Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Truth in a Cloaked World?

Image Source: Washington Times.

The manhunt for ex-LAPD cop Christopher Dorner intensifies. He allegedly killed the daughter of a former LAPD police captain, her fiance on 3 February 2013 and Riverside Officer Michael Crain last Thurday, 7 February 2013. The case is also spawning a very strange Internet phenomenon, with opposing Cyber-sides mirroring a profound moral confusion about rightful authority.

"Murdered: Monica Quan (right) and her fiance Keith Lawrence (left) were shot to death in their car outside their home in Irvine. Miss Quan was the daughter of the LAPD police captain who represented Dorner when he was fired." Image Source: Daily Mail.

The LAPD placed a $1 million bounty on Dorner's head and they are using a military drone to hunt him - a bizarre first in American history. The story started with a 2007 professional altercation in the LAPD, which moved from Internal Affairs into the courts, and ended with this internationally-watched shit storm. The story gets weirder and weirder. Hollywood star Charlie Sheen has stepped forward to mediate ...

Dorner. Image Source: Daily Mail.

Dorner, once honoured as a navy hero who found $8,000 of lost church money and handed it in, is equally well known for previous professional accolades and for his marksmanship. His manifesto is posted here, including some of the LAPD proceedings that led to his dismissal; the document was oddly published in two parts; the first part appeared on Dorner's Facebook page, the second part apparently did not, prompting conspiracy theorists to challenge the authorship of the second part.

The first part reads differently from the second. The first part details Dorner's problems at the LAPD, in which he accuses the department of endemic racism, expressed in an atmosphere of ironic political correctness. He argues that the officers involved in the Rodney King scandal from the 1990s have been promoted to positions of authority. He also claims he saw the "most vile things humans can inflict on others," not on the streets of Los Angeles, but inside the Los Angeles Police Department. He accuses officers of being callous and inhumane, perceiving dead victims at crime scenes merely as blocks of overtime pay, whose gruesome photos they trade, and whose deaths they translate directly into time, spent as extra money: "ATVs, Waverunners, RV's and new clothes for their kids."

Dorner states:
"I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me. ... You're going to see what a whistleblower can do when you take everything from him especially his NAME!!!"
This statement has appealed to anti-authority cultists on the Web, who equate suspicion and rejection of authority with liberty and a new moral code. The LAPD's critics claim Dorner's comments about the Los Angeles police force have some substance, although they of course agree that his murderous response is horrific. In his manifesto, Dorner turns on a dime from the speech of administrative complaint to absolute terrifying intention toward his intended victims on the police force:
"There will be an element of surprise where you work, live, eat, and sleep. ... I will utilize OSINT to discover your residences, spouses workplaces, and children's schools. ... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of partriots and tyrants. ... You will now live the life of the prey."
Profilers claim that Dorner is a narcissist, that this is not about problems in the LAPD (founded or not), but rather about a personal mythology Dorner concocted in his head about himself. Indeed, Dorner's apologists should consider that declaring the moral bankruptcy of our institutions and professions cannot be justified by killing sprees. To do so is to declare revolution.

Certainly, the second part of Dorner's manifesto reads like the diary of a narcissist. It is full of inconsistencies, wherein Dormer is in one breath discussing his arms cache, while he supports gun control in the next. He accuses NRA official and gun rights advocate Wayne LaPierre, who worried about the "influence of movies and the media" on an increasingly violent culture, of total hypocrisy. Be that as it may, Dorner feels he has the best solution for LaPierre: "may all your immediate and distant family die horrific deaths in front of you." Yet in a rambling address to celebrities that follows, Dorner betrays his interest in violent cultural media (although most people in contact with popular media today could be said to share the same interest). He enjoins female celebrities he admires never to compromise themselves, professionally or personally - after he thanks "the unnamed women I dated over my lifetime for the great and sometimes not so great sex."

Dorner speaks of suffering from severe depression, two concussions in his youth, racist attacks at school, authority figures who lied to him. It is a strange suicide tract, flip-flopping from laid-back chatter about his favourite celebrities (including Charlie Sheen) and music (Dave Brubeck's Take Five, which prompted a surge of searches on Youtube) to a blood-chilling hope for a notorious church congregation (which was crazily pacifist and homophobic):
"Westboro Baptist Chruch, may you all burn slowly in a fire, not from smoke inhalation, but from the flames and only the flames."
The cognitive dissonance inspired by this lunacy - raging (alleged) murderer on the one hand, laid-back guy with opinions about his favourite TV shows on the other - along with possibly real problems inside the LAPD, has created a situation where the police are being cast as villains on the Web.

