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Arizona, USA
March 10
Cynthia Dagnal-Myron is an award-winning former reporter for both the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star whose articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Salon, Working Mother, Orion and many others. During her Sun Times years, she traveled with and interviewed the top rockers, film stars and other celebrities of the 70’s and 80’s. And dated Arnold Schwarzenegger. Once. Her latest book, "The Keka Collection," is available at and Barnes and Noble--Kindle and Nook versions available. Her latest short story, Deadline, is a Kindle book availabled here:

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 10, 2011 12:07PM

Sheriff Dupnik--A Different Type of Hero

Rate: 35 Flag

While others quibble about whether the shooter here in Tucson was influenced by politics or not, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has decided it’s time to stop splitting hairs.  

I was stunned and inspired by his bravery in giving voice to fears and frustrations I have felt, and written about here, more than once.   He has taken some controversial stands before, most notably concerning Arizona's ill-conceived immigration law.  But I never expected him to put his career on the line as he did this weekend, following the Giffords shooting.

I feared that his words would be used to stir up a debate designed to distract the media and public from the real issues by the people he had just lambasted.  And I was right.   That guilt-driven "debate" began immediately. 

But I hope we're not distracted from the real issues for long.   It does not matter if we are never able to connect the dots from our political discourse directly to this heinous event. The point is, as I’ve said here before, that the discourse in this country—or what passed for discourse—reached an unprecedented level of bitterness and divisiveness, sending a tacit and dangerous message to unstable minds on the fringe that "anything goes."  

As another politician said this weekend, we were reduced to, "I'm right, and you're evil."   And as the anger escalated, the country became a powder keg.  Loughner, one of those white men with guns I wrote about last year, merely lit the fuse.

It's telling that a few radio rabble rousers are trotting out campaign statements that Obama has made, which, if taken in context or watched as video clips are amusingly benign--downright nerdly, really--as evidence that he, too, added to the name calling and dangerous rhetoric.  Odd thing is that Dupnik never actually singled out anyone, and didn't specifically blame conservatives as the main culprits in his statements.  

Those who responded with those Obama quotes and other defensive denouncements of Dupnik and others merely proved that they're feelin' a little guilty just now.  They're like the teenager who crashes Daddy's car after a drinking party and says, "Yeah, friends all got drunk, too!"   Everybody who fanned the flames is wrong here, and pointing fingers won't fix the real problem.

Nevertheless, Obama never put any of his political peers behind crosshairs on a Web site.   And he never called for a “Second Amendment” solution should his political aspirations fail.

But I’m preaching to the choir here.   I’d rather let Dupnik speak for himself.   For me, along with the heroism shown by the woman who grabbed that Glock magazine, the three men who wrestled the shooter to the ground and young intern who used his nursing training to offer life saving assistance to Giffords…Dupnik was another kind of hero this weekend.   Remember,  this man lives in the state he lambasted this weekend.  He’s an elected official, and his own life may be in danger now.

But please don't forget what he said:

