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  • Kid Chaos

    Great comeback! 😎

  • Krys Hunter

    Now that’s a response only a Philosophy Teacher would have. Always thinking they have all the answers and elated when they are proven wrong!

  • juleslt

    Making Amends!
    Will Max feel the slightest shred of guilt on his side?
    You will find out in two months! πŸ˜›

    • Arkone Axon

      …Part of me wants to ask what exactly he has to feel guilty about… but the insane troll logic required to make him into the bad guy will make my head hurt, and possibly trigger anyone who has ever been a victim of abuse and then told it was their own fault.

      • juleslt

        If you feel like becoming a victim absolves him of all guilt, to the extent that leaving him with any would be “insane troll logic”, there is no point in discussing the particulars indeed.

        I personally know a cancer patient who is *still* an asshole, and I do not see a contradiction in terms.

        • Arkone Axon

          Setting aside the fact that there’s a difference between being a victim of a disease, and the victim of a violent crime… you have literally just restated the age old defense of “blame the victim.”

          The reason why I still like Allison is because she’s not doing that.

          • juleslt

            I’m not blaming him for what Allison did to him. That is on Allison.

            I’m blaming him for not being willing to lift a finger to save countless people.
            I was blaming him for it before he was assaulted, and him being assaulted doesn’t change my position on that.

          • Arkone Axon

            Except that 1: he had good reasons to be reluctant to do so even before Alison made it clear she couldn’t even be bothered to stop insulting him long enough to ask “nicely,” and 2: he wasn’t being asked to save countless people, he was being asked to save ONE person. Feral.

            And yes, I know your position won’t change. That’s… kinda the problem. Let me point this out: the bottom panel there, the voice speaking… do we even know that it’s Max telling her to come up to the house? It could very well be someone else. Someone older. Someone considerably more cold blooded and nasty. Someone whose sociopathic dismissal of others was already demonstrated with children who could have potentially impacted her group’s financial and political power. Someone who Alison now has the undivided attention of.

            As I pointed out to Izo: Alison’s not getting off scott free here. There will be consequences.

            (edited because of a typo. It’s late and I’m not typing at my best)

          • juleslt

            The problem seemed to be that I somehow “blamed the victim”, before he even was a victim.

            Now it’s that my position won’t change… when he becomes a victim?
            Or maybe you’re thinking of some other time when I should change my mind?

          • Arkone Axon

            I’ve been trying to point out that Alison never really asked Max. She essentially mugged him – a cursory request, an insulting dismissal of his own problems, and then violence, terroristic threats (which is an actual legal term, and a felony), kidnapping, and all of it capped with her parting words about being able to do it again any time she wanted to, and him being unable to do a thing to stop her (i.e. pretty much the exact same thing an abusive spouse tells their partner when they attempt to flee, “there’s nowhere you can run that I can’t find you.”).

            Alison herself has already admitted that she never made a genuine attempt to convince him. She had already judged him in her mind and was psyched up to hurt him to get what she wanted out of him. Just like a mugger attacks only after convincing themselves that their target is somehow to blame and has worked themselves up into a psychological state where they can do such a thing (watch the latest Marvel film, “Doctor Strange.” The mugging scene where they attack him for his watch? He’s clearly outclassed, he has literally nothing on him of value except that watch… and when he tries to defend himself their assault is VICIOUS, as if they hate him and want to punish him. That’s not just sadism, that’s actively cultivating a mindset where the target deserves hatred and scorn).

            That’s been my point all along. She never really tried to convince him. He was never actually given the opportunity to be a decent person. Having someone who can barely restrain the urge to spit in your face demanding that you risk all manner of negative consequences to do something for them, and can’t even be bothered to listen to you explaining what those negative consequences are… that’s not being “asked nicely.” That’s being chatted up by a smiling mugger as they prepare to bash you with a brick.

          • juleslt

            I’m not going to go back to discussing the pre-assault situation: we have pages and pages of that already.
            And I’ve already given my position on assault.

            Even if you don’t agree that he *should* feel any guilt, I think that the reaction of many of us here shows that it’s not unconceivable, hence my first post.

          • Dawn Smashington

            Max was aware that he would be a hell of a lot more people than Feral. Al did ask nicely. Max, in fact, prior to the assault, bragged that he’d say no to Al even if he didn’t have misgivings, just to be able to deny something that Al wanted, because she hurt his freakin’ fee-fees by pointing out that his Hispanic work force are human beings. Being assaulted, and the trauma and suffering that comes with it, has nothing to do with Max being an oblivious asshole when it comes to people he’s not interested in. Being assaulted is not a blank check for bad behavior, nor does it erase past bad behavior, nor does it wipe his soul clean.

          • Tylikcat

            Of course, Al’s actual request was omitted from the strip.

          • juleslt
          • Arkone Axon

            Gah… gonna have to copy/paste this one since multiple people made this point for me to provide the counterpoint:

            Alison didn’t care about those other people. She only cared about Feral. The “millions of lives” were a convenient rationalization; she had already established she would unhesitantly condemn them all to death if it meant getting Feral off the table. There’s words, and there’s actions – and I’ve learned to trust actions over words.

          • juleslt

            “She only cared about Feral”. You’re going to have to bring a way more detailed and sourced argument to counter what page 80-3 says.

          • Arkone Axon

            A more detailed and sourced argument… that would be the second half of chapter three. Starting with page 38 (where Patrick explains what’s happening), on to page 42 (where Alison begins to openly state how much she wants Feral to NOT go through with it, even as she agonizes over the fact that she does not have the right to stop Feral from saving so many lives), then on to page 54 where she tells Feral flat out, “I don’t think you should go through with this plan, Feral.” And then on to page 57, “Feral… I’m just gonna come out and say it. I don’t think what you’re doing is right.”

            So yes, I’d say that counters page 83 of the current chapter, where Max begins to open up about his own pain. How he was so miserable that he jumped off the roof in a desperate attempt to attain the power of flight in order to escape his life. And then, when he did develop a power, he was encouraged to feel as if he were a failure for having the “permanent buff other” power – and that’s something a kid only feels when their parents tell them, “you’re not able to take center stage and take everything for yourself, so you’re a loser.” A sign of abuse at least as obvious as bruises. Then, after asking Alison if she knows what it’s like to be unsatisfied with her powerset, the same person who had spent literally the bulk of the comic up to this point lamenting her inability to solve the real problems with super strength then snidely said, “no.” Then in page 84 of this current chapter she twists the attempt to share his feelings, his pain, his unhappiness, into a personal attack on herself. At that point he became enraged and wanted her gone.

            He had every right to want her gone. She continued to mock him and dismiss his feelings and unhappiness as irrelevant, while demanding he show empathy for others. Then page 85 comes and he points out the colossal risks involved. Then, after her attempts to convince him that she’d protect him, he says no, and adds that EVEN IF he wanted to, he MIGHT still say no just to be spiteful. (I.e. that it wasn’t the reason, but he truly wanted nothing to do with her at that point)

            Cue the violent assault and Alison speaking to him the way a rapist speaks to their victim, “what’s going to happen is this. You’re going to do the following things that I want you to. If you don’t, I will murder you.” (and yes, I am aware that some people get upset with the rape analogy. That’s because it’s TOO apt, too accurate, and it makes it too difficult to justify her actions)

            I would also bring up, from this particular chapter, pages 120 (where Alison acknowledges and admits that she failed to show him the empathy she demanded he extend to someone else), page 121 (where she references the thousands of lives Feral was saving as an afterthought before focusing entirely on Feral as her attempts to rationalize and justify her misdeeds fall away upon self examination), and page 122 (where she recognizes that the three things that would have been most likely to convince Max were understanding, compassion, and trust, and that she has a bad habit of being too quick to resort to violence). And of course page 123 (where she admits that if Max were to retaliate in any way, then she would have a very hard time saying he was in the wrong; and that she has to try to compensate him even though it feels vulgar and monstrous – but she still has to try to make things right).

            Is that sufficiently detailed and sourced?

          • Freemage

            Again, all of that only establishes Feral as Ali’s primary (as opposed to sole) concern. Yes, she has repeatedly put Feral’s well-being above those whom Feral wishes to help. This does not in any way mean she does not care about the fate of those people, nor that that concern does not factor into her decision to force Max.

            Also, folks are getting upset about the rape analogy because it’s both insensitive and inaccurate, and little more than a cheap rhetorical trick, used by someone with little concern with the significance of rape. If I force you at gunpoint to run into a burning room to save an infant, I’m in the wrong (heroism cannot be coerced), but I have not “raped” you.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, it did confirm exactly what her opinion regarding the fate of those people was. She knew she had to save them – as a precondition of saving Feral. Saving them was the only way to save Feral.

            The point there isn’t that she was completely heartless towards them (though she was certainly prepared to try to stop Feral from saving them, which is a fairly large indicator). The big point is that her demanding that he risk his life and that of anyone close to him (literally, given what would happen the moment anyone found out that someone with that kind of power was available for kidnapping and coercion… y’know, as Alison did) is massively hypocritical. She wasn’t honest with him. Again: exactly as she finds herself admitting in pages 121 and 122 of this chapter, when her attempts to justify her actions as being on behalf of thousands becomes a bitter acknowledgement that she assaulted one person to help one other person, when it was unnecessary and counterproductive.

            As for the rape analogy, it’s quite accurate. Is it a rhetorical trick? Hell yes. That’s why I’m using it – because the deliberate use of hyperbole makes it harder to dismiss Max and what was done to him. Hyperbole in the hopes of cracking through the shell of rationalization and get a few people to think, “hey… even if Max is a wealthy white heterosexual male, he’s still a person. Just because he’s not a minority, not female, not transgendered, and not impoverished, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to terrorize him as a cheap shortcut to get around treating him as a person.”

            (And before you go accusing me of being a red cap wearing Deplorable for suggesting a rich white male could be a victim, a reminder: I voted for Johnson because I couldn’t vote for Stein, and the one I really wanted to vote for was Sanders. I’ve regularly mocked conservatives wanting to shove their retconned version of the bible down everyone’s throat on disqus as well as elsewhere, and I’ve made plenty of observations about how Ayn Rand was a hypocritical moron whose philosophy was based on her adolescent fangirl crush on a semiliterate child murderer on death row. I’m simply pointing out that bigotry goes both ways – and the attempts to depict Max as needing to apologize for… pretty much anything aside from quoting Objectivist idiocy during a date, ultimately boils down to simple prejudice)

          • Freemage

            You said she doesn’t care for them at all, and that her only real purpose was saving Feral. I don’t deny that she’s placing Feral higher than those people, but that does not, on its own, mean she doesn’t ALSO care for those people, to a lesser degree. Your insistence that everyone has precisely one motive rather, suggests that you were raised by low-grade AIs rather than actual human beings, since you can’t comprehend the complexity of human actions.

            Which, as far as that goes, also explains the blithe and utterly appalling way you dismiss and ignore the many ways your rape analogy is simultaneously inaccurate and hurtful.

            And I haven’t once said that Ali was right to do what she did; in fact, that seems to be a minority opinion overall on the board. There are folks who sympathize with WHY she did it, even as they agree she was wrong. All your ‘rhetorical trick’ is doing is convincing folks that you have to be an asshole to support Max’s right to not be forced into using his power.

            And honestly? “Berniebro turned Johnsonite” would’ve been my first guess. I voted for Sanders, too, but then I was left with two viable choices for president and was unwilling to support the harm that I knew would come from a protest vote or abstention. It’s that whole “complexity of humanity” thing again. The androids really did come up short with you.

          • Arkone Axon

            Everyone has precisely one motive… right. As if I’m the one who insisted that Max said no to Alison because of petty and childish spite.

            Second, this “child of androids” has long observed that people often have a disconnect between their words and their actions. And that’s why I say that ALISON DID NOT CARE ABOUT THOSE PEOPLE. It doesn’t matter that she said she felt bad for them. She was prepared to condemn them to death herself, for the sake of her friend. At that point she’s prepared to say “I really feel bad about killing all those people…” as if that somehow makes it better for those people and their loved ones.

            If you lived in a tribal village and you decided to throw someone to a pack of hungry wolves in order to escape, you don’t get to express delight that they survived and made it back safely, or express outrage that someone else isn’t ripping off their clothes to bandage the wounds of the villager you threw to the wolves. You lost your right to use them for the sake of moral posturing.

            (that, btw, would be why I was actually rather pleased that Clinton did not win – she has a very, very long record of saying one thing and doing another. Claiming to support the rights of minorities while victimizing them for her own profit and that of her corporate supporters. At least Trump never called adolescent black americans “super predators.” Both are detestable, but at least the media is willing to report on Trump as such)

            Third, I’m not the one resorting to cheap personal attacks in lieu of civilized debate. I’d like to think that such behavior is beneath you.

            (And honestly? I will admit that I’ve never been raped. No… I just live with a rape survivor. Only she doesn’t like to be called a “survivor,” because she doesn’t want to be relegated into the tiny little box marked “victim.” If you really want to establish that the analogy is inaccurate, prove it – with a well reasoned argument. And I say that as someone who can provide one for you, while providing an even more apt-but less deliberately provocative – exampe in its place)

          • Freemage

            No, you’re just the one who insists that childish spite could have played no part in Max’s decision–that’s precisely what I’m talking about. One motive–Max was ONLY concerned about his and his loved ones’ well-being, and Alison could not possibly care about the people Feral is helping.

            The notion that Alison had a hierarchy of concern, with Feral at the top, Max at the bottom, and the people who Feral helped someplace in the middle, completely escapes you, because you refuse to accept the notion of human complexity.

            I view a difference between ‘manners’ and ‘civility’. You flat-out lied about my position elsewhere in this thread; I do not require that as remotely civil, and thus see no reason to treat you in a mannerly fashion.

            I already provided a perfectly apt analogy–forcing someone at gunpoint to go into a burning room to save an infant. That covers all the actual bases–the loss of personal freedom, the decision to foist upon someone else the risks for your desired outcome–and none of the bullshit insensitivity that comes from invoking a rape analogy.

          • Guest


            …There’s actually just evidence you can look at that goes against this:

            “The truth is, you would be okay with Feral living in pain forever, if you thought it would make a bit of difference. But you know it won’t.”


            Feral, normally, doing her thing, wouldn’t fulfill literally all of the organ-scarcity in the planet. Because Alison doesn’t do well with the “it makes a difference to this one” mentality, she wanted to dissuade her. It wasn’t “really a change”.

            Now…if she COULD fulfill the whole planet’s needs for organs…

            You say that she did it to save Feral, and the other people don’t matter. I… think the opposite. I think that if supercharging Feral put her at maximum capacity and that meant fulfilling all of the planet’s needs for organs, and she still needed to be in surgery 24/7, Al would have done exactly the same thing. Her friend would still be getting tortured, but also there is a fundamental change in healthcare and organ scarcity in the world.

