SFP

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This page features one of our Kickstarter backers who generously donated to get a cameo in the comic – thanks, Bradley!!

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  • Danygalw

    Irony-sickness.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I swear to Christ if Alison’s guilt actually manifests as physical ailment I’m going to put M. Night Shyamalan into a grave just so I can roll his body and call it an ironic twist

      • StClair

        Maybe we’ll get a scene where she has to fight herself in a junkyard.

        • Arkone Axon

          No, no, no… I want a scene where she has to fight Christopher Reeve. Who fights her while pointing out all the ways in which she done goofed.

          • Izo

            I think Alison would have a major advantage against a parapalegic zombie.

            … too soon?

        • Weatherheight

          Bruce Willis punches ineffectually at Alison, while Alison punches ineffectually at Bruce Willis, while Samuel L. Jackson laughs maniacally and keeps telling Alison why her existence justifies everything SLJ has ever done.

          And then a little kid comes in and tells them none of them are real.

          “Want to know the rest? Hey – buy the rights…”

      • Stephanie

        It’s time for an angst coma! This is bringing back memories of ATLA.

      • Izo
    • MrSing

      Ironically, Irony-sickness is actually cause by an iron deficiënt.

  • Ellie K

    There’s no way Max isn’t gonna rat her out of spite though

    • Jonathon Side

      He’d be ratting himself though.

    • Preacher John

      It’s Max that wants to stay anonymous..

    • Max can’t hit back, that’s the seductive beauty of her plan. Max thinks his survival depends on no one knowing he exists. Anything he says to hit back at Alison compromises his own safety.

      • J4n1

        It is possible for Max to decide that, as his life is no longer his own, he cares more about hurting Alison than he does about safety.
        Unlikely, but i would not see it being unreasonable development.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          I wouldn’t expect that until Max forces him to use his power at least a couple more times. If Max can think that this was a one-time thing and he’ll never have to worry about Alison again, he won’t do anything. But if she stops by every few weeks or months to fix another problem…

          • Izo

            Alison did tell her she was going to do it again if she wanted to for any reason. Because she’s stronger and he can’t stop her.

          • Danygalw

            …because it was true, and it’d be worse to lie to him, even comfortingly.

          • Izo

            Annnd….. the fact that she isn’t lying about how she will come back to do whatever she wants to him, whenever she wants is supposed to make me sympathetic in any way to Alison, or not make me want to have Max be able to stop her? Is the fact that an abusive husband tells his abused wife that he can beat or even kill her if she doesn’t make him dinner every evening mean I should suddenly be angry with the wife when that abused, victimized wife finally gets a gun and shoots him in the head the next time he tries to give her a black eye for burning the roast?

          • Danygalw

            ……
            …no.
            It does not.
            And that isn’t a fitting analogy.

          • Izo

            Yes. It does. And it’s an INCREDIBLY fitting analogy.

          • Sam

            Allison very literally, with no embellishment whatsoever, physically assaulted her ex-boyfriend and threatened him with death. Comparing her to another domestic abuser strikes me as a pretty solid metaphor.

          • Danygalw

            “make me dinner” and “solve organ transplant-shortage globally” are not

        • KatherineMW

          “Give me liberty or give me death!” Pretty longstanding concept in American culture.

    • notquiteotaku

      He can’t. The minute he goes public with this, his life is pretty much over. Whatever trouble Alison might get into would be piddling in comparison.

      First of all, he’d be a social pariah. Think of J. Bruce Ismay after surviving the Titanic, but on an even larger scale. Sure, there would be people who’d come to his defense and condemn Alison for forcing him, but a huge number of people would point at the Feral situation and scream “Yeah, but why in the hell didn’t this little asshole help in the first place?! He LET all these people die! Hell, he’s STILL letting people die!” Any friends he has who possess stronger moral fiber would probably ditch him. Heck, even friends who agree with him would probably ditch him to avoid association.

      Max would probably inadvertently make it worse by revealing his more…Randian views during an interview or something in an attempt to justify his actions. He’d be an overnight figure of hate.

      That’s not even getting into the physical risks to his safety. Some grieving person who has recently lost a loved one due to not getting an organ transplant could get it in their head that Max is to blame and go after him. He’d risk kidnapping or assault from other people who might want to make use of his ability. He risks being pressed into service by the government or by the conspiracy.

      Then there’s his mother. She’s a congresswoman who used her political clout to keep Max from getting roped in with the other biodynamics. What happens to her? If she’s still in politics, her career is over and she’s also potentially looking at jail time for keeping an unregistered biodynamic hidden. Max might be willing to risk himself to hurt Alison, but would he be willing to risk his mother?

      Max doesn’t really have any good options at this point.

      • Arkone Axon

        And the sad thing is that you’re right – people would all rush to condemn him for not using his powers in the first place. Never mind that the original decision to stay in hiding was his MOTHER’S, not his own, and that the first biodynamic to learn about his powers immediately validated all of their fears right then and there.

        He didn’t do anything except… not give a large number of people what they want. And so absolutely zero empathy is being extended to him. Basically this amounts to a sort of gang-mugging, where everyone is agreeing to condemn the victim to justify it. “He wouldn’t do it willingly! He doesn’t deserve any rights! Let’s throw him in prison and force him to do it!”

        • Stephanie

          “What they want” being to not die slowly and painfully. You don’t have to believe that they were entitled to that, but at least acknowledge what was actually being asked of Max here. He didn’t do anything except…refuse to save a large number of people from slow, painful deaths.

          • Arkone Axon

            I do acknowledge what was being asked of him. Can you acknowledge the price he was being asked to pay – that of second-guessing his mother’s opinion that he should keep his powers hidden, and thusly exposing himself to every biodynamic who realizes his potential and then decides his desires, needs, and welfare are less important than their own goals?

          • Stephanie

            I acknowledge that. I don’t think it outweighs saving potentially millions of people from painful deaths.

          • Arkone Axon

            Which is the point. YOU think it doesn’t outweigh the potential benefits. Max disagreed. And rather than address his concerns or acknowledge his freedom of choice as a fellow person, Alison chose to reduce him to a commodity.

            I’m not objecting to the potential benefits… but there are going to be long term consequences, and they’re going to be even worse because Alison chose literally the worst possible method to achieve her goals. And no, she can’t say “I did what I had to,” because it’s painfully clear that she WANTED to do it. She wasn’t even trying to find a more conciliatory deal; she already disliked him, she’s been looking for a way to use violence to solve a problem, and she rationalized doing so.

          • Stephanie

            Max’s freedom of choice is of value and it is harmful and wrong for it to be compromised. But those people dying of organ failure had no choice–until Alison gave them one.

            I definitely agree that there will be long-term consequences as a result of Alison using violent coercion to accomplish this. It was unwise of her not to at least try other strategies besides “go personally ask this of the guy I just fell out with, then immediately lose my temper and insult him.” As much as it disgusts me that Max would even consider demanding compensation for something like this, it still would have been worth it to eat a little dirt and at least ask him if there was anything he would accept in trade. A cooperative Max would be much more useful in the future, for the purpose of saving lives, than an antagonistic Max; so if there was some way to convince him using a reasonable avenue that Alison didn’t explore, then people may die needlessly because she jumped the gun on the violent approach.

            So Alison’s actions, in my eyes, were not optimal. However, I still believe that they were justifiable for the purpose of saving potentially millions of lives.

          • Arkone Axon

            He didn’t actually demand compensation. He specifically said “No. Because this will put me in danger, it will put my family in danger, and because I don’t like you.”

            And people have pointed out how this “fix” could lead to all sorts of new complications and problems. I can’t help but think of the people who are genuinely, passionately, tearfully (as in, they cry when they think of all the people who are okay with infanticide) desperate to ban abortion and force women to give birth to these poor, innocent babies, all logic and alternatives and discussions be damned. They genuinely believe that a developing fetus is as good as a live baby, and therefore that it is not only permissible to use violence (be it physical violence or just the more nuanced violence of laws enforced by armed police officers) to save those babies, but that NOT doing so is a morally bankrupt decision.

            Remember: in the 90s the U.S. sent food shipments to starving African nations. Turns out that didn’t help. Alison might not have achieved a good thing after all.

          • Stephanie

            He didn’t demand compensation, true, that was confusing phrasing on my part. What I meant to say is that the idea of offering him a trade disgusts me, because if a trade what it takes to get him to do it, then he’s an asshole and it would feel demeaning to entertain assholery to that extent; but I would offer him a trade anyway, because the stakes are too high to put my pride ahead of the goal.

            I think it would be reasonable for a person to hesitate to do something with world-changing impact for fear of accidentally making things worse. That’s a totally different kind of reservation than “I don’t feel like it” or “I want my palms greased first.” If Max had, in good faith, demanded more information before he’d consider helping, I would have been on his side.

      • Ellie K

        He could convince his mom to use underhanded tactics to hurt Alison indirectly though. I don’t think Max is smart enough to come up with something like that on his own, but we’ve seen that his Mom is . If her kid whines about it enough, she might be pushed to act…

        • notquiteotaku

          Yes, he could absolutely resort to going after her quietly, but he’s screwed in terms of reporting her to the authorities.

  • Yirtimd2

    So she gave part of her powers to Feral and it made her weak and ill?

    • Preacher John

      Nope. Did you not read this chapter? You should it’s a good one! 🙂

      • Yirtimd2

        So why she is hurking?

        • weedgoku

          You should probably read the previous few pages.

        • JohnReinhardt

          Emotional distress & guilt. Because she forced “jerk face” against his will.

      • zellgato

        ?? That is how it looks like though. that she made max take part of her “power” or “oomph” and transferred it to Feral making her power more “oomphy” for lack of a better term.
        even flying max back looked a bit weird and jagged.
        and she’s never gotten sick even remotely before… because of her little field of neigh invcibility.
        she’s never had a need to develop many antibodies, also explains why she is much more pale than her parents as well.

        • Stephanie

          Nah, Max’s ability is to amplify powers. Alison can just fly and punch stuff and not die from being punched by stuff. Her power didn’t enter into the Feral-boost at all. She’s throwing up because she feels guilty, which is understandable even though I don’t think she deserves to feel this guilty.

  • zellgato

    Oh. I get it.
    She transferred her “oomph” to Feral.
    that makes soooo much more sense than a freeby power up.

    Gosh its gonna be bad when the next vililan shows up.
    AH. DAMN. THAT REALLY COULD HELP THAT MCKNIVES fellow.

    also which character is bradly?

    • bryan rasmussen

      that could be it really, in which case it comes back to Patrick. But I think it is more likely she had a nauseated reaction to what she sees as her current state of immorality.

      The idea that max can transfer bits of power is interesting, but if that is the twist it seems problematic as it implies all the powers are in fact just manifestations of energy in some way, and what Max can do is transfer one person’s level of energy to another.

      Also if she was made less ‘oomphy’, well she was still flying which she couldn’t do some months ago, and carrying Max. So it seems to me not very likely that her vomiting has to do with being so weak now that she can actually get sick.

      • zellgato

        mm. yeah justa vomit is hard to tell. She did just change her alignment effecxtively speaking.

        On the power bit. I don’t think its cumulative style energy transfer, where you can just take 100 nobies and make 1 strong person.
        I was thinking it was more a capacity amount. You can just switch them.
        Allison got Feral’s old capiciity–nothing to laugh at power wise. but nothing compared to what she was.
        Which would also explain why Max hasn’t been heavily abused (by gov, or an org, or taken by a foriegn power. There is no way he isn’t well known a week after being tagged by the governmental registration thingy Allison read. nothing beuracratic is secret. not even batman’s secret identy)

        On her flight back, it looked more woobly and her expressions have gotten sicker. She never had to deal with sickness before-because of her peresonal sheild bubble aroudn her skin thingy (the thing that turned off and she broke her arm) So her antibodies would be pretty crappy honestly speaking. She could only toggle several powers before. its entirely possible (if she is reduced) she can only toggle even fewer now. So she was using str and flight for the trip-which exposed her to many things on the way and at the hospital.
        The flight bit was a growth of her body, but was also pretty mental related too. So i’m not convienced she’d lose it if she lost some “oomph” just her specs would be lower from less power.

        granted when vomiting she was saying she was fine. So its probably emotional.

        I just think a free powerup from Max makes a lot of setting cofnlicts.

        Plus I just like that plot point, “give up power for the masses” because Feral can help more people than she ever could. So even if she has less power now, or even dies, she’s doing thje world better in a non combative way.

        • bryan rasmussen

          it’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think it makes any sense, since if it were true then the last conversation between her and Max wouldn’t have been about her coming back to do it again whenever she felt like, but more like ‘well you may have done it this once, but look at you, you sure won’t be able to handle this too many more times – good luck to you in your future endeavors SubMega-Girl.’ – hmm or maybe he would call her kilo-girl, but that seems wrong.

          • zellgato

            I had thought of that. But I doubt she’d remotely show him her weakness. She’s pretty good at “scarying” with her power level. if Max can’t tell how much “oomph” someone has, then she could flaunt “yeah you took more power than you’ve ever seen but I still have a near full tank. her saying that to him felt more like a “you will never betray me cause i’m stronger” kind of statement.

            though it probably isn’t a transfer effect of course.
            also Kilo-girl is a fun pun for her Dictator nickname. Like if she went full tilt evil for the sake of good. Pun on having “weight to change the world” and “kill”

          • bryan rasmussen

            Well I guess we’ll find out but I still don’t think their conversation would have made any sense, furthermore if that was Max’s power to transfer energy between people then it follows that he would be pretty useful to have in a fight situation between teams. I mean it is potentially even more powerful.

            Can he transfer power to himself?

            Finally it just opens all sorts of issues regarding how powers work in this world if Max doesn’t augment but transfers power between people with powers that are not at all alike, and I don’t think that would be the way the narrative should go, so I’m thinking it’s pretty unlikely it will be this scenario.

          • zellgato

            Yeah. I really wanna know more about max’s power than most other random info drops we’ve had.
            Even if he augments it opens up a lot of problems. So it just depends what kind of can of worms this event opened up. So many different pathways. Though Alison might not get involved in any of them and they could be going on in the background…

            Also! Thanks! These boards have the nicests discussions on the anon internet. Its great to have a nice discussion

    • We’ve had no indication Max’s power depends on anyone else, everything that’s been said about it indicates it’s just an amplifier.

      On the other hand, Alison has just violated everything she stood for and victimised someone who couldn’t fight back and daren’t speak out. The reality of that, in comparison to what she claims to stand for in creating Valkyrie, is enough to make anyone sick.

      (Technically stress is triggering the flight or fight reaction in her body and her throwing up is part of that).

      • zellgato

        Could be easily just a free power up.
        I smply can’t believe it was that easy though. Both story wise, and her arc wise. Story wise.. I can not believe max hasn’t been taken by a government, or by a foriegn power, or by a villian who heard about him. If there is one certain thing about life its.. Nothing buracratic is fully secret. There is no way that such a convient power hasn’t been abused before. Granted maybe it was, maybe that is why he is such a control freak because he is forced to power up under an orgs command.
        on her character arc. I agree she’s on the slope to being a tyrant, and i can sorta see her forcing max for the sake of feral. Although I’m not sure if it would’ve been so impulsive. she does however love being a martyr type. I can see her “sacrifice” being used to convince herself its ok to force max, because she was paying a price. Not saying she couldn’t just be justifying it in some other way. Just that is somethingi could see in her character well.
        Its also in her character to emotionally crumble a bit like you were saying.

        For me, It just comes down to Max. It is like Superman. having such a convient all encompassing power.. there is no way it can’t cause story issues. Either in the form of “why hasn’t he ben abused” or “opens up a whole nesting of insanity to deal with the folks who were abusing his power” If it was a power transfer effect-the stronger the effect the stronger a magnification. Then it would explain away all the issues. No one’s power is nearly as powerful as Allison’s. So the idea of abusing his power would be greatly lessened if there weren’t any good batteries. It would only leave the potential issue of “why not transfer 100 weak guys to one strong guy”

        Not sure where to put this bit but. Also I think the bit about her saying its not something they can do again-also implies it had a heavy cost (i suppose her or max. but i’m still saying her). Because of how many people she’s now helped (both her best friend and countless strangers at a much faster rate than feral could alone) I think she would have paused to consider making max do it again for a strong enough reason. But she shut it down isntantely. Could be guilt, but if it was just guilt I still think she would have paused. But that is just my impression of her personality.

        Yeah while nothing has up and said directly about Allison’s power level right now.. But there is physical bits that can imply it. Granted they easily imply her mental state being in disorder. so its a wash there. (her flying being wobbly, her looking sick, and being flusehd etc)

        I’m pretty interested in how it’ll go. Freebee power. Had some cost not revealed. Or a oomph transfer sorta thing. Or something entirely different
        Either way Max’s power existance heavily alters the setting

    • Weatherheight

      Brad is Sonar’s given name.
      Sonar is the bat-faced person with sonic powers.

      Oh, you mean the Kickstarter person. 😀
      Either Doctor Walden or the guy in the first panel.

    • Richard Griffith

      If Max could de-power biodynamics I am pretty sure he would have taken all of Alison’s powers.

      • Izo

        Admittedly, there’s the possibility that Max doesn’t KNOW he can do that. If his powers have augmented like everyone else’s have. But I do find it unlikely.

      • zellgato

        Certainly a good point~ Though work around able depending on how far down the rabbit hole Alison’s gone. (which would add a dynamic to her vomiting i’d like)
        can’t wait to see~

  • crazy j

    You mean to tell me that Allison never reflected on what she was doing? She had that entire flight both to and from Max’s house to go over in her mind what she did. Allison should not be reacting this way, by now she should have come to terms with her decision.

    Allison feeling bad about how she went about her plans just strikes me as an attempt to make the protagonist more sympathetic.

    • Sendaz

      Well two possibilities:
      a) Reeeaaaaly greasy burger that she snagged for herself on the flight over to Feral.
      Feral’s system can handle booze and bad burgers, Alison’s not so much. 😉

      b) She’s still human and while she is pretty sure her decision was the lesser of two evils, she probably still feels a bit bad for doing it, she is not totally heartless afterall. Not unlike how a solider can call down an airstrike on an enemy position and still feel regret for the lives lost because he had to make the decision.
      Plus now there are more steps involved.
      Sure Feral is now cranking out organs faster, but to really get them out to the world means haggling with governments, finding betters transports–maybe even getting some teleporters, getting more or faster docs, etc.. PLUS we still don’t know if the boost is permanent or will require occasional Re-Maxing™ to keep it going. What Alison might have thought as a one-punch solution is fast becoming bogged down with additional stuff.
      The Doc asking for her to consider using the procedure for other biodynamics was just the cherry on top of the Stress Sundae she has served herself.

      • Nathanaël François

        I think it was the irony of “I can’t force you” that really pushed it.

        If I were Al I’d just say to the doctor that there was a very real cost to it, inflicted on other people, and that while the urgency of the Feral situation warranted it generalizing it would be ethically compromising.

        • bta

          But then there’d be a real chance he would really want to know the specifics. We don’t know if he’s the kind of person to look a gift horse in the mouth. Hell, for all I know deontology would require it.

          • llennhoff

            Now I really want to see Dr. Deontology as a character.

          • bta

            -At last, Doc, you’re going to jail!
            -Sorry, Internet Comment Man, I haven’t actually broken any law! Your assumptions about what is and isn’t legal in my line of work, gleaned from pop culture, have misled you once again! In fact, it is your own vigilante amateurism that the law will condemn!

            -Damn you, Deontology!

            -Muahahahahah!

        • Sendaz

          Yeah, that comment probably was the final straw.
          Plus nice cover story to deflect the doc with.
          Have you considered a career in Super PR? 🙂

          • Nathanaël François

            Well it’s not really a cover story so much as a way to satisfy immediate questions AND give a valid excuse for not answering further questions. Admittedly Al already has that excuse, but the doctor might be more likely to get off her case if he feels he knows something most people don’t.

        • Cyrano111

          Except, of course, we don’t know what those other exciting opportunities are. Perhaps the circumstances provide the possibility of an equally good payoff. Perhaps even a better one, if Alison had done a little research first, rather than jumping at the first moment to help her friend.

    • “I’m going to do this. I have to do this. If I don’t do this all those people will die. If I don’t do this they’re going to keep on cutting Tara up.”

      “Oh, shit. I did it.”

      As a species we’re very good at looking at only the parts of the problem that suit our needs. Until afterwards. And then, as a species, we’re really good at brooding about stuff.”

      If you really believe someone can violate everything they stand for and be okay with it in a few hours, then you have quite an unusual view of humankind.

      • AveryAves

        Well ethics isn’t all axioms though
        The classic example is like, thou shalt not kill (on a personal level, not a religious one)
        But when your life is in danger, maybe others lives are in danger from one person…well.

        If Allison had actually put Patrick in a considerable amount of danger or tortured him or…it’d be different, because at the moment she’s hurt him a bit (probably on the level of being punched/kicked a couple of times by a regular person) and harmed his ego (barely), in the face of him not caring about the deaths of hundreds in favour of his spite towards Allison for challenging his rich boy attitude.

        • She abused someone. It might not have caused lasting damage, we can’t tell that yet, but she kidnapped and abused someone weaker than her.

          It’s like being a little bit pregnant. If you stand against abuse, and then you abuse someone, there’s going to be a personal price to pay.

          • AveryAves

            My brain can’t figure out what the pregnancy metaphor is about, but I get what you mean.
            I’m still of the mind that the “Greater Good” (yes, I know, I know) is so completely outweighing the bad, like. There’s a ridiculous gap between “Physically harm a person ” and “Save thousands of lives, save a person from a literal lifetime of torture”
            To exasperate the issue the only harm that would have come from Patrick agreeing (you know, to save thousands of lives) would be he would have to put aside his personal spite for Allison (rightfully) telling him he’s an asshole earlier.

            I agree there is a possibility there could have been a bigger impact on Patrick but like…I can’t say I don’t care but I’m still weighing down on Patrick can afford shit to help that, but other people can’t afford to get organs out of nowhere, or the far more harmful emotional impact of having a loved one die.

          • (If think you mean Max)

            As for pregnancy, it’s an either you are or you aren’t, just like you’re either an abuser, or you aren’t.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Genuine question:

            What if Max didn’t exist and Tara wanted out because the pain was too much too bear, would you change your mind and say that just one life of endless torment isn’t worth countless, countless lives?
            I figure people would feel a lot different in these comment section if Alison forced Tara to keep on, and not Max.

          • Sendaz

            That is the rub. We did mention in one of the previous days what if Alison had decided Feral should be an organ donor before Feral got around to deciding to.
            Of course I also felt the docs should have been better able to find a way to make it relatively painless or a lot less than it is.
            But yeah, would be interesting to hear from others how they would have felt if Feral hadn’t been given the original choice.

          • KatherineMW

            Yes, Feral should have a choice. We’re dealing with a spectrum here, not absolutes. The fact that Max’s action required minimal time, effort, or danger, for a huge and permanent benefit, is why I think the good of Allison’s decision ultimately outweighs the bad. An hour of time and a minute of effort are very different fro being subjected to permanent torment.

            If Allison was forcing Max into serious danger, or if she was forcing him into a lifelong or long-term effort (e.g., he had to by physically present during all the time Feral was donating organs), I would believe that the bad outweighed the good, even if it was still saving thousands of people at the cost of harming one. I don’t believe in strict consequentialism or utilitarianism.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t believe it’s possible to establish such a scale that doesn’t give basically all the power to the people who enforce it to oppress others.

          • AveryAves

            Yeah, I know. But that’s my point. Here we have Tara taking permanent torture to save thousands of lives. The only downside to Max is that his ego might be hurt, that he might have to put aside a little personal spite for Allison to save millions of lives.
            Regardless, Tara is volunteering (I was gonna end it there but) to take literal torture to save thousands, Max is refusing to take aside his ego to save millions.

            I can’t put a value on “Is it worth putting someone in permanent torture to save thousands of lives?”. I would probably say yes from an objective standpoint. But I’m not objective, I’m a human and I probably wouldn’t be able to make that decision either way. I’d probably be swayed to the side I’m personally biased towards (am I friends with Tara or a person in need of an organ).

        • Sendaz

          Plus she did all that to Max, not Patrick unless you counting the vase throwing incident.

          • AveryAves

            Holy shit I kept on saying Patrick woops better go fix that

          • spriteless

            She lost her temper with Patrick. She used her temper with Max. Girl needs to get some roleplay therapy or something to create an out when people push her justice buttons.

        • Cyrano111

          If “well…” is meant to imply that a person who only kills because their own life was in danger would be ok with it afterward, you are probably mistaken. Police officers who have been forced to kill people, truckers who have hit someone in circumstances where they were entirely blameless, and so on, frequently report enormous feelings of guilt afterward.

          Being “in the right” doesn’t help when one has violated such a fundamental moral principle. And in the circumstances here, Alison has at best conflicted feelings about whether she was “in the right”.

    • Dafydd Carmichael

      I think it is more that she had rationalised it to herself that it was a one off thing, never to be repeated, and now the doctor is pressuring her to maybe find a way to do it to other people. I think the enormity of her actions is beginning to sink in as a result.

      • Dwight Williams

        First the expected-by-the-doctors issues with international law complicating her actions’ consequences and now this…

    • Izo

      And a shallow attempt at that.

  • Yep, there’s that guilt the story isn’t showing.

    In technicolour.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      So rage enpowers her to the point she develops new abilities, guilt depowers her (or makes her able to materialize trashcans)…

      I wonder what absolute fear does.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Eh…Allison throwing up when someone asks if she can do it again isn’t exactly how I would have expected the guilt to be showed. And if I’m perfectly blunt, it’s not enough on its own.

      • No, it’s not nearly enough, but it does confirm the guilt is eating away at Alison.

  • StClair

    “Yes, you may have told yourself it was just this once, but there are many other opportunities, many other ways and reasons to compromise your ethics!”

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      “Actually, just in that other room we have a lab with a biodynamic individual whose ability is to create stem cells, but it only works one day a month. A shame you weren’t able to help him! The results would have not only greatly surpassed even the recent development of Ms. Cooper’s abilities to the point that her participion would have become superfluous, but moreover helped in the cure of countless other diseases and secured decades of future medical research I can’t even imagine in my wildest dreams.

      Oh well.”

      • Stephanie

        See, that’s why she should at least hear him out!

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          That should be her burden, yes. “You get to hear all the help you’re currently not providing by wasting your time feeling guilt about choices nobody forced you to make, and I’m not stopping until each venue is properly explored.”

          • Stephanie

            I’m all for it, honestly. Willful ignorance on her part won’t erase the suffering of the people she could help.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Then again, we come back to the fact that any amount of time she spends at the university or sleeping or dating or anything is time she’s not using her powers to provide free energy to countless benefit.

          • Stephanie

            Yep. I think it’s wise of her to invest time in figuring shit out so that she can apply her power in the most useful way, but the way she’s going about it is inefficient.

            Granted, I’m not sure there’s anything she can do that’s more useful than making Max boost people until she runs out of beneficial targets to boost. Barring that, In her position I think I would have just organized a think tank out of all the experts she has access to and had them put together a plan of action while I audited a full load of philosophy courses.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Somehow I feel that even that is below her. Anyone stronger suited that Max can take him around and force him to do things, you don’t necessarily need the strongest person there is.

            Alison’s input here doesn’t seem warranted, she’s not renowned for being smart. Ask Lisa to create a power generator contraption that fits her and leave her there for eternity. Any second not pedaling on the electric bike is children dying of starvation.

          • Scott

            Okay, I’m getting a little confused at this point. By show of hands, who thinks Allison did the right thing by forcing a spoiled brat to step up and save millions of lives?
            Okay, now who thinks she did the wrong thing by violently violating the free will of another human being, thereby undermining the principles of individual freedom that we consider a central tenant of our humanity?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Totally against what Alison did.

          • Mechwarrior

            Absolutely against

          • Psile

            /raises hand twice.
            Alison chose the lesser of two evils. Both are wrong, but in my opinion one is less wrong.

          • Scott

            I don’t know if I agree that Allison chose the lesser of two evils. The fact that this comic does ground itself in supernatural circumstances comes into play here. On one hand, by coercing Max into saving Feral she has allowed millions of people to have access to needed transplants while Feral can live a somewhat normal life. However, she has only accomplished this by resorting to physical violence and threat of further violence in order to force someone to act against their will. If, on the other hand, she had not acted then many people would still have access to transplants from Feral as well as from regular donors and Feral would still be living a life that, though unfortunate, she had chosen.

            It’s not Allison’s actions in this scenario that I object to, it’s the larger implication of those actions. As we already see in this page, Allison is having to come to grips with the idea that she has committed, what I would consider, an atrocious violation of another’s personal liberty in order to serve “the greater good”. Yet, if she were only willing to do the same thing again, there is so much more good that she could accomplish. Where does this cycle stop? At what point do the ends no longer justify the means? Who gets to make that call? Is it Allison? Are we letting the final arbiter of morality be a college student who can’t even make it through a philosophy class without bursting into a fit of rage?

            I want to make it clear, I don’t think Allison is a bad person. I think she wants to do the right thing and wants to make the world a better place. But, as the saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

          • Psile

            It stops where Alison dictates that it stops. She is an human with the ability to make her own moral decisions on a case by case basis. The fact that she feels remorse is a clear indication that this is not a choice she is happy with. I don’t know if you can make decisions based on the idea of “Yes, but what if this decision makes me decide something bad in the future”. While each decision does not exist in a vacuum in the sense that it might have domino effects, it does exist in a moral vacuum. What you’ve decided previously affects your process as much as you let it.

            This gets a bit personal for me, truthfully. I used to have a much different moral center than I do now. It was based largely on ignorance and listening to the rigid moral guidelines as they were presented to me. That didn’t change until I forced it to change, until I examined my decision making process compared it with the world and came to my own conclusion that things just didn’t add up. Slippery slope rationalizations were a huge dictating factor in my previous mindset. “Well, first it’s masturbation and then you just remove all the sanctity from sex and you’re just rolling in an STD filled orgy.” That kind of thing. So I don’t like the notion of basing decisions now on what kind of decisions you might make in the future. Worry about the current problem, and when the next decision comes along worry about that one. Realistically, each decision is it’s own. We’re more capable of moral nuance than we give ourselves credit for. That’s how I see it, anyway.

          • MrSing

            I respect your viewpoint and that you have critically thought about your own ethical system and found one you agree with and the mistrust of slipery slope arguments that it brought you, but I believe that in the case of someone with near absolute power taking autonomy away from a person for whatever reason is an appropiate situation for bringing up the slippery slope.

            My (and I assume your) society has given humans certain inalienable rights that can not be violated unless that person is responsible for violating another person’s rights. This system is made to be this way for a very good reason.

            In so many cases in the past where a person or a group of people had near absolute authority, and did not value these human rights, things tended to quickly go out of hand and atrocities happen. We see it happen on a small scale with gangs terrorizing people and on a large scale with corperations and goverments exploiting people.

            This is human behavior that has been observed in several very different societies in the entire history of the human race. Power corrupts. Violating a right invalidates that right.

            Whether you agree with what Alison did or not, I will not condemn you for it. But it is a very real and very human thing to escalate this kind of behavior when you are as untouchable as Alison is.

          • Psile

            I’ve always wondered if the power corrupts model applies in a case like Alison’s. Here is why. It begs the question ‘does power corrupt, or do we have a system where only the corrupt can gain power?’ I would argue that anyone who gets to a point of having significant power over others is morally compromised to a certain degree. It requires a certain amount of self-prioritization to achieve levels of success equivalent to the power that Alison was just born with.

            Also I don’t know that you are correct about certain rights being untouchable. In America, where I live, we consider freedom of speech to be possibly our most important right. However, you are not free to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater or to publicly slander someone. There are other examples of exceptions to certain rights but most people generally agree that free speech is a good right, but if you falsely incite a riot where people die then that is not covered by free speech. I am not an expert on international law, but I presume that most countries who have rights operate similarly.

            So I take exception with the concept that power corrupts in this instance, and that personal rights must be sacrosanct in order to be meaningful or provide personal security.

            However, I appreciate your respectful manner and strive to extend the same courtesy.

          • MrSing

            Regarding the “shouting fire in a crowd”. By doing this you are actively endangering other people. That is, taking away their right to safety from harm. When your right to free speech takes away the right of another person, it is acceptable to punish you for it.

            That’s what I meant when I said your rights can only be overwritten when you are using them to violate another person’s rights.

            Regarding the “power corrupts”. In history there are plenty of examples of people being born into absolute power, or born with a lot of wealth, that turn into very nasty people.

            It is true that this is not a strict general rule. There are plenty of rich people and kings and queens that were very decent people. But for the largest part the people who were not born noble were exploited terribly and starving in the fields or dying in the mines in absolute poverty.

            When we look at history we can see that the rich, powerful elite very often came at the cost of a very large poor working class. And these people were quite often born into power.

            We also see this case in slavery, prison guards, POW guards, etc. Where people with absolute power over another person very often employ cruelty almost naturally. Even if they haven’t struggled or backstabbed much or at all to get into that position.

            When a human has so much power over another person it is quite sadly very usual for them to become cruel.

            For a person with as much power as Alison I think it is reasonable to hold her to an exceptional standard. Since if she goes “over the edge of the slope” the consequences could be incredibly terrible.

            I also thank you for being polite and respectful.

          • Psile

            Yes, and I would argue that Max’s inaction has an effect profound enough to be applicable. He is silently condemning thousands to die, which robs them of their rights.

            As far as power corrupting your are correct that people who are given power without having to pay a moral price can be corrupted by it. I still think that there is a systemic element to it, but Alison is part of the same system to she would be just as vulnerable as anyone.

            Which brings us to the concept of moral decline. I don’t know that it is realistic to hold her to an ‘exceptional’ standard. Also, I don’t think that this decision means she is sliding down the slope towards Stalinism. Let’s say that it is, and that her choice here dictates her future choices. consider this:

            Everyone is very concerned with Alison the Dictator. No one seems that concerned about Alison the Apathetic. Everyone is concerned about what would happen if Alison suddenly started valuing her personal opinion over the personal freedom of others, but what about what happens if she starts valuing personal freedom over the sanctity of human life. Suddenly mass death becomes an acceptable price to pay as long as people are free. After all, if Max is free to just let thousands of people die because he wants to be left alone why shouldn’t she be? Next time Cleaver escapes, it’s not her problem. Super-War with China? Not her responsibility. She just wants to spend what time she has left with her father, and who can fault her for that? Let some other people save the world for a change.

            That is the problem with slippery slope arguments. You don’t actually know where the slope is going and you have to apply it to both sides. You can’t predict how anyone will behave in the future, including yourself. Alison needs to make the best choice she can given the information she has.

            Sanctity of human life > personal freedom.

            In my opinion.

          • MrSing

            It would seem that this is the point where our disagreement lies.

            I believe that since Max did not through direct or indirect action give these people organ failures and that therefor he can’t be held responsible for their suffering and death. And thus is not violating their rights. Nothing he did caused their situation. There is something he can do can help them, but he has not caused the suffering.

            Robbing people of their rights holds an active component in my opinion. Thus I believe that the only robbing of rights in this situation is the one Allison performed on Max.

            Mostly I believe this since the axiom “having the ability to help means you have the responsibility to help” is unworkable for me. It would mean that by not donating to cancer research, the poor, orphans, etc, you would be responsible for their suffering and deaths. That by not voluntarily donating your liver, a kidney, and a lung, you are responsible for the suffering and death of three people at the least.

            It is an axiom that turns every person into a deplorable person when they don’t devote every moment of their life to helping people.

            But that is mostly because I believe that when we apply this rule to Max, I believe it should hold true to everybody on all ethically similar situations. I admit that it is a strict view on ethics that is not very flexible. But I believe that when we make comprimises for these sort of situations we invalidate rights.

            A right should be inalienable* and invalidating a human right in one situation makes them more of a revocable luxury than a right.

            As for Allison becoming apathetic. Personally I wouldn’t have much of a problem with that. She no longer calls herself a hero and she isn’t in any official capacity to perform heroics anymore. She is basically free to enjoy her life as she wants in my opinion. (Disregarding that she is a fireman (firewoman? Fireperson?) in this case for the sake of the argument.)

            But, if she were to call herself a hero, she would still hold the responsibility to help people and assist the government. Since she doesn’t, she should lose her privileges as a hero and her responsibilities too.

            It ties in with my believe that “capability to help does not equate responsibility to help”.

            As for holding Allison to an exceptional standard. This is mostly because she is extremely powerful and she has a much greater capacity to do harm than an regular person. She is not per sé more likely to do so, but when she would do it, it could be a disaster. Thus it is wise to keep an extra careful eye on her. She doesn’t deserve any higher punishment than a regular person (since she is no longer a hero and only has the duties of a firehuman(?)), but her actions deserve extra scrutiny.

            *Unless someone willingly “gives up” a right in a situation where they hold the freedom to reclaim the right at any time in the future and are not under duress, don’t have a diminished capacity for making decisions and aren’t in reasonable danger of having one of these things happen due to the situation in which they are “giving up” their right. They must also not fall in a situation where the power dynamic between individuals or groups can reasonably be expected to shift in such a way that one of the above situations can be expected to happen.

          • Psile

            I must agree, this is a fundamental disagreement. I don’t think that someone needs to actively participate in someone’s death and/or suffering to be at least partially responsible for it. Now I think this is a nuanced issue, and failing to act when you could have saved someone is not the same as killing them. That doesn’t mean that the apathetic is completely absolved of any responsibility in regards to their death.

            I never stated that “having the ability to help means you have the responsibility to help” would be the axiom I am trying to promote, at least not in an absolute sense. We easily start going in circles, as you pointed out. Everyone going out of their way to be helpful with no one achieving any kind of happiness for themselves. This is one reason I’m not really big into ‘axioms’. Axioms or principles are good to have as guidelines, but you can’t apply them equally to every situation.

            We run into another philosophical sticking point here as well. I’m a moral relativist, so I tend to inherently reject any kind of ‘strict’ ethical views. In general, rules should be applied to everyone but not everyone is in the same position. Max is in a radically different position than anyone else in the world.

            He is in a position to prevent 6,000 deaths annually. It requires minimal effort on his part, and the level of risk it leaves him open to is vague at best. It could even be argued that he is more vulnerable in secrecy. Combining the factor of change Max could affect with the relative ease with which he could affect it and you start to really wonder just how important it is that his rights remain unviolated. I do, anyway.

            I give you credit, you keep your principles consistent. You don’t bat an eye at the notion of King Cleaver the Stabby. As long as Alison is free to live her life, the whole world can burn to the ground. No rights violated. Alison, possibly the only person who can stop Cleaver, is morally in the clear. (I’m not actually convinced that Alison and Cleaver are as unstoppable as they appear, but let’s say they are for the sake of this argument.)

            Holding Alison to exceptional standards violates her right to make mistakes and be human. The possible consequences are negated by applying rights to everyone equally. She has the right to be treated just like everyone else, just as Max does. Techincally Max’s powers could cause untold destruction if he used them on the wrong person(Alison, for example.) He would be subject to the same scrutiny.

            I admit to some sarcasm in the above paragraph. I feel that if all rules apply equally to everyone, this is the logical conclusion of that axiom.

            I do, actually, think that Alison should at least be subject to some extra surveillance and ultimately her actions are going to be more impactful. Every time she gets upset, there could be very real impacts. It isn’t fair, but she does need to keep a closer control on her emotions than most. I realize this is a flip flop from what I said before, but further consideration has led me to adjust my view. Ultimately, my flexible morality allows me to apply different rules to different people based on their situations.

          • Loranna

            Alison In Her Tent, mourning the death of her idealism?

            Loranna

          • Izo

            “I’ve always wondered if the power corrupts model applies in a case like Alison’s”

            I’d say it does. Remember the full quote. “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

            “However, I appreciate your respectful manner and strive to extend the same courtesy.”

            I’d say you’re definitely one of the more courteous people that I regularly disagree with (Walter and Stephanie being two others). I’m sure there are others but I have a hard time paying attention to names in general on these sort of forums.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Hey, I’m not courteous? YOU FUCKING ASSWIPE

          • Izo

            Clemens, honey, I haven’t been ‘regularly’ disagreeing with you in quite a while. You know I love ya. 🙂

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2FmDysvDr8

          • Scott

            I understand how much personal morality plays into this. On my end, I’m not so much trying to argue for a “slippery slope” mentality as I am trying to frame my argument in different ways in order to convey my point. At its most simple, I can’t really agree with Allison because she violated the only thing that I believe is an objective moral.
            I personally believe that morality is relative and changes from person to person, culture to culture. However, I believe that the most firm moral absolute is the right of personal liberty. I have the right to do whatever I want, say whatever I want, act however I want, up to the point where my activity impedes the freedom of another. Basically, the “my right to swing my fist stops at the end of your face”. So, in my mind, I may not like what Max is doing by refusing to help Allison but I think he has every right to do so. Allison may have helped someone by acting the way she did but she violated the one core principal upon which I try to base the rest of my morality. In my opinion, Max is the victim of this situation and Allison should face criminal charges (though I realize that probably isn’t going to happen).

          • Giacomo Bandini

            “may have helped someone”. Yes, helped Feral saving MILLIONS OF LIVES.

          • Scott

            Look, I’m not disagreeing that good was accomplished by Allison’s action. However, we are still back to the problem of whether the ends are allowed to justify the means. I don’t believe they are. I know that I’m getting a bit Kantian in my ethics here but if you allow the ends to justify the means then who becomes the arbiter of that justification? Can I punch you in the face to save a million people? Can I break your arm to save a million people? Can I shoot you in the head to save a million people? Can I shoot you in the head to save a thousand people? Can I shoot you in the head to save 1 person? What if you have terminal cancer and the person is a healthy infant? What if you’re just 40 years old and the person is a healthy infant? What if you’re 25 but you’re a homeless crack addict and the other person is a 40 year old senator? His life is more valuable than yours so don’t I have the right to harvest all of your organs in order to save him from dying of kidney failure?
            The problem is, any one person can certainly go through that list of questions and answer each of them yes or no and then say “this is where I draw the line”. But I posit that not everyone is going to have the same line. What if you don’t think you should have to die to save the senator but someone else thinks that you should? Do I have the right to impose their view of moral justification upon you?

          • SJ

            … Or, to make the question more in line with what people seem determined to discuss, what if MILLIONS™ of people think you should have to die to save the senator?

          • Psile

            Yes, these decisions are hard. I’m not going to go through the whole list because it boils down to this.

            It’s easy to live your life by simple moral rules. It’s just so damn easy, and that’s why we can’t do it.

            I miss it. I miss the simplicity and the certainty of knowing that I was unequivocally correct because I knew what the rules were. As long as I followed the rules, I was right. People who didn’t follow the rules were wrong and one day they would get punished for their sins. The end. No quandary. Everything to could broken down into whether or not it fit into my preexisting moral statutes.

            The specific rule doesn’t matter. Rigid morality doesn’t work in complex human problems. It doesn’t matter if the rule is “thou shalt have no gods but me” or “personal freedom shall never be violated, except under these circumstances”. You’re gonna find a situation where that rule is just not correct. Moral principles are good to live by, but ultimately you have to make each choice individually.

            I realize that stating “the only rule is that there are no rules” is inherently a paradox, but that’s how I see it.

          • Scott

            You know, even as an atheist I still seek to define a moral standard by which decisions can be made. I think rules are necessary because they give clarity to how we act and can be a standard against which we are measured. Rules can be changed or adapted but if you find yourself having to change a rule every time you face a new decision, chances are your rule isn’t very good.

            I see your statement that “the only rule is that there are no rules” but I don’t know if that stands. If every individual is ultimately responsible for determining their own morality on a case by case basis, then how can we say that anything is immoral? If my personal morality leads me to believe that might makes right, does that mean you can’t condemn me for solving every argument with my fists?

            I don’t think it’s foolish, wrong, or impossible to derive a critical principal from which all of your morality is derived. I also don’t think it’s wrong for others to challenge your principal. I know we have both been replying a lot in this thread and I don’t want to repeat myself too much. However, I do stand by my axiom that the greatest human right is autonomy and the greatest crime is taking someone’s autonomy against their will. Further, I believe that the only time it is acceptable to remove someone’s autonomy is when, through their direct action, they threaten to remove the autonomy of others.

          • pidgey

            It might be true that each choice is made in a moral vacuum *in theory* but in reality I’m dead certain it doesn’t work that way. That’s not how the human brain is wired.

            As a (non-moral, but related in the sense of decision-making) example, consider competition. A huge aspect of any competitive pastime is learning how to leverage mental states. Getting an opponent “off their game” or learning to overcome “tilt”. Human beings use past results to determine future behavior way more than is objectively correct, even when they know better. Ultimately, we’re all bags of chemistry that we’re only marginally in control of, and choosing to steer it in a particular direction because you believe you’re more in control than you really are is an extremely common beginning to any number of tragedies.

            Every choice you make has consequences, both interior and exterior, that you will have to deal with. Denying that those consequences exist doesn’t make them go away.

          • Zac Caslar

            Slippery-Slope really is a warning mistaken for a certainty, eh?

          • Regret

            /raises hand twice.
            I’m taking roughly the same position as Psile and Sendaz here.
            It may be a slippery slope, but she isn’t beyond the point of no return yet.

            This brings up the subject of the relative morality of violence versus suffering.
            Assuming violence is never good, how much violence are you allowed to use to stop how much suffering before you act immoral?
            Is violence that takes away agency more or less important than violence that

            causes suffering or even death?
            How do you measure and compare such things? Using absolute mathematical models is so abstract it feels wrong.

          • Scott

            So, in another post, I state that I believe that the only moral absolute is the right of individual agency. Further, I believe that the ultimate evil is removing an individual’s agency. Many things that we label as crimes can actually be phrased in how the remove someone’s agency; murder being the ultimate example. Continuing from this, I only believe that violence is justified to the extent that it is used to prevent someone from continuing to remove agency from another.

          • MrSing

            Against what Alison did.

          • Izo

            Second choice. She was wrong to do what she did. Completely.

          • SJ

            :: raises hand for the second thing ::

          • Sendaz

            What Alison did was Wrong, though one can argue it may have been Necessary and was certainly Beneficial, but that should not be taken to imply it was Right.

          • Weatherheight

            ::Holds up two hooves::

            Both.

          • Whitney

            I think she did the right thing, in that her actions are more likely to have a net positive effect than net negative. Isn’t that really all that matters?

          • pidgey

            Clearly there are both upsides and downsides to Alison’s choice. However, “forcing a spoiled brat” to do anything is not one of the upsides. The route she took to getting to her desired outcome is Problematic, and almost guaranteed to ultimately undermine the value of the results.

            Anyone who’s thinking “it was worth it” at this point is going to be shocked when the other shoe drops.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            Just for curiosity, can you even imagine anything so horrible that trumps over litterally MILLIONS of lifes saved? i can’t.

          • pidgey

            I can, yes. I can even imagine completely reasonable and immediate consequences of Alison’s actions here which trump that.

          • Giacomo Bandini
          • pidgey

            Max decides to look for revenge, and gets mixed up with a supervillain, forced to power him up, and ends up causing far more harm than the good Alison intended could ever make up for.

            One of many, many examples.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            Aaaaaaaaannnnnnndddd this supervillain could kill millions of people?

          • Weatherheight

            “I am Michael Bay – my power is to produce bursts of light at unlikely moments.
            “Max Prescott powered me up this afternoon and I went out on a movie shoot for an amazing scene shot after dark.
            “Turns out my power covers a vastly wider area of effect and isn’t limited to light now – it covers the entire electro-magnetic spectrum and, luckily for me, I’m immune to my own power.
            “Unfortunately for the 13,131,431 residents of the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles, they aren’t, and they have all been irradiated with gamma and ultraviolet radiation, blinded, superheated by infrared radiation, and given a big dose of radio waves. Sorry about that…”

            See? I didn’t even have to have intent to do harm or a super-villain in that scenario. 😀

            Okay, more seriously, it’s true we haven’t exactly had evidence of such a person, but someone with a fairly minor power could conceivably become quite nasty with a sufficiently large boost. Hell, Alison would not have much problem at all herself in her current state if she weren’t fundamentally a good person. Start by setting off the San Andreas fault and then hurl a few seriously large boulders from near orbit with everything she’s got and there would be serious consequences worldwide. Or spend a few hours punching the foundations of skyscrapers in NYC

          • Giacomo Bandini

            You know, i’ve thought about it, and i ve concluded that i ve dramatically understimated the potential danger of Max’s power. He can empower not just ONE supervillain, but a whole army of them. I guess that the fish girl, Amanda i think, enpowered by Max will be very close to Alison power levels. an army of maxed byodynamics will be unstoppable,

            Max is an unexploded bomb. Possibly the most dangerous byodynamic of the entire world. I wonder why the conspiracy simply had not already killed him.

          • Weatherheight

            Heh. Nice new avatar!

            “Max is an unexploded bomb. Possibly the most dangerous byodynamic of the entire world. I wonder why the conspiracy simply had not already killed him.”

            Maybe because his identity and powers were kept very, very hush-hush because someone (most likely Senator Mom) realized exactly that?

            Wheels within Wheels…

          • Giacomo Bandini

            Thanks man.

            I don’t buy itT the conspiracy is so good at what it does that they can evade Patrick’s radar, correct? But at the very same time is not able to find Max’s secret, while on the other hand Patrick can find it?

            I think there is only an explanation for this apparent discrepancy. Senator Mom IS part of the conspiration, and they have a deal. Spare my son’s life, and in return,, i ‘ll make sure he ll serve you, when the time is right.
            Right to do what? To kill Alison, for once… But maybe htere is a even darker possibility: Max could be the secret weapon that america needs tofight against China in the eventual future byodynamic war. Let’s remember chapter five, what the doctor said, Biodynamism correlates with population’s density, and China has four times America’s population, which means four times more potential biodynamic soldiers. Sure, America got some Aces, like alison and Cleaver, but still, the numbers are against Old Uncle Sam. The superweapon Max could be the only way to change the outcome.

            Poor Max. Long before Alison, his freedom was just an illusion.

          • جيمس هارلو

            If you look back about 70 years ago, there was a situation in Europe that people felt it was worth sacrificing millions of lives to prevent. There was another, maybe more pertinent one about 150 years ago in the US. You don’t need a particularly vivid imagination.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            what are you talking about?

          • Psile

            I assume you’re talking about this:

            http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20110713.gif

            Just because Superman could do that in a non-canon comic does not mean that Alison can. We’re talking about two totally different universes and power levels. Alison gets tired and her body does get physically exhausted. Given what she has lifted so far, Alison seems capable of generating the kenetic energy of a modern tank? Maybe 10 tanks? Not exactly world changing.

          • Izo

            Heyyyy I posted that in another strip 🙂

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Nope, you won’t have that. The actual reason as to why this isn’t how SFP ends is that there would be no comic anymore. You can try to put the Watsionianest of hats but this one is just non-negotiable.

          • Izo

            Watsionianest…

          • Sendaz

            I think another troubling point is many are already are discussing Max and his ability as a commodity.

            The argument by some is he owes society, but where is the ledger showing how much he owes and when is he considered paid up?

            Because you know the whole ugly history of American Slavery? Slavery existed long before then, but often was taken in the form of Indentured Servitude.

            You fell behind on your taxes and thrown in debtor prison? You might get sold off to a plantation in the colonies where you would work off your debt.

            Or say you had nothing in the country where you were, you could sign a contract with an overseas recruiting company who would ship you to the States where you worked as servants typically for four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. At the end of your contracted time, you were free to work for themselves or another employer. Likewise, any children of theirs was considered free.
            It wasn’t perfect and many landowners found ways to pad the bills, keeping them for longer than their original terms, but ultimately they were able to earn they way to freedom.
            That changed when someone had the bright idea to throw the ledger out entirely. Now the servitude was permanent AND your children were born as slaves. Win win.
            You might not like Max and can argue that the fate/blood/fill in the blank of countless, countless lives™ are on his hands, but in the end it’s his burden and his karma to bear and not another’s to choose it for him.
            If you as a society wish to punish him for his inaction, so be it though you better be prepared to apply that law to a lot of folk, but don’t pretend forcing him into an endless cycle of boosting is anything other than Biodynamic-Slavery, where a person doesn’t get to choose their own path anymore rather the genetics do, because there is always going to be one more boost or someone needing something and able to romanticize it enough that obviously it is the super duper best thing and why wouldn’t you want to do this for us?
            And why stop there? Why should Amanda get to play Accountant when clearly she should be operating underwater farms out in the middle of the Deep Pacific to feed the hungry masses.
            Masses which we should note, that thanks to the coming upsurge in organ and blood donating by Feral which means countless, countless lives™ saved, will only be increasing.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I feel like this comment wasn’t intended to me. If you’ve read anything I’ve commented the past months or so you know I very much share the same basic tenets.

          • Sendaz

            It was not intended toward you, rather agreeing with you and expanding on it a bit though I probably should just have started it as a fresh new post rather than tacking it into the ongoing one.

          • Zac Caslar

            Because slippery slope is bullshit.
            Because doing something once doesn’t mean you are mystically compelled to do it again and again.
            Because we’re sapients with a sense of compassion and when we step out of line it shoves us around ’til we make good.

            Because “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.”

          • Weatherheight

            That’s because we all read what our experience has taught us, not necessarily what you intended to write. 😀

            And from where I sit, you do quite well – at least as well as some of us native speakers.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            And I even wrote “eyes a bat” instead of the opposite to test the hypothesis and it worked! I love English.

          • Weatherheight

            I would reverse the order – develop the think tank and then have them talk to Max. Alison butts the hell out of the decision making process and completes her education and personal world-view and keep in touch to render aid if needed.

            I like this idea.

          • Stephanie

            That’s basically the idea, except that the think tank would also be finding ways Alison’s super strength could be useful.

          • Weatherheight

            Indubitably.
            Of course, we have to hope said think tank is pure of heart and mighty of mind.
            I feel a cynical moment coming on.. pardon me.

          • Izo

            So let me get this straight. You think the most useful thing for the world’s most powerful person to do is something sitting in a philosophy course, or being in a think tank when she can’t even manage basic finances? Nothing, say, involving her strength for actions that don’t involve torturing other people?

          • Stephanie

            No, no, she doesn’t go in the think tank. The think tank advises her.

          • Izo

            I guess my main problem with that would be the same problem I have with a single person making the decisions. An un-elected person or group of person making potentially life-and-death decisions and decisions for everyone else which can sacrifice people’s freedom and rights without repercussions upon themselves or Alison just strikes me as dangerous, especially in light of how this has happened throughout history. Not to mention it all comes down to what Alison wants to do anyway.

            Although Alison does have a history of being easily manipulated by unscrupulous or criminal people… hmm.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            That is actually the whole plot of the comic.

          • Izo

            Until this story arc, where she basically undid the entire plot of the comic.

            As I’ve said many times, the entire point of Alison’s nervous breakdown on national TV is she did not think ANYONE should look to her for answers just because she can lift a car over her head, and that being superstrong doesnt mean she has any right to force others or that she has any idea of what the right thing to do is.

            And with this Max arc, she’s done EXACTLY what she said she doesn’t have the right to do for MOST of the comic’s history.

          • Scott

            I have a problem with your line of questioning with SJ. Your argument is that Max has the power to help millions of people at little cost to himself and therefore he has a moral obligation to do so. I’m not quite willing to concede this point but I’ll give it to you for sake of argument.
            Where I really disagree is in your follow on reasoning. You seem to be claiming that since Max has a moral obligation which he has failed to uphold, Allison is moral justified to use any means she deems necessary to coerce him into upholding that obligation. I ADAMANTLY disagree. I think the real crux for me is when you compare what Allison does to “waving a magic wand”. The problem is, that magic wand is a human being, not a tool. That wand has the right to choose for himself.
            I won’t try to claim Max isn’t being a little shit. He is. The fact that he is allowing his personal feelings to keep him from helping anyone is abhorrent. However, he has the right to do so. Allison does not have the right to force him to act against his will.

          • Stephanie

            I can understand why you interpret what I’ve said that way, but I wouldn’t say that’s an accurate description of my reasoning. I don’t think that justifying Alison’s action requires Max to have failed in a moral obligation.

            It’s more like this: Max has the power to save millions of lives, and I believe he’s morally obligated to do so. But he refuses. He is a dick.

            Alison then has the power to coerce Max and thereby save millions of lives, so I believe she’s morally obligated to do so. She’s not morally obligated because Max is a dick (although Max being a dick did result in a scenario in which she’s obligated), she’s morally obligated because otherwise millions of people will die.

            I do believe that Max has a right to his autonomy and that Alison was committing a harm, and a wrong, by coercing him. But I also believe that the alternative option–sacrificing the lives of those millions of people to preserve Max’s autonomy–is so much more harmful and more wrong that her crime against Max barely merits consideration in comparison.

            Also, to be more exact, the “waving a magic wand” was a reference to what Max can do. Max isn’t the magic wand, he’s the guy who has the magic wand.

          • Scott

            Ah, yes. I was right. This boils down to diametrically opposing views of the nature of morality. In my view, there is no crime more abhorrent then taking away the autonomy of another and it is near unjustifiable. Certainly unjustifiable for the simple sake of coercing action. I guess we will just always disagree.

          • Stephanie

            Is there any limit to that view, in your mind? Like, suppose that for whatever reason aliens are about to blow up the entire Earth, killing every single human, unless this one guy named Bob gives them a thumbs up. But Bob doesn’t feel like giving the aliens a thumbs up. Now obviously it’s not Bob’s fault that aliens decided to blow up the earth unless he gives them a thumbs up, but the fact remains that if he doesn’t do it, everyone dies. In such an extreme scenario, do you think it would be justifiable to physically grab Bob’s hand and position it into a thumbs up?

          • Scott

            Yes, there is a limit to that view. I find it acceptable to use means to remove the autonomy of another when they are, through their direct action, removing the autonomy of someone else. That’s why it is okay to shoot someone who is pointing a gun at you.
            However, that point seems uncontroversial and I think most people would agree. What we are interested in is when someone threatens to remove another’s autonomy through inaction. I believe it is only immoral to remove another’s autonomy through inaction if you have a duty to action. If a child drowns at a pool, the lifeguard is criminally liable for that child’s death. A random stranger swimming nearby is not. We all would want that stranger to act, many of us would even expect that stranger to do so. However, he is not required to do so.
            The dilemma with your hypothetical is that Bob has somehow come into a great amount of power in a very unusual way. Through the normal course of human events, it is natural for us to only be responsible for our own lives. Any additional responsibility we acquire usually happens through voluntary action; becoming a lifeguard, running for public office, having a child. Bob is unusual in this regard because he did not volunteer, I’m assuming, to become the chosen one. Rather, it was a circumstance that was forced upon him. In this circumstance, if Bob were unemployed and childless and in no other way had anyone beholden to him, I would say that Bob does not have a moral obligation to raise his thumb and we do not have the right to force him to do so. In this specific circumstance the immoral actor is not Bob, it is the aliens threatening the destruction of our world and it is they who we should act against, not Bob. If President Obama were to demand that Bob sacrifice his first born son (which he now has, even though he didn’t before) or Obama would order the nuclear annihilation of the world, we would not demand Bob sacrifice his son. We would impeach President Obama.
            Just because a path leads to a good solution, it isn’t automatically a good path. A bad path doesn’t become a good path just because you make the path shorter.
            Thank you, I actually had to think about that question a lot. I’m not being facetious or sarcastic when I say that I learned a lot about myself by answering your hypothetical about Bob and the Aliens.

          • Stephanie

            Thank you for your considered response! It’s a nice change of pace for someone to actually accept the premise of my hypothetical and respond to it in a way that clarifies their position, instead of looking for reasons to reject the hypothetical without answering it. Of course I strongly disagree with your position, but I appreciate this exchange.

            I think one respect in which we may be seeing this differently is the question of what Bob is choosing. In a direct sense, he is choosing whether or not to move his hand in a particular way. Certainly he has the right to make that choice; it’s his hand. But because of the nature of the situation, and given the information Bob knows, he is also–one step removed–choosing for all humans to die.

            That is to say, although I agree with you that the aliens are the immoral actors who bear the primary responsibility for blowing up the Earth, in practice Bob is knowingly choosing a course of action that he knows will result in all humans dying. Bob has the right to choose what to do with his hand, but does have the right to choose death for each of the 7 billion-odd individuals on the Earth? Isn’t Bob restricting their autonomy by reducing all of their choices to the single, inescapable option of “die immediately”?

            Also, do I understand correctly that you believe Bob would be morally obligated to make the thumbs up if he, for example, had children and had therefore voluntarily taken on the responsibility of ensuring their welfare? I can see the reasoning behind that, given your premises.

          • Scott

            Yes, you do understand me correctly. If Bob were not, say, a random homeless man but were in fact POTUS Bob, Bob would have an obligation to always act in the best interest of those whom he has sworn to serve. In this case, Bob would be morally beholden to take all reasonable actions to save the United States from the Aliens including making a thumbs up. In this same way, were Bob the parent of a minor who depends on Bob for survival, Bob would have a similar moral responsibility to raise his thumb.
            Now…I don’t know how I feel about some random stranger forcing Bob to make a thumbs up were he not inclined to do so. Someone dutifully charged to enforce morally accepted behavior, such as a police officer, certainly. I don’t know about Bob’s neighbor, Accountant Steve. Hmmm…

            Okay, I’m getting off track. I think there are two points that need addressing.
            1) Can foreign actors force moral responsibility upon you?

            My answer is no. If I tell you that I’m going to shoot someone if you don’t pay me $20, you aren’t a murderer for refusing to pay me $20. Essentially, the Aliens have taken the Earth hostage and their one demand is that Bob pay them a thumbs up. Just because the thumbs up is of negligible value and effort for Bob to provide does not make Bob morally beholden to provide it. Nor does it make Bob complicit in the murder of humanity should he fail to do so.

            2) I’m actually having a lot of trouble defining the point I want to make here succinctly. I think I understand your argument to be that my response in point 1 is not a fast rule but actually depends on the cost being asked of Bob. You seem to believe that Bob is a murderer for not giving the thumbs up but what if the aliens were asking something more? What if they were asking something that Bob might more reasonably be reluctant to do? Let’s say these aliens were asking Bob to subject himself to some form of prolonged and painful torture that I want you to imagine as being more graphic than I could reasonably post here. If Bob were to fail to do this, even though it was within his realm of possibility, would he still be a murderer?

          • Stephanie

            So to summarize, the necessary conditions for to to be acceptable to coerce Bob are that he is in some position of voluntarily-assumed responsibility for the welfare of other humans, and that the person coercing him is charged with enforcing moral behavior? As far as I can tell, that reasonably follows from your premises, even though I don’t agree with those premises.

            I don’t know that “murderer” is the term I want to use here with respect to Bob. That’s a term I prefer to reserve for people who actively kill others. It carries the implication of being permanently tainted by evil. If just failing to prevent a death makes you a “murderer,” we’re all murderers many times over.

            But I do think that Bob is knowingly choosing for people to die, over an alternative where they don’t die, and that that holds true regardless of what is being demanded of him. If he were being asked to subject himself to torture to save the world, I would be much more understanding of his reluctance; if he were being asked to subject himself to torture to save only a small number of lives, I might even think he was justified in refusing. But I would still, in all cases, consider Bob to have knowingly chosen for people to die. No matter how compelling Bob’s reasons for refusing to save them, they’re still just as dead. That might or might not make him an irredeemable bastard in my eyes depending on the context; I just refuse not to acknowledge the reality of the consequences.

            I would judge Bob not in an absolute sense for each person who died, but for the difference between the outcome he chose and the best outcome he could have chosen. Like if the choice was “everyone on Earth dies” and “six people die,” I wouldn’t be like “welp he’s a terrible person forever” because he chose for the six people to die, since the alternative was choosing for everyone to die. I hope that makes sense, I think I’m being confusing.

          • Scott

            You’re not being confusing, we are just arguing about the nature of morality itself so it’s understandable that some things get lost in translation.

            Are you familiar with Kantian ethics? Essentially, Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher that posited that in order for an act to be moral, it must be grounded in a maxim, or guiding principle. In order for a guiding principle to be moral, it must be universal. That is to say, the rule must be able to be applied to everyone in all situations without contradiction. Let’s say that we consider telling the truth a moral act because of our maxim that deceiving someone is immoral. This would mean that when your beloved grandmother asks you if you liked her awful cookies and you lied to her to spare her feelings, you have committed an immoral act. This is because, according to Kant, if you posit a maxim, it is not true unless it is always true. If lying is wrong, it is always wrong.

            Often, this is diametrically opposed by, among other things, Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism has undergone many different forms as it has been developed by many different philosophers. However, at it’s most simple it is a guiding rule for making decisions that posits the ethical choice is the one that results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Now, as I implied, this has many variations, including consequentialism or the idea that the only thing that determines the morality of a choice is its outcome.

            Now, I spouted all of that nonsense because I think it is relevant to the nature of our disagreement. I believe that the only way to determine if an act is moral is if it can be defined by a number of maxims and that those maxims are only valid if they are universal. I believe this is independent of the consequences of the act. Consequences can determine the degree to which an act was moral or not, but do not determine whether or not it was moral. Lying to your grandmother may have been the correct choice but that doesn’t make it the right choice. You shouldn’t feel good about lying to your grandmother because, at the end of the day, you still lied.

            The way this applies to our conversation is that if we say Bob is responsible for the death of humanity by not giving the thumbs up, then we are saying that people are responsible for every negative occurrence within their power to prevent. It is fairly easy to contrive a circumstance under which this rule becomes ridiculous, therefore I reject it’s validity.

          • Stephanie

            But surely if we begin with the premise that people are at least partially responsible for negative events they could have prevented, that would create a better world? People who believe that would be motivated to proactively help others, which would benefit everyone. My own sense of moral responsibility for suffering that’s in my power to prevent is what motivates my charitable giving.

            And of course, in extreme scenarios like the Bob-aliens one, unwavering adherence to a maxim can come at the price of a terrible tragedy. I mean, we’re talking about wiping out the Earth–is it worth it to preserve a single person’s adherence to a principle for those final moments, when the cost is that the very concept of that principle dies out with us?

            I think the idea of moral responsibility for inaction seems absurd to people whose ethical systems are more deontological, because committing an immoral act under that kind of system is unambiguously a Bad Thing and you have Officially Fucked Up. You’re never supposed to compromise. So when I say that I’m morally responsible for deaths I’m capable of preventing, it might seem like I’m saying I’m a murderer, a monster who’s committed unforgivable sins.

            Of course that would be ridiculous. You couldn’t function under such a system–you’d be paralyzed, terrified to make any decision at all for fear that it might permit someone to come to harm. Even in the process of saving one life, you’d be stricken with guilt that someone else could be dying because you chose to use this time to save the first guy, and now you’re a murderer. Anyone who interprets my position that way is justified in thinking I’m a loon.

            But for someone like me, who’s starting from the premise that we’re all morally responsible for each other’s welfare, it isn’t so clear-cut. I have to acknowledge that it’s not possible to prevent every death, that even an act with the best intentions can have unforeseen negative consequences, and that I may sometimes have to choose between options that will all cause some amount of harm. And then, knowing that, I have to do my best to maximize the welfare of all people anyway. The very nature of the system allows for compromises.

            As long as I’m putting forth a good-faith effort to make the least harmful choice–even if I feel bad about compromising another principle in the process, and even if I’m devastated about whatever harm comes to pass in spite of my best efforts–I won’t think that I’ve crossed a moral event horizon. Only if I deliberately choose what I have good reason to think is the more harmful option will I feel like a genuine bastard for the suffering I chose to allow. Maybe you could say that’s my maxim.

          • Scott

            That’s very fair, and to a point I agree with you. I definitely want people to take the welfare of others into account in what they do. I think people seeking to maximize the good they can accomplish with their actions lead to great things.

            However, here’s where I draw a line. There’s a difference between moral expectations and moral obligations. Giving to charity is a moral expectation; most people agree that giving within your own means in order to support a charitable organization is the right thing to do. However, it is not a moral obligation; no one is going to force you to give to the ASPCA or else you go to jail. Here is a real world example. We should all try to donate blood and blood drives make it quick and easy to donate. Yet many healthy people capable of donating still choose not to and because of that many hospitals continue to have blood shortages. While we do honor those who donate and many of us may dislike those who don’t, would you support legal action against people who don’t donate blood? People die because of a lack of this critical resource that can be given easily and relatively painlessly. Surely those who simply choose not to donate are somewhat responsible for these deaths. Shouldn’t we pass a law that requires all people healthy enough to donate blood to do so at least once a month or else pay a fine? That would make the world a better place, wouldn’t it?

          • Stephanie

            I might consider supporting such a law if it made allowances for legit phobias, to be honest, depending on how many people actually die from insufficient availability of blood and how much additional blood is necessary to fill the gap. But that doesn’t mean much coming from me, since (to my ongoing regret) I’d be exempt.

            But I think there are a lot of ways that we can promote the greater good with minimal coercion. For example, making organ donation opt-out instead of opt-in would greatly increase the pool of available organs without infringing on anyone’s autonomy. I do believe that violating autonomy is intrinsically harmful, even if it’s not the most harmful thing; so when possible we should prioritize approaches that don’t require that. Basically, I’m okay with a default societal approach of respecting autonomy, on the grounds that it’s often difficult to tell what course of action will accomplish the most good/least harm in the long run, and everyone is worse off if we set a precedent of (humans in authority) assuming direct control over ever little thing. (I’d be cool with micromanaging if it were done by a perfectly benevolent artificial superintelligence.)

            Another thing that would be good would be making it easier for people to do good by cracking down on corrupt, useless, self-serving charities and funding the dissemination of useful information about wise giving practices, but that’s a whole other thing.

            But at the same time, we shouldn’t allow people to do things that result in the world clearly becoming worse for everyone else. So bust up monopolies, keep price-gouging illegal, prosecute folks for refusing to help people who are actively dying in front of them, don’t let a miniscule fraction of people hoard the overwhelming majority of the wealth, and if some company finds a magic cure to all the cancers and tries to sell it for 5000% profit I would fully support yanking the formula right out of their clutching fingers. And of course, if a homeless guy would rather let humanity perish than make a thumbs up, he can go jump in a lava lake and make his thumbs up as he vanishes beneath the surface. Basically, be conservative and judicious with actions that violate autonomy, but don’t write it off as an option when the alternative outcome is way worse.

          • Scott

            Okay, you gave me a lot to unpack there.
            This is the easiest thing to address so I’m just going to get it out of the way first and then move onto the important stuff. First, cancer is so varied and takes so many different forms that there will never be a miracle cure that works for every kind of cancer. However, if that really were to happen, the company responsible can sell it for whatever price they want and here’s why: They didn’t discover it by magic. No genie showed up in their laboratory and made the cure appear. Dozens of people, if not more, dedicated their entire lives towards researching how to combat cancer. They accomplished this dream only after a cumulative hundreds of years of schooling and even more years of dedicated research. Each one of these people probably went into debt for decades of their lives in order to be able to afford the required education just to work in a field where they may never see any payoff from their work. Now that they finally have reached that payoff, now that their live’s work has amounted to something, you want to rip it away from them for no reward? No. Absolutely not. They created this thing, it is theirs. They can choose at what price they want to share it with others. You don’t have the right to take it from them any more than you have the right to steal food from a grocery store. Okay, tirade over. Sorry about that.

            So, I understand that the law is pretty appealing. I tried to make it that way. But part of the question is “does the government have the right to enforce such a law”. At this point, you have given the government the right to create legislation in order to enforce a moral standard. While this is essentially the role of government, I believe that we need to be very careful how much leeway we give them to decide what constitutes morality. I’m sure Saudi Arabia considers there law requiring women to have male escorts in public to be moral. The Philippines has a large population of the government openly endorsing the murder of drug addicts as moral. For a decent portion of the history of the U.S. many people had moral justifications for the existence of slavery. You say that your ideal government would be micromanagement by a perfectly benevolent super-intelligence, yet none exists and we shouldn’t pretend that it does. Honestly, though, I still wouldn’t want that to occur either. I am perfectly aware that many of the decisions I make in my day to day life are selfish. You cited an example yourself with your decision to spend money on Halloween candy instead of donating the money to a charity. Well, I demand to have the right to be selfish. I demand your right to be selfish. I don’t want you to be selfish in everything you do but I will fight against anyone who tells you that you can’t be. I don’t want to be micromanaged, even by a perfect entity, because I want to have the freedom to be wrong. I don’t want to be a worker bee who has surrendered all agency for the sake of a ‘perfect world’.

            I’m sorry. I worry that might have come across as antagonistic. That’s not my intent. I hope you can see this as an impassioned defense of my position and not an attack on yours. I do disagree with you, but I understand where you’re coming from.

          • Stephanie

            “First, cancer is so varied and takes so many different forms that there will never be a miracle cure that works for every kind of cancer.”

            I know, that’s why I said it was a magical cure to all cancers. I was being intentionally hyperbolic.

            I recognize that a lot of effort and money goes into drug discovery and development, but I still don’t think that it’s more important for its makers to profit than it is for people who need it to survive to have access to it. Even more so when the company jacking up the price isn’t even responsible for creating the drug in the first place.

            There’s a number of ways to handle it other than letting the company fund the development of the drug and then taking it away while they go bankrupt. More government funding for drug development, government-funded distribution to patients so that the makers get paid without bankrupting vulnerable sick people, putting a reasonable cap on profit margins so that companies can make a profit, but not an extortionate one–anything as long as it’s not purely capitalistic “we know you need this to live, so we’ll extort every penny we can, and if you can’t pay you die.”

            Pharmaceuticals are too critical to too many people’s well-being to to leave them up to an unregulated free market. That’s how you end up with extortionate prices and “orphaned” diseases that go untreated because it’s they’re not profitable to treat. I believe that, whatever we have to do to make it feasible, basic healthcare like that should be made available to everyone for the same reason that water must be made available to everyone.

            “You say that your ideal government would be micromanagement by a perfectly benevolent super-intelligence, yet none exists and we shouldn’t pretend that it does.”

            That’s true–I don’t support micromanagement to that degree in real life, for that reason. I mentioned that fantastical edge case only in the interest of full disclosure.

            My idea of a perfect world wouldn’t be absent all agency, either. I’d like to think that in the end, the average person would have more agency than they do now. Today, many people are deprived of many forms of agency by poverty, illness, disability, discrimination, even the basic limitations of the human body. We are only free to act within the boundaries of our circumstances. And this situation is perpetuated by the fact that holding “the right to be selfish” as an inalienable principle inevitably best serves the interests of the powerful, who have the most agency to act in their own self-interest at the expense of others.

            If we all had to cooperate in pursuit of a better world for everyone, not just the powerful–if we all had to put down the black stone–we could free ourselves from many of those limitations. We would sacrifice some forms of agency in exchange for making other forms available to everyone.

            Don’t worry, I don’t see anything you said as antagonistic! I think this whole conversation has been a really productive exchange of ideas.

          • Scott

            If we all HAD to put down the black stone, then the best outcome would be achieved for everyone. But if it was the only choice, it’s not a choice at all. So what’s more important to you; that everyone always plays the black stone or that people have the freedom to choose a stone? If it’s the former, then the only way to guarantee that outcome is to take away everyone’s white stone. But this is now a dictatorship where no one is given any agency and the outcome of every choice is predetermined due to their not being any choice at all. If you feel that people have the right to choose, you have to be willing to accept that some people are going to play the white stone.

            In the rest of your post, I agree with some of your ideas but not the means you set to achieve them. I don’t think the way to ensure that our cancer cure is fairly priced is government mandated profit margins but I agree that we can’t have an unregulated free market. The only way that the drug company could charge any price they wanted is if they were the sole provider of that drug. Well, now they’re a monopoly and we already know what to do with those. You force a restructuring in order to create competition. Now the companIES have a capitalistic incentive to make the drug available at a reasonable price. We’ve seen this kind of thing happen before and it can be taken care of without the government having to take full control.

            I do understand your concern with orphaned diseases and I think here we are in agreement. I believe that one of the roles of government is to provide funding for necessary services that are not financially soluble on their own. There is no reasonable way for fire fighters to charge for their services. Who wants to have to worry about whether they can afford the NYFD’s rate when their house is burning down? Therefore we make the firefighters employees of the city and local taxes pay their salary. However, I think this moves away from the nature of morality and into the idea of social contracts and that’s…interesting.

            The world is a fun place, isn’t it? We’re all just hurtling through space on this ball of dust trying to figure shit out enough that we can all live happy and productive lives before we die. Yay!

          • Stephanie

            “So what’s more important to you; that everyone always plays the black stone or that people have the freedom to choose a stone? ”

            Like that one student in Gurwara’s class, not everyone has the freedom to choose the white stone. Then they get a metaphorical F in the metaphorical class, and don’t even have the freedom to work up to a better metaphorical grade. So until we can all play a white stone, it’s more important to me that everyone plays the black stone than that we have the option. After all, playing the black stone only compromises your own welfare if everyone else isn’t playing it.

            Forcing competition sounds like a fine way to prevent a single company from retaining sole control over distribution of a needed drug and charging extortionate prices for it. If you’re cool with compromising property rights to preserve agency–which I am–it seems like a solution we can agree is ethically acceptable.

          • Scott

            Okay, so here’s another thought exercise. Do we, as good citizens, have a moral responsibility to ensure equality of opportunity or to ensure equality of outcome? They are different things. You’re right, even going beyond the metaphor there are people in the world who do not have a white stone. This is horrible and one of the greatest injustices of our reality. However, should we remedy this situation by removing everyone else’s white stone or should we try to help these people have a white stone of their own? The world isn’t always determined by the play of a single stone. We play multiple stones every day of our lives. The people with only black stones may live or die on the cast of a particular stone but they don’t always. This means that we have the time and the opportunity to help them have a white stone.
            To remove a little of the metaphor, lets say that the stones are access to quality education. Those who have a good school available to them now have a white stone, the ability to take advantage of that service, and a black stone, the ability to ignore their schooling and fail out. There are thousands, if not millions, of U.S. children who do not have a white stone; the only school available to them is one drastically unequipped to prepare them for the rest of their life. Should “we” destroy all of the U.S.’s good schools, thereby removing the white stones and the advantage they convey? This would actually solve the problem for now that the level of education has gone down across the board, there would be no difference between any students and they would be just as prepared for the future. This is what I mean when I say ensuring equality of outcome. Or should we work to create better schools in areas that need them, thereby giving more people white stones? This isn’t a perfect solution. Creating the better schools will take time and the positive change will come to late for many people. Yet wouldn’t it be better if we got to a point where everyone had a white stone? This is what I mean when I say equality of opportunity.

            I’m cool with limited and strictly defined intervention in the free market to prevent it’s unjust manipulation by people of excessive power. I believe in anti-trust laws and the disbanding of monopolies. However, the power of the government in these cases needs to be strictly defined, monitored, and controlled in order to ensure that it does not itself become more corrupt than the problems it is supposed to prevent. However, yes, in those instances I would agree that compromising property rights to preserve agency is ethically acceptable.

          • Stephanie

            I’m not sure we’re using the same definition of “white stone” here. White stones can’t be, e.g., access to good education, because it wouldn’t be beneficial for everyone to have an equally shitty education. The scenario where everyone plays a black stone needs to have a higher “goodness quotient”, even if just marginally, than a scenario where all but one person plays a white stone.

            I’m using white stones to mean actions that get you your “A grade” while preventing an outcome where everyone gets an “A grade.” Or more generally, actions that benefit you at the expense of people who have fewer options/less power than you do.

          • Scott

            I don’t think we have a different definition. Think about it. If everyone in the entire country got the same, shitty level of education, then technically everyone passes. You can’t deny people a job based on their lack of education if the entire country has the same lack of education. At some point you are just going to have to take someone to do that job despite their bad education. This is the “all black stone” option. Think about it this way, if Gurwara hadn’t created the caveat about all black stones resulting in all A’s, then all black stones would have resulted in all F’s. However, if every single person got an F, there would no longer be a metric to determine who had learned from the class and who hadn’t. You would have to treat everyone the same. If this is universally applied across all classes in all universities in the whole world, there’s now no disadvantage to having failed the class. Everyone failed the class so that is now the new standard. This outcome isn’t desirable, but it could be argued to be good because now everyone can enter the workforce with an equal playing field. No one has an advantage over anyone else.
            This only becomes a problem the second even one person plays a white stone and gets a good education. Now, there is an inequality of education and the one educated person gets the best choice of everything and the poor quality of everyone else is suddenly revealed.
            Does that make sense or do you see it differently?

          • Stephanie

            “then technically everyone passes”

            But everyone is worse off. My win condition isn’t equality, it’s equality plus lots of happiness and minimal suffering. My concept of everyone playing the black stone isn’t everyone mutually agreeing to suck at everything, it’s everyone mutually agreeing to cooperate in pursuit of an outcome that’s in everyone’s best interests.

          • Scott

            But the problem still arises that people only played the black stone because they had no other option. They didn’t choose to sacrifice in order to help others, you (or some other actor) took away their white stones in order to force them to play a black stone. While there are certainly people who would benefit from this outcome, I would posit that it wouldn’t result in minimal suffering. You haven’t reduced the suffering so much as you’ve spread it across everyone. While the idea that everyone should pitch in to help those less fortunate then themselves is certainly appealing, is it something we should force? Does any one actor really have the right to take away everyone’s white stones just because they feel it will make things more fair?

          • Stephanie

            Forcing everyone to play the black stone takes away some of everyone’s agency, but I disagree that it spreads the suffering across everyone. In the black stone/white stone game, everyone playing black is a win condition–everyone gets an A. By playing a black stone, each person will get exactly what they would have gotten by playing a white stone, so they have sacrificed nothing. The outcome of a game where everyone plays black stones should not be harmful to anyone.

            On top of that, there are inevitably going to be people who want to play black, but are fearful of the consequences if one jerk decides to play white. When they know that no one will be allowed to ruin everything by playing white, they’ll be able to comfortably play the black stone that they wanted to play the whole time.

          • Scott

            …You know, if we extrapolate out from your train of thought we still arrive back at your benevolent dictatorship. You’re advocating that people will be the happiest when they have absolutely no personal agency because then they can rest assured no one will make bad choices. Yes, every single day will be the best day it possibly could have been but only because an omnipotent puppet master dictated that it would be. You’re arguing that the most people will be the most happy under a system of complete oppression.

          • Stephanie

            In my benevolent dictatorship, people retain personal agency to do anything except screw over other people, or permit other people to be screwed over.

          • Scott

            Eh, I’m still going to do everything I can to start a revolution. I don’t want to live under any form of dictatorship no matter how benevolent and I don’t believe any one person or group of people is infallible enough to determine what qualifies as “screwing people over”. Also, I would argue that your statement is an oxymoron. Freedom to do anything except for what you’ve decided I can’t do isn’t freedom at all. If you truly believe in freedom, you have to support other people’s freedom to do things that you don’t agree with. That’s what freedom means. If no one ever said anything controversial, we wouldn’t need to protect freedom of speech. Freedom of speech exists specifically to protect controversial speech.

          • Stephanie

            Freedom doesn’t have to be an absolute. You can value freedom without insisting that it be unmitigated. Even in the United States, where freedom is held as one of the highest values, people don’t have unrestricted agency. There’s the obvious things like “don’t assault people,” and then there are the more indirect restrictions like “don’t horribly pollute the air everyone has to breathe.”

          • Scott

            Look, I understand that you want the world to be a better place. I understand that you want the world to be a utopia where everyone is nice to everyone else and everything always works out for everyone. I just can’t get behind your methodology. You told me before that you felt guilty about buying $12 of Halloween candy instead of giving the money for charity. Would you want to live in a world where that was illegal?

          • Stephanie

            No, I don’t think that making it illegal to buy Halloween candy would increase utility overall. Although, if it were somehow proven to me that it would, I would support such a law.

          • Scott

            Halloween candy is a useless exploit. It is an overpriced edible of almost no nutritional value, the consumption of which is far more harmful than beneficial even in small amounts. On the other hand, if the sale of Halloween candy were illegal then we could force people to spend their money on other things such as charities or food that is actually good for them. Not only would eating healthier food make people feel better but it would cause them to experience fewer health risks making them happier and more long-lived. There are even more reasons, but I think those are enough to support the idea that banning the sale of Halloween candy would increase utility.

          • Stephanie

            People enjoy eating Halloween candy; it provides happiness, hence utility. The candy industry employs many people and generates profits that can then be taxed. I’m all for more stringent regulations to prevent candy manufacturers from exploiting their overseas workers or using child labor or what have you, but I don’t think that banning the sale of candy in general would increase utility.

          • Scott

            Stephanie, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation and I think I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot from it. However, at this point I think we just have to agree to disagree. Thank you for the exchange and maybe we’ll have another one after the comic has progressed to new places. It was great getting to pick your brain and see a different point of view.

          • Psile

            Shouldn’t Max also be in on that?

          • MrSing

            Oh, Max doesn’t really matter in this situation. It’s not like he can do anything against it. His consent is irrelevant to Alison, so the burden she chose to bear is to always force him to help her on any project she hears about, since she took that responsibility on her shoulders.

          • Psile

            I’m just saying if we’re going to hypothetically punish Allison for refusing to take action, shouldn’t we also punish the person who is actually refusing to take action?

          • MrSing

            Well, I’m not for punishing Alison for inaction in these particular cases, but if she argues that Max should be punished for inaction, it would be pretty hypocritical of her not to punish herself for doing the same thing.
            I worded it in my post above to be from Alison’s perspective. That was pretty unclear on my part, I admit.

          • Psile

            Fair point. It was Clemens who was wording it like punishment, not you. I’m Getting a little mixed up with all the replies.

            I don’t know that Alison thinks that Max should be punished for his inaction, just that now that she has the information she can’t pretend she doesn’t have it. She would be a party to all of the death if she didn’t intervene.

          • MrSing

            Well, I’d say that you could be a bit flexible with “punishment” here if you wanted.
            She certainly was willing to hurt him until he cooperated. I don’t know if that is technically punishing someone for not acting until they do, but I’d say it’s pretty close.

          • Psile

            Punishment in this sense is about a fair action as a response to another person’s wrongdoings. What your talking about is certainly coercion, but I didn’t detect any kind of justice motivation to Alison’s action. It was about saving lives, not punishing Max for not acting sooner. If she had wanted to punish him, she wouldn’t have asked nicely first.

          • Weatherheight

            Heh. The psychologist in me hears “punishment” and leaps to a very different definition indeed. Thanks for the clarification.

          • Regret

            I never understood the connection between punishment and justice.
            Or, to be more precise, if justice demands punishment then (that subset of) justice is at best ineffective and at worst unethical.
            So now that I wrote it down… I mean being just does not make you a better person and it does not improve the world around you if it means going around punishing people.

          • Izo

            The elements to justice are similar to the four primary reasons for punishment in general.

            1) Deterrence – Preventing future crime by frightening the defendant or the public from doing this sort of crime again. There are two types of deterrence – specific and general. Specific applies to an individual defendant – the idea being that when an individual is adequately punished, they are theoretically less likely to commit another crime for fear of a similar or worse punishment in the future (and yes, it doesn’t work with some people, judging from how some come out of prison with street cred and more likelihood to go back to future criminality). General applies to the public at large. When the public learns of an individual’s punishment, the public in general is less likely to commit a crime for fear of punishment that the defendant experienced. (This tends to be a lot more of a reason than specific punishment)

            2) Rehabilitation – Prevents future crime by altering the defendant’s behavior, in order to reduce recidivism

            3) Incapacitation – Prevents future evils from being done by the perpetrator by removing him or her from society. (ie, Cleaver) This can’t happen to Alison, unfortunately. She’s too powerful and no one else is around capable of doing this to her, as far as we know.

            4) Retribution – basically, vengeance on behalf of the victim. When victims or society discover that a defendant HAS been adequately punished for their crimes, there’s a satisfaction that justice has been reached, and for the victims, it gives them some measure of closure for the crime to which they were helplessly subjected.

          • Scott

            Technically, we aren’t punishing Allison for her inaction. We are punishing her for taking away another human being’s sense of agency. Being free means having the right to make your own choices, even if that means choosing not to help others.
            I know that’s a hard sell, but consider this scenario. What if a young woman is attending college for pre-med on a basketball scholarship. She is an incredibly gifted basketball player and is offered a shot to go pro. However, she is also the most gifted medical student this college has ever seen and it is obvious her work in the field of medicine could lead to the development of new procedures that could save millions of lives. In her heart, she knows nothing has ever made her as happy as basketball and she is seriously considering going pro and leaving her medical career behind.
            Does the government have the right to step in and FORCE her to continue her medical career? Obviously, she would make a much more positive impact on the world as a doctor but that isn’t the path she wants to take. Doesn’t she have the right to make her own choices?

          • Stephanie

            The scenario Clemens described would be punishing Alison specifically for her inaction–confronting her with the reality of all the people she’s not helping because she feels too guilty to coerce Max again.

          • Weatherheight

            Nice new Avatar. 😀

          • Stephanie

            Haha, thanks! Do you recognize it?

          • Izo

            Okay I can totally expect now to be posting responses to you without realizing I am since I won’t see blue hair first.

          • Stephanie

            You’ll get accustomed to the glowy yellowish beige! At which point I’ll probably abruptly change it to some other weird crap.

          • Izo

            … I’ll still miss the blue hair.

          • Weatherheight

            Seconded.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I do not. Mind if I ask you what it is?

          • Stephanie

            It’s a still from Swiss Army Man. Really weird premise, really great movie. Probably my favorite.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This is unrelated and potentially nothing of my concern but can I also ask you if the previous profile picture was you?

          • Stephanie

            Yeah, that was me. I decided there’s no reason to continue plastering my face on a social media platform that I occasionally use to argue with really angry people in the comments of political news articles. It makes it too easy to track down my real identity. Plus the angry news article people always make fun of my hair.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No argument there.
            And I like the contrast from the blue to the orange.

          • Stephanie

            TBH I don’t really like orange and it feels weird to associate myself with the color, but I just love that movie so much.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            At first I thought it was just an Halloween tribute. It suits the period and you!

          • Weatherheight

            I don’t – it strikes me as having an element of puppets or stop-motiona animation a la Tim Burton to it though. Perhaps…

            Nightmare Before Christmas? Maybe?

          • Stephanie

            You’re close with the puppet thing! It’s from Swiss Army Man, where one of the characters sets up a shadow puppet theater.

          • Weatherheight

            I was contemplating seeing the movie – your recommendation has tipped the scale. 😀

          • Stephanie

            Yes, absolutely you should see it! Let me know what you thought of it. Bear in mind, it’s very weird–the best way to experience it, IMO, is to just go along with the weirdness.

          • Izo

            For those of us ignorant and still reeling from not seeing the blue hair, could you tell us what Swiss Army Man is? 🙂

          • Stephanie

            It’s a great movie that was in theaters a few months ago and recently came out for home viewing. It’s about a guy who is trapped on a desert island until a corpse washes up on the beach and they become friends. Also the corpse is played by Daniel Radcliffe, who can apparently take whatever weird-ass roles he wants since he already has infinite money.

          • Izo

            Just put it on my Netflix queue. Unfortunately can only get it on DVD – not streaming so I’ll have to wait. Thanks for the recommend 🙂

          • Stephanie

            Amazon Instant Video has it, I think you can rent it in standard definition for like, 3 bucks? So that’s also an option if you’re as impatient as I am.

            I should warn you–the story might initially seem weird and even juvenile, but it all ties together. It’s most enjoyable to watch when you just kind of run with all the weirdness and accept it as unquestioningly as the characters do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

          • Izo

            I’m sure I can handle it. I’ve watched Rapture-palooza. I can handle weird.

          • Stephanie

            What’s that one about? Is it good?

          • Izo

            It’s awesome. Anna Kendrick (from Pitch Perfect) , John Francis Daley (from Bones), Rob Corddry (from Warm Bodies and Children’s Hospital and Hot Tub Time Machine), Craig Robinson (as the Beast/Antichrist), Ken Jeong (as God).

            It’s a comedy about what happens after the Rapture. And I guarantee you won’t predict at all what happens.

          • Stephanie

            I keep meaning to watch Warm Bodies! Now I gotta add this to the list too. I love movies where I can’t predict what will happen.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I was speaking about punishing her for stopping there, actually. For not responding “show me the people I need to twist my ex’s arm in front of, doctor, and it’ll be done in the hour”.
            If she is to feel guilt about what she did, then showing her absolutely all the ways being a tyrant could genuinely help if she just became one earnestly is a good way.

          • Eric Meyer

            I’m wondering if part of why she was able to get herself to force Max was because she felt it was an ‘even trade’ deal- take away another’s Agency, but give Agency back to Feral.

          • SirKaid

            I’m fairly certain that she did it because Feral is her friend and she felt guilty about inspiring her to be tortured forever, then this guy who she greatly dislikes refuses to help out of pettiness. Purely an emotional reaction.

            It’s only now that it’s sinking in that she committed a horrible crime in pursuit of her goal.

          • Izo

            Except Feral never lost her agency in the first place. She was doing this VOLUNTARILY. Voluntarily choosing of her own free will to do something means she had agency already.

          • Psile

            Comparing Max to forcing someone to be a doctor is an argument I’ve seen a couple of times and I always have the same problem. I honestly don’t know if there is a proper real world example for a fantastic scenario such as the one presented in the comic.

            I think my biggest problem is the personal responsibility lacking in being a doctor vs Max’s situation. Max is the only person out of 7 billion people on earth who can do what he does. It’s not fair, but it does make him uniquely responsible for how that power is used. It’s not fair that the sick people need organs either. Lots of people can be doctors, and if one person doesn’t want to become a doctor that is ultimately a personal choice. You mitigate this in your scenario by stating that she will develop new procedures that will save millions of lives. You imply that she is the only one who can do this.

            Accepting these statements as unmitigated fact, that she without a doubt is the only one in her generation capable of developing these cutting edge procedures, your character now basically has a super power. Should the government dictate her career path? Still no. That opens up a whole Orwellian can of worms that would cause suffering that would mitigate the benefits.

            I’m not talking about governmental change, I’m talking about one person making a choice. If someone’s relative or spouse had some kind of horrible disease that could only be cured by this one hypothetical person, could you say that the relative was wrong if they forced the subject to cure them? Do you think that even if they had to hold a gun to this otherwise innocent person’s head and force them cure their family that they would think they did the wrong thing? Even if they went to jail for the rest of their life and they can’t even look at a gun again without thinking of the horrible thing they did would they say ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’? I think no. I don’t think I could judge them because in that situation I would probably do the same thing.

          • Izo

            So… if you’re a particularly skilled doctor and the only one who can do a particular surgery successfully, then it’s okay to force them at gunpoint?

          • Psile

            Problem is that people like that don’t exist in the real world. Skilled doctor’s do, and I’m not up on all the medical procedures but most surgeries and other procedures are standardized.

            Again, given your scenario of there being one person on the whole earth who can perform the procedure, they won’t for whatever reason, and your child will die if it doesn’t happen I think that most people would employ almost any means needed to coerce the doctor to perform the procedure.

            I don’t think ‘okay’ is the right word here. I think more along the lines of it being the least bad option.

          • Izo

            “Problem is that people like that don’t exist in the real world. Skilled doctor’s do, and I’m not up on all the medical procedures but most surgeries and other procedures are standardized.”

            Actually yes, they do exist in the real world. Case in point being Dr. Ben Carson, who was the first and only person at the time to be able to separate conjoined twins, joined at the head. Literally no one else on the planet had been capable of doing so except him. Even today, 30 years later, there’s maybe 3 people on the entire planet who have any sort of experience with doing this successfully.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            One of the reasons why being that there are like four conjoined twins in need of operation in the entire world at any moment. If that skill were to become more needed…

          • Izo

            So does the fact that the problem is rare mean the question is meaningless? Or are people who have a rare disease less worthy of life than people who have a more common one, like cancer? I’m assuming you would think that is NOT the case, given what I know about you from your past posts.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No of course not this was just a tangent making fun of the example you chose. For sure there are only a handful of *expert* surgeons who can do extremely specific things and are the only one who can.

          • Izo

            heh 🙂 Okay so you’d agree that it would not be right to put a gun to his head to do that, right?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It’s generally a good rule of thumb to assume that “putting a gun to someone’s head” in any circumstance is not ever a justifiable thing.

          • Izo

            I agree, although according to many of the utiltarians who have defended Alison, it is.

          • Stephanie

            The actual act of putting gun to head is not a good thing. It is harmful and wrong. In context, however, it can be a good decision. What’s “good” in Alison’s case is that she correctly put countless lives ahead of Max’s autonomy; the actual act of violating Max’s autonomy was still wrong, just less wrong than the alternative.

          • Regret

            For the threatener it is the least bad option so it is conceivable that someone would make that choice. Whether an outsider who understand that has to accept that behaviour is another matter.
            It is not inconceivable to disagree with a choice while understanding that you would do the same if the roles were reversed.

            It’s a tough decision either way.

          • Psile

            Neat, didn’t know that.

            Either way, I stand by my reasoning. Also, I don’t know if acceptable is the word I’m trying to use. Here’s some points I’m not contesting.

            1. We can’t live in a society where people go around physically forcing others to do stuff if there is no legal compulsion to do it because they think it is right. There needs to be punishment for this no matter the circumstances.

            2. Physically forcing someone to act in a way they don’t want to is wrong, barring circumstances where they instigated physical conflict first.

            Knowing all that, I would do it anyway because the stakes of the situation are greater than societal needs and it would be more wrong to knowing let someone die when I could stop it. So yeah, essentially that is what I’m saying depending on your definition of the word acceptable.

          • Izo

            As much as I would think what you did was wrong (and very unacceptable in any sort of civilized society), at least with you, as opposed to Alison, you would be subject to punishment by the law. Alison is not.

          • Psile

            So we assume. There have been jokes about Alison being physically incapable of being detained, but they seem to have managed with Cleaver so it can’t be impossible. There has never been a concentrated effort to combat her, but I think that she has not yet been detained because things have not been escalated to that point.

            However, to take your point at face value I don’t know how much that changes things. Alison is not responsible for having her powers. She can only act in the best way possible given the scenario she is in. I agree that it is ‘very unacceptable in any sort of civilized society’ but here we are. Civilized society has not alleviated the suffering of those who need the transplants. It has not saved the 6,000 people who die on the transplant list annually. I guess their loved ones can be consoled by the fact that they live in a ‘civilized society’. Sorry, I know that came off combative and it’s not my intention to be. I just can’t think of another way to phrase it.

          • Izo

            “So we assume. There have been jokes about Alison being physically incapable of being detained, but they seem to have managed with Cleaver so it can’t be impossible.”

            Little problem with comparisons to Cleaver being detained in a prison. The only reason he was even able to be detained in a prison was because Alison beat the hell out of him in a fight. Who’s going to beat the hell out of Alison to make it possible to keep HER detained?

            “However, to take your point at face value I don’t know how much that changes things. Alison is not responsible for having her powers. ”

            Alison is not responsible for having her powers. She also would not be responsible for not using her powers. However, she is responsible for how she uses her powers when she DOES use her powers. Think of it like gun ownership. If you own a gun, but never use the gun and keep it locked up, then no one’s going to say you’re responsible for the use of the gun – because you have NOT used it. That itself is responsible enough. No one’s going to suggest you go out and find criminals to shoot, or go out specifically looking for bad guys. If you own a gun and USE the gun, then if you use it, it must be used responsibly. Now substitute ‘powers’ for ‘gun.’

            “Civilized society has not alleviated the suffering of those who need the transplants. It has not saved the 6,000 people who die on the transplant list annually.”

            But it did save the 30,973 people who WERE saved last year by organ transplants. Or the thousands more who HAVE had corneal implants to regain their sight or prevent blindness. As opposed to pre-civilization, where they all just died because we hadnt progressed to the the medical knowledge to be able to do stuff like that in the first place.

          • Psile

            “The only reason he was even able to be detained in a prison was because Alison beat the hell out of him in a fight. Who’s going to beat the hell out of Alison to make it possible to keep HER detained?”

            Who knows. Maybe like 100 superheroes or something. Also there’s that super fast Chinese dude who we don’t know a lot about, never mind the potential Super Heroes from other countries. Or just the army. I know Alison seems indestructible, but I imagine a few sidewinder missiles might contest that point, or the new Navy Railgun capable of shooting targets 110 miles away with projectiles that travel up to mach 7. The impact is comparable to “a freight train going through the wall at a hundred miles an hour.” Alison doesn’t have super vision. She wouldn’t even see what was shooting at her. We’ve gotten really good at destroying shit lately, is what I’m trying to say. Aside from that, you’re assuming Alison would resist if she was arrested. She is clearly feeling very guilty right now, and would probably accept it as a natural result of her actions.

            “She also would not be responsible for not using her powers.”

            Yes, she would. Choosing not to act is a choice. To your point about gun ownership if a person owned a gun and did not use it to defend another person they are responsible for that choice. I’m not saying they are morally compelled to use the gun in this way, but ultimately they have to answer to themselves why they didn’t act. Maybe they felt that they would have died if they had placed themselves in harm’s way or they would have placed even more people in danger. I’m not saying inaction is always bad, particularly when we’re talking about people thinking that owning a gun makes them James Bond, but simply not acting does not absolve someone of moral responsibility.

            “But it did save the 30,973 people who WERE saved last year by organ transplants.”

            I never said that civilized society didn’t exist or have benefits, just that there are holes in it and honestly I don’t think Alison’s actions are in danger of tearing it down. Alison might be choosing to ignore societal rules, and even violate the social contract, but that does not mean that society is now in shambles. Alison isn’t responsible for the existence of society. She is responsible for her own actions.

          • Izo

            “Who knows. Maybe like 100 superheroes or something.”

            I just really don’t see this happening in the comic at all.

            “Yes, she would. Choosing not to act is a choice. To your point about gun ownership if a person owned a gun and did not use it to defend another person they are responsible for that choice.”

            I think you may be misunderstanding the what I’m saying about gun ownership. I’m saying if you own a gun, but never use it, that itself is already responsible. Once you start USING it, you need to be responsible in how you use it. It’s a moot point to ask if you’re being responsible with a gun if you never use the gun. Same thing with powers. If you don’t use a gun to defend someone does not mean you’re being irresponsible with owning a gun. But if you DO use the gun to defend someone else, you need to be responsible when using it to make sure that 1) you don’t shoot the wrong person, and 2) you only kill if you actually have to, instead of incapacitate. You don’t start firing wildly into a crowd.

            “I never said that civilized society didn’t exist or have benefits, just that there are holes in it and honestly I don’t think Alison’s actions are in danger of tearing it down.”

            And I’m saying their situation would not be superior if civilization did not exist. Just more people’s situations would be worse.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            and he saved countless, countless lives? Or just an handful? Because when the stakes changes morality changes as well.

          • Izo

            Could you please give me your calculated value on how much human lives are worth since apparently there’s some number above which doing evil acts are acceptable? I’ll make sure that my mass killing spree and the number of organs I donate from those victims would be large enough to make the evil acceptable.

            /sarcasm. I am not a mass murderer and do not plan on being one.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            No, there is no such numbers. It’s a simple observation: saving some lives and saving millions are two radically different situations, with different moral rules in play. I cannot explain it better than this. You seem to be a moral absolutist: in my opinion, the more dangerous kind of person in the world.

          • Random832

            Okay, which number isn’t different. Is saving ten thousand lives more similar to saving “some” lives or “millions”? What about half a million? What about nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine lives?

          • Izo

            No, I’m just not a hypocrite. I wouldn’t want to do something to another person that I wouldn’t want done to myself. Since I don’t want someone to torture, threaten to kill, or actually kill me, to get something THEY want, I wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to another person.

          • Incendax

            10 sounds like a nice round number. I might go lower, but 10 feels like a comfortable amount of lives to save in exchange for the discomfort of another. But then again, the impact of those lives is petty difficult to judge. I would save 1 brilliant scientist over 10 random people. It’s a gamble, of course.

          • Izo

            Based on what metric exactly? Or did you just pick a number out of a hat?

            Also, lets say one of the 10 random people was your daughter. Would you still feel that way? Assuming your daughter isn’t a brilliant scientist on par with the person being saved. After all, it’s a gamble.

          • Incendax

            Keep in mind I said 10 was the high number. The point where the blurry line crosses into a ‘definite yes’ for me. I would probably say yes to lower numbers of people being saved, even as low as 2 people being saved by sacrificing 1.

            The metric? As much information as I can gain about the lives of each involved individual, which is then used to make a determination about how beneficial I think they would be for society (which naturally cannot have a specific number, since I cannot see the future).

            And of course I would feel the same way if my daughter was included. I would desperately attempt to find a way to sacrifice myself instead of my daughter, but in the end the choice would be for the (perceived) greater good.

          • Izo

            “Keep in mind I said 10 was the high number. The point where the blurry line crosses into a ‘definite yes’ for me. I would probably say yes to lower numbers of people being saved, even as low as 2 people being saved by sacrificing 1”

            I still don’t know what your metric is for determining this. Is it just raw numbers? Does it matter about their quality of life? Whether the people being sacrificed vs people being saved have similar moral values to you? Age of the people being sacrificed vs being saved? Whether you know them or not?

            Would you sacrifice one person with Downs Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis to save one healthy, moderately intelligent (IQ-wise at least) person who was in jail for robbing 7-11s but claims that they want to turn their lives around?

            Would you sacrifice one person in their 40s for one person in their teens to be saved?

