Originally Posted by Tempest
Actually, when you put it that way, it makes things even worse, because really this isn't Batman's fault, but the writers' who insisted on using the insane to be the bad guys in the first place.
I'm not even certain that the characters could be classified as 'insane' in the legal sense at all in the first place. There's definitely levels of psychological disorders, but I'm not sure that would qualify as making them insane. Has that been dealt with at all in modern comics, or has that kind of been ignored? I admit to a rather appalling amount of info on Superman, but my comic love for Batman is more sporadic.
Basically, the writers used a vulnerable segment of the population to turn into bad guys. Insane = criminal = Batman justifiably beating up on them. That may not have been the OP's original concern, but it's one that has bothered me for quite some time.
I'm not saying every Batman villain or criminal is insane, just as you said that would be a very broad statement that simply doesn't hold true when you look at all of them. I'm saying this for the criminals who are
referred to as having mental issues of some kind, which is what the OP was referring to. In that case, the analogy to picking on odd kids is inaccurate, unless they are the bullies doing bad things to other kids.
I agree with you about the the actual characterization of mental illness; the writers of Batman comics have clearly not always gotten it right. I think a lot of the time the characters described as having some kind of mental illness are simply showing a potential symptom of a disorder, but there's not enough information to classify the character by the DSM-IV. Even the Joker has been misclassified at times. Or they are displaying a personality type that isn't socially agreeable, but still wouldn't be considered a mental illness. At the same time, I've never gotten the sense that the writers have blatantly made "mental illness" synonymous with "bad," rather that "some people with mental illness doing bad things is bad." Batman doesn't go around at night punching people in the face or harassing them just because they look like they might be a little strange. And Batman himself is routinely described by other citizens of Gotham (and sometimes authority figures) as crazy or insane, yet we identify with him as a hero because he stops criminals. The writers have also made it so he has shown serious signs of depression, OCD, PTSD, among other things though we probably can't classify him as having those conditions.