sfp 6 130 for web

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  • zellgato

    Yup. Beleif and what you do.
    Isn’t always the same thing after all..
    Hold onto the ideal.
    but make do with what you can manage in reality

  • AshlaBoga

    If she picked white the random student would get an “F” yes?

    Surely a hero would not do such a thing?

    • Emily Smith

      He already told the random student after class that his grade would not actually be affected.

      • Shweta Narayan

        But if she takes that as a given, the game is meaningless, so I’d expect her to argue about it. The fact that she’s playing means, I think, that she’s accepted the “helpful lie” that he will actually fail, as a means to test the way she’s thinking about things.

  • Arkone Axon

    Oh! Oh! Brennan and Molly are SADISTIC! Drawing it out like this…!

    • Weatherheight

      I prefer to think of it as making the moment of tension last so that the moment of release is oh so much sweeter…

      ::wiggles his ears::

      Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

      • palmvos

        I felt what you did there…..

  • Dean

    “Honestly, it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten the rules of the game and picked the black stone at random. Remind me what it means?”

    • craptastic

      all 3 black the fictional student is forced to play black. (in this case the other student is completely fictional and has already gotten a grade) everyone wins (a+ grade/keep job).

      self white = self wins (the selfish choice).

      so you can choose to possibly sacrifice yourself for the greater good, but it will be in vain if any one person picks white (difficult with a full classroom, more likely now?).

      there was also of course the choice to abstain which is not discussed or taken.

      the original lesson was(or appeared to be) that you can play the black stone all you want
      but you can’t expect the whole world to follow your response, we are
      selfish humans after all. and a few jerks is enough to ruin it for those
      who would have everyone play a black stone.

      • Shweta Narayan

        (I think the comment you’re replying to was a joke, btw, and the question was meant to be from Al)

        • craptastic

          it has been ages IRL, how long ago was it in comic time though?
          it is a fair question either way

          • Shweta Narayan

            It’s less than a week in comic time, I believe. OF course Al’s been awake for the last 48 hours or something so she totally could have forgotten, at least for comedy purposes ๐Ÿ™‚

            I’m mostly going from the it being in speech marks and from “I… picked the black stone”, which implies Al is the one talking.

  • Roman Snow

    I’m going to be pretty surprised it he has a white stone.

    • pidgey

      I don’t think this has much to do with reading Gurwara. I think she’s just saying she wants him to keep his job more than she wants to get a good grade. I don’t think she’ll be shocked or disappointed if Gurwara shows white. She’ll know she made the decision that created her desired outcome, regardless of what he chose, and to heck with the grade.

      • Roman Snow

        I completely missed that he said he was staking his employment on the previous page. I didn’t think he stood to lose anything.

  • craptastic

    the original lesson was that you can play the black stone all you want but you can’t expect the whole world to follow your response, we are selfish humans after all. and a few jerks is enough to ruin it for those who would have everyone play a black stone.

    In this microcosm it is possible he has a black stone but then the lesson would change quite a bit.

    • Shweta Narayan

      It’s not just her standpoint, either; in the thought experiment, the other guy gets an F if she plays white.

      Granted, he won’t actually get an F, but if she takes that into account she’s not actually playing the game Gurwara proposed, and I feel that Al wouldn’t be willing to do that without arguing about it first.

      • Merle

        How do we know that he won’t actually get an F?

        • MisterTeatime

          Good question! We know what Gurwara told him… but we also know that Gurwara doesn’t place quite so much value on keeping his word as he once did.

          • Shweta Narayan

            I’m not convinced there was any truth in his stated reason for killing the doctor, or even that he was trying to convince Al there was. Gurwara’s like, close to note perfect on the very-educated-indian-dry-humor I grew up around.

        • Shweta Narayan

          Cause Gurwara already told him so?

          And that doesn’t seem to be the kinda lie he tells ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Merle

            I did miss that!

          • Shweta Narayan

            Looking at the rest of this page’s comments, seems like a lot of people did. It went by pretty quick, i only really remember it because of how Al thought it’d be the same for her but it wasn’t.

    • Lysiuj

      Part of the point was that people don’t take part, not just cause they’re jerks. Some don’t understand what they can do, some have legitimate fears or limits, some guess (sometimes correctly) that the plan has no chance of succeeding, etc.
      Though, like you said it’s still admirable to risk/sacrifice for what you think is right.

      • Shweta Narayan

        Yeah I don’t remember anyone’s reasoning being outright jerky in class. There was one who wasn’t paying attention, one who predicted that that would happen (someone not paying attention I mean), and one who couldn’t risk failing a class because of financial aid issues, that I remember…

        • Lysiuj

          The one who predicted was the closest to ‘jerk’, but she was more calculated than anything; we don’t know what she’d do if she thought there would be a different outcome.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Yeah and having a slightly cynical (but accurate) view of one’s classmates is… pretty far from jerk.

            Nobody in the class was like “lol why should I care” — which sets up a pretty striking contrast to Max now that I think about it. Our lass here couldn’t even deal with the people-with-basic-decency reasons to play white! No wonder she *really* couldn’t deal with Max and fell back on force. :epic facepalming:

      • Arkone Axon

        That… oh my goodness. That’s right! What you just said there, about people’s motivations… that’s EXACTLY what people have been refusing to get about Max. So many people here refuse to accept that he has a legitimate fear, or that her method of approaching him gave him every right to refuse. No, he has to have been a jerk, a selfish bastard who wanted to see people die just to spite the person who “asked nicely.”

        This whole story arc has been about her trying to learn the lesson she failed to understand back in the classroom!

        • Lysiuj

          Well, I happen to fall into the middle camp of “he’s a selfish jerk, but he also has a legitimate fear and reason to say no”. (Apart from how he has the right to say no and isn’t obligated to provide an exlanation anyway.) But otherwise I agree.

    • Scott

      I feel like the lesson was that a tyrant expects everyone else to play black, a hero plays black over and over and hopes others will follow their lead.

      • Psile

        Actually, I feel like the tyrant would assume everyone else would play white. Therefor, the only way to make everyone plays black is by force. The idealist assumes everyone will play black, making their goals unrealistic. The pragmatist realizes that everyone will make black and white plays depending on the situation and person and adjusts their strategies accordingly.

        It’s really hard to encapsulate complicated moral issues into metaphors, but it really is fun.

        • Ran

          “Expect” can be ambiguous; it usually relates to honest belief (“I expect the weather to be nice this weekend”), but it sometimes indicates a sort of demand from an authority figure (“I expect you to be on time tomorrow!”). I think Scott means the latter: a tyrant *demands* that everyone else play black.

      • Stephanie

        Hey, just so you know, Izo apologized for calling you a psychopath here: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-131-2/#comment-3223424039

        Sorry to reply to you in an unrelated thread, but the original one is locked and I don’t know how else to reach you directly.

        • Scott

          Well…I’m not sure it qualifies as an apology. Still, thank you for bringing it to my attention. The one thing I will readily agree with Izo on is the difficulty of keeping up with these comment threads when they can move fairly quickly.

  • Martine Votvik

    If Allison had chosen the white stone this time she could have secured her own place in the course, but she would have to abandon her principle of protecting others and accept that that other student would still be failed from class. She would also run the risk of loosing Gurwara as a teacher.

    The benefit of keeping Gurwara as a teacher is higher for Allison if he also chooses the black stone. It would be an acknowledgement of her new understanding of him as someone from which she can learn a great deal. It would also be an acknowledgement of Gurwara understanding Allison on a meaningful level.

    For her the choice is not so much about herself, now that she’s had her catharsis she is free to own her ideals again. This one is all about what Gurwara chooses and what that will mean for what Allison either gains or looses by his choice.

    • Matrix

      I agree with this. She has a choice: Win the game and pass the class, also it would mean that Gurwara would quit OR Lose the game, fail the class and keep Gurwara as a teacher, thus keeping his job intact.
      Allison is a selfless person by nature. She can see the benefit of other people. It would be a crime to let such a good teacher leave her and cease teaching her and MANY others. The others deserve to be taught by someone she respects.
      From another view, if he quit it still does not guarantee that she will pass. Another teacher will be assigned. She can afford to fail 1 class. Others in her class can’t afford it due to finances and scholarships. So in another way she is also attempting to ensure the other students get a good teacher. So take the hit and wait for your one punch to KO the bad guy as it were. The bad guy here is a nebulous failure in school and in learning.
      Her view HAS changed but it encompasses more than just herself and more than what she desires for herself and her fellow students. She is also up against ONE opponent and not her whole class. But I digress.
      One of two things is going to happen. Gurwara can reveal a white stone and keep teaching and fail her Or a black stone and she passes and Gurwara retires. The latter is important for herself and her studies but it is not certain due to the fact that there will be a different teacher. The former she can retake the class or even audit it after he fails her and she stays in the class. No big deal for her. The lesson earlier was about morality and even to a lesser degree patients. She knows patients to get the right blow in on her enemies to give the ko punch and end it. It is already established that she can and will take the hit for others.
      Thinking about it: Her choice was obvious and her only way to “win” the game.

      • A. Middleton

        As Matrix comments. There’s also the point that “If everyone plays a black stone, everyone wins” being the Master Rule from the first one – they’re playing the same game with the same rules and the same stakes, just between their stones and Mr. Davenport’s black stone.
        Because Gurwara can’t be A-grade / Failed, his criteria is instead Continue teaching / Retire. He full well could play a white stone and win, failing the two of them and continuing to teach. But if she’s reached him – demonstrated her selfless nature – he knows there is nothing to fear of her playing a white stone. She will always pick black so as to at least try to help Mr. Davenport, out there in the world with his black stone, so if he plays black as well, all the tiles are black and he gets to continue teaching without failing them.
        I think he’d be truly disappointed had she played white – abandoned her principles for a grade, left Mr. Davenport to fail. As Carl below comments, he’s overacting and inviting her to explain what’s changed, if anything.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Didn’t the other student get the chance to work for his grades?

      • M. Alan Thomas II

        Yes, but for the purpose of this thought experiment, no.

        • Stephanie Gertsch

          Pesky plot details!

      • Danygalw

        Did he? I thought it was still automatic fail.

    • Tylikcat

      If Gurwara play white, he wouldn’t really be valuing her as a student, would he? I mean, he’d be keeping his job, but with the automatic fail, what motivation does she have to come to class. (More broadly, why would she want to be taught by an ass? Though I think he’s more generally demonstrated some pretty useful traits.)

      Playing black says she values John, but also that she values Gurwara’s teaching. …I really think this comes back to the relationship evolving between them.

      • Chani

        I wanna look at this from Guwara’s side now (before the reveal). ๐Ÿ™‚

        If Guwara plays white, yes, he guarantees his job and the other student failing, and Alison’s choice only affects whether she passes. Not very interesting, and the lesson would be something like “people are assholes, get used to it”. By now, I doubt that’s what he wants to teach *and* I don’t think he’d take the boring choice. ๐Ÿ™‚

        If he plays black, then Alison passes, and her choice determines whether everyone wins or only her. If she plays black, yay, happy teaching/bonding moment, and many future lessons to look forward to. If she plays white, it’s a pyrrhic victory. Perhaps he would say that since he’s failed to teach her what he intended to that day, he *should* retire, and let someone else try to reach her. Or perhaps he’d say that he has already taught her all he can (and leave her wondering what it was he really intended to teach).

      • masterofbones

        >what motivation does she have to come to class.

        Passing his class has absolutely no impact on her life. Neither does failing. She’s just going to college for kicks anyway.

        • She’s going to college to try to learn how to be a normal, responsible adult when you’re also Megagirl. Gurwara and Lisa/Valkyrie are the two valuable lessons she’s found so far.

          • masterofbones

            failing the class has no impact on that stuff.

          • But attending it does. All the exams and requirements we wrap access to degrees in are really just so much stage dressing, it’s the learning that’s important, and Alison is learning from Gurwara.

          • masterofbones

            Well sure. But people are talking about how she wouldn’t have any motivation to go to class if she auto-failed.

          • Only if you ignore the whole learning from Gurwara side. She’s there to learn, and Gurwara is the teacher she needs.

        • Shweta Narayan

          yeah totally she’s had SO MUCH FUN so far amirite

          • masterofbones

            I didn’t say she made a good choice in how to enjoy herself.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Ah yes sorry I forgot we were reading the webcomic SFP: Superhero Fails at Partying

          • Lysiuj

            Jeez, Shane Fishing for Perch, Superhero Fails at Partying, this comic has more titles than a retired superhero.

        • Tylikcat

          Especially after today, I suspect that the in-class portion of him being her teacher is the least of it.

          Still. You might not understand her motivation, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t motivated. If anything, I suspect she’s a hell of a lot more motivated that most middle class kids supported by their families and pursuing liberal arts degrees – she is trying to figure out how to live her life in a better way, and that’s vitally important to her.

          • masterofbones

            I didn’t say that she wasn’t motivated. I said that failing this class is completely insignificant to her life.

  • Olivier Faure

    I’m kinda disappointed Allison *still* didn’t take the time to coordinate with Gurwara and communicate a strategy.

    • Lysiuj

      An implicit part of the game pehaps? That you need to see what choice you make on your own and how that interacts which the choices of others?
      Or maybe Alison didn’t think of it cause she hasn’t had enough sleep like seriously Alison go to sleep.

      • Tylikcat

        “like seriously Alison go to sleep.”

        This is me. Right now.

        • Shweta Narayan

          me three
          also: seriously shweta go to sleep >_<

    • Shweta Narayan

      That would certainly be a better way to do it, but I’d find it pretty implausible if she got there already. The idea of cooperative consensus building is just so far outside
      her experience as a child soldier (and probably outside her experience
      in college too, thinking back, though now I’m wondering why Brad manages it so well…)

      The events we’ve had a year to think about have happened over about 3-5? days i think for her. And the last 48 hours or so of them, she hasn’t slept. And I think it’s only in those last few hours that she’s learned to let go of her assumptions enough to incorporate more than one perspective into her thinking at *all*. Like, she’s talked out her problems before but it’s always come down to condemnation or absolution, or at least that seems like what she’s taken from it before.

      Plus she’s a 20 year old whose mid and late teens were spent on combat, not social cognition. Emotionally I think she’s working on stuff a lot of kids figure out in high school. So (assuming my beliefs are at all accurate here) it would be whiplash-quick if she suddenly got the insight that Gurwara never said *don’t* talk it out, if she was able to learn and change that much that quickly. Even though it feels slow to us.

