Arrest Batman — just not yet

The Gotham Times stands squarely for both public safety and for the equitable enforcement of laws. But the rise of Batman has put these two principles in conflict — while Batman's vigilantism is arguably against the law, it also has helped fight back the crime wave battering Gotham streets.

The arguments are by now familiar, having been aired in the 24-hour news channels, the family dinner tables, the barbershops, and wherever Gothamites gather. One side claims that Batman is a simple vigilante, taking the law into his own hands, and that by allowing him to continue walking the streets (or soaring the skies) Gotham is opening up a future where ordinary citizens, private militias, and mercenaries will terrorize Gotham as anarchy begins to eat away at the city. Batman, this argument concludes, must be arrested immediately.

The pro-Batman argument claims that Batman is simply doing his duty as a good citizen of Gotham to aid the victims of crime. Just as a Good Samaritan on Gotham streets may run after a purse snatcher, Batman pursues criminals when he finds them breaking the law.

The Gotham Times sympathizes with both arguments. Anybody who has experienced the brutality of a violent crime knows the feeling of helplessness and rage that can occur. Crime victims need protectors, and Batman, for now, is that protector. During this crime wave — and the bloody mob war — Gotham citizens need all the help they can get in staying safe. And, whether addled by corruption or incompetence, the Gotham Police Department simply isn't doing its job to "protect, defend, and serve."

But in the end, modern civilization depends on its laws. These laws must apply to all citizens, not just the ones that don't wear bat costumes. We cannot allow private citizens to enforce the law on city streets. Gotham is not the wild west, and Batman is not the newly elected sheriff in town.

So Batman must be arrested. His many escapades have saved lives — but they have also destroyed property, broken laws, added to a sense of public anarchy, and left criminal suspects bloodied, injured, and possibly abused. As the Gotham Civil Liberties Union has noted, Batman also violates the rights of those he suspects of criminal behavior. Due process and the right to a fair trial mean little in an atmosphere of vigilantism.

It is simply unacceptable that in a proud city like Gotham, the city must outsource crime-fighting to an acrobat with a costume and a few tricks.

Gotham needs to return to being a city of laws, once again. Batman may be acting outside of the law, but he is helping us fight back crime and return to a state of law and order a little faster. We must be cautious, however, in offering the caped crime-fighter complete license to act.