Let's face it: It's not hard to see why some people love superheroes.

Whether it's Batman, the X-Men or any other of the myriad of heroes created throughout the years, there's a reason they've become so popular.

Most of the time, these are men and women who have seen injustice in their community and want to do all they can to fix it. To accomplish that, they often have to go outside of the legal system and take the law into their own hands.

Some people see these costumed crime fighters as role models and have wanted to emulate their actions in their own lives, while others, having seen someone close to them be affected by crime and finding the legal system ineffective, simply cannot let those responsible get away free.

Hell, there's no way I can say I wouldn't feel the same way in a similar situation. The legal system takes time, and for some it just doesn't do enough. Vigilante justice is just too attractive sometimes.

Unfortunately, there's a very valid reason this kind of thing is illegal.

Of course, this hasn't stopped everyone. There are people around the country like Phoenix Jones, the costumed crime fighter arrested in Seattle earlier this month. After his son was harmed in a crime two years ago, Jones began patrolling his city's streets and fighting crime.

Although he says he has been successful in stopping assaults, drug deals and the like, it has not come without injury in the process. He's been shot, stabbed and had his nose broken, yet he argues it's better for someone wearing body armor to take this abuse.

While this may be a valid point, it's also something he needs to heed himself. Given his job — working with autistic kids — it's fairly likely he does not have basic police training. Additionally, while he may have better protection than a normal citizen, he does not have the equipment and assets police.

Yet, beyond a lack of preparedness, there are two more reasons vigilantism simply shouldn't exist beyond comics.

The one comparison which quickly comes to mind concerning costumed crime fighters is the tradition of blood feuds, which still exists in some places around the world like France, Italy, Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan. It's a cycle of retaliatory killings or attacks between two groups of people, often families.

When we take the law out of the equation and make it personal by trying to take it into our own hands, it's not very different. It's a reason these vigilante crime fighters usually have to protect their identity. As Jones fears, if criminals were to find out his real name, his family could be put into harm's way.

One must also remember the reason why Phoenix Jones was arrested, as it's probably the most important point against vigilantism.

After coming across what appeared to be a man in the process of being beaten, Jones charged in and sprayed Mace in the faces of some of the supposed assailants. However, the group stated there was no fight going on and they were assaulted by Jones.

While videos from the night don't show definitively one way or another, it's this uncertainty which is a problem.

Sometimes even the cops will accidentally arrest someone who is innocent.

If the police can make mistakes at times, it's inevitable a vigilante will do the same. Instead of fixing the problem, these crime fighters could simply be adding to it by falsely attacking someone, as Jones may have done.

There's a reason these actions are illegal. While it may be something we may all wish we could do, there are far too many ways for things to be made much worse.

Although our legal system isn't flawless, we simply can't ignore the law and take action into our own hands. The last thing we need is everyone trying to force their own views of the law onto society.


Zachary Davis is a 20-year-old history junior from Warsaw, Poland. Follow him on Twitter @TDR_zdavis.



Contact Zachary Davis at zdavis@lsureveille.com

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