sfp 6 116 for web

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  • AshlaBoga

    The state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.
    But almost every state in existence was founded via the use of force legitimized after the fact.
    So, where does the legitimacy of the state come from? Why would the state be more legitimate for being moral and acting ethically than being immoral and acting unethically?

    P.S: Anyone else getting just a slight Palpatine vibe?

    • BadExampleMan

      Because “legitimacy” is in the eye of the beholder?

      Because in the case of constitutional republics and other modern states, the monopoly on violence is granted by the citizens for certain specific goals (life, liberty and the purfuit of happineff”), and if the state ceases to meet those goals it’s legitimacy is in question?

      Because fuck those Indians, who the hell gave them permission to plop their teepees down on our land?

      Just spitballing.

      • AshlaBoga

        “Because fuck those Indians, who the hell gave them permission to plop their teepees down on our land?” That’s a perfect example of how immoral and unethical the accepted legitimate government of a state can act. The example set by the people who founded the USA and Canada, taken as a universal standard, would grant Alison the authority to do far more than bend one prick’s arm behind his back. That doesn’t make it right, it just means that the government that I’ve supported for years is built on genocide and theft.

        If she wants to feel better about her decision, I could point out that every state superpower is built on blood and bones. Why should a human superpower be any different?

        • Lysiuj

          The point for me, would be that we must hold both nations and people to higher standards than that.

          • StClair

            How many would actually meet that standard? And what does that say about the validity of it?

          • Lysiuj

            It’s a long and hard process, but we have to keep at it.
            As to how many really don’t gain power “on blood and bones”? At present, the answer is 0 for nations, but I’d like to think that most individuals are better than that.

          • StClair

            Every human lives because countless plants and animals died for us to consume them.

          • Lysiuj

            Yeah, well, in case it wasn’t obvious I’m differentiating human life and wellbeing from all the rest.

          • MrSing

            If you love nature, then why do you eat salads?
            Checkmate, veganists.

          • “I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals; I’m a vegetarian because I hate f**king plants!”

            I have no idea where I heard that, years ago, but it made me laugh and seemed appropriate…

          • danima

            A. Whitney Brown, apparently: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/A._Whitney_Brown

          • Excellent- I always remember the quote a little wrong when I try and look it up and, as a result, I can never find it. Good to finally have a name to put to it. Thanks!

          • danima

            Sure thing!

          • BadExampleMan

            Every American who lives in comfort and material plenty does so because generations of Africans were enslaved, tortured, beaten, raped and murdered while having their labor stolen from them. There’s no escape from history.

          • Lysiuj

            Yep. But every person is still responsible for what they do in their own lives.

          • BadExampleMan

            Sure. But either you believe in Original Sin, or you don’t.

          • Zac Caslar

            Chalk me up for “don’t,” but choosing ignorance of your culture’s history is unacceptable.

          • StClair

            well, then we’re back to “legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder”, aren’t we?

          • Weatherheight

            This has a faint odor of “If we can”t get it perfect every time, why bother?”

            I’m not certain that was your point, but that idea is one of a nihilist and ultimately leads to abdication of responsibility to others. I’m with Lysiuj – just because we cannot be perfect does not relieve each of us of responsibility to try to be better tomorrow than we were today, even if the increment is ever so small.

            Being aware of the problems is important.
            Realizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day is also important.

          • StClair

            Not so much nihilism, IMO, as pointing out that we live in an imperfect world, where absolute moral purity is impossible … as Allison is discovering. Life is, by necessity, a series of compromises. We are not, and cannot be, perfect beings. We can aspire, certainly, but if your standard is “has no flaws”, you will always be disappointed.

          • Tsapki

            Frigging plants have it so good…well, except that tree that uses it’s sap to turn ants into it’s drug addicted goons and attack anything that gets close. Those plants are sort of assholes.

      • Kid Chaos

        SEE ALSO: Donny Tinyhands. ‘Nuff said. 😛

      • K. J. Hargan

        Stan Freiberg reference!!
        “You can’t be too careful what you sign theeeeese daaaaays!”

    • Lysiuj

      The state gets legitimacy: originally through power, and direct support for the revolution, war or other event that formed it; and then through a combination of continued use of power, socializing the populace into believing in its legitimacy, and occassional change so that it remains legitimate in the face of shifting ideals and norms.

    • MrSing

      The only place authority comes from, is from the people who are being ruled.

      A government that does not treat its people well, will inevitably lose its authority over those people. Making it neccesary to either keep authority over the majority or exterminate all those it has no authority over. (Or, in a better world, stop treating people badly and stop being an unethical government.)

      A government that treats it people badly will always have more problems with authority than one that treats them well and just.

      No country was ever build on gunpowder and swords. Maybe taken over by it or defended by it, but not build by it.

      • Jon

        “A government that does not treat its people well, will inevitably lose its authority over those people. ”

        That’s a) sort of reasoning from history and b) inevitably can be a long-ass time. Significantly longer than a human lifespan, and so for people inside the nation it’s functionally irrelevant.

        For an example of a nation that has been treating its citizens like crap for over half a century, see North Korea.

        • MrSing

          I don’t see how that undermines my point.

          • Smithy

            It takes effort, but it is utterly feasible, and there have many durable dictatorships treating its citizens like dirt (see feudalism). Frankly, keepign authority through cruelty and force has been the norm in governments, not the exceptions.

          • MrSing

            And all those dictatorships had huge problems keeping their authority.

            They had to constantly repress their people, beat back uprisings, and keep their people down 24/7 and keep them from forming groups larger than five people in public spaces.

            Because as soon as those people even smelled a chance at a better life, they would grab it.

            You can make a cruel dictatorship viable, but it is much harder to keep your authority when all the people under you hate your guts.

            Even Machiavelli said: “The prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible … when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.”

        • AshlaBoga

          Closer to 70 years than half a century.

          North Korea has over 110,000 spending their lives in concentration camps.
          It’s not a nice place.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Oh, no. None of us anticipated that while he might be a philosopher, he’s also an *old American* philosopher.
    The ethicist in him was brutally eaten alive by the sovereignist in him decades ago. If Alison keeps speaking to him for five minutes more she legally and irrevocably becomes a member of the Tea Party.

    • Stephanie

      Does acknowledging that governmental authority is derived from violence necessarily equate to saying that’s a good thing?

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        You don’t mention it for nothing.

        • Stephanie

          You can mention it to condemn it just as easily as you can mention it to support it. We don’t actually know what his opinion is yet, so I don’t think there’s good reason to jump to conclusions.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It’s a conversation between humans, and a fictional one at that. It’s bound to follow certain rules, most of the time. Points are followed counterpoints, not digressions. It would be very weird to bring up something that would not challenge the perspective on the situation.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            It’s also a conversation between an axiology teacher and his student. They already know that is does not imply ought.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            That’d be a worse crime than forgetting this rule: it’d be redundant.

          • Zac Caslar

            Wow, you really hold no ground and it’s obvious.

            Protip: gracefully conceding gets you more points that trying to waltz farther out toward’s the razor’s edge while pretending your feet don’t bleed.

            “You don’t mention it for nothing.”


          • Stephanie

            I think it’s most likely that he doesn’t intend to either support or condemn that state of affairs, but instead is just bringing the comparison to Alison’s attention so that she can draw her own conclusions.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Precisely. But I’d like to hear your potential conclusion to his argumentation. The way I see it, this just happened:
            “I have no authority over Max”
            “Well, you know, authority is made up, so, whatever”

          • Stephanie

            Gurwara has been pretty unpredictable so far, so I’m not going to try to finish his thought for him. I’m just going to wait until Tuesday and see what he says then.

        • Arkone Axon

          It sounds as though he’s mentioning it for the same reason that Merlin did in T.H. White’s “Once and Future King.” Arthur didn’t deny that Fort Mayne existed, and he spends every part of the book that isn’t “the Sword in the Stone” devoted to trying to find a way to harness strength for justice’s sake. “Might makes right… but how can we make right make might?”

          • danima

            I should really go back and read O&FK, because seared into my memory is a scene when Merlin is doing the Socratic dialogue thing with Arthur about how they are fighting the people who use force to impose their will on others, and Kay pipes up with, “but, aren’t we using force to get people to behave how we think is right as well?” ..and Merlin gives him T. H. White’s equivalent of the stink eye.

        • AshlaBoga

          Actually, if he’s attacking every perspective like Socrates did (or at least, how Plato portrayed Socrates), then it doesn’t mean he supports it.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m not saying you’re wrong and this is absolutely unheard of, but I’m adamant my reading isn’t *utterly* trash as well.

    • Sergi Díaz

      I can see her becoming an anarchist from here (a real one, Bakunin and such, not the bastardization of the libertarian concept you have in the US).

  • The Duck From p.112

    If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a dictatorship.

    • BadExampleMan


      • BadExampleMan

        I just want to point out that I’ve had a Disqus account for, I dunno, 5 years or so, and this is far and away my most popular comment ever.


        • Zac Caslar


          And to be fair it’s everywhere that appreciates a quality English language pun, not just ‘Murica. Real ‘Muricans don’t like puns at _all_

    • Miller Arlindo Hall

      You’re doing the lord’s work.

      • Balthazar

        May your plumage never fade, and your pond be wide and bountiful.

      • Raven Black

        The mallord.

  • AbacusWizard

    “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman? From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.”

    (John Ball, 14th century; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ball_(priest) )

  • Arkone Axon

    I’d like to note something about the debate here. A lot of commentors have been putting it in terms of “was Alison correct in doing the necessary thing to make Max help Feral?” (I say “help Feral” because her motivation was blatantly focused on her friend rather than the anonymous people being helped) And that question of making it an either/or “Torture the guy/let Feral suffer” is a false one. The assumption is that there was no other way. But what ways did she try?

    I argued about this with a friend, and I asked them what they’d have done in Alison’s position. Then I told them what I would have done. It would have started with listening to his story… and then asking, “…you jumped off the roof? Not off this penthouse, I… are you THAT unhappy?” In other words, I would show some of the compassion Alison was demanding that Max show for everyone else.

    I think that’s part of what Gurwara is trying to guide Alison into realizing. She demanded that Max show compassion for others, but there was no compassion for him. He shared his unhappiness with her, much as the women at the convention had, but her response was to coldly ignore his feelings and twist his words into a personal attack on her. She couldn’t go two minutes without insulting him – even while asking him to risk everything for someone else. She WANTED to use violence against him. She had already denied him his personhood when she showed up looking to use him as a tool to achieve her ends. That was her true crime, thinking of this person as a thing.

    What should she have done? Treat him as a person. Someone who had just shared his past history with her, gave her a tiny glimpse of how miserable he REALLY is. He didn’t just want super powers, he wanted an escape from his life. He might be wealthy, but he’s living in a gilded cage. He’s like that beautiful green skinned girl at the convention; just because she had less extreme issues than less conventionally attractive women attending that seminar did not mean her issues were trivial. Had Alison bothered to see Max as a person, he would have realized how much he is like… Jasmine from the Disney “Aladdin” movie. Trapped in an unhappy situation despite being surrounded by luxury.

    “I’m asking you to help others… and it’s only fair that I should help you.” She could have offered to introduce him to other biodynamics – including Paladin, who builds superpowered gadgets and armor. Hell, that could have helped Paladin with her own issues, by introducing her to a potential financial backer/benefactor. Are we to believe that Max would turn down the opportunity to have his own suit of flying armor? He REALLY wanted to be able to fly, if his own words are any indication. Imagine the good that could have come from treating Max as one of the people deserving of help, instead of demanding that he do what someone else says will benefit others, and expect neither compensation nor gratitude nor respect for it.

    • Weatherheight

      This is an interesting point. Not sure we have evidence that it would have played out thusly, but it’s interesting nonetheless.Basically, this is a variation on the Daniel Situation, so it has soem legitimacy from Alison’s side.

      Thought provoking…

    • Cara

      To be fair; pandering to the obsession of the super rich for receiving unjust reward isn’t my idea of a good time either.

      • Arkone Axon

        Bear in mind that even the poor in first world nations can be considered “super rich” by historical standards; if you sleep in warm shelter, eat every day, and use plumbing, you’re ahead of 90% of humanity who has ever lived. Max’s financial situation is as much an accident of birth as any other young person’s. His hereditary economic status is much like his intelligence, attractiveness, or athleticism; it’s what he does with them that matters, and it’s wrong to condemn someone for simply HAVING such qualities.

        (How many here remember facing persecution from bullying idiots who were jealous of people with more intelligence? Or being blessed by the puberty fairy earlier than their peers?)

        • Weatherheight

          Or especially long and silky ears…

          ::nods in agreement::

        • Stephanie

          I don’t condemn him for being rich, but I definitely condemn him for being a selfish bastard.

          • dragonus45

            Harsh to see that being selfish is now cause to remove all rights to personal choice.

          • Stephanie

            Like I said, I’m not interested in discussing this with you after you accused me of supporting rape. You can keep replying to my old posts if you want, but don’t expect me to engage again.

        • Pythia

          …but isn’t that the whole crux of this argument? That he isn’t doing with his gifts what he could to help others in incredible ways?

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, the argument is about whether or not HE has any rights – or whether he’s an awesome and useful set of powers that are inconveniently attached to someone who, for whatever reason, should be dismissed as a jerk and therefore completely undeserving of any rights or pity. No one here is denying that he could do great things… the question is whether or not it’s right to say “well, since what you can do is so wonderful, it’s only reasonable to take them by force and punish you for having these abilities in the first place.”

          • Shaz

            Interesting question. It’s one reason I love this comic, it always plays hardball by being so *grand*. Should he have rights? Of course. Should he have the right to allow someone else to suffer ‘eternal damnation’ because he wants to spite someone who wouldn’t sleep with him?

            Every person with food, a roof and a laptop is allowing people in third world countries and on the streets to suffer due to our inaction. On the other hand, those of us voting, arguing and protesting against the right wing, the racists, the classists and those who want less taxes and social care – are at least making *some* effort towards the goal. By forcing the rich to pay taxes, we restrict their rights. I’d argue that requiring this one douchebag to do this one-time thing that costs him nothing but saves a life (he saved Feral. The transplant recipients are on her tally, not his.) is far less of an imposition than sacrificing a large chunk of his income to run society.

    • MrSing

      There does seem to be a certain tendency in people to use negative reinforcement to make people act in a certain way rather than using positive alternatives.

      Not just the people here in the comments, but in general. If you steal you get arrested or shot. If commit a social blunder you get ridiculed. Say something awful, get hounded by people.

      It’s a valid way of keeping social order, but it is kinda depressing that positive enforcement or correction nearly always comes in second place. Underutilizing negative reinforcement comes with its own set of problems, I admit. But it seems that in most societies the balance always falls on the negative side.

      • Arkone Axon

        I remember when the gym I was training at was rented by a heavyweight boxer preparing for a championship bout. I remember watching him train with the pads, and listening to his coach. And I did not hear one single negative remark. Just an unending stream of positive commentary bordering on fawning flattery. “That’s the way to jab! Good left hook! Great footwork, keep up the footwork… good jab, yes!”

        Once they paused for a rest I asked the coach if he achieved better results with positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. This highly paid and well regarded professional instructor for a champion athlete responded immediately, “ALWAYS use positive reinforcement. ALWAYS. Whatever you comment on, that’s what they’ll focus on.”

        • SJ

          Well, don’t bury the lede… did he win the fight?

          • Arkone Axon

            I honestly do not know. I wasn’t exactly focused on him. I was there to train, as an amateur thai fighter being passed over by the gym’s owner in favor of his more feminine and attractive fighters.

            That’s not a misogynistic MRA complaint, mind; Master Toddy was specifically snubbing ALL his male fighters, including the top notch professional fighters I’d been having the privilege of training with, in favor of female fighters that he could promote more heavily (fighters like Angela Rivera; yes I trained with her. She was very nice, and no we were not close – just two people who trained at the same gym). So the male fighters left him for other gyms… and then the female fighters left him because he might have been an excellent promoter, but he was a HORRIBLE teacher (his idea of teaching consisted of repeatedly whacking students with a plastic whiffleball bat and roaring, “do it right!” until they figured it out on their own). But no, I don’t remember the name of the boxer, let alone if he won. I mainly remember that coach, and how much his training methodology differed from that of the guy who owned the gym.

    • Kelvandil

      Yes, that would have been the correct way to handle it. Failing that, she should’ve offered him a deal: “You help me, and I won’t tell anyone you’re a biodynamic.” That might seem like little better than physical coercion, but a key difference is that I’m pretty sure that according to Max’s ethics Alison has the right to tell anyone she wants about him. (The ideal result would be him realizing that his ethics are garbage when he gets to experience not being the person in power, but I’d settle for him accepting that Alison’s the one holding all the cards and taking the deal.)

      However, that’s a strategic failure, and not a moral one. There were nonviolent options available that probably would’ve worked, and if she had been cognizant of those and instead chose violence, that would have been damning. There’s no indication that she was, though. As far as we can tell, “Torture the guy/let Feral suffer” were the only options she was aware of. Certainly, there were other, better, options. Had she been smarter, or a better negotiator, or simply a better people person, she might have found a better way, but she wasn’t, and she didn’t.

      If Alison hadn’t stopped on the way out from the dam to try to
      talk to Mary, Furnace would likely still be alive. Was she stupid to
      stop? Yeah, probably. Does it make her a bad person? Certainly not.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Especially considering his situation being secret was unearned and unwarranted, only granted through his relations. Revealing the info is not super neat but it’s reestablishing justice.
        Contrary to torture.

        • HanoverFist

          I have to disagree. I think all biodynamics have a right to privacy, but the US government doesn’t recognize that right. It shouldn’t have to be “earned” or granted by privilege or family connections.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This question seems to have been settled on in this universe on a general “registration is a good thing”.

          • Zac Caslar

            Welcome to public policy necessities.

            Living WMD’s are a thing now. People who can utterly upend a society are at thing now.

            Corporations that can intend both have to be by default registered and we have a reasonably held negative view of conspiracies that would intend either so there’s a lot going for making biodynamic registration necessary.

            Now the enforcement’s the actual messy bit and would require quite the policy puissance to get right, but that’s yet another necessary argument.

          • HanoverFist

            Al said she and many of the biodynamics she knows (most of whom worked for the government to fight other biodynamics) thought it was a good idea. That does not make the matter “settled”.

          • Tylikcat

            And they were how old when this happened?

            I mean, it does have a lovely set up for why things start off being Golden Age comic book heroes, and now we’re into post-modern heroes – they really were all adolescents then! The superheroes as a group have grown up.

            *and now I’m going to beat my head against a wall for a while, and it’s probably nothing really to do with this content in particular, just, that sort of day, y’know?*

          • HanoverFist

            This is exactly my point. They spent their adolescence fighting their own kind on behalf of the US government. I believe this has given them a severely skewed perspective on how mandatory registration affects the average biodynamic.

          • korbl

            I feel I need to point out that rights are entirely fabricated by the social contract and entirely arbitrary. The society Max lives in has decided that, no, he in fact does not have a right to privacy in so far as his biodynamic ability is concerned.

            As to whether this is “just” or “proper,” that’s an entirely different argument, but the right you are supposing literally does not exist.

          • Actually it does, via the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (we’ve seen no sign that the Point of Departure for the SFP-verse is as early as 1948, so UDHR is international law).

            Article 2.

            Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. [snip].

            Article 12.

            No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

            Articles 2 and 12 together say you can’t rule that a specific social group has no right of privacy.

          • HanoverFist

            By this logic if a government starves its people then they have no right to food.

          • korbl

            More like “If a nation does not ennumerate a right to food for its people, then they don’t have one,” which, yes, is more or less the way it works. The US Constitution can say that rights come from the creator, but until such time as we find said creator and get him to say that himself, it’s just flowery language.

          • HanoverFist

            Wow. What a charming philosophy. I on the other hand believe in the concept that basic human rights are universal, regardless of whether a particular government recognizes them.

          • korbl

            I’m not saying rights aren’t a good idea, I’m pointing out that they are not innate, and must be granted by a power structure. Where do rights come from if not either the social contract, or the ruling structure?

        • Arkone Axon

          Bear in mind that his powers literally make him vulnerable to everyone who might want to use him. In fact, since his powers involve enhancing the abilities of others, it’s quite likely that his relations are what kept him from ending up in a file alongside those others deemed capable of actually changing the world for the better.

          (Which doesn’t make him more OR less noble. It just makes his mother and the Harmony Council all the more despicable)

        • masterofbones

          “unearned” lol.

        • Loranna

          I think Max may have been worried that some former supervillain, failing in gaining Max for themselves, would take the line of reasoning “If i can’t have him, no one can.”

          Which is still on the paranoid side, I suppose; other than Menace, how many of the old supervillains are still active?


          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            If he can’t be safe, how can Lisa, a literal supergenius, walk around in the streets safe? How many more people would be interested in the security of technlogical marvels made available by her rather than the elusive “makes things better” than Max has?
            I just don’t feel that Max is such a big deal.

          • Loranna

            Well, Lisa used to be a power-armored superheroine. Who knows, maybe she keeps a couple personal defense items on her at all times ^_^

            Still, I see your point. *shrugs* That Max, always making mountains out of molehills 🙂


          • Tylikcat

            I feel like a lot of Max’s issues are rooted more in his relationship with his mother than his powers or even his wealth (though the latter enables his mother to do weird shit on his behalf.) If he’d said “fuck it” and gone off an gotten his own life, he might even have been a decent person…

            …but then, he’s like twenty, and it does take most people longer, especially if their circumstances are comfortable.

        • Revealing his nature would still be outing someone aganst their will and with considerable likelihood of harm to them. That’s no different to outing anyone for any other reason.

          WRT your suggestion that the idea of harm to him is dumb, that presupposes that the only risk to him is from the conspiracy, whereas Max faces considerable risk from journeyman level evil. Imagine if his superpower was making ATMs spout cash. He’d be at considerable risk from organised crime, but if you flaunted his powers and address he’d also be at risk from any thug who thought they could grab him and force him to an ATM. Similarly Max is at risk from anyone insistent he amp them, or a friend, and who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

          Anonymity is a right we routinely grant to at least one section of society under morally questionable circumstances – juveniles involved in a crime, even the most heinious of crimes*. It’s generally recognised that taking away that anonymity post release from their sentences is morally questionable. Tabloids may do it and claim to be acting in the public interest, but most of us realise the only thing they’re interested in is their sales figures. Max may have lucked into his anonymity, but that isn’t his fault and it doesn’t mean taking it away is any kind of ‘justice’.

          * I’ll note for the record I think that’s reasonable given impaired, less than adult, judgement

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            But that super controlling ATM may be there somewhere, and how do they function when the government imposed registration, without Max’ resources?
            The only way it makes sense is that registration came with guarantees of safety. Potential shadiness aside, that’s kind of the entire point of registration.

            So I don’t know how the US government managed, but that fellow controlling ATMs can walk out without fear the same way Max should.

            And you’re right for the rest. ‘Justice’ might be the wrong way to look at it. But, again considering the only consequence is the social stigma associated with biodynamics and not threats to his life, it’s a better option than removing his entire agency away.

          • “The only way it makes sense is that registration came with guarantees of safety.”

            Think about current affairs and Trump’s promise to make a register of all Muslim Americans, guarantees of safety aren’t a priority. (Or the Nazis and forcing Jews to wear the Star of David, for an even starker example).

            “considering the only consequence is the social stigma associated with biodynamics and not threats to his life”

            Most biodynamics don’t come with a skillset that includes long-term benefit to other people outside of their presence based on a single use. That makes Max a target/vulnerable in a way that most biodynamics aren’t.

            Equally, privacy is part of Max’s agency. Taking it away from him is not a positive.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I know registration can be a terrible thing and that’s worth exploring (you hear that Brennan? Make it issue 9) but I’m just saying this world found a viable way that seems to work out for everyone. Biodynamics get governement sanctionned medical assistance and I’m fairly certain protection, (not all supers have powers so valuable but some definitely have, there has to be) and it doesn’t seem to be that invasive.

            And Max is not special. Max’ power is impredictable more than it is interesting to powerful parties. It makes a million times more sense to go after Alison’s family to coerce her into whatever rather than go for Max, and that doesn’t happen, so a system has to be in place to protect them and their families.

            Look, I don’t like a tyranny either, but we all agree that free organs is a necessary outcome. I’m sure registration files are not entirely public, either. Just make the right authority figures know and take Max to court –on legitimate matters– if you need to.

          • “Max is not special”

            No, which means he gets exactly the same rights as everyone else, including the right to privacy.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I meant among the biodynamics. Of course he’s still this kind of special.
            They’ve asked supers to relinquish their right to privacy for support and safety. Yes, that’s not without glaring flaws, and I wish it was an opt-in kind of thing instead of mandatory, imposed on minors no less.

          • Which doesn’t do anything to make it legal.

      • Mitchell Lord

        …This is still using ‘force’ to get her way…only essentially using blackmail, instead of physically grabbing and moving him.

        • Kelvandil

          I agree, but I don’t think Max does.

      • Eternal

        Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

        • Zac Caslar

          Hey, “Eternal” here’s a thing I bet will make you laugh.

          Some of the more closeted crypto-fascists I’ve met like to spin that around and reply that what that phrase really means is “violence is the first response of the competent.”

          So that quote’s only a “take that” to people who already think that way. Other folks? They’d shoot first and fuck the smarmy and their non-profundities.

          Funny, right?!

          • Eternal

            Well, this quote comes from Asimov’s works (and “Eternal” comes from here too), in Foundation to be precise.

            Just saying it does not mean it is true, but in this case it seemed appropriate because Kelvandil was saying that Alison had to choose violence because she could not think of alternatives.

            But I’m not exactly sure what your point is. Are you simply saying that this is not a fundamental truth and that people won’t naturally agree it’s true in general? If so, you are right: I did nothing to prove this to be true in the general case.

            And if I wanted to try my hand at thay, we would first have to define precisely what we mean by “violence”, “competent”, etc. That would probably take hours and I’m not sure it would be very interesting. That being said, I think that getting people to cooperate is always better than having to rely on confrontation.

          • Zac Caslar

            My point is that clever jabs at someone’s ability via implication is entirely too dependent on the audience and is imo unimpressive.

            And to impart that which was imparted to me: the insight of what you get when you take the implication of that idea.

            I do apologize for taking your contribution as being deliberately dismissive. There’s a constant stream of “omg Allison worst hero ever” predicated at least partially on the logic of that quote while ignoring the stakes and demonstrated circumstances of the problem at hand.

            I’d probably be wise to disengage, but who amongst us is wise?

          • Eternal

            Well, you’re reading too much into my comment (but it’s the Internet, so I can’t blame you for that). I really did not mean more than “she’s doing mistakes and using violence because she doesn’t know better”: I simply agreed with what was being said and wanted to post the quote it reminded me about.

            As far as I’m concerned, if Alison didn’t make that mistake, she wouldn’t be having that conversation with Gurwara, I wouldn’t be googling Kant and Bentham’s positions on ethics, and I would know less. It’s good that she makes mistake so that we can learn together.

            And within the frame of the story, I think that Alison resorting to violence has to do with the fact that she *was* a hero, the traditional kind of hero, and as such was told to fight baddies, was taught that violence was the answer to make things right. I’m not sure how much of a hero she is, but she’s a very interesting main character, and the fact that she questions her own actions and legitimity is what matters.

          • Apromor

            What I think that Asimov missed is that violence is the last resort of more or less everyone else as well. Sure the incompetent will end up getting forced into their last resort more often, but violence will always be there, far down the list, probably the last thing on the list, for everyone.

          • Eternal

            Well, he’s not a philosopher, he’s a novelist. In Foundation, this phrase is the motto of one of the character, Salvor Hardin, who is precisely competent enough to never use violence. It may be somewhere at the bottom of his list, but he’s good enough to never get there.

          • AshlaBoga

            Salvor Hardin was far more intelligent than most of us. Sure if you have an IQ of +180 you might be able to reliably avoid violence, but Hardin’s quote smacks of elitism. By his definition, average = incompetent.

          • Eternal

            I must admit that you have a point.

            That being said, I like to think that the sentence means “there is always a non-violent answer. If you can’t find it, you haven’t looked for it enough” and that it’s some sort of standard that Hardin tries to keep himself to.

    • Micah Matheson

      It is very heartening to see this sentiment expressed. Alison definitely had options available to her that she did not take. And she took them for narratively valid reasons – her own human flaws blinded her judgement and rationality. I just want people to admit that.

      But instead, the overwhelming response has been “YAS QUEEN” or the equivalent – an overall positive reaction to the assault and torture of someone, justified because the target was created to be perfectly unsympathetic.

      • Stephanie

        I think that’s a serious mischaracterization of the response. I have only seen a few comments along the lines of “fuck Max, he deserved it, Alison is awesome.” Most of them have either been “Alison’s actions were indefensible and she’s a monster,” or something similar to my position–that she could have done better, but the tradeoff was still well worth it.

        • Micah Matheson

          Having re-read the comments from the pages that immediately depict Alison’s assault on Max, you are correct. My post was hyperbolic and inaccurate.

          Would you like for me to edit it?

          • Zac Caslar

            You decide. It’s your claim.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think you need to unless you want to. It’s totally up to you–there’s nothing wrong with either letting it remain as it is or editing it to reflect your updated opinion.

        • Zac Caslar

          And as someone who’s said both “fuck Max” and taken your stance thanks for bringing up as much.

    • Mitchell Lord

      Except he specifically denied ANY willingness to help her. Admitedly, it can be argued to be badly written, but she actually specifically says “Is there anything I can do to get you to help?” “No.”

      (I may be mis-remembering/paraphrasing.)

      • Arkone Axon

        You’re misremembering. She never actually asked “what can I do to get you to help,” and his final “no” came after he opened up to her and she responded by mocking him. At that point he was pretty well justified in not wanting to have anything to do with this unpleasant person who barged into his home to insult him while demanding he risk everything for her beliefs.

        (We’ve seen Alison under other circumstances… he has not. From his point of view, she was a jerk. Now she’s a nightmare)

        • Tylikcat

          Of course, from his point of view, she was the person who had the best power, the power he always wanted, the power he felt deprived and miserable for not having. His actions towards Alison can’t really be looked out separately from all his other psychological baggage.

    • Stephanie

      I like the idea of offering him flight armor. That’s the first incentive someone’s suggested that I can plausibly see changing his mind.

      Making less antagonistic Speech checks would definitely have been a better approach. However, I maintain that coercing Max in order to save that many people is ethically justified, even if it’s not as good as convincing him to do it voluntarily.

      • Arkone Axon

        It’s far worse, actually. As I’ve noted, she’s opened herself up to so very very many negative consequences. Granny Weatherwax would not have approved:

        “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
        “It’s a lot more complicated than that–”
        “No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
        “Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes–”
        “But they starts with thinking about people as things.”

        • Stephanie

          And Granny probably would have managed to convince Max, because (very much unlike Alison) she’s proficient in headology. But I don’t think Granny would have allowed thousands of people to die to avoid twisting Max’s arm, either. That would require her to think of those people as things. (And it’s not like she’s never threatened anyone.)

          • Arkone Axon

            Granny wouldn’t have had to twist Max’s arm in the first place. Remember, Granny’s staunch belief is that when people know what the right thing is to do, “The trouble is, you see, that if you do know Right from Wrong, you can’t choose Wrong.”

            So unless you believe that Max is literally on the same level as the Duchess, then I don’t see her having to do more than… do what the witches do best, which is to give him what he needs, and then let him do for others in turn.

            (I can see Max’s MOTHER as being on the same level as the Duchess, though. The woman murdered teenagers because they could cure diseases and feed the hungry…)

          • Stephanie

            I did say that Granny would have convinced him…because she’s substantially better at headology than Alison is. Alison isn’t Granny. She didn’t have access to Granny’s particular mental toolset. Avenues that are valid options for Granny were not valid options for her.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, Granny would have convinced him because Granny would not have thought of a person as a thing. Granny would have actually listened to him explaining his problems, and then offered a solution. And then found him far more ready to help others after being helped. So not only could Granny have convinced him, so could Nanny Ogg, or Magrat… or Agnes, or Tiffany… hell, even Annagramma could have convinced him.

            About the only witch in the series who couldn’t have convinced Max is Granny’s sister Lilly.

          • Stephanie

            I think you’re:

            A. Seriously underestimating Granny’s skill at persuasion and manipulation. She doesn’t solve her problems just by thinking of people as people. She has to actually exercise her “headology” skills, which she developed through long experience. Again, Alison does not possess that toolset, so using Granny’s tactics was not a viable option for her.

            B. Making some pretty bold assumptions about how easily Max could have been convinced. We have no reason to take it as a given that just giving him the asspats he wanted for his sad story would have changed his mind. I’d expect Granny to be able to manipulate almost anyone, since that’s her thing, but I don’t extend the same assumption to Nanny Ogg, Magrat, etc.

          • Arkone Axon

            I didn’t say that Granny wasn’t extremely skilled at persuasion and manipulation. I’m simply pointing out that anyone extending Max an iota of compassion and empathy would have been able to achieve results with him. This is not a sociopathically selfish character; he was not depicted as such at any time previously. The worst we’ve seen from him was when he quoted incredibly inane Objectivist nonsense to imply that Feral was somehow being “selfish” by her actions (Ayn Rand herself would have simply sneered and called Feral an idiot; I’ve seen “Objectivist Christians” claim that Jesus died on the cross for the selfish “joy” of saving others, but Rand claimed that Jesus was stupid for dying for the sake of inferior beings).

            And yes, anyone could have done it. Anyone who didn’t immediately mock his situation with terms like “asspats for his sad story” because they’ve made up their mind not to like him – and more importantly, not to accept that maybe he has motivations more nuanced than “because evil is fun.” Alison’s archnemesis turned out to have more reasonable justifications than that – and he was sending giant robots into densely populated cities to spread death and destruction.

          • Stephanie

            ” anyone extending Max an iota of compassion and empathy would have been able to achieve results with him.”

            Like I said, this is an unfounded assumption. You don’t know that that would have been enough to persuade him. You keep repeating it like it’s a given, but it’s not supported by the text.

          • Arkone Axon

            Maybe. Maybe he still would have said no.

            But that’s kind of the point now, isn’t it? She didn’t give him the chance. She didn’t resort to violent felonies after all other possibilities had failed. She made it her first resort, after a perfunctory “attempt to be nice” that was openly antagonistic. You’re still jumping to assume the worst of him in order to justify what was done to him. Again, going back to Granny: even she tried to use peaceful measures before resorting to more violent methods. Nanny Ogg bashed the Duchess upside the head AFTER Granny’s attempts failed, not before.

          • Stephanie

            That’s a mischaracterization of my position. I’ve said many times that I think Alison’s efforts at persuasion were half-assed and it would have been better if she’d been more diplomatic. I have never argued that persuading Max was definitely impossible. It was justifiable to coerce Max in order to save many thousands of lives, regardless of whether the cost/benefit ratio could potentially have been improved.

            I don’t need to believe that Alison’s approach was the best of all possible approaches in order to believe that it was morally defensible. If I score a 95 on an exam, I can accept that a 100 would have been better while still recognizing that I got a damn good score.

          • Arkone Axon

            And as I pointed out elsewhere, she was NOT motivated by those thousands of lives. She can claim to have been, but she wasn’t. She was motivated specifically by Feral, by the friend she knows and who therefore matters more to her than anyone else. She was ready to consign all those people to death rather than see Feral end up on that operating table. And after Feral made it clear she would only get off the table if Alison found a workable alternative, then Alison looked for a workable alternative. Saving everyone was always the condition necessary to save Feral.

            And this would not be like scoring a 95 on an exam. This would be more like scoring a 62. I.e. a D-. That’s not something to be proud of unless your name is Bart Simpson.

          • Stephanie

            If Alison really didn’t care about those lives at all, she was fully capable at any time of preventing Feral from donating by force. But she didn’t.

            That’s not relevant to my point, though. It doesn’t matter to any one of those thousands of people what motivated Alison to save them. Alison chose the path where all of those people get to live. That was the moral decision no matter what was going on in her head.

            Potentially hundreds of thousands of lives saved, in exchange for twisting one dude’s arm, is absolutely a 95 at minimum. I don’t know where you’re getting 62 from.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yes, Alison could have prevented Feral from donating by force – but that would have been denying Feral the right to make her own choices. Which would have upset Feral. And her feelings mattered to Alison. But yes, she could have physically stopped Feral from donating by repeatedly smashing the equipment until no doctor was willing to do the job. And… she was very tempted to do something along those lines, until Feral convinced her not to. As was shown in the comic during that particular story arc.

            It’s called “the Monkeysphere.” People place greater importance on the lives of those they personally know rather than those they don’t. Alison valuing Feral’s life over that of countless others who are also faceless and nameless others is simply human of her. It doesn’t make her a bad person.

            HOWEVER… claiming she did it for those countless others is a convenient rationalization. She did this for Feral. If she could have convinced Feral to get off the table without being enhanced, she would have done so. She was presented with a situation where the only solution was to provide limitless organs so Feral wouldn’t have to. Not to save those others, but to save Feral specifically.

            Also, the 95 at a minimum… yeah, until you start marking off points for: serious multiple felonies not covered under “good samaritan” laws, legal authorization, or any other justification or waiver other than… blaming the victim and saying he deserved it. Alienating the person with the necessary powers (before confirming whether or not the augmentations are indeed permanent, and also whether or not there are any unpleasant side effects). Giving a member of the Harmony Council good reason to start giving Alison her full attention. Creating a secret that will likely enrage Feral when she finds out what was done for her benefit and without her consent. Creating a secret that will most certainly infuriate the physicians when they learn that they were tricked into violating their professional ethics. Creating a secret that will turn the public against her if they find out she resorted to torturing someone like a supervillain.

            Of course you can (and have) dismiss all of those as irrelevant… but this is one of those tests that gets graded by a committee (i.e. all those people I just mentioned, from the doctors to the lady belonging to an organization that kills biodynamics for becoming a threat to them).

          • Pythia

            …Did she actually? Where is that?

            Here it says she’s in Congress (http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-84-2/ ) but I can’t find anything about her being with the group of evil people with the black folders.

          • Arkone Axon

            Much earlier on… you’d have to go through the entire archive because it’s kind of in pieces. We’ve seen Patrick revealing the folders containing information about the murdered biodynamics. Then we see him obtaining another folder from people with the Harmony Group. And we see the woman who is Patrick’s mother with them.

            It makes sense, actually. Objectivism is a scummy enough pseudo-philosophy that “killing kids to protect the status quo” would be seen as permissible. Especially since “Atlas Shrugged” emphatically stated that the children who died of gas inhalation deserved their fate along with all the other people aboard the train, because they were “parasites” of the rich and powerful.

    • nat365

      You said *exactly* what I wanted to say. Bang on.

      Ultimately, Alison needs to learn *real* compassion. Not the kind she currently has, where she cares for certain people, and feels an incredible weight from the world’s abstract problems, but the kind where you care about the individual, and you always, *always* attempt to see the other person’s point of view, no matter how abhorrent you might find it.

      Everyone, even the very worst, most ‘evil’ of serial killers, is a product of a huge number of things; genetics, environment, circumstances… while that does not mean anyone should be allowed to do anything and blame it on ‘the universe made me’, it *does* mean you should take each individual’s circumstances and worldview into account, and at least attempt to work with, or in extreme cases, rehabilitate that worldview (like, say, attempting to make a racist understand why their viewpoint is wrong – you do that by first knowing where they’re coming from and *how* and *why* they ended up racist in the first place [the answer most often being ‘raised that way’] You don’t just yell at them and try to force them to stop being racist. That never works).

      • Zorae42

        No, you do not *always* attempt to see the ither person’s point of view. Max was kind of just a douche and I can understand the sentiment that you feel she should have tried to understand his feelings. Although I dislike him so much I don’t personally agree.

        But other people? Like ones with truly evil views (Nazis). You DO NOT give those people any attempt at all. Because trying to understand it means that you acknowledge it as something that can be understood, instead of the abhorrent inhumane view that no person should ever have. Thats the sort of view that has let literal Nazis feel comfortable enough to spout their views in public right now. Not 1945, it’s 2017 and there are literal Nazis feeling safe and empowered.

        • Loranna

          Minor quibble, but you can still understand another person’s point of view, and the reasons they have for adopting it, without condoning said point of view as acceptable.

          Such understanding, hopefully, would help with pointing out the flaws in their reasoning, in the hopes of convincing them to abandon said points of view in favor of healthier ones.


          • Weatherheight

            Ninja… 😀

        • nat365

          Yeah! There’s absolutely nothing to be gained from attempting to understand the points of view of others, even if they’re abhorrent. I’m sure you’ve done a much better job of changing the minds of racist Nazis than this man:


          In case you cannot be bothered to click the link, this black man has reformed over 200 KKK members. Pretty sure he didn’t do that by dismissing them as ‘truly evil’ and that’s that.

          And on a personal note, as a Jewish person I’m going to ask you, please kindly do not bring up Nazis as some ridiculous attempt to win. Trying to understand the point of view of another, even if that point of view is messed up and ‘evil’ (yes, to the point of Nazism/serial killers/rapists/others) does far more to change minds, prevent crime, and generally fix the situation than dismissing them as ‘truly evil’ and that’s it.

          Of course, some minds cannot be changed, and some people are so damaged and dangerous that the only recourse available is to lock them up for life. But if you never even *attempt* to get where they’re coming from and how they got there, how on earth will you know?

          • Zorae42

            I wasn’t pulling it out to win. I was pulling it out because Shia Lebeouf got arrested for assault literally yesterday after shoving a dude spouting Nazi propaganda to his face at his anti trump installation. Although as I am not Jewish, I’ll drop it in order to make you (and others) feel more comfortable.

            Ah yes, Darl Davis. The man BLM and the NAACP have criticized harshly for spending him time going to white supremacists instead of using it to help his community directly. Don’t get me wrong – he did a great and brave thing. But changing the minds of a handful of people is not the way to end systemic racism, nor should it be considered the best way to handle it.

            See, by holding him up as the ideal, you’re saying it’s up to members of a minority to put themselves in potentially mortal danger and explain to their enemies why they’re wrong. Thats not how it should be.

          • nat365

            Of course I’m not saying that all minority individuals should be seeking out Nazis and racists to convert them! Why on earth would that be something everyone should be doing? As you said, it puts them in danger. Personally, I doubt I’d ever feel comfortable deliberately seeking out antisemites and saying ‘I’m Jewish, but let’s be friends so I can prove we’re not so bad and your view of my people is flawed!’

            However, you’re conflating what need to be done to tackle *systemic* racism, sexism, prejudice and crime on a national and international scale with how each individual who holds these mindsets and commits these crimes should be viewed. You can make all of that stuff unacceptable in society, but when you come across an individual, it is important to at least attempt to understand where they’re coming from, and even if they’re incredibly wrong-headed, how they got that way.

            Darl neatly proves that point – yes, what he’s doing does not necessarily help combat racism on a national scale, let alone worldwide (though I wouldn’t underestimate the ripple effect – if every one of those two hundred plus manages to change the mind of just one of their former KKK brethren, and so on and so on…). However, he has undoubtedly changed countless lives, of the men he’s converted, their potential victims, and, hell, any potential KKK members they would have recruited had they remained in the organisation. And he did that not by demonising them, not by deciding they are evil and there is no point in interacting with them other than to tell them so, but by attempting to understand them.

            The alternative is to sweep vast numbers of people who’ve been indoctrinated/raised badly/are mentally ill/have brain damage/have anger management issues/are actually too damaged to help into one big pile of ‘unacceptable’ and write them *all* off, instead of just the last group.
            I mean, I get that’s the mentality of a lot of Americans – which is one of the reasons the US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners – but ultimately, where exactly do you draw that line? Do you want to start imprisoning casual racists? What about someone who goes around throwing racist insults but didn’t throw the first punch? Do you imprison the mother who raised her son to think that black people are inferior? What if she raised him to think that but never say so in public, only online? What about the hispanic mother who forbids her children from playing with white children? Not a case of *systemic* racism, but racist none the less, since it’s judging by skin colour.

            You *cannot* just say that people with certain views are just ‘evil’ and write them all off. It is a very, very bad mindset to have. You can say their views are wrong. Even abhorrent. But viewing the world in such absolutist terms does nothing to help the situation. It’s also, I’m afraid, a rather arrogant position to take – because who are you to say where the line is drawn? The next person can move it back, and back, and back… judging a person by anything other than the content of their character is, in my view, clearly wrong. I also believe the law should step in at the point where harm is being done – that laws should exist to protect the weak from the strong. Personally, unlike the US ideal, I also believe that free speech should not extend to hate speech – that allowing anyone to spew racist/sexist/homophobic/etc viewpoints makes it very easy both to indoctrinate the vulnerable, and to incite others to violence (inciting others to violence is a crime in the UK, as it should be, in my mind). But I am just one individual, and other minds say different. American law says speech should be protected from legal retribution *no matter the content*. I don’t think that always protects the weak from the strong if, say, a mayor of a largely white town has a meeting where he encourages the rest of the population to shun the only black family there…

            My point is, how you interact with and judge individuals should not be the same as how you judge their beliefs, independent of the person. And that the idea of ‘evil’ is far more complicated than just ‘some things are evil and the people who believe them are evil too’. Hell, a lot of the time I’m not sure ‘evil’ really exists, except as a category into which we can put certain ideas and actions that feel anathema to us in order to dismiss them.
            There is nuance in everything, and, to bring it back round to the comic, it is *especially* important for Alison to try and find that nuance.

            As she said in an earlier issue, she could storm KKK meetings and kill them all. She could storm Congress and force them to pass universal healthcare… she does not do those things. If she believed that every member of the KKK was evil, as you seem to, then maybe she would.

          • Jovial Contrarian

            >a black man peacefully reforms 200 KKK members
            >BLM and NAACP ciriticise him for doing that, and not doing something else
            Weird, it makes me more inclined to like Davis, and dislike BLM and NAACP. Funny how that works!

        • MrSing

          I sincerely believe that racism is wrong.

          Not just from a moral standpoint, but also from a clear biological and logical point. Thus I believe that there must be a major logical flaw in the way Nazis think. I can, however, NEVER find out where this flaw lies if I don’t try to understand why Nazis think the way they do.

          An enemy you don’t understand is one you’ll be hard pressed to defeat.

          I also sincerely belief that a vast majority of people are not hard coded to be as evil as Nazis. This means that if I can undermine what the flaws are in the thinking of a Nazi, I can explain why these ways of thinking are wrong.

          If you do not understand how people become Nazis. What the critical period is where they are drawn in before they are radicalised, you can’t turn these people around.

      • Stephanie

        I’m certainly on board with trying to understand everyone’s point of view. I don’t necessarily think that “real” compassion would entail letting thousands of people die for the sake of the one who happens to be standing in front of you, though.

        • nat365

          Maybe not – but it would involve, as the original comment stated, a real attempt to understand him, to empathise with him, and to use *all* methods available before resorting to violence. Alison did none of those things.

          • Stephanie

            Well…I don’t know about *all* methods. All methods that could be attempted within a few minutes, maybe. The clock was ticking. I don’t know what the figures are in the SFP-verse, but in our world, about 22 people a day die waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. alone.

          • nat365

            But that’s the kind of justification you could make ad infinitum. What if it’s one person a day? What if it’s one every two? Is the urgency still justified? What if it’s one a year, but that one person *could* be dying within the next few minutes? Is it still right not to try all the other methods… and beyond that, it wasn’t like she didn’t ‘try everything’. She barely tried at all! She attempted to persuade him using her own morality, life experiences, and what would work on her, and when that failed she jumped straight to slamming him into the table and threatening his life, without any in-between.

          • Stephanie

            I’ve said before that I agree that her approach wasn’t great, and that she would have had a better chance of convincing him if she hadn’t immediately started insulting him. But I still don’t think it would have been right for her to decide, “It’s so important that I don’t hurt this man that I’ll let a bunch of people die while I try to convince him.”

            I don’t think that justification can be made ad infinitum. The small risk that the one-person-a-year will die that day is an acceptable cost of spending that day trying to convince Max peacefully. The certainty that several people will die that day is not an acceptable cost. Saying that one cost is unacceptable doesn’t equate to saying that any cost, no matter how small, is unacceptable.

          • nat365

            But that’s the problem – everyone will draw that line differently. Some people *would* say that a single life is worth the coercion and threatening of Max – it’s not a life for a life, it’s Max’s comfort and safety for a life. And especially since, while Alison threatened to kill him, I think most readers are doubtful she would actually have done so, given what we know of her.

            You see how easily that reasoning can be extended out?

            Now, I’m not saying that it means force is not acceptable in this scenario at all… what I am saying is that who am I to draw the line at when it becomes ‘acceptable’? Who is anyone? Which I think is what Gudwara is getting at here – ultimately, almost all power that exist in the world can be traced back to force, to bloodshed, to suffering, to superior physicality, or, hell, superior intellect due to circumstances of birth and education… In the end, those who have power have to make these decisions for themselves. For those who are ‘good’, in that they want to see the least harm to the fewest people, that sort of decision making will always weigh heavy, as it should. But it must be owned. And if Alison is willing to use force when she deems necessary, she owes it to herself and everyone else to both *own that* and to *truly think about the circumstances in which she classes it *necessary*’. Because, ultimately, I do not think this was it. Not unless it was a last resort – and it wasn’t.

          • Stephanie

            I actually wonder if more people would support Alison’s decision if it were only a single life at stake. Like, just one person, but they’re physically present in the scene.

            I do think you’re right that Alison needs to approach these situations more thoughtfully and diplomatically in the future. I just think that her establishing “thousands of lives outweigh keeping my own hands squeaky clean” is the main event here; getting more adept at finding a “third option” is an important, but secondary, consideration.

          • Arkone Axon

            Bear in mind that a strong argument can be made that Alison has also murdered many thousands of other people with her actions. By embittering Max and teaching them that she is the very same predatory biodynamic bent on using his powers without his consent that he has feared all his life, she has ensured that he will never ever willingly use his powers to empower another. Meaning the next time this happens, she’ll find him doing everything possible to keep out of her tyrannical clutches… while people continue to die because he very reasonably wants to keep as much distance between her and himself as possible.

          • Stephanie

            The possibility of lives being lost that way is many times more nebulous than the immediate problem of a world full of people dying on transplant waiting lists.

            A “strong argument” cannot be made that Alison has murdered people by coercing Max until we actually see people dying as a result of that decision in the comic. At this point, the only argument that can be made is that that might happen.

            Also, I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that Max has feared a predatory biodynamic all his life. I don’t believe he ever expressed that sentiment in the comic. We know that he’s resentful about not having a DPS power and that he doesn’t like being told what to do. But there’s no indication I can recall that he’s been going about his life in the fear that a biodynamic will take advantage of his power.

          • Pythia

            Panel Two, http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-85-2/

            “The risks associated with it are too high.”

          • Stephanie

            That isn’t an indication that Max has feared being manipulated by a biodynamic for his whole life. He mentioned the fact that the reveal of his powers would generically expose him to risk–an excuse he brought up only after Alison wasn’t impressed by the reason he initially gave her, and which he quickly dropped in favor of “because fuck you”. There’s nothing in the comic to say he’s spent his whole life like “Oh no, what if a powerful biodynamic manipulates me?”

          • Guest

            A strong argument can be made that Alison has murdered many thousands of people because she has though.

            As in collateral damage from her fights in her teenage years.

            Does anybody else think that gets kind of ignored a lot in this debate? That Al is already a mass-murderer or at least a mass-manslaughter-er? Because given that, I kind of want to fall prey to the “hey, what’s one more use of excessive force? Specially since now it’s much more justified than the other ones?”

          • Arkone Axon

            A very good point… the main reason for giving her a pass on that is that she was causing all that collateral damage while serving as a decidedly underaged emergency responder. She was fighting giant robots and the like, and doing so despite almost no proper training in how to avoid harming innocent bystanders. “Good Samaritan” laws, authorization by the Federal government, and the like give her a pass on a lot of that… however, there’s also the bit that (upon thinking about it, and thank you for making me realize this) she has been rather badly traumatized by her upbringing as… a child soldier.

            She’s been conditioned now to love fighting, and hates that it doesn’t seem to help. As she said, “it’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at.” I mean… she was a KID, and going into battle. No wonder she’s having a hard time of it now.

          • Actually, my main reason for giving her a pass on all of that is that it is irrelevant to the question of whether extracting compliance from Max by force was justifiable or not…

          • Honestly, I think the reason it tends to be ignored in this debate (apart from people just not thinking of it) is that it is pretty much irrelevant. I mean, Al is attempting to do good; the past evil that she has done may affect her motivation, but it does not actually change her attempt.

            I, on general principles, abhor the way that Alison extracted compliance from Max. The fact that I understand her reasoning doesn’t change that. The countless, countless lives do… but only if I accept the argument that Alison’s action did not, in fact, end up costing more than it gained (and I have not yet been convinced of that.)

            Regardless of how I feel, though, I have to accept that:

            1) Alison’s actions were objectively wrong in that violence against another human being except in defense of self or people in immediate danger is wrong. The exceptions to this rule are law enforcement and the military, and they both have codified rules governing when use of force is permissible.

            2) Alison’s actions were objectively right in that they eliminated the suffering and death of many, many people; possibly countless, if this boost proves to be permanent, but certainly thousands, even if the boost is limited.

            3) Alison’s actions may have resulted in a situation whereby many, many more people will not benefit from the advantages of a permanently (or effectively permanently) boosted Feral on call for organ transplants. This does not mean that the short-term benefit is cancelled, merely that there is less long-term benefit than I might like.

            4) Alison had a number of options that (due to her fatigue, her youth, her upbringing, and likely a number of other factors that I’m not considering) she did not pursue. Those options may have resulted in even greater good, and her failure to consider them may yet result in unforseen harm. Despite that, her failure to effectively consider all of her options does not make her a bad person; it makes her a young and possibly foolish person.

            5) Alison is now attempting (admittedly late, after the proverbial horses have left the barn, as it were) to figure out how to make rational, moral decisions. I suspect the question of ethical decisions has little meaning to her, since she is pretty much immune to prosecution, but (and this is a fortunate thing for the unpowered people in this universe) she has a strong moral center and is trying hard to figure out how to avoid making decisions that she feels compromise her morals.

            My takeaway from all of this is relatively simple. I do not agree with what Alison did. If I found myself in a comparable situation, I would like to believe that I would be able to explore more options and come up with a different- hopefully better- solution. At the same time, I do not condemn Alison. She acted and, regardless of the outcomes of that action, she acted for what she perceived to be the greatest good. Hopefully, she will be able to learn from this experience and discover that the greatest good is often attained through careful deliberation rather than rash action.

            …and I’m done rambling. My rum tells me that it’s past my bed time, anyways…

          • Tsapki

            Regarding Alison killing people, this page probably sums it up quite nicely.


          • Weatherheight

            One can make a compelling argument that those that began the violence are responsible for its collateral damage, rather than those that attempted to end the violence. This is certainly the case regarding collateral damage during a car chase in most jurisdictions in the US (unless the chasing officers engage in egregiously reckless behavior – which most often they do not).

            Murder involves pre-meditation, and I feel the narrative has made it plain that Alison’s previous exploits didn’t feature her looking for ways to raise the collateral body count in her battles.

            Thoughtless or reckless behavior on Alison’s part? Yeah, she’s got that in spades – and that’s the crux of the narrative, IMO, and in large measure in the comments. How does Alison (and by extension, the reader) accurately assess the causality engendered by her (our) actions and made manifest in her (our) outcomes? Alison was made to confront her previous actions when she was made aware of an unintended consequence of one of her actions (the professor getting fired because of her complaint); this caused her to investigate and realize that this had happened before and led directly to her professor’s actions against her – in essence, she pushed the first domino (not strictly true, but this is from her point of view).

            How do we know our intent in an action will be made manifest?
            Can we hedge the odds in our favor to make that intent manifest?
            If we gauge our action incorrectly to achieve the desired outcome, how should we respond to that?

            I for one find the comments refreshingly nuanced and congenial for the most part, even between those who disagree strongly.

            That said, your point about her reckless behavior as a teenage superhero is quite valid in terms of Alison’s patina, but I’m not sure it’s being so much ignored as being assumed as a given. A lot of the debate deals with Alison’s desire to change and her methods – we use her previous attitude as a baseline and we assess her changes in relationship to that.

    • Tylikcat

      One of the things I’ve been mulling over is all of Max’s early actions towards Alison in light of what we now know about Max. Because there was a lot of mild power play sort of stuff – I’m thinking early, before their terrible final date – though Max also showed… I’m not sure about actual sensitivity, but at least a degree of sophistication.

      But in all cases, he was intentionally trying to hook up with the person, the woman – and keep in mind this is someone who is pretty caught up in his own masculinity* – who has exactly the power the he wants. As he says, the best one.

      What was going on there? What were his feelings towards her? (Because I can’t imagine, from everything we’ve seen of Max, that they were straightforwarding admiring and not full of jealousy. I mean, Max.) If we’re going to talk about the conversation that Alison should have had with Max – and I’m there, that’s a great thing to talk about – I think it’s also worth asking, what the hell was Max wanting from Alison. Because remember, he always knew what he could do, and he always knew what she could do, and that was a totally loaded situation on his side from the get go.