            “And of course I would feel the same way if my daughter was included.”

            So you would kill your daughter to save 10 strangers of similar age. That’s … um… okay, I am saying this without judging you since it’s a hypothetical situation, but honestly that’s disturbing. Since technically you could kill your daughter right now, harvest her organs, and those organs WOULD save at least 10 people. I have a hard time believing that you’re telling the truth about that. It seems like a fundamental disconnect with familial bonds between parents and their children.

          • Incendax

            “I still don’t know what your metric is for determining this. Is it just raw numbers? Does it matter about their quality of life? Whether the people being sacrificed vs people being saved have similar moral values to you? Age of the people being sacrificed vs being saved? Whether you know them or not?”

            Do I have that information? Do I have the time to study it and make some kind of determination as to which group of people will save the greatest number of lives down the road? If so, I would gladly take the time to study each person and attempt to determine the greatest benefit based on my personal perception what I consider to be a ‘greatest benefit’.

            “Would you sacrifice one person with Downs Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis to save one healthy, moderately intelligent (IQ-wise at least) person who was in jail for robbing 7-11s but claims that they want to turn their lives around?”

            Assuming I have absolutely no other information upon which to make a determination? Yes.

            “Would you sacrifice one person in their 40s for one person in their teens to be saved?”

            Assuming I have absolutely no other information upon which to make a determination? No. Older means he probably has a more developed skillset and moderate possibility that he has a family that relies upon him for support. This one is SUPER vague since you’re asking me to make the choice with basically no information.

            “So you would kill your daughter to save 10 strangers of similar age. That’s … um… okay, I am saying this without judging you since it’s a hypothetical situation, but honestly that’s disturbing. Since technically you could kill your daughter right now, harvest her organs, and those organs WOULD save at least 10 people. I have a hard time believing that you’re telling the truth about that. It seems like a fundamental disconnect with familial bonds between parents and their children.”

            It’s a damn tough choice to make, and I would probably weep like a baby. And I said I would do everything in my power to sacrifice myself instead of her. But there’s also a good chance that there are the daughters, sons, husbands, and wives that I would be condemning to die in her place. Their love is just as valid as my own. Not to mention, choosing to let someone you love deeply die is the harder of the two choices. The stronger burden.

            I would probably approach the survivors afterwards and tell them exactly what I had to sacrifice for their chance to live, and do my solemn best to make them swear to do something meaningful with their lives… To make a difference… to make the sacrifice COUNT.

          • Izo

            “Do I have that information?”

            Given that this is a trolley problem, which is inherently a flawed and stupid and unrealistic problem, let us assume yes, you somehow magically do have this information.

            “Do I have the time to study it and make some kind of determination as to which group of people will do the greatest good down the road?”

            Given that this is a trolley problem, which is inherently a flawed and stupid and unrealistic problem, let us assume no, you do not have this information in order to promote a sense of artificial urgency to the situation.

            “If so, I would gladly take the time to study each person and attempt to determine the greatest benefit based on my personal perception what I consider to be a ‘greatest benefit’.”

            1) Why do you consider yourself worthy of making this sort of situation? Are you smarter than other people? Do you have more of a moral authority? Are you a better person? Have you been chosen by all involved to make this decision? Do you have some objective standard for what is, in fact, the greater good? If not… I’m not sure how you can make this decision.

            2) What happens if you do NOT have time, for reasons that involve the fact that this is a trolley problem, which artificially ignores pertinent questions like you’re asking in order to get a binary and often sadistic set of choices?

            “Assuming I have absolutely no other information upon which to make a determination? Yes.”

            Why do you consider the person with Downs Syndrome and MS, who has never hurt another human being, to be less worthy of life than a healthy person who happens to be a criminal and may have hurt other human being in the past, and for whom you have no reason other than his word that he will not do so in the future? I’m confused as to the metric you use still, and if there’s any objective measures that you’re employing.

            “Assuming I have absolutely no other information upon which to make a determination? No. Older means he probably has a more developed skillset and moderate possibility that he has a family that relies upon him for support.”

            What about the fact that a teenager has more life ahead of him or her than the 40 year old. I ask because a lot of stuff you’ve said in past posts seemed to imply you use raw numbers rather than abstractions to make your decisions.

            “This one is SUPER vague since you’re asking me to make the choice with basically no information.”

            Welcome to the inherent flaw with trolley problems and utilitarianism in general. Very often, you have little or no information to go on other than your abstract philosophical beliefs of better and worse, and whether you are truly being honest with yourself when answering the question.

            “It’s a damn tough choice to make, and I would probably weep like a baby.”

            Again, do you realize that this particular question is troubling in how you’re answering it because this is something you can do, right now, for real?

            “And I said I would do everything in my power to sacrifice myself instead of her. But there’s also a good chance that there are the daughters, sons, husbands, and wives that I would be condemning to die in her place. Their love is just as valid as my own.”

            That would be little consolation to your daughter to say that. And you did not put those other people’s daughters, sons, husbands and wives in their situation in the first place. You ARE putting your daughter in that situation though. You’re actually CULPABLE in regards to what you do to your daughter, unlike the strangers.

            “Not to mention, choosing to let someone you love deeply die is the harder of the two choices. The stronger burden.”

            And I don’t understand how someone would be able to do that for someone that theylove deeply, based essentially on raw numbers as if it’s a calculator problem. I’m not sure how love has a calculated value.

            “I would probably approach the survivors afterwards and tell them exactly what I had to sacrifice for their chance to live, and do my solemn best to make them swear to do something meaningful with their lives… To make a difference… to make the sacrifice COUNT.”

            And how would you guarantee they would do something meaningful with their lives. And what would you consider meaningful vs what they consider meaningful? Should your concept of meaningful outweigh theirs since you’re the one who sacrificed your daughter? OR should their concept outweigh yours, since it’s their lives?

            Do you see the problems being raised by utilitarian choices in trolley problems yet? I’m just wondering.

          • Incendax

            The quotations are making the replies rather large. We may need to trim them down in the future.

            “1) Why do you consider yourself worthy of making this sort of situation? Are you smarter than other people? Do you have more of a moral authority? Are you a better person? Have you been chosen by all involved to make this decision? Do you have some objective standard for what is, in fact, the greater good? If not… I’m not sure how you can make this decision.”

            I don’t, but I’m being presented with the trolley problem regardless of my qualifications. Yes. No. Sometimes. No. Subjective only. Because I’m being forced to (hypothetically), and indecision is a decision.

            “2) What happens if you do NOT have time, for reasons that involve the fact that this is a trolley problem, which artificially ignores pertinent questions like you’re asking in order to get a binary and often sadistic set of choices?”

            Then I make a binary and possibly sadistic choice based upon whatever limited information I do have.

            “Why do you consider the person with Downs Syndrome and MS, who has never hurt another human being, to be less worthy of life than a healthy person who happens to be a criminal and may have hurt other human being in the past, and for whom you have no reason other than his word that he will not do so in the future? I’m confused as to the metric you use still, and if there’s any objective measures that you’re employing.”

            I know nothing about the situation except that one person has DS/MS and that the other person is of average intelligence, went to jail for robbery, and seems to want to improve his life. The DS/MS individual is a complete neutral. The criminal person has known what it is like break the law, be punished for it, and (seems) to be sincere in his desire to turn his life around. These are similar lessons to ones that build maturity and responsibility. While I have no guarantee that these lessons will actually result in such qualities, they have a potential to benefit society compared to the complete blank slate of the other option.

            “What about the fact that a teenager has more life ahead of him or her than the 40 year old. I ask because a lot of stuff you’ve said in past posts seemed to imply you use raw numbers rather than abstractions to make your decisions.”

            No, I use abstractions and only resort to raw numbers if there is absolutely no other information. I don’t place high value on remaining years of life unless it is a particularly extreme number (such as a 90 year old vs a 20 year old).

            “Again, do you realize that this particular question is troubling in how you’re answering it because this is something you can do, right now, for real?”

            Assuming I did a halfway decent job of raising my children (one can never be certain), they should each save more than 10 people through the duration of their lives unless they are suddenly confronted by a trolley problem.

            “That would be little consolation to your daughter to say that. And you did not put those other people’s daughters, sons, husbands and wives in their situation in the first place. You ARE putting your daughter in that situation though. You’re actually CULPABLE in regards to what you do to your daughter, unlike the strangers.”

            I can accept being culpable if it means, objectively, that a considerable number of people have been saved. It’s usually impossible to have that kind of objective guarantee but the trolley problem gives it to us.

            “And how would you guarantee they would do something meaningful with their lives. And what would you consider meaningful vs what they consider meaningful? Should your concept of meaningful outweigh theirs since you’re the one who sacrificed your daughter? OR should their concept outweigh yours, since it’s their lives?”

            You can’t, that’s the gamble. What I would consider meaningful would take too many paragraphs to write, unfortunately, since it is the product of my entire life experiences. No, but since I’m the one being faced with the trolley problem it does regardless of my feelings on the matter.

            “Do you see the problems being raised by utilitarian choices in trolley problems yet? I’m just wondering.”

            Certainly! I’ve seen the problems with your argument, my argument, and every other argument that has been discussed on these forums. I’ve been doing trolley problems since I was a kid and my father sat me down to talk about ethics. So no worries there.

          • Izo

            “Yes. No. Sometimes. No. Subjective only. Because I’m being forced to (hypothetically), and indecision is a decision.”

            Indecision isnt a decision though. It’s a lack of a decision. It literally means ‘no decision.’ 🙂 At least when you start talking about what is ‘for the greater good.’ Saying something is ‘for the greater good’ implies that the other choice is bad.

            “I know nothing about the situation except that one person has DS/MS and that the other person is of average intelligence, went to jail for robbery, and seems to want to improve his life.”

            Based entirely on what he said. My point is that trolley problems are inherently flawed, because like you have alluded to, they inherently remove most of the information you need to make a valid THIRD choice, like you would be able to in real life.

            “I can accept being culpable if it means, objectively, that a considerable number of people have been saved. It’s usually impossible to have that kind of objective guarantee but the trolley problem gives it to us.”

            Which is why a trolley problem is an inherently flawed was of presenting a problem because it is a tool used to try to justify utilitarian answers, since real life problems are more detailed and utilitarian answers only work when you ignore a LOT of information that’s necessary to make a decision, as well as trying to quantifiable elements that are unquantifiable.

            For example, with me, I would not ever sacrifice my daughter (if I had one). My love for my child would be an abstract far superior to any numerical amount of lives and could not be plugged into a formula. Selfish? I don’t care. My daughter would be more important. Because she’s MY daughter and my love for my child is more important to me than any number of other people. I’d be hard pressed to think that anyone would be told to sacrifice their child for the good of the state. It seems inherently ghoulish.

            “Certainly! I’ve seen the problems with your argument, my argument, and every other argument that has been discussed on these forums. I’ve been doing trolley problems since I was a kid and my father sat me down to talk about ethics. So no worries there.”

            Glad you can see where I’m coming from 🙂

          • Izo

            Need to ask, when you received your omniscient godlike understanding of how much each life was worth (obviously due to your superior morality compared to worthless humans, of which you cannot possibly be since you know better), did you publish it so others can learn from your vast wisdom on the metrics of human life worth? If not, might I suggest, with all humility, your supremeness, that you publish it so we can learn from you? Because I, for one, would definitely like to know how much a life is worth, if my life is worth more or less than another person’s life, and how many people I can extinguish the life of if it saves a certain other amount of more valuable people’s lives that are worthy of continued existence under your definitely objective and not subjective at all standards.

            I’m on the edge of my seat to find this out since I rarely hear from omniscient people who have such cosmic levels of greater understanding than us mere mortals.

            /sarcasm

          • Giacomo Bandini

            it’s called human empathy, you should try it sometimes.

            Look, is very simple. The thought of myself, my loved ones, anybody actually hurts me. The unfairness of it burns inside me, like a hot metal poker in my flesh.
            And yes, also the thought of an innocent person bullied by someone stronger, beasten, forced to do something he hates pains and disturbs me.
            I simply choose the path of less pain.

            It is a subjective choice? FUCKING YES. Morality IS subjective, that’s the point. That is why we have rules, we have laws. We compromize between differetn interest, differents vision, different priorities.
            One example of compromize is the so-called “body autonomy”. it’s a good compromize, actually: your body and your personal freedom cannot be violated and you cannot be forced into do anything you do not want, unless you are declared a criminal, or there is a special situation where yours and others physical security is in danger, a natural disaster or awar. In that case, you do what you are told to do, or else.
            A pretty logic compromize, which consider most of situations.
            Unfortunatly, superpowers changes everything.

            A superpowered individual, the very powerful ones, is at the very same time a world changing tool… or a weapon of mass destruction.
            A Maxed Patrick can listen to the thought of an entire city, maybe of an entire nation; a Maxed Alison could be so strong to compress carbon into diamonds, who knows; and just how distructive coul have been a Maxed Furnace? Who needs nuclear weapons, when you just can deploy Furnace?

            This is Max. He never realized, but he is much more powerful than Alison.
            So, how conventional morality applies, on this living weapon of Mass destruction? Can we really just let this being, who is at the very same time an incredible resource and an incredible danger to the whole world, alone?

            In a world like this, where single individuals have more power than an atomic weapons, old relic of a world past like “body autonomy” no longer applies. That is why, i guessed, the conspiracy has killed them: fearing that they cannot controls them, they just take them out of the picture. Why Max has survived, it’s a mystery i’m sure the story will reveal.

            So, in conclusion: how can i be angry that Alison removed the agency or the body autonomy of an individual WHO SHOULD NOT EVER HAVE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?

            If could do what Max does, if you could save millions of lives and destroy them on a whim, well sorry mate: that’s my gun pointed on your head, you re gonna sit there until we figure what to do with you. But what if i had a personal stake in this? What if the use of your powers would save my mother? i guess i’m going to need a “favour” from you first.

            Yes, Alison did a really stupid thing. Not a”wrong” thing, mind you. The wrong thing was the choice to keep Max powers secret: it exposed the entire humanity to an extreme danger. What would have happened if Patrick had gotten to him when he still was Menace? He would really could have conquered the USA, if not the entire world! Alison was just stupid: she choosed to let the human philosofer stone alone, to go on his life… and to just borrow him one time. She did it for love, for millions of lives. But know anything can happen. The only sensitive choice would have been immediatly breaking Max’s neck.

          • Izo

            “it’s called human empathy, you should try it sometimes.”

            I’ve never heard of human empathy being described by calculating how human lives have a value that can be calculated like a computer program.

            “Look, is very simple. The thought of myself, my loved ones, anybody actually hurts me. The unfairness of it burns inside me, like a hot metal poker in my flesh. And yes, also the thought of an innocent person bullied by someone stronger, beasten, forced to do something he hates pains and disturbs me.
            I simply choose the path of less pain.”

            And yet if it was your loved one on the short end of the stick, you’d sacrifice their freedom, violate them, or kill them to save a larger amount of people whom you don’t know? That’s… a pretty unique concept of ‘the path of less pain.’ It seems a bit sociopathic to say you’d do that, as if you have no connection to your loved ones if a formulaic equation says a greater amount of strangers will be saved by utilitarian logic.

            “It is a subjective choice? FUCKING YES. Morality IS subjective, that’s the point. That is why we have rules, we have laws. We compromize between differetn interest, differents vision, different priorities.”

            We have rules and laws to put an objective basis ON something that’s inherently subjective. What you are arguing is to get rid of the objective part (the LAW and rules), because it gets in the way of your subjective notion of what’s right and wrong in YOUR eyes. God help us if someone else has a similar opinion and their subjective notion is to put us as the person or people who must be sacrificed.

            “In a world like this, where single individuals have more power than an atomic weapons, old relic of a world past like “body autonomy” no longer applies. That is why, i guessed, the conspiracy has killed them: fearing that they cannot controls them, they just take them out of the picture. Why Max has survived, it’s a mystery i’m sure the story will reveal.”

            They already explained why Max survived. His mother got him removed from the lists, and he NEVER used his powers publicly as a result. Yet somehow there’s a file telling exactly what he can do with 100 percent accurate pre-guessed results of what would happen EXACTLY if used on someone who regenerates.

            Which sounds stupid when you think about it.

            “So, in conclusion: how can i be angry that Alison removed the agency or the body autonomy of an individual WHO SHOULD NOT EVER HAVE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE?”

            Warning: Massive sarcasm to follow:

            Spoken just like a plantation owner with slaves, who doesn’t know why the slaves should have the right to be free when they’re less than human anyway. They’re only worth 3/5th of a human right? They shouldnt have freedom anyway! They wouldnt know what to do with freedom! /SARCASM

            /sarcasm

            Spoken just like people who were putting jewish people in gas chambers because they’re imperfect animals, not the idealized aryan race. They weaken the pure genetic strain of the german people, right? /SARCASM

            /sarcasm

            Spoken just like a sharia-run nation which takes homosexual men to the top of buildings and throws them off, and takes women who are impure and stones them to death. After all, they’re less than human in the eyes of Allah, right? They shouldnt be alive anyway since they’re an abomination to God, right? /SARCASM

            /sarcasm

            Sarcasm over.

            The fact that you consider Max to be someone who should NOT be allowed the same bodily autonomy as you have is massively hypocritical, and is the reasoning that has been responsible for some of the worst atrocities to other human beings on the planet. The conceited notion that some people are worth less than others because they’re not as worthy of human rights just because of their genetics or how they were born. /not sarcasm at all.

            “If could do what Max does, if you could save millions of lives and destroy them on a whim,”

            Max can’t destroy lives. He can save them.

            “well sorry mate: that’s my gun pointed on your head, you re gonna sit there until we figure what to do with you.”

            Pray that no one ever thinks that they can have a net positive for the world if your autonomy was taken away instead.

            “But what if i had a personal stake in this? What if the use of your powers would save my mother? i guess i’m going to need a “favour” from you first.”

            And if your mother was the one who could save others, and did not because of some sort of fear she had? I guess you’d remove her autonomy as well because you have superior morality and authority to force others, despite pesky inconvenient things like rule of law and societal rules.

            If I have powers, and I could save your mother? Well I’d probably save her life because I’m that sort of person. If I wasn’t that sort of person though? Then you should offer me something sufficient to change my mind. And if you can’t, and wanted to use physical force, then you should prepare to suffer the consequences of your actions and accept that you will be punished. The net good in your eyes for sacrificing my autonomy will have to be enough for you, but you do NOT get to get off scott free PLUS get everything you want at my expense. Sorry, not happening.

            “Yes, Alison did a really stupid thing. Not a”wrong” thing, mind you. The wrong thing was the choice to keep Max powers secret: it exposed the entire humanity to an extreme danger.”

            You don’t seem to understand what ‘expose to extreme danger’ means – it means that there was NOT a danger, and becaue of Max’s powers being secret, danger occured. People needing organs would happen regardless of whether Max had powers or not. Regardless of whether Max EXISTED or not.

            “What would have happened if Patrick had gotten to him when he still was Menace? He would really could have conquered the USA, if not the entire world! Alison was just stupid: she choosed to let the human philosofer stone alone, to go on his life… and to just borrow him one time.”

            And borrow him one time. Until the next time he needs to enslave him. And the time after that. And after that. And after that. Until Max can’t take it any more and kills himself, or better yet, until he kills someone else that Alison cares about in order to have suicide-by-Alison.

            Here’s an example. Lets say Max decides to kill Alison’s sister. Then tells Alison that he killed her sister because he wanted HER to feel helplessness for a change, like she made him feel. Is Alison going to kill Max, or keep him alive so he can keep being used ‘for the greater good?’ After all, if she acts on emotion and kills Max, she has ’caused extreme danger to the human race’ as a result.

            “She did it for love, for millions of lives. But know anything can happen. The only sensitive choice would have been immediatly breaking Max’s neck.

            No, the sensitive choice would be to break Patrick’s neck, the terrorist who’s killed thousands of innocent people and is a danger to the entire world if he ever GOT Max to augment him, and keep Max’s powers a secret.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            You write a lot, you know? It’s difficoult to answer to everything, and frankly, a little boring. So i’ll be very sinthetic.
            1) i choose the little risk of myself or my loved ones being abused and bullied for some hours than the far greater risk of one of more of us getting sick and dying because of organ scarcity.
            2) The paragon with racism is nonsense. Max is not less than human, he is MORE than human. I’m defending humanity from him.
            3)Max dosen’t save anyone. He enpowers people. He could give Gandhi the power to convert to pacifism the whole world…. or Hitler the power to conquer it.
            4) Ok, i ‘ll do. I already pray that i do not ever need a heart transplant, so i just exchange one prayer for the other
            5) No, of course not, i’ll protect my mother at any cost. But now i’ll accept the risk that one day she MAY have her autonomy removed from her for the CERTAINITY i will not lose her to that kind of sickness.
            6) The danger is the fact that by keeping his powers a secret, Max has been removed from the protection of the goverment, who now cannot stop anyone to reach him and force him to use his powers for his goals. Which is exactly what has happened – we got lucky it was Alison.
            7) I don’t belive Alison will do that again, exactly for the reason you described. Anyway, in your hypotetical scenario, it would be a stupid mistake from Alison part to kill him: her sister would stay dead, and other people will not stop suffering.
            8) Killing Patrick is only a temporary solution. There are many more Patrick in the world. Letting the innocent living his live still means a great risk for humanity, while it gives no benefits at all. I repeat, gave it to the goverment, or kill it right now. That’s the only rational course of action.

            conclusion. I think that the main point of disagreement between us is that for me, being privated of my autonomy is not a “special” brand of evil. It sucks, for sure, it sucks a lot. But there are a lot of shitty fates that can happen to you, some of them much more probables than this one. So for me is just one risk against others.

          • Izo

            “You write a lot, you know?”

            No, I was not aware of that. Thank goodness you were able to alert me.

            “It’s difficoult to answer to everything, and frankly, a little boring. So i’ll be very sinthetic.”

            I find your posts to be quite exciting. I make it into a game to find all the spelling errors and incorrect words. And misspelling the incorrect words. Also….you’ll be synthetic? Are…. wait… are you a robot? Because that would explain a lot about why you can so easily reduce human lives to computational numbers.

            “1) i choose the little risk of myself or my loved ones being abused and bullied for some hours than the far greater risk of one of more of us getting sick and dying because of organ scarcity.”

            Uh… to what part of my post was this in response?

            And what about one of your loved ones being abused and bullied for someone who you don’t know needing organs? You know, aside from all the people Feral was ALREADY saving without Max’s help.

            “2) The paragon with racism is nonsense.”

            The…paragon… with racism. Do you mean the part with racism? Portion with racism? Paragon means ‘a perfect example’ or ‘perfect person representing something.’

            Anyway, the PART with racism was based on how you said that Max is not deserving of autonomy. Slaveowner don’t believe their slaves deserve autonomy either.

            “I’m defending humanity from him.”

            I was not aware that Max causes organ failure in others so that he is required to make sure Feral can donate even more organs than she already does. How dare he!

            /s

            “3)Max dosen’t save anyone. He enpowers people.”

            You’re really killing me with the spelling. I’m no longer pointing out each time because I’m beginning to realize that English probably isn’t your first language, but it’s REALLY hard to understand some of what you’re saying.

            Max doesn’t save people. Okay. So? Max doesn’t save people so you’re going to force him to save people?

            “He could give Gandhi the power to convert to pacifism the whole world…. or Hitler the power to conquer it.”

            1) And apparently he brings the dead back to life to do that.
            2) I missed the part in the history books where Gandhi had pacifism as a superpower. I also missed where Hitler had superpowers that could be augmented. I’m assuming you’re trying to talk in a poetic or allegorical manner. However, forcing someone to be a pacifist – so.. you’re saying Max should figure a way to brainwash the world? Remember Angel, with the Power that Was, Jasmine? She basically brought world peace, at the cost of a few lives that would be sacrificed a day. Guess what, Jasmine was a ‘big bad.’

            “4) Ok, i ‘ll do. I already pray that i do not ever need a heart transplant, so i just exchange one prayer for the other”

            You’ll do? Oh you mean you’ll pray that no one ever decides to enslave you for their on purposes for a greater good. Amazingly enough, if you need a heart transplant, despite being synthetic, Feral was still giving 8-10 of them a day. Without even letting others get tortured. Not to mention all the other people in the world who sign organ donor cards. And none of them tortured anyone to do that either. Amazing huh?

            How praying that no one ever enslaves you for their own purposes (in the ultimate display of self-interest) cancels out praying that you never have to force someone else in order to get a heart (again, displaying self-interest of yourself over others) confounds me. Not to mention is confusing since you don’t like Max because HE is self-interested.

            “5) No, of course not, i’ll protect my mother at any cost.”

            Unless her life can save 10 others, from what was described in an earlier post.

            “6) The danger is the fact that by keeping his powers a secret, Max has been removed from the protection of the goverment, who now cannot stop anyone to reach him and force him to use his powers for his goals.”

            Okay I’ve read this three times now and I’m trying to figure out what the heck you wrote. Let me try again….

            By keeping his powers a secret, Max has been removed from the protection of the government…. which had a conspiracy in it which was killing dynamorphs who could change the world? How… how is that protection? His mother did protect him, by keeping his powers secret.

            Who cannot stop anyone to reach him and force him to use his powers for his goals. What. The heck. Does that even mean?

            “Which is exactly what has happened – we got lucky it was Alison.”

            We’re lucky we got someone who cannot be punished for her crimes by any means known to man, who has now decided that she can do whatever she wants to anyone, on her whim, because she wants to, because she considers it for the greater good compared to enslaving, torturing, or threatening to kill someone?

            “7) I don’t belive Alison will do that again, exactly for the reason you described.”

            Except she said she WOULD do it again. Because she’s stronger. She told Max that explicitly.

            “Anyway, in your hypotetical scenario, it would be a stupid mistake from Alison part to kill him: her sister would stay dead, and other people will not stop suffering.”

            Okay, so Max should start killing anyone Alison loves, since Alison wouldnt kill him as a result. You’re saying if Max hires someone to shoot her sister in the head, as well as her father, and Paladin, and her computer friend, and Clevin, and the doctors in the hospital, and Dr. Rosenblum, Alison will go ‘well…. if I kill him, it will not be for the greater good?

            Hm… and here I figured Alison would punch a hole through his head instead.

            “8) Killing Patrick is only a temporary solution. There are many more Patrick in the world. Letting the innocent living his live still means a great risk for humanity, while it gives no benefits at all.”

            Let me get this straight…. killing the person who did NOT do anything evil is necessary, so that the people who DO stuff that’s evil will not do MORE stuff that’s evil. And this makes more sense than to… for example… kill the person who is evil.

            So … let me ask, when a person stabs another person with a kitchen knife, do you punish the stabber, or do you punish Macy’s for selling the knife?

            “I repeat, gave it to the goverment, or kill it right now. That’s the only rational course of action.”

            Yes, because as we all know, the government is never corrupt. Politicians are some of the most noble and honest of all people. Paragons of virtue.

            That’s where the well known saying comes from – “There is no one as honest and virtuous as a politician, except for used car salesmen.”

            “conclusion. I think that the main point of disagreement between us is that for me, being privated of my autonomy is not a “special” brand of evil. ”

            I don’t know what privated means.

            Wait I think you mean deprived. I do think that you do not think being deprived of autonomy is evil. I don’t know why you don’t think being deprived of your autonomy is evil though, since being deprived of your autonomy is the reason for slavery and most atrocities against other human beings.

            “It sucks, for sure, it sucks a lot.”

            Yes, slavery, kidnapping, rape, torture, and terrorism all suck a lot.

            Master of understatement, you are.

            “But there are a lot of shitty fates that can happen to you, some of them much more probables than this one. So for me is just one risk against others.”

            I don’t even know what this means.

          • SJ

            Again, given your scenario of there being one person on the whole earth who can perform the procedure, they won’t for whatever reason, and your child will die if it doesn’t happen I think that most people would employ almost any means needed to coerce the doctor to perform the procedure.

            How come everyone wants to put themselves in the seat of “What if you have to make Person X do something to save Loved One Y, and/or Countless, Countless People Z™?”, and no one ever wants to put themselves in the seat of “What if you’re Person X, and you’re being terrorized and forced by Person Y to do something against your will?”

          • Psile

            Yes, I’ve noticed this narrative difference too. Pro Alison people put themselves in Alison’s shoes, anti put themselves in Max’s shoes. I’m pro Alison, so that is how I present the scenario.

            If I were person X I would think what person W(Alison) was doing was horrible. It would traumatize me and leave me in constant fear of a repeat. PTSD would not be out of the question, which can leave someone with the constant exhausting feeling of being under attack to the point where they need drugs to sleep and can’t live their normal lives.

            I’ve considered both sides of the scenario, and the one with thousands of dead people seems worse. The other one is still bad.

          • Zac Caslar

            Part of the problem is that as someone Pro-Allison, metaphorically speaking, Max’s shoes don’t fit me. The payoff for a few hours of his inconvenience is immense to the point of the event horizon.

            I used to donate plasma (and still donate blood) and that was boring and painful and tiring and for an imperceptible fraction of the impact. Before I was diagnosed as a diabetic I was looking to donate a kidney (need health insurance for that). The actual factors necessary to make me 100% agree with Max are damn hard to spot -I’d say they don’t exist at all.

            I see the Pro-Max arguments and I see the points they make and in the end it’s not enough to change my mind. Yeah, something evil was done to do something good.

            Sometime’s life’s like that and if someone’s determined to jump off Deontological Bridge they can Twitter me the water tempature when they finally hit the river.

          • Tylikcat

            Y’know, I have no particular problem putting myself in both of their shoes. Of course, I’m also not a member of either camp.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, I’ve put myself in both sets of shoes. Mainly because, if you’re going to say someone did it wrong, you need to have an alternative to present of what you consider a better way.

            And if I were Alison… I would not have done it that way. Not at all. I would have actually LISTENED to what the guy was saying (including the bit where he mentioned JUMPING OUT A WINDOW, which is generally considered a sign that someone’s not happy). I would have addressed his concerns. And I would have asked him, “okay, you know what I want from you. WHAT DO YOU WANT? What can I give you to convince you to do it? You want protection? How about this? Someone else told me about your abilities. That info is out there – but I know people who can protect you. People you might like more than me – hell, some of them don’t really like me either, so you’ll have that in common. You want something done by someone with “useful” powers? I will be your servant – hell, I’ll wear a leather uniform and stand around as your chauffer-bodyguard and let you enjoy the free use of my powers in trade, that’s only fair. Hell, you want to give the relationship another go? I wouldn’t have gotten so upset in the first place if I didn’t think you were so hot that I bumped into things while flying because I couldn’t stop thinking about you in your underwear.”

            You know who else asks questions like that? Professional interrogation specialists. I.e. the guys who actually obtain useful information from captured terrorists and criminals. The guys who say that they never, ever use torture, and that torture doesn’t work – and that whenever an amateur used torture before they arrived, it always made things worse.

          • Regret

            That is not a lack of empathy as you seem to think.
            The point of discussing ethics is to develop guidelines for behaviour. The victim has no agency in this scenario so developing ethics for the victim’s role is pointless.

          • SJ

            Treating this whole thing like a discussion of ethics hardly disproves a lack of empathy. From my point of view, I am seeing a lot of people who are discussing the ethics of this scenario who are also demonstrating a distinct lack of empathy.

          • Weatherheight

            “The victim has no agency in this scenario so developing ethics for the victim’s role is pointless.”

            I disagree in the strongest possible terms. Developing ethics regarding how we treat the helpless, the powerless, and the victims is the POINT of ethics. Ethical behavior is about how we ought to treat someone regardless of their situation – it’s intended to level the playing field regardless of circumstance.

          • pidgey

            I think you missed his point? He wasn’t talking about how people treat victims. He was talking about how victims themselves behave.

          • Weatherheight

            That’s possible. But I’d like to point out that if, indeed Max is a victim, that word carries within it the idea that the subject has, in fact, been wronged. It’s an acknowledgement of an issue that is at the heart of ethics, and that feeds back onto the actors whose ethics and behavior are being examined.

          • KatherineMW

            Likely because most of us like to regard ourselves as decent people, and would be happy to exert a modicum of effort to save thousands or millions of people if we were in Max’s place. I certainly would.

            There’s certainly a threshold where increasing numbers of people would back out – e.g., if someone had the ability to heal people vis physical contact, and was forcibly shipped off the West Africa to fight ebola, all but the more heroic ones would react with “Screw that, I don’t wanna die of ebola!”. But for that very reason – that the person is being coerced into seriously endangering their life – most people would find coercion in that scenario far, far more morally objectionable than what Allison has done.

          • SJ

            Likely because most of us like to regard ourselves as decent people, and would be happy to exert a modicum of effort to save thousands or millions of people if we were in Max’s place. I certainly would.

            Nobody is the villain of their own narrative. I consider myself a decent person, and I wouldn’t do it. Not without being compensated, at any rate. And no, I do not consider the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with saving Countless, Countless Lives™ to be adequate compensation.

            Now, if you tell me that, in exchange for saving Countless, Countless Lives™, you’ll, say, make sure that I have a GOOJF Card for any non-violent misdemeanor, and get me box seats to The Finals, we can negotiate.

          • Zac Caslar

            “Nobody is the villain of their own narrative.”

            That’s not true.

          • SJ

            I’m listening… Who considers themselves the bad guy of their own autobiography?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I was wondering if some serial murderers relished the thought or if even them justify their actions to themselves through a fucked up morality system.
            The one who don’t present mental illnesses, obviously.

          • MrSing

            I think a lot of serial killers who don’t feel guilty just don’t see other human beings as important. I don’t think they use a whole lot morality beyond “I wanted to do it”.
            Of course, I would count all serial killers as having mentall illnesses, even the ones that are hitmen.

          • SJ

            I was wondering if some serial murderers relished the thought or if even them justify their actions to themselves through a fucked up morality system.

            Why wouldn’t they? I don’t think even most serial killers believe that what they’re doing is evil.

          • Zac Caslar

            The woeful suicide.

            The one who sees their life as being a failure to launch, and who decides to perish.

          • TheLordofAwesome

            That is not an example of someone seeing themselves as a villain. That is someone seeing themselves as a failure.

          • TheLordofAwesome

            Actually, it is totally true. Outside of the outright insane or the incredibly self-aware, no one truly thinks of themselves as the villain of their story. You don’t need to look hard to find examples.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            You wouldn’t do WHAT, exactly? Because the judgement on you depend on what action you were asked to perform, and why you refused.

          • SJ

            I wouldn’t save Countless, Countless Lives™ without being compensated. Why I wouldn’t is not your business and, as to your judgment… well, there’s no polite way to respond to that.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            A person who wouldn’t save countless, countless lives without being compensated is not a decent person.

          • SJ

            I’m a very decent person, just ask me.

          • Stephanie

            Even if, like, someone’s dying teenage kid was looking you in the eyes and begging you to help her, she’s in so much pain and she doesn’t want to die, please, SJ, please? You’d be like “nah, I don’t work for free, have fun dying slowly as your blood turns to poison”? I’m not sure how you can reconcile that with self-identifying as a “decent person.”

          • SJ

            Let me put it this way: I’m no less a decent person than the bastard who just tried to extort me with emotional blackmail.

