A Broken Machine (ellgato) wrote,
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Criminal Heroism

This morning I woke up with a song about D.B. Cooper stuck in my head. It set me to thinking.

The FBI put out that sketch when the hijacking happened, and they put out another one decades later that showed him aged. Aged and sad-faced. They printed the drawings side by side, and it was all as if to say: O you who think you have escaped Our wrath-- behold! Time sours the fruits of your labor. Time itself does Our bidding.

Sure, D.B. Cooper was a terrorist with no purpose higher than his own selfish gain. But D.B. Cooper is the hero of the song, and he's my hero too. So is Marvin Heemeyer, a man who destroyed 13 buildings all out of spite and revenge. So are some other criminals whose causes didn't necessarily extend beyond themselves. Why?

Maybe it would be different if they had killed anybody, and different if they'd been caught. It would even have been different if they'd been serving something bigger than themselves. But as it was, they were American in the best and truest sense of that word. They were just two guys who believed in themselves as individuals in a way that we're told never to do-- and all the violence they committed did far less to harm any other human being than it did to prove that they were free.

Don't get me wrong, I love the law. I think the social contract is a great thing. But it's consensual, and it's put down on us as if it's not-- and seeing it so ingeniously and triumphantly violated, and being reminded of what it is and what we are within it, is worth a million times anything taken from the likes of us by the likes of D.B. Cooper.

That's the kind of hero I want to be.

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