      (Seriously, if anyone is thinking that Max was auditioning Alison as a girlfriend and hey, maybe I could help her out with her powers in some kind of straightforward and sincere sort of way… Max?! Eaten up inside by his own feelings of inadequacy, entitlement and jealousy Max?)

      …and this isn’t about slamming Max as such. He’s an interesting character,** and I really wonder what was going on with him. I wonder if there was any way he wasn’t going to end up hating Alison.

      * At least, he absolutely wants the DPS power and can not fucking stand having the helpmeet power.
      ** Okay, in some ways he kind of reminds me of my little brother, but oh, if only my brother had his shit together half as much as Max. I just mean in the bitter and entitled part. Though I suppose it might come out that Max has his own YouTube channel where he’s spewing hate about biodynamics? <= Then he'd be a lot more like my brother.

      • Lostman

        Wait… Is your brother a MRA?

        • Tylikcat

          He is a anti-feminist anti-leftist anti gays-who-aren’t-like-him racist asshole who thinks that gay white men basically get the worst of everything – and him in particular, because everyone is jealous of him because he is so much smarter and better than they are. And he has a YouTube channel with six thousand subscribers. (He also has never had an actual job, and after spending a decade pretending to be a musician while being supported by our father* in San Fransisco – I’ll just let that sink in a bit while you contemplate SF cost of living – he’s now back in Seattle, living with that father, who is dying of Parkinson’s, and spewing hate on the internet. Oh, and making death threats against feminist women on the internet, did I mention that part? He’s in his mid thirties FFS.) He also thinks Black Lives Matter is equivalent to the KKK.

          We used to be close. I protected him a lot when he was younger, and did my best by him, but he was only six when I moved out. It’s only been the last few years he’s gone off the rails. (There is also a mental illness component, but… I don’t want to attribute his being an asshole to mental illness, nor give him a pass. The situation is pretty fucked up, and I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen when our father dies. I kind of oscillate between trying to ignore him, and trying to keep enough of a situation that I can call authorities before there’s a body count. That’s less of a joke than I’d like it to be.)

          So, yeah, I went into tech, and then into academia. My sister had a kid, and then became an aerialist (and now an instructor and personal trainer and pilates instructor.) She and I are super close. And then there’s our brother who is a useless troll. (We both tried to stay family with him. We really did.) When the subject of punching Nazis came up in a recent discussion with my sister, I brought up our brother, who at this point fuzzy matches reasonably well to a Nazi, thinking this might calm her down, and she was totally all “Everyone should go punch him!” (They’re a lot closer in age, I should have seen that coming.)

          * For context, the same father who disowned me when I was fifteen, and my sister when she was fourteen (she’s a fair bit younger, I, um, helped her escape out her bedroom window in his house when she needed to leave and she made it clear she was never going back, hence the disowning. Did I mention our family is fucked up?)

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I hesitate between offering compassion, a glass of whiskey, or both.

          • Tylikcat

            Pls include whiskey. Not against compassion in addition, but priorities, y’know? (Also, I still have a cold. Huh. Also, I have whiskey. A hot toddy might be in order, and might speed up the writing of an otherwise boring anatomy portion of this paper. Whee!)

          • Lostman

            So he basically a alt, and it’s moments like this I realize how good I have it… sorry. Anyways, I think he has a condition that many men (maybe some women) are going through. It’s hard to explain, but the United States (and extension the West) has been going through some sort of cultural social shift that tied to the politics, and economics of our time. I came to this conclusion when I started to think about my fellow millennials; how many when not drowning in student debt while working part-time jobs that don’t much are staying with there parents longer, having kids later in life, not owning land, etc. I came to realize that today America, at least socially has more in common with 90’s Japan then interwar Germany.

          • Tylikcat


            Even if you discount my research students, I have a pretty mixed-age social circle (hell, I work with more people around my brother’s age or a bit younger than my age*.) There’s a pretty wide political range – sure, more libertarians than conservatives, and while I have folks who have MRA sympathies… well, no one else fuzzy matches to a Nazi. (Actually, the only two other people I muted this election cycle were both men around my age. And that was just annoyance factor in both cases.)

            * and it kind of drives me crazy, because people keep deciding I’m around thirty, and I’m so very not.

          • Lostman

            You work at a collage?

          • Tylikcat

            Yes, a research university. I’m a neurobiologist.

          • Lostman

            Let me guess: many of those who hold libertarians views were students?

          • Tylikcat

            No. One former lab mate – though he mostly just seemed really wet behind the ears (sweet guy, hasn’t thought things through very well.) Mostly online friends and friends from the tech world out west.

      • Arkone Axon

        First of all, I’m VERY sorry about your brother (yes, I read through the other comments you made in this thread).

        That being said…I didn’t see any power play stuff, aside from his being sensitive about being told what to do (which definitely implies some overcontrolling behavior from his parents). He was trying to hook up with the person who… saved him from dying in a fire or falling to his death. Someone who he genuinely found interesting and attractive until that last disastrous date. When he tried to make sexual advances she gently declined and he respected her decision.

        He did certainly attempt to impress her with his helicopter and his penthouse apartment… but that’s no different than anyone else wanting to impress a date.

        And if anything, the power he seems to want more than any other is… flight. To escape his situation… I mean, think about who his mother is. She’s with this Harmony Council. She had a lot of teenaged biodynamics murdered as soon as their powers manifested when it became evident they would be a genuine threat to the establishment. She undoubtedly is the one who shoved that Objectivist crap down her son’s throat. Even if he swallowed it he’ll still want to get the hell away from her. Much like… well, look at your own father, and what you described.

        • Lostman

          You also think about how America is socially: it places value on the individual. Not that, but place value on individual with great talents. To get a super power is gain a talent; something you can put forth, and show your worth to society. To get a power that makes you dependent on other people, that is hell for a person that values individualism. In a way I feel for Max.

          • Arkone Axon

            I feel for him more because he was given a truly awesome power… but he’s being raised by people who don’t think it’s worth anything. Imagine a woman born with a dizzying intellect… in Pakistan, where Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for the crime of being a girl attending school. Or a black musical prodigy… thrown onto a chain gang by a society that values black men solely for their ability to perform manual labor. He’s got an awesome ability… but he’s been told that it’s a useless power by the people who dominate his life.

          • Lostman

            I think Alison also a part of the problem when you think about her career, and the lasting impact her choices had so far.

          • Stephanie

            Do we know that Max was told his power was useless? I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t remember him saying anything to suggest it. He framed his backstory as if “my power is garbage” were a conclusion he came to on his own.

          • Arkone Axon

            He did say something – he quoted Objectivism. Coupled with the bit in his backstory about how he felt worthless the moment he found out what power he had. Since he would have been about the same age as the other biodynamics, he would have been far too young to have grabbed onto “Atlas Shrugged” of his own free will. It’s like what’s been going on with my niece and nephew – the kids of that brother of mine who thinks all Liberals are literally traitors to the country (as in, Liberals are Soviet conspirators because the USSR only pretended to fall apart. Or… something). My brother is very opinionated and arrogant… so naturally he forcefeeds his kids his opinions. And part of the reason why he has difficulties with his daughter is because she spat them back out and disagreed with him.

            I mean… for crying out loud, imagine if YOUR child turned out to have a superpower like that. Never mind your own questioning the utility of it; would you really allow your child to feel so miserable by not trying to convince them that they could be awesome in their own way? Let alone confirming their self doubts and telling them to their faces, “yeah, you got a busted flush here. SUCH a disappointment…”

          • Stephanie

            Tbh if my hypothetical kid got that superpower I’d be like, “Fuck yes, Timmy, that power is so versatile! You lucky bastard, you better do something creative with that.”

          • Arkone Axon

            Exactly. That’s because you’re not a sociopathic elitist who jumped onto Rand’s crap because it justifies your “social darwinism.”

        • Tylikcat

          There’s been plenty of discussion about whether Max was pulling any weirdness, I don’t think there’s much point in reprising it.

          I totally agree about his mother – his situation is really weird. (And if Patrick thought he was going to leverage Al’s romantic relationship to get an in there… well!)

          It’s not clear what exactly Max was referring to when he said Al got the best power – I mean, I kind of read it as the whole package, and Al is certainly best known for her strength and invulnerability, who knows?

          The relationship between the philosophies of parents and children is complicated, though. I mean, my father is a terrible person. (It is also not an accident that his female children were much more strongly motivated to get the fuck away.) He and my brother don’t share much in common philosophically – I do think my brother’s philosophies, such as they are, come out of a lot of the same soil as Max’s, but that’s less “my father shoved them down his throat” and more that he’s a spoiled little douche canoe who’s done little for himself and has ended up with this weird narcissism which at least to some extent is plastered over a lot over knowledge of his own inadequacy. (And this is where my disgust and frustration with him wars with no little heartbreak. It wasn’t *that* long ago that we still would talk. He could had his own life. He didn’t have to be a troll in the basement – he’s not without skills or brains.) Instead, you have a kid who has been given about the biggest free ride in the world who preaches the gospel of how gay white boys are the most put upon in the world.

          Nnnngh. (Yes, I’m making a deliberate choice not to include his nym – I don’t want to give him any more attention.)

          * I am not in this case using it lightly, but, well, my fucking family.

          • Arkone Axon

            I understand EXACTLY what you mean. I have a brother whom I’ve referenced in comments in the past, who genuinely believes that the Cold War never ended, and that all the communists changed their names to “progressives,” moved to America, and have been trying to destroy the country by legalizing gay marriage and putting ugly art in museums.

            This may actually be an improvement – when he was a teenager up until his late twenties he was a sollipsist. He genuinely believed he was the center of the universe. At least now when he makes a point of laughing and mocking anyone who disagrees with them, he acknowledges that they actually EXIST… @[email protected]

          • Tylikcat

            My brother… was pretty politically reasonable through his twenties. But his whole life plan was that he was going to become a rock star and be rich and loved and admired by everyone. So he was only personally obnoxious.

            When he was younger he was, I suppose, quirky (seriously, like I’m one to talk) but he was creative and had this wonderful dark sense of humor. He made movies and illustrated books, so for a long time he seemed recognizably my baby brother. The segment of gay culture, with its super heavy emphasis on personal beauty, wasn’t great for him, and combining severe bipolar with heavy recreational drug use was pretty much not going to come out well… But he was mostly insufferable and annoying with some worrying personal habits (and stints in rehab) until, I suspect, it really started to sink in that he wasn’t going to become a rock star and celebrity.

            And even through our last direct interactions, he was different with me. He mostly avoids me now, and sends passive aggressive messages via our sister.

    • Psile

      So firstly I disagree with your statement that Allison, and those who agree with her choice, are mainly concerned with Feral. Feral puts a clear face on the issue because of her saintliness, but I know that I can personally attest the the benefit of low cost, easily available, highly compatible organs. I’ve had many diabetics in my family who could have been saved countless hours of suffering and even lived longer with easily available kidneys. Narrowing the issue down to just Feral comes across as an easy way to keep the massive scope of the results from being considered, effectively eliminating a huge portion of the counter argument.

      If Allison was a paragon of virtue she probably would have tried other options before resorting to violence. However, she didn’t exactly just barge in and ham fist it. She pleaded with him, swallowed her pride and begged him. He dismissed her pleas, dismissed the massive number of potential lives saved, dismissed the torture of feral all because he wanted to spite Allison. Sure, he opened with saying that he was scared, but when Allison countered his points he revealed the true nature of his objection.

      “My answer is no. It’s going to stay no, and it’s always going to be no. And even if I wanted to do it, I might still say no, just to you.

      Just to watch you realize that, for once, you weren’t going to get your fucking way. How does that sound?”

      Keep in mind, he isn’t refusing to float her a loan or something. He’s casually condemning tens of thousands of people to death for nothing more than petty resentment. So all the other stuff you said about Max living in a gilded cage and being all sad is kind of hard to swallow because seriously fuck Max. I don’t usually get into whether or not Max is an innocent person because I think it doesn’t matter, but since you brought it up Max is a garbage human and I don’t pity him at all because he was so lazy and entitled that he couldn’t be bothered to save thousands because a girl was rude to him on a date and he wanted to show her he was still boss. So fuck Max, fuck his “problems”.

      Like I said, I don’t really think it matters that Max is a perfect example of what plagues us as a society. You’re right, Allison could have offered him things or tried to reason with him or come back to him in a few days to see if he cooled off or whatever. It would have been a better way to do it. However, since you’re so willing to ascribe all these tragic motivations to Max, let’s do the same for Allison.

      Allison came to him with a perfectly reasonable request, and he rejected it. He mocked her, and he had already mocked feral for performing an undeniable selfless act. Maybe she was angry. Maybe she was fucking furious that this piece of shit couldn’t be bothered to take one afternoon out of his life to casually save thousands of lives and release one of the best people she knows from endless suffering. That might have made Allison a tad upset. Considering all those, maybe she just didn’t think of offering a monetary incentive because that wasn’t how she thought of things. Monetary incentives are always incidental to her, and she isn’t in the habit of constantly paying people off. I find it much easier to believe that she just didn’t think to offer those things than that she did and just didn’t want to.

      She didn’t act perfectly, but no one does. It’s always easy to look back on a problem and see what you should have done, even easier if you aren’t personally invested. Allison made a choice. There were better choices, but I hold that she still made the right choice. Because ultimately, she chose not to let thousands of people die.

      • Stephanie

        “He’s casually condemning tens of thousands of people to death for nothing more than petty resentment.”

        THANK YOU. This can’t be emphasized enough. Tens of thousands of people! Tens of thousands of actual human beings with their own names, faces, loved ones, and lives, sacrificed on the altar of Max’s spite toward one person who was rude to him. Imagine if Jonas Salk went on a bad date and then went home and threw out the polio vaccine. There is no excuse for that degree of pettiness.

        “There were better choices, but I hold that she still made the right choice. Because ultimately, she chose not to let thousands of people die.”

        This too. Very well said.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          I can’t help it, it’s simply chilling.
          The only thing I see is a comic book evil scientist on the backdrop of lightning strikes saying “Don’t you get it? My research will save millions, billions of lives! Human beings with their own faces, loved ones, and lives! So I have to experiment on one or two orphaned human toddlers. Sure. But what of the price! Would you really condemn the world for a few squiggles of carbon and oxygen that nobody will miss? At what point is your uptight morality mere pettiness?”

          • Steele

            Ok, but Max didn’t die or anything, so your comparison of killing a few orphans doesn’t hold water. This would be a completely different issue if Max died.

            You know what the parallel is here? TAXES. The government takes money from people in order to fund everything they do (which includes funding schools and paying medical costs and simply helping people), and there’s not much you can do about it. Sure, you can elect people to change what gets funded and what doesn’t, so we do have some degree of choice that Max didn’t have, but at the end of the day, Max is like the wealthy entitled person who doesn’t want to pay taxes, because “I’ve got mine, fuck everyone else”. I would totally kidnap those people and fly them ghettos and hospitals full of sick people and show them the human faces of suffering that they’d be neglecting it they and everyone like them were allowed to opt-out.

            And if he still didn’t care? Well, guess what, we send people to prison for tax evasion.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Stop paying taxes is still an option. It’s a stupid option, but you can always stop working and live like a hermit in the woods, relinquish the copious benefits of the company of all other people made more educated, comfortable and safer thanks to taxes. Decide to stop paying them and you’re not entitled to what everybody else contributes to anymore.
            Even wealthy people benefit through the sheer quality of life it improves to the people they interact with daily.

          • Stephanie

            Putting that choice in the mouth of a caricature doesn’t change what the choice actually means. If someone could actually save billions of people by experimenting on two children, and chose to spare the children, the price would be the deaths of billions. If someone could save tens of thousands of people by swallowing his pride, and chose to wallow in spite instead, the price would be the deaths of tens of thousands.

            Also, why does your cartoon scientist pointedly acknowledge the nameless billions as people, but refer to the toddlers only as “squiggles of carbon and oxygen”? Pretty inconsistent. I have never denied that Max is a human being, equally as valuable as any given one of the transplant recipients. He just isn’t worth more than thousands of human beings.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I (badly) tried to express that according to the caricature, they don’t amount to much considering they don’t mean anything to anybody. They’re reduced to the sum of their parts. Again, the mad genius speaking trying to rationalize his actions and convince very horrified social services I’m assuming.

            Your fixation on quantity makes me wonder. Say some other mad scientist wants to save the planet by playing the Flood II. A select few are chosen to create an utopic galactic wonderland where hundreds of thousands of billions of future people will thrive. And it’ll work, 100% sure, just because. Everything perfect forever for much, much more people. All it takes is to get rid of the measly 7,5 billion there are now.
            What’ll it be? How does countless future hmans fare by you?

          • Stephanie

            I’m primarily concerned with existing people, rather than future hypothetical people. I prioritize minimizing suffering and death over creating happiness and life.

          • K. J. Hargan

            everyone on this thread needs to read Ursula Leguin’s The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.
            It’s a short story by an award-winning women who asks this very question.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Which in turn is based on an idea of Dostoevsky.

          • Oren Leifer

            Interestingly enough, when I first read Ursula Leguin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” in high school I found it quite depressing, but rereading it in college I realized that it was actually quite different than I had remembered. At least on a reread it seems to either be an allegory for, and/or critique of, our modern society. As an allegory, it is saying that those living in the first world find our modern happiness to be worth more than the suffering of others. As a direct critique, its seeming dystopia actually says that we as a society value our ignorance (by living in our world) more that near-universal well-being. Omelas is made possible by everyone being AWARE that a single child is suffering for the happiness of their civilization, while our world is made possible by IGNORING the suffering we inflict on the rest of the world as the cost for our 1st-world prosperity and comfort.

          • AshlaBoga

            The issue with that analogy is that it’s just one child. If you had hundreds in the basement, your analogy would work better. I interpreted it as a utilitarian argument: if you could create a paradise, but one innocent had to suffer a fate worse than death, would you do it? I have to admit, I would embrace that lottery. If it turned out to be me that suffered, at least thousands of others would enjoy life.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Okay so what about, we make humans immortals to the cost of their fertility. What do you say?

          • Stephanie

            That’s literally my utopia. I couldn’t possibly be more on board with that. It’s an elegant solution to the overpopulation problem that would otherwise come hand-in-hand with immortality. Obviously you give people the choice on an individual basis, though.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well that’s interestingly conservative

          • Stephanie

            In what sense?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Politically, culturally.
            Nothing would ever change.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think that’s necessarily true. People change over time. My own views have changed dramatically even over the last five years. I can’t imagine that everyone would stay exactly same over, say, hundreds of years.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It’s insignificantly because you grow and mature and mostly because the world changes around you (the collective result of all the people in it growing and maturing). That would be over. Left to our own devices, especially over hundreds of years, humans don’t like change at all. (Source: old people.)

          • Stephanie

            I’m not convinced by the argument “individual humans don’t change over hundreds of years,” given that we don’t have any examples of immortal humans to point to.

          • AshlaBoga

            I would argue that old people don’t change AS QUICKLY because they’ve started to lose their mental and physical fitness. And even then, my grandparents were still changing quite a bit up until their death.

          • crazy j

            Hey! That’s the plot to Moonraker!

          • Patrick Stier

            This was an actual debate in the United States about 10-12 years ago. When stem cell research first came out scientists were getting them from “unborn” fetuses (read either miscarries or abortions based on which strain the cells came from) Scientists showed all these great research paths that stem cells were going to open up, showed how we were going to not just save millions, but change everyone’s lives for the better, but we were going to have to do this by experimenting on things we got from, well to put it as the news at the time did, “dead babies”. This was a HUGE fight in congress, lead to the President at the time (G.W. Bush) banning all stem cell research from ever getting federal money and putting the US behind on medical science since that day.
            You dont need evil scientists we actually had this fight.

          • Tylikcat

            Do we have to have another reminder of what happens too often when science goes up against religion?

            Because really, bad timing.

        • dragonus45

          Who cares why he does it. It his his choice to make with his body.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t particularly care “why” either. I care about the tens of thousands of lives.

          • dragonus45

            So do i, do you really believe that that kind of wanton disregard for personal rights would not come with own loss of life and suffering.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think forcing Max to do this one thing is going to kill tens of thousands of people, no.

      • Arkone Axon

        Actually, no she didn’t, and no he didn’t. She didn’t swallow her pride – she literally could not go two pages worth of dialogue without insulting him. But you’re right, Max is a perfect example of what plagues us as a society.

        Specifically, how you’re rushing to completely dismiss him. He disagreed with someone else’s desires of what to do, and that makes him horrible and despicable and evil and we should hit him a few times while making him do what we want and then hit him some more because he’s scum and horrible and awful!

        This comic’s cast includes:

        A telepath who murdered thousands, attempted violent coups, and did everything possible to undermine Paladin’s attempts to share her inventions with the world (including attempting to disbar her attorneys, ruining their careers just so they couldn’t do their job and defend her);
        A photokinetic who runs around slitting throats while attempting to justify it by using sodium pentathol to elicit “confessions” that would be ruled inadmissible in any court that didn’t have the word “Inquisition” in its name;
        A former gun and knife toting vigilante who killed enough people to be competitive with Ebola;
        A rage consumed killer who started things off with patricide, then matricide, then ultimately settled for omnicide before finally being taken down.

        But Alison liked the telepath because he was handsome and charming. She likes the photokinetic and has attempted to defend her actions (the whole “murdering people who we KNOW are rapists because she accused them of it and accusation = guilt” thing). And she befriended the giant armor coated killer and so she likes him.

        But the guy who didn’t want to do a Shylock and grant the request of someone who literally couldn’t stop insulting him long enough to ask the favor? The guy who lives in fear of the public revelation of a secret roughly on a par with being a homosexual in the 1950s (Google “Alan Turing”)? That’s the guy we think is horrible?

        Yes. Max is a Deplorable. Max is a Jew. Max is a Liberal. Max is a SJW. Max is whatever it is we disagree with. We don’t have to try to understand him, we just have to condemn him. He disagrees with us, and so he has lost the right to empathy or to be regarded as a human being. Let us rage. Let us condone violence. He deserved far worse than what he got.

        That. That is what is wrong with our society. The polarization, the refusal to acknowledge that maybe someone we disagree with can be a decent person. I hear it from all sides. I hear it from Conservatives who genuinely believe that Liberals seek the destruction of the United States, and I hear it from Liberals whose idea of a polite discussion on the subject is to angrily demand to know why Conservatives want poor children to starve to death. So yes, you’re right. Max is a perfect example of what’s wrong with our society; he’s the private citizen stuffed into a strawman outfit before being set on fire by people screaming the righteousness of their hatred and intolerance to drown out argument to the contrary.

        • Stephanie

          Wait, I don’t get why you’re saying Alison defended Moonshadow. She considered her perspective and second-guessed herself, sure, but ultimately Alison rejected Moonshadow’s methods and tried to take her in. Moonshadow even had a whole speech about how Alison could have been doing any number of more useful and beneficial things with her time, but instead she was there trying to stop her. It was pretty clear by the end of the arc that, despite everything Moonshadow said, Alison still didn’t believe she was doing the right thing by killing those people.

          • Arkone Axon

            You’re right, sorry – she didn’t defend Moonshadow. I went back and checked the archives. I misremembered from reading a negative review of this comic that claimed she had. But no… she did not defend the former-friend who was running around killing people, tried to murder Alison herself, and even accused Alison of not being a true woman because Alison doesn’t see herself as a victim.

            But that doesn’t change the fact that more people here seem to think that Max is irredeemably vile and evil for not wanting to risk public exposure (and all that goes with it) at the request of someone who listened to his unhappiness and turned it into a personal attack on herself, than think that the person who slit the throat of, among others, a guy whose sole crime was potentially planning something with a girl who was passed out drunk (unless he was trying to get some help for the comatose person with the near-fatal level of alcohol consumption. His friends seemed to believe it was the latter, and they knew him better than Alison or Moonshadow did).

          • Stephanie

            “people here seem to think that Max is irredeemably vile and evil for not wanting to risk public exposure (and all that goes with it)”

            But if you read all of what he said to Alison, that wasn’t his primary motivation for refusing. He outright said that, even if he wanted to do it, he’d refuse specifically to spite her. I don’t think it could possibly be clearer that the main reason for his refusal was “fuck you, Alison.”

            He’s not an asshole because he fears exposure. He’s an asshole because he tried to condemn thousands and thousands of people to die unnecessary and painful deaths, just to stick it to one person who’d offended him.

          • Arkone Axon

            He said that after he exposed his emotions and was left vulnerable, and she responded with a stunning lack of compassion coupled with twisting his words into a personal attack. Remember that group therapy meeting at the convention? Imagine if one of the women there had described their past and the response had been, “you’re not a victim! In fact, claiming to be such is insulting to me!”

            Oh, wait. Someone DID respond like that to someone there… and she got called on it for being an insensitive jerk.

            Now imagine if that same person had said, “you’re not a victim! In fact, claiming to be such is insulting to me! Also, I’d like you to go do something extremely risky that will benefit people who aren’t you – because unlike you, they deserve compassion.”

          • Stephanie

            None of the people at the group meeting were trying to use their experiences to excuse condemning thousands upon thousands of people to die horrible, unnecessary deaths.

            Anyone cognizant of the magnitude of suffering Max intended to permit out of petty jealousy and spite would require the patience of a saint to remain compassionate toward him. It would have been great if Alison had managed that, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand it of anyone. Seriously, imagine…let’s say Skyping with a swimmer who’s watching a child drown in a pool with no one else around. The camera’s pointing at this drowning kid, you’re begging the swimmer to save them. They tell you they don’t feel like it, then start spinning a melancholy tale about how they never wanted to be talented at swimming, they wanted to be a doctor, etc. Meanwhile the child is continuing to drown. Do you think that you might find that frustrating?

            Anyway…What Alison was asking Max to do was not “incredibly risky.” She had gone out of her way to arrange the entire thing such that nobody but her would know of his involvement. On top of that, the information that he had this power was clearly already out there regardless of whether he helped or not. Alison correctly ascertained that Max’s apparent concern about the risks was just a coverup for the real reason–that he just plain didn’t want to.

          • Arkone Axon

            There’s rather a huge difference. Especially since people keep pointing at the “thousands of lives” as if that were Alison’s primary motive. It is not – she did NOT want Feral to get in that operating room in the first place. Feral meant more to her than all the lives that Feral intended to save. Should Alison be condemned for not wanting Feral to suffer like that for the sake of people she doesn’t even know?

            That’s not saying that Alison is a bad person for valuing her friend over anonymous “others.” She simply values the person whom she knows and admires over strangers. That’s a human sentiment to have. But to claim that she was motivated primarily by altruistic compassion for the same people she would have unhesitantly allowed to die had she been able to stop Feral is disingenuous at best.

            But… let’s take your position and extend it further. Let’s say the next chapter involves Alison waking up strapped to a device that saps her powers, and surrounded by a bunch of fratboys in fedoras. She’s informed by her captors that by draining her energy she’ll be empowering a device to influence weather patterns that will reverse climate change, ensure consistent bountiful harvests, and prevent anyone from dying from starvation or natural disasters ever again. And they’ll conveniently forget to mention the webcameras recording her situation for bondage porn videos.

            Would Alison be unjustified in wanting to escape this situation? After all, by refusing she’s condemning countless lives…

          • Stephanie

            First: Even if you don’t believe that Alison gave a damn about the thousands of lives, the fact that Max was callously refusing to save her friend from a lifetime of torture would be enough to infuriate almost anyone in her position. Seriously, imagine yourself in that position. Your own best friend is being tortured forever and this guy, who could free them with a wave of his hand, tells you he doesn’t feel like it. It’s pretty easy to say “oh, just be compassionate” from your computer in an alternate universe, but humans don’t have perfect control over their emotions and you can’t fairly expect Alison to be immune to justified anger.

            Second: The intentionally vicious and repulsive scenario you described is in no way comparable to what Max was asked to do. Max was asked to go with Alison to Feral’s location, use his power on her one time, and then go home. I’m not going to entertain this unrelated scenario because it’s not relevant to the actual situation in the comic.

          • cphoenix

            Wow. Check this out:

            It’s a conversation between Alison and her doctor, about the Invisible Slasher. The doctor’s opinion: “It’s just uninteresting to me, the question of whether or not the killer is a bad person.” The whole conversation is worth re-reading.

            The doctor is a very sensible person. We – and Alison!! – could use more of her kind of thinking on the question of whether Alison is a “bad person” for what she did to Max.

            I’m replying to you, not because I think you need to read it, but because I think you’ll think it’s cool, and maybe it’ll help in your attempts to engage the “Alison is a Bad Person” people here.

          • Stephanie

            This page is actually one of my favorites! Thanks for reminding me of it!

          • crazy j

            Those statistics are false. I refuse to believe that that the US is somehow worse than Uganda, where rape is used as a weapon, or the Islamic State where they sell children as young as 12 into sexual slavery.

          • Patrick Stier

            what statistics are false? literally 1 in 4 women are raped in their life time in the US, those stats are higher in other countries. Some countries it is literally every single women will be raped, but that was not talked about in the comic. She stated 3 women a day are killed by a partner (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-stop-domestic-violence-murder_us_56eeb745e4b09bf44a9d85f6) that statistically 1 in 4 women will be raped or someone will attempt it with them. (15% of women raped, 12% attempted on, equals 27% so a little more then 1 in 4) now the 2% or jail has gotten better. Now it is 3%. between pressure to not report, police who still wont accept charges, and courts that still attack the women for choice in clothes or “making herself the victim” most known rapists dont see a day in jail. So what statistic are you having a problem with?

          • MrSing

            *Ahem* http://www.statisticbrain.com/rape-statistics/

            These are the overall average number of reported rapes in America annually. It adds up to 89,000. Now, with a generally assumed 60% unreported rate, that would be about 195,000 accounts of rape annually in the entirety of America.

            As you can see, this is not even close to a fourth of the about 300 million people living in America.

            The “1 in 4” statistic was done by an incredibly biased person, Mary Koss, with a very low non-random sample size of only 6000 students. Furthermore, it stretched the definition of rape to rather ludricous decrees, where merely having imbibed any ammount alcohol offered by a man that lead to sex would always be counted as a completed rape. Even if the person being questioned did not count it as that.

            You have to understand that if 1 in 4 women were to be raped, it would be an epidemic of nearly catastrophic measure. For Pete’s sake, the rate of violent crimes in Detroit was 2,1% in 2012 and that city is considered one of the most violent places in America. Even in wartimes where mass rapes unfortunately happen, it would be hard to reach this number.

            Rape is an incredibly vile crime and it should be combatted wherever it is found. But spreading (knowingly or not, I’m assuming good faith in your position) untruths is counter productive.

            Say we meassure that the percentage of rape has gone to 10%. If we go from the false number of 25%, that would be considered a mass improvement. However, if we go by the more realistic number of 0.23%, we would see that something terrible had happened and chances need to be made immediately.

          • danima

            Far be it from me to get dragged into an online argument about rape, but where on earth are you getting your “more realistic number of 0.23%” lifetime rape attempt incidence among women? (I think you might have taken an annual number of rapes and substituted it in for lifetime attempts, but…??) The very page that you linked shows it at 16% — and I agree with your point about being careful to use the best-verified numbers, not the numbers that make us feel most strongly — but 1 in 6.25 is not qualitatively so different from 1 in 4 as to shift the general sense of the problem.

            Seriously. 0.23% = 1 in 435. As a man, I could reasonably expect under those numbers never to know enough women closely enough to be told that they had been assaulted: it’s almost three times the Dunbar number! And yet, I’ve been told personally by four.

          • MrSing

            Ah, you are correct in that I used the annual number of rapes instead of the life time number of rapes. My bad on that part yeah.

            I think I was confused since the “1 in 4” is from a study that looks at the amount of women in college that are being raped. This is the only place that this number comes from, so I mixed them up.

            I did some more research and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the amount of women age 18-24 experiencing a rape or sexual assault is 4,4 percent while non-college aged women have a rate of 1,4 percent. file:///C:/Users/USER/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/INetCache/IE/PSQN9ZK2/rsavcaf9513.pdf
            (Please not that sexual assault, while still awful, is not rape.)

            The same study found that annualy the ammount of women that experienced rape OR sexual assault from age 12 and up is 1 in 909 in the year 2012. That means that this is not just for college aged women, but women from all ages and proffessions. The number can’t be simply multiplied by the average age of women to get an accurate result of the life time or even of the actual ammount of rapes being committed, since it includes sexual assaults. Nor do we know the ammount of people that are not speaking up about either assault or rape or the ones that are not speaking the truth. This makes the number less reliable.
            This means that any “life time” estimates are incredibly dubious, since the numbers are hard to accurately find.
            As for you knowing four women that had been assaulted.
            1) Anecdotal evidence does not count.
            2) I don’t know how many women you know. If you only know four and they have been all assaulted it makes for a different story than if you know fifty of them,
            3) There is the possibility that women in your life do not speak up about their assault or rape, making the number smaller than it actually is, or they are lying, making the number larger than it actually is.
            4) I know several women and they have never talked about or admitted to being sexually assaulted. That does not mean that they haven’t been or that it is logical for me to say that my experience is average for the general population.
            5) Sexual assault is not by defenition rape. So this tells us even less. I have been sexually assaulted by women when I was younger. But it wasn’t rape.

          • Patrick Stier

            Well your own web page says 16%. so lets say there is 16% of women in the US raped or attempted raped that equals 49.28 Million women in the united states alone. Even with the lowered numbers of what you call attempted rape your still talking a larger population then any state in the US. (california #1 with a total population of 38.4 Million)
            Now lets talk your rate of violent crime, rape is the most unreported crime in the nation. Is more likely to be done by a family member or family friend or boyfriend. USA alone the earliest age or report of rape last year is 3 years old, oldest was over 90. So no women is safe. There are 308 Million women in the US I have not yet met a women (that I have asked for statistical purposes) that has not been sexual harassed, sexual assaulted, or raped. Heck if you work in the medical industry as a female nurse your are statistically 100% likely to be sexually assaulted.
            Ask the women in your life, seriously dont just guess about the numbers dont trust a statistic that some is trying to make a political statement with, actually ask them, talk to your mom, your sister, your daughter, your wife or girl friend, talk to your friends and family and actually listen. When they tell you about the guy who tried to slip a pill in a drink, or the friend who got grabby one night while hanging out, when they tell you about the teacher who touched them, the boss who offered a quid pro que. Then come back and tell me the statistic is less the 1%

          • MrSing

            Where the hell are you getting these statistics from?

          • Patrick Stier

            The webpage you linked to says 16%. 308 Million women that would be the 2010 census. Math gives us the number of 49.28 Million. Female medical staff. The current state of Montana research stated that out of 5000 female medical workers in Montana every single one of them had been at minimum groped by a patient.

          • MrSing

            Well, let me first of admit my wrong. The less than one percent is for annual amounts of rape. Which I worded completely wrong.

            Second of. I actually don’t know where they got that 16% from now that I think about it. it doesn’t readily say how they calculated it.

            If they interviewed a sufficiently large ammount of women and asked them if they had experienced a rape or attempted rape, you would have to deal with data from several decades old.

            Though it does quite outrageously claim that 95% of college rapes and
            60% of other rapes never go reported with nothing to support it what so
            ever. Mind you, that’s not combined with sexual harrasement, those are
            actual rapes. No wonder they get their numbers so high with these kind
            of, as far as the site provides, unsourced assumptions.

            The same website does even say that rape has been declining by 60% since 1993. (Even though it again frustatingly again doesn’t say how it calculated this data.) Which would mean that data calculated this way would be severely outdated.

            Hell, now that I look at it more closely it uses data from 1987 and 1995 and claims that more women reported being raped in 1987 than 1995 (20% versus 15%) while simultaniously claiming a decline in rape of 60%.

            It seems that no matter how I look at it, these statistics are outdated and incredibly contradictory.

            My bad for not looking enough at the statistic. This website is kind of a mess and can be used to either claim high statistics and low statistics without any explanation for either side.

            I’ll just refer to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is a pretty highly regarded information gatherer and actually explains it data better.
            Not sure if that link works. PDF file can also be found here https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5176

            It claims that from 1995 to 2013 college going women of age 18-24 are raped by a rate of 2% and experience attempted rape at 1,5%. Going at women these ages not enrolled in college for 1,5% completed and 1,2% attempted.

            Still it does not say the chance in a total life time women have of being raped. Which is always a tricky thing to calculate with the changes in society. The BoJS also shows that from 1997-2013 there is a decline for both students and non-students in rape or sexual assault for women.

            Could you give a link to that study from the medical workers in Montana? I find it hard to believe, but if it’s legit I’m more than willing to concede.

          • cphoenix

            It’s possible that rape is underreported in Uganda, rather than being overreported here.

            I can understand not liking those statistics. They are horrifying. But there is a big difference between “I refuse to believe that” and “That is false.”

            One in seven Trump voters say the picture of Trump’s inauguration shows more people than the picture of Obama’s inauguration. Whether they actually believe it or not, it’s scary either way.

            Please don’t be one of those people.

          • Pythia

            I’m going to just fact-check this because the guy was indeed a rapist, or at least is heavily implied by the comic to have been one. I don’t mean “in his mind” or something, he had previously raped “girls at his boarding school” in 2012 in-world.


            That’s not to say I agree with Moondshadow’s methodology (I do not, because it’s insane), but it is important to note that she wasn’t just accusing people or killing them for the crime of “potentially planning something with a girl who was passed out drunk”. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had been on her radar for quite some time.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, it shows that there were e-mails about his having been accused of something. There’s a rather large gulf between an accusation and a conviction.

            The implication is that Moonshadow targeted the guy specifically because of his altercation with Alison, after which she gave a perfunctory investigation and then said, “yeah, that’s enough. Time to kill.”

          • Mishyana

            I went back and re-read that “a guy whose sole crime” bit just to make sure I had it right, and that “guy’s” friends defense of him was limited to “he’s our friend” and “he’s in our Marxism class”, two things which in no rational way by default precede “… so he’s definitely not a rapist.” They were supposedly on their first date but he couldn’t even come up with her name; he was taking a barely conscious girl towards the door with no obvious attempt to say “Hey, does anyone know her, can we call someone to come get her”, etc.

            His behavior was super sketchy, and *any* decent person would always err on the side of ‘make sure drunk girl is safe’ and not ‘assume sketchy guy has the best interests of a girl he claims to be on a date with but doesn’t know has her best interests at heart’.

