Americans Devolve Into Fearful Children Seeking SuperheroesIt is with a growing depression that I read all the glowing reviews of Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker in the new Batman movie, Dark Knight. The film is a vigilante thrill fest, with lots of great stunts and special effects, and the moral vision of a six year-old. In this movie, you can tell who's good and who's bad, because the bad people look bad. They have frightening costumes and sinister voices. The good people, on the other hand, are strong and noble. The law is weak, and so what is needed is a big strong, super-powerful person to pass judgment and deliver punishment without a trial. Fair trials are for sissies. Batman gets to sneak around too, eavesdropping on criminals, breaking into their private buildings without any proof that anything criminal is going on. Gosh, if Batman were to wait for a search warrant, and have to provide proof to a judge, then it would be too late, and the criminals would get away with it and destroy the whole city! Batman's vigilante justice, his illegal invasion of privacy, and his disregard for the law is justified by the fact that he's big and strong, and filthy rich. These qualities, it's assumed, bring Batman a sense of justice that is superior to anything that democratic government could provide. To anyone who truly believes in the vision of freedom and democracy established in the Constitution of the United States of America, it's a disgusting insult to liberty. Dark Knight is a slick justification for all the abuses that have taken place in places like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the National Security Agency. It's a celebration of the legalization of a vigilante government legalized by Congress through corrupt laws like the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and FISA Amendments Act. But then, little children don't know about freedom or democracy. They're just afraid of bad people, and they trust big people with power to protect them. Children don't understand that Batman is himself a criminal, and a threat to the security of the people of Gotham. They'll never see a movie in which Batman makes a mistake, and persecutes an innocent person he suspects of being an arch-villain. In real life, government agents given the dark vigilante role that Batman represents make those mistakes on a very frequent basis. Yet, to childish America, complaining about such abuses seems unfair. It's picking on Batman, who is a good guy, and as all children know, anyone who picks on a good guy must be a bad guy. Welcome to the regressive cartoon politics of 2008, in which John McCain and Barack Obama are fighting over who can adopt the pose of the baddest Dark Knight.
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