Today’s Defendent: Joe Arpaio
Statement of the Grand Inquisitor: Joe Arpaio is a man who enjoys his job. His job is terrorizing Mexicans, always a popular pastime in the southwest. Arpaio wins 80-90 per cent approval from the aged voters of Phoenix not just because he terrorizes Mexicans but because he delights his living-dead fanbase with new ways of humiliating petty criminals and vagrants. In order to find more victims for his pranks, deputies are sent on 200-strong sweeps of the local barrios, pouncing on any brown-skinned driver with a broken windshield, with prizes awarded for most illegals caught. Once the new crop of ritual victims has been chained up, Arpaio grandstands to his audience of bitter white retirees, humiliating inmates with pink jails and uniforms, and arranging photo ops of chain gangs in cartoon black-and-white stripes.
Arpaio is a checklist of the most vile traits of the “greatest generation”: first, of course, there is his fatuous vanity. He boasts like Capone about his fame: “I get more press than the governor gets. If you go anywhere in the world, all you have to do is say Arizona, and they say Sheriff Joe.”
Next, of course, comes gross hypocrisy: Arpaio is the child of Italian immigrants who came to Massachusetts for better-paid factory jobs. That, he says, was different.
Arpaio’s deputies stand out for sadistic violence even by American cop standards. They have killed or paralyzed suspects, in one case laughing and joking while they broke the neck of a paraplegic arrested for the non-crime of marijuana possession. Though Arpaio’s department was forced to pay the victim almost a million dollars, the incident failed to affect the adoration in which the vicious living corpses of Phoenix regard this monster, their avenger against younger, warmer people.
Statement of the Defense: Why blame Arpaio? His kind are legion. Some scrap of putrid humanity will always be found ready to take up the implements of torture, especially when one tribe has tormented another as long as the Anglos have tormented the Mexicans. If it were not this one it would be another. It has always been so.
Response of the Grand Inquisitor: We blame Arpaio for only one thing: still breathing. We direct our reproofs to his victims, the Catholic peasantry of Phoenix. The Church has always supported just wars, and the long-overdue war against Arpaio is clearly just. Have you no men of violence? We hear each day of the violence your gangs direct against each other. Is there not a single bullet left over for this man? Remember that we cannot begin his rehabilitation—which features an eternity of breaking rock in a pink tutu, chained to The Night Stalker–until you send him to us. Surely, of the thousands of killers among you, there is one with a few spare hours. The saddest aspect of the case, for us, is that to date the only plot against Arpaio’s life to be uncovered was a false one, a classic case of entrapment, in which a vengeful inmate’s empty talk of killing the judge who sentenced him was steered, by Arpaio’s agents, toward killing Arpaio instead. What a bitter indictment of your community, O Mexicans of Arizona, that the one plot against this man should have to be generated by his own minions! We do not blame the monster for being a monster. We merely ask the monster’s victims, why does this monster still breathe? To be persecuted is no disgrace. The disgrace is that your tormentor still draws breath.
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