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Uh, oh! I hope others can see the vid. If not, I'll work on that. Thanks Bonnie. I've vowed not to respond to any of the sniping that may begin here, because it doesn't change anything. But I hadda give you a thumbs up, 'cause you're always righteous! And now...I'm done for the day. Or...I'm gonna try to be...
Done or not think of the chilling effect that this particular treatment is going to have on other public officials who may want to speak out on the situation. Who will put their livelihoods and families on the line knowing that this is the end result? Bravo Sheriff Dupnik.
He said it well. This morning he seemed to back off, just a little because the conservatives are going crazy. Not a lot of back-off, just a little. When I heard him say that there was a law being discussed or passed that will allow college professors and students to wear concealed weapons on campuses, my month fell open and I still can't believe anyone would think this a good idea.
Arizona has become the new Deep South of the 1960s. The same kind of corrective action is needed now, as was needed then. And you should take some comfort in that this is at least a national struggle now. We will fight the hatred together.
I was soooo proud of the Sheriff when he said that, even if I could barely believe my ears. To those who decided he was talking about them (although he never said to whom he was referring,) I say: "If the shoe fits, wear it."
I always appreciate it when someone says what they think. It is so rare. I didn't see him speak, but I appreciate his message.
Yes, the ones who are saying, "Let's not be so quick to blame this on rhetoric" are thosON THE RIGHTWINGNUT talk shows who are spouting that rhetoric.
As I said elsewhere, if they had a conscience, it would be guilty.
What a shame we can't bring charges agaist them for inciting, aiding and abetting, etc.
Yes, we are talking about YOU, palin, beck, limpboy and the rePIGlican side of the aisle.
Well said. Is Sherrif an elected position there? B/c if so, he's toast. That is the kind of bravery we need from elected official.
Yes, for the 1 in many millions who do this, there happened to be several bystanders right there, from Arizona, who were heros. Dupnik was really brave, haven't tried to find out Arpaio's opinions yet. Thanks for being one of the many sane Arizonans who continue to speak up, in the shadow of lunacy.
Posted to my FB. Incredible stuff.
This man is a hero plain and simple. He is speaking the truth when others are silenced. He is one brave soul and I admire him. I was doing some research and found the 1964 Presidential Election map. LBJ won all the states except the deep South and Arizona. Arizona has a long history of being just like the south.
Yeah, good on him. I saw this on TV yesterday several times ... and it struck me that he was Doing His Job, given that all the hate-talk and the proliferation of guns is inevitably gonna make for more crap happening...if he can do ANYthing to prevent some of it, great.
Just a note: Tucson is a very liberal town in the middle of a notoriously conservative state, which is why we're so completely devastated that this happened here. But...we'd be devastated if it had happened anywhere. I'm proud of the locals who have already been working together to really do something in the wake of this tragedy--you're not seeing that on national TV, but I am just incredibly proud of our community right now. The whole world is watching, and seeing the Arizona that frustrates us so. But there are also good people and communities here. The fact that it happened in Tucson has Tucsonans reeling. But we're also really coming together. So...maybe at least here, a lesson has been learned.
I so much agree with you on this. This man is a hero.
He's a good man. Thanks, Keka.
Dupnik is great for pointing out the "poisonous" atmosphere in Arizona and in the nation. A large part of the ginning up of anger and vitriol in Arizona was Sarah Palin and her organizations.

Please sign the petition to indict Sarah Palin for inciting violence in the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. It was started this weekend and is directed to the Dept of Justice. It has more than 3500 signatures presently.
Keka, and other Arizonans, I feel for you. Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, my three home states, have more than their fair share of embarrassing political figures and horrifying events. I don't believe that everyone who lives in a state share the same ideas and values. I know plenty of great people in Texas even though I love to point a finger at the folks in the state government. The important thing is that there exists a public figure, like the sheriff, who is willing to buck the dominant political environment to stand up for reason and against hate and bigotry. Now, THAT is an American virtue.
You and the sheriff have something in common. Not afraid to speak the truth, even though you know all those crazies are out there waiting to pounce. Good on him AND you!

I'm having my own little battles with family members who like guns. This is what I finally had to post to my FaceBook page:

Notice! I will not tolerate baiting on this subject! I will delete posts that are meant to distract from the real issue. Gabby was a personal friend of a close friend of mine, and Tucson is a place where I have spent time and have friends. I'm not in the mood to ride on that merry-go-round of distraction created by people who have no substance to back up their beliefs!

There is absolutely no reason for anyone to own a weapon with magazines that hold twenty rounds unless they are planning to kill a lot of people! This guy was ready to load his second magazine! People with knives or their fists or even a bow and arrow could not inflict the kind of slaughter an automatic weapon can. So YES! GUNS DO KILL PEOPLE!!!!
He's my hero now too. Hope he can withstand the political pressure he's under now.
Nothing to say except I dropped by to thank you for educating and informing me more by your post.
Dupnik's job is a simple one as befits a terminally simple man: enforce the law. If he wants to embarrass himself by engaging in flights of fancy about socio-political issues, let him do it on his own time.

