The LAPD is hunting Frank CastleFebruary 12th, 2013
The LAPD and associated forces are currently conducting the largest organized manhunt in LA history. The search now spans four States, California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. The suspect is former LAPD officer and ex-US Navy reservist, Christopher Dorner who has declared “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” on the LAPD, their families, and any associated agencies who assist the officers he refers to as “enemy combatants.” He has already left three dead and two others wounded who were either law enforcement officers or their families. In response, the LAPD has abandoned all restraint and discretion. In two separate incidents police have opened fire on innocent civilians who were completely unrelated to the manhunt, because they happened to be in a pickup truck that matched the description of Dorner’s vehicle. Police even rammed one vehicle and drove it off the road. It wasn’t even the right color.
In all this insanity I can’t help but feel like I’m reading about a live action reenactment of an episode in the life of Frank Castle, the sociopathic antihero known as The Punisher.
In 1974 The Punisher broke many of the conventions that comic books adhered to. He was not merely a vigilante, as all superheroes are fundamentally. He was a character as brutal and deranged as the villains he fought. He utilized torture, caused collateral damage, and even engaged in kidnapping, extortion and blackmail. He was not a hero because he was wholesome, but because he was more terrifying than his enemies, which was unprecedented in the comic genre.
Comic writer Steven Grant once noted:
“Heidegger (a German existentialist philosopher) comes closest to describing The Punisher: ‘Since we can never hope to understand why we’re here, if there’s even anything to understand, the individual should choose a goal and pursue it wholeheartedly, despite the certainty of death and the meaninglessness of action.’ That’s sure The Punisher as I conceived him: a man who knows he’s going to die and who knows in the big picture his actions will count for nothing, but who pursues his course because this is what he has chosen to do.”
Comic writer Garth Ennis wrote that The Punisher, “sees the world in very black and white terms. He solves his problems with utter finality, and his response to any problem is to hit back hard.” These descriptions echo how Dorner describes himself in his now infamous manifesto. Consider these excerpts:
“Self Preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago.”
“I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me. I lived a good life and though not a religious man I always stuck to my own personal code of ethics.”
“You can not prevail against an enemy combatant who has no fear of death. An enemy who embraces death is a lose-lose situation.”
These could easily be statements uttered by Frank Castle, both men of intense personal integrity engaged in a suicidal vendetta against those who wronged them.
Both Dorner and Castle were transformed into killing machines by the military. Frank Castle is a veteran of the Vietnam War with multi-disciplinary military training from the US Marines and numerous other agencies. He utilizes a wide range of military training, stealth tactics, guerrilla warfare, and weapons training in his personal crusade against New York crime and corruption. Similarly, Dorner is a highly decorated soldier, and in his manifesto he writes:
“Hopefully your analyst have done your homework. You are aware that I have always been the top shot, highest score, an expert in rifle qualifications in every unit I’ve been in. I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance, and survival training I’ve been given. Do you know why we are unsuccessful in asymmetrical and guerrilla warfare? … They embrace death as it is a way of life. I simply don’t fear it. I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.”
Frank Castle’s obsession with vengeance is triggered when his wife is murdered by the mob, but when he discovers how deep the corruption runs he doesn’t hesitate to take on the NYPD. Dorner lost his wife in 2007 to divorce, not murder, but he’s still an involuntary bachelor. His obsession with vengeance was triggered by his wrongful termination after he filed a report on the excessive force used by fellow officer, Teresa Evans, breaking the Thin Blue Line. Dorner accused Evans of kicking a suspect in the face who was handcuffed and lying on the ground. He writes:
“The LAPD’s actions have cost me my law enforcement career… They cost me my Naval career… I had a TS/SCI clearance(Top Secret Sensitive Compartmentalized Information clearance) up until shortly after my termination with LAPD. This is the highest clearance a service member can attain other than a Yankee White TS/SCI which is only granted for those working with and around the President/Vice President of the United States. I lost my position as a Commanding Officer of a Naval Security Forces reserve unit at NAS Fallon because of the LAPD. I’ve lost a relationship with my mother and sister because of the LAPD. I’ve lost a relationship with close friends because of the LAPD. In essence, I’ve lost everything because the LAPD took my name and knew I was INNOCENT!!!”
Like Castle, Dorner is dangerous because he has already lost everything, and rightly or wrongly he blames the LAPD. Like Castle, Dorner begins as a patriot, as a true believer in the system he is part of and trained by. But he suffers some kind of psychotic break when confronted with the reality of that system. Castle evades detection by constantly changing safe-houses and vehicles around the greater New York City area. He even utilizes multiple forged identities and bank accounts. There is no reason Dorner couldn’t utilize similar tactics to remain at large for a long time.
After reading the entire manifesto, here is the most important part:
“I’ll be waiting for a PUBLIC response at a press conference. When the truth comes out, the killing stops.”
“The attacks will stop when the department states the truth about my innocence, PUBLICLY!!!”
Dorner’s only demand is that the LAPD admit that they fired him for breaking the Thin Blue Line. This could all be over tomorrow and all it would cost is the careers of a few corrupt officers.
I’ve heard it said that all good fiction is the working out of a premise. The Punisher is fundamentally working out the premise that an individual vigilante is conducting himself by the same ethical standard as the State. He was created by the State, and fundamentally he behaves like the State, achieving his ends by any means necessary, no matter the cost in innocent lives. Dorner’s killing spree is the working out the same premise… except it’s not fiction.
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