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Monday, Jan. 28, 2013

Django Clarke

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At a time when responsible leaders are proposing steps to reduce the shocking human carnage from gun violence in this country, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. is calling for more bloodshed.

Clarke, who likes to dress up as the prototype for Jamie Foxx’s over-the-top vigilante splashing blood all over the screen in Django Unchained, has dropped all pretenses that he believes in law and order.

In fact, he’s now broadcasting a dangerous commercial on right-wing radio in an attempt to frighten the public into believing the police can no longer protect them.

“With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option,” Clarke falsely claims. “You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed or you can fight back. But are you prepared?

Clarke’s solution: All citizens should arm themselves with deadly weapons and be trained and prepared to murder another human being because personal safety is “no longer a spectator sport. I need you in the game.”

Clarke’s irresponsible grab for hero worship among the armed and dangerous is wrong on so many levels that it’s difficult to know where to start.

Even though Clarke wears a gunslinger’s playsuit in public, his office is hardly the first place citizens ever look for protection from violent crime.

The primary duties of the sheriff’s office are to nab speeders on county freeways and to provide deputies for highly secure courtrooms and detention facilities.

Every municipality in the county has its own police department to deal with serious crime. There are no police chiefs trying to frighten people into believing that violent crime is soaring out of control and it’s every man for himself.

That’s because it’s not true. Contrary to Clarke’s alarmist ad, violent crime rates, locally and nationally, have been falling sharply for the past 20 years.

That’s why Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele was able to cut into Clarke’s budget with very little public complaint despite Clarke and right-wing radio trying to whip up opposition. At the time, Abele noted that even the UW-Milwaukee campus police made more major arrests than the sheriff’s office.

 

Clarke Ridicules Sensible Advice

Even worse than Clarke wildly exaggerating the possibility of having to shoot it out with a psycho killer was the irresponsible advice he broadcast that could cost innocent lives.

The standard advice from responsible law enforcement for anyone who is a victim of an armed robbery is to cooperate. The loss of money is never worth losing a life. And they warn that introducing another weapon into such a confrontation actually increases the possibility of the robbery victim being shot and killed or injured.

Not only does Clarke reject that sensible advice, he ridicules it. Instead, Clarke says he wants you to join him in fighting back.

“You have a duty to protect yourself and your family,” Clarke scolds. “We’re partners now. Can I count on you?”

If this swaggering blowhard is your partner, you are in serious trouble. And so is your family.

Statistically, the truth is if you have a gun in your home, you actually increase the possibility that you or someone in your family will die from it, either from suicide, homicide or an accidental shooting. For every time a gun in the home is used to kill or injure someone in self-defense, it is 11 times more likely to be used for suicide, seven times more likely to be used for homicide or assault and four times more likely to lead to accidental death or injury.

Deadly weapons are especially frightening in homes with children. Intelligent friends much more fond of guns than I am had securely locked away their guns or removed them completely when their kids were growing up. It has nothing to do with how well you’ve taught them or whether they’re good kids. Sorry to break this to you, but when you’re not around, your kids go through your stuff.

At this sensitive time of lingering heartache over the massacre of children in Newtown, Conn., why would Clarke intentionally call attention to himself with reckless, in-your-face advocacy of gun violence?

Well, calling attention to himself is always one of Clarke’s primary motivations.

He also has delusions of political grandeur. He ran for mayor of Milwaukee before he’d even found the sheriff’s bathroom. Since then, his name has been promoted as a future candidate for county executive, governor and even U.S. senator.

As a rare black Republican (who dishonestly runs as a Democrat in Milwaukee County), Clarke once might have risen in politics. But after getting creamed in November, intelligent Republicans want to shed their image as “the party of stupid” and Clarke is stranded out where the buses don’t run.

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained takes violence to ridiculous extremes as social satire, provoking laughter in the theaters. There’s nothing funny about Django Clarke encouraging it in real life.