Americans tend to have an fascination with unlikely heroes. Robin Hood. Bonnie and Clyde. The list goes on.
Yet, one real-life renegade is garnering the support of people all across the country.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this past week, it’s safe to say you’ve become at least acquainted with ex-LA cop Christopher Dorner’s story. He has become larger than life since leading cat-and-mouse game with police following his alleged murder of a former police chief’s daughter and her fiance. Developments in the story took center stage on Tuesday night, arguably diverting attention away from Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address since the start of his second term. Who gets a split screen on a 24-hr news show during a presidential address?
The only thing more fascinating than what we still don’t know about the fiasco is how people are responding to it online. One question CNN’s Anderson Cooper posed during Wednesday ‘360’ broadcast is surely on the minds of many. Why are so many taking to social media to profess their support for the officer on-the-run?
There might be more than a few answers to that question. But, there are a few explanations that stand out.
Perhaps the biggest reason behind the wave of advocacy is that people have limited information about what’s really going on. It seems that all we’ve heard on television are reports of how ‘sick’, ‘deranged’, ‘crazy’, and ‘vindictive’ Christopher Dorner is. But, how can someone who allegedly possesses such traits manage to make it onto the LAPD police force, plot an elaborate scheme of revenge following his dismissal, and elude an entire task force while on the run for six days? It just doesn’t make sense.
There also exists skepticism about Dorner’s true motives. No one would endorse murder, especially of innocent people. Yet, one thing is for sure. The media has failed to give viewers a clear picture of what’s behind the ex-LA cop’s rage. After all, a person doesn’t just wake up, roll out of bed, and decide to go on a killing spree.
Adding mischief to mayhem is that many people don’t believe the hype. The media continues to saturate its viewers with a demonizing portrayal of Dorner. If you’ve been watching national news over the past couple of days, you might believe Satan himself had been discovered barricaded in a Big Bear Lake cabin in California. How is it that a young man can walk into an elementary school and gun down 20 innocent six-year old students, yet media outlets refuse to use his name, discuss his motives, or even directly attribute his actions to the crime. It’s almost as if an invisible man is to blame for the Sandy Hook tragedy. The apparent sworn secrecy when it concerns Adam Lanza eerily mimics that of the individual responsible for the Aurora, Co. theater shooting. What’s his name again? That’s right, James Holmes. It took just a brief moment to ‘google’ the answer. Not quite the case for Dorner. We’ve seen enough pictures and heard enough first-hand stories to last a lifetime. Between the recurrent appearances of a former LAPD police chief and Wednesday’s press conference with his alleged cabin hostages, we get the picture. He’s a pretty bad dude. Right?
Finally, and perhaps, the most significant reason for people’s rallying behind Dorner is the little that we do know. We may not have the full story, but a few keywords strike spectators so strongly that their minds are made up. The perception of the Los Angeles Police Department is a force in and of itself. A unit marked by controversies like the Rodney King beating, to name a few, is sure to fail to appeal to the approval of minorities. They are not alone in their sentiments. We live in a society whereby more people than ever are embracing our nation’s diverse cultural fabric. Blunt and open discrimination, for any reason, just doesn’t cut it for most folks.
The swelling disfavor of the LAPD’s treatment of persons of color prompts people to ask, ‘why did Dorner really lose his job?’ While many do not approve of him taking matters into his own hands, they sympathize with what might have pushed him to that point.
Recent developments in the story only complicate the matter. Without even a positive identification of what’s believed to be his body, skepticism surrounds Dorner’s possible final moments. Did police start the fire that burned down his hideaway cabin? If so, why couldn’t they have taken him alive?
There’s an old saying, ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’. The media and officials directly related to the situation aren’t exactly looking like the most trustworthy of pals. Until that changes, we can expect to continue to see #teamdorner trending across the internet.