          • Stephanie

            Pleading for one’s own life is emotional blackmail now? Is this some Ayn Rand thing? Gee, if I’m ever bleeding out on the pavement, I’ll make sure I don’t ask anyone nearby to put pressure on the wound or call an ambulance for me, I wouldn’t want to emotionally blackmail them.

          • SJ

            Pleading for one’s own life is emotional blackmail now?

            I reject the premise that I would be anywhere of my own accord that a dying teenager would just walk up to me and plead for his life. The only reasonable probability, based on what I know of my own life, is that someone would have to deliver that kid to wherever I happened to be at. That person would be an emotional blackmailer.

          • Stephanie

            The point of describing the pleading kid isn’t to posit a scenario where someone parks the kid in front of you to change your mind. The point is that that dying, pleading kid exists whether you’re actually looking at her or not. If you’re going to say you’d be willing to let that kid and everyone else who needs a transplant die until you get yours, you need to acknowledge the reality of what you are intentionally allowing to happen to vulnerable people who have no choice in the matter.

          • SJ

            The point of describing the pleading kid isn’t to posit a scenario where someone parks the kid in front of you to change your mind. The point is that that dying, pleading kid exists whether you’re actually looking at her or not. If you’re going to say you’d be willing to let that kid and everyone else who needs a transplant die until you get yours, you need to acknowledge the reality of what you are intentionally allowing to happen to vulnerable people who have no choice in the matter.

            First of All™, how do I know the kid exists, if I’m not looking at her? I’m just supposed to take some stranger’s word for it that some kid I’ve never meant is dying of something that only I can save her of? Why would I believe that?

            Second of all, I don’t have acknowledge any such thing. I have neither a moral nor an ethical obligation to help people that I am not personally responsible for. That’s not a prerequisite for being a decent person.

          • Stephanie

            It’s literally the premise of this scenario that you’re the only one capable of saving an enormous number of lives, and you’re refusing to do so until you get paid. That means that there exist an enormous number of miserable, dying people who desperately want to live. They exist whether you look at them or not. Their fear and pain is real whether you acknowledge it or not. You should not be making any moral decision that you couldn’t make while looking the people it affects in the eye.

            I could not possibly disagree more strongly with you on your definition of “a decent person.” A willingness to hold the lives of countless people hostage, not even for something you actually need but for something you just selfishly want, betrays a disturbing lack of empathy.

          • SJ

            The scenario is nonsense, and I refuse to take it seriously. I don’t engage in “trolley problem” navel-gazing, and I don’t entertain hypotheticals that artificially reduce the options to A or B. Why am I the only person who can save “an enormous number” of lives? I’m nobody; why should I take any claims that it has to be me seriously?

            I’m not holding anybody hostage: I am not responsible for them being in their present condition, and I am not responsible for getting them out of it. Like I told you weeks ago, if you want to get somebody to do something, try to appeal to his self interest.

          • Stephanie

            You are the one who began this exchange by saying that you would not exert a modicum of effort to save thousands or millions of people if you were in Max’s place, unless you were compensated. You accepted the premise, you accepted this scenario, and you can’t backpedal out of it now.

            I want to know whether you would still refuse to help if you had to actually watch all of those people die.

          • SJ

            No, I didn’t. Max’s predicament did not resemble the scenario you posited.

            Even if, like, someone’s dying teenage kid was looking you in the eyes and begging you to help her, she’s in so much pain and she doesn’t want to die, please, SJ, please?

            Literally none of that happened to Max.

            Furthermore, what I said was:

            Nobody is the villain of their own narrative. I consider myself a decent person, and I wouldn’t do it. Not without being compensated, at any rate. And no, I do not consider the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with saving Countless, Countless Lives™ to be adequate compensation.

            I dare you to find the part of that passage that stipulates that I’m the only person who can save Countless, Countless Lives™. There is no such scenario, and I never accepted any such premise.

          • Stephanie

            For god’s sake. I didn’t say that a dying teenager pleaded to Max. The dying teenager is a symbol of all of the people who will die horrible deaths if you, in this scenario, refuse to help them.

            The point is that unless you are willing to go through with your selfish decision while fully acknowledging what it means for each of the individual people whose lives are at stake, you are denying reality, in defiance of the Objectivist principles you seem to be espousing. And if you are willing to go through with it while acknowledging that reality, then you can’t be a decent person, because decent people don’t watch people dying horrible deaths while refusing to help unless they’re materially rewarded.

            Would you, or would you not, refuse to save the lives of thousands of people if you had to actually sit in a room with them and watch them die?

          • SJ

            Make up your mind, would you? Is this a metaphor, or an actual scenario? How did I end up in a room where I’m watching thousands of people die? Why am I there? Why am I the only one who can save their lives? Why are the people who want me to do this assuming that I should have to do it for no compensation? Why aren’t they the selfish ones for taking me for granted?

            I have not identified myself as an Objectivist, or a Deontologist, or a Libertarian, or whatever the hell else, and I do not identify myself as such. I may hold one or more beliefs that may be aligned with one or more of those philosophies, but I do not stipulate that I subscribe to any of them.

          • Stephanie

            Again, the scenario is that you’re in Max’s position. Max is uniquely able to save an enormous number of lives by boosting Feral. You said that you would refuse to do that unless you were compensated. That means that if you’re not compensated, you would allow all of those people to die. That is what you said.

            So my question is, would you still allow them to die if you had to watch?

          • SJ

            What accounts for this ad hoc plot device which requires me to watch in the first place?

            What I said was “I consider myself a decent person, and I wouldn’t do it. Not without being compensated, at any rate. And no, I do not consider the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with saving Countless, Countless Lives™ to be adequate compensation.” The word “refuse” is not a part of that. And I am not “allowing” them to die. God, or the universe, or whatever you believe in, is allowing them to die. They aren’t dying any more or any less than they would be if I had never existed. I didn’t make them sick, I don’t have a responsibility to make them un-sick. I am not allowing anything.

          • Stephanie

            I really think I’m asking a very simple question here, and you continue to evade answering it.

            You have established that you would, let’s say decline to save the lives of thousands or millions of people unless you were materially compensated for doing so.

            Would your decision change if, after “declining” to save them, you had to watch them die? Yes or no?

          • SJ

            Yes, I am “evading” your question, if that’s how you want to look at it. And I will continue to evade it until you explain why I have to watch? Why are these people my responsibility?

          • Stephanie

            It doesn’t matter “why” you have to watch. I am asking, if you had to watch, would you still “decline” to save those people’s lives? Does your decision not to help them depend in any way on whether or not you will witness the result of that decision?

          • SJ

            It doesn’t matter “why” you have to watch.

            It does if you expect me to answer your question.

          • Stephanie

            You can make up your own reason. It’s irrelevant.

            I’m going to try to state this more clearly.

            I already know that, if you don’t have to watch the people die, you will decline to help them.

            I want to know whether that is still true if you do have to watch.

          • SJ

            If I were able to fathom a reason why I would have to watch, maybe I would. But I can’t. So, I’m asking you: why do I have to watch?

          • Stephanie

            For fuck’s sake. Because God Himself has ordained it. It is a cosmic law of the universe of this hypothetical that after you decide whether or not to help someone, you witness what happens to them as a result. In this case, what happens is that thousands of people die from organ failure.

            So you have to watch. Does that change your decision or not? Is your decision any different than it would be if you did not have to watch? This is such an easy question and I cannot begin to understand why you can’t answer it.

          • SJ

            You are confusing “can’t” with “won’t.” #FightTheHypothetical

          • Stephanie

            At this point I’m forced to conclude that you’re refusing to answer because it would, in fact, change your decision. You are only capable of refusing to save people’s lives out of selfishness if you’re able to insulate yourself from their suffering. Only a cowardly refusal to face the consequences of your actions permits you to rationalize prioritizing your greed over the lives of thousands of your fellow human beings. That willful blindness to reality is so critical to your position on this issue that you won’t even entertain the hypothetical of having the veil lifted.

            Am I assuming? Yes. Of my two options, I was nice enough to choose the assumption that reflects more flatteringly on you.

          • SJ

            And at this point, I’m forced to conclude that you’re trying to trap me with “gotcha” games, to get to call me to either call myself greedy, or a coward. I mean, what else could your end game be?

          • Stephanie

            You reduced your alternatives to “moral coward” and “literal sociopath” in my eyes when you stated that you would let thousands of people die unless they materially compensated you. But you obviously don’t believe that that makes you either of those things, so what’s stopping you from answering the question?

            Here, I’ll even give you a less fantastical hypothetical. You went to let yourself into a building that had two locked doors in a row, but the card reader on the inner door was broken, so you’re waiting in the space between the two doors for someone to let you in. I’m sure you’ve seen door setups like that before.

            Someone rings the buzzer from outside and speaks to you through the intercom. “Is someone in there? Let me in! A guy is chasing me with an ax! Full disclosure, though, I’m really poor and can’t materially compensate you in any way!”

            Here the scenario splits. In Scenario A, the outer door is opaque. In Scenario B, the outer door is transparent. In other words, only in Scenario B–the transparent door scenario–will you actually witness the guy getting axed to death. In Scenario A, you don’t see it–you don’t even have to listen to it, since the victim isn’t going to be holding down the intercom button during his own murder.

            In Scenario A, do you let the guy in? How about in Scenario B?

          • SJ

            The same contrivance that is preventing me from opening the inner door is somehow preventing me from re-opening the outer door. #FightTheHypothetical

          • Stephanie

            Nope. You are 100% capable of opening the outer door. Doors with card readers aren’t locked from the inside. I would know, my building is full of them. I have to scan my card multiple times to get where I want to be inside the building, but absolutely nothing impedes me from shoving the card inside my ass and strolling back out again.

          • SJ

            I forgot to take my Methimazole today, and was suddenly hit with an acute bout of Thyrotoxic myopathy. I can’t move my limbs to open the door. #FightTheHypothetical

          • Stephanie

            Can you explain exactly why you’re unwilling to answer the simple question of whether you’re any more likely to help people if you can actually see them suffering?

            If it’s literally just that you don’t like hypotheticals, here, I’ll ask without one.

            Are you any more likely to help a person that you can see suffering, than you are to help a person who is suffering outside your field of vision?

          • SJ

            Can you explain exactly why you’re unwilling to answer the simple question of whether you’re any more likely to help people if you can actually see them suffering?

            “It’s a long story.”
            “Quick précis, then.”
            “Because.”

            If it’s literally just that you don’t like hypotheticals…

            No, just hypotheticals that require me to make life-or-death decisions affecting other people.

            Are you any more likely to help a person that you can see suffering, than you are to help a person who is suffering outside your field of vision?

            I don’t know.

          • Stephanie

            An actual answer, sort of. Hurray.

            You should probably figure out the real answer for yourself at some point, if you want to have an internally consistent set of moral principles.

          • Interesting parallel hypothetical, even if it didn’t prove effective in this instance. It conveyed a crisp and immediate mental picture of a believable modern-day scenario and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as an alternative to the frustration of the last few messages!

            I was reminded actually of a Biblical parable – the parable of the unmerciful servant, where a king’s servant pleads with him to forgive their debt but won’t forgive the far smaller one that a poor subordinate owes to him, and is asked why he should still receive the mercy he denies to other people. It came to mind as I conceptualised myself being stuck between the two doors, waiting irritably for someone to open up the inner one, yet still apparently contemplating the idea of not letting the far more needy person in the outer one..

            The idea is horrifying, to be honest. I hope I’d open the door despite the obvious fear of the axe murderer outside (presumably the doors in this scenario are axe-resistant). Obviously I don’t know your own beliefs or whether this has any relevance- if you’re interested here’s a link, https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18:21-35 . But I found it really interesting to see how my faith has actually helped to shape my morality and ethical expectations of others, and to see that thousands of years later we’re still working from the same conceptual origins of fairness as Christ was way back when.

          • Stephanie

            Well said! I like the connection you drew to that parable, and how it relates to your point about how our capacity to help doesn’t arise in a vacuum. The first servant was only in a position to offer mercy or cruelty to the second because his master had forgiven him, but when the opportunity arose, he thought only about his own self-interest. We all rely upon others in one way or another, so it’s only right to pass on the favor when someone is desperately in need.

          • Psile

            Sorry to cut in the middle and after the conversation has kind of ended, but if you’re not willing to engage in hypothetical scenarios I’m not sure what you’re doing here. This whole discussion is about a completely hypothetical scenario on top of a hypothetical world. Not being willing to engage someone in a hypothetical is like going onto a Superman message board and being like “I don’t really have any interest in DC comics.” It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it, but that’s what we’re here to talk about so…

          • Izo

            Um… late to this thread, but just want to mention that Stephanie has evaded some of my hypotheticals in the past as well (no judgment on her for evading btw), like the one where she did not want to explain the metrics for an AI utopia, and I did not say ‘well why are you even here.’ I wound up just dropping it.

          • Stephanie

            You weren’t proposing a hypothetical scenario whose premise I refused to entertain. You asked me a question, and I told you I preferred not to answer it. I didn’t spend several exchanges deliberately missing the point of your posts, nitpicking at arbitrary details of the framing of your question while intentionally ignoring the question itself. At any time, SJ could simply have said “I prefer not to answer whether I’d still refuse to save a person’s life if I had to watch them die,” and I would have accepted that and dropped the subject.

          • Izo

            “You weren’t proposing a hypothetical scenario whose premise I refused to entertain”

            I was actually referring to the thing where I asked for your metrics about how AI would be a superior use of Paladin’s time to some other use of her abilities, and you said you didn’t feel like getting into anything about AI utopia stuff.

            “I think we’ve been getting along a lot better than we did at the start,”

            To be honest, I’ve always been fine with you. 🙂 Like I said before, I think you’re a nice, rather polite person with whom I thoroughly disagree about that one particular topic involving utilitarianism and agency of others. 🙂 I’m glad that you’re getting along with me though as well.

            “but I don’t think it’s productive to pull old receipts on each other in debates we’re having with other people.”

            To be honest I only brought it up once Psile (another nice person here who I don’t always agree with) started commenting on it and said “if you’re not willing to engage in hypothetical scenarios I’m not sure what you’re doing here”. You’ll notice I stayed out of it until that point so I wasn’t actually saying it to the other party (SJ) anyway. And I did mention that I wasn’t making any judgment on you about it. Anyway, no worries. This thread is sort of ended anyway.

          • Stephanie

            Right, that’s what I was referring to you referring to. You asked me a question and I said I didn’t want to talk about it, which isn’t what was happening in the exchange with SJ.

            This is more like…Suppose I said, “I’d like to live in a society managed by a benevolent utilitarian artificial superintelligence,” and you asked me, “So if you could facilitate the rise to power of a such an AI, would you?” Straightforward question.

            And I’m like, “Why is there an AI? Who made the AI? Why am I the only one who can facilitate its rise to power? What do you mean ‘that’s irrelevant,’ I demand an answer or I won’t entertain this hypothetical. Why would the AI be utilitarian and want to rule human society, that’s an absurd premise and I won’t engage with it even though I’m literally the one who said I’d like to be ruled by an AI fitting that description, etc etc etc.” That’d be more like what happened here.

          • Izo

            I was really just responding to what Psile said about the ‘if you don’t want to talk about it, then why are you here’ thing than what either you or SJ were talking about, but ok.

          • Stephanie

            Gotcha. No worries.

          • SJ

            Why, I’m here to read comics, and give hot takes, of course!*

            I’m not completely unwilling to engage in hypotheticals, but I am unwilling to engage in this one. Holla at me when the hypothetical is, “Who would win at karaoke between Brad and Clevin?”

            *That first sentence was only half-kidding.

          • GaryFarber

            “Emotional blackmail” = “pointing out the effect of your decision.”

            It turns out that talk that leads to feelings is neither a crime nor an indecent thing to engage in with someone. If one doesn’t want to have to consider what other people say, and what feelings they may trigger, in a conversation, one can always leave the conversation. Participation is voluntary, not forced by “blackmail” of any sort.

            For that matter, objecting to being pushed to feel empathy for the plight of another is sociopathic. Literally, pretty much by definition.

            “Do you think it’s immoral to ask for the highest price someone is actually able to afford?”

            It depends on what’s being sold and what all the other circumstances are. To save someone’s life, yeah, it’s immoral to demand payment first.

          • SJ

            I wasn’t “engaged” with anybody. I was forced into a situation by an ad hoc plot contrivance, which forced me to face a person that I would otherwise have had no exposure to, and then told, “This person is dying, and you’re the only person who can save them. And, by the way, if you don’t save them, you’re a horrible person.” That’s emotional blackmail.

            We weren’t having a conversation; you ran up on me with a Sarah McLaughlin ad. That’s what happened.

          • Stephanie

            So it’s fine with you that the person dies, as long as you don’t have to face the reality of their death? God forbid that you be forced to witness the consequences of your choices.

          • SJ

            So it’s fine with you that the person dies, as long as you don’t have to face the reality of their death?

            “I don’t know them! I’ve never met them! They only exist in words I think I hear!” – Some guy in some book I read once

            Let me turn this around: if I am the only person in the world, on “erf,” as it were… if I am singularly capable of doing something that is worth Countless, Countless Lives™, why shouldn’t I be compensated for it?

          • Stephanie

            That really has very little to do with what I said. But since you ask, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be compensated. That doesn’t make it anything less than abhorrent to let those people die for not compensating you to your satisfaction.

          • SJ

            Why isn’t it any less abhorrent? Why do you get to take me for granted? Do I look like The Giving Tree to you?

          • Stephanie

            Because I care less about your feelings than I do about thousands of people’s lives.

          • SJ

            Fair enough, but I don’t. I imagine that it’s probably a lot easier to sympathize with a person who robs somebody else to feed his family than it is to sympathize with the person being robbed. And I don’t imagine that the person being robbed is going to be particularly mollified by you showing him pictures of the starving kids your robbing him helped feed.

          • Stephanie

            Maybe you wouldn’t be. If they were legit starving kids, I would go instantly from “fuck you, buddy” to “You could have just asked. Let’s find out if you’re eligible for any kind of government aid so this doesn’t keep happening.”

          • SJ

            Congratulations. FWIW, when they nominate you for sainthood, you’ve got my vote.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t see that as saintly. It’s just basic decency to give a damn about the welfare of starving children. Even if their parent wronged me, that’s not the kids’ fault.

          • SJ

            Your threshold of “basic decency” is a lot lower than mine is. Or higher, depending on your point of view.

          • Stephanie

            Yes, I noticed that when you said that you would rather let millions of people die than help them without being materially compensated.

          • SJ

            They were dying, either way. I had nothing to do with it. Be mad at god, if you believe in such things. Or the universe, if you don’t.

          • Stephanie

            Decent people recognize their moral responsibility to help others who are in peril, if they can do so without seriously compromising their own well-being. Yes, I’m angry at the reality I exist in that permits people to die horrible, drawn-out deaths. And if you can save them from that fate, and choose not to because you want your palms greased first, then I’ll be just as angry at you.

            It’s one thing to say “I won’t violently coerce someone to save many lives.” I don’t agree with that outlook, but I can at least understand it. It’s one thing to say “People have the right to refuse to save millions of lives pro bono”; again, I don’t agree, but I can understand the ethical principles that lead to that conclusion. It’s a completely different thing to yourself be openly, unapologetically willing to let people die out of pure greed.

          • SJ

            I reject the premise. Helping others is not the “cover charge” to basic decency. Not actively harming people is. Choosing a course of inaction is not actively harming people.

          • Stephanie

            Here’s two scenarios. In Scenario 1, a bunch of people are going to die of organ failure and you have the power to wave your magic wand and heal them, but instead you shoot them all in the head. In Scenario 2, a bunch of people are going to die of organ failure and you have the power to heal them, but instead you walk away and leave them to die.

            Notice what those two scenarios have in common?

          • SJ

            Yeah, a bunch of people that I didn’t cause to have organ failure.

          • Stephanie

            The commonality is that the people are exactly as dead whether you shoot them or walk away.

          • SJ

            Or if I hadn’t been born.

          • I’ve been following the conversation for a while and I wanted to ask something. I think you’re arguing that you should not be morally obligated to help anyone you haven’t hurt, and that this liberty is a rightfully possessed principle of your own individuality? So you resent the implication that this position implies anything negative about your character? If so I can see the logical validity to your perspective, even if my own principles are quite different.

            But surely choosing to help in a single exceptional circumstance doesn’t automatically and permanently oblige you from that point forward? Even the implication that your actions would inform others isn’t necessarily accurate; for example if the assistance was rendered anonymously or the beneficiary sworn to silence, there’d be no direct effect on the daily pressures of your life from that point on. I think the example Stephanie hypothesised differs from the original comic because there is no coercive force outside of a generic desire to see improvement in the world around us; therefore, no man at the door with a gun insisting that your effort take place or be reprised in future, and no specific future strain or consequences on you, because you’re not allowing the experience to shape all of your decisions. You’d still retain sovereignty over all such situations in future unless you deliberately gave that up to assist the first time around. So if it’s possible to provide some charitable service at your own discretion while still maintaining a professional, compensated service for the general public, does it still make more sense to refuse?

          • SJ

            It’s probably impolite of me to distill such a thoughtful, non-hectoring post to one particular passage, so I apologize for doing so, anyway:

            But surely choosing to help in a single exceptional circumstance doesn’t automatically and permanently oblige you from that point forward?

            What reason would I have to believe that’s true? Like I intimated in the reply I gave to @∫Clémens×ds 🐙, in which I actually entertained the premise, it may or may not turn out to be a “single exceptional circumstance”… for that person. Until the next person comes to me, with their hand out, wanting something that only I can provide, and I’m a jerk if I don’t give it to them. And the next, and the next, and so on, and so forth.

            Call me a cynic, if you must, but I don’t have any real life experience with people who say that they’re “only going to make this one exception, and then never again,” and actually follow through on that. I don’t have any real life experience with people who are “only asking this one time, for this one thing, and it’ll ‘only be a few moments of your time’, and I’ll never ask you for anything, ever again, I swear!”, and they actually make good on that “promise.” It always comes back around. There’s always one more thing, and then they swear that they’ll “never” ask you for anything else… until the next time…

            I appreciate you taking the time to type out your post. I feel like I have a good enough grasp on what you and @Stephanie are asking me, and I appreciate you being much less antagonistic about it than she is… I’m just not interested in answering those questions. I’m not even interested in taking the questions seriously. I appear to be one of the few people who don’t come here to talk philosophy; I am disinclined to deal in hypotheticals which both artificially raise the stakes and also artificially reduce the number of options, until the respondent is left with no alternative but to choose between A or B. I’ve found that most of real life is not that binary.

          • My point in the previous post was that I felt you’d misinterpreted the situation to infer that someone had to be specifically asking for help and/or pressurising you to provide the support required that only you in that situation were qualified to provide. In actual fact, the matter of your presence and circumstance is both what qualifies you as being in a position to help in such a hypothetical situation and also creates most of the pressure upon you to do so. For most people, being in the position of ultimate power over someone else’s presently threatened life *is* a very exceptional, once- or twice-in-a-lifetime scenario, far more than answering commentary online. So by extrapolation it’s far more reasonable to consider your actions in *that* circumstance to be unhindered and taken in isolation than to expect a string of similarly needful people to wander in front of you more and more often.

            But even if there were some exponentially increasing measure of “being in a position to help” – for example, donating to a homeless person, and having done so, beginning to notice the rather large number of other homeless people in the area – you are still always possessed of the sovereign power to say no.

            You say that your goodwill always comes back around and there’s always another, larger favour on the horizon, but that doesn’t incorporate the fact that you’d be just as able to refuse the favour then as you are now. I *have* seen favours offered with no hope of return or repetition, in fact; but if we’re talking about the possibility of escalation? I have a friend who had previously borrowed a small amount to cover an urgent work requirement. She later asked me for another loan, four or five times the size and needed in about a tenth of the timeframe, and I had to say no – I was very unhappy we couldn’t help, but it would have endangered our rent and I couldn’t afford the risk of losing the money. So, sure, while sometimes there’s no ongoing demand, there are times other requests and opportunities crop up later on *if* you handle the first effort poorly and don’t set boundaries from the beginning – but in the end it wasn’t any more difficult for me to say “I’m really sorry, but I honestly can’t help you” after having helped before than if I had not. It didn’t set any ongoing precedent of automatic unconditional support that I was now tied in to follow. While I understand your position, I feel there are flaws in the logic that increased obligation necessarily follows any charitable action.

            I don’t mind you taking the choice not to answer or simply to express your disinterest. I don’t mind if you elect not to answer this response I’ve chosen to give you in return, either, so no worries. But, honestly, you’re providing a little weak Bayesian evidence for the feasibility of my point simply by that choice..! Answering these posts is a very small investment of effort and concentration which we all provide entirely at our leisure and can elect to continue, increase or withdraw at any time. As it happens we’ve taken the time to consider and answer one another. However this doesn’t lock us into a permanent and ongoing conversation; either of us can still ignore the next message we receive, if we so choose. The consequences to doing are reasonably mild – some frustration, wasted time, fatigue, lack of closure, and so on – and there’s no actual force pressing you to choose whether to continue to answer or not outside of the words of a stranger on your monitor and your own emotional and ethical impetus. Still, your choice as to whether to answer me – and the next poster, and the next poster – remains your own. Possibly, choosing in a similar way each time slowly shapes your conceptual and behavioural patterns such that it becomes more likely you’ll elect to answer in future, but you’re never locked in, nor prevented from turning the screen off and walking away.

          • Stephanie

            No, you know what, I’m approaching this all wrong.

            I understand the ethical principles you’re espousing here, you’ve repeated them enough times. I get that you believe that you are not morally responsible for the death of a person who will die without your intervention. I don’t agree, but I get it. 100% understood.

            What I don’t understand is how you can have so little empathy for the suffering of other people that you would actually go so far as to put that into practice. It’s like you don’t even care that they’re in pain, you only care whether or not you’re personally responsible for that pain. As long as it’s not your fault, you don’t seem to give a damn that a fellow human being, someone with an internal experience as genuine as yours, is suffering. What’s with that?

          • SJ

            What’s the value of a principle that you won’t put into practice? Why even have principles, in that case?

          • Stephanie

            You can have the principle that you’re not morally obligated to help people, and do it anyway because you don’t want them to suffer. Putting that principle into practice only actually requires that you don’t coerce others into helping people or support policies that would coerce them; it doesn’t require that you refuse to help. I actually spent several years in my teens as a staunch Objectivist, believing with as much certainty as you now do that I had no moral obligation to help anyone, and I still helped people when they needed me to because I’m capable of empathy.

            So how can you not care? Are you only willing to do things that you consider yourself obligated to do? Why would you not choose, voluntarily, to alleviate the suffering of your fellow humans?

          • I’d be mollified but still irritated, for what it’s worth. I think it’s possible to react charitably while still holding the ethical principle that condoning the behaviour due to the situation isn’t appropriate – or maybe I’m just not as automatically kind as you are, which is a shame, I’ll work on that. Either way it’d come out more like “You could have just asked! I’d have given you something if you’d asked, and I’ll help you sort things out and do what I can through the proper channels, and I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this much.. BUT what you did was out of order, and you’re not the only one who *really* needed that cash, so yeah, please don’t do that again. Ask first, okay? Okay. Now I’ll go get food for all of us, because this was also all I had for the month myself.”

          • Stephanie

            Oh yeah, don’t get me wrong, I’d still be pissed. I’d just put that feeling aside because starving kids.

          • Arkone Axon

            That… that there… is why I agree with most of what SJ has been saying. Your statement there sounds like someone prepared to viciously mug someone in order to feed a bunch of kids. Yeah, the kids are hungry – but that doesn’t give you the right to take what’s not yours, or to assault someone whose only “crime” is having what those kids need. And it certainly doesn’t give you the right to demand that people feed these kids and not even be extended any recognition or compensation for helping said kids.

          • Stephanie

            I’m allowed to think it’s reprehensible to let thousands of people die rather than help them without material compensation. I’m allowed to think it’s abhorrent to possess that little empathy for the suffering of other human beings. That doesn’t mean I’m going to mug anyone. Give me a little more credit than that.

          • Arkone Axon

            Then you should extend the same credit in turn. Neither SJ nor I are about to let starving kids go unfed – but we would wish to help on our terms, not yours.

            But as for the lack of compensation… I wouldn’t go demanding compensation. But I would expect a thank you at the least. And if I’m putting my own family in jeopardy by feeding those kids (which, as a lot of people here have pointed out, Max was being asked to do by revealing his powers to a world that would see him as a mere commodity to be fought over), then I expect some consideration in turn, not “these kids are in need! How dare you be so selfish as to not immediately drop everything and help them in the way we think you should!?”

          • Stephanie

            But SJ literally said that they would let thousands of people die if they weren’t compensated. I never thought that you would do that, because you never said that you would, and I would never assume that anyone is that heartless unless they openly admitted to it. However, this whole time, I’ve been responding to the things SJ actually said about how they would act in that situation.

            I think it’s totally reasonable to expect a thank you. It would be incredibly rude for your beneficiaries not to thank you for saving thousands of lives or feeding starving kids or whatever thing, and you’d be justified in being pissed at the ingratitude. What I found abhorrent was SJ saying that they would withhold their help unless they were compensated, even if it meant thousands of people would die.

          • SJ

            “He,” if you don’t mind.

            I agree with the general principle that, as common courtesy, we should be addressing each other by our preferred pronouns in these comments. I am a cis/het male. My preferred pronoun is “he.”

          • Stephanie

            OK. Thank you for telling me. I used “they” because I didn’t know your gender. Now that I know it, I’ll use “he.”

          • SJ

            You mean, this is another one of those times where I’m being perfectly calm (And, I would say, polite), but because I don’t make a one-sentence response when you think I “should,” you think I’m having an outburst? What is your preoccupation with “All I had to say?” I didn’t come at you out of pocket. Is it the lack of smileys?

            I type how I talk. I guess I could have “just said” I prefer ‘he’, but I wouldn’t have “just said” I prefer ‘he’, because that’s not how I talk.

          • Stephanie

            My issue is that you made a point of explaining to me why I should use your pronoun as if you expected me to argue the point. Why would you think that I don’t already agree that we should address each other by our preferred pronouns?

          • SJ

            I didn’t make a “point” of explaining it; that’s just how I talk. Is there some reason why you won’t accept that that’s just how I talk? Particularly in light of the fact that we’ve already had this exchange in the comments before?

          • Stephanie

            I suppose it’s possible that you aren’t aware of the usual implications of phrasing things that way. For future reference, if you explain something like “We should do X,”, that normally implies that you think the person you’re speaking to doesn’t already know (or believe in) the concept you’re explaining. Since language is a tool of communication, people won’t typically assume that you aren’t trying to communicate the thing you’re explaining.

            For example, if Bob said “I think Alice is wrong,” and Alice said, “Bob, cut it out, it’s rude to insult people,” Alice would typically be implying that Bob doesn’t know (or doesn’t believe) that it’s rude to insult people, because there’s no reason to explain something he already believes. If Bob is fully aware that insulting people is rude, and didn’t actually intend to insult Alice by saying she was wrong, then he might be miffed at Alice’s implication.

          • SJ

            Clearly, you’re not accustomed to communicating with the same type of people that I’m accustomed to communicating with. I assure you that, in my regular existence, “I agree with the general principle that, as common courtesy, we should be addressing each other by our preferred pronouns” is a sentiment that has to be clearly and unambiguously explicated.

          • Stephanie

            Let’s just chalk this up to different communication styles. In the future, you’ll know that I prefer to have it assumed that I agree with basic-civility stuff unless I demonstrate otherwise, and I’ll know that you don’t necessarily intend condescension when you explain a concept I’m already familiar with. Also, I will know your preferred pronoun. For my part, I’m comfortable with either “she” or “they.”

          • Arkone Axon

            I didn’t see SJ refusing to help unless compensated in his posts. I mostly saw him refusing to accept the premise that he has to provide assistance simply because someone demands it, and without any question of appreciation or compensation. “Do it because I’m telling you that you’re helping people, and if you don’t you’re a horrible person!”

          • Stephanie

            You might not have seen the specific post, but he did explicitly say that he wouldn’t save thousands or millions of people without compensation, and then described some forms of compensation he would consider acceptable. I think it was like a reusable get-out-of-jail-free-card and season tickets to some event, but I’d have to reread it.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, I just did go through the archive (pages 80-86 of this chapter). No, he makes no requests for compensation. In fact, he never asks for compensation at all. He just says “no,” points out that the doesn’t even have to justify his answer (and yes, he IS correct in that), listens to her repeatedly emphasize how this is for the good of others before she makes a brief offer at helping to protect him, and then finally tells her “no, if for no other reason than to watch you realize you can’t always have your way.” Which – again – is a perfectly valid reason. He didn’t like or trust the person making the offer. Just as if you would have every right to decline a similar offer to do good made by whichever political leader you must distrust and despise.

            And as I’ve noted elsewhere… this is helping people in the way SHE believes will help them. She’s also opened a Pandora’s Box. People are going to realize that a biodynamic just had a major power boost. They’re also going to notice that the organ transplant industry has been massively upset. This is going to have long term consequences she didn’t consider. But SHE decided this was for the best, and when he refused to help, SHE declared him to be morally degenerate and needing to be forced to do the Right Thing.

            That’s been done plenty of times before. Think of every homosexual teenager sent to a concentration camp in the United States so they can “pray the gay away,” every defender of segregation. Think of every forced conversion. The ONLY difference between those examples and Alison’s actions? You agree with Alison’s goals. And that is not reason enough. Not when every other zealot doing evil with the best of intentions was just as convinced they were doing the right thing.

          • Stephanie

            I’m talking about SJ. Not Max. SJ’s comment said what I described. You can tell I’m talking about SJ because I was replying to a comment where you said that SJ didn’t say that, and I said “you may not have seen that post.”

            You: “I didn’t see SJ refusing to help unless compensated in his posts.”

            Me: “You might not have seen the specific post, but he did explicitly say etc.”

            If you don’t believe me, I can screencap the post of SJ’s to which I was referring.

          • Arkone Axon

            Oh! Sorry. No, you’re right. I got confused there. My apologies.

          • Stephanie

            No worries, it gets hard to keep track of especially if you have concurrent threads going on.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh come on don’t tell me the teenage kid doesn’t even has pocket change

          • Stephanie

            I mean, it doesn’t sound like SJ wants pocket change. The hypothetical compensation they described was both of extreme value, and not something a dying teenager could provide.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m guessing between *nothing* (and a dead kid) and pocket change (plus a live one) the choice is not difficult to make. Do you think it’s immoral to ask for the highest price someone is actually able to afford?

          • Stephanie

            If the person is gonna die otherwise, then yeah, that’s price gouging and I’m pretty sure that kind of thing is illegal on top of being immoral. Or maybe the right word is extortion? Whatever you call it, intentionally bleeding someone dry because they have no reasonable alternative is seriously messed up, especially if providing what they need comes at negligible cost to you. It’s not the same thing as asking the highest price someone is willing to pay for a good or service they desire, but can live without.

          • SJ

            Let’s say that “someone’s dying teenage kid was looking [me] in the eyes and begging [me] to help her,” so I do it. She can’t pay me, but she’s really, really grateful. That’s nice… it don’t pay the light bill but, sure; it’s… “nice.”

            Tomorrow morning they send me another dying teenage kid. And another in the afternoon. Friday morning, it’s somebody’s sweet little old grandma. A pair of precocious twin toddlers at noon. Single mom trying to raise three kids that evening.

