Commentary: Chris Dorner was no kind of hero

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)February 20, 2013 

US NEWS OFFICER-SLAYINGS 3 LA

People protest near the Los Angeles Police Department's headquarters in California, on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in response to the death of fired ex-officer Christopher Dorner, who is accused of killing four people.

IRFAN KHAN — MCT/Los Angeles Times

Hero, my butt.

All right, that was not exactly my response to the gentleman who called and suggested a column in defense of California cop-killer Christopher Dorner. It is, though, the only translation that my editor would allow in the newspaper.

Dorner – for those of you who’ve been enthralled over the past two weeks with whether Chris Brown and that girl he beat up in his Bentley are really back together, and thus haven’t kept abreast of the real news – was the ex-L.A. cop who declared fatwa on law enforcement and their families after he’d been fired. He killed two officers, wounded two and killed the daughter and future son-in-law of another.

He himself was killed during a shootout at a California mountain retreat.

Disjointed manifesto

Since Dorner claimed he’d been unfairly deprived of his life and would never have a family, he wrote in a disjointed “manifesto” (which has garnered thousands of supporters) that he was going to deprive those whom he felt had wronged him of their lives and families.

I thought my caller was joking or being facetious, but a quick run across the Internet revealed that many people viewed Dorner as some kind of righteous hero waging a justified holy war. A Facebook page called “We stand with Chris Dorner” has more than 18,000 “likes.”

How much do you want to bet that Hollywood movie producers are trampling each other to make the first movie and million about the ex-cop-turned-terrorist?

The L.A. Police Department is looking into the charges that led to Dorner’s dismissal to see whether his complaint had merit.

But regardless of its findings, he lost any claim to a moral high ground as soon as he killed his first innocent victims. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, and not of the kind of laws you can just make up as you go along when things don’t go your way.

Some of the most standup guys I’ve ever known were cops, but some of the biggest creeps were, too. Listen here: You don’t know despair until you’ve sat in a courtroom – as I have – while a cop intentionally lies on you. That’s when your attorney and you share a look that says you can now bend over and kiss your butt goodbye.

When I got out of jail for things I didn’t do, though, it never occurred to me to declare war on cops. Those experiences are, though, a major reason that I like writing about people who have legitimate beefs with the authorities.

Talk to survivors

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that some misguided souls are seeking to lionize Dorner. This country loves and lionizes outlaws. I mean, Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy, prolific serial killers, were inundated with marriage proposals from people attracted to evil.

There is still a romanticization of Al Capone, John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde, common robbers and killers who somehow became the symbols of a righteous fight against tyranny.

Buffalo chips. When the 1967 movie “Bonnie & Clyde” came out, spawning not just a clothing trend but a new breed of movie in which the bad guys became heroic, Chicago columnist Mike Royko interviewed the daughter of a sheriff who’d been killed by the bank robbers.

Might I suggest that anyone who wants to idealize Christopher Dorner first go speak to the survivors of his victims?

Speaking of Hollywood, my feelings on viewing Dorner as a hero were best summed up in three words uttered by the late Hollywood studio owner Samuel Goldwyn: Include me out.

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