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Um. Wow. A. Whatever it is, Alison must seriously believe that it will help the world in a major way. B. Damn was Professor Gurwara right about her being a tyrant. Stephanie I do love a benevolent tyrant. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes. Rumble in the Tumble A guy called Dostoyevsky was looking for you. Said something about tyrants and whatnot. http://existentialcomics.com/comic/139 David Forrest This is just what he was worried about! Do you think his power is making her more effective in getting the things done she wants to get done? Insanenoodlyguy Unlikely. Even if he’s passively boosting her, we’ve seen her strength levels when he’s not around. Nothing she’s doing or describing is something she couldn’t have already done. The strongest woman in the world being slightly stronger is not super helpful. She’s taking him somewhere where she thinks making somebody more powerful will be. Jakob Holy shit Obinna Onyeije This is fine. MrSing Well, a lot of people got what they asked for. All it cost was Allison being anywhere near a decent human being. Even if she doesn’t go through with it, she’s now already forever on the level of people using “advanced interrogating techniques”. Looks like she won’t get that A+ in Gurwara’s class after all. Stephanie Does a decent human being allow “countless, countless people” to die for the sake of preserving one person’s autonomy? shink55 She’d be a terrible person either way. Decency doesn’t really exist on the scale of power and influence Alison hopes to wield, that’s why Gurwara called her a tyrant. Rumble in the Tumble Weren’t you supposed to be spending the rest of your life in the Uranium Mine #253 now? You’re not avoiding your duty to the people, are you? Stephanie What are you talking about? Is this a pop culture reference? GreatWyrmGold I found myself agreeing with Alison until I remembered that she was pinning Max to the table. This is proper supervillain stuff, here. “Use your power to fulfill my goals!” At least she didn’t pretend she was giving Max a choice…though it would be nice if she just gave him the choice in the first place. Stephanie Max wasn’t going to give those countless, countless people a choice. Kifre God this comment has hit a button with me. I guess you use the same argument in abortion debates? “It’s nice the woman had a choice, too bad those countless, countless babies didn’t?” On a less knee-jerk level, you’re really taking Allison at her word, which is unmerited. And using it defend her (frankly) abusive behavior even more so. There’s no reason whatsoever to believe that there are indeed ‘countless, countless’ people immediately at risk because Max doesn’t want to comply with her plan. Allison has shown herself to be naive and just plain wrong before. Further, she’s never been a great tactician, resorting more or less to sheer strength to achieve her goals. The most Max can do is to provide a signal boost to others with powers…people who are presumably already out there doing what they’re going to do. People who, unlike Allison, would not work themselves to exhaustion if they had a greater capacity. People who may not WANT their powers increased by someone sprinkling fairy dust from above. Maybe even people who would – if they were stronger – start doing things that would actually endanger lives. But all that is besides the point because Allison is not the person who gets to make decisions for Max OR for however many people she chooses to believe she’s helping. Jack Watch that first step. It’s a doozy Rumble in the Tumble You could say that again. ampg HA – called it! Although I’ll still have to admit that I’m fascinated to see how this plays out. And I’m finding less and less interest in dissecting Alison’s motivations and ethical standing without having the full story first. I suppose it’s an understandable drawback to having a comment section for a serial comic. Fortooate huh. ClockworkDawn Well, that’s shady as fuck. Crowbot I’m trying to figure out how “Make a whole bunch of biodynamics stronger” plays into Allison’s goals at all, and I’m even less sure now that she’s apparently doing it at random. This feels more like a supervillain plot to start building an army than anything else. SJ Step One: Heel Turn~! Step Two: Abduct an American citizen Step Three: Use physical force to coerce him into using his powers, against his will, to augment the powers of random dynamorphs Step Four: ????? Step Five: “Save countless, countless lives” (allegedly) Yeah, seems legit… [/sarcasm] Stephanie Step four isn’t “?????.” Alison knows what it is. It hasn’t been revealed to us in the text yet, but it exists in-universe. SJ That’s as close to “?????” as makes no odds. And, at this point, I have no reason whatsoever to believe that it’s actually going to work. Rumble in the Tumble >Alison knows what it is. We know this, because Alison “poster-child for not-knowing-what-I’m-doing” Green said so. You can trust Alison Green. Alison Green is your friend. Disobeying Alison Green is treason. Stephanie We’ll find out in a few pages. Arkone Axon Probably a single specific biodynamic. And not herself, either – being physically stronger and tougher won’t help her, because she’s already at the “anything non-nuclear isn’t going to do much” level. She wants to empower someone else. Possibly Feral. Newbie ALLISON NO zarawesome Well that escalated quickly. Richard Griffith Lessons for both of them here. Max, this is your Ayn Rand Libertarian failure, you did not hire enough security, you can’t ever hire enough security. Alison, this is your university prof speaking to you. math_geek Yep, it’s official. Aly is the villain here. Max said “it would be better to have no power at all” and Aly proves him (and to an extent his worldview) right. An ultra-principled libertarian would call Ally’s bluff and let her kill him. Non-Aggression is the first principle of libertarianism. Random thought — God have mercy on Ally if Max’s power transmogrifies to also depower people. I don’t think he’d be very restrained at this point. Stephanie Alison had two choices. Two sacrifices she could make: Max’s autonomy, or “countless, countless lives.” She had to pick one, and she chose those countless, countless people over Max. Why does that make her the villain? Why is it more acceptable to condemn countless people to die through inaction, than to actively commit a comparatively miniscule harm to save them? Choosing inaction is still a choice. Silverwizard Which lives? Insanenoodlyguy A villain with a noble goal, even if they achieve it and it goes as well as they intended, is no less a villain. Richard Hughes This is an extremely false dichotomy. The problem isn’t that she resorted to coercion *at all* – violent coercion is always on the table. The problem is that she wanted to do it the whole time. You don’t get people to do you favors by insulting them to your face – she sabotaged her own attempt to convince him to do her a favor. After that, she didn’t bother trying to incentivize him, she didn’t offer him a deal, she didn’t try and find some social leverage she could use to blackmail him – she leapt straight to physical violence. And I think she did that because, frankly, she wanted an excuse to hit him. crazy j It’s the same mentality of the Taliban jihadists. They don’t care how many innocents they butchered, they are doing it for the greater good. Richard Hughes Speaking of false dichotomies, hoo lawd… math_geek Giving Alison the credit of cold logic when she’s slamming Max’s head against the table and openly insulting him for kicks is a bit much. She’s acting out of anger and emotionally. Even if I was to grant the correct thing to do was for Alison to coerce him, it’d be especially incumbent on her to be kind about it. People who bomb abortion clinics do it to save “countless, countless lives.” Hell, saving countless lives has gotten us into how many wars? This is insane. Also, we have basically Alison’s word that Max’s use of his powers won’t cost him anything. We don’t really understand how his power works, and Max hasn’t ever really had it tested/trained/developed because his Mom kept him from any kind of support or help for using it. It’s not clear he’s ever even USED his power. So Alison, super exhausted, discovers this potentially groundbreaking ability, immediately confronts Max with it (who she had just got into a confrontation with), and when he says “no,” decides that she knows better and strips him of his agency in a way designed to be humiliating. Seriosuly if Max wasn’t such a jerk in other ways (and a rich white dude to boot) the level of abuse Alison is dishing out at Max would be staggering. Hell, people were flagging Max as abusive for far far less. But abuse is OK when the abuser is really well intentioned, right? Olivier Faure Yeah, slamming someone’s head on a table doesn’t scream “Cold, dispassionate decision”. Zac Caslar Wars? Zero. We go to war for political advantage. Try to find a war that was explicitly about saving lives. MAYBE the first Desert Storm had doing so as a tertiary concern, but not any of the World Wars. The UN intervention in Bosnia would be a fair case, but it would also be the obvious exception. Abortion Clinics are bombed by delusional lunatics, and I mean that clinically. These people profess beliefs that are concretely out of step with actual, non-relative reality. They also are typically medically diagnosed as being various combinations of paranoid, depressed and deluded.* That’s not “relative good,” that’s as actual and mechanical a dysfunction as a bomb accidentally going off in an armory or a catastrophic fire starting at gas station. I’m guessing you’re anti-violence as a general principle. But I doubt you’re totally ant-violence in the service of the protection of others. You probably respect violence when it’s fairly applied by the state as necessity of enforcing laws -key word being “fairly” because the force that slays a shooter killing people in church hasn’t the same worth as the force that guns down the latest unarmed black person- because that’s how society has to work. But otherwise you’re mistaking Conviction for Necessity. You’re mistaking Might for Right and the truth is we don’t actually know what the Right actually is. Your question is “could Allison be justified in acting as she is?” Your answer is No. Mine is “….maybe.” *can’t think of the actual term, but whatever would be a persistent state of denial to the detriment of themselves or others. Weatherheight This post reminded me of Steve Taylor’s song “I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good.” If you listen to it (assuming you can find it – it’s pretty old), remember that Steve is sort of a smart ass. Tylikcat Is she doing this for Project Valkyrie? Because I think this is strongly enough against the goals of that project as to be unsupportable. We don’t know Al’s endgame. It might make for interesting conversation. I tend to be pretty strongly biased against this sort of maneuver*, and Al taking this on as a solo act, likely without much sleep against a guy she just dated? I mean, did she even bother to have a heart to heart with Lisa first? Oh, would that be because Lisa would have told her no fucking way? (But then, this whole thing started media res – who knows what we missed?) * And when it is really necessary it should either involve people being immediately under threat, or a reasoned broad discussion about a major catastrophic societal need (this is the wartime case, and I’m iffy about it – actually I’m iffy about both, but willing to consider them), and then starting out with a fairly near term sunset clause. (Okay, stepping away from the computer. Darn, this place is addictive.) Joshthulhu Oh my. Are they going to visit Feral? Could power-boosting even help there? SJ I don’t see how. Even if Max boosted Feral’s powers to make her able to regenerate more quickly, that doesn’t give the surgeons the ability to harvest them any faster. If anything, that might make *their* jobs harder. Insanenoodlyguy If it is Feral, I can think of 2 ways this would work: 1. Organ Farm! the parts of her that aren’t in her still retain some of her properties. What if that was brought up to 11. It makes the harvesting harder, but what if they only have to harvest once? What if they make self replicating blood to keep “watering” all the organs, which now can be cut to just grow full organs? the whole thing becomes self sustaining and Feral can go home and find a nice girl. 2. Focusing on that blood. What if her blood was supercharged to the point that just putting it in somebody else fixed virtually anything wrong with them? I doubt it’d make them other ferals, but maybe one vial of the stuff means you don’t need a new heart, cause your old one just started working as well as it did when you were 5 at 50. They keep having to re adjust the needle to keep it in but now they can do with an IV what they had to do on an operating table. Weatherheight YAY! I’m not the only person who thought of point #2! And this is why I don’t trust Alison’s judgement on how people’s powers should be used. This should have occurred to her the INSTANT she found out her father had cancer (as it did mine). And it still hasn’t crossed her mind (at least, on camera – this could have been her plan all along). And who says Feral’s blood needs to be boosted? After all, her powers also should have increased as every other biodynamics powers have boosted over time. And did anyone ever try her as a blood donor from the get go? I don’t think so (I’ll concede I might have missed that). Thank you – I’ve been holding back because a) didn’t want t spoil a plot point b) wasn’t sure if that line of thought was reasonable. Richard Hughes I hadn’t considered that. masterofbones I’m guessing Paladin. Guancyto Looks like she really WAS paying attention in class. Guwara would be proud. Wait, not proud. Terrified? dragonus45 I was wondering how long it would take Alison to just throw consent out the window. Stephanie It was that or throw countless, countless lives out the window. Neither choice is good, but those are the choices she had. Rich The Bluegeek Okay… Allison just confirmed Prof Gurwawa’s opinion that she’s a tyrant. She didn’t learn anything from that. There’s no justification for what she’s doing. Any aphorism of your choice applies: “Might doesn’t make right”, “The end doesn’t justify the means”, etc. Very disappointing. Max is a jerk and an idiot, but he doesn’t deserve this. And the consequences… if there are no serious consequences for her after this, I’m not sure I can continue following this comic. I can’t endorse the message this is sending. It’s a pity, because I’m losing webcomics left and right these days. It’s not just entertainment if it sends the wrong messages. It’s okay to make people think. But there’s too much of the wrong kind of regard for tyrannical and unjust means in today’s culture, and too little appreciation for the consequences. Mechwarrior Maybe she didn’t learn what he was trying to teach. Maybe she learned it a little too well. A lot of people in this comic seem to have been trying to get Alison to abandon her “childish” ideals without considering what might happen if they succeed. Loranna I would hope the message was less “Give up your childish ideals -and any notion of restraint or decency-,” and more “Accept that the world isn’t as simple as you wish it were, and learn how to do some good anyway.” Loranna Arkone Axon I agree with you entirely about her falling into the same trap she did with Gurwawa. But… I don’t think she’s going to skate on by with this one. He’s got rich and powerful parents, for one thing. For another… later she’s going to have to examine her own actions. And then compare them to Mayhem’s. And if anyone else finds out, they ARE going to let her know how they feel about what she’s doing here. Insanenoodlyguy I don’t know that it’s a trap, exactly. If anything, he may have inspired this. She’s going to MAKE everybody chose the right rock. Allison may have accepted that she’s the tyrant. AustinC123 What a deeply simplistic view of story. Bad guys must lose, good guys must win, or else the kids today will think being bad sometimes pays? Stephanie “There’s no justification for what she’s doing.” Those countless, countless people who would otherwise have died don’t count? Are they irrelevant because we don’t know their names or faces? Olivier Faure Leaving aside negative utility problems and lost of trust (people are less likely to go help Allison now, because they (might) know she may blackmail them if they stop helping), I think you’re being a bit optimistic about the number of people saved. Allison is not a reliable narrator, she might have exaggerated the number as a figure of speech to persuade Max. She might be deluded about the scope of the positive consequences of her actions. And, most important of all, she might be wrong about its effectiveness. Maybe whatever she’s kidnapping Max for actually has a very, very small chance to succeed. I mean, she’s probably not going to do something small like boosting the Valkyrie project, but until we know what she wants, we should probably assume it does not have infinite utility :p (although you could argue that even saving one life is worth blackmailing someone over, but then the negative utility problems pop up again) Amulya Stephanie, do you think the writers wrote themselves into a corner here? Like they wanted to do a segment on valuing personal autonomy, but set the stakes a little too high? I think they can save this arc if Allison herself faces some kind of consequence. But how can she face consequences for anything? Stephanie I don’t see it as a corner, no. I think this is just Alison grappling with a conflict of her principles. I think the stakes had to be this high to force her to confront that conflict. Probably, in the future, she’ll find herself having to make similar choices with lower stakes–and the way she thinks about those decisions will be affected by the choice she made here. I think Alison can experiences consequences, even if nobody can really hurt her physically. There are people whose opinions she respects and whose presence in her life she values; it’s possible for her to suffer losses there. And since she values the greater good, then if what she’s doing ends up actually causing unintended harm to come to the people she’s trying to protect, that would be a consequence for her. Alison values a lot of things that her superpowers can’t prevent her from losing. Loranna I still would like to know what the heck her plan is, here. I don’t like having only Alison’s word, and Max’s lack of debating said word, that this is such a vital, immediate problem, that it -requires- dealing with THIS VERY MOMENT. Really. What could be so big, so important to deal with right away, yet also be so invisible in the comic till now, or at least, so beyond fixing as to be effectively invisible as a problem, that Alison only comes up with this plan once she learns Max has power boosting abilities? Would it have killed Alison – or those countless, countless lives – to sleep on her idea first? Loranna Stephanie I’m looking forward to finding out! But yeah, I do agree that unless this was super urgent, she should have slept on it before making such a big decision about what her values are. shink55 I have a friend who thinks Max is going to become a Lex Luther analog to Alisons superman analog. Given his money, connections, and especially power suite I could see him surrounded by a cadre of boosted supers who have a bone to pick with Alison next time she shows up. Jaime yay, benevolent dictator! in all seriousness though, Allison is not learning enough from her Axiology class if she thinks this is a good idea. Izo This is not ‘benevolent.’ It’s just being a dictator. Stephanie Gertsch Allison’s gone bad! Her dialog’s out of character but I kind of like the feisty. Stephanie I don’t think it’s out of character, personally. She’s not an angel, she’s talked before about how she fantasizes about killing people all the time. This is pretty standard dialogue for Alison losing patience with the people who ruin things for everyone else. Bakkonator It’s obligations??. I do not know if he would be “obligated” to help anyone if he chose not to. Michael Smith Hell yes! God, I hope she breaks his wrist. I wanna hear it snap. I’ve read every page and I’ve never flat-out cheered her on before now. Just wanted to get that in before somebody starts in about how this one moment and choice will now inevitably turn Alison into a fascist dictator. Slippery slope, my ass! All we know now is that a ton of lives are at stake. Is it great to coerce others physically? No, it sucks. But isn’t that particular moral lapse in this particular instance with this particular dickhead worth it in order to save a ton of lives? I’m thinking yes. She’s a human being, not a saint or an angel. The point of her life is not to lead a perfect existence above reproach with an immaculate conscience. Striving for moral perfection, just for your own smug satisfaction, seems pretty amoral to me when the stakes are that high. I’d argue people in this flawed, difficult world have a responsibility to get a little blood on their hands from time to time when there’s no other choice. And you just try better next time. Snap it, Alison! Just one! He can afford to see a doctor later. Ilzolende Kiefer Are lives at stake? I’m (probably mis-) parsing this as “Alison wants Max to boost Alison”, given that Alison says nobody will find out who he is. Do you think she plans to bring him to other biodynamics (like Feral? Feral would make sense), but in disguise (thus still causing them to know someone with his powers exists), or what? Insanenoodlyguy it makes no sense if it’s her. There’s already nobody stronger then her (the closest already took his shot on his self-described BEST DAY and lost). Being stronger when your already the strongest is redundant. This is for somebody else. masterofbones Nah, there is a non-Alison person that she wants to get boosted for no longer than 4 hours. Possibly Paladin(which would likely result in an extinction event), Possibly Hector – not likely to be world ending, potentially very useful. Patrick seems unlikely, but he has great potential for helping or destroying the world(not as much as paladin though, especially since he has shown a tendency to look for advice from people that are smarter than he is). Weatherheight Alison had several files there – maybe the person is one of those folks in those other files. Stephanie Exactly! I completely agree (except the wrist-breaking part, I hate him but I still wouldn’t enjoy that). Alison’s choice in this moment was to sacrifice Max’s autonomy, or to sacrifice countless lives. She made the right decision. Arkone Axon I’m wondering how many readers applauded Moonshadow’s throat slicing of people she drugged up with sodium pentathol before telling them to confess to committing rape. But yes, we like her and we don’t like him, so he has no rights and she’s 100% justified. Yes, she should inflict lasting physical damage to boot – that’ll teach him to not roll over and do whatever he’s asked to do by the person we personally like. Michael Smith That seems like a really unfair comparison. Taking up a few hours of this guy’s time and slicing throats are just not in the same league. Weatherheight That’s true. What if Alison kills him in her rage? Whose fault is it then for those “countless, countless people”? I applaud her ends, but I bet that this is going to come back to haunt her big time. Marc Forrester “Snap it, Alison! Just one! He can afford to see a doctor later.” – Michael Smith, just now. masterofbones >All we know now is that a ton of lives are at stake. We don’t even know that. Alison has been severely hyperbolic in her statements in the past. “Countless” lives could mean a dozen for all I know. Michael Smith Does it matter? Aren’t a dozen human lives worth pushing this dude around just a little? masterofbones Seeing as she vehemently argued against feral’s sacrifice, it would at the very least make her a little hypocritical to force Max to act now. But if we were going to ignore Alison’s past and just look at the situation as a stand-alone thing, You would still have to completely restructure society to make this an acceptable action. Almost anyone in the first world could save dozens of lives with minimal effort, ESPECIALLY wealthy people such as Max. Unless you are okay with a society that allows home invasions to insure charity, being okay with this turn of events is absolutely out of the question. Michael Smith That…seems like a really, really strange jump. Like a massive leap. Feral’s situation and Max’s are not the same. That’s a false equivalence. Kind of something the Max character would say. And you can create slightly-parallel-yet-extreme-hypothetical situations to invalidate any action in this life. Do all of your choices and actions make perfect moral sense when you multiply them by a thousand and apply them to all of society? I hope not. They shouldn’t. You’d be paralyzed. I’d argue moral choices exist in their specific context, and have to be judged in that context. Context matters. Rumble in the Tumble What are you doing here, Citizen? Weren’t you relocated to the Uranium Mine #253? Countless people are dying every second you’re not mining that Uranium! Well, alright, a countable amount of people. Several, in fact. Just one. Me. Dying of not getting enough money. OBEY THE COMPUTER. THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND. MrSing Your kidney will save a life. You don’t really need it and it is an actual real world fact that someone is going to die if you don’t give up your kidney. The procedure is relatively safe and will be preformed by trained professionals. Your safety will be guaranteed as much as possible. If however, you decide to be selfish or a coward and not go to the hospital right now to donate your kidney I will drop you in the ocean. You are basically a murderer if you don’t give up your kidney right now anyway, so it’s justified. It’s not great to coerce individuals, it sucks, but it’s for the greater good and merely a small moral laps. Now give me your kidney. Tylikcat Last I checked, in the US, we’re not very well set up for altruistic organ donation, and most (all?) of the costs end up being borne by the donor. (At least, the surgical costs on the donor’s end. I looked into this at one time, but it was a while ago.) Tangent, I realize. Michael Smith Does that comparison feel legit to you? Asking few hours of someone’s time to save countless/dozens of lives vs. asking them to cut out one of their organs? Here’s the thing: you can invalidate pretty much ANY argument by comparing it an extreme like that, but that doesn’t mean you’ve made a reasonable point. MrSing She didn’t ask. She demanded. With violence and threats. Here’s the thing. Once you take away one human right, you’ve shown that you only care about them as long as they are convient for you. Michael Smith Okay, who wrote that godly law down on stone tablet? You think she’s forever defined by this one act? Or her feelings about this person are forever defined by this act? Why? And do you think her overruling his (selfish, petty) decision is so horrible that it would instead be better to let, again, “countless” people die? Truly. I’m asking: If you were in her shoes, would you just let Max spend the evening in his mansion reading The Fountainhead? Even if that means letting, I dunno, twelve people? Because that would be better than violating this one dude’s autonomy this evening? Would you sleep well after that choice? Everyone who is judging her—even comparing her to a rapist, which seems almost crazy–I would really like to know what you would do. If those are the options, do you let people die in order to preserve your a perfect moral scorecard? MrSing Alison is the only one who can determine if she is defined by this act. But seeing a few of the past things she said like how she loves fighting and how she wished she could punch in the face of every person she didn’t like, I think this is actually a very large part of who Alison is. This is just the first time that we know of that she let her control slip. And once you cross that line, it’s hard to get back. As for human rights. No one wrote those but us humans. No one upholds it but us humans. No one fought, died, and killed for those for generations but us humans. Human rights are the result of bitter struggles, wars, and sacrifice. Don’t be too quick to throw them away because they protect people you don’t like. Or because they are inconvenient. Our ancestors bled for them for a reason. Breaking even just one of them lets you see the truth. They only exist because we demanded them, and they only exist for as long as we protect the human rights of EVERY human, even the monsters. It is not about MY moral scorecard. It is about protecting those rights of every human being so that life is even worth living in the first place. If people died because of that, I would feel like shit because I wasn’t good enough to persuade Max to help. It would be my failure as a human being that I didn’t bring along someone else who was better at convincing him or finding a way. But I would not violate those rights, Michael Smith I posted this elsewhere, but I kind of want to ask then. How far do you go then to avoid that? You’re in Alison’s shoes and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you hold Max in place unwillingly, you will save the lives of 10,000,000 children. It will not hurt him in any way. Just by holding him in place, you force him to use his powers to prevent the murder/burning of 10,000,000 children. All you have to do is take him by the wrist for, let’s say, five minutes. If you do not do this, 10,000,000 children will slowly burn to death this very night. But Max, of course, doesn’t want to do it because he enjoys saying no to your face and, hey, that’s his “right.” What do you do? Do you refuse to violate him—by holding him in place for five minutes—or is that somehow worse than letting those 10,000,000 children burn to death? Or do you take his wrist and hold him in place—for five minutes, without hurting him—causing no harm to him whatsoever and prevent 10,000,000 children from dying? And if you choose not to force your horrible will on him—not to violate him—because that’s always, always wrong—and then those 10,000,000 children slowly burn to death because of your inaction, are you still a good person? Like I said, I don’t like that style of debate, but everyone seems to have no problem using that type of thing in the other direction. crazy j Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law! More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that! More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake. Rob Clark Oh if only the world had a great many Mores and far fewer Ropers. SJ I can only hope, since this post was upvoted by the mod/artist, that it’s a satire that’s too sophisticated for my feeble mind. Otherwise, bta Tons of lives are *always* at stakes, every second of the day, over politics. That’s the kind of world we live in. No need for a slippery slope. What I’m seeing here is a twenty-something deciding to commit a crime because she hasn’t already changed the world. This is despite being a celebrity, with a unique gift, rich and/or influential allies who may or not have similarly valuable gifts and a more amenable disposition than the douchebag she’s been trying to coerce for several pages now. She has the potential to be influential, much more than the average person can be, and she’s back to choosing violence like she’s in a desperate situation. And she also had a promising pet project which would do good and will probably be already enough for her to handle without trying to add world peace or whatever to her burden. This is something essential to activism: you can only do so much, and may not see results right away, or during your lifetime. And she’s unable to accept that, because she’s convinced herself it’s on her to save the world. As Lisa said, it’s another form of self-centeredness. What is she going to do now, strong arm this particular person for being uncooperative, because he has something she wants, and then pretend to everyone else than nothing happened that night and that she’s still the same polite, idealist Allison? What happens the next time someone stands in her way while “lives are at stake”? What happens if Max makes a fuss, or Patrick blackmails her over this? Is she just going to assume two faces now, respectable philanthropist trying to make sense of the complexity of the world by day, bully of the biodynamics who aren’t optimizing their potential by night? Because she can’t be both forever. The moment it becomes obvious to everyone else that she’s willing to use force, that her uses of violence and intimidation aren’t just accidental outbursts but something she’s tempted to turn into a policy, it’ll be over. Things won’t be the same, no more discussions of safe spaces or coming off as the reasonable party against people like Furnace or Moonshadow. She’ll be trading quite a deal of social capital and trust, just because she can’t accept being told “no”. Violence can have its place when it comes to defending a cause, but for someone in her position and with other opportunities to improve things, it’s a really dubious strategy. Michael Smith “She has the potential to be influential, much more than the average person can be, and she’s back to choosing violence like she’s in a desperate situation.” –She IS in a desperate situation. She just said countless lives were at stake, meaning people will die if she doesn’t act. That is pretty desperate. “Just because she can’t accept being told “no'”” –It’s strange to me that everyone is so quick to chalk this up to her ego. What if she just really, really doesn’t want to see men, women and children get killed? Because she doesn’t want other human beings to, you know, die. “for someone in her position and with other opportunities to improve things, it’s a really dubious strategy” -With other opportunities? I don’t get that. Should she just say to herself, “Well, I make lots of other contributions that make me feel good about myself, so I should be totally cool with letting this particular batch of people croak since the situation is morally suspect”? Lysiuj That’s not a desperate situation. Even if (huge if) she’s right, and many many lives hang in the balance, I highly doubt millions will die tonight if she doesn’t force Max to do X. more likely, she has a specific plan for some change or another in the world, and she’s using him for it in some way. That’s not a desperate situation, that’s using violence against an innocent to achieve your ends and change the world in what way seems best to you. Michael Smith She just said countless lives are at stake. She just said that. That is the definition of a desperate situation. We have no reason at this point to believe she’s not being honest about that. And if not millions, if even just five were going to die tonight, is that desperate enough for you to force Max to do something against his will? How many lives have to be on the line before it’s officially “desperate” enough to make that action reasonable? A million? Ten million? At what point is his freedom worth less? chaosvii Is she just going to assume two faces now, respectable philanthropist trying to make sense of the complexity of the world by day, bully of the biodynamics who aren’t optimizing their potential by night? Well yeah, that’s what Batman would do with Superman’s powers, and we all know he’s totally a bastion of mental stability. Izo Oh god I hope you never get any power in real life. Michael Smith We are very close to electing a narcissistic monster to the highest office in the land and you’re worried about me getting power? Olivier Faure The funny thing is, I sincerely don’t know who you’re talking about. (I’m going to wager you meant either Trump or both Trump and Clinton) Michael Smith I meant Trump. Just to be clear. Philip Bourque If he can amplify power, can he neutralise it too? Congratulations on taking your first steps on the path of Tyranny, Al. Now let’s get down to the satisfying nitty gritty of dragging these stupid, filthy, selfish animals into better living; whether they like it or not. Richard Hughes If he can neutralize it, I’ll look forward to seeing the resultant brawl. SJ Huh. Well… I guess Heel Turn, it is. Moral high ground = forfeit. This also appears to answer the question of whether Max’s powers are active or passive. palmvos I am disappointed and surprised. I should not have been surprised. she isn’t thinking this but here might be the logic. exposure of max’s ability is what he fears most. she can’t be charged with the multiple crimes shes either committed already or is telling him she’s going to commit on him without public exposure. unfortunately, given his family and a few other events, shes wrong.. so far he rap sheet is: battery attempted kidnapping Coercion trespassing (doubtful if the full story gets out- but likely how they would charge her to protect max) I hope she does not get away with this. there have been more than a few people that I think need something like this to happen to them, but this is wrong . congratulations, many will now sympathize with Max.. I do. I’m going to go take a shower. masterofbones She has threatened mass murder(including threatening at least one cop), using the destruction of valuable private property(a truck I believe) to validate her threat. Nothing she does here is likely to compare on a legal level, no matter how persuasive senator mom is. . palmvos actually, this may be the miscalculation. we’ve already seen a news report that gave a not so positive spin (for Alison) on those events. the fact that all of those people are dead now will make it even worse. if the senator wants to make Alison’s life very very hard… she can call for an investigation. roast Alison for that and her actions with Max never need mentioning….unless she manages to pull something spectacular off before max escapes. masterofbones So some people get riled up. Cops show up to arrest her. She turns a cop’s gun into a chew toy. Investigation over. palmvos if the police force decides to press the issue- they call more cops. in Alison’s case, they’ll call the guardians. Also she will loose access to her money her home, school, and family. they figured out how to house Daniel. they will figure out how to house her. in the case you cite- there was an incipient riot, that Alison was trying to stop (badly). this time- she is the target. but I don’t think it will be resolved that way. Weatherheight What worked on Cleaver / Daniel the last time might very well work on Alison (with roles reversed). But I would not want to be the one talking Hector into going into Alison’s inner ear… Santiago Tórtora The way to house Daniel was to have him tied up by Allison. That could be a problem. Thursday Violist I think more likely this is going to turn Senator Mom (TM) towards “Anti-biodynamic people” instead of “Anti-Allison” because, honestly, Allison can’t really be touched but all the other supposedly-dangerous biodynamics. Brad and Lisa and Hector will have to deal with the fallout. Silenceaux Alison no!!!!! SpoonyViking Oh, is Alison starting down the “Justice Lord” road? Infinitive And here’s Gupta’s warning come full circle. The axiom of a true tyrant indeed. Now, that’s not to say that people would be worse off, by definition, in the face of tyranny. Havelock Vetinari, out of the Discworld books, is perhaps the best public example of how much good a benevolent tyrant can do. The problem is what we see right here, with Allison. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Absolute power combined with the certainty that you’re not only right, but are operating under an absolute moral imperative? That’s how we got Moonshadow. Allison sympathized a lot with her, and understandably so, when she had to take Moonshadow down. Hell, that’s how Valkyrie got started. The problem there is that Moonshadow decided that she had absolute moral authority and knew that basically nobody in the world could stop her. So she did what she wanted. Now Allison’s doing that. And while Moonshadow was almost entirely immune from the consequences of her actions, I don’t know that there’s anyone or anything on Earth that can stop Allison if she doesn’t want to be stopped. Consider how terrifying that is for a moment. Right here we’ve got assault, kidnapping, blackmail (she’s definitely going to use Max’s fear to keep him from going to the cops) and, if Allison goes through with her threat, even premeditated murder wrapped up into a single action. She’s doing literally all of the things she once fought supervillains to stop–fought PATRICK to stop–because she’s unilaterally decided that the ends justify the means. The means are important. Period. It doesn’t matter if you save millions if you have to inflict unspeakable harm on a few to get there. That’s why we don’t torture, even given the terrorist-with-a-ticking-bomb hypothetical that you still see thrown around all the time.That’s why human-subject experiments are so tightly controlled. As a side not, as well, if this incident right here doesn’t cause Max to team up with some very nasty people to oppose/contain/limit Allison, I’d be shocked. Never make an enemy of the party cleric. Stephanie “It doesn’t matter if you save millions if you have to inflict unspeakable harm on a few to get there.” Gonna have to disagree pretty strongly on that one. Yes, the means matter. The ends also matter. Those millions of lives are not irrelevant. Insanenoodlyguy It depends on the price of her morality, I think. if she really saves the world with this (probably undone by the conspiracy right afterwards, but if it was at that kinda scale), it’s a bit different then if she somehow just uses this to cure her dad’s cancer (only his) Stephanie I agree with that, one hundred percent. masterofbones “countless”, not millions. They way Alison has spoken in the past, that could very well mean a dozen. Alternatively(depending on who is getting boosted), it could mean the complete destruction of the world. Izo Trying to figure out how to delete a post. I posted something in the wrong place. shink55 On a side note, while most of what you’re saying is correct, the reason we don’t torture is actually cause it’s been proven ineffective. The morality of the situation be damned, the CIA would still be operating black sites if it worked… Marc Forrester It’s ineffective for extracting information, it’s perfectly effective for extracting politically expedient confessions and servility. The CIA will never stop operating black sites. Izo I agree with both shink and Marc on this. Torture has never been a particularly useful way to get useful information over a long period of time, because eventually the prisoner will start saying whatever the torturer wants just to make the torture stop. But it is effective at extracting ‘immediate’ confessions of information and, at least in the short run, getting servility (although in the long run, it again becomes counterproductive) To quote Captain Picard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eym6adS_rfY Tsapki “Getting a confession is easy. Most people will say anything to make the pain stop. Getting the truth, however, is something else entirely.” Izo True enough. Where’s that quote from btw? Tsapki Not sure if I quoted it exactly or paraphrased but it was a bit of flavor text for a class in a tabletop RPG. I’m sure some people can guess it, but the class was Torturer. Warhammer let’s you be some pretty nasty people. Infinitive Well, yes and no. We (formally) stopped torturing when we signed onto the Geneva Conventions in the early 20th century. At that point it wasn’t a matter of effectiveness (science on the ineffectiveness of torture wouldn’t arise for decade) but a matter of the way we wanted our soldiers to be treated, and a matter of the way we saw ourselves. We decided, collectively, that the act of torture, in and of itself, was a greater harm than any harm that the results of said torture might produce. Personally, I feel it’s the only ethically defensible position w/r/t torture. If you take a utilitarian position, where it’s a matter of simple effectiveness, then you have to start playing the unpleasant game of “what do we do with a Lawful Good version of Patrick, who can just take any information he wants.” No harm, right? Except for the most profound violations of all your most private selves. The total exposure of all your secrets to a person–a government–with only their word for your protection? The Improbable Man Alison knows the means are important, too. Why else did she rip up the check? Or do the means only matter when they negatively affect her, personally? Yeah, I’m upset by this page. I get that she’s not pre-New 52 Superman. We’ve seen her threaten people’s lives, and we’ve seen her kill a bad guy. We know she has darkness in her. But she had other options besides plead and force: persuade (this would be a slow path, and she’d need help) and bribe (Power Armor). She also should have Gurwa’s “Axiom of a Tyrant” on her mind and you’d think, given her stubbornness, she’d want to prove him wrong at all costs. I’m interested to see how this plays out, but yeah, right now, I’m very disappointed in Alison. Graeme Sutton It’s probably revealing that your example of a benevolent tyrant comes from fiction. Ophidiophile The benevolent tyrant comes from history, not fiction. “Tyrant” comes from ancient Greece. In times of crisis, when the normal way of doing things (laws, politics, exchange of goods and services) couldn’t end an emergency, a tyrant was elected/appointed to take total control of the country and do what was needed to be done. His word was law until the crisis was resolved. Perhaps Allison understood what Gurwa meant better than the readers, and is simply accepting the role. Izo Absolutely correct on the definition 🙂 Tyrant is also the suspension of personal liberties. It doesn’t really have a place in a society which values freedom, though. Don’t forget that Rome fell. Tsapki Rome lasted well into a millennium though. Not other civilization, nation or state that accomplished as much as them lasted half as long to my understanding. That said, events move much quicker these days, so even lasting a couple centuries is quite an accomplishment for most nations. ClockworkDawn How about one Lee Kuan Yew? Probably the most benevolent dictator in history. He forged Singapore after its break from Malaysia from a tropical crime ridden backwater into one of the strongest and least corrupt governments on the planet. Izo Dictatorships last only for the lifetime of the dictator, and are only benevolent so long as the whims of the leader so… er… dictate. Santiago Tórtora In real life, Singapore seems to be doing alright with a benevolent dictator. For now. Infinitive I did say “popular” example, didn’t I? I figured that folks probably weren’t interested in a history lesson on the ancient Athenians and Romans. Though, I suppose, the best Roman example ends with a bunch of senators stabbing the tyrant who has, perhaps perfectly, illustrated my point about power and corruption. =) Sarah I didn’t think of the “Max to team up with some very nasty people to oppose/contain/limit Allison” side. Good point. Markus I was wondering what the stick would be. I was expecting her to threaten to ruin him financially, but this works too. Insanenoodlyguy Perhaps. The story has started surprising me (and I complained about it before! now i’m hooked), but it’s also possible we are seeing the birth of a supervillian. And I don’t necessarily mean Allison. Caitlin Yilmaz Aaaaand I don’t like Alison now. Lostman Same here… Weatherheight I love Alison. I’m not loving her behavior right now. To me, that’s an important distinction. And I still kinda feel like Max was begging for this (and I don’t feel good about me for feeling that). 🙁 Izo Let me tell you a little history lesson from my culture. When the US started to want to expand beyond its own borders of the continental United States, they did so with Hawaii. At the time, the native Hawaiians were led by a hereditary monarch and the kingdom was its own independent state. Unfortunately for the queen, the Hawaiian islands were very strategically located. Americans first got a foothold in Hawaii because of the sugar trade, and in 1890, the McKinley Tariff raised the import rates on foreign sugar, which made American sugar less expensive, and without the principal source of trade, the islands went into a Depression. The American sugar farmers who were in Hawaii decided to get the US to annex Hawaii, but the problem was that the hawaiians were ruled by a queen in the aforementioned hereditary monarchy mentioned above, and the queen (Queen Liluokalani) had decided that one of the major problems in Hawaii at the time was foreign interference. Sooooo in 1893, the planters staged an uprising to overthrow the Queen while they convinced the US armed forces to protect them and, without Presidential approval or any vote either in Congress or among the people, marines stormed the island, pretty much took over Honolulu and forced the Queen to abdicate – abdicate or die. The queen did not want a military conflict, and was basically forced into one, and wound up abdicating to prevent further loss of life of her people, as well as non-Hawaiian friends of hers who had supported her (some of whom died for it). If it had gone to the President (Grover Cleveland, at the time), it would never have happened because Cleveland was a huge anti-imperialist (like the people who are boo’ing Alison here) and thought that the USA had acted like tyrants and shamefully (again, as Alison is doing now). He withdrew the annexation treaty and wanted to restore Liluokalani to her throne, but by that time American public sentiment (much like the sentiment of people who are cheering on Alison here) was favoring annexation and after Cleveland left office, the fact that Hawaii was such an important military location convinced later politicians to keep the annexation. What does this have to do with anything? The fact that a good came out of the US acting shamefully (today, the native Hawaiians have access to more technology, better medicine, a longer lifespan, lower infant mortality, and are part of a world power with a very strong military) does not mean the evil act was good. Alison is a tyrant now. Not even a sympathetic one. If you told me I’d be saying that Alison is an unsympathetic ruthless dictator months ago, I’d have said you’re wrong and defended pretty much any of her actions with a point-by-point reason for each of her actions. I can’t now, because her actions are unconscionable now. I could have made the same reasoning with slavery in the US, the Japanese internment during WW2, or current politics (okay I wouldnt pick current politics because that’s a quagmire I don’t want to get dragged into), but Hawaii is more on point for me. Orpiex WELP. Yeah, that escalated. She’s definitely going to be thinking about what her professor was saying. CanuckAmuck I sure as hells hope she isn’t being serious. She already crossed way over the line with battery. Amulya Well, here’s a few things. The professor was right. I actually expected Max’s powers to physically drain him, sort of like Feral, but, no, I am probably wrong. And lastly, it came be that easy to fix the world… which means Al’s plan is most likely going to backfire horribly. Duke Araja So, this kind of justifies his attitude. He is a pepper mill, to be used at the whim of those stronger than himself. If this is how everyone has always treated him as a child, then it is unsurprising that he has become emotionally stalled at that point. The fact that he is petulant and lacking empathy does not invalidate the point. It is a self-reinforcing cycle. motorfirebox That wasn’t his point, though. His point was that he wanted a cool superpower, and he was so disappointed at not getting one that he wanted to die. The danger that he could expose himself to by trying to use his power was a secondary consideration at best. Sarah That doesn’t follow. First, we have no indication that “this is how everyone has always treated him”, much the contrary from what he told. Also, say most girls are sexually objectified since puberty and while that isn’t great and isn’t without consequences, doesn’t cause most women to go on sexual strike. This has more to do with him being entitled about what powers he should get and not getting the one he wanted, so that’s his tantrum ‘if I can’t have it nobody can have it’. Izo I really hope that people who support what Alison is doing never get any real power in life, because it is so obvious how abusive they would be once they had that power. chaosvii While I agree that it doesn’t follow that Max is necessarily in a viscous cycle of exploitation, I find your selected analogy lacking. It is just as well to suppose that sexual strikes aren’t commonplace because of a lot of internal factors such as a hormonal desire for sex, as well as external pressure to perform rather than strike. Plus there’s also the possible argument that adhering to traditions of abstinence prior to marriage is a form of sexual strike now that having a job is no longer a systemic non-option for women. Sarah Yes, the analogy isn’t perfect. But all others I can think of (heirs to the throne, gifted children) all follow the same pattern. The kids suffer from external pressure, get self-esteem problems linked to their ‘gift’, but react in very different ways and in most cases make a career out of it, and at least have some part of their identity linked to it. Olivier Faure I think if you read between the line, he probably has a history of being strong-armed by his family or his friends. He gets really defensive when he hears something he perceives as an order, and he was super angry about Allison not accepting his choices. We haven’t seen any proof either way, but my money is on “his parents are abusive control freaks”. Æþelhad Or he’s just a wealthy ass who’s not used to not being the mostly powerful person in the room. ∫Clémens×ds Can we agree on using “explains his attitude” rather than “justifies”? Still such a massive entitled douche. Duke Araja If this was how everyone with greater power (his mother, other government agents, other dynamics) treated him, then yes, it would definitely explain his attitude, but I think it does more than that. Perhaps “validate” is closer to what I mean. If his life of privilege has diminished the value of empathy, certainly being treated in such a fashion would further emphasize the rectitude of his understanding of the world and the people around him. A dog who is beaten repeatedly may bite an outstretched hand, regardless of the hand’s intent to be kind. The dog is objectively wrong to bite, but in its context, biting is a completely valid response. MinorGryph Allison no. Release the manchild and leave in peace. Stephanie If she lets him go, she’s condemning those countless, countless people to die. HanoverFist Yes, slavery is totally justifiable if people are going to die. Earthquake in Nepal? Just take some prisoners and fly them out and form chain gangs to clear rubble! Blood shortage? Comb through medical records for O- people and keep them as permanent donors! screechfox Well, this was the exact opposite of where I was expecting/wanting this to go. This is going to culminate in a dramatic realisation, isn’t it? Amulya Now the question is, if this will only take 4 hours of Max’s time, who is she gonna course to buff? Stephanie Yeah, I’m really excited to find out what her plan is! I love seeing superpowers applied in munchkiny ways to accomplish extraordinary goals. Scholiast I’m sure that there will be people arguing that this is the right thing to do. But it isn’t. Insanenoodlyguy Ah, but what is her plan? we haven’t heard what her proposal is yet. Maybe she’s going to say, amp up her healing friend to the point that her organs will grow other organs and they can start a farm and just harvest shit, thus freeing her from pain and massively increasing the output of lives her powers saved. It’s not necessarily that particular idea, but she seems to think 4 hours will make a HUGE difference, so it’s something she perceives as really big and one time. Being put back in the water matters to the starfish. But If all the starfish are back in the water, will it matter to them that the turtle was forced to do it? crazy j It would matter to the turtle. Insanenoodlyguy Probably the best answer I could hope for. Richard Hughes Doesn’t matter. The problem isn’t that she resorted to coercion *at all* – violent coercion is always on the table. The problem is that she wanted to do it the whole time. You don’t get people to do you favors by insulting them to your face – she sabotaged her own attempt to convince him to do her a favor. After that, she didn’t bother trying to incentivize him, she didn’t offer him a deal, she didn’t try and find some social leverage she could use to blackmail him – she leapt straight to physical violence. And I think she did that because, frankly, she wanted an excuse to hit him. Insanenoodlyguy Again: will this matter at all to the starfish? Jack Markley Those college classes are paying off: She’s learned about the tyrant route! Jodi Butler Holy shit, Allison… lizasweetling oh what fresh hell is this? what the heck does she think she is doing? why are you kidnapping, threatening to kill and physically accosting this admittedly very rude man? so he doesn’t want to contribute to a worthy cause for a stupid/petty reason. he can’t possibly be the only rich guy in this entire universe. Stephanie She doesn’t want his money. He has a superpower that can be used to save “countless, countless lives.” She obviously doesn’t know of another person who can do what he can, or she would have approached that person. The Dread Pirate Steve #812 So she strips him of his free will and uses him like a thing. She’s worse than Patrick here… Kt Squiggles Part of me thinks this is slightly wrong but a bigger part is CHEERING, whoops. Mistress Dizzy Holy shit, Al. Not okay. Pythia Holy shit. Holy shit. HOLY SHIT. Nikki What. EndOfTheWorld (In an extremely Joel Hodgson voice) “Our Hero, Ladies and Gentlemen….” Katherine XII Wow. Utilitarian Dictator Allison gives me *chills*. This is *amazing*. Reminds me of when Patrick was still in the story, which was my favorite span. On that note, I just had a thought. People have rightly surmised that Patrick is making some sort of play here, but with his powerset you’d think he’d be able to get anything he wanted out of Max without needing to have Allison strong-arm anybody. But what if Patrick’s meddling was the opposite of ensuring cooperation? What if the reason that Max’s behavior has been so erratic, so cartoonishly dickish, is because Patrick came by earlier and pushed all of Max’s buttons: with the express intention of putting Allison in this position? What if this was all an elaborate setup to show Allison the legitimacy of Patrick’s moral framework? With that whole ‘save countless lives’ bit just gravy on top from said telepathic mastermind’s perspective? rpenner Along the what if? America loves Alison so what if the fallout of this is Max gets outed as an unregistered biodynamic and Max’s mom is the one who goes up on charges. Sad trombone. The Dread Pirate Steve #812 It’d be nice to think Patrick’s at fault. Otherwise we have Alison giving up on respecting everyone’s right to choose their own path and didn’t move into her imposing her morality on other people… Magicat So how do you explain him being such a dick during their date? He was already getting offended by little things, like her asking about the gardners’ wellbeing and totally dissing on Feral. He had exactly the same “don’t command me” attitude even back then. So this is all totally in line with his character. Izo Being offended and using words does not mean you can use physical force and enslavement in response. That’s a false equivalency. You can be as rude as you want without being told that someone will fly you into the middle of the ocean and dump you there to die (when they ARE capable and willing to do that). You should also be able to refuse to do something someone else wants without them slamming your head against a table and putting you in an armlock, if you did not make any aggressive move or threat against them. Æþelhad He’s a bourgeois who’s perfectly content with fascism (and enslavement, note) as long as it’s twisting *other* people’s arms. I can’t exactly work up the half-fuck it takes to even feign concern for his well-being. Katherine XII Right: I’m suggesting–or rather just “what-if-ing”–that Patrick has been manipulating Max since before said date. Possibly since they first met (pretty convenient, Max just happening to be in that fire). Obviously, Patrick has been keeping tabs on Max. Is it so outlandish to think he might have used his not-actually-mind-control abilities to “nudge” Max towards the present confrontation with Allison? AngryFrenchKanadian Jesus Christ, I did NOT see that one coming. masterofbones Really? She has threatened to kill *crowds* of people before. TAM MOONSHADOW. masterofbones Eh, depending on who she boosts, this could be far less of a bad thing, or it could make Moonshadow look like a wannabe bad-guy. TAM What I’m trying to say is…this is such an abrupt and crazy switch for Alison, it’s almost like a person with a crazy strong illusion anomaly has aped her appearance. The theory doesn’t fit perfectly–quoting Max’s “incentive structure” bullshit back at him and referring to flying, for example. The argument can be made that Moonshadow has been following him for a while and she may have seen them on their date. She may also be powerful enough to project an illusion of flying. In my opinion, the most telling thing is the way Alison is restraining Max. She’s always been super strong, and it’s been established that her go-to method of restraint is generally to pick the damn guy up in the air and hold him there. Easy, quick, relies entirely on her strength advantage. Moonshadow, on the other hand, would be required to learn things like joint locks and wrestling techniques due to her lack of super strength. We know Moonshadow trains Muay Thai, or at least boxing. It’s not a stretch to think that she’d extend her knowledge to grappling–and whoever is on this page, she has Max in a textbook half-nelson. Alison has never had a reason to train in martial arts. Loranna I would argue one point in your assertion (though i do like the idea ^_^) I’m pretty sure Alison has had some combat training. Her preferred style of hand to hand combat is very Hulk Smash, yes, but she’s been taught how to prioritize targets. She’s also had to fight other biodynamics, several of whom, like Cleaver, have a measure of super strength. Against those foes, knowledge of grappling would be useful, so it’s plausible, to me, that Alison would know how to use a half-nelson. Loranna Izo I’m admittedly surprised (and disappointed) about Alison’s route. Reminds me a bit of this scene from Avengers, although Alison seems to be Loki now. Loki: “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.” Old Man – the only one who gets up: “Not to men like you.” Loki: “There are no men like me.” Old Man: “There are always men like you.” And there’s no Captain America (ie, Feral) to stop her from doing something that goes against being a good person and doing the right thing instead of the expedient thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dapip0EHYMI Rell Alison why. Stephanie To save “countless, countless lives.” SJ Allegedly. Deliverance Because I am bored, a gender-transposed tale of “Malison and Fax” that, like the comic, lets Malison’s needs and use for Fax be mostly up to the reader’s imagination. —- “It was a valiant effort, and I have to respect…” Fax began. Seething, Malison had had enough of her reticence. Sure, he’d broken up with her and harsh words had been said, but he HAD apologized and he NEEDED her now. What did she expect of him? Why would Fax so unreasonably refuse his need? He had explained to her, time and again, why she should agree, why it was for the greater good, and how by her very nature she was made for this. And it would be safe, he’d told her that. Hadn’t he promised her that he’d do his utmost to protect her? That he wouldn’t let any harm come to her? That nobody would have to know? That all she’d have to do was to follow his instructions and all would be good? All that, and more, so why would she not comply with his reasonable request? Some people close their eyes to the world, living in their own small realities. Could that be it? And that hateful quip, that even if she might otherwise have been inclined, and might do it with somebody else, she wouldn’t do it just because he, Malison, was asking, just to deny him his will. Her body, her very soul, was made for this, and she’d reject his need, the need of the greater good. Sharing her bounty was practically an obligation to society, and yet she rejected it. Who did she think she was? Nobody refused Max and the greater good and got away with it. Enough was enough. It was time to open her eyes to reality. “I wish I could have convinced you”, Malison sighed, and threw her down, forced by a necessity that would not be denied. Shocked by aggression she had never feared to suffer at his hands, Fax’s thoughts ran wild as she cried out in fear and anguish. This couldn’t be happening. But it was. Acting swiftly, Malison grabbed her from behind and held her body tight to his own. The skin he had longed to caress trembled beneath his fingers and the body he had desired to possess reacted to the touch of his with repulsion, but he had never been one to shrink from doing what was necessary. She struggled but it was futile, her weakness conquered by his strength. Malison lowered his head to her ear: “Don’t cry”, he whispered, “it won’t hurt as much if you don’t struggle. We are going on a small trip to happy-land, you and I. Just think happy thoughts of pixies, or whatnot, and satisfy my base needs for the next four hours as I make use of you the way you were made for.” Immobilized in his strong arms, Malison’s hateful voice ringing in her ear, Fax cried for help but there was nobody to hear. “My needs are very reasonable,” Malison breathed heavily, “and if you perform well I’ll make sure nobody knows what happened to you and return you unharmed rather than killing you. How does that sound to you?” “Never, monster!” Fax valiantly refused to submit to his will, choking a refusal through her tears as she hoped beyond hope for the nightmare would end. But it didn’t. “Well, sweetheart, I was really only asking as a courtesy”, answered Malison, regretting the necessity of what was to come. He’d really hoped it wouldn’t come to this, preferring a willing partner, but some never learn and must be broken to the bit. While it might hurt her initially, surely she’d feel some pleasure from doing the right thing when he forced her unwilling body and broken spirit to act the way nature intended. In fact, she’d probably come to appreciate his actions in the fullness of time, her eyes opened to the benefits of cooperation. Perhaps she’d even become a willing partner. But for now Malison put thoughts of the future aside, shut out her desperate complaints, and got down to business. —- At which point we draw the curtain and leave Malison and Fax to the mercy of your imagination, so long as you recall that if your mind ended up in the gutter, that’s on you, not on me… said Deliverance. Seer of Trope Yeah no. You fully knew what you were doing, so it’s on you. Stephanie “my base needs” This one line demonstrates why your analogy doesn’t work. You’re acting like it doesn’t matter what the superhero in this situation is actually trying to accomplish. Alison is not fulfilling a “base need.” She is saving an enormous number of lives. The alternative is respecting Max’s autonomy but letting those people die. Violating Max’s autonomy is bad; sacrificing many, many lives on the altar of his autonomy is worse. Insanenoodlyguy What if this is really about her dad though? What if what she’s about to do saves her dad? Everybody else wasn’t exactly an afterthought, but would you say her “base needs” were entirely divorced from the situation? AlgaeNymph Keep the blatantly rapey misinterpretation, but also keep the sexes the same. Now we’ll have ourselves a repeat of that rape scene from Invincible #110. My point? … …I was supposed to make a point? Laura Martz I don’t ever comment here, but the entertainment level of this storyline just spiked off the charts. I am burning with curiosity about who she might want Max to empower with his “pixie dust” (legitimate lol). Feral? Daniel? Paladin? When does Friday get here?? leoboiko What if she asks Max to enhance her flight ability, as a test drive, but find herself unable to control turbo flight, and end up accidentally killing him? Izo “I wouldn’t say she’s fully snapped yet (after all, Max is not in multiple pieces)” Right. Slamming his head against the table and saying she’ll throw him in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to die is not at all sign of her losing her mind and being an insane villain now. This is my sarcastic tone. It’s not directed at you in particular. I’m just being sarcastic in general. No one can tell when it’s in text. “but that could just be because he has something she wants.” Remember kids, violence is bad. Unless you really, really want something, or someone has something that you want. Then it’s fine. Still my sarcastic tone. Psile Who knew “I’m creating an incentive structure.” could be so scary. Seriously, this pretty much what every sjw, which I count myself as, wants to do deep down. To hell with reasoning, respectable dialogue, and respecting your stupid worldview. This is the right way to do things, so please just do it and stop being stubborn because you want things. Seer of Trope It’s what anyone with defined morality wants to do deep down. Marc Forrester Or sometimes just right there on the surface. Fortunately most people can fantasise while realising that it’s a bloody terrible idea IRL. Insanenoodlyguy It’s important to know what you are, no matter what your in the service of. Walter I doubt that desiring to compel those useful to them by force is unique to folks concerned with social justice. Izo It’s an incentive structure in the same way that a gang comes into a store, offered protection from the ‘violent people who might come in here to break stuff’ then starts breaking stuff if the store owner doesn’t pay them protection money. I’m pretty sure this was a regular thing the villains did on the A-Team. Also was in Rumble in the Bronx. Zac Caslar This last decade has made trying to be the patient, decent, understanding, educating liberal quite the challenge. It’s been a steady reminder that ignorance, willful obstruction, self-indulgence in delusions, cultivating fear and cruelty are really, really effective. It’s the Vandal’s Advantage: easier to burn than to build, easier to rot than repair. Good is not dumb, but Evil really has a strong market share. And it’s also been a constant lesson in the utility of playing dirty. Compromise is a kind of weakness for requiring both parties to accept the chosen negotiation because breaking deals works. Maybe not for the good, but at least the for betrayer. So while I resist cynicism, I’m starting to relish revenge. Let Miami drown. Let New Jersey get washed away. If Texas decides to secede, invade and take their oil. Let Trump be president if that’s the only way we’ll learn. Let our “democracy” die if it can’t keep itself alive -we should be a Parliamentary system anyway. I’m not a patriot, I’m a utilitarian. I like Allison, I respect her challenges and her willingness to even meet them. So much of what’s killing us is just plain, unimpressive fear and her trying to win through social justice is admirable. But if she’s going to gamble here I have her back. Wreck that little entitled brat. Terrify him. Twist him into a knot and Fed Ex the blubbering remains to Nemesis with a “caution: contents are fragile” sticker right on his forehead. I’m out of pity. I’m out of sympathy. I’m out of absolute respect for freedom of speech just like I’m out of patience with “Second Amendment Remedies.” Freedoms really aren’t free, but the cost isn’t the blood of soldiers it’s the delusions of the smugly ignorant and the drag they create on us all. So yes. I’ll own that, and I’ll say this: Social. Justice. WARRIOR. Be the war. Give them nothing, take from them _everything_. If they won’t learn and refuse to deal? Crush them. Crush them _utterly_. Trust your regret, but be the warrior your cause needs. Tsapki I’m a tad suprised people refer to themselves as SJW’s. I was under the impression it was a derisive nickname created by people who disliked having to think of the complexity facing minorities, like feminazi. critically_damped Yes. YES. Insanenoodlyguy The tyrant emerges. Jack I need a “Gurwa was Right” T-shirt. therufs ITT: people proving it 😛 Rascal_Face hahahaha this made my morning Guilherme Carvalho ok, NOW that’s just wrong. wow. Stephanie Would letting all those people die have been right? Izo Seriously, who are ‘all those people’ you’re talking about with absolute clarity despite having no information whatsoever about it? You keep repeating ‘countless, countless lives’ over and over again without having so much as a shred of evidence to support it. For crying out loud, it’s like how Hitler got the German people to go along with mass genocide of the jews by saying that they were the cause of all the problems, and normally peaceful people went along with it without a shred of evidence beyond Hitler and Himmler’s own massive antisemitism. (and again I get dragged into getting dangerously close to ‘Godwin’s Law). Stephanie I’m quoting Alison. This was Alison’s decision, and Alison is confident that her plan will save those lives. Therefore, the decision Alison made was between preserving Max’s autonomy, and saving those lives. If it turns out she’s wrong, and her plan is actually dumb and won’t save those people, I’ll retract my support for her decision. But as far as Alison is concerned, that was the choice she was making. Lostman I think blindly following along is one the reason the is the way it is now. Ilzolende Kiefer Looking back at the chapter, I really wonder at what point Alison started thinking “ah, yes, this is a good sentence to throw back at him while making death threats”. Katrika Ahhh, the philosophy of a tyrant. Seer of Trope and Taylor Hebert Ilzolende Kiefer Also, Alison wants her personal superpowers boosted? Why? She hasn’t found any flaws in her invulnerability and super-strength yet. And she is doing essentially nothing with them. She might want more power, but is she suddenly going to start hand-cranking generators for cities or flying refrigeration-requiring medicines to remote locations in third-world countries or that sort of thing if she gets it? Probably not. She’s probably going to stay in college, not using any of her comparative advantages. And Max is likely to expect that someone would blackmail him like this, and already have made some commitment to not go along with it. Insanenoodlyguy No, this isn’t for her. If it’s her, 4 full hours of going from being the strongest woman in the world to the stronger strongest woman in the world accomplishes what, exactly? There’s nothing she could do stronger then she is now that she couldn’t do by herself, except maybe taking a little bit longer. This is for somebody or somebodies else. 4 hours is travel time. She is taking him somewhere. Ilzolende Kiefer Makes sense. Feral, maybe? Izo If it’s Feral, I can see Feral telling her that what she’s doing is wrong. Feral does what she does because of her own choice, not because she’s forced. And she’s stopped Alison from doing things that are evil before. I think Feral would (or at least should) be ashamed of Alison’s actions. Stephanie I don’t think we know yet that she wants her own powers boosted. We know that she’s going somewhere with him, he’s using his power, then she brings him home. We don’t know who he’s using the power on when they get to their destination. Anna That’s…ethically ambiguous. Ezra actually, it’s not. It’s wrong. It’s kidnapping, torture, and coercion. there’s nothing “ambiguous” about this. She is making a mistake with a person who can make life difficult for her, and can make her entire effort for the support structure she’s trying to make null with lawsuits, slander, and public humiliation. masterofbones “For the greater good” is the epitome of “ethically ambiguous”. Just because you have decided how you feel about it means nothing about its objective nature. You might as well argue that I don’t actually like eating cake. The Dread Pirate Steve #812 How? She’s reduced the douchebag to a thing that operates at her convenience. Anna I mean, Max is definitely a bit of an asshole but he does have a right to his decision and his privacy and Alison is violating that…I also think he’s crying slightly at the end of the page there so that’s pity points for him. d4t4 What was that about there being no supervillians left? Weatherheight I’m ashamed to say this made me laugh. :3 Stormy9 no shame I laughed, I’m still laughing. Izo She’s filling the void. Heh… Alison’s the webcomic’s ISIS now, apparently. I can’t believe Gurwara was right. DANGIT!!!!! Stephanie I didn’t care for his methods or his attitude, but he was inescapably right even from the start. His point was that you can’t always have it both ways–there isn’t always a golden option where you can save everyone without coercing anyone. So you can’t just say “I’ll find a way” and hope for the best. Alison had to decide what she valued more. Sarah She’s not a villain. A vigilante if you will, but that’s still better than villain and probably better than what we know from her so far: 1) When a “superhero”, we know she killed countless people for the cause of “good”. Her universe isn’t black and white now so it wasn’t probably black and white then. Why are people assuming she used to be untainted? Being regarded as a superhero doesn’t make you ethically sound. 2) Threatened to kill dozens of demonstrators for not giving her data about Feral’s attacker. 