For so long now, we've been expecting our villains from far away. Immigrants here illegally. Terrorists from abroad. People traveling great distances to take our jobs, blow us up or steal what we find precious.
And yet again: The larger danger lurks much closer to home, where it usually does, in the Dark Knight of the mind.
Writer-director Christopher Nolan makes this point in his new Batman film, exploring the torture of a vigilante, bemoaning the dim prospects for justice in this world. The only possible redemption, Nolan seems to say, comes from addressing our most private fears.
In his rampage at a Colorado movie theater, alleged shooter James Holmes was certainly effective at piling up the bodies. But the real-life gunman has no future as a tortured Batman villain. He couldn't even keep his story details straight.
Scary smart, anti-social, dressed like a refugee from Comic-Con, the 24-year-old neuroscience grad student may have dyed his hair red and called himself "the Joker," even though the Joker has green hair and doesn't appear at all in "The Dark Knight Rises."Holmes was armed to the teeth, then gave himself up immediately. He booby-trapped his apartment, then warned police that he had. The shooting was, said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the work of a "very deranged mind." "It's nothing I've ever seen before," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said.
And none of it came from abroad. The guns were bought legally, it seems, from two local stores. The motivation was hatched inside a twisted mind.
1. Glock .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun
2. Smith & Wesson AR-15 magazine-fed assault rifle
3. Chemical and explosive booby traps
4. Ballistics helmet, bullet-proof leggings, Kevlar vest, throat protector, groin protector, gas mask, tactical gloves
5. Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Does Tim Pawlenty know about United Ink, the Nassau Coliseum body-art show July 27-29? The Romney VP prospect, who's been called boring, was recently promising: "I'll show you my tats." . . . Those pale high-school juniors being saved from skin cancer by Sen. Charles Fuschillo's tanning-booth ban, will they all just bake in the sun now? . . . One hundred drunk teens at an after-prom house party in the Hamptons -- what could possibly go wrong? How 'bout this: Alleged rental scammer Lee Hnetinka is facing 59 charges . . . Has the flight-pattern debate gotten so raucous at East Hampton Town Hall that someone needs to tell the Quiet Skies Coalition, "Shhh! I can't hear the helicopters' noise!" . . . Isn't that a cute idea? Matching orange jumpsuits for Coram bank-robbery twins Cory and Daniel Amarosa . . . 6,800 new jobs on LI since last June? Is that all? . . . It's "Long Island," not "the Hamptons": Will Andrew Cuomo's careful word choice become a regular-guy East End trend? . . . Speaking of word choice, can you get used to "Brooklyn Islanders?" . . . Home buyers fret over mold and radon. Now how will Realtors explain what the seller left behind on Plum Island?
THE NEWS IN SONG: The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had: "Mad World" by Gary Jules, tinyurl.com/knighttime
LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK: NEW YORK LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS
Public-policy blueprints can be totally irrelevant, special-interest advocates or naive do-gooders talking to no one but themselves. The New York League of Conservation Voters has just done it right. With its new "Blueprint for a Greener Long Island," the group lays out a smart, specific agenda for boosting LI's economy and environment together: Downtown revitalization projects, transit-oriented development, mixed-use municipal buildings. They aren't just saving the snail darter here. "A healthy environment and strong economy are the keys to Long Island's future," says president Marcia Bystryn. Debate, discuss, read: nylcv.org.
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