Sunday, August 14, 2005

DKR: "Vigilante" Justice

I apologize for the sparse posting on our second book, Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I'm posting some stuff on it today and tomorrow. And our discussion of In the Beginning by Pope Benedict starts tomorrow as well. Now, on to the important stuff...

One of the main critiques of Batman that the citizens of Gotham offer - both in Miller's DKR and the film Batman Begins - is that his "vigilante" justice usurps the criminal justice system and moves the application of justice from its rightful place in the hands of the public to those of a single, obsessed man. And in some points in the graphic novel, a character's Catholic faith is given as a reason why they are opposed to his methods.

For example, on pg. 90, it reads that: "A devout Catholic, Peppi Spandeck can't say he approves of this Batman." Or on pg. 102, a priest interviewed on TV says, "Though surrounded by sinfulness and terror, we must not become so embittered that we take Satan's methods as our own."

The questions raised by Batman are if his actions are legitimate and if they're a usurption of rightful state authority.
Certainly Gotham is being continuously attacked and its power structures have become corrupt or impotent in the fight against crime. But there's still a government in place, people are still voting for a mayor, who appoints the police chief, who deals with crime. One could argue that crime and corruption have such a death-grip on Gotham that Batman, if he truly wants to save the city and its people, has no other choice than to be pro-active and unilateral in his assault on crime.

Here's some thoughts from the Catechism:

The common good consists of 1) respect for the person, 2)social well-being and development of the group, 3)peace, "that is, the stability and security of a just order. It presupposes that authority shoudl ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense." [1906-8]

"It is the role of the state to defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies." [1911]

The Catechism goes on to say in paragraphs 1913-16 that participation in social interchange is a responsibility of the human person , it begins with responsibility for one's personal life, participation in public life is encouraged and "subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of societal obligation, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice."