The Instigator
Maikuru
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
sherlockmethod
Con (against)
Losing
10 Points

Batman is Partially Responsible for the Crimes of the Joker

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/10/2009 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,879 times Debate No: 9189
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (5)

 

Maikuru

Pro

::Introduction::

I challenge the talented and well-versed sherlockmethod to what is sure to be a very fun debate. Good luck to my opponent and enjoy the read!

Full Resolution: The fictional character known as the Batman is partially responsible for some of the crimes of the fictional character known as the Joker. I shall argue in favor of the resolution and my opponent shall argue against it. I ask that my opponent take the contrary position (i.e. Batman is not partially responsible...) rather than a modified position (e.g. Batman is wholly responsible...).

Conditions:
- 72 hour deadlines
- 5000 character limit
- R1: Formalities and opening statements
- R2-R3: Arguments and refutations
- R4: Summations and refutations

I do not expect a semantics argument from my opponent and believe that the colloquial meanings of all terms involved are both understood and appropriate in this debate. Nevertheless, for the sake of certainty, definitions will be provided. Should Con take issue with any definition (or other aspect of the debate), I ask that we discuss the matter in the comments section and post any necessary revisions in the following round.

- Batman: http://dc.wikia.com... [1]
- Joker: http://dc.wikia.com... [2]
- Partially: being such in part only; not total or general; incomplete [3]
- Responsible: chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something [4]

::Opening Statement::

Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) is a criminal. A wayward vigilante, he flagrantly breaks the law in his attempts to right what he considers to be wrongs within the justice system. Ironically, his unlawful activities both directly and indirectly spawn the very evil he fights against. The most apparent example of this phenomenon is that of the Joker, a murderer who Wayne helped to create, continues to motivate, and refuses to destroy. Regardless of the intent behind his heroics, Wayne's arrogance, hypocrisy, and criminal activity make him partially to blame for the atrocities of his arch nemesis.

With that brief opener, I turn the floor over to my esteemed opponent =D

References:
1. http://dc.wikia.com...
2. http://dc.wikia.com...
3. http://dictionary.reference.com...
4. http://dictionary.reference.com...
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent for his kind words and for offering this debate to me.

Sources/Canons

My opponent and I are familiar with both characters so this really is not an issue. We will be discussing the overall concepts so this really isn't a big deal, any are fine, but we should walk softly concerning the movies/books which change origins too much. The new earth listings are fine with me, though.

Origin of the Joker:
Batman's origin is set and has been retold hundreds of times, but the Joker's gets lost in the mix, it seems. The most common is that he was the criminal Red Hood and while committing a crime he fell or may have been accidentally pushed into a vat of chemicals by Batman.
In the case of the Joker, Batman was reasonable in confronting Red Hood's gang as Gotham is a cesspool of criminal activity and the police are not able to handle it; therefore, Batman, a private citizen, is obligated to help stop it. Red Hood was irresponsible by starting a firefight in a chemical plant and caused the event to take place in the first instance. He and he alone is responsible for his injures and his subsequent insanity. Batman is not responsible for this event, as Red Hood, by committing an armed robbery, took all the responsibility for himself.
Although Batman commits criminal acts in the respect of trespassing, assault, numerous privacy violations, and I'm sure enough federal regulations to fill a book; he must do so as the Gotham Police Department is incapable of handling the crime, even street level gang violence. So long as this is the case, the Batman must fight to help the citizens of Gotham. The criminals take all the responsibility, not Batman.

Motivating the Joker:
The Joker needs no motivation other than the "big joke". He does seem to have an irrational attraction to the Batman, but has run into Superman and the JLA on numerous occasions. Batman is the antithesis of Joker and appears to be one of the few in the world capable of stopping him all the while saving his victims. Batman has stated on many occasions that the Joker's crimes only make sense to the Joker. So long as anyone is around and capable of dealing with the Joker; he must. The Joker has shown his reluctance to commit crimes in Batman's absence (see No Man's Land), but not for any significant time period. He reemerged as the "big joke" is simply too funny, in the Joker's mind, to be left without a punch line. The Joker may need Batman, and I believe his irrational attraction to the Batman would cause him to create a fictional one in his mind, if the real one went away. The only difference being, the one in his mind could not stop him.

A refusal to destroy the Joker:
No one knows the "big joke" except maybe the Joker himself, and he may not, but considering the Joker's activities, I surmise the biggest joke of all ends with Batman killing the Joker. Batman walks a very thin line between criminal activities and the law, his brutality is known, but the moment he steps over the line, the Batman is no more. The Joker has taken Bruce to the limit (see Death in the Family) and needed, of all people, Superman to protect him after killing Jason Todd. The Joker knew his actions would set off the Batman, and really had no reason to kill Jason, other than to motivate Batman to kill him. With Batman out of the way, Gotham goes into a tailspin, much like the scenario where the police sniper, with a vendetta against the Joker, ends up killing many of his partners whom the Joker dressed like clowns. Cops killing cops, no Batman, a city ran by criminals with a police force making the one person that can help them public enemy number one for the murder of the Joker … see the irony. The Joker would accomplish in death that which he could not do in life. He would laugh in his last seconds because it would be such great punch line to the sickest joke of all. The only responsible action is for Batman to keep the Joker alive and deal with him as only he can do.

If Gotham did not need a Batman, then my opponent's points concerning the arrogant Bruce Wayne would be dead on, but so long as the incompetence of the police force permits crime to run rampant, the Caped Crusader is needed and the only way Batman can be held partially responsible for others' crimes is to be capable of stopping them and doing nothing at all.
Debate Round No. 1
Maikuru

Pro

Many thanks to Con for his prompt reply and clarification concerning source materials. My arguments will dabble in multiple canons chiefly to demonstrate prevailing themes within the Batman mythos.

::Arguments/Rebuttals::

I intended for the first round to consist of opening statements. Still, Con has accurately pinpointed the three issues I wished to discuss and I shall maintain the format he has established.

1. Batman Helped Create Him

The scenario Con described is indeed the most common version of the Joker's origin. Now, my opponent claims that because the Joker (known then as the Red Hood) was committing a crime when the encounter took place, he is responsible for the consequences. Of course, if illegality is the condition by which responsibility is determined, Batman must share the blame. Despite his intentions, Batman held no jurisdiction in Gotham and had no authority to trespass, assault, or apprehend. Both men broke the law that night and thus both are responsible for the outcome.

To suggest Wayne was justified in his vigilantism is to ignore not only his overt law breaking but also the whiplash effect he has had on Gotham's underworld. After all, what was the body count of the Red Hood before that night? What was the prevalence of costumed killers in Gotham before the bat's debut? Streets once plagued by thugs and desperate thieves are, following Batman's appearance, terrorized by villains of an entirely more vengeful and murderous nature. The Gotham PD may have done a lackluster job, but they fell short of creating monsters.

2. Batman Motivates Him

As my opponent pointed out, the Joker has a deeply rooted fascination with Batman. A great bulk of the clown's crimes are perpetrated largely (if not solely) to antagonize, demoralize, or otherwise engage the Batman. Given that this cat and mouse dynamic is understood by them both, Wayne's continued donning of the cap and cowl means he is partly accountable for the innocents who fall in the process. Should Wayne simply give up his own criminal activity, his arch nemesis would likely follow suit.

The ongoing Batman comic depends on the hero's presence, so it is difficult to accurately determine just how potent his long-term absence would be on the Joker's activities. However, nearly every other canon available demonstrates the Joker's reliance on Batman in order to operate. The Dark Knight Returns [1], a graphic novel following a retired Bruce Wayne, finds the Joker crime-free and nearly catatonic for the ten years Batman was absent. Batman Beyond [2], an animated series about an older Wayne training a replacement, shows Joker similarly missing until Batman re-emerges. Even the recent motion picture, The Dark Knight [3], describes the Joker's creation as a product of Batman's arrival. These sources, while non-canonical, all demonstrate the same message: a world without the Batman means a world without the Joker.

3. Batman Refuses to Stop Him

Con argues that killing the Joker would accomplish the villain's ultimate goal: destroying Batman's spirit and sending Gotham City into chaos. Firstly, a comprehensive look at Batman's history shows he has purposefully breached his self-imposed limits before. He has wielded guns [4][5], maimed [5], and killed [4][5] in efforts to protect his own life and dispatch with various foes. These experiences, paired with the knowledge that this villain cannot be contained or satiated, clearly show Batman is sparing the Joker for some reason other than his personal code of ethics.

Secondly, even if we ignore instances of Batman ‘crossing the line,' why wouldn't he make an exception here? He has the skills necessary to mask the act and there would be no love lost among the public or law enforcement. It is clear that Wayne's long running vendetta against the Joker has demanded he keep him alive, be it to punish himself for his role in the Joker's schemes or to prove to himself that his Batman persona is necessary and effective. However, is one vigilante's grudge worth more than the lives of countless innocents he swore to defend? I would say not, and place the blame for their deaths squarely on his shoulders.

::Closing::

Batman's responsibility for the Joker's crimes is three-fold. By taking the law into his own hands, he played an integral role in the creation of Gotham's greatest villain. By refusing to end his megalomaniacal crusade, Batman serves as fodder for the mad man's games. By stopping short of the logical end to their rivalry, he fails in fulfilling his sole promise to the city.

::References:: – WARNING – Read Final Crisis #6 before clicking on 4.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://www.wizarduniverse.com...
5. http://www.comicsbulletin.com...
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent for a well written and informative response (I knew I would have to deal with Batman and the gun at some point). I apologize for not presenting an opening as I did not see we have four rounds. My opponent agrees I got the format correct so I will continue, with apologies noted.

Note to Voters: My opponent and I are comic geeks. I consider this to be a badge of honor not derision (my wife agrees … reluctantly). I can easily dismiss many stories as poorly written, providing bad plot devices, etc. The real reason Batman stopped killing was due to the image DC wanted to purvey and the Comics Code, etc. But these arguments are simply not sporting. All contentions are based on the comics, movies, etc., and justifications are to be found there. My opponent's response falls in line with this so I see no need to mention plot devices, or any outside argumentation. With that said …

The Creation of the Joker:
My opponent and I agree the Red Hood origin is the most common and is probably correct. He rebutted my claim that Red Hood's illegal actions are the sole contributors to his subsequent chemical fall, or jump, resulting in the Joker. The Batman was also operating outside of the law and should carry some burden according to my opponent. I must disagree. Pro dismisses the nature of the illegality committed by Red Hood. He, the Red Hood, chose to rob a chemical plant; Batman did not choose the site. The Red Hood chose a costume with a breathing apparatus installed in the mask [1]. Why would one need such a device for a robbery in a chemical plant? The answer is simple – escape. The Red Hood chose to jump into the vat of chemicals and his choice of "wonderful little toys" shows this very clearly. Gotham City Police are not capable of dealing with the lowliest of criminals and save the city's population at the same time. Batman had to step in as the destruction of the chemical plant could have resulted in, not one, but many Jokers. The reasonableness of Batman's response puts all blame on the Red Hood as his premeditated crime with an unadvisable escape route (the chemical vats) made him what he is.

The presence of super villains after Batman does not necessarily mean they came to Gotham because of Batman. Correlation is not causation. Pro must show they would not have arrived, but for the Batman. The Riddler may continue his failed crimes sprees, or the Penguin, or Killer Croc, but they were bad guys long before the Batman. They continue to fail because of the Caped Crusader, without him, they succeed. They are attracted to Batman because he is the only one who can stop them.

Motivation of the Joker:
The Joker did indeed take a hiatus in the Batman's absence as Frank Millar's award winning series explained. But Joker also came back to Gotham when Batman was gone during the No Man's Land story. The Joker is unpredictable as these two events show. His actions only make sense to him. Upon hearing the Batman was back, the Joker reemerged, but all that was necessary was being told he was back; the real Batman was not needed. As I stated, without a Batman, the Joker would simply invent one or hope for one. The Big Joke is all the Joker needs. I must concede the movie does portray the Joker as a result of the Batman so in reference to this canon, I must concede this point.
Killing the Joker:
My opponent accurately showed that Batman has killed before. I agree, but the killing took place very early in Bruce Wayne's career; this is clearly shown in my opponent's source. The killing stopped once Batman grew to understand his role in Gotham. By killing he becomes the very thing he despises. Batman developed an attraction to justice and maintains it. Not killing his enemies is a staple to the Batman mythos, the one Gotham's parents tell their children at night, one of an avenging crusader scaring away the bad guys, protecting them from harm. Batman stopped killing and fell into this role. He is, as my opponent states, very capable of killing and masking the crime, but he could not hide it from himself, the Joker knows this too. Batman's struggle between brutality and justice is inner, not just external. Killing the Joker kills the mythos that is Batman and may break the very thin line he walks.
In reference to Darkseid, Batman did indeed fire the gun to destroy what became the persona of evil. "Gotcha" was the word I think he used; a very fitting end for both. Batman broke his seminal rule to save the universe (all of them, DC remember). Even on his worst day the Joker is not evil personified, he is sickness in the flesh. That gunshot spelled the end for Bruce … maybe, but not even the Joker and his crimes reach the level of Darkseid's deeds. I stand by the fact that Bruce cannot kill the Joker as that is exactly what the Joker wants and the results would be devastating to Gotham, as I presented in my last round.

1.http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Maikuru

Pro

My opponent does not disappoint! His arguments have been both creative and detailed, and I thank him for doing such a good job arguing against his actual beliefs.

