I recall a few lines from “The Dark Knight,” the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy that seems somewhat pertinent this past week.
Michael Caine, who portrays the loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, listens as Bruce Wayne, portrayed by Christian Bale, complains about The Joker. Wayne angrily question what his motives are as the demonic figures terrorizes Gotham City. The older Alfred listens and then has this to say about The Joker, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.
“With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man you don't fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of the tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.”
Wayne, who is also Batman, looks puzzled and asks, “So why steal them?
Alfred’s response was that “he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.
“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
The dialogue summed up Ledger’s Joker, a maniacal, evil character whose main purpose was to create chaos. The film was almost representative of the times we are living in. We try to find some sort of reason why random acts of violence take place. But just as frightening is people who shoot and kill for no apparent reason. We have seen accounts in newspapers or online. We have seen some partial footage on TV.
Esteban Santiago was deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard. He spent a year with an engineering battalion, according to published reports. He has been living the past couple of years in Anchorage, Alaska. This past November, Santiago told FBI agents in Alaska that the government was trying to control his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos. The FBI agents notified the police after the interview with Santiago, 26, who took him for a mental health evaluation.
What happened after that is not clear. His brother said he was aware of his treatments until just recently.
But we all know what happened since. Santiago is accused of pulling out a gun in baggage area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday and just started randomly shooting. Five people were killed and eight were injured. He was taken into custody peacefully.
This is just another reminder that people need to remain vigilant. On the other hand, you can’t live your life in fear. And these random acts of violence take place more often. It kind of leaves us numb. According to published reports, the offender took a flight from Anchorage to Minneapolis last Thursday night. He then flew into Fort Lauderdale Friday morning.
One witness told to a TV station that the offender just kept coming forward and randomly shooting. He added that he was “shooting at people, no rhyme or reason to it.”
For the relatives and friends of the deceased, they must still be in shock. The families and friends of the eight injured as well. Anyone who was near the scene must be in a state of shock. And the reason for this man’s actions is not clear. One report states that Santiago planned this route. No reasons are given. We only have more questions.
I suppose there will be questions of how the alleged gunman Santiago was able to check his gun in a bag and was able to retrieve it and stroll through the baggage area and begin randomly shooting people.
Some changes at airports could be made to tighten security. Perhaps some laws will be passed. I’m not so sure about that.
But it is hard to defend against random acts of violence. We can live our lives as best we can and be careful. And then there are people who revert to violence. And there is no rhyme or reason for it. Logic has no place when someone or a group just wants to watch the world burn.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.