3) Admitted to Daniel finding it very simplistic how people regarded them as opposites in the moral scale when they were so similar. She’s not even trying to be a model for ethical behaviour. In the light of all this, 4-hour kidnap+extortion (after honestly trying hard to prevent doing it) sound like even more restrained and making and effort than she used to. I’d say she hasn’t gone evil. She’s arrogant, she’s good (neutral good no longer lawful good) and she’s desperate. She’s also human and has emotions that I doubt any of us would be able to control better. I can’t claim she’s doing everything right but give her a break. Jbark I see her as more Lawful Neutral, but maybe that’s just me. Random832 Villains act, heroes react. Alison is acting. And she wouldn’t be the first or last super (or non-super) villain to have started with a grand vision of making the world a better place. SJ Firelord Sozin committed genocide, and started a war that lasted a hundred years, under the pretense of sharing his nation’s prosperity with the rest of the world. Layla Okay we did not go the moral route, but are going vigilante. Part of me is screaming that it’s wrong, but part of me is thinking “well at least things will get done now”. I don’t think that was the lesson we were supposed to learn lol Shane A. Leslie Um… Is she actually assaulting him and attempting to force him to let her use his body (which is the source of his power) without his un-coerced consent? Isn’t this pretty much rape? Seer of Trope No. ∫Clémens×ds The analogy is a shady one to ever make but eeeeeeh ’tis not good Insanenoodlyguy It’s not rape, but it’s an interesting analogy. We already have a rule 63’d fic in thread driving the point home! ∫Clémens×ds I don’t… no. Please, let’s, this is too slippery a ground and someone’s bound to say something so monstruously offensive and it’s so highly likely to be me please no let’s not make rape comparisons Daniel Van Patten Too late, this is exactly what it looks like. Even the posture and rationalizations. chaosvii Anyone can scream rape if it looks disgusting enough to them. It’s not an interesting analogy, it’s a lazy analogy that ignores how vast swaths of things which are not rape work to reinforce the dynamic of rape as a bad thing that is difficult for people to handle in a healthy & just manner. The details are being lost by calling this rape-by-another-name except-not-really. Rape happens to be comorbid with a bunch of other bad stuff, but I really can’t contain my indignation that people are doing every stupid trick in the book they can to attempt to justify conflating rape with: Coercion Power abuse Traumatic events Severe loss of agency Submissive stances The presumption that the abuser will get away with it Heteronormative power dynamics and reversals that are only ironic because of present attitudes about said dynamics (seriously fuck off rule 63 fanfic women can rape men and there’s no point to swapping here except to play off of that cultural bias) Threats of murder or other retribution for attempting to procecute the abuser Self-righteous rationale for dehumanizing the victim Violent & painful physical restraint ^These are not rape, they all exist independently of rape, rape can involve any of these things, but these things do not magically become rape if you have enough of them. If it looks like a duck but doesn’t quack like a duck it could be a goose! This analogy is not only unnecessary, it’s actually so lazy that I think it is suppressing thought through distraction and malignant social norms. fieldofyellowdandelions Rape is sexual in nature so, no, this is not rape. Non-consensual and assault, yes, but not rape. SJ Isn’t rape more about power than it is about sex? That said, rape wouldn’t be my *first* comparison, but Max is definitely being violated. Weatherheight Rape is not necessarily sexual in expression nor in essence. Rape is primarily about exerting power over someone in a manner that usually falls in sexual expression. For example, depending on the state, a group of men holding down a woman and kissing her (not necessarily a sexual activity) could be charged with rape. Getting a conviction would be ridiculously unlikely, as most folks tend to link genitalia as necessary to rape. In this case, so far, Alison is guilty of battery with a deadly weapon, unlawful detainment, and criminal assault with special circumstances (her threat to drop him in the ocean constitutes a death threat; her power set constitutes a deadly weapon; Max can very likely successfully argue this was all pre-meditated). There may be more charges as well (at least she hasn’t got unlawful entry on that list). And in this case, she doesn’t have the mitigating circumstances she had before of seeing someone killed before her eyes. masterofbones Things don’t have to be rape to be bad, no matter what society may suggest. Sarah More like forced/coerced work. Sam Bleckly “The ideology of a tyrant” I love stories like these how we see the frustrations that turns people into dictators RedRaven Damn! She’s doing the thing! She “making” them! Soft tyrant! Man, I’m so conflicted, on one hand I agree with alison. What shes asking isn’t even a flipping hard or dangerous thing. It’s a “no-brainer” I mean what are we supposed to do? Let every selfish asshole who doesn’t want to do even the smallest things to help countless people get away with it??? But at the same time, she’s forcing him, through threat of death, to do what SHE thinks is right. And that feels like a slippery, super-villain slope to me. Stephanie Yeah, this decision was clear-cut, but I do hope she doesn’t start resorting to violence in more ambiguous situations. DawnCandace Unexpected. Alison has gone to the dark side. Dirka I know it’s morally iffy, but yeah, I kinda cheered. Still, hope this isn’t her start of darkness. Izo Calling it morally iffy is sort of like calling Mount Everest a slight protrusion in the ground. ∫Clémens×ds Oh by the way, remember when I somehow managed to prophetize a banjo in Clevin’s band and jokingly mentionner that I either have magical powers or Brennan is reading my comments and taking inspiration without crediting me just because he loves me so? Well it just so happens that I had written this a few days ago. His little sob story is so exaggerated it makes it almost a certainty that Alison will land Mighty and Strong on him and unhook his head of his ass right onto the track of using his power. My contribution to the webcomic: positing figurative imagery to have it come alive in an oddly twisted way a few pages later. Ciella :O That’s literally the only response I can form… David EPIC! Axel_Celosar Welp Alison, you’ve now officially become just like Patrick. Tylikcat I’m pretty sure Patrick would have handled this with a great deal more finesse, and Max would have gone along with it willingly. (Because Patrick has a ridiculous advantage in such things, as he himself has pointed out.) Izo Not ‘exactly’ like Patrick. Patrick would have done this more subtlety and may even have gotten Max to agree with him. Similar mentality though. Seer of Trope Feral or Cleaver? That is the question. AustinC123 BENEVOLENT DICTATOR Izo Pretty sure that’s what the North Korean subjects call Kim Jong Un and called Kim Jong Il. martynW Interesting thing Number One: Social Justice Warrior Allison going all “Might is Right.” Interesting thing Number Two: Social Justice Warrior fans on this site cheering her on. “Can I get some muscle over here?” Ilzolende Kiefer Ehh, I’d call it less than a majority of the comments section? It’s pretty typical for some fraction of people to respond to “unpleasant person is violently attacked” with “serves them right”, and while some SJ spaces have an unusually high fraction, this comments section doesn’t seem to be one of those sections. Ryan Social Justice and its Warriors in a nutshell, “We have the moral highground and the moral imperative, do what we have decided you must do, or we will destroy you” Ryan thats Rape, Allison, what you are doing is Non-Sexual Rape. the Irony is this is the crux of the Authoritarian Left, “do what is best for the Greater Good or be destroyed” Richard Hughes She’s not doing a great job covering her spectrum of coercive options here. Jumped straight from whining to violence. Lot of steps on the ladder skipped, and plus she has no popular mandate to do this on behalf of anyone. She has no legitimacy for this sort of coercion. JanetBird Wow, bringing us back to this issue’s page 40. I get why you’re doing this Alison, but I really hope this isn’t your idea of “being ready”. You can’t work together by yourself. I’m afraid this is going to end very badly… Stephanie Even though I strongly agree with her decision and I think it would have been reprehensible for her to allow the people she’s about to save to die, I agree with you that it’s probably going to come back to bite her. motorfirebox I’m trying not to cheer, here. I’m really, really trying. Izo Just as you should not want anyone else to cheer if a person with power forces you to do something totally against your will as well. First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. motorfirebox Yeah yeah yeah. He who does not feel schadenfreude is probably a pod person. Michael Smith I think a far better quote, also often associated with WWII, would be this one: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And it seems a lot of people would prefer Alison to stand by and do nothing. AustinC123 This is the first time Al has acted like a superhero and it is COMPLICATED. Arkone Axon I would like to point out, for anyone who wants to argue that she is totally justified in her actions because they like her but don’t like him and therefore it’s okay to go all Jack Bauer: She never even needed to use physical force to coerce him. And Menace (Not gonna call him Patrick, I’m going to call him by his supervillain name – because when you do bad things that you know are justified you have become… a supervillain) would be the first one to lecture her on it. He has buttons. She KNOWS he has buttons, because he just TOLD her what they are. She knows his name, his address, and his power set. She also knows that he wants those three things to not become general knowledge. In other words, she could have resorted to something that would have been even more effective as a method of coercion, but without violating his rights, physically overpowering him to use his body without his consent, or incentivizing him to hate and fear her. This wasn’t just supervillainy on her part; this was STUPID supervillainy. Lostman *Blinks a few times as a rage boils* I the !@#$ US government has made some sort of energy weapons to turn you into red paste, you of crap! As so your new theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyIq_cq-dHM Stephanie Rape is a selfish act for personal gratification. Alison is saving countless, countless lives. Her choices were “violate Max’s autonomy” or “let those people die.” She had to pick one. I don’t see how she’s holding the Idiot Ball by choosing countless lives over Max’s autonomy. Those people are all actual people in-universe, even if we the readers don’t know their names and faces. Stephanie I don’t think she’s having him enhance people at random. It sounds more to me like she’s going to bring him to a specific dynamorph and have him enhance them, which is entirely possible to do without revealing his name or face. matt mitchell I like this one. Allison totally went way too far with her actions, but it’s a perfect example of her flaws and emphasizes her hypocrisy with how she uses her abilities. She is now using any means under her power to get to the ends, including unjustly, unlawfully, and immorally overriding max’s decision to get her way. With her actions here, she has effectively undermined everything she has fought for and proven right the people who fear her power. What she has done here is entirely wrong. She by no means made the right decision here. But the wrong decision is the one that will save countless people, and while the ends don’t justify the means, they certainly cast them in a more favorable light. The decision was awful, but it was the a reasonable one to make. Izo I’ll definitely agree that Alison is a hypocrite, unjust, unlawful, immoral, and downright awful now. bta To be fair, we’re all a bit like this when we’re angry. I really hope this is not a permanent change and Allison comes to see this as an embarrassing failure of character. Lostman “I really hate to say this, but right now, Alison’s basically the same IN MENTALITY as a rapist which, considering Valkyrie is supposed to help abused women, is ironic.” Well, if leveling entire city is ‘helps’ hundreds, and hundreds of people. Then Alison all for it. Ellie K Um. Well. This is could only end well. 1) Max’s mom works for the government, and even if Alison is basically untouchable that doesn’t mean her family or anyone else she knows couldn’t be targeted because of her actions. 2) Alison doesn’t know the extent or limitations of Max’s anomaly. Seeing as how Chris and Alison accidentally discovered their new abilities, I’d hate to think of what would happen if Max suddenly developed the ability to de-power someone while Alison’s forcing him to amplify the abilities of someone like Feral. Olivier Faure 3) What happens if Max discovers he has the ability to depower people while they’re both flying over the ocean? Lostman That’s was my reaction. Stephanie Doesn’t she pass the class? If she had forced everyone in the class to put down the “cooperate” token, everyone would have gotten an A, including her. She failed the class because she tried to have it both ways–she cooperated without ensuring that everyone else did too. shink55 Nah, she would’ve also had to threaten Gurwa to give the one student who didn’t get a white stone a white stone. Everyone would’ve passed the class, and everyone would’ve been utterly terrified of her. This is of course brilliant, as a dictator can no more afford to respect the authority of others then their autonomy. Cori J. *sigh* Welp, called it. Place your bets now on whether he pulls a Furnace and struggles so hard midflight (because FREEDOMMMM) that she drops him. I give decent odds considering her strength power diminishes when airborne. SJ Either that, or he’s so scared that, in a blind panic, he inadvertently boosts her powers so much that she accidentally kills him in mid-flight, by suddenly flying faster than he can breathe and/or crushing him to death. Stephanie I think she did mention it to him. Presumably it was the “plan” she told him about before the scene started. Lostman “I can’t wait to see how the Alison-apologists cheering on her behaviour vs. Max will spin her actions. Is this a step too far?” One word: never. That’s the thing with extremism in all it’s forms, there is never going to far. Now increasing a few supers powers in a large area same like a “good idea”. Izo I -was- an Alison apologist (actually I wouldnt even call myself that, because I don’t think Alison actually needed to be apologized for in the past). I had made lots of posts explaining the reasons for past action and how Alison was a good person who was raised well. But I just can’t here. Here, she’s absolutely, totally wrong. (and I predict that Stephanie is going to respond to this and mention ‘countless, countless lives’ again). Stephanie Alison-apologist here. Yes, it’s criminal behavior and she is inflicting harm. However, her alternative was allowing “countless, countless people” to die. She had to choose between that harm and this one. She had to sacrifice Max’s autonomy or all of those people’s lives. Choosing Max would have meant condemning them to die. No one would support her personally killing those people to protect Max’s autonomy, but the outcome would be the same. Choosing inaction is still a choice. Her hands would not be clean just because she didn’t use them. shink55 This is what governments do, and governments get to do it at the end of the day because they have the most and biggest guns. We make up lots of reasons why the government has the right to take your money, take your property, take your freedom, even your life if they see fit. We tell ourselves it’s for the protection of all (which is it), or that the government can do so because it’s the legitimate power base, or whatever. But when that government is ruled by a tyrant, it still has all those same rights to take whatever it wants from you, and that’s because government is the biggest toughest thug in the room, and we all kow-to to it. This is Alison right now, Alison is such a big and powerful thug that not even governments want to mess with her. When you have that kind of power morality tends to take a back seat to expediency or necessity, and when it’s a government doing it we generally nod along. For an example, if this was Black Panther threatening Max because hundreds of thousands of Wakandan lives were at stake, how many of you would still be condemning his actions? Lostman I wouldn’t say the “villain”, but something bad is going happen from this. I just know it. Preacher John wut Lostman 6: The people who got a power boost go on a rampage, then followed by number three. SJ Or Sozin’s… Which, I guess, would make Max the comet. Lostman When a the Thesis becomes the Anti-thesis, you this has to do with all the crap she to with on a daily bases? shink55 Huh, so all those comment threads about Max somehow taking advantage of Alison on there dates, well that all just got flipped on it’s head didn’t it? And yeah this is totally analogous to rape, Max might even develop some PTSD here, it’s a pretry horrific experience to be forcibly flown at several hundred feet above the ground knowing that a misstep could potentially mean you get dropped. Tylikcat How she comes back from this could be a pretty interesting story. I mean, I was going to say, it’s not Star Wars you don’t take one misstep and then doom – but even in Star Wars while your choices have consequences, it’s not a one foot wrong and then it’s dark side all the way thing. (I suppose if you’re going to go into comic history, you could look into the Dark Phoenix saga, where some of the writers got carried away, and Phoenix destroyed a world of sentient folks, and even through she wasn’t originally slated to die they decided that that wasn’t something she could come back from. This is, of course, a pretty different world – and also, a pretty different scale of offense. Assuming she goes through with it – hell, even if she doesn’t, what she’s done here is already awful – this is serious abduction and force and violation of consent and holy crap someone from Valkyrie should intervene and save poor Max!) I’d be pretty fascinated if Al, looking like she’s been on a bender, shows up at Gurwara’s office hour with haunted eyes saying “I need help.” (Okay, I might also fall out of my chair laughing. But my sense of humor is sometimes a bit obscure. Poor Gurwara!) I suppose there’s a chance that she has something planned that might provoke an interesting discussion of ends and means. (I don’t think you get to separate them, or get away with simplifications.) Though it’s hard not to look at this and suspect that sleeping on it would have been a far better plan. (BTW, I have had the virus that will not die for the last week and a bit as well as a lot of campus-side work I can’t neglect – which is probably part of why I’m not getting better. So I haven’t been around. I’m sleeping every spare moment, staggering around under loads of exams, and bribing my research students with gift cards to the really good coffeehouse to fill in for me in the animal room in the days I can otherwise stay home. This bites. I will be back when I’m functioning again.) ∫Clémens×ds As much as I am glad they finally acknowledged that sometimes Alison can be a bit… pushy, I really wish the narrative commits to showing us how terrible what she just did was to her whole purpose and mantra (or God forbids, nothing of consequence transpires because somehow “Max deserved it”. I wouldn’t be so worried, the webcomic has generally been amazing, if she didn’t seem to believe so hard what she’s doing is warranted right now.) And let’s not mince words: Gurwara totally foreshadowed the tyrant thing. But yeah Villain might carry too many narrative structure implications for what I meant. My guess being that she does the thing with Max, but the person she thinks she’ll be helping is properly horrified and rams Alison with a reality check that shocks her to her very core. And then they refuse to be helped and dares Alison to force her too. (God I hope it’s Brad and he monologues her back into sense for forty pages) I don’t really see another way this goes that doesn’t properly adresses everything this comic has been addressing. An Alison who knows she’s totally over the line but cool with it just this once? …I am so not okay with that. (And get better you are actively being missed but we’ll manage until you come back in full health without making a mess I swear. Go get some rest! 🐙) Olivier Faure I think basically everyone knew about the tyrant thing from the time she started strangling a guy in cold blood because she thought (with reason) that he was a date rapist. ∫Clémens×ds Hm, I… no? I mean she reacted to a date rape in the making, that’s not the same. I dearly hope if you see some date raping happening, you don’t hold yourself from intervening ’cause you thing that may be an abuse of power. Olivier Faure Sure, but she went for the strangling as soon as he didn’t have a satisfying answer for her, even though no one was in danger. For all she knew, they could have really connected during the party even though he didn’t remember her name. She wasn’t wrong, but it didn’t take a psychologist to think she was used to getting what she wanted through violence, even in quiet situations. ∫Clémens×ds I may need to reread this, in my head her reaction, although yes necessarily coming from a place of “I know I can get anything I want always” (if only because fear didn’t come into consideration at all) doesn’t strike me as anything else than anger. I mean, it’s the way I would expect some people to react to a date rape in progress that I certainly wouldn’t call tyrants. But then again is it bias? Even if it was pure “I will force you not to commit the objectively worst of crimes”, I don’t get the same dread as “I will force you to do a thing I would really like you to do” Weatherheight That was my primary problem with her action. Rather than simply telling the guy “take a walk” and leading the young woman out the door (which she could have easily done), she resorted to violence in response to asshat-ery. That escalation troubled me a great deal. Joe-rapist’s actions were eventually clarified (and Alison’s hunch turned out to be right), but that wasn’t evident at that point. Had I been Alison in that case, I might have very snarkily said, “Hey! Helping her Home! What a Great idea!” ::insert point stare at Joe-Rapist:: “I’ll help. Wouldn’t want anyone to get attacked or anything…” Tylikcat I probably am hitting my evening limit (exhaustion – not drinks) so I hope this makes sense, since I’m going to try to approach it by analogy. Some years back, when I was in tech circles, it was pretty common the for guys to be inappropriate gropey at social events. I got in the habit of putting such men in joint locks – mildly painful and somewhat humiliating. (A dear friend of mine, who is still active in the security community, usually throws them when she gets that kind of nonsense. I’m a lot taller than she is.) I got to be known for it, though it sadly mostly seemed to teach guys not to grope me rather than more generally to not go around groping women they had not gotten prior permission from. (Though I also now teach martial arts, so I suppose I’ve expanded the pool of dangerous women. Still, I don’t see this as an ideal solution.) Years later, in a different context, and having mellowed out a bit (mostly by not having been around men who randomly tried to grope me at social events for some time!) I remarked to a dear friend and sometime colleague* that perhaps I had been a bit harsh and was reacting too violently at those times. His response was to the contrary – he opined that one of the reasons men are rarely treated to such behavior is that there’s a pretty good chance that a man is going to sock you in the jaw if you try it. That put my response in a different perspective. All of the sudden, I looked restrained and moderate. I think in terms of the environment Alison had come out of, she was probably reacting pretty darn moderately – she was stopping him, holding him up for everyone to see, and not causing him permanent injury. Yeah, scary and uncomfortable, but maybe educational. (Note, I am not arguing that it is optimal, I am arguing that it is probably fairly sensible in a superhero environment.) Culture clash, right? * And sometime classmate and sometime fellow lodge member and… we’ve known each since we were teenage pagans in the woods, ‘kay? The stories…! AmberWriter NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SJ Eh, I think we learned in Issue 3 that this isn’t out of character for Alison at all. SJ For all we know, she’s already murdered his security? Burke Aw, Alison, no. There’s so many ways this is going to go wrong, it’s not worth the visceral satisfaction of smacking this jerk around. There’s other ways, surely, just leave him with the knowledge that he’s useless because he chose to be. shink55 Alison snapped? Alison always snaps. Alison snapped at those people trying to stop Feral from doing her thing, Alison snapped at Menace after she realized he has no real ability to know himself. Alison snapped at Gurwara for showing her the truth of her actions. Alison only doesn’t act in anger when she pre-determines that she wont or faces no real opposition. Jac Oh wow. I haven’t commented here yet, but this…. wow. I’m winded. Weatherheight Welcome! Punch is in the corner, cake is by the long wall. Leave the bucket of oats alone – it’s mine. 😀 ::does a little tap dance and flickers his tail:: I think pretty much all of us a little winded at this rate. Pyro Me being me, I am very much interested in seeing an alternate reality in which Al succumbs to her inner demons and starts to head down the Dark Karmic Path, and I’d like to think that’s what we’re beginning to see here. E S M Worth pointing out: We still have no idea what Allison even wants Max to do. Ripping up the check leading into this kind of implied she was hitting him up for money, which makes this…wow. Weatherheight And Alison takes one more step down the road paved with good intentions. Being the GM that I am, I have an evil thought. Max’s power has been stated as the ability to augment another person’s powers; now I’m hoping it’s the ability to adjust someone else’s anomaly (given that his power set should also have improved)… Wouldn’t it be ironic if turned Alison’s anomaly off? pleasechangemymind Ohhhhhhh this is bad. This is bad, bad, bad news bears. Alison’s gonna hate herself for this later. Because she knows this is wrong, even if it feels right (which I bet it really really does). Granted, I don’t yet know what the plan is and how important/world-changing it is, but regardless she knows this isn’t on the up-and-up, however justified she may feel. Dammit, Alison. Dammit. *sigh* This is what happens when you let yourself get so goal-oriented that you forget to take care of yourself, people. You start losing yourself. Please, Alison, get some sleep. Eat a Snickers. Take a day. And then apologize to Max and figure out how to do this without him. Because you are spiraling out of control, right now. Weatherheight “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry. or sleepy. or frustrated.” Rachel Symski i can’t seem to put a picture in the comments but allison’s fist in the first panel mirrored to properly mimic the arthur meme with caption “when the privileged man won’t boost your superpowers” SJ 7. There are dynamorphs in the vicinity of the ones that Alison wants Max to enhance, whom she _hasn’t_ accounted for, maybe even a couple with anomalies similar to Furnace, but whom can control them… at least, pre-boost, they can. Dynamorphs whose anomaly, when enhanced beyond their control, could inadvertently kill… (dramatic pause)… Countless, Countless Lives™. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! leoboiko Seize the means of augmentation from the bourgeois pig who hoards all surplus enhancement! Implement the tyranny of the proletariat! All hail FULL ☭ COMMUNISM General Secretary Allison (it’s mandatory)! Mechwarrior Mandatory fun? Rumble in the Tumble The Computer is your friend. The Computer wants you to be happy. Happiness is mandatory. Failure to be happy is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Izo Love hearing me some Orwellian Big Brother/Demolition Man-future-speak SJ So, this is The Killing Joke? Izo I think he might also be referring to the difference between Alison and Cleaver. SJ I feel like there’s enough canon evidence to at least suggest that it took more than one bad day to turn Daniel into Cleaver. Whereas, I believe that the premise of The Killing Joke is that it only took One Bad Day to make the Joker. Weatherheight I’m voting number 5. :3 And a cool comment – neat points. E S M In retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t realize all the stuff about how Paladins weren’t holy warriors but just powerful jerks was foreshadowing this heel turn Izo (Upon a quick review from yesterday) the person you’re responding to sort of already has implied that she WOULD do stuff like that, if it was up to her in the comments on yesterday’s strip. I tried to get an actual number which signified where the ‘cut off’ is since she also implied there’s some numerical amount under which it is or is not acceptable, but she didn’t really answer that part. MrSing I’m sorry, but I gotta agree with Stephanie here. We might be at odds about our ethics, but she’s been a very polite and courteous commenter as far as I know. Speaking for her like this is kinda uncalled for. Tdoodle *spits out coffee* *sips more coffee, just to spit it out again* Stephanie I have no idea if I would be able to do that. I personally can’t even dissect a rat without feeling horrible, so whether I could bring myself to torture a human being is something I can’t know unless I’m in that situation. I do think that it would be the right choice, if that was the only way to get cures to all cancers within a reasonable timeframe. If I’m presented with that choice and I choose inaction, I’m choosing to allow everyone with cancer to continue to die until all cancer cures are finally found. My feelings don’t change that reality; no matter how sad it would make me to inflict harm, if I don’t do it, those people are just as dead. I can’t really put a number on how much harm is acceptable for “the greater good.” That would completely depend upon what the alternative outcome was. My personal belief is that breaking certain moral principles is harmful in and of itself, so the alternative outcome has to be dramatically worse in order to justify it. In this case, the two choices are “one person’s autonomy is violated for a few hours” or “countless people die forever,” so it’s an easy one for me. Weatherheight It’s a little strong (I’m not convinced Alison would do what she’s doing here in every circumstance – just the trenchantly obnoxious resistors), but this is a valid point. Weatherheight A good point. Another point: How out of date are they, some 5-7 years later? Calum Cameron Y’know, back when it was just the strangely-entertaining Patrick she was doing it to, I thought Alison’s willingness to resort to “assault a dude in his own home” as her response to d-baggery was a character flaw, but now that we have THIS asshole on the receiving end, I may be convinced to take a more nuanced view. Izo Translation: Violence is okay as long as you really don’t like the person, even if they didn’t do anything to you or anyone else. Weatherheight First panel – ::footsteps heard coming down the hall:: Second Panel – Patrick: That’s enough, Alison, let him go. Third panel – Alison: Patrick?! What the hell are you doing here?! Fourth Panel – Patrick: Stopping you from destroying yourself. Put him down. Fifth Panel – Alison: You gave me this information! Everything you did was an invitation to get this asshole to do something! And now you come in here and tell me to stop? Oh, hell no! Sixth Panel – Patrick: I’m not the boss of you, hmmm? Seventh Panel – ::shot of Alison with a look of rage on her face:: Eight Panel – Patrick: I know your mind. This is not who you want to be. This is who I already am. I’ll handle this. Let him go. Go home. Get some sleep. Loranna can color this. 😀 Izo Okay um… that would be a pretty interesting twist actually. I wouldnt make me like Alison again or think of her as being sympathetic in any way, but it would be an interesting twist. So despite hating this current twist, I have to upvote you. crazy j [First Panel – Allison is holding Max and flying over the countryside.] Max: I, uh, have to go to the bathroom. Allison: Can’t you hold it? Max: It’s not like you gave me the option before we left. [Second Panel – Al and Max land next to a gas station.] Allison: Make this quick. We still have a lot of ground to cover. [Third Panel – Allison is standing next to the gas station register looking at her watch.] [Fourth Panel – Allison kicks open the bathroom door only to see Max escaping through a window.] [Fifth Panel – Allison give chase. Max is running into the street and doesn’t see the oncoming truck.] Allison: Max! NEXT PAGE [First Panel – black box: Several hours later] [Second Panel, really big – Allison is sitting in a Hospital ER waiting room, cup of coffee in hand. We see the back of a doctor in scrubs as Allison looks up to him from her seat. She is visually upset.] Doctor: ….. severe trauma to both brain and spinal column. He’ll pull out of the coma, but I telling you right now he will never walk again for the rest of his life. bardkun Welp, guess that professor was more right about “the axiom of a tyrant” than he knew… AlgaeNymph What I see are a lot of people treating this is this big, symbolic philosophical abstraction where Allison is becoming Teh Ebil because she’s not following the Comics Code. Here’s the reality: Max owes Allison his life and he’s *still* willing to spite the world and leave it crippled because he doesn’t get to brutalize people. He could start an Avengers Initiative all by himself, or even *sell* superpowers, but he’s so hard-on about being a thug that he’d rather pout and hoard all the toys for himself. Max is not the innocent child of Omalas, nor is Allison going after ‘Muh FREEDOM;’ this is about karma being a bitch. J4n1 Max owes Allison nothing. She made her choice to save him, she did not offer him his life as a loan. And this page clearly demonstrate how right he was about staying hidden, one person finds out, and poof, he is now being threatened with death if he does not become someone elses tool. AlgaeNymph If he had the brains to empower people to be his bodyguards, and sell his powers on a sliding scale, then he wouldn’t be a tool. Instead, he’s a coward who wants to be a thug, so he gets nothing. I see a lot of people talk about how Allison’s taking away his FREEDOM. Freedom to what? To passive-aggressive cripple the world because he can’t do to others what Allison’s doing to him? Allison just wants some lasting positive change, there’s this unlikable pissbaby holding out on the world because he can, and when she loses her temper people here go “You can’t take away people’s right to be assholes!” If you really need me to put this in PHIL 100 terms, Kant never made a damn bit of sense to me, and the guy was separated from real-world experience anyway. Izo I saved you, so now I can kill you if you don’t do what I say. Gotcha. I’ll make a note of that if I’m ever in a fire and the firefighters rescue me. I’ll also make a note that if a police officer saves me from a rapist, it means I should sleep with him instead. Thank you for explaining to me that saving another person’s life means that the rescued person is bound by law and duty to do whatever the rescuer commands, like a slave. Maybe I should become a firefighter – I bet having slaves would be neat-o. (this is all sarcasm btw) bta If karma was a person I’d call them wrong too. crazy j There are people without super powers who charge into burning buildings in order to save people without any thought about being “owed to” by those they save. AlgaeNymph You’re right, altruism *is* a good thing. Max should try it sometime. crazy j Those VOLUNTEER firefighters VOLUNTEERED for their VOLUNTARY work of saving people. They had a choice, Max didn’t. R as a person who deals with a lot of violence because folks who have power don’t give a shit and won’t lift a finger to help, this is 100% awesome. not saying its “right”, but its super relatable. ** could have done without her being almost slightly homophobic though (tinkerbell / sweatheart when used towards men are usually used as insults to like, make a dude feel less masculine/less powerful/etc) ** Izo You do realize that Alison, not Max, is the one here with the power right? You also do realize, I hope, that Alison, not Max, is the one engaging in violence? strongfemaleprotagonist Hey gang, don’t read too much into my upvotes. Mostly I just like when people are excited about the comic! You all are saying a ton of interesting things and as the artist I recuse myself from coming down on a certain side but I love the enthusiasm of this discussion. Carry on! Molly Izo Thank you for saying that Molly. It actually makes me feel a lot better and I appreciate it. Olivier Faure I’m mildly curious as to how many times you’ve written the words “countless lives” the past few days :p Stephanie SO MANY. I swear there are divots in those keys now. I should just keep it in my clipboard! Loranna This scene from the old Batman: Animated Series comes to mind . . . Ra’s al Ghul: The material of the Pit is an unknown chemical stew that bubbles to the Earth’s surface only in certain key places. Even now, my people are placing bombs, such as that one, over the various Lazarus Pits around the world. These bombs are electronically linked to a private satellite already in Earth orbit. Batman: -Orpheus-. Ra’s al Ghul: Precisely. And at the moment when sun and moon are in proper alignment to cause the greatest upheaval in Earth’s geomagnetic field, I shall send a signal to that satellite, beginning a countdown. Five minutes thereafter, one bomb will be lowered deep into the heart of each Pit. The satellite will in turn relay a microwave signal that will detonate all the bombs simultaneously. The multiple explosions will result in a global chain reaction. All the Lazarus Pits throughout the world will overflow. The globe will be saturated with their chemical solution, and when the resultant cataclysm has abated, there will come a blessed peace, and this poor, defiled planet shall find itself restored to its former pristine glory. Batman: But that will cost countless lives! Ra’s al Ghul: Actually, Detective, we -have- counted: Two billion, fifty-six million, nine hundred and eighty-six thousand! A most impressive plan, would you not agree? Batman: Yes… I can see it clearly now for the first time. You are completely out of your mind. Lesson Learned: Don’t mess with R’as al Ghul. He’s already counted how many countless lives are at stake! ^_^ . . . Patrick: Actually, Alison, I -have- counted. Also, I fixed your present. (holds up restored mug) >.> <.< *runs* Loranna Stephanie I would certainly accept dying for a guarantee of curing all cancers right away. I would be terrified, but I would also be honored. No matter how hard I try, I’ll never do as much good in my life as my death would accomplish in this hypothetical. Izo Would you accept yourself, personally, killing an innocent 12 year old girl who is pleading with you to let her live, if someone who you trust told you, without having any evidence beyond your trust of them, that by murdering her, you will be saving 100,000 other lives? Also… what if the girl happened to be your daughter? By the way, go play The Last of Us. I won’t give any spoilers, but you might find it interesting. 3-I You just did, though. palmvos assault is threatening to hit, battery is actually doing it… Stephanie Well, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly Max’s philosophy. Max seems to have a kind of libertarian/Randian thing going on where no one should ever use force against anyone, personal autonomy and property rights are paramount, altruism is not a moral imperative, etc. It’s not that Max thinks that power trumps all, it’s that he fails or refuses to recognize the power dynamics enforced by the social/economic system he lives under–power dynamics that he himself benefits from in a variety of ways. For example, he wouldn’t support forcing his gardeners to work late on blatant threat of death, but he doesn’t acknowledge that the nature of their situation means they’re not really able to make that decision freely. SJ So, as it turns out, maybe Alison should have been more concerned with “The Darkness That Lurks in the Hearts of Women”? Izo If Feral saw this, she’d tell Alison to stop. Eric Meyer Yes Yes-no Probably not No Considering I think the world’s rather overpopulated… Olivier Faure I don’t think it was about being special, because Max has shown no desire for attention so far. I think it was about empowerment. I think Max as this time was basically Taylor Hebert, suffering from some kind of abuse he wouldn’t want to talk about, that would seem minor to an external observer, but still bad enough that he was ready to jump from a roof to get powers that would get him out of it. And he ended up with powers that made him more vulnerable and dependent on other people, and probably let him in the same shitty situation. If this bad situation was “overbearing parents want to control everything he does”, it would explain why he’s so defensive when he feels like Allison is forcing his hand, and why he got angry when she talked about the migrant workers. Yeah, I really, really like this pet theory. I hope it’s either confirmed or denied at some point. Stephanie That would be pretty interesting and would give him additional depth (although it wouldn’t change my stance on the utilitarian vs deontological ethics issue). I think I’d be happy with either option–either Max having an understandable reason for his selfishness, or Max just plain being a selfish jerk–because they both seem plausible to me and both still lead to the same conflict with Alison. Olivier Faure Yeah, if you’re going to go full consequentialist, people’s backstories matter a lot less. You should still take them into account, because ignoring them leads to dehumanization, which leads to valuing the lives of people you like more than the lives of people you despise, for instance. Also, this is unrelated, but Page 83, Panel 2 gets a lot creepier when you realize she’s thinking “Oh, I am SO going to slam your fucking face into this table.” Michael Smith Yeah, there’s a risk he’d be exposed, as there’s a risk with everything. I mean, he’s already semi-exposed, as she pointed out. But she says she’ll protect his anonymity. Let’s see if she follows through on that before judging her for blowing it. SJ Except, as @J4n1 accurately pointed out, even if nobody knows but Patrick and Alison, Alison knowing is bad enough. What the hell is going to stop her from threatening to kill him the *next* time she decides that Max can Save The World? Michael Smith well, we can judge her for that when she actually does that. at that time. Izo I have to admit that the writer DID do something I totally did not even remotely expect. Kifre I didn’t expect it, but flipping through some previous pages….its not out of character. This is the Allison that’s talking when she told Cleaver how much she likes beating up “bad guys” and the one who doesn’t have patience for others on her soccer team, and the one who sees support groups for biodynamics as a place to shop for Valkyrie volunteers instead of a place people go to get away from the expectations placed upon them because of their differences. Izo With Alison in the role of ‘overreaching government.’ 🙂 (after all, isnt that what a tyrant is – a really, really, really overreaching government?’ ) Izo I really don’t see much ‘benevolent’ about what Alison is doing. Also yes, this does reminds me of Red Son a bit. Izo She totally betrayed everything she said to Cleaver. Regret That is a very interesting ethical situation. – If you define violence to include not acting when you should, and many courts do, then this is an example of self-defense by proxy. (By not acting when he should he is violating those he is not helping.) – Using violence to stop worse violence is acceptable in most moral settings. So either: 1. Not acting when you should is not violent. 2. Violence is not even acceptable when it stops worse violence. Or 3. Allison’s current actions are ethical. I think it is 1 but I’m not sure, I find that uncertainty distressing. MrSing I don’t think violence can be a passive thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone using it in this way. Responsibility or fault through neglect would probably be a better term for what you’re talking about here. SJ And I think that it’s at least as likely as it is that Alison is right about Max’s power being able to save Countless, Countless Lives™. Stephanie Well, we’ll find out. MrSing I would not be inflicting a painful death on these people. Nature and cancer did that, and these are unthinking amoral forces. Their death, and all of our possible future deaths at the hand of cancer are forced upon us by something that is out of our current control. What is in my control is to say that I will not let my own fear of dying painfully or seeing people that I care about dying colour my judgement. I will not let my fear or love make me do something as disgusting as torturing five innocent people and using my fear or compassion to justify it. All of our deaths are inevitable anyway. Most of them will be painful, even more will be terrifying. That is a fact of life. Life is transient. To go to such lengths as the torture and killing of innocents to preserve it is an ugly thing born from fear. Death comes to us all, but we can at least face it with dignity. Santiago Tórtora I was going to go on a whole spiel about the naturalistic fallacy and so on, but then I read what you wrote and realized you are not a consequentialist (despite your ironic name). You explained your point of view very clearly and I still disagree, but only because weren’t our axioms are too different Izo This is akin to: “Hey Tim…. go donate blood to a blood bank, or some guys are going to come by your house and beat the heck out of you, Then they’ll take some blood. They’ll keep coming back every week for more ‘donations’ until you start voluntarily donating blood on your own. Oh and if you say anything about it, they’ll increase the donation to include internal organs. After all, you don’t need a heart – you’re not using it anyway, what with your refusal to donate much needed blood. It’s for a good cause, after all.” Michael Smith I feel like every time someone makes a completely reasonable point here, someone else here creates a ridiculous analogy to discredit them. I don’t love that style of argument, but I wanna try it too: So you’re in Alison’s shoes and you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you hold Max in place unwillingly, you will save the lives of 10,000,000 children. It will not hurt him in any way. Just by holding him in place, you force him to use his powers to prevent the murder/burning of 10,000,000 children. All you have to do is take him by the wrist for, let’s say, five minutes. If you do not do this, 10,000,000 children will slowly burn to death this very night. But Max, of course, doesn’t want to do it because he enjoys saying no to your face and, hey, that’s his “right.” What do you do? Do you refuse to violate him—by holding him in place for five minutes—or is that somehow worse than letting those 10,000,000 children burn to death? Or do you take his wrist and hold him in place—for five minutes, without hurting him—causing no harm to him whatsoever and prevent 10,000,000 children from dying? And if you choose not to force your horrible will on him—not to violate him—because that’s always, always wrong—and then those 10,000,000 children slowly burn to death because of your inaction, are you still a good person? Like I said, I don’t like that style of debate, but everyone seems to have no problem using that type of thing in the other direction. For everyone who has, how do you answer that? Cartheon False dichotomy. She can try to save the children alone or die trying. ∫Clémens×ds I’m not sure she “did something stupid” out of anger. This looks chillingly premeditated to me. Also walls, human beings’s consents, eeeeh MrSing It is easier to say you will sacrifice yourself than it is to say you will sacrifice another. Actually doing it is where you’ll find the truth. Still, for some it is easier to die than to kill. That said. I would not want to life in a world where we all agree it is good that we tortured five innocent people to cure cancer. Lysiuj Because you aren’t the one making people die of cancer, but you are the one torturing five innocents. And this isn’t a selfish matter of keeping your own hands clean, it’s a question of how far we’re willing to go for solutions to the world’s problems, but you aren’t personally to blame for those problems just because you refused a particular solution. Santiago Tórtora So if you don’t do it, you don’t have to feel about it and therefore it’s not your problem? That just encourages passivity. Stay away from moral issues because if you don’t get involved you can’t be blamed for it and if you do you get involved people will complain that you didn’t fix it perfectly. That’s putting “feeling good about being a good person” above actually improving the world. Just because you are not personally to blame for something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help anyway. Preacher John The active moral response to this false dilemma would be to obsolete it: by dedicating your life to working in the sciences (e.g. directly in the lab or indirectly by fundraising) towards curing cancers. Rumble in the Tumble Are you seeing any walls being punched here? :v ∫Clémens×ds Well back there she was understandably emotional where she doesn’t seem to be now and realized next page that this was the most awful thing to do. Plus, she didn’t actually act on these threats (well one dude died but he was burning a hospital, screw him), which, matters? But to tell you the truth she lost all chances of redemption the day she threw a mug in someone’s face. Fun fact: we have yet to see Patrick’s face, ever since. I predict a luscious “THIS IS THE SCREAMING, BLINDING PHYSICAL REMINDER OF YOUR TERRIBLE MISTAKES YOU CAN NEVER TAKE BACK scar. Weatherheight I’m hoping you’re wrong. I’m fearing you’re right. (I keep saying this….) ∫Clémens×ds I’m sorry but I am soooooo uncomfortable with any and all rape analogies with anything that isn’t rape let’s not and not even question whether or not we should talk about if we should Michael Smith I agree. It feels intellectually lazy and unfair to just compare any physical conflict to rape when there really no element of sexual violence here. Tylikcat I’m likely to go with “violation of consent” probably because I’m pedantic like that. I don’t usually talk about rape unless it’s rape as such… but at the same time I don’t find it offensive in this sort of context? Actually, if anything, I’m a little disturbed by the degree to which rape has been mythologized and set apart from any other crime. To me, as someone who has been raped, it often feels like the implication is that this is supposed to be this giant hovering thing more terrible than any other thing and that you’re not allowed to get over it. Fuck that. As an aside, I think we need to see more rape of men in fiction. At one point this was mostly a point of frustration, because I was tired of rape of women being used for titillation and shock value… but the more I’ve read about sexual assault of men, the more I realize that this is something that is pretty common, and something that a lot of men barely know how to think about much less talked about. (I mean, considering how common it has been for women to suddenly realize, “OMG, that thing, that was rape!” this shouldn’t be a surprise. This stuff is hard.) Stories, good stories, help give people words and conceptual frameworks. They help make it okay to talk about. And maybe they’ll help demythologize the rape of women, too. (I am not overlooking my own ability to contribute here, but then, I suspect my contributions could mostly be in smaller ways.) This, BTW, in no way is to suggest that I think Al should rape Max. OMG, no, that would be vile and awful. At so many levels. I do not want to have to bleach my eyeballs. ∫Clémens×ds I’ve thought about this extensively, wondering if the level of scrutiny that’s arisen when one dares address rape in a fictional setting doesn’t contribute to both the facts that it’s still something we abhorrently look past in real life, and that it’s the perfect setting for dimwitted and often male writers/directors to write/showcase rape as shock texture and perpetuate the same cycle of awfulness. But I don’t know how the outside of that darkest of box looks like. When we look at any other form of violence in fiction and how we managed to exploit it in all directions so that the disconnect between real life violence and fictional violence is so wide and clear, we can enjoy everything there is to like about a movie like Deadpool, wholly irresponsible with its depiction of delightful violence, without it enticing terrible behaviors in real life… I don’t see how that could work with rape. Maybe it’s just too difficult to accomplish with such a grim subject, or maybe because contrary to violence, there is intrinsically absolutely nothing to like about rape and that’s necessary to? I don’t know. And this is so depressing to think about, and we’re still not talking about the problems with how we talk about it. I’m uncomfortable talking about rape in any analogical setting (which is not to say it’s offensive to, I’ll let people more concerned about the matter than I be judge of that) because I don’t know the experience of people reading the comments (some of which may want to escape that reality when on a fun webcomic about magical young adults) and rape is the perfect fucking combination of “mythological status of rape” leads to “its most knowledgeable people– often intersecting with its victims– don’t talk about it” leads to “the majority of people is ignorant” leads to “the conversation that is there is misinformed, and toxic, and harmful”. And I may be one of those. And even if I’m not, I’m still a man, and I don’t want to speak for the fight of women. As you say so yourself, men get raped too, and its victims are even more helpless and abandoned by society, …but their rapists are other men. Overlooking the fact that rape is absolutely a gendered problem, a act of male violence on the woman class (or assimilated) is absolutely criminal. As such, maybe just women should talk about it, and male victims. Not me. So yeah, I don’t know. You’d have to put a gun to my head to have me commit to the opinion that I agree with you we need more rape in stories told in more ways than the Worst Dichotomy of All Time “Female rape is shock value–Male rape is funny” but then I spend hours worrying how relaxing our harshness when it comes to asking authors to speak of it with utmost responsibility or not dare try might be ripe for terrible things; and we might to change real life before we see an effect on fiction, … …and then I spend hours wondering which imitates which when it comes to Art and Life and you might want to shoot me just so I shut up. Tylikcat BTW, you’ve probably seen this, but this was one of the more influential things I read in terms of the gendered-ness of how rape is treated in fiction: http://sophiamcdougall.com/2013/03/13/the-rape-of-james-bond/#more-171 My thoughts have evolved a fair bit since I first read the essay above – and it hit me at a time in my life where it was perhaps more than usually resonant. …and then I went looking for several more essay that I’ve read over the past, oh, four or five years, which were dealing with personal experiences rather than fiction, and couldn’t find them. I had a pretty good idea of the titles, but unlike the title above, they weren’t particularly unique. This was really frustrating, because they were specifically women writing about dealing with their personal experiences, and the differences between those experiences and the social narratives… and trying to find them I’m wading through pages and pages of sensationalized stories conforming to a more standard social narrative. Glargh. (It was also often women writing about these things after some period of time. I think it’s easiest to enforce the standard narrative on very recent events.) Izo He -did- give her the file. Michael Smith The last thing I’d want to do is make you feel unsafe. I truly, truly do not want that. But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that in this particular situation, her choosing to control him through (yes) the threat of violence is preferable to the deaths of many people. If i’m being sincere, her forcing her will on him makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m sure it makes her uncomfortable. (She tried to avoid it for a few pages.) But her discomfort is not a good enough reason to turn away and let people die. And I’d love to construct a moral universe where you can always 100% condemn (or turn away from) a choice like that, but this world we live in now doesn’t allow that. And refusing to accept a shade of grey– insisting on a moral/ethical purity that makes you 100% comfortable–in this complicated world, strikes me as immoral and selfish in its own way. Izo Yeah what a spiteful guy he’d be (assuming he has that power)! How dare he turn off the power of someone who’s trying to kidnap and is threatening to kill him if he doesnt comply with their powers! How very very spiteful! Sorry I can’t keep a straight face, but fortunately this is text. Stephanie You’re coming across as more and more antagonistic every time you reply to me. I just want to have a civil discussion. I wasn’t even talking about ethics this time, I was literally just speculating about how a fight between Max and depowered Alison might turn out. Izo Dangit. Now I need to buy one. Izo This seems like ‘Out of character moment,’ ‘What the hell Hero?’ and ‘Idiot ball’ in one colossal mess. Matrix Wow, lots of comments on this. Something I would say. Everyone breaks. Allison is breaking inside and has been for such a long time. She is finally expressing it. People expect her to do the right thing, to talk it out, to respect the power that she has and act responsibly. I do not agree with the line, (to paraphrase) “Weak people are assholes and would be monsters if given the type of power that others have.” There are some things that are choice, some are not, some look like a choice but are not. She is hurting so bad and everyone expects her to be good when she is getting road blocks and complications at every turn and only her super powers can solve this or make it work. Gurwa and Patrick and Max are not wrong, they are not right either. Gurwa wanted her to understand that you can’t force others to understand or comprehend what is right and wrong, even if you spell it out. That there are a number of circumstances. He also reverted to taking what Allison said as an all or nothing statement. Either we are ALL TOGETHER or we are not. The fact that we are BETTER together is true. This should be true if MOST of us are together. Enough to get the job done. His Pass/Fail with injustices is an extreme case BUT if he said that say 30% of the color was the same you all pass, well things might have turned out different or had a 2 out of 3 run with a 50% over all margin, well…. Max is just scared and apathetic and he is such an individualist that the “you can’t tell me what to do” is another type of extreme. I fully expect that Allison could say, YES I CAN FORCE YOU. Well, she can. Should she? Well, that is the crux isn’t it? If she could save Millions or Billions by mistreating one, Should She. Some say, look at the alternatives, here we get foggy. What is true? Will her actions, by forcing it, actually make things better and not worse? You can’t know for certain. Would you kill 5 innocents for the cure for cancer? If this is what it took to, with out a doubt and with certainty, to get the cure….If it was a sure thing? Hmmm, Maybe. But with the uncertainty involved, if it MIGHT bring about the cure? No. I wouldn’t. The fact is we can’t be certain. We can only guess. The Military is Guessing that their actions are for the better. That guessing is, indeed, backed up by a history of being proven right AND a history of being proven wrong. But more often proven right. So, who is to say? Those with the power to do so and that are willing to take action and pay the consequences of those actions are going to say, if we like it or not. In this sense, she is acting as one with the Power to do so. “With Great Power..” yes, responsibility. Some would argue that if one has the power to do good things are they morally obligated to do good things, even if those good things go contrary to laws and morals of the time? Or is it ok to sit on your hands, if you have the power? Lots of moral stuff here. But simply put, Allison is breaking. She needs to fix herself and then come back to what she feels is right. It is not lost on me that project Valkyrie is named after Female Warriors thought to be nigh invulnerable in battle and took heroes to Valhalla. Both Strong, Merciless AND filled with the ultimate mercy of providing solace. Quite the duality. And now I wait to see if she is joking or broken enough to go through with her threat or will come back to the norm. In a way she is searching for the ONE PUNCH K.O. again. One thing that can save others, beating herself up, breaking inside for fear that she is not good enough to carry this though. Hurting herself, for the sake of others. Stephanie First of all, you don’t even know what I’m studying; second of all, having super strength and invulnerability does not make someone capable of erasing war. The fact that the great enduring problems like war can’t be resolved via punching is kind of the entire point of the comic. Izo “First of all, you don’t even know what I’m studying” Correct – I don’t know what you’re studying. The ’10 years to become an expert in something’ is just an academic saying. I’m making the assumption that you’re not currently researching a cure for cancer. If you are, good. I’d then say why are you not researching a cure for some other disease that kills even more people than cancer. My point would still be valid. You’d be omitting doing something that can save even more lives. I’m assuming that, as you type on this comment forum, you are not simultaneously in a lab working on preventing uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. I’m using your own logic to show that the logic you are using does not make sense. “having super strength and invulnerability does not make someone capable of erasing war. ” This is true. Having superstrength and invulnerability does NOT make someone capable of erasing war. I wasn’t saying it does. I said that Alison can take the place of thousands of non-powered soldiers, who therefore do not have to die on the battlefield when there’s a perfectly good invulnerable superstrong superhuman to do the job of ‘killin’ the enemy combatants’ instead. She’d be saving countless, countless lives. Soldier lives. She’s not doing that. Therefore, by your logic, she should be forced to do so, or she is a bad person. I’m using YOUR logic. My logic is that she should be free to do what she wants, so long as she is not harming other people or forcing them to do things against their will when they have done nothing wrong or criminal. You’re the one who has said force should be used – not me. “The fact that the great enduring problems like war can’t be resolved via punching is kind of the entire point of the comic.” Again, I never said Alison can stop war. I said she can prevent the deaths of thousands of soldiers by taking their place. One Alison can be the same destructive capability as several platoons. Over a year of warfare, this means thousands of soldiers would not have to die, have legs and arms amputated, suffer from PTSD, endure chemical warfare damage, be tortured when captured, or be blinded. Again… this is the logic you’ve used. This is the logic I’ve been arguing against. Also, Alison’s breakdown was that punching… that violence and threats… couldn’t solve the big problems and make the world a better place. So what does she do here? Wants to force Max to make the world a better place (at least based on her extremely nebulous plan which does endanger him)…. by using violence and threats on him. Stephanie Max’s anomaly wasn’t public knowledge in Issue 1. SJ No, but whomever Alison wants him to enhance was. If Alison’s target(s)’ anomaly(ies) could save the world, *they’d* be dead already. Izo I’m waiting to see a post where you don’t use the words ‘countless lives.’ Stephanie Not sure why you’re getting snarky about that. The “countless lives” thing is obviously critical to my position. You shouldn’t expect me to ignore it. Lostman From what I seen, it’s your only position as it seems. Rumble in the Tumble Execute containment procedure 110-Montauk. Izo Do you mean Daniel? zellgato Yes I think so. Rumble in the Tumble SURPRISE SEX Izo Except that Luthor didn’t have a good reason to hate Superman, aside from that he felt that the world was getting dependent on Superman (instead of on Lex Luthor). Max does have a good reason to hate Alison now. Rumble in the Tumble On the other hand, in all the alternative universes where Superman does what Al is doing right now, Luthor is right. Izo He already stated that it WAS one of the big reasons to not like his power. It’s dangerous to HIM. Stephanie That was an afterthought, after he first complained extensively that his power didn’t make him special enough and Alison wasn’t impressed. It’s a reason not to like his power, but it’s not the big reason. MrSing You have the right to debate ethics, your morale systems is just very unfinished and unusable in all but the most extreme of cases. You are an utilitarian, or at least, something very close to it from the way you argue right and wrong. Utilitarians weigh the end good, or suffering, of an action and on the basis of maximizing good and minimizing suffering they decide if an action is moral or not. To do this you need to quantify harm, or else all your decision are based on a gut feeling of guessing. When it comes to people their lives and freedoms you need to bring more to the table than that. You don’t need to build your system from scratch, many very intelligent and dilligent utilitarians have worked out systems of measurement that are effective (not enough in my opinion, but they are at least workable). Stephanie These are not my decisions. If I actually had the power to make a trolley-problem decision on that scale, and I had time to think on it, I would certainly consult experts and read up on utilitarian systems of measurement before pulling the trigger. I’m not going to do that to comment on a webcomic. I don’t think an elaborate system is even necessary to weigh “four hours of one man’s autonomy” against “countless lives.” Izo More specifically, Protection Racket. Izo They won’t get paid yknow…. Rumble in the Tumble >Yes, I am taking Alison at her word. If it turns out she’s wrong, I’ll retract my support for her decision. Once Alison Green becomes the chancellor of Germany, she won’t need your support anymore. Stephanie That’s taking it a little far, isn’t it? SJ Eh, since we’ve already seen that Max is willing to tell Alison ‘no’, just to spite her, how big a leap is it to suppose that he might be willing to out himself, just to ruin her reputation, and turn the world against her? It’s not as if she hasn’t already been in the news as someone who’s willing to abuse her power (the clinic, the date rapist) to get what she wants and/or enforce what she thinks is right. Stephanie True, he might. It’s not impossible. That’s definitely one way that this could come back to bite her. Matrix Everyone Breaks. This is her breaking inside. We all want things better. We all hurt inside, we just have varying abilities and varying ways to deal with it. Loranna Heartily agreed. Alison, you live over CapeCakes now! Take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of your chosen homestead! . . .Heck. You could have at least brought Max a CapeCake as a peace offering. Tasty delicious food can do wonders for putting someone in a more agreeable mood. Yeah, he’s a complete (insert expletive here), but helping countless people is worth the cost of a CapeCake for someone you dislike! Loranna Weatherheight Big Sandwich would have been nice too. 😀 Matrix Interesting, I like this but don’t think it is what they have in mind. We can all hope for something good like this to come about. She could just carry out her plan, become the hidden tyrant. Or come to her senses, apologize and be done. Or let him go in a fit of anger. Lots of possibilities. I wait for the next one eagerly. TimG The ethics of her choice aside, this comic is definitely the most fun when Alison lets her dark side out. Like when she admitted to Cleaver how much she really loves fighting. (Of course, what makes it so fun is the contrast with her usual earnest morality.) Michael Smith Did Stephanie do something to you personally, Izo? Because just scanning over these comments a little…the way you address her makes me feel like you’re a lot less concerned about her safe space than your own. I’ll be honest: I found your rape analogy for this page truly strange and uncomfortable, but I didn’t mock you for it. Yet your tone with Stephanie is downright derisive. Even though it appears she’s making really smart and reasonable points as respectfully as possible. Rumble in the Tumble You don’t get to threaten people with death unless they cooperate and get to call yourself a hero. Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon Stephanie I don’t believe that heroism means never compromising. I don’t believe that heroism means sacrificing people’s lives on the altar of your own principles. Lostman Who is that person? Stephanie Good question. I’m really excited to find out! Lostman What if that person doesn’t exist? And she giving a power boost to bunch of people? Zac Caslar Solid catch. This might be necessary, but it’s unlikely to be Good even with a positive outcome. And we still don’t actually know what mission put her on this path. I doubt it’s backing, I doubt it’s Valkyrie, and I doubt it’s just money or influence. Allison is complex. People are complex. I say let’s hang around and watch this play out. Loranna I’m reminded of a line from V For Vendetta. To paraphrase, “I know every inch of this cell. This cell knows every inch of me. Except one.” . . . Don’t mind me; mind in odd places today. Loranna This Guy Vindication, you are the sweetest wine. Loranna I don’t presume to speak for Molly or Brennan, but I can point out, that I’ve sometimes upvoted comments without agreeing with the viewpoints expressed, because said comment got me to thinking, or pointed out something I hadn’t thought of. Or even just made a cool reference I liked that moment. ^_^ Loranna FlashNeko It’s disappointing in the sense of that the plot (or at least Alison’s character development) is going around in circles because she’s ALWAYS LOSING IN EVERY MEANINGFUL WAY. Issue 1: Yes, she stopped Cleaver’s rampage but it resulted in her getting emotionally smacked down for being wrong about fighting because of the collateral damage it inevitably causes. On its own that one might be okay because it is an issue that does come up. Issue 2: She lets a mass murderer, who outright said she gives not a single care about the fact she will have/already has innocent blood on her hands because The Cause(tm), who also orchestrated the almost torturous murder of a college (if a jerky one with Problems), stroll away scott-free because the scene is framed in such a way that it comes off as Alison Does Not Understand Moonshadow’s Pain And Is Wrong. This one is a little more than a little less excusable. Issue 3: And now we have the White Male Power Structure being proven to be right because poor emotional Alison can’t handle being in a position of authority like they can. Because remember, Altruism = Tyranny given the logic of the Professor’s arguments and now he’s being Proven Right(tm) because, for whatever reason, Alison feels she needs to strong-arm Max no matter what. It’s reaching Ash Ketchum levels of the world contorting in ridiculous ways so that the protagonist fails in any major situation. And that can be both frustrating to a reader and disappointing as a narrative regardless of if we are supposed to be agreeing with her or not. Stephanie I see what you’re saying. That’s fair. It doesn’t bother me, I do feel that Alison is making meaningful strides in developing her personal philosophy, but I can see how the constant setbacks can be frustrating. Lysiuj Gurwara’s point wasn’t that altruism is tyranny, rather that *forced* altruism is tyranny. And I can’t really see it as ‘the plot contriving to make the protagonist fail’ when two of the cases you presented, with Mary and now, were Al’s choices. SJ I’ll take the lottery numbers, for your next trick, please and thank you. Lysiuj Well that’s what I meant, ‘please tell me you’re not in favor of actual ones’. Santiago Tórtora Both sides are correct in being concerned about the other, I think. I’m kinda on Allison’s side on this page (and against tearing up Templar’s donation) so everyone has reason to dislike Allison and/or cheer her on. Her inconsistency is the part that worries me the most. It makes me think she is not really thinking clearly. Like she does not actually support the benevolent tyrant thing and will regret this in the morning. Richard Hughes Yeah, he’d have to be really spiteful to hit someone who threatened to murder him in the ocean. How shocking and out of line that would be. How villainous and cruel. جيمس هارلو If you give up your principles when their consequences become difficult, you don’t have principles, you have hobbies. Stephanie Also a valid interpretation. Either way it boils down to forcing Alison to confront the unpleasant reality that she can’t have the world she wants without coercing someone. Izo True enough. I just wish Alison didn’t prove him right. I really tended to see her as ‘social justice but without all the negative connotations typically seen in SJWs.’ In other words, an intellectually consistent SJW who manages to stay true to her ideals. Lostman Rorschach say hello. It’s one thing for a character to turn “evil”, it’s another to turn evil while being still being turn to themselves. Rumble in the Tumble Fiction, in other words :v Izo “Assuming I have absolute proof” When exactly to people have absolute proof? Jagged What a fucking hypocrite! Santiago Tórtora It might be the end of the world, because Allison is too powerful. If it were some regular person forcing Max to help then it could be good (or bad), but it would be limited in scope and wouldn’t be potentially catastrophic. Weatherheight Yeah.. no, no, probably not good. Izo It honestly scares me how there are so many people that I’ve now seen on this forum who think Stephanie’s view is a justifiable one. The idea of any of them being in a position of authority would be terrifying, as I (and anyone else who is not in a position of authority) would be subject to their whims of what they deem to be right and wrong on that particular day. Weatherheight Chauvinism is in our blood! Lysiuj Given her choice right now, I’m wondering if this isn’t exactly the power she’s wanted all along. It’s just, using her powers to create change in the world amounts to not many options besides this. She was terrified of forcing people to do what she wanted for so long, but now she’s decided she can cross that line. And now I’m very frightened. Lysiuj “I’ve got this.” Lysiuj That was a voluntary personal sacrifice in an impossible emergency situation, not a calculated decision to use someone else’s life without consent in a vague attempt at saving lives. Lostman Even if it blows up in faces? Zac Caslar How amazingly easy it is to become irredeemable! Is this like how Guwara was “attacking” Allison? Or how Allison was “totally wrong” for intervening in a date rape? Those are interesting standards to have. I suspect those absolutes being so passionately held results in chronic disappointment. Weatherheight Random post to push the numbers up. :3 I endorse and approve this meta. Henry Martin If Alison’s current actions are not reprehensible because she will be saving countless lives, then surely tearing up Patrick’s check must be a reprehensible action, you certainly can save countless lives with $ 25,000,000,000.- So, given the choice between accepting $ 25,000,000,000.- , freely given, to save countless lives, and coercing someone to act, against their will, to save countless lives, why does Alison choose the latter? Not sure if she ever was a white-hat, but I think she just lost her hat. Izo Okay dangit, that’s a good quote Zac Caslar “I’m not saving your life, I’m delaying your death.” Heh heh. That said, having been an apparently legendary cleric, I respect and endorse the power of making the cost of an ally’s transgressions the cessation of support. Weatherheight Give me a Happy Ending! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TodQofp1N_A Yarr! Genie Does anyone else here think that this whole scene might be a nightmare of Alison’s? It seems like exactly the sort of subconscious fear that would pop up in a nightmare of someone with her moral code – the fear that she will become something she hates. The vagueness of the reason for her request and the atypically violent language she uses in this page would be consistent with that sort of nightmare. palmvos no. the nightmare will come later. Stephanie I don’t know, I think that would kind of take all the steam out of this arc. I also don’t think this violent language is atypical for her. She’s said more violent things than this. chaosvii If it’s a nightmare, the only way for it to be worth it is for things to go surreal and full-on power fantasy for Alison. Nightmare sequences generally have to expose what the character deeply feels and why they acts the way they do or else it comes off as pointing at the audience and laughing for actually buying that the authors would write themselves into a hole. It’s like a terrible time travel plot or a “what-if” scenario that doesn’t affect the characters nor shifts perspective of the characters. 3-I Go reread issue 3, please. Focus on page 74. 3-I “Wow, what a bold moral choice from a person who’s terrified of violence and scared shitless of going to jail.” Walter I’m afraid I have to walk away from Omelas. I will confess, however, that this is as close as a trolley problem has ever come to getting me in the lever pulling camp. Dude is just such a jackass, and would be put out so little… Anyway, thanks for writing this comic, authors. Despite the fact that it is free, I enjoyed it more than several of my pulls. Izo Alison’s face? Her friends faces? Her families faces? Some of the people she’s trying to save’s faces? Remember how distraught she was about the realization that she caused Professor Cohen’s partner’s (or husband’s, I’m not sure on the backstory there if they were married or not) death? She was directly responsible for that, btw. Stephanie Again, the reason I’m operating as if Alison’s claims are true is that I am talking about a decision Alison made, and Alison believes it will work. Her decision was based on the information she has. My argument is not “Alison is definitely right about everything always and therefore her choices are infallible.” My argument is that Alison made the correct decision based on her understanding of the situation. From her perspective, the choice she had to make was between Max’s autonomy and countless lives. I believe that saving countless lives is more important than preserving four hours of one person’s autonomy; therefore, I believe Alison made the right choice given her understanding of the situation. Others think that it would never be okay to coerce Max regardless of how many lives would actually be saved, and I disagree with that. It’s pointless for me to talk about the moral choice Alison made from the perspective that she’s delusional or lying. This story arc is about Alison grappling with a conflict in her values, and deciding where her priorities lie. My opinion is that she made the right choice about where her priorities should lie. If it makes you feel better, feel free to imagine “Assuming that Alison’s understanding of the situation is accurate in all respects” as a prefix to any statement I make about her choice being the right one. I’m not gonna type it out every single time, but it’s been implicit in my arguments all along. SJ “If it makes you feel better, feel free to imagine “Assuming that Alison’s understanding of the situation is accurate in all respects” as a prefix to any statement I make about her choice being the right one.” But that gets us right back to the crux of the argument: why would you assume that? Why would anybody assume that? What has Alison done that you would give her the benefit of the doubt? This entire webcomic is practically a bibliography of how frequently Alison gets it wrong; how frequently her understanding of the situation is NOT accurate. She pretty much had an existential crisis over realizing that the real problems of the world don’t have “Perfect Punch” solutions, and yet she stays steady looking for “Perfect Punch” solutions to the world’s problems… Why on earth would _anybody_ trust HER mental calculus? Michael Smith “What has Alison done that you would give her the benefit of the doubt?” Besides saving the world a few times already, you mean? SJ Did she save the world with her tactical, or critical thinking skills? Because I’m pretty sure that she didn’t. Super-accuracy is not one of her anomalies, and neither is a super-wisdom. I don’t want someone whose solution to problems is to punch shit making life decisions for the rest of us. Michael Smith If NOTHING else, you know that she’s someone who is willing to give a shit–who has, in fact, saved the world many times. If that buys gets her NO credit in the bank with you, why not? SJ Moonshadow “gives a shit,” too. And, if Alison gets credit for saving the world, then so does she. Do you trust her judgment as much as Alison’s, regarding what’s best for the good of the world? If not, why not? Let’s not labor under the delusion that Alison “saved the world many times” by herself. If anything, a case could be made that she was the third-most important member of the Guardians; she just happened to be the tank. It’s not an accident that Pintsize was the leader, despite Mega Girl being the most powerful. And, that’s the heart of the matter. With the Guardians, Alison acted as a member of a team: her actions were tempered by teammates, Hector and Brad specifically, who are more intelligent and/or more mature than she is. In this scenario, she’s acting on her own, making decisions based on her own personal assessments, with no guidance or counsel from anyone else. And, even though I’m coming dangerously close to a Stephanie-esque level of repeating catchphrases (NDI, Stephanie), Alison’s mental calculus is not to be trusted. If we had seen Alison present her proposal to a duly-appointed and representative group of her peers (a panel, a quorum… a congress, if you will), and said group came to the decision that they needed Max’s powers to save Countless, Countless Lives™, I feel moderately confident that they would’ve tried to figure out a way to get him to do what they needed him to do, without threatening his life. My biggest problem with this whole thing is that it should never have been Alison’s decision to make on her own. She. Is. Not. Qualified. Stephanie OK, I feel like I’m still not being clear. Something is getting lost in translation here. I’m interested in the decision from Alison’s perspective, not from my own perspective. I am interested in the choice she made based on her understanding of the situation, and how that choice reflects upon her characterization–specifically, how she has chosen to prioritize her principles when they conflict with one another. Alison’s understanding of the situation was that she was choosing between Max’s autonomy, and “countless lives.” I am evaluating and discussing that choice and what it says about the evolution of her value system. When I say that I assume she’s right, I don’t mean that I literally don’t think it’s possible that the story will prove her wrong. Think of it more like, “Assuming that the object is a sphere on a frictionless surface…” It’s a premise that I’m operating under in order to discuss the decision from her perspective. Whether or not she will actually succeed in saving that many lives is a separate question that we don’t have enough information to address, yet. Stephanie What I meant was, after she wasn’t impressed by the “I’m not special” reason, he pulled out the “It’s a risk” reason as an afterthought. She accepted that as a valid reason but also didn’t believe it was his real reason. Zac Caslar I concretely concur, and by the inverse of that principle endorse the destruction of the Filibuster. And I also I make the excuse that these wretched, pathetic rules of engagement weren’t chosen by me. I wasn’t eager to see the Bush Presidency engage in an all-out corrosion of reason and rationality as means of obscuring it’s foibles. I have principles and I try to hold at least some reasonably above-sea-level moral and intellectual ground. But I also can tell when they’re not being valued, and being used against me. Politeness encourages reciprocity, but if it’s not returned it’s worth is diminished. Rules without consequences are merely quaint, and if there’s one thing I think is indisputable about modern America it’s that perverse incentives and workarounds rule the day. And I’m pretty damn sick of it. None of it is incurable. None of it is irreconcilable. What’s our excuse? palmvos that was the first time i realized that it might be whees in wheels- i.e. Patrick sending her the file so that she forces Max to do something. to either put her in a bad enough position that she gets into legal trouble or he can force her to recognize that she’s left the moral high ground…. Stephanie I don’t actually disagree with any of this. That’s why I said I don’t support any real-world dictators, or expect a truly benevolent human dictator to show up. The only way it could happen in the real world is with a friendly AI, which would be capable of perfect adherence to a benevolent moral system and which would be able to live for an extremely long time. Stephanie It can be about multiple things, but it’s too much about those countless lives for her to justify letting him go. Stephanie I personally prefer to see her making decisions according to what she believes will do the most good, compared to seeing her making decisions according to her emotions in the moment. palmvos I suspect they will go after her when she sleeps. they may not be able to cut her but she’s probably subject to Nitrous oxide and others of its ilk. Stephanie Haha, it’s no trouble. I could always stop replying but I do enjoy discussing this stuff. Stephanie I hope to learn more details about the situation and how urgent it actually is. Even though I agree with Alison’s prioritization of “countless lives > Max’s autonomy,” I do agree with you that–barring real urgency–this probably is something she should have at least slept on, and that she should have explored more avenues for convincing him before resorting to violence. Stephanie Even just making her as weak as a normal human would be enough to put him at a huge strength advantage. Men are so much stronger than women, physically, that’s it’s scary. palmvos what if the max file is a trojan horse too? Stephanie Good god, I hope she’s not buffing Patrick. Buffed Patrick sounds terrifying. Also, Patrick already knows about Max, so that raises the question of why he hasn’t already taken advantage of his ability (or has he?) Beroli Buffed Patrick sounds like a gibbering wreck who can’t get far enough away from everyone else to not have his mind constantly filled with noise. Still think it’s Lisa. (Max who is not named Alex has nothing to do with Alison’s ability to fly.) palmvos ::offers carrot and sugar cube:: Stephanie It’s all good! I may have gotten a little heated in some posts, but I get that it’s ultimately a discussion and it’s okay that we disagree. It’s also good to be made to think through my position from new angles. Tsapki Not sure if you are being comedic or not, but in case you are genuinely curious, I think that was from John Stewart. palmvos yahhh cookies! Tsapki Well, she isn’t trying to physically break him, just restrain him. Though if you meant break through his denial of her request, I can see that. Sterling Ericsson It’s called being an antihero. They’re not villains. They’re just…persuasive. Izo She’s crossing the line from hero to villain without stopping at antihero. Even The Punisher has things he won’t do, and if he does do it, he expects to be punished for it and goes along with the punishment, like when he shot Spider-Man and then yelled how he should be punished, since Spider-Man was innocent. crazy j The Punisher knows and if asked will tell you that when as t he does is actually wrong. Tsapki Hmm, so we still don’t know who she is apparently involving in her plan, but I sort of hope it’s Feral. She sort of seemed to stick in his craw palmvos to be honest, that is a good answer. naive, because it is impossible to understand how Hitler happened without realizing that some of the seeds of that horror were planted by the french. debating Hitler will only go so far. might be better to point out to someone to put the suitcase on the other side of the table leg. but then i’d be dead and this discussion could very well be in German. Loranna . . . And then someone puts Feral, Cleaver, Moonshadow, Pintsize, and Brad on a task force dedicated to taking Alison down? Possibly Patrick, controlling things from the shadows, in order to draw out the conspiracy by causing tons of havoc? 😛 Loranna ChooseYourFight That assumes a lot of them not siding with Alison. Or Alison not recruiting them herself. Once you accept that there are no limits but those you accept, and you alone can see and obtain a better future, it can become much easier getting results and convincing others to join you. Evil overlords tend to have -great- PR & HR departments. Besides, if she commits to this, what’s more likely? Moonshadow comes to fight Al… or comes to sign up? But yeah. If she goes all in, sooner or later, someone has to stop her. Because the alternative is this story goes full Miracleman. …I would be okay with this. I love a well told tale of the fall of the hero. Of that moment where they simply decide that obeying the rules and playing the game other people… smaller people… have set for them makes no sense. That they have seen the good and evil in man, and now know what’s best for everyone. And that horrible moment where the world- or at least a select handful -realize that if the only person who was able to stop the worst monsters decides to take over, few are the options beside just accepting your new ruler. Honestly, if I had seen as much as Alison and gone through as much BS as she had recently, I can’t say I wouldn’t simply decide that yes, punching CAN solve the world’s problems. You just have to punch or threaten to punch literally everyone standing between you and what you want to accomplish. You just have to stop clinging to things like liberty or universal human rights or the sanctity of the individual. You just let go and fall. It’s the monster’s choice. The villain’s choice. The tyrant’s choice. And in every story with beings who are so much stronger than the average person, something that makes them aspirational and inspiring is that they don’t make that choice. They make the hard choice of living within the system and playing by its rules even as they try to make the world a better place. That means things don’t always go your way. Sometimes evil beats the wrap. Sometimes the system remains broken. And when all that happens time after time, when things go wrong over and over, when you’re ridiculed and insulted and your every attempt to just… FIX the world… seems to be blocked and battered and turned down… all of a sudden it doesn’t seem like so bad a choice. Alison right now is making a choice. And if she doesn’t learn a harsh lesson from it just as quickly, this will be a very fascinating road for the story to take. Either way, I say to our humble hosts, you have my undivided attention. crazy j This is why I have argued in the past that Dick Tracy is the greatest comic book hero ever. Even though Tracy has no special powers making him greater then normal men, he is a Police Officer who works within the Law and is fully accountable for his own actions. He has to follow procedures and and be held accountable in court. This makes him greater then Batmat and Superman combined. Giacomo Bandini Ok. I ve thought about it, and i’ve come to the conclusion that Allison is wrong…. but not for the reasons i ve read in the comments. Forcing Max to cooperate is right. He can benefit collectivity immensely, in front of a moderate personal sacrifice, a limitated risk. The problem? It was not Allison’s decision to make. Let’s make a real life example, inspired to me by reading another comment. Let’s immagine a medical discovery. A person is found with a genetic mutation, which makes his kidney eternaly functional. A group of scientist, with extremely hig credentials, nobel prizes or something, suggesst that by studing the kidney, they could resolve renal problems forever, but the kidney need to be explanted – for some reason they cannot do it inside his body. Now, the person in question refused: what would you think will happen in real life? I think that there will be a ferocious uprise from the people, demanding for the cure to be made, and that, after some fervent debate, the government, for reason of “superior national interest”, will end up forcing him to have one of his kidney explanted. BUT, and that is the point of the story, in that scenario, it won’t be the singular choice of a singular person: it would be the collective decision of a political body. It would be people’s will, put on work by the goverment. The need of the many over the ones of the few. Here… here is only Allison’s decision. She is doing everything alone. It’s just her singular opinion, no more enlightened than every one of us. Every day, every hour, goverments in the world makes decision which end sacrificing innocent life for what they think to be the collective good, but that is precisely the reason why they were elected, to take this difficult decisions; but nobody elected Allison, except herself, in her head. She has decided than her alone knew better than everbody else. Recipe for disaster. Cartheon Germany elected Hitler. Wait for the man to die then study his kidney. Tsapki I am seeing, as one might expect, alot of people saying how wrong it is to force someone to help even if their help would be potentially life saving. My thoughts on that make me think of army drafting. In cases where volunteers are not sufficient to deal with a threat, the nation will force able men into service for what is seen as the greater good. Failure to comply with a draft is a crime. Are there people here who object to what Alice is doing but would condemn draft dodgers? I am curious as to thoughts on this matter. phantomreader42 The draft is fucked-up for a lot of reasons. Painting the draft as “forcing someone to help even if their help would be potentially life saving” doesn’t work all that well, since conscripted troops are mostly being forced to TAKE lives, not save them. Though there have been drafted medics… And in my experience, the kind of people who whine about draft-dodgers tend to also be the kind of people who dodged the draft themselves and are eager to celebrate killing people, but unwilling to pay for disability or PTSD treatment for veterans. Cartheon I am against the draft for that very reason. SJ So, you expect me to believe that Alison’s target(s) has an anomaly that isn’t capable of saving the world, at X strength, but it suddenly will at X^Y? Sorry, to quote the ’90s rap group, Double XX Posse, I’m not gonna be able to do it! Simeon My favorite part of this is that Alison is speaking while Max is screaming. Showing not telling her divide. Well done Molly & Brendan! palmvos not going after her family. but once the government decides that she is a threat, each place she could go becomes an ambush point. are you going to tell me that they won’t be waiting for her to show up at her parent’s house? thus she looses access to them. plus to- i wouldn’t threaten them but i might try to convince them to convince Alison to give up and turn herself in. palmvos whats at Sheboygan that is so bad? is that where the five people who’s deaths will cure cancer are hiding? Weatherheight I.. uhm.. just like saying Sheboygan. In Jerry Lewis’ voice… ::droops his ears in shame:: palmvos you do know you will have to lead an MS telethon in Jerry Lewis’s voice? though truth be told a donkey that can do a credible imitation of Jerry Lewis’s voice might be a sight to see and hear…. ::offers carrot:: Weatherheight ::glances warily at the carrot:: Is this an advance, or just a carrot? ::gently takes the carrot in his teeth and places it in a small silk-lined box:: I’ll have my wease.. erm.. AGENT give you call. ::wiggles his ear:: palmvos I just googled it. I now know what’s in Sheboygan…. creepy clowns. please make something of this…. Weatherheight Isn’t “creepy clown” either redundant or re-emphatic? (apologies to those who like clowns – I’ve had bad experiences). palmvos that’s the actual headline… I personally believe that not all clowns are creepy, unless Stephen King is involved. But i will admit that clowns have an easy time looking creepy.. Pythia I’m pretty sure it’s because whenever you’re doing something good you don’t use that justification, you just say it’s because it’s a good thing to do. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen because it’s a good thing to do. People don’t say “I’ll donate blood /for the greater good/” or “I’ll volunteer at a charity event /for the greater good/”, they just do those things because they are worthy goals in and of themselves. But you can’t kill Nicolas Maduro because it’s a good thing. You can’t bomb a country because it’s a good thing. You do it “for the greater good”, as in “the positive consequences of doing this outweigh the negative ones, so despite it BEING A BAD THING, I will still do it”. That’s why “for the greater good” is the epitome of “ethically ambiguous”. Because if there is no ambiguity, you don’t need such a justification. The very idea that you are doing something for the greater good implies that you’re committing a comparatively lesser evil. Otherwise… you would just be doing something that is “a good thing to do”. owen AL. Ryan B What if she’s bluffing to prove her point about how much danger he’s really in? I don’t think she is, but it’s a nice thought… palmvos :: holds open bag for worms:: I know i thought of feral too. Darkoneko Hellsing …uh oh. uuuuh oh. Infinitive I hate the stupid trolley problem, because it’s utter philosophical bullshit. Put a little differently, the ONLY place where such an event could occur–where you ‘re on a train, you’re the only person who can act, and the train cannot be stopped by any force, and the people on the track cannot be moved (etc.) can only happen in a philosophical discussion which cedes all off these principles and completely suspends disbelief. To grant even the base premise of the trolley problem is to overtly and explicitly endorse utilitarian philosophy as the only acceptable answer to such problems, and to simplify them to their core. To that I say: horseshit. And, for reference: in the real world, where I’m the decision-maker here? I throw myself on the tracks in front of the trolley in an attempt to derail it. Not because one life is less than five or a hundred or a million, but because my life is the only life I have the moral authority to choose to end. That’s the problem with the trolley problem. It assumes and forces the idea of a false choice. There’s always a third (or fourth or fifth) way. They’re always harder. Yes, that sucks. motorfirebox Well, that’s sort of the point of the trolley problem, to strip the core moral issue—whether it’s better to perform one immoral act than to allow several immoral acts to occur—with as few distractions as possible. Once you answer the core issue, you can start examining it in the light of different factors. If you start throwing in things like “Can’t I call 911” or “could I derail the train with my body”, you avoid dealing with the core question of whether or not it’s okay to do one bad thing in order to prevent more bad things. It’s not perfect; for instance, you can rephrase the trolley problem into a doctor problem, where you’ve got five patients in need of organ transplants to survive, and one healthy person whose organs are perfect matches for each of the five patients. Same basic moral quandary, but completely different outcomes—I’d be willing to bet most people would say they’d pull the switch, but that they wouldn’t harvest the healthy person’s organs against their will. But even without that, there are valid arguments for not throwing the switch. Not throwing the switch is pretty much the essence of the “do no harm” oath that is part of many medical programs. The core moral quandary—whether or not it’s okay to commit an immoral act to prevent other immoral acts—is important to consider on its own, because it’s kind of the basic building block of moral frameworks. Because if the answer is “yes”, then you have to start considering degrees: if it’s okay to kill one to save five, what about four? What about three? What if there are two on each track? What if the five are old and the one is a child, or vice-versa? Not because it’s fun to come up with more and more arcane situations, but because you’re exploring and defining the shape of your morality (or of others’ morality) by examining what factors bear on your answer to the question in its most basic form. It’s not about an explicit endorsement of utilitarianism, it’s about defining the first step of a moral system, so that you can begin plotting out all the other steps. palmvos as one of the ones who commented that he has to have security. right now he probably can’t call it. I doubt very much he has a panic button that works in this situation. also I was wrong about something and that changes things a little- he has an apartment in the city. that’s probably where they are right now. that mansion has security- but if hes in an apartment we are hoping that the next door neighbor calls for help. palmvos that image is … memorable. Stymie Altruism stops being altruism once you’re forced to comply. Then it becomes slavery. Pythia …And that wouldn’t at all have anything to do with, you know… Moonshadow being somebody trying her best to make the world better despite basically being a mass murderer and Max apparently not giving a fuck about other people, as opposed to misandry? Like, I’m not saying Max doesn’t have it hard here, I do think it the genders were flipped FeMax would get more sympathy (“It’s her body! Her choice to use it how she wants to!”), but I think the bigger reason why people are so vicious towards Max is that they found his reasons lacking. Moonshadow good reasons (not good enough for doing so much harm, in my opinion, but not awful. She wanted to do good), Patrick had good reasons*, Sonar had good reasons, Pintsize had decent-enough reasons. Hell, you wanna talk about a comparison of male characters and sympathy, how about between Max and Daniel? Because people sympathized with Daniel, and he too is a mass murderer only he is also grotesque and gigantic. And when Patrick blew up, people weren’t talking about how much of a dickhead he was as far as I know, or cheering Al on a tenth of the amount that they are cheering her on now when she is basically turning into Darth Mega Girl. Reasons have power. Max has really shitty reasons. Max is also not very self-aware in a way that would probably stun Mr. Can’t-read-his-own-mind. Moonshadow, Sonar, Menace**, Pintsize, Paladin, Cleaver***, even Alison’s parents, are all people who saw an opportunity to do good and took it. I think the reason everybody hates Max so much is because he saw the opportunity to do good, and turned his back on it, despite having much greater capabilities to than many of the other ones named. *Honestly, I love his bit on scarcity and utility being the things we use to assign value and how people are not good or bad but “surviving”. I think it is a bit reductive, and Alison /shows/ that a bit later, but the fact of the matter is how “moral” you are is very often dependent on circumstance, and how moral you can afford to be. **Remember how he was first and foremost concerned with toppling one of the bloodiest governments in history? ***He was the ally of somebody who was seeking to topple a bloody and corrupt government. Preacher John – “If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities” – Voltaire – “One of the great ills of life is that the foolish are so full of certainty and the wise are so full of doubts” – Bertrand Russell. – “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you” – The Golden Rule (Ancient, Various) – “Zi Gong asked, saying, “Is there one word that may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not reciprocity such a word?” – Confucius – “Love, love is a verb, Love is a doing word” – Massive Attack – “The means IS the end” – Preacher John (I get that this post is super long, and most people won’t read it, that’s ok, this thread has inspired me to work through/set down things from first principles that I’ve been thinking on for a long time..) Stephanie and others arguing similarly to her are incorrect, because: The essence of Morality is twofold: Causality and Identity. An Identity possessing some degree of causal control has Agency. Example: If Joe Bloggs falls off a cliff because he did not see the edge as he walked, and you could have warned him if only you had chosen to spend your whole life sat at the cliff edge warning people – you are still NOT responsible or morally culpable for Joe Bloggs death, because: Joe Bloggs (Identity) was in control of the cause of his own direction of movement, not you (Agency). You did not “allow him to die” in any meaningful way, because it would have been unreasonable / immoral / insane to require you to sacrifice your whole life (Identity) as a watchperson in order to save his. Unreasonable / immoral / insane by the measure that each person’s life is roughly / broadly / unquantifiably as valid as any other person’s life, because: Axiom 1 – Defining Identity: “As far as all available evidence shows: Each and every individual human* with a functioning brain is a Unique and Non-Replicable “Perceptor” (perceiver) of sensory input from Reality / the Universe, possessing a unique Subjective Conscious Experience / Point Of View (POV) (aka “qualia” in Western Philosophy)”. (*And probably also many if not all individual: Cetaceans, Great Apes and probably also Corvids and maybe other animals including Octopi) Argument 1 – Value of Identity: “These Unique Perceptors (POVs) are extremely and unquantifiably uniquely valuable, in at least three ways: a) valuable each to themselves, they experience suffering as pain / anguish, and if they are killed/extinguished the phenomenon of their POV “qualia” ceases altogether, as far as evidence shows. b) valuable to other Unique Perceptors with whom they interact and thus experience any of the gamut of psychosocial phenomena (including friendship, love etc.) and information sharing that enriches their lives, and widens their own POV by proxy through shared communication. c) (arguably) to Reality / the Universe, because: they are physically contiguous with the Universe, i.e. they are literally part of the Universe, therefore each POV is (arguably) one manifestation of a Universe that is (partially) conscious / awake unto Itself. Without these Unique Perceptors the Universe is (as far as evidence indicates) ignorant of / dumb to itself. Further, as far as evidence is available, these Perceptors are very Rare compared to the bulk mass/energy space/time of the Universe, on interplanetary / interstellar and larger scales. Rarity (arguably) increases value. Thus we cherish individual living Identities and their Autonomy as Moral values (Hence: rape, slavery, murder = evil)” Moving on further: choosing to sacrifice yourself for others (e.g. Feral) is a moral choice because only you truly know (the value of) your own POV (“qualia”) i.e. Axiom 2 – Unknowable / Unquantifiable Value of Individual Identity: “Only “that which is conscious as/of itself” can truly experience the loss of itself, all others will experience only a fraction of that loss, never having had access to the whole of that POV “qualia”.” Argument: Limited Perspective Choosing to sacrifice others (regardless of the ends) is an IMmoral / evil choice because you can never fully know their POV (“qualia”), as not only are you separated from their current POV and thus: – you are (hypocritically) insulated from their suffering / loss – you are unable to know their true value in the NOW, and – what’s more you have no way of knowing or predicting their FUTURE value – both to themselves as an individual or to humanity / the biosphere / the Universe. Let’s take the (biologically nonsensical, but nvm) hypothetical that torturing 5 Victims to death might grant you / humanity the means to cure cancer (I presume you mean “all” cancerS, but again nvm that now). This is morally wrong because you do not and CANNOT fully know the value of those individuals to themselves / the rest of humanity / the Universe. – You CANNOT fully experience their POV “qualia”, nor can you quantify the value of their internal experience – it is conceivable (if unlikely / unknowable) that any one of their POV experience is millions of times deeper, richer and more profound than that of any other individual. – You CANNOT know what that individual might have been / given to humanity / the Universe in the Future had you not tortured them to death. You have chosen “cure for cancer”, because (I assume) dying of cancer is one of the worst things you can conceive of, and/or you believe that cancer is the greatest cause of suffering in the world. However, there are a great many other phenomena that cause as much, if not more suffering than cancer does. Just sticking with gross causes of death http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/ you will see that the Top 4 causes of death are at least 2x up to about 5 times greater killers than the deadliest cancers (lung). Any one of your 5 Victims might have contributed e.g. to reducing any one of those killer diseases^ which might vastly OUTWEIGH curing cancer in numbers of deaths / people suffering. It is entirely conceivable that you might have chosen at least one Victim who might have gone on to improve the lot of humanity beyond what you (or anyone) can currently imagine. This is source of valuation error is because every individual’s Perception, even when augmented by humanity’s information sharing is inevitably limited. Beyond that: Argument: Loss of Autonomy Clearly unless your 5 Victims are volunteers they lose their Autonomy. (Arguably even volunteers lose their Autonomy at the moment torture begins / or the moment of annihilation, but let’s leave that to one side) But beyond that: If you went to any individual cancer patient and offered them the cure, in return for their approval of your heinous plan, how many would agree? How many would say “not in my name!”? What is the morality of any one individual effectively choosing to make that decision without consulting, or no doubt against the will of at least some of those in whose name it is done? You would not just deprive the 5 Victims of their Agency, but by proxy you would take away Agency from cancer sufferers. In general in the West we don’t even force individuals (like cancer sufferers) to undergo proven medical interventions against their will, because we value Identity and Autonomy so highly. Foolish people who reject conventional medicine in favour of quackery often sadly die, but they do so as Autonomous (if deluded) Individuals. Argument: Consequences You have created a Moral Hazard by setting a Precedent. Having delivered this boon of cancer cures you have made a judgement and demonstrated a utilitarian example of Valuing one group of people’s lives over and above the lives of Other people. For ever afterwards you personally will always see torture or killing as a viable option for solving a problem. By your action you have created one more Murdering Torturer in the world. This is an evil act. And frankly superfluous given the vast numbers of Murdering Torturers already in existence. Further: We have seen the results of exactly this kind of judgement over and over again throughout history (and now) – once the judgemental framework is established to devalue any one individual’s life it WILL inevitably be applied to devalue and destroy the lives of more and more people, until such time (if ever) as that framework is finally discredited. (Stalinism and its multiple millions of murders is an excellent example, preceeding as it did from the argument of the “Greater Good”. The conquests of Timur (Tamerlane) who killed 17million people – about 5% of the world’s population at the time – all with the purported aim of restoring the glory of Islam, is another great example) Weatherheight Long, but very interesting, and a cogent argument for the position. I salute the effort and the investment of time it took for you to write this up. Philosopher, I assume? The argument of limited perspective is one I find intriguing. I’ve spent a lot of my life talking to 13-18 year olds, and helping them to understand that their story is not the only story in the world is always challenging; that moment of “oh, I get it” when I spell out the position of the Other (parent, significant other, teacher, and so on) is always a bit of a thrill to me. The only problem I have is that limited perspective can be used as an excuse for inaction, and that seems to be the crux of the disagreements – when is action appropriate and when is inaction appropriate? I freely admit that I don’t have an answer to that and I totally own my problem. 😀 Thank you for this – very challenging on pretty much every level. ::bows his head respectfully:: Preacher John Thanks, trained as a scientist, my philosophy is a work in progress – I’m finding this thread inspiring. Glad you found the post worthwhile. I address the action/inaction issue partly in my response to Stephanie’s post below. T Allison on this page is more or less a super-powered version of the same kind of people Mary was killing. chaosvii I was thinking that she was more akin to Mary herself, not being afraid to make a mistake to make a difference. Dawn Smashington That last line is chilling. It’s a rape revenge fantasy, and in the scheme of things, not that long after Moonshadow’s run. I can’t imagine it’s far from her mind. Al’s too powerful to have ever been victimized herself, and while this great white douche carelessly harms people by not helping them, he probably isn’t a rapist and doesn’t appear to be a violent offender of any other sort. I think she’s going to have to face the fact that she likes being violent and she’s contending with what that means. This asshole is going to face his moral flaccidity, or dig in and become the popular supervillain that plays on fear. Where is Moonshadow? Would she trade serial killing for working for Valkyrie? Would Feral find Valkyrie worth living for? What the hell is this going to do THEIR powers, also holy shit what if Daniel’s cancer is cured and how would that change his anomaly, how are Al’s anomalies going to be affected, I have too many questions. I think I have my Halloween figured out now though Izo It’s been my personal view that a lot of people, even if they get a small amount of power, tend to abuse it and the more power they have, the more likely they are to abuse it. I try to have faith in people’s better natures, but people too often prove me wrong unfortunately. And yes, a lot of times, in the abstract, a lot of the stances seem reasonable, or intrinsically good. It’s when it’s brought to reality that it all crashes down and becomes (I’m beginning to repeat this word too much) tyrannical. To paraphrase Patton, no plan survives contact with the enemy, or rather, no pure ideal survives contact with reality. Tylikcat My observation has been that many people, at least in the US, grow up expecting to have very little power relative to those around them.* This often leads to people when they do have power not recognizing it for what it is and abusing it quite badly – underhanded tactics are natural to people at an inherent disadvantage. They really suck from people in greater positions of power. (Of course, people who grow up expecting to have power and believing it is their right have their own awful failure modes. But I notice that we talk a lot about the failures of the powerful and entitled, and less about those who perpetually perceive themselves as disempowered and hence take no responsibility for the power they do have.) One of the things I do enjoy about the martial arts environment is that you really do have to talk about this stuff – I mean, if you’re teaching people how to fight, and not talking about when to fight and how not to fight, you’re absolutely failing as a teacher. (And it makes for a much more down to earth and pragmatic set off discussions than, say, a philosophy class.) * There are a lot of caveats, including that many people don’t take people with less power than they seriously, so this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. chaosvii You really shouldn’t have faith in people’s better natures. What you should have in confidence that deliberate training towards helping people disentangle themselves from the inherent social biases of those who deserve to be harmed or whatever is way better than say, lecturing people about virtuous behavior. Compassion itself is a factor that can lead to dehumanization. All that is required is a feeling that the in-group is under threat from the out-group and therefore one is totally justified in wrecking the out-group in any number or horrifying ways. Don’t have faith in this stuff. Recognize that people’s good nature is in fact fairly fragile by default, and it takes quite a bit of education and training to make it robust in the face of any number of social pressures that lead to racism or abuse of authority or any of the other banal evils which pile up and make marginalized people’s lives needlessly difficult and exhausting. There are a few psychology experiments that I can list if you need some unpleasant but enlightening reinforcement of how inappropriate faith is on this subject. Hm, there’s also that ~1hr long youtube video that Francisco posted “Five Steps to Tyranny” which hits those psychology experiments with the full gravity they have earned (even if the overall narration is a bit quaint in this day and age.) Jbark It seems like the crux of a lot of the discord in the comment section stems from the fact that we have essentially no information on Allison’s ‘countless lives’ situation. ChooseYourFight That’s the only smart move if she commits to this. Max can harm her. Harm her plans and those she is tied to. From this point on, he is a liability. A trip to the bottom of the ocean is the only fate that can be left to him after this. Laurelinde Holy sh*t Alison, this is waaaaaay over the line. :/ I was generally ok with her lashing out at the hospital because people had actually died and she was very emotionally overwrought. Now, I think she is still very stressed out here (she needs to take a long break from ‘saving the world’ stuff for awhile, IMO, and take time to just listen, learn and learn patience) but this feels way more calculated and, well, evil, for lack of a better word. Not cool. SJ Frankly, what’s most unlikely, to this point, is the idea of there only being one target. It’s almost unlikely to the point of straining credibility, which is a funny remark to make about a superhero webcomic. Alison flying to a singular target, that would take roughly two hours to get there, with the otherwise normal human Max… it would be basically impossible for her to fly at a speed and altitude that doesn’t kill him, while still maintaining her (possibly empty) promise to keep his secret. What is more likely is that there are multiple targets that she wants him to enhance, and that it will take roughly four hours, flying at a safe speed, for her to get to them all. Michael Smith Well, of course what she’s saying is vague and she hasn’t given us absolute proof yet. That would be a crazy amount of exposition for a comic book and really bad writing! Would ruin the tension of the plot. As a character, Alison doesn’t know she’s being watched and commented on, thank god/the author. But until I see proof otherwise, I have no reason to doubt her. Margot Who’s she trying to save? Does she know a healer who could help her dad if only they were more powerful? This definitely seems like a personal thing. Michael Smith Ok. Well, right now, she inconveniencing one dickhead, after trying every other option, for one lousy night to save a bunch of lives. Can you really judge her for that so very harshly without any understanding? SJ “Inconveniencing”? Seriously? “After trying every other option”? Miss me with that; she didn’t come close. Harassment, Extortion, Conspiracy to Commit Abduction, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Battery… this is a little more than a damned “inconvenience.” She should surrender herself to the authorities, and have to do time, just for what’s happened on page 86, that’s not even taking into consideration what _else_ she might do. To say nothing of the mental trauma; this guy’s going to be looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life. But, I guess, since you think he’s a dickhead, that makes it all Kool and the Gang. Elaine Lee I’m reading a lot about coercion in these comments. Alison is evil because she’s coercing Max. But we as a society, and as individuals taking part in it, coerce people all the time. The healthcare system says, “Your money or your life!” Don’t pay your taxes, you can go to jail, as well as being penalized financially. Run too many red lights, and you lose your freedom of movement. Mouth off at your boss, you lose your job. The important line on this page is “I’M CREATING AN INCENTIVE STRUCTURE.” Alison is putting it in words Max would use himself, the same thing he might say about the overworked gardeners. And none of us know yet what Alison wants Max to do. To use a wellworn example, if this was World War II and Alison wanted Max to hide Jewish children in his basement, so that the Nazi’s wouldn’t kill them, and he said, “I just don’t feel like it and my freedom is more important than their lives,” how would you feel about this scene? Alison holding a knife to his throat until the Nazis are gone suddenly seems like the right idea. This is where Libertarianism breaks down. Max wants everyone to be completely free to do as they want, until someone more powerful wants something that conflicts with his goals. If you want “law of the jungle” to be the rule, you have to beware the biggest Gorilla in that jungle. Cartheon What’s wrong with Allison’s basement? You don’t go to jail for not paying your taxes. You go to jail for using the benefits of society and not contributing to them. If you go live out in the mountains and not utilize any government benefits nor work for any employer, the IRS isn’t going to care that you didn’t file with them. Start using the roads, expecting unemployment benefits, enjoying a first world standard of living, and you’re expected to do your share. You lose your job for mouthing off to your boss, because you are the one that decided to mouth off to your boss. That’s not your boss coercing you; that’s you reaping the consequences of his actions. You could just as easily decide not to mouth off to your boss. Max doesn’t have a decision here. If Max’s mother happens to be one of the people Allison could save with his help but she dies because he said no, your analogy would make sense. The actual analogy for this situation would be if your boss handcuffed you to your desk and held a gun to your head, telling you to work, and, no, you cannot hand in your resignation. You don’t lose your freedom of movement if you run too many red lights. You can still walk. You lose your *license* to drive. To use a cliched phrase, driving is not a right; it is a privilege. You get to drive if you obey the rules. If you do not obey the rules, you do not get to drive. Does coercion happen in modern society? Absolutely, but you used really bad examples. James D’Amato Not that I buy this as an excuse for this behavior, but Allison could easily claim divine mandate based on her natural abilities. palmvos she could, but that betrays both the spirit and the letter of what the American government is supposed to be about. to me its important that before we go forcing things onto people that there be some system, not just strongest person gets what they want without restraint. even if that’s how things work most of the time. Michael Smith You would rather let Max sit at home that night reading Ayn Rand and let five people die? Five isn’t enough for you? James D’Amato Hard agree. There is part of me that wants this to be a fake out. This choice is staggeringly out of character. Benjamin Rosenbaum Nice move, Allison, you’ve presumably just upgraded Max from “asshole civilian” to “meta-supervillain with a grudge”. Because Max’s obvious next move after getting away from Allison is to sprinkle pixie dust on her enemies. Stephanie It’s possible. It would depend on whether his spite outweighs his desire to keep his power hidden. He’s shown us that he hates the power, hates the idea of using it, because he’s a petty brat who doesn’t like playing support even though his power is ridiculously exploitable and anyone would be lucky to have it. And he’s also afraid that people will take advantage of him if they know, and Alison has just confirmed that (not that I disagree with her decision, but she is taking advantage of him). If he goes around spraying pixie dust on dangerous supervillains, his treasured secrecy goes out the window. So he might be hesitant to take revenge via his power. On the other hand, he could certainly take some kind of revenge via his money and his politically influential mother. Beroli What enemies? Much of the point of the comic is that she has no problems that can be dealt with in four colors. The scene where she and Lisa came up with the idea for Valkyrie shows that she still considers Mary and Patrick superheroes, even though she disagrees with their methods, and if Max tries to track down Menace to offer to help him defeat Alison, Max will be in for a nasty surprise. There’s only one superhuman in the comic who is explicitly and directly opposed to Alison’s worldview, and she just pinned him to a table. Tylikcat Thank you. SJ “Alison’s unused to not having her super strength, true, but she has had combat training, whereas it seems Max hasn’t.” Are we sure about that? And, to whatever extent that Alison may have “combat” training, that doesn’t mean that she’s ever received close quarters combat training. It would certainly be reasonable to conclude that she has a ton of practical experience in combat with other super-powered opponents, but that doesn’t mean that she has any actual hand-to-hand experience more advanced than “punch it until it stops moving.” That half-nelson is the first suggestion that she even knows the difference between a wristlock and a wristwatch. Loranna Off the top of my head, I remember her referring to her combat training when she jumped Feral’s teleporter friend the moment he showed up. Admittedly, that’s less hand-to-hand skill, and more tactical thinking. I guess it comes down to how thorough her trainers decided to be. If they wanted Alison to know how to subdue opponents -without- punching them into a smear on the ground – especially non super-resistant opponents – then I would expect that they gave her relevant training. But it’s not an absolute certainty that her trainers did give her such training, or expected her to subdue “squishies”; Mary/Moonshadow would have been more ideally suited to that job. Loranna crazy j Most Americans can’t even remember half the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, what makes you think they’ll remember you? Besides which, still doesn’t change the fact that no one volunteered until AFTER I asked why we do not have any volunteers. Jace One. I am glad this happened. It’s not the moral event horizon people think it is, because we know Allison thinks about what she’s done. It could be a start though. But this will be a new benchmark she will hover around, never do again, or simply use as a springboard (unlikely). Two: do not forget, Allison has only recently realized she’s responsible for countless innocent deaths, as seen in the arc with her old teacher. Three, regardless of his background, he is purposely choosing not to help others out of his own selfish desire to have some power over Allison even if it’s only saying no. To hell with him. Four, she’s realising that the world is still far more complicated than she thought, as everyone is mentioning Gurwa. Weatherheight ::dons his black pajamas and headscarf and waggles his ears violently before fading into the all concealing shadows:: Let’s get dangerous! Lostman And until I see otherwise… Stephanie I don’t understand why you’re assuming it’s the case until proven otherwise, when there is zero evidence that she plans to do that in the first place. It would make no sense. She has stated that she has a specific plan in mind that she’s sure will save many lives. That isn’t compatible with willy-nilly boosting a bunch of randos. Weatherheight Everyone has rules. Even the Chaotic Evil fighter has rules. That said, there’s some good stuff in there. I’ve always asked players in my D&D games to use the Star Trek Law versus Chaos Analogy™. The Lawful character should act in a manner that applies the greatest benefit for his or her group/city/nation/culture and be willing to sacrifice a few people if needed for that group. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.” The Chaotic character, on the other hand, believes that individual freedoms and options take precedence over the needs of the group. If the individual chooses to be the sacrifice, that’s fine, but no one should be forced into an action against their will. They stick up for the little guy in the face of the majority. “The needs of the few or the one outweigh the needs of the many.” This is a lot more easy to quantify and keep track of, and players have a harder time making up absurd excuses as to why they did something (“I had to beat up that beggar! I’m chaotic!” – Yes, that’s an actual excuse from a player with a CG character). How this plays out is that a Chaotic Good character can have a consistent behavioral pattern and not get called out by other players for being “Lawful”. And a Lawful Evil character can do something that seems like it’s random but is in fact working towards consolidating power for his faction – and not get called out on that. Not that Alignment is a huge part of my games. I mainly use it to assist players in defining their characters and for highlighting behavior that is egregiously inconsistent with how they’ve defined that character. palmvos it has been a while since i played… and it shows. that’s a better explanation. chaosvii I prefer the descriptors “Collectivist” & “Individualist” as the ends of that alignment axis personally, as it is a more direct way of conveying my expectations of characters with those alignments as well as how to roleplay Inevitables or Demons. EL Ou my fuking god. Thats bad thats super bad. Whats wrong with people thinkig this even somehow jeastifed ?? palmvos read down thread… there’s a debate someone has explained it.(and someone has criticized the explanation) find a team there’s punch over by weatherhight, there might be cake but we all know people lie about cake. Weatherheight If I had the boxed-up, stocked-up and locked-up guarantee, I’d be there too. And this is why I’m questioning Alison’s actions here. 1) We only have Alison’s word this will happen, and her judgement regarding actions and their consequences has been shown to be sketchy, at best. 2) I’m volunteering of my own choice, knowing the full consequences. This is not analogous to Max’s position at the moment. As a side note, I don’t care if history remembers me for such an action. I’d prefer it didn’t, to be honest. As another side note, I say that sitting in a Lazy-Boy chair. I’m not sure if I would “in the moment”. I’d like to think I would, but context matters. phantomreader42 Would they even believe him anyway? This isn’t entirely out of character for Allison, but it IS in severe conflict with her public image. He’d essentially be accusing Mega-Girl of going supervillain, which is something people don’t WANT to believe could happen, because how do you deal with that? spriteless On the other end of the spectrem, what if the 5 people to die were going to die of cancer if they aren’t vivisected first? spriteless “Shut up and multiply,” wow I am happily surprised every time that meme turns up outside of a specific blogosphere. Tylikcat That sounds so… past tense. I miss one summer visit – one! and in a context where I visit twice a year! – and I’m relegated to history. You all could come visit me, maybe January, when the farm is slow? I have a lot of guest space as well as training space. Tylikcat As others have pointed out, a lot of this involves taking Alison very literally at her word. I am hesitant to do that without more information. Hyperbole and her current mindset seem a good fit. Though perhaps she has good reason other than a lot of stress and sleep deprivation? Katherine XII Yeah, seconding this. Regardless of any entrapment on Patrick’s part, the current scene represents something genuine about Allison and she’ll have to live with it either way. Weatherheight The point of that story is to have absolute faith that Yahweh will provide the solution to your problem. That said, I too have several questions about the situation I want to ask the Eternal. First and foremost, Was Abraham schizophrenic? Second, is it really right to offer a solution to a problem you created in the first place (assuming Abe wasn’t in need of psychoactive meds)? I enjoy discussions such as these because I really don’t know what I would do if placed in the situation, and thinking about that possibility helps me decide who I want to be. David Gillon Or alternatively, to do what Yahweh says without thinking. There’s a reason (Doubting) Thomas is my favourite disciple 😉 Weatherheight From what I understand (and not being Jewish, I’m getting my information secondhand), it’s actually both. That level of faith should produce that result. 😀 Bryan Duncan has a song called Hand it Over. It’s one of my favorites of his. Some of the lines in it.. “I’d like to say that the world is fair And you can live it from an easy chair I’d like to say it but it’s just not true You do your best, but it’s not always up to you.” “it doesn’t mean you stop your brain from thinking. It doesn’t mean that when you smile, there’s no one home or, in your heart, you’ll never feel like crying; It doesn’t mean you’ll never dance alone.” I feel everyone is called to use their brains and seek Truth. That requires each of us to question and doubt. It ain’t an easy Way, if done right. chaosvii I was of the understanding that Abraham’s behavior was evidence that he didn’t expect Yahweh to be benevolent or really anything except an entity which commanded obedience. Abraham believed for whatever reason that Yahweh has ultimate domain over him, therefore obedience to Yahweh is the highest moral good he can aspire to. Other considerations kinda fall by the wayside in that light. Had Abraham initially believed that Yahweh’s demand of him to be that of a cruel spirit that has no business telling him what to do, then Abraham might be the sort of dude that shows that his morality is contingent on things other than authority figures, but as is, even the Islamic version of the story where Abraham lets his son know what;s going down and receives the hilarious reply “oh okay that’s cool Dad, if Yahweh Allah commands it then we should do it” rings as little more than authoritarian morality. Weatherheight And, if I may, Izo is.. passionate. 😀 chaosvii Yo, this thread rules. SJ I’ll state it again: It’s morally right to violate one person’s autonomy for 4 hours in order to save a large number of lives, whereas it’s morally wrong to sacrifice those lives to preserve that person’s autonomy. So, basically, when you hear the old expression, “Better that ten guilty men go free, than one innocent man be imprisoned,” you’re like, “Nope!” Stephanie No, why would I disagree with that expression? An innocent person coming to harm is worse than a guilty person not coming to harm. More than ten times worse, in my book. I’m not that enthusiastic about punishing people. Now if the expression were “Better that countless people die, than one guy be inconvenienced for 4 hours,” I’d be like “Nope!” MrSing Of course the question is absurd. It is there in the most absolute of terms so you can’t shy away from finding a third hidden answer. It is an artificial situation purely made for you to find your own core values. It’s like the question “if a tree falls in an empty forrest, does it make a sound”? The question is absurd, but it is not meant to be answered like a normal question. It is meant to enlighten you. The same goes for these philosophical questions. The problem isn’t real, how you justify your answer is supposed to enlighten you to your own methods of thinking. And if you can justify them in extreme situations. جيمس هارلو And if your principles approve of assaulting, kidnapping and threatening to murder people based on the hunch they might be able to selectively save lives, I respect your right to hold those principles and I’m very glad I have the freedom to do so. Jbark By lawful I mean, “the belief that everything should follow an order, and that obeying rules is the natural way of life.” Her “order” and “rules” are personal and not based in the legal system, but they are consistent and they drive her actions and reasoning. Closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to one’s belief (regardless of context), a judgmental nature, and a lack of adaptability are common flaws of lawful characters. Given her actions here and in the past, I would say at least three of these are true. It seems like she believes that all people should work together to help those in need, specifically in a “treat the disease, not the symptoms” kind of way. MrSing The problem is you are trying to say that just because I agree that it was good that Germany didn’t win the war. I have to agree with every method that was used to ensure the victory or even to wage the war. In war there are war criminals that rape and murder civilians even though they are no longer a target. This is a fact in every war on every side. Would you call that just, because you believed the war was just? A war is more than a single action. It is a very complex beast with many people in it of different moral fibers. Judging the war as a single thing is an excersise in futility. So, no, I would not say that soldiers that knowingly bombed civilians, men, women and childeren that got caught up in the storm, were doing a moral thing. I would not call them monster either, because I realize the difficulty of their situation and the innacurate tools they had at their disposal. But they were not just. Zac Caslar And I have a serious problem with the Regressive Left and it’s desire to categorize anything it doesn’t want to discuss as being motivated by malevolence! Hey hey. First off, blame the science. Not my diagnoses, I just learn things. Better yet _don’t_ blame the science because polticizing neutral observations on existence is one of the most pathetically Right Wing tactics someone can emulate. Ever heard of the Horseshoe Effect? No? Second as someone who’s been diagnosed as permanently depressed and with ADD* I’m already ahead of you on the topic of not liking bad behavior conveniently dismissed as “mental illness.” That said it’s an stark idiot who wants to believe that an expression of mental illness can’t be antisocial or violent behavior. Again, I’ll own this one and all the rage inside me I fight against every god damn day I draw breath. Third, thanks for putting fucking words in my mouth. Not that I said that, not that I IMPLIED THAT, not that it could be plausibly claimed that I INTENDED THAT, no let me clarify: I mean what I said in the EXACT TERMS THAT I SAID IT. But because thought orthodoxy requires constant reaffirmation and I’m pissed enough not to ignore this challenge I will literally ask myself and answer here: “Hey Zac do attacks on abortion clinics by mentally deranged people also deserve recognition as Domestic Terrorism?” Y! E! S! On a political recognition and legal response level intentions mean nothing against means and methods. Murder is murder, irrespective of the motivation. Motivation is for an investigator to establish and for a jury to evaluate. So. Now I point out that feeling squicky about my assertions does nothing to actually invalidate them. Anything else? No? Class dismissed. Do your fucking homework. *and other shit I’m not sharing. Zac Caslar Yeah, that makes sense. Pith: 1. Accuracy: 0. MrSing You are saying that might makes right. If people don’t listen, just beat them until they do. That’s historically what every horrible regime that has oppressed people has done. You are saying it’s okay to oppress people as long as it’s the “right” kind of people. Tell me, what makes you different from any other lynch mob? MrSing You need a doctor’s note. Rumble in the Tumble Somewhere deep down in your heart 7:^) Newbie Kick the son of a bitch? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KickTheSonOfABitch Zac Caslar Not that I said that, of course. Quite the selection of mind readers around these days. No, war is about victory. Not at all cost, but that accepting that victory is the ultimate necessity means condoning and practicing means that you should rightly be otherwise (at the least) be unhappy with. Give you an easy example: Strategic Bombing. Pried from it’s bed of euphemism Strategic Bombing is the deliberate targeting of civilians. Strategic Bombing also doesn’t work. Didn’t work in WW2, didn’t work in Viet Nam, didn’t work in Desert Storm. Short version of why is that war materials are stockpiled sufficiently before the war starts or imported during fighting that targeting their production during wartime doesn’t have a significant impact on their wartime use. They’ve already got all they need. So why don’t we stop? Because of the Nuremburg Trials. It’s now international law and precedent that we punish, often with death, line officers and soldiers who commit war crimes while under orders to do so. Not surprisingly we find it unfair, and I think justly so, to put to death bomber crews and pilots who were just doing what they were told. So we reclassify the infliction of War Crimes as Strategic Bombing so as to insulate ourselves from our numerous levels of literally murderous hypocrisy. This is before examining the procurement chain and the Air Force’s incredibly lucrative nature as a pseudo-corporation. I oppose Strategic Bombing. It’s ineffective, inefficient, and impedes post-war recovery and reconciliation. There’s also a nice fat body of research to support the idea of Strategic Bombing as actually being a boost for enemy morale. Ho Ho. By my lights Drone Strikes are just Strategic Bombing on a budget. Here’s a harder one: Assassination. This is a far more effective tool. This is also a means of targeting the persons most influential on the cessation of hostilities. The sooner the war ends the sooner the death and suffering stops. This I endorse. If not literally then metaphorically isolate and neutralize the enemy’s worst actors because it’s 100% crap that “everyone is a soldier.” LOL, no they are not. Destroy the fighting population and you end the fight. But this also means targeting people not directly involved in the fighting. Is it just to kill the person who directs and demagogues for the war but who doesn’t have a rifle in hand and is no immediate threat? You decide. I say yes. I say fighting right and fighting tight and winning quick trumps being ponderous and dainty and hesitant because while the battle goes on damage is constantly being done to everyone even peripherally touched by the state of war. So, no. Willing to be ruthless and vicious is no condemnation of the need to be surgical and humane. The willingness to fight is no excuse to indulge in atavism and cruelty, even if atavism and cruelty are useful for victory. Lysiuj I dont know what mind reading you’re talking about, I was only responding to what you wrote as you wrote it. War is not all about victory. The only justified reasons I can think of for war, are self defense or defense of others. In which cases, we shouldn’t be striving for victory but for cessation of aggression. It really shouldn’t matter if we ‘win’, what matters is we reppelled the attacking force, or ended the genocide, or cast out the occupiers. You may answer that those are in fact victories, but if from the start we are focused on ‘victory’ then it becomes more about defeating the opponent (or crushing them, as you said) than anything else. And a properly trained army, which is also thoroughly moral, should be able to be both precise and fast, as well as humane, in a way which achieves the goals quickly and with no civilian casualties. Of course no army in history has ever done this, but that doesn’t mean we won’t keep demanding it. Michael Smith “A team of folks that are held accountable for their actions, a lot more caution, deliberation, and dialogue stands in the way of making the wrong choice.” I think history has proven that is anything but a given. Groupthink and the madness of crowds are usually a big part of genocides and such. People lose their autonomy in groups. Prejudice and anger and violence spreads like a infectious disease. It’s a way of diffusing, thinning out, all responsibility. And when you say the culling of children (or preventing the culling of children) should be externalized, i’m saying that is not an option in this (or in alison’s, I’m assuming) set of circumstances. Sure, all of these hypotheticals can be picked at, but the point is to test your morality by answering them. And it didn’t feel like the hypotheticals against her were similarly critiqued. And I can’t believe that no-one will admit, “Yeah, of course, I’d hold him in place for five minutes rather than get a little stain on my conscience.” Can’t any of the people who are so opposed to any loss of Max’s personal freedoms answer? Because like I quoted earlier, “All it takes for Evil to prevail in this world is for enough good men to do nothing.”And everyone seems to be advocating for a lack of action because of the perceived moral impurity of her actions here, which I find morally unconscionable considering the stakes alison is (admittedly) implying. And I can’t accept the idea that “if he does this once, he’ll have to do it forever and ever and will be eternally enslaved” argument, There’s nothing in the text that states that. Everyone is imposing that on it as a mean of condemning her, but it’s not there. جيمس هارلو Alison also doesn’t hold “save lives where possible” as an ultimate principle (though I’d agree that she seems to hold it as a hobby), based on the death of Marcus Houston in the Rogue Temple Drones conflict, everyone thinking that she was going to kill the wannabe rapist at the party, not attempting to stop Patrick when he says he’s going to kill his old criminal network, trying to dissuade Feral, killing Feral’s attacker, threatening to kill the crowd protesting Feral, and even deciding to no longer be a Guardian. Quite a few of those are fairly neat inversions of this vignette in that she holds someone’s autonomy (mostly they’re her, or her friends’) to be more important than the possibility of saving lives.  “give a man a fish, feed him for a day, give a man a heart, and then what? Watch him get obliterated in the next ethnic cleansing or natural disaster, or just sink into poverty and disappear? If saving the world means preserving it just how it is, then saving the world is not for me.” Stephanie Yeah, I was too vague. I’ll get more specific. The axiom she stated, in her philosophy class was: “I think it’s self-evident that people are better together. That when one of us is hurt, all of us are hurt. That people uniting is not just the means to a better world, but a description of that better world.” To boil this down, her axiom is “Everyone should work together to achieve the greater good.” It follows from that, especially the middle sentence, that she has to act in ways that will save lives. If she lets people get hurt, it hurts humanity as a whole. She may not always adhere perfectly to that principle–does anyone adhere perfectly to all of their principles, especially in moments of strong emotion?–but it’s one she holds and one that conflicts with “don’t be a tyrant.” This was the moment when she chose her axiom of “everyone must work together for the greater good” over her principle of preserving autonomy. Your quote came from earlier in the development of her ethical system and may no longer perfectly describe her beliefs, but even if we assume it does, all that means is that she is specifically required to act in ways that will have a world-changing positive impact (as opposed to saving individual lives at every opportunity). That seems to apply here, or at least she believes it does. Weatherheight I would like to point out that one can argue the other way by emphasizing the phrase “When one of us is hurt, all of us is hurt.” What she is doing is exactly that, at the moment and carrying it to its logical and promised conclusion. That said, everything you said is true. Alison is choosing the needs of the many over the needs of the one because the essence of her principle is “Doing good things for as many people as possible is something everyone should believe and act on.” Mostly, in my opinion, because Max is a twit. Secondarily, in my opinion, because her father is a very important part of that many. My feeling is that Alison isn’t truly thinking anything through right here; fear of losing her father and loathing of what Max is and stands for are the primary drivers. I have to wonder is Alison believes that Max is part of “us” at the moment. Stephanie It’ll be interesting to find out whether she intends her father to be one of the people who will be saved, as a few have speculated. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me as a possibility, but it is possible. I think she’s making Max be part of “us,” haha. Whether he likes it or not. SJ Because, at the risk of falling into the trap of repeating catchphrases during this discussion, accepting the premise requires me to trust Alison’s mental calculus, and I don’t. But, let’s just stipulate, for the sake of argument, that you’re right, if only to keep the conversation moving. There’s something else that you don’t appear to have considered: if you’want to be a borderline literalist about the narrative, in a “Alison says that forcing Max to use his powers against his will will save Countless, Countless Lives™, so I believe her, because she said it”-sort of way, then we have to account for what else we know and don’t know, based on the narrative. And what we know, based on the narrative, is that Max’s anomaly is not widely known. The very idea of a dynamorph who can augment the anomalies of other dynamorphs is also not widely known. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suppose that it’s not something that any other dynamorph has had any reason to seriously contemplate. There was virtually no time elapsed between when Alison found out about Max’s powers, and when she went to Max’s house to extort him into using his powers for her whims. We don’t know who the target is, or how long Alison has known about them, but there’s no reason put forth by the narrative for anyone to assume that they’re friends, that they’re acquaintances, that they even know each other at all. What happens if her target doesn’t consent to being enhanced? A lot of this discussion is centered on Max, and Alison’s moral dilemma vis-à-vis Max, and how many of the commenters feel like Alison’s deplorable behavior is justified because Max is generally unlikeable, but Max may not be the only person being violated in this harebrained scheme of Alison’s. There’s no reason to believe that Alison’s target is someone who considers Alison an ally. What happens if they don’t consent to using their newly augmented powers to save Countless, Countless Lives™? Or, as I kinda/sorta suggested in my reply to @Crow, what if Max enhances the target’s anomaly beyond the target’s ability to control their anomaly? Sure, the target’s powers don’t appear to be considered destructive, but what if their Required Secondary Powers have horrifying, Eldritch Abomination-level side effects when enhanced, that Alison did not account for? She may very well bring about the End of Days, in her quest to save Countless, Countless Lives™. Stephanie “Alison says that forcing Max to use his powers against his will will save Countless, Countless Lives™, so I believe her, because she said it” I’ve already addressed at length, with an unreasonable amount of repetition, why this is a mischaracterization of my position. As far as this thread goes, I don’t really want to read that far back, but I’m pretty sure that I was never talking about whether the plan will actually work. I’m speculating about what the plan is. My speculation is that Alison intends to target a single biodynamic person whose power, when buffed, will become capable of saving the world. That is the plan that seems most plausible to me based on what Alison has said so far, especially this most recent part where she implies that she is transporting him to a specific location where she wants him to use his power. It is also fun to speculate about all the ways the plan could go wrong. At this point, however, we don’t really have enough information to go past speculation. We don’t actually know how much detail Max’s file went into, or which possible catastrophic side effects Alison has already considered and has good reason to dismiss as impossible. I don’t think we even know how much time actually elapsed between her finding the note and going to see him–she doesn’t allude to how long it’s been, it could have been days, the only reason it seems like “virtually no time” is because the narrative cut from that moment to this. So I’m not going to debate the likelihood of the plan working until I have more information. MrSing The hold of those who are blinded by their own ideals! Also known as the Half Nelson hold. Random832 What makes you think their autonomy matters any more than Max’s? Random832 No. The only way is to ask them in advance. Asking them after the fact means they had no input in whether to torture anyone. Stephanie So, what…we take a vote among everyone who does or ever will have cancer, unto the end of humanity? That’s not practical even in the context of a hypothetical where torturing 5 people somehow cures all cancers. Someone has to actually make the decision. Dellis I… surely I can’t be the one who objects to this kind of behaviour? I mean, she’s the protagonist, and we’re naturally drawn to justify their actions, but that’s just… wrong? I can’t figure out if this is portrayed like she’s doing the right thing… I hope not. End justifies the means. Machiavelli would be proud. Stephanie Trust me, you’re not the only one. I personally approve of it, but many, many people in the comments don’t. I don’t think the narrative is taking a stance one way or the other. This is just where Alison has gone as a character. Random832 Why? By walking away you haven’t saved the person being tortured. Surely they die (or become otherwise unqualified, since the victim is always described as a child) eventually, and someone new must be chosen. By walking away you have only ensured it will not be *your* child. SJ If it’s not his biggest fear, it damned well should be. What can he do – what can anybody do – if an unstoppable killing machine decides to single them out as an object, a thing, rather than a person deserving of human rights, to be used whenever and however she feels fit? Hell, a slit throat might be a mercy, compared to that. Mechwarrior It’s a quote from Superman Vs The Elite. The titular group are brutal antiheroes who murder anyone they deem a criminal with no remorse. Superman finally turns the tables on them by using their own tactics in an utterly terrifying beatdown. Weatherheight Oh, that was such a good comic! And Supes was totally smug and smarmy at the group leader after hoisting them on their own petard. I loved seeing that if only because of the whole “dose of your own medicine” aspect of the comic. And the best part? He didn’t permanently hurt any of them. Stephanie What other solution? If there were anyone else with Max’s ability, Alison would have approached them. Max is it. He is the solution. It simply isn’t always possible to find a solution that lets you save everyone without getting your hands dirty. In that event, you have to choose whether you care more about people’s lives, or the cleanliness of your hands. If you refuse to make a choice because you’re searching for a third option that doesn’t exist, you’re functionally just choosing the “clean hands, but everyone dies” option. It’s unlikely that this is being done in service of some nebulous, unknown greater good. Alison has strongly implied that her plan will definitely save many people’s lives. That’s a pretty concrete good right there. And if you’re saying the ends never justify the means…Well, people have been throwing out-there hypotheticals at me for days, so now it’s my turn. Let’s say that aliens are going to blow up the entire planet Earth, killing every single human, unless you slam one man’s head into a table and threaten him. If you do that, the aliens will leave and nobody will die. Do you slam his head into the table, or do you let all of humanity die? Because if you choose saving humanity, you can’t say that there is never a situation where the ends justify the means. Here’s another example. Is it acceptable to fine and imprison people to deter crime and isolate dangerous people from the general population? You know–coercing people, on threat of violence by the state, for the greater good? Because that’s the foundation of civilization. If you’re opposed to that, I welcome you to try living in total anarchy and see what your quality of life is like. In conclusion, it would be pretty terrible to only care about the ends and ignore any harm done by the means, but it’s equally terrible to care only about the means and ignore the ends. If you don’t account for both of them and weigh them against each other, you’ll end up either committing, or permitting, unnecessary harm. Christopher Dacombe Welp, I knew this comic shared a fair amount of its fanbase with ‘Worm’ but I didn’t expect Alison to adopt its tagline of “Doing the wrong things for the right reasons.” From giving up being a world-saving superhero because powers weren’t the way to fix things, to forcing another powered individual to use his powers to try and save countless lives. From telling Feral that self-sacrifice for the benefit of others wasn’t the right way to go, to forcing another to use their ability for the benefit of others. From being uncomfortable with Moonshadow’s willingness to risk killing innocents for the greater good, to threatening an innocent with murder unless he complies for the greater good of others. From shredding Patrick’s cheque which could have helped hundreds or thousands of women through Valkyrie because of its unethical source, to doing something pretty damn unethical to someone in order to save many more. This whole scenario has come out of left field, really, and Alison’s actions here are so drastically different to what we’ve seen before from her, that in most other superhero comics I’d be suspecting some form of mind control. Granted, saving ‘countless lives’ is one hell of an incentive, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the classified documents she was sent were deliberately faked / manipulated with the intent of manipulating Alison into doing something rash like this – the life-saving option will turn out to be non-viable or complete non-existent and all she’ll have done is made an enemy out of Max and his connections. Stephanie I’m not surprised that Alison’s priorities have changed. Half the story has been about her seeing new perspectives, learning from them, and developing a more nuanced ethical system. Even this very scene marks a shift in her thinking–she’s confronted and resolved the conflict between her “everyone works together for the greater good” axiom and her “don’t be a tyrant” principle. Turns out she decided to prioritize the first one. I don’t even think her actions here are drastically different from her earlier behavior. She is not an angel. She threatened to kill the people protesting Feral, who were not a threat, because she was angry. She talked to Cleaver about how she fantasizes about killing people. Heck, her entire superheroic backstory was about using violence to achieve her ends. ChooseYourFight The difference here, in part, is that she can no longer threaten or fantasize. After tonight, Max will be a loose end, a threat that could always go public and ruin her. And, as a result, ruin everything she is attached to. What’s more, he could potentially empower those who her actions would threaten, creating additional dangers to herself and others. Whether he complies or not, if she doesn’t want to risk everything she is building crashing down before it can be built, Max must die. Ideally, after he serves his purpose as her tool in her master plan. Stephanie My point still hasn’t gotten across. It’s irrelevant to my points whether I, the reader, can trust her mental state. I am talking about the decision Alison made, according to her understanding of the situation, and what that decision tells us about how she resolved a conflict in her value system, and how her newly refined value system reflects on her as a character. You don’t have to keep telling me that she could be wrong. I know that. It’s an entirely separate question that I will address–separately–when I have more information to work with. It has very little to do with what I’ve been talking about this entire time. Newbie Well, your last point about not wanting it done to you kind of loops back to what Cleaver said, doesn’t it? That it’s easier to be moral when you know you can/will face consequences? You’re perhaps a better person than I am, because fantasizing about disproportionate retribution to annoying people is a fairly common source of stress relief for me. Of course I, like you, would never actually go through with it without be pushed to the brink, but I would imagine it would be a lot more tempting if I thought no one could touch me for it, an attitude that isn’t new to Allison. I agree with your general stance on her right now, though. I physically shouted NO at my computer screen when I read this page. SJ The facility that Feral has volunteered to donate at is already set up for the surgeons to harvest her organs nonstop, around the clock. Endowing her with the ability to regenerate her organs ten percent faster doesn’t endow the surgeons with the ability to harvest them any faster. Balthanon I was really not expecting this, but it’s one of my favorite pages in awhile. Allison has pretty much been letting a lot of people walk all over her, right or wrong (well, mainly thinking of the room mate situation a little while back). I like how this shows she has limits beyond which she will act and it makes me interesting about what she plans for his powers. That said, I think Max’s real problem is that he doesn’t have much vision. Powers that let him ramp up the powers of others means he could take a bunch of nobodies and turn them into a super team with himself at the helm– and if he doesn’t get his way, that person loses their powers. Seems considerably more useful than flight or invisibility of his own really. Tylikcat 1) It depends on what’s going on and my relationship to the project. If it’s my own research, and it’s use a human subject now or wait twenty years… well, if I think there’s a really good chance it’s going to work, my body is the only one I have a right to use that way. (Though I would damn well make sure I had people I trusted in line to use the knowledge so gained.) I’m not opposed to using my body that way. (There is a history of me both putting my body at risk, and using it for medical experimentation. Kind of a lot of history, to the extent that it’s kind of embarrassing. I guess once I stopped thinking that inaction would keep my safe, it was mostly “Whatevs, it’s just a body.” This would be vastly more extreme… but for much more important results.) If it’s someone else’s research or if otherwise someone else knows more about the situation than I do, I start becoming more hesitant. I’m not the most trusting person out there – and even when I trust people to have the best intentions, it’s different to trust them to be completely competent. This is a lot of trust. I would need a lot of information. 2) That is vastly less clear, and a lot is going to depend on details that aren’t specified. Despite my somewhat involved commitment to nonviolence (this is such a rabbit hole, obviously, I also study violence) there are circumstance in which I will kill. This hasn’t yet involved killing people, and I hugely hope such circumstances never occur, but I don’t have a commitment to keeping my own hands clean that overrides everything else. There are people I’m going to mind killing less. Killing people who the world might be reasonably better without hasn’t really been mentioned, and obviously has problems of its own. (Look, that’s still probably going to bug me a lot, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make practical distinctions.) So let’s go to the next question – elsewhere, but not above, it has been specified that the people to be killed are innocents. To me, someone entirely innocent of the whole proceeding is different than a consenting participant. I would find the latter much easier to deal with than the former. The nature of the killing matters. Torture, for instance, has been specified elsewhere. (A minor aside – I have been through medical torture, if you mean extended procedures intended to produce pain and not intended for my good or to increase my well-being. And a bunch of things that were well met but which ended badly, though I look on those rather more fondly. I’m not sure if this makes me more ruthless or less.) …but maybe even more so the mechanics of the agreement matter. Why is this happening? Why does this exchange need to occur? If there is some kind of powerful being who is charging this sort of fee for their services – fuck ’em. That kind of mind game never ends well – whatever we pay is just the first part of establishing a relationship, in which we are going to be their bitches forever. If this is some kind of legitimate natural need… it rather beggars the imagination what legitimate natural need there would be that involved torturing innocents. I suspect that most instances of this would hit my “Nope, yeah, that’s fucked up and I’m not touching it,” filter. But… So there’s another principle in play. Some people feel okay about eating meat, or wearing leather so long as they aren’t the people doing the actual killing.* I feel like if I am going to profit from something done in my name, I need to be willing to do whatever it is. So, if there are some edge cases in which I feel like there is some kind of overriding societal interest in some thing which rested on some awful act being performed, I guess I feel like I have to be willing to perform that act, both for myself, and for my community. I can’t predict all possible edge cases. If a case exists that I think should happen at all, I damned well better be willing to hold the knife. But I’d rather take it on my own flesh than carry that kind of weight on my spirit.** * I’m a vegetarian who performs terminal animal experiments. But I’m a pretty soft-core vegetarian – I think dietary choices are deeply personal, my body doesn’t digest meat well. (I have some pretty involved thoughts about environmental impact, but they don’t boil down to “be vegetarian”.) ** I am speaking figuratively, and certainly not assuming any unchanging or immortal spirit. Loranna I’m a writer, actually. One who *wishes* she could draw, as I think I’d rather be writing a weebcomic than a (perpetually in revision) series of short stories! (May or may not envy Molly’s skill at creating comic pages with the flickering fury of a thousand dying sunlamps) Loranna Newbie What’s this?! Announcing you’re going to do something out out of spite? You will have your face slammed into a table for this! ∫Clémens×ds “Villain”‘s only substantial definition is of being a foil to the protagonist and as such embodying the morals the fiction is engaging against– so by sheer virtue of being the protagonist, Alison can’t be one. It’s not so much who you are and what you do as the role you have in the story. Walter Peck is the villain in Ghostbusters because he’s trying to shut down the team, not because he’s evil, selfish or enjoys inflicting suffering. All in all he’s even the most sensible person around, trying to stop these desensitized venture capitalist and kinda sexist scientists running around with nuclear devices on their backs. But tyrant is fine and dandy, let’s keep that one. It even sounds way worse anyway. Cartheon You’re conflating villain with antagonist. There is a nuance between the two. Tylikcat I think the Singapore case can be argued in terms of a high degree of benevolence… as far as dictatorships go. Civil liberties aren’t high on the list! (A dear friend grew up there, was educated in the US, worked and married there, and then returned to Singapore, where she’s looked at running for office, last I heard. It’s… a different sort of taste? Say I, looking on, simultaneously impressed and a bit aghast. She’d encouraged me to come live there, though I don’t know if I’d do well…) Tylikcat Oh, so far at least – and maybe Friday there will be a giant twist! – Max is being treated horribly, and I hope he gets some kind of shot at justice, though hopefully not of the daytime television variety. I’m not saying what is happening is remotely okay. But… so you know how I talk about how much I’d like to see the world slapping Patrick upside the face a whole bunch? I feel like we’re seeing a set up for Alison’s version of that. This can’t possible end well for her – because of her own values, and because of the values of the people she cares about. She’s pretty much painted herself into a corner. It’s just a question of how bad it gets before she starts having to come to grips with that fact. AdamBombTV Aww man, that was an awesome show… Gonna go binge it again. AdamBombTV …missed a spot. Jared Rosenberg I’d be interested in see Max find out at an appropriate plot point that he can reverse his power. Perhaps the government suspects this and Max is unwittingly part of a plan to “take care” of Alison and Alison’s reaction will set things in motion early. Jared Rosenberg She’s a super-powered Kaepernick. Cartheon I didn’t. I was on board with Gurwara, and was arguing on his behalf in the comments section. guest First of all, wow. This scene. Very powerful, very very gray in terms of conventional morality. I love the discussion it has spurred on, and the fact that this comic is so willing to make risky story decisions like this. This single little page packs so much in it, and this comic overall I love for its ability to address issues like this, and its willingness to do so, but most of all for the incredibly mature and nuanced way it does so. I started writing here to just mention a few things but there’s so much to unpack it snowballs. I told myself I wasn’t going to write a damned essay for SFP but woops here I go again To anyone thinking this is a positive portrayal, look at her lines, and read between them. “I wish I could have convinced you.” “Calm down.” “Stop squirming,” or HE will dislocate his arm. Notice that she says he will do it – not that she is forcing it to happen. See the parallel between “you made me angry,” and “you made me hurt you” to this. How she explains what is going to happen – whether or not he wants it to happen. To paraphrase: “Nobody will know.” “It will only take a little while.” Then the threat: “I will kill you if you give me what I want.” Her mentioning of obligation; like he OWES this to her. Look at how she forces him down against the table, her positioning and his. He insults her but quickly jumps into calling for help, turning red, and crying. “Now how does that sound?” “Fuck you!” “Well, sweetheart, I was really only asking as a courtesy.” Particularly those last two lines – the mention of sex, the dismissal (sweetheart), and the denial of their being ANY choice in the matter for him. That he is obligated to say yes because she asked; and if he says no, well, then this is deserved. He is a bad person; he must be punished. How can you look at this scene and not see anything but rape? Switch their genders and strip the context from it and I guarantee that’s how you would see it; hell if you showed it to someone who wasn’t aware of the story behind it, they’d probably see her as a rapist, even if they were confused by some of the lines. I would also like to draw another parallel between this and the punitive rape that is common in some stories and legends and (unfortunately) still practiced in some places of the world. You can see this in two ways: in the stories and legends, it wasn’t terribly uncommon for “uppity” women to be raped and “see the error of their ways” a la Taming of the Shrew. Disagree with the social structure and seek to impose your right to your own body on the world (fathers, husbands, etc) and you were wrong. Max disagrees with Al’s concept of morality and ethics. She is not punishing him because he will not help her; she is punishing him because he challenges her ideas, and wrapped up in those his ideas is a high value on the right to make your own decisions, regardless of consequences – something which in practice we can see is not a positive thing all of the time, but which in theory is hard to argue against as a value. Compare this to a woman in those stories who is punished because she does not submit, because she does not give over her rights to a man. She would be seen as as immoral, cruel, cold, “a bitch” in more modern terminology, but most importantly, as selfish because she did not give away her being to man. To being his maid and his cook and the mother of his children, and then giving all that to the children as well; to being his slave, and his sex object, in some cases. I am not arguing in any way shape or form that Max is really alike those women; as a person I think he would sympathize with their desire for freedom, if he could see it, but otherwise I doubt he’d have much empathy or similarities – after all, by almost every possible measure, he is the powerful in society. But in this single moment of time, it is impossible not to see the trope turned about here. The second way it can be interpreted is less symbolic and rather than just a trope being turned about is – well, at the risk of offending those who might object to my use of the words, this is in a literal sense a rape all in its own. Alison is asserting her “right” to a part of his being which is completely and totally his in every way, and which she nor anyone else has any right to. Looking at the way she is holding him it’s clear she is also asserting her power and strength over him, and in the way she is demanding he use his superpower, she is also in a way “stealing” it. You could make the argument here that she does this for the right reasons, at least – if what she says is true, this single act could save millions. I would counter the argument by bringing up utilitarianism’s faults, particularly utility monsters and derivatives. Utility monsters are a thought experiment which I suggest you look up if you don’t know about them since my definition will be lacking; they are theoretical creatures which derive a higher pleasure than another creature, meant to show some of the flaws in utilitarianism as a philosophy (greatest good for the greatest number of people, typically meaning happiness). For example, let’s say Cookie Monster raids your pantry. Well, that’s okay because the pleasure he gets from eating your chocolate chip cookies is ten times more than the pleasure you get from eating them. So you should give him all your cookies. Continuing the rape comparison – and although this is a despicable example and I’m rather ambiguous about typing it, but I feel I must continue for the sake of the argument – let’s say a rapist is a utility monster in a similar circumstance to the Cookie Monster example. Even in this hypothetical situation I would doubt that I’d find anyone who would take the position that the previous examples solution be the solution here as well. The point is, if you hold that her action is right on the basis of the common good you must therefore hold that someone who helps the utility monster rapist is also right. I understand it’s unpleasant example, and not terribly tailored to Max, but I think it shows the flaws in the idea. I think the point of this page here is to ask what right Max isn’t entitled to that a victim of rape is and should have been. That he has as much right to his powers as any man or woman has to their body, regardless of the choice he makes. After all, people choose poor partners all the time – yet despite being the “wrong choice” we still hold to that right to their own body. And I’d just like to end with, that as much as I defended Max here, and even sympathize with his ideas and feelings, I don’t think he is in any way a good person. Neutral, I would call him – he doesn’t seem to actively hurt people, though I would admit he probably would if it brought him a benefit as he would see it as his choice. But so far he just never helps them, even when it would require almost nothing of him. Honestly, Max has got no real redeeming features – he’s immature, he blows up a small comments, he’s selfish, and inconsiderate and rather arrogant and ignorant and the list goes on and on. He doesn’t even have any sort of reasonable excuse for it – he’s a pretty, rich, white, and straight guy whose mommy is powerful enough to pull political strings for him. The biggest trauma he had was realizing that he couldn’t always be #1 and it made him cry just to talk about it – at 14 that could be a blow. Years later and you should have dealt with stuff like that, especially when you’re rich enough to afford legions of pills and therapists. Yet I would personally say that matters as little as what clothes he’s wearing on this page. Weatherheight Long post, but well worth reading. Very Interesting ideas! Tylikcat There’s a lot of things you’ll see in interactions between people who train a lot and those who don’t or who don’t have any exposure (it’s a gradient). When that page first came out I had a whole discussion on my personal blog about different levels of violence in social situations, because I’ve run into things where something with happen and I’ll respond with what I consider a low violence response – and people freak. Not generally that much, because I’m good at managing social situations (aka I have brass ovaries) but I can see the potential for more pushback because all the sudden they’re out of their comfort zone. And let’s face it, in the kind of situation I outline above, a lot of social groups are more comfortable with guys being creepy and gropey and women being uncomfortable than women doing anything active about it. But of course, that’s not the only time that sort of situation comes up. And a lot of people never deal with any kind of violence. I mean, I avoid it myself, but it’s more of a part of how I look at the world. I don’t just work with women. Numbers have probably been fairly equal? Not really sure. Certainly, my study of violence is part of my study of non-violence. Lots of imperfect solutions. Cartheon And the next line of the script said: Then Spock points at the nearest redshirt and says ‘I think this ensign should do it.’ Oh wait… جيمس هارلو Sentiment is definitely not mine but I’m not sure if I lifted the exact phrase. chaosvii That’s what she claims, but what she actually does is avoid doing everything the voice tells her to do. She fantasizes about killing badwrong people and reigning over them with an iron fist, but what she does instead is terrify some of them sometimes, and get some of them to do what she wants without killing them. She chooses to not go full killstreak because the stakes are rarely high enough for that murder or threat of murder to accomplish anything. She can and does kill or threaten when the stakes are high enough to make it appear to be the best move. Regardless of whether it actually is the best move. She kills when a room of doctors are being torched. I see that as justifiable homicide in defense of others. She gets ready to kill a group of undesirables for associating with the mass-murderer and not complying with her demands to give up whoever it is that helped him smuggle the flamethrower in. Probably should be treated as temporary insanity, but she doesn’t need to go to court this time even if she did assault (cause to flinch by invading personal space threateningly) an officer of the law and cause lots of needless property damage. She chokeholds a guy for being the most suspicious asshole she’s ever seen. Assault applies here, and since she got what she wanted, no further escalation was necessary. She threatens to kill (note that she grabs him by the collar rather than the throat this time) when her plan to rehabilitate Patrick is mocked by him for being as naive as her belief in love and common respect for (non-evil) human life. Temporary insanity is a much tougher sell here and likely wouldn’t hold up, also there’s the matter of battery and the improvised karate chop board break session. Yet again, the stakes are high enough that she can go ahead and continue as her normal superweapon with a goal role. The application of force can work to achieve the saving of countless lives, so she’s going to exercise it. The voice doesn’t go away, and she chooses to do some of what it suggests to her. She knows it’s wrong to simply listen to it whenever it would feel good, she needs another reason in order to apply violence. chaosvii “I can’t consider ‘speech’ to ever be a reason to inflict violence, no matter how much I can’t stand what the person is saying. […} I don’t want to live in a world like that.” It is very fortunate that you live in this century and in a stable country that doesn’t enforce blasphemy laws and other obsolete victimless crimes then 🙂 Nicolai Sanders Sorry if i missed something, but how did Alison know that Max is biodynamic? Sendaz Patrick sent her a file on Max and others along with the cheque she tore up Francisco The information was probably in the folder that Patrick sent her. And he confirmed it in the conversation they just had. Jagged Absolutely agree. She is using her strength to force someone to go against their own wishes and fulfil hers. She has decided that usefulness of his ability overrides his own wishes and has disregarded his feelings. This is more than just villainy, this is the start of a psychopathy. weedgoku I mean, it’s not exactly new. We’ve seen her talk about how much she loves violence before and wants to kill people. We’ve seen her threaten whole crowds with death. But it’s taking it to a new step to actually take it to a physical level like this with someone who has no way of fighting back. Jagged In the comics, this kind of villainy is typical of characters like Doctor Doom. Disregarding the will of the “little people” for the greater good. Jagged Not sure making an enemy of someone who can boost other people’s super powers is such a good idea. strongfemaleprotagonist thank you for sharing, I value your input and I haven’t banned anything from the comments except for offensive/aggressive posts. -Molly Richard Hughes You should definitely make Brennan help clean up these messes he makes for you! Katrika Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry if I came off aggressive, as I do genuinely understand the need to screen comments and the objection to a rape comparison. Weatherheight Steven Brust is one of my very favorite authors. So that’s only to be expected. Sendaz We sort of know his power because he told Alison, he can augment other biodynamic’s powers though we do not know the extent of the boost or how long the effects last. Weatherheight Nice post. I, personally, am not convinced that Max is responsible for anyone’s amplification / power increase at this point, if we take him at his word that he isn’t using his abilities. Alison’s flight and Cleaver’s accelerated cancer/sharpness are both prior to Max’s introduction/nearby presence to either. The text implies this is a universal thing, with those with the most power increasing most (possibly, this is a net percentage overall, applied to each biodynamic, and is particularly notable amongst the strongest biodynamics. I.e. getting 1% of a dollar isn’t quite as flashy as getting 1% of a million dollars). That said, you may very well be right that Max is somehow affecting all biodynamics; which suggests other questions. If indeed this is happening due to Max, is removing him from the equation a good or a bad thing? More powerful biodynamics with practical abilities may be a very good thing, but what about those from Brad’s symposium? Might it be possible for him to limit his effects to certain individuals? Yeah, I like this post. 😀 Mechwarrior Simply put, she can’t. Alison has been completely in the wrong ever since Max told her to scram and she didn’t. Personally, I find the flaws in her behavior make for a more interesting and believable story. The author could have made her a total Mary Sue who was such a beacon of morality and compassion that Mr Rogers would have looked up to her, but that would be boring. A protagonist who’s got superpowers and is trying to do the right thing but still is an imperfect human who makes bad decisions due to emotional responses is far more compelling. Weatherheight I was actually referring to the IRL portion of your post. What Alison is doing now may very well turn out to be a good thing overall, but her understanding of actions and consequences has been shown over and over to be simplistic and un-nuanced (although she is getting better). And lacking additional information myself, I’m not going to declare “this is a good thing”. All I’m seeing clearly and in the text, assuming nothing else, is a whole lot of immediate downside and acting out in anger; it’s rare that one becomes less angry by taking actions they may later regret. Actions reinforce attitudes, and attitudes influence actions (or as a friend of mine says, “It’s easier to act your way to a feeling than feel your way to an action.”). Psychology and behavioral therapy reinforce this. It’s a trope that decisions made in anger can lead good people to do bad things, eventually crossing the line into not wanting or recognizing what good things are. One of the problems of tropes is that, like most cliches, they have to have an element of truth in them to be believable. And, like most cliches, they are never to be taken at face value. I am so anticipating each page these days. 😀 Weatherheight ::falls to floor braying and waving his legs around:: If only you could have had that post in two different colors of lettering…. Stephanie Right–she was angry at the people who stood by and allowed her friend (and the others) to get hurt. Now she’s angry at Max for intending to stand by and let all these people die. I definitely see a common thread there. Alison’s never had much patience for people who intentionally stand in the way of the greater good, and she’s always at least been tempted to resort to violence in those situations. BMPDynamite I’m wondering if a similar thing that happened with Feral could persuade her to stop here. Seeing the person/people being hurt by Max’s actions plead for his individual rights. And it might even change Max’s mind. But then again, a tidy ending to this would feel unsatisfying this early on. Alison already was/is a nuanced character but seeing her have a dark night of the soul … we’ve seen her show shades before, with the playground, Patrick and the protesters, but I think this … this is her real Beware the Superman moment. I want to see her come out of it stronger, and hopefully wiser. But I’ll wait. Weatherheight Not that one.. this one. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a158e0871d2f714f1f7a4c7cd4d696438d41f41ac748ae7aad3fa6daa24120c6.jpg (Snickers appears courtesy of Weregeek © Alina Pete 2016) Stephanie I don’t think she’s having him sprinkle his power all over the whole time they’re flying. She said she had a specific plan that would save many lives, which isn’t compatible with randomly augmenting people. My interpretation of this page is that she plans to fly him to a specific location, have him augment a specific person or group of people, and then fly him back. Weatherheight A few folks have implied it. 🙁 I’ve not noted that you have. 😀 Stephanie Oh, they did? I didn’t see it. Was it on an earlier page? Weatherheight It’s been a sub-current since Alison arrived at Max’s place, amongst a very few folks. Not so much on this page – we’ve had much better things to talk about here. 😀 At least, that’s the vibe I get from “rich, white, entitled”. Mostly trumped by those who just “hate that guy!”. Almost time for the next page! ::stoically watches the clock while his ears flicker with impatience:: Weatherheight This gets better to me each time I read it. Stephanie I’m not clear on how you get from “these commenters think it’s better to coerce one guy than to let countless people die,” to “these commenters would support the systematic murder of millions.” That’s kinda apples and oranges right there. Francisco Because the moment you say one person’s rights can be violated for the “greater good” is the moment you say anybody’s rights can be violated! In their own minds, tyrants believe that they are doing what is right. Disagreeing with someone is not a reason to ignore their humanity. Nor is it a reason to commit violence against them. Once you do it once you create a precedent and that means that you can do it again and again. Before long you’ll just accept that what you’re doing is normal. You’ll stop thinking of those that you violate as people. I recommend that you look up and watch an old film: Judgement at Nuremberg Also watch the video that I linked to in the comments here. MrSing I just don’t think you can kill civilians and turn around and say that it was a good thing to do. Obviously, stopping the Nazies from commiting a total genocide was a good thing to do. Saying that this justifies knowingly killing innocents seems contradictory. Wasn’t the whole moral justification behind stopping the Nazies that they were killing innocents? Though, if anyone really was to blame. I’d say it was the world leaders at that time that created a situation where the only workable solution was war. They created a situation where innocents would get hurt regardless of the choices made, so I believe we can put the blame of innocents dying more on their heads than ours. After all, strategic bombardement would not be neccesary at all if war hadn’t been declared and atrocities had not been commited. My country was actually under Nazie rule during the war until Canada freed us. A lot of people died during the bombardements of bridges and that still has impact on the older people in my country these days. So maybe I’m biased because of that. But when you see someone who has lost their family and everything because of “collaterol damage” it is pretty hard to say “it was all worth it”. Stephanie I have mixed feelings about the check thing. One clarification to start with: She couldn’t have put it toward biomedical research, microloans, or medical training. It wasn’t made out to her, it was made out to the Valkyrie Project, so she could only use it for that project. If she could have used it for any of those other things, I’d be 100% certain that it was wrong and hypocritical of her to tear it up…but since she could only use it for Valkyrie, I’m conflicted. Should she have accepted it for the sake of the good it could do for the population Valkyrie serves? Maybe. My knee-jerk reaction is usually “take the damn money and put it to good use,” but some commenters have raised the valid point that it might be a Trojan horse in some scheme of Patrick’s. It might, for example, have resulted in him gaining undue influence over Valkyrie that he could have exploited later in a way counterprodutive to the greater good (or at least Alison’s idea of it). On the other hand, there might have been ways to prevent that outcome while still taking advantage of the money. So I don’t know. Pythia She could give it to Valkyrie and then Valkyrie could use it to fund other things. Like, nowhere is it written that a donation given to Charity A needs to be used by Charity A for its OWN needs(just that it should be money that Charity A has power over now). Charity A can donate that money that was donated to it to Charity B and that would still be perfectly well and good as far as I know. MrSing Ah, I see what you’re saying. I think you are incorrect in this case though. While these questions can certainly be used to influence how people think, in academics they are used to lay the foundation for working moral systems. These extreme cases are specifically chosen to let people see how their current moral system might allow for horrible things to happen and how they should be careful in thinking it over. Assuming you aren’t brainwashing people into saying “yeah, we should kidnap homeless people and give their organs to productive people”, it is mostly used to shock people and show them that their ethics could justify obviously evil acts when they are pushed to their extremes. Finding a third better option is always preferable, but you must be made conscious of what evils your ethics can justify when taken to their logical end. Weatherheight I agree with all of these points, although I’m not sure of the… starkness of each point. 1) There’s plenty of evidence, in-universe, of Alison having the good will of the public (there’s also plenty of bad will towards her as well). You’re quite correct – if this ever gets out, it will definitely sway public opinion in a negative manner, more significantly if this doesn’t pan out as she wishes. 2) Agreed on other methods – I do wonder why Alison didn’t secure the cooperation of the other biodynamics first and then go to Max. I blame the lack of sleep (and a strong desire to prove Max wrong / thump him for being wrong). I;m not sure if “outing” him would be all that well received (it might be, however – he is a twit). 3) Since when has Alison ever shown any significant inclination to elegance or finesse? 😀 Arkone Axon You’re right on #3. She did achieve some modicum of elegance with her organization protecting victims of abuse, but… yeah, this is sadly far too common for her. Which is a shame; the whole point of her going to college and whatnot was trying to LEARN elegant solutions to complicated problems. Loranna .. . Oh, so people DO do that? I may have a shot yet! Would you have any recommendations for which webfictions to read first? Also, belated hello to a fellow Wandering Ones fan! Loranna Francisco Thank you. I still read it but I don’t haunt the forums any more. The only one I stuck with is on hiatus at the moment: Starwalker by Melanie Edmonds: http://www.starwalkerblog.com/about/about-starwalker/ First page: http://www.starwalkerblog.com/startup-sequence/ The first page may be short but most pages are around 2,000 words. If you’re looking for a guide to the webfiction out there: http://webfictionguide.com/ I’m tempted to post a link to the about page for the set of stories I’m working on (the profile page, and some other files there, explain the setting) but that might get a no from the authors. I only thought of the characters this week. I’m going to try and build a buffer before posting anything. Loranna Thank you for the links! I’ll be sure to check these out. And good luck with your projects; hope to see your work, someday ^_^ Loranna Lysiuj ~clap clap clap~ Weatherheight That’s.. more than it deserves. Seriously, even Dennis Miller would have passed on that one. “Yeah, no one’s gonna get that…” MrSing The example is not there to indoctrinate you. It is purposfully shocking and in your face to prevent that. The question is, what kind of atrocity would your moral system allow? Does it allow for the murder of innocents or for the continuation of a great misery? No matter your answer, you are supposed to feel uncomfortable and see how your moral system will justify bad things when pushed to extremes. When there are no easy solutions. It is there to help you see that you should always be mindful of the logical consequences of your ethics, and that no system is really perfect. Stephanie I think it would be interesting to see Alison grapple with that question, since she was previously opposed to Feral sacrificing herself. She might not see it as comparable, since the sacrifice required of Feral is many times greater than the barely-a-sacrifice-at-all she was asking of Max. That said, I think it’s unlikely that her plan involves Feral at all, both because of her previous objection and because “make Feral’s sacrifice unnecessary so she’ll stop” is an urgent motivator for her to fix the world. Fixing the world by placing an even greater burden on Feral seems inconsistent, but we won’t know until at least Friday. Maybe she changed her mind. Maybe the boost will let Feral’s organs replicate outside her body and she can go home. That said…I approve of Alison choosing to prioritize “save the countless lives” over “preserving Max’s autonomy,” which is the choice she at least believes she’s making. In other words, I approve of how she resolved the conflict in her principles that came up during her philosophy class. I’m pleased with this evolution of her value system. However, I don’t necessarily agree with her tactics–like chaosvii said, violence is an inelegant and failure-prone means of coercion–and I don’t have enough information yet to speculate on how likely the plan is to actually work. (For example, has she already asked for and received the “target’s” cooperation in this, or not? What alternative methods has she considered and discarded for valid reasons? Or did she fly straight to Max’s place with a half-baked plan? We just don’t know yet.) MrSing I’m sorry. I’m obviously not smart enough to understand your first post. What was it that you meant when you said you started to “relish revenge”, approving very much harming Max for not cooperating with Alison, being out of respect for people stating their opinions when you don’t agree with them, crushing people that are in your way entirely? I must have misunderstood those, because if you said those things you would almost seem to be someone who justified oppressing people who don’t agree with you. Even to the point of violence. I guess I’m just not smart enough to see how this isn’t what dictators and lynch mobs do. Zac Caslar Glad you realized your limits. Self-improvements beings with a respect for your shortcomings and realizing the utility of overcoming them. Best of luck in your future. MrSing Thank you. I feel blessed for having my world be enriched by your insightful comments. It is always such a joy to meet a completely enlightened individual that is able to, by logically and succinctly disproving my critique of them, explain why what at first seemed monstrous, in reality was moral perfection. Bless the earth you walk on, the ears that hear your voice, and the people that get to experience your enlightened actions. They will need it. Zac Caslar You’re too kind. Really. Also I realized what you said in your opening post, “you are what you hate” and upon investigating was surprised to find out that this made me a kind of tomato-pit bull skinhead given that three things I definitely hate are tomato fruit, large aggressive dogs and white supremacists. So while I appreciate the spirit of generosity that moves you to shower me with such ebullient eloquence it is in the spirit of that admiration that I have to refuse it given that anyone who mistakes me for a tomato-terrier-terrorist probably also isn’t a great judge of character. Still was nice of you though, Mr. Sing. =] Weatherheight One could argue that the intent of the mugger’s action is financial profit using violent threat and/or action as the means. In the case of rape, the violent action is the means toward an end that doesn’t involve financial profit, but rather establishment of social/sexual dominance. Pedantry. 😀 Stephanie The urgency of the danger is definitely an important factor. Even I, someone who is 100% cool with coercing one person to save many lives, would think Alison was jumping the gun here if these lives aren’t in immediate danger. She might have been able to find a way to get Max’s cooperation without violence if she’d slept on it first. But it is possible that there is an imminent danger to whoever she plans to save, or that this is something that people die of continuously so that any delay means more deaths. It’ll be interesting to find out. Re: causing harm = causing harm, I agree with that. The harm she is doing to Max is real, and it does “count” in the equation. I just think that harm is enormously outweighed by the harm of allowing many people to die. We wouldn’t support her killing all of those people to preserve Max’s autonomy, right? So we shouldn’t support her allowing them to die to preserve Max’s autonomy, because all of them are dead either way. Weatherheight Being disappointed by someone we care about always sucks. 😀 Zac Caslar No. If a suicide bomber detonates at a checkpoint I care about that person’s background. They will very likely be Palestinian, male, and a Muslim. That observation isn’t oppressing Palestinians, it’s fact. When the IDF uses military weapons to invade Gaza and kills a few thousand civilians and the question is who is invading the answer is likely to be someone Israeli, male, and Jewish. That isn’t Anti-Semitism, that’s fact. This isn’t a question of perspective, it’s a subject of fact. You want this to be about you. It’s not. It’s about who actually performs these attacks in America and their tendency to be mentally ill. This is not a blanket classification. Suicide bombers and Daesch converts both tend middle class and educated with no discernible pathologies. When captured they tend to regard martyring themselves as a kind of accomplishment -not necessarily a sacred act- useful for securing the futures of their families. What they think may be considered insane, but the thinkers themselves are wholly lucid. I don’t give a damn about your disability or mine or whether or not it’s “profiling” to observe that clinic bombers are not to date likely to be Jamaican, female, and Buddhist. It’s obvious we disagree and most importantly it’s obvious that disagreement is about what we value. You care about the appearance of someone with a disability irrespective of what they’re doing and I care about the nature of the act and the actor. You count hurt feelings, I count shattered lives. Take the last word if you want it. Otherwise, I’m done here. SJ She’s there. I dunno if this comparison holds up, but one time I witnessed a car accident. I tried to help the person bleeding on the side of the road. I was not qualified! I’m a damn EMT. But i was there and the situation was happening and that’s life. The comparison doesn’t hold up, for two reasons: First, Alison didn’t bear witness to someone being placed in a life-or-death situation, such that it required immediate action. And second, depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you were at risk of facing real-life consequences if your intervention actually made things worse. Alison has no fear of consequences – because no one could enforce them, anyway – so she has no incentive to consider collateral damage, as has been made evident by the entire history of this webcomic. Like, that’s basically Alison’s whole CV: she runs headfirst into situations, without regard to how her actions impact other people, because she herself is free from the repercussions of her bad decisions. She just expects that everybody will pretty much either “get down or lay down” for whatever it is she wants to do. In alison’s case her power could very well be the equivalent of proximity. She didn’t ask for her power/this responsibility, but it falls on her anyway Like hell it does. She didn’t ask for the power, sure; she absolutely asked for the responsibility. She practically grabbed it by the throat. It doesn’t fall on her, she took it upon herself. Which is a problem; she has power, and she’s decided that she knows what’s best for everybody. And she doesn’t. By a long shot. And a duly-appointed representative?! In what regime? Would you feel the same if she were living in Russia? Or a police state? What gives you this blinding faith in authority? What makes you think that these institutions–congress, police, etc.–are better at handling and controlling such things? Or have a greater moral right? Are they god kings? Were they appointed by some holy authority? I have a very different relationship to authority than you. It makes me want to take a poll of the people here. “Blinding faith in authority?” I think I’m offended. And who the hell said anything about police? These remarks make me wonder what, exactly, you think my relationship with authority is? I do not have a “blind faith” in authority. What I do have is a strong belief that people should be held accountable for their actions. There’s no one in the world who can hold Alison Green accountable for her actions. Someone who does not have to answer to anyone else should not be allowed to make life-or-death decisions that affect other people, no matter what their intentions are. Jace I think you misread my comment. Your reply doesn’t make any sense in context to what I said, or you need to explain more please MrSing Well, let’s amplify your example. You agree with me that Max is not by his actions responsible for the fact that children are going to be burned, right? He did not light the children on fire or order it. So, you say because he has the ability to help, he has the responsibility to help, correct? He can prevent their deaths after all. So, now we’ve established, when you have the ability to help other people, you have the responsibility to help. Your personal feelings don’t enter the equation. Seeing as how Max is incredibly against being ordered what to do to the point of incredulity, but that does not matter to you. If you can help you must. As a matter of fact, if you do not help when you have the ability, it is justifiable to punish, threaten, or force you to help. After all, you are responsible for murdering children now, using force to prevent you from helping them seems logical. Now see. There are a lot of poor people in the world. You have excess money that can help them. You must now donate all your excess money to the poor people of the world so they don’t starve. After all. You are responsible for them. You have the ability to help, so you must. If you refuse to do this, you will be punished, threatend, or forced to donate your money. You don’t really need that excess money, your suffering for missing that money is less than the joy these poor people get from getting to stay alive and be fed. But, let’s take it a different path. The state decides that the best way to help people is to make religion mandatory. It fosters strong bonds in communities and gives people hope. You are selected as the best candidate to be your town priest, unfortunately the religion the state has chosen is not your own. Or you simply disagree with making religion mandatory. Still, the state had decided that this religion helps the most ammount of people. You are the best candidate to be the priest, so you must help them. After all. If you are able to help, you must. Even if you don’t agree with the method which is used to help. So, you see when you make people responsible for things they did not cause, and even are willing to punish them for it, you are making every single person’s free will in the world obsolete. We are in no position to judge how much pain and suffering Alison is causing Max by doing this. Remember, suffering is subjective and does not have to be rational, but it’s real. What may seem like a tiny violation of his rights to you might mean the world to him. So, when you are willing to administer an unknown ammount of suffering on a person for something they are not responsible for, remember that you are also being rather chilling. P.S. I do not condone the burning of children. Please extinguish all burning children you might encounter. Thank you. Lysiuj Thank you for sharing, and I’m sorry for what you went through. <3 Loranna Yeah, on reflection, Alison does seem to rely on “brawling” as opposed to actual martial training. Regards to Wonder Woman, I often find myself wishing that artists would depict her fighting style in a manner other than “Like Superman’s and most every other flying brick’s, just with more kicks and use of swords and lassos.” – it feels to me like she’s just playing to Superman’s strengths, or worse, that the comics are implying that skill really doesn’t matter against raw power. But, I don’t know as much about martial arts as i wish I did, so I’m probably not in a position to criticize 🙁 Loranna J4n1 I have a very different read on the situation. It’s not about having power over her, but about not letting her have power over him (as futile as it was, as we see here), there’s a difference. Zac Caslar Actually my first reply is excessively callous, so I’ll make some small concessions here. I get what you’re saying in that mental illness is commonly used as an excuse for criminality. IE clinic bombing isn’t terrorism it’s mental illness given an excuse to express itself. Yes, this is a thing society does. It’s also a transparent evasion of the need to reflect and consider greater things like the tolerance of ignorance reframed as “respecting someone’s faith.” Or gun control, you can pick which you think is more controversial. I get that. And maybe you’ll notice I don’t really sweat overmuch about “societal wisdom.” What “society thinks” is usually more like “what society feels,” and feeling > thinking is a trap. But you get me? That my perspective isn’t about whether or not anyone likes what’s real, but instead to emphasize finding information that can most represent what is real? That’s my bottom line. I don’t give a drek about if Oscar Pistorius was legless unless it informed his murder of his girlfriend. If it did it’s data, and if it didn’t it’s trivia. Society can “think” what it wants. Tylikcat I kind of hate to say it, especially because I don’t think it’s the most interesting option, but just to be thorough: if people are generally getting random powerups, there is a possibility that Patrick has gained the kind of mind control powers he previously lacked. I mean, total cop out from a character development standpoint, but consistent with what we know of the universe. (I’ve been not writing this for a few days now.) Preacher John Yes, sorry, when I said “your” analogy I should have specified that I meant “general use of ‘you'”. Agency of cancer sufferers. Re: Your (“specific your”) question /assertion “How is it not taking agency from cancer sufferers to decide, on their behalf, that it isn’t justifiable to torture 5 people to save them? .. It seems like you’re only counting anything as harm or as a violation if it’s an active rather than a passive choice.” This posits a false dichotomy / forced choice wherein you either actively or passively deprive the 5 victims, or the cancer victims of their agency and lives. Western thought generally sticks to 0 and 1 responses which tends to create a lot of “logic trap” / dilemmas like this^, however Eastern thought has the correct response to this in the Japanese and Korean term “mu”, or Chinese “wu”, which are roughly equivalent to the phrases: “not applicable”, “unask the question”, or “this dilemma is obsolete”, or “the axiom prevents a truthful answer” (i.e. the axiom is incorrect) or “a truthful answer is not available within the (artificially restricted) context of the question”. Specifically: The moral limit of your agency extends to your own life, not the lives of the 5 victims, nor the lives of the cancer victims. One individual does not possess or embody the breadth/depth of POV to extend terminal agency over other (mentally competent adults) and thus does not possess moral agency/authority to make this decision either way. So, it is not that one individual’s decision to make either way, nor is it that one individual’s responsibility. The responsibility actually lies with whatever entity is directly or indirectly with-holding the cure(s) to the ransom of 5 Victims. Argument from Probability: (And here’s where we must start to touch on the practicality of the hypothetical example). If an individual chooses to torture/murder 5 Victims the probability of those 5 Victims death / extinguishing of “qualia” / now and future value is 1.. i.e. this moral wrong / evil is 100% certain. The probability that any one individual suffering from cancer will die is LESS THAN 1 (less than 100%), because “magic box cures” offered in return for cure(S) notwithstanding, there are thousands of people in multiple teams all across the world constantly working towards cures for the various types of cancers all the time, with a lot of very promising work recently. There are breakthroughs being made all the time, and indeed a number of cancers that might have been deadly a few decades ago now have a high cure rate, and even many still deadly ones have already seen sufferers life expectancy extended by months to years. (I spent my early adult life in biological science, have a PhD in biochemistry, and still keep up with developments) Thus: It is entirely conceivable that the murder of the 5 Victims would be an exercise in futility, even in the short term. So what we’re looking at is not actually 5 lives balanced with millions of lives, what we’re looking at is the CERTAINTY of 5 murders versus the UNCERTAIN value of the payoff. So, because it is clear that other variables proliferate plentifully in all such scenarios, and the value of any one person’s qualia is unknowable; where there is any uncertainty in outcome, it is immoral to err on the side of killing (an)other person(s). (Practically speaking: Torturing of course has been shown to have NEGATIVE value (even in a utilitarian sense) where information gained by torture is (unsurprisingly) less likely to be accurate than info from those not tortured. Unsurprising, because the main focus of torture victims will often be to do or say whatever will cause the torture to stop) Stephanie So, first of all, the premise of this hypothetical is that killing 5 people will cure all cancers. So the payoff isn’t uncertain. The payoff is a certainty of curing all cancers. Second of all, even though individual cancer sufferers don’t have a 100% chance of dying, it is an inescapable fact that millions of people (I was wrong about hundreds of thousands, it’s actually millions) do die of cancer every year. The chance that cures to all cancers will be developed by ordinary means and distributed in time to prevent more than 5 people from dying of cancer is so negligible that it’s irrelevant. Any individual one of the cancer-dead people could be the extraordinary person whose possible existence you claim as a reason not to kill the 5; and since the cancer-dead group contains (many) more than 5 people, it’s more likely that the extraordinary person exists among them than that they exist among the 5. Also keep in mind that, for example, 100% * 5 < 5% * 14 million. That's to say, even if there were only (e.g.) a 5% chance of any given cancer patient dying, if 14 million people get cancer (the number of new cases in 2012), 700,000 of them die. That's 700k people's worth of extinguished qualia compared to 5. The completely unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky possibility that they might somehow all live by chance doesn't justify the risk–it's unreasonable to gamble 700k lives to save 5. Third, I'm not following your logic about agency. If the only entity with moral agency in this scenario is the one withholding the cure (assuming that entity even exists), how exactly is it depriving cancer patients of agency to offer them a cure that was obtained by sacrificing 5 people? I think either you can say that the cancer patients are entitled to agency here–in which case the only way they can have agency is if the cure exists and they are able to accept or refuse it for themselves–or you can say that the only agency lies with the one withholding the cure, in which case offering the cure to the patients can’t violate their agency because they never had any. Your original claim that offering them a cure that was obtained by sacrificing 5 people violates their agency doesn’t hold up either way (unless they’re being treated by force, which is not part of the hypothetical). Finally: “The moral limit of your agency extends to your own life.” OK, that’s your premise. It’s not my premise. An argument relying on that premise won’t convince me. MichB Err, Allison… Allison, that’s really not cool. NOT COOL, Allison. We got some serious consent issues here. You’re kind of accosting him and kidnapping him and using force to make him act against his will, and that’s the sort of thing you’d normally frown upon. Allison? ALLI- oh never mind. MichB Whatever title we’re giving her calling her… this is still a baaaaaaaad idea. wiltbloococo “I think it would be cool if the Queen could just mow through her own pieces…” That chess metaphor a few pages back looks really fitting now. Alison’s doing the illegal chess move of mowing down Max here to achieve victory at any cost. It’s a move that “makes sense” in a twisted way; duh, the Queen shouldn’t allow her own “bullshit little dudes” to get in her way! She’s the most powerful piece! So if the interests of Max here interfere with an invincible super-being, well heck, just mark him down as collateral damage. But that’s wrong. As Alison said herself, that’s medieval and not how the game’s played. It’s an illegal move. People have conflicting interests. Leaders learn this the hard way in politics, business, or otherwise. They learn they have to eat shit every day trying to keep different groups of people happy. They learn they can’t start forcing people to do things or they’ll have a bunch of unhappy people on their hands. Alison still resorts to brute force to achieve her goals. How can she expect to lead the world to a better place if she still hasn’t learned the lessons of leadership yet? I can’t begin to imagine what would happen if Alison’s friends, family, or peers would do if they get wind of what happened here. Not to mention the abuse victims she’s trying to help with Valkyrie, who could possibly see Alison’s gross use of language here as eerily similar to their abusers. I hope whoever finds out will only guilt-trip and shame Alison back to the Light Side, and does not intend to ruin all the good Alison’s tried to build. JanetBird Dang, I forgot about the chess game! Good point, I hope the same thing. Sarah I was honestly invoking my understanding of what ‘villain’ means, maybe we don’t have the same (I’m not a native English speaker), I think of ‘villain’ as in comics where it is supposed to be obvious to tell good from evil, and where it’s obvious what the ethical choice should be. I love this comic because it breaks that pattern all the time. I don’t think it has neither heroes (not even Feral) or villains (not even Moonshadow or Patrick). Sarah I’m very intrigued in which ways. Beroli I don’t think he can. I think part of the point of the comic is that Patrick can manipulate her (if he doesn’t shoot himself in the foot), other people she cares about can influence her, but no one but her can actually stop her. This Guy Passing thought: Presuming for the sake of argument that Feral is one of the intended recipients of Max’s abilities, and that the effect of the boost is such that she does not feel pain or is no longer required to donate her own organs 24/7, how angry would she be that Alison had taken away what Feral considered an act of penance without her own consent? Expanding on that, what happens if any of the intended recipients – who, of course, are just as necessary for this plan-we-don’t-know to work as Max, because without powers to boost the whole thing is moot – refuse to consent? Whiskey Jack (Here’s praying that I’ve formatted this correctly…) So… I think it’s safe to say that there have been a few comments on this page. I’m not about to try and insert myself into the debate as to whether or not Alison’s decision is morally defensible, as, clearly, it is for some people and for others it is not. I will say that, while I tend to agree with the group who find this behavior ultimately unjustifiable even if it does work out- I don’t believe in predestination or fate or any of that crap, which means, to me, our actions in the present are what matter- I also think I understand the point Stephanie, in particular, has made over and over again: whether Alison is right or wrong in the objective sense, she can absolutely be subjectively justified in her own mind. Having said that, I will instead address what seems like a more interesting problem, one which has been stated several ways, most of which boil down to this: Alison’s actions have made her irredeemable. Because she has taken an evil action, she has become the villain of the piece and any good that she does from this time forward or that results from these actions will be tainted. I have no doubt that Alison has been wounded by this and, further, that it is her own actions which are making the deepest cuts. Alison cannot go back to what she was before, but that was true long before this page. The thing is, growth is not about going back; it is about going on. If I could draw another parallel, one of my favorite authors of science fiction space opera is Lois McMaster Bujold. Her method for plotting a story, according to her, is to do the worst thing she can imagine to her protagonist, then go from there. Without giving too much in the way of spoilers, should anyone wish to read the series, in Memory, she basically explodes her hero’s life, destroying everything that he thinks he stood for with one monumentally bad series of stupid decisions. In the process of putting his life back in order, he has the following conversation: The bugs sang their soft chorus in the woods, a tiny organic moonlight sonata. “Little man” – Harra’s voice in the dark was as sweet and deadly as maple mead – “my mother killed my daughter. And was judged for it in front of all of Silvy Vale. You think I don’t know what public shame is? Or waste?” “Why d’you think I’m telling all this to you?” Harra was silent for long enough for Lem to pass around the stone jug one last time, in the dim moonlight and shadows. Then she said, “You go on. You just go on. There’s nothing more to it, and there’s no trick to make it easier. You just go on.” “What do you find on the other side? When you go on?” She shrugged. “Your life again. What else?” “Is that a promise?” She picked up a pebble, fingered it, and tossed it into the water. The moon-lines bloomed and danced. “It’s an inevitability. No trick. No choice. You just go on.” This is where I think this arc must, eventually, lead. Or, at least, I hope it does, because it’s one of the most mature approaches to failure I think I’ve ever read. JanetBird Thanks for the lovely comment. It’s a good perspective for this comic, and life in general 🙂 Richard Hughes You should really make Brennan help moderate this thing. When he sows the thunder, why should you be the one to reap the whirlwinds? Magicat Not ‘may’, you have. Or you misunderstood it/were projecting. Lostman Being true to your beliefs is sometimes a bad idea: it funny that Liberals, and progressives (among others) mock libertarians/randians when former share a few some views on something. Along with the hard-line stances each side takes. The funny thing what I find is that each side is willing to go authoritarian if that what it takes: it’s doesn’t take much for a Liberal to become a communist, or an anarchist as were. While same goings for a libertarians becoming a conservative, or a straight out objectivist. If it meant achieving her goals, Alison could easily become a terrorist if she believed it would help. Beroli 1478 comments=Disqus has a ton of glitches. Never attribute to the malice of a human what can be explained by the ineffable malice of Disqus. chaosvii “Would it be okay to enslave 10% of the world” Given my current limited understanding of the present level of economic exploitation that does occur IRL, I’m tempted to suppose that this is a net reduction in slavery like conditions for people throughout the world to make it merely 10%. Like even if it didn’t change anything at all except the number of people enslaved, I’m of the perspective that it would be a boon just for pulling that off, and making life more snazzy for anyone at all would just be icing on the slightly-less-atrocities-in-the-world cake. Not that this meaningfully addresses anything you said, I just wanted to say that if I’m correct about that then I’d feel comfortable laughing about that grim situation. MrSing That is probably sadly true now that I think about it. Big international corporations that value profit above all else are such a joy to everyone in the world :C chaosvii 😀 Izo Hey, giving a good reflection of myself through text has always been a difficult thing for me. People hear me talk and think I’m either angry, or aggressive, or a guy, or defensive, or not understanding something, or they don’t see when I’m stressing something (even when I use capitalization). And when I’m using ‘pausing’ to stress either humor or deep thought, I use points of elipsis ‘…’ – and it doesn’t always seem to click with the other person reading. Kudos to you. a person >creating and incentives structure Oh, fuck yes. Show this asshole how his workers make their god damn choices, the piece of human filth SJ A case could be made that the only reason she isn’t is because she’s smarter than Alison is. Lostman Just barely so… SJ This universe has Patrick, the anti-biodynamic orgs, Feral, the dynamorphs, Moonshadow, Moonshadow’s targets, Daniel, a conspiracy, a government that made 14 year olds into soldier children that fought a superpowered war with supervillains and and your concern is that Alison “doesn’t get away” with intimidating people? Loosely translated: But, what about black on black dynamorph on dynamorph crime, though? Izo I think you’re dating yourself by saying Rikki Lake 🙂 Izo I think you’ve worded this better than I have in any of my overly verbose postings 🙂 SJ http://www.teamvalkyrieftw.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/preach.gif SJ Forget “lawful”… in what sense is what she doing “neutral”? Æþelhad The alignment chart is about the whole of the person, not individual acts. It’s about motivations, too, and here she’s doing a ‘bad’ thing to effect a much larger good, which is essential lawful neutrality. Pythia …One word: Venezuela. “I’m always okay with the use of violence by the oppressed” is freaking insane. The oppressed are not inherently more moral due to being on the short end of a stick. The oppressed will use that violence to oppress the former oppressors and fuck up the economy if they aren’t careful (which, the ones using violence, very frequently aren’t). That’s not to say there shouldn’t be non-violent or even violent protests, or that the use of force against oppression is NEVER justified, or that there shouldn’t be some heads-gotta-roll French Revolution terrors from time to time, but the very idea that because a group is oppressed suddenly they get to be violent and it’s okay is horrifying. SJ But that doesn’t make any sense, either. Unless, like I said somewhere up there, Max can boost her enough to be able to build a “Get out of my Templar contract” device. Because the contract she signed means that the IP rights to anything Paladin builds that can save Countless, Countless Lives™ belong to Patrick. Unless, of course, the next phase of Alison’s plan involve threatening to murder Menace unless he lets Lisa out of her contract? Izo Great post. I’d like to respond point by point, but I agree with you about some of it – mainly the first half until you get to the Max stuff (where I agreed with a few sentences, but had some differences of opinion on others, and a few I flat out totally disagree). 🙂 “Everyone lashes out.” Everybody lashes out. Not everybody lashes out by threatening another person’s life when they have the well-known ability to back up the threat with ease and without repercussion of arrest or being beaten up. “She has been pushed hard and encountered a block and missed opportunities at every turn.” She missed opportunities because of her own deficiencies in being persuasive in words and incentive beyond threats. Not to mention an inability to figure out how to do things without relying on Max’s help, which she ONLY found out about like the day before. Alison wants to be able to help the world without just using her fists. Yet when she can’t figure out how to talk to someone who is of no threat to her or anyone else, she immediately uses her fists like some gang banger brute. To me, it’s out of character to her because she already was supposed to have learned that life lesson back during Feral, and it should have been central in her mind after Gurwara. It’s like she has the memory of a goldfish right now. Max could say something like ‘What was your professor said about you being a tyrant and you saying you werent?’ Btw, that power suit idea would have been an awesome incentive, and one which would give Max something he wanted, in exchange for something she wants. She was not offering an incentive. This is not an incentive – it’s a protection racket – no different than ‘pay me money or I’ll bust up your store’ and smashing a few windows just to drive the point home’ or, like the District Attorney Jack McCoy closing argument I mentioned in another post, ‘Sleep with me or I’ll tell your boss that you’re under investigation for drug trafficking. I’m the DA. He’ll believe me. It’s not true but do you think you’ll still be working at that job in a week?’ “I didn’t say that I have sympathy for her, just that I understood. I also understand that what she is doing is so inherently wrong and it is completely contrary to her being.” If it was someone like Cleaver, or Patrick, I’d understand. For Alison, this is going backwards on the learning curve. But I agree that what she’s doing is inherently wrong and completely contrary to her being. Frustration or not, we’ve all wanted to do stuff like ‘kill your boss’ or ‘break the legs of that guy who closed the elevator door when he saw you coming with packages’ or ‘ram your car into the person who just cut you off’ – but we don’t do it, because we know there are consequences for our actions, and also because most of us are not complete and utter sociopaths or psychopaths and don’t have mentally debilitating anger issues. “She can try to recover and if she does this incident will haunt her for the rest of her life and be something that she makes heavy decisions on in the future.” We’ll see. I hope she’s punished for it. I hope people hate her for it and it becomes public. I hope her friends hate her for it and tell her they hate her for what she did, and she has to earn back their forgiveness through more than just token gestures. I doubt any of that will happen though. “It is a foundation moment.” I honestly thought the Feral thing was the same foundation moment, and she admitted that to Cleaver…. although she was in shock during the hospital incident. Now she doesn’t have that excuse. “It is also a foundation moment with Max. He has never encountered a situation that he wasn’t the top person.” We don’t know that, actually. Being rich doesn’t mean you don’t encounter people who are richer, and being powerful doesn’t mean you don’t encounter people who are more powerful. Well… unless you’re Alison. “He wasn’t in control.” I’m not rich, and I hate to not be in control either. And if someone threatened my life to make me do anything I did not want to do, I’d focus on making them pay for it and face repercussions for what theyr did until they did. The difference is I don’t have to deal with a superhuman threat – I’d just be able to call the cops or sue the person into oblivion. “He didn’t get the toy he wanted a long time ago and saw others have better toys than him.” True. But he’d rather not have any toy than a toy he doesn’t want and won’t use. “This caused a deep resentment and deep feeling of both apathy and feeling of getting back at others in passive aggressive ways. ” I don’t think not getting the powers he wanted made him apathetic. I don’t even think he IS apathetic. He’s just not sympathetic to the things Alison wants just because Alison wants them. He likes being the one to make the choice. I’m not rich or powerful and I like making choices in my life as well – especially ones where there’s risk to myself or my anonymity or well-being. Most people do not want to be ruled absolutely, libertarian or not. For all we know, Max might donate a lot of money to charity. “Now, he gets to be the person that is abused. Abused like he did to others, with out thinking, without care. ” Far as I can see, Max has never abused anyone. The only example I can even see someone trying to argue is that he had the gardeners working late. And that’s not abuse. That’s a contract with an employee to work for a flat fee for the completion of a job, which they both agreed to. He wasn’t whipping them when they slowed down their work, and from what I saw, they didn’t even ask if they could go home early. Not being bosom buddies with the gardeners does not mean he’s abusing them. Have you ever paid a kid $10 to shovel your driveway when they come to the door asking if you want them to do that? Did you bother to learn his or her life story, or see when it takes 2 hours instead of 30 minutes that you should probably pay him or her $40 instead? “Once he gets past his own pain of being freedom raped and emasculated he may see how others are raped in this same manor all the time by employers, friends, government, police, and society at large.” Woah now…. How is paying employees a flat rate anything like raping them? THEY chose to do that. Max is NOT choosing to do what Alison wants, and Alison is forcing him to. TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Max hasn’t emasculated anyone. The closest one could argue was when he told Clevin that a date of dinner and a movie was super lame – and that was an unintentional burn, since he didn’t even know Clevin asked Alison to the movies. I used to work at Best Buy before going to law school, and the job suuuucked. They’d have me come in 30 minutes before the store opened, and I didnt get to get paid for that time at all. I was told it was standard, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to work there. They also made me pay for their stupid blue shirt. $15 for a stupid blue shirt that I can only wear at Best Buy as an employee. I quit the job after 2 weeks. Also I sometimes wear the shirt when I go to Best Buy just to mess with people’s heads. They didn’t force me to work there. They didn’t force me to buy the stupid blue shirt. I agreed to work there, then when I got fed up with them trying to get me to push useless warranties for cables that didn’t need them, and I didn’t like being there so early without getting paid for my time, I quit. And after I quit, they didn’t keep paying me, because that’s how a job works. “We can hope that this turns around fast and they both learn from it before it goes too far.” I consider this a false moral equivalency. Max doesn’t need to learn anything from this encounter except that Alison is a psychopath who becomes violent as soon as she does not get what she wants, and if a superstrong violent psycho asks you to do something, he should ask them if he can think about it and get back to them, then make sure he’s always surrounded by witnesses (preferably including women and children who maybe the superhuman violent psycho won’t kill) and remote cameras that will have the tapes sent to the news media so that if she does try this, at least it will be publicized. Maybe hire a little girl to play the role of his young sister who will look up at Alison with big innocent teary eyes and ask her why the bad woman is hurting his brother who uses his money to fund soup kitchens in the inner city. But I digress. 🙂 There’s no equivalency in Max wanting people to have a real choice in their decisions, and Alison wanting to force Max to do something that he does not want to do, out of the goodness of his heart for altruistic reasons, just because she went the hero route in her youth before having an emotional breakdown on national TV. Amal El-Mohtar HOLY FUCKING SHIT NO ChooseYourFight Hence why little Maxy there can only have one fate, whether he consents or not, now… he has to die. No witnesses, no one to potentially rat her out and ruin her plans. 3-I No, but it’s supposed to remind you that your own ethics come from a limited perspective, shaped by societal expectations and your own fear of reprisal. One that Alison does not necessarily share. MrSing All it does is remind me how small Alison’s capacity for empathy is. I have changed my ethics countless times in my life. I have gone from christian, to atheïst, to agnost. I went from Utilitaritism, to deontologist, to pragmatist, to nihilist, to someone who believes human rights and freedom should be our highest goods. I have switched views between ethical standpoints many, many times and I will probably keep doing this for the rest of my life. There are likely many things I am wrong about now, and when those are pointed out I will try to change myself as I have done before. I have learned that there are good reasons people you can’t understand think how they do. How people on all sides of the argument are still people whose viewpoint we should always consider. The only viewpoint I am not impressed with is that because someone isn’t you and doesn’t have the same powers, hardships, or experiences as you, that somehow that makes their standpoint less. Basically, Alison is being incredibly small minded, and that does not impress me. 3-I Or to put it another way, you’re speaking as someone who is scared shitless of this decision and has never been in a position to make it, so your opinion is really not the end-all be-all absolute truth of the situation. MrSing Wasn’t Ender’s whole deal that he was incredibly empathic and always tried to imagine what other people thought and defeated them by understanding them? It seems to me that Allison is the exact opposite. She has her idea on how to save the world and she can’t empathise with people who have a different idea. She also seems to have no respect for how most people think and barely tries to put herself in their place. Ender solves his problems by thinking and applying force, both physical and by logical arguments, in thoughtful ways. Allison solves her problems by applying brute force. They couldn’t be more different if you ask me. Izo Except he’s NOT the bad guy here. How is he the bad guy? Because he did NOT volunteer to be a hero, and therefore he is a villain, as if the universe only has heroes and villains? No. He’s the unlikable (but not bad) guy. That is not the same. There are more than a few unlikable people in fiction who are nevertheless often correct and NOT the bad guys. Monet St. Croix (Generation X, X-Men, X-Factor – poster child for this) Chase Stein (Runaways) Guy Gardner (Green Lanterns – not always correct but unlikable but good) (Plus when he becomes a red lantern, he actually starts becoming correct a whole lot of the time) Booster Gold (Justice Society of America – surprisingly right a lot, mostly because Skeet has a really extensive database, despite Booster being a pompous jerk – one of the best non-Cadmus JLU episodes was The Greatest Story Never Told) Cyclops (X-Men – total d-bag, but he’s still right a lot of the time) Damian Wayne (aka 5th Robin, hateful, cocky little kid, but ‘right’ a lot) Izo Rape ‘comparisons.’ As in the same mentality for different motivations – both involve forcing another to do something against their will, and relying on being more physically powerful than the other to do it. She even is mocking him as she does it, caling him sweetheart. Honestly, if the gender roles were reversed, people would be worried about Alison getting raped. They were worried about it a few strips ago even, when they were having dinner and numerous people were posting how they were concerned that Max was going to try to take advantage of her sexually and force her to defend herself, etc. Laura Martz Cleaver SJ I mean, to be fair, Max is privileged. He’s going through life on the Lowest Difficulty Setting. But yeah, there seems to be a strong sentiment in some of the comments that that, combined with what appears to be a lack of empathy for the less privileged on his part, means that he deserves what’s happening to him. Pythia So I looked it up, and it isn’t allowed /if and only if there was some restriction on the donation/. Like, if you say “I am donating this to Valkyrie to use to protect abused women” or something, then she wouldn’t be able to do it. I didn’t see any such instructions, so I’d think it was fair game. But if you just give some money to the place it looks like they can do whatever with it (this actually became a court case in Canada where a charity received money with a restriction, asked for the consent of the donnor to redirect the funds elsewhere, /got it/ and then was still not allowed to do it because of the redirecting instructions in question). Stephanie Hm, interesting. I guess then my interpretation of Alison’s actions would depend on whether she was aware of that. Santiago Tórtora The gardeners will be no worse off than before contacting Max. Except for the ICE thing. How does that work? Wouldn’t Max get in trouble for employing illegals? David Gillon They will, however, be worse off than they were 30s before asking for reasonable terms and conditions, which is the only comparison that matters. As for ICE: “I’ve just become aware two of my employees are actually illegals and almost certainly haven’t been declaring their income either”. That’s the problem when all of the power is in one set of hands, there’s an implicit balance of terror – “I know I’m being exploited, but does it outweigh the heap of crap that will fall on me if I try to fight for my rights?” BTDT, and it was one almighty heap of crap. Tylikcat I was a little befuddled there too – I think the strongest argument is in television and movies. I have read all of the ASoIaF so far published, but I haven’t re-read them recently – and honestly, the amount of rape in them didn’t ring huge alarm bells for me, though I have a mental note to keep an eye out for that if I do a re-read. The shows do seem to be a different beast. For me, the essay was mostly useful as a catalyst for some of my own thinking about the mythology of rape and in particular the gendered nature of rape, and how it plays into a lot of the mythology of gender roles. So much of media is this constant droning repetition of “I am the strong man!” “I am the vulnerable woman…” Some much gets ground into dust between those stones. motorfirebox Well, again, it’s not philosophical faffery, it’s breaking problems down into their most basic components. Jon Why don’t you explain the nuanced ethical difference between killing in war, and killing outside a war? Why is it ‘killing’ in your mind in war, and ‘murder’ outside of it? Is a soldier who drops a bomb on a civilian-run factory somehow more moral in his actions than a private citizen who does the same? If in your ethical system calling something a ‘war’ immediately make a cause just and worth killing for, your ethical system scares the hell out of me. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to War on Concepts. Francisco You *are* ignoring his humanity if you say it’s fine for his rights to be violated! The film and the documentary I linked to make good points about psychology. Zac Caslar Oh, that’s fantastic. Suddenly we have common ground based in actual reality. All the thumbs up, mate. And I’m with you on the politicization of profiling instead of just using the data to analyze what is a real, consequential problem. I don’t like things like domestic terrorism being concealed behind mental illness and I sure as hell don’t like to see innocent people blamed for the crimes of a rounding-error minority of their population. I am not afraid of Syrian Refugees. I am afraid of fat crackers with guns. I am goddamn bothered that I live in southwest Washington state and drive by Confederate flags on my trip home. I am concerned that damn near everywhere in the US that’s not a city is becoming The South instead of just being rural wherever. The Urban/Agrarian Divide has been a thing since cities were real, but this specific crystallization is different from that historical division. I’d forgotten about the Shoe Bomber. Right. And I’ll look up Samantha Lewthewaite. Cool, learned something new as well. Thanks for that. Word up. Glad this came to an actually worthwhile conclusion. Pythia I would go with “violence in self-defence is justified provided it is only being used for that purpose and stops being used when it is no longer necessary”. And then if you take on legal and sociopolitical situations that are causing harm to a people in such a way that certain violent acts could be considered mere “self defence”, then they’re justified. Whereas violence just “to hurt” the other people benefiting from this unfair system because “they deserve it” despite having done nothing to create it, instead of to stop the people imposing from imposing it, is just kind of… bullcrap that only creates more pain. Francisco Really? The countless people outweigh the one? OK, so if that leads to one Max being killed, or having his rights violated that’s fine? How about if there are two people that would be able to save others? Still fine? 3? 5? 10? 50? 100? 1000? If you’ve already accepted it for one why not more? There’s 7+ bn people on the planet? So you’re still, potentially, more people that may be saved. When does it become “mass murder”? When does it become a dictatorship? When is it enough for people to quake in fear that they may be next? To paraphrase Dr Ernst Janning when he confesses in the film, does it matter they only knew about the 100s instead of the millions? And after he’s sentenced (the clip I was looking for), he meets one of the Allied judges. He said that when he sentenced (he was a German judge who went along with things so that he was not one of the victims) a person that he knew was innocent to death, he didn’t think it would lead to millions. The allied judge then replies that it lead to the millions the moment he did that. Francisco “‘m pretty sure I’ll be able to restrain myself from committing mass murder.” I thought that we were talking about Alison? Have you violated somebody’s right? Threatened to kill them? Æþelhad How marvelously facile. Æþelhad Innocent of what, exactly? Æþelhad Kinda doesn’t matter. What’s with the Che icon if you don’t like his philosophy, anyway? Æþelhad The Stanford Prison experiment showed it was easy to get college-age straight white boys to torture each other at the behest of a professor. Sampling bias leads to unextrapolatable results. a person If it gets him to help other people when he can then it doesn’t matter is she has to fuck him up. In other words: Yes it totally does justify her taking away his autonomy. Mitchell Lord …Yeaaaaah….Slippery slope? Welcome to the start… Allen Just relax, you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll feel good when it’s over… “Well sweetheart, I was really only asking as a courtesy.” a person But that speaks to the repercussions of her actions, not their morality. It depends on how she handles the aftermath of her actions. Arizona Hurn I’m late to all this drama, but I think this is grade A storytelling. In reality, most good things don’t get done without some sort of “bad” thing. No good protagonist makes you feel nice about them all the time, and I’m glad to see Allison doing something that makes us cringe. I love morally problematic protagonists. Also I was tired of her only kind of losing her temper. I loved how the use of the f-word went up like exponentially. Anyway, moving forward I’m really excited. Thunderstorm Kid Oh. How — human It’s a bit of a — thrill? — being reminded the hero you’re rooting for, hoping to solve all the problems, can feel what you feel; would do what you’d do. A shock — but also a sinking letdown. Like when you stop — believing Stephanie Oh, my mistake, I didn’t realize that the Holocaust was kicked off because German citizens thought slamming one guy’s head into a table was justifiable to save countless lives. Obviously after they did that, they were all like “Well, in that case, we should probably systematically murder millions of people.” That makes sense. Dropping the sarcasm now–believing “it’s acceptable to do small harms to prevent big harms” does not, in any universe, equate to believing “systematically murdering millions of people will prevent a much greater harm.” You might consider saving your holocaust fears for people who actually believe genocide is beneficial.