Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke

The Associated Press

We wouldn't think to suggest speakers for the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner for the Yellowstone County Republicans. 

Besides, we suspect that any suggestions from us would be met with nothing more than a hiss of few "liberal media" or "fake news." 

But, inviting former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., as the keynote speaker to its annual gathering is sure to draw a crowd and rally the base of the Yellowstone County GOP. However, for the rest of us who question a Milwaukee sheriff in a bedazzled cowboy hat, we're left wondering: Is this the message the county's Republicans really want to send to the rest of the city and state?

Here's what we mean: Clarke has been named in a civil rights lawsuit which alleges that while he was the sheriff, a man died from dehydration after being left without water for a week.

He's also been suspended several times from social media for his postings which violated the terms. 

Clarke has said repeatedly that the antidote to "lying lib media" is to "punch them in the nose and MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD." [ALL CAPS kept to match the original.]

We don't know how things go in America's Dairyland, but here in Montana, if you punch anyone in the face — lying liberal media or otherwise — you're could be looking back at the business end of a gun barrel.

We suspect, though, Clarke would actually relish that opportunity as well.

And that's the point.

He's repeatedly called for violence against the media and those he doesn't like while, at the same time, being a law enforcement officer. Advocating violence while swearing to uphold the law isn't just hypocritical, it's a disservice to the uniform. 

Upholding the law and keeping the peace doesn't just mean protecting those with whom you agree. 

Inciting violence — anywhere — is not something any individual should advocate, let alone a major political party. It doesn't seem like a message that leaders in the community should rally around.

This sends a dangerous message that it is not only good to assault those with whom you disagree, it's also appropriate to hit them until they taste blood.

Excusing this sort of thing as hyperbole by a media personality runs the risk of normalizing what is really shameful behavior that would get a kindergardener kicked out of school. 

Sadly, Montana Republicans continue to struggle with violence from within their own party. Last year, the party had to deal with then-candidate Greg Gianforte assaulting a reporter. Today, it seems like they'd hope to raise money from a person who advocates violence against the media.

We don't understand how any of the flag-pin-wearing, Constitution-loving Republicans could seriously support someone who advocates thumping on reporters while simultaneously pretending to love the First Amendment which calls for freedom of the press, not the bleeding of it.

Quite frankly, someone who would let a prisoner die for lack of water or would think about assaulting anyone — journalist or otherwise — is a thug. To raise money from his attendance would seem to profit off what is essentially a sideshow, a distraction from what is really important. 

The Yellowstone County GOP should be able to do better. The real question is whether it wants to do better. Or, is this the image it wants to spread?

If Republicans want to be seen as a party which supports law and order, then beating someone because of a difference of an opinion cannot be tolerated. If the GOP claims support for law enforcement and military, then they wouldn't invite a man who so thoroughly disrespects everything the uniform and position stand for — freedom, protection and peace. 

And if the Republicans want their Christian values to show through, then they should think twice about inviting a man who is accused of not giving a prisoner water or one who doesn't want to turn the other cheek, but instead would punch back until the blood starts streaming. 

Where have you gone Al Simpson? 

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