ven with a $1 million-plus bounty hanging over his head, alleged California killer Christopher Dorner is still on the lam. To its credit, the Los Angeles Police Department has re-opened the case that led to Dorner's firing — and his alleged vengeance trip — but judging by the LAPD's shoot-first, verify-later spree of open-firing at the wrong people, Dorner has reason to fear he'll never get his day in court, says Matt Pressberg at the USC Annenberg journalism school's Neon Tommy. That should worry all of us. Due process "is not only a bedrock constitutional principle (Fifth Amendment) in this country, but one of the key underpinnings of freedom period." And if our government "can simply be the executioner and disregard judge and jury" — be it for Dorner or Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S-born al Qaeda operative killed by a drone in Yemen, followed soon after by his American son — "individual rights effectively don't exist." An excerpt:
As an American citizen accused of a crime, Chris Dorner has his Fifth Amendment rights. The facts on the ground don't make it seem as if LAPD was all too interested in respecting them.... Alleged is not just a term journalists need to use to avoid the ire of a cautious editor. It's part of civilized-world jurisprudence. But now it seems like Americans have little use for alleged criminals who need to be brought to justice. Their attention is on terrorist madmen who must be stopped before they murder our children, and if innocent people get killed in the process — well, it's a dangerous world and we can't take chances.
Chris Dorner... is a dangerous guy with nothing to lose and it's not unfair to call him a domestic terrorist, as LAPD Chief Charlie Beck did. However, just because he's a terrorist, it doesn't mean he can be summarily executed, whether he's in Yucaipa or Yemen. The media bears some responsibility for our tolerance of Big Armed Brother. Scary stories get eyeballs, and when the news oversamples these rare events, people think the world is a much more frightening place than it really is and are more willing to submit to invasions of their privacy to calm their intentionally stoked fears. To paraphrase one of the people behind the Constitution, people willing to give up liberty for the feeling of security deserve the TSA.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Sorry Belle Knox, porn still oppresses women
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Watch The Daily Show mock Fox News' confused man-crush on Vladimir Putin
- Religious liberty should be a liberal value, too
- Don't worry: World War III will almost certainly never happen
- Why states should stop limiting the alcohol content in your beer
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2014
Subscribe to the Week