Jun 17, 2017 Of Adam West, the Riddler & the true superheroes
Over the years, I have seen and met many celebrities. They sometimes are chance encounters on the street and other times are at performances, In mid-June 2016, my son and I met Adam West — who played Batman on the original television series — waiting around twenty minutes for him on line at Washington, D.C.’s Awesome Con, which again takes place this weekend, and where my son and I will attend tomorrow, likely to include seeing Spiderman creator Stan Lee, still going strong at 94 years old. The line to meet Burt Ward, who played Robin, was even longer than that to meet Adam West, who spent a few moments chatting with us and gave us a fist bump, as only paying people were eligible for handshakes and autographs with him.
Adam West passed away at 88 only a week shy of the anniversary of our meeting him. Around thirity-six years earlier, my family and I saw Frank Gorshin — who played Batman nemesis the Riddler — at an old-time Connecticut restaurant. Gorshin looked like an ordinary guy, speaking low key, with everyone respecting his privacy.
Once again, many superhero characters will be out in force at this weekend’s Awesome Con, both by the actors who play them and the cosplayers. Having been to two previous Awesome Cons and the Baltimore Comic Con, I have seen no superheroes representing those who defend civil liberties and criminal defendants, other than Congressman John Lewis signing the first of his March trilogy at the 2014 Awesome Con.
When I was in preschool, none of the boys said that they one day wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer nor a civil libertarian. We talked of wanting to be policemen and firemen, hardly understanding the implications of doing so. We played cops and robbers among our arsenal of play.
How much does all this crime-fighting superhero oversaturation on children’s airwaves socialize them into becoming voters, jurors, and even judges skewed more to a prosecutorial bias than to valuing the civil liberties we all derive from protecting the Bill of Rights for criminal defendants, including the presumption of innocence, the need to set bail or pretrial release before trial, and the need never to cloak any police witness with more credibility than lay witnesses?
How much is sensitivity to protecting civil liberties dulled by the younger generation that — more than those over forty-five — have suffered from school metal detectors, school locker searches, random drug testing in school sports, and drug tests merely to qualify even for a retail job?
How many jurors walk into the courtroom highly prejudiced against a criminal defendant merely because s/he is a criminal defendant, when even an otherwise wonderful woman married to a very good public defender lawyer exclaimed to me with full sincerity: “Once a person is arrested, he has no rights”?
David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine comes closer for me as a great superhero who is not about prosecuting anyone, but about harmonizing against injustice. And great trial lawyer Tony Serra inspired the character in the film True Believer.
I could always dress up for the Awesome Con in my own cosplay outfit with mask and cape calling myself Criminal Defense Man or Bill of Rights Man, but that is not my style, and likely would not sit well with my son. Of course, I could simply wear a t-shirt with the apt slogan of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of “Criminal Defense Lawyers – Liberty’s Last Champion,” which is more subtle, effective, and politically correct than the National Criminal Defense College t-shirt begging “Please Don’t Tell My Mother I am a Public Defender. She Thinks I Play Piano In a Whorehouse.” Despite all my bias for the criminal defense side, I will again have a blast at tomorrow’s comics convention, which will go well beyond superheroes, perhaps again to include creators of John Lewis’s March series, horror, Poop Office, and always thousands of people joining in having a great time.