This situation in Colorado has affected me a bit more than I thought it would. Granted, it’s hundreds of miles away from me, and there’s really little impact on me in any noticeable way. Truth be told, it has me kind of sad. I don’t really know why since tragedies like this one tend to leave me with little to no thoughts on the matter. I’d usually rather the affected parties find their peace and be left alone, out of the public’s scrutiny. As unsympathetic as it may be, I know that life goes on, and that we will learn something from what has happened.
But I am a Batman fan, and this happened to other Batman fans during a Batman-related event. Somehow, I feel connected to this violence. I’ve learned a lot from Batman over the years. First of all, I know that criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot. Whatever this shooter’s motives are, it cannot be reduced any further than that; these are the simplest of terms we can use to describe his actions. However, this person really does seem like someone who, as Alfred told us in The Dark Knight, “just wanted to watch the world burn.” And I think that’s the first lesson of this violence: to prevent such crimes, we have to come to understand them. Why did this person lash out at innocents the way that he did? I’ve read some people clamoring for his execution, but his being kept alive will allow us to learn from him. That’s something else I’ve taken from Batman.
Even when someone probably deserves death—when his actions have completely transcended any means of punishment—we cannot allow our thirst for vengeance to take over. Obviously, this person is a disturbed, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post. Though he seems more Joe Chill than Joker, this person belongs in Arkham more than he does Blackgate. In this case, I think we all need to ask ourselves, “What Would Batman Do?” The answer: he would admit that revenge is not justice. The world needs less revenge, but more justice is always welcome. Batman has always taught me to believe in justice, even against the people who supposedly handle the law.
There’s a quote that I love from Grant Morisson’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth that applies very much to this situation: “Sometimes it’s only madness that makes us what we are.” Think about that. This guy was different from us in one way: his madness was more extreme, just as Batman and the Joker are both somewhat insane but in different degrees. And given that each villain is in some way or another a grim reflection of Batman himself, perhaps this attacker is a only a twisted version of us. That’s a scary thing to think about—we may not be so different when it comes down to it. But we, both as individuals and as a society, need to understand something about that: in order to combat such tragedies and prevent future acts of violence, we need only to keep ourselves a bit more grounded in who we are, our humanity. Sometimes we can’t do this alone. No, we need help sometimes. Our fellow man is there to help us, just as Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Batwoman, Alfred, and any other members of the Bat-family past and present will be there for each other, even when the odds are impossible. We all need to keep each other from being lost in our own madness.
I’m sorry for this very long entry, but this was on my mind. I’m not editing it because I want it to be raw and real, so if there are some mistakes along the way, I apologize. I’ll try to clarify if anyone asks what I was trying to say, but hopefully it’s clear enough. I really think we can learn a lot from this tragedy, and if we don’t we’re missing an opportunity to take something horrifying and use it for good.
That’s what Batman would do. And I believe in Batman.