Saturday, July 11, 2009

My American Crime Column: Dillinger Was A Vicious and Murdering Criminal, Not a Folk Hero

With Michael Mann's film Public Enemies out this summer I've read a good number of pieces on the film and I've become cross at the good number of times that John Dillinger has been described as a folk hero.
As a life-long student of crime and a writer who has covered crime for more than 20 years, I will admit that Dillinger was, and is, an interesting character.

But to adore or admire this self-centered, vicious, calculating and murdering sociopath is quite another matter.

As I note in my Crime Beat column, Dillinger and his gang killed 10 men, including police officers, during his short-lived crime spree.

He also terrorized countless people who were on the scene of his many robberies and shoot-outs with the police.

One of his first crimes involved the bashing in the head of a family friend in a botched robbery. He would have killed the man if his gun functioned properly.

Is this an admirable act?

Is murdering police officers an adorable act?

One can say that this was only a movie, but it is a sad commentary that many people know history only from movies.

If you would like to read more about the real Dillinger, you can read my columns at:  

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