Vigilantes don’t have to wear capes.
… but it’s cool when they do.
A vigilante is an individual or group who undertakes law enforcement without legal authority. Batman is totally a vigilante. A good guy, a hero — but a vigilante nonetheless, because generally speaking he fails to operate with legal authority, and dude kicks some serious ass.
Most of us celebrate his law-breaking activities. I certainly do. That’s because laws, while generally in the best interest of our society as a whole, are not necessarily always in the best interest of the individual.
“ Being a hero and a vigilante isn’t contradictory.
By nature, they tend to go well with each other.”
Vigilantes directly oppose Zero Tolerance Policies.
It’s time to talk about Zero Tolerance Policies again, and why they are a bunch of crap. I have several reasons to reintroduce this topic, so try and stay with me. I tend to shoot off course occasionally, but I swear it’ll all come together. We’ll start with a summary of my original piece.
1. Zero Tolerance Policies are lazy.
When Zero Tolerance Policies are in place, there is no need for further thought on the issues they cover. Whether or not the policy makes sense; whether or not its enforcement accurately reflects its original intent; whether or not it even continues to make sense over the passage of time… these questions become moot in the face of the tyranny of Zero Tolerance. Only very enthusiastically rotten individuals will expend the energy required to “get around” Zero Tolerance Policies (see note three).
2. Zero Tolerance Policies do not allow for extenuating circumstances.
Sometimes, a Zero Tolerance Policy doesn’t apply to a particular situation. But because we write ourselves into a corner with our rules and laws, we must blindly obey, regardless of the circumstances. How many times have you heard the term, “My hands are tied; there’s nothing I can do.” Yeah, actually, ass-hat, there *IS* something you can do. But it would require you to break the rule. Oh, I see. You’re too pussy for that. NEVER MIND.
3. Zero Tolerance Policies encourage outrageous loopholes.
Remember when I said, “Only very enthusiastically rotten individuals will expend the energy required to ‘get around’ a Zero Tolerance Policy”? This is what I mean. When you think of loopholes, you aren’t picturing the decent people of the world fighting through to right the wrongs and triumph over evil. You’re totally picturing lawyers hired by bad guys working as hard as possible to find their way out of trouble.
Zero Tolerance Policies are a bunch of crap.
Here’s what I had to say about them back in August 2012 (and it still holds true today):
“Zero Tolerance Policies allow dastardly individuals to perform dastardly crimes and get away with them. They are an insidious part of our system and define some of the many things we lack in our humanity. Blind eyes, deaf ears, parrot speeches, and unwillingness to grow.
Zero Tolerance Policies, in sum, are the very definition of stagnation. As for me and mine, I prefer to evolve. In the World 4 Realz, all systems were created to be bucked, and all rules are merely guidelines. I care more for the individual than for the masses.”
Are you a rule-follower or a rule-breaker?
What I really want to talk about is not merely Zero Tolerance Policies, but the inherent problem in blindly following ANY rule. If you follow rules merely for the sake of NOT being labeled a rule-breaker, and thereby allow someone to come to harm, are you really a decent person?
Consider the question carefully. I ask because *We the People* seem to want to have our cake and yet eat it, too. While in one hand holding forth a miniature statuette of Lady Liberty, “symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world”, we grip in the hand hidden behind our backs a set of chains and cuffs, prepared to lasso all into a prison of silence.
Why Seinfeld isn’t Batman:
In the final episode of the classic hit TV program Seinfeld, the four main characters are arrested after witnessing a crime and failing to assist the victim. Consequently they are found “guilty of doing nothing and they are each sentenced to one year in a state prison” (Wikipedia). Here we, the audience, are appalled that anyone would stand by and do nothing to intervene. Even at risk of harm or potential arrest for knocking the douche upside the head, we want action taken against the obvious bad guy. Seinfeld and crew? Totally NOT Batman. Like, in any way whatsoever.
And yeah, okay, this is just a dumb comedy fiction. I get that. But still. Regardless of the consequences, we want the bad guy to come to justice. He doesn’t. And that totally sucks.
Let’s think about what would have happened alternatively, though. What if the four dumb-dumbs had actually ganged up on the gun-wielding bastard and managed to show him a thing or two? We, the audience, would have cheered — but I’m betting you anything that the following would occur:
(a) Seinfeld and crew would still have been arrested — but this time for performing vigilantism.
(b) They probably would also have been sued by the douche with the gun.
(c) Our stupid laws would have allowed both situations to go unchecked.
Why? Because our laws don’t always apply, but we insist on applying them anyway. We apply them like chap stick to lips that aren’t fucking dry! We have written ourselves into a corner. Our hands are tied. There’s nothing we can do.
Zero Tolerance Policies, at work again.
Of course, if you can afford a good enough lawyer, you will probably manage to avoid jail. But if you can’t afford an attorney? You’re fucked.
So people are afraid to break laws to help those who need help. Doing the right thing shrinks in size when faced with the consequences of what that means. What does that say for who we have become as a nation? If following laws is more important than doing what’s right, what does that say for every law that’s ever been overturned thanks to people who refuse to back down — as in the case of slavery?
“Sir, you must not neglect doing a thing immediately good
from fear of remote evil; from fear of its being abused.”
~ Samuel Johnson
I will continue doing what’s in the best interest of the people in my life, protecting their safety at all costs — even if it means breaking the rules. You have to do what you think is right, of course. But answer me this: Are you still proud of yourself when your inaction causes more harm than good?