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Over the past few days, Tom and I struggled to come up with a good way to cover the manhunt for Chris Dorner. The story has many interesting facets, ranging from a critique of the LAPD’s initial bungling of the situation, to the motives of the killer. While we had both been following the events pretty closely, we were hesitant to print anything–for my part, because I didn’t want to talk crap about a trained marksman while he was still on the loose.
Now that this tale has come to its inevitable bloody conclusion, I think the best way to cover it is to discuss all the angles:
–The 1st thing I thought about when I read Chris Dorner’s rambling 11 page manifesto, ironically, was the NRA’s talking point: “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In Mr. Dorner’s twisted mind, he was that good guy; a man spurned by the system, in search of justice. Add in the fact that he was a decorated serviceman as well as a former police officer, and you’ve basically got this:
If you ever interview a great actor, specifically those known for playing villains, they will all tell you that in order to play the role successfully, there has to be a way to justify a villain’s heinous acts. In their minds, what they are doing is in the interest of justice, is righteous, is good. In this case, art imitates life–society’s most infamous criminals have always believed their acts were justified.
–If any of Dorner’s statement is to be believed, there should be some sort of investigation into his claims about the thin blue line: the unspoken rule that says cops don’t rat on each other, even internally. The police aren’t exactly known for their impeccable and unimpeachable honesty when it comes to dealing with suspects, and misconduct within the police department is especially egregious since cops are supposed to be servers of justice.
I will say that there is a serious article here, and I’m going to write it. But this is not that article. This entire conflict was a case of the resistable object versus the movable force. The contestants?
Chris Dorner was a great protagonist initially, a tormented hulk of a man with enough conscience to return a bag of money he found, but with enough training to be utterly terrifying. His manifesto indicated a man with weaponry, an understanding of the opponent he faced, and a combination of rage and patience. His enemy?
The LAPD. Offhand, the pantheon of lousy police departments includes New Orleans and Chicago, but the LAPD has the name recognition. They’re the Giorgio Armani of awful policework. Rooting for the LAPD against anyone else is like those old-school horror movies where you have to enlist the help of the Wolf Man to kill Dracula.
The movies have told us that in situations like this, when dealing with a master criminal- a killer in fact- that he would stay ahead of the law, while unleashing one trap after another. This was the siege of LA. And we got a great movie trailer line.
“He knows what he’s doing,” The Chief of Police said. “We trained him.”
Training so exceptional, by the way, that this same crack staff fired on a blue Toyota Tacoma, while actually looking for a gray Nissan Titan. They never identified themselves, or followed any procedure, and so they ended shooting a 71 year old woman and her daughter.
Well… actually it’s worse than that.
Seven policemen fired on a truck, missed one of the women completely and barely nicked the other one, despite emptying their magazines, which means they couldn’t shoot and couldn’t follow orders. The chief immediately excused their incompetence by saying they were under stress, because policework apparently is a profession where you can randomly shoot people if your nerves are frayed. Dorner had accused the cops of being trigger-happy psychos. They proved him right, in part.
Meanwhile, it turned out that Dorner didn’t actually have a plan, which is sort of problem when you’re taking on a police force and you intend to be a criminal mastermind. Apparently, he wanted to flee to Mexico (maybe he wanted easier access to American guns?) but hadn’t actually set up anything ahead of time.
And so it all ended anti-climatically in cabin in the mountain. Dorner wanted to change the system, he changed nothing. The LAPD learned nothing from this. And a couple kids got killed for nothing. What a waste.
–It’s almost as if we’re beating a dead horse at this point, but we have to stop giving killers and psychos so much play on TV. Wall-to-wall coverage of killers and malcontents in the media only gives individuals who have taken an extended sabbatical from sanity a platform with which to spout their paranoid delusions. It also serves another nefarious purpose: our society is already hopped up on paranoia and fear, and our continued sensationalism of violence is akin to giving Tyrone Biggums a lifetime supply of peanut butter and crack sandwiches.