Holy Hysteria, Batman!

(Note:  This rant was originally scheduled to appear a week, ago, but there were delays in finishing it.  I apologize to my gentle readers for the untimeliness of this entry.)

Last weekend, like millions of other bat-geeks, I went to see the much-anticipated finale to Christopher Nolan’s often-brilliant bat-trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.  While the movie brought the series to a generally satisfying conclusion (though, in my opinion, it failed to match its predecessor, 2008’s great The Dark Knight), it – and the horrific and senseless slaughter which occurred at a showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado – also managed somehow to spark an exceptional amount of leftist idiocy, proving that for the left today, everything is political, and to used as opportunity to spew propaganda, no matter how blatantly absurd.

Before the movie aired, liberal Democrats were already making an absurdly strained attempt to use it to promote their politics, based entirely on the similarity of the name of the film’s villain, Bane, to that of Bain Capital.  The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedford explained thus:“Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society.”

See, Bane’s just like Romney!   Holy too-good-to-be-a-coincidence, Batman, that’s it!  Never mind the inconvenient facts that this summary does not accurately describe the villain, who, rather than “having offshore interests” is an entirely foreign criminal, and the identity of whose father remains unknown in the film.  As plenty of conservative commentators have pointed out, if Romney resembles any character in the movie, it’s the wealthy capitalist businessman hero Bruce Wayne, rather than revolutionary class-warfare rhetoric-spewing terrorist Bane, who more closely resembles an Occupy Wall Street radical.  In the movie, mobs are incited to violently toss the rich from their homes, and for their crime of privilege, are put in French Revolution-style mock trials and sentenced to death.  (Nolan has cited Charles Dickens’ classic epic of the Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities, as an influence.)

(And never mind the fact that the character Bane was introduced in the comics back in 1993, long before Romney was governor of Massachusetts, and that the film script was written well before Bain Capital became a campaign issue, or Romney was even the clear GOP presidential front-runner.)

Unfortunately, rather than waiting to actually see the movie before opening his mouth, Rush Limbaugh apparently took the leftist “Bane=Bain” nonsense at face value, and went off on some incoherent babbling of his own, seeming to insinuate that the movie was some kind of sinister liberal Democrat plot to sabotage the Romney campaign.  (He quickly changed his tune after the ensuing backlash, praising TDKR for its conservative message, but by then the damage had already been done.  When James Holmes shot up the Aurora, Colorado movie theater where The Dark Knight Rises was playing, liberals were already, in typical fashion, blaming Rush for the slaughter. )

Predictably, the movie-house massacre has sent “liberals” into the usual histrionic pleas for the restriction of second amendment rights, blaming gun ownership, and “America’s gun culture” for the massacre.  (Never mind the inconvenient facts that countries with some of the world’s highest levels of gun ownership such as Switzerland have among the world’s lowest murder rates, and that countries with stricter gun laws such as Mexico and Russia have high murder rates.  But that’s a topic for a whole other rant.)

Besides liberals blaming Rush (a tradition dating back to the Oklahoma City bombings), ABC News’ Brian Ross immediately began speculation that the shooting was related to the Tea Party, finding a local Jim Holmes who may have had Tea Party involvement, who was in reality unrelated to the shooter James Holmes.  Though Ross and ABC later apologized for the gaffe, this follows the pattern of the media immediately looking to blame conservatives whenever there is a horrific high-profile murder, as when similar baseless speculation was immediately made following last year’s Arizona shootings which critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

While those in the liberal media try to lay blame on the second amendment or conservatives for every senseless murder, there are also a few on the right who are blaming the violence allegedly “glorified” in the Nolan Batman films for the murders.  (Holmes did tell police he was the Joker.)   While I don’t think conservative criticisms of our often sick culture are necessarily off-base, I personally don’t see the Nolan films as part of this problem.   The movies portrayed the villains such as the Joker as being blatantly evil and unsympathetic.  That people choose to identify with such evil says more about them than about the movies.

There seems to be a troubling trend across the ideological spectrum that whenever a horrific murder is committed, people tend to blame whatever happens to piss them off (whether gun ownership rights, conservatives, right-wing talk radio, violent movies, video games, “society” etc., etc.), rather than holding the murderers themselves as primarily responsible for their actions.   But only in a society and culture in which universal moral norms of right and wrong are acknowledged, and individual moral culpability for one’s actions is taught and upheld, can we have any hope of improving the situation.

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