      • MisterTeatime

        I think Brad manages cooperation and other interactions better than Alison does because being Sonar (i.e., Mega Girl’s teammate) was a very different set of formative experiences than being Mega Girl. Distributed randomly, both of them could have spent their teen years being the most powerful person in any given room… but since they spent those years together, only one of them could have that experience.
        Brad (and Hector and Mary) still felt a lot of the recognition and the responsibility that went with being superheroes, but standing next to Alison cost them a lot of the self-determination that we associate with that lifestyle. I think you can see the repercussions of that in a lot of their development since then- Pintsize’s deep need to prove that he and his accomplishments have value (because he knew that “the Guardians” meant one person and it wasn’t him), Brad’s drive to help people and find agreeable solutions for everyone (because he knows what it’s like to be at the center of a problem and still have no one listening to you), Mary’s attempts to singlehandedly dismantle problems that are too big for any one person (because people are counting on her to be superhuman and she doesn’t get to refuse).

        • Shweta Narayan

          Agreed, and thank you for the insightful response to my sudden wondering ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Shweta Narayan

          (tangent about disqus: huh. I know I liked this comment from my notifications, but I reread the conversation because what is sleep, and it wasn’t blue to indicate I’d done that. So I hit like again and now who knows if I did or not. But is that a common/known issue, that it doesn’t always work from notifications?)

          • Lysiuj

            Hey, I thought that only happened to me!

          • Shweta Narayan

            augh ok it’s a thing

            I hope people haven’t been annoyed by me seeming super unresponsive to the comments I only liked (or thought i did) n didn’t respond to.

          • Chani

            ha, yeah, I thought I’d just forgotten to like a thing I’d responded to above… and then I got sucked back into reading comments here ๐Ÿ™‚ which is both good and bad, because it’s waay past my bedtime.

        • Tylikcat

          Oh, damn. (This is the admiring damn.) I was kind of poking at the idea that Brad had a really different social experience than Alison, but you actually made sense of it!

          I’ve been thinking a bit, recently, in terms of people I’ve known, about the difference between growing up being generally the smartest person in the room, as opposed to, not randomly, say, being thrown together with a bunch of other 13 and 14 year olds who were all starting college together. And what that means in terms of the adults you turn into. (Okay, this comes out of a kind of bad dating experience.) Some folks learn how to collaborate, and are predisposed to do so, where as some have an expectation of being at the top of whatever power structure they’re in, and freak if there is any evidence to the contrary.

          • MisterTeatime

            Hmm! You know, I spent most of my life in one gifted-and-talented program or another, and I never ever thought of it like this.
            I always described being surrounded by other above-grade-level kids as a chance to relax and be my nerdy-ass self in a nerdy-ass peer group. (And it was!) But you’re right, it also increased my exposure to peers who would point out when I was wrong, and taught me to handle those types of challenges. And that’s SUPER important.

    • Giacomo Bandini

      They just did it. They spent the entire morning getting to know each other in a philosofical and i ll say “spiritual” way.

      • Shweta Narayan

        Yes and no. It would still be better to have explicitly stated consensus before you make a move you can’t take back, it’s just not a thing I’d expect her to understand yet.

        To be fair Gurwara did say ‘let us at least leave with your grade intact’ or something, making it clear he wants her to pass. But that’s not the same thing as one of them saying “I’m going to play black.”

        • Giacomo Bandini

          Not really. If a teatrical trickster like Gurwara said it loud that he is going to play black, you can be sure it’s gonna be a white.

          • Shweta Narayan

            depends on how he says it. …Though maybe “let us at least escape with your grade intact” *is* how he says it.

    • ampg

      I was thinking this, as well. The whole point of Prisoner’s Dilemma is that you don’t have access to your fellow players to coordinate. But there he is, right in front of you. Just talk it out.

      • Charles

        There’s no communication and in the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma there’s only one choice so the selfish strategy is the smart one. But in the real world we often make the choice between cooperation and defection over and over again (in each of our relationships, for instance), so the other player’s track record is itself a form of communication. Game theory has found that in the case of an iterative prisoner’s dilemma, the best long-term strategy is some form of “tit-for-tat”: you cooperate, if the other player defects then you defect the next round, and if they cooperate you cooperate the next round. Over time rational players will learn to choose cooperation.

        Even if Alison hadn’t run into Gurwara in the park, I’m confident that she was going to be offered the black stone-white stone choice again at some point, even if it was in the form of some kind of “double or nothing, here’s your chance to save your grade”.

      • Shweta Narayan

        y’know i kind of hope she talks to someone else about the stone game, and that they go “did he SAY you couldn’t talk about it beforehand?”

        If only to see the panel in which Al is struck with a Cluebat+5

  • Carl

    Come on, the cartooning is too good–you can all see Gurwara overacting, right?

    This is where things start to reverse, as Gurwara is shown to have been inspired by Alison, just as he has educated and reassured her.

    • Shweta Narayan

      if anyone is surprised at the idea of Gurwara hamming it up at this point they prob need to reread the conversation because my goodnes the guy is amazingly good at being a terrible actor

  • ampg

    So picking the black stone is analogous to refusing to pick up the gun in the street. She opts out and is “at the mercy of the world,” in his words.

    • Vigil

      It’s a bit different, in that Guwara picked up the gun in the street to protect both himself and another person. Here Alison is only refusing to protect herself.

      • ampg

        She’s also refusing to harm Gurwara, since her choice allows him to keep his job no matter which choice he makes.

        • True, but I think that comes under the definition of “refusing to protect herself”; the harm to another person that protection necessitates is implicit.

  • Silenceaux

    Alison’s response is much better response than mine, which was “I don’t want you to stop teaching.”

  • We do the right thing, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.

  • JohnTomato

    Eat the crusts.

    • Silenceaux

      Life’s too short.

    • Weatherheight

      Pizza bones!

  • Elaine Lee

    Never doubted that Alison would play the black stone. In this scenario, Alison is the only person who stands to lose by her making that choice. She cannot cause some poor, randomly-chosen guy to fail the course, just to insure her own grade. And rightly so. She’s much less likely to be harmed in the long run by a bad grade than Random Guy. And she has less to lose than the student in the classroom scene who was dependent on financial aid. But in the case of Max vs. Feral & World, the amount of harm Max suffered (if you can even use that word in this context) is minute when compared to the suffering of Feral and the people in desperate need of transplants. It’s all about causing the least harm possible under the circumstances, as “no harm” is not an option that is always available. This seems to be where Alison’s morality is grounded. It’s also about being willing to accept the consequences of your actions. Alison now knows what the worst outcome of the tone game could be and has decided she can live with that. It’s doubtful she would throw another tantrum, if Gurwara shows the white stone. And perhaps she understands that making an enemy of Max is another consequence she’ll have to live with. With all his money, he could find an abuse victim who has decided to reunite with her spouse (it happens all the time) and offer her lots of cash to sue the Foundation. (Just an example. Not expecting the story to go there.) I think that’s where Alison’s peace of mind will ultimately be found; not in always understanding the only moral course of action, but in learning to accept the consequences of the actions she’s decided she has to take. To sum up, when working toward a better world for everyone: 1) First do no harm. 2) Failing that, create as little harm as possible, for the fewest people, and only for those who can bear it (as in, “tax the rich”). 3) Accept the personal consequences. 4) Try and mitigate any unintended consequences. That would be a workable moral POV for Alison and I think he’s almost there.

    • “the amount of harm Max suffered (if you can even use that word in this context) is minute”

      Intimidated, abused, forced to act against his will, potentially exposed in a way that will set his life at risk. We have a different definition of ‘minute’.

      • Stephanie

        You left out the rest of that sentence: “…when compared to the suffering of Feral and the people in desperate need of transplants.”

        • No, I didn’t. Or rather yes, I did, and deliberately so, because that comparison is being used to say that what happens to Max is ethically unworthy of consideration, and as an activist in minority rights I find that casual discarding of the rights of the few for the good of the many to be horrifying.

