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FLASHBACK: Batman The Dark Knight - Should We Fear Imitation of the Joker?

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By John-Henry Westen
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Editor’s Note: In light of last night’s horrific Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre by a young man imitating the Joker character in the movie, Batman The Dark Knight, we are re-publishing this 2008 LifeSiteNews commentary by John-Henry Westen on that movie. We publish this not to exploit last night’s tragedy, but to add to the credibility of warnings that these types of intense, morally and psychologically chaotic movies, of which there are currently even more being produced, may be socially unhealthy and dangerous.

August 14, 2008, (LifeSiteNews.com) – I finally saw the movie which has grossed $400 million in its first 18 days - well on its way to overtaking Titanic as box-office champ. The movie was visually and viscerally stunning but deeply disturbing, even diabolic.

My concerns were confirmed when LifeSiteNews.com co-founder Steve Jalsevac told me he had also just seen the film and shared my unease.

Some have pointed to the extreme violence in the film, but my concerns go well beyond that. In a Canwest News Service review Jay Stone refers to Joker as a “psychotic butcher”; Jenny McCarthy in her August 2 review in the London Telegraph wrote, “The greatest surprise of all - even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic - has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.” One reviewer even called the film “torture porn.”

The story’s focus is the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain fame. The Joker is portrayed as a man engaging in a purity of evil rarely seen. An anti-Christ type figure, he engages in evil for evil’s sake and not for any material motive, and is totally unconcerned about his own well-being.

So youth seeing the film will see the evil of the Joker, be repulsed by it and turn away from it, right? Wrong.

There are two supermen in this film - Batman and the Joker.

One problem, however, is that while Batman is a somewhat distant figure - a multi-billionaire whose money is largely the source of his being a superhero - the common man can relate more to the Joker who is a man dealing, in his own intensely cruel way, with a rough past.

In one scene the Joker describes the way he got his ‘smile’ - the two obvious scars which run up from both corners of his mouth. He describes domestic violence in his home where his father attacked his mother and then turned on him as a child, saying, “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face,” and carved one in. As sick and scary as that scenario is, it is nevertheless one with which a great many of today’s youth - deeply scarred internally - will easily identify as they too have been subjected to domestic violence.

And if that’s not enough, Joker changes the scenario half-way through the film. He explains that his ‘smile’ is the result of an incident stemming from a disagreement with his wife who would thereafter have nothing to do with him. Hence, Joker’s psychosis is portrayed as being a response to the all-too-common experience of domestic turbulence, whether involving one’s parents or one’s spouse.

The Joker and Batman are both presented as virtually invincible; indeed, if anything, the Joker is presented as being more powerful in many respects. He is completely unrestricted in terms of his actions, while the film clearly portrays Batman as hampered by his conscience. Batman The Dark Knight could easily be seen to portray good as a weakness which is used and repeatedly exploited by evil - the Joker. The corruption of the good in people is one of his main aims - it is in fact the only purpose which can be discerned in the Joker’s otherwise completely chaotic acts.

But for all the power of this anti-Christ portrayal, there is no portrayal of an equally pure Christ figure. An heroic man in public power, one of the main characters, is eventually corrupted by the Joker’s devices, and the only two good guys left - Commissioner Gordon and Batman himself - are themselves corrupted in that they must foster and live with a lie to maintain the illusion that the one who thoroughly succumbed to evil was actually the hero of the day.

Batman, meant to be the hero of the film, is far less morally consistent in his pursuits than is the Joker. As Bruce Wayne the billionaire, he is portrayed as a jealous, spiteful ex-lover, insulting his rival and using other women (even three at a time) to inspire jealousy in his ex-lover. The portrayal of Batman is weak and conflicted compared to that of the Joker. The Joker’s character dominates the screen and the brilliance of Ledger’s performance in this role serves to highlight this difference.

It should also be noted that many have pointed to Ledger’s Joker role as possibly having a role in the 28-year-old’s death by an overdose of drugs including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication shortly after filming of the movie was completed.

The suspicions are not unfounded as his final interviews indicate Ledger was very troubled during and after the filming. A New York Times interview which took place during the filming noted that Ledger’s Joker role was “physically and mentally draining”. Ledger described the Joker as a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy”. He also revealed he was having trouble sleeping and the reporter noted his bizarre restless behaviour.

Reported the New York Times:

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.

Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. (see the full Times interview)

A video interview, which took place just after the filming finished and is billed as one of the last interviews before Ledger’s death, visually demonstrates that bizarre restlessness.

Are there going to be imitators of the Joker portrayed in The Dark Knight? There already are. Just look on YouTube for the number of videos where teens are dressing up as and imitating the lines of the Joker. Even more seriously, however, there have been crimes committed since the film’s release where the criminals have dressed in Joker makeup.

The film would likely not be dangerous for those well-grounded in morality; but for the many in today’s world who have not received the moral training that would allow them to clearly distinguish between good and evil, Joker character and philosophy of “anything goes” presents an all-too-appealing alternative way of attaining power and recognition.

