sfp 6 115 for web

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  • Jonathan Boynton
    • Kid Chaos

      “Try not! *Do*, or do not; there is no try.” 😎

    • Shweta Narayan

      …Though one of these days Al really needs to figure out that yelling at someone and then asking for help is not the best strategy ever.

  • zellgato

    Finally that was pointed out

    I still dun trust him on the level though.
    Still think he’s a former vililan she trounced,
    and is working for brain boyo. Who knows she is that kind of internal slope and has been for a long time.

    Though even if she goes down the slope, she’s not skiing towards his control. so that’ll explode in his face.

    • AshlaBoga

      Given Patrick’s powers, if that was his plan I suspect she would ski towards his control. His breakdown seemed artificially, part of his plan to drive her away.

      That said, I think he genuinely cares for her, which is why he drove her away.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    “And if you could go back and do things correctly this time, manage to get his agreement in exchange for less of your strength but more of your effort and respect, would you do it?”
    “…No. You don’t understand, the burger place was going to close in like ten minutes. I had to act fast! I had a whole thing planned and everything”

    • Stephanie

      I mean, I think if she had that opportunity plus that kind of assurance that a more respectful approach would work, she would do it. But that was never a given.

    • cphoenix

      OK, let’s do some math. 22 people die each day for lack of a heart transplant, in the US alone. Worldwide, the number is a lot higher.

      Before Alison acted, the supply of hearts was insufficient. After she acted, it was sufficient.

      Waiting even one hour longer would condemn someone to death. We’d never know who, but someone would die because she waited. If it took two hours to convince Patrick, two people would die. Plus the ones who’d die for lack of kidneys or liver. Plus the ones who’d die a few months or years later because they had rejected the organs they were given.

      Now you have the facts – the same facts that Alison had. The consequence of Alison waiting was not hamburgers. It was death, and death, and more death, every hour she waited.

      I’ve gotten tired of you making light of people dying, or talking as though you didn’t realize it. So here it is explicitly. If Alison waited to try to convince Patrick, even if she succeeded, people would die.

      If you continue to make light of people dying, or pretend to ignore the facts (which is just as bad, in a different way), we will know exactly what kind of person you are.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        It’s a wonder why she even bothered asking! She should have gone straight to the tableslamming. So much time wasted merely explaining the proposition.

        • cphoenix

          Yeah, she has scruples. It obviously wasn’t easy for her to do what she did. She was probably hoping things would work out so she wouldn’t have to tableslam. And yes, she presumably let a few people die by hesitating.

          In the end, only a sociopath (or any of several kinds of professional) would not have hesitated at all… and only a fool or a weakling (or a sociopath) would have failed to act quickly.

          • Stephanie

            But if you can’t be a 100% perfect utilitarian at all times, you obviously shouldn’t even try. Either save the absolute maximum number of lives possible, or throw up your hands and say “Screw it, everyone dies.” /s

          • cphoenix

            Um… sadly… the latter is what most of us do. We narrow our circle of sympathy, and thus our options for doing good, until we can live with ourselves. Alison is (unfortunately for her) unable to avoid knowing how much power she has. And, she is (mixed blessing) raised to be extremely progressive. So she can’t escape being utilitarian, and she can’t escape feeling guilty about it.

          • Stephanie

            I’m a fan of effective altruism as a strategy for us non-superpowered folk to expand that circle.

          • cphoenix

            Effective altruism is a good choice.

            Progressivism is a good rule of thumb (though it can lead to paralysis and shouldn’t be a religion).

            Good conversation. I need to sleep now…

          • Ellis Jones

            Let’s hope everyone considers your definition of helping people as helping people too.

          • Stephanie

            Uh, excuse me?

          • Ellis Jones

            Oh, I’m very sorry. I misread what you wrote there. Sorry again.

          • Stephanie

            Oh, OK. I was confused. No worries.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m sorry I was too busy counting the people dying while Alison patiently waited for Max to finish his life story to acknowledge sarcasm.
            You make assumptions about where my empathy lies, but these ones you don’t seem to mind seeing go.

          • Stephanie

            I absolutely value those lives. Any lives lost while Alison delayed are regrettable. But it reeeeaaally doesn’t make sense for you to use that as an argument against her coercing him at all, or as an argument for her delaying even further.

            I mean, what do you expect us to say? “It would have been bad for Alison to act slower because more people would have died. But wait, crap, Alison could have saved even more lives if she acted even faster. I guess she should have acted slower and let even more people die, because that totally makes sense!”

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This is an argument for you to realize your opinion is incoherent unless you go full blown Alison should drink Max’ blood to absorb his powers and use it better.
            Which knowing you I’d suspect you may weigh the pros and cons, but not everyone here is so convinced that might makes right.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t see anything incoherent about “delaying costs lives, so it’s bad that Alison delayed but it’s good that she didn’t delay more.” I think that’s pretty straightforward. Not to mention that a stance having nuance does not equate to it being “incoherent.” The most frothingly extreme possible version of any stance is not the only “coherent” one.

            I think you need to decide whether you want to argue against the position “It would have been ethically wrong for Alison to dedicate hours to convincing Max peacefully, at the cost of several lives,” or if you want to argue against the position “Everything Alison did was 100% perfect and ethically unassailable in every respect.” You might recognize exactly one of these positions as one anyone has ever actually held. I’m going to bed now.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Yes that’s just what I said, your opinion is coherent because you would have been totally for Alison coercing Max as soon as she was through the door. It’s not really you I’m trying to push toward a realization that this is absolutely terrifying and insane.

            Most people hopefully realize “wait no I wouldn’t approve of Alison not even asking him, this is utter tyranny. And I’m against that. But how can I justify defending her actions on the grounds of people saved, if I can’t justify not even speaking to him on the same grounds? Maybe it’s because I didn’t really think this through.”

            But sure when one is not against tyranny, it works.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think there’s anything incoherent about that stance either. You have to draw the line somewhere, and it doesn’t have to be at one extreme end or the other. It’s not unreasonable for someone to conclude “spending five minutes pursuing a peaceful resolution is justifiable, but spending six hours is not.”

            For the record, I’m not opposed to her asking, because it takes like, a minute to lay out the situation and ask “Will you do this?” Hearing out his whole whiny backstory, though–not worth it.

          • juleslt

            The reason is not because of the number of people who die per minute, though: that adds up linearly.
            Rather, it’s about the perceived chance of a (preferable) peaceful solution being reached, which plummets as your attemps fail and then bottoms out.

          • Stephanie

            I agree with that. The more of the low-hanging-fruit approaches fail, the less likely it is that anything will work, and the less you can justify continuing to beat your head against that brick wall while people are dying.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            So according to you presenting the pretense of caring is time well spent (and people well dead) but making a conscious effort not to fall into totalitarian trappings is way too much to ask.

            Here’s the thing: ultimately you established that you didn’t care about the answer. A “yes” is neat but as a “no” leads to coercion in your system, it’s only superfluous and hypocritical. At some point you’ve just got to admit to yourself you’re okay with tyranny.

          • Stephanie

            “Pretense of caring?” Spending a minute asking if someone will do a thing voluntarily, so that you might not have to violently coerce them with all of the harm and guilt and general inconvenience and burned bridges that entails, is a “pretense of caring”? Jesus Christ, man. You know perfectly well that that’s basic, pragmatic common sense. There’s no reason to put someone through the harm of coercion if they’re readily willing to do the thing anyway, and it costs practically nothing to ask–it’s 22 people a day, not 22 people a minute. It’s like you’re so certain that utilitarian types are all outrageous unreasonable strawmen that you insist we’re doing it wrong if we’re not.

            I’ve already fully acknowledged, repeatedly, directly to you as well as in other comments, that I’m okay with tyranny in the sense of using the threat of violence to coerce people into acting for the greater good. Human civilization relies on that practice. It’s the basis of any governed society.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Just start twisting their arms, if they wanted to help to start with they’ll just follow the motion harmlessly instead of resisting. Some good utilitarian minutes saved!

          • Stephanie

            I think you’re intentionally ignoring the fact that there are substantial, concrete real-world benefits to getting people to do the thing voluntarily. The thought that they don’t really have a choice in whether they do the thing may offend you, but the choice of whether it’s voluntary or coerced isn’t meaningless–the very act of coercion has effects on reality that have to be accounted for. Utilitarianism isn’t as short-sighted as your mental model of it is.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Do you want to go on a date with me?
            Disclaimer: if you say no I’mma kidnap you and make you.

            This is totally not coercion regardless of yoir choice.

          • Stephanie

            That’s a ridiculous comparison. Forcing someone to date you doesn’t save lives. And even in that asinine scenario, the date is obviously going to go a lot better if the person accepts when you initially ask than if you actually resort to coercion, which is why it’s pragmatic to ask before you take that step even if you have no intention of accepting a “no”.

            It really seems like you’re just being contrary for the sake of it at this point.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No it’s not about utility or what have you, it’s about knowing in advance about the threat of coercion. It kind of ruins the validity of any sort of consent. A choice made under duress isn’t one.

            Which, again, makes total sense in the world were practicality is more important than free will.

          • Stephanie

            Obviously, from my perspective it is about utility.

            I don’t know why you’re assuming advance knowledge of the threat of coercion. Max clearly was not expecting Alison to coerce him.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My, this governmental system of yours is just lovely. I wonder who gets the helm.

          • Stephanie

            As usual you’ve degenerated into being accusatory and rude. I think I’m done here.

          • cphoenix

            Clem likes to distract – look at their request to me to stop “equating” weakness and mental illness, when I did no such thing.

            Everything after their “So according to you” was a deliberate misrepresentation of your position. I wish people were better at spotting such things – it would be great if ten people responded to that with “Well, Clem, you’ve just lost all credibility with me.” But, sadly, that’s not how people seem to work.

            Kellyanne Conway uses tactics like that. I don’t know what to do when people like that are in talky positions. At some point one just has to say “Your discourse is abusive and I won’t stand for it” but saying that explicitly is a good way to “lose” a discussion in American society.

            If you stop engaging the Kellyannes and the Clems of the world, they create their own echo chamber, then accuse you of being in one. If you engage them, they tend to drag you down to their level – and the slightest slip on your part is magnified by them for the delectation of their audience. If you don’t slip, they invent a slip. Meanwhile, they use whatever tactics they like, and somehow your calling them on it never lands.

            Gaah. I’m pretty disgusted with it.

          • Stephanie

            It’s true, I’ve been fielding a lot of wildly inaccurate “according to you”s over the past few months. It’s frustrating.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It’s because you’ve been doing a constant back and forth between not realizing the gravity of the consequences of your opinions and denying them outright when presented to you. You’ve admitted being pro-benevolent tyranny except in any and all instances where the distinction between that and a more sensible worldview actually arises. Like the way you can’t accept that utilitarianism and justice can’t reconcile. Because they’re made not to.

          • Stephanie

            Oh no, I care about context, how awful

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No, I care about context. This is why I’ve been for the use of violence to make Max do his thing this whole time and you never noticed.

          • Stephanie

            That’s the exact opposite of what you’ve been saying. Frankly I’m sick of discussing this with you, because you seem to be incapable of being civil for more than two posts at a stretch and your favorite tactic is, as we’ve covered, to intentionally distort my stated position.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My genuine bad. I really, sincerely don’t mean to. Seems I can’t help it even when I really try. This is when I actually use my “mental illness trump card” as a desperate plea to state that it’s not my fault, even though I know this is no better.

          • Stephanie

            It’s okay. I understand that you’re as passionate about your stance on this topic as I am about mine, and that you sincerely believe that my views are dangerous. There have been a few times when I could have conducted myself with more civility too. But I don’t think continuing the back and forth is going to be productive.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well would you look at who’s doing the whiny ad hominem. Nevermind that contrary to you I only mentionned it once and only in passing while you’ve decided to make it the entire crux of your case against me.
            And “I did no such thing”! Gosh, I have to explain everything. See I never said you equated weak with sociopath, I said that you used both as derogatory value judgements. It’s pretty fucking lame to think negatively of a person you’d call “weak” to start with, but okay, whatever. But it’s extremely fucking outrageous to think negatively of people with mental disorders.

            Oh but this is a tactic, right? This is me resorting to unfair tricks when confronted with the brilliance of your dumb argument that people are dying and we should violently force people to prevent it. (Like I’m guessing some trump will say this comment is abusive? Like me being genuinely pissed gives me the power advantage to bully people somehow?)
            Well. I’m sorry, but my mental illness is not something I use as an ace.

          • cphoenix

            You persist in asserting incorrect interpretations of what I have said. I will not bother to dispute your misrepresentations of me anymore.

          • Guest

            Alison was under duress.

            Think about it. Max may as well have been saying “Beat me into it or I will kill all these people.” By NOT taking that action in the past he’s also basically a mass-murderer. You may say “are we all mass murderers then?” But we don’t all have that kind of power. Great power, great responsibility.

            And if you bring up the bad action v inaction thing… I’m with Gurwara 2 on this. What is this special place reserved for inaction?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My God, this sounds like psychological warfare. “Do you see what your actions have me do? I have no desire to rip your nails off one by one so that you tell me where the President is hidden, but your silence force me to. And that more than anything I will remember while my conscience balances my guilt and my annoyance while you scream for the next few hours.”

          • Guest.


            Okay, I gotta pause here, how many people actually think twisting some guy’s arm for five minutes is torture? “ripping out your nails” torture.

            Because you know what is torture? Cancer. You know what is torture? Liver failure. Any time an organ is collapsing. It’s torture to feel your abdomen scream every time you have to go to the bathroom, it’s torture to feel your chest tighten every time you sit up and to wonder is this the time? Is this it? Am I dying now, or do I get to wait until after lunch? It’s torture to slowly see a little less and a little less until you can’t enjoy a drawing your child made of you anymore. It’s torture to have to walk slowly and with support not because your legs are weak but because if you walk faster your breathing might be insufficient and you get dizzy and collapse. It’s torture to live day in and day out with this specific food and twenty pills until you die.

            It’s torture to see your loved ones collapsing because their bodies are too weak. To see them accept that their lives are over. I could go on.

            But, you know, twisting some guy’s arm to get him to stop that? Geez, back off fascist! A right Nazi we have over here, with the arm-twisting! What great a crime.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This is a metaphorical use of “torture” the soap opera style heartstring-pulling of which deserves applause sure, but torture is not just the pain, torture is inflicting pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do something. So yes Alison tortured a dude.

          • Guest

            “torture is inflicting pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do something. ”

            You know what, I’m going to keep biting this bullet here. Max was trying to inflict psychological pain (the sorrow of being partially responsible for the deaths of LITERALLY COUNTLESS PEOPLE) on Alison, as a punishment because she “always got her way”/”was mean in the end of their date”/literally just out of spite?

            If something so slight as ARM TWISTING, which people do while wrestling over beer all the time, is considered torture here, then surely the psychological trauma of being partially responsible for the deaths of COUNTLESS PEOPLE must be considered torture. The former is done in a few minutes, the latter will haunt you for the rest of your life.

            Not to mention that by such a permissive definition… literally every time a cop restrains somebody who struggles they are torturing a civilian. Heck, by such a permissive definition most prisoners endure torture, as do most schoolchildren and also most people in the army, and also most people who have rowdy siblings who get vengeful over toys. At which point this stops looking like a warcrime and starts looking like “just something people do when their authority is defied stubbornly sometimes”.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            If that’s psychological torture, and that’s flimsy at best, it’s on Alison for assuming that responsibility that isn’t hers to bear.
            It’d be as unreceivable as claming you torture me when you refuse to give your money –that could save lives!– to charity.

          • Izo

            “Okay, I gotta pause here, how many people actually think twisting some guy’s arm for five minutes is torture? “ripping out your nails” torture.”

            Slamming a person’s head against a table, twisting their arm with the intent of BREAKING the arm and wrist, while telling them you are going to kill them if they do not comply…. that’s torture. Tell you what….. see how your opinion changes if it happens to you.

            But no, you seem like the type of person who is very tough when it’s someone ELSE being attacked and forced.

            “Because you know what is torture? Cancer.”

            I missed the part of the storyline where Max apparently causes people to have cancer.

            “You know what is torture? Liver failure.”

            I missed the part of the storyline where Max causes people to have liver failure.

            News flash. Cancer and liver failure are not torture. They’re diseases and illnesses. You have this very odd idea of definition of words, yet when someone equates the mentality of a rapist with the mentality of what Alison was doing, then you’re a dictionary because in the latter, sex was not involved (despite that it’s about mentality, and the mentality of a rapist is about power, not sex).

            “Any time an organ is collapsing. It’s torture to feel your abdomen scream every time you have to go to the bathroom, it’s torture to feel your chest tighten every time you sit up and to wonder is this the time? Is this it? Am I dying now, or do I get to wait until after lunch?”

            Again, not ‘torture.’ What Alison did was torture. What you’re describing is disease and illness. If my appendix is rupturing, I’m not being ‘tortured.’ If I’m having an aneurysm, I’m not being tortured. And I sure as hell am not entitled to hurt other people because I’m in pain, unless that person is causing the pain.

            ” It’s torture to have to walk slowly and with support not because your legs are weak but because if you walk faster your breathing might be insufficient and you get dizzy and collapse”

            Aging is not torture either. Nor is arthritis or asthma. When you get the flu, it’s not because the virus is torturing you. When you have allergies, the pollen count isn’t torturing you. If you fall on the sidewalk and break your leg, the sidewalk did not torture you.

            “It’s torture to live day in and day out with this specific food and twenty pills until you die.”

            Having dietary needs and medication is not torture.

            “It’s torture to see your loved ones collapsing because their bodies are too weak. To see them accept that their lives are over. I could go on.”

            The life cycle is not torture.

            “But, you know, twisting some guy’s arm to get him to stop that? Geez, back off fascist! A right Nazi we have over here, with the arm-twisting! What great a crime.”

            You do remember the part where she said she was going to kill him and drop him in the Atlantic Ocean after breaking his arm and wrist if he did not comply, right? Yes, it was torture.

            How about giving a little electrocution until he complies. No long-lasting damage if done in small bursts of electricity. Just hurts. Not torture? Oh wait, yes it is. How about dunking him underwater until he complies. Is a little water torture? Oh wait, yes it is.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Even from a purely utilitarian calculation, that kind of torture doesn’t usually stand up. Most research I’ve seen suggests that torture is a really, really ineffective way to get the truth out of people. Rather it gets people to say and do what they think you want them to say and do. Effective for getting someone to turn off a bomb, but not effective for getting them to tell you where the bomb is in the first place.

            And that doesn’t even consider the fact that torture may often end up used on people who aren’t actually in a position to do/say the thing you want them to. In this case, with an actual mindreader providing you the information and a superhero doctor verifying your conclusions from that information, you have a pretty reliable reason to believe it’s going to work.

            I’m not saying it’s 100% right to use torture in those conditions, but rather that your real world comparison falls flat for a lot of practical reasons–even from a strict utilitarian analysis.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            That’s kind of the point? This is not my comparison. Guest here is saying that Alison is under duress. Which is so wildly misguided an assessment of the power dynamic at play it’s difficult to answer anything else than push the absurdity further until its flaws are even more obvious.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Fair. I totally agree that it misrepresents the power dynamics to say that she is under duress. I also think there is an interesting and important point in their comment though—that Max wasn’t just saying “No, I won’t help you.” He was saying “No, Imma let thousands of people die precisely because I know it would help you to save them.”

            This is decidedly not an ethical argument at all at this point, but he pretty much poked the bear while laughing. Probably not the wisest choice on his part. (And yes, I fully recognize that making poor judgment calls doesn’t mean you deserve to be threatened and attacked. I’m just mocking Max because he makes it SO EASY.)

            But from an ethical standpoint, it did put her in a weird place. He literally told her that even if he agreed with her that the benefits outweighed the costs and if it was something he wanted to do, he still wouldn’t just to spite her and prove a point. At that point, her choice was whether to allow people to die for this jerk’s sense of self-righteous satisfaction or to use the threat of violence to compel him to act in line with her values. It was a wrong vs wrong situation, even moreso because of his stated refusal to listen to reason.

          • Guest

            Oh, Alison definitely has more power in this situation, by several orders of magnitude (an order of magnitude of orders of magnitude?). But… so what? My claim wasn’t that she was the weaker person in the room. My claim was that she was under duress. I hold that she was. Decisions made under duress are decisions in which one of the choices is kind of unfeasible to make. “Do I do this thing or do I get myself killed”, for example.

            How exactly is that different from “Do I leave this alone or do I get countless other people killed”? And how is that difference making the choice less bad?

            Max may as well have had a bomb and his finger on the trigger, and said “I’m going to do this just to piss you off.” Heck, not just one bomb, hundreds, if we’re just talking total death toll. Would you approve of Al twisting someone’s arm to stop 9/11? Because that was like… 3000ish people. Heart disease alone kills some 610,000 in a year. In the US. That’s… some 200 9/11s of dead people averted in one year because somebody got their arm twisted. Add to that, say, lung cancer why not, that’s another 155,870 deaths estimated for this year by Cancer.org… 255ish 9/11s? Just for her hearts and lungs.