::Arguments/Rebuttals::

1. Batman Helped Create Him

Con argues that Joker always planned on escaping through the chemical vats as evidenced by a breathing apparatus within his mask. However, this explanation seems unlikely. First of all, the solid metal mask in question covers the entire face and exposes no openings for the mouth or nose, so a breathing aid is likely a necessity [1]. Secondly, no source presented yet has described Joker's fall as anything other than an accident or the result of terror. Thirdly, both a master criminal and a chemical engineer (two likely professions of the Red Hood [2]) would know to avoid the chemicals in question and prepare proper breathing protection.

Con goes on to say Batman cannot be blamed for the location of the fight and the dangers therein. However, there is a reason police officers do not simply rush into chemical plants and fuel depots, even when lives are at stake. The danger to all parties involved in these locations is extreme. The fact that Batman, a criminal himself, decided it would be best to engage the Joker there rather than outside the facility or at their hideout means he is as guilty for the injuries that took place as the original perpetrators.

As for the necessity of Batman's vigilantism, we have seen what type of villain follows Batman's arrival. Con calls this relationship correlational and insufficient, ignoring the antagonistic nature of Batman's methods. Whereas most heroes present themselves as symbols of peace or justice, Wayne chose fear as his calling card. He fell upon a city of desperate and weary criminals and terrorized them with horror after horror until, inevitably, they retaliated with insanity and viciousness unheard of in the DCU.

2. Batman Motivates Him

The Joker is indeed unpredictable and operates without Batman in some canons (i.e. No Man's Land) and does not in others (e.g. TDKR, Batman Beyond). To explain this contradiction, I offer two points. Firstly, those instances in which the Joker has continued to operate without Batman occur during temporary leaves by the hero. In each case in which Batman officially retires (an action not possible within the monthly publication), the Joker follows suit.

Secondly, many of Joker's acts demanded the physical presence of Batman. He has terrorized the entire city in the hopes of seeing the Batman face-to-face [3] and tormented individuals strictly because of their relationship to Wayne. Take two of Batman's sidekicks, for example; Joker savagely beat and "killed" Jason Todd [4] and tortured Tim Drake for weeks [5]. Clearly, Batman's choice to continue his crusade in spite of a criminal who uses him as encouragement means dire consequences for those around him. Add the fact that these Robins were minors under Wayne's protection when they were attacked and his responsibility in their torture magnifies exponentially.

3. Batman Refuses to Stop Him

Batman has indeed become less violent over the years. However, even the reformed Wayne showed in his battle against Darkseid that he is not above using deadly force to save lives. Con claims Darkseid warranted special treatment, but the Joker is one of the most dangerous and indiscriminately murderous villains in the DCU. Con claims killing would tarnish Batman's image, but this does not explain why he actively stops others from killing the villain themselves [6][7]. Finally, Con claims murder would destroy Batman's fragile psyche, but this does not stand in light of the numerous murders he has already committed (unless his playful "Gotcha" after shooting Darkseid was the sign of a decaying mind). Batman killed at the beginning and end of his career, so it is hardly convincing to say he was unable to handle doing so in between.

In truth, Wayne's reason for not letting the Joker die is far less noble than Con would have us believe. Unlike Wayne's other adversaries, Joker has beaten, bloodied, and taken from him more deeply than he thought possible. He thus refuses to alter his methods as a means of proving to himself that he and his methods will not be broken. However, this mindset is completely inappropriate for one who trumpets himself as a protector. By sheltering his ego and self-image above the safety of Gotham, Batman has a hand in every life he allows the Joker to take.

::References::

1. http://www.retrojunk.com...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. http://en.wikipedia.org...
6. http://my.opera.com...
7. http://comics.ign.com...
sherlockmethod

Con

I will not post an argument in this round since I started one round early. My opponent and I have agreed to continue with our conclusions since most points have been addressed. I will simply conclude in my final round and not address any new points.
Debate Round No. 3
Maikuru

Pro

Let me start by thanking sherlockmethod for a great debate. He seriously argued a silly topic and I really enjoyed it. He has generously bypassed the previous round to allow us to move on our conclusions, so without further ado...

::Summation::

I will use this round to summarize my three primary arguments for the resolution, as well as show why they should be preferred over my opponent's rebuttals.

1. Joker's Origins

When a man takes the law into his own hands, he must be prepared to face the consequences. When this man does so in a warehouse filled with toxic chemicals and firearms, the odds of facing these consequences skyrocket. Batman understood this when he decided, without the support of law enforcement, to assault the Red Hood. A career criminal himself, Batman once again put his own sense of self-righteousness above the laws of Gotham City and the safety of everyone in and around the warehouse that night. The fact that one man was permanently disfigured and traumatized during this incident is no surprise. The fact that Batman would not own up to his responsibility for that incident...that is far more surprising.