          • Stephanie

            Why would you open with “no” when you objectively did exactly what I said you did?

            You can take issue with the comparison, but by omitting it entirely you changed the meaning of the sentence and misrepresented Elaine Lee’s argument.

          • I started with “no” for effect. To draw focus to it being intentional and considered, not some mistake or attempt to misrepresent.

            I left out the second half of the sentence because I believe the comparison it draws to be a false comparison intended to obscure the act of abuse and right it off as insignificant.

            I left it out because that was the entire point I was making.

          • Stephanie

            If you want to contradict a point, representing the other person’s argument as not even including that point is counterproductive. By using the incomplete quote, you made it appear that the position you were contradicting was “The harm done to Max was trivial in absolute terms.” As opposed to the actual point you intended to contradict: “The harm done to Max becomes trivial if we compare it to this greater harm.”

          • You’re still not seeing it. My point is the act is unacceptable, irrespective of its dimension. It’s an absolute, not a relative measure.

          • Stephanie

            I know what your point was. You should have made it without misrepresenting the argument of the person you were responding to. You can’t just leave out half of their argument and expect people to interpret that as you saying you disagree with the part you left out. By leaving out half of the quote, you represented their argument as something completely different than what it actually was, end of story.

          • If you know what my point is, why did you just claim it was something else?

            It’s like explaining a magic trick: the big, wide, expansive gestures (so many dead, oh the humanity), obscure the subtle prestidigitation with the rabbit up the sleeve (let’s brutalise Max and say it doesn’t count). If I want to show people what’s really going on, then telling them to look at the big, wide, expansive gestures isn’t going to show them anything, It’s focussing in on the smaller elements that illustrates what is really happening.

            For another parallel, the invisible gorilla in the basketball game. When you’re discussing it afterwards, telling people to focus on the game as a way of illustrating the perceptional illusion doesn’t show them anything, asking “did you notice the gorilla in the room?” does,

          • Stephanie

            Next time you want to call attention to the “smaller elements,”, just bold the part of the quote you think is important. You’ve got a lot of flowery justifications here for taking half of a sentence out of context and misrepresenting its actual meaning, and I don’t find them the least bit convincing.

          • I don’t find the claim I’m misrepresenting the sentence to be convincing. I think I’m representing exactly what it means for Max. But it’s easier to make the argument about me than address my point.

            Max suffered violence. You say that doesn’t matter because context. I say it matters whatever the context.

            Plain enough?

          • Stephanie

            I know. You’ve reiterated that exact point like six times now. I get it. You didn’t need to chop the quote in half to make that point.

          • Beroli

            Deliberately ignoring parts of the comments you’re replying to will do you no favors if you want to accomplish anything other than establishing that you’re outraged.

          • If I establish I’m outraged, maybe that’ll prompt people into trying to understand why I’m outraged. Better than nothing.

            And I wasn’t ignoring them, I was deliberately not quoting them because they obscure the point I’m addressing.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Speaking as someone multiply marginalized, this makes me highly uncomfortable. Because Max’s situation is a lot more about the comfort of the super-privileged than the rights of the few and his main “minority” status is that of the 1%.

            The situation is way more analogous to robbing a wealthy capitalist so that poor people can eat; yes, it’s a crime; yes, it’s violating that wealthy capitalist’s legal rights and it scares and possibly traumatizes them, but I am much more convinced of the moral right to *live* than the moral right to live way more comfortably than other people ever get the chance to.

            Remember, Max has been as safe and able to not care in the first place *because* his mother pulled extralegal strings to get him an out, one that other biodynamic kids never had (and which she could have worked for but did not). He was already a beneficiary of massive injustice, and he’s made it clear he’s totally cool with injustice so long as he’s the one benefitting.

            What Al did was take that away. Which she had no right to do, we’re in agreement there, what she did to him was absolutely unjust violence.

            But the analogy to what *we* go through? Is way off. A far more accurate analogy is that of the “innocent” educated elites who get hurt or killed or have to flee because of a revolution. Is it awful for them? (us, in my family’s case, to some extent) YES. but is it an injustice on the level of say the murders of Black trans women? NO. it is not.

          • Yes, Max is privileged and part of the 1%, and an unpleasant example at that. But at the same time he’s also a member of an oppressed minority, biodynamics, and in a way that’s far more likely to make him a victim if it comes out. Including being victimised by members of his own minority, such as Alison.

            No, he’s not multiply disadvantaged in the same way as a trans woman of colour, that’s a fair point, and I wasn’t meaning to imply that he was.

            But the point I was countering is one that says his victimisation counts for nothing, because the good of the many outweighs it. That I can’t agree with, either from my general ethical position (even though that centres on ‘do the least harm’), or from my activist position. His position of advantage, as one of the 1%, doesn’t count for that, it’s his position as a biodynamic that’s significant here.

            The Daily Mail forcing Lilly Wachowski to out herself as trans occurs as a rough parallel. There’s someone in quite a privileged position, co-creator of The Matrix series, trans but closeted, and along comes some thug of a reporter saying “out yourself in an interview with us, or we’ll out you anyway”. She chose to fight that by outing herself first, but the Mail still victimised her, and her privilege wasn’t actually relevant in the abuse (other than drawing the Mail to her as a victim).

          • Shweta Narayan

            David, please know I’m coming from a place of respect and do not mean this as a personal attack at all. But. This is disturbingly un-nuanced, to the point of being wrong in several ways. I expect that from most people, and often do not expend the energy on responding, but activists really need to do better in our understanding or we end up doing harm rather than good.

            My own work is limited to explaining things to people because of massive health issues but I can normally do that, at least, so lemme try. Apologies for length.

            I’m not at all disputing that what Al did to Max was violence, and was cruel as well as illegal. It’s absolutely true that everything under consideration here = examples of violence. But it is not true that any of them are analogous at *all*, and making the specific analogies you’ve done here is itself harmful.

            For context, I’m an agender bisexual disabled/chronically ill person of color who reads as female, and I’m a non-citizen resident of the US. but also, I’m middle-class, middle-aged, college educated, non-Black, non-Jewish, non-Muslim, married to a cis white man, never incarcerated, allistic, and probably missing some privileges here because we do. ALL of this affects how I’m treated and how I experience said treatment at ALL times, there is never a moment where one of these things exists independent of the rest. Even in spaces where I’m closeted & not targeted I am affected — *but not* to the extent that someone would be without my set of privileges.

            & That is the basic point of intersectional theory, which is super important.

            Max being part of the 1% is absolutely relevant when it comes to his biodynamism, and so is his being male, white, and as far as we know cis and straight and able-bodied. So is Al’s being white and apparently cis and straight and definitely extremely able-bodied — but so is her being female and def. less rich than Max, and, so is her being a celebrity who was recruited as a child soldier, someone who has never had access to the secrecy or freedom we’re talking about Max losing. When you’ve given up your childhood (though even that implies a level of consent a child can’t give) to save others as best you knew how, and then given up the good parts of that to try and do better, dealing with Max’s kind of entitled selfishness has to be actively traumatic. And Al has indeed acted traumatized by it, though she doesn’t seem to acknowledge her own trauma very well.

            It’s misleading to say that Al in this situation is abusive and Max is not. Either they both are or both are Patrick’s victims, playing about the abuse he staged, and in either case I do not know that the violence Al enacted is the worse violence. Physical violence is just easier to see than emotional violence, it’s not actually more damaging.

