Viewing the Law as Lawless

I don’t pay attention to tabloid news like Casey Anthony, but this Los Angeles former cop turned cop killer saga is fascinating.

Christopher Dorner is crazy. Let’s make that clear upfront. But I read his manifesto, and what’s most surprising is that – for a guy who has clearly lost it - there are long stretches of his message that aren’t super crazy. Foremost, Dorner provides detailed accounts of LAPD’s corruption, addressing the department’s racism, cronyism, and lying. He alleges that when he reported an officer for excessive use of force, a panel of officers that were the accused cop’s friends not only found the officer not guilty despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, but fired Dorner for fabricating the story – in essence punishing him for breaking the unwritten no-snitch rule amongst cops.

I take this story with a grain of salt. From my amateur diagnosis, Dorner is not of sane mind, so it is very plausible he made up or exaggerated his accusations. However, it is also very plausible that his story is legitimate. His story corresponds with everything I know about my local police force. We give police the ultimate authority with no oversight or true accountability; until we have outside parties that police the police, corruption will run rampant.

Still, true or not, the story is not even close to a justification for murder. From his letter, it seems to me that when he was wronged for attempting to do the right thing, and the experience skewed his own sense of right or wrong. Having his life ruined for standing up to alleged corruption, he went off the deep end and developed a warped sense of morality. Viewing the law as lawless, he’s now pursuing his own brand of vigilante justice, considering himself a martyr to his own cause.

I say “martyr” because Dorner clearly does not expect to come out of this alive. His writing is a farewell and the ramblings of a man who wants to share every last thought he has before departing this world. In essence, he couldn’t help but make shout-outs to celebrities. I also wouldn’t be content to die without first sharing my fondness for Ellen Degeneres and Christoph Waltz. (If I made that last statement in jest, it is only barely so.)

But how does Dorner go from a man who lost his career standing up for a homeless man who was allegedly beaten to a man who now kills in cold blood? My guess is that he’s exploiting our media’s obsession with mass murderers. Previously, Dorner has tried to draw attention to LAPD’s corruption to no avail. Now that he kills some people, his story reaches a large audience. Suddenly, everyone listens to what he had to say.

For crying out loud, Dorner’s note even advocates for gun control. Even the murderers are calling for gun reform! It’s ridiculous. He talks about how he obtained his weapons and even suggests how it could have been prevented. The man has decided to sacrifice his own life in an attempt to change society.

Of course, he’s going about it all wrong. Becoming a serial killer may bring him fame, but it won’t lend much credence to his cause. In fact, people are going to be so repulsed by his actions that they’re going to automatically disagree with his stances. Any validity to his stories of LAPD corruption will now be summarily dismissed as the rantings of an insane man. And, in fairness, he is an insane man - because it shouldn’t take too much of a clear head to realize that a killing spree will accomplish none of the reform he’s hoping for.

I’m a firm believer in Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” You can’t defeat violent oppression with violent oppression. I don’t have the solutions for bringing about positive societal change, but I am confident that murdering police officers and their family members is not one of them.

Meanwhile, the local police departments have only managed to demonstrate their incompetence thus far by – in two separate incidents - shooting innocent people who happened to be driving a vehicle similar to Dorner’s. If you can’t even determine someone’s identity, perhaps you shouldn’t try to kill them. But it is a clear illustration of LAPD’s routine excessive use of force. Way to prove Dorner’s point, idiots. It’s also clear from the fact that they didn’t even try to apprehend these utterly incorrect “suspects” that there is no chance Dorner will survive the manhunt. As dangerous as Dorner is for his weapons, he is even more dangerous to LAPD if he is able to continue talking. They want him silenced.

I got invited to a protest outside of LAPD HQ tonight, but I am staying clear for my own safety. In some regards, it is dangerous to go to a police station when a known police killer is on the loose. Truthfully, however, I am more frightened of the officers themselves who are obviously on edge. They’ve got snipers on the roof! I’ve seen the police crack down on peaceful dissent with brute force, so I am wary of experiencing a situation where they feel legitimately threatened.

Stay safe, Los Angeles. Even when this “ends”, these problems are far from over.

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