            How is “you can avert 250+ 9/11s or you can be nice to this one guy who doesn’t want to” a choice any more than “you can do this thing or I can drop you in the ocean” is a choice?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            People die all the time, and we could all do things to help prevent that. How much a specific situation could save how many people doesn’t matter. It’s not her responsibility to assume just as much as it isn’t yours to preach so that your friends give one of their kidneys to people in need. She’s not under duress because she choose to make herself responsible, and she’s wrong about it.

            Make no mistake: “with great power comes great responsibility” is a the perfect way to justify the rule of the powerful, and be better left to dumb wish fullfilment fantasies about shooting web out of your wrist anuses.

          • Ellis Jones

            The special place is that we value people’s individual priorities and their freedom to choose.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Gosh, I know I don’t deserve it because my opinions are shallow, lack substance and knowledge and are presented with way too much self-pointing animosity, but thank you so much for being on my side.

          • Ellis Jones

            No problem- though I’m rarely on anyone’s side but my own.

            I nearly left a probably too aggressive reply to one of your other comments on the topic, and seeing your tone here, I can see your headspace wouldn’t benefit from that aggression at the moment. But I seriously do recommend that you think about whether talking here is doing you any (and other people) good.

            You do say some pretty illogical and fallacious stuff, and ultimately you choose to do so, at least by coming here. It is your responsibility to keep that behaviour in check, take the good with the bad from deciding to talk here, etc. Judging by your reply here, you’re not feeling too good about yourself at the moment. Even disregarding responsibility,people won’t stop criticising you for that behaviour (they don’t really care why you do it regardless of if they should, let’s be honest)- maybe you’d benefit from taking some sort of break? Lord knows I need to sometimes.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t know. This is difficult. Last time I told myself I had no impact or worse, an harmful one, that I better back off and let the world handle itself –which I might add is very comfortable for me to do– a KKK sanctioned rapist was democratically elected US President.
            I know no two elements in the history of the universe have shared more tenuous a correlation, but it’s difficult to not feel guilty.

            And actual grown up for real this time elections take place this year in my country. Gaaah.

          • Ellis Jones

            Campaigning against a bad person acquiring high office and engaging in heated debate with people who are unlikely to be convinced aren’t really both going to have similar levels of impact. Especially if the latter was giving you problems. You don’t need to talk here to talk in real life.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well, this is important to me. I like it here. Less so when totalitarian perspectives become normalized.

          • Guest

            But… that doesn’t change anything about inaction vs bad action!

            If you value people’s individual priorities and their freedom to choose so much, you should value Max’s freedom to literally get out a machine gun in the middle of a hospital and kill everyone there. It would definitely cause fewer deaths (probably just a couple hundred, if he’s good at it?).

            If you think oh, I value Max’s freedom but only up until the point that he’s not hurting anybody, what makes the thing that would cause a couple hundred deaths worse than the thing that would cause several 9/11s worth?

            Why is it okay to punish somebody for bad action but not for inaction? And if it’s not okay to punish somebody for bad action either… are you some form of anarchist? We have incentives and disincentives for behaviour for a reason.

          • Ellis Jones

            Uhuh. I provide *a* reason why inaction might be considered differently from action, and you start telling me I place freedoms and choice over literally any other priority, including not mass murdering people. Oh, and you got far enough into your strawman that you start thinking I might be an anarchist. Off to a great start.

            You’re not worth my time, even though your initial point was valid.

          • Izo

            You don’t seem to have the slightest idea of what ‘duress’ means.

            At no time was Alison under duress. Really wanting someone to do something is not ‘duress.’ Please learn what words mean before using the. Duress is the threat of harm made to compe a person to do something against his or her will or judgment.’ Alison was not under duress at all. In fact, the only person under duress was Max. Feral wasn’t. Alison wasn’t. The doctors harvesting organs weren’t.

            Also, NOT doing something is not murder unless you caused the problem in which people would die in the first place.

            Otherwise, you’re a murderer if you are not an organ donor on your ID. And an awful person. How dare you not be willing to donate your organs when you’d be dead anyway. /sarcasm

            For that matter, you’re an awful person and a murderer, if you don’t donate blood once a month. There’s no danger to you whatsoever and you’d be saving lives. Practically a serial killer. /sarcasm

          • Cokely

            Will you be shooting Neo-Nazis in the coming term?

          • Stephanie

            I despise them, but why would I do that?

          • Cokely

            You’ve clearly established a comfort with political violence. I was just wondering if you were going to follow through.

          • Stephanie

            You’re making a lot of erroneous assumptions about my ethics by calling that “following through.”

            I will not be shooting neo-nazis because I don’t believe that randomly shooting terrible people will benefit the world enough to justify murder.

          • Cokely

            I mean, the other assumption is that your ethics are fundamentally impotent if they don’t include sufficient violence to establish your desired utilitarian tyranny.

            But you’re right, perhaps that’s a bit random. Will you be shooting political figures this coming term?

          • Stephanie

            I think you really need to reread the comment you initially responded to. I said that all governed human societies already rely on the threat of force to coerce people into acting for the greater good.

            Assassinating politicians would not magically transform the nation into my personal utopia. That would be a stupid, pointless endeavor that would only serve to turn the dead politician into a martyr while someone equally terrible stepped up to fill their shoes.

            There are many less stupid ways for me to effect change, most of which don’t involve violence and most of which I can only carry out if I’m not in jail forever for assassinating politicians. The fact that I believe violence can be justified when it averts serious harm doesn’t mean that violence is the only strategy in my toolbox, or that I’m required to resort to it at every opportunity.

            I really do not appreciate you inventing some warped strawman version of my ethical system to attack. Either engage with my actual stated position or don’t engage at all. I’m about a hundred percent done with “well clearly you believe [something I don’t actually believe], so why don’t you follow through on that?!”

          • Cokely

            Many assumptions in this post, all of which excuse you from engaging in useful political violence.

            Martyrdom is not a given, and revolutions and social change must begin somewhere.

            The harm a politician can inflict can outweigh the cost of martyrdom, and can certainly outweigh the cost of your personal death and the possibility of jail.

            A future terrible politician is not guaranteed to be equivalent in terms of bad behavior compared to the one you’ve shot.

            The other methods you can use to effect change are not guaranteed to be as effective as one moment of violent action, nor is your personal ability guaranteed to make them more effective at all.

            All of your responses presume a great many things to be true, but you don’t have an exact means of calculating any of this. This explains why in hypothetical after hypothetical, you have responded with “Yes, I would engage in the tyrannical but utilitarian option” only when the hypothetical presumed certain knowledge of the result.

            Perhaps you believe in violence being justified if it averts serious harm. But I believe you will not engage in it outside of fantasy scenarios. I believe your implementation of your ethics is impotent.

          • Stephanie

            “Violence can be justified if it averts serious harm” is not the end-all and be-all of my ethical system. It’s a single facet of a broader axiom that humans should act to minimize others’ suffering. It will not be necessary for me to implement my axiom in that specific way unless I’m actually confronted with a scenario in which I have good reason to expect that committing violence will avert serious harm. (And no, “maybe assassinating a politician will work out in the end” does not qualify.) In any other situation, acting violently would be in direct contradiction to my ethics.

            I implement my ethics in my daily life, though I won’t claim to implement them perfectly 100% of the time. I’m not going to cannibalize my entire ideology in service to the single facet that you’ve decided should take priority. I will use violence only when I’m reasonably confident that doing so is necessary to serve my axiom.

            But I’m sure it will be much easier for you to debate me if you continue to assume that I’m a robot programmed only with the directive to commit violence for the greater good, with no additional context whatsoever. If that’s what you feel like doing, feel free to just write “my” side of the argument for me from now on.

          • Cokely

            What debate? Where is the debate? There is no position that could reasonably be taken that would change your philosophical outlook. You have said as much over the course of months. There is no real possibility that you will change your outlook on your axiom, whether in the implementation thereof or in abandoning utilitarian principles entirely.

            “I’m not going to cannibalize my entire ideology in service to the single facet that you’ve decided should take priority.”

            Would it help if I twisted your arm with superhuman strength? Or are there lesser forms of coercion that would suffice?

          • Charles

            How’s that pedagogical approach working out for you?

          • Cokely

            About as well as it does for anyone else here I suppose.

          • Cokely

            What is the purpose in engaging with your stated position? There’s no value in understanding it better, it hasn’t changed in months, and it’s been repeated ad nauseum.

            At this point, these arguments are a better canvas than a useful source of discourse.

          • Stephanie

            Remember I gave you two options there? If you don’t like the first one, take the second. I’m not here for you to use as a “canvas.”

          • Cokely

            You have no means of enforcing either option. I am glad you provided them, but decline both.

          • Stephanie

            I do, actually, have a way of enforcing the one where you leave me alone. Wait just a moment while I demonstrate it.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            “What is the purpose in engaging with your stated position?”

            ***Whistle blows*** Flag on the field! Quixotic foul. Participant has admitted they have no sincere investment in the discussion and are just using it as a space to monologue and tilt at windmills.

          • Cokely

            Guilty. I look forward to your penalty.

          • cphoenix

            I’ll take that bet. If there was a way that I could save even one life, which required someone taking control of my body and turning me into a literal puppet for five minutes without being able to ask me first, I would be happy with that in the end – assuming I knew what had happened, so I didn’t waste lots of money and stress on neurologists and psychiatrists trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

            Yes, if I suddenly found myself getting up, running out the door, and scooping a child from the path of a speeding car, and then someone walked up and said, “Sorry I had to do that, you were the closest, I hope you don’t mind too much,” I’d say “Well it was pretty scary, but I’m glad for how it worked out, thank you for saving that kid.”

            Not everyone has a Heinleinesque horror of being temporarily out of control. For myself, I realize just how little control I have over my own mind anyway. (I believe almost everyone has just as little control (Elon Musk may be an exception), but most couldn’t stand to admit it.)

            Would I want to be in a society where people could take over my body at any time for any whim? Of course not. Would I want to be in a society where people were willing to suffer some inconvenience and even temporary loss of control in order to make the world a much better place? Where people were willing to be on the negative side of utilitarian bargains, if the positive side were sufficiently positive? Yes, yes I would.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I mean, okay, just put the right words to what you’re standing for.
            Systems were the “greater good of the nation” have been prioritized over individual rights and self-determination have had a go in the 20th and got a bad rap since but what do I know, maybe the first try is always messy. @disqus_DkLklQDjEE:disqus already said she’s okay with a so called benevolent dictatorship, your turn I guess.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            “Systems were the “greater good of the nation” have been prioritized over individual rights and self-determination have had a go in the 20th and got a bad rap since but what do I know, maybe the first try is always messy.”

            That’s literally all systems of governance. It’s really just a matter of degree. if you have any system of law enforcement, incarceration, policing, government regulation, taxation, etc., then you live in a system that demands a certain acquiescence of individual rights and self-determination for the good of the nation (usually you included, but not always).

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙


          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Sure. But the point is that this is the absolute uncrossable line, the principle before all others, in modern democracies. It’s not utter and mindless radical freedom but body autonomy for instance takes priority before anything else when a dilemma occurs.
            Contrary to fascism.

          • Philip Bourque

            So what happens when Feral gets up one day and says “I feel better about myself now. I’ve saved enough lives this way. I’m going to do something else now.”

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Are you attempting to claim that Feral living a life of pure torture for a significant (although no longer constant) portion of her day is the equivalent of Max having his arm twisted?
            Scale matters in the real world. When you’re not talking about abstractions, the extent of harm matters.

          • masterofbones

            compared to hundreds of lives? The amount of pain is equally insignificant.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            I don’t think that’s necessarily as cut and dry as you think it is. There are many, many people who would rather die than be tortured for 20-30 hours a week for the rest of their supernaturally long lives. There’s not universal agreement that death is worse than torture, but there is pretty universal agreement that more pain is worse than less pain.

          • masterofbones

            And I’m not saying that it would be fun times for everyone. I’m just saying that from a rational standpoint, if your reason for forcing the dude to use his power is the hundreds of lives that would be lost, then really you should support forcing feral to perpetually donate organs.

            I mean, that isn’t why she *actually* did it. Her true motivation was to stop her friend from being in pain. But she doesn’t allow herself to accept that, because that motivation isn’t noble enough.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            1) Again, if by rational you mean utilitarian, then that depends on how you assign value to *constant torture* and death. Not everyone agrees on the relative values of those.

            2) We don’t know her “true motivation.” Not only does this comic not do thought bubbles, but we don’t even have a dialogue/monologue where she puts forth a claim about her true motivation.

            3) And from the utilitarian standpoint that you advocate in your first paragraph, if her motivation was the suffering of one person it’d still be legit. Her single friend was going through constant indefinite surgery without anesthetic, and she stopped it by yanking someone’s arm behind their back and depriving them of a few hours of sleep. Like, that’d STILL be understandable even if I granted your assumptions about her motivation.

          • masterofbones

            >if by rational you mean utilitarian

            No, I mean rational. If the pain of one individual is insignificant compared to hundreds of lives, then the pain of one individual(that is your friend) is insignificant to hundreds of lives. Its pretty simple.

            >we don’t even have a dialogue/monologue where she puts forth a claim about her true motivation

            Just like we don’t know that Paladin wants to sex Feral up, except that we do because it is blatantly obvious.

          • Philip Bourque

            Of course that’s not what I’m saying. You cannot say two lives are equal because they are different and their value differs based solely on who you ask.
            What I’m saying is that Feral volunteered for this (to punish herself or to save lives or whatever), she can quit any time she wants and that the value of Alison’s actions are all centred around Feral’s continued desire to give up pieces of herself to other people.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Gotcha. That makes more sense. That we are all calculating benefits of her action based entirely on the premise that Feral keeps doing it. If instead she says “Fuck it. This sucks and I want to live a (relatively) normal life.” then it’s a whole different ball game. I totally feel you on that.

          • Stephanie

            Probably nothing, since it’d be impractical to force her to continue donating, even if I believe it would be ethical to do so. It would require the sustained cooperation of way too many people, not to mention the difficulty of restraining someone who instantly regenerates from any harm and can’t be sedated.

          • Philip Bourque

            So then, would Alison’s actions not be a waste in such a case?

          • Stephanie

            Only if Feral quit donating immediately after being boosted. If that were the case, it would be unfortunate, but there’s no realistic way Alison could have predicted it at the time she made her decision.

          • Charles

            What happens if what Max did to Feral wears off? There’s no reason to believe that his “boost” is permanent, especially since it hasn’t really been tested before now.

          • Philip Bourque

            I know! And we can’t trust the person she called because they’ve already demonstrated that their information can’t be trusted. But I doubt it’s going to go there because if it was, there would have been some hints to it and I don’t think there have been. I’m thinking the author wants this to be a purely moral dilemma.

          • Izo

            Obviously she’ll need to be strapped down a few times a month, so that she won’t be a murderer for letting people die. If you want to be consistent.

            At least based on the utilitarian ‘logic’ (I use the word loosely) being used of some people here. Except I think that for some of these people, they would not want to do that to Feral because they like Feral, while they dislike Max.

          • Loranna

            . .Incidentally, I do think it would have made more sense if Alison had acted more slowly than she did.

            *Ducks* She was tired and emotionally worn-out, after all, and in no shape to be making an important decision, no matter -how- many lives were on the line. Her going ahead and getting into the situation she did with Max showed a terrifying refusal to acknowledge her -own- limitations. I’m -still- surprised she managed to pull off what she did with as much deftness as she did.

            Just . . . I’m sorry. This wasn’t, in my mind, a typical, superhero moment, where the victims were falling out of the airplane, or caught in the burning building, or the bridge is collapsing and all the cars are falling down. Her acting a bit slower . . . would have made more sense, at least in the “this is what I’d have hoped she’d do” way. Alison being Alison, yeah, not much chance.

            *sighs, tries to get some sleep herself*


          • The Duck From p.112

            Have I been summonned?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’d like to state once again that all this debate is about a technicality that the text doesn’t even acknowledge. I’m being annoying because the text left it wide open for us to take a step back and say “wait, why didn’t she do this much better thing”, failing to make us believe that there was no alternative (as it is trying to impress on us now)

            Although even in a world where Alison’s process was thought through and this was the absolute last resort this would have been the wrong choice for my money of course.

            But the “dead people are piling up” argument is an inconsistent and dangerous one and I’mma die on this hill

          • Loranna

            Could you remind me again, what that technicality was?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            That the text tells us there were absolutely no alternatives while we all came up with tons of’em. Be it merely take a breath and come back to it with better mental and emotional states. The authors don’t want us to consider that for the real debate that’s actually taking place in the page.

          • Loranna

            Oh. Right, (one of) the thing(s) we’ve all been discussing for the past couple of months. Thanks for clarifying.

            On reflection, my biggest gripe with Alison’s decision was not so much her priorities, as her decision-making process. I’m as happy as anyone that Feral’s free to live her life again, and I -could- see myself probably coming to the conclusion that twisting Max’s arm would be worth the good it would bring. I would just hope that, before i made that decision, that I’d thought things through, and gotten some advice from people I trust, because yeah, it’s an important decision and warrants getting the second opinion.

            . . . Which may be a point that Gurwara is hoping to guide Alison toward realizing. After all, she’s in college in order to learn how to be more than muscle, right? Yet when he challenged her axioms in class, she all but rage-quit – and next thing he knows, she goes and puts herself in a situation where she acts like the tyrant she’s always dreading she’ll become.


          • cphoenix

            The “she should have thought it through more” argument is almost completely different from the “She did a horrible thing so she could buy her friend a burger” argument. If you want be heard on the first argument, dropping the second would help me hear you.

            As I’ve indicated in answers to others this morning, I’m pretty open to discussing whether she should have thought it through more – even at the cost of dozens of lives.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …I guess joke’s on you for taking the burger thing seriously. @disqus_VVp4KvyFeL:disqus took me more brain power than this.

          • Tylikcat

            In support of this, the problem Alison now is in with amplifying other bio dynamics. It can be done. It will have other life saving effects. She is not in a situation to do so on terms she can deal with with Max at all.

          • Stephanie

            The thing is, it was a typical superhero moment in the sense of people being in imminent danger of dying. The only difference is that they weren’t dying right in front of us, they were dying offscreen somewhere. They were exactly as dying either way, and would have been exactly as dead if Alison had delayed any longer.

          • Loranna

            I . . .am having trouble accepting that. I also, upon reflection, was not rigorous in defining my terms. My apologies: let me rectify that now.

            Superhero moments, as I meant the term, are typically the result of a villain, or a natural disaster, putting peoples’ lives in immediate danger. Were it not for the villain, or disaster, those peoples’ lives would not have been imperiled, and without immediate intervention, those lives will be lost. Alsion being a superhero, she’s uniquely gifted to be able to intervene, in ways most people simply can’t, so we look to her to save the day when superhero moments arise.

            The situation Alison faced, by contrast, was one where people were suffering and dying of organ failure. Some of those cases may have been the direct cause of a villain, yes – needing a replacement kidney because someone just shanked your last working one would count! But I’d imagine a good portion of those organ failures were due to disease, age, genetic disorders, pollutants . . . in other words, the normal course of events in life. Yes, it’s good to act quickly to save those lives, but this is not, strictly speaking,a case of superhero moments. We don’t look to Alison, or some other superhero, to immediately intervene in the normal course of events in life.

            Now, in this particular case, Tara -did- try to intervene, and was doing all she could. She managed to make a superhero solution out of what normally wouldn’t be a superhero moment, but in the end, Tara’s contributions were still part of the everyday course of events. She just managed to make more donor organs available than there had been already, at staggering personal cost.

            So, to my reading, Alison’s intervention was not as a superhero, charging into a superhero moment, even if Max’s power allowed for a unique, potentially permanent, solution to organ donor issues. Rather, Alison’s intervention was more akin to . . . charity, I suppose? She made a contribution that would help others do more of the good work they were already doing, in the normal course of events. Specifically, she was contributing to Tara, and to the doctors who were helping the organ donor patients.

            Tara was, after all, already working to save peoples’ lives, and had been for some time. She had also accepted the horrific personal cost, doing so over the objections of her friends out of the strength of her convictions. Yes, freeing Tara from that suffering was a good thing; I’m glad it happened! But, it was still a suffering that Tara willingly embraced, was capable of handling, and was handling. Tara didn’t -need- Alison to save her from immediate harm.

            Nor did Tara need Alison to save lives for her. Tara was -already- saving lives through her sacrifice. True, not as many as Alison’s intervention allowed, but she -was- saving lives, going above and beyond what any reasonable person could ever ask of another. And she went into this effort fully believing, and accepting, that she couldn’t save everyone, and -it was okay that she couldn’t-, because the lives she could save still mattered. And those she couldn’t . . . she regretted deeply, I’m sure. As did, I’m also sure, the doctors who were also trying to save those peoples’ lives.

