Christopher Dorner Manifesto: How He Struggled to Separate the Ideal World From Reality

Editor's Note: A incorrect photo of Christopher Dorner originally appeared on this article. We apologize for any confusion.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Christopher Dorner was one sick individual. Now he is dead. This is not surprising, after he wrote such a long, tedious suicide note. In it (see below), he stated “Self Preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago on 1/2/09.” Maybe, but he didn’t end up shooting himself until 2/12/13.

Unlike most lone gunman — Adam Lanza comes to mind — we know precisely why Dorner did what he did. It is shocking, but hardly surprising coming from someone so neurotic. What makes Dorner different from the rest of the armed loons of the world is that before he penned his weird screed on Facebook, his biography did not seem like that of a prototypical lunatic.

The man who shot himself last week was in uniform (as a Navy reservist) less than two weeks before that. Dorner’s penned rant was meant to establish him as a “man of integrity.” From his own perspective, he was perfectly normal — the avatar of what a law enforcement officer ought to be. It was everyone else who was wrong. But what the manifesto actually reveals is an individual so tortured by his desire to follow every rule that he imposed upon himself that he inevitably snapped.

To read Dorner’s manifesto is to read a long chronicle of episodes that might be summarized as “He said ... she said ... but I say ....” I do not know the truth of any of Dorner’s claims. I do not particularly want to know. However he was wronged by the Los Angeles Police Department, it could not have justified the shooting of a couple who had nothing to do with the department and police officers whom he had never met.

It is obvious that the manifesto and the actions of Dorner say more about him than they do about the LAPD; it is not that his manifesto speaks volumes about him, it is what volumes it speaks. Daniel Flynn writes in the American Spectator about how the manifesto reveals Dorner as a product of the age: An egoist who watched too much television and had too many fake friendships with celebrities like Anderson Cooper and Ellen Degeneres.

This is all true, but the manifesto also reveals a mind which could not cope with the distance between the ideals institutions were meant to represent and how they actually worked in practice. Any sane person who has worked in a government bureaucracy knows that there are disappointments as well as rewards; that every bureaucracy — from the mail office to the police station — is composed of people. And people, sometimes from bias or laziness or procrastination or ignorance, make a lot of mistakes.  

Unfortunately, Christopher Dorner does not appear to have been aware of this. Instead, he saw himself as being victimized by an inhuman “system” which is no doubt why he saw everyone, from a civilian couple to two police officers on patrol, as equally complicit and as deserving of death as the police officers he inveighed against in his manifesto. He may have wanted to be a martyr (and to some utterly misinformed people, he was one), but, however victimized he felt, his victims prove that no one was more guilty than he was. 

Dorner Manifesto FULL TEXT


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James Banks

is a Rochester-based writer. He is a former contributor to "The American Interest" Online and has written for "The Weekly Standard," "The Intercollegiate Review" and other publications. He works in web communications and is a doctoral student at the University of Rochester.

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