Lapis Exilis wrote:
As kind of tortured as Batman's "no killing" rule is in the Nolan trilogy, what you describe here is equally tortured on the other end - and one of the things about the no killing rule in the comics that's always strained credibility.
Batman doesn't save Joker in that story because of his extreme dedication to the preservation of all life - he saves Joker because no writer can kill off Batman's main nemesis for good. That's 85% of why the no killing rule was invented - that way all your villains stay around forever so you can have endless rematches.
So while Bruce's sloppy application of his no killing rule in the movies makes him come off as creating a neat little rationalization to feel like he has a clear conscience, his obsessive application of it in the comics does the same - except now it's, "I know you're a vicious murderer who has figured out how to beat the system over and over again, but I'm just going to put you back into the system knowing you'll kill again, but I won't take responsibility for taking you out so my moral conscience is clear, we good? Bye!"
I have to disagree. Batman saving the Joker is no different from the duty of any police officer, rescue worker, or doctor to save every life placed in their care. It's not any of those people's job to play judge, jury, and executioner. It's their job to save an endangered life. It's one thing to use deadly force against someone who presents an immediate, active threat to another person's life. But if that person is injured or unconscious and poses no immediate danger, then there's no justification for killing them, or for letting them die. Your duty is to rescue the person in danger.
There's a Canadian-made show called Flashpoint
which is based very authentically in the real procedures of a Toronto special tactics/rescue squad, and the issue of "priority of life" comes up sometimes. There have been a couple of episodes where an ally of the team, a fellow law-enforcement officer, tried to take revenge on someone who killed their partner or fiance or whoever, and the team's duties required them to protect the killer even if it meant shooting the cop, because priority of life means that you save the one who's in danger and target the one who's threatening them, period, regardless of their respective motives or morality. Only the immediate situation dictates your choices. If you have to kill a friend and colleague to stop her from shooting a murderer, that's what you do, because your duty is to uphold the law.
My mom's second husband was a cop, and I have to say, the idea that cops in general behave this way is, um, not true. I personally met at least 3 people who either killed the guy who killed their partner, or stood by while a fellow cop killed the guy who killed another cop. All were judged "good shootings" by the department and the public never heard a word about them.
My point is, all this morality makes for good stories (and, as I said before, conveniently keeps all the interesting villains around for more and more stories in the comics) - none of it is particularly realistic. Yes, I'm sure police departments have policies in place that say you take out a fellow law enforcement officer before you let them shoot an untried suspect, but in reality, a lot of the time, if a cop has some guy cornered in an alley that they think murdered another cop - that guy's more than likely taking a bullet and there's not much further discussion of the matter.
Though I will say one of the cops I knew quit the force after murdering the man who killed his partner - it haunted him for the rest of his life.
That said, you could make a case that "I don't have to save you" is an acceptable response in some cases. If you asked a doctor to operate on Adolf Hitler to save his life (in some alternate world where Hitler was taken alive and imprisoned, say), he could refuse and insist you get someone else to do it. And since Batman is technically a private citizen, you could argue that he can define his duties however he wishes and doesn't have to follow a formal set of rules of engagement. But there is precedent for a code of conduct in which one's duty is to protect everyone, good or evil, with equal diligence.
I agree - I don't have to save you makes fine sense, especially in the case of Ra's. He created the situation of the barreling train that couldn't be stopped. He fully intended to die in the pursuit of his goals.