            This goes on and on and on and on. None of them can pay. All of them are really, really grateful. Some of them send me back pictures of them and their equally grateful families. Eventually, there’s nowhere for the pictures to be sent to, because I’ve sacrificed so much of my time to save Countless, Countless Lives™, that I’ve lost my job, I couldn’t make the rent, and I’m out on the street.

            So, now, I’m living behind a dumpster. But hey, at least I’m not freezing at night, because I’ve got all the warm, fuzzy feelings from all the lives I’ve saved to keep me insulated.

          • Shweta Narayan

            And that’s Feral’s reasoning right there. But aren’t we mostly in agreement that Feral’s reasoning was flawed all along? Helping people is not all or nothing, and there are options other than don’t help unless it helps you, and sacrifice everything and destroy your life helping people.

          • Arkone Axon

            What happens when the thing you’re being asked to do – and forced to do if you refuse – is something that is clearly “saving the world” in the eyes of the person doing the asking/forcing… but not to you?

            The most classic example: “We need you to convert to a religion you completely disbelieve in, in order to spread the light of decency and goodness to the world. You… you won’t do it? Oh, you HORRIBLE person! Inquisition time, you selfish prick!”

          • Shweta Narayan

            Thing is, Max did not disagree with Al’s judgment of the situation. If he had, there would be a much clearer case for this analogy.

          • Shweta Narayan

            As far as I can tell from reading comments, for a lot of people commenting there’s a p strong reason for that. Namely, in Max’s position, we would never have made Max’s decisions. We might have negotiated hard with Al in order to control the level of power she had over us in future, but we would NOT have refused to spend a couple hours to help countless people (A judgment Max clearly did agree with, he just didn’t wanna because fuck other people)

            I get that you said you would not do that, but please understand that plenty of people would. Which makes putting ourselves into Max’s shoes… entirely pointless.

            edit to add: I say we cause I am in that boat, not because I’ve done a lot of commenting.

          • “they won’t for whatever reason, and your child will die if it doesn’t
            happen I think that most people would employ almost any means needed to
            coerce the doctor to perform the procedure.”

            Reminds me of the film with the man who takes an emergency room hostage to force them to perform heart surgery on his child, which they weren’t going to do because it wasn’t covered by insurance and he had no ability to pay.

            Most people would be sympathetic to the man, but that doesn’t mean they would actually do such a thing themselves. The virtual non-existence of such cases in the real world shows they wouldn’t.

          • Regret

            In some situations it could be the lesser of two evils.
            So no, it is not OK, but that does not mean you should not do it.

          • Izo

            The fact that it is ‘not OK’ means you should not do it. You should not do things that are ‘not OK.’

          • pidgey

            I think that’s fairly reductive. In Muslim countries, it’s “not okay” for women to go without covering their heads, but I can definitely see an argument for why some particular woman ought to do that thing.

            Alternatively, every trolley problem anyone has ever come up with is ultimately a justification for doing something that “isn’t okay”. Even if you don’t accept the premise of trolley problems, the fact remains that you can look at history and see tons of examples of people doing terrible things that ultimately made the world a better place (Mongols, etc, etc). How do you define “should” in the face of that?

          • Izo

            That’s actually a very fair point you bring up. I will expand on what I said. What I mean by ‘not ok’ is that ‘If you feel that it’s not okay to take away agency from another person, then you should not be doing it.’

          • JakeS

            “So… if you’re a particularly skilled doctor and the only one who can do a particular surgery successfully, then it’s okay to force them at gunpoint?”

            Yes.

            That’s called “earning a paycheck.” Not a controversial concept in a modern industrial society.

            ‘But earning a paycheck is voluntary!’ Well, sort of. In the same sense that eating is voluntary.

            Another fun fact about industrial society: Because industrialization is about specialization, the vast majority of people will have no more than one really serious payskill. If you wake up one fine morning and decide that you’d really rather not employ your payskill, pretty soon men with guns will come to your place of residence and make your life complicated, miserable, or shorter.

            In the world we actually live in everybody is more or less the same, so society can get what it wants by paying money for it. If you don’t want to do it, well, someone else will, and society can afford to not pay you longer than you can afford to not get paid. Because there are a hundred people just like you ready to do your job if you won’t, the coercion involved can be hidden behind a layer of apparently free choice.

            In a world of unique, non-replicable superpowers, by contrast, the coercion becomes very individual, because super-labor is much less fungible than normal human labor, so collective macro-level coercion is much less useful in mobilizing super-labor than specific, individual coercion. So it would make a very great deal of sense for the state to tax supers in kind as well as in currency.

            So the issue here is not that Allison is imposing a (very, very light) tax on Max, to achieve an indisputable public good. The real issue is that apparently the state is failing to do so.

          • Izo

            “Yes. That’s called “earning a paycheck.” Not a controversial concept in a modern industrial society.”

            Wow, you put a gun to the head of people to force them to earn a paycheck? What if they don’t want the paycheck. Are you still putting the gun to their head to force them to do the work? A doctor gets to choose what operations they do and which ones they don’t want to do. Think of it like this – if you work at McDonalds, and don’t want to serve meat because of vegan reasons, you’re free to not work at McDonalds. Your employer will not put a gun to your head and say ‘Oh no, you’re gonna serve meat and like it, veggie-boy.’

          • Virgil Clemens

            We do put metaphorical guns to the heads of hospitals/doctors who refuse to treat homosexuals and black people. Are you saying that there was nothing morally objectionable to Max’s treatment of the workers, since it’s their choice to work late hours?

          • Izo

            “We do put metaphorical guns to the heads of hospitals/doctors who refuse to treat homosexuals and black people.”

            Um…. no we don’t.

            1) Can you name any examples of this happening in the since like… the 50s/60s?

            2) If a hypothetical racist/homophobic doctor decides to quit working for a hospital because they do not want to treat black people or homosexual people (or how about a black doctor not wanting to treat white people), they are allowed to quit the job and stop working for the hospital, or the hospital can fire them. The hospital cannot, however, force the doctor to perform a surgery unless they already started the surgery or somehow prevent other willing doctors from performing the surgery. The choices are ‘perform the surgery or you are in violating of your contract with the hospital, since a public hospital has to treat any emergency patient in order to receive federal funds, and the hospital will fire the doctor.’ There is no third choice of ‘force the doctor to perform the surgery. You’re making stuff up now. There are no guns, metaphorical or otherwise, to force a doctor to work for a hospital.

            “Are you saying that there was nothing morally objectionable to Max’s treatment of the workers, since it’s their choice to work late hours?”

            Yes, I am saying that they entered into a contract with Max to perform the work for a flat fee for the job, and there is nothing morally objectionable about Max’s treatment of the workers. There is only the legal objection that he is hiring illegal immigrants/undocumented immigrants in the first place, because it’s illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants – and any immorality comes from him hiring them in the first place, not their treatment. If they want to break the contract, Max is not preventing them from quitting. They won’t get paid because they would have broken the contract. They are not, however, being forced to keep working. They were also not forced to take the job in the first place. They can’t even argue that there are no other jobs, as if Max is the only person on the planet that will hire them.

          • Virgil Clemens

            I’m going to be direct here: anti-discrimination laws = metaphorical guns. Are you against such laws?

          • Izo

            Wow, trying the slander tactic. 🙂

            No, I’m not against antidiscrimination laws. I obviously support them, and the 13th amendment, Title IX, etc.

            However, I’ll be direct as well. You don’t seem to have any clue how antidiscrimination laws work, while I do, apparently. Especially in the scenario you just put forth. You can’t force someone to operate on another person. You can’t force someone to sell to another person. You CAN get them fired for not operating on another person (because public hospitals are subject to quite a few federal laws and get federal funding in a variety of ways) or take away that government funding if they don’t fire the doctor. But the hospital can’t force the doctor to do the surgery. Or you can start a public relations campaign against them, but you can’t force them to do something. This is in multiple cases in precedents for decades, most recently in 1995 in United States vs Lopez, even when using the commerce clause (which had become incredibly expanded from 1937 to 1995, ending with Lopez’s decision). In addition, civil rights laws do not make it illegal for private individuals (or even bona fide private clubs, or private practices) to discriminate on ANY basis that they choose. It just makes you able to make sure they are not benefiting from the government as a result.

            So in conclusion, anti-discrimination laws are not metaphorical guns. They cannot force a person to DO something. They can instead get them fired from an institution that’s getting governmental funding or that falls under governmental mandates. Your analogy is flawed.

          • Virgil Clemens

            “However, I’ll be direct as well. You don’t seem to have any clue how antidiscrimination laws work”
            And you don’t have a clue how metaphors work…

          • Izo

            It would seem that I do, in fact, since I just showed you how your metaphor doesn’t work and you don’t seem to realize it.

          • Virgil Clemens

            Going into minute detail how two things are different do not invalidate metaphors. Your inability to equate one form of coercion (physical threat) for another (court mandated business practices, fines, loss of income, jailtime, etc) is the root cause of your inability to understand metaphor.

          • Izo

            Okay seriously, do you not know what a metaphor is?

            I’ll give you the definition. It’s odd that people so often argue with me without understanding the definitions for what they’re arguing.

            A metaphor is a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar. I’ve just shown you that they are NOT similar at all. THAT’s what invalidates your metaphor. The fact that antidiscrimination laws are not similar to guns being held to the heads of doctors to force them to DO anything.

          • Virgil Clemens

            You mean to tell me there is NO similarity between two forms of coercion, which would allow for a metaphor to work, up to and including the fact they are both forms of coercion?

          • Izo

            No. They’re different. A gun to your head precludes the ability to have agency to choose not to do something. Being fired if you do not comply does not preclude the ability to have agency to choose to not do something. That’s the entire point of the metaphor of ‘a gun to your head’ in the scenario. The gun is to your head to FORCE YOU TO DO SOMETHING.

          • JakeS

            “Being fired if you do not comply does not preclude the ability to have agency to choose to not do something.”
            A position of extreme privilege that you do not share with most of your fellow human beings, for whom being fired results in harmful and possibly fatal deprivation.

          • Izo

            “A position of extreme privilege that you do not share with most of your fellow human beings, for whom being fired results in harmful and possibly fatal deprivation.”

            So let me get this straight. If you quit a job or get fired and find another job, that is ‘extreme privilege?’ You’ve never been fired from or quit a job in your entire life? If you have, after you lost the job you NEVER found another job ever again?

            Are you of the position that an employer should be required to pay you money even if you don’t do the job? THAT sounds like being extremely privileged. Heck, why bother coming into work at all – just tell your employer to send the money to you regardless of whether you come in or not, let alone do the work that you agree to do. Where do you get the idea that you have the privileged right to demand money for work that you did not do?

            Lets take this on the flip side also. Lets pretend you run a single mom and pop store and you have 1 employee in addition to yourself. And this employee keeps coming into work late, or leaves early. And you finally decide to fire him or her. Are they able to tell you that you’re NOT allowed to fire them and in fact you should pay them for hours that you did not work?

            Or lets say, for a flat rate job, that it’s winter, and some children come to your door and offer to shovel the snow out of your driveway and sidewalk for $10. And they do half the work, then stop. Are you obligated to still pay them the $10? Are you being privileged because you’re expecting them to do the work that they said they would? Are you holding a gun to their head if you don’t pay them unless they do what they said they would do for the $10?

            If anything, you seem to be the one expecting people to bend over backwards to give you money which you did not earn. That seems to me to be the definition of privileged. Getting something without deserving it.

          • Virgil Clemens

            Let’s go down your road. Putting a gun to a doctor’s head can’t be used as a metaphor for what Allison did to Max, so you should stop making the analogy. Comparatively benign police interrogations (which is coerced behavior) of mere suspects are more intimidating, time-consuming, and damaging to a person’s overall life than what Allison did.
            Max never put in a significant portion of his life into gaining his beneficial skillset, unlike a doctor. In fact, the scale of what Max has done is multiple orders of magnitude more beneficial than what a single doctor could’ve done in that time frame that it ceases to be quantitative, and is now a qualitatively greater benefit to the world. It would be like trying to compare two school bullies; one trips a classmate on their way to the blackboard, while the other tricks a classmate into eating their parents.

          • Izo

            “Putting a gun to a doctor’s head can’t be used as a metaphor for what Allison did to Max, so you should stop making the analogy. ”

            Alison threatens to kill Max if he does not comply by dropping him in the ocean and uses physical violence against him. = Alison forces Max with the threat of death for non-compliance

            Someone threatens to kill a doctor if he does not comply by shooting him in the head = Person forces doctor with the threat of death for non-compliance.

            See… That is how ‘gun to the head’ is a metaphor for what Alison did.

            Both were threats to the life of a person in order to get them to do what they want.

            You REALLY seem to have difficulty understanding basic definitions for words or see how hiring someone for a job is different than a threat of being killed.

          • Virgil Clemens

            Bull. You are refusing to accept other metaphors existing but your own.
            I am done with this conversation.

          • Izo

            Because your metaphors are flawed, while mine are not.

            Saying ‘Bull’ does not make your metaphors correct. I’ve actually shown very logically WHY your metaphor is flawed, and why mine is correct, and your method of disputing it is to just say bull, or say ‘well yours isnt good either’ (at which point I was able to show WHY mine made sense, while you were not able to show why yours does (since yours doesn’t and I was able to successfully refute what you said).

            “I am done with this conversation.”

            Sounds good to me.

          • JakeS

            “Wow, you put a gun to the head of people to force them to earn a
            paycheck?”
            Of course not. Why should I?

            The repo man does that for me.

            “A doctor gets to

            choose what operations they do and which ones they don’t want to do.”
            Aaaah, no. No, that’s not how it works. Really. A doctor can go “that’s not safe; I will not do it.” Because the doctor is recognized as being competent to evaluate the safety of a process. In much the same way a dockworker is allowed (and expected) to say “that lifting chain is not safe; I will not load with it.” That is very much not the same as said dockworker saying “I will not load that particular cargo.” The latter will get him fired for cause.

            “Think of it like this – if you work at McDonalds, and don’t want to
            serve meat because of vegan reasons, you’re free to not work at
            McDonalds. Your employer will not put a gun to your head and say ‘Oh no,
            you’re gonna serve meat and like it, veggie-boy.'”
            But he will say “I can afford to not pay you longer than you can afford to not get paid.” And he will be right.

            Really, you’d have to be some special kind of sheltered to not realize that your typical megacorporation has more bargaining power than your typical burger flipper.

            “People can have more than one skillset.”
            Only in the sense that there is no law of nature prohibiting it. In practice, people who can maintain two payskills at competitive levels at the same time are a tiny minority.

            “Who’s coming with guns to get me if I don’t want to represent a client?”
            Not ‘a’ client, clients in general.

            The fact that you can opt out of any particular individual job doesn’t mean you get to opt out of having a job.

            “Wait…. people are more or less the same? There’s no difference between people?”
            Less than ten standard deviations. On the scale of major national economies, that’s not a very large difference.

            “And yet in the past 30 years since Ben Carson separated conjoined twins at the head successfully,”
            Ben Carson and the 70 other guys and girls in that team. And only for a certain very particular value of “success.”

            “only two other surgeons have ever even done so successfully,”
            And how many have tried? Looking at the actual outcomes, it seems to me more likely that other surgeons are held back by a surplus of ethics than a deficit of skill.

            “For that matter, medals of honor for soldiers should be a dime a dozen,
            since apparently anyone can get them? Since everyone is equal in ability
            and skillset?”
            Now you’re just being silly. If you deliberately pick out the top percentile of a distribution, you’re only going to get one per cent of the distribution qualifying. That says nothing whatever about the width of the distribution.

          • Izo

            “Of course not. Why should I?”

            I’m still trying to come to grips with the idea that you will put a gun to the head of someone to FORCE them to work and FORCE them to accept money upon threat of their life.

            “The repo man does that for me.”

            Um…. no the repo man does not put a gun to your head.. I’m letting you know, LEGALLY, that repo men are actually NOT allowed to use violence to get what they want. They’re allowed to use deception and trickery and allowed to steal as long as they aren’t breaking and entering your home. They can threaten about the law. They cannot threaten you bodily harm, and they definitely can’t assault you. They can’t break into your house if the item is in your house either. In fact, if you try to physically stop them, they have to legally stop trying to take your stuff and will just come back later.

            Little hint to all you people out there who might have a repo person on your case. If you are worried about your car being repossessed, put it in your garage and lock the garage door. They’re not allowed to break into your house to get it. They’re allowed to break into your car while on the street, or come to your house and demand the keys and not tell you that you have the option to say no and slam the door on their face (at which point the company will have to take you to court instead).

            “But he will say “I can afford to not pay you longer than you can afford to not get paid.” And he will be right.”

            Not paying you because you’re not doing the job you were contracted to do is not forcing you to do a job. Why do so many people not understand this basic concept? There is NOTHING preventing you from getting a different job. You have absolutely no right to make demand of the employer that they pay you for NOT doing your job. See…. that would be what’s called theft if you take money from someone where you have not done work for the agreed-upon money, or where they have not agreed to give you money.

            “Only in the sense that there is no law of nature prohibiting it. In practice, people who can maintain two payskills at competitive levels at the same time are a tiny minority.”

            Really…. I have quite a few more than a single skillset, and unless you’re some sort of ‘idiot savant’ so do most people. In fact most people in their lives will have more than one type of profession.

            “Not ‘a’ client, clients in general.”

            I can choose to not take on a person as a client. I can also choose to not have ANY clients. You can not put a gun to my head and demand that I take you, or anyone, as a client. You can also not demand that I keep practicing law if I don’t want to, or that I can’t try to change professions or that I can’t take a job as a USPTO examining attorney instead, where I won’t have to have clients at all, or that I can’t get a job with the DA’s office again, where I’d be representing the state, or that I can’t get work as a contract attorney working on case-by-case bases.

            “The fact that you can opt out of any particular individual job doesn’t mean you get to opt out of having a job.”

            That will definitely be a shock to any person in history who’s ever retired or quit their job and been unemployed, or taken time off from work while living off their savings. Not to mention changing professions, starting your own business where you are your own boss, etc.

            And amazingly enough, you can’t put a gun to my head if I retire, if I want to quit and live off my savings, if I want to change professions, if I want to start my own business, etc.

            “Ben Carson and the 70 other guys and girls in that team. And only for a certain very particular value of “success.”

            Um.. there were two doctors (Carson and Dr. Donlin Long, the chief neurosurgeon, Carson’s mentor, and one of the other doctors I mentioned) on hand and several assists and nurses and an anesthesiologist. The procedure was INCREDIBLY risky with 50-50 odds up until that point that the babies would not survive. My point is, again, that after that surgery, he was one of only 3 surgeons on the planet with the experience and skill to perform a surgery like that SUCCESSFULLY.

            “And how many have tried? Looking at the actual outcomes, it seems to me more likely that other surgeons are held back by a surplus of ethics than a deficit of skill.”

            Quite a few have tried actually. And failed. And not sure how a ‘surplus of ethics’ prevents a doctor from performing a surgery, unless you mean they were ethical enough to give the conjoined twins the best odds of survival by having one of the 3 doctors involved in that or similar surgeries perform it, since they’re the ones who had experience doing it, and thus gave the babies the best chance at survival and successful detaching.

            “Now you’re just being silly. If you deliberately pick out the top percentile of a distribution, you’re only going to get one per cent of the distribution qualifying. That says nothing whatever about the width of the distribution.”

            If I pick the top percentile of a distribution, at least some of the time, that top percentile will be a single person.

          • Tylikcat

            “Because industrialization is about specialization, the vast majority of people will have no more than one really serious payskill.”

            *cracks up, falls over, gasping*

            Okay, I am told frequently that my approach to skill acquisition is a bit unusual, but the above strikes me as equally ridiculous for anyone reasonably educated*. Most people will have at least three careers in their lifetimes. I think most people have a number of skills they could reasonably support themselves at – maybe not support themselves at their current standard of living, but keep themselves fed and a roof over their heads without undue distress. (Huge fluctuations in the economy, where unemployment goes way up are different sorts of situations – and those are going to be the hardest situations to be trying to shift careers in.)

            “In the world we actually live in everybody is more or less the same, so society can get what it wants by paying money for it.”

            Mm. Maybe one of the reasons why I’m rather protective of Max (even though I thought he was an asshole) is that a feature of portions of my youth was being told that I had unique talents that needed to be cultivated to their best potential and then should serve my society. Let me be clear, I think this is bullshit. I was a kid, and I didn’t need an inflated idea of either my own importance or responsibility. I am all in favor of making the world a better place, but in a more self directed, less high pressure environment.

            But… if I think my uniqueness was overstated, I think the “more or less the same” can get overstated pretty quickly as well. Should I expect everyone to be able to waft around and get away with the kind of shenanigans I have? I’ve had it pretty thoroughly hammered into my head than I should not. People are different.

            I mean, hell. I haven’t gone on to be a star – I’m more of a dilettante and weirdo who wanders from field to field working on whatever amuses me.** But for much of the last couple of decades there have generally been a few things in which I am the one of a small handful of the best people in the world. Or for some things, the best. And this includes the period before I went into research, where it’s more or less expected. A lot of this is because we are in a weird, specialized world, and some skills end up being pretty uncommon. (I still end up realizing that work I did fifteen years ago, when I was still in industry, and never published because it never occurred to me to do so, is relevant. One of my back up plans is to go work in distributed smart energy grids.) But this doesn’t make me that special, because there are a *whole lot* of people who are in this position for some set of skills. Probably still small as a percentage of the population, but large in absolute numbers. This world has a lot of weird skills.

            * Yes, I realize a lot of people aren’t, and end up without much in the way of in-demand skills. And that is a major bucket of suck.
            ** Okay, I am being actively recruited into a different department right now. I mean, people sometimes encourage me to do this, to be fair.

          • Weatherheight

            “I don’t think I could judge them because in that situation I would probably do the same thing.”

            Two things:
            1) It is possible to make a judgement about an action taken by someone else and yet not be judgmental of that person – difficult, granted, but possible.

            2) There is a fine line between being empathetic to the situation that another person is in and using that situation as self-justification to minimize cognitive dissonance regarding performing that action oneself.

            What’s interesting to me is I can’t conceive of ever being in that situation where I have that much agency over so many other people (although I’ve been in situations where I’ve had that much agency over a single person, and I never even considered going outside the social contract or literal contract to help solve the problem).

            The point you make is a good one, though – most of us don’t know what it’s like to have that much power over someone else or how far we’d go in any given situation, especially a seriously out-on-the-fringes situation such as this. We think we do, but until we’re there we truly don’t know.

            I like the implied conflict of “I don’t think I could” as opposed to “I never would”. I spend a lot of time there myself.

          • Alon Rand

            You’re right that it’s hard to imagine an exactly equivalent scenario to the one presented in the comic. That’s part of what makes discussing the ethics at play here so difficult – most of the way we determine right and wrong is by analogy.

            That said, here’s another one for you, inspired by your own final paragraph: imagine for a moment that there is a charismatic, supremely peaceful leader – Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Dalai Lama all rolled into one. She’s just getting her movement going, but unlike the above leaders, she’s taking it global. She’s got tens of millions of people all over the world who already believe in her message of peace and harmony, and she gains more followers every day. There’s a LOT of resistance from entrenched powers, of course, and it could all fall apart if she’s not there to keep it going.

            Trouble is, she’s suffering from kidney failure. She’s been on dialysis for a while, but it’s recently gotten much worse. She’s slipped into a coma, and the doctors aren’t sure how long they can keep her alive. But even their most optimistic views make it unlikely she’ll even fully regain consciousness without a kidney transplant. And – of course – she’s not especially close to the top of the transplant list.

            But fortuitous chance smiles! Her second cousin happens to be a perfect match, and he’s in excellent health. Kidney transplants aren’t risk free for a willing donor, but the danger is fairly minimal really, and a healthy person can live just fine with only 1 kidney, so there’s barely a reason to worry. Problem is, Mr. Second Cousin, it turns out, isn’t willing to go under the knife. Pick your reason – he’s terrified of surgery, he always hated how sanctimonious his cousin is and won’t help her, whatever – he won’t do it. Is it ethical for anyone to put a gun to his head and force him to undergo the surgery (we’ll imagine for a moment that it would be possible to find a surgeon willing to perform the transplant under these conditions)? Is it ethical for our burgeoning saint’s best friend to be the one doing the forcing?

            If she gets that transplant, she could quite literally change the world for the better. Through the sheer power of her personality and the popular support she commands, she could be instrumental in the establishment of international human rights laws with teeth, something approaching truly just world government – even if it were just a few more obstacles to prevent war for profit, or more equitable distribution of global wealth and resources, she very seriously has a chance to be a total game changer – but only if she gets that transplant. What’s the right thing to do?

          • Weatherheight

            I don’t know.

            In a very real sense, someone that essential to the process is also the keystone that, if taken out, would cause the structure to fall (to use an analogy). That kind of person’s influence rarely outlasts their lives.

            My take on human nature is that buy-in is essential for real change to happen, and nothing happens fast. If I had prefect precognition and could guarantee those outcomes would come to pass, I might do something drastic, but barring that guarantee, I don’t have an answer.

            And to be honest, the idea of millions of followers and a single viable transplant is.. well, let’s just say I have a hard time believing in there being only a single way to solve a problem.

          • Alon Rand

            Well, the Dalai Lama is still alive, but my other two examples are not, and both were assassinated with their work unfinished (though well-begun). Nevertheless, I think few would argue either one did not have a lasting impact on history all the same. Doubtless the world would look quite different today if both men had died of natural causes with another decade or two under their belts, but that only further reinforces my hypothetical. Change, in the long sweep of history, may come slowly, but it doesn’t come evenly. It’s catalyzed by pivotal individuals at key moments, and at those times and places, it’s usually quite dramatic.

            You don’t have perfect precognition, but neither does Alison. We haven’t seen it for sure yet, but I doubt VERY strongly that she was sure exactly what would happen when Max boosted Feral. Nor does she have better than hope and some educated guesses about the long-term ramifications (everyone’s biodynamic abilities have been growing stronger, slowly. Is there an endpoint? If so, has Feral reached it already, or merely leapfrogged a few years? Either way, what if she comes to heal so fast they can no longer harvest organs from her at all? What if now her power goes wonky and she turns into a human-sized malignant tumor?) This is totally uncharted water for the characters in the comic, too, remember.

            And sure, there’s the chance of another viable match. Even the probability. Alison had other options, too – personally convincing or forcing Max then and there, that night, was a wholly self-imposed deadline and circumstance. In my scenario, yes, you might be able to find another match in time, but the clock is ticking – she’s dying, and another option has not presented itself yet. Every day it’s delayed increases the chances she won’t survive the operation at all; the weaker a body becomes, the harder it is to accept a new organ, too.

          • Weatherheight

            The problem is that one can say the same thing about Napoleon, Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and any other “great persons” whose methods were less noble. The statement “I am doing a good thing” is rarely best judged by the utterer and most often best judged by those who come well after.

            Acting precipitously and without adequate forethought is pretty much always a recipe for unintended consequences. And that is why I’ve never felt good about “this is the only choice” scenarios. Altogether too often they’re being pushed by someone with a agenda that primarily benefits them, not the masses.

            I agree with the statements of your posts, I just don’t feel comfortable with judgements about actions whose consequences haven’t played out or choices framed in black and white.

            Thought provoking though.

          • Alon Rand

            You may not care for them, but you can hardly argue that any of those figures did not have a lasting impact – the very fact that their names are still remembered is very nearly proof enough on its own.

            Although the aftermath of all of these lives is a pretty thorough demonstration of another part my point, too: you cannot predict the long-term outcome of your actions. The more impactful they are, the more unpredictable the ultimate ramifications will be. I get your reluctance – I tend to share it – but we must be honest with ourselves. You cannot know what your choices will mean, not really. You are ALWAYS doing the best you can with incomplete data. And sometimes – often – your choice is acting precipitously or failing to act at all.

            Which is not to say that necessarily obtained in Alison’s particular case. As I said earlier, the only real urgency in this specific scenario was imposed by Alison herself. But that’s part of why I engineered the hypothetical I presented as I did: to ensure there was at least a sense of the same urgency she felt at the time. A lot of the time when we are faced with big decisions, we haven’t actually got the luxury of contemplating all the ramifications at our leisure before deciding what to do.

            I should add, I don’t want this to sound like I agree with Alison’s decision to act as she did. I understand what was motivating her, and at least so far it seems like, on balance, she accomplished something pretty remarkable. But her frustration and impatience did drive her to make a hasty choice, accomplishing her goal in a dubious fashion. In the long run, she would have been better served to be less impulsive, and plan a method of enlisting Max’s voluntary aid – both because compelling him in this instance was wrong in itself, and because it will make it many times more difficult to gain his assistance in the future through any other method now – as she is now discovering.

          • Weatherheight

            heh. I thought the goal here was lasting positive change with minimal negative consequences – I picked the representatives I did because each of them precipitated a governmental crisis that they resolved and their resolution of the problem was rejected within a generation or two (Caesar is arguably not a good fit with the others on this point, since his changes actually lasted a reasonably long time before the backlash hit, but I digress…). Mostly because their answer to the problem was, “Conquer ’em all and gets the yokes well fitted.”

            For my part, I’m comfortable with Alison’s decision as a macro-decision but very uncomfortable with it as a micro-decision. I also get her sense of urgency and that it is a reasonable one for her, given her tendency to looking for one-punch solutions.

            The scale is what makes me hesitant in these examples – I’m a lot more comfortable with decisions that realistically affect a relatively small group of people but become less comfortable as the affected population size increases – more people equals more variables equals less control in implementation equals more uncertain outcomes. If I have to make decisions about someone else’s life, I want to make sure I’ve covered all the bases before I crack the whip (mixed metaphor, thy name is Weatherheight).

            I’ve made a few hard choices in my day, and some of them have been.. dodgy and potentially illegal no matter on which side I dropped. I feel for Alison making the hard choice while acknowledging she might not have gone about it the best way. And I genuinely understand the desire to put a beat-down on some stubborn, entitled, arrogant person who is clogging up the pipes because it will somehow decrease their personal power or they don’t get the credit or the plan wasn’t their idea.

            And I get Max’s desire to maintain as much autonomy as he can given his background (or, to be more precise, the implications of his background – need to check my assumptions there, too).

          • Alon Rand

            Well, whether the change a given person brings is “positive” or not is a subjective matter. THEY thought they were doing that. And in terms of the long view of history, it’s actually really hard to say whether they were right or not, even if viewing the knock-on effects exclusively from our modern ethical bias.

            But as far as whether their proposed solution lasted or not – I’ll conditionally grant you Alexander and Napoleon – both men created empires that collapsed upon their deaths. However, Alexander is largely responsible for the dissemination of Greek culture across the Mediterranean, and without that, not only would Rome probably never have existed, but neither would the United States, or possibly even the concept of the modern representative democracy that is the foundation for all of Western government today. And while Napoleon was, historically speaking, a flash in the pan himself, he was also largely responsible for ending the worst excesses of monarchical government throughout Europe, and ushering in the modern political era for Continental Europe.

            But the Mongol Empire very much did not collapse quickly – it not only survived Genghis, it expanded in the subsequent generations. It survived as a single, unified empire for almost a century, and as a major political force of the Eurasian continent (in the form of 4 Khanates spanning the area Kublai Khan ruled, which to this day remains the geographically largest empire in history) for nearly an additional 400 years. And while the Mongols were hardly gentle conquerors, the lands they ruled generally flourished economically thanks to the secure trade routes the Khans maintained, developed their own cultures largely unhindered, and arguably existed under a more just legal system than what the vast majority of them had ever devised on their own.

            And Julius Caesar is deeply debatable at best – while he failed to consolidate power as the first Roman Emperor himself, it was his death that Augustine used as the catalyst to vault into that role. And say what you will about the Roman Empire, it survived LONG after Augustine and, imperfect as it was in many respects, it advanced art, science, philosophy, and technology for the human species as no singular political entity before it.

            As for the rest of your post – I’ve got no substantial disagreement to any of what you say. I’m inclined to agree – Alison’s objective was a worthwhile one, her methods could have been better, I sympathize with the feelings she was clearly struggling with at the time (and now), and recognize their influence over her decision-making. I also, at least to an extent, get where Max is coming from – though I don’t sympathize with him very much. His underlying reasons are nothing to be proud of, but stand to reason given his background. But his stated reasons were petty, misanthropic, and juvenile. That doesn’t make what Alison did to him okay, but it does make it hard for me to feel as bad for him as I otherwise might, if he’d had a different attitude about the whole thing.

          • It’s far less like forcing someone to become a doctor, and far more like forcing a retired doctor of the same exceptional level as described here, still in good condition to work, to come back and do “just one more surgery” because she’s the only one who has the knowledge and experience necessary. It remains a huge hassle and a heartbreaking choice for the retiree and something that she could easily see as an inescapable series of pressures for the rest of her life, but not a matter of eight directed years of motiavated extra study..

            Anyway. my personal take on the matter?
            It’s wrong for that person to needlessly refuse to help, and it’s wrong for them to be forced. However in terms of the ultimate good the question gets a little muddy. Would it be worse if they were forced or felt unable to refuse, if they then overdid it and lost their capacity or willingness to help later, for example?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            That’s an easy one. The government (or whoever) could offer her a super-high-paying job at some super-fancy research institute. If it turns out becoming a pro-basketball player still gives her more money, then we clearly don’t value medicine as much as we say we do, so it would be wrong to force her.

            The whole plot of this chapter only worked because Max was pointlessly stubborn and already rich.

          • SJ

            That’s an easy one. The government (or whoever) could offer her a super-high-paying job at some super-fancy research institute. If it turns out becoming a pro-basketball player still gives her more money, then we clearly don’t value medicine as much as we say we do, so it would be wrong to force her.

            As a fan of women’s pro basketball, I can assure you it doesn’t. It seems to me as though @Scott‘s question was clearly framed in a way as to demonstrate that playing pro ball would give the woman in the hypothetical a sense of happiness that would far exceed whatever satisfaction she would gain from being a doctor, and would rather play pro ball for less money, and to therefore ask whether that woman’s duty to “help save the world” or whatever supersedes her personal right to happiness?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            We already know how to deal with the trade-off in which some very useful jobs are less fun than the some of the most useless ones:

            https://youtu.be/lpSz2x0c1rU

          • SJ

            This presupposes that wages are a primary factor for the woman in the hypothetical. What happens if they aren’t to her, but her skill is still in high demand?

            What do you do when a person has two skills, and one is considered by society to be “more important” than the other one, but the person is happiest doing the “less important” one, and can’t be incentivized by finances to do the other thing?

          • MrSing

            The downfall of economics is that they assume all people are unprincipled and selfish beings.

          • StClair

            IMO, when it comes to economics, that is the most reasonable assumption.

            (With the caveat that many actors are not rational, aware or informed enough to even be “perfectly” selfish. People will generally act in their own interests, but can’t be relied on to consistently do even that.)

          • MrSing

            Isn’t it true that low index cost funds are often better or just as good as the high risk stocks that experts pick in the long run?
            A model that in the long term narrowly beats random choice more than half of the time is not very impressive.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Suppose the government really wants to cure cancer and is willing to pay one metric fuckton of arbitrary money units for that. This woman is skilled enough that she can find the cure, but wants to play basketball instead.

