If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law
Ta-Nehisi recently wrote a post in which he boggled:
In my twitter (and maybe in yours) and around the web, I keep hearing what I can only call an attempt to redeem Christopher Dorner’s murderous rampage.
The phenomenon he’s describing is one that, yep, I’ve experienced too. (The attached picture is one that showed up in one of my circles.) What surprises me, however, is that it seems like I’ve encountered a *LOT* of folks who gave vague little “well, you have to understand…” disclaimers before they explained that while they certainly don’t *APPROVE* of Dorner’s murderous rampage, they have sympathy for this, or that, or the other little nugget of crazy in the manifesto Dorner wrote before he went on to murder Keith Lawrence and Monica Quan.
What surprises me is not that these things are out there being said (I mean, you can find little nuggets of crazy anywhere on the internet) but it seems to me like there is a lot more arguing against these nuggets of crazy than there used to be. I mean, when I was a kid, N.W.A. came out with their catchy little ditty in 1988 and the arguments against it were arguments were of the nature of art, authenticity in experiences, so on and so forth. The arguments over the song had nothing to do with whether the speakers agreed with the song (because, of course!, the assumption was that everybody would disagree with it) but with art and censorship. The fundamental assumptions with regards to the standing of the police were not being questioned by the folks involved in the debate.
The arguments taking place about Dorner seem to be significantly different. They seem to be of the form “look, he’s killing innocent bystanders!”… which, quite honestly, makes me wonder what debate would be taking place had Dorner only killed Police Officers.
This morning, I came across a link to the Washington Post that dealt with the question “Are we in the end times of trust in government?” and showed how, in the 60’s, trust in the government was north of 70%. In the teens? 26%. (And, by point of contrast, in 1988, it looks like it was around 45%).
There is a lot more contempt of the law out there than there used to be and, what surprises me, in circles that didn’t used to hold it. If nothing else, it’s much more socially acceptable to come out and say things that, once upon a time, were only said on Rap Albums that, to be sure, one didn’t agree with but it is an authentic representation of a particular experience for a particular sub-culture and so on.
The response of the LAPD to Dorner was a response that only increased contempt for the LAPD and sympathy for what Dorner said he was doing (as opposed, of course, to what he actually *DID*). I worry that this change in the attitudes that many circles out there feel safe expressing in public is the herald of some big *SOMETHING* coming. This doesn’t strike me as sustainable.