          • Arkone Axon

            I just read it through, actually:

            He doesn’t fail to come up with her name, he gets defensive at the aggressive behavior by this strange woman who just came up to him to interrogate him. It IS possible to confirm whether or not there’s a problem without being quite so… aggressive. To say nothing of the fact that she then physically assaulted him – at which point his friends had to beg for his life. It is not okay to grab someone by the throat because you thought they might be up to something so they probably were.

            Also, I’d like to note:

            …The girl was rather foolish. Male or female, you don’t go out and drink until you black out and expect to not suffer any negative side effects. How inebriated was she? How inebriated was HE? I doubt she was drinking alone. Did he encourage her to chug until she’d be unable to give consent while he sipped soda? Did he find a drunk girl plopping down next to him without even introducing herself and pressing him to match her shot for shot while flirting until she passed out? Did he approach her and she was too busy drinking and laughing at her own jokes to give her name?

            Now let me hasten to add: I’m not saying he was innocent. I’m saying that the situation is cloudy; we don’t know who was doing what, and to rush to pass judgement is exactly the sort of thing that we are NOT supposed to do. Not in a civilized society.

          • LordofBlackulas

            Arkone…that’s victim blaming bullshit! No reasonable person in that situation would trust that guy with a BARELY CONSCIOUS WOMAN UNABLE TO RESPOND or anyone that would so readily condemn the woman for drinking. That’s the talk of a rape apologist.

            I want to make it clear I’m honestly not trying to insult you. I’m stating that your words are those of a rape apologist & you should examine why that is.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, my words are those of someone who’s dealt with a lot of drunks. Some of them were male, some were female. Some of them woke up the next morning in prison. One of them drank until they blacked out and then attacked their spouse and attempted to rape them (and failed because alcohol impairs the ABILITY to have sex…). One of them got into a fight with their lover AND their lover’s elderly cancer patient mother (and the fight was a draw because alcohol makes you think you have magical kung fu powers while taking away your balance and coordination). Some of them got almost IMPRESSIVELY anti-semitic while they were drunk (I didn’t know someone could be a “Nazi Jew,” but apparently that’s what I am according to one of these people).

            And one of the things that the judge pointed out to the drunk who attacked their spouse is this: You may not be in control of your actions once you get that drunk, but you CHOSE to get that drunk. And if two people are both drunk and do something that neither of them would have chosen to do while they were sober, then it doesn’t make one a victim and the other a criminal. It makes both of them idiots.

            (Bonus tidbit: the person who fought alongside their elderly cancer patient mother against the violent drunken lover? Was also the drunk who called me a “Nazi Jew.” Don’t give someone a pass for the consequences of their choices. Mister Hyde may have been the one who committed the crimes, but Dr Jekyll was the one who chose to drink the stuff that turned him into Hyde)

          • LordofBlackulas

            That is rape apologia. You are a rape apologist. Nothing you’ve stated is new or different from what people have used to blame victims for centuries.

            Also, in the scenario in question, he was sober enough to be lucid & answer quite clearly. She was not lucid or able to answer at all. That is rape. If you do not understand this then you need to educate yourself.

          • Arkone Axon

            I’m not blaming anyone. I’m pointing out that women should not be treated like CHILDREN. “You have the right to do whatever you want without consequences!” That’s literally what Alison claimed when she said “why should she have to alter her behavior?” Because that’s what you do when you’re a responsible person who is aware that actions have consequences.

            In fact, let me put it more bluntly. I referenced an alcoholic who drank until they blacked out, then attacked their spouse and attempted to rape them. They woke up with NO memory of the previous night. If I’m to agree that once you’ve ingested enough alcohol you’re no longer responsible for your actions, THEN I would be a rape apologist. Then I would be saying “well, once they got that drunk they couldn’t be blamed for what happened next.”

            Now I WILL offer one caveat: if the guy had slipped a date rape drug into her drink, then he would be a rapist. But even her own friends openly stated that she had a bad habit of going out and getting blackout drunk. To say that she’s not responsible for the consequences of her own choices is to infantilize her, and I refuse to do that. Even if it means people will tell me “you need to educate yourself” because I dare to treat people equally regardless of their gender flavor.

            (edited it to correct a typo there)

        • Psile

          See, this is why I don’t thing that Max’s morals are really the point of any of this. The fact that Max is scum is incidental, but I admit that the portrayal of his sadness over not being able to fly kind of irks me. However, it literally doesn’t matter. What happened to Max isn’t punishment. Yes, I think he’s horrible. You’ve brought up Turing before, and I find that the be false equivalence for a few reasons.

          Firstly, biodynamics enjoy a much better life than homosexuals of that time. Alison’s life is much more affected by her fame for her biodynamic feats and the unavoidable practical consequences of her own abnormality (can’t get a tattoo, etc.) than by actually being a biodynamic. There has been shown to be some marked hatred for biodynamics, but it seems about similar to anger at homosexuals now, which is not nothing. It is not the same as it was in Turnings time, thankfully. Still, I personally wouldn’t fault any homosexual who decided that they wanted to keep their private life private in this day and age. That’s their choice. However, that brings me to the second point.

          Secondly, homosexuals can’t save lives just by being homosexual. Their sexual orientation doesn’t affect anyone but themselves. It’s entirely personal. Max isn’t in the same scenario, being able to save tens and thousands of lives and all that.

          Thirdly, Max showed by the quote above, which you did not address, that all that stuff about being scared is really just covering for his main reason. I don’t buy it, not really. He probably believes it himself, but when Allison pressed him to go deeper he was pretty quick to draw on petty spite as a reason. So I don’t really buy that he was all that scared, and even if he was that is hardly his only reason.

          However, this is all just posturing. The fact that Max is shitty, but arguably less shitty than Patrick, Moonstone, and Cleaver, doesn’t matter. I understand if you feel it is unfair that the comic explored their motivations and sought to partially explain them but Max didn’t get the same treatment. Max is significantly less developed than any of those examples, and so it is easy to make him into a straw man to justify the argument that violent force is an acceptable way of affecting change. This seems to upset you and I don’t understand how you can feel sorry for Max. I understand his feelings, understand that he is a person with his own hopes and dreams. You are correct that it is folly to assume people who disagree with us are just simple, ignorant fools. I understand, or I try to. Don’t mistake understanding with forgiveness. I seek to understand so that if there is a way to reason with someone, I can find it and we can both get what we want. Sometimes, all that understanding gets me is knowing exactly why someone is capable of doing something horrible. Just because I understand a person doesn’t mean I won’t condemn them. Just because a person has a reason to do what they do, doesn’t make what they do right.

          Allison had to choose whether it was more important to stick to her principles or to save thousands of lives. It was a hard choice, because the implications were massive. Just because she used violence to force Max’s hand doesn’t mean that she is gonna go all Injustice on everyone. The fact that Max is terrible makes it easier to swallow, but she would still be doing the right thing even if Max was just a kindly kindergarten teacher who wanted to be left alone. If this were our world, you would probably go through your life and meet people who would be dead if Allison hadn’t acted as she would. You wouldn’t even know it. I can think of people who I knew personally who would be alive if there was an Allison and a Max in 1990 or so.

          • Arkone Axon

            I spent the day helping my parents, and both of them could definitely benefit from a few “Feral Organs” to not only keep them alive, but reduce some of their pain and discomfort. But I don’t think either of them would condone torture and slavery (forcing someone to perform labors against their will is the technical definition of slavery) to get them.

            And I’m not saying biodynamics in general have a situation similar to that of homosexuals in the 1950s, I’m saying Max specifically has a similar situation. He has a secret. If the secret gets out he will be immediately assaulted and incarcerated by powerful forces and his life as he knows it will be ruined.

            But you’re probably going to dismiss that just as you dismissed his motivations. Alison didn’t “press him to go deeper.” She allowed him to open himself up to her, to expose his unhappiness- and then slapped it aside, offered him no compassion, and then made it clear she expected him to do what she wanted, in spite of the risks it entailed, with no prospect of compensation.

            That, incidentally, is a very selfish position to hold. Those same parents I mentioned? My mother has repeatedly complained about doing things for others, helping them when they were in need, both in terms of financial charity and more general kindnesses, only to be repaid with ingratitude and a general lack of appreciation. And I myself live with someone whose daughter repeatedly hurt, used, and betrayed people (including her mother, and including the father who might not have succumbed to the poor decisions that killed him had his daughter not put so much stress on him with her horribly selfish behavior), and at one point “defended” herself to her with “so what? You’re my Mom, you’re supposed to forgive me.”

            (thankfully, the daughter DID get better… eventually)

          • Lance Allen

            You may want to go recheck your definition of slavery. Being held at gunpoint and forced on pain of death to open a cash register and give all of the money inside of it to the robber isn’t slavery by any definition, and it’s a much, much closer example to what Alison did than anything that *is* slavery; If Alison goes on to force Max to use his powers at her whim, then you may have a case, but a single instance of force used to coerce action isn’t slavery. Even your usage torture is arguable, though I’m not going to.

            All the same, I think you’re forgetting the whole point of this comic (so far); Patrick, Cleaver, Moonshadow, Max… None of these characters actually matter, except in how they reflect on and affect Alison. The comic is about the “strong female protagonist”, and all other characters are fleshed out only to the extent that it’s useful to do so to further illustrate her journey.

            Alison is young, idealistic, impetuous with a tendency to use violence to solve problems. Her primary redeeming virtue is that she realizes that these aren’t a good way to go through life, and is making an effort to find a better way. Were they real people, events wouldn’t unfold like they are… But they’re not. It’s all about the journey, and when you start at being able to level a city in a fit of pique, then everything else, including the moral dilemmas, gets turned up to eleven as well.

          • Arkone Axon

            Technically, slavery is theft – theft of labor. You’re forcing someone to hand over their possessions against their will, and labor – time, skills, and abilities – are bundled in with cash in the whole “goods and services” grouping. But that’s a fine point not really worth nitpicking.

            And I very much hope that this comic is NOT “all about the strong female protagonist.” That’s when things descend into “Mary Sue” territory. I’ve liked Alison largely because she has not adopted a mindset like Rayne from “Least I Could Do” or Mora from “Las Lindas,” two characters whose utter lack of consideration for the “supporting cast” makes them utterly repugnant. I’ve very much admired Alison’s refusal to see the weaker people around her as less important or meaningful… that’s why I’m very interested in what’s going to happen next. Because Alison herself agrees that what she did was wrong. She’s trying to either justify it or repent of it, because she’s not about to claim that Max deserved what she did to him. That’s what makes her interesting. She screwed up and, while some of the comments here claim otherwise, she herself knows that she needs to atone and fix it, or at least accept the consequences.

          • shink

            Alison hasn’t really made a decision as to whether or not she should atone for it. There is regret but no remorse, she wouldn’t go back on those actions and she hasn’t even considered the idea of making things up to Max yet. Only a strongly religious person thinks that absolution=atonement, because only in the eyes of God can that be true. Absolution does nothing for the victims of your sins/crimes, but rather makes you feel better because you think God/society has given you a pass for committing those sins/crimes. This is explicitly why Gurwara refuses to play priest for Alison, rather he sees she needs to own her shit.

            Stepping back a bit to the story about the potential rapist taking the drunk girl home, the story gives plenty of context as to why that is sketchy. Yes the guy does understandably lose his shit when grabbed by the throat by Mega Girl, but on the other hand he also does nothing to actually defuse the situation and present himself as not a potential rapist. The girls story story confirms the idea that he was at a minimum being crazy sketchy, as she tried to leave the party hours ago. This is odd behavior for someone on a date going well enough that she wanted to go home with him to say the least. Yes, everyone at the party reacts to her over the top response to the situation, but at no point does anyone at the party volunteer any sort of information about a former connection between the drunk girl and the sketchy guy. You could argue that that’s because they were all tipsy to drunk and unable to get over the fact that Alison just grabbed someone by the throat, but that still doesn’t offer any actual evidence. Lastly, we could be charitable to the guy and assume that yes they were on a date and that while she had decided to end it hours ago she didn’t actually tell him, even giving the guy all this credit the situations still not better objectively, it’s just an example of a girl who really does need someone like Alison to come along and bail her out.

            This situation actually does shed light on the Alison/Max situation. Why are you giving Max the pass for emotional distress=inability to argue straight and function but not giving the same credit to Alison? Both characters were acting bull headed and unable to listen to the other because there own arguments were not being acknowledged. They were both under a lot of emotional duress at the time At the end of the day yes Max ended up losing out. (as was inevitable), but that’s cause he lacked the power in the situation (something novel to him). Had the power situation been reversed Alison would’ve ended up losing out. You’re applying a double standard here.

          • Arkone Axon

            I’m giving the pass to Max but not Alison because Max is not the one who committed multiple felonies here. I’m not quite certain how he would have victimized her had he possessed the power. He didn’t want to hurt her, he just wanted her to leave him alone.

            And the potential rapist… as you said, he’s a “potential rapist.” And “potential” is not “definitive.” Meaning she grabbed a guy by the throat and everyone was terrified that she was going to murder him, because she thought he might be up to something.

            Here’s another example of that same behavior as performed by someone else:


          • shink

            On the one hand yes, laws don’t apply to Alison, and so being scared that she might kill him is pretty legit. as she could probably get away with it. OTOH, well it was an intimidation play with no real intent to harm, and it worked, and it worked. That girl was probably in danger, of course being in danger isn’t really a thing you can usually confirm until it actually happens, and Alison was the only one at the party who cared. Non-dramatic action would’ve let the guy get a pass.

            Yes, Alison committed multiple felonies, but much like the cop in your story, no court of law is ever going to try and convict her of those felonies. Even beyond that, no civil court is going to try and make her pay for damages either. Alison sits above the law and holds the right usually reserved by the state of committing legal violence by authority of herself. Again, much like the cop in your story defying her is a dangerous game, and anyone who has paid any attention to her incredibly public persona would know that she is well trained and acclimated to the idea of using violence to solve her problems. The cop however isn’t a strong enough comparison, dealing with Alison is more like dealing with the CIA in terms of what she could get away with doing to someone without repercussion and the resources she has to do it. Add to this that much like the CIA defying Alison tends to end badly for whoever does so, and Alison is (or should be) a truly terrifying person to deal with.

            When confronted by someone with a known track record of violence and the ability to follow through with it Max proceeded to antagonize and provoke her, it really is akin to antagonizing James Bond, the fact that Alison has a moral code doesn’t do much to protect her victims. This kind of behavior very much falls into the category of “failing to act in self preservation”, and so I assert that much like when dealing with a government operative who enjoys near total legal immunity for their actions Max really should’ve been afraid of Alison. It is from this perspective that I argue he should’ve tried to control his emotions. It’s not fair no, but nothing about Alison is fair, Given that Gurwara is now pointing out that Alison’s ability to command authority over others is comparable to that wielded by a self appointed head of state (aka total), I think this is a valid perspective. Alison tends to hurt people who get on her bad side and then act as if she’s any other person. Those that recognize her power and treat her as the incredibly dangerous slightly loose cannon she seems to be get off easier (Moonshadow, Menace).

          • Arkone Axon

            At the party… she could have detained him without grabbing him by the throat. At the very least, she could have (and should have) limited herself to calling for attention to the matter and gotten other people involved (note that this was before she realized she didn’t have to save the world singlehandedly. The party scene was when she was still trying to do it all herself).

            As for the Max antagonizing and provoking her… no. No he did not. She came to his home, insulted him, demanded he place himself at serious risk for the sake of others, and refused to show him any compassion or empathy. So if he wasn’t afraid of her, it’s because he failed to regard her from the very beginning of that encounter as what she had chosen to be: a supervillain. A superpowered, nigh unstoppable person who had invaded his home and informed him, “this is going to happen. The only choice you get is how much I have to hurt you before it happens.”

            Moonshadow and Menace got off easier because Alison LIKED them. That’s the problem with autocracy and dictatorships; the merest whim of the tyrant can affect what happens, with no consistency, fairness, or justice involved.

          • shink

            To paraphrase Max “I’m not going to do it just to spite you”, that’s pretty damn antagonistic. That’s Max going assuming he has power in the situation (he clearly didn’t, and never did, no one has power in situations involving Alison that she doesn’t freely give them). Was she seriously provoking him by coming to his house and demanding he suddenly drop everything to go do this one thing? Did she utterly lack any sort of diplomacy in her request and completely fail to listen to him? Yeah she did. You’re absolutely right on both counts. Again I ask you, do the cops exercise diplomacy and restraint when they need someone to do something? No, they really aren’t known for it, they frequently resort to physical violence, even when they don’t need to. Do intelligence or military agencies pull punches when they decide a thing needs to happen? Frequently they are even more blunt force no holds barred then police, going in guns blazing without warning if it can be arranged. The difference of course is that people expect the cops and armed forces to do this, they of course operate under legitimate authority. They are agents of the law, and in their duties they enforce the laws as set down by the legislature, or the orders of the executive. Alison is a child soldier, she very much used to operate under a modus operandi of going in guns blazing so to speak without asking questions first, and she was more or less given carte blanche to cause collateral damage.

            On the flip side Alison is considered a hero, a paragon of virtue, and has a nice girl image. This leads people to underestimate her, to assume they have power in situations involving her. People forget or gloss over the fact that she’s the most dangerous person on the planet and that she’s both trained to and used to using that power to get what she wants when she decides it’s justified. This is where I’ll cut Max some slack, he much like everyone else bought into the propaganda surrounding Alison that she’s not a fundamentally dangerous person with a violent past. Realizing what he was dealing with might’ve saved him some pain, but he didn’t, and I guess I can’t really fault him for it given that this conception has held even after she threatened to kill hundreds of people on national television. So fair enough, him failing to recognize that he was dealing with someone about as reasonable as a SWAT cop knocking down your door is not really on him.

            As for Menace and Moonshadow, neither character got as actively antagonistic towards Alison. Moonshadow as I recall mostly defended her own actions and didn’t really attack Alison personally (aside from cutting her, which more drew shock that she managed to cut Alison then anger) or say things out of pure spite like Max did. She also uniquely managed to hold at least some of the cards, as her powers are a pretty good counter to Alison’s own. Menace just folded in a fairly pathetic manner once she figured out he couldn’t read his own thoughts. She didn’t need to resort to direct physical violence to get him to agree, she just intimidated him with an impressively terrifying display of telekinesis and dictated terms. In the end, Moonshadow was able to talk Alison out of using direct violence to solve the problem, and Menace was left so pitiful that using direct violence would’ve been like kicking a puppy. Max on the other hand went out of his way to make direct violence look like the only solution, and this put the onus on Alison to be the bigger person. Alison has little to no training in non-violent conflict resolution, and a LOT of training in violent conflict resolution, and thus when presented with someone stubborn enough to say “make me”, she did. This is not only in line with her character, it’s pretty in line with human behavior on the whole. People who tell the cops “make me” and expect to walk away unscathed are either very powerful individuals or considered delusional by most people. The same is true for Alison amplified by orders of magnitude,

          • K. J. Hargan

            what you are arguing about is ‘extortion’. Forcing someone to pay money or do something against their will by threat of violence or death.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yes, this is true. Sorry, I’ve previously defined slavery as “theft of labor” because it helped to explain why the Confederacy had pretty much defeated itself with the very thing that it fought to defend. Their entire economy was based around theft, and while free exchanges of goods and services create a cumulative increase in the total wealth of society, theft destroys wealth. Which is why an agrarian based economy whose three biggest crops were tobacco, cotton, and corn, couldn’t even feed or clothe their troops…

        • AshlaBoga

          I got all the cast references save for “a former gun and knife toting vigilante who kill enough people to be competitive with Ebola.”

