I'll make this quick.
In the first movie in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight series, Batman Begins, a determined Bruce Wayne finds that there are those who take a much more scorched earth approach when it comes to their desire to fight crime. He comes up against R'as Al Ghul, who believes that Gotham has become so irredeemably corrupt that it must be completely destroyed, that the slate must be wiped clean and the clock reset. This, he says, is the natural order of things. Wayne, however, feels differently; he believes that one man, living by the courage of his convictions, can turn things around and show the good people still left out there that justice can triumph. He believes he can act as an example to inspire the noble and a symbol to terrify the evil.
Batman's very reason for existence, his statement of purpose, is the first layer of sickening irony to last night's shooting in Aurora, Colorado at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. But I can't help thinking that it's not the only one.
We know now what will follow. We know the politicization of this tragedy that's to come and the ghoulishly vulturine media feeding frenzy. We know the bitter debate over guns in our society that will infuriate and sadden anyone with a conscience but will ultimately be futile thanks to a select group of very powerful zealots for whom guns are nothing short of a necessary extension of their own flaccid masculinity. We know the almost certain picketing of the funerals of the victims by a handful of monsters for whom any violent death, even that of a kid who simply wanted to see a movie he or she was looking forward to, represents God's entirely deserved wrath upon our society. We know all of this -- and more.
And as we watch, I won't be able to stop thinking about my very first reaction to this heartbreaking atrocity: What the hell is wrong with us?
I want to believe in what the fictional Dark Knight stands for. But I see something like this and I can't help but feel that maybe R'as Al Ghul was the one who was right.