            Ahh, I hope I managed to get my point across, without too much rambling. Dangit Stephanie, you got me back into talking about the issues, rather than the artwork! You know i wouldn’t do that for just anyone, right? ^_^

            (Okay; ∫Clémens×ds 🐙did too, I can’t help it; I love you guys too much.)


          • Stephanie

            In my mind, it doesn’t matter whether or not a villain was responsible for the people suffering from organ failure. They were still going to die either way. It might not have been a traditional cinematic superhero moment, but the most relevant part–that people were going to die if she didn’t act–was definitely there. We might not typically expect superheroes to intervene in the course of everyday suffering, but if they’re capable, I think we ought to.

            Tara didn’t need Alison to save lives for her, but the people who would have died without Alison’s intervention did need her to save them. Are you familiar with the story of the little girl throwing starfish back into the ocean? It’s like that. (Plus, even though Tara was already saving lives, she’s shown us how incredibly grateful she was to Alison for helping her save even more. The lives she saved definitely mattered even when they weren’t all of the lives, but the extra people she can now save matter just as much.)

            I think it’s useful to imagine a “representative” for the dying people–that is, to picture a single dying individual, with a name and a face and loved ones and an inner experience as rich as anyone else’s. Someone who, through no fault or choice or their own, suffered organ failure and is sure to die any day unless they receive a transplant. If we think of that person as Alison’s “starfish,” it’s easier to feel the urgency of saving (“rescuing”) them. That urgency just doesn’t register if we’re only picturing an abstraction of a few faceless people dying.

            I appreciate your talking about the issues with me! Also, it looked like you wanted to italicize a few things! In case it’s useful to you, the formatting for italics is to put “em” in carets () before the italicized part, and “/em” in carets after. There might be an easier way than that, but that’s the one I know.

          • Loranna

            Tests this wild and crazy magic-speak . . .

            Huh; much obliged ^_^

            As for the matter of perspective brought up by cphoenix, and your own points, I’ll try to make a more reasoned response sometime later. I’ve been turning over the question of how far should one go to save the nominally un-savable for a while now! But lunch is calling, quite stridently in fact, so I’ll just throw this out for now:

            I’m finding myself in agreement with other posters above, who have pointed out the potential costs of Alison’s decision – Max is very likely to take steps to never be coerced into amping someone again, which could have profound effects down the line. It may very well be, that saving these countless lives now, and Tara as well, was worth sacrificing those potential future benefits, and accepting whatever potential evil Max might wreck in retaliation. I still think saving Tara as a good idea, and that, in Alison’ shoes, I’d have probably done much the same, eventually.

            I just really, really wish Alison had shown some indication that she’d even considered any of these potential consequences before she went for her One Punch Solution. And I’m really, really worried that she won’t see that the issue here is not just what she did, but how little thought went into getting there.

            Anyway! Time to eat. Talk later all.


          • Stephanie

            I agree with that. There are potential repercussions to the method she chose, and although I realize it might have interrupted the flow of the narrative, I would have liked to see her considering them.

          • cphoenix

            Superheroes save people from burning buildings, dam collapses, etc. I agree with Stephanie – it doesn’t take a villain.

            What it does take, in the genre, is an identifiable victim. A superhero who writes a check to Heifer International is not “being a superhero.” Again, no sarcasm.

            Since the dying people are off-screen, you are right that it wasn’t a “superhero moment.” But whether it is or not… only makes a difference to the viewers. I think this discussion makes more sense if we ignore the viewers’ perspective.

          • Ilya

            Right, the superhero writing a check isn’t doing a thing heroic.
            The superhero who’s eyes are used to stop typhoid, directly, by using UV vision on all water on the planet?
            That’s heroic.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙
          • Weatherheight

            As to the art – the red-flashes above are actually pretty standard fare. What I find interesting is the range of emotions showing on the faces of both characters – apparently Molly and Brennan both decided to kick loose with their respective chops.

            The cowering in panel one – is she upset at Guwara’s mocking, can she not see the humor in this situation (extremely dark humor, but humor nonetheless) and is turning her face away from him out of shame, or is she grabbing her head with her hands to keep her hands from throttling the Prof? I’m getting a little of all three.

            Panel two, Alison is still clearly mad but maybe not so much as before, and by panel three, she’s moving past the lashing-out upset to the “I’m drowning – please help me” upset.

            Guwara in panel four is asking an extremely tough question and his expression (to me) appears to reflect genuine interest in Alison’s answer.

            Panel five, Alison again can’t quite look him in the eye, she’s turning away – but there’s a bit less shame there to me and a bit more defiance, almost daring him to judge her.

            Panel Six, Guwara rejects the role into which she’s trying to force him and that look (again, to me) isn’t anger, it’s disrespect and defiance.

            The last panel looks to me to involve (a) frustration with Guwara’s rejection of her demand that he judge her and give her an easy answer, (b) a dawning realization that it’s okay to regret having done something even though the net “objective” good supports having done the action, and (c) a smidge of satisfaction that he has declined to judge her, which implies at some level that he does not actively disapprove of her decision.

            (side note – panel four seems to verify that Alison’s story did a pretty good job of (a) keeping the identities of everyone involved pretty well concealed, and (b) apparently being honest enough to convey the situation while nevertheless leaving out personally identifiable information regarding actions taken. Good call on those who gave Alison the benefit of the doubt there.)

          • cphoenix

            As Walter pointed out, Alison may have spoiled a much greater opportunity by doing what she did. So it may have been unwise, and the unwisdom may have come from tiredness, and perhaps she should have said, “The stakes are so high that I’ll sleep, knowing that 100 people will die while I’m sleeping, so I can make a better decision.” If that sounds like sarcasm, it’s not – I’m being serious.

            What I have a problem with is the argument that it was _morally indefensible_ for Alison to do what she did. And I have an extra problem with people pretending she did it so she could give Feral a hamburger.

            If someone argues that it was the wrong decision on practical grounds, they have no need to duck – from me, anyway. Being utilitarian means you have to do what you can to make the right decision, and that definitely means considering all the costs.

            It’s quite possible that she should have sent in e.g. Paladin with a calmer, stronger, more attractive (to Max) argument for why Max should augment both her and Feral, or even join the team. That might well have done more good in the long run.

          • Loranna

            Yeah, that was a good point on Walter’s part. 🙂

            As for the other thing, well. I can’t speak for Clems of course, but i read their comment about the hamburger as a oblique nod to the fact that Alison got caught up in the short-term crisis – saving her friend Tara – and lost sight of long-term issues, such as the potential Max possessed for affecting other situations, and taking steps to earn his willing cooperation.

            But then, I admit to some degree of bias: I kinda like Clems’s sense of humor >.>


          • crazy j

            I’m going to miss Bob, but waiting for Allison to tell Max off was well worth it.

          • bryan rasmussen

            considering the rate at which feral was worked on, and that donations generally do not happen when the person receiving the organ only has minutes left to live I am pretty sure that number of people of people was actually 0.

          • Elaine Lee

            Don’t believe that. The means are sometimes justified by the end, but it’s never always. If you’re so dedicated to ANY philosophy that you can’t see the reality around you, that’s bad. We’re often forced to choose between different degrees of “not okay.”

          • Stephanie

            Yes, that’s true. I was being sarcastic to illustrate how silly it is to demand that kind of “all-or-nothing” adherence to a philosophy.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            A fool or a weakling, jeez. Fascism’s hot these days, isn’t it?
            I would also like to kindly ask you to not equate the same kind of value judgement you make when you boil down a person to “a fool” and when you boil them down to “a sociopath”. The mental illness does not exist for people to establish points with.

          • Stephanie

            I mean, I wasn’t super into the name-calling either…but I think if you’re going to accuse someone of “fascism” for thinking poorly of a hypothetical person who’d let thousands of people die, it’s a little silly to then immediately call them out for frivolously using a real-world term as an insult.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …are you arguing that it’s offensive to use “fascist” as an insult?
            Because woaw

          • Stephanie

            No, I’m saying it was a frivolous and inappropriate use of the word in this instance. I had edited the comment slightly to clarify that before you responded, not sure which version you saw.

          • cphoenix

            Mental illness exists whether you like it or not. I will stick to facts, and if you don’t like the facts, you are welcome to stop reading.

            Also, I would like to ask you kindly to stop reading things into my writing that I did not say. I did not say that a fool and a sociopath were equivalent. I also did not say that my, or anyone’s, value judgement is or should be the same.

            What I said is that reasons for failing to act quickly might be foolishness, weakness, or sociopathy. Feel free to disagree on factual grounds, if you can. But if you try to distract by pretending I have broken some rule of propriety, I will reject your request as being doubly unfounded.

        • juleslt

          The most immediate practical reason, which also make it more moral from an utilitarian point of view, would be to keep the moral high ground and make future cooperation to save lives easier.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            So keeping the moral high ground of pretending to want to do things right is worth the necessarily dead people it leads to, but not actually wanting to do things right?
            This moral high ground is very slippery indeed

          • juleslt

            I was only giving a sufficient reason within the frame of reference of utilitarianism.
            But I *am* inclined to think that ethicist ideas of “the right thing” tend to be heuristics for ultimately utilitarian choices.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Not devolving into the violent rule of the powerful as soon as the first hurdle inevitably posed by the sanctity of body autonomy arises *also* fosters cooperation. I’d argue: way, way, way better.

          • Ordinary Tree

            julesIt is agreeing with you m8. They’re just stating what would’ve been the best possible action for Allison to take: coercing Max in a way that fosters future cooperation. Motive aside, that is definitely the best course of action for tough choices like these.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well she botched that up.
            Now the people who died of organ failure while Alison was sitting on his couch instead of going for the head right away died for nothing

          • juleslt

            An even better scenario would have been to get him on board to do the maximum amount of good with his power.
            And that could only be achieved peacefully.

        • JeffH

          But Clem, she did ask. And he made it clear that he was never, ever, EVER going to do it, and that nothing would change his mind.

          I respect your disagreeing with Al’s decision to use force, but I went and re-read the exchange: Max said, “My answer is no. It’s going to stay no, and it’s always going to be no.” Followed by dialog that indicated that Alison in particular would never have a chance to convince him otherwise.

          Nothing other than coercion was going to change his mind — the writers made that point as clearly as this medium can, as none of us wanted to read a month of comics with Al begging and Max refusing.

          (Coercion through threat of being outed was my personal hope that Alison would attempt, but I believe literal arm twisting was probably more humane.)

          We can continue to argue about whether the force was justified, but I find the argument of, “She should have at least waited a while to see if he would change his mind,” to be ignoring the dilemma the writers actually set up.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            That’s what I’m saying below. None of this matters. This is a technicality that the webcomic actively discourages from pursuing.

            But I rather enjoy adding it to the perennial list of things Alison fucked up at, instead of being nice and doing as if it didn’t happen. It’s fun. It enables me to write dumb comments where I pretend Alison’s urging was so as not to miss her burger.

          • saysomethingclever

            Clem, you confuse people. The type of hyperbolic sarcasm you routinely use to try to make your points works well as a thesis, but not as a supporting argument. At least not if you are trying to communicate and defend an actual opinion that you hold, or if you are playing devil’s advocate because you like debate for its own sake.

            I have been reading your comments long enough to know you don’t like being accused of trolling, and yet you keep this going. Long observation also shows you are smart, and capable of clarity when you want to be.

            So,i’m curious: which is it? Are you being silly and meta to the point that you don’t care if you’re misunderstood? Or are you deliberately provoking more earnest folk because it amuses you to make them mad? Or is there something else going on here that I don’t get for lack of data?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t like this strict dichotomy much. Is it really that difficult to tell the difference? I’m going as far as using a muderous cyborg pirate lesbian collective to underline my silliness, I have such a hard time grasping that be they genuine momentary misunderstandings when I’m using this account, they couldn’t be easily waved off by a simple clarification.

          • saysomethingclever

            i’m sorry to respond so late, Clem… i’m a parent, i’m easily distracted. I haven’t got any problem with your sense of humor myself; like i said before, i’ve lurked on this board long enough to have seen you get in the same “that was sarcasm, if you don’t get the joke, don’t engage” argument a couple of times, so I know better.

            but what you may have to realize is that your other persona(s) are obviously meta, but this one doesn’t stretch credulity much *and you also use it for genuine debate*. so when you use your usual sarcasm-hyperbole-falling off the slippery slope-wicked metaphor combo punch in several successive comments/replies and somebody doesn’t get it, they start to get pissed.

            so yeah, the evidence points to some people find your humor obtuse.

            i don’t think that’s anybody’s fault. in this medium, per force, the interlocutor has to infer any nuance; we all get it wrong at times.

          • Weatherheight

            While I agree with your analysis, I have found in my life that when people say “I will never…”, they mean it only rarely.

            In this case, we have no evidence that he did not mean it, so your point does stand, but there is a degree of “hurry up and fix this” to add to the situation and box Alison in, plot-wise, and I found that to be… incompatible with previous characterization as regards other characters. Max came off being a clay pigeon, present for the express purpose of being shot down (to me at least).

            Given that most other significant characters haven’t followed that set-up, I may be quibbling here. I also could be assigning too much importance to Max, story-wise, but his power is potentially world changing on many levels, so I feel comfortable putting him on par with either Hector or Mary, at the least.

            Then again, the night is young, and so are we all…

      • Stephanie

        Unfortunately, people tend not to register large groups of dying people as…well, people. Max gets to be a real person because he has a face and a name. So does every one of those 22 people a day, but we don’t know them, so apparently that just makes them an abstract undifferentiated mass. How could Alison possibly hurt a real person just to save a bunch of faceless abstractions! /s

        Sometimes it really seems like human ethics boil down to where the camera is pointed.

        • cphoenix

          Very well put. Human ethics depend very much on who is in one’s circle of sympathy.

          They also depend on how one is acculturated. Which is more important, the individual or the group? I suspect that depends largely on the size of the fundamental economic unit of society. The US has a long history of lone wolves and nuclear families – immigrants, pioneers, internal migrants. Other cultures have a much longer history of extended families and/or clans being the fundamental unit, and some of their ethics look quite abhorrent to us (e.g. honor killing).

          If people would face the fact that human ethics/morality is extremely context-dependent and flexible, we might be able to make a start at finding ways for different ethical systems to coexist. If people are sure that their system is the only right one, then they tend to spread destruction.

        • Malcolm Wright

          This is a perfect way to put it. We are terribly concerned with the people who are visible to us, but suffering feels nebulous and theoretical when we arn’t exposed to it. This is part of why the incredibly rich are so on board with sociopathically causing huge amounts of harm to the people who depend on them, and its why i have a hard time conceptualizing the suffering that needed to occur for the precious minerals currently in my phone to be mined about of the ground in africa.
          We are all part of evil, and help suffering to occur, something that would revolt us to our very core if we truly understood it. But we don’t. It’s something we ought to struggle with a whole lot more.

        • pidgey

          Your argument depends on the supposition that Alison really, honestly believed that the route to saving the most lives was through coercion. I don’t believe most people think that; I certainly don’t think Alison (or some real life version of her set of beliefs) could think it. I don’t think she even thinks it now, despite the conversation on this page. The reason she rejects the idea of going back and undoing what she did is because she’s afraid of trying something braver than what she did, not because she doesn’t think such would work.

          And ultimately, that’s my problem with this whole plotline. It sets up this false dichotomy between “utilitarianism demands you act” and “everything about who you are as a human being screams that you don’t”. Finding the path to both is our obligation as moral beings.

          • Stephanie

            The option Gurwara gave her wasn’t to go back and do it over, it was to undo what she’d done to Max and simultaneously undo what she did for Feral/the transplant recipients. Alison hasn’t actually rejected the idea of going back and trying new dialogue options with Max, because that hypothetical wasn’t presented to her.

      • Matrix

        Yes, People die for lack of transplants, that is a fact. By Allison’s actions it fixed a supply. There is no denying the good that amping Feral has, in creating an abundant supply and freeing Feral from constant torture. Now it is only part time torture. And maybe with the abundant supply we can have a few extra to experiment on to eventually make it so we don’t need Feral at all. It had it’s benefits.
        By this logic a doctor that does not harvest a body of it’s good organs (donor card or not) is simply letting people die. Despite the fact that the people that don’t have donor cards might not want their organs used after they die. So there is that.
        Allison is currently plagued on weather it was right to do what she did but wont change it even if it is wrong. She JUST now realized that, if she could, she wouldn’t take back the action. Right or Wrong, she is prepared to let it stand. So now comes a maturity moment. Now that she realizes it, she needs to make some decisions on how to act in the future.
        But back to the waiting is death argument. Socially, the way most people work is that they only think about things if there is something personal. Like a tragedy happens, It means nothing unless you have a friend or someone you know involved in the tragedy. Emotional attachment is the key. I can feel bad about the tragedy but since it isn’t happening to me or mine it is an abstract feeling, not a feeling that “hits home” so to speak. So people are not ignoring the fact that with out Allison’s actions people are dying. People don’t normally think about what happens if they fail to act until it is time to act or the decision is right in front of them. Abstract until you “Have a stake in it” so to speak. Using the same logic: Are you in the military fighting a war right now? If not then you are ignoring other people’s plight and people are dying because you are not acting. Or I could use other examples such as, Are you a scientist working to cure cancer? If not then you are letting people die by waiting to become a scientist.
        The point is, she wanted to help and she acted as she could, when she was aware of it. By the script she did take time to outline her reasoning to Max and he refused. If he said yes then we would not be having a lot of discussion because she would not be forcing him. It is mostly the act of forcing him to help that she is having trouble with, morally. And wondering if it is right that in certain situations to use her power to make others do what is right. She is searching for justification and wanting guidance on a template for future behavior. A short cut. Gwarra just pointed out that there are no short cuts. She will face this decision each time. AND THAT is a part of growing up, maturing.

        • UnsettlingIdeologies

          “By this logic a doctor that does not harvest a body of it’s good organs (donor card or not) is simply letting people die. Despite the fact that the people that don’t have donor cards might not want their organs used after they die. So there is that.”

          I actually fully support this. We should have no say over what happens to our body after we are dead with the limited exception of specific religious belief systems that require specific treatment of the body. It’s ludicrous to me that we as a society don’t already do this.

          • Matrix

            While I also think that this would be a good thing, Eliminating choice is a big step towards other eliminations of choice. While it may seem selfish there are people that do have certain un-voiced beliefs that are religious in nature but not a stated part of any given religion. I don’t feel that we should eliminate choice here. In many cases it might be against your beliefs but not against anything you state as a religion. But in the end one’s personal beliefs are what is important in someone’s spiritual life. Making it where you need to voice an objection to your remains being used would also at the same time make it yet another form of potential discrimination. “Oh, he is not a Donar, He is a selfish person, we don’t need to be kind to him.” I am sure you get the idea. While, I feel it would be good if everyone is a donor, eliminating the choice would be bad and could lead to other unforeseen consequences.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            I suppose I’m in the camp that it should be an opt-out system. You’re absolutely right that it shouldn’t need to be part of a recognized religion, because that direction is full of all sorts of problems. But I also think that for many folks the choice not to donate organs is a selfish choice. It’s a matter of them putting their own squick factor over other people’s lives. I don’t think we, as a society, should generally condone this (even if we don’t legally take it away as an option).

          • Akiva

            I agree with making organ donation opt-out instead of opt-in (as some states are doing with drivers’ licenses now); I don’t agree with requiring it. I think it’s generally a good idea to stick with the basic principles of bodily autonomy even after someone is dead, otherwise it erodes the bodily autonomy of the living, and the first victims are going to be the poor, people with disabilities, people of color….

            Not a perfect analogy, but it’s interesting to note that in the 1800s, doctors were so desperate for cadavers to study that an industry sprang up to rob graves and even murder people, and of course they went after people who no one cared about enough to raise a fuss. No one is going to dig up the queen, but a prisoner or a beggar?

            It just occurred to me that I would probably feel more uncomfortable with Alison exploiting Max’s labor if he wasn’t a white man, and privileged in every other way. It’d be hard not to wonder if she was on some level making the decision because his labor is already assumed to be a public good.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            “otherwise it erodes the bodily autonomy of the living”

            I don’t know that this necessarily follows. Even in your example from the 1800s, those who were murdered already lacked bodily autonomy before there was an increased demand for cadavers to experiment on. I think the two issues are connected, but the causal relationship doesn’t operate the way you are implying here.

            I don’t think dead bodies should have any more right to bodily autonomy than a car should have right to bodily autonomy or the snow that has fallen on the sidewalk. Although I also agree we need to have really careful protections in place to limit harms to chronically ill folks, etc.

          • Akiva

            That’s legit. I don’t know that there’s a strong causal connection, but it seems like we agree that there’s a risk of making the jump incrementally. If the dead have no right to their living wishes being respected, then it lowers the barrier to disregarding the end of life wishes of people in permanent vegetative states. And if we then accept that we have a moral obligation to treat people who aren’t going to wake up from comas the same way as dead bodies, who else inches closer to being a dead body?

