- Advertisement -

Opinion: In The Batman Shootings, We Are All Guilty


Share post:

- Advertisement -

Last night a fellow entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. during a showing of the newest Batman movie. People, in keeping with the midnight event, were dressed in Batman and superhero-styled clothes. One man was dressed in a gas mask and a bulletproof vest. He seemed to fit in with the crowd. However, when the first gunfire from the movie exploded on the screen, he exploded a tear gas canister and then began shooting at people who were trying to leave the movie house because of the tear gas. The vigilante killed 12 people immediately and wounded 55 others, some gravely.

The triggerman deserves the blame for his actions. He was a murderer and should be punished as such. Yet, in a larger sense we are all guilty, all of us who at one time or another read Batman comics or saw Batman movies, or for that matter, movies of any of the superheroes, including Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Spider-Man and the Hulk.

All superheroes share one characteristic: They are law breakers. They are vigilantes. They are no different from the lynch mobs of the south or of the Nazi masses who broke the storefronts of Jews and burned down synagogues on Kristalnacht. They act on their own, accepting police help when they believe the police are acting correctly, but rejecting police help or even working against law enforcement to reinforce their own kinds of justice.

For years, however, for even decades and generations the American people have embraced the vigilante justice of superheroes. They have enjoyed all the new ways which the superheroes created to maintain their view of justice.

We applauded them and dreamed to be like them and sometimes in doing that we made light of policemen and women. We recognized that vigilante justice was better equipped to solve problems threatening our civilization even more successfully than military. We created a model of vigilante justice which entered into the DNA of our children.

We never thought through the consequences of deferring to the superhero and his type of justice. We just held that he was right in all that he or she did. And we wanted to be like them. On Halloween we dressed in costumes depicting superman and Spider-Man and Batman. We exalted when they defined “right, justice and the American way.”

So an American defining the “American way” by his own terms and viewing “right” by his own terms enters a theater with the handy emblem of “American justice”, Second Amendment-protected firearms. And he aims and kills and we wonder what is wrong with him.

It is time to change the culture and that change must start with Hollywood. We need movies about people; movies like Casablanca, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Sands of Iwo Jima and To Kill a Mockingbird. We need movies about people who are challenged by laws they believe are unjust, and by conditions that demand just actions.

As long as are heroes are beyond the law, and are permitted to define the law and even consequences of breaking their interpretation of the law what else can we expect, except that those who have learned to self-define right through the culture wars have acted deliberately and at time have killed people.

Ecumenical Outlook is a column of reflection open to the leaders of Verona’s houses of worship. Rabbi Aaron Kriegel is the leader of Congregation Beth Ahm of West Essex.

- Advertisement -


  1. Super hero’s never killed innocent people sitting in a movie theater. I don’t get that parallel thinking. INNOCENT people killed at the hand of an insane demon possessed man in my opinion. He thought this out. Planned the entire thing. I am glad police caught him before he left the parking lot. God only knows how many more people he may have killed on his insane rampage. And now they are afraid of ” copy cats” and rightly so. The problem is not the cartoon/ hero characters influence Nor does it have anything to do with the 2nd amendment right to bear arms. Guns don’t kill people. Crazy insane, demonized people use guns or knives or ? to kill other innocent people. Hero cartoon characters were models for us kids to emulate. In SAVING innocent persons at risk. NOT TO KILL these same innocent civilians. I do not agree with your assessment of this horrific event in Co. Rabbi. We need to call it what it is. The Bible speaks clearly of what is wrong with people like this. The general public understood and saidL: He or she has a demon. Now what are we to do with that? Jesus told his followers :In My name you will cast out demons. Lay hands on the sick and they will recover. You will raise the dead and greater things”. We need to rise up. be prayed up and take the action He said we must. This alone can only stop the spiritual darkness we are at war with. The apostle Paul stated:”Beloved, we know that we have been enlightened and that the whole world is in the power of the evil one”. Satan. Duped. Deceived. Open our spiritual eyes Lord . We need to see You.

  2. To blame these horrific events on the makers of the Batman movies, or comics, or any aspect of this fictional creation, is entirely ridiculous. To do so would be the same as ascribing the blame of the actions of Charles Manson to the Beatles, or Son of Sam to the dog who told him to kill people.

    People regularly blame God for similarly atrocious acts:
    However, it would be seriously irresponsible for me to blame God for these acts.

    What if there someone tomorrow goes and burns down a theater showing Batman, or a store selling comic books, and attributes it back to this article? Should the rabbi be held responsible? Of course not, as he cannot have predicted his words would have that effect. Shouldn’t the makers of this piece of fiction be held to the same standard??

  3. Unfortunately, this one was not mimicking a hero – he was aping the villain of the movie. Superheroes give us hope that someone is looking out for good. Batman is one of those heroes that has never, in recent memory, picked up a gun to use against the villains he fights. He may be a vigilante, but works with law enforcement, rather than against it.

  4. I can understand some of the viewpoints in the article here after all one of my 11 yr. old daughters favorite movies is white christmas. You cant get any more vanilla then that. However I think we are missing the point in this senseless crime. Mental illness is a treatable condition. I think its fair enough to assume this guy had some sort of mental illness. Religious organizations, family and friends and society all play a large part in coping and treating this illness. I am in no means justifying the killers actions that night. This was done out of hatred. But as we are all members of this society is it not our job to try and help when we can others who my need support. The mental disconnect starts from within but it is further fueled by the labels we place on each other. We all no when someone needs help we just choose to look the other way because they are different. Family and the values you learn and instill in your children are what help you become contributing members of society.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Related articles

Track Medals In Sectionals, Advances To Groups

Verona High School track and field competed in the NJSIAA state Sectionals this weekend, where they faced off...

Girls Lacrosse Advances To Finals

And they are headed to the finals. Verona High School girls lacrosse handily defeated Kinnelon 13-5 in yesterday's...

Real Estate: 6 New Listings, 5 Open Houses, 3 Price Changes

If you are in the market for a condo, five of the six new listings in Verona real...

Interested In Marching Band? Learn About All The Roles Next Wednesday

Yes, Verona High School's marching band is made up of a lot of brass and woodwind players and...
- Advertisement -
error: Content is protected !!