Christopher Dorner and Thomas Jane Ball
I noticed how much things had changed when I started hearing conservative white business executives in their sixties talking about the police in a manner all but indistinguishable from NWA. Something is wrong, something is deeply and structurally wrong, when the mere fact of being involved in the law enforcement system at any level is enough to engender contempt in the eyes of those who are upstanding, law-abiding citizens.
This has long been a point of tension among people who lean right. You can find your gruffest most conservative older white guy and he’ll probably not be all too kind to the police. And it should be mentioned here that Dorner himself isn’t actually even a critic of the system though those that are critical of the system are treating him like St. Orenthal. Dorner wanted to be a cop, and he went on tilt only after that was taken from him. Surely he’d heard about Rodney King, yet he signed up to work for this supposedly racist outfit? He claims to have witnessed a female officer kick a helpless suspect in the chest. Dorner didn’t quit the force in protest; he wanted to stay on. He fought in a war in which the United States caused much collateral damage both in terms of material destruction and the killing of innocent civilians. Dorner was cool with all that just as long as he was kept in the club. His supporters don’t mention this because it implicates him as a willing participant in something that you’d figure they oppose. Instead they cheer him on like he’s driving a white Bronco.
Conservatives who didn’t come to their bent via the military or good corporate stoogery have no great love for the police. What they do have is a fundamental respect for social order. Cops are the recipients of the residual respect that drips from the desire for social order. The two should not be confused. Somebody has to do that work for the sake of society. What the right seems to get that the left does not is that such a system is imperfect. There is an acceptance that the maintenance of order is not a smooth process.
The hypocrisy of leftist cheerleaders reminds me of the hypocrisy of the media who are sympathetic of Dorner but cast Thomas Jane Ball as some sort of violent lunatic. If you’ll remember, Ball was the New Hampshire man who immolated himself after a long custody dispute. Both wrote manifestos, yet Ball only killed himself whereas Dorner is still alive and has killed innocent people. Ball was only a hero to a marginalized set of bloggers and web commenters; Dorner received a mixed amount of sympathy from the New York Times and he is an internet sensation with a large contingent of supporters. Did Ball make a mistake by not killing a few people only very loosely associated with his court proceedings? Or is it just that the narrative-crafters can only criticize abused power when it occurs through ‘patriarchal’ channels such as the police or military? The criminal courts can be the focus of criticism, yet the base assumption is that they are inherently good. Of all the various types of courts, the family courts are considered to be “on the right side”. It is this automatic assumption – one that no other court benefits from – that turns that particular system into a gigantic Chinese finger trap.
We cannot ignore the possibility that these two cases have received such different responses for the usual reason: race. We can’t ignore that Chris Dorner is receiving the Trayvon Treatment. A montage of pictures which show a sweet smiling face compared to the anonymity of Thomas Jane Ball (not that he even made the news in the first place). I always hate to go here because it is impossible to prove, but it’s hard to believe that a white rogue cop would have received the sympathy that Dorner has received. The modern white man’s burden is that the middle-aged white man is considered to be constitutionally and irrationally angry. Tea Partiers are irrational and angry and have no legitimate grievances. Black men whose social complaints reach the level of the mass media are granted at least a spark of benefit of the doubt.