            Anyway, in countries where opt-out is a longtime policy, more than 90% become donors (https://sparq.stanford.edu/solutions/opt-out-policies-increase-organ-donation, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/business/economy/27view.html ), so I don’t know if more drastic measures/legislation are even necessary. Everybody wins. 🙂

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            That’s a really useful and interesting statistic!

            And you’re right, I agree that there is a risk of a creeping effect, at least as long as some lives are already considered less valuable and some people less worthy of bodily autonomy. So opt-out does seem to be the best way to reap the benefits and limit the harms. (UGH! Why is it so easy to explain things in utilitarian terms!?)

      • Walter

        I’m not, in general, a fan of Clem’s reasoning, because I think that it is fighting the conventions of the genre. That is, the only way to intervene is the dramatic one.

        Nonentheless, I also don’t think your objection is exactly fair either.

        If we say we have to get Max’s cooperation, then let’s split the ways of doing it into

        A: Immediate physical compulsion
        B: Back off and spend a month or so getting his willing cooperation (use Patrick’s mind reading, Max’s thirstiness, whatever)

        You are correct in pointing out that B has a cost. People would die in the time it took you to get Max on board, and there’s always the risk that it would be impossible, and you’d end up back at A.


        A has a cost too. The cost is Max’s cooperation. He is, presumably, going to take steps not to be kidnapped again. Perhaps he’ll kill himself, or just hide.

        The doc asks Alison if she can do this again for others. She has to say ‘No’, because she has no idea where Max is. We lose the lives that Maxing Paladin might save. That Maxing Patrick might save. Etc.

        Max’s power may well wear off. If so, we lose further access to the Max’d Feral.

        Saving thousands, nay, millions of lives, was an incredible gain. But Max’s willing cooperation could have revolutionized the human experience, ushering in a golden age. There is an argument to be made that NOTHING was worth jeopardizing that.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Also a price of taking the easy road you’re not considering: Alison’s credibility as a force for good. She’s lost it now. She set a precedent to showcase how she handles these situations. She’s become what people in the comic biz’ call “a villain”. There’s no such thing as “just one time is okay”. It’s all in. And now she can never take it back.

          Also: you know what’s fighting the conventions of the genre? Subverting its tropes on a regular basis? This very webcomic.

          • Zac Caslar

            You want something you aren’t going to get.

            You should decide what you’re going to do when you realize that.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …a billion dollars?

          • Giacomo Bandini

            “There’s no such thing as “just one time is okay”.”

            I belive this is a trope actually.

          • Walter

            I feel like you and I are never on the same side of any questions, which is not great, but on we go.

            I don’t think her credibility as a force for good (in story) is lost. Who knows? Only Max, and he isn’t likely to tell.

            As far as out-of-story goes..if you think she is a villain, why do you read on? It seems apparent that the creators of the comic do not view Alison as a villain.

            Are you hoping that I’m wrong about that, and they are leading us on these last few months, or are you interested in the adventures of this villain?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Of course I’m interested in the adventures of this villain

        • Elaine Lee

          So, you’re saying coercion by manipulation is more ethical than coercion by arm-twisting? Maybe she could’ve made Max fall in love with her? Once Feral was free, walk away and break his heart? Gee, that would’ve been MUCH better! No different than having Patrick read his mind and figure what his desires and fears are. Meanwhile, Feral is in agony and people are dying. What you’re suggesting is so Machiavellian and such a time and energy suck, not to mention more evil than what Alison did, that I can’t believe you’re serious. Maxing Paladin would turn her into a robot and maxing Patrick would fry his already overtaxed mind.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh hi person asserting that people can’t make reasoned decisions

          • Elaine Lee

            Nope. Just asserting that they very often don’t. And reason doesn’t exist in isolation from desire. In fact, most recent research seems to point to the fact that reason developed in order to justify our desires and actions. We do whatever stupid thing we were always going to do, largely dependent on inborn temperament, then come up with a list of good reasons why we did it, but always a little bit after the fact,

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Good enough to call any attempt at convincing people “mental manipulation”?

          • Walter

            It’s ethical, in the sense that…it would save more lives?

            And who said she’d walk away and break his heart?

            Like, if you are on Team ‘Alison was justified’, then presumably you are not a fan of torture and kidnapping. You think that the ends justify those means.

            Extend that. Max gets persuaded, instead of tortured. He doesn’t become uncooperative. He continues to help the world. Far more than just with Feral.

          • cphoenix

            Maxing Feral turned out pretty well.

          • Tylikcat

            This has been a point that I don’t feel has been well addressed. There’s been no few calls for “Bring Patrick in and everything is fine!”* Having someone mess with your head is absolutely A-OK as long as the don’t scare you and put you in a joint lock!

            Look, there is no way I can have a reasonable discussion about my own experiences of various kinds of coercion without it getting way creepier than is okay even compared to some of my much earlier posts. (I mean, it won’t bother me, though it does get a bit personal, I suppose.) But I think the big thing is that there isn’t any absolute comparison, because it’s all subjective when you get down to it. I can think of a particular experience of being raped, and a particular director I used to work for, and seriously, I would rather repeat that rape than work for that director again for a week. (Though I suppose it would be different if I knew it was just a week? It was the situation, and who I was then…) Generally speaking, I kind of prefer physical pain compared to some of the other more severe forms of coercion – I have a lot of experience with it, it’s a known quantity – but I’m sure there are exceptions to that! I mean, I’m not saying I *like* pain, I like an absence of pain a lot!

            Oh, do you mean you could make Max like it? Ahahaha… so that makes everything fine then? Yeah, thanks, compared to that kind of mindfuck, please sign me up for some refreshingly straightforward physical torture! Ye gods.

            * Even though there are obvious issues with this.

          • Weatherheight

            Every once in a while, people awe me.
            Apparently it was your turn today. 😀

          • Tylikcat

            Oh, please don’t.

          • This feels like a precarious argument to me. While coercion is a form of manipulation and a form of persuasion, manipulation is not always coercion anymore than persuasion is always coercion. I grant you that we have a tendency to view manipulation in a negative light, but I don’t think it helps to conflate the use of selected or targeted ideas with the use of force.

        • cphoenix

          This is a good point, and it may be that Alison has killed the goose that could have laid a lot of golden eggs. That would be a strong reason to not do it. If we knew that would be the result, then of course she should have waited.

          But I don’t think that’s Clem’s argument. She’s talking about burgers, and about how no one should ever be coerced ever. So when she says Alison should have waited and tried to persuade him, what I hear is “Alison did a morally indefensible act and should have looked for any way to avoid doing it” (even at the cost of hundreds of lives a day) rather than “Alison did a deeply unwise act.”

        • Okay, you did it, Walter; you finally convinced me to log back in just so I can state how much I agree with your post. Well played.

          I’m not getting into the argument, again- I think nearly all the possible points have already been made, in any case, so now it’s just a question of whose breath will give out first.

          That said, I have been thinking and trying to understand why I’ve been so vehemently opposed to Alison’s solution for so long. As Stephanie has pointed out repeatedly- and correctly- what Alison forced Max to do has saved a nearly incalculable number of lives; by any sort of rational calculus, this ought to be justified.

          And yet…

          I think the best I can come up with is this (and I’m paraphrasing Lois McMaster Bujold and, worse, taking the quote entirely out of context): I don’t believe in perpetual motion. It’s against my religion.

          The universe tends towards entropy, and any order that we impose upon it will eventually break down, barring constant reapplications of the ordering structures. If Max’s powers are not a one-shot permanent improvement of Feral’s powers, then eventually Feral’s ability to donate will return to normal- and there might be no way to reapply the boost.

          That doesn’t mean that the lives saved by coercing him have no value; it just calls into question their relative value when compared to all those who, as a result of hasty action, will not be saved.

          Sadly, without more information, I have no answers. Specifically, the more information I would like is whether or not Alison believed (or, at least, had reason to believe) that Max’s powers would create a permanent boost to Feral’s abilities.

          • Walter

            Hey, welcome to the commentariat!

            I’m definitely interested in where this arc is going.

          • Thanks, Walter. I’ve actually made a number of comments in the past, but had to retire because it felt like the comments were leading nowhere and becoming acrimonious. As I was not settled in my own mind as to what my misgivings were, I opted to stop commenting and wait to see how things played out.

          • Stephanie

            This is a good point to consider. I do think Alison believes it to be a permanent boost. I’m basing that on her response when Max asked what would stop her from coercing him again–she said she’d do it again if she wanted to. I think if she expected the boost to wear off, she would have stated her intention to come back and coerce him on a regular basis. (Similarly, if Max believed his boost to be temporary, his question probably would have alluded to that fact–“What’s to stop you from coming back as soon as it wears off?”)

            Of course it’s possible that she lied to minimize the risk that he’d make himself inaccessible, but I don’t think that’s likely. If she’d been thinking “I’m going to need him again in a month or whatever, but I can’t let him know or he’ll run away,” it wouldn’t make much sense for her to nevertheless tell him she’d be back whenever she wanted to. Plus, lying to him about her intentions to regularly coerce him would only work once–the jig would be up as soon as she showed up again. And those panels were framed as a moment of brutal self-honesty on Alison’s part, so it wouldn’t really “fit” for her to be misleading Max there.

            Basically, when I imagine the scene from Alison’s perspective, that final comment only makes sense if she believes the Feral boost was one-and-done.

          • It’s not that I believe that Alison is misleading Max; frankly, that would be out of character for her, given what we’ve seen. My concern is that she might not have actually considered the possibility that her one-punch solution may actually require considerably more punches… and there’s been nothing to support a supposition in either direction.

          • Stephanie

            It seems like an obvious thing for her to cover with Dr. Rosenblum before meeting with Max. The duration of the boost is a key aspect of the power. It would be such an extreme oversight that I think it’s implausible–though certainly not impossible–that Alison didn’t get some kind of assurance that the boost would be permanent.

          • I’m not actually disagreeing with you; I’m simply saying that there is no evidence to support that position within the story that has been presented.

          • Walter

            I dunno about that. Did she even talk with any doctor? I thought she got Patrick’s papers and dashed to Max’s house.

            I’d bet it isn’t permanent. From a narrative perspective, it would be a bit odd to give all this focus to her decision if she isn’t going to revisit it, whether to double down or repent.

            Next big hint at where this story is going will be when Feral gets the truth. if she’s horrified, that may be sufficient moral dilemma. If she approves, then I’d expect another twist coming.

          • Stephanie

            I do think she’ll be confronted with a decision like this one again, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a repeat of the same decision.

          • Alison did attempt to speak with Dr. Rosenblum; we do not know whether or not she was successful, since the story progressed from her talking to the doc’s voicemail (presumably at night) to her confronting Max (also presumably at night).

            I see no reason to suppose, though, that either of the questions that she posed, assuming that she actually managed to get ahold of the doc, actually explored all of the likely possibilities.

          • Shjade

            The primary flaw I see with any of the “should have tried harder to/waited until she could persuade Max to help” arguments is they presuppose persuasion was an option.

            He was presented with the choice and its outcomes. He made his decision, despite what many here seem to think are obvious positives to the contrary and negatives with his choice. Given this, I think it reasonable to believe he would not be persuaded by any non-coercive means.


            Oh, sure, maybe if he finds out someone he personally cares about needs a Feral organ he’d change his mind and get invested, but unless someone sets that up to happen (coercion), what are the odds? And if we’re considering the possibility his boost is impermanent, what’s his motivation for renewing it after that person has what they need to live?

            It’s easy to criticize the injustice of force used in this situation when assuming there were other, more humane/righteous means of accomplishing the same goal. The thing is, sometimes there just isn’t. Not everyone cares about doing the right thing; some will in fact resist it out of spite.

            So: Max will not be persuaded.

            Now what?

          • This is not an interesting argument to me. If you presuppose that he can be persuaded, then asking the question is logical. You don’t then get to say that further persuasion is impossible without further testing. If you assume that persuasion is not possible, then there is no purpose to asking the question in the first place, except to make Alison appear more sympathetic., and any time used to seek a mutually acceptable solution is untenable.

          • Shjade

            Actually the purpose of the question was to see if the folks arguing that he could be persuaded felt there was any other viable option if they’re wrong about that.

            Given your immediate response is that I want to garner sympathy for Alison’s choice – implying it’s the only other choice – apparently you, for one, do not.

          • It is not my intent to give offense, but I have to point out that it appears that there is a flaw in your reasoning. Specifically, you seem to be arguing that my failure to choose an answer that was not presented as one of the options means that I am unwilling to entertain alternatives.

            Alternatives- including the idea of getting Paladin to create a technological solution- have been discussed before. The problem presented here, however, was based on the assumption that Max was the only solution to the problem and so any action had to somehow either gain his compliance or else leave the problem unsolved.

            If you understood the problem differently, then you should have phrased it differently so as to make that clear.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m kind of disgusted by this assumption that trying to get him to help of his own intent is considered “Plan A” in a scheme that doesn’t allow for failure. As much as I dislike the argument that convincing him is mental manipulation just as much as coercing him is physical manipulation, this is as close as it gets. This is considering human communication as a tool to get what you want “humanely”, instead of, y’know, communication.

            If you ever cared about convincing him, you go home when he says no. Otherwise you just barge in and force it out of him immediately because why bother, it’s the same.

            But since you’re not a tryrannical idiot, once home, you still have options.
            Body autonomy is a right one can’t deny, ever. But another privilege Max unwarrantedly benefited from was his mother hiding his records. Undermining that is correcting an injustice, not making one. So that information leaks. Max’s still got his choice to make, but has to assume the consequences of being viciously reviled by the entire world for it, which, shock of all shocks, doesn’t infringe on his indivifual rights.

            Maybe he still won’t budge. But heck, he’s not that dumb.
            (What’s dumb is the argument that he would be killed if people knew. That is so immensely dumb. Either The New York Postal Service has taken care of you before you even came out or you don’t run any risk in this world. Making one up and pretending the government asked for supers registration without protection is the dumbest thing.)

      • Daryl McCullough

        That is a powerful statement. I sort of agree, but only sort of.

        None of us are in the position of Alison to make decisions that have huge consequences of life and death. But to a lesser extent, we’re all in the same boat. Every day, innocent people die needlessly. Because they are malnourished, or because they lack the money for life-saving medicine, or from lack of sanitary drinking water… You can’t save all of them, but you could save some of them. The $10 that we spend on a movie could feed a starving person, so that he could live another day.The $200,000 that we spend on a house could save the lives of dozens of people. The philosopher Peter Singer–sort of a real-life Professor Gurwara–has pointed out that if any of us enjoy any luxuries at all, then we are, in a sense, condemning others to death for our own comfort.

        When it comes to justifying the use of coercion by the lives it saves, we could ask whether we should all be robbing banks, and using the money to save lives. That would be a parallel to Alison’s unethical use of force for good ends.

      • AnonoBot9000

        21,000 people die every day from starvation. That is one every 4 seconds. So by your logic she should have taken all his money and used it to buy food for those people as well.

        • AnonoBot9000

          Not to mention we have no idea about the long term effects of his power. What if the ramped up healing factor ends up causing every person who received a transplant to get an aggressive incurable cancer? What if Feral is now going to age 100x more quickly. How do we know there is no long term effect on him for his power being active on someone? I’m going to laugh when we come back to him a “few days later” and he has aged 40 years, due to fueling the constant regeneration in Feral.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            We have no idea, but our knowledge is distinct from Alison’s knowledge. We also have no idea how much information was in his dossier or what she spoke with her doctor about. (Do we even know 100% for sure that it was her doctor on the phone or have we just been making that assumption? I can’t remember anymore.)

          • Charles

            His power hasn’t been used enough (in a lab environment or the wild) for anyone to know for sure what long term effects it may have (or not have).

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            We don’t even know that for sure. We know that somehow he knows what his power is. And that he learned in part through the diagnostics done on him when he was younger. It’s totally possible that they tested the limits of his power then, or that they learned the mechanisms of his power then. Alternatively, since Patrick gave Alison the file, it may have come from the same source as his files on the super powerful kids who were killed. Those dossiers seemed to have TONS of information on the specifics of their respective powers.

            Again, we don’t know what she knows. We only know what we know, and that information has been intentionally limited.

          • Stephanie

            We know that Alison called Dr. Rosenblum’s office and asked for her to call her back ASAP. We don’t know for sure that they ever actually spoke, but we do know that that’s who Alison was trying to contact before the jump cut to Max’s place.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Thanks for the info. I couldn’t remember for sure.

        • cphoenix

          If my argument were taken to a logical extreme, it would say that, yes. I am not proposing to take my argument to an extreme.

          If your rejection of that extreme were taken to an extreme, we would all live in an Ayn Rand-inspired dystopia.

          As it is, we live in a country that takes a large fraction of our money for communal goods, such as roads, fire departments, health programs, and social safety nets. That is at neither extreme.

          What Alison did is not extreme, unless viewed through a particular kind of moral lens. Some people have that lens, and to them it seems like defending Alison is defending an extreme. For those of us who don’t have that lens, we know that we are actually taking a pretty moderate position.

          • AnonoBot9000

            It’s not a logical extreme. You have already committed assault and battery, along with kidnapping and coercion in order to save ~20 lives. Why not add robbery to that in order to save thousands? It’s ok to inflict physical harm onto someone to save lives, but not take their wallet?

            Robbing him would actually be far less cruel, have less impact to him as a person, and have no possibility of unforeseen consequences.

            Are the people whom are dying of starvation worth less than people dying of failing organs?

        • UnsettlingIdeologies

          Not gonna lie, I’m pretty down with the forced redistribution of his wealth. But I know I’m probably in the minority there.

        • AshlaBoga

          The thing is, she really should have. Tossing away $25,000,000 because you’re angry at your former crush is stupid and selfish. I facepalmed so far when she did that. I doubt she considered how many lives she could have saved.

        • Izo

          Actually Feral should get strapped back into the chair so that, when not donating organs for medical reasons, she can donate organs to cure world hunger. I think this argument has been made in past forums 🙂


    • Kevin B.

      Eh. If I could end a friends eternal torture with the trade of some smucks discomfort and bruised ego, I’d do that in a heartbeat. If that makes me a tyrant than so be it.

  • AshlaBoga

    Yeah, I don’t do absolution either.

    Either your actions were right, or they were wrong.

    If they were right, then I’ll do my best to alleviate your guilt since it’s unwarranted.
    If they were wrong, don’t repeat them, and if you need to feel guilt to learn, then so be it.

    • Sterling Ericsson

      Can’t someone have done the wrong thing for the right reasons (and with a positive outcome)? Unless we’re using an ends justify the means argument.

  • Adarsh B.V

    So basically, Just Live With It.

  • The Duck From p.112

    In the end, we are all bread crumbs floating on the lake of life.
    Luckily for me, I lack the necessary cognitive processes to have a consciousness to angst about my lack of free will.

    • Ordinary Tree

      You are the best thing to happen in this comic, your duckiness.



        • Pol Subanajouy

          The growing culture of meta-humor in the comments section of SFP is…intriguing to say the least.

          • GaryFarber

            It’s the normal outgrowth of the formation of any articulate community, by my observance of seeing this happen in various sub-cultures. communication nodes, and internet locales.

            They also serve eventually as shibboleths.



          SURRENDER ALL PENNIES. {quack}

          • Soqoma

            I mean, I love y’all…but this comment section has gotten weird.

  • Joseph Herbert

    There may not be a middle ground…
    … but that doesn’t mean there were only two (2) options.

    I think that — had she been presented with a third choice, one which met all needs (instead of just some) — she would’ve taken it.

    Violence is what occurs when we see zero alternatives…. when we are lacking in choice, in our ability to respond from a range of worthwhile options.

    We may not be content…
    … at the same time that — if we continue to be unable to find alternative, broader paths to choose from (which meet more needs) — then we will continue to repeat our past transgressions.

    • Jonathan Boynton

      This is true, but frankly, Allison up to this point has never truly regretted using violence as her go to. She may want to use something else, but violence hasn’t bothered her, because she’s always used it, in her mind, for the right reasons, against the right people, and in the right way. You go looking for a third option when you don’t like the two you have. Now, from this point on, Allison has a reason to look for it. *If* she doesn’t absolve herself of any of the negative aspects that Gurawa has brought up. Moments like these, people either hit a new trajectory or they double down. Today’s page is the crossroad, and Gurawa did an amazingly good job in bringing her to it. So…we’ll see where it goes next.

    • Joseph Herbert

      One thing I realize I disagree with (slightly) :

      It doesn’t have to be blind “OK i guess i’m a monster, fine i accept it.”

      We can grieve for the choices we make.

      And we can grieve over the fact that we would /still/ make those same choices, no matter how painful.

      We can grieve for ourselves and the pain of our choices, situational conditions, experiences.

    • he didn’t say there *were* only two options, he’s saying there *are* only two options.

      he’s not talking about what choice she made then. he’s talking about her choice with what to do with her feelings now.

