Methinks The Sheriff Doth Protest Too Much

One of the first voices out of Tucson after the shooting was Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who wasted no time in talking about how the toxic political climate was to blame for the atrocity. When pressed, he couldn’t cite specific proof of the causal relationship, but he was certain.

Well, we now just might know why he was so eager to point fingers — he seems to have a hell of a good incentive to make certain those fingers point in places other than at him.

The early reports about the shooter (no, I will NOT use his name) from those who know him talked about how they all got bad vibes off the guy, how they were convinced he was dangerous, how they all feared that some day he’d be the nut with a gun who goes on a shooting spree. Even his college professor was frightened of him, to the point where the professor persuaded the college to kick him out — and not return without a note from a psychiatrist.

At that point, I commented (elsewhere) that perhaps the college has some moral (but not legal) culpability for not making more of their concerns. They saw something, but didn’t say something.

But if they had some responsibility, then Sheriff Dupnik holds a hell of a lot more. Because the shooter gave off a LOT of warning signs that he was heading for a major breakdown. He had been caught making death threats, and those had been reported to his department.

And Dupnik did nothing. At least, nothing official, that might have kept the shooter from owning a gun and ammunition.

Why would he do that? Well, one thing that certainly has been a factor in other cases is a bit of cronyism. The shooter’s mother is an official with the Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Division. As Tom Lehrer put it so memorably in “My Home Town,”

I remember Sam, he was the village idiot.
And though it seems a pity, it
Was so.
He loved to burn down houses just to watch the glow,
And nothing could be done,
Because he was the mayor’s son.

Did Dupnik give the shooter a pass from the sort of attention and scrutiny that most people who make death threats? And did the shooter’s mother’s position influence that?

I dunno. But there’s a hell of a lot more here worth looking into than some Arizona nutjob punk’s mythical ties to an East Coast group, or how some 22-year-old, parents’ basement-dwelling, pot-headed, occult-dabbling, flag-burning, black-wearing 9/11 Truther who denounced people for being “stupid” and “ignorant” would be so strongly influenced by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

"People are not stimulus-response machines"