Fire a narcissist at the risk of firing up his imagination. Pride remains one of the seven deadly sins, as much as we try to cast the ancient vice as a modern virtue.
The Los Angeles Police Department didn’t fire Christopher Dorner for falsifying a report against a fellow officer or for being an all-around fruit loop. A grandiose figure always sees something enormously sinister in his fall. So Dorner wrote in his manifesto — merely penning one signifies egomania —of his fight to “reclaim my name” and “the conspiracy to have me terminated.” That conspiracy, ultimately ensnaring Los Angeles policemen, San Bernardino County sheriffs, California Fish and Game wardens, and other law enforcement agents, ended with Dorner’s termination in the mountains on Tuesday.
There are worse fates than getting fired. Getting set on fire surely ranks as one of them.
Pride comes before the fall. It did here in the form of Dorner’s lengthy screed ironically extolling gun control and bestowing affirmation upon celebrities who needed it, and wanted it, the least. One gleans from reading the manifesto that Dorner worshipped the idiots on the idiot box and yearned to become one of them.
“Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien, Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera, Tavis Smiley, and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite’s lead,” Dorner advised. “I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings.” They must be so flattered.
“Ellen Degeneres, continue your excellent contribution to entertaining America and bringing the human factor to entertainment. You changed the perception of your gay community and how we as Americans view the LGBT community. I congratulate you on your success,” offered the mass murderer.
“Tebow, I really wanted to see you take charge of an offense again and the game,” Dorner proclaimed. “You are not a good QB by todays standards, but you are a great football player who knows how to lead a team and WIN. You will be ‘Tebowing’ when you reach your next team. I have faith in you.”
I. I. I.
¡Ay, ay, ay!
He watched too much television. He longed to be watched on television. He made a break from on the couch to inside the television in the easiest way possible. He killed—not informed or entertained—other people.
If his imaginary friendships with celebrities didn’t convict Mr. Dorner of delusions of self-importance, then decades-old vendettas did. “Mr. ____, assistant principal,” he wrote. “Remember when you lied to my mother and the police officer in your office about stating that you never stated to me in a private conversation that you know the theft suspect (____) stole my watch. Let me refresh your memory.” About the watch clipped from your locker or your bizarre personality tic?
The stale grudge against the vice-principal makes the five-year grudge against the police seem fresh in comparison. Arrogance and bitterness make familiar bedfellows. Presumptions of our own infallibility obstruct forgiveness of the faults of others. Perfect can’t empathize with imperfect. Not only couldn’t Christopher Dorner let go, he felt compelled to write it all down so that his grievances would live when he didn’t.
Actions, of course, speak louder than words. Taking lives in revenge for losing your reputation requires unfathomable conceit. It imagines one’s status as of greater value than another’s existence. A deficit of self-awareness curses those with an excess of self-esteem. People who stare in the mirror look long but never deep.
When you’re such a huge fan of yourself, you can’t help but inspire a few imitators. After gunning down a married couple unknown to him, kidnapping two maids, and firing upon numerous peace officers, Dorner inspired admirers to maintain that law enforcement engaged in “cold-blooded murder” in taking their cold-blooded-murdering hero dead rather than alive. “Apparently burning people alive is now considered appropriate behavior for the police,” one member of the fan club, despising the California cops nearly as much as the Oxford comma, tweeted. “Judge, jury and executioner.”
Alas, one determined to go out in a blaze of vainglory usually does. Dorner’s cheering section decries that his body endured a few minutes in a conflagration. What about his soul? Christopher, rejecting himself as a “Christ bearer” in his manifesto, instead imagined himself as the higher power. Dethroning God necessarily precludes playing Him.
Christopher Dorner, victim of too much time genuflecting in front of a television set, missed one important message: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”