            Al seems to measure positive change in how much the system changes. Not how much one person or another is better or worse off.

            Note: I’m not actually providing a moral value to her actions, just trying to provide greater insight into her psychology.

          • Arkone Axon

            Oh, you’re making very good points there. But my own stance was less about whether or not she felt bad about the people in need, and more about whether not she was prepared to rob them of a potential life saving treatment… and by extension, whether or not she has any right to condemn anyone else for not stepping up.

            Think of the classic reluctant villain who sighs dramatically, agonizing over the unfortunate but necessary actions they must take… as they push the button that condemns their victims. Think of Ozymandius from “Watchmen,” who practically boasted about how he’d forced himself to feel the guilt of murdering each of his victims before he actually went through with it… and then still went through with it. That didn’t exactly make things better for his victims, now did it?

            So I’m not saying she couldn’t have felt bad about them (and you’re right, she certainly did feel bad about them). But… she was prepared to throw them to the wolves. She had no right to then judge Max for not wanting to save them. (Not to mention that it became increasingly evident that she wanted Max to save FERAL, not those people who were, in fact, just an abstract concept to her. “Innocent people” as an abstract concept rather than faces and lives)

            It’s the big lesson that every would be hero needs to remember: “The people” are never just an abstract quantity. They’re a bunch of individuals with their own quirks, desires, fears, and foibles… and whether you’re trying to force your ideology on them or sacrifice them for the sake of your ideology, it still comes down to tyranny on your part. Which is why Gurwara called her a tyrant… and why she spent the whole chapter trying to understand what he meant about that.

          • Guest

            “So I’m not saying she couldn’t have felt bad about them (and you’re right, she certainly did feel bad about them).”

            I’m not actually talking about her feeling bad though. I’m talking about whether she thought the change was “worth it” or not. You say that it becomes increasingly clear that she was doing it for Feral’s sake, but I think that was just a really really happy side-effect. Did she actually have a way of knowing that supercharging Feral would meet the global demand for organs so easily? Or would it have been more reasonable to think that supercharging Feral would make her action go from “some nice thing somebody does that helped a bunch of people” to “fundamentally changing how the world currently works”?

            For an analogy, let’s compare the blood-donor man(James Harrison) at the top of the comment section to Alexander Fleming (the penicillin guy). James Harrison is Feral. Alexander Fleming is Max. Harrison hasn’t actually changed anything about healthcare, or anything about the disease, or the like. The system is the same. He’s just feeding resources into it. Alexander Fleming changed /what kind of disease could kill a person and how easily/. He changed what the system was.

            “But… she was prepared to throw them to the wolves.”

            Because it “wouldn’t make a difference” in her view. I think Alison would be fine with James Harrison not-donating-blood, because what’s a few thousand or even hundred-thousand in the grand scheme of things? I mean, it would be BETTER if he donated, but it would be better if a few hundred thousand more people donated their super-normal blood too.

            But… this isn’t a few hundred thousand, maybe. This is millions. This is tens of millions. Remember, Feral also gives blood, and tissue donation is probably worked in too. If Feral was meeting the world’s required supply of organs, that’s not “saving some people”. That’s “wiping off organ scarcity as a cause of death for the planet”. It’s fundamentally changing /the system/, which is that thing Al seems to be obsessed with.

            Hence why Valkyrie isn’t just her randomly going to superpowered people and suggesting they do this, it’s a more systematic thing. She wants to wipe off “beaten by abusive partner to death” as a cause of death for abuse victims.

            Re: Her right to judge Max, personally I’m not in a team here. I think they were both wrong. Max as an asshole(the smaller the cost of doing a thing is to you, and the greater the benefit, the more of an asshole you are for not doing it. It’s why I donate blood, and it’s why I have Tab For A Cause), and Al was kind of hypocritical (I mean, she told Pintsize to do science, but she doesn’t actually. All the research that she’s involved with is about her powers, she’s not working at some physics facility that could develop supermaterials or something. The kind of thing that “changes the system” so to speak. And she GOT RID OF A FUCKTON OF MONEY. Do you know how much lifesaving medicine could have been made with that kind of money? Probably several African countries’ needs’ worth, if you pick the right problem to solve with it!).

            “(Not to mention that it became increasingly evident that she wanted Max to save FERAL, not those people who were, in fact, just an abstract concept to her. “Innocent people” as an abstract concept rather than faces and lives)”

            …not to me, honestly. It seemed to me that it was just a happy consequence. I mean, a REALLY HAPPY consequence, but not the main goal of the situation. The main goal of the situation was the countless, countless lives. But that might be both of us projecting. I would have been focused on those, you seem to have a more individualistic view and may have been focused on the person with a face. Having spent a lot of time being a person without a face, I find numbers more persuasive than sad stories and names.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yes. I feel you must never, ever, EVER forget the person with the face. Every person has a face. It’s why I get annoyed with people who eat meat, but try to pretend the food just magically appeared wrapped in plastic on the supermarket shelves. Acknowledge it, accept what you’re doing, or don’t do it. (Incidentally, I eat poultry and fish, but I do NOT eat pork… and I’m on the fence about beef. If you’re not prepared to kill the animal yourself, you shouldn’t be eating it)

            There’s an excellent series, “the Dresden Files,” about a modern day wizard named Harry Dresden. In one of the books he’s courted to convert to evil by a bad guy, who insists that they’re actually very much alike, and they’re both actually trying to save the world. Harry actually does think about it (the bad guy is VERY persuasive… it doesn’t hurt that his evil plans involve going after some truly despicable factions, as well as less despicable groups that keep screwing Harry over because they’re hypocritical jerks).

            Then Harry thinks about some of the people that this guy has already killed, and the ones he intends to hurt in the future, and says, “you’re right. We’re both a lot alike. We’re both prepared to sacrifice anything for what we believe in. BUT WE HAVE A REAL DISAGREEMENT ABOUT WHO GETS SACRIFICED.” (Emphasis mine)

            Another example would be the first “X-Men” movie, where Magneto’s plans involve sacrificing Rogue’s life, with him acknowledging, “You will save our race. I’ll understand if that comes as small comfort to you.” In the second film she makes it very clear that their agreement to team up is the only thing keeping her from giving him a nice long full body massage with her bare hands.

            And my third example would be… you. You said it yourself. You’re a person without a face. What happens if someone decides YOU need to be sacrificed for the greater good, even though you disagree? Who would care? What is one life, the life of one person, against the greater good? How can anyone call it anything but immoral to stand in the way of throwing someone like you into the fire to fuel a brighter tomorrow?

            I can. I would care. And not just because of a knee-jerk reaction to any plan that involves sacrificing decent people like yourself without your consent. But also because it’s been done to death (no pun intended). Time and again, crusaders of every ideology have tried the bloodsoaked revolution that involves sacrificing innocent bystanders and those who disagree. And time and again, they’ve ended up with a lot of dead bodies… and no utopia.

          • Guest

            I love the Dresden Files!…Are you talking about Marcone?

            Let’s take your example of Rogue. Yes, Rogue would find small comfort in basically getting murdered for the sake of other people. But… what about Some Anonymous Person who would live if that happened, but isn’t going to because Rogue didn’t want to get sacrificed? What about that person’s family, if they’re a family of mutants, or maybe that person’s group of mutant friends? All of them with their own stories, all of them with their own needs, all of them with their own lives and beliefs and their own loves and hatreds and desires. How would they feel for essentially being “sacrificed” themselves for the sake of this girl who didn’t want to do what would save them?

            Or, here is a better example, Dresden Files! Remember why the fucking war started? I mean, there are a multiplicity of reasons, but the inciting incident was that Harry wouldn’t let Bianca(? It’s been a while) enslave his then-girlfriend as a half-vampire(wow that series sounds weird when I describe it). Instead, he basically said fuckit and attacked the shit out of the place, killing baddies and kickstarting a war responsible for basically DECIMATING THE COUNCIL by the time Dead Beat rolls around. How many fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandparents, friends, lovers were killed because this asshole thought his girlfriend mattered more than they did? How many lives and jobs and pet-projects and books-I-mean-to-read got destroyed? How many people had their entire family, their entire connection to the world destroyed(lots of Wardens are old people without real families. See: Luccio for an example)?

            And hey, he basically burnt that place down. What about any bystanders who got killed in the process? Maybe somebody was locked in a broom-closet. Was their life not as valuable as Susan’s?

            But you know… Susan, Susan is worth those thousands of lives. Susan’s cool.

          • Arkone Axon

            Good examples, yes… though in the case of the “some anonymous person,” Rogue had no way of knowing about them. That would be a potential casualty, a possibility in the future. Rogue’s death would be a certainty, a here and now. (Also, the reason for sacrificing Rogue was to turn world leaders into mutants, not to save lives. Also, it turned out that the procedure wouldn’t have worked and Magneto would have sacrificed Rogue only to leave a bunch of dead world leaders turning into mutants before they died, and the world would hate mutants all the more)

            I was actually referring to Nicodemus, of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius. The guy who’s always so quick to unleash plagues and cause the deaths of… well, how many died during the time the black plague ravaged Europe? When Harry was considering his offer, he thought about a Knight of the Cross who gave his life to save Harry’s. And about a twelve year old girl that Nicodemus had kidnapped and was in the process of having tortured by his allies so he could tempt her into taking up a coin, even as their discussion was going on.

            In the case of Bianca and Susan… Bianca had been killing people steadily for years, before Harry finally had enough (and remember, the choice Bianca gave him was to walk away and let her enslave and/or murder Susan, because she was consumed by a desire for revenge because Harry “murdered” her lover by… pissing her off so badly she ended up draining the lover dry after Harry left, in a previous book. And he had pissed her off by… asking her a few simply questions regarding an investigation into another murdered woman Bianca had loved, and she immediately rushed to assume he had something to do with the murder).

            Furthermore, the entire Red Court had been engaged in steadily murdering and worse for many, many centuries. We eventually find out that they’ve been impersonating Mayan gods and had much of South America literally under their thrall, a horrible nightmare world. Oh, and then they gave the Council another choice of “let this one innocent life die and we’ll give you peace,” and that life was to be used to fuel a blood ritual that would have wiped out… well, it would have wiped out the White Council.

            Now granted, the war was nasty… but you can’t put all of it on Harry. The bulk of the blame goes to the Red Court. The ones who started it because the White Court dared to object to their habit of treating normal humans as fun toys to use until they break, and regularly engaged in all kinds of depraved tactics that violated all the standards of decency for humanity AND the supernatural community. Even Nicodemus shared Harry’s disgust with them (he offered to wipe them out if Harry joined him, adding, “I was planning to do it anyway.” Yes, even as evil as he was, he felt they needed to die on general principles)

          • Guest

            I think there’s a difference between culpability and being another link in the chain of causality.

            If you sell me a gun, and I use it to kill a person… you didn’t kill that person. I did. But you gave me power to do so that I otherwise wouldn’t have had (and let’s just say the person was perpetually out of arm-length to avoid that whole argument about “well you could have killed them some other way”. They’re in a cell, backed against the wall and my arms aren’t long enough). If you had not given me the gun, the person would be alive. That doesn’t make you a murderer, but honestly the question of culpability kind of bores me. After all, I think prisoners should be rehabilitated and put in nice places like those in Norway, independently of the fact that I may personally think THAT PERSON IS AWFUL AND DESERVES TO BE PUNISHED. It’s not about what feels right, it’s about what will lead to the best outcome. Not giving me the gun would have made for a better outcome.

            Therefore… no, I can’t put it all on Harry. Harry didn’t kill a bunch of people in South America. Harry didn’t destroy huge chunks of the Council. It’s not Harry’s fault. But… he was a link in the chain of causality. Same with Susan, who could have just not-gone-there, same with Bianca, same with lots of people, all of whose actions had to align for that specific situation to arise.

            You talk about how we CAN’T FORGET THE PEOPLE WITH A FACE because hey, that way lies dehumanization and genocide and all that. You’re right!

            But…can we forget the people without a face? By that I mean the people who are “statistics”. The people whose lives get ruined because of collateral damage, the people whose lives got saved when Max used his power.

            You bring up that they’re but an abstraction… let’s try to mend that. Imagine… Jane.

            Jane has a debilitating congenital heart disease. She likes drawing, and she wants to be an animator one day. The doctors have given her until age 18 or 19 to live, and she’s 16 now, so she spends a lot of time practising to get really good really fast. She likes Oreos and she’s a fan of Nintendo and Disney. She spends months at a time in a hospital, and so she’s not really enrolled in school. Her mom has a hard time paying the bills, and their insurance isn’t great, so sometimes she works extra shifts and doesn’t get to see her daughter. It breaks her heart, but between seeing her daughter and having her survive for as long as she can, it’s a no-brainer. Her dad… isn’t in the picture.

            Still, she doesn’t need the heart NOW. She’s in a long waiting list, she has another year or two before it becomes particularly urgent. Hence why she’s not of too-high a priority for the doctors. That said, her mom has crunched the numbers, and given how long it takes to get a heart and how many people are in front of her on the line… it doesn’t look like the wait will only be one or two years. It looks like longer. If that’s the case, well… she’ll die before she gets one.

            And then Alison goes to Max’s place, and she tells him hey, asshole, boost my friend to save /countless countless lives/. And he says no.

            He’s not saying no “to Alison, the person who berated him”. He’s saying no to Jane. Somebody whose life would be far better if she had a heart. If organ-scarcity wasn’t a problem. He’s deciding, in that moment, that Jane can die for all he cares, because hey… Alison wasn’t polite enough. And that somebody asks him nicely matters more than the life of Jane.

          • Arkone Axon

            I’d like to point out that Max did NOT say no to Jane. Max could not have said no to Jane, because he didn’t know Jane existed.

            Neither did Alison. Alison didn’t know Jane existed. Jane was anonymous, just a tiny dot in the pixelated image of “the People” that Alison thought of as an abstract. Jane was literally a nonentity in their ethical considerations. Had EITHER of them met Jane, then Jane would have become a consideration. As it is, Jane is like an unwritten clause in a contract that then gets written down and thrust out as evidence regarding a legal dispute. The judge isn’t going to take kindly to that.

            You can’t know all the repercussions of everything you do (and if you did, you’d be G-d – and then mortals would call You an evil monster because You’d do things that seem incomprehensibly monstrous because You can see ALL the consequences of not letting someone’s child die of brain cancer, and they can’t). But because we can’t know all the repercussions, because we can’t be certain of what our choices will result in, all we can ethically choose to do is to keep to a code of conduct. To hold ourselves to a consistent standard and say, “this. I do not know what else i can do, but I can do this much at least. I cannot be certain if my choices will cause suffering down the road for those I do not know, but I can at least say that I do not cause immediate and certain evil for the sake of preventing a possible evil in the future.”

            Again: history is FILLED with examples of people who thought they could predict the future, and their utopian vision justified crimes committed in the present. And it did not work out for any of them… or their victims. Ask the Cambodians about the Khmer Rogue, or ask the Romanians about Nicholas Ceasceau.

            (Also: Even the Merlin agreed that Harry wasn’t to be blamed for the war with the Red Court by the end. By the end of the war, the only quibbling among the White Council was regarding the ideal method of utterly exterminating the Red Court. Harry might have been a rash idealist, but they all agreed that the actual blame belonged to the sadistic bat creatures who had been slaughtering wizards and mundanes alike since the start of the war, and slaughtering mundanes before the start)

          • Guest

            The thing is… The “pixelated image of the people” contains Jane. And it contains her in an obvious manner (her case isn’t exactly rare for people who need organs. The whole thing is about organs. “Countless countless lives” are actually people and not a talking point). Saying “well, they don’t know about Jane” when there’s probably a FEW HUNDRED PEOPLE IN SUCH A POSITION among the “countless countless lives”… Seems disingenuous to me. Jane is assumed when you bring up people with organ problems. Lots of peoplee with wildly different circumstances are assumed. “The people” are not an abstract idea. They’re all of those individuals put together, all of them with stories. The people who fight passionately and say Al was right in this comment section do it because they’re thinking of Jane, and John, and Maria and Juan and Belle and Jaques and so on. All of them with individual stories. All of them potentially dead if Max refuses and Alison respects it.

            It’s like saying “hey, I just got a lot of money for no reason. I could donate it to charity in Zambia to save several thousand people, but the person who came to tell me about that was a dick, so no.” You KNOW what donating to Zambia means. There are LOTS OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE THERE. Denying the money does not affect the dick who brought it up that much. It affects the Zambians who will die. You are not saying no to the dick. You’re saying no to them.

            Not knowing them personally is… Dismissing the people without faces. Having been some faceless stranger, I can tell you it’s not pleasant to have somebody somewhere decide you’re not worth helping because they don’t know you as more than a number. If everyone really has a face like you say, why is Jane a non-entity?

            Is the world history filled with assholes who used the “greater good” to justify terribleness? Yes! I mean, STALIN is there! Hitler is there! Fidel Castro is there!

            But you know who also puts a lot of effort towards the greater good? Bill Gates. People who donate their kidneys to strangers. Doctors without borders. You know who else does that? Any government that taxes people. Any government that puts people in jail for the protection of the populace. Any government that has community service as a punishment.

            (Also yes. Harry does not have the BLAME. I have agreed with this. But he was a link in the causal reaction, and if not for him shit would have gone differently. He could have done things differently and thousands would have lived who now are dead. Still, like I said, if you sell me the gun and I kill the person… I still killed the person. The vampires still killed the people. The blame rests with them.)

          • Freemage

            Heh. I made this point up above, before getting to you making it here. We don’t know if it was nice, nasty, dismissive, curt, pleading, logical or emotive; we just know what she told him. The bias people insist on putting on that unseen bit is telling.

          • Arkone Axon

            Gah… gonna have to copy/paste this one since multiple people made this point for me to provide the counterpoint:

            Alison didn’t care about those other people. She only cared about Feral. The “millions of lives” were a convenient rationalization; she had already established she would unhesitantly condemn them all to death if it meant getting Feral off the table. There’s words, and there’s actions – and I’ve learned to trust actions over words.

            (Also, not needing to copy/paste this part to the others, but… Max did not brag, Max did not act out of petty spite, claiming that he’s an adult version of Montana Max from “Tiny Toons” is a false narrative. Alison was the selfish and spiteful one, and the reason why she is attempting to provide restitution in this page is because she fully admitted that on multiple previous pages. To insist that Max is a two dimensional caricature of a cliched cartoon villain is to say that this comic is so poorly written that it would have such characters in it, and I disagree on that)

          • Dawn Smashington

            Where is your rationale for Max not bragging, being selfish, or acting out of spite? He specifically said he would say “No” just because it was Al asking. How are you rationalizing his dehumanization of his Hispanic workforce, for instance?

          • Arkone Axon

            My rationale would be page 85 of this chapter. Juleslt challenged me to provide a detailed and sourced argument earlier, so it’s still pretty fresh to me:

            “And even if I wanted to do it, I might still say no, just to you.”

            That’s pretty straightforward. He’s saying that even if he did want to, even if he weren’t afraid of the repercussions, he was specifically saying no to the person who was such a colossal jerk about “asking.” He might very well have said “yes” to someone else, someone who was not Alison, someone who was not rude, insulting, and dismissive of his unhappiness, fears, and the signs of emotional abuse. Or as you put it, his “freakin’ fee-fees.” No one has a right to demand a favor from someone they can’t even be bothered to pretend to respect.

            As for his “dehumanization” of “his” hispanic workforce… they weren’t his. They were contracted by one of his father’s aids. Max did not have the right to tell them to take the day off; they could have been fired for listening to him. Just as Alison did not have the right to tell him to tell them that, when she had no idea of the specifics of the situation – were they working late for any particular reason, because something had to be done late that night? How well compensated were they?

          • Lostman

            Max’s problem is that he done nothing to take control of his live, but then there the question of can he? The guy isn’t blameless in his problems, however it’s not all self-inflicted. At the start of this chapter it seemed he was trying to live on his, but we’re unsure if he was fully independent or under his parents influence.

          • Dawn Smashington

            Again, being the victim of assault does not automatically make everything a person has ever done okay. Max is not innocent. In case I need to be clear, not being innocent is also not a good reason to be assaulted; Al is also not innocent. But claiming that Max is for some reason a completely innocent soul is a blind view to take.

          • Dawn Smashington

            One more thing; being the product of a rich family, and having the social opinions that often comes from that, does not make a person a two-dimensional cartoon caricature of evil. Acting out of selfishness and spite does not negate a person’s humanity. I say this, not to defend Max’s actions, but to point out that calling out the rich for their wrongs is not a dehumanizing act. We all wrong, for we are all human.

          • Freemage

            Part of the problem is that we never saw the part where she lays out her case to him. She went to his place, then we cut to her explanation being finished. We know she made the facts of the case known to him, but we don’t know if she included any sort of additional argument whatsoever. That ambiguity has, I think, fueled the debate considerably, since everyone puts their own spin on it–Ali’s supporters assume she included the best arguments; her detractors tend to assume that she insulted him throughout, either deliberately or in casual dismissal.

            So I’m going to go with what we know for certain. He knows the bare-bones facts of the case: that Feral is underoing extreme torment to benefit others; that her ability to provide that benefit would be enhanced, and her own torment reduced, by his intervention; that Feral herself is someone Ali cares about.

            Knowing all three of those things, he chooses to refuse her request, and makes it quite clear he’s not interested in further appeal. I don’t consider her decision to force him justified by this–but I also think that focusing on the legality of her actions is, in itself, an error. She had a fully legal route of coercion that could have been even more devastating to him–exposure, of multiple misdeeds by his parents as well as his true identity. That threat probably would have had him completely willing to go to the hospital, and even left him under her thumb at least as well as the threat of further physical coercion. So when you stress the fact that she committed assault, you’re actually distracting from the core issue of whether or not coercion of someone in such circumstances is ever justified.

            Of course, I also regard him as a completely selfish shithead for choosing to not act; his reasons for inaction do not impress me. But there’s a sharp line between that and believing he deserved what happened to him.

          • cphoenix

            She did indeed point out to him that he would save countless lives. Did you forget? Or are you quibbling that this doesn’t count as a literal ask?

          • Arkone Axon

            Gah… I’m needing to copy/paste this one (along with minor editing to get past the spam filters) since multiple people made this point for me to provide the counterpoint:

            Alison didn’t care about those other people. She only cared about Feral. The “millions of lives” were a convenient rationalization; she had already established she would unhesitantly condemn them all to death if it meant getting Feral off the table. There’s words, and there’s actions – and I’ve learned to trust actions over words.

          • Freemage

            “Alison didn’t care about those other people. She only cared about Feral.”

            This assumes something so far from ‘in evidence’ that I can only think of it as head-canon. You C&Ping it ad naseum does nothing to actually prove it, either.

            If you want to put forward that Alison’s primary concern was for Feral, and that the benefits to others was of secondary import to her, you might have a point. She did, indeed, place Feral’s well-being over that of those Feral is saving.

            However, this does not mean she did so without any regard for those people. The existence of a hierarchy of concern does not establish that nothing save the pinnacle concern is valued at all. For Ali, at that moment, it was Feral>Patients>Max.

            The funny thing is, you make decent points. But then you insist on overreaching in order to establish that what Ali did was the Worst Thing Ever, for which there can be no proper outcome other than her suffering unto your personal satisfaction. This does nothing to help your position.

          • Arkone Axon

            Please scroll up to my reply to juleslt, starting with “A more detailed and sourced argument…”

            I never said that what Ali did was the Worst Thing Ever. There are many characters in the story who have done considerably worse things – such as Feral herself, who was a murderous vigilante now repenting for her past. Cleaver the mass murdering goon with the razor sharp claws and a heart filled with rage and misery. Moonshadow the superheroine turned serial killer who justifies her thrill killing with a combination of selecting “acceptable targets” with truth serums (inadmissible in legal trials because they DON’T WORK) and openly admitting that she’s not afraid to kill an innocent victim or two by mistake. And of course Alison’s ex-boyfriend Patrick, the former supervillain who caused the deaths of thousands, and is STILL up to nefarious activities (he’s just more subtle about it).

            I’m simply pointing out that what Ali did was wrong. Flat out wrong. And that the reason why she’s now a penitent hero seeking redemption and not a villain protagonist is that she recognizes it as well.

          • Izo

            Still hoping there will be consequences but I’m very doubtful. Extremely, extremely doubtful.

          • Dell

            He doesn’t *have* to lift a finger. He isn’t obligated to do anything at all. It’s HIS body and HIS powers. I could have donated to African kids instead of getting a red bull at lunch today, does that make me a horrible person?


          • juleslt

            Your ability to effect change with your donation does not compare.
            Scale matters.
            Please go continue that discussion in the plasma donation thread.

      • Lostman

        Arkone, After going through this whole comment thread this arc. I have started to wonder about group both political, and morally.

    • Walter

      Max express guilt? To Alison? What would that even sound like?

      “I’m so sorry that I didn’t obey your orders. Can you forgive me for provoking you into assaulting me? I know you have a temper and it was irresponsible of me to make you hurt me. You probably felt really bad after kidnapping and assaulting me, and that’s also on me. If’ I’d only been better you wouldn’t have had to use force. Please forgive me.”

      • Zorae42

        I don’t think guilt is likely, but maybe gratitude?

        “I’ve been watching the news about all the families receiving organ transplants. Seeing all those smiling people made me realize it was ME that made all that possible. I want to thank you for making me confront and get over my childish hatred of my own ability and see the good I can do. I want you to put me in contact with other biodynamics so I can help other people. You mentioned something about a support system that could be created to keep my identity secret last time right?

        And by the way, if you ever kidnap or harm me ever again I will not hesitate to power up someone to come kick your ass.”

        But that would be a happy ending for everyone involved and that’s not allowed apparently.

  • Roman Snow

    Wow. My prediction that she based her decision on her read of his personality, and that putting down the black stone was the most interesting choice for him to make, was a lot more spot on than I expected. Now I wish I had elaborated on why putting down the black stone was more interesting because this was the main reason, although I would have put it a lot more charitably than “he’s an asshole.”

    I mean, he is but he’s also a great character and a lot of fun to watch. I was thinking more “going back on her original principles and being punished for it would be the most interesting possible lesson, but what actually happened is the second most interesting outcome from his perspective because it subverts the conclusions one would draw from the original exercise.”

    • Michael

      Putting down a white stone is completely uninteresting. He’s already demonstrated that scenario in class: people can and will be selfish, whether out of calculation or out of ignorance. The interesting scenario is who or why would someone put down a black stone. Davenport did it out of necessity. Alison did it out of selflessness and strategy.

      What possible reason could Gurwara have for choosing the selfish strategy? Does he need his job very badly? I doubt it: someone with his backstory could find adequate work elsewhere. There is no reason for him to play white.

      Indeed, the selfish strategy for him is playing black. Because he’s not a student.

      • Stephanie

        I don’t think we can discount how much of a royal pain in the ass it would have been for him to find a new job. If he wanted another academic position, for instance, he might have to relocate.

  • Arkone Axon

    Now that we’ve got a new page, and we’re headed back to Max and all… I’d like to draw up a comparison that will further highlight the differences in certain moral positions declared here. Namely… this guy:



    This man’s blood gives him the ability to save MILLIONS of babies. He has done so much good for the world. He is unquestionably a life saver. The saver of the lives of babies, to be precise.

    First question: Suppose his response to finding out that he was able to do so had been to refuse to donate blood? Perhaps because he couldn’t be bothered, yes. Or perhaps because his religion forbids him from doing so. Or because he suspects a nefarious ulterior motive on the part of those asking. Would it then be permissible to strap him down and harvest his blood without his consent?

    Second question: Mister Harrison has been saving the lives of literally millions of babies with his own life’s blood. What does he deserve from the rest of humanity in general, and from any individuals reading this comment who might also have some ability to compensate him in any way? Does he deserve a mere thank you? Does he deserve praise and attempts to help him with any difficulties he might have, be they medical or financial or merely personal? Or should he be told that it’s his duty to use his blood selflessly for others and he should feel selfish and evil for ever wanting anything in return for the blood that has saved literally millions of newborn children?

    • juleslt

      He deserves massive praise and as much compensation as people are willing to give.
      If he refused to do it, we would pile as much incentive as we could to enthuse him to do it, but it would still be wrong to force him.
      But if he still refused, we would be completely entitled to consider him morally loathsome.

      • dragonus45

        Close, no one would be entitled to call him loathsome or morally wrong or any other condemnation of what he chose to do with his body. Its called bodily autonomy and it is a basic human right.

        • juleslt

          That would be Max’s ethics, which he is entitled to.
          Just as the rest of us are entitled our different ethical systems, and the ethical judgements that ensue.

          • dragonus45

            So the basic human right to make your own decisions about your own body is just one ethical system of many. Good to know.

          • juleslt

            It is one value among many.
            Few ethical systems consider it the one value that overrides them all, yeah.

          • dragonus45

            Sounds like some shit ethical systems then, I mean if its ok to ignore a persons rights for convenience sake then may as well bring back slavery. Probably would be a great economic boost. Just imagine how many lives could be saved.

          • juleslt

            You might enjoy this test: http://www.yourmorals.org/5f_new2_process.php
            It will also allow you to see where you stand, as well as get a better sense of the range of human values.

          • dragonus45

            What does the range of human values matter? Some opinions and beliefs are wrong no matter how many people may believe them.

          • juleslt

            What would you argue from, in order to persuade people that your values are more “right” than theirs?
            Without circular reasoning.

          • dragonus45

            The same way you convince anyone of anything, calling them names on the internet and making angry tweets.

          • I agree with you — but I don’t think that I have the ability to know 100% for sure which ones they are, and therefore have a responsibility to listen to other opinions and beliefs in case I am wrong.

          • Elaine Lee

            That’s a very interesting site. I’ve done quite a few of the tests on the site and have found them illuminating.

          • I do. I think that bodily autonomy, or more generally, self-determination, is the one value upon which all other values rest.

            However, I don’t think that the application of that is particularly simple. In particular, I don’t believe that property is DIRECTLY tied to self-determination, and therefore, while there is a strong moral value to letting people have and control their own stuff, it’s not absolute, and society therefore has a capacity to appropriate parts of a person’s property (i.e., make people pay taxes), if the resources are then used for things which promote everybody’s rights, which, again, are based on self-determination.

            The primary role of government is to protect the self-determination of people. The secondary role is to protect the property of people, including those things which are owned jointly by everybody together, like public domain intellectual property, air and water, extractable resources, and the electromagnetic spectrum. The tertiary role is to provide services which are useful to everybody and therefore help everybody realize a greater portion of their own potential, which includes education, health care, and the arts. Those aren’t rights per se, but they’re useful and make society better.

            But, yes, autonomy and self-determination is the one value which overrides it all.

          • juleslt

            Which brings us back to:
            That’s your ethics, which you are entitled to.
            Just as the rest of us are entitled our different ethical systems, and the ethical judgements that ensue.

          • cphoenix

            In most contexts I disagree with the absolutism of the first paragraph, but I’m upvoting because I like the nuance of the others.

            (Also, IIRC the first paragraph is what Ayn Rand believed, and many of her followers have rather unfortunate and impractical moral systems. https://xkcd.com/592/ )

          • You need to reverse two and three, because three implies taxation to fund it (plus society tends to come to a crashing halt without, say, roads to get goods to market, garbage collection, schools to train the people to keep society running, and so on)

          • Why do they need to be reversed? I consider the protection of the commons to be a somewhat more primary role for government than the practical “making stuff work” role. Because you could THEORETICALLY have some other sort of agency to do the whole education and infrastructure sort of thing (I can’t think of any case where it actually WORKED, but in THEORY, you could), but the “protecting everybody’s stuff jointly” thing can only be done by an entity which works for everybody jointly, which can only be a government.

          • Collective protection is the primary aim of a society. Flowing out of that you need infrastructure: in the earliest days perhaps just a torch to wave at a wolf, or pointy sticks to wave at the other guys intent on taking your clan’s stuff away from you, etc. But as society becomes more complex you start getting stuff that one man or woman can’t provide. Initially defensive fortifications (and religious stuff), but as your society grows the needs become more abstract – sewers, roads, schools, hospitals, and the direct benefit to an individual in funding them in advance becomes less apparent, particularly as you develop beyond the single community. Hence taxation, whether in labour or in kind.

            I think part of your secondary aim of protection of property I see as falling under the primary aim of collective protection, but society always implies at least a degree of goods/labour held in common in order to carry out the primary aim or produce the infrastructure that supports the primary aim (‘it’s your turn to wave the torch at the wolf’, ‘Cover my back or we’re both dead’, ‘If we don’t finish the stockade the fvlk clan’ll slaughter us’, ‘everyone needs to make 10 arrows or a spear so we have plenty to hold them off the stockade’). So protection of property I see as secondary to infrastructure, because the primary aim already expects you to sacrifice your labour, as does the need for defensive infrastructure that flows out of it.

          • Billy

            have a look at this infrastructure model, http://resiliencemaps.org/

            and this version, http://www.appropedia.org/Six_ways_to_die

          • Interesting, but seems very weak on transportation infrastructure and food security.

          • The more I think about it, the more I’m coming down with this.

            The following statements are both true:
            1. The fundamental right upon which all other rights and morality is based is the right of self-determination, and the right to be who you want to be.

            2. Every person has a responsibility to act in benefit to their society as a whole, and society as a whole has the right to ensure that people act in accordance with that responsibility.

            And these two statements are both true, and also in direct conflict.

            And all the other arguments we’re having basically come down to wrestling these two true and utterly contradictory statements.

          • I’m not sure they do conflict, rather they interact as a form of commerce. (Oh, god, I’ve invented capitalism as a justification for commun(al)ism).

            To do what I want I need safety (both individually and for any family).
            I can provide a certain amount of that myself, but even in a primitive culture I can’t really do it all individually – who covers my back in a fight, who waves the torch at the wolf when I’m too tired or sick to do it myself.
            Other people will do that, but they expect the same from me.
            So an interchange of personal labour for mutual benefit.
            As society becomes more complex, the needs and benefits become more complex and infrastructure dependent, and personal labour gives way to payment in kind, and ultimately taxation.

            You could always try to take unfair advantage, but that then runs into the general principle that my rights stop when they interfere with yours, and vice versa.

          • Standard principle of human rights: yours stop at the point they interfere with mine (and vice versa).

        • Freemage

          dragonus45: Do take care to note that ‘condemnation’ here consists only of personal opinion, with no motive force behind it, beyond the desire he might have for the approval of his peers. Thus, no violation of bodily autonomy (unless that personal condemnation were somehow given additional motive force, say by an employer refusing to hire him).

          That said, personally, I would not find him loathesome. I would, however, urge a change in the laws to incentivize him positively to do the same thing he’s doing now–either by paying him directly, or by making charitable donations in his name to organizations of his choice.

        • Walter

          Some people would. They mostly comment here. I’m sure you are already hearing from a few.

        • It’s his right to engage in a morally loathsome act, yes. Just because he’s free to choose a given path doesn’t mean he should choose it. (On the other hand, just because he should choose a given path doesn’t mean we should force him to do it.)

          • dragonus45

            Sure, except for the part where what he did wasn’t morally loathsome.

          • juleslt

            By *your* standards

          • dragonus45

            By any standards, he made a choice to not use his body in a way he did not want to use his body.

          • Zorae42

            So someone crosses the street and I don’t feel like using my body to hit the break pedal, then I’m not morally wrong for hitting them with my car?

          • Arkone Axon

            In your example, you’re in control of the vehicle and responsible for it (a point that the police, prosecution, and judge would all be happy to explain further should you attempt to demonstrate). A better example would be if you saw someone stumbling down the street dripping blood with a knife sticking out of their torso, and you had to choose whether or not to provide assistance and drive them to the E.R.

          • Zorae42

            Or even call an ambulance, you don’t even have to put yourself in danger/get blood on your car for that.

            You’re correct about my example, thank you for providing a better one.

          • dragonus45

            Off the top of my head I can think of several reasons a person might not help in that situation. Not that I would agree with them but I certainly wouldn’t call anyone involved loathsome.

          • dragonus45

            Thanks for the inane example that ignores the responsibility you take onto yourself when choosing to drive a vehicle. That same responsibility that says if you had time to stop and didn’t then your in violation and this am morally wrong. Unless the ran into the road or attempted to cross illegally and you had no time to respond.

          • Izo

            There seems to be a fundamental disconnect by your detractors about the difference between preventing someone from doing an action (ie, an illegal action, such as running over a person) and choosing inaction over action of fixing a problem that the person wasn’t responsible for causing in the first place (which is a respect for ones own bodily autonomy).

          • juleslt

            Not “by any standards”: not by mine, not by those of a bunch of people who commented here, not by those of most people in the world, probably.

            Your claim to universality is completely full of shit.

          • dragonus45

            Your standards seem to be the problem here if you can’t recognize that people have a pretty simple right to to their own bodies.

          • juleslt

            A right is not inherent, it is granted by society

          • dragonus45

            So if society decides that people of a certain race or religion have no rights their basic human rights cease to exist? Or if society decides to overturn Roe V Wade then a woman’s right to her body just ceases to exist?

          • juleslt

            For most of history, people didn’t have any “rights”, and they could disappear.
            And I’m surprised to see you confuse “society” with “the government” 😜

          • dragonus45

            Gotcha, so no one actually has a right to anything. Thus no one has a right to expect anyone to do anything for them? So Max owes no one anything? I disagree with the idea that there is no such thing as an inalienable right but its good to see you agree Max was in the right.

          • juleslt

            Just because they’re conventions doesn’t major them not real.
            But I shouldn’t expect you to wrap your head around ethics different from yours.

          • dragonus45

            Uhuh uhuh, well have fun flouncing off then, if you can still see this. Next time you might want to work on putting forth a coherent argument.

          • Arkone Axon

            …So… if a society were to say that women don’t own their own bodies, then we shouldn’t argue otherwise?

            (I.e. abortion rights, forced clothes wearing, laws governing various flavors of rape from violent gang rape to marital rape to date rape, etc, all being thrown out the window because a society says so?)

          • Lostman

            It’s the people who are in charge of said society who make the rules, it’s the individuals under them get to choose if they follow or not.

          • juleslt

            We *should* advance our values.
            That’s usually a big part of what their being *our values* means.

          • Izo

            Thanks for someone else mentioning the hypocrisy on abortion rights by the same people who would say that bodily autonomy should be subservient to some ‘greater good’ as judged by some other group. I’ve mentioned the rape analogies a few times already as well.

          • “Inalienable rights don’t exist” and “inalienable rights exist” are both nonfalsifiable statements. “Rights” are a metaphysical concept, and therefore cannot be tested or proven one way or the other — but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And it doesn’t mean they DO exist, either.

            You cannot say “inalienable rights exist/don’t exist” or “objective morality exists/doesn’t exist.” What you can say is “I BELIEVE THAT inalienable rights and/or objective morality exists/doesn’t exist”, or “I act in accordance with the idea that they do/do not exist.”

            Objective morality, inalienable rights, and, for that matter, an unknowable Deity, are all things that it’s pointless to debate whether they exist or not. There’s nothing to debate, because there are no points which can exist to support or oppose either proposition.

            Also, the existence of objective rights and ethics and the existence of an unknowable Deity are separate — you can believe in one or the other and not both, or neither, or both. People think that believing in objective morality means believing in a God of some sort, and that believing in a God of some sort means believing in some sort of objective morality, and a lot of religions and spiritual traditions DO offer them as a two-for-one package deal, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

          • juleslt

            The question “do rights exist” can be categorically answered merely by defining the term “rights”.
            The problem is that there is disagreement on the definition.

          • I didn’t say, and do not believe, that you don’t believe in rights. What you don’t believe in are OBJECTIVE rights that exist a priori, by themselves, outside of a human mind.

            I believe that one problem is that “rights” has two different meanings. We have moral rights, which are things that we have to do because they’re the right thing to do (whether we believe that such a decision of what’s the right thing to do is relative to a society or separate from one), and then we have legal rights, which are things which aren’t moral, but which we use because they’re useful and make things more convenient or practical.

            For instance, “mineral rights” and “copyright” aren’t moral rights: they’re things that we, as a society, have created because it’s a convenient way to regulate the usage of the commons. We assign people the exclusive use of their creations for a limited period of time, because, in practical terms, it means that we eventually get more cool stuff in the commons that everybody can play with. We assign “mineral rights” and “grazing rights” and “water rights” so that we can decide who gets to get the first level of benefit from the commonly-owned useful things in the ground — but we have to make sure that we, as a society, ALSO get a decent cut of the profits. Because the point of those “rights” is convenience.

          • Well, of course–he chose to donate his blood. *wink*

            Before we continue–do you at least acknowledge a distinction between what we are free to do and what we should do?

          • dragonus45

            Generally yes, although I think that there is almost nothing in the world that anyone *should* do.

    • elad

      Also, consider his dilemma should he be in a condition where he has to choose whether to take medication that will make him ineligible to donate blood.
      Will he choose his own health or the life of those children?

    • AveryAves

      Yeah I reckon he’d be kinda a dickhole for not doing that
      But other than that the question has changed here. Cause this is a Feral question, not a Max question. Max would have given up nothing but his pride to anonymously assist someone who is doing the actual sacrifice. Max feels he is entitled to the deaths of thousands, _millions_, and the lifetime torture of Feral just because he wants to spite Allison.
      Of course this is a superhero comic and the stakes aren’t quite as high in the real world. But a more realistic case could be made for an incredibly specialized doctor who could perform procedures on a person such as Mister Harrison here. And then the doctor refuses to do so because of the simple fact that someone they don’t like wants them to do it.

      • HanoverFist

        I really don’t think he “felt entitled to the deaths of thousands” I think he wanted to abstain from using his powers and live in privacy.

        • juleslt

          The argument is that he felt entitled to let all these people die *for the sake of* abstaining from using his powers and living in privacy.
          As well as the satisfaction of having affirmed his freedom against Al’s request to act morally.

          • dragonus45

            I hate to break it to you but he was entitled to abstain from using his powers and live in privacy. Especially considering the personal risk his powers carry.

          • juleslt

            Once again, that is not an absolute fact. It’s your value justement.

          • dragonus45

            Once again, the right of bodily autonomy is not a value judgement. It is an absolute right.

          • Zorae42

            Tell that to the many people in jail.

            If it’s something that can be morally taken away as a result of committing a crime (even ones where you don’t infringe on someone else’s ‘absolute’ right), then it’s not really absolute then is it?

          • dragonus45

            Jail has nothing to do with this, if you are in jail its because you commited a crime and forfeited your rights and even in that situation you still have certain basic rights about what can and can not be done to you without your consent. Its not a hard concept, and its an even stupider example than the car one was.

          • Zorae42

            So you are allowed to enslave people, but only if they’ve done something bad.

            And the bad thing can simply be talking back to the judge, or only being suspected of doing something bad (but then it’s only a short time so that’s okay).

          • dragonus45

            First off Jail and enslavement are not the same thing, false equivalence.

            Second, yes there are a fair number of things that can result in temporary or permanent detention. Some of them are fairly stupid and for the most part they only exist in the specific circumstance of ensuring you are no danger to others and are punished for committing crimes. How exactly does this make your argument not stupid?

          • Zorae42

            You do know labor prisons exist right? Where they literally lock people up and force them to perform labor for free. You’ve got a strange definition of slavery.

            Because apparently you are allowed to violate someone’s autonomy even for petty reasons. And yet you still insist that it’s not a value but an absolute right? You’ve also got a strange definition of absolute.

          • dragonus45

            Yea, and I’m not a fan of those. What is your point? Oh, and if your not convicted you can’t be forced to work. That is an important point.

          • Zorae42

            That they’re clearly a value and not a right as they exist and only a portion of the population is outraged.

          • dragonus45

            …are you stupid?

          • Zorae42

            Are you?

            If something exists that takes away bodily autonomy and only part of the population thinks it’s a bad thing, then that implies different people place different values on bodily autonomy. Not a hard concept to grasp.

          • dragonus45

            Just because some people think something is ok does not make it ok. Not a hard concept to grasp.

          • Izo

            Watch out. She’s going to call you a douche canoe next…. πŸ™‚

          • dragonus45

            Also for reference, consider the literally as high as it could be standard of evidence for conviction of a crime, the default assumption of innocence, and wealth of law designed to protect people from government detention. Do you know why? Its because putting someone in jail and removing them from society is a huge deal, and everyone involved understands that. But guess what, you don’t get to then use prisoners in medical experiments or force them to donate organs to non criminals.

          • Zorae42

            You do know that it was just 2 years ago that the US passed a bill preventing forced sterilization of female prisoners right?

            Yeah we all agree that it was wrong (at least I hope so), but apparently those people in charge of prisons for the many many many years it was a common practice didn’t think so.

          • dragonus45

            And? Examples of why respecting a persons rights to make decisions about what they want to do with their body are really only going to make my point for me.

          • Zorae42

            The fact that the idea of bodily autonomy as a right that all people have is a relatively recent concept implies that it’s not an ‘absolute right’, but a value that has recently been given more importance.

          • dragonus45

            So that makes it justified to violate it?

          • Zorae42

            Some people think so for certain circumstances. You think so if they’ve committed a crime. They think so if your refusing to help a large number of people at little cost to yourself. It’s just a question of values.

          • dragonus45

            Ok, first step. Putting someone in jail is not violating their basic human rights to decide what happens with their body and what they do and it certainly isn’t equal to getting raped because someone decided they didn’t like your life choices.

          • dragonus45

            The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights both enshrine the concept and its a key point of both American Bill of Rights and a dozen other world constitutions and has been the basis of several philosophies for centuries but sure, its to new a concept to really put any stock into it.

          • Zorae42

            So those legal prison/mentally ill sterilizations are just myths. The fact that marital rape wasn’t a crime until recently isn’t true either. My mistake.

            I’m not saying they’re right or that I agree with them (I really really don’t) but I can recognize that because of the difference in their values, other people can think they’re right (even though I disagree with every fiber of my body).

          • dragonus45

            Sure they can think they are right, but that doesn’t mean they are.

          • Compulsory involuntary sterilization of disabled people still happens, though not as frequently as before the repudiation of eugenics. However practise and human rights can differ without invalidating human rights.

          • Merle


          • dragonus45

            Oh, that’s simple. Because if literally any right a person has essentially boils down to it. Without it as an inalienable right no other right could exist.

          • Merle

            So you’re arguing it’s a prerequisite right to any other rights.

            What makes it an inalienable right?

          • dragonus45

            Well, natural inalienable rights exist thus is exists and is the most basic and important one.

          • Merle

            On what basis can you say that natural inalienable rights exist?

          • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – people can argue ethics all they like, but this is international law anywhere on the planet:

            Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

            Article 4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

            Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

            Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

            Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

            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

            Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

          • Freemage


            The CDoHRiI has its own take on the document you cite, and is considered paramount in the nations that signed it, over the Universal Declaration. Most notably, it enshrines the Sharia rules that specifically regulate women differently than men. So the claim that it’s the law ‘anywhere on the planet’ isn’t accurate, even if we ignore the fact that the Declaration was written without actual legal enforcement powers.

          • Arkone Axon

            …Um… setting aside the fact that saying “this declaration relies heavily on Sharia rules” is a VERY problematic thing to suggest in regards to a discussion on ethics…

            “Article 10 of the Declaration states: “Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion or to atheism.”

            The Declaration protects each individual from arbitrary arrest, torture, maltreatment, or indignity. Furthermore, no individual is to be used for medical or scientific experiments without his consent or at the risk of his health or of his life. It also prohibits the taking of hostages of any individual “for any purpose whatsoever”.”

            When Pakistan, Syria, and Iran have an official declaration that agrees that the kind of treatment Max received was 100% immoral and to be condemned… well, you’re making governments that apologize for and cover up acid attacks on women look morally upright by comparison…

          • Freemage

            Um… You misread me completely; apparently the androids also forgot to explain the notion of ‘context’ to you. David Gillon said the UD has the force of law everywhere on the planet. I disputed that by pointing out a collection of nations that have rejected the UD, thereby depriving it of the force of law within their borders.

            I was not in any way commenting on the morality or ethics of that collection of nations. And since I’ve never described the treatment of Max as anything other than morally wrong, please feel free to take your lies, and place them someplace the sun don’t shine.

          • Arkone Axon

            Okay, that would be the second post you’ve made where you resort to childish personal attacks. I was typing up my response to your first post while you rushed to insult me a second time. Will you be trying for a third, or would you prefer to take a step back and recognize that your behavior is unacceptable by any reasonable standards?

            And here’s some more fodder for you to rally forth with cheap attacks with (should you elect to continue with the “insult the person who disagrees with me” tactic). You pointed out a collection of nations that rejects the UD… but even the CDHRI agrees with the UD in regards to compulsion on people, to forcing them to engage in medical procedures without their consent, and the immorality of slave labor and forced servitude.

            In other words, the same declaration that you linked agrees with the UD that what was done to Max was immoral and wrong.

            (Heck, the CDHRI basically says the exact same things that the UD does; it just insists on phrasing things differently. That’s like saying that not every decent person agrees with Rabbi Hillel’s summation of morality as “that which is hateful unto you, do not do unto others” because not everyone is Jewish… when every other religion, as well as ideologies such as secular humanism, describe the same Golden Rule in different wordings)

          • Freemage

            Until you acknowledge that above, you flat out lied about my position re: Ali’s actions against Max (ie, I agree they were wrong, and have been saying so all along), I see no reason to treat you in the manner you wish.

            And the CDHRI was simply the most convenient example of the UD not being truly ‘universal’. Even the clauses you cite are, as a practical matter, unenforced by the nations in question. What I’m objecting to is the resort to legalism in place of rational examination of ethical issues.

          • Arkone Axon

            Until you show me where I specifically said that you, personally, were holding a position regarding Alison’s actions against Max that were other than what you said, until you copy/paste the exact words where I said that you specifically were part of the “anti-Max brigade,” then all you’re doing is saying “I’m making an accusation against you that justifies behaving in a juvenile fashion.”

            Show me where I said it and I’ll apologize. But if you can’t, then I expect the apology from you.

          • International Law trumps local law (to various degrees). This is a fundamental principle of law that has grown up over the last several centuries, spinning out of maritime/Admiralty Law. I was aware of the Cairo Declaration, and that the signatories hold the UDHR to have problems, but I suspect it would be ruled secondary to the UDHR if it came to a clash in an international court. It’s like the International War Crimes Tribunal, it has jurisdiction whether you’ve signed up to it or not.

          • dragonus45

            I mean, are you seriously arguing for the right to enslave someone just because?

          • juleslt

            I’m arguing that not everyone equates the slightest infringement on bodily autonomy with slavery, and I’m getting tired of your inability to recognize that there is any possible value system other than yours.

          • dragonus45

            For starters the situation at hand, the use of overwhelming physical force to turn someones no into a yes with the promise it will happen again added in at the end, is far from the slightest infringement on bodily autonomy. I recognize there are plenty of value systems in the world but if that value system does not recognize the rights of the individual then its wrong.

          • StClair

            You used a computing device of some sort to browse this thread and make this post. How much human suffering went into the manufacture of said device, and do you feel entitled to that?
            Repeat for… pretty much every aspect of modern “Western” life. And that’s just the humans; wait’ll we get into the animals.

          • juleslt

            Scale matters

          • How real are those abstract people to Max, vs his safety?

            We know people have different value judgements depending on whether or not they know the people involved.

      • Arkone Axon

        The claim that Max wanted to condemn millions to death in order to spite Alison is a false narrative repeatedly debunked by the comic itself. Alison was mainly concerned with Feral, and the lives being saved were of secondary concern. Max was afraid to act because of the risks involved should his powers become public knowledge. Alison refused to even extend a hint of compassion towards him (i.e. the sneering condemnation of him being “selfish” for not rushing to help others to his own detriment), and when he told her to get out she then became violent.

        • Freemage

          “Wanted to”? No. “Was willing to, and considered spiting Alison a positive element of that decision?” Yes. People are complicated, and his motives were neither purely malicious nor perfectly justifiable, any more than hers were.

          • juleslt

            Her means were wrong, but her motives were anything but malicious.

          • Freemage

            Some part of her willingness to reach for force so quickly was likely (not definitely, mind you) motivated by anger at his general selfishness. That’s a form of malice. Again, that doesn’t mean I believe she’s solely acting from that motive, any more than he was solely doing so to snub her.

        • Lysiuj

          IMO, “Max only wanted to spite Alison” is actually on pretty equal ground with “Alison only cared about Tara”. In that both are possible but don’t seem much supported by the text.
          Max said he would do it to see Alison not get her way… but he stated a hypothetical (“even if”, “I might”), but had already given other concrete reasons for not doing it now. It’s possible he was doing it to spite her all along, but doesn’t seem likely.
          Alison cares deeply about Tara… but she’s also helped or saved many people she wasn’t personally connected to, and she emphasized to Max the many lives he’d be saving, not the one friend he’d be saving. It’s possible she was doing it only for Tara, but doesn’t seem likely.

          • juleslt

            “Alison only cared about Tara” is all but disproved by her speech. I don’t remember her lying, and certainly not about something important or when emotional.

            “Max only wanted to spite Alison”… well, he was the one who said that that would be enough for him to refuse to help, and that’s when Al blows a fuse.
            It’s clear that it isn’t his only reason, but it seems significant enough.

          • Lysiuj

            He said that in the heat of the moment when angry, and again, he said he *might*. That’s not enough for me to believe it’s an actual motivation of his.

          • juleslt

            I wouldn’t take him at his word that it would be enough, but I don’t see how you could reasonably exclude it entirely from his motivations.

          • Lysiuj

            Yeah, fair enough. Although it’s still a far cry from claiming he condemned people to die just to get at Alison.

          • OTOH it’s not the first time Max has expressed an opinion about Tara. He questioned her motivation at the dinner in the garden. He does seem predisposed to think about her.

            My personal opinion is whether he means it or not is moot, he used it as a threat, so it needs to be treated as one.

          • Lysiuj

            Meaning, he used “I would say no to spite you” as a threat?
            Cause I really don’t see it that way. In a lot of cases we do need to assess whether someone actually means what they’re saying, before we decide if it’s a threat.
            And FWIW, even if dismissing Tara was part of his motivation that’s still seperate from spiting Alison. (I mean, gross, but still something else).

          • AFAICS, Max is saying “I think reason A for not doing this is good enough. But reason B for not doing this is also good enough (and I’m going to twist the knife by letting you know that).” I don’t actually see any moral difference between two logic chains that both bring him to the same point/action, he just happened to say one of them before the other

      • pidgey

        The society we live in uses self-determination as a guiding principle. I won’t argue that there aren’t flaws that are introduced as a result, but it is important to recognize that just because we’re looking at one of those flaws doesn’t increase its importance beyond all the good things we also get. Take away self-determination from our list of societal norms, and maybe certain things get better, but a lot of other things get a lot worse.

        Maybe you can argue that giving Max the right to choose here is not okay. But finding a moral stance that society can operate on, which takes that right from him, isn’t easy. And even if you could, I guarantee that other injustices would replace the one you’re looking to solve.

      • Arkone Axon

        If you’ll use Control-F and go to my post beginning with “A more detailed and sourced argument,” you’ll see how I reviewed a rather large chunk of the comic and how it indicates pretty much the exact opposite of the standing opinion that Max giddily tried to condemn thousands to death and a perfect stranger to agony just to spite the girl who dumped him. Then a second post where I reference the first, and I quote the exact words used by Max:

        “And even if I wanted to do it, I might still say no, just to you.”

        In other words, he wasn’t saying no to spite her, he was saying no to her, specifically to her, to the person he wanted to leave, to go away, to stop insulting him and dismissing his unhappiness and fears and risk everything to help someone he doesn’t even know.

        So your more realistic case would be that an incredibly specialized doctor could perform a procedure, but it would mean proving that they’d received training under conditions that would create a stigma should that become public knowledge (studied under a genocidal war criminal who performed experiments denounced as crimes against humanity, or was forced to serve as a military doctor under a hated dictator) and could endanger him and his family. And the person asking doesn’t care about that, doesn’t even like the doctor, and can’t be bothered to even ask politely. And then the doctor refuses to do anything for that person, and the option is to either go away and find someone who can be a civilized and courteous person towards the doctor… or resort to the threat of lethal force rather than admit to screwing up by being such a rude jackass and having to go find someone else who can behave with a modicum of decorum.

    • Magma Sam

      I just want to say, regardless of any of the debate here, thanks for informing me that such a person exists. Makes me feel good, and good for him.

    • Aclys

      I feel the same as JulesIt, deserving and praise and compensation for his efforts, should be offered whatever is reasonable if he’s not inclined to do it out of altruism. And if after being given such offers he still refuses without some morally defensible reason then yeah… loathsome would be the word to use.

    • Philip Bourque

      A question for a question: There are over 7 billion humans on this planet. Why is it a good thing that those numbers continue to increase exponentially?

      • Freemage

        The issue is not the creation of more human life; these lives already exist, in toto, and would suffer through pain and death at a very early age, as well as forcing their parents to mourn the loss.

        Your point would be better addressed by fully funding global contraception for anyone who wants it, in whatever legitimate form (here, legitimate means: it actually works) the person receiving it desires, from condoms all the way up to tubal ligation and vasectomies.

        Furthermore, these specific infants aren’t necessarily an efficient vector of alleviating the problems that come from overpopulation. If you wanted to deal with overpopulation by allowing infants to die, then the most efficient route would be to cull those who, by virtue of circumstance and class standing, will invariably consume far more than their fair share of the resources of the planet. So we should pretty much focus on starving the children of the Western Middle Class and up.

      • Arkone Axon

        One: the global birthrate has been declining: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/01/11/overcrowding-nah-the-worlds-population-may-actually-be-declining/

        Two: every time the subject of overpopulation comes up, there’s always the implication in the argument that some of us die for the sake of the rest. And it’s always someone else who has to die. Some other country needs to be depopulated, someone else’s kids are the problem.

        Three: Paul Ehrlich has been constantly making doomsday predictions regarding overpopulation for decades. And consistently been proven wrong. Technology and science continue to save us. Right now the pig-monkey-thing in the white house has allocated more funding for NASA for space exploration… you put a few billion people in space habitats or on other planets in the system, and the strain on the ecosystem becomes a LOT easier to manage (especially since that would mean ready access to the resources of the rest of the solar system. Imagine mining the asteroid belt, where there’s no need to worry about endangering local wildlife or residents. Or giant solar panels providing unlimited energy where there’s no atmosphere to dilute the incoming resource).

        • Weatherheight

          Energy problems may be on their way to becoming a thing of the past…

          Both France and Germany have doughnut fusion plants being built which, if they work, will provide a pretty viable electricity source for coastal / lakeshore cities.

          I also saw another design recently (within the last week) which is far, far smaller than a Tokamak (a bit bigger than double wide mobile home, as I recall) and should provide sufficient energy for 10-50 thousands homes and is (again, if the specs work out) much less likely to cause major disruption if something goes wrong. And cost wise, far less expensive than either a tokamak or a doughnut power plant.

          I hope I live long enough to see these things work.

        • StClair

          The problem is – and I say this as someone in favor of space stuff – the cost (in resources, energy, etc etc etc) of lifting people, let alone billions of them, out of our gravity well is staggering. Where do we begin to get that? Chicken and egg problem.

      • Callinectes

        Increasing health and quality of life for everyone has the effect of slowing population growth as it leads to the ability and inclination to plan small families. When things go to absolute shit the birth rate rises again.

      • juleslt

        All competent demographic experts expect a plateau around 10-11 billion.
        We have reached peak child: globally, the number of children per woman is falling fast enough to compensate for the additional population making babies.

    • Zorae42

      Not an equivalent comparison. If you go to the wiki page on thus disease he’s saving people from, you can see that the vaccine for it was discovered and developed without his blood. His blood just makes it easier to produce the treatment.

      He has directly contributed to saving countless infants and deserves praise for it. But if he had refused to participate, those infants would not have died without his help.

      • Elaine Lee

        Assuming the infant’s parents had health insurance that covered the vaccine, or enough money to purchase it.

        • Zorae42

          Australia has Universal Healthcare

      • juleslt

        Making it easier to produce makes it more accessible, i.e more babies are treated and saved.

        • Zorae42

          It’s been virtually eradicated in the developed world, as he is only helping out the children in Australia, I’d say that it appears the drug is fairly accessible even without his donations.

          Not demeaning the value of what he’s done. It’s amazing! But if he hadn’t helped, he wouldn’t be condemning people to death like Max did.

    • Ben Posin

      First, thanks for bringing this guy to my attention. Glad to know that’s a thing.
      Anyway, sure, it could be helpful to know that there might be real world analogues in some ways to certain issues in this chapter. Put a real face on it, so you have to really imagine living with your decisions. But regarding your first question, that’s not a great comparison to what really happened with Max–if I understand you right. With Max, it was possible to change the world and save lives with a one time application of his power, without real cost if he wanted to participate. With Mr. Harrison, it sounds like he needs to constantly provide blood to constantly result in lives saved. Whether he should be strapped to a table all his life IS a classic question we could have a huge debate on—but to analogize to Max and Feral, would support the taking of Mr. Harrison’s blood once by force if one vial would result in the cure of this disease going forward, and he refused to provide it? You bet.

    • Mitchell Lord

      No. And, honestly, I’d say he deserves to be ‘set for life’. Respectively. Or, to put it another way, in return for regular donations, he should be given an amount of money enough that he can live comfortably, and not have to work.

      Essentially, though…he’s close to Feral as we can get. If he refused…he wouldn’t necesarially be an equivalent of Max. The reason WHY he refused…would be what determines if he is the equivalent of Max.

      But, yes. If he refused, I don’t think we should ‘force’ him to donate Blood, though granting incentives is a good idea. And, someone would be perfectly justified in being disgusted with him.

      However, if, say…he refused, and someone had a child who was dying of said disease, and they kidnapped him and tried to force a transfusion…I would have trouble hating that person, though I would still say they should be arrested.

      Now, if said person kidnapped him…and then took a sample without his permission and CLONED that sample an infinite amount of times, thereby granting an essentially infinite amount of blood, and meaning that he never had to donate blood again, and saving the lives of those 2.2 million babies…That would be a bit harder to hate. ESPECIALLY if they offered him a bazillion dollars, and he spit in their face.

      Here’s another one. If I donated blood, I would save three people’s lives. I don’t donate blood, primarily out of laziness and such. Does this mean, essentially, I am responsible for murdering three people, and a loathsome person? I…don’t THINK of myself as a bad person…and I do my best to care about people. But I don’t take X action to help people.

      Secondly…how many of the people who would consider him loathsome for not donating blood themselves do not donate blood?

      Honestly, I think the issue with Max that made him loathsome was not that he refused to help Feral…it’s that he refused for reasons that are hard to justify. Essentially, either to spite our hero, or because he simply did not care at all.

      • The problem with a reward for donation is that when you monetarize it you create an incentive to work around safety restrictions.

    • Scott

      To answer your first question: No. It would not be permissible to harvest his blood against his will. Now, yes, this is an ethical principle I subscribe to that others may not share. However, here is my reasoning. Society as a whole is important. However, we must not forget that societies are collections of individuals. Infringing on the rights of even a minority of those individuals in order to advance the welfare of the majority is detrimental to the moral well-being of society as a whole.
      I am reminded of a hypothetical that was used in an ethics class I had in college. In this hypothetical, we were presented with a society that lived in utopia. They had no crime, no disease, and were free from the random disasters that often plague humanity. However, this paradise was only able to be maintained by taking one child from each new generation and chaining them into a dungeon where they would spend their lives suffering all of the miseries and pains that the rest of this society was free from. The question was, is this society moral? One person is demanded, against their will, to suffer an entire lifetime of agony and pain in which they will never know joy or the kindness of another. Yet this allows millions of others to live the best lives possible, including saving those who would otherwise be victims of diseases, cancers, or violent crimes. Is this acceptable?

      • K. J. Hargan

        ‘a hypothetical that was used in an ethics class I had in college.’ Yeah. Ok. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
        And I’ll also give credit where it’s due. The scenario you described in perfect detail is from the excellent author Ursula Le Guin’s award-winning short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas published in 1973.
        And although the theme is similar to The Brothers Karamazov, she claims to have been aware of the idea but having never read it. And since this IS Ms. Le Guin, I give her the benefit of the doubt, too.
        Didn’t we have this SAME discussion a couple of months ago?

        • Scott

          Possibly? Although I don’t mean this as a criticism, we have been on the same issue in this comic for, off the top of my head, at least half a year. It is one of the unfortunate aspects of webcomics as a medium. If you only post two pages a week, it takes about two years to get through the same amount of content as a single graphic novel.
          Thank you for providing the source of the hypothetical I mentioned. The course I took had a format in which exerts from real world scenarios and works of literature were presented out of context with a prompt for discussion. I remember most of the scenarios much more reliably than I do their source.

          • K. J. Hargan

            My point is that it is a well known short story by a well known author that you described with almost perfect detail. It took me Seconds to find the source.

        • I was just noting elsewhere this morning that the situation with Tara pre Alison’s intervention is a very close parallel to ‘Those Who Walk Away From Omelas”.

    • Daniel Demski

      Studies of motivation have found that people who experience praise, payment, awards, or other types of external reward stop feeling as intrinsically motivated, and will often stop doing the thing they’ve been rewarded for as frequently. Rewarding this man in any way would risk millions of lives.

      • Arkone Axon

        …I’m going to have to insist that you provide links to those studies. Especially since that contradicts pretty much… everything, known to be true by teachers, martial arts instructors, coaches, and animal trainers.

        • Daniel Demski

          “Overjustification effect” is a good thing to Google. I know there’s another relevant term. There are a lot of studies because the result is so surprising. But one I remember gave kids who liked drawing an award for drawing. They stopped drawing for days, and showed reduced interest in drawing for months.

          • Daniel Demski

            “Crowding out” effects and “crowding in” effects are the other term I was thinking of.

        • Tylikcat

          Not this martial arts instructor. (Or neuroscientist.)

          • Arkone Axon

            You’ve actually dealt with students who stopped feeling motivated to perform in response to being praised or rewarded for their accomplishments? O.o

          • Tylikcat

            Absolutely. Not in my own classes, I don’t think, but then, I had been teaching for some time in other contexts before I started teaching martial arts. And I’d seen the effect in myself, though I wouldn’t want to extrapolate from my own fucked up motivational structure.*

            I’ve seen it the most from the strongest students, who are most consistently praised, and far less often challenged. In martial arts, it’s one of the reasons why often the most talented students wander off, where the less talented but more persistent ones end up stronger in the end. But I think it might tie into similar effects that are well documented in gifted education.

            * The reason I have a degree in Chinese is precisely because I was only okay at it. Needing to work my ass off and only doing pretty well was such a relief – I had always been afraid I was a slacker.

          • Arkone Axon

            That wouldn’t be a problem with being praised, then. That would be a problem with a lack of challenge. In my own experience, nothing’s more effective than positive encouragement. Especially if you drive them to further excel. A gold star just for participation isn’t genuine praise, but having the entire class applaud their taking home a trophy or win by KO is extremely good motivation. It makes them think, “I am good at this. I should continue because it makes me feel that i have worth.”

          • Tylikcat

            In your above examples you’re combining extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. I don’t have time to write up my own explanation (presentation tomorrow, and I’m tired enough that I’m making up analogies about how capitalism is like training a puppy*), but it also sounds like you either aren’t reading or are dismissing the research other people have been pointing you to. (Which might be more general, anyway, as I’m most familiar with the special case that is gifted child psychology.)

            * This has nothing to do with the presentation.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, I did follow the research. Scroll up and you’ll see my comment about reading Kohn’s views and how he’s not actually against positive reinforcement, he’s against rote learning and using both rewards AND punishments to coerce students into doing whatever it takes to pass the class and not upset the teacher.

            And the point of extrinsic motivation is to help foster intrinsic motivation. Build up their confidence, build up their spirits, make them WANT to do it. Make them believe they can do it, make them take pride in it. You’re not the only instructor in these comments sections, y’know.

          • “I’m making up analogies about how capitalism is like training a puppy*”

            It’s needy and tends to piddle on the mat?

          • dragonus45

            I know from my first few jobs doing dish washing and the like my boss always said that the moment he started saying nice things to us we would stop working as hard and I always thought that was kind of silly, even though in retrospect it’s exactly what happened. Well, come years later when I’m working a couple different management jobs and I’ll be damned if I don’t see what he means. Even if I can’t exactly work out personally why it seems to only be some people who fold when you compliment them.

          • I dropped maths at 16 as it wasn’t challenging me – I got 99.5% in the mock exam for my O-levels and knew where I lost the 0.5%. That was probably a bad decision, higher level maths might well have been the way to keep my interest, but no one pushed it at me,

        • juleslt

          That’s because it’s a massive exaggeration of what the study said.
          This bit should help you find it : It included an anecdote about parents picking up their kids late even more after fines are put in place, because now they felt like they were paying for a service.

        • Glen Raphael

          > …I’m going to have to insist that you provide links to those studies.

          The book you want to read is called _Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes_ by Alfie Kohn.

          From the publisher’s blurb: “Drawing from hundreds of studies, Kohn demonstrates that people actually do inferior work when they are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives. Programs that use rewards to change people’s behavior are similarly ineffective over the long run. Promising goodies to children for good behavior can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. In fact, the more we use artificial inducements to motivate people, the more they lose interest in what we’re bribing them to do. Rewards turn play into work, and work into drudgery.”

          • Arkone Axon

            I just looked it up… and wow. I very much agree with him!

            …But he’s not actually saying that you shouldn’t use positive reinforcement. He’s condemning and criticizing the whole of our educational system, both rewards AND punishments. He’s denouncing the focus on test based studies and on making students more focused in getting the work done and not pissing off the teachers than in the actual learning. He’s calling for a cultivation of genuine interest in the subject for its own sake.

            In other words, Kohn isn’t saying that Mister Harrison shouldn’t be compensated or praised. He’s saying that Mister Harrison will continue to help those children so long as he sees the act as worthy in its own right. Compensation and praise would be things to encourage him to continue to see the act as worthy, to keep him from feeling discouraged.

      • Weatherheight

        This is a bit of oversimplification.

        While there is a link between positive feedback and reduction of internal motivation, as I understand the research, there’s little effect for people who are already strongly motivated to do a certain thing in either direction.

        For those who require external motivation, positive feedback can be problematic if given without actual progress toward the goal or given for any level of effort. If both effort and results are rewarded and are rewarded appropriately, internal motivation rarely declines and sometimes can increase.

        Reward not commensurate with achievement works pretty much as you say.

        If you meant to imply that, without reward, externally motivated persons will be less likely to do a thing – yes, that’s true.

        There will always be individuals in any study whose expectations are going to skew results. Some of those studies have real problems justifying their results once you correct for the statistical outliers. Part of the problem I had with going further in my education was seeing a particularly flawed experiment design go forward and get results that even the participants in their post-experiment feedback interviews said weren’t true. And nobody called the researcher on it – at least, as far as I can tell. To this day I still don’t know if it ever got published (which I guess means it didn’t…?).

        • Daniel Demski

          I’m curious, what were these conclusions even the participants disagreed with?

          Bayesian statistics accepts that initial expectations skew results, and asks that you quantify them instead of pretending neutrality is possible.

          • Weatherheight

            Desirability of the rewards was paramount – the rewards involved were generally not deemed worth the effort involved in participating in the study. I personally felt they would have been much better off looking at the actuals rewards (i.e. you had to participate in at least 5 studies to pass the class).
            In addition, ascribed motivations for behaviors were… well, from what I remember of it (and this was many years ago – I’m sure things have gotten better) motivations were tied to rewards in odd ways – you get X reward for doing A, you get Y reward for doing B, you get Z reward for doing C. Another set of participants shifted the relationship of the reward to the task. In a number of cases (myself included), the participants indicated in the pre-questionnaires that none of the given rewards to be offered were desirable, but that didn’t seem to be reflected in the documentation afterwards, which struck me as an odd caveat to leave out. And the motivation for given choices was nevertheless linked to rewards throughout the paper, even though some participants verbally indicated that the offered reward had nothing to do with their choices (one of my classmates literally flipped a coin to make her decisions, which I felt deserved mention in the paper – nothing).

            Issues of bias in the survey pool (i.e. all were college kids wanting to get a grade and participating for that reason) and not having a way to quantify the weird folks ( ::raises a hoof:: ) seemed problematic to me.

            Granted, this is also me looking in from the outside (as it were) so there may have been accounted for, but as an experiment on ascribing motivation to rewards, their assumption that a small cash reward (2.00 I think it was) and a reward of food (high end candy bar of about the same value) were equivalent and both were valued by college kids seemed… odd.

            I took the third option, which was a coupon for the Union store. πŸ˜€

            Hmm.. maybe this was a study not on rewards per se but maybe issues of delayed gratification? Wasn’t part of the results I read but maybe that was part of the experiment as well? Time gives perspective…

            The 2 hours experiment being part of a jury was way more fun.

          • Daniel Demski

            Ah, kind of a mix of pretty standard problems (generalization to older people… though the discipline is getting better about this) and more unique ones then.

            It’s often considered good practice to make the real goal of a study somewhat obscure to the participants, using ‘distractors’, but it sounds like you had a bit of inside info?

            Totally agree that psychologists need to do more to watch for “weird folk”. If 96% of study participants act a certain way, I want to know what’s different about the 4%.

    • Balthazar

      Would people would find it loathesome if he charged for the blood? How many more moral compasses would diverge over that issue I wonder.

      • dragonus45

        Its plasma donations not blood, and generally I think they do pay for that. I know they do locally to me because I use it for pocket money.

    • Nyzer

      A few things do make his situation different from Max’s.
      Points against Max: donating blood has a weakening effect on the donor, obviously. As well, we know that the biggest reason Max refused to use his power for Alison’s request was spite – or at least that’s what he led her to believe, which is just as bad.
      A point in Max’s favor – if his secret becomes public, any shady organization with an interest in powering up some supers would force him to go underground or be taken and forced to power them up. James, obviously, isn’t in that same situation. Of course, Max could have wrangled Alison into guard duty should anything happen – Mega Girl even without a powerup is the strongest super in this world. Give her a powerup, too, and it would take some serious balls to try to come after one of her charges.

      First question – if he weren’t donating blood willingly, would it be permissible to force him to? That’s a major “ends justify the means” scenario, and it would require either long-term captivity or repeated kidnapping in order to achieve it. It seems unlikely that anyone would have the required mix of altruism and lack of compassion to invest the considerable time and resources they’d need into such a thing, especially as those two traits contrast so sharply. I can’t imagine that ever happening unless we’re deep into a messed up dystopian government scenario, in which case morality doesn’t apply anyway, so I’ll just move on.
      Let’s assume we’re talking about a one-time thing instead. The baby in question is important to you – a relative, probably. You have the option of kidnapping this guy and forcibly taking his blood, but you’re sensible enough to do so safely, so that he doesn’t die in the process. But… your actions are going to draw the law down on you. Essentially, you sacrifice your freedom for the life of the baby. If you’re willing to make that sacrifice, I’d say that, yes, it’s justifiable. You kidnapped a man and took his blood by force. If you’re willing to own up to that, and accept the consequences, you have nothing to be ashamed of in my books.
      Another possible scenario might be if one were to legally coerce him to give blood – publicly shaming them through Facebook sharing, sending impassioned letters, that sort of thing. Kind of scummy to do that, but it’s also kind of scummy to abstain from donating blood in such a scenario, so it kinda balances out, if you ask me.

      Second question: does he deserve compensation, praise, and recognition? Yeah, absolutely. I’d hope no one would argue otherwise. If he approached the family of a child whose life was in danger of Rhesus disease and offered to sell his blood, explaining that he was out of work and needed some money… well, hell, if that was my child and I could confirm the truth of his words, I’d ABSOLUTELY pay for the blood.
      That scenario gets muddy if you assume a poor family doesn’t have the money to pay for it, and the would-be donor refuses to give the blood unless they pay, but that’s kind of overlapping with the first question at that point.

      • Tylikcat

        “First question – if he weren’t donating blood willingly, would it be permissible to force him to? ”

        Brief comment here – at least in the US, and I think this applies to most western countries, this is pretty much a settled question in terms of medical ethics. The answer is no. I mostly comment because a fair bit has been written about this, and you can look this up if you want.

        (It is not infrequently invoked in arguments surrounding abortion, since if people can never, ever, be forced to donate their bodies, telling women they need to provide tenancy to a fetus seems a bit extreme. The counter argument usually has to do with any kind of having het sex counts as consent, and that is the special burden that comes with being female.

        Ahahaha! Queer sex rules! Ahem.

        Anyhow, except for women the right to choose or not choose to use one’s own body for another’s medical benefit is usually considered pretty inviolable.)

        • dragonus45

          To be fair idea that having sex consents to the child applies to both sexes, hence the literal impossibility of paternal surrender in any country I know of.

          • Tylikcat

            You did get that we were having a discussion about whether your body could be used for another’s medical benefit, right?

          • dragonus45

            Yea, I was just thinking out loud about the whole sex = consent for parenthood thing its something I had been looking into recently for other reasons. Also would you consider what happened with Max to count as medical benefit? I had been but I get the feeling other people think of power use different.

          • Tylikcat

            It’s one of the (relatively few areas) where there’s a biological rather than social difference between the sexes, y’know? If a baby is going to be born, there’s a social interest in insuring that the child has sufficient support. (Different countries handle this differently – some make it much easier, for instance, to simply not name a father, which takes a lot of the pressure out of the paternity situation.) I think there’s a lot to criticize in many of the solutions, but we’re talking about the situation of pregnancy, which is something men don’t have to deal with and is kind of a big deal.

            Max was certainly forced to use his body in way he didn’t consent to. And it was, as it happens, to both Feral’s medical benefit (she gets to have a life and only has to spend 10 hours a week in dreadful pain!) and that of organ recipients everywhere. It wasn’t an invasive procedure on him in anyway, which probably means the medical ethicists would have to go off an spend a few years wangling about it. It was a medical intervention, in any case. Autonomy is pretty strongly held by in the west, at least.

          • Try a few decades, or centuries, for the medical ethicists, they were entertaining ideas about ‘retroactive abortion’ not so long ago without any qualms.

    • Psile

      Question One: Depends on what you’re referring to. Would it be right for the government, as a representative of society, to impose this on him? I would say no, just as laws should not be passed to compel bio-dynamics into service. A certain level of individual freedom must be maintained in our set of laws, as laws by their nature open legal doors due to case law. Even Max is legally within his rights to refuse to save millions of lives, and I don’t think that the government should have compelled him to do so.

      However, once it’s brought down to an individual level things get a little more complicated. If someone knew a mother suffering from Rhesus which was killing her baby, and that person somehow knew about Mr. Harrison’s condition, then what? It’s against the law to physically coerce someone to do something, but if that person doesn’t act the baby could very easily die. Would it be wrong for that one person to physically threaten Mr. Harrison into saving that child, even just one child? It would be illegal, certainly. The hypothetical person would be convicted of assault and probably some other crimes. Rightly so, because we can’t have a society where people make their own decisions whether laws apply to them. Still, as they sat in that cell do you think that they would regret their actions? Would they have done the wrong thing, saving that infant even though they had to violate that man’s personal rights? I think that they did the right thing, and that they should still be punished for it.

      Now, Alison is effectively immune to prosecution, though their ability to contain Cleaver indicates that there are devices which could contain her. Either way, there was no sacrifice for her as Max would not press charges due to his desire to remain anonymous. There is no way to indicate whether she would have still acted the same even at persona risk. I think she would, but I know that is purely opinion and that someone could easily argue she would not with equal evidence. Personally, I don’t think this changes the answer. It makes it harder to see Alison’s side, but the fact that that justice system is flawed in her favor is not Alison’s fault.

      Fortunately, this is not an issue we have to face in real life because Mr. Harrison is Feral in this situation, not Max.

      • Vigil

        I think you’ve put it very well. Society depends on certain social goods being upheld, like “the government will not come into my house and violate my bodily autonomy if I obey the law”. If they are not, society cannot function.

        At an individual scale, these concerns do not apply – as per your example, one vigilante kidnapping someone and forcing them to do something good does not make people fear the government will start doing this en masse, especially when the government punishes said vigilante in accordance with the laws.

        I think the most coherent objection I’ve yet seen to Alison’s coercion of Max (disclosure: I think she did a good, if not 100% optimal, thing) is that Alison’s power makes her government-like, and setting precedents of her coercing people would have similar society-destabilising effects as if the government were going around doing it.

      • ” I think that they did the right thing, and that they should still be punished for it.”

        That’s my position on a few areas. If you think the right thing to do is to breach the law, then accept the consequences, don’t try to weasel out of them

    • kieron George

      I’m a Georgist, so I think that the collective have a right to his blood.

      So he deserves thanks at least proportional to the effort he takes to give blood which is still a lot of thanks, but not directly proportional to the good his blood does.

      Of course Georgism allows private ownership, so he’d have right to refusal of blood donation as long as he provided equivalent compensation for the value.

      • dragonus45

        I thought Georgism was all about land rights?

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      Now that’s a classy pro-life dude.

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      I’m not sure why I never made the connection before, but something about this real life story combined with the comic reminded me of the “Spiderman’s blood” subplot in the Amazing Spiderman Two. As I can remember, Harry came up with the idea that Spiderman’s radioactive spider blood would be the key to curing his family’s degenerative illness. The movie plays it as creepy where Peter is shocked by the idea of Spiderman donating blood. And they do sort of imply that the blood might be unsafe, like 99.9% of all technology in the Spiderman universe. But I’m in the audience going, “Yeah, people donate blood all the time, idiot. The spider venom seems to be working out pretty well for you. I think you’re just touchy about the idea that other people might get your powers.”

    • Lucy Merriman

      1. “Would it then be permissible to strap him down and harvest his blood without his consent?”

      I really appreciate what Alison learned earlier, I think, which is that there are a lot of steps one might take prior to facing a choice where there is a choice between violence and people dying due to inaction.

      So, in pragmatic terms, I would argue there is a *lot* people could do to persuade Mr. Harrison to donate blood should his first inclination be negative. They could pay him lots of money to do so, give him a position on a board, give him fame, connect him with positive social relationships (people he missed, or new people who are grateful for his life-saving blood). My basic understanding of behavioral psych suggests that positive reinforcement and reward is incredibly powerful, and many times more persuasive than punishment.

      In a related note, if he had a religious objection, perhaps he could have conversations with a spiritual adviser who shares his religious beliefs, yet could persuade him to a different viewpoint based on the religious teachings he ascribes to.

      On the “negative punishment” end, there are also many steps a group might take prior to strapping him down. “Peer pressure,” aka social exclusion and social shaming, are probably inevitable in any group where people learn that an individual could easily save many of their children but chose not to. This has happened to many people for committing much smaller infractions, and has often been effective in convincing the person to change course and uphold the group’s ideals (whether that involves issuing an apology, donating money to a cause, withdrawing a book from circulation, or what have you).

      I do not believe that any individual in a group who publicly decries someone’s choice, or chooses to avoid that person, is doing anything morally wrong in and of itself. This is sort of a natural thing that happens when there is a significant disagreement between people in groups over choices of great consequence (which is inevitable) and I believe it is probably the best way to try to come to terms with a workable solution, barring utopian conditions.

      Someone else mentioned how taxes are staggered based on income (so people with higher income–aka, more power to do good–are held to a higher standard of responsibility to contribute to the public good). While I have no idea if there is a precedent for this, I could easily imagine a society choosing to “tax” or “fine” someone who chose not to donate life-saving blood. This becomes more difficult to speculate about, but I tend to reserve judgement against a hypothetical society that chooses this.

      So, let’s say Mr. Harrison’s community tried all that to the best of their ability. They tried positive rewards, they tried social pressure, they tried taxes & fines, and Mr. Harrison still said, “no, I do not want to give away my blood.” With no guidance but my own conscience (which, y’know, is something that got Guwara in trouble) I’d have to say that the group would be acting very immorally to press further. To cross the line into violence, I believe, is morally wrong.

      The lives lost to Mr. Harrison’s inaction, in that case, would be something he would have to deal with in his own heart, with his own God.

      To be fair, it is a line that I find difficult to justify; it is just a “gut feeling.” It’s a point where simple empathy (Do Unto Others) hits a crossroads and stops being a helpful guideline.
      — What would I want done unto me if my baby was dying of Rhesus disease and could easily be saved?
      — What would I want done unto me if someone wanted me to violate a deeply held belief of mine for a good cause, and I could not, in good conscience, do that?
      I would want very different things in those cases. The sort of compromise (offer reward and punishment, but don’t act in violence) is the best way I can come up with to more-or-less fairly meet both desires.

      Sorry for the long post; it’s a good question though. Glad to know about the IRL Mr. Harrison πŸ™‚

      For the second questions, ” What does he deserve from the rest of humanity…?” A lot. He deserves so much. I mean, in what I previously wrote, “offer rewards” was my first step, my first go-to. In a just society (which, you know, is totally hypothetical at this point) people whose jobs do the most good for others would be the most highly rewarded. Mr. Harrison would be paid top-dollar for a job that, so far, literally only he can do and saves millions of lives. Any life-saving job–emergency services, doctors, National Guard, engineers developing life-saving tech etc–would be the the highest paid. Like, higher than CEOs.

      For example, the CEO of WalMart’s annual salary is $26.5mil. The CEO of Phillip Morris, a tobacco corporation that’s pretty much just making the world worse, was $24 million this year. Do they do more good in the world than Mr. Harrison? Or your average EMT or firefighter? Or Crisis Center staff worker?

      That, unfortunately, sums of the problem with any of the second half questions. Anything a person says Mr. Harrison deserves, or anyone in the field of saving lives deserves, is never, ever going to happen. Many of the best life-saving organizations rely heavily on unpaid volunteers.

      You can have a whole society of people with decent ethics and good intentions, but it’s never going to play out in a way that good people who do good things get the most rewarded, and people whose choices most harm others get the most penalized. The best we can do is cultivate societal structures that encourage innate valuing of others and internal rewards for doing good.

      In real life, I suspect the reason Mr. Harrison chooses to do good with what he’s been given (or has by chance, depending on your beliefs) is because his parents, family, and others in his community encouraged the value of helping others. In his bio, is says that he was the recipient of life-saving blood when he was thirteen. So, an internal motivation of gratitude and empathy for people in his position is what made him choose to donate his blood so many times.

      You can’t force gratitude or empathy or kindness or loyalty. Those are internal things, and while they are the most powerful, they are things people have no control over in others.

      I think part of my gut feeling that violence crosses the line here is that, ultimately, we want to cultivate communities in which community members have empathy for each other, gratitude towards members who have helped them, and loyalty to the group. An authoritarian community that makes it known that it will inflict violence upon someone who chooses to not donate their own blood will ultimately fall apart, fall into fear and distrust, rather than the positive attributes. People who feel disrespected by their community or community leaders are not going to work with them toward good ends; the greatest desire in their hearts will probably be to leave the community altogether.

      Mm, does that make sense? I’m not sure. Hm πŸ™

  • McFrugal

    That is a good lesson.

    Philosophy too often serves to obscure the simple truths of life.

  • masterofbones

    I stopped caring about what motivations Gurwara had a long time ago. It matters not whether he is villain, hero, or something else entirely. He is simply the best character.

  • Kifre

    Girl, I hope you napped between panels four and five.

    • juleslt

      Writing that letter probably took at least some pause and pondering.

      • Kifre

        Yes, but did she *nap*?

        • Beroli

          I’m not going to think she’s slept until the comic explicitly indicates she has, for my part.

      • Tylikcat

        Until it is otherwise stated, I’m going to assume she got relatively little sleep last night, and this is still a letter she wrote when she should have been sleeping, as per:


        (I mean, it’s possible that her whole discussion with Gurwara changed what she put in her letter… I’m kind of thinking it just calmed her down about it?)

  • Philip Petrunak

    A little worried about this possibly being a trap. He knew she would return. If he gets her to confess this could pose serious problems, although it would definitely make things more interesting.

    • Walter

      Um…I don’t think he’d have to ‘get her’ to confess. Alison will confess at the drop of a hat. She just told the story to Guwara, who she thinks is an asshole.

      The comic has made a point about her being above the law a few times. She’s even commented on it. The police have absolute knowledge (including video evidence) that she has committed crimes. They have done nothing.

      Max gains nothing by spreading the knowledge of her crimes. The police would only continue to ignore them. Most victims in his shoes will blame themselves, and try to pretend the assault never happened. Black eye is from a doorknob, clumsy me.

  • zellgato

    Damn right haha.
    Like I said.. she on the regular dealt with devious folks and folks who can read minds and folks who can read emotions.
    its pretty hard to pull one on her straight up.

    She wrote a “one free favor” ticket I guess. Or its the information the gov has on him and she’s giving it to him….for no real reason considering the source

  • HanoverFist

    I just want to point out that Al’s actions toward Max are part of a larger pattern. She consistently abuses other biodynamics and only ever seems to care about them as a means of helping chromosomaly stable people.
    Remember Rat? She chased him down, stuffed him in a trash can and crimped it shut, basically for annoying her. And she went to a support group, and treated it like a fucking job fair.
    The moment she found out about Max’s power he stopped being a person to her and became nothing more than a tool to help the normals.

    • Freemage

      Oh? What about the girl at the party, who was a CS-person, in danger of being sexually assaulted by another CS-person, whom she physically assaulted (in a relatively gentle fashion)?

      • Weatherheight

        She grabbed him “gently” by the throat and hoisted him into the air by his neck. A little bad luck or bad control and separated vertebrae are a real risk, with all the accompanying medical issues that go with that condition.

        Been there, done that, didn’t enjoy the experience at all. Thankfully no long term problems (and yeah, I kind of deserved it… I can admit that now πŸ˜€ ).

        Granted, he *did* turn out to be a rapist, but Alison didn’t know that for sure at the time. An armlock would have been as effective and, if over-applied, probably easier to recover from (any physicians out there, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong – for some reason the whole physiology/physiognomy field runs around my head like squirrels on meth.).

        • Tylikcat

          Not a physician, but neurobiologist who teaches anatomy (and focuses on biomechanics)…

          And I’m not going to argue. I mean, arm/shoulder locks are not risk free, but if you know what you’re doing and have good control, they’re at least low risk, if with a collection of caveats.* Suspending the weight of the body on the cervical spine is risky, and while people can do it to themselves if they know what they’re doing, it’s a more dodgy to do to someone else. (Still, he was young and fairly slender, both of which help.)

          * I once had a sparring partner who dislocated his own shoulder during a role while I wasn’t touching him. I mean sure, he was trying to get away from me… He had a history of shoulder issues, and hadn’t restabilized the shoulder. (And multiple discolations are a major problem.) Though we were both at the lax jointed end of the scale.

        • Freemage

          The question is, does Ali actually grok that? How often has she A: hospitalized a normie and B: learned of it afterwards? She was trained as a child-soldier and sent into combat, and in stress situations reverts to form.

          Also, she did attempt to ascertain the truth of the situation, but the guy made every effort to evacuate before she could do so. That’s sufficiently suspicious to up the level of intervention in itself. (In the hypothetical counter-scenario where Ali was wrong, I’d be happy to let others vouch for me, grateful that someone was intervening on behalf of a girl I care about. I wouldn’t be trying to duck out before anyone can ask any questions.)

          • Weatherheight

            Yeah, that’s my main reason for not being totally annoyed by that act – to my mind, that was Alison acting on pure instinct, intuition, and impulse. But that really is a major theme of the comic – Alison coming to grips with her current set of reactions and how she wants to be more deliberate about them. Acting rather than reacting, if you will.

      • HanoverFist

        She saved a CS person from another CS person, using a lot less force than she probably would have on a biodynamic. How does that disprove my point?

        • Arkone Axon

          Mainly because what she did would technically be assault if I did it (and it’s still assault when she did it, it’s just that nobody felt like pressing charges against the Juggernaut). In such a situation the proper response of a concerned bystander is to ask questions, to get information (i.e. is this an actual assault? Did they both get blindingly drunk and agree to something while mutually inebriated? Is he trying to get her to a bathroom where she can puke into the toilet?), to provide assistance in a way that cannot be reasonably refused.

          There’s a REAL LIFE superhero in Seattle named Phoenix Jones. He was arrested after assaulting a crowd because he misidentified what was going on (the charges were dropped because everyone in Seattle loves this guy, but the cops jumped at the chance to do something to him, because they’re not quite as fond of him. He makes them look bad). You have to get the facts on the situation first, before you start initiating violence. (Not to mention the subject of “escalation of force,” where you’re not supposed to exceed the amount of violence being offered. I.e. you’re not allowed to stab or shoot someone in a fistfight. It’s why cops get in trouble for pepper spraying and curb stomping an unarmed suspect when they outnumber him five to one)


        • Freemage

          The fact that she used any force against a CS person suggests you’re not even remotely considering counter-evidence to your apparent “Ali hates BDs” position.

          For that matter, there’s also the fact that she originally lashed out at Max verbally when he dismissed Feral’s sacrifice–one which she, frankly, would have gladly brought to a stop if she could (an action that would’ve condemned those individuals in the same fashion that Max’s refusal to help Feral would’ve done to her).

    • Zorae42

      There is so much evidence against this. Her conversations and interactions with Cleaver. Her apology and interactions with Pint-size (remember the time she buzzed the plane for him?). The time she tried to save Furnace despite him being an absolute tool. The time she told Patrick that after he figured out the shadow people problem he was going to turn everything over to Lisa. The fact that she did those terrible things to Max in order to help out Feral.

      Her actions are in no way biased against biodynamics.

      • Walter

        Her hurting Max, robbing Patrick…are evidence AGAINST her being a jackass to biodynamics? You are bringing up Cleaver? She keeps him locked in a cell!

        • Zorae42

          So, in other words, she’s not biased either way? Which is still supported by my statement.

          Patrick was literally her best friend and crush up until the point where he was an ass to her and she broke up with him.

          Cleaver literally killed people and attempted to kill her, which is why he’s locked up (she’s not doing it, the police/gov are). And yet she still goes and visits him, talks to him like a real person (something only Patrick and possibly his allies had ever done before), and even had them remove the restraints on him to make him more comfortable.

          • HanoverFist

            You’re forgetting the part where she strangled Daniel/Cleaver half to death AFTER she defeated him and he was no longer a threat to her.

            And the part where she admits that DBRD registration means losing some civil rights, but then goes on to say that she thinks that’s okay.

          • Zorae42

            You mean when she made sure he was out cold instead of dazed so he could be safely transported? Not to mention she did that after he gave her a pretty serious head wound and she was pretty upset at him for literally trying to kill her.

            So? That’s just because she values the safety/security of everyone (yes everyone, innocent biodynamics and CS people can get hurt by bad biodynamics) over a bit of their right to privacy. It’s been a while since I read that bit (and I have no idea where to look for it), but didn’t a lot of biodynamics support it? Didn’t it also help out innates or something? It’s not really indicative of a bias against biodynamics.

          • HanoverFist

            First of all wrapping something around someone’s neck and pulling it tight is more likely to kill someone than simply knock them out, just ask Eric Garner. And contrary to what television may have taught you, getting knocked/strangled into unconsciousness is super fucking dangerous.

            We have not been shown any evidence that the DBRD is concerned about public safety. Case in point: they let Furnace zoom around burning people alive. Also I fail to see what quizzing Alison about her reproductive status has to do with public safety. And Al specifically said that most of the biodynamics she knows (I.E. fellow former superheroes) support it. The only innate we’ve been introduced to (who was forcibly outed by mandatory registration) certainly hasn’t been helped by the DBRD.

    • Izo

      Good points that I haven’t actually considered.

  • Walter

    Hmm, does she stand at the intercom, and then leave before it speaks, or is her absence a response to the invitation?

    My guess is that she’s just dropped off a note, and the speaker is addressing the empty street.

    • cphoenix

      The last panel is zoomed in enough on the intercom that it wouldn’t show Alison if (as I believe) she’s still there.

      It’s clear from the next-to-last panel that she’s waiting to communicate before entering the premises. The last panel is the key point of the communication: For whatever reason, she has an invitation to enter.

      • Walter

        I took it to be:

        “Alison shows up, drops off note.”
        “Intercom speaks, but she has already flown away”

        • Freemage

          Whereas I took it as, “Alison arrives to drop off note, but as soon as she is in a position to do so, she is invited inside via intercom.”

  • zopponde

    Oh look, a fully-rendered background!

  • JohnTomato

    Philosophers don’t make good LCSWs.

    • juleslt

      “Licensed Clinical Social Worker”

      • I think Gurwara’s a pretty good Low Cost Smart Weapon πŸ˜‰

        • MisterTeatime

          Does that go in the same line item as the Clue By Four?

  • ampg

    I love everything about the ending to this story.

  • 12th

    I’m just going to throw this out there: We don’t know who is speaking from the intercom. Rather than Max, that might be one of his parents, the ones who inculcated his personal philosophies.

    Which, IMO, might be an even more interesting exchange.

    Also, philosophers are *always* assholes.

    • Guest

      A philosophy prof at my school once said that his aim in class is to screw with people and offend every single student. One day, in a philosophy-of-religion class, he stood in front of the students and yelled “God hates fags! God hates fags! Are you a fag? God hates you!”

  • Roger Swab

    Awww, I thought they were bonding. πŸ™

    • Zorae42

      I think they did; given that she felt comfortable enough to call him an asshole while smiling and his reaction was tears of laughter.

      I think it was more of a friendly “you’re an asshole”, and not an angry/upset one.

      • Jovial Contrarian

        I’d feel better about it if there was at least some hint of a smirk on her face as she’s leaving. Now it looks like… well, I can’t read hear here really. Perhaps she was already thinking about going back to Max?

    • Weatherheight

      For a philosophy prof, that was bonding. πŸ˜€

  • K. J. Hargan

    prediction- next couple of pages Max admits to a surreptitiously supercharging Allison and others as he experimented with his powers. He is going to say he did it as a surprise, freely, and as a gift, and so he is morally superior to Allison who never gave him a choice. Allison will have to eat crow and go home.

    • Filthy Liar

      Nah, he’s way to selfish.

  • Weatherheight

    See, Arjun? I learned how to “Gotcha” right back.
    See you in class…

  • Weatherheight

    On a completely unrelated note…

    What the HELL is that animal head atop the gate? Is it a giraffe (based on the horn-thingies on the head)? If a giraffe, why does it appear to have feathers? Is it topiary rising up from behind the wall? Is it yet another agent of the Postal Workers Union? Is it NESSIE paying Max a visit to demand her poker chips back?

    It’s so ambiguous!

  • Eva SmiljaniΔ‡

    Well she has a point.

  • Sage Catharsis

    What makes this character female in this story line? The character looks covered up more than usual.

    • Tylikcat

      …if you can’t see it, gender goes away?

      • Guest

        You know, given theories about gender as performance… I’ve legit wondered this sometimes.

    • Zorae42

      *gasp* Gurwara is covered more than Alison, is this a conspiracy theory that Guwara is actually a girl?

    • Arkone Axon

      That would be the genitals. That’s usually what determines gender.

      • Danygalw

        A strong indication in most cases, but hardly determinant.

      • LitShips

        Genitals determine biological sex, not gender.

    • Stephanie

      I’m really confused by this question. What do you mean by “what makes this character female”? Are you talking about Alison?

      • Weatherheight

        I was worried it was just me…

    • Weatherheight

      I also need clarification… “this character” is who?

      Also, “covered up more than usual”. I’m not sure the standard of usual you mean – is this “in canon” usual or “IRL” as usual?

    • Vigil

      I hate to assume the worst, but are you saying that if a female character doesn’t dress revealingly that means they’re not “female”??

      • Sage Catharsis


  • Taylor TJ Hobart


  • Hiram

    Max, as remuneration for services rendered I have in this envelope a quantity of the scarcest element in the universe – distilled humor from the tears of a gnarled professor of philosophy.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    I’m interested in the intense warm hues representing the interior of the pizza parlor. They seem to go from deep read to mellow orange. I wonder if that reflects the intensity of the characters’ emotions.

    Also severely judging whoever ate two slices and left the crusts. JUDGE.

    I like single panel of Prof G bug-eyed and shocked. She got him. Now the student has schooled the teacher. But there’s also an emptiness to the middle panel where she leaves while he’s still laughing. Her face isn’t even shown, but she seems very down. I like the ambiguity of the exchange.

  • ViolenceIsTheAnswer

    Whereupon she finds three of her old nemeses super charged, who kill her upon entering the room.
    Fade to black showing,

    “No good deed…

    The end.
    Thanks for reading!”

  • Tsapki

    Wait, did Guwara not eat the pizza crust?

    -Sigh- Damn it, I was starting to like him too.

    • Dawn Smashington

      I think he even ate Al’s pizza

    • Izo

      He’s a monster.

    • Darkoneko Hellsing

      Good on him.

  • vadimfv

    I randomly discovered this comic’s first TPB listed in a Comixology update. The premise seemed intriguing, so I figured I’d check it out. I wound up reading the whole saga online, from start to now, in about a week. And I can say with finality that this comic is, just as the writer claims, “at its core” about social justice, and not about superheroes. Fair enough. It’s well presented, just not the kind of thing I would spend money on.

  • Rascal_Face

    She’s just coming back to give Max a noogie and scuff up his wingtips.