I could practically hear the cheers erupting from Twitter when I asked how my followers felt about Christopher Dorner.
He’s the Last Action Hero. He was treated unfairly by his employer. I’m anti-LAPD. I hope he gets away. I want a chance to hear his story.
Very few tweets mentioned the fact that Dorner allegedly murdered four people. And none said that Dorner should be killed on sight, or at all.
The responses glared back at me, giving me the tinge of justification I needed to allow myself to empathize with the man that was made famous by a rambling manifesto and a vendetta against crooked cops. But that was short lived; I remembered the lives that Dorner allegedly took…those lives that would forever be a hole in someone’s heart. They were never coming back. They had families. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s father. And Christopher Dorner let his grudge mature into fixed determination that he thought cost more than a human life.
But still, as I watched the news, I couldn’t help but wonder why there were so many people, including myself, who wanted to root for the underdog. I remembered his manifesto; a 6,000 word statement that implicated the Los Angeles Police Department in injustices and humanized the giant man as someone who was pushed to the brink.
He specifically called out those who wronged him throughout his career as an LAPD officer while trying to clear his name of the “false statement” incident that got him thrown off the force. He recalled the challenges of growing up as a black kid in America. And he was intelligent and progressive; he ironically supported President Obama’s gun-control plan, gay marriage and immigration reform.
Dorner hated the National Rifle Association’s vice president, Wayne LaPierre, and he sent his condolences to the children who were killed in the Newtown massacre.
His favorite movie was The Hangover. He considered Jay-Z a musical legend. And he liked Michelle Obama’s bangs.
He was, at first glance, just like us. He did not possess the monster qualities of an Adam Lanza. He did not seem to have a mental illness, like Jared Loughner. He was not influenced by violent games and rock music like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
We wanted to protect him, justify his means by condemning the LAPD’s checkered past with African Americans. Our own dissent as a nation against law enforcement made his killing spree seem like the vigilante thing to do. He was a real life Batman…he could swim and fly and shoot with both hands and was highly trained from his experience as a Naval Reservist. Why shouldn’t he sweep the streets clean of the crooked cops? Wasn’t he doing us a favor? Wasn’t he a martyr, ready to die for his principles?
When the LAPD deemed him a domestic terrorist and threatened him with drones, we were up in arms. How could he be a terrorist? This was a clear violation of his fifth amendment, killing him on sight without a “fair” trial.
Wait…this isn’t a movie or a comic book.
I had to step back from the hype and evaluate the situation critically. Dorner’s delusions of grandeur were, in fact, a mental disorder. His idea that he was the baddest motherfucker and the police couldn’t fuck with him was false. No, he wasn’t a rich-kid-turned-killer and his underdog story pulled us in because that’s who we’re conditioned to root for, but he still took away lives like Lanza and Loughner. And his semi-vigilantism hurt more than it helped.
Dorner’s situation was tragic and harrowing and magnetic for the media. We quickly excused his actions because somehow the resonance of police injustices are very real in America. And we’re allowed to empathize with the “back against the wall” firing that landed him in this situation. However, we have to realize that sympathy and support for such heinous acts shouldn’t be accepted. The Facebook pages, tweets, t-shirts and letters that support him are sending the wrong message. We cannot use our own personal experiences with law enforcement as a subterfuge to paint Dorner as a hero.
Dorner needed help. And while this played out in the media as the latest Hollywood film, real lives were shattered.
It’s time to start realizing that the consequences for “Dorner The Last Action Hero” idolatry will also be very real. We won’t be able to press rewind on this one. Killing never has a happy ending.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that.
Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole