weather icon Mostly Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

VICTOR JOECKS: Batman wouldn’t be welcome in Gotham. Look what they did to Daniel Penny.

If Batman showed up to save Gotham, prosecutors would arrest him. Just look at what New York City is doing to Daniel Penny.

It’s a dark night in the country’s biggest city. The days aren’t great either. Disarray that once would have been seen as a threat to civilized society is now tolerated and even encouraged. Shoplifting has exploded, but thieves are rarely prosecuted. Even when they are arrested, lax bail policies quickly return criminals to the streets. Major crime increased by 22 percent last year.

It’s a reality only Joker from “The Dark Knight” movie could love. “Introduce a little anarchy,” he says. “Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.”

It’s worse underground. Criminals and the mentally ill roam the subway system. Viral videos show passengers, especially women, being harassed and attacked. Subway murders have shot up since the pandemic, too. In many videos, other passengers, including men, sit quietly, desperately trying to avoid attracting the aggressor’s wrath.

“A hero can be anyone, even someone doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hasn’t ended,” Bruce Wayne says.

Or protecting strangers from a mentally ill man who’s menacing others. That’s what evidence shows Penny, a Marine veteran, did. On May 1, Penny was riding the subway when Jordan Neely started to threaten other passengers. Complaining about his hunger, he yelled, “I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die.”

Penny put him in a chokehold. A video shows two passengers helping to restrain the struggling man. After Neely was subdued, Penny helps put him in the recovery position. Sadly, Neely ended up dying.

“Madness, as you know, is a lot like gravity. All it takes is a little push,” Joker says.

On this point, there’s widespread agreement. Neely was mad — or in modern parlance, mentally ill. City officials knew him well. He was on their “Top 50” people needing help. He had been arrested more than 40 times between 2013 and 2021. After he punched an elderly woman in the face in 2021, he went to jail, which is why he wasn’t arrested last year. But in February, a judge released him and sent him to a treatment facility for 15 months. He didn’t make it 15 days before walking away.

If his death didn’t fit the left’s preferred narrative, you’d never have heard of him. But Penny is white and Neely is African-American. That’s all the left needed to shoehorn this incident into its systemic racism narrative. Never mind that there’s zero evidence race had anything to do with Penny’s actions. Never mind that one of the people helping Penny restrain Neely was Black. Never mind the repeated policy failures of city officials who allowed Penny to be terrorizing subway riders instead of receiving needed treatment.

In cases such as these, the left judges based on group identity, not individual actions. Penny is white, so he must be found guilty. Neely is Black so he must be glorified. What a tragic departure from Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.

“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money,” Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler and surrogate father, says. “They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

What an apt description of pro-criminal prosecutors such New York district attorney Alvin Bragg. He came into office and told his staff not to seek jail time for many offenses. He was quick, however, to charge Penny with second-degree manslaughter.

In the movies, Batman swoops in to save the terrified citizenry. In today’s Gotham, acting heroically will get you arrested.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.