Seeing the film only a few days after the very disturbing and unexplainable beheading of a passenger on a Canadian bus, I could not help wonder if the perpetrator had seen the Batman film. The description of the killing and decapitation as having been carried out in a calm manner, entirely without emotion, and the killer taking the head of the man and glibly showing it to horrified witnesses, seemed to fit with the Joker’s character. Media screen shots of the film showing the Joker holding up his “calling card” (a Joker playing card with a decapitated head dripping blood) added powerfully to the association.

Superheroes in films normally generate imitation. Joker is every bit a superhero in The Dark Knight - but a super-evil one.

If your children have seen the film, talk to them about it. If they have not yet seen it I would tactfully discourage it.

For a parental review of the film see Screenit’s very detailed information (the Internet’s most useful movie information website for those concerned about ethical content)

See other reviews noted above here:
“This is a movie that turns its heroes into villains and its villains into immortals. It’s a haunting mess.” A ‘psychotic butcher’

Torture Porn Aimed At The Kids by Jenny McCartney National Post, August 2, 2008

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Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage license to same-sex couple Frame from Times video
Mass Resistance

Kim Davis jailing only beginning of what is in store for America as revealed in June 27 “gay” magazine

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September 4, 2015 (Mass Resistance) --The judge told her that she’ll stay in jail until she’s willing to change her mind -- and go against her conscience and faith. He said that he’d review the situation in a week. The judge said that he jailed her because fining her  “would not bring about the desired result of compliance”.

There are approximately 125 county officials throughout Kentucky who can issue “gay marriage” licenses. But the judge was adamant that every county official must be forced to do it and that religious freedom cannot be allowed, despite the First Amendment.  “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” he said.

See video of Kim Davis, turning away very angry same-sex couple demanding a marriage license.

In 2004, 75% of Kentucky voters passed a State Constitutional Amendment restricting marriage to one man and one woman. On Thursday, Sept. 3, County Clerk Kim Davis was sent to jail by U.S. District Judge David Bunning because she refuses to issue “gay marriage” licenses, a decision which she says is rooted in her strong Christian faith.
 

The post-“gay marriage” revolution

Most pro-family people didn’t see the chilling article that appeared in The Nation, a major left-wing magazine, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling came out. The article outlines where the LGBT movement is going after “gay marriage.”

The Nation article, “What’s Next for the LGBT Movement?”, quotes four high-profile LGBT activists who reveal that “gay marriage” was never their final goal. The LGBT movement will not be stopping to rest, they say. Their plan is to delegitimize and crush all opposition to their agenda everywhere in America – particularly in the churches -- no matter how small.

Some of the things the article outlines:

  • “Dis-establish marriage.”  “Gay marriage” was simply a stepping stone. Their actual goal is that there be no formal marriage rules at all. This means group marriages are next, then incestuous marriages, and later even marriages to minors. It would simply be up to the people directly involved to decide.
  • Pass strong LGBT “non-discrimination” laws across the US. These are the laws that force bakers to bake “gay marriage” cakes or face huge punishments. Such laws would also force schools to include LGBT indoctrination. Most states still do not have the onerous laws the LGBT movement demands. The activists refer to those states (mostly in the South and Midwest) as “zones without rights” in their propaganda.
  • Ban all “religious liberty” laws. They consider religious liberty to be a dangerous ploy to “undermine all civil rights laws” that must be stopped at all costs. All people must be forced to follow the LGBT agenda, with no exceptions.
  • Demonize pro-family conservatives and silence all dissent. They plan to direct “massive amounts of funds” to “expose and defeat the right wing” across America.
  • Push a radical political agenda. They plan to leverage their power to support Marxist economic policies, the right to “early term abortion,” and similar policies.


Starting to happen

Last month the Denver City Council moved to deny the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain permission to do business at the Denver Airport because the company’s president said he does not agree with “gay marriage.” One Council member labeled the president’s pro-marriage beliefs “discriminatory political rhetoric,” and must not be allowed to make profits from the city’s airport. (Chick-fil-A restaurants have never been accused of actually discriminating against anyone.)

The national homosexual group Human Rights Campaign is already raising millions of dollars to fight religious freedom laws around the country.

And of course, there’s the upswing of left-wing hate and demonization of religious people. The day after Kim Davis was jailed, the Boston Globe prominently published an op-ed article titled “Kim Davis follows the footsteps of George Wallace” which states, among other things, that “Davis is just the latest in a long, infernal line of fanatics to contort their so-called faith into an excuse for hatred and division.” The Left’s hatred of religious people is visceral, and now it’s coming to the forefront.
 

Lots of hypocrisy

The jailing of Kim Davis by Judge Bunning, like most of the Left’s actions, has more than a whiff of hypocrisy. When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom began illegally ordering county clerks to issue “gay marriage” licenses in 2004, or in 2009 when California clerks (and the Governor) ignored the Prop 8 ruling against issuing “gay marriage” licenses, no judge intervened at all. 
 