Evil is good. Good is evil. This frightening moral confusion can directly relate to the public's unwillingness, in some quarters, to believe as truth anything except half-truths or untruths. In the midst of this, Dorner is seen by some as a folk hero, by others as a psychopath. Rational and moral confusion go hand in hand.

This moral reversal has been going on for awhile, and is sometimes tangled up with political and generational rhetoric. One of the first books I read that humanized and vindicated a criminal class was S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders (1967), set in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1965.

But the Web really accelerated this process. When people are flooded with online information, they find it difficult to locate authoritative voices which confirm what is truthful and what is not. More worryingly, that lack of authoritative voices makes people seek authority wherever they can find it. This pattern was recognized post 9/11 by marketers through the early 2000s. Conspiracy theories appeared around Dorner within hours of this story breaking on the Internet; theorists believe Dorner is innocent and being framed. Given the spotty history of the LAPD, the theorists can sound like they have a point, even if they do not.

"'Not Chris Dorner, please do not shoot' tee shirts saving the lives of black males across LA." Image Source.

To make matters worse, whatever the truth is about the LAPD, the separate momentum of discussion will create popular judgments which have nothing to do with the reality of this situation; those rhetorical constructs hold sway, regardless of what considered and sober understanding can be achieved of this case.

In his manifesto, Dorner mentioned Anonymous, the hacktivist group sometimes connected to, sometimes wholly disconnected from, WikiLeaks. Dorner writes:
"Anonymous, you are hated vilified, and considered an enemy to the state. I personally view you as a culture and a necessity that brings truth to a cloaked world."
And Anonymous responded on 11 February 2013 with a predictable sentiment:

"Hello, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department, we are anonymous.

As national headlines regarding the vigilante acts of former LAPD officer Christopher Jordan Dorner continue to intensify, we have decided amongst ourselves to pursue an appropriate recourse.

And so we watched with dread and utter hilarity as the LAPD began to pursue this man.

However the department has proven once more that it is incapable of serving the public, look no further than to the women who became LAPD’s most recent victims. The two were shot without warning and were not even given the chance to surrender simply because LAPD thinks they are above the law.

No one is above the law.

In coordination with federal authorities, the LAPD is now conducting a massive manhunt for The Dark Knight Christopher Dorner, so that they may effectively silence him forever without due process.

And now since the authorization of drones have been approved for the first time ever to pursue and execute an American citizen on United States Soil, the US Government will stage this event to set a new precedent from which it can assassinate American citizens for little to no reason at all.

But do not misinterpret us for we do not condone the vicious acts that Dorner has allegedly partaken in. Instead we sympathize and resonate with his struggle. Dorner was not born a killer he was a law abiding citizen that was tainted by the corrupt and inhumane practices of the Los Angeles Police Department who serve only themselves.

We however do not accept this fate, and call upon our brothers to raise arms against the LAPD, for justice and for the lulz we will rise to disrupt, dismantle and dissect all aspects of the manhunt whilst revealing the LAPD’s unwarranted hypocrisy.

We are hated, vilified, and like Dorner, considered to be enemies to the state. But there are those who whisper that we are culture and a necessity that bring truth to a cloaked world. In this spirit we will forge ahead and allow #OperationDorner to commence!"

Image Source: Twitter via LA Times.

Does this mean Anonymous intends to hack (or has hacked) the LAPD? And if so, what will they find? And if they publish documents, will those documents be real? Who are Anonymous, again? Debates on the Internet should be treated with increasing caution. The Web is a seductive mistress, posing as a bastion of unfettered liberty; however, Julian Assange recently maintained that it holds the sinister potential for becoming a seat of twisted tyranny. Should we take his word for it? The problem is that Netizens can barely recognize true information as such, and therefore increasingly cannot distinguish between freedom and oppression.

(Hat tip: Softpedia.)
Addendum: A second former LAPD officer has apparently posted another manifesto, here. (11 February 2013). 


  1. One literary note: "The Outsiders" recounted a criminal cabal within a criminal-IZED class at war with a criminal cabal within a beknighted class. One gang was protected from the repercussions of their actions by membership in a ruling class, while the underclass as a whole is punished for the actions of the gang within their ranks. Regarding either gang as a 'class' themselves is at the heart of what has made the LAPD so lethally dysfunctional for over a century.