            OK next point. Twisting someone’s arm to do a thing is never going to analogize well to outing. It’s like saying that punching someone in the face is like shooting them in the face, it’s just not. Both are cruel and violent but outing is on a different scale. It’s a violation not just of agency, but of identity and personhood, and carries definite risk, not just the nebulous possibility of future risk (esp given that Max’s main danger at this point is… being outed further).

            The person who *outed* Max is Patrick, and you could accurately compare his act of violence to the Mail outing Lana W, sure. but not Al’s. Strangely though (not actually strangely, because misogyny is prevalent here as everywhere else), people are putting relatively little blame on Patrick in all this, and only bringing him up at all to further blame Al for not being wiser to his manipulation. Which is textbook gaslighting.

            Second, the Daily Mail is never going to analogize well to Al. Or even to Patrick. The Daily Mail is such 2D scum it’d be too badly written a character to show up in this comic. There was no good to balance the bad they did, either in intent or in effect. (Especially given that Lana W promptly started using her trans status to dodge accountability for her appropriation & antiblackness.)

            Which leads into this: of course her privilege is relevant to her being outed. It made her more likely to be outed but far, far less vulnerable to the worst consequences, and both those need to be taken into account. Cause look, she’s not at active risk of being murdered, which *is* the risk poor trans women run if outed, because they’re not kept away from danger and because they don’t have the money to meet cis beauty standards. And poor trans women of color, especially Black and Latina and Native women, are at the highest risk by far, so race is also *never* irrelevant to the effects of violence.

            Some of my friends have to worry about running out of hormones and makeup and being killed on the street for it, *daily*. Eight trans women of color have already been murdered this year in the US and that’s just the official count I could find as of earlier this month.

            So, whiteness and wealth can never be irrelevant to the violence of outing, because it’s a huge buffer from consequences.

            Also, trauma seems to come from repeated harm and emotional neglect, both of which wear a person down. It’s clear Max *is* emotionally neglected, but not by Al; she is, again, not his actual/primary abuser despite having been his bully. He is not entitled to sympathy or any other emotional labor from a woman he’s been a complete asshole to, whatever either of them is thinking he’s owed. (Also: on their dates, before he was so bad she left, he was repeatedly testing her boundaries and violating her agency to the extent he could, only giving way temporarily to active pushback. And then he actively said he’d say no just to hurt her. (Just so she didn’t have her own way for once is bullshit; he wanted to hurt her not teach her. It’s also projection, because lashing out is his response to not getting his way for once.) Which is all *relevant* to her response and provides context.

            This is already too long. Sorry. But the thing is, a simplistic analysis that takes things out of their context and comes up with “the person with less social protection, who is responding in part to being treated really badly, is totally the abuser here” is always going to be one we *have* to consider critically because it’ll almost always be wrong.

          • I think the point we’re experiencing a clash of views on is that I’m deliberately taking an unnuanced view because I consider this an absolute principle: You don’t ever get to ignore violence.

            I find the suggestion that we write-off what was done to Max because of the convenience it brings to others to be absolutely terrifying. And that’s the point I’m addressing.

            I think you’re saying I need to consider everything that’s going on in this interaction across multiple axes of privilege, but that destroys my point, which is that the act of aggression in itself, irrespective of context, is something that can’t be ignored.

          • Shweta Narayan

            But you are ignoring violence with this unnuanced view. THAT is my problem. You’re ignoring the violence being done less visibly, *by* Max, *by* Patrick, *by* people off-screen, to focus on Al’s culpability alone.

            And that is a simplification that merely enforces oppression.

            I get that this [edit to clarify: not ignoring violence I mean] is your intent. I am telling you I believe it fails catastrophically.

            This is the kind of reasoning that says that a trans woman yelling back after 3 days straight of horrible harrassment by terfs is “abusive” because she’s the loud one that people notice also because the harassment she suffers is so *normal* that people get to ignore it and look only at what she does in response.

            It’s the kind of reasoning that demonizes BLM because people are great at ignoring the horrific injustices they’re responding to, and see *only* disruption and discomfort caused to themselves and blame the protestors instead of what they’re protesting.

            It. Does. Harm. FAR more harm IMO than the simplification of calling Max’s hurt negligible specifically *in comparison to that of the lives he refused to save*.

          • Um, no, I’m not ignoring violence, because I also regard all of those acts as unacceptable, I just happen to be talking about only one of them because that’s the sole act of violence in this discussion people are telling us to ignore. And I specifically used ‘aggression’ rather than ‘violence’ at one point in the previous post because I wanted to leave space for violence as self defence, up to and including killing someone as self-defence while not under immediate threat (my personal ethics set includes both self defence and just war – weapons systems engineer pretty much mandates that).

            Alison hurting Max is violence and is wrong.
            Alison threatening to expose Max is violence and is wrong.
            Alison kidnapping Max is violence and is wrong.
            Alison compelling Max to do something against his will is violence and is wrong.
            Max saying he’ll leave Tara to suffer specifically to spite Al is possibly the single most repugnant act of violence we seen in SFP, and is clearly wrong.
            Max and his family exploiting the gardeners is violence and is wrong.

            Max refusing to help Tara in general is disquieting, but complicated by his personal situation. I hope I’d be braver in that situation, I’m not prepared to condemn him for not taking a step that could destroy his life. Nor am I prepared to dismiss his belief that this is so.
            Patrick’s casual, calculated violation of privacy is an act of violence and is wrong. (Note the ‘calculated’ as it’s an ability he can’t turn off, it’s the turning it on specific people that’s an issue).
            Alison using Patrick’s information is an act of second-hand violence (fruit of the poison tree) and is wrong.
            Alison ripping up Patrick’s cheque without checking with the rest of the Valkyrie team is wrong, and arguably an act of violence against those Valkyrie could have helped with that funding (it’s an ethically complex decision and possibly justifiable over the long term, but Alison didn’t consider any of that).
            Alison’s biodynamic doctor may have divulged protected information WRT Patrick, that’s an act of violence against Max and wrong. (But we don’t know what she knew and what she said)
            Alison not getting Feral’s permission before turning Max on her is a violation of informed consent that Tara’s subsequent delight doesn’t dismiss.
            Society leaving peope facing death because of inadequate sign-up to organ donor programmes and blood donation is an act of passive violence and is wrong. Using Max and Tara as a patch on that doesn’t make it right.

            Anyone I’ve missed in the immediate/extended scenario?

            I believe I’ve made each and every one of those points previously.

            My linked points in this discussion are that violence is unacceptable, and dismissing violence is equally unacceptable. If I then exclude any act of violence, I’m guilty of the thing I’m taking a stand against. I just happened to be addressing only a single point of violence, because that was the only one people were dismissing.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Apologies for the belated response, it’s been taking me a while to reinterpret what you said before according to this. Having this for context, if you’ve acknowledged elsewhere that you misinterpreted Stephanie in a harmful way, we’re cool, and apologies for missing it.

            If not, then as far as I can tell you are currently guilty of the thing you’re taking a stand against. Which is why I think you’re missing something, and not realizing how you’re doing that.

            Perhaps the piece you’re missing is that other people have pushed the *same* skewed reading onto Stephanie’s comments over the last few months, picking part of her sentences and responding as though that were all she said? The overall pattern reads pretty clearly to me as an attempt at silencing, not an honest disagreement, so, it *is* a form of violence.

            I can be a lot more specific, but there’s not much point if you didn’t actually miss that context.

