A Man for all Extremes
Living at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains below Big Bear, the palpable fear that accompanied a desperate fugitive wanted for perhaps the cruelest of murders was not lost on our community. Indeed, our proximity to the manhunt stimulated that wide variety of stark observations that arise when the media firmly secures its jaws into a story that has long legs. In this case, the sordid tale of a rogue ex-policeman bent upon exacting his pound of flesh from the Powers-that-Be that "did him wrong."
To hold that Chris Dorner was a madman is perhaps a term of imprecision. He was not mad in the way that people are when they believe they are poached eggs or vampires. He displayed cunning and forethought in his plans that resulted in the violent deaths of four people and the serious wounding of several more. To be sure, he was mad in the way that was said of Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now: "His mind is sane, but his soul is mad." His madness was manifested in the way he utilized means towards his final goal -- which by the grace of God, he did not bring to fruition. But the cost in treasure and precious life that was necessary to arrest his dark gambit is a price that we willingly pay when men grow feral in their imaginations and attempt to bring about a barbaric justice as payback for their perceived indignities. Mad dogs are not often captured alive; and a mind like Dorner, having broken its moral restraints, is loath to return to its default boundaries. Having made his deadly statement, he could not go back.
Altogether surprising, however, was his transfiguration into a Folk Hero of sorts to seemingly disparate groups. The Left is well known for its hatred of police authority; and although Dorner's ex-cop status might have been initially off-putting, he came to represent that patented countercultural animus to "The Man" by virtue of his race and politically-charged manifesto. Even now, ex-cops are crawling out of the woodwork. Many are coming forward baring their own separate grievances and nodding in assent to Dorner's anecdotal claims of discrimination -- perhaps as a means to gain an air of credible urgency in protesting their own terminations.
So many of the Left evoke a kneejerk hatred of police authority; and the far Left even more so. One conjures up images of President Obama's confidant Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn rigging bombs on squad cars in their Weather Underground days. For the Left, the Rodney King affair and the ensuing Christopher Commission Report merely gave flesh to everything they believed about cops. Chris Dorner immediately became a lightning rod illuminating those subterranean cultural and racial sentiments. In many minds he has been fashioned as a Dark Crusader -- hopelessly fighting back against an intransigent biased system of illegitimate power. He will perhaps forever remain in death a martyr to that cause.
But perhaps more extreme were those voices on the Right. Although less invested in Dorner the martyr, so many perceive him a victim cowed within the pincers of the Leviathan State. Seeing these events shaped through their own peculiar prism, certain factions of the Right have marshaled their congenital distrust of concentrated power and rightly or wrongly portrayed him as another canary in a statist coalmine. As the Right is prone to conspiracy types, Dorner's death has been cast as a predetermined execution to prevent the "truth" from being let out -- even though Dorner favored liberal politics. Those with advanced stages of Obama Derangement Syndrome are even tying his execution to that byzantine cabal that radiates from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. One is not altogether certain if Monsanto, fluoridated water, or drones and black helicopters somehow fit into the equation: although a grassy knoll was noticed near the smoking cabin.
It is a rank understatement to claim that Americans are irrevocably splintered along ideological lines and one could make a great case that the Obama administration flourishes through this political division. The stakes of power and human nature being what they are, both camps would have you believe that they are the forces of light while the other was in league with Beelzebub. As our country is either facing the ushering in of utopia or the Abomination of Desolation, the hammer of American discourse has been reduced to hair-trigger sensitivity and all news events are by necessity politically filtered and analyzed with the anxious scrutiny of a Sibylline oracle's divination.
The tragic and ultimately infuriating figure of Chris Dorner is no exception. I have no idea if he was a spoiled narcissist or a victim of injustice. I do know, however, that in bypassing procedural justice or the press and going full Rambo, he shot to hell any shred of credibility he might have had. By stalking and shooting his Union Representative's daughter and boyfriend out of vindictive malice for his termination, Dorner entered into the realm of desperate animal brutality. By phoning the aggrieved father after the murders and taunting him for not adequately protecting his daughter, Dorner settled into a more discrete category of monstrous evil.
As the ashes blow around a snowcapped mountain, there will still be those remaining on the Left and Right to shed either dripping concern or to weave intrigues about his grim departure. I literally blew up at a Christian woman on a website who insisted that we ought not to judge him and that he should have been somehow wrangled from where he made his Last Stand and brought to justice. She became affronted when I told her that I wished it was she that had went in after him instead of the police. She was oblivious to the pain that Dorner had caused to families she would never know -- especially the death of that officer who at the very end lost his life, and who would never again kiss his children. It is easy to be compassionate and magnanimous when you have no skin in the game -- when you are secure pontificating behind your keyboard.
The maxim that rough men stand guard and do hard things so that decent people can sleep soundly at night is lost on the morally retarded who regard all killing as a categorical evil. Chris Dorner and a handful of people who had no part in his rampage are dead. For those of you who have a problem with how the deeds of hard and caring men handled this senseless obscenity: sleep well.
Glenn Fairman writes from Southern California. He blogs as The Eloquent Professor at http://www.palookavillepost.com/. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.