Jan 11, 2011
The Arizona Republic 
Jan 11, 2011
On Saturday afternoon, with his friend Gabby Giffords in surgery fighting for her life, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik railed against the tense partisan politics – “the anger, the hatred, the bigotry” – that prompted the mass murders outside Tucson, in his view.
And, jarring as such claims may be, we understood. Or tried to understand, despite the spectacle of a lawman – an official whose very job it is to dispassionately gather facts and to maintain order and calm – tying the attack on Rep. Giffords and others to political speech in Arizona, which he considers prejudiced and bigoted. There is no evidence that the state’s politics in any way contributed to this atrocity.
Was Dupnik unnecessarily inflammatory? It seemed so. But it came mere hours following a horrific, bloody mass murder. If you weren’t on edge, you weren’t being human. But then, on Sunday, the venting continued anew. And a horrified nation began paying closer attention to the Pima County sheriff.
The world’s eyes, once again, focused on Arizona for the worst of reasons. And Dupnik stood before the cameras interpreting the shootings as politically motivated, despite an increasing weight of evidence depicting the shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, as a mentally ill young man who rambled incoherently about pervasive bad grammar and other apolitical obsessions. Even Dupnik has observed that Loughner had made death threats against others and that they had been investigated by police.