Heroes Among Us: Phoenix Jones

Something different this time around.  Not a comic book hero, or villain even.  A real live person.

In case you didn’t know (and there’s a good chance you didn’t), Phoenix Jones is a “real life” superhero.  He patrols the streets of Seattle, looking out for his fellow nor’westerners.  Until recently, that is.  Jones was arrested for assault after breaking up a fight amongst friends.  There are a few discrepancies to be worked out regarding the event, but he was arrested for assault at the time.  There are more details (including a video) here.

But what caught my eye was this story:

After self-proclaimed superhero Phoenix Jones announced he had been fired from his day job Thursday, the State Department of Social and Health Services tried to set the record straight and explained that the “Guardian of Seattle” could return to work – someday.

Jones, whose real name is Ben Fodor, was told by DSHS that he could no longer help teach life skills to vulnerable children because an October arrest for assault had shown up on a routine criminal background check done when his contract with the agency was to be renewed.

“I’m just really confused,” Jones told KIRO FM’s Ross and Burbank. “I sort of feel like you have to be charged with a crime before you should really have consequences for it.”

So we have a gentleman who spends his days teaching life skills to the disabled, and spends his nights looking out for victims on the streets of Seattle.  You can be sure the police are not fans of his work, as is also the case of many four-color heroes.  And you can understand why, if you think about the potential damage a vigilante could wreak.  At the same time, most people would like to have more police on the streets (except the country of Georgia, I guess), so perhaps getting them a little civilian help isn’t a bad thing.  But the potential damage to people and property can’t be overlooked.

Remember The Incredibles?  What drove the heroes into hiding?  Lawsuits.  Property damage.  The safety of their families.  Same thing happening here.  Life, meet art.  I liked that movie a lot.  I like it less in real life.

Jones isn’t being treated unfairly, of course.  A pending assault charge will get you dismissed from that job in just about every state.  And if it is cleared up, he may be back at work.  There should be a place for those who care so deeply about their fellow man.  Just like there should be a way to integrate civilian peacekeepers into our urban plans.  It’s all about using the skills of those on the team.

Good luck, PJ.  And when this is over, try to find a more acceptable outlet for your energy, m’kay?

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