Of course, killing the daughter of your enemy is a barbaric act, with no moral or legal justification. For that matter, setting out to kill anyone is wrong, or at least so fraught with cloudy moral calculation that it should be avoided, pretty much at all costs.
The problem is, we don’t really believe either of those things. We collectively kill all the time, under claim of right, through the actions of our government both here and elsewhere. We say one thing and do another. It isn’t nuts to notice; it’s nuts not to.
It should not be surprising at all that the Dorner episode resonates among the disaffected. Declaring war and identifying your targets in advance has an air of honor to it. It’s still wrong, but it’s not the same as the sick, random murderous rampages we have seen too much of in recent months.
Comparisons to, say, Ted Bundy are unjust, odious, intellectually dishonest and a disservice to the truth. There are meaningful distinctions to be made, and they should be made. Telling the man whose truck he was hijacking: “I don’t want to hurt you, take your dog and walk away.” distinguishes Dorner from the purely maniacal and sadistic, and glossing over that is a form of lying.
But the media are not “truth vigilantes”, they just spin it in their usual fashion. One wonders if they will ever tire of referring to any written explanation by some high profile but officially unapproved killer as “rambling” or a “rant”, adjectives that could just as easily be directed at the State of the Union Address but never are.
The reporting of these kinds of events is so heavy-handedly skewed in exactly the same way, every single time, that the reporting itself has become part of the narrative of these events. It would be tiresome, except for the tragedy that real people are suffering real harm and even getting really, really killed.
That, and also that it helps set the stage for the next one. Because for even remotely thoughtful people, the hyper-spinning of such events precisely so as to take serious moral reasoning off the table is transparent. What occurs in the end is the very unsatisfying result that those with superior manpower and weaponry prevail, tell the story they want told and all official mouthpieces go along. Dissent is not permitted. The truth of the matter counts for nothing.
In other words, the episode has been a grotesque exercise in power worship both by Dorner and by the official response, which included deliberately incinerating Dorner in the end, and then lying about that. The two sides have been almost morally indistinguishable in the willingness to use violence to prevail.
But in truth telling, the edge would definitely go to Dorner.
The next monster has probably already taken note: it’s all about who has power over whom. That’s what we are teaching, and we reap what we sow.
Update: Indeed, the LAPD now figures to welch on the supposed reward money. Are they actually trying to make their late and erstwhile nemesis look comparatively good?