  • Roman Snow

    Ah, finally a position on something from the man himself. It’s kind of a relief to see him be serious and speak his own view on something at the same time.

  • Stephanie

    It’s good that he’s insisting she take full responsibility for her actions. I’m fully on board with her making ethical tradeoffs like the one she did–I personally think coercing Max was a no-brainer. But if she’s going to do that, she can’t shy away from it or wallow in self-pity. She needs to be able to evaluate the harm committed and the harm averted as objectively as possible–whereas what she has been doing is seriously inflating the harm committed because she feels guilty about it. “I’m a horrible evil tyrant who deserves to be assassinated,” etc. She’s established that the tradeoff was in fact worth it to her, so angsting about it like that is pointless and counterproductive. I hope she takes Gurwara’s advice and owns her decision in its entirety.

    • Walter

      Re: tearing up Patrick’s check.

    • Eric Meyer

      Like you said, gotta take responsibility.

      A Tyrant is a Tyrant, but there is such a thing as a good tyrant. A single person in complete control of a government, IF THAT PERSON IS GOOD, can do more good than a thousand well-intentioned congresspeople, or ministers, or whatnot. And they can even set things up so that, after they are gone, things will continue to be good.

      It is when the selfish, petty and paranoid are given incredible power, that you need to worry about “Evil” tyrany.

      • Stephanie

        To be honest, although I’d be 100% down with a genuinely benevolent dictator, I don’t necessarily think any human in the real world is up to the task. I’d be cool with a friendly A.I. doing it.

        • Tmi

          Oh, you don’t think AIs can break?

          • Stephanie

            That’s a little rude. I never said that I believed an A.I. would be 100% infallible.

          • Lostman

            What would happen if the A.I deletes itself?

          • Stephanie

            I don’t really know how to answer that.

        • Eric Schissel

          I sometimes wonder if Terry Pratchett wasn’t playing with that idea with Patrician (Havelock) Vetinari, especially in the later Discworld novels (benevolent tyrant, not friendly A.I. For -that- load of questions, see for one example recent episodes of, oh, … Schlock Mercenary, maybe…)

          • scottfree

            Vetinari was ABSOLUTELY an idealized benevolent tyrant. His only concern was protecting his city, and he had enough foresight and enlightenment to understand that his city would be safest if they were surrounded by friendly and stable allies.

          • Arkone Axon

            Though Vetinari never used the thumbscrews when more subtle and effective methods would work. He got his greatest results with people who were made wanting to succeed, not merely fearing to fail.

          • Balthazar

            One of my very favorite characters.

            Take an upvote for your reference good sir.

        • Eric Schissel

          That said, democracy in principle anyway allows and requires (or should require?, but … well, ok, this isn’t a democracy, it’s a republic, can’t blame a republic for… erm.) — some sharing the joy and the pain of decision-making (among quite a few reasons for preferring it to even the “best” dictator. Though one of the best I can think of is that benevolence is not hereditary- even assuming that the dictatorship actually does succeed in passing to one’s chosen successor and not to one’s assassin.)

        • Sprainogre

          All hail the Computer! The Computer is our Friend!

          • Weatherheight

            Happiness is Mandatory!

          • Sprainogre

            Unhappiness is treason.

          • Weatherheight

            And remember to drink plenty of Bouncy Bubble Beverage™!

          • Sprainogre

            Thank you Happiness officer! I imagine that only a mutant commie would not drink Bouncy Bubble Beverage™! Not that anyone is a mutant or a commie of course! Either would be treason. And treason is punishable by death.

            Now, let us all drink some Bouncy Bubble Beverage™ and be happy! Happiness is Mandatory!

        • Urthman

          Unfortunately, I think the dream or the ideal of a benevolent dictator is what allows non-benevolent dictators to rise to power. People dream of shortcuts through the messiness, compromise, and safeguards of democracy to accomplishing the goals they think every right-thinking person would agree on. They want to believe their guy will be close enough to a benevolent dictator.

          • Stephanie

            I agree with that. That’s why it’s not safe to try, even if it could potentially be awesome if the real deal came along.

          • Talina M

            Wait,you mean like the one who currently states he is the ONLY one with all the answers. Who’s followers will not hear or see anything negative about him? They feel he has all the answers-so they don’t have to do the work?

      • UnsettlingIdeologies

        That logic seems to assume that harm only comes from bad intentions. It also comes from bad judgment, lack of perspective, lack of information, etc. (For example, nobody actually wants the climate to change in ways that make it uninhabitable by humans. But that doesn’t stop people from making choices that move us in that direction.)

        Dictators lack checks on their whims and maliciousness, but also on their ignorance and short-sightedness.

        • AshlaBoga

          Yeah, plenty of European kings and queens meant well, but they were far less knowledgeable than they could have been. A noble ignorant tyrant can do more damage than a selfish smart tyrant.

        • shink

          Which is exactly why Alison needs to have conversations with people like Gurwara. People who are simultaneously learned enough to offer valid opinions on the problems Alison encounters and courageous enough to actually stand up to Alison. There are very, very few people who would be willing to berate and yell at someone who can punch them into the sun as Gurwara is currently doing, and even fewer who could do so in a way that forces Alison to do some serious introspection, but it is this this very introspection that is so valuable. This is how she gains perspective on her actions and how she can steer herself towards being a benevolent dictator able to make the right calls for the greater good, rather then going down a path of either passivity or malevolent tyranny.

      • tiropat
        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Although, superpowers. Do the same rules apply when any super with half a brain can find a way to create infinite energy and thus immensely alter the treasury question?

        • Sterling Ericsson

          Also, she’s practically indestructible. Not completely, but still more than enough. So she doesn’t have to concern herself with people trying to kill her and overthrow her power or anything like that.

          • MrSing

            Doesn’t matter.
            If all the people who do all the complicated and boring stuff for you hate you and want you out of power, they’ll screw you over. They don’t even have to confront her, they can just go against her wishes and not report it.
            Maybe she’ll find out and fire/imprison/kill them all. But the next batch of people would probably do the same thing, forming a vicious circle of Allison not being able to get people to what she wants because she doesn’t understand them.

      • Ellis Jones

        Pretty sure good congresspeople are capable of working together and pooling their intellectual and political resources for greater effect than any one person. It depends on whether they consider the same things to be good.

      • AshlaBoga

        My small experience with companies run by a Board and companies run by just one person, is that the individual is less likely to consider all possible choices. It’s a simple matter of many people offering many different choices. A good king is better than a bad democracy, but a good democracy is better than a good king.

        • Loranna

          A good king keeps good advisors on hand – or at least competent ones ^_^

          Even more important, a good king actually listens to said advisors, even if the king ultimately chooses to go against their advice.


    • dragonus45

      So its good to know that you support raping someone for the sake of saving some peoples lives.

      • Stephanie

        What the fuck? Nobody was raped here. Don’t put words in my mouth. That’s the last I will be engaging with that disgusting line of conversation.

        • dragonus45

          No one was rapped? Max was held down against his will and had his right to consent and his bodily autonomy violent stripped from him. Look at his face during those scenes. What happened to him was rape in not only the textbook dictionary definition of the word but in a clear metaphorical sense.

          • Stephanie

            What happened to Max was not rape. It was not sexual in nature by any stretch of the imagination. Grow up. That really is the last I’m going to say about it.

          • dragonus45

            You seem to be confused about what rape means, rape is far more than just a sexual term. Or you could be in denial because describing what happened to him as an experience that transcends simple assault and can only be accurately described as rape, a term which i imagine holds a place of absolute loathing for you, forces you to confront the nature of what your defending. You even sound like people who victim blame rapists by describing how they actually deserved what happened to him because they was an asshole and how he had it coming for just refusing to cooperate.

          • WeirdGamer

            Okay, I don’t personally agree with Stephanie when it comes to the morality of the situation, but calling it rape is just being disingenuous. You can lose agency without being raped. Max was coerced through assault.

          • Izo

            So…. what is rape. It’s losing agency by being coerced, usually by assault and/or battery, where the coercer gets sex as a result. Dragonus is bringing up the point that what she did and what ‘rape’ is is very similar in the mentality and in the actions leading up to the ultimate act. The only difference is what the ultimate act is.

          • Caliban

            Typical SJW error. “First we redefine Rape to be the most horrible act imaginable. Then we redefine any act of coercion as Rape. Then we redefine any act we don’t like as Rape. Then everyone we don’t like is a Rapist and can safely be dehumanized as such.”

            Then they wonder why people stop taking them seriously.

          • Deliverance

            I don’t want to enter the fight over which crime is worst or beyond the pale, but…

            just for the record…

            Max was certainly raped in the literal sense of the word though not in the sense that is the common use of the verb, where it is primarily used in connection with sexual crimes, which sexual crimes specifically differing considerably by jurisdiction across the world. Rape is an example of an English word that has lost its original meaning in popular use, to the degree that many people are unaware of the meaning of the word except for the sexual case. (Possibly because the meaning of the verb rape and the crime of rape have coalesced over time in popular usage.)

            For those who care for an example you may have heard of: The classical example of the use of “rape” in the older sense from the English language is the Rape of the Sabine Women, a possibly mythological event from the early days of Roma where the Romulus and his band of merry men, finding themselves rather short of female companionship in their new settlement, abducted a number of women from the nearby Sabine tribes by force and made wives of them as a practical solution to a pressing problem. Key here is that “rape” does not refer to sexual acts committed on or to the women after seizing them as somebody knowing only the common current usage might well assume, but to the abduction/taking them by force.

          • Caliban

            You said it yourself – The word no longer means that, so no, Max was not “literally raped”. He wasn’t even metaphorically raped. Bringing up old definitions that are no longer used is not relevant to the matter at hand.

          • Izo

            I’ve tried to explain time and time again about the mentality of a rapist and that it’s about exerting power over another person, not about sex. 🙂

          • Stephanie

            It doesn’t follow that literally every act of exerting power over another person constitutes rape. That’s asinine.

          • Izo

            No, what’s asinine is not understanding that the MENTALITY is the same. For some reason, you seem to always get stuck on the ACT rather than the mentality behind the act.

          • Stephanie

            This is a discussion about whether or not Alison’s coercing Max is literally an act of literal rape, therefore making Alison’s defenders literal rape apologists. You made your comment in reply to, and in apparent agreement with, the person making those accusations. That person was arguing that the act, not the mentality, is the same. In that context, regardless of your intent, your post was completely indistinguishable from one intended to argue “rape is about power, therefore you’re right that Alison coercing Max was rape.” So I don’t understand why you’re surprised that it was interpreted that way.

            (For the record, “rape is about power, not sex” is not necessarily true. It’s controversial, and I think it’s incontrovertible that at least some rapes are in fact motivated by a desire for sex, rather than power.)

          • Izo

            “This is a discussion about whether or not Alison’s coercing Max is literally an act of literal rape, therefore making Alison’s defenders literal rape apologists. ”

            I challenge you to find anywhere I’ve EVER said that. Or that it was ‘literal’ rape. No, I always use it from the perspective of the mentality of a rapist. Go ahead, Show me where I’ve used ‘literal.’ Anywhere. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

            “That person was arguing that the act, not the mentality, is the same.”

            He wasn’t. It seemed pretty obvious to me (and to many others) that he was talking about the mentality and the methods being used to coerce Max being the same as what a rapist uses to get sex. You’re the only one being literal here by saying that since there was no sex involved, there’s no similarity whatsoever.

            “(For the record, “rape is about power, not sex” is not necessarily true.)”

            Actually yes, it is true. If you don’t have power over the other person, you can’t force sex. You’re relying on the second word ‘sex’ and completely ignoring the first word ‘force.’ That is what rape is. Forcing another person to have sex, usually physically. But however the person is forced, whether by a drug or by physical force or by threat, it’s still exerting power over another person. Sex is just the result of that exertion of power.

            “I think it’s incontrovertible that at least some rapes are in fact motivated by a desire for sex, rather than power.”

            Now I’m curious as to what you consider ‘rape’ to be. There’s always a power dynamic involved which drives things. Sometimes the power dynamic is because they want sex, sometimes it’s about anger, sometimes it’s about humilation, but it’s always because they want to exert the force on THEIR terms and do not think the victim should have a choice in the matter. When the victim has no choice, that is where the power comes into play. And that’s what you keep on missing. If there’s no choice for the victim, then it’s happening because of power, NOT because of sex.

            If the ‘victim’ has a choice (a real choice with no negative repercussions if they say no)…. then it’s not rape.
            If the victim does not have a choice…. then it is.

            What choice did Max have, exactly?

          • Stephanie

            First of all: I never said that you outright said it was literally rape, so the smug “find where I said that” is completely unwarranted. It honestly makes me question whether you read my post, or just skimmed it and filled in the gaps yourself.

            “He wasn’t. It seemed pretty obvious to me (and to many others) that he was talking about the mentality and the methods being used to coerce Max being the same as what a rapist uses to get sex.”

            Oh? They weren’t saying it was literally rape? So when they said, quote, “What happened to him was rape not only in the textbook dictionary definition of the word, but in a clear metaphorical sense,” (emphasis mine), that wasn’t a claim that it was literally rape?

            https://gyazo.com/9cbb942b6bf918afeaac7ddcf5e48d9a Screenshot if you don’t believe me. Dragonus45 was in fact so adamant in their stance that it was literally rape that I think they’d correct you themselves if they saw you claiming otherwise.

            As for “rape is about power,” obviously rape involves the exercise of power. The quote “rape is about power, not sex” means that rape is motivated by a desire to exercise power, rather than a desire to have sex. This is clearly untrue in at least some cases. Some rapists use power as a means to acquire sex, rather than using sex as a means to exercise power.

          • Izo

            “I never said that you outright said it was literally rape, so the smug “find where I said that” is completely unwarranted.”

            I was responding to what HE said, and you responded to what I said as if I was saying ‘literal rape’ – and you’re becoming a bit smug in your posts yourself :/

            ” but in a clear metaphorical sense,” (emphasis mine), that wasn’t a claim that it was literally rape?”

            No offense, but it’s annoying how you selectively ignore the entire second half of that sentence.

            Also, in a psychology textbook, I actually looked up the ‘textbook’ definition of rape.


            Here you go. Since you’re getting all semantic about his post whie ignoring parts of it, I might as well pick up on that he said textbook definition, not legal dictionary definition. Specifically, a psychology textbook. Then ELABORATED with the ‘clear metaphorical sense’ part, in case you did not pick up on what he was meaning. It’s first and foremost about control, especially in cases of rape where it’s a stranger or, more specifically, not ‘date rape.’ They weren’t on a date when Alison did that, btw.

            “This is clearly untrue in at least some cases. Some rapists use power as a means to acquire sex, rather than using sex as a means to exercise power.”

            If they were on a date at the time of the incident, I would agree with you that date rape tends to be about sex, not control and power. They were not on a date. The date they had, days earlier, had nothing at all to do with this. Even the psychology books make a clear distinction between the primary motivation behind date rape and the primary motivation behind other forms of rape.

            Finally, the whole ‘literally’ thing. I’m literally steaming over this. Oh wait, I’m not literally steaming. There’s no steam coming from me at all. People use that word very incorrectly on a regular basis, when they mean figuratively. But in this case, he did not say literally at all. He said it was a textbook definition. He’s right. It was a textbook definition, especially if you’re basing it on the psychology of Alison during the incident.

          • Stephanie

            “Textbook definition” means the same thing as “literally.”

            Twisting a guy’s arm to make him boost someone’s superpowers is in no way, shape, or form the “textbook definition of rape.”

            I’m not going to debate this any further.

          • Izo

            “”Textbook definition” means the same thing as “literally.” That person was openly arguing that Alison raped Max by forcing him to boost Feral.”

            No it doesn’t. And no he didn’t. And now I’m even telling you he didn’t, and you’re still arguing a discarded point.

            “Twisting a guy’s arm to make him boost someone’s superpowers is in no way, shape, or form the “textbook definition of rape.”

            It operates on the same exact basis. Everything except the end result. The only difference… the ONLY difference…. is the end result being using a superpower rather than sexual intercourse.

            “Consider that if people regularly misunderstand what point you’re arguing for, you may not be communicating clearly.”

            Considering it’s usually the same few people who make the same error, using the same exact reasoning, and don’t bother to refute it when I explain the reasoning, but instead fall back on their original error, I’m pretty confident that it’s not me who’s communicating clearly, but rather it’s them who are not listening well (or who do hear what I’m saying, do not have a good counter for it, so ignore what I’m saying).

          • Stephanie

            “And now I’m even telling you he didn’t”

            I know, it’s shocking that I don’t agree with you when you’re obviously the authority on what some other person really meant. Super unreasonable of me to go with my own judgment on that instead of an unrelated rando’s.

            Incidentally, from the “textbook definiton” of rape: “Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will.”

          • Izo

            “I know, it’s shocking that I don’t agree with you when you’re obviously the authority on what some other person really meant.”

            I’m amazed the hypocrisy you’re showing at telling me what another person is saying, while telling me that I’m telling you what other people are saying. Especially since you seem to like to omit ‘parts’ of his sentence when doing your ‘interpretation.’

            “Super unreasonable of me to go with my own judgment on that instead of an unrelated rando’s.”

            No, it’s super unreasonable for you to omit half of his sentence when making that judgment though, since it then invalidates your interpretation.

            “You might want to reacquaint yourself with what a “textbook definition” is,”

            You want me to reacquaint myself with what a textbook definition is? You think that saying it’s the definition in a textbook is unreasonable? See, a reasonable person would think ‘which textbook’ – and since a common psychology textbook would support my interpretation, and also FIT with the rest of the sentence that you’ve ignored.

            “and specifically what the “textbook definition” of rape is. Like I said, I’m not interested in debating it further.”

            I gave you an entire textbook chapter on it. But hey…. you don’t want to debate it. Fine with me. Probably a good way to not debate things with me is to not respond to my posts to other people. If you want to, you’re free to. But then I’ll respond back, because that’s what I do. I respond back to people and I defend my positions. It’s a character flaw of mine – I like actually discussing things.

          • Stephanie

            “Textbook definition” has a specific colloquial meaning that you’re ignoring.

            What that person wrote is right there on the page for me to read. It’s one thing to say “No, he meant X.” It’s quite another, kinda hilarious thing to act appalled that I’m sticking with my interpretation even though “you told me” it was X. Like, the whole “I’m TELLING you it meant X yet you’re still treating it like Y?!” thing only really works when you’re talking about your own posts.

          • Izo

            “”Textbook definition” has a specific colloquial meaning that you’re ignoring.”

            I’ll respond to the rest of this post after you respond to how the second half of his sentence – (but in a clear metaphorical sense) – relates to the first half of his sentence.

          • Stephanie

            When someone says “The thing is not only X, but Y,” it means the thing is both X and Y.

            You might have misread it as “the thing not X, but Y,” which would mean that it’s Y rather than X. Or perhaps you misread it as “the thing is X, but Y,” which would mean that the thing is X but with the qualifier Y. That second one sounds pretty close to what you’re claiming dragonus meant. But neither of those are what they actually wrote.

          • Izo

            Except he starts with ‘not only is’ which turns a qualifier ‘but’ into an additive/inclusive ‘and.’ Don’t be disingenuous about the obvious intent of what he’s saying in his post.

          • Stephanie

            I’m not being disingenuous. You just repeated exactly what I told you: the way it’s written, it’s an additive/inclusive ‘and,’ not a qualifier. Meaning: they’re saying what Alison did was BOTH “textbook” rape, AND “metaphorical” rape. Not “textbook rape, but in a metaphorical sense,” but “textbook rape AND metaphorical rape.”

            Meaning that they did, like I’ve been saying this whole time, argue that what Alison did was rape.

            I honestly don’t see how you can interpret that syntax any other way. I mean, you really did just dissect the syntax exactly the way I did in the post you were replying to (with the attitude that you were contradicting me, for some reason?), but somehow came to a different conclusion about its meaning.

          • Izo

            Why do you never respond to what I actually am saying? Instead you double down on what I’ve already responded to. And now I’ll apparently have to re-explain what I said. The OP saying textbook definition is about the mentality of a rapist that Alison had exhibited. So yes, both textbook definition and, in order to punctuate that, he also used the term ‘metaphorical’ as well. Take the entire sentence in context. But no, you don’t want to do that, because you want to try to rephrase his post in a strawman argument in order to argue it. And THAT is what is disingenuous. The ‘and’ is meant to take his entire sentence as one description of what Alison did, and I’m confused as to why you don’t understand that.

            The only idea I can come up with is that you DO understand this, but can’t say that since it negates your argument entirely, so instead you keep repeating an argument I’ve now responded to multiple times.

          • Stephanie

            No, I do not want to rephrase the post as a strawman argument in order to debate it. “Alison literally raped Max” is an incredibly stupid position that I have no real interest in debating, because it’s so transparently wrong as to be not worth discussing. That’s why I stopped responding to dragonus very quickly. I have asked you a number of times not to try to tell me what my motives are. Apparently I have to ask again.