  2. True, but I'm not making a historical point about historical reality of the gang not being actually representative of a whole class in society. Rather, I'm suggesting that due to cultural representations in which the villains were recast as heroes or anti-heroes, it became a common popular perception that the criminal gang was sympathetic and characterized the whole class, even if they did not in reality.

    The general point I was making above is that in post-WWII American popular culture, the conventionally expected antagonist was inverted to play the protagonist. Dramatic tension came out of that ambiguity, when former villain roles were presented to the audience as the conflicted, human, embattled, sympathetic or accessible characters. Cinematic examples that come immediately to mind of criminals as protagonists: The Godfather, The Usual Suspects, and The Town - the last one is a really slick example, cleverly engineered by Ben Affleck. On the other hand, in these and other films, some or all of the police are the villains, usually due to corruption, greed, or their love of violence: LA Confidential, the Riddick movies, the Dark Knight Rises, Strange Days. Of course there are many more.

    When popular story-telling presents this mixed-up picture, and reality partly bears that picture out, it can be difficult for people to see who is the villain and who is the hero any more, especially if you can't tell what the facts are. That was the point I was making.

  3. the title of this post is appropriate.

    wherever the truth is withheld, rumors abound.
    humans always search for reasons why, and in the absence of a truthful answer,
    one (or several) is invariably made up.

    i'll admit that this case has totally confused me and i don't accept the official story.
    neither do i accept most of the alternate theories.

    'anonymous' is way too wily for me to support -- they could be anybody.

    actually, i usually publish my comments under 'anonymous', because i don't want
    to go through my email account. so i'm obliged to be 'anonymous' as well.

    crazy old world.

    warm regards,

    1. Hi Pamela, yes this was why I posted the piece about Mickey Rourke falling victim to a death hoax today (12 Feb 2013). News sites can look authoritative, but can be false fronts, and this is happening more and more on the Web. (That's not even touching on concerns about partiality in the recognized MSM outlets.) A good example is RT which hires American and British anchors and journalists, but is a mouthpiece of the Russian foreign ministry and targets the curious on the Web, who think it is an American or British news outlet of some kind. RT = Russia Today. Occasionally they have cruious information, but really when Assange started working for them, I thought things were getting very odd. This Dorner case also does not sit right. The Internet depends on trust in authority of the person presenting the information. Unfortunately, it is a medium where anyone could be on the other end of the data and people should be cautious about believing what they read.

  4. Anonymity is the most direct way to erase irrelevant information that clouds communication: that of authorship, which is used far more often to unfairly discredit arguments than it is to verify credibility (based on the highly problematic concept of individual authority).

    Also, I'm sure that you know that the spread of folk wisdom anonymously is nothing new and is, in fact, humanity's default setting.


    1. With your permission, I'd like to quote your comment and write a post around it, if that suits. It is a topic in itself. I won't get to it til spring, though. Let me know.

      You make an excellent point, Paul. I agree that anonymity frees the author; this would lead to (and has led online) to greater public trust in anonymous authors.

      However, I was pointing more at those with power and political or strategic aims who would exploit that trust to their own ends. If the Web is a refuge for anti-establishment voices (including a lot of misinformed weirdness) it is conceivable that said establishment (however one defines it) could publish anonymously online to exploit trust in the medium to serve the ends of corporate interests or Realpolitik (as is nearly the case with RT).

      Also unsettling is the separate idea that the problem may not come from where everyone expects it - from the so-called establishment, and rather from new groups which will form new power bases and new institutions. I have already noted that Anonymous uses ominous language when it comes to setting up hackers as judge and jury of individuals, groups, government agencies, corporations, businesses and so on. Here's the thing: how do we know that computer hackers have a superior grasp of government, morality, business, truth, history, society, culture, law etc. etc. etc. I've read their commentaries on various issues, and they don't come always understand what they are talking about. Their moral outrage is often facile; their opinions about politics and the world are sophomoric.

      Granted, 'they' is a nebulous concept since they aren't really a unified voice. But as ill-informed as some of them are, they are very quick to appoint themselves - simply because they can - as much more than Robin Hoods defending the public on the Web. In some cases, their tone is ambitious and proto-tyrannical. Worst case scenario, when the opportunity presents itself, I imagine a team up between pro-establishment trolls and shills and anti-establishment hackers. This won't necessarily happen, but I'm not eager to trade one dystopic malfunctioning hierarchy for another that is virtual and founded on reverse accountability.

      In short, I agree with the basic idea about anonymous authorship; but I think that not all anonymous authors can be assumed to be expressing greater truth because they feel no longer beholden to limiting social expectations.