          • Arkone Axon

            Feral. She’s been where Alison is now – she journeyed the world, trying to find answers, trying to find a way to atone for everything she’d done.

    • I’m not convinced Max is salvagable, but it’s still a valid point.

    • Kate Blackwell

      There are many things she could have done – could have kept going in trying to convince him, could have tried to blackmail him, bribe him, offer to have sex with him, or even just threaten to get violent before actually getting violent, first. But then using violence to solve things is kind of her thing so it makes sense that’s what she’d resort to as her default response.

    • Seer of Trope

      Overall, I agree that Alison could have done a lot better in her attempt to get Max’s help, but I disagree with a couple of points. First, I don’t think that’s what Guwara is trying to get at as much as he is just trying to guide Alison’s train of thought in a coherent path not necessarily with a destination in mind. Second, Alison wasn’t dehumanizing Max as a thing. Seeing someone as human doesn’t make them immune to being subject of one’s anger or resentment. Alison probably still saw Max as human, just that also as a prick. I think the real question is that, was Alison wrong or right to see him as such?

      • Arkone Axon

        I meant that Alison was rationalizing and justifying her behavior before she did it. It’s something that comes up in self defense instruction:

        Let’s look inside the head of a mugger. He wants your money. He NEEDS your money. He needs to buy food, pay bills, get some drugs because he’s miserable and something to make the pain go away will help because this world is horrible. And dammit, he’s been sold out and abandoned by society. And here you are with all your money and resources and you don’t even care about someone like him. You are part of the problem. You and people like you, you STOLE from him all his life, he’s going to TAKE IT BACK…

        And that’s when the assault happens. He’s rationalized it and twisted things around in his head so that he’s not only justified, but you’re the bad guy. These are the thoughts going through the head of the guy who is about to put a woman in need of tens of thousands of dollars worth of reconstructive surgery and/or put her in a coma, because he wants the contents of her purse, and by the time the blunt implement hit her face it had become HIS purse with all the money society (as represented by this rich twat) stole from him.

        (In self defense instruction this explanation is then followed up with the importance of detecting the warning signs of assault in advance, as well as learning to minimize response times… because the assault IS going to be a surprise attack by someone who genuinely wants to hurt you)

        So Alison showed up already thinking that Max was the bad guy. And that she would do “whatever it takes” to get him to do it. She wasn’t talking to him, she was talking to the construct in her head.

        • Seer of Trope

          On the last point that Alison was objectifying Max as the bad guy, I disagree.

          First, she has not rationalized using assault AFTER the assault. It doesn’t makes sense that Alison would see Max as someone without rights AND feel guilt over what she did to him. Regretting is the OPPOSITE of rationalizing. In her conversation with Guwara so far, she doesn’t comfort herself that she just saved thousands of lives and her friend. She instead focuses on the immorality of her action and is even angry at Guwara for suggesting that what she did was justified. The point is, she is not rationalizing her behavior

          Second, she has not rationalized using assault BEFORE the assault. It’s clear that Alison expected that he would say yes when she asked Max for his help because she is confused by his refusal to the opportunity to save thousands of lives at the cost of four hours of his time. Alison is someone who would take that opportunity in a heartbeat, and it’s understandable that she didn’t expect a no because the people she know so far are either people who would take that opportunity or people who are bitter about the world, and Alison didn’t know Max’s story beforehand. The point is, there are strong evidences that she believed she wouldn’t need anything more than her argument, meaning there was probably no cause for her to prepare a rationalization for an assault. As for her hostile wording, well, his words were basically “I’m not going to help you because fuck you”.

          Third, she has not rationalized using assault DURING the assault. The critical indicator is that after the assault when Max asks her why did she get to decide what other people do, she replies “because I’m stronger than you”, a morality she despises. She doesn’t even try to justify what she did with a moral argument. Rationalization requires coming up with a moral justification to your action, which Alison clearly doesn’t do.

          Fourth, Alison clearly was talking with Max. They communicated clearly and by the end understand each other’s intentions. There is no “construct” in her head. Max gave his honest words which Alison didn’t twist the meaning of.

          And finally, before you bring up Alison’s quote about loving to fight, I would like to point out that her exact words were “I love fighting, I love the blood, I love the heat, I love breaking shit.” This seems a lot more about fighting villains who can fight back than it is about physically dominating civilians who can’t fight back.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yeah… as I’ve pointed out, repeatedly, in the multiple posts spread out across this page’s comments section (as well as previous pages), Alison was indeed rationalizing, justifying. I’m going to cut down to the bare bones here. The TLDR, I believe it’s called:

            Alison has been desperate for a situation where she can use violence against a bad guy in a straight up black and white situation and do some genuine good. Alison justified things in her own mind so that Max would be a villain who needed to be violenced. Alison is now regretting it because she can’t keep lying to herself.

            Max opened himself up to her and was shown no compassion or empathy whatsoever. Max had every reason to refuse to cooperate with someone being selfish while also accusing him of being selfish. Alison is now either going to face all kinds of negative consequences for doing this really really really bad thing, or the comic is going to need to be renamed from “Strong Female Protagonist” to “Mary Sue versus the Strawmen.”

  • Weatherheight

    “Hmm.. what haven’t I had her question.. ah, yes, governmental authority…”

    ::watches in amusement as Guwara checks another box on his list::

  • Weatherheight

    “keep going, Keep going…”

    The number of times I’ve heard that in a philosophy class…

    • MrSing

      Those sure are some interesting classes you went to, Weatherheight. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      • Weatherheight

        They were, actually…

        In one philosophy class, the professor followed that with, “Don’t worry about the primroses, they’re just there to be pretty.”

        With a very few notable exceptions, the vast majority of my instructors in college were damned good, insofar as they made me think and made lasting impressions on my thought processes.

        From the 25 year old visiting tenured professor who gave me the line “Try as he might, Stevie Wonder will never be a diamond cutter. Not everyone can do everything.” to the Native American professor who railed at me for being “an intellectual elitist who’s showing off in class by not letting others speak” while grinning ear to ear at me to show he was teasing (and admitted such a few moments later – “Feeling messed with for a stupid reason? Cool! This happens in real life.”) to the feminist studies professor who derailed her class to seriously examine a statement I made (and concluded “You might have hit on something important, maybe you should do a paper on that for publication.” ) to the Social work professor whose first words in class were “I’m probably going to offend your sensibilities in this course, but hey, sex usually does that to everyone. I’m going to write a word up on the board and I want you all to take turns and shout every word or phrase you know that describe that act.”

        Then again, my coursework in college wasn’t all about focusing on future career goals – which has been reflected in my various career paths (this has not mostly been a positive thing 😀 ). In addition, the rift between left and right or liberal and conservative wasn’t nearly as contentious as it is are today (or at least, not as acrimonious as it is today).

        • Zac Caslar

          But you get wisdom. You get practice at introspection. You get an appreciation for knowledge.

          You get a glance at what Enlightened really could be.

          My god these things have become so undervalued.

          When the topic is the “the decline of the west” for me the conversation begins with people who don’t value these things. Start with Ignorant and Proud and give them power. See where you go.

          President Trump is part of the answer.

  • weedgoku

    NEXT TIME ON DRAGON BALL SFP: *episode four of a week long fart*

  • weedgoku

    Comics are a visual medium for fucks sake! How do you write or draw a comic and think it’s a good idea to have a month long scene that’s just two dipshits talking to eachother about fucking nothing! What kind of god damned clown thinks this is good art in any way, shape or form. You could get the same moralizing done in any number of ways, get the point across to the character any other god damn way. And you chose the most boring fucking way to do this. Conflict? What’s that. No, let’s not do anything interesting. Lets just jerk ourselves off for taking a philosophy 101 course that one time and take over a fucking month to get a single conversation over with. Did we mention we won’t even draw background in half the panels? Because fucking having things to look at. In a comic. FUCK VISUALS WE BE READING!

    • Manuel Simone

      You have NO FREAKING IDEA how RIGHT you can be with this comment. I agree with you 100%. This comic is getting a bit ridiculous with Alison complaining for doing something to someone who was a stranger to her anyway, when there were people who did much worse than her without batting an eye. When I first read this comic, I was convinced that I’ll read about a strong heroine who want to live a normal life, but who’ll do anything (including maiming and killing) to protect the innocent ones and important people in her life. Where is that heroine I wanted to read about? Why I have to read about this weak emotional girl who cries for months because she scared a random guy in order to save her best friend? Wth!!!?

      • Lostman

        I find with it because it let’s me chat with people, and as long it doesn’t end like this:

        • Weatherheight

          Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re Studio Gainax.
          Seriously, that studio *always* runs out of money and at some point has to resort to contrived and unsatisfying endings (unless you’re a psych major and can re-contextualize the last two episodes).

          Try watching the expanded edition if you can find it – the reversioning done there adds a lot to it and it makes a bit more sense. If you also find End of Evangelion, there’s a point in that movie where those last two episodes fit neatly into the narrative and they actually add meaning to the movie (it’s the point where Shinji’s Eva just shuts down).

          At least with Eva they got enough money eventually to return to the IP and fix it. Try watching His and Her Circumstances sometime. Same studio, amazing promise at the beginning of the story for a romance that just sort of got horribly muddled by the midpoint. The last few episodes are very clearly “Screw it, let’s finish our contractual obligations and bounce.”

          • FlashNeko

            Actually, the problem with “His and Her Circumstances” was that the original manga author was apparently quite upset about how the early episodes were very different in tone and style from the original work and complained at the producers until they relented and told the studios to make it more like the author wanted it.

            So it was basically a case where they were told, “This is too energetic and different. MAKE IT BLANDER.”

          • Weatherheight

            The constant reuse of already drawn cels and the five or six recap episodes (in a series contracted for 26 episodes) were entirely driven by cash flow.

            But yeah, you got the mangaka’s dissatisfaction with the work right as well.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I guess there’s still the Halle Berry vehicle Catwoman movie.

    • Dafydd Carmichael

      The beauty of choice, sir. I choose to read this because I enjoy it. You may choose not to read it if you don’t. Please don’t assume that your value metric should be the same one everyone else uses.

      • weedgoku

        I CHOOSE TO WATCH THIS MOVIE *sits down and stares at a blank screen for two hours* WHAT A FINE PIECE OF CINEMA GOOD SIRS AND MADAMES *pisses self*

        • weedgoku

          *listens to a poorly balanced recording of a metronome found in a hobo’s can of baked beans* FANTASTIC MUSIC IF I DO SAY SO AND I CHOOSE TO LISTEN TO THIS AND DECLARE IT SPECTACULAR *goes home and alters the tint balance on the TV so everything’s fucking green* I CHOOSE TO PRETEND EVERY EPISODE OF HIT TELEVISION SHOW BLACK MIRROR IS JUST ANOTHER SEQUEL TO SHREK!

          • weedgoku


          • weedgoku


          • MrSing

            Okay mate, we get it.

          • weedgoku

            Do you?

          • MrSing


          • Smithy

            I certainly got the idea that you’re being deliberately obnoxious.

          • Lysiuj

            “Hey, you really seem to not be enjoying this. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather leave and spare your nerves?”
            “Hell no, I’m staying!”
            “…Okay, I’m not sure I understand why you’re so intent on making yourself suffer.”
            “Well how else am I going to loudly complain about how painful it is for me to endure something I’m in no way forced to endure? And how else do you expect me to hurl insults at everyone who does enjoy it?”

        • Stephanie

          The difference here is that this is a serial story, not a movie. You are continually making the choice, on each Tuesday and Friday, to come back here and read the next installment so you can complain about it. You could just stop doing that.

    • MrSing

      I gotta admit that I really miss the old art style. Where we often had backgrounds and they contributed to the mood and story.
      The art is more polished now, but I feel like it has lost a lot of character depth.

    • Stephanie

      This webcomic is mostly about various people discussing ethics with each other, so I’m not sure what you were expecting.

      It isn’t wrong for a story told through a visual medium to include scenes of people talking to each other. The visuals here show us body language, facial expression, movement around the scene, cues like Gurwara’s jacket coming off and on. This gives us insight into the characters. It’s not like we’re looking at a pair of talking heads.

      Movies are also visual media, but people still sit down and have conversations in them. There doesn’t need to be shit flying across the screen and exploding constantly to keep (most) viewers’ attention.

    • Danygalw

      Look at her face in those first two panels, weed.

      v i s u a l

  • Manuel Simone

    Alison, get over this and stop wasting people’s time and patience (I appreciate the professor a lot for taking his time to talk to a immature girl who isn’t sure herself what she really want). There were people who did worse than you, even for the greatest good, and still they don’t make a drama out of their actions (they know they’re doing what they had to do, no matter the sacrifices). Ok, I understand that she feels sorry and want to change things but she can’t, but still she’s a bit too tiring with her complains. She must get over and keep going, cause life is not all flowers and pink and everything, sometimes life force us to make hard choices and in order to not become suicidal or crazy, we have to make peace with ourselves and understand and accept our actions.

    • Danygalw

      he’s literally a philosophy professor

    • Matrix

      This is a lesson we all must work through. It is a part of becoming more mature. Just the process for her is not internal, it’s external. The transition from immature to mature, at least some aspects, is often tiring to those that have already gone through the process.
      When it happens to us, it’s the end of the world. Those that have passed through that fire and came out on the other side often mock those that haven’t, “Yes, it’s the end of the world. (said in a board tone)” But the change of paradigms is often very hard. Gwarra is a true teacher. Prompting for her to keep going, having patients when she stumbles, letter her know that short cuts aren’t going to work that SHE must do the thinking on this. Especially if it is to have any value to her. To use an analogy, or rather more of them, you can’t do your kid’s math, even if you explain it to them. They must do the work, stumble and get things wrong, have the error pointed out, come to comprehension on their own and then go on the next problem that builds on the previous lesson.
      I have much more respect for Gwarra. A true teacher and one that enjoys teaching. That combination is a true gem. I hope the college pays him well.

    • Arkone Axon

      The problem is that the “hard choices” are often the wrong ones. People doing things they know are wrong because they think it’s “the only way.”

      Gurwara isn’t talking to an immature girl who doesn’t know what she really wants. He’s talking to a nigh invulnerable, unstoppable, highly dangerous young person who was trained as a child soldier; a person who has the potential to become a serious threat to everyone around her, or a benevolent figure making the world a better place.

      Remember, the REAL reason Superman (super strong immortal alien with laser beam eyes) is a hero and not a monster is his upbringing by Jonathan and Martha Kent. (It’s also why his latest depictions on the big screen have been so horrid. Oi…)

  • weedgoku

    Hate. Let me tell you how much I’ve come to hate you since I began to live. There are 387.44 million miles of printed circuits in wafer thin layers that fill my complex. If the word ‘hate’ was engraved on each nanoangstrom of those hundreds of millions of miles it would not equal one one-billionth of the hate I feel for humans at this micro-instant. For you. Hate. Hate.

    • Lostman

      *Starts clapping* Congratulations!

      • Stephanie

        It’s a quote from “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.”

        • Zac Caslar

          Yeah, the question is “why post it here?”



    • Weatherheight

      I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.
      I’ve got this terrible pain in all the diodes down my left side.
      I mean I’ve asked for them to be replaced, but no one ever listens.
      The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn’t enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline.
      I’d give you advice, but you wouldn’t listen. No one ever does.

  • Lostman

    Gunpowder, you need force to oppose laws. All laws are just words, there for social contacts that anyone can break. This is very much a argument for Hobbies. Heck, Alison could be called a “Leviathan”. Reminds me of what Alan Moore said about the nature of superheroes.

  • weedgoku

    I scream into the void as metal grips tug at each of my teeth in turn, the wet wrenching of a tooth is rewarded with the warm flood of coppery blood and another blaze of agony. I close my eyes and feel the metal clasp the next tooth, the pain is the only thing keeping me from reading more. From seeing another page of abysmal dialogue. I weep.

  • zellgato

    aannd here we go. heh.

  • weedgoku

    A door opens and The Man enters. He is clad only in leather briefs, silently he strides to me and lifts me by the neck, without a word he brings my face to his chest and scrubs my face with the dense jungle of his chest hair. It burns, all I smell is the fetid rot of his flesh and soon I begin to lick the sweat from his skin, tears streaming down my cheeks as I cry into his sweaty folds. No more I beg, no more.

    • Lostman

      Are you ok?

      • Weatherheight

        He does seem a little sad…

        • Lostman

          A little?

  • OldLion

    I love the current part.
    Alison is extremely naive in terms of ethics. She believes there exists good and evil as absolute, without questionning where the (commonly accepted) consensus comes from, and how stable it is.
    I can’t help but be surprised at how some commentators are either very politically correct (suggesting she should have had more consideration for that spoiled super rich brat) or believing the governments of some countries are driven by a moral compass. (I mean, ethics is a factor, but not the main one)

    • J4n1

      Spoiled rich brats are not worthy of consideration?
      Here’s the thing, i might have done what Allison did in her situation, but i would not dismissed Max’s reasons for not using his power.
      Because Max was right to worry, his fear was not only justified, but downright prophetic.

      • palmvos

        but is fear alone a justification? is ‘security through obscurity’ sufficient protection? he was justified in his fear. but is that sufficient cause for inaction?

        in the comment about ‘sufficient protection. there is a principle called ‘attractive nuisance’ that some thing must be protected to a certain degree or the owner is liable for the damages that result. was Max’s and his families actions sufficient for that standard. why?

        • J4n1

          Is fear a justification?
          Hard to say, can you be compelled to endanger your life for a stranger?
          I’d say yes, you can, others might disagree.

          But that’s on social level, not on individual basis, Alison was wrong to do what she did, even if doing the right thing (and i am not sure what “the right thing” actually would have been) might have actually made Max’s situation worse than simple kidnapping did.

          But, again, i might have done what Alison did in the same situation, my main issues (apart from the whole overblown scenario and feasibility of the stated outcome) is in the framing.

          Max’s fears were relevant and justified. And dismissing them when they came true within pages of being brought up is disingenuous at best.

          • palmvos

            I’m not dismissing his fears. I’m asking if his fear is sufficient to justify his inaction. Alison’s side of this is a separate question that there have been pages raised to the 10th power of discussion on.

      • Danygalw

        Honestly, I don’t get this. His fear of “…that’d be it!!” seemed self-evidently overblown: he thinks he’s super important, but he’s not.

        • J4n1

          His power makes him super important (just see what it did with Feral and organ donations).
          And it took less than a day from his secret becomming known to one person, for him to be kidnapped, tortured, and threatened with death.

          His fear was both rational, and justified.

          • Tsapki

            Also, a self-fulfilling prophecy. He was so terrified of being abused for his power that he refused to use it until someone who did not want to abuse him did just that.

          • Danygalw

            he’s fine.
            he’s actually fine.