Batman cannot be considered a necessary protector when his antagonism and fear mongering create the very evil he claims to fight against. He appeared to the Gotham underworld as a monster and out of fear and desperation, they responded in kind. The Joker is just the first in a long line of villains created through Wayne's recklessness and bravado. Con claims this particular villain always planned on escaping through the chemical vats with the help of his mask, but that theory is defeated by both a lack of canonical backing and a cursory glance at the mask in question. In truth, Wayne was as much a criminal that night as the Hood and should be treated as such.

2. Joker's Motivation

Villains need motivation; Lex Luthor craves influence, Apocalypse craves destruction, Dr. Doom craves power, etc. When heroes do nothing, these men become tyrants, monsters, and gods. The Joker...the Joker craves Batman. When Batman does nothing, his nemesis hides away inside himself, defeated. Story after story shows the surest way for Wayne to destroy the Joker is to stop becoming that which motivates him. Like a child desperate for a parent's attention, the Joker lashes out at the world because he knows his knight in cape and cowl will come running. Unfortunately for the citizens of Gotham, the Batman never disappoints.

It is not enough, though, that Wayne continues his own reckless law breaking in spite of the consequences for his city. He has gone so far as to recruit Robins, merely children, to fight murderers alongside him. Even the most self-involved vigilante must realize the folly of allowing young boys to battle psychopaths. When the inevitable happened and the Joker tortured and, in one instance, murdered Robin, Wayne's responsibility went from choosing ego over public safety to blatant child endangerment and gross negligence.

3. Joker's End

The Joker, one of the deadliest villains in the DC Universe, makes residence in Gotham City. Batman allows this. The Joker cannot be contained and his hunger for death will never be satiated. Yet, the Batman stands by. Joker wishes for death and Batman, having killed less deserving men before, has the means, opportunity, and experience to oblige him. Still, the Batman stays his hand. Others have realized that this monster cannot be allowed to live and take it upon themselves to end the Joker. Then and only then does the Batman act - to save the villain's life! Bruce Wayne knows better than anyone that his nemesis will never stop until he either gives up the cape and cowl himself or the Joker is destroyed. By refusing both solutions, Batman absolutely must share the blame.

Thanks again to sherlockmethod and all the readers. I hope you've enjoyed the debate as much as I have!

- Maikuru (Pro)
sherlockmethod

Con

sherlockmethod forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DakotaKrafick 4 years ago
DakotaKrafick
"I promised Con I would not vote so, as always, RFD's are very appreciated =D"

Weird to think there was ever a time you could vote on your own debate. I think I first joined this site after they changed that rule.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
A big thank you to whoever it was that took the time to read through this thing and vote. However, with only 2 votes and the score at 7 to 5, I look very suspicious here haha. I promised Con I would not vote so, as always, RFD's are very appreciated =D
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
I'm glad you're back and good to go again. Let me know if you are still planning that Ghost Rider debate =D
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
Wow, I cannot believe how long that took. Looks like the lawn guys cut a cable line in two spots, no internet for days :( Glad to be back. Sorry for missing the final round on this debate.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Despite the unfortunate outcome, this is still one of my favorite debates. I know sherlockmethod does not vote on his own debates so I will return the favor. I hope this thing still gets some interest, though =P
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
This is terrible news. I actually nearly missed my R3 deadline due to technical problems so I sympathize.

If sherlockmethod does forfeit R3, I ask the readers to please base their votes off of the arguments provided and not penalize his case because of bad luck.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
For the first time ever, it looks like I have to forfeit a debate round. I am without Internet, and I'm writing this from a friend's computer. Cable is down in neighborhood, and won't be back up until sometime tomorrow. I am very sorry, but I am without many options. If the lines come up, I will post. Hope to be posting in the morning; if not, I apologize to my opponent and to DDO for my forfeited round.
Very Truly Yours,
SherlockMethod
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Sounds good.
Posted by sherlockmethod 8 years ago
sherlockmethod
Maikuru,
I think we have hit all the points. Since I started the debate one round early, I think I will just post something simple in this round and let us go to our conclusions. Taht ok with you?
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
My argument is not that secondary actors hold equal or greater responsibility, only some. Hence the "partially." =D

Unless your stance is that responsibility can never dwell beyond the immediate actor, in which case we can take this conversation in a different direction.
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