The obvious villain in the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy is the man who caused it, the very disturbed Jared Lee Loughner. Sadly, though, there have been villains in the response to it, too—many villains. And while it’s hard to make a pick for this Black Hat Award, one man who has certainly distinguished himself is Pima County, Arizona, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.
As you may know, Dupnik has been busy warning of how speech has consequences while in the same breath blaming conservatives for the actions of Loughner. Now, I don’t blame the sheriff for asking why. It is fine to look for reasons. It is not fine to be reckless and wrong. And it’s a sin when it’s born of indifference to Truth.
To be precise, Dupnik implicates right-wing talk radio—he mentioned Rush Limbaugh—and cable news in the Giffords shooting. Yet a number of obvious things seem to have eluded this man, this supposed professional investigator. For starters, if we‚Äôre actually going to analyze the politics of Loughner, we should note that one of his former classmates, Caitie Parker, describes him as a “left wing” “political radical” and “pot head”; moreover, Parker—who had been in a band with Loughner—states that he was a fan of the radical leftist punk-rock band Anti-Flag. Note here that Loughner did, in fact, echo that band’s ideas on his YouTube page. Also note that on that page Loughner had listed as one of his favorite works The Communist Manifesto.
Now, question: How can one imply that an apparent leftist was provoked to violence by rightist prodding? Aw, heck, I know—it’s Bush’s fault.
Yet there’s something even sillier here. I’ve picked up the gauntlet the left threw down, but, really, examining Loughner’s political motivations is much like discussing a man who jumped off a roof because he thought he was a bird and pondering how his grasp of aeronautics might have influenced his decision. Loughner’s above-linked video makes it painfully clear that he is clinically insane (he’ll probably be diagnosed with “bi-polar disorder” or “paranoid schizophrenia”) and that he was influenced not by his fellow man but by his inner demons. Did this obvious fact also elude you, sheriff? Columbo you’re not.
Now, Dupnik seems to be very troubled by inflammatory rhetoric; except, he only seems to thus define words when they inflame him. I wonder, did Dupnik notice when militant atheist Christopher Hitchens said after Rev. Jerry Falwell’s death, “I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to” or when another of his leftist friends, Julianne Malveaux, hoped that Clarence Thomas’ wife would feed the justice a high-fat diet so he’d die of a heart attack? Does Dupnik stay up at night worrying about Barack Obama’s statement, “If they [the Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun” or about how the president referred to American political opponents as “enemies”? Probably not. After all, he seems to be of one mind and tongue with Obama, having opposed AZ’s original immigration law, calling it “racist,” “disgusting” and “stupid.” And imagine, Dupnik’s Pima County abuts Maricopa County, home of “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” Just cross a border and you go from Joe Arpaio to a jawing pie hole.
Although it’s clear that the left wins the inflammatory-rhetoric title hands down (although my last sentence just helped my side narrow the gap), it’s obvious that we all can be acid-tongued. Having said this, guess what? Dupnik is right.
Words do have consequences.
And we should watch what we say.
The problem is that Dupnik & Co. have no idea on what basis we should self-censor. It’s not a matter of avoiding inflammatory rhetoric because, as with certain topical medications, what inflames some may soothe others. Besides, is it really always wrong to inflame passions? Let’s examine the matter.
We’ve all heard about that exception to First Amendment rights: We can’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater. But there’s an exception to that exception.
When there really is a fire.
This brings us to the point. When discussing what should and shouldn’t be said, everyone forgets the most important question. It isn’t whether a statement is cruel or kind, controversial or conciliatory, inflammatory or soothing.
It is whether it’s true or untrue.
You see, sheriff, we traditionalists don’t call Obama a Marxist to be inflammatory but because his history indicates such. And we don’t call advocacy of his health-care takeover tyrannical to be truculent; we do it to be truthful. We yell “Fire!” because, despite what Billy Joel said, he and the rest of you liberals really did start the fire. America is burning and we have the big red truck.
Of course, Dupnik would have you believe that such talk is un-American. He actually said in this Fox interview that politicians got together and worked for the good of the country when he was younger. But how frequently was American politics really defined by sweetness and light? The Founding Fathers could attack each other viciously, and one little spat resulted in vice president Aaron Burr slaying Alexander Hamilton in a famous 1804 duel (you know, men such as Dupnik can make one pine for those days). And an earlier disagreement involving inflammatory rhetoric led to even more bloodshed. It was something that often happens when one entity tyrannizes another and won’t listen to reason (much like what’s happening today), so we may not want to blame the rhetoric. I think the date of that little event was 1776. And I think the inflammatory words started with, “When in the course of human events….”
Speaking of which, isn’t it odd that the sheriff would find anti-big-government rhetoric inflammatory? Our nation was born of violence instigated by men who despised big government. They forged a constitution designed to forestall the development of big government. Thus, to rail against big government is not “inflammatory rhetoric.” It is American rhetoric. It is so American, in fact, that if you have a problem with it, you should wonder if you’re American at all.
As for violence, let’s discuss what really sparks it. And I don’t refer to the mindless Jared Lee Loughner brand but the 1776 variety—or the 1984 variety. By the latter I mean that violence can take many forms, such as an immoral majority enforcing its will at the ballot box. This is still called “democracy” but it can and does lead to the rise of bad politicians and policy that can kill far more than any lone gunman (the violence called abortion, failure to secure borders, etc.) It can also lead to the loss of the ballot box, which is when 1984 violence comes to full flower.
If we wish to avoid this, we must understand the following. There are only two ways of settling man’s inevitable disagreements: by the word and by the sword. It’s preferable to reason things out, of course, but a condition for this is that both sides are reasonable. As soon as one side exalts emotion, saying “If it feels good, I’ll do it—and Truth be damned” and refuses to yield to reason, the countdown to 1776 or 1984 begins.
Our countdown began long ago because a certain side in our nation did reject Truth and placed us all in a very untenable position. I’ll explain that position like this: What if someone tries to feed your child poison? What if you explain it’s poison, that it will kill the child and that he needs to stick to the diet of his forebears, but the poisoner is immune to reason? Okay, so you try to insulate your child from him, but he manages to find your kid wherever he may be. How is this all going to end?
Alright, now what if some group tries to feed your civilization poison? What if you explain it’s poison, that it will kill the civilization and that our nation needs to stick to the diet of its forebears, but the poisoners are immune to reason? Okay, so you try to insulate your civilization from the group, but it manages to inject ever more toxins into the body politic despite your best efforts. How is this all going to end? With the 1776 solution or 1984 dystopia.
The above is a metaphor for what you, Dupnik, and the rest of your leftist ilk are visiting upon our once-great nation. Do you really want to prevent violence, sheriff? Then drop the inflammatory-rhetoric artifice and stop the immoral actions. Stop attacking Western culture and traditions. Start believing in and seeking Truth, yielding to reason and abiding by the Constitution. Stop the lies and deceit. We yell fire because you and your fellow travelers really are pyromaniacs. Pick up a hose and help, or America will be hosed down by 1984—or 1776—whether you, I, or anyone else likes it or not.
Selwyn Duke writes: The original version of this article stated that Jared Loughner had apparently posted one of his videos on DemocraticUnderground.com prior to posting it on YouTube. I wrote “apparently” because the assertion was based on preliminary evidence; however, new information has come to light and it appears that the assertion was incorrect. I apologize for the error.
</em>Selwyn Duke (@SelwynDuke) has written for The Hill, Observer, The American Conservative, WorldNetDaily and American Thinker. He has also contributed to college textbooks published by Gale – Cengage Learning, has appeared on television and is a frequent guest on radio. His website is Selwyn Duke.</em>
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