As the facts continue to develop, it becomes increasingly clear that the Tucson attack had nothing, but nothing, to do with conservative rhetoric.

Conservative rhetoric rarely features Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. The shooter's obsession with Giffords predates the emergence of Palin on the political scene--just another fact that is coming back to bite parasitic ideologues that seize any opportunity, however tragic in human terms, to score political points.

To divert focus for an instant from the evil of the shooter and the innocence and plight of the victims is reprehensible, and this post and its supporters are clearly culpable.
There are still some truth-tellers in the world

Elijah Rising

stop the advance of the 451s
These people who tackled the shooter and Sheriff Dupnik were all amazingly brave, and they prove that not everyone needs to be armed to the teeth to make a difference or preserve safety. I remember what Obama said about taking a gun to a knife fight and I thought it was stupid then and I think it's stupid now. It is definitely not the same thing as what Sarah Palin and her ilk have been doing. I remember Pat Buchanan on Fresh Air a while back being asked by Terry Gross why his rhetoric was so adversarial, that he sounded like he wanted to fight. He said he did want to fight. He said he was in a cultural and religious fight. The right has Fox News, and the left had Air America. Anybody know what happened to Air America.

This man makes so many good points and is so brave, I really thank you for posting this. We don't get many public officials brave enough to be this honest. He should be rewarded and shown support.
latethink I agree, but I have to say that Obama talkin' about guns and knives was about as scary as Senator Kerry struttin' around in his camoflage "hunting" gear during his campaign. We just don't know how to do the bad ass thing, liberals. And I'm glad.

As I said in my post, though, EVERYBODY who fanned the flames was wrong. And I keep hearing the, "Well, they did it, too," defense, which most of those out there back peddling now wouldn't accept from their kids, but feel is okay for public political discourse.

I'm not surprised, though. When kids do it it's because they know they're done wrong, too. I was an assistant principal for many years, and I have a daughter who tried that on me all the time!
It's nice to see someone risk political defeat to tell the bitter truth. If only there were more like him.
The reaction to this Sheriff by the right wing is like a child's, especially since I don't even think he mentions the right wing specifically, just TV and radio personalities. Then the right jumps up and says "don't blame us!" Almost comical if people weren't dying. The lady who grabbed the magazine from Loughner was interviewed on Fox and surprisingly did name and blame the right wing, surprising because they aired it.
I am in complete agreement.
Calling a spade a spade. I'm so sick of people with all the milquetoast explanations, as if now is suddenly the time to act civil. Perhaps, if they had called for civil discourse in the first place, we wouldn't be mourning today.
I was happy to hear someone else speak out about this vitriol being spouted all over a national platform. He was just "tellin' it like it is" and it's high time folks stop pussy footin' around begin to discuss this topic openly and honestly.

It is crazy and irresponsible behavior. It can not be ignored any longer.

Bless you, dear. Thinbking of you. Not easy having this kind of thing happen where you live. This:

"I'm proud of the locals who have already been working together to really do something in the wake of this tragedy--you're not seeing that on national TV, but I am just incredibly proud of our community right now."

I am proud of your community too. We see a small bit of that but the media skips over that. Hoping you a great deal of love and community in the days ahead.

Yes, I love the Sheriff. A good man speaking out when he should.
Great piece, Keka, and congrats on the cover! Glad to hear your community is pulling together after this tragic event.
Actually he DID blame someone: Rush Limbaugh. Of course he would.
Surprised or angered by the violent incident in Tucson? Come off it. Violence has no place in American politics? Get real. That is unmitigated hypocrisy! We are a violent people. Our nation reeks of violence. From the president to the congress to the judiciary to the milquetoast liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat voter, we gush violence at home and abroad. Sheriff Dupnik is wrong. Those deluded souls saying we must tone down our political rhetoric are barking up the wrong tree. Inflammatory words do not beget violence. Violence begets violence!