            This person overtly accused me of being a rape apologist, I was like “what the fuck,” and they doubled down. If they’re going to go out of their way to emphasize that they consider Alison to have actually raped Max, and therefore her defenders to be actual apologists of actual rape, how exactly is it “disingenuous” of me to believe them?

            They did not punctuate “textbook” with “metaphorical.” They clearly stated that they think it was rape in both the “textbook definition” and “metaphorical sense.” There is no plausible way to interpret that syntax as meaning “textbook, but with ‘metaphorical’ for emphasis.” That’s like if I said “I love not only blue, but red,” and you insisted that I meant I only loved purple.

          • Izo

            “No, I do not want to rephrase the post as a strawman argument in order to debate it. I have asked you a number of times not to try to tell me what my motives are, and apparently I have to ask again.”

            Is the irony that you’re doing that exact thing to Dragonus being lost on you? Painting HIS post in a strawman fashion to debate it?

            “”Alison literally raped Max” is a stupid position that I have no real interest in debating, because it’s so transparently indefensible as to be not worth discussing. ”

            It’s also a position that he never made in the first place. Again, we’re back to what it seems apparent he was meaning by ‘textbook definition.’ And how it IS clearly an analogy to rape, as in that both a rape and what Alison did take the same steps and require the same mentality for slightly different results.

            “whereas I’ve had prolonged exchanges with people who just drew parallels between Alison’s actions and rape, without making the cartoonish argument that her actions literally were rape. I don’t like arguing with fictional strawmen and I don’t like arguing with real ones either.”

            Again, he didn’t EVER say her actions were LITERALLY rape. If you don’t want others putting words in your mouth, don’t put words into other people’s mouths.

            “I don’t like arguing with fictional strawmen and I don’t like arguing with real ones either.”

            Minor little nitpick here. There’s no such thing as a real strawman, at least the way you’re describing it. A strawman is an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it’s easier to defeat than an opponents REAL argument. That’s what you’re doing with Dragonus (and to a lesser extent with me in how I’m continually telling you that he did not say literally but you keep acting like he said literally (when he objectively did not say literally). If it’s a strawman, it’s by definition not real.

            “This person overtly accused me of being a rape apologist, I was like “what the fuck,” and they doubled down.”

            Again, I don’t see where Dragonus called you a rape apologist. Probably the closest I can come to what you’re saying is that you’re being an apologist for Alison’s actions (which I’d think you’d agree since you do defend her actions), which are analagous to the actions and mentality of a rapist (which is something you do not agree with, but actions and mentality are not the same as the outcome).

            “If they’re going to go out of their way to emphasize that they consider Alison to have actually raped Max, and therefore her defenders to be actual apologists of actual rape, how exactly is it “disingenuous” of me to believe them?”

            How many times do I need to repeat that he did not say Alison ACTUALLY raped Max, as in forced him to have sex with her, which is obviously not true, but he did make an obvious comparison between what Alison did to Max and what a rapist does to his victim – the ONLY difference in the entire exchange being the outcome being power usage, not sex. In fact, if you just change the goal from ‘power usage’ to sex, you don’t even have to change any of the dialogue of Alison from the point of where she starts using violence.

            “They did not punctuate “textbook” with “metaphorical.””

            Because metaphorical and textbook are DIFFERENT. Please read my post in which I spent a couple of paragraphs explaining what a clinical definition is. You’re again ignoring responses in order to keep repeating an already refuted argument.

            “They clearly stated that they think it was rape in both the “textbook definition” and “metaphorical sense.” There is no plausible way to interpret that syntax as meaning “textbook, but with ‘metaphorical’ for emphasis.””

            Seriously, I gave an interpretation which does, in my response to you. A rather detailed one. Which you’re TOTALLY ignoring for some reason as if it was never said. And it was an EXTREMELY reasonable one, and a very obvious one as well.

            Respond to THAT interpretation instead of ignoring what was posted by me, please.

          • Stephanie

            More important things:

            “The clinical psychological definition of rape is that the drive behind it is about power and control, NOT just sex”

            That’s not a a “psychological definition.” That’s a description of the underlying motive. It doesn’t define what the act of rape actually is. I don’t know why you would assume that dragonus intended “textbook definition” to mean “description of what motivates rapists.”

            “I don’t see where Dragonus called you a rape apologist”

            https://gyazo.com/38b41989959b2485310b5d2d35ddac5b I was paraphrasing, but you can see here that they outright responded to my post where I said I supported Alison’s actions with “Good to know you support raping someone.”

            “How many times do I need to repeat that he did not say Alison ACTUALLY raped Max”

            You can repeat it as many times as you like. I know what I read. They were insistent that what she did qualifies as rape. Why don’t you ask them yourself?

            Hey, here’s the other half of that comment I quoted before. “No one was rapped? Max was held down against his will and had his right to consent and his bodily autonomy violent stripped from him.” -dragonus45, 2017

            Seriously, how do you read that and still insist that they’re not saying Max was raped? That’s like seeing someone write “No one was in the room? Their fresh footprints are right here!”, and then trying to tell me that they weren’t arguing that someone was in the room.

            Why are you so insistent on arguing an interpretation of this person’s words that they’ve openly and insistently contradicted? Would it really be so bad to concede that you were mistaken about your interpretation of someone else’s post? That wouldn’t even mean conceding any of your own actual views.

            Less important things:

            “Because metaphorical and textbook are DIFFERENT. Please read my post”

            That’s literally what I said, please reread mine.

            “Is the irony that you’re doing that exact thing to Dragonus being lost on you? Painting HIS post in a strawman fashion to debate it?”

            I literally just wrote that I was not doing that exact thing, to dragonus’s post, in the very sentence you’re responding to here. How are we supposed to have this conversation if you keep reading posts where I say “X” and responding, “um, actually, X”, implying that you at best skimmed what I wrote? This is like the third time in this exchange alone.

            “Seriously, I gave an interpretation which does, in my response to you. A rather detailed one. Which you’re TOTALLY ignoring for some reason as if it was never said. ”

            Because I addressed it in my reply to that post, which I know you saw because you responded to it as well.

          • Stephanie
          • Stephanie

            On second thought, how about this. Clearly there is some kind of miscommunication here. So I’ll break down my thought process for you, step by step. Then, if you do the same for your thought process, we may be able to find the miscommunication.

            1. I start with the relevant excerpt: “What happened to him was rape in not only the textbook dictionary definition of the word, but in a clear metaphorical sense.”

            2. For ease of reading, I boil that down to the essentials: “The act was rape in not only the textbook sense, but a metaphorical sense.”

            3. I look at the first clause. “Not only” the textbook sense means the act was rape in the textbook sense, but not only in that sense. It was also rape in at least one other sense.

            4. I look at the second clause. I note that the “metaphorical sense” is the additional sense in which the poster claims the act was rape. The “but” is additive here, and is essentially interchangeable with “in addition.”

            I conclude that the poster has claimed: “The act was rape in the textbook sense, but not only that; it was also rape in a metaphorical sense.” Or in other words, “The act was textbook rape, and it was also metaphorical rape.”

            5. Since the “metaphorical sense” was specified as separate from the textbook sense, I can’t interpret “textbook” as being metaphorical. If “the textbook sense” were meant to refer to metaphorical rape, it wouldn’t have been necessary to tack on “but also in a metaphorical sense”. “Metaphorical” is clearly being contrasted with “textbook.” Therefore I read “textbook” as referring to non-metaphorical rape.

            6. If “textbook” rape is not metaphorical rape, it can only be literal rape. Therefore, I interpret the sentence as meaning: “Alison’s act was literal rape, and it was also metaphorical rape.

            7. Therefore, I conclude that the poster claims that what Alison did to Max was literal rape. That’s not the only claim they made, but it’s clearly one of their claims.

            Do you see where I’m coming from?

          • Izo

            “On second thought, how about this. Clearly there is some kind of miscommunication here.”

            That would be nice, if there is a miscommunication here. I just think you’re getting bogged down on an incorrect interpretation of what Dragonus has said (and similarly what I’ve said many times in the past about what Alison did).

            “Then, if you do the same for your thought process, we may be able to find the miscommunication.”

            Deal. 🙂

            “1. I start with the relevant excerpt: “What happened to him was rape in not only the textbook dictionary definition of the word, but in a clear metaphorical sense.””

            So far, I’m with you, since that IS what he said.

            “2. For ease of reading, I boil that down to the essentials: “The act was rape in not only the textbook sense, but a metaphorical sense.””

            And now I’m not with you entirely, because of the vagueness of the term ‘textbook sense’ rather than a textbook definition of the word. But lets continue.

            “3. I look at the first clause. “Not only” the textbook sense means the act was rape in the textbook sense, but not only in that sense. It was rape in the textbook sense, and it was also rape in at least one other sense.”

            I do not see it the way you’re putting it. I see what he said as a possibly poorly worded, but obviously intended discussion of Alison having a rapist mentality in what she did to Max and how she went about it. The only difference at all between what Alison did and a LEGAL definition (instead of a psychological definition) is that what Alison did was not resulting in sex, but rather it was resulting in using his powers for her ends. Other than that, what happened was exactly the same. Trauma. Violation. Force. Loss of agency of something very personal to the victim. Helplessness. Power dynamic of someone with all the power and someone with no power to stop them. I take what Dragonus said for both part of his sentence as the mentality of Alison. The psychological definition of what she did, both textbook and metaphorical.

            “4. I look at the second clause. I note that the “metaphorical sense” is the additional sense in which the poster claims the act was rape. The “but” is additive here, so it functions as an “and.””

            Perhaps the disconnect we’re having with each other is that you seem to be thinking his saying ‘metaphorical sense’ was the same as a textbook psychological definition. It’s not. One’s a clinical example, the other is an emotional example. Both examples are very rape-analagous.

            “5. Since the “metaphorical sense” was specified as separate from the textbook sense, I can’t interpret “textbook” as being metaphorical. If “the textbook sense” were meant to refer to metaphorical rape, it wouldn’t have been necessary to tack on “but also in a metaphorical sense”. “Metaphorical” is clearly being contrasted with “textbook.” Therefore I read “textbook” as referring to non-metaphorical rape.”

            That’s because when I use textbook definition, I’m thinking of a clinical psychological definition of rape. Which is different than a metaphorical definition, but in the case of rape, both the clinical psychological definition AND the metaphorical definition are different ways of describing what Alison did. The power dynamic is the psychological textbook definition. The metaphorical aspect is that what she did was horrible and violating without dealing specifically with the power dynamic, but the power dynamic can still be an aspect of it. For example, in Jurassic Park where the scientist said ‘what you call progress I call the rape of the natural world.’ – THAT is metaphorical. That’s not a textbook psychological definition though. What Alison did, however, can be seen as BOTH.

            “6. If “textbook” rape is not metaphorical rape, it can only be literal rape, since everything is that isn’t metaphorical is by definition literal. Therefore, I interpret the sentence as meaning: “Alison’s act was literal rape, and it was also metaphorical rape.”

            7. From there, I conclude that the poster claims that what Alison did to Max was literal rape. That’s not the only claim they made, but it’s clearly one of their claims.”

            No, textbook rape and metaphorical rape are not two sides of the same coin, unless you think he was referring to rape as a legal definition (which does mean resulting in sex) rather than psychological (which deals with control and power rather than just sex, at least in non-date rape scenarios, according to the textbook chapter I gave you a pdf of). The disconnect you and I are having is that I think he’s talking about ‘textbook definition’ of her mentality of a rapist. Which is threfore NOT literal rape. He would have said ‘literally rape’ if he meant ‘literal rape.’ You’re reading into what he said.

            “Do you see where I’m coming from?”

            I see where you’re coming from, but I think you’re wrong because you’re seeing metaphorical and textbook as never overlapping and completely the same. Where I consider it more ‘feeling vs cliinical’ – in which case my interpretation (which I’ve actually held for MONTHS now in many, many posts) to be about the psychology and mentality of Alison being completely analagous with that of a rapist. The metaphorical aspect is more about how what she did was a horrible violating thing. The textbook aspect is how she took his agency via her controlling physical power over him in order to achieve her goals to force him against his will to do something very personal and intimate to him, against his core values.

            “It would help if you break down your own thought process, so I can see how it led you to a different conclusion.”

            I tried to break it down above, in response to each point of your thought process. Thanks for doing that btw. I’m hoping we can both see where each of us are coming from here?

          • Stephanie

            “possibly poorly worded, but obviously intended”

            If you need to assume that it was poorly worded in order for your interpretation to make sense, why are you so confident in that interpretation? I’m going with the interpretation that makes sense according to the words dragonus actually used.

            “you seem to be thinking his saying ‘metaphorical sense’ was the same as a textbook psychological definition.”

            No, that isn’t what I said. I said they drew a clear separation between “textbook definition” and “metaphorical sense.”

            “That’s because when I use textbook definition, I’m thinking of a clinical psychological definition of rape.”

            Can you explain what exactly you mean by “clinical psychological definition of rape?” Because I’ve looked up the word “rape”, and it clearly refers explicitly to forced sexual activity (not just any exertion of power over another person), and I’m certainly not aware of any special “clinical psychological definition” that differs from the standard one.

            “Taking agency via controlling physical power” is just plain not the textbook definition of rape. That’s like saying that the textbook definition of baking honey wheat bread is baking dough, therefore anyone who bakes any kind of dough is baking honey wheat bread. I understand that you can draw certain parallels between Alison’s actions and rape, but that does not mean that they’re the same thing. I can draw lots of parallels between sourdough and honey wheat bread, but the sourdough is still not honey wheat.

            Anyway, it would probably be a lot faster to just @ dragonus and ask them if they think Alison is a rapist. We can just do that if you want.

          • Izo

            I’ve actually responded to all of this ins a separate response post to you. Please read it since all I’d be doing here is repeating the same exact thing. We’re seeming to have two different threads on the exact same topic with the exact same arguments.

            The one different thing in this post is you do question ‘clinical definition’ (but ignore that I was referring to the psychological clinical definition). And so that I’ll answer in this thread, but I’d appreciate any responses going to the other thread so I don’t have to double post.

            The clinical psychological definition of rape is that the drive behind it is about power and control, NOT just sex, except (as I’ve now mentioned 4 times) in matters of date rape. I’ve posted psychology chapters on this and have repeated what the ‘textbook definition’ refers to since the beginning of this thread and I’m not sure why you seem to keep ignoring what I’ve said.

          • Stephanie

            I wasn’t going to respond again because this is dumb, but apparently there is some debate about what you meant by this, and clarification is needed. At least one person is under the impression that you only think Alison’s actions were analogous to rape.

            So, here’s my question: Do you think that what Alison did to Max was rape? Just a yes or no is fine.

          • dragonus45

            Both. Everything about that scene dripped the wanton use of personal power and disregard for someone else bodily autonomy I associate with my rape. It was rape. A dictionary definition example the scene that gave me fucking flashbacks. And even if you want to argue the definition of the term to escape the realization of what you advocated her doing then IT WAS CLEARLY analogous to rape and no one can reasonably argue otherwise.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t want to argue about it with you. Just wanted clear confirmation that you do think it was rape. You have made that incredibly clear, repeatedly, but apparently at least one person thought “textbook definition of rape” somehow meant something other than “textbook definition of rape.”

          • dragonus45

            Definition of rape: An act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force

          • Stephanie

            That definition is archaic and no longer in use.

  • Manuel Simone

    I have nothing BUT RESPECT for this professor, he seems to be the wisest character in the whole comic.Alison have to understand that he’s right and take a final decision by herself not beg people to take decisions in her place, she’s not a child anymore, but a mature and independent thinking woman.

    • Gus Snarp

      Remember when we all thought he was a new villain? That’s great writing!

      • Mitchell Lord

        *nods* It really is. I retract my accusations of him being a strawman.

      • Alex Hollins

        if he IS the new villain, even better….

        • Shweta Narayan

          Nah, it’d still be bad writing. He’s written to *appear* as half the racist villain tropes since 9/11 and Molly & Brennan are just too good to do that.

          (I’m glad that I trusted them enough to keep reading, even when so many commenters were all for it.)

      • Shweta Narayan

        I mean some of us have always thought that “Gurwara is a villain” would be bad writing.

  • kwerboom

    I agree with the professor. Alison was faced with a problem and based on the facts of that problem, she made a decision. Now she should own that decision and its outcomes whether she’s proud of them or regrets them. No matter what she had chosen, someone would have suffered. Alison’s issue, in my view, comes from the fact that she thinks there is a “nice” way to use her power where no one gets hurt and everyone wins. In this world, actions have consequences and even the most careful actions with the consequences known and controlled have unintended consequences. Its like the old saying,”Don’t let perfect become the enemy of the good.” Alison should make the “good” decision or barring that the “best” decision possible, not the “perfect” decision.

    • dragonus45

      Now if only she would understand that rape is not the right decision even if it would save lives.

  • weedgoku

    Now watch the next page be him physically tearing the panels apart and screaming “THIS HAS GONE ON TOO LONG” and then just slap a “chapter end” button down and go home.

    • Are you, perhaps, suggesting that we’ve gotten to the point where further analysis is redundant and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to move on?

      • weedgoku

        Mostly that this is boring and it’s been like three or four pages of just two people talking. Mostly just one guy monologuing, actually. This comic updates too slowly to have long ass multi-page monologs like that and have them still be interesting. It’s like an episode of dragon ball Z that’s nothing but goku powering up a spirit bomb. You tune and it’s like “Oh, he’s still charging that spirit bomb? That’s cool” Only the next episode is more of that. When’s he going to throw that fucking spirit bomb? You don’t know, because the past three episodes have just been him charging that ball and you’re finding it hard to remember a time when they weren’t stuck on namek.

        I just want to get off namek already.

        • I hear you. I periodically find myself feeling the same way when it comes to webcomics, and a bunch of people telling me that the pacing won’t feel so off if I read it all at once in an archive-dive really doesn’t help me.

          • weedgoku

            Exactly! A long monologue like this is fine for a print comic that releases its issues as a solid chunk, where spending five or six pages on a single speech doesn’t take a slow two months. But when you’re releasing it one page at a time, it just kills the pacing of the comic and telling people to just not read it and wait for the archives to hit a reasonable number seems like suicide.

  • Daniel


  • Dr. Mercurious

    The safe space is a lie; you can be part of the solution or part of the problem, but if you wish to change the world, doing nothing is not an option.

  • bta

    Gurwara is right. Forget about super strength, the only power you should have over people is the one you’re willing to own up to. Can you imagine how terrifying it would be if, say, Obama had been second-guessing his decisions in public? A powerful person doesn’t get that luxury.

    Allison has four options:
    -Endorse the costume of the tyrant, assuming that she knows best and that it’d be a net good. Why not, after all? But this decision comes with a price. She doesn’t get to live a normal life, she throws the rule of law and democracy out the window, she inevitably gets to make mistakes and hurt people, and ultimately it might turn out that she did more harm than good. It’s an option, probably the most courageous and the one with the most potential for actually changing the world for good. But I do not think she has the wisdom, the knowledge nor the strength of character for it.
    -Do nothing, refuse to use her power for good or ill, because she decides that she doesn’t have the right to use such awesome power over others. Right now I think it’d be therapeutic for her if she did just that for the next few months, and she has done enough good during her short life that you could easily argue that she doesn’t owe anybody to do more. She’s done her part, and then some. But it means that her future involves looking away when people suffer.
    -Decide to submit her power to an higher authority, that gets to make the hard decisions and take responsibility for them. It can be any authority, really: the government, the UN, some specific political organisation or NGO? This gives her actions from now on a lawful basis, and the leaders who decide for her would probably know better than herself*, a young college student with confused ethical principles, who by her own admission doesn’t know shit about serious issues. But again, she could very well end up doing unethical things and become another Eichmann, “just following orders”.
    *We’re talking about this comic book world, not our own ridiculous reality where the most inept person alive just became the most powerful one.
    -Finallly, the middle ground, where she decides to use her power in a limited manner, with accountability,oversight and restraint. The Valkyrie solution. She gets to make a difference without bullying her way to a better world. It’s a slow and frustrating process, and she’ll face criticism, for not doing enough or for doing too much. Pretty much the lot of any non-superpowered influential person.

    Allison isn’t a bad person, but she wants contradictory things. She wants to make a difference in the world, and also to never make mistakes. She uses her great might to take life-changing, or even world-changing decisions, then comes back to authority figures to ask them if she did good, like an ordinary powerless person. She feels like she’s responsible for every bad thing happening out there, yet she doesn’t approach this supposed colossal responsibility with the deliberation nor unapologetic sense of leadership required to make a difference. She forced Max because it felt like the right thing to do at the time, and now she can’t face the guilt. This can’t possibly last. She has to choose the kind of superpowered person she wants to be and stick to it, rather than acting on impulse.

    • cphoenix

      How does this not have more upvotes? Excellent analysis.

