The recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that critically injured Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords as well as killing six other innocent citizens brings the nation again to attempting to find reasons where they are least likely to be found. At this time authorities are still discovering many of the details; however, it has been reported that the shooter in the incident, Jared Lee Loughner, was a mentally unstable individual.
In almost all cases that involve the taking of an innocent life, the quest to find the answers as to why such atrocities take place is never adequately found. This comes in part because there is no answer for loved ones being prematurely taken from this earth that can ease the pain for those that remain. We all know and have grudgingly come to accept the nature cycle of life and the shooting in Arizona violates all that we hold acceptable when it comes to death. Unfortunately, the case of the Arizona shootings is at risk of being misdirected from honoring the dead and helping to heal the injured to promoting political agendas based on a false premise.
When I heard Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik start a political speech at the press briefing following the shooting, I could see the writing on the wall, “Conservatives need to shut up.” Having spoken to the media about criminal matters as a former law enforcement officer, I perceive Dupnik’s personal attack on those in radio and television as nothing short of bizarre. The links he drew between bigotry, national vitriol and this particular incident appeared politically motivated and makes him sound like a liberal no matter where his true affiliations stand. He is right about one thing: free speech does have consequences, but not the consequences the sheriff was trying to convey. The founding fathers supported free speech because they knew that through standing up and saying, “I don’t agree,” and “this is not right,” and other words often spoken with great passion, that this country might break free from its shackles. The need for such free debate with all its emotion is still needed today if we hope to deny those that wish totalitarian rule back into this country.
The problem Sheriff Dupnik suffers from at best is that he has confused peaceful, passionate opposition with violence. He has failed to separate the actions of a nut with a gun from those of peaceful Americans that are fed up with the government and want to take back the reins. The American people are not acting like bigots, criminals or killers when they demand that the government exercise the people’s will with the power voters have temporarily given it. From Dupnik’s lips to the computer keyboards of the radical left, the demands for conservatives to be silent have begun.
In my morning e-mail inbox the usual daily assortment of angry liberal messages had distinct focus this week thanks to Sheriff Dupnik. The demands that I stop talking and writing about political issues included a laundry list of forbidden topics as is always the case, but this week they were unified in that my silence would now “stop the hate as seen in Arizona,” and “save lives.” Please. I was quick to give a physical address of where they could send their requests. Hint: it’s a place warmer than Arizona.
Violence like what took place in this shooting incident is unacceptable, period. However, attempting to silence groups because of a single individual who might be associated, or is fictitiously associated, as a fringe member is the sorriest of Saul-Alinsky-style political maneuvers. Do Christians stop teaching the word of God because there is a rogue in Westboro Baptist Church running around preaching hate? Of course not, and nor should they. Ann Coulter brilliantly documented that it has been a liberal behind all the assassinations of our American presidents throughout history. Does this mean that all liberals are guilty of mixing vitriol and violence, including murder, in their quests for political victory? Even more importantly, should all liberals just shut up for fear that someone nuttier then them may grab a gun and start shooting people? The answer is no to both questions. I say this with full knowledge that in time the Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner is just as apt to be found a liberal as he is to be found a Tea Party attendee.
When it comes to Arizona’s problems such as an unsecured border and the catastrophic financial burden illegal aliens place on the state and nation, much can and should be discussed in the future. The thing in this case is that the border, illegal aliens, gun ownership, the Tea Party, politically zealous sheriffs, and Sarah Palin are not the real issue. The relevant issue is that a mentally deranged person killed innocent people and there is now tremendous pain and suffering in Tucson, Arizona and the entire nation. The country’s “do’s and don’ts” list must be constructed with more thought than that of Sheriff Dupnik. The biggest tragedy now would be to focus on imaginary foes and minimize what has truly been lost.
Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of the several books including the 2010 release, “Oliver’s Tale: A Squirrel’s Story of Love, Courage, and Revolution.” Paul is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association’s 2008, 2009 and 2010 Entertainment Program of the Year, Conscience of Kansas airing on KSDB Manhattan 91.9 FM, www.ibbetsonusa.com. For interviews or questions, please contact him at [email protected]