing capital of the nation. Just a few weeks before the Kennedy shooting, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been physically attacked and spat on at an appearance in that city.

Lee Oswald's motive for killing John F. Kennedy was not fame and recognition. He vehemently denied having any part in the shooting.

"I DIDN'T KILL ANYBODY, NO SIR!"

That was his story and he was sticking to it! He didn't have to stick to it for very long, though. Forty-eight hours after he was arrested, a single bullet from Jack Ruby's gun forever silenced Lee Harvey Oswald. What could have been his motive? Here's my theory: He killed Kennedy because he really believed he could get away with it. The atmosphere in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 was so politically toxic, Oswald must have assumed that the police and Secret Service would immediately focus on one or more that city's illustrious right wing crackpots.

The extremism of 1963 was pretty much isolated to a few southern cities. Forty-eight years later it's gone national. What happened in Arizona over the weekend is only the beginning. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but America's political discourse has been hijacked by half-wits and crazy people. Their spokespersons make their names by inflaming their clueless masses with the language of hate. That's their job. Then again, I'm not giving away any state secrets here, am I?

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.c...

Tom Degan

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Funny how I've never heard any tea party folks say Arpaio is fanning the flames. But when another Sheriff says anything it's suddenly wrong? That is so pathetically obvious to anyone who has any desire for the truth. Senator Kyle should grow a pair. His hypocracy is getting unaviodable.

Interesting double standard has surfaced here. Could you just imagine the press conferences Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio would be having if he were an undocumented brown person instead of a white terrorist?

Mistalee
Mistalee

Actually, Senator Kyle should grow a glioma.

Anon
Anon

Dennis, Couldn't agree more. You took the words out of my mouth.

Guesty
Guesty

Count me among those calling bullshit on this yarn by Lemons.

He writes, "Which is why I am so adamant about rejecting what to me sounds very similar to a call for censorship, or a witch hunt seeking to lay the blame. Because one day it's the language of the right, the Tea Baggers, and so on. And the next day, it's anyone else who has expressed an un-PC opinion."

Bullshit.

First off, Lemons fails to understand what censorship means. He uses that word as a bogeyman to scare all the good people into agreeing with him. No one is advocating censorship, just accountability and responsibility. His fear-mongering evokes images of the Tea Party and the lies they told to frighten voters. No coincidence that he now is their defender.

What Lemons really fears is that people are held accountable for their words and the logical consequences of those words, that someday he too might be judged based on his intentional acts.

Tabloids such as the PNT love to throw literary bombs at the establishment. They will, for example, try to get at a political rival by writing about the son, and doing in such a way that a person cleared of a crime now seems guilty. That's right, just like the Tea Party, Lemons wants to reserve the right to tell us that black is white.

Here's the bottom line: when you tell the people the Democrats are trying to kill you, it should come as no surprise when the people start killing the Democrats. Words have meaning. Lemons loves that when it comes time for him to collect a paycheck, he just wants to avoid having to write on back, especially one that his fat ass can't cover.

Asdf
Asdf

But, reading the comments left on the opinion piece, you'd think the article was calling for the elimination of all [free speech], as well as the gutting of the [First] Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Yea, don't strawman arguments just suck, Lemons?

Postman
Postman

Looks like Jared Loughner and Giffords attended the same synagogue.

JT Ready
JT Ready

"This has been building up for a long time. An angry Tea Bagger dropped a pistol on the floor of the Safeway Store in Douglas when Gabrielle was seeing constituents there during the buildup to the health care reform votes. To say say that her staff was shaken - and rightfully so - by that incident is an understatement." -mikefrombisbee

Apparently, they were not shaken up enough. People who do not carry firearms for self-defense are at the mercy of those who do.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"Apparently, they were not shaken up enough. People who do not carry firearms for self-defense are at the mercy of those who do."

OK, JT, let's dissect that one.

Why, exactly, would an unarmed person be at the mercy of someone carrying FOR SELF-DEFENSE? You are saying that an unarmed person is defenseless against someone who is not an aggressor? Wouldn't it be just as true that an unarmed person NEEDS no defense against such a person?

JT Ready
JT Ready

The sheeple (stupid people) who have no fangs (guns) to protect themselves from the wolves (criminals) who do have fangs (guns), are at the mercy of the sheep dogs (armed citizens) who have fangs (guns) to protect them (the sheeple), or not...

linaimai
linaimai

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Guest
Guest

Paul Krugman in the NYT today has a good "fence" for that slippery slope. Rhetoric can get as heated as it gets, but the suggestion that opponents must be eliminated (termed eliminationist language by Krugman) should be where the rhetoric stops, especially in the media and by politicians and others covered by the media. Their rights stop where others' rights begin.

Guest
Guest

Classmate Describes Shooter as 'Left-Wing Pothead':

http://www.newsmax.com/InsideC...

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Are you even aware that he was a registered republican?

Debbi
Debbi

He was registered INDEPENDENT. Good try though.

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

You are correct. He was not a registered DEMOCRAT. Like many in the Tea Party, he was a registered Independent.

Strohslite
Strohslite

No he wasn't Dennis, his papers identified him as a registered Democrat!

Dennis Gilman
Dennis Gilman

Actually, we are both wrong. The latest shows registration as an Independent-like many in the Tea Party. But given the time of day and flood of misinformation, it could change a few more times before it's verifyed.

Guest
Guest

That's what Dennis Gilman is famous for; twisting the truth to fit his anti authority, anarchist, socialist agenda.Someone hit a nerve when referring to this left wing lunatic as a pothead, since many on this left wing blog, including Gilman himself, are dope heads. Hence why their ramblings and lack of factual statements exist.

Christopher King
Christopher King

Hard to pin this guy, obviously he's got issues.

That same piece reads "Loughner’s own Internet postings make bizarre references to the “illiterate” constituency in Arizona's 8th Congressional District..."

Doesn't sound too lefty to me.

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