The Campaign Spot

The Rage That Fueled Dorner, and Occupy

Brandon Darby notices that:

Occupy Los Angeles has chosen to honor Chris Dorner in the wake of his death, despite the body count he apparently amassed. . . . The statement of support and solidarity was posted on the Occupy Los Angeles’ official Facebook page Wednesday. The statement came in the form of a posted picture captioned with the phrases “Rest In Power Chris Dorner” and “Assassinated By The Police for Trying To Expose LAPD Corruption.”

This affirms the theme in today’s Morning Jolt:

What Drove People to Identify With and Root For Christopher Dorner?

What’s going on with this strange cult of personality that sprung up around Christopher Dorner, the former LAPD officer who went on a killing spree? Why are a small but vocal group of people self-identifying as “Team Dorner”? Dennis Prager argues that this is perhaps even more horrific than the Sandy Hook kindergarten shooting, because after that, nobody was twisted enough to argue that the shooter was the hero of the story.

Shock value? A yearning for attention? Clearly, there’s no cost or consequence to saying ridiculous, shocking, or offensive things on Twitter and other social media. You can say, “I hate oatmeal, oatmeal is the work of the devil, all producers and consumers of oatmeal should be rounded up into camps and exterminated” and no one will blink.

Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks:

Before any of us board the “folk hero” train, we ought to remember that Dorner is charged with murder in the death of a Riverside police officer and suspected of killing a young Irvine couple. The young woman, Monica Quan, was the daughter of a retired LAPD officer who was targeted for revenge by Dorner.

Still, Dorner’s lengthy online manifesto left me with a lump in my throat. It is alternately frightening, painful, funny, smart and terribly disconcerting.

He lays out his grievances against the LAPD in excruciating detail. He lost his job and his dignity, he says, because of cowards, racists and liars.

But he goes further, giving us a peek at the man behind the violence and threats. He backed John Huntsman for president, but likes Michelle Obama’s bangs. He admires Ellen DeGeneres and Charlie Sheen, Tim Tebow and Colin Powell. He remembers the first time he was called [the n-word]. He fought back, in first grade, and was punished for it.

He plays on themes that resonate in many people’s lives: social isolation, workplace slights, the feeling of being marginalized. And he validates those who mistrust law enforcement with his diatribes.

A sort of kinship was clear in online comments from readers, like the mother whose sons are “harassed” by cops, and the guy “railroaded” out of a job he loved.

If you read the manifesto of a guy who (allegedly, but who are we kidding?) murdered three people, and your primary reaction is, “Hey, he felt marginalized and slighted in the workplace, and so do I! We’re kindred spirits, the two of us!” you’ve managed to miss the point on a scale best measured by astronomers. To look at the horrors going on out in Los Angeles and feel sympathy for Dorner’s workplace grievances is an amazing ability to empathize with precisely the wrong person in these circumstances.

Am I crazy for sensing a general overlap between the Dorner’s-a-hero crowd and the Occupy Wall Street crowd?

You’ll have to forgive me here; at this point I’d like to cite a report I read that put together a psychological profile of the leaders and rank-and-file of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but for some reason, it has completely disappeared. I’ve Googled like mad and been unable to find it. So, feel free to take the following with a grain of salt, since I’m describing something I read probably a year ago and can’t find now; if you happen to know who wrote this and have a link, please send it along.

The report said that your average member of Occupy Wall Street sleeping in a tent somewhere was primarily driven by a need for a sense of community. Yes, they had passionate beliefs about the economy and fairness and opportunity and the ills of society and so on, but that generally, what kept them staying in those leaky tents night after night as the weather chilled was a sense of being part of something greater, a sense of connection with all the other folks around them. For whatever reason, these folks had found the other, traditional forms of connection — family, neighbors, friends, religious groups — lacking, but in Occupy they had found what they felt they needed.

The leaders were a different story. The leaders weren’t driven by a need for connection; the leaders were sitting on a massive psychological stockpile of rage. They were consumed by grievances by a society that they believed had ignored their obvious genius and talents, believed that every corner of modern American society shared in the guilt for the injustice against them, and were ready to lash out, oftentimes violently, against those who they deemed their enemies. They found leadership of the Occupy movement thrilling and invigorating, and saw it as an opportunity to settle the scores against a world that had done them wrong. Frightening stuff.

Look, we’ve always had murderous people among us, we’ve always had the insane, and we’ve always had those who would see their encounters with standard-issue hardships of life (or worse) and see some grand, cosmic injustice that must be avenged. But it does feel like the ranks of those folks are growing, doesn’t it?

Perhaps it’s a reflection of the well-intended “you are a special snowflake” message of parenting in the past two decades or so. (I say well-intended because to a parent, their child IS a special snowflake.) Young people go through their childhood and teen years, believing that they are uniquely gifted and talented and wonderful and believing that their adult life will be one fabulous victory and success after another. And then at some point they depart the protected simulation of life that is childhood/high school/college . . . and the real world just kicks them in the crotch again and again. (This is a bit of what Adam Carolla talked about in his rant about Occupy Wall Street.) And so instead of concluding, “Oh, achieving my dream is going to be a lot harder than I thought, I had better redouble my efforts,” they deflect the hard truth of responsibility and conclude that somebody else, somebody out there — society — is to blame. They can take no joy in anyone else’s success, because that just reminds them of their own failure to achieve what they had envisioned all of their lives. And their attitudes quickly become one more obstacle — short-tempered, incapable of taking responsibility, quick to blame others, perhaps paranoid, concluding others are out to sabotage them.

And that resentment and anger curdles and boils until one day they find themselves rooting for the homicidal maniac instead of the folks trying to stop the homicidal maniac.

Having now depressed the heck out of you, let me offer this cherry on top of this sundae of grim: What if the next person who feels this way, who sees Dorner as a Robin Hood hero type, etc., decides to play the part to the fullest and decides to constantly update us all on his horrific exploits by uploading new manifestos, videos, and so on?

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