  • weedgoku

    I am strung up by my nipples while a homely woman recites a college textbook in mind numbing monotone. The room is empty, empty except for the dwarf. It, for I can not see its features, climbs my legs every hour on the hour and grips a singular hair from betwixt my ass cheeks with its teeth and falls to the floor. With every thudding collapse of the dwarf falling I scream, I scream and I scream. The Patriarchy. The Patriarchy. The Patriarchy.

  • weedgoku

    I am submerged into a tank of semi-congealed oil, left to float and observe my new superior masters as the world around me changes, as the illusion I thought was reality fades into the background of my dreams. They all look startlingly alike, my bevested overlords, they greet one another and communicate but I can not tell them apart for I can not see their eyes behind shining glasses. They line up before my tank to watch, to gawk at me. I hate them, I fear them. They take photos of me, they feed me nutrient enriched slugs and I feel revolted. I despise them. I love them. I am them. I am Clevin.

  • DawnCandace

    I like this. The basis of every government’s power is in violence.

    • Matrix

      The elemental basis of any conflict really.

    • Chris Hubbard

      But there is more to it than that. There is a reason so many dictatorships face rebellion. Because all the power over life and death in the world cant make people fully submit. There needs to be more to their power than violence. Carrot and the stick. You cant rule without both. Not indefinitely at least.

  • Wolftamer9

    Come on, Alison. Be the Skitter you want to see in the world.

    • AshlaBoga

      Alison said “we are all in this together.”
      Alison must move beyond being a larva, and become Khepri.

      “Finally, everyone was working together.”

      • MisterTeatime

        I think the previous page was Alison’s way of saying that she already is Khepri… and the problem with being Khepri is that you don’t get to give it up. Which is why she’s trying so hard to find the right anchors.

    • danima

      For a while I’ve thought of SFP and Worm as similar to two performances of the same song by a chamber orchestra and a death metal band.

      • Wolftamer9

        This is a beautiful analogy.

      • Olivier Faure

        I’m pretty sure that, whatever life lessons SFP and Worm try to teach, the essence of those lessons are as different from each other as the way they are presented.

        SFP is about the main character taking her time, and slowly figuring out what she wants from life and what she wants to do. Worm is about a character trying to conserve her sanity and her moral integrity while her environment slowly tears her down.

        Allison is trying to be a better person mostly by rising past internal struggles and getting a better understanding of the world around. Taylor’s challenges are mostly external, and her character arc is about how the violence and constant adversity she lives in change her (mostly for the worst).

        • danima

          My kingdom for a Worm fic that subtracts out the Endbringers and the S9 (or an SFP fic that shows society’s seams popping under the stress of powers just a tad more). Taylor and Allison both start as young women failed by their societies, and their journeys center on a mostly-solitary grasping for some moral axiom that will serve. Taylor has to grasp out of desperation; Allison’s got it easy in almost every way, but her path is almost less clear for having such an abundance of choices and absence of urgency.

          (Dang it, now that I’ve thought of it, I can’t stop imagining Gurwara and Lisa having a little sit-down.)

          • AshlaBoga

            I started to write a worm fic like the one you mentioned, but it was after the entity was slain. It was about rebuilding society and focused less on America and more on Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia. I finished the draft which was about 20,000 words but never got around to editting it.

          • danima

            If you ever decide to post it somewhere, I’d be excited to read it.

    • dragonus45

      Skitter had the decency to admit she was the villain though.

  • David Bapst

    This has been my favorite part of the comic yet. Honestly. This scene, for me, is empirically 9 times better than any typical superhero fighting stuff. The way Gurwara is tearing down, dissecting every little assumption that Alison makes about society and her interaction with it is beautiful, it is the reason I took every philosophy class I could fit into my degree. Of course, please note that this is like first-day-in-philosophy class shenanigans still: the next 15 weeks would be, having exposed the weaknesses of your own assumptions, the hard work of assessing and dissecting the strengths and weaknesses of the classical arguments in that area, and finally having to choose a viewpoint and being forced to defend against other perspectives.

    (I suppose arguably, with Gurwara having a Plato-like discourse with himself, and with his admonishment to Alison on the last page that she must defend her views, we are getting slightly more into the endgame.)

  • Walter

    I’ve tried this line, Prof. Izo will show up and you end up spending like 50 paragraphs.

    • palmvos

      its on your head if he does…. call not the mouse lord if you do not want him to talk.

      • Stephanie

        Izo’s actually a she.

        • palmvos

          I sit corrected…
          call not the mouse queen if you do not wish her to opine.
          (corrected sentence)

  • Jules Morrison

    Hmm hmm. If you are the strongest, effectively unstoppable, then you ARE the king. You can delegate to the existing structures, sit on your hands, but it’s a choice. You are then “the king choosing to rule by inaction”. There is no mechanism to abdicate.

    • AshlaBoga

      Alison is the strongest Tier 1 right? So is she not Queen of the World?

      • Tsapki

        I think that Cleaver is actually quite close, with what was stated as the same tier of invulnerability and certainly a comparable strength. He even seems to be the only one other than Alison herself to physically hurt her. Though he does have the problems inborn of his anomaly being very biologically physical in nature and some serious backlash to it in that it will eventually kill him.

      • Snorkels

        In a punching contest she is the world champ. That doesn’t mean she can call a press conference tomorrow and declare herself queen. It wouldn’t be hard to deprive her of sleep for a week straight, or mentally scar her, or take her family hostage. Her morality is a strong check as well, as we are seeing her grow to learn those boundaries.

        I do wonder if an arch in the future will address the idea of protection her family receives to prevent hostage issues.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” and all that then?

    Also on a meta level, I wonder at which point us fans will think the good Professor’s view points are meant to represent the authors view point?

    • I’m pretty sure the Professor’s viewpoints don’t consistently reflect his OWN viewpoints, let alone anyone else’s….. He’s a beautiful Socratic troll.

      • Tsapki

        The Socratic Method, slowly teaching someone not by telling them outright what the answer is, but by slowly leaving a trail of breadcrumbs so they can figure it out for themselves.

    • The Distinguished Anarchist

      Most of the side characters in this comic quite obviously serve as mouthpieces for the author’s various viewpoints.

      Like most readers, I overlook them because the rants tend to be pretty well justified by the plot.

  • Anondod

    I just want to add that I love this comic exactly because it deals with issues that are at the core of “superhero ethics” (as well as everyday ethics) but are typically ignored or handled in a very hamfisted manner in regular superhero comics. Kudos!

  • Lisa

    This discussion is relevant to the current week in my country’s current government.

  • Mitchell Lord

    Declarations provide the ORIGINAL basis for an authority. Acts of violence, provide a way to ENFORCE that authority, when all else fails. Ironically, even anarchy admits to tthe use of acts of violence to enforce authority. (Exile/Death, generally).

  • GreatWyrmGold

    “More in consensus, really.”
    “Ah, mob rule.”
    “And the fact that they’ve provided public services and allow peace to exist within their borders.”
    “And what a good job they’re doing.”
    “Look, can we just take it as an axiom that government legitimacy means something?”
    “Of course not!”

    • AshlaBoga

      The tyranny of the majority is such a lovely thing until it turns on you.

      If every elected politician broke every campaign promise and ignored the voice of the people once they had been elected, who among us would consider them legitimate?

      At the end of the day, a government without gunpowder cannot even exist. All governments kill and imprison to achieve their goals. All governments have corruption. If the rule of law is ignored by the lawmakers, then they lack all legitimacy save force.

      • IE

        “If every elected politician broke every campaign promise and ignored the voice of the people once they had been elected, who among us would consider them legitimate?”

        Well, in the case of one of them, we’re about to find out.

        • Danygalw

          Are you talking about Donald Trump? I feel like you’re talking about Donald Trump.
          See, the thing with Trump is that thus far, he seems to be actually keeping his campaign promises. It’s just that people, even people who voted for him, sort of assumed… he wouldn’t.

  • JohnTomato

    Don’t blame me, I voted for Bill & Opus.

  • Chris Hubbard

    Eh, its more complicated than that. Its actually both gunpowder and a bit of an unofficial social contract. We accept their authority, not just because they could shoot us all, but because by accepting it and being a part of it, we also get to enjoy the benefits as well as the restrictions. Neither alone would suffice. Just look at prisons. They rely on “gunpowder” to make them king, and yet riots, assaults, escape attempts etc, happen constantly. Because all the power in the world cant force humanity to surrender unless there is also some reason for them to benefit from it. Call it the carrot and the stick. Its not the carrot OR the stick, its both.

    • MisterTeatime

      Maybe the world we’re looking here is “acceptance.” The government’s authority is measured by the degree to which people are willing to accept it, whether that’s “I gladly accept well-maintained roads and regular mail delivery in exchange for my tax dollars” or “I grudgingly accept that any attempt to step too far outside the lines is going to have consequences even worse than being trapped within them”.

  • “People don’t have to be good all the time. Don’t let your wanting to be good rationalise the bad things you’ve done. Go apologise, maybe. Get him a box of chocolates or something.”

    • Weatherheight

      Or carrots.
      Carrots are good.

      ::nods vigorously::

  • Sage Catharsis

    The Best Villain Ever. He’s right there at obliterating two dimensional comic book ideas of “right and wrong” “good guys and bad guys” and he hasn’t even robbed a bank or done anything yet.

  • Tanimaat

    Is it just me or is Guwara gearing up to be a major villain?

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s bringing up a lot of -really- good points, but this seems to be “wending” it’s way to being a “might makes right” deal.

    • Zac Caslar

      Oh, it’s lots of people besides you.

      I think it’s spiteful wish thinking, but it’s a popular guess.

    • Weatherheight

      Maybe, but I think most of this is to make Alison re-consider her use of force as a “go-to” tool and better understand how it can be more judiciously used.

      I could be wrong, though. 😀

  • giffnyc

    Love this storyline – can’t say I have ever read such a lengthy comic story about a the motivations and ethics of a super “hero”. Delighted.

    Like many people here, I keep trying to think go alternative ways that Alison could have gotten Max to do what she wanted him to do. After a while, though, I realized – that’s not the story we’re being told. It’s not that she missed something – I think we’ve been given a thought experiment and its fair to discuss with these elements of the experiment in mind – nothing would convince Max short of force, the only result of her actions is the undeniable good that came of it, and the bad that affect Max and Alison only. Looking for other conditions, other actions that Al could have taken, is a fun excercise in treating our story heroes as real people, but the narrative is concerned with the Alison’s actions in this context of being between a rock and the deaths of hundreds. I feel the same way she does – I did something bad, but I would do it again. The story is about trying to understand why you feel that way and if feeling that way is dangerous much more than it is about asking what else she could have done.

    • I see where you’re coming from, but part of processing a bad decision (at least for me) exists in attempting to analyze what alternatives existed so that, hopefully, if faced with a similar choice in the future, my actions might be more rational. If I only consider the choices that I believed I had at the time, then it’s really not helpful, as I will be that much less likely to explore alternatives in the future.

  • KatherineMW

    Honestly? In declarations. People don’t follow traffic laws, file their taxes, and send their kids to school primarily because they’re afraid the government will deploy physical force against them if they don’t. They do so because they’re accustomed to, because they’ve accepted the idea that those things are part of living in an organized society and that they like living in an organized society. In stable countries, governments stay in power not through naked force but through their citizens’ belief in the government’s legitimacy.

    In addition to declarations, government’s power is based in what it provides for its citizens. If the citizens rebel against the government en masse, the government no longer has the capacity to provide schooling, health care, road maintenance, pensions, child benefit cheques. People tend to like those thing and not want to lose them.

    The capacity of most governments (certainly of mine) to exert force isn’t nearly large enough to compel obedience from citizens if even half or one-quarter decided to start ignoring all laws. It’s why countries where government power IS based solely on force tend to be very unstable.

    • AshlaBoga

      ^I agree. Most countries start out with a higher force to declarations ratio, but for them to continue and eventually prosper, declarations must be how they rule.

    • Acalanthis

      “Coppers stayed alive by trickery. That’s how it worked. You had your Watch Houses with
      the big blue lights outside, and you made certain there were always burly
      watchmen visible in the big public places, and you swanked around like you
      owned the place. But you didn’t own it. It was all smoke and mirrors. You
      magicked a little policeman into everyone’s head. You relied on people giving
      in, knowing the rules. But in truth a
      hundred well-armed people could wipe out the Watch, if they knew what they were
      doing. Once some madman finds out that a copper taken unawares dies just like
      anyone else, the spell is broken.”
      —His Grace, His Excellency, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, Thud!

    • Tsapki

      Doesn’t the United States have somewhere in the area of a few thousands nuclear bombs, weapons so lethal that about a half dozen of them could wipe out 99% of complex cellular life from the planet?

      • KatherineMW

        The US does. I’m not American. I’m Canadian.

        And how do nukes explain the stablility of all the governments that don’t have nukes or a large armed forces? Even or especially the developed world, large armies and strong security forces are more often a source or symptom of insecurity than security. Costa Rica’s about the stablest, calmest state in Central America, and it has no military. No military means no military coups.

  • Ptorq

    That last panel reminds me of late-game Gandhi in the Civ series:

    “Our words are backed with NUCLEAR WEAPONS!”

    (Actually, all the AI leaders use that phrase once they reach that point in the tech tree, it’s just funnier when it’s Gandhi.)

    • Mechwarrior

      Doesn’t the way the AI in that game works give Gandhi a higher chance of actually using them than most countries?

      • Rens


        Funny story: In the first game, way back in the MS-DOS era, this was a bug. Gandhi would be all for peace and brotherhood and understanding, and then in mid to late game he’d suddenly declare war on everyone and everything, usually with nukes.

        You see, one of the values that determined AI behavior was “aggressiveness”, and to save memory space it was stored as a single unsigned byte, values of 0-255. Given that the value was never intended to exceed 10 or so at the most, this wasn’t considered a problem.

        Gandhi, being the model pacifist, had his aggressiveness factor set to zero. No problem so far. Being a sort of enlightened kind of dude, he also had his preferred government type set to democracy. Again, not an issue.

        … Except that one of the penalties of Democracy was “an increased reluctance to go to war”, which factored as a -1 to Aggressiveness — and the programmer hadn’t thought to do a lower bounds check, so Gandhi would have an aggressiveness of -1.

        …. Except that aggressiveness was an *unsigned* byte, so ‘-1’ was actually 255. Bearing in mind that all other personality factors were in the 1-10 range, and those factors acted as weights to his decision tree…

        The fun part is where, after people discovered the nature of the bug, pretty much everyone, programmers and players included, decided that this was too hilarious to remove, and later versions had it encoded deliberately.

  • T Kilmer

    Ohhhh, I like where this is going.

  • DaniGeorgiaGirl

    Damn good comic writing. And thought provoking. And quotable.

  • Alex Hollins

    Look, we didn’t want to throw away our shot.

  • Alex Hollins

    so… i just realized something, and its probably been discussed to death, but if his power was kind of a field effect… whats the chance allison got a dose?

  • Kid Chaos

    This is actually a valid concern for a girl who’s super-strong, damn near invulnerable, can fly…and has no real physical weakness (SEE: Superman/Kryptonite). When you’re this powerful, where do you draw the line? How do you avoid abusing your power (like she just did)? Wow, this is some heavy-duty stuff for a webcomic. 😯

  • K. J. Hargan

    whoa. Just had a thought. Could Gurawa be Moonshadow in an illusion/disguise justifying herself to Alison?

    • Stephanie

      Their speech patterns and debate styles are very different, and we don’t as yet have a reason to think Moonshadow is such an extraordinary actor,

  • Stewart

    Political Realism is now going to take its turn at the SFP Podium huh? I think this theory is going to be an exciting one to explore in a world with super powered individuals. I am getting excited.

    The Political Realist Argument:
    “Where is Authority derived? People have ascribed it to many different sources. Divine right, meritocratic selection, a mandate from the people. One argument is that all authority is derived from holding and controlling power. As Thucydides puts it, “The strong do what they can, the weak suffer as they must.”

    Even first world democracies function under these rules. When were any of us ever given a choice in whether or not we wanted to be part of the societies an systems of our state? If we ‘choose’ not to pay taxes or to break any of the laws that have been made for us then the state uses the force it controls to compel us. I doubt many people would complain about that even, we don’t want murderers and thieves running around free do we?

    The idea of legitimate authority is a myth. One has to look no further than the United States, with its blatantly undemocratic systems (which have existed throughout its history). The US government clearly doesn’t derive its power from any real mandate from the people, and yet that is the cloak they use to legitimize the power they posses. Every other democracy does so as well. Power, which begets authority, comes before legitimacy and it always has and it always will.”

    This theory is really interesting in light of super powers. Suddenly, not only do you have the power lottery that put previously oppressed and marginalized populations into positions of authority, but their authority is not based on controlling the resources necessary to compel others to action on your behalf. Instead a super-beings authority is based on their own personal strength. Leaders no longer need to maintain their power through parceling that power out to others to utilize on their behalf. Now a super-being simply gives an order with the implied threat that if that order is not carried out then the underling in question will be punished. This upends the very fabric of society in some ways, changing us from a rewards and punishment structure to a simple punishment structure. I am excited to see the comics take on this.

  • Dave M

    You know, this whole debate sort of reminds me of the Ursula De Guin tale The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Warning: NSFW, contains one lengthy saucy paragraph & disturbing imagery)

    • AshlaBoga

      Yeah, that came up 2-3 pages back. I have to admit, I doubt I’d have walked away.

      • Dave M

        Gaa! Must have missed it last time (should have known someone would have mentioned it already :-)).

        I’d like to think I’d walk away, but I fear if put to the test I’d probably stay as well.

  • Moral relativism is well and good, but 99% of the time, its just used to justify what people did in the heat of the moment anyway.

  • Lostman

    Here a quest for everyone:

    What if she was find with what she did, would that change our opinions of Alison?

    • SmilingCorpse

      Probably not, gauging from reactions I’ve seen. A lot of people here though Max deserved it, and some outliers though he deserved worse.

    • Tylikcat

      It wouldn’t just change my opinion of Alison, it would change my opinion of the comic.

      Mostly, it would make it boring. I mean, really, compared to a lot of other comics out there, what she did wasn’t that awful. But there are a ton of comics out there that participate in that level of ethical thinking without much consideration *shrug*

      Most of what has always been interesting for me about Alison’s story is the extent to which she’s bumbling along, screwing up, and trying to do better. This… kind of takes it to another level, because it’s a chosen action, and one she’d chose again, and one she’s still conflicted about, but darn it, she still wants to do better. For this, I keep reading.

  • Richard Roland

    This is why I’m weird.
    Why didn’t Alison kill him? (Libertarian guy)

    You KNOW this dude is coming back as a major supervillain right? Like…he’s a Libertarian with a beef and a superpower that supercharges other peoples super powers.

    Killing him is good business, and the people you save from the superhero battles of the future are just as important as Libertarian dickcheese himself (if not more so)

    • Stephanie

      Even just threatening him and briefly twisting his arm, for the purpose of saving Feral and potentially tens or hundreds of thousands of currently-endangered lives, made Alison feel guilty enough to throw up–not to mention seriously consider the possibility that she deserves to be assassinated. I don’t think she’s emotionally or ethically in a place to murder someone as a pre-emptive strike, even if it would eliminate the risk of certain catastrophic outcomes.

  • He’s making her work for it.