I also wrote a much less weighty post a few moments ago that shows up just below this one on the blog…but I have to get this off my chest and onto the Internet. So I’m posting TWO posts today, for the price of one. (If “free” is a price…)
I have been a Batman fan for as long as I can remember. Even before the 1989 movie, I loved the series with Adam West. And I loved the comic books. (In my view, nothing can top the Batman of the comic books, though the Nolan flicks come close at times.) I was devastated to hear about the mass murder in Aurora, CO.
I refuse to give the gunman the dignity of stating his name or even learning it. To me he’s just another pig with a gun. (And I’m not saying that in the “down with all guns” way. But if you use your gun to intentionally plan and calculate to take life, you’re a pig to me. For further discourse on the subject, see Rollins Band song “Civilized.”) As I’ve said before, sometimes a person’s life is summarized by the worst thing that they did…and the summary of the gunman’s life is that he is a mass murdering, nameless piece of shit. I can’t be told otherwise.
I heard about the murders and grew immediately angry. Angry as a human being. Angry as a member of society. Angry as a comic book fan. The man ruined countless lives. Of course there are the dead. There are the wounded. But there are the wound-less who were simply present. Their lives are changed now. So are the families of everyone involved. So are the friends. So are everybody’s. He made it so people are now afraid to go into crowded theatres. (Perhaps not so bad a problem to have in Fred Willard’s case, but I digress.) One batshit crazy, would-be comic book super-villian ruined it for everybody.
Batman has been a source of joy in my life since I was a kid. When the girl across the street and I would play boyish games (rather than the “house” she would often want to play), Batman would often be involved. When I wanted a cheap laugh at bad acting and cheesy dialogue…Batman TV series. The Christmas the first Burton flick came out, every item on my list was Batman themed. When I wanted cartoonish escapism, Batman movies or the animated series. When I wanted intense, often troubling reads…Batman graphic novels and comic books…and sometimes even the short-story based books—I remember a particularly good one about the Penguin. When I wanted to see the power of a human being triumphing over unfathomable evil…Batman. And when my mom died suddenly in 1994—this is going to sound stupid to some of you—I knew Bruce Wayne knew how I felt. And if he could still be good, couldn’t I?
And this guy had to go and fuck up Batman for people.
There’s a special place in Hell for the people who choose it. This man—this coward hiding behind a gun—has chosen Hell. And though I believe in the redemptive powers of Jesus, sometimes if someone CHOOSES it, as far as I’m concerned they’re welcome to it. People can be redeemed for their mistakes…but in cases like this, I find difficulty feeling pity when they choose not to be.
I didn’t realize how angry I was about it until Sunday morning at church. Oh, I knew I was mad. But it didn’t sink in until I was up there singing praise songs and thinking about it. It started sinking in while we were singing “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.” “All that blood…” I kept thinking… There must have been SO much blood. None of it redemptive. All of it slaughter for the sake of madness.
Like I said, it’s the elephant in the room…and I briefly addressed it during a prayer at church—going very much AGAINST my better instincts. We’d just sung a song praising God for BEING God…and all I could think to say was, “Thank you that even when a guy guns down a bunch of people in a movie theatre, You are still God and You are still doing what You have always done.” And my voice cracked, and I knew how angry I was, and I’m still working it out.
And I think what I’m going to do is this… I’m going to be a Batman fan. I’m going to know that good triumphs over evil. That good doesn’t need to hide behind power granted only through terror and bullets. That when evil raises its head, it will be brought to justice—and the lives will be avenged. And I’m going to see the movie, possibly multiple times IN THE THEATRE (because damn it, that’s where it belongs) and I’m going to match the cost of my tickets in a donation to the Red Cross in Colorado. And I encourage you to do the same, if you are so-lead. (Credit to some guy on Twitter for the idea.)
Hang in there, Aurora. Batman isn’t real, but the lesson is. There is a dark night…but there will also be a dawn. Good WILL triumph over evil. The lives can not be restored, but they can MEAN something. Their losses can make us all better. Their blood stains us, but we can make those stains a tribute to how GOOD humanity can be in the face of evil. Steve Martin tweeted, “The photos of the victims seem like the faces of kindness.” And maybe that’s about right. Your loved ones should not, can not, and will not have died for no reason. We will overcome, we will become BETTER, and we will speak THEIR names while we do it.
I’m just so, so sorry it had to happen that way.