Conflicted About Christopher Dorner

February 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

This ever-evolving Christopher Dorner story is simply fascinating. There are so many angles that it feels like I’m watching as close to a real Jason Bourne movie as the world will ever see. That it falls against the backdrop of the long rumored and now pretty much confirmed exposing of President Obama’s “Drone Strikes for Americans Are Now Legal in Secret, Prolly” policies just gives it an even weirder feel. Throw in the debate about guns and it just becomes an incredible hurricane of conflicting emotions for me.

Time will tell, but it looks like Dorner was probably at least justifiably correct in his manifesto when he alleged that he was wrongly booted from his job as an LAPD officer. I’m sure more information will be released, but already the testimony of the man kicked by the officer that Dorner reported has leaked and pretty much confirms Dorner’s story.

It looks like Dorner probably lost his life and livelihood because he ratted out a fellow officer for kicking a mentally handicapped man in the face needlessly. It’s an almost Richard Kimball-y type of injustice. It’s the kind of injustice that gets Americans up in arms. It seems like Dorner was royally screwed out of his entire livelihood and life right around a time when it became pretty damn impossible to find a new livelihood right here in the good old US of Bank of America.

Reports suggest he lost his job as a policeman around the time the Great Recession started and if you’ve been out of work at all in this period you know quite well that finding a new livelihood to replace one that’s lost is next to impossible. Just read Gawkers Unemployment Stories for a good idea of what it’s like. I can only imagine what it’s like for someone who was trained to be a police officer and then was fired from the job under his circumstances. What other department would hire him? No one. What else is he suited for? And so, to protect a bad cop the LAPD created a monster. At least, it’s hard to not see it somewhat like that.

Obviously, Christopher Dorner has snapped and must be stopped. You can’t just go around executing people who are sort of to not at all tied to how you were wronged. I know that. It’s just not a feasible way to run society. And yet, knowing this, I still feel for this guy. I feel for his victims families too. I just feel sad, but it’s not clear cut where to direct that sadness.

Watching the media cover this story has been enlightening. His manifesto seemed like a final goodbye of someone who didn’t really want to say goodbye, but really felt like it was over. It felt like a very Web 2.0 suicide note. Think about it. For the last 5 years we’ve increasingly been trained to converse with/at brands and celebrities as we would our friends. Is it really that strange that he left messages for famous folks, politicians, and people he knew? For a crazy manifesto he seemed fairly reasonable. Compared to the Dark Knight shooter… The media has treated this almost exclusively as if he’s a lunatic with no basis in reality and, strangely, no one is buying it. Every story I’ve come across on niche blogs and mainstream news sites is riddled with oddly justified support for Dorner. He’s being called a hero by many. It’s doubly intriguing and validates, at least somewhat, the confusion I’m having with this.

Not Dorner's Car, Not Even Close

Not Dorner’s car, not even close

Further complicating the issue is that random police departments in the LA area decided to start shooting civilians who they mistook for Dorner. Never mind that these civilians were driving a truck that was the wrong make, model, and year as the suspect. Never mind that there were two small women inside. Never mind that police aren’t supposed to shoot first and ask questions later. Never mind that they shot these women in the back and riddled the back of the car with bullets. It was a “police mistake”. Then another shooting happened and more bystanders are hurt. If you’re blood isn’t boiling over this story as a human and as a citizen, it should be. At Dorner, at the LAPD. At everyone. Comments have been ruthless from what I’ve seen and I think I agree with many that these women deserve every penny they get in their eventual civil suit. However, I also agree that these officers ought to face criminal charges. The police department will fight this and probably win, but what a colossal fuck up. This response is exactly the type of police work Dorner was trying to expose when it cost him his career. This is the kind of police work that the Constitution is supposed to, I would think, prevent.

This kind of shoot first and worry about laws and the rights of American citizens mentality of the police and government is exactly what will result in Dorner being caught dead and not alive. People smelled this from a mile away last night when police ordered new helicopters out of Big Bear, CA. Besides, this is what we do as a country now. The most amazing thing to me about the killing of Osama Bin Laden is that the supposedly liberal President didn’t take him prisoner and put him on trial. He wasn’t an American citizen, but I’m starting to wonder if we’ve really lost sight as a country of how to be a beacon of justice. If busting into another sovereign nation and executing a war criminal isn’t cowboy justice, I don’t know what is.

I generally understand most of the cop hate in this country, but I also think they have really hard jobs. Probably some of the hardest jobs on the planet. These officers deal with the scum of the earth on a regular basis and regularly deal with psychologically trying sights that cannot be expected not to take a toll. Does this excuse it when a cop is a jerk or behaves badly? No, but it does at least allow for some understanding of how they might gradually over time become unwittingly rotten. It’s also just a job to these cops. We all get jaded and sick of our jobs. Dorner speaks to this in his manifesto:

Don’t honor these fallen officers/dirtbags. when your family members die, they just see you as extra overtime at a crime scene and at a perimeter. why would you value their lives when they clearly don’t value yours or your family members lives? We heard many officers who state they see dead victims as ATV’s, waverunners, RV’s and new clothes for their kids. why would you shed a tear for them when they in return crack a smile for your loss because of the impending extra money they will receive in their next paycheck for sitting at your loved ones crime scene of 5 hours because of the overtime they will accrue They take photos of your loved ones recently deceased bodies with their cellphones and play a game of who has the most graphic dead body of the night with officers from other divisions. This isn’t just the 20 something year old officers, this is the so year old officers with significant time on the job as well who participate.

I’ve personally had many cop friends show me their phones and cameras filled with this stuff and heard them talk about the “insert racial slurs” here that they have to deal with. I think this guy nails police culture in big city departments. Suburban cops are a whole different breed. It’s like comparing poodles to dobermans. There’s hundreds of videos on YouTube of inexplicable behavior from police. I don’t think many of these officers even realize they’re that far out. It just becomes a problem when they are dealing with average citizens who aren’t that far out of line and their typical schema for who they’re dealing with is violated. Imagine dealing with people like this all day and staying completely sane.

If you watched all of that, I’m sorry. Point is, they’re always expecting to encounter that lowest of the lowest common denominator. They’re worried about their own safety. And so old women in trucks get shot.

When is being scared going to stop being an excuse? We were afraid of terrorists so we’ve spent over a decade at war with people who weren’t even responsible. We gave up tons of civil liberties with the Patriot Act to get safer. Did we? It apparently didn’t work because President Obama has just plowed forward carelessly with executive orders and secret policies authorizing drone strikes against Americans. All this under some ridiculous assertion that there is some legal way to do that and that we should be grateful that we will be safer. Meanwhile the debate rages about gun rights in America after several high profile shootings. Obama and his folks claim that we need tighter gun laws and the gun nuts claim that more guns are the solution. I been sort of conflicted here as well. I never want a gun anywhere near my house, but I respect the second amendment. I think we could require a little more of people who want to buy a gun in terms of background checks, but I don’t think that regulations will change much. Do I buy the argument that we still need guns to protect ourselves from a corrupt government? The rational side of me says, “no”. However, there’s a nagging voice in the back of my mind that looks at Obama’s corrupt actions and the shooting of these women in the blue pickup truck as pretty damn good examples of a government that is just out of control with what it can and should be doing. Some people argue that an armed populace couldn’t stand up to the government, but Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t exactly rolled over against the best military in the world. So I come back to being torn about the whole thing.

This brings us back to Dorner and trying to make sense of my mixed emotions about his situation and killing spree. I think this guy is being labeled a hero because most Americans are really, really sick of these giant institutions that do what they want, when they want and claim victim-hood. Maybe these institutions get justice for themselves, but the little guy doesn’t. The LAPD got what was just to them. You don’t cross the blue line. Period. Dorner did and from the LAPD’s point of view, justice requires he be thrown out of the brotherhood. It’s like Mafia rules. From the point of view of the big banks, justice was bailouts to save them from their mistakes. From their point of view, justice didn’t involve helping homeowners keep the homes after screwy mortgage polices and rates they created sent millions into foreclosure. The government chose, surprise, the institution to support.

Maybe Dorner should have known better than to stand up for a mentally challenged arrestee. Maybe people should not have bought into stupid mortgages. But I’m struggling to find sympathy for these big institutions on a more regular basis and I think there’s a growing sentiment in America that when the big institution gets justice, the little guy gets screwed. And I think that’s how I explain rooting for Christopher Dorner at least somewhere in my soul.

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