            If a billion dollars is not enough to convince her, then the government will just have to hire a metric fuckton of doctors with that money instead. If this woman is so skilled that even a Manhattan-Project-class team of doctors can’t do her job, then that enters into absurd superpower territory and the situation reduces to Max’s dilemma.

            Now, if the government just doesn’t want to pay this person’s price, because they are not willing to pay a metric fuckton, then they have no right to complain that there is no cure for cancer.

          • SJ

            If a billion dollars is not enough to convince her, then the government will just have to hire a metric fuckton of doctors with that money instead. If this woman is so skilled that even a Manhattan-Project-class team of doctors can’t do her job, then that enters into absurd superpower territory and the situation reduces to Max’s dilemma.

            Which is probably the thing I hate most of all of this arc: the authors have taken this supernatural universe, which they have created, where people have superpowers, and still managed to stack the deck in such a way as to contrive this bullshit “trolley” problem. Why should anybody believe that Alison’s choice was her only, or even the best available option?

          • KatherineMW

            The hypothetical doesn’t make sense, because there are a lot of talented doctors. But if the situation existed and her talents were definitively known, the easiest answer is that she plays pro ball for 10-15 years, then has her medical training fully funded and has the opportunity to become a doctor. Pro sports isn’t something a typical person can do past age 35-40, whereas lots of doctors work well past retirement age. And given the lack of pay in most women’s sports, she’d need a post-sports career.

          • cphoenix

            I recently read advice given by a physicist on Quora. He said: Don’t always follow your dream, in the sense of making your career your dream. I loved to play racquetball. As a professional physicist, I can easily play racquetball. As a professional racquetball player, I would not easily be able to do physics.

          • Zac Caslar

            How do you have any right to “punish” her?

            Did you ask yourself that question?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well– we feeble reading audience can do little but Dramatic Consequence the Almighty, Hell Stallion of Author The Great absolutely has any (and in fact all) rights.

          • Zac Caslar

            Also conspicuously not answering the question.

            I’d guess it’s because you relish the idea of inflicting suffering, but don’t let me have the last word on your motivations.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            So wait do you mean me specifically or what your whole spiel is hard to follow

          • Zac Caslar

            Nah, “Dramatic Consequence the Almighty, Hell Stallion of Author The Great” is hard to follow.

            You and others are finding a lot of excitement in “punishing Allison” and in finding ways to really make her hurt.

            Have you asked yourselves why? And if you should? Where’s the aversion to hurting someone in this case?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Uh. ‘kay. “Finding ways to really make her hurt”? Making lots of assumptions there.

          • Zac Caslar

            “That should be her burden, yes. “You get to hear all the help you’re
            currently not providing by wasting your time feeling guilt about choices
            nobody forced you to make, and I’m not stopping until each venue is
            properly explored.”

            …?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My, if this webcomic was a secret S&M literature club where we relish at Alison being badly talked at (Ô delicious nastiness)…
            Well this would explain so many things actually

          • Zac Caslar

            I’d disagree, but my indulgently guilty laughter would give me away. =]

            I’m a hypocrite, but only part of the time. I’m the Hypocrite’s Hypocrisy.

          • Scott

            Hi, Zac. First, I’d just like to ask for level heads to prevail. When any one person starts to lose their cool it can derail the entire conversation rather than provoke any additional clarity.
            As for your question, I personally do not have any right to punish her. I have not been charged to carry out the duties of any office responsible for law enforcement. No one has given me the benefit of the public trust in order to act in situations where I may need to make moral choices affecting the lives of others. However, this is also true of Allison. She isn’t a police officer. She isn’t a soldier. She isn’t even a super hero anymore. What right does she have to force Max to act against his will?
            I saw above that you are a blood donor and that was something you used as a comparison. The critical difference I would draw there is that you CHOSE to donate your blood. It is a very different thing for you to walk into a hospital and make a small personal sacrifice. It is another altogether for that hospital to kidnap people, strap them to a chair, and take their blood by force. The person is still relatively unharmed and critical, life-saving blood is still obtained. So why don’t we empower hospitals to take the blood they need if they can’t get it from donations?

          • Zac Caslar

            ” why don’t we empower hospitals to take the blood they need if they can’t get it from donations?”

            ….because one person donating a pint of blood is no way comparable to what happened to Feral? Because it’s not necessary? That’s not a useful question because it presumes the very usual levels of supply and demand.

            The real question would be if we’d do that if there was a critical blood shortage. If after a series of massive disasters hospitals found themselves entirely without stocks of whole blood and without the means of offering compensation for donors. People of all ages and types are dying in operating rooms because of a lack of blood to replenish what they’re losing under the knife. Would “stealing” blood be acceptable?

            I’d say no.

            And yet cleverly by what little decency is required to donate blood I’m pre-positioned to not be in the thorns of that thicket.

            Whatever dilemma is looming I’m already doing my part. That’s Max’s problem. That’s the Pro-Max problem. That’s a reactionary selfishness masquerading as freedom.

            Accepting that Allison has no socially sanctioned position to act as she did does that exempt you from judgement for wanting to see her suffer? Are you anti-torture except where you decide it’s justified?

            I am. I’m anti-death penalty except in the cases of James Holmes, the Tsaernaev Brothers, and other mass killers. Then I support those mike-foxtrotters getting voted off Isla De Life asap. Hell, I’d volunteer to kill them if that was necessary.

            Allison’s “right” is the simplest kind: because she can. That’s all there is to it. That no assumed vindication, but it’s the truth. What we’re all mulling over what is what should happen as a consequence.

            And I’m poking the sores of people who’ve decided they’ve got “the right” to see her suffer. Because they doubtless think themselves morally superior people.

            Who enjoy torture.

          • Scott

            “Allison’s “right” is the simplest kind: because she can. That’s all there is to it. That no assumed vindication, but it’s the truth.”

            Might makes right? What dictates morality is strength? Is that what you’re honestly trying to advocate?

            “The real question would be if we’d do that if there was a critical blood shortage … Would “stealing” blood be acceptable?”
            ‘I’d say no”

            So, if even in this constructed model you’ve provided of a real world event comparable to the situation Feral is in you still do not believe that the right emerges to violate another person’s bodily autonomy for the sake of others, then what reason do you have to justify Allison’s behavior towards Max? Because he’s just one person?

            “Are you anti-torture except where you decide it’s justified?”

            No, I’m anti torture. I don’t believe it’s ever justified.

            “I’m anti-death penalty except in the cases of James Holmes, the Tsaernaev Brothers, and other mass killers.”

            Why are they exceptions? If you’re anti-death penalty, what mark have they crossed that makes it okay to execute them? They are in prison, they can’t hurt anyone anymore. What good is accomplished by killing them?

          • Zac Caslar

            I answered your “does might make right question” already.

            “Because he’s just one person?”

            Because he’s just one person. Because the actual intrusion was minor. Because I see much more good done. Because I’m not a Deontologist.

            Because if I beat the life out of someone my right of freedom of passage does not trump the social necessity of my apprehension by police.

            Because I can honestly own that, in purely factual sense, I as a modern American use far more resources then my calculated production justifies and that what minor good I do doesn’t do much to offset that debt.

            And yet I see my existence as worth continuing because I’m not a mechanical absolutist. I might not think much of your existence, not that I have an opinion actually, but I support your similar right to be and the difference is that I see the limits to both our lives as a lot more fluid than you do.

            Or than Max would.

            I would donate blood, or super power, to save your life. It’s not even a question. The real trouble comes in the details of just how much and under what circumstances and even then I’m willing to consider some real suffering if it’s necessary.

            Could you say the same thing? Hey, not everyone would. The “taxes are tyranny” crowd considers any obligatory tithe to common welfare an absolute evil.

            Except where War is involved. Or Food Safety. Or Land Management.

            They’re so silly. =D

            You’re anti-torture! That’s terrific. So you’re done thinking Allison deserves punishment for her choice? Or is more suffering required?

            Why execution?

            Because of the malice involved. Because they chose indiscriminately. Because they’re the absolute worst of us and in these circumstances an example is worth making of the kind of behavior that is beyond tolerating for any reason.

            Because I want to.

            Ta daah!

          • Zac Caslar

            You’ll notice how many of the good folks who hate and oppose “Allison the Tyrant” aren’t slowed for a second by the moral failing present in torturing someone for possessing a conscience.

            Or by the prospect of torturing someone at all.

            Maybe they’re unaware of how much more likely a villain she would be if she’s stripped of her sense of compassion and the need to act in accordance with it? There’s only two ways out of suffering like that after all: the first is to die, and the second is to give up whatever your tormentor finds so objectionable about you.

            In this case Allison cannot give up her capacity for evil -no one can give that up- so her flaw is that she wants to do good.

            Spend a second on that. The people here who most want to see Allison cry and puke and mortify herself want this because she’s heroic. And that’s what they really consider villainous.

            *slow clap*

            That’s real moral confusion -and coming from the strident moral clarity crowd no less!

          • Arkone Axon

            I don’t hate and oppose Alison for crying and puking, personally. I am very, very disappointed in her actions because she has taken everything she represented, everything she stood for, and thrown them away in the course of a foolish, violent, irrevocable act.

            There’s a video you can find on Youtube… well, several videos, but all about the same thing. A black female judge ranting at a white officer before sentencing him. She started off by emphasizing how she knew what a difficult and dangerous job police officers have, how little training and appreciation they receive, and how she does admire them. Then she goes on to rip this guy a new one, over his violent assault of someone he was arresting. How the cop went over the line, how the brutality was completely at odds with the rest of his career up to that point. During which time the cop sat there and stared, blinking rapidly and looking… not unlike Alison, really.

            She then went on to inform him that she had received numerous letters from citizens speaking about the good he’d done, and begging for clemency on his behalf. And she was going to show him some slight clemency because of the good cop he’d been. (Meaning he still went to jail, but he could hope to get out of prison within a decade or so)

            That’s how I’m feeling about Alison, and I think I’m not the only one. What she did is all the more horrific to me because it was done by someone who had done a lot of good… and just threw it all away to do something very, very bad. And now she needs to live with it, and deal with the consequences. To atone, if possible, to make restitution.

            And that’s also why she’s being “tortured.” She’s realizing what she did, that “Mega Girl” just did something that even Mayhem would have balked at (if only because he would have done a much better job of coercing Max AND ensuring continued compliance from him). She put herself in this situation, and we’re pissed at her for doing so.

          • critically_damped

            Oh, and I suppose that once you’ve said yes once, you forever lose your right to say “no” ever again?

          • MrSing

            Alison sure feels that way about her powers. Saying “yes” is not even a choice, it is mandatory in her eyes.
            I think it is everyone’s right to retire from their duty when they no longer want to do it and have arranged things within reason to no fall apart because they left their duty. As long as they admit that they are no longer a “fireman, part of the police, a hero” or whatever their duty was, there is no reason a person shouldn’t be able to retire from their duty.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            He didn’t seem struck by guilt at knowing what he wasn’t doing before, he wouldn’t be now.

          • Izo

            As if Max’s consent has ever mattered to Alison before…

          • Wormlore

            I don’t quite agree with Allison’s actions, but at least Max got a taste of his own social theory of “choice”. He was so smug about it when talking about the immigrant working for him.
            I wonder how he feels now about having had the “choice” between helping Allison willingly… or being forced to help her.

          • Izo

            Do you understand at all what ‘choice’ means? Max didn’t force anything with the gardeners, and was paying them. He created no threat. They could stop working for him at any time. Alison created a threat to make Max comply. And when he wouldnt, she engaged in physical violence.

          • Wormlore

            I agree with the difference that Max never physically threatened the workers, that doesn’t mean they had much more choice when he asked them to work late for the same miserable wages.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, he never asked them a thing. That’s a point people keep forgetting – MAX wasn’t their employer. They were hired by his father’s assistant. Max doesn’t know their names. He doesn’t know how much they get paid. He simply trusts that the person his father employs would not deliberately screw over the people doing work in his home.

          • Izo

            Since they had the choice to say no, and they agreed in advance so that they knew that they might have to work late for the same flat wage, I disagree with your assessment.

          • Izo

            I’m suspecting you’re being sarcastic 🙂

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No, actually. I really think this is a good weight on the soul of anyone who does something wrong “but just once” and is absolutely torn over it.

          • VariableNature

            I’ve really liked reading your comments throughout this webcomic. You’ve provided some interesting discussion and thoughts that I hadn’t really considered in some cases.

            That being said, I don’t understand why you actually read this webcomic. Like, at all.

            It seems like throughout this entire chapter, you have been harshly critical of Alison’s actions, to the point where I’m starting to suspect you never actually liked her in the first place. Granted, that could be a highly incorrect reading on my part, but from everything else I’ve read from a LOT of other commenters, it’s starting to feel like there are a group of people who only read this because they want to see Alison suffer, not because they want to see her grow and learn and help change the world for the better in way that makes it better for everyone.

            I’m not saying what she did was right. I think we’re all in the same camp here of saying what Alison did was wrong, She forced Max to do something against his will, threatened his life, and now has to live with the knowledge of “Hey, you know that terrible thing you did which basically violated your entire worldview and showed that you’re a horrible person? You can do that again! With even better results for the rest of the world! And again and again and again! All that’s stopping the world’s progress is your own feelings. Why do you hate the world so much? Don’t you want to help people?”

            I don’t want to see that narrative. At least, not the way it’s being handled right now. Maybe you do. Or there’s another reason I haven’t considered. Maybe you like the conversations here in the comments section. Maybe there’s another reason entirely that I just haven’t seen.

            So since this is most likely the last page of this webcomic I’m ever going to read, I figure I’ll get around to asking you, someone whose opinion in the comments section I’ve always respected even if I’m sometimes against it, why you read Strong Female Protagonist.

          • Izo

            Seriously, what’s with people asking why, if someone is critical of something they normally like reading, they have people saying ‘like it or leave!’

            What… is Clemens not allowed to dislike a storyline? Any time a TV show you like has something in it that you don’t like you must quit watching the show forever in a rage?

            I would have quit watching almost everything on TV if that was the case. I would have quit iZombie after episode 8, and Supergirl after episode …. like 3 or 4 (I forget which episode was the one bad one – probably 3 – although I didn’t like that Superman had to save her the first time from Reactron in episode 4), but it was one of the earlier ones), and never have seen it get absolutely awesome as it is now.

          • VariableNature

            I’m not trying to be gatekeeping or anything else like that; if I have, I’m sorry. I just wanted to ask someone else who frequently posts on SFP what they like about the story. If my asking came across as just a bratty “like it or leave”, as you said, then that’s on me. I don’t want to tell people how they can or can’t enjoy a work.

            I mean, I’m leaving, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand that other people enjoy this. I guess I’m just having the same reaction to this that I have with people who are actively enjoying something that I don’t have as much of a positive experience with.

            My question was never meant as an accusation or anything negative, it was purely supposed to be one of curiosity and interest. It would be like if someone else asked me “What is it about [insert favorite TV show/book/movie/comic/media here] that makes you like it so much?” I would not see that as an attack, necessarily, but as someone who was curious about it and wanted to know more. If it came off as any other way, I’m sorry.

          • Izo

            “If my asking came across as just a bratty “like it or leave”, as you said, then that’s on me. I don’t want to tell people how they can or can’t enjoy a work”

            It did come off that way. But now that you explained, I understand what you were asking. Honestly, right now I’m not sure what I like that much about the PROTAGONIST anymore, but the story itself I do like. I like deconstructions. I don’t like having perfect people in stories. My main concern is if Alison isn’t punished, because while I don’t like perfect people, I like even less when people who do things that are bad get away with it without penalty to themselves. Especially when removing agency from another person – it’s part of the whole part of me that despises bullies who throw their strength around. I don’t know if this story arc will resolve in a way that I can stomach, but in the past story arcs, most have at least shown Alison learning some real lesson (the only exception to this being the Moonshadow arc). I loved the Cleaver/Cohen/Feral hospital arc for example, because it culminated in Alison’s speech to Cleaver in jail. Unfortunately most of the results of that arc was thrown in the trash with this arc (so far).

            Most of what I’m liking right now is at least the discussions though. It’s what’s getting me through the current story arc.

          • VariableNature

            I think the stuff you pointed out towards the end is really summarizes my main problem with the arc. My problem hasn’t been with me not liking deconstructions, or even that I think Alison will get off scot free (because I feel like her actions here are going to haunt her, most likely for the rest of her life), but that the direction this story is going in has fundamentally taken away what I thought was so special about SFP.

            One thing I’ve had for awhile, whenever I tried to write something myself, is that I would have these awesome SCENES in my head, of a few characters having a deep and important conversation, or getting into a climactic heart-pumping fight, or just something that makes it stand out in my head that makes me go “Yeah, I want to write THAT”. But then I come up with the problem of “Wait, how do I tell a believable enough story that I can get to that moment?”

            For me, the whole scene in the prison between Alison and Cleaver feels like one of those scenes; something that was realized and created early on in the development of the story, and everything else slowly built up towards it. It was beautifully written and drawn, was tense, revealed so much about Alison and was the moment when I truly felt like I had found my new favorite comic, online or off. It felt like one of those scenes that people would quote on Tumblr and pass around, reblogging about how much it spoke to them.

            Maybe it was the whole idea of someone understanding just how much power that they have and the horrible things that could be done with that power if they don’t keep it constantly in check that specifically cinched the deal for me.

            But as you said now, this arc seems to take that moment and treat it not as one of the cornerstone moments of the comic that I thought it was, but more as Alison being naïve and overly idealistic about human nature. Gurwara’s “experiment” and everything with Max have made that scene just feel hollow looking back, taking away what made it so awesome. It shows that any change for “good” can only feasibly be done by becoming a tyrant and forcing that change to happen with a gun pointed at someone’s head. And even though that is how it sometimes happens in real life, Alison’s speech to Cleaver made me feel like she wouldn’t do things that way, and that she would work to find a way to fix things that didn’t result from her just exerting her force.

            The problem that can’t (or shouldn’t) be solved by violence ended up being solved by violence.

            And although I do agree that the discussions are interesting and enlightening, I came here for the story that’s being told, not for the conversations about the story. I enjoyed being a part of those conversations when I said what I had to say, but it’s just not enough for me.

          • Izo

            I understand and can emphasize with everything you just said, especially since the Cleaver resolution was probably one of the best things in the entire comic, story arc-wise. I just havent been at a point where my ability to enjoy the comic, or at least enjoy the debates (in orientation in law school, the dean once said that law students are brainwashed to like debating people by the time they graduate) outweigh the story arc that I’m intensely disliking because of the moral of the story that seems to be getting pushed. So I don’t see a reason to stop reading, if only because of the chance that the story will turn around, or that I might be able to keep on debating people who think this moral is a good one when I whole-heartedly believe it’s downright evil to take away an innocent person’s agency by violence.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I love this webcomic so much.

            I still remember the page I arrived at. It was potentially later than you might think: just as Dr. Rosenblum was sharing her “70 times more likely figure” with Alison.
            I remember the person I used to be and the reaction he had reading that page and even now I need to hide my shame with a sardonic laugh. The defensiveness showcased by the ignorant who feels attacked by the mere mention of a statistical fact. I didn’t comment back then. Thank God.
            I remember how infuriated I felt by the conclusion to Mary’s storyline and how years make me reflect and realize I don’t understand that person I was anymore and the sort of tickling angst that comes when you don’t realize when exactly your perspective changed.

            I would be too ashamed to tell you the number of pages I went to at a later time and got more than I did the first time.

            I’ve grown here, visibly. I’ve met and got to know people. They helped me understand things and when I’m drunk enough I manage to tell myself I may have once done the same to at least one. I’ve even started to miss some, what with silly @chaosvii whose long absence I try my hardest to stay hopeful won’t last. When things were bad in real life the small upvotes I got from stupid jokes were the things that made me survive. I spend so much more time than I should with you guys. I constantly feel guilty, like having this place being so important to me is robbing that feeling off of someone who might be scared off from commenting for the first time like I once did.

            And I love Alison, too. Those were just the reasons I could never leave. Nothing of all of that which make it so I would never even want to. I love everything about this storyline. How daring it is with its reader’s trust, how interesting a conversation it fostered. I can’t wait for next page as soon as update day, 10:01. (That’s when it updates in France)

            I’m sad to see you go.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I love this webcomic so much.

            I still remember the page I arrived at. It was potentially later than you might think: just as Dr. Rosenblum was sharing her “70 times more likely figure” with Alison.
            I remember the person I used to be and the reaction he had reading that page and even now I need to hide my shame with a sardonic laugh. The defensiveness showcased by the ignorant who feels attacked by the mere mention of a statistical fact. I didn’t comment back then. Thank God.
            I remember how infuriated I felt by the conclusion to Mary’s storyline and how years make me reflect and realize I don’t understand that person I was anymore and the sort of tickling angst that comes when you don’t realize when exactly your perspective changed.

            I would be too ashamed to tell you the number of pages I went to at a later time and got more than I did the first time.

            I’ve grown here, visibly. I’ve met and got to know people. They helped me understand things and when I’m drunk enough I manage to tell myself I may have once done the same to at least one. I’ve even started to miss some, what with silly @chaosvii whose long absence I try my hardest to stay hopeful won’t last. When things were bad in real life the small upvotes I got from stupid jokes were the things that made me survive. I spend so much more time than I should with you guys. I constantly feel guilty, like having this place being so important to me is robbing that feeling off of someone who might be scared off from commenting for the first time like I once did.

            And I love Alison, too. Those were just the reasons I could never leave. Nothing of all of that which make it so I would never even want to. I love everything about this storyline. How daring it is with its reader’s trust, how interesting a conversation it fostered. It infuriates me not even slightly nearly as much as it excites me.

            I’m sad to see you go.
            I’m going to torture myself some more thinking it was partly my fault, never getting to take the mask of outrage off that I keep to protect myself from appearing vulnerable, leading to an endless cycle of negativity and arguments.
            I’m genuinely moved you would say anything of the trite stuff I write affected you in any way, much more than you can ever realize.

            Goodbye.

          • VariableNature

            First off, thank you so much for responding. Looking back on my comment, as @Izo pointed out, I do come across as one of those “Gatekeeper” jerks that try and police what people can and cannot say about something. That was not my intention.

            Thank you very much for sharing everything that you wrote. It’s really refreshing and inspiring to read about how a person can change and grow on the internet, as well as be welcoming to others changing and growing. I guess maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much time dealing with/reading about people who don’t and actively double down in their awfulness, but it’s nice seeing the opposite of that.

            And as a side note, I had totally forgotten about @chaosvii and now I’m remembering them and WOW they were certainly a character. I miss them too.

            I’m glad that you’re enjoying the storyline. I always enjoy it when I see other people happily consuming a work of media, even if it isn’t one that I ever liked or no longer like as much as I did. Hopefully it will continue to be one you love and enjoy.

            And you shouldn’t torture yourself over anything being your fault, because it isn’t. Like I said before, if I came across as negative or accusatory, that was more poor writing/explanations on my part. There’s been a few events within the past few months in my own personal life that, combined with the whole mess that is living in the United States in 2016, may have contributed to me having a more negative outlook. So maybe this isn’t going to be a “Goodbye” so much as a “See you later”.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I hope things get better for you on the other side. See you soon.

          • Loranna

            Oh gods. I had missed the fact that @chaosvii hasn’t been around.

            ::Joins the vigil for missing friends, hoping they’re just tied up with real life for a time::

            (For the record, I second ∫Clémens×ds 🐙’s feelings of community on this board. Somehow, we really have become a community here, which is as delightful and amazing a thing as is the webcomic that drew us all here in the first place. And that community has grown larger and more vocal as the story’s progressed; it’s like a feasthal in here at times, with over a dozen conversations all happening in loud, booming voices, amid all the jokes and pantomime.

            And here’s where I reflect on the irony of having the avatar i do, and not feeling capable of moderating for Molly and Brennan. >.<

            ::passes out drinks, hoping the ruckus will remain a band of merry drunks, their heads swirling with notions of Kant and aliens hard up for a thumbs-up::

            Loranna

          • pidgey

            I don’t think it’s great because it puts the person in a position to feel bad about the wrong thing. If you make Alison feel bad about *not* becoming as much of a tyrant as she might have done, she might just decide to change her mind about where her moral center ought to lie, and that wouldn’t be good for anybody.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well yes– it hinges upon a previous self-promise that it was “just this once”, like I said.

          • Dan045

            “Her burden”? Big picture time. Max is a game changer for the world. Forget what he did here, he could boost Alison into being a god, he can boost various others to the same state.

            Used correctly, he could be the key to North Korea (or other big bad) conquering the world and enslaving humanity. He’s soft enough that he can be forced to do this.

            One Alison is bad enough, 50 or 500 mean serious problems for the planet. If he goes public, one way or the other, his life is over. He’s got amazing potential for the positive, but he’s got equally amazing potential for the negative.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            You know man. You ‘re fucking right. I have been considering from the wrong point of view all this time. Max is a weapon of mass destruction. If Menace was still a supervillain, Max would have been his supreme weapon – he would have been unstoppable.
            Fuck, everything can happen now.

          • Izo

            Yeah that makes more sense than, say, killing Menace, the person who actually does the evil acts……

            Wait, no it doesn’t.

          • Shweta Narayan

            Her guilt fixes nothing, though. Nice that she has it I guess but it helps exactly nobody except her own ego (which seems to be holding onto the self-image of herself as basically good.)

            I’m so ready for her to understand that her position in this world is one of inherent violence, but so is pretty much everyone’s to the extent that they (we) benefit from oppressing others; and for her to try to deal with *that*, instead of the naive self-image of the lil angel who never does harm.

            (Surely I’m not the only person here who sees *both* Al and Max as having done wrong. Surely?)

      • Zac Caslar

        “Just imagine what more good you could be doing with a mere repetition of your original evil! What kind of MONSTER wouldn’t?!”

        That is some very finely calculated sadism. I am impressed.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          You’ll get to know me more and steadily get used to it, no worries.

          • Zac Caslar

            That’s not answering the challenge, of course.

            You want evil to come from her tainted good, and why is that?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Because dramatic consequences is how fiction communicates meaning you magnificent pogonotrophy. If nothing wrong comes about then the narrators justified abuse of powers.

          • Zac Caslar

            That’s not answering for your motivations. You don’t trust the authors to “punish her” like you want, so you’d take doing so upon yourself?

            We can see Allison is hurting, but that’s not enough?

          • pidgey

            Of course it’s not enough? It’s not enough in real life, why on earth would it be enough in fiction?

            Try to imagine if, right now, Alison went to Max and profusely apologized, prostrated herself, self-flagellations abounding, etc. What would that mean to him?

            People who beat their wives and then feel bad about it later don’t deserve to stay married, for example. Feeling bad is the weakest kind of punishment in the world.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            Are you comparing saving MILLIONS of lifes to wife beating?

          • Izo

            Pidgey is accurately comparing how we’re supposed to feel bad for Alison just because she feels bad about what she did to how a wife beater ‘feels bad’ for hitting their spouse. It’s the same exact thing – the number of people doesn’t factor into this aspect.

          • pidgey

            I did do that, didn’t? #doesn’tfeelbad

          • Izo

            Thank you for saying that. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen too many abusers claim they were sorry for what they do…. just to do it again. Even if they didn’t, ‘feeling bad’ as a punishment is a weaksauce consequence. It offers no closure, doesnt change what they did, doesn’t prevent them from doing it again and again and again…

          • Zac Caslar

            This isn’t a question about the world, it’s a question about a person. That person is the one who wants to answer evil with evil -assuming the infliction of suffering is evil.

            Lots of folks apparently think otherwise. =]

            People who abuse their spouses don’t deserve them, but who decides if the victim should separate and how? If the victim elects to stay, who yanks them out of that situation? How is it less an intrusion on someone’s rights to strip them of an abusive relationship against their will than what happened to Max?

            The defense of Max rests on the assertion that personal liberty triumphs over the ability to help others regardless of the cost.

            So what right do you have to demand the separation of a victim from a victimizer?

          • MrSing

            Easy, the victimizer is violating the victims right to not be mentally or physically harmed, and quite likely also is violating their right to be free. Abusers can be quite controlling.

            Therefor the victimizer should be punished and taken away from the victim.

            It is probably best to suggest or arrange counseling for the victim to realize they were in a abusive relationship too. Many victims are not in a right state of mind anymore because they have been conditioned by their abusers. By that very virtue the victimizer has ensnared the victim so much that they can’t see the situation they are in with a reasonable mind.

          • Zac Caslar

            Ahhh, it’s time to be Reasonable. Heh heh.

            Well, that’s no good.

            So we have lots of compromising about what’s probably best and about abusers being quite controlling and while in practice I agree in principle that doesn’t work. That’s still deciding for someone else, still violating their right to choose.

            Who can say the victim doesn’t believe they shouldn’t be beaten? They could be from a very conservative society that has taught them that they’re their spouses property. They could see their abuse as being karmically mandated. Or that they have an obligation to “save a soul” by awakening shame in their abuser by refusing to retreat.

            You’re presuming intervention to be necessary even if against their wishes and you’re deciding that why is up to some standard they haven’t explicitly agreed to.

            The victim might have the right be unharmed and unrestrained, but if they surrender those rights who are you to demand they can’t?

          • pidgey

            I feel like you’re focusing on the wrong part of my point. I’ve already said this, but let me try to be clearer: if I say you don’t deserve your wife, I’m not saying that some social worker should come, tie both of you up in straight jackets and keep you separated until both of you agree to never see each other again. I’m saying that when the day comes that your wife does eventually leave you, you will have deserved it.

            Nowhere in that statement is any intended implication that the wife shouldn’t have a say in the matter. Very much the opposite. So can we stop arguing about the straw man?

          • Zac Caslar

            No.

            The point is you’re advocating direct intervention without a clear ask for assistance.

            This is the central point of the current arc. This is the failing of claiming absolute personal sovereignty. Sometimes the person is wrong to choose for themselves.

            Once you admit that, the point’s done.

          • pidgey

            No, I’m not! I’m not advocating anything of the sort! Why are you saying I am? I’m not!

          • Zac Caslar

            Eh, whatever. Stupid ADHD. Moving on. GG!

          • MrSing

            There is no compromising from my standpoint.
            When a human right is violated, the person responsible for it should be punished. Even if the victim agrees that they deserve to be beaten up, a right’s violation is still taking place.
            That’s why a moral society shouldn’t allow for contracts that violate human rights. A victim might “choose” to pay for a protection racket, but that does not mean we should allow this. Especially since the decision was taken under duress.
            Furthermore. When it comes to a victim of abuse we know that they are not being rational when they protect their abuser. The abuser has conditioned them to love and fear them. Them protecting their abuser is sadly often caused by the abuser pulling psychological strings.
            We know this because it is not a rational decision to stay with your abuser, and these decisions are often taken under psychological duress of the victim, meaning that they are not free in their choice.
            A man that is broke and needs a job badly might choose to go into slavery to avoid starving, but this decision is made under duress for the fear of death. Meaning that the man agreed to a right’s violation under fear of suffering and dying. A decision he likely wouldn’t have made when he was well fed and secure.
            The weak point of my system as presented here is of course that it assumes that all rational people want all the same things. It would make things like BDSM automatically abuse, when many of the participants of that would rightly say that this is not the case.
            So, the only compromise that I should give, is that when these decisions can be reasonable assumed to not be taken under any form of duress and the power balance between the two individuals or groups does not shift until the point where the one who is being acted upon can no longer at any moment choose to end the actions and the actions themselves can reasonably be assumed to not cause duress in the acted upon or diminish their reasonability and capacity to act freely, these actions are allowed.
            Dang, I’m feeling like a lawyer over here. But I thank you for the interesting situation you gave me. It really helped me find a massive flaw in my thinking. So thanks for helping me redefine my ethical system.

          • pidgey

            I said “didn’t deserve”. I didn’t say I demanded any kind of separation. Loads of people have things they don’t deserve, but all that means is I will be happy when they lose them to people who do deserve them.

          • Zac Caslar

            “People who beat their wives and then feel bad about it later don’t >deserve< to stay married, for example."

            *Ahem*

          • pidgey

            What is your point? I said something, you misinterpreted me, I reiterated what I said, you coughed. I am confused.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My… motivations? As in I would like not my webcomic of fine choice to find itself in line with totalitarian mentality? I feel it is quite solid.

          • Zac Caslar

            That’s fair. Does that extend to _any_ similarity to being Totalitarian?
            Quoting Wikipedia:
            “Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. Totalitarian regimes stay in political power through an all-encompassing propaganda campaign that is disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, a single party that is often marked by political repression, personality cultism, control over the economy, regulation and restriction of speech, mass surveillance, and widespread use of terror.
            A distinctive feature of totalitarian governments is an “elaborate
            ideology, a set of ideas that gives meaning and direction to the whole
            society.”
            Actually, now I’m not sure you mean Totalitarian. You don’t want Allison to be Evil, and we agree on that.

            What we disagree on is just what that means. I suspect this is largely the point of the webcomic. =]

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m genuinely not sure what we disagree about. I feel like a sheet of water between us. We can see each other but the image is distorted, and the words we share is almost impossible to make up.

            Also you’re drowning and I’m very concerned.

          • Zac Caslar

            See, that’s funny. I see you as floundering.

            I know where I am -not _exactly_ where, but I have a solid idea.

            Here’s my baseline: I believe in Material Good. Not spiritual good, not pure intentions, blah blah blah -no. Food, clothes, medicine, education, comfort, hope.

            I’m a “Cautious Consequentialist” because Means change Ends and because pure “Ends Justifies Means” Consequentialism has a dangerous blind spot in it’s presumption of control.

            The darkest implementation of Consequentialism assumes a totality of control that is utterly impossible and tends to transgress that Material Good perspective.

            For the extreme example any Nazi lunatic can believe crushing human dignity under his jackboot in preparation for resisting the alien invasion he _knows_ is coming by the year 1999.

            That is unfettered Consequentialism, that’s pure Might makes Right.

            Hell, that invasion might actually be coming.

            But a) it presumes A GREAT DEAL, and b) is probably incompatible with Material Good (at least as I see it.)

            So while my moral foundation isn’t stone, it’s not quicksand either.

            My floor is Lava, and I enjoy the heat. =]

          • Weatherheight

            “presumption of control”

            An eloquent phrasing, that…

          • Zac Caslar

            You, OTOH, appears torn between wanting justice in a context without much chance of it while being unable to compromise a small evil for a great good.

            You think this not happening could ruin SFP.

            There’s this phrase I attribute to the late Christopher Hitchens, “do not let the best become the enemy of the good.”

            An example of this is not supporting relief for homelessness because homelessness cannot be cured by that relief. That an imperfect solution is no solution at all.

            I think that’s your functional position. I’m sure you disagree, but that’s the Internet for us. =]

            That sheet of water is thin, but falling at the speed of sound. Crossing it is going to mean bleeding.

            Your concern is appreciated though. =]

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Okay so first can you delete one of your comments and copy/paste its content into the other that you would compress into paragraph just so it is more pleasant to scroll through?

            Also you are spectacularly mistaking narrative workings and real life ethics.

          • Zac Caslar

            I am, because they’re the same thing to me.

            SFP is an exploration of morality. I have put on my moral pith helmet and polished my moral jodpurs and am tramping out into the Hobbsian Wilds because Adventure HO! is the call and I meet it monocle polished and potogonographical regions dutifully rendered dapper.

