Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is public support for a murderer a reaction against tyranny?

I'm sure many of us have been shocked by public expressions of support for multiple murderer Christopher Dorner.  As one report noted:

One Facebook page says Dorner should run for president of the United States. “We propose electing a man who could no longer sit idly by and watch as malicious tyrants abuse the innocent.”

. . .

CBS13 posted a simple question: Why? Why support a man wanted for at least three killings and the author of a murderous manifesto promising to target cops?

One sympathizer replied, “Because something needs to be done about the long known corruption of not only the LAPD, but several agencies.”

. . .

[Professor] Martinez is not surprised by the outpouring of support. He points to a long history of distrust and tension between parts of Southern California and the police as the motivation behind the movement. Some see Dorner’s actions as a sick kind of justice.

“So, to see someone kill police officers, they may see this as a kind of way of standing against oppressive force,” said Martinez.

There's more at the link.  My buddy Lawdog has already given a vociferous and not-at-all-politically-correct response to such nonsense, which I wholeheartedly endorse.

However, if one takes Professor Martinez' comment further, there's a lot of ammunition on his side (you should pardon the expression).  It's on a national scale, not just in Southern California.  For example, just a few days ago, Quin Hillyer wrote in the Washington Times about:

... a growing number of horror stories of bureaucrats, enforcing regulations of nonviolent conduct the perpetrator may not have even suspected was illegal, brandishing weapons they arguably don’t need. These two problems - overcriminalization of essentially harmless conduct and overarming of agents in nondangerous circumstances - combine to create a federal government that can be terribly frightening.

Most Americans understand why agents of the FBI, the Secret Service and some other federal agencies need weapons. Yet most would be puzzled by the proliferation of arms in departments where employees usually are seen as paper pushers. At least all of the following departments, quite bizarrely, feature armed agents: the National Park Service; the IRS; the Postal Inspection Service; the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Labor, and Veterans Affairs; the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service; and even the Small Business Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board.

Agents in some of these entities seem prone to ostentatious shows of force or to sending in armed FBI personnel on unnecessary occasions.

. . .

Edited by current and former Heritage [Foundation] experts Paul Rosenzweig and Brian W. Walsh, “One Nation Under Arrest” contains the tales of lobstermen jailed for eight years for using plastic instead of cardboard to import their catch, a grandmother charged as a criminal for letting her hedges grow too high, a gentle retiree imprisoned for 17 months for having the wrong paperwork for his imported orchids and similar horror stories.

. . .

On its face, this federal government habit of overcriminalization, without regard to the intent of the perpetrator, is a serious threat to civil liberties. When combined with gun-toting bureaucrats on search-and-seizure power trips, it’s also a threat to limb and life. These are the threats to life, liberty and reason that are engendering the nationwide backlash against a government out of control. Quite rightly, that backlash is sending incumbent congressmen to bitter defeat across the country. The ballot box makes our government not yet quite “too big to fight.” But it’s awfully close to being too big even for the innocent to defeat - and it’s awfully scary.

Again, more at the link - and it's well worth reading.

We've also all heard reports about local cops whose behavior is way over the line - not just out of control, but criminally so.  To cite only a few recent headlines:

  • Texas State Troopers conducted body cavity searches in public without sufficient cause or legal justification, resulting in a lawsuit;
  • An Ohio police officer threatened to kill a licensed, lawfully armed citizen after ignoring the latter's attempts to inform him of the situation;
  • There have been so many reports of police killing dogs that posed no threat to them that there's an entire blog, 'Dogs That Cops Killed', devoted to such stories.  (Some of its reports include video evidence which can be graphic in the extreme, so be warned.)

The Christopher Dorner incident has provided further evidence that some police behave in a manner that's completely out of control.  I'm sure many law enforcement officers nationwide (not least my friend Matt G.) regard the response by some (not all) LAPD and other SoCal law enforcement officers to the Christopher Dorner incident with, at best, disapproval and concern, if not outright disgust, outrage and contempt.  To open fire on unidentified vehicles, with occupants who were demonstrably very different in appearance to the suspect and were not behaving suspiciously in any way, is beyond the pale.  If I were in their unit, I'd refuse to go on patrol with the officers concerned, for fear that the next time they panicked I'd end up with one of their stray bullets in my back!  I'm sure their cowardly, utterly inept response hasn't been lost on the citizens they're supposed to 'protect and serve'.