    • Olivier Faure

      Allison has a wide gradient of options. I don’t think the four ones you mention are her only valid choices, or even representative of them. There is more than one “middle ground”, because sane philosophies aren’t about making a choice between two or more options, they’re about weighing things against one another.

      Allison could decide to be completely non-interventionist, or a full tyrant, or a 70% tyrant, or only a tyrant in really dire cases, etc. One shouldn’t decide to be the ME Paragon or the Renegade as a binary choice, but as a sliding scale, and the ideal position on the scale varies depending on the situation.

      I don’t think Allison’s problem would be that she has doubts, or isn’t fully committed to what she does, or even that she makes wrong choices or wants incompatible things. I think Allison’s problem is that she has incoherent views and beliefs. She faces a trade-off (doing good vs individual freedom) and she refuses to acknowledge that the trade-off exists; she probably should just acknowledge that both are desirable, but in some situations having more of one means having less of the other.

      • AshlaBoga

        “she refuses to acknowledge that the trade-off exists”

        I’ll add my two cents: she has some rather colorful opinions.

        She doesn’t want to fight the small battles, she wants to change the whole world, to fix it.
        All or nothing. Patrick is the same way, he gave up being a supervillain because he didn’t really matter. Both want to fight wars, not battles. And that’s a somewhat egocentric concept. Thing is, I’m the same way.

        She also doesn’t really seem to be as in control of her actions as someone with her strength should be. Examples include her grabbing and screaming “I’d kill you!” at the teleporter, shoving Feral through a wall (it was just a kiss!) and intimidating the cops at the protest. Did the military never train her to rein in her emotions? I’d have to say that they might have actually encouraged her to be ruthless since most people hesitate when they enter a combat situation for the first time with no training.

        People referred to her as a child soldier and I disagreed. But I’m changing my stance here: she was a fifteen year old soldier. I can’t help but think that she was taught to attack-attack-attack supervillains and that she wasn’t taught not to make tactical blunders like tossing a giant robot head at an apartment building. Nobody bothered teaching her how to avoid massive collateral damage because that wasn’t the USA military’s focus.

        • Charles Cameron Olson

          You can fix the world, when you can fix people.

        • Flipz

          That’s not a soldier, though. That’s a weapon. (Which is an arguably worse thing to do to any person, let alone a 15-year-old.)

      • bta

        I disagree. I think that you can’t be half a tyrant. If you decide to use force once, then every following day you don’t use it, there’s the unspoken assumption that you could do it again “if the situation requires it”. If a mob boss sends his cronies to threaten someone once, the violence and intimidation doesn’t stop once they leave. It becomes the subtext of that person’s life.

        • Olivier Faure

          Yeah, but that means that usage of force has to be consistent, not that it has to be all-or-nothing. You can be “half a tyrant” in that you react to urgent situations with overwhelming force and regular situation with compromise; but you have to always apply the same level of force to the same situations.

  • Mouser

    There is supposed to be regret; “I should have found a better way.” not regret for “I wish I didn’t have to do that.”

    The first is a desire to make the world better. The second is absolving yourself in the name of predestination.

  • Liz

    No, you jackass, she’s upset because she doesn’t know if she got it right. Maybe right now she wouldn’t go back and change things given the chance, but if you gave her a good argument for why she should, she might. Right now she’s not sure whether to defend or regret her decision, and that’s why she’s asking you for guidance.

    • Thewizardguy

      And the importance of his response is that someone with that much power has to own up to their own decisions. They have to decide whether what they did was right on their own. He’s demonstrated that a moral argument can be easily made for both sides, but that she has to stand by the decisions she makes.

      • UnsettlingIdeologies

        Your interpretation of his argument seems to amount to “You’re so powerful that ultimately you should only care about what you think and not anyone else” which seems to be a super dangerous stance.

        Instead, she seems to be saying, “I made this choice all on my own without consulting anyone. That may have been unwise, and I want to make better choices in the future. So it’s important for me to gain some perspective by listening to someone older and wiser and with more distance from the situation… also someone who has probably slept in the past 48 hours.” Why is that a bad thing?

        • Flesh Forge

          I agree with you that that stance is troubling, but here’s Allison’s own views from earlier (which maybe have changed, maybe not):

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Good reference. (Man, I love that scene!)

            I think there may be a difference in how she feels about the situation of a rando judging her for killing someone and the possibility of actively seeking advice from a trusted confidante. Plus she was in a particularly pissed off mood at that point. But it’s still incredibly important context, for sure.

          • Cokely

            I never really got that scene. Everybody always has the option of murdering a bunch of people, especially in the America-centric society in which the comic is set.

            I can begin the murdering a bunch of people process at any time, and quite cheaply: I go to my local big box store, buy a hunting rifle or shotgun and ammo, and start firing. Behold, my opinion now has weight to Alison.

            She talks about people who are “terrified of violence and scared shitless of going to jail” as a priori facts about human nature which are impossible to overcome. Yet I think she would react to people who did overcome those facts (as someone clearly did at Feral’s donation center) with horror and as threats to be stopped.

            Now, I understand at the time she was having a bit of a tantrum about . . . well, whatever it is, I honestly don’t remember and can’t be bothered to look. Something about the world not being perfect. It’s sort of her thing. But it’s really sloppy argumentation. The real claim should be “Nobody gets to engage in political violence but me.”

          • Flesh Forge

            Well one giant advantage Allison has over normal people is that practically nobody could stop her or punish her, just other supers who can counter her somehow, and there aren’t very many of those. But yes, one interpretation is what she’s saying (IMO the blatantly obvious one) is Might Makes Right, which has been a recurring theme all through the comic, although I doubt it was intentional.

          • Cokely

            Surely. I think a more charitable interpretation of the scene is a demonstration of how alien her thinking has become precisely because nobody can stop or punish her – more normal reactions to the use of violence don’t make as much sense. In that case it’s an interesting character moment.

            I say charitable in the sense of “Alison is her own character with her own opinions that the authors don’t necessarily condemn or condone,” but the frequently tract-like nature of the comic makes that murky. Even this scene is framed like a tract.

          • saysomethingclever

            i think the idea that Might Makes Right is an “unintentional” recurring theme ignores the fact that when Alison was Mega Girl her catchphrase was “Right makes might!” It’s even what her action figure says.

          • Flesh Forge

            That’s a good catch, you’re right. Ugh. Well, here comes the big epiphany page anyway.

          • Mechwarrior

            Basically, Allison’s point was that she’s virtually immune to repercussions regardless of what action she takes, which (to her) makes her a more moral person for choosing not to kill people than a person who could actually be stopped by police would be.

      • Liz

        You can make a moral argument for or against pretty much any action that it is humanly possible to take (Emancipation declaration included, as he demonstrated). That doesn’t mean there isn’t a right action and a wrong action, in spite of the existence of moral arguments one way or the other. And Allison is upset because she doesn’t know whether she took a right action or a wrong one. And maybe there isn’t a definite right or wrong one, in which case he should say that and leave her to grieve her unsurety and/or right decision that is nonetheless very very sad, in peace.

    • Lostman

      So should he lie, and not tell the truth?

      • Liz

        Who said lie? I just said he reached a faulty conclusion. Her being upset isn’t a result of wanting absolution, it’s a result of unsurety.

        • Lostman

          What faulty conclusion? Unsurety is the result of her action. She has to own it on matter what.

  • Sometimes being an adult is doubt, and no one but you to ease it.

    • Lostman

      But the taxman coming to collect just makes it worse.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Now these are words I can work with.

  • There is a middle ground, which is that two wrongs do not make a right.

    • Stephanie

      What are the two wrongs?

  • Kifre

    It’s kind of nice seeing someone telling Ali (though not in so many words) to grow up, there’s no overarching ‘rightness’, and that you have to live with your choices because no one can or will absolve you for them. At the same time, she really does need someone or something to keep her in check. Her judgment is not the best and she has in several instances acted rashly and irresponsibly and there is no real consequence to be imposed.

  • Philip Bourque

    Well, she could also stick her fingers in her ears and run away, but even then it’ll catch up with her eventually and it isn’t a middle ground either.

  • Robert

    The middle ground is for sheep. Right and wrong are perspectives. Choose your side, change your side, do whatever suits you, but own it.

    Negotiate a peaceful settlement, or kill every dissenter. Either way, you get what you want… it’s how you got it that people tend to have opinions on.

    And whose opinions matter at the end of the day?

    Yours. No one else has to live in your skin.

    I miss the days when people said their minds and made their stands. We waffle, we cave, we float with the current… we’ve been indoctrinated into the belief that we exist to please others before ourselves, that we must make room for others, at the expense of ourselves. Not that we could, not that “it would be nice if” but we MUST accept anything and everything we’re told is “right” by others.

    And revile those who DO make a stand, who speak their words and make their moves… because we fear to.

    I tend to ignore whomever is screaming at me the loudest, and do the opposite of what they’re demanding I do.

    I entertain those who speak to me rationally, with reasonable requests.

    I oppose those who attempt, by force or violence, to achieve their goals.

    Whose standards do I follow?

    Why my own. Thank you.

    • Stephanie

      You can take a stand on, and own, a middle-ground position. Extreme positions aren’t the only ones that count.

      Out of curiosity, have you been reading Ayn Rand lately? Getting a real strong Ayn Rand vibe here.

  • Ptorq

    I was guilty of sloppy thinking. I saw that Guwara was being a terrible professor and assumed that meant he’s a terrible person.

    I have been forced to revise that, and I no longer think he’s a terrible person. I still think that failing someone on the first day for anything less than extraordinary circumstances (like, say, the student threatened to blow up the classroom) should be grounds for immediate dismissal (tenure notwithstanding … tenure doesn’t mean “I can get away with literally anything”), and even pretending like you were going to do that should warrant an investigation and probably a formal reprimand.

  • mugasofer

    I mean, a priest isn’t going to offer absolution for something you’d do again either. Repentance and all that.

    • Mechwarrior

      That depends on how large of a donation you’re making.

      • Weatherheight

        And when. 😀

  • Scott

    I told you so. Remember back during the classroom experiment when I told you that the professor was a genius with an amazing perspective on ethics and philosophy and you wanted to tell me that he was nothing but a know-it-all asshole and a bully? Well you seem to have changed your tune over these last few weeks…

    Thank you for allowing me this moment of self-indulgence.

  • Rugains Fleuridor

    Welp, if you don’t regret it, we’re wasting our time in deep thought! YOLO, people!

  • K. J. Hargan

    Read everything in the Comments. Whew! Lots of heavy thinking. Awesome.

    Two things stuck out for me.

    1. This argument about bodily autonomy is moving the wrong way. From what I gathered the argument was mostly about what you are free to do. You absolutely do not have freedom to do whatever you like. The argument should be about what you are compelled to do.

    When I drive up to a red light I must stop. I might get a ticket. I might cause an accident. I might cause a death. Laws are all about coercion. You are coerced to obey the law by punishment with imprisonment or fine, and ignorance of the law is no defense. Laws are meant to protect generally and create peace specifically. Murderers are not allowed generally to commit murders, and the inhibiting of a murderer creates peace specifically.

    From my perspective, Alison made a decision on Feral’s need coupled with her perception of Max’s selfishness and privilege. It was a wrong decision because she did not have the merest legal license to kidnap and assault, or compel another human being, regardless of her moral justification.

    “But what about the people saved?” A hypothetical, that the law does not allow the average citizen to apply in a personal manner. Laws govern the concrete factual. I cannot pin a police badge on my chest and direct traffic, no matter how well I will improve the commute. Alison assumed she had the right to abduct and assault Max for a greater good. She absolutely did not.

    2. You all are missing the point of this discussion, I think. This is not about how Alison must ‘regret or defend’ her decision, as Guwara so deceptively and provocatively states. This is about what she must DO NEXT once she has processed this event. She either goes home and lives with moral torment and the rationalization of her illegal acts, unpunished (regrets). Or she goes to Max and/or the authorities and takes responsibility for her actions (defends). Will she end up in jail? Probably not. Will she be charged with assault by Max? Probably not if he wants to keep a low profile about his powers.

    However, I do not think Max is the forgiving kind. It will be fascinating to find out what he will impose as an appropriate punishment or fine.

    I believe Alison will take responsibility for her actions (or you’d better change the name of the comic). The interesting thing to develop out of this will be her self doubt when her powers are definitely in need with no time for philosophical pondering. (A bit like Stan Lee and John Romita Jr.’s run on Spiderman, but then you’re in fine company)

    • Zorae42

      1. You are forgetting that Alison is not “an average citizen”. When she was an official Super Hero, she was allowed to act basically as a police officer of other supers. She was allowed to make judgement calls about whether to kill/capture violent supers if she thought it was necessary for the greater good.

      Now it’s true that she took off the mask and isn’t really an ‘Official’ super. (Forgive me I seem to have forgotten half of the characters’ names and I don’t want to go through and look them up) But when the blade armed dude showed up, she went right back into super hero mode and captured him. Now you could claim that was self defense. But she also captured Rat when he was doing graffiti, tracked down her friend who was killing rapists, and threatened Patrick

      When a super is involved, she has acted well outside her role of “average citizen” when she deemed fit. One could claim that she did the same here. And since the Law hasn’t come after her for any of those other incidents, they are probably complicit with her actions when supers are involved.

      Although honestly, lawful == right. That’s why D&D has Lawful Good and Chaotic Good as alignments 😛

      2. I agree with the sentiment that it’s about what she does next. But I don’t see how ‘taking responsibility’ could help in this situation. She can’t really go to the authorities without risking exposing Max (and honestly I doubt they’d even punish her considering how scared they all are). And I don’t think Max would ever want to see her again. Either with an apology, or with a statement that she doesn’t regret what she did but is going to take responsibility for her actions.

      • K. J. Hargan

        In the voice of Guwara: “Does a policeman have to obey the law? Aha! Of course he does. But does he obey the SAME laws as non-policeman. NO! He has permission to lawfully break the speed limit, destroy property, or discharge a weapon. Is Alison a policeman or in law enforcement at present? Aha! Sadly, no.”
        The best thing she can do, and what I expect, is to go to Max and throw herself on his mercy.

        • K. J. Hargan

          A thought connected to my other response above. One could say that Alison acted ethically/legally like a policeman when she took and hurt Max. It could be argued that she arrested and detained Max. (Nobody likes cops who do that so I’m not discussing that).

          The extortion was the part where she was wrong, wrong, WRONG.

          Regardless of the later implications, it is a moral outrage to compel someone to do something against their will.

          I know the morality of good samaritan laws has already been discussed here at length so I’m not going there. (read anywhere else on this board).

          But it seems very few have brought up extortion, which is what Alison did when she compelled Max to use his powers. The other two charges, abduction and assault are just the means to facilitate this extortion.

          Example: My neighbor is starving and I have no money to help feed her. I am utterly, morally in the wrong to kidnap a wealthy person and threaten them with violence if they do not feed my neighbor, as sensible as that seems.

          • AshlaBoga

            “My neighbor is starving and I have no money to help feed her. I am
            utterly, morally in the wrong to kidnap a wealthy person and threaten
            them with violence if they do not feed my neighbor, as sensible as that

            You see, not everyone agrees on that point. If the wealthy person you kidnapped had made their money via harming others and was willfully responsible for more evil than good, many people (such as myself) would say that your extortion was a morally grey decision rather than simply black or white. I would however, acknowledge that it was completely and utterly illegal.

          • Sterling Ericsson

            Of course, it’s the legality of actions by such people that allows them to utterly corrupt the system and purposefully cause the deaths of thousands. They make the laws so that their actions are legal, but legality doesn’t make them right. Not in the slightest.

          • K. J. Hargan

            And that, of course, is the core of Alison’s struggle.

    • Olivier Faure

      … I think you’re missing the point. Allison is not concerned about whether her decision was legal or not (she does illegal shit all the time and doesn’t care). She’s concerned about whether it was ethical.

      • K. J. Hargan

        I am being friendly and not antagonistic, ok?

        But you have confused two words, and I’m seeing this happen a lot in these recent comments. Morals and ethics seem the same, but they are not. Morality is what you personally feel to be right. Ethics are rules to behave by in accordance with your morals. Most laws are based on ethics. Which are based on morals.

        We believe it is wrong to steal – that is a moral. We won’t steal or allow stealing – that is an ethic. We will ban the unethical practice of stealing – there’s your law.

        I believe Alison is conflicted about the morality of what she has done. Ethics or legality be damned, she’s already done it.

        Forgive me for sounding confrontational, but where has she done ‘illegal shit’? I’ve read this comic since the beginning and except for what has happened with Max, she has abided by the law. True, she has had some leeway when sponsored by the government, like my policeman example in the comment below, but I’m truly struggling to remember any overt breaking of the law. Or, whether she cares if she breaks the law (I think she does).

        With Max, Alison acted impulsively and broke the law (or if you will – acted unethically), i.e. abduction, assault, and extortion. Should we label that unethical or illegal? Is there really a difference at this point with this behavior? No. We are not lawyers.

        So, in my paragraph I say ‘merest legal license’ which could just as easily be said as ‘merest ethical license’. So yes, you are right in that the ethics are a question, but one could just as easily say the legality is in question. So, in this context ‘ethical’ and legal’ mean nearly the same thing and is not the real question.

        Ethics and/or legality is not at the base of our hero’s torment. She is agonizing over right or wrong. What guides our notions of right or wrong in civil society? Laws based on ethics determined by morality.

        ergo – Alison is conflicted about the morality of her illegal behavior.

        • Olivier Faure

          I’m sorry if I came off as confrontational.

          Allison has shown a general disregard for the law (when Paladin asked if their plan for Valkyrie would bring legal trouble, she answered that she was basically immune to those anyway). She threatened a crowd of people with death, then resisted arrest because she thought her friend had been killed. She still hasn’t turned Patrick in. She strangled a guy at a party because she wasn’t getting answers fast enough. She damaged a window to break into her classroom because she was late for philosophy. Etc.

          Whatever Allison’s approach to morality and ethics is, she clearly cares very little about laws and law enforcement.

          As for what is moral and what is not: it depends on whether you view morality as an absolute thing handed down by a higher authority (be it nature, God, or the government), or as a set of rules we collectively agree too as a mean to an end. The first vision tends to weigh towards deontology and unbreakable rules; the second towards utilitarianism and weighing outcomes against one another.

          Allison’s problem is that she seems to believe more in deontology, yet her actions are clearly utilitarian.

          • K. J. Hargan

            Honestly, I think she hasn’t really thought very deeply about the consequences of the use of her power. It wasn’t until Moonshadow went off the deep end that she even considered anything other than black and white type right or wrong.
            And, the lack of that consideration has allowed her to do something that now has put her at odds with her own sense of morality.
            But you are right, Alison (and the author by extension) doesn’t really add spirituality and theistic morality into the mix much does she?
            Not that I would want her to…

  • Yakk

    Focusing on the immediate consequences of Alison’s act is the trap here.

    She has just made the most powerful “super” in the entire world feel powerless, and threatened to do it again.

    Imagine there was someone who could kill anyone they want at will. And we have a trolly problem, where the only way they can survive is to kill half the world population, or accept the fact that you are going to kill them to save 50000 people.

    And you believe they really, really don’t want to die.

    The moral calculus of choosing to try to kill them changes from at least a utilitarian standpoint. The predicted consequences of trying to kill them aren’t “50000 people get saved”, but transform to “half the world is killed”.

    Max has lots of money and a super power that lets them make anyone else super powerful, and now feels threatened (justifiably) and helpless. Max doesn’t like feeling threatened and helpless. Max solves the problem.

    Max recruits people to protect him, and in exchange gives them a power upgrade; the more loyalty you show, the more power. Max recruits people to deal with the person who threatens to harm him.

    This could easily escalate into an extinction level event threat.

    There is a difference between the utilitarian ethics of the trolly problem, and the geopolitical ethics of war. And Alison just started a war.

    • cphoenix

      Max becoming a supervillain as a result of Alison’s action would make the story very interesting. I like it as a story.

      I’m not sure it’s plausible, because Max has had a lifetime of inaction and hiding. Supervillains need to have organizational skills, and a strong capacity for action.

      On the other hand, Max has grown up in a powerful family. So he might have absorbed the necessary skills by osmosis even though he hasn’t been practicing.

      (I’ve read your trolley problem analysis three times, and don’t yet understand what you’re saying in those paragraphs.)

      • Flesh Forge

        To make a long story short, With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

      • Izo

        Max becoming a supervillain would be cliche, and excuse Alison’s actions even further. I’d prefer a law of unintended consequences from the results of Alison’s plan instead.

    • Flesh Forge

      I’d love to see this but I doubt they’d take the story that way.

    • Filthy Liar

      You’re right, she should definitely kill Max now so he doesn’t do that. Since he’s shown he’s an irresponsible ass and is guaranteed to only use his power in negative ways unless forced.

    • Zac Caslar

      Yeah, you wish.

      Let’s mark this down and see if you prophesize correctly.

