"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... It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that's the sad thing of what's going on in America. Pretty soon, we're not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office... Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about 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."
-- Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik
The momentous nature of this comment, coming as it did from a public official, simply can't be overstated. If by some miracle the unconscionable attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords -- as well as the murder of, among others, Judge John Roll, Congressional Aide Gabe Zimmerman and 9-year-old Christina Green, who was born, ironically, on September 11th, 2001 -- becomes a turning point in our national discourse, then Sheriff Dupnik's call against arms may very well stand as the Cronkite-saying-we-can't-win moment of this repugnant era.
It may seem like such a pedestrian observation to those who've closely followed the increase in irresponsibly incendiary rhetoric within our national politics, but make no mistake: what Sheriff Dupnik said took unbelievable balls. The man is a hero and he's owed a huge debt of gratitude for taking those who even indirectly incite violence to task. And no matter how much they deny, misdirect and obfuscate -- they know who they are.