      • Elaine Lee

        What Stephanie said. Plus I object to “potentially exposed in a way that will set his life at risk.” Sneaking in under cover of darkness doesn’t qualify as that. And no one could prove he did anything, just because he was in the room. He could have been visiting. Lots of these biodynamics are showing signs that their powers are increasing. Could have been a natural phenomenon with Feral. Alison only threatened exposure, if he didn’t act. Max is the biodynamic equivalent of the kid who says, “If you don’t let me play shortstop, I’ll take my ball and bat and go home!” except that people suffer and die for it.

        • Arkone Axon

          Actually, I’d say Max is the biodynamic equivalent of the closeted homosexual who just got blackmailed and physically assaulted into doing what the blackmailer wanted.

          It’s amazing how many people continue to insist on such a negative image of him, given that Alison and the comic itself have canonically established that he was a victim and that Alison was completely unjustified.

          • Zorae42

            No, Max is the equivalent of those awful, rich girls who throw a tantrum because the car their parents bought them for their 16th birthday isn’t the one they wanted.

            What was done to him was the equivalent to roughing up the sole witness of an elusive mass serial killer to get the information they know so the serial killer could be stopped. Bad, illegal, and unfair, but somewhat understandable given the circumstances.

          • Arkone Axon

            You know, it’s funny. I’ve never heard of a spoiled rich girl being taught by their parents to live in fear of someone finding out something secret about them. Then again, I’ve also never heard of a spoiled rich girl talking about how just because she’s rich doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have problems, only to have someone throw it back in their face and demand they submit to someone else’s equally selfish desires.

            Frankly, the people who insist that Max is awful and terrible are suggesting that Alison is less morally righteous than Mary, i.e. Moonshadow. Mary openly stated that she’s prepared to harm the innocent to continue to do what she believes is right (more specifically, to continue to murder people she considers to be acceptable targets). Whereas Alison has gone on record as saying, “that thing I did to Max? That was completely and totally unacceptable of me. Not because my goals were wrong, but because my methods were wrong. I need to own up to it and try to fix things.”

            (But if you want to continue to argue that he’s like a spoiled teenager… please, tell me what “car” Alison offered him before he threw his big selfish tantrum)

            Edit: I just thought of one example of spoiled rich girls being taught to fear exposure of their secrets… and that would be if they’re closeted homosexuals…

          • For a historical example, there are the Marranos, or crypto-Jews, of Spain and Portugal, who kept their faith in secret while forced by threat of the Inquisition to ostensibly practise Catholicism. The last(?) Marrano community didn’t reveal itself until 1970.

          • Tylikcat

            I imagine there were a lot of “spoiled rich girls” who were told by their parents that they would suffer substantial dire consequence if word ever got out they they’d had an abortion. (And – just like you might wonder with their families – is it really Max or Max’s mother’s political career that is being protected?)

          • Arkone Axon

            Yes, though in this case the aborted fetus is an ability that makes him a terribly attractive target for so many, many others. (And yes, I’ve little doubt that Max’s mother was thinking more about herself than about him. When a kid thinks he has a “useless superpower” when he has a SUPERPOWER, that says a lot about the psychological abuse being inflicted at home)

          • Shweta Narayan

            Yeah emotional abuse of rich kids absolutely shouldn’t be discounted. But it doesn’t come from less rich kids, we have a lot of eliding of real responsibility I think, because the issues Max has come from people who are off screen.

          • Zorae42

            I was clearly referring to the way he reacted when he found out about his power. Rich girls can and do have legitimate problems; getting a car model that’s not the one they wanted is not one of them. Unreasonable entitlement is not a problem that should be sympathized with.

            But you’re right, that example doesn’t include the fear of being found out. Well, I suppose it does (other people could see her with the car) but the consequences aren’t really equivalent.

            However, it is also not comparable to being a closeted homosexual as you keep going on about. Because that is something that people can reasonably discover: by stumbling on said person acting on their feelings, or by observing the way they subconsciously behave around members of the same gender. If Max doesn’t ever use his power (which he clearly doesn’t want to do), then there’s no way for people to find out. Patrick had to have ridiculous influence and pay shadowy people tons of money to get his hands on the super confidential file.

            And who is this person who’s”living in constant fear”? It can’t be the one who made no attempt to find out how Allison found out this secret or who else might know about it, who mentioned being outed as his second to last reason for saying no, and who dated one of the very people he was supposedly living in constant fear of.

          • Arkone Axon

            Well, Max HAS used his power. Against his will. Assaulted and forced into doing so. And after specifically stating his fears of his powers being discovered. That is his specific dialogue when she confronts him. And the fact that he didn’t attempt to find out… she didn’t exactly give him much of a chance for that. She didn’t OFFER anything, least of all information. Just demands.

            “You’re a horrible selfish person if you don’t do everything I want without expecting any compensation or even protection from negative consequences.” That’s a horrible, selfish, and self-centered attitude to have. It is the attitude of a criminal, be it a supervillain or just a mugger. It is also the attitude of those saying that Max is in the wrong for wanting her to give him some of the empathy she demanded he show to Feral.

          • Zorae42

            He used his power because Alison found out and forced him to. That’s not a common event in his life and completely ignores the point I made.

            Ah yes, because there was never a point where he could’ve interjected or asked a simple question. Especially one that would be his first concern due to living a life of constant fear. I forgot they didn’t have a conversation at all and she just swooped in and kidnapped him with zero notice.

            I’m done arguing with you since you keep pushing your headcannon as fact. If we had seen his parents telling him that his power was bad, then yes I’d agree. That’s a horrible environment and he needs help. But that is something that has not been confirmed in the comic. All the comic has shown is that HE doesn’t like the power. They haven’t shown anything about his parents.

            As the comic is now, he reacted to a completely altruistic power with a sense of horror and entitlement. And considering the fact that he doesn’t believe in altruism, it’s not hard to accept that he came to the conclusion on his own.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yes, he reacted to winning the lottery – getting a superpower – with a sense of horror and entitlement. That couldn’t possibly have anything to do with his parents. Including his mother, who HAS been shown in the comic. She’s part of that Harmony Council that is linked to the deaths of those other biodynamics who were deemed “too likely to actually do some good.” The one that Patrick’s been going after.

            Also, “because Alison found out and forced him to.” That’s… literally the thing that he’s been afraid of. His mistake there was the same one made by assault victims who assume that the attack will come from a stranger and not someone they personally know. He made the mistake of thinking he was SAFE around Alison.

            (Also, my “headcannon” is the official story here. That’s why Alison’s eating pizza with Gurwara while he helps her come to terms with the fact that she did a very very bad thing and has to deal with the consequences. The fact that she admitted that she should have shown Max empathy and not… done what you’re doing, is why I still find her a relatable and likable protagonist)

          • And likely to get the serial killer off scott free when it comes to trial. Ethical shortcuts have this nasty habit of looping back around and biting you in the ass.

          • Zorae42

            I meant they needed the witness to find/catch the killer, not put him away ๐Ÿ˜›

            But you’re right about Karma biting you in the ass.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Nah it’s likely to get the serial killer off scott free *only if* the witness/victim or the serial killer are rich white dudes (2/3 ain’t bad either but not nearly *as* good. Affluenza is not a verdict anyone not rich and white will get.)

            Mistreating witnesses who aren’t? Is business as usual in the US at least, and the surprise is when it *doesn’t* happen, or doesn’t work.

          • InquisitiveCoder

            Max was a victim, and it’s been established Alison could’ve handled it better, but It hasn’t been established that Alison was completely unjustified. Even if Alison hadn’t been so quick to rely on force, Max might’ve still said no, and I’d still find what she did reasonable. Terribly unfortunate that it had to come to that, but reasonable.