The use of force and violence in the conduct of our political and human affairs is endemic. That ineluctable fact has far more to do with some deranged American shooting a congresswoman than the most inflammatory words ever uttered. Nor, as many putative pundits are alleging, is the ready availability of guns a significant factor in this incident. Guns don't kill people; violent people kill people.

At the very moment Representative Gabrielle Gifford was shot, agents of the US government trained in the art of slaughter beyond any skills Jared Loughner could ever muster, and with exponentially greater fire power than the puny 9mm Glock Loughner was sporting, were busy hunting down and trying to slaughter strangers in Afghanistan by the busload--Afghans who pose no threat to America or Americans. Meanwhile at home armed agents of the Internal Revenue Service were forcibly confiscating the property of unfortunate taxpayers who wouldn't or couldn't afford to pay their taxes.

Representative Gifford and the people of America who participate or acquiesce in their government's violence are as guilty of violence as are the perpetrators. Military personnel in Afghanistan and IRS agents here are Gifford's and our agents. Gabby Gifford may be "a warm, loving wonderful person and a conscientious legislator," as her many friends have described her, but she is not innocent of violence. Nor is any American who explicitly or tacitly condones the violence of the US government and its agents.

When health insurance is mandated by our government, and the IRS is empowered to enforce the mandate, we condone the initiation of force and we thereby perpetrate violence against the many who would rather not participate. Our dependence on government and enforced taxation to obtain many benefits has made virtually all Americans co-conspirators in government violence. When violence comes home to roost, we shouldn't be surprised.
Thank you for this post. I hope he can stay safe.
rated with love
You are so so right Keka. What Sheriff Dupnik said needed to be said regardless of whether it was directly or indirectly the cause behind the Arizona shootings. When law enforcement makes this observation, I think it is particualrly time to take heed.

And those who are protesting Dupnik -- well they seem to be protesting too much methinks.
Watching him prompts the thought that the good cops, the one's who know the job, who get it, who have it in their bones all have a certain quality to them. World weary strength. People who know things.

And he's got it.
I am just appalled at all the back-pedaling and backbiting going on right now, but not surprised. My favorite thing is Palin's folks turning those crosshairs into surveyor's marks. Riiiiiiiiight. And so how do you explain the Tweet she sent a while back gloating about the "bullseyes" on that same map, when the elections were over? You reap what you Tweet, huh, Sarah?
So Ned...I agree with some of what you said. What I didn't see was a proposal for a solution. What should be done or done better? it just too late, period?
I couldn't agree more! Bravo. Please read my most recent post and i would appreciate your are a very talented writer!

Best wishes,

John Yates
I, too, was impressed by Dupnik's statement....and said to my husband, that he'll soon be a target of the Right! Already Limbaugh is claiming the shootings were a "liberal plot", and I thought it an inidcation of Limbaugh's guilt, not to mention that of O'Reilly, Beck, Palin, etc. that they so quickly were on the defensive!

Palin better watch out! As a woman, the Right will crucify her if they need a "fall guy".....
Kika, I am a nonviolent voluntaryist. I have renounced the use of force in all of my affairs.. I wont use force to defend myself, because, as my friend Carl Watner of THE VOLUNTARIST put the matter, "We all have to die sometime. How we conduct ourselves while we are living is what matters." I do not want to harm another human being for any reason. Of course there would be no need to defend myself if others merely renounced the initiation of force, reserving the right to forcibly defend themselves.

As the words of the song say, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." I'm not waiting for you nor anyone to join me in renouncing violence. One reason: with or without others my decision brings a deep sense of satisfaction and well being. I also truly believe it has rendered me personally safe from all harm. If you do feel moved to renounce violence, you cannot have your agents doing the dirty work for you. That means you must reject, to the greatest extent possibly, any dependence whatsoever on tax-paid government benefits, which obviously can only be had through the use of force and coercion. And, again, to the greatest extent possible, you must not pay federal taxes, which fund all sorts of violence by the State and its agents.

Kika, as long as you are alive it's never too late to reject violence. As far as I;m concerned, even though the principles and benefits of nonviolence were known at least 2000-years ago, the revolution is just beginning.