Friday, August 15, 2008

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

LifeSite drops the ball in a serious way.

The problems with this article are legion. First, check out the ledes: "The film could easily be seen to portray good as a weakness used and repeatedly exploited by evil" and "The movie was visually and viscerally stunning but deeply disturbing, even diabolic." That's just two of the first few sentences. Author (and site editor) John-Henry Westen doesn't waste our time in getting his message across. The Dark Knight is the devil and will make stupid people do evil things. That itself is an interesting take considering the film's plot. If you remember, the Joker gets stupid, evil people to do evil things, but cannot get good (and maybe stupid) people to do evil things. In fact, that's pretty much the summation of the plot right there. Just how Westen missed this, and then wrote an article on the movie is beyond my simple brain.

But hey, just a few paragraphs later, Westen dives even deeper: "As sick and scary as that scenario [the Joker's description of his scars] 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." Ah, yes - all those kids whose parents abused them will find their perverted moral reference point in the Joker. Because before the Joker, they found themselves sympathizing with Hitler, Pol Pot and other famous criminals who had similarly difficult childhoods.

Not to be outdone by himself, near the end of the article, Westen drops this bombshell: "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. " Oh. My. The murder of an innocent man by a psychologically disturbed man is being linked to the Joker? That's a pretty big non sequitur - and a gigantic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy if I've ever seen one.

Unfortunately for LifeSite, men like Westen are what make the social conservative movement so unattractive to many people. The Dark Knight is one of the first movies in a long while to deliver a message of redemption and sacrifice that actually resonates with the public. And rather than using it as an opportunity to discuss these basic-yet-vital concepts with a larger audience, Westen prefers to circle the wagons.

No comments: