By Greg Hudson
From a rooftop, it’s possible to see everybody as potential criminals. That guy getting out of his van is probably slamming the door on a truckload of illegal immigrants that he will sell in the burgeoning Toronto slave trade. The fellows across the street aren’t going in to Pita Land for the falafel. They are going to knock off the store, probably killing the diligent workers. It’s a jungle out here, man.
Section 494 of the Criminal Code of Canada grants citizens who witness crimes the ability to arrest suspects. Incidentally, it is this law that empowers the security staff on Ryerson. I have the same authority as the wannabe cops you see waddling around campus, with their black phalluses hanging from their belts.
I was standing next to a group of friends while they got stoned on Salvia Devinorum. Sitting in a line on a bench, as if they are waiting to be thrown into a lackadaisical soccer game full of beginners and handicapped children, they pass a purple bong back and forth, laughing like junior high kids, waiting for the drug to have some effect. The salvia doesn’t have the sweet smell of pot. It smells of burning turd.
In the middle of their revelry, a silver Honda Ridgeline drives up through the quad, pulls up next to them on the grass and two plump security guards pop out. While the one who looks like an engorged Val Kilmer approaches the snickering editors, I talk to his partner.
I tell him I’m going to be Ryerson’s vigilante. He tells me about section 494. I take it as my commission.
Meanwhile the kids with the bong assure the guard that the substance in their bong isn’t controlled, while they breath deeply and felate the chamber.
Incidentally, Batman has never been deputized, but Superman has. This is because Batman is the most badass superhero in the world, despite what anyone claims about his being only a rich brat with expensive toys. And he is a superhero, don’t ever think that his lack of supernatural abilities disqualifies him from that moniker. And because he has never been deputized he isn’t stymied by the narrow confines of the law. He is, quite frankly, the archetypal vigilante. And I will defy anyone to prove otherwise. Bring your Punishers, your Spider-mans, your Green Arrows. Batman is greater than them all.
As I take up the mantle of Ryerson’s dark protector, he is my role model.
Only Ryerson is less crime riddled than Gotham. Still, if television, movies and comic books have taught me anything about the city, it is that crime, real life recognizable violent crime happens almost every 20 minutes. I want to thwart some ne’er-do-wells, but all I see is people doing well.
The next day using only my pluck, I roam campus looking for crooks audacious enough to commit crime in broad daylight.
I see jaywalkers. Invincible students darting across Gould like froggers, flagrantly defying the law. It’s the only law I see people breaking.
Like the Dark Knight, I have a sidekick too — my photographer, who is diligently hoping to immortalize my first arrest. It’s through her that we get as close as we’ll get to a real criminal.
“Have you seen any crimes being committed?” we ask her dazed friend.
“Actually I’m just trying to find my dealer right now,” she says.
But we do nothing. We could trail her until she leads us to her drug dealer and bust them both after we see the illicit deal go down. But we don’t.
WWBD — what would Batman do?
In all probability he’d do the exact same thing. One drug deal won’t stop crime on campus. It is barely a crime.
There is a difference between laws and justice. You pull out the breathing tube of a person you love because she’s in pain — it’s against the law, but it is just. I sneak onto the subway despite its illegality, but that’s just because I’m a poor student who gets screwed by the rampant credentialism of modern society. You see the difference? The law isn’t always just. And justice isn’t always legal. I actually learned that from a Batman comic when I was a kid.
So, I could have tried to stop the jaywalkers or bust the pot-smoker. But that wouldn’t make the world a better place.
I realized that to make this stint as a vigilante zanier, I should just stop everybody, like a crazed preacher condemning the world to hell, a crime fighting version of the semi-tourettic pamphlet waiver on Yonge and Dundas. We all have sinned. Everybody has committed some crime at some time. I should stop them all.
But that isn’t vigilantism, that’s fascism. Batman isn’t a fascist. And neither am I. And heaven knows university campuses have enough fascists.
But anyone else looking to commit a crime beware. I know how to get on top of a roof; I can see you and I can arrest you.
Then again, you can arrest me too.