Finally, note public response to recent attempts to crack down on firearms ownership and the Second Amendment rights of Americans.  (See, for example, this very interesting video report from New York State.  It's worth watching, noting the passionate response from citizens versus the dictatorial, uncaring attitude of the authorities.)  Suffice it to say that many Americans will regard any attempt to disarm them, whether technically 'legal' or not, as unconstitutional and an assault on their civil rights and liberties, and will resist any such efforts.  Those law enforcement agencies and agents who agree to carry out such attempts are certain to be regarded as enemies, and meet with an appropriate reaction.  As David Codrea pointed out today:

... a panicked reaction in multiple incidents reveals police in the process of protecting their own posing a real danger to the public.

The shooting of two newspaper delivery women illustrates just how jittery the searchers are, and how desperate, when it’s obvious the “shoot first”-mentality officers did not see a suspect they could identify and yet opened fire anyway. The hail of bullets left the truck riddled with holes and opens the question of who else was endangered by bullets that missed it or went through it. And this wasn’t just a one-time mistake: Trigger-happy Torrance cops reportedly did the same thing to another citizen in different part of town.

Another incident, this time in San Diego, involved another innocent citizen having his life endangered in what was initially described as a barricade situation, but turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.

One man has done this, and people are noticing. Aside from an attitude among panicky enforcers that appears to regard public safety as an expendable inconvenience when they perceive a real or imagined threat to themselves, people are noticing how much illusion and presumptions have to do with state power.

. . .

It’s also noted by those of us who understand what is fundamentally necessary for the security of a free State, and who view coerced confiscations such as have been proposed in the past and in recent weeks as an ultimatum to surrender our very freedoms or suffer the consequences at the hands of enforcers who are appearing less and less omnipotent. That is unacceptable to people who do not want trouble but have no intention of disarming, and who would view any attempt to force that as an intolerable act to be defied, and ultimately, to be resisted.

The deterrent effect of an armed citizenry as a last resort appeal against tyranny is often derided by those who don’t have a clue about what such individuals could accomplish in defense of their liberties. It’s derided even more strongly, and tellingly, more desperately, by those who do, and who see and are shaken to their cores by the vulnerabilities just one armed former police officer/citizen disarmament zealot has exposed.

More at the link.  Bold print is my emphasis.

I think Professor Martinez is right.  I think those supporting the utterly loathsome (and, I'm informed, hopefully late) Christopher Dorner are merely expressing sentiments engendered by an increasingly intrusive, overly authoritarian and (in some cases) ruthlessly out-of-control law enforcement establishment.  I believe strongly that this establishment must be reined in, returned to tighter control by higher authorities and required to exercise greater self-control as well . . . or there will be more support for more Dorners.  If that establishment takes it upon itself to seek to disarm society, or impose other forms of draconian, statist control (for example, if the IRS tries to crack down on people for not having the insurance required by Obamacare), I daresay there will be many more who react by taking the law into their own hands.  That's what happens when you treat Americans like subjects rather than citizens.  The British found that out back in 1776.

I've worn a badge.  I've sworn the oath of office, as have my friends in law enforcement departments and uniforms.  The difference is, we meant our oaths, and we uphold them to this day, whether active or retired.  (See Lawdog's reflections on policing for a good overview of what those oaths mean to us.)  There are far too many in law enforcement to whom their oaths are mere words, not worthy of reflection, and of no consequence.  They're the kind of people who behave in the ways outlined above . . . and they need to be removed from law enforcement, at once if not sooner.  Every day they remain in office is a day when the citizens of this country learn, through their bad example, that law enforcement is not their friend.  That bodes ill indeed for the future.



Wraith said...

Back in the day, we had Peace Officers. These cops are exemplified today by such examples as Matt G, LawDog and a few others of note. These folks might have, at times, been a bit 'creative' with the letter of the law, but most definitely upheld its spirit.

Then we started seeing more and more Law Enforcement Officers. They had little to no concept of the spirit of the law; they were simply enforcing the letter, regardless of whether it was just, fair, or even made any sense.