            And no, I don’t condone trampling individuals for the greater good in general – but I’m not talking about the general case, I’m talking about twisting Max’s arm to save the lives of thousands.

          • Shweta Narayan

            ftr AA deliberately misrepresents past pages in order to woobify max & grind the axe against al, and has actually tried misrepresenting another poster’s life to their face for the same purpose so uh. That’s context for ya

        • When someone from a minority says “this puts me at risk”, the majority doesn’t get to say ‘your fears are groundless’. As minorities go, Max is a pretty thoroughly unpleasant one, but it doesn’t give us the rights to stomp all over his legitimate fears.

          • Stephanie

            So if Max is a “minority,” are people who need organ transplants to live also a minority?

          • There’s a principle in disability activism, that a ‘hierarchy of disability’ is corrosive and dangerous. By a ‘hierarchy of disability’ we mean attempts by non-disabled people to say that disability A is more severe than disability B, and therefore a person with disability A is more worthy of support. We’ve learnt through bitter experience that it’s used as a tool to divide and conquer by setting one group of disabled people against another, in order not to have to make the changes needed to give us across the board equality.

            Flowing out of that we have a general principle that no one’s needs get discarded, that no form of discrimination gets a bye. And that’s what this argument is about, excusing the discrimination, the assault, that Max experiences because it’s convenient.

            Is it right that people aren’t getting the medical support they need to live. No. Is it right that Max is assaulted, Equally no.

          • Stephanie

            “Convenient” certainly is one way to say “the only realistic hope for survival of an enormous number of people.”

          • Yet it’s convenient to your argument that the violence against Max be discarded.

            We have medical data that is considered irrevocably tainted because of the way it was gathered. The Nazi data on hypothermia, the Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment. We’ve learned the lesson of these, studied the ethics, and our laws have been rewritten to say you can’t ignore the damage you do to one person because of the benefit to others. What Alison did to Max might not be a formal research study with a review board, but it is part and parcel of the medical treatment you’re proposing for these people. And ethics, and law, say you don’t get to ignore what was done to Max.

          • Stephanie

            That argument doesn’t fit. The research was tainted because of poor record-keeping and inconsistent experimental protocols. It was straight-up bad science irrespective of how evil it was. The way in which the data was gathered made it useless. Whereas the way in which Feral was boosted has zero bearing on how beneficial her donated organs are.

            In any case, don’t put words in my mouth. I have never argued that the harm Max suffered was not real or that it should be excluded from our analysis of the event. My position is that while it is a real thing, it’s so enormously outweighed by the averted suffering of thousands or millions of people that it would be reprehensible to allow those people to suffer just to avoid harming Max.

            I have always taken pains to acknowledge the reality of both Max’s harm and the harm those countless people would have suffered, which is why it really grinds my gears when people completely dismiss the pain of the thousands with euphemisms like “convenient” or “so Alison could get what she wanted.” Just because they’re offscreen doesn’t mean they’re not real. Just because you don’t know the name of someone who is suffering doesn’t make their suffering irrelevant.

          • The Nazi hypothermia research is complicated. According to http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199005173222006 it had been cited in at least 45 papers as of 1990. The paper analyses the quality of experimental design and points out significant issues, particularly in record keeping (and this is exponentially better than much of the Nazi human experimentation, which was basically sadism in a medical gown). But that doesn’t cancel out the fact that people wanted to use it, that the ethics of doing so were challenged, and that ethical standards were changed to say this kind of experiment must never happen again.

            Ostensibly the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was excellent science: following a single cohort across four decades, with excellent record keeping and a structure designed to ensure compliance. Just so long as you only focus on the single experimental aim of tracing the precise manner in which syphilis kills black people. It’s when you consider that it was born in racist beliefs and should have been stopped the moment penicillin was shown to be a general cure for syphilis, not 25 years later when the truth came out, that the problem appears. And again medical ethics were revised to say ‘never again’.

            You say the manner in which Feral was boosted has no bearing on the usefulness of her organs. We don’t actually know that. Feral initially went through a study to see if she was a viable donor. We don’t actually know how long that study lasted (I’m inclined to say not long enough given the rough timescales), but we do know that the medical team said that boosted Feral was okay to continue donating within a single day, and that’s just not long enough to do even basic science. We’ve had utter tragedies post donor treatment: CJD infected Human Growth Hormone being one of them, with symptoms showing up as late as 38 years afterwards, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2002489.stm

            “In any case, don’t put words in my mouth. I have never argued that the harm Max suffered was not real or that it should be excluded from our analysis of the event.”

            Putting words into your mouth isn’t my intention.

            “My position is that while it is a real thing, it’s so enormously
            outweighed by the averted suffering of thousands or millions of people that it would be reprehensible to allow those people to suffer just to avoid harming Max.”

            So it can be discounted. Is that a fair summation?

            The problem is we’re not discussing an abstract link. Max being hurt is the method to prevent that suffering.

            ” it really grinds my gears when people completely dismiss the pain of the thousands with euphemisms like “convenient” or “so Alison could get what she wanted.” Just because they’re offscreen doesn’t mean they’re not real”

            Has it occurred to you I might be doing that as a literary device to contrast the way you’re writing Max’s suffering off? That they might be just as real to me?

            I’ve a historical concern here. The ostensible justification for Aktion T4 was that killing institutionalised disabled kids and adults allowed the Nazi state to free up their beds for injured servicemen. Sure a couple of hundred thousand disabled people were killed, but it wasn’t as if their lives were worth anything in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of servicemen who could be treated and returned to service. I’m not for a moment suggesting that you feel the same, I’m sure you find it horrifying, But when someone suggests writing off harm to one person for medical good to others, this is the example I think of, and the reason I find the canceling out of harm to one person because of good to others so threatening.

          • Stephanie

            This isn’t the first time you’ve used a “literary device” that obfuscated your actual point. Deliberately leaving information out of your arguments is counterproductive. No one is ever going to assume, “Oh, you omitted it to make such-and-such a point.” It’s always going to appear that you’re misrepresenting the situation by leaving out information that’s inconvenient to your argument.

            The Nazi comparison is just outrageous and I’m not going to entertain it. There is no reasonable comparison between those atrocities and one dude having his arm twisted one time.

          • “This isn’t the first time you’ve used a “literary device” that obfuscated your actual point. ”

            I’m not sure it did so much as make a point you don’t want to accept, but in either case I can live with that. I don’t just want to make my point, I want to make it in a way I find interesting.

            Meanwhile there’s three paragraphs of information preceding that you left out addressing in your reply.

            “The Nazi comparison is just outrageous and I’m not going to entertain it.”

            Even if it’s driving my discomfort with your whole position? No the degree of harm is not remotely comparable, but both are instances in which people argued harm to a minority could be ignored because “it’s for the common good”. And the point isn’t whether it matters to you, because I’m trying to explain why it matters to me.

          • Stephanie

            Yeah I’m not gonna do the “answer every sentence point by point until every reply balloons into an giant time-consuming essay that nobody wants to read” thing, sorry.

            I am sure you can find ways to make your points that are both interesting to you, and clear to the people you’re talking to. If you want to express that you think Max’s suffering is important, there are a thousand ways to accomplish that other than completely failing to acknowledge the suffering of Feral and the organ-failure patients and then going “oh ho, no, you see, you were supposed to read my mind and realize that when I leave out a critical facet of the argument, I’m not actually neglecting that facet, it’s just a literary device.”

            I acknowledge that the Nazi comparison is salient to your opinion. However, “degree of harm” matters immensely to me, so I’m not going to be remotely convinced by that comparison. So I guess you can keep using it if you just want to describe your own philosophy to me, but you will need a different argument if you want to convince me of anything.

      • OP considers the comparative amount minute when seen in relation, and only in relation, to globe-wide suffering caused by failing organs and incurable disease plus one other person undergoing constant unmedicated physical torture. No other argument has been presented here. Yes, that deliberately leaves the question (of whether the OP considers the harm Max suffered was significant and lasting) vague and unaddressed – but perhaps that was their intention. It’s not the main thrust of their response.

        • It still sets out to say the harm Max suffered isn’t worthy of consideration – “the amount of harm Max suffered (if you can even use that word in this context)”. That’s a thoroughly dangerous assertion.

          • Depends by what they meant by “in this context”. I agree that there’s a vague assertion that the harm done to Max is predominantly potential, but that doesn’t make it unworthy of consideration. While I disagree somewhat, as I believe he has undergone at least emotional trauma, there is a valid argument to be made that Max may not have suffered harm. We do not know for sure whether his life will actually be worsened by this experience or improved or left much as before. Therefore, there is technically a valid question of whether the term should be automatically applied. I agree with you in that I think the term harm is appropriate and should be applied herein, but I don’t think someone holding the perspective that the term is too severe is necessarily ‘thoroughly dangerous’.

          • ” there is a valid argument to be made that Max may not have suffered harm.”

            What?! He had his face slammed into a table, he had his arm twisted into a position most people find agonising, he was abducted for a period of hours, and forced to exercise his power when he considers exercising his power to come with a distinct risk of revealing himself and his power to all and opening himself up to further exploitation.

            I’ve been bullied, and I refuse to underestimate the damage it does.

            When people start talking about abusing one person not being significant because of the medical benefits to others, then I think of the historical precedent from within my own minority’s recent history. Precedent that comes with the names Eugenics, and Aktion T4, and yes, I think “thoroughly dangerous” applies.

            Look at Trump Care as a current example. The GoP argument is they’ll open up the healthcare market so that healthy people can find cheaper healthcare. What they don’t talk about is how those cheaper products can only exist by making the insurance for those with pre-existing conditions impossibly expensive, or non-existent. What’s good for the many, is potentially lethal for the few. Again, “thoroughly dangerous” applies.

            I look at what happened to Max, at the argument that it doesn’t matter, because of all the good that’s going to happen, and I see the parallels, and “thoroughly dangerous” applies.

  • M. Alan Thomas II

    I love how in the middle panel she appears to be looking up an a greater angle than necessary based on prior pages and even other panels on this page. Instead, it looks like she’s making an offering of her values and sacrifice to some god, who may or may not choose to accept them.

  • McFrugal

    Well, so much for the clever solution, at least in her case. I wonder if the professor will take the no-stone route?

  • I detect an axiom change… from “We are all in this together” to “I am in this for you”.

  • martynW

    “And if YOU don’t pick the right color, I’ll haul you into orbit and drop you like Marvelman did to Dr. Gargunza.”

  • Joe in Australia

    Gurwara flat out killed a guy because he didn’t want to be inconsistent. I think he’d be totally down with failing Alison.

    • Dean

      He said specifically that he believed that at the time. Gurwara strikes me as someone who doesn’t say anything without meaning to.

    • Shweta Narayan


    • Tylikcat

      Gurwara offered this as an example as something awful he’d done that she could hold over him. So I wouldn’t exactly use it as a model for his current behavior.

  • To be honest Alison is in a win-win situation. If she plays white, she gets an A, whatever Gurwara has played. If she plays black, and Gurwara plays black, then she gets an A. If she plays Black, and Gurwara plays white, then she gets another year of being taught by Gurwara, and I think she’s starting to understand the value of that. (I’d actually weight that as having greater value than the A, but the A isn’t a loss).

    Gurwara is the one with something at risk, but only if he plays black. If he plays white he keeps his job. If he plays black, then he is putting his future in the hands of Alison, and, oh, hey, he just did that once already. If he plays black and Alison plays white, his job his forfeit, I guess he resigns. If, however, Alison plays black, then they’re both safe.

    The game only has meaning if you play black and put your trust in the other person. Which is another lesson,

    Gurwara is going to play black, and fully expected Alison to play black, despite the mock surprise.

    • mendel

      If Alison’s aim is to make it impossible for Gurwara to quit his job, then she has to play black. It’s the altruistic move.

      • And I think she wins more by keeping Gurwara aroud than if she gets the pass.

  • mendel

    That’s the second time this comic has made me smile hugely in recent memory.

  • David Claughton

    I think the point here is not whether Alison would pick the Black stone or not – we all knew she would. The question is why? The key sentence on this page is the last but one panel – Gurwara’s exclamation “Can it be your position has not changed at all!”

    Alison might have still picked the Black stone, but her reasoning for doing so has changed – originally she picked it both because it was the right thing to do and because she expected everyone else to do the same. Now she picks the black stone because it’s still the right thing to do *despite* the fact that she now knows that others would pick the White.

    In fact picking the White stone would have indicated that Alison had embraced the role of Tyrant – putting her own goals (passing the class, helping Feral) above the goals of others (Mr Davenport passing the course, Max keeping his autonomy). Picking the Black indicates she is willing to try to do the right thing going forward, even though she now knows it isn’t the easy choice she once thought it was.

  • Tdoodle

    I think Allison remembers all too well about the professor who got fired after she made a complaint. She has more than just physical prowess- her super status gives her serious clout with the university.

  • Arklyte

    Same choice, different reason… and different outcome. During the lesson they had luxury of knowing the end result, as if they lived in RPG that allows save scumming and nothing bad could happen. Here, after this events, discussion and emotions involved, the choice is driven by self guilt, but the other person isn’t innocent either. No one is. And only madmen don’t feel guilty and believe that they have right to judge others.
    That’s one way to see situation. On the other hand…

  • ะ“ะตะพั€ะณะธะน ะ›ะตัˆะบะฐัˆะตะปะธ

    I honestly can’t remember what black and white stones meant anymore.

    • Lysiuj

      White stone = you pass the course.
      Black stone = you fail the course.
      But, if all the stones are black, or if all the stones are white, then everyone passes. (Relevant here because Gurwara took away John’s white stone, so his only chance was if everyone takes a risk for his sake and puts up black.)

  • Malcolm Wright

    I kind of feel like for her this is a kind of ideological Xanatos Gambit. She might be risking herself, but she also has an opportunity to score a pretty big symbolic victory no matter what happens. I don’t think this is what the comic is trying to communicate, but if Gurwara plays white, she demonstrates the strength of her commitment to her ideology of making oneself vulnerable for the betterment of other people. She demonstrates both that she isn’t so invincible as people think, and also that she’s willing to put her money where her mouth is. If Gurwara plays black she demonstrates the same thing, with the added benefit of demonstrating that the risk wasn’t entirely hers, that sometimes behaving in a way that puts your own betterment aside gives you the power to help those you otherwise couldn’t.

  • Brett

    Finally finished binging this thing tonight. If this isn’t one of the best damn webcomics out there I have no idea what is

  • Robert

    Despite real life issues, I find myself anxious regarding the next page. I want to know…

    The delicious suspense is, well… delicious.

    Unlike real life, where I can forecast outcomes with a (better than) fair degree of accuracy, I have zero insight as to what is going to happen next…

    And I love it.