Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

September 6, 2012

More on the Batman shooter, comic debate

Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Dear Editor,

I'm not na•ve enough to think that I was going to change Mr. Voiles' mind when it comes to comic book culture and how it is perceived in wake of the Aurora shooting, but at the very least I was hoping for him to see my point of view (which is a point of view shared by many people, I've come to find out). But alas that is not the case. I do, however, find it ironic that someone keeps criticizing comic books culture when in actuality they appear to be the one in fantasy land. If Mr. Voiles thinks for one second that those other three letters-to-the editor helped validate his original argument, he's not fully grasping what was being stated in those letters.

For example, with regard to my letter, Mr. Voiles and I agree that comic books are geared toward a more adult audience. There's no disputing that, but he goes on to use that rationale to then validate the rest of his arguments. That initial point was never in doubt.

When one ÒconcedesÓ something, one is acknowledging an agreement; however even though we agree on that one minor point, that one concession does not therefore validate every other opinion that Mr. Voiles was stating.

That is making connections where they do not exist. And I get the impression that he might be the only one making those leaps because the feedback I received from the community after I penned my first letter was overwhelmingly supportive and positive.

Mr. Voiles states that ÒThe case is made that some no doubt maladjusted individuals are influenced by the comic book genre in an unhealthy way.Ó He contends this was basically his point all along. Unfortunately, for us fans of the comics, he arrived at that point in his first letter in a very convoluted and condescending manner where he, knowingly or not, insulted many people who enjoy comic book culture.

Additionally, he threw an entire industry (really two: comic publishers and movie studios) under the bus, while admitting he didn't know much about it in the first place.

Secondly, and this goes to a larger point that apparently I stated too implicitly, Ñ because I do not want to give the shooter even more notoriety Ñbut when one argues that the shooter (a maladjusted individual) was  Ò . . . influenced by the comic book genre in an unhealthy way,Ó what specifically does that mean?

On the surface, especially with the initial reports-, it appears the shooter has an unhealthy relationship with comics and Batman. Drawing conclusions from that would lead one to think that the shooter was ÒinfluencedÓ by the comic book genre in a detrimental way.

But my point of contention is this: Mr. Voiles states no other reasons for what motivated the shooter to do what he did.  And it would be reasonable to therefore ascertain from Mr. Voiles' point of view and of his arguments that the influence of comics must have been the sole reason for the shooting spree Ñbecause again Ñhe mentions no other motives.

And it's this narrow-minded, black-and-white line of thinking that disturbs and frustrates me. To just blindly belittle and squarely blame the culture of comics on this tragedy is to thus then ignore other larger issues (that seem to be) at play: Mental illness, inability to deal with stress and (allegedly) prescription drug abuse, just to name a few.

Again I'm hesitant to bring up a lot of this because there is a trial that is currently ongoing and as I stated in my original letter, and contrary to what others may or may not imply, we do not know all the facts in this case.

But I do think it is reasonable to presume (and I will stand by this notion) that while it is clear that comic book culture played some part in the shooter's life it is reckless to thereby assume that being associated with fantasy culture directly led to the movie-theater tragedy. Conjecture like that presupposes certain elements while ignoring other causes of concern.

In essence, maybe all I accomplished was just a regurgitation of my original argument. But I'm not going to sit idly by while someone just incessantly shouts their sentiments on a topic simply because they feel that because they have an opinion on that particular subject that one, they feel that it is an opinion worth sharing and two, that people want to hear what they have to say. I know that isn't always the case, though I'm quite convinced that is the case here.

I'm just going to end this letter on a lighter note with this little aside: I used to work with a senior gentlemen who had a litany of colorful expressions and I can think of none more apt in this case than when he used to say, "sometimes . . . you'd be better off talking to a brick wall."


Ryan Maddux