And now, we're seeing more and more Goons. They don't give a faint, wan, bleary-eyed damn about the letter OR the spirit of the law--they just revel in the fact that they get to be bullies without consequence, and the only people they're out to "protect and serve" are themselves.

If you blast away at anything that moves because it MIGHT be a threat...

If you threaten law-abiding citizens with execution...

If you murder defenseless house pets...

If you're willing to kill anything and sacrifice anyone to the false god of "I'm going home at the end of my shift"...

...then you're a Goon. And upon learning of your death, I will say a prayer for your immortal soul. Not because you deserve it, but because you're desperately going to need it when you stand before our Lord and are called to answer for your deeds.

c w swanson said...

Excellent post that gets to the most important lesson of this whole crazy situation. I have always looked at the cop as a friend and protector of the peace, but these incidents are disturbing indeed, and make one wonder where this trend will end. At least we know how easily the system could be brought down if, as Jefferson once said, it becomes necessary to fertilize the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants and patriots.

Toejam said...

Dorner can't be president of the United States.

For one simple reason. The MF's DEAD!

Surrounded in a cabin by scores of Police and sheriff's deputies he managed to kill one officer and wound another before he set fire to the place and swallowed his gun barrel first.

Better this way, the United States doesn't need another faux Robin Hood and millions spent on a prolonged trial.

Rot in Hell Dorner!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Prescient post.

First, government - at all levels - has grown too big, too expensive, too intrusive and too stupid. It needs to not be trimmed back, but gutted and, as Bill Whittle said "put back in the government-sized box it came in." Wish I'd said that.

Second, Quin Hillyer assesses it correctly, and allow me to use one example to reinforce his point: Housing. HUD, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, FHA and VA mortgages, all of which lies at the root of our present economic troubles. Where in the Constitution does it say the federal government of the United States has any business at all being involved in the housing business? That is true as well of a multitude of agencies and endeavors in which the fed.gov is involved.

Third, it is understandable that many do not understand the Second Amendment. Amendment II does not exist to provide for hunting or target shooting - it is as judge Alex Kozinsky said, a doomsday provision ensuring the Constitutional authority in the United States is held by its citizens for when government truly goes out of control. In short, the Second Amendment says "Screw with us severely enough and we will kill you." A great many people choose to not think about such things. Fortunately, the "Dead White Men" who put their lives, families, fortunes and honor on the line to create this country and write its constitution did think about it.

Christopher Dorner's actions are beyond despicable; so are the actions of armed government agents in California. I'll second what Wraith said - we need Peace Officers, not law enforcement officers. Government agencies do not understand how much citizens fear, and loathe, the door-kickers and dog-shooters LE, and other, agencies employ, and the brainless bureaucrats who makes citizens' lives miserable.

Those in power rarely relinquish it without a fight. I would offer that citizens are willing to engage in that fight to get our country back. I would offer to those who seek to rule us, we're certainly not yet at the fourth box, but we know on which shelf it is kept, so pay attention when we use the first three.

Peter said...

Note to readers:

I wrote this article to express genuine concern about the state of law enforcement in the US. However, I'm not prepared to see it degenerate into a rant or anti-cop 'hate-fest'. Comments such as 'The only "good cop" or "Good fed" is a dead one ... They are murderous scum', and other sentiments as expressed by an anonymous commenter at 5.35 a.m., are simply unacceptable - not to mention untrue of many officers.

Feel free to comment as you see fit - including criticism of those law enforcement officers and agencies that deserve it - but in a responsible way, please.

Kit said...

The police set the cabin on fire. Go to this recording from the police scanner


And go to one minute four seconds.

Alien said...

Peter, I understand your position. I suspect, however, it may not be built on firm ground.

Based on currently available information, it appears LAPD elected to execute a suspect - Christopher Dorner - by burning down the cabin he was believed to be in.

LAPD has also, during this event, randomly opened fire on innocent people instead of pursuing more circumspect means of apprehending Dorner. Witness the two shot up pickup trucks, neither of which were driven by anyone vaguely resembling Dorner.

There comes a point where an organization ceases to fulfill its designed purpose and becomes instead Just Another Gang With Guns. So far, it looks like that is what the LAPD may have become.

I recognize that not all LAPD officers share that mentality, nor do all condone that behavior. Small comfort, that, when one is shot by an LAPD employee who is one of the Armed Gang Members. (You'll note that all 3 people in the two pickup trucks shot at by LAPD did suffer wounds.)

The worry is that police in general have devolved into armed thugs who place the safety of citizens in jeopardy; too many officers are part of the "thin blue line" who quietly condone that attitude and behavior by not speaking out against it.

Certainly, to repeat, not all police behave as armed thugs; unfortunately, they all wear the same uniforms and drive the same color cars so citizens cannot tell which are the thugs and which are the Good Guys.

When one encounters a strange dog one knows not whether it is a loving, friendly pet or a hungry, angry animal who considers you his next meal. So, one exercises caution in dealing with all dogs, and avoids them whenever possible, until such time as the dog's true nature is demonstrated. The same is true with police and, in fact, most government employees.

Allow me to pose a question: At what point is returning fire classified as legitimate self defense, or is it always an unauthorized attack on authority?

perlhaqr said...

Dorner would have been a much more sympathetic anti-hero if he'd stuck to members of the LAPD, and not their family members.

s said...

I remember the rage that my dad expressed at the craven fear of his men driven by a "karate expert" on the run in Lubbock back in the 70's. He was visibly angry at what was being bandied about by his troops. Their responses were similar to what happened to Dorner.

This is NOT the country I grew up in. Military training for police officers, police duties for our military men. Armed groups in every bureaucratic unit shows what the Liberal mindset is: tyranny and a basic misunderstanding of the roles of military and police.

I really wonder what the future holds for my kids and grandkids.

May God have mercy on the remnant that believes in Him and believes in the Constitution of the USA.

Will Brown said...

I think of the noted reaction to Dorner as the Zorro effect; a criminal who nonetheless fights against your perceived oppressor.

My concern is the extent this episode has made apparent just how fragile is the state of US civilization. If one man - arguably one not-very-well-prepared man - can demonstrably disrupt an entire portion of a state the size of California, what could an organized and prepared (read: well funded) small group do to even our largest states? A few pairs of shooters could easily target one victim a day around a state; if they were supported by a committee of correspondence effort located elsewhere, the effect might well be catastrophic. Imagine the national effect of such a campaign in a political swing state during an election year.

This is not a minor concern for a marginal issue and had damn-all to do with Dorner's atrocities really. The likely-seeming political over-reaction we can expect as a result can only make a bad situation worse. For all that Lawdog's (and your) point is entirely valid, it addresses what must be considered a secondary concern at this point IMO. While your viewpoint should be a large component of a corrective effort directed at government and policing in this country, we might want to reduce the apparent widespread support for insurrection first without managing to shoot more of ourselves in the process.

Dorner appears to have shot himself rather than burn to death in the house LAPD kept him trapped in and lit afire. That's a real problem, but people being apparently willing to support assassination of government employees and their families is a bigger concern, I think. The potential for this apparent feeling to be manipulated deliberately is a nightmare we have to prevent occurring if we have any hope of continuing to exist as a country.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on political campaigns every election cycle. Stop to consider what 10 million could do to any state's election process just by carefully preparing to follow the Dorner Model over the course of a political year.

BenC said...

I never rooted for Dorner but I also didnt hesitate to chastise those officers who decided to shoot innocent people because they were angry and/or scared. As far as I am concerned every officer on the LAPD who does not condemn those officers and do everything in their power, including making public statements against them and their behavior shares in some of the guilt.
If me or anyone else without a badge had done what they had done we would be arrested and prosecuted they get a paid vacation and qualified immunity.

trailbee said...

I believe that one of the reasons for the fan clubs and anti-Police attitude is that the entire event was the perfect computer game. Think about it. This is the sort of thing that kids have been playing for the last couple of years, and then along comes Chris Dorner and fulfills their every desire. Of course, he's the bad guy, and eventually has to be killed. It was pre-ordained, if you play computer games. Just saying.

Old surfer said...

What has happened with the LAPD, as well as just about all governmental organizations, is a perfect example of Pournelle's Iron Law

"In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely."

The LAPD is more concerned with its survival at all costs than fulfilling its original purpose.