Cowards and compromisers

It pains us to say it, but for decades the pro-family movement has been crippled from gaining ground by cowards and compromisers, from top to bottom. Don’t get us started on what led to the disastrous the Supreme Court “gay marriage” ruling.  And it continues with the Kim Davis issue.

While Kim Davis sits in jail, five of her six deputy clerks shamelessly have agreed to abide by the judge’s wishes and started issuing “gay marriage” licenses. (The one holdout is her son.) According to news reports, starting the very next day they were issuing them quite cheerfully, even shaking the hands of the newly “married” homosexual couples.

A disturbing number of pro-family and church leaders across the country have sided with the Federal Judge, saying that Kim Davis should go to jail for “not following the law.”  (Actually there is no “law” on the books – it is only a court ruling. Nor could the judge cite such a law.) 

Even the National Review has published an article saying “[R]eligious-liberty protections cannot act as a bar to gay couples: If the law permits a U.S. citizen to get a license, there must be a way for the gay couple to access it, with their dignity intact."
Wonderful. What a lame movement we're in!
 

What can good people do?

We can certainly see what’s coming up. It’s a hardcore take-no-prisoners approach. We must react accordingly. What most of our movement has tried hasn’t worked and isn’t going to work.

MassResistance believes that their whole program must be confronted. Using what resources we have, we believe in taking the offensive. This means challenging that movement everywhere we can. First and foremost means not holding back on telling the unabashed truth, no matter what the consequences. (For example, most conservatives are squeamish about talking about the well-documented medical and psychological destructiveness of homosexual behavior.)

The LGBT movement wins when we become afraid to confront them. 

This article was originally published on the website of Mass Resistance and is re-published with permission.

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Obama and Hillary support Christian clerk’s arrest over gay ‘marriage’

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By Ben Johnson

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination believes that Kim Davis deserved to be jailed.

Shortly following Kim Davis' arrest on Thursday afternoon, Hillary Clinton retweeted a story about Davis' arrest for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, saying all elected officials "should be held to their duty to uphold the law - end of story."

The White House seconded that assessment. The punishment - jail time, rather than a fine - was "appropriate," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing on Thursday.

The Obama administration spokesperson went on to say that "the principle of the rule of law is central to our democracy."

Calls to imprison Christians who refuse to participate in same-sex "marriage" have intensified on the Left since the late June Supreme Court decision that imposed same-sex "marriage" on the nation.

As Davis was taken out of the federal court room to her jail cell, gay activists yelled, "Love won! Love won!"

Shortly after her arrest, opinion writer E.J. Montini wrote that Davis "was found in contempt of court and sent to jail. Good."

Their position could hardly contrast more sharply with those of some Republican presidential contenders.

Mike Huckabee is holding a #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis, who remains in jail today.

Sen. Ted Cruz has said the arrest - which was ordered by a Republican-appointed federal judge - constituted "judicial tyranny."

Not all Republicans agree, though. Chris Christie said that he would demand that clerks participate in the public recognition of same-sex "marriage" regardless of their religious convictions. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have had similar sentiments.

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Ted Cruz: Kim Davis’ arrest is ‘tyranny’ intended to drive Christians from office

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By Ben Johnson

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, September 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - The arrest of Kim Davis has sent shock waves throughout the nation - and a clear message: Christians have no place in the public square, according to Sen. Ted Cruz.

When the deeply religious clerk was hauled off to jail Thursday afternoon, "judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny," Cruz said.

Same-sex "marriage" was imposed on the nation by a 5-4 Supreme Court judgment authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The arrest of Kim Davis on "contempt of court" charges was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, a George W. Bush appointment who is the son of former moderate Republican senator and baseball great Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Cruz said.

His analysis is shared by former Sen. Rick Santorum. He warned, "More and more people of faith will face the penalties Ms. Davis is now encountering if we do not make the necessary accommodations so people can not just worship but live out their faith in their lives."

Santorum called for passing the First Amendment Defense Act to prevent scenes of clerks being arrested, florists being fined, and bakers being forced out of business.

"This is wrong. This is not America," said Cruz, who recently hosted a Rally for Religious Liberty that featured many of those whose businesses have suffered for following their faith on the issue of sexuality. "I stand with Kim Davis. Unequivocally."

"I stand with every American that the Obama administration is trying to force to choose between honoring his or her faith or complying with a lawless court opinion," Cruz said. “I call upon every believer, every Constitutionalist, every lover of liberty to stand with Kim Davis."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will literally do that, as he hosts an #ImWithKim rally in Kentucky on Tuesday to support Davis.

Cruz joins other Republican presidential candidates who support the Kentucky Christian clerk.

"I think it's absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty," Sen. Paul, R-KY, told CNN on Thursday afternoon. "I think it's a real mistake to be doing this."

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida agreed, “There should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.”

However, other candidates disagreed. Chris Christie said on Fox News Sunday that laws should be enforced against Christians who decline to participate in gay "marriages."

Sen. Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina similarly agree Davis should have issued the marriage licenses, regardless of her faith.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted that laws should be enforced, as she shared a story of Davis' arrest on Twitter.

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