    • Stephanie

      I think that’s a little farfetched. Max would have to go way overboard to the point of implausibility to produce an extinction-level threat.

      • Weatherheight

        Based on current villains which we’ve been shown, I think you’re absolutely right.

        But I can think of any number of energy-based powers that are perfectly manageable at one power level but not so much at an elevated one. It’s a bit of a trope within comics that energy projectors are extremely susceptible to runaway powers when those powers are boosted.

        The other problem is that we really don’t know how Max’s power affects anyone other than Tara, whose powers are pretty self regulating. The presumption based on what we’ve actually seen is that Max cannot overpower someone and that control of those powers is part of the process, but that is an assumption based on a single case. Yes I know there is at least one more – but we never saw that person and the effects of Max’s boosting them and Patrick controlled the information Alison saw.

        Worse, what if Patrick didn’t send that information at all – what if the whole thing was a trick by the mysterious Secret Killers designed to trick Alison into using Max to augment Tara – but they didn’t provide the additional information that the person Max augmented originally died a few days later as the energy feedback from Max’s augmentation disintegrated them. Two birds with one stone – killing the potential world changer Tara and guilt-whipping Alison into permanent inaction. Boom!

        Years ago there was a Marvel villain named Infectia (I think) whose power was to either give someone powers or augment their existing ones (the latter very rarely used). The side effect was that the more those powers were used, the more likely that person would be to die, usually in a burst of energy or a foul organic mist.

        I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine augmentation of an already ludicrously powerful energy projector (cold or fire) who is immune to the side effect of their own powers causing something nasty if they were somehow unable to dial back or control said powers (freezing the waters of the world solid, or igniting the atmosphere in a cascade reaction). So far, it seems implausible to me too, but with biodynamic abilities continuing to get stronger without augmentation….

        Runaway magnetic powers could also fit the bill by causing problems with ferrous metals, magnetic field effects (TV and radio), and magnetic storage media – this was essentially the threat of the last X-Man movie, and that threat should have completely destroyed civilization for a few decades, not merely inconvenienced it. Literal hundreds of millions of folks should have been dead after what was shown on screen, and probably twice as many would have died immediately thereafter from the disruption of social systems and infrastructure.

        The big problem is, of course, that we currently lack information about exactly how Max’s power works and about such a ludicrously powerful person to augment now that Inferno no longer is among the living.

        (Or is he…? Duhn duhn DUHNNNNN!)

    • AshlaBoga

      That’s a fair point. He could find one of Alison’s old enemies and give them enough power to kill her. The issue is that then there’d be nothing to stop them from going after him. Then again, he could empower them anonymously – Feral was not aware of what was going on. Maybe Patrick has an angle here?

  • JohnTomato

    No comment as none is needed.

  • Eternal

    Isn’t he missing the point? She’s precisely turning to philosophy to try to build a solid case for the legitimity of her actions, in order to be able to defend them fully and have no regret…

    • Weatherheight

      from Dictionary.com:
      “a freeing from blame or guilt; release from consequences, obligations, or penalties.”

      A more nuanced way of talking about absolution is not that what you did was okay but that your acknowledgement of fault and the guilt suffered constitute your tribute for the fault, that no further tribute is due. There is inherent in the idea of absolution that the offender deserves punishment but is being granted grace therefrom. And that implies a judgement from the absolver (is that even a word? Meh, you get my drift, I hope).

      Guwara’s arguent is that Alison needs to decide this herself – he can provide tools for the decision making process, but that it is a process, and her attempt to have him render judgement on Alison is her attempt to short-circuit that process.

  • Lostman

    It’s very interesting, Alison wants to know that she did the right thing. It leads me back to something I been wondering for sometime: why does Alison want to save the world? It’s a simple question on first look: altruism. How as it’s seems that Alison while having the powers of Superman, is something antitheses to blue boy scout. That maybe the more “realistic” take the story has the on Superhero genre, but that just reminds of the fact that Alison is a human wearing a skin of a god, while superman is a god wearing the skin of a human.

    Then the whole thing child actor/solider thing she did.

  • Edward L. Howell

    OH MY GOSH this comic is good. I mean…. wow.

    • Weatherheight

      Hee Haw! (That’s how a donkey says hello).

      If you think the comic is good, check out the refreshments! Today we have.. hmm.. peach cobbler and chocolate Santa… Clauses…

      ::glances suspiciously at the candy labeled “Merry Christmas 1992” ::

      Maybe you want to give those a pass…

      Oh, and punch.. just like grandma used to make.


      • AshlaBoga

        I would like some donkey burger. Or perhaps donkey steak.

        • Weatherheight

          ::sidles away from AshlaBoga and edges closer to Loranna::

  • pidgey

    Finally, a philosophical point I can get behind.

    • Weatherheight

      ::slowly puts away the Pokeball he reflexively grabbed for with this teeth::

      Sorry, sorry.. it’s a sickness, really…

  • Cokely

    Normally I’m not a big fan of the flat color backgrounds, but the use of deep red to indicate anger is both a nice departure from the comic’s pastel palette, and its placement in the panels is quite good. Also a good choice to us it on the part of both speakers.

  • Hiram

    “There is no middle ground” – Objectively false. You can recognize that you wronged someone to achieve a positive overall outcome. The responsible party makes reparations to the parties they’ve injured and seeks to do better. Gurwara’s argument seems like a shallow and convenient dichotomy.

    • Cokely

      That would be the “regret them” result.

      • Hiram

        I may agree with you, but does Gurwara? He just called Allison remorseless because she wouldn’t utterly reverse her actions given the opportunity.

        • Cokely

          I don’t think it matters if he agrees or not. His goal is to get Alison to own her actions, one way or the other. If she does regret them, then “While total reversal may not be in your power, you can at least make some kind of amends – starting with not doing this again” may be his next piece of advice.

          Also, let’s bear in mind two things: Gurwara speaks in hyperbole as a matter of course, and Alison has a really hard time with nuance. This kind of rhetorical style may be necessary to communicate with her.

          • Weatherheight

            Or it may be necessary to sufficiently undermine her certainty that her current values are in fact valid. Core beliefs for anyone are always pretty set in stone, and when they are no longer functional or beneficial, all too often those same previously useful values act to sabotage our efforts to adapt.

            Nice post here,

  • Jack

    “You’re not looking for a philosopher, you’re looking for a priest!”

    Yes, but a priest wasn’t the one who walked up to the crying girl and said hello. You started this conversation, Gurwara!

    • Mechwarrior

      He may have started the conversation, but that doesn’t mean he’s obligated tell her something just because it’s the answer she wants to hear.

  • BMPDynamite

    [long comment]

    Earlier in this storyline, I made reference to my favorite DC Animated movie of all time: Superman Vs. The Elite. (No Spoilers) It is my Bible for how characters like Superman should be written. And Superman, in the movie, has to make a choice very similar to the one Alison made – one that, in ordinary circumstances, would have made people question whether he was right or wrong. Suffice to say, the villain makes it clear that Superman has two choices: kill him and ensure he’ll stop, or let him live in a world the villain will continue to judge and try to control. Superman chooses a third option, one that solves the crisis peacefully and ensures the villain will face the full consequences of his actions without being a threat anymore, but at a cost to the villain.

    I’m gonna make the same argument in this situation for Alison that everyone was able to make for Superman – in this specific situation, what she did was right. But it’s good that she’s analyzing her choice and its weight. It will shape how she makes similar judgments in the future, and she’ll learn better about what situations do and don’t call for force to get results. She doesn’t HAVE to go full tyrant to make the world better; few superheroes do or should. But she’s young, and is learning that balance.

    [/long comment]

  • T Kilmer

    I disagree with the professor here. I think that sometimes it is a good thing to feel bad and uncomfortable about an action you took, while knowing you’d still do that action again in the future.

    Some actions are in morally grey areas, strongly defined by context and nuance. Some actions you never want to be blase about performing, because the risk of fucking up and doing a lot of harm is so great. And with such actions I think discomfort and self-recrimination afterward can be a good thing. Such actions should be negatively reinforced. It’s always easier to do something a second time, and with morally risky actions you *never* want it to get easier to perform them. So negative emotional reinforcement is important as a way to counter that, to make morally grey actions stay difficult to perform. Taking the professor’s advice, I think, is a good way to end up exactly the kind of tyrant Alison is terrified of becoming.

    Now to Alison, her feelings about an action and its morality ought to be identical: she should feel bad about a bad act and good about a good act. I don’t think she has a mental model for a morally right act which she ought to feel bad about, and I think that’s ultimately where her trouble is coming from.

    • Teal

      your first line makes no sense to me. you basically paraphrased the
      professor. She doesn’t want to Change. He is right. she needs to Regret
      them or Defend them. or as you said, ‘Feel uncomfortable while knowing
      you’d still do that action again’

  • PrintHead1436

    SFP is so good, & so consistently good. I’m very thankful.

  • PrintHead1436
    • weedgoku

      Situations in which violence is okay by me: Literal nazis.

  • Weatherheight

    The number of times I have said variations on Guwara’s words in that last panel…
    “You don’t want to change, you want absolution…” is also very familiar to me (except my phrasing goes something like, “I’m not fit to cast judgement on you – go ask the Eternal for help with that.”).

    Anything else I can add has already been well said by others.

  • Zac Caslar

    So to my mind the manifest question is will Allison make her crime public?

    AFAIK she’s gotten away clean. The number of people who know is very small and I’m certain Guwara won’t report her to whatever appropriate policing agency would be the right one. Barring another biodynamic getting involved, which isn’t unfeasonable given how Menace probably has her under perpetual surveillance, this ship is Allison’s to crash.

    Does she?

    I hope not.

    Not just for the continuity of her projects, but because Regret is a real thing (I tend to opine that the “no regrets YOLO” crowd are poseurs; if you don’t regret anything you didn’t risk anything) and taking strong action always carries the the threat of being cause to regret something.

    There is a real lesson about the cost of serious changes, particularly immediate ones, and imo either being coerced into revealing it or deciding to throw herself onto the spears of public opinion is a choice to waste the lesson.

    Additionally this is a useful aesop about what kind of person should wield power. I’m beginning to suspect that no matter who has it abuses are actually inevitable -if only for how incredibly relative that idea is (see the American Civil War and Mr. Lincoln again …and again, and again). That being so what becomes all important is the variable of who the abuser is and what they intend.

    You know, the lesson we’re all living through in this exact moment present in the new American president.

    I do trust whatever direction will be chosen, but I suspect Allison will be newly and eternally reminded of the weight of power. Heavy is the head that wears the mask, as it were.

    I know that’s what I would choose. I have regrets. I keep secrets. I can’t say it was always worth it, but I do say it was always necessary.

    • phantomreader42

      So to my mind the manifest question is will Allison make her crime public?

      Keep in mind that she can’t really do that without revealing the nature of Max’s powers, and thus making him a target for other biodynamics (including but not limited to supervillains). Even if she could do it without making his identity obvious, she’d still be telling the world there’s someone somewhere who can (significantly and presumably permanently) power up other biodynamics, and that said person does not want to use this power, but can be coerced or threatened into doing so. Such a person, or anyone suspected of being such a person, would be sought after by power-hungry villains, well-intentioned extremist “heroes”, desperate low-tier biodynamics who keep seeing friends hurt trying to do the right thing, dynamorphs who mistakenly think he can turn off their anomaly, dynamorphs who think boosting their anomaly would give them better control or more comfort, dynamorphs who wrongly blame him for the existence of their anomalies in the first place, anti-biodynamic groups, and who knows how many others. They might find Max and mess him up even worse than Allison did, or they might find some poor innocent bystander who doesn’t have any idea what they’re talking about but still gets tortured to force them to use a power they don’t actually have, or killed in hopes of neutralizing them.

      • AshlaBoga

        “Keep in mind that she can’t really do that without revealing the nature of Max’s powers.”


        She can’t turn herself in without violating Max further. He’s already said he didn’t want anyone knowing what he could do. If she confesses, she informs more people which is the last thing he wants. By admitting her crime, she harms the victim further.

        She’s just going to have to live with her guilt.

    • Not commenting on your argument, just commenting on this statement:

      I tend to opine that the “no regrets YOLO” crowd are poseurs; if you don’t regret anything you didn’t risk anything.

      I find myself wanting to test the YOLO theory each and every time someone brings it up in my presence. More and more the older and more curmudgeonly I become…

      • Zac Caslar

        There’s a certain encroaching bitterness in being reminded that so much of the glamour of youth is in wasting it. I miss the fearlessness, though I don’t miss the trendy acrid indifference.

        ….and where the hell is your avatar from? Gah. So familiar yet so just beyond my immediate memory.

        • My avatar is a character named Breakpoint that I created years ago; Dave Barrack used her in Grrl Power during the big Vehemence debacle.

          • Zac Caslar

            Ah HA! That’s the art style. Ok, thanks. I didn’t recognize the character, but the art itself was poking my hindbrain.
            Cool. Thanks.

  • Harsh, but absolutely appropriate.

  • Dirka

    Realistically, without the meta-benefit of roughly a bajillion pages of comments to debate moral axioms and optimal outcomes, I’d probably went the same way as Al. Mostly because I really wanted to help my friend, but also because I’d feel frustrated and vindictive towards Max. I would angst about it, because coercion is a thing Bad People do, but I’d probably be able to sustain my self image as a Good Person by focusing on Feral and all future donees.

    • dragonus45

      Its nice to know that after raping someone for a good cause you would still feel like a good person

      • AshlaBoga

        I’ve talked to criminals who have justified some incredibly heinous acts (mugging a couple who had their 6 month old baby in a stroller, putting GHB in a 19 year old’s drink and taking advantage of them… long list). And each and every one of them seemed to be able to make excuses that allowed them to sleep at night.

        If you go to prison and talk to the murderers, pretty much every single one of them says that they were only doing what they thought was right.

        • Mechwarrior

          Very very few people think that they’re evil.

        • Stephanie

          Okay, but did you notice that Dirka said absolutely nothing about being okay with rape?

          • Micah Matheson

            No, Dirka said they would do what Alison did to Max. Which is forcing him to do something with his body – arguably an intimate part of his body in the form of his superpower – against his will and without his consent. To another person who was unable to consent – who was in fact *unconscious*.

            No genitalia were involved with the act, but I consider it to be analogous enough to be applicable.

          • Stephanie

            It was not rape. It was not sexual in nature. Not every act of coercion is rape. Accusing people of being rape apologists because they’re cool with forcing a guy to save millions of lives is a strawman tactic that has no place in this debate. It’s a transparently manipulative abuse of a hot-button word to try to shut down the conversation.

          • Micah Matheson

            I assure you, my goal is not to prop up a strawman, nor am I attempting to invoke rape to push buttons or shut down conversation. I believe the actions Alison took with regards to Max are *comparable* to sexual assault. Not a perfect analog, no, but close enough to where I feel a comparison can be made.

            That Alison made Max use his *superpower*, which in my mind occupies a very intimate place in the psyche of any super, is what brings Alison’s actions closer to sexual assault.

            I don’t know if you care to – you seem to be quite staunchly opposed to my posts and opinions – but I would like you to try and imagine the exact same scene if the genders were reversed. Not the characters, mind you – the genders.

            Alistair and Maxine. Maxine is just as spoiled as Max, holds the same Randian ethos. Alistair is Alison in personality and beliefs. The only difference is that their biological genders are swapped.

            Would you honestly not consider the actions taken then – even partially – as analogous to sexual assault?

          • Stephanie

            You can certainly draw an analogy to sexual assault specifically with respect to “forcing someone to use their body for something.” But *analogous* does not mean *equivalent*, so it’s wholly inappropriate (for dragonus45) to go around accusing people of defending rape. Someone who says “I believe it was acceptable to coerce Max into using his power” is not, by any stretch, saying “I think rape is okay.” That’s a strawman of the highest order.

            Not every intimate act of coercion is rape, even if it’s really awful. For instance, I think forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term would be a reprehensible, intimate violation of her bodily autonomy. But it would not be a sexual assault. It’s an act of violation and coercion distinct from rape.

            Your intent may not be to attack a strawman or shut down conversation, but that is exactly what dragonus was doing, and I don’t think that tactic should be defended.

          • Micah Matheson

            My posts defend my position that Alison’s actions are analogous to sexual assault – they were not intended to support or defend dragonus45’s statement.

          • Stephanie

            I understand that now that you say so, but since you made those posts in response to my post attacking dragonus45’s statement, I was previously under the impression that you intended your posts to defend that statement. And in practice, that is the role your posts play in the context of the discussion as a whole.

            I guess my question is, do you agree or disagree with that statement? Do you believe that, from your position that Alison’s actions are analogous to sexual assault, it follows that her defenders must be rape apologists?

          • Micah Matheson

            I’m trying to understand why a situation that some readers see as comparable to sexual assault is being tolerated by some, celebrated by a few, and perceived by many as the best course of action for Alison to have taken, given the situation.

            This entire series is a deconstruction of the superhero comic, viewed through the lens of social justice and the modern feminist movement. I think it is not only fair, but *necessary*, to compare Alison’s actions against similar actions that have *already occurred in the comic* for the purposes of narrative consistency and epistemology. Namely, the Moonshadow arc – the prevalence of rape in that arc, and Moonshadow’s decision to take vigilante justice on several rapists.

          • Stephanie

            The answer to “why” is “because it saved the lives of many thousands of people.”

          • Micah Matheson

            I turn your question around, then:

            How is the acceptance of her rape-analog, and the justification of that acceptance using the contextual information of the lives saved by the act, *not* rape apology?

            Not to belabor the point, but I feel the subject matter requires clarity of communication; my statements are *not* an attempt to accuse you of being a rape apologist.

          • Stephanie

            Because what Alison did was not rape. It wasn’t rape and it wasn’t a “rape-analogue.” You can draw parallels between aspects of things without arguing that they’re equivalent.

      • Dirka

        Yes, I also regularly suicide bomb childrens hospitals for a good cause.

    • Mechwarrior

      Dylann Roof thinks that he’s a Good Person.

      • Dirka

        Hitler ate sugar.

        • Mechwarrior

          Yes, and therefore saying that you can eat sugar has no effect on your morality, just like calling yourself a Good Person.

        • Weatherheight

          Hitler ate Sugar. Hitler also thought he was a Good Person.
          Dylann Roof thinks he is a Good Person. He also eats sugar.
          Therefore, people who eat sugar are Good People who are like Hitler and Dylann Roof.

          Fun with specious logic!

  • Danygalw

    There totally is.

  • Izo

    Wow, I get swamped at work a few days and all this talk about stuff I’ve already talked about happens 🙂

    • AshlaBoga

      Any Monarch who had total control of the state would be a tyrant.

      There are many monarchs in the history of England, France, Japan and China considered “good.”

      I would say that a good democracy is better than a good tyrant, but that a good tyrant is better than a bad democracy.

      • Izo

        No, there are no good tyrants. Tyranny is an awful concept, because you are putting all your faith in one, single person to always do the right thing for everyone and never put their own interests first. I’m going to wager that you’ve never lived in a system with a monarch or other dictator who had absolute rule, nor have you ever had any direct relatives who have. For example, my ancestry is from Hawaii and from Korea – two places which did have tyrants. North Korea has an awful tyrant. Hawaii had a ‘benevolent’ tyrant as Queen (back before Hawaii was a state). But it still was not as good as having a government where the people had a say, because you could NOT have a different opinion than the queen. You could not speak your mind. You can not have the freedom of speech or association. without the Queen’s blessing. She was a good Queen, sure, but she was still a queen, so that’s not as good as a ‘meh’ temporary elected-by-the-people official.

        Also, none of the countries that you named had monarchies which were always good. Name a monarch, I’ll tell you someone they had killed summarily, or an action they took which you’d find barbaric. In fact, England realized this early on, and the Magna Carta limited the power of the monarch, and today the monarch is a mere figurehead with no real political power whatsoever. France? Yeah they had a revolution because their monarchs were so good. Japan? Honestly any nation which considers their emperor a living god is just ASKING for trouble. China? Seriously? You think China’s emperors were ‘good?’

        News flash…. people don’t complain about their all-powerful tyrant leaders not because they’re ‘good’ but because if they complain, they are put to death. Why do you have this love for feudal systems? Sort of sucks if you’re a serf class in those systems. Unless you’re suddenly cool with oppressed peasantry and slavery.

        And most importantly, lets give you the absolute benefit of the doubt, that there is a tyrant who is some sort of perfect saint, who never ever ever makes a mistake, who everyone genuinely loves, not because of fear, but because they truly love the tyrant. How long do you think that’s going to last? I’ll tell you how long – until a single person has any sort of differing opinion.

        There are no good tyrannies. There are just tyrannies with very cowed slaves under the tyrant.

        Also even a bad democracy is marginally better than a good tyrant (an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one) because a democracy can be subject to mob rule, but a bad republic is better than even a best-scenario democracy. And that’s what we actually have – a republic.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Do or don’t, there is no try — dumbledore.

  • Peter

    Well, he has a point.