            Doing otherwise would be boring. I’ve been down that road, I suggest Warhammer 40,000 if you’re really in the mood to go morally “elsewhere,” but there are far more options for piddling around playing for tiddlywinks against amateurs than there are for real philosophical blood sports.

            And I may comply with the requested edit. I made them separate as to ease splitting the topic, but perhaps that was ungainly.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            SFP is not a postmodern work of literature. When all is said and done, the narrative structures are fairly commonplace, and have nothing to do with the subject of the text. You’re mistaking form and function.
            Characters have wants and needs which drives conflict which drives plot. Basic stuff. We feel good about the good guys winning and bad when they temporarily fail. This is not Catch 22.

          • Zac Caslar

            And here we totally disagree.

            This is Catch-22; hell this is better. Catch-22 was dull and bloated with subplots and cartoony characters. Easily the worst thing about it is trying to explain how Catch-22’s idea of irreconcilable objectives is expressed in Catch-22 itself.

            Beyond that? Postmodernism is boring. Indifference is boring. Playing pretend is boring.

            This? This here that we’ve shared? This is how I operate. This is not an indulgence in theoretical constructs of morality. This is real life thinking communicated by painting electrons. And this isn’t Ad Hominem because the people are the topic.

            You’ll do what you want. I’ll do what I want. But if we don’t really communicate we’re both part of it. And I came to learn.

            And I did! I at least got Pogotono out of it. So, that’s something. Assuming I’m not spelling that wrong.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You Sir are a strange person

          • Zac Caslar

            THAT is a statistical certainty. =]

          • Zac Caslar

            Also my pogonotrophilogical surface is freshly denuded, thanks for the reminder. =]

      • Danygalw

        “Not as obvious or as pressing”, though.

      • bryan rasmussen

        the problem here is that I could really get addicted to seeing Max getting beaten up to help people, and then do his pouty randian face afterwards.

    • Cyrano111

      It’s like the old joke:

      A: Will you have sex with me for a hundred million dollars?
      B: That’s so much money I guess I have to say yes.
      A: Will you have sex with me for a hundred dollars?

      B: Of course not! What kind of person do you think I am?
      A: We’ve already established that, now we’re just haggling over price.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Well that’s stupendously sexist.

        • Cyrano111

          Is it? Why? The sex of neither party was indicated, which was deliberate on my part.

          • Some guy

            I guess we know who the REAL sexist is!

            *womp womp*

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well the attitude of showing contempt for the sexual attitudes of others doesn’t come without cultural context

          • GreatWyrmGold

            Wait, so…showing contempt for sexual attitudes is sexist, why?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Hm… is this a test?

          • Some guy

            It isn’t. He’s wrong and is trying to be not wrong.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            …That’s kinda my point, yes.

          • Cyrano111

            Let me preface this by saying that, as far as I can tell from reading comments over the past couple of weeks, you and I are in the same camp about Alison’s recent behaviour.

            My purpose in posting the joke is not to say anything about virtue, sexual or otherwise. It is, as I have just noted in another comment, to point out that you can’t both claim to be guided by a principle, and to depart from the principle when you have sufficient incentive.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I totally agree with you on that, but I hope you can understand why the joke irked me the wrong way regardless. It’s saying “this person has their principles easily breakable” as mere unintended side effect of mostly saying “this person who happens to definitely be a woman by the way, is a whore”.

          • Tylikcat

            One of the reasons it doesn’t quite strike me that way* is that I heard it most often in the computer industry in the nineties, mostly often from men, about themselves. As well all used to say (no, I’m not a man, but I was in a department that was overwhelmingly male) “I can never say that I can be bought, and I even have a pretty good idea about the price.”

            …which probably goes a long way to explain why I’m living in a zendo, doing neurobiological research on kind of a ridiculously tiny stipend. (Well, that, and that the stock options were pretty decent.)

            * and I agree about the underlying joke, though I might just call it gross

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Were they speaking about sex, or just, like, their loyalties?
            I would raise an eyebrow at men pretending they would need money to be convinced to have sex when in the act of parading their masculinites about amongst dudebros.

          • Tylikcat

            The subject was having accepted permanent positions with Microsoft. While most of the people involved were men, it wasn’t a particularly dudebro sort of atmosphere.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I may need to refresh my assumptions then. The first thing that comes to mind when you tell me tech industry and nineties is rampant, unabashed misogyny

          • Tylikcat

            Like everything, it’s more complicated than that. I mean, I mostly did pretty well there. Yes, there were… undercurrents that I ignored, and that I am amazed now that I ignored. And a lot of putting people in joint locks at social events – but most of those weren’t even coworkers but actually people I knew socially. I mean, seriously, the fuck?!

            But until I moved into Windows (and it wasn’t all of windows, just the part of it I was in – well, maybe other parts, but not all) while I ran into assholes, most of the time it was fine. I mean, I was outspoken, I was technical, and I was very good a putting people in their places when they made bad assumptions about me. (And that happened all the time. A *ton* of implicit bias. But mostly well meaning folks. Important distinction there.) Windows was kind of awful, but even there, I was protected by my seniority, smarts, and because I’m a rabid bitch. That part was kind of awful – I ended up counseling a lot of coworkers on how to escape to other divisions. I *hated* that environment. The work was boring, most of my coworkers weren’t that great at what they did, and were big on protecting their positions partial by defending them against anyone who didn’t fit their fairly narrow criteria of the right sort of person. A total cesspoll of mediocrity.

            But that really wasn’t representative of most of my experience. I enjoyed my first several years in tech, for all that yeah, there was bias, and it was pretty thick sometimes. And occasionally there were outright assholes, and they were not summarily terminated when they should have been.

          • Tylikcat

            I should be clear – tech was good to a fairly narrow slice of women (and I’m a pretty classic example, at least until the spine injury convinced me to resign) and it supported a much broader range of men. It was hard to get by as a quiet, introverted woman in tech – not impossible, but damn hard. Whereas, that’s a classic male type. Women as sorted against much, much more stringently.

          • masterofbones

            So in short you are getting upset about a hypothetical person, for something that wasn’t an insult, because *you* decided what gender they were and didn’t like that a member of that gender could be accused of holding a contradictory philosophy?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            wat

          • masterofbones

            Oh no I understand it. I’m just making sure that you understand it too, since I would be very embarrassed if I realized that I made such a statement..

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No no I mean you take a few moments, you breathe in, you come back, you write a sentence that makes sense keeping in mind that it’s not my job to decode your scribbles and then I see what I can do for you

          • masterofbones

            Its a fairly linear sentence, pointing out all the reasons why it could be argued that your reaction was unreasonable.

            1. You got upset about a *hypothetical* person being called out. Hypothetical people have no feelings, and have little to no impact on real people

            2. You got upset about someone extrapolating that said hypothetical person has a character trait that is not an insult, and whose main purpose was the illumination of a discrepancy in personal philosophy.

            3. You got upset because you decided that one person in the hypothetical was female, despite it not requiring the “victim” be female for the point to be understood, or even having any sort of implied gender anywhere.

            Any one of those things make your reaction a little unreasonable. Together….

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I genuinely have no idea who the hypothetical person being called out is, which character trait is not an insult, and how many time I need to facepalm to un-read that third one to undo the drastic consequences of its stupidity to my intelligence for painfully obvious reasons.
            I’ve got time, you can try again if you want

          • masterofbones

            The hypothetical person isn’t anyone in particular. You got mad because an unnamed, faceless, and imaginary person was “insulted”.

            Being willing to have sex for money is not an insult, seeing as the logic of the statement suggests that practically *anyone* would be willing to have sex for enough money.

            And assuming the gender of this hypothetical, nameless, faceless person to be female is absurd in the highest degree since the joke is just making the point of how almost anyone can be bought – you just need to offer a high enough price.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh, I see. (Finally, it only took you four comments) You’re working off the dead wrong assumption that the fact that the principle being bought within the joke relates to sex is absolutely incidental and totally not political at all.
            O merry mothers of happy coincidence indeed.

          • masterofbones

            >it only took you four comments

            It takes two people to communicate

            >the fact that the principle being bought within the joke relates to sex
            is absolutely incidental and totally not political at all.

            The thing is, similar jokes(or even serious statements) are made that don’t mention sex, so yeah I’m gonna assume that the sex is coincidental

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well you’d be wrong. And sexist.
            Okay bye

          • Aroel

            Friendly reminder, pointing out sexism is a chance to educate people, not argue about how right you are and how wrong someone else is. Turning an argument about sexism into whether you’re more right than someone else takes the focus away from the sexism and puts it on who’s right, which isn’t the point, the point is the sexism. Also, needing to be right all the time, win all arguments, and feel better about yourself by calling your opponent stupid is part of toxic masculinity, which isn’t good for anybody. You don’t have to prove yourself right, you’re fine and have value as a person either way. And your opponent isn’t inherently lessor for being wrong, they just have things they happen not to know.

            Masterofbones, if you want to see how the joke actually was sexist, you can see my comment above, as well as some of the others.

            And ∫Clémens×ds, just dismissing someone’s sexism instead of actually explaining it to them so they could understand it is an act of privilege, please don’t flaunt it. It also doesn’t actually help end sexism. All it does is contribute to the backlash against “political correctness” that’s happening, because it makes people think changing their prejudiced behavior is only about shallowly looking good to meet arbitrary social standards instead of about not hurting people, and people are rightly annoyed with insistence to change their behavior to meet arbitrary social standards (it takes privilege in and of itself to be able to meet them, after all). While I may be wrong, it looks to me like you feel bad about sexist attitudes you’ve had in the past, and are putting down people who have them in order to separate yourself from them and feel better about yourself (something I can emphasize with, I’ve white and have done it in the past concerning racism myself). However, making people who have prejudiced attitudes lower in the social hierarchy doesn’t actually stop them from having those attitudes. Only education can do that.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Bittersweet reminder that all my comments on the question up to this one were by my account a sufficient (if not comprehensive) explanation of my issue with the joke delivered with calm, and I’m not morally responsible for the education of my fellow if and when I decide to stop having this debate any further like I did.
            I kind of resent that you claim to know where I’m coming from and try to psychologically explain my behavior and offer another explanation elsewhere that is what, more correct and less biased than mine?

          • masterofbones

            Okay, so it is possible that I am wrong about the topic, but it is completely irrational to extrapolate that I am sexist from that. Like, there is no logical reason to make such a leap unless you are trying to dehumanize me rather than actually discuss the issue.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Depends on your definition of ‘sexist’. To me, the ‘actively, willingly vile toward women’ is a cowardly one that doesn’t address the systemic workings of oppression and how the claim of passive detachment from the whole question, defensiveness when it is brought up, perpetuates that system. In front of this one, the former is made up to make us feel good about ourselves because we most likely don’t fit it and thusly don’t have to question our problematic behavior.

          • SJ

            Depends on your definition of ‘sexist’. To me, the ‘actively, willingly vile toward women’ is a cowardly one that doesn’t address the systemic workings of oppression and how the claim of passive detachment from the whole question, defensiveness when it is brought up, perpetuates that system. In front of this one, the former is made up to make us feel good about ourselves because we most likely don’t fit it and thusly don’t have to question our problematic behavior.

            Dare I say, it’s a little like someone who asks, “Why would you call me a racist/homophobe? I have never called a black man/gay man a ni**er/Fa**ot!”?

          • masterofbones

            No, it really doesn’t depend on definition, unless your definition of sexism is extraordinarily broad(not to mention silly). In this case, you would have to define sexism as, “Doesn’t always assume sexism if there are other possible motivations”

            Seeing as doing so would be idiotic and myopic, I am okay with being sexist under that definition.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            No, it’s not “doesn’t assume”, it’s “denies it when brought up”, which funnily enough, kinda works with all definitions if you really want to keep pushing it.

          • masterofbones

            >”denies it when brought up”

            More accurately, “denies that the possibility of sexism automatically means that sexism must be present”. Sure you can bring up that something *might* be sexist, but that doesn’t automatically mean that you are correct. You are clearly not an omniscient being, and acting as if you are just makes you appear foolish.

            I agree that it is *possible* for the situation to be sexist. I just find it rather unlikely, with much more likely possibilities being clear and present.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …would you stay on topic? We were speaking about what makes one sexist, not whether “it is present”. What is it for you, air?

            I kind of like where we got, actually. A sexist is someone who automatically denies sexism. Neat. The rare kind of model where the p-value might actually be honest to God 0.

          • masterofbones

            >We were speaking about what makes one sexist, not whether “it is present”.

            You claimed that I was sexist, then gave a definition of sexism. The two statements didn’t match, so I gave a definition of “sexism” by which my statement could actually be interpreted as “sexist”.

            > A sexist is someone who automatically denies sexism.

            Perhaps reread the thread. It is strange how far off point you are. The definition I gave is that a sexist is someone who doesn’t automatically assume sexism is the motivation of an action.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I know and it’s terrible and dumb hence why I changed it
            I also love how convinced you seem to be of that “the two statements didn’t match”. Hm, didn’t they indeed

            Okay let’s wrap this conversation up you’re being very dull. You’re going to continue missing the elephant in the hallway and I’m going to be more indulgent than you deserve and explain, again, that if you make a joke out of showing how quickly people forget their principles but that principle happens to be sexist from the very beginning, then the joke is sexist. Not realizing it is sexist. Not being willing to recognize it is sexist.
            Then you are going to do somersaults to explain your critical lack of a point like you’re the gymnastic equivalent of Phelps representing Obliviousland at the Olympics which at least is spectacular.

          • masterofbones

            >and it’s terrible and dumb hence why I changed it

            But your changed version doesn’t include me, and therefore makes your argument invalid. Remember, you have to come up with a non-idiotic definition, and figure out a way to apply it to me.

            >Not realizing it is sexist. Not being willing to recognize it is sexist.

            So wait, you didn’t change it. This is you saying that if someone disagrees with you as to whether something was inherently sexist, then that means they are sexist.

            Well by coincidence, my definition of sexism is also “Disagreeing with me”. Oh well, looks like you are sexist now. Also, if you disagree with my definition then that by definition makes you sexist too.

            See how silly this is?

            Regardless, this is all nonsense. Arguing whether someone is sexist or not is merely virtue signalling, when you should instead be worried about whether or not they are correct. Sexism is only bad if it is incorrect after all, so accuracy is the important thing anyway.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh my God, you didn’t disappoint. Well, just so you know, for this insulting garbage, you’re blocked. “Sexism is only bad if it is incorrect after all” Jesus Christ

          • masterofbones

            >Oh my God, you didn’t disappoint.

            Well, as a divine being I do my best.

            >”Sexism is only bad if it is incorrect after all”

            Well I figure that assuming that women generally wont be as strong as men when looking at generic resumes is a fair cop, since the divide is almost always large enough to overwhelm differences among individuals. And only selecting women for a study based on pregnancies seems fair IMO.

          • Izo

            I’m not sure what he’s talking about either, if that matters. I’ve been searching this thread to try to figure it out without success.

          • Nebty

            Just getting rid of the gender pronouns in the example doesn’t suddenly take it out of its cultural context, because in our society a woman (especially a sex worker) agreeing to sexual contact makes a lot of people assume that she’s up for ANY sexual contact (by being “that kind of person”). That’s the kind of mindset that leads to sexual assault. So no, agreeing to have sex for 100 million dollars should not be compared to not wanting to have sex for 100, because the fundamental difference here is that one is consensual and one is not.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Maybe it’s because it was deliberate? Like, you had an image in your mind where the man was the person with the money and the woman was the one who received the proposals, but had to deliberately make an effort to ignore that image and make everything neutral.

          • Aroel

            To answer your question, my first thought when I saw the joke was it was prejudiced against sex workers, since it implied that sex for money is bad. Sure, you didn’t necessarily agree with that principle, you were just using it as an example of a principle someone might give up. But since the joke took for granted that it would be a principle the listener would have, and you didn’t add anything to state you didn’t endorse that principle, you implicitly endorsed it. And since sex workers are often assumed to be female, and since prejudice against them is related to prejudice against sexually active women (the social stigma against “whores” and such), by being prejudiced against sex workers the joke was implicitly sexist too. You could of still told the joke, but you would have had to add that you didn’t actually agree sex work was bad, just that it was a principle someone might have.

        • MrSing

          What makes you think the person questioning or answering is either a man or a woman?
          With a little bit of fantasy all combinations are possible ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Not relevant.

          • pidgey

            What about this discussion exactly is relevant? The original argument was “you can’t both be willing to renege on a principle and uphold it at the same time” and suddenly morphed into a completely off-topic discussion about sexism because of the subject matter of an example.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Hey, when exactly did I force you to read and interact with the thread I decided to start with a “I am seeing a sexist thing” if you don’t find the discussion particularly interesting?

          • pidgey

            Well, you didn’t actually start it. You derailed an existing one. :p

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You really can’t see the difference between saying “I see problems with what you’re saying that have nothing to do with the point but that I choose to point out regardless” and “The counterargument you are presenting is not relevant to the point I’m making”?

          • pidgey

            You really can see a difference between “I am redirecting an argument about the comic into an argument about an unfortunately-chosen example” and “I am redirecting an argument about an unfortunately-chosen example into an argument about redirecting an argument about an unfortunately-chosen example”?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well maybe not but then again that second thing is not what happened. And this is boring. I’m done with that conversation.

          • pidgey

            That’s cool, maybe we can start talking about the comic again.

          • pidgey

            As an aside, let’s imagine we lived in a society where men were more typically sex workers. Would the example provided be less topical in that case? Because if not, then any implied sexism by the joke really is completely and utterly irrelevant to the topic of the thread.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            So I spent the better part of three minutes thinking this out (and I’m never getting these three minutes back, and it was the best part) and I think I came up with the conclusion that for men being more typically sex workers to make any coherent sense given the world we live in, they would actually be what we call in our world women, and vice versa.

            It’s a chilling thought that distracts us from the fact that this has so little to do with whether or not the example is topical (I mean, what?) and thank God because my, the desert of insight

          • Nebty

            Because sex work is and has always been predominantly female? And women are the ones who are shamed for their sexuality.

          • MrSing

            Putting aside that my response was mostly a joke.
            A lot of men in prison are sexworkers, just as many underage boys are in bad neighborhoods and countries. They just tend to be more overlooked.

          • Weatherheight

            While I agree, I know several men who are sex-workers and who might like to weigh in on these points. 😀

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Are they shamed by society? I mean, more than they would be for the ones happening to engage in homosexual relations? I can’t imagine straight male hookers (that’s right, I used cuss words get anything but the shallow praise of the masculinist envy.
            Certainly not anything remotely comparable to the history of civilizations-long entrenched attitudes toward women.

          • Weatherheight

            Oddly enough, most of them did expressly feel shamed in that way (the notable exception was a gay man who was quite proud of both his job and skill at that job – conversations with him always challenged my keeping an open mind and my sense of “why am I having this conversation?”). I suspect, however, that shame was felt to a lesser degree than that felt by women and gay men in that profession, but now I’m speculating on others’ feelings and in an arena in which I’ve never participated, so I’m probably not a reliable source at this stage.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          The joke works regardless of sex/gender. And, um, no gendered pronouns were mentioned.

          • bta

            Yes, but the joke also relies on a vision of sex defined by supply and demand, and the current cultural context is that, overwhelmingly, women supply sex and men demand it. Generally, the assumptions is that women put up with it because they’ve bought with money, with gifts, with economic or physical protection, with children, etc… It’s essential to such ideas as “alpha males” (who can have sex with whatever women he wants, since he ticks the correct boxes) and “nice guys” (excellent, virtuous men who had the terrible misfortune of not passing the test and thus not getting the sex that in a just world, they would be owed).

            That means that a joke where consent is framed on the sole scale of money, is effectively a joke that undermines the notion of consent and makes the point that people who “pretend” they wouldn’t have sex with X for reason Y are really just hypocrites that would totally have it if you bribed them enough. Now, since this kind of thinking is very rarely used for a situation where the man is the “supplying” party, what gender’s consent is effectively deformed as a question of venality, and its defense dismissed as hypocrisy?

          • GreatWyrmGold

            So, basically, you’re saying it’s sexist because you think it’s safe to assume that a man would definitely be the one offering to pay for sex.
            I don’t think it’s the joke that’s sexist…

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Remind me again what’s the name of your currency is Contextless-Vaccumland?

          • bta

            For Pete’s sake, the person we’re talking about doesn’t exist, my assumptions are entirely about how the dynamic presented in the joke would be interpreted in the real world and how it echoes sexist attitudes.

            You’re treading the “discussions of sexism are where the real sexism lies!” territory, and that’s not a discussion I’m willing to follow.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            I’m not saying discussions of sexism are sexist, but projecting sexes onto a discussion where nothing inherently gendered is mentioned is more sexist than a discussion which is arguably more likely for one set of genders than another.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Uh, you do know people who claim to be “color-blind” when it comes to race are the racist ones, right? You might ask me how it’s relevant there but trust me, it is.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            …What? I’m talking about people projecting gendered issues onto an ungendered hypothetical conversation, not people who claim to not be sexist. I don’t see how those are related at all.

        • KatherineMW

          Not really. Sex slaves will, by definition not be members of organizations representing sex workers. Those organizations are representing a privileged minority of those in sex work – ones who are there willingly, not driven by coercion, desparation, or addiction.

          Sex trafficking and sexual slavery is a huge problem worldwide, and legalizing sex work tends to make it worse. It’s why the Netherlands has become a major destination for sex traffickers. Check out the website for the organization FreeTheSlaves for more information. This is why I support anti-prostitution laws that penalize clients rather than prodtitutes – the clients are far less coerced and more free to choose, which makes it more effective to pass laws that influence their behaviour.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t think you intended to answer to my comment.

      • Psile

        Actually, that’s kinda a great example because just because you’re willing to have sex with someone for a million dollars doesn’t mean that you will for a hundred.

        • Cyrano111

          True, but it means you have given up the ability to claim “I am not a person who will have sex for money”. If that is an important principle to you, then you have given it up.

          Personally I do not have a problem with sex work, as long as it is not exploitative. The only point of the joke is to show that you can’t have it both ways: either you stick to a principle, or you don’t.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            How often is sex work not exploitative? I’ve never delved into the subject myself, but from what I understand, sex workers tend to be in a position to be exploited by their clients, their bosses, or both.

          • Cyrano111

            Here in Canada, we have recently had quite an extended public discussion about sex work. We have a new law which was based on the explicit assumption that all sex workers are exploited. There was a great deal of backlash against that position from organizations who protect the interests of sex workers, and which are run by sex workers. I can’t give you actual percentages, but many sex workers themselves insist, quite firmly, that they should not all be regarded as exploited.

          • GreatWyrmGold

            For once, my cynicism has proved inappropriate.

          • bta

            This is one topic that has been dividing feminist circles for a while now. Everyone agrees the current situation is bad, the question is “should sex work be considered just another kind of work and be defended from exploitative practices and shitty working conditions like any other job, or should we consider that sex for money, which happens in a context of economic pressures, limited opportunities, and violence, be considered just another way women’s bodies are made available through coercion and force?”

            The discussion can get pretty multifaceted, since there’s a lot of positions one can take on stuff like the personal history of prostitutes, what motivations make someone pay for sex (hint: it’s not a “basic need that must be provided” as some masculinists would argue), general considerations on work and salary, accusations of puritanism vs accusations of capitalist ideology, the different demographics of militant feminism, etc…

          • GreatWyrmGold

            I’m not saying that sex work has to be exploitative, just that I wasn’t familiar with situations where it wasn’t.

          • Tylikcat

            It really depends? There are certainly plenty of examples of sex work that isn’t exploitative – even coming from countries where sex work is illegal, and it being illegal complicates the question a lot. The situation of a comfortable middle class mother who works as an independent call girl and arranges meetings with clients over the internet is about as far from an underage prostitute working for a pimp boyfriend as you’re likely to get. There have been some pretty interesting documentaries made talking to women working in the red light district in Amsterdam.

            …of course, everything is complicated by the fact that pretty much everyone involved has their own axe to grind. In the US, prostitution is illegal, so the dominant narrative is about drug abuse, exploitation and tragedy, because people pushing that narrative are a lot more free to speak. (If you’re not aware of this, it’s worth looking into how much fairly well demonstrated bullshit has been peddled in the name of sex trafficking.) But that doesn’t mean that the counter-narrative is without bias.

            There are (or at least were, I’m not really current) web publications written by people in the sex trade. One I remember made a point of encouraging people with all kinds of different feelings about their work.

            (I’ve known sex workers. I’ve had quite a few friends who were involved in various aspect of legal sex work – stripping, phone sex, pro dominatrix work, that sort of thing. And one of my closest family members was a stripper, among other things, for ten really important formative years.

            My own feelings are complicated – I mean, I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture, but I remember all those afternoons talking with my young relative while I was working for a major software company. Was her job without harm? No – but she was in a really good supportive environment.* We spent a lot of time comparing our two jobs, and in a lot of things hers came out ahead. Mine had better benefits. And the stock options rocked. Mine was a lot harder on my body, and… well, it depends on what you mean by degrading. We talked about that a lot, and laughed our asses off.)

            * She really was, though. When she said she was thinking of doing more stripping – she had done some briefly before – after having her kid, I pushed her to check out the Lusty Lady, which was woman owned and operated (and I knew people who knew the owners, and…) She’d heard this from other friends, and she ended up finding a really good community there, and it became, effectively, a great launchpad for a young, single mother. So perhaps and unusually good situation. But then, maybe this would be less uncommon in a less stigmatized environment?

          • Izo

            For some reason, this popped into my head with all this tallk about non-exploitative sex work

            http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/southpark/images/7/73/1309_16.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20111119225617

          • Weatherheight

            The vast majority of sex workers I’ve known…

            ::blinks::

            Let me rephrase that…
            Of my acquaintances who either are or have been sex-Workers (a couple dozen or a bit less), nearly all had seriously self-destructive self-image problems that were exacerbated by their job. For that reason alone, I’m not sure that the usual relationship between worker and customer isn’t exploitative, regardless of the other influences of the job.

            That being said, I’ve also known a few that made a plan, did the job, and moved on with very few scars (emotional or otherwise) to show for it. So I can’t make a blanket statement on the topic. In addition, your point on non-sexual work having a possibility of being hurtful and exploitative has resonance with me as well.

            I keep returning to “Well, you have to treat people as individuals…” 😀

          • Izo

            “The vast majority of sex workers I’ve known… Let me rephrase that…”

            No, no, I want to hear about how many sex workers you know that even an incomplete number of them would be referred to as vast. Wow….

            “Of my acquaintances who either are or have been sex-Workers (a couple dozen or a bit less)”

            Do you live in Nevada or something? Wow…

            “nearly all had serious self-image problems that were exacerbated by their job.”

            Ok probably not Nevada. I’ve heard that sex workers there are pretty happy with their jobs. Then again I don’t know vast numbers of them. Or even one 🙂 Well, I’ve had to help with prosecutions occasionally and one time one was beaten up but I didn’t actually ‘meet’ them. It was all on paper and I wasn’t even in the courtroom. I don’t think it ever even got to a judge. Okay I just forgot the point of my post now…

            “I keep returning to “Well, you have to treat people as individuals…” :D”

            And that seems like a very good axiom to live by.

          • Weatherheight

            “Do you live in Nevada or something? Wow..”

            I live in a rather large college town in the midwest near a pretty big midwestern metroplex, and I used to hang out in the local bars much more than I do now. I have been acquainted with several women and a few men who used their bodies to either pay their way through college or support themselves for a time after college, either after dropping out or graduating.

            And that’s not counting the exotic dancers (knew one who was working on her masters in modern dance and paid for it by stripping. Completed her Masters with no student debt. Granted, she had legs from here to Paris, copper hair down to her behind, and the face of an angel, but…).

          • Tylikcat

            I’m personally in favor of comparing sex work against other jobs, and against the kinds of dangers and degradation suffered in those jobs – because a lot of work sucks, and is awful, and the idea that people can leave sex work and will somehow be ennobled by other work is dangerous, as far as I’m concerned (I’m not saying you’re advocating it, just that it’s common.) Some of these problems in particular are shared with other jobs. Some jobs have far worse problems (Dangerous, low pay and no benefits?)

            I think environment probably matters. One of the things I was impressed with by my relative’s descriptions of the Lusty was of her interactions with her coworkers and managers and how supportive they all were of each other. (Since you mention body image issues, one time does stand out when my relative was complaining about having gained weight and her manager – another woman – was all “Girl, it is not hurting your show at all.” Not that all mostly-women environments are like this, but making them this way is a known thing.) When the Lusty closed, a little after my relative stopped worked there – her career had been taking her in other directions for a while, but for a long time she’d kept dancing there one night just to stay in touch – she had their logo tattooed on her to commemorate the years she spent there. (As a tramp stamp!)

            (Gods, so much back story there, kind of for me, too. The relative in question had gotten into more serious drug use, which was the time in her life I’d been most afraid for her. At least, for things she was doing to herself.* Then gotten out of it – not for the first time – and then had her kid, when she was nineteen. The years she spent at the Lusty Lady were a big part of her getting her life on track. That it gave her a place to land, and community, and… everything, is something I am so grateful for I just can’t even say. But it wasn’t like she worked there just for a year or two after she had a kid and when she was most out of sorts – she was there for ten years, and she continued there when she had other jobs and other options.

            And now she has a really awesome life. Like, really awesome. I am so proud of her.)

            * Gah, our family.

          • Weatherheight

            As always – Great post.

            “I think environment probably matters. ”
            That sentence is, IMHO, three words too long – Environment matters.

            “Since you mention body image issues…”
            I was actually referring to issues os self-loathing and sense of low value irrespective of body image, but yeah, there was some of that there too. I look at body image as a symptom of the deeper problem of low personal worth / low self-esteem.

          • Tylikcat

            “Environment matters.”

            Truer words have seldom been beaten out!

            “…self-loathing and sense of low value…”

            Hm. In the case of my relative, it’s been a more or less steady increase throughout, but then, coming from a fairly serious deficit. But… not a sexuality specific one? And anything that got her away from the core of the family was a good thing.

            I do remember her remarking, pretty late in things, that her job left her with a great community of women, but a predisposition to me men as scum, but, well, she’s in a long term stable relationship with an awesome guy, so apparently it wasn’t too awful.

            (Ye, gods, she was recently hanging out with an old college friend of mine, and the two of them started in on what I should be doing wrt dating. Which she then told me about. Yikes! I am critiqued.)

          • MrSing

            Be like me and don’t go on dates Tylikcat!
            Life is too short to have to share it with another person.

          • Tylikcat

            I’m trying to figure out when they think I have time to date! (I am not in fact entirely without a social life, I just tend to keep it in a city rather distant from the one in which I reside. This is convenient for some things, and not for others.)

            Also, a few of my more recent attempts at flirting (at conferences) turned into my being invited to interviews, which makes me think something is misfiring.

          • MrSing

            Well, you could always say “want to go on a date”. I guess? I dunno. I think I missed the period in my life where I could learn to properly date.

          • Tylikcat

            Oh, it wasn’t that serious of flirting yet, it was in the getting to know the person, and sussing out whether I’d want to ask them out. And seriously, if getting into a spirited discussion about their research immediately maps to “This is professional, not personal,” then, yeah, no. Still!

            (Hey, when I go to parties, we talk about our research while making out. It’s totally a thing! I’ve have discussions of protein docking while in bed! …I’ll stop now.)

          • Loranna

            In case I haven’t made it perfectly clear:

            Most. Awesome. Person. Ever.

            ^_^

            Loranna

          • Psile

            This is true, but if you are willing to have sex with someone one time for a million dollars it doesn’t mean you’re going to quit your job and become a prostitute. That’s my main problem with a lot of the arguments. They imply or outright state that because Allison did this she is now a dictator.

          • Cyrano111

            It would be going too far to say that she IS now a dictator. But it is not going too far to say that Guwara has been proven right: her belief system is that of a tyrant.

            Or, at least she has just acted under the belief system of a tyrant. Her intense physical reaction to that realisation seems to be a reflection of a kind of cognitive dissonance for her, because she does not want to see herself in that way.

          • Psile

            In this we definitely agree. I suppose the question now is how far she will continue down the path. There is a certain kind of adverse reaction when you realize that maybe you aren’t the person you wanted to be, and that maybe you don’t want to be the person you wanted to be any more.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Not just because Alison did this. But if it turns out she is okay with it, given the results, to implement it into her ways of changing the world. And Alison strikes me as someone who does the things she would be okay with.

          • Psile

            Well, I think it’s pretty clear she’s not okay with it but she will probably be willing to accept it given the outcome. To keep with the same analogy, just because she would compromise her ethics for a million dollars doesn’t mean she is going to go around compromising them constantly.

          • bryan rasmussen

            yeah the thing is in the world today getting paid 1 million dollars for sex is probably not exploitative whereas getting paid 100 dollars probably is. So the joke is really, what do you think I am – somebody who let’s themselves get exploited?!

    • Santiago Tórtora

      She outright told Max that she would come back if she found a good reason, so it’s not like she didn’t realize this exact thing was going to happen.

  • bta

    The doc is amazed because Allison’s throat just threw up a trash can.

  • Bo Lindbergh

    Alison’s immune system is interpreting her recent uncharacteristic behaviour as symptoms of an external influence and is trying to expel poisons.

    • bta

      That external influence is called Patrick.

      • Tylikcat

        Who may well have been trying to do Alison a good turn. Alison is dating a guy. A guy with the secret power to free the friend she’s all guilty and messed up about.

        Patrick has been known to screw up.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          If only the mail had come one day early.
          Curse you New York Postal Service…!

          • Izo

            Yes, the USPS is the real villain here.

          • Sendaz

            more that you may suspect.
            Mwahahahahaha

          • Izo

            The postman on Mr. Rogers lulled me into a false sense of security.

          • Weatherheight

            Mr. McFeely, the delivery man…

            Yeah, there’s a name that screams security and good intentions. 😀

    • Tylikcat

      People do get nauseous and throw up under stress. It’s a thing, I’ve seen it. (Whee, my family.)

  • Roman Snow

    Wow it is weird seeing comments this early.

    • bta

      At least we’ll have fewer newcomers claiming “First!”

      • Weatherheight

        First?

  • Weatherheight

    “Trust me, Doc, it isn’t at all obvious…”

  • Lostman

    We just found out Alison weakness, the flu! Dear lord Alison, how long have you been awake? I have sleeping issues, and I still go to bed every night(day). Clearly the best way to take down Mega girl is to find a way to over work herself to death… Which sum up the state of my parents generation. It maybe the same case for mean.

    • Weatherheight

      Oversized Greasy Burger + Sub-Optimal Rest + Significant Emotional Arousal + Guilty Twinges = Newly Decorated Trash Can (almost typed “Freshly”).

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        On the other hand, I have to admit being at a loss when it comes to what her body actually expectorated. Is HURK the sound of someone who has never sneezed trying her hands at it for the first time and failing spectacularly?

        Can I add “the very automatic act of sneezing” to my list of things Alison fails at?

        • Sendaz

          I think she was being sick as there is still stuff dripping from the mouth.

        • Korataki

          It’s puke. Her guilt is literally turning her stomach and making her sick.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Were it to be that it does look like the tiniest amount.

          • Stephanie

            She’s probably just like, heaving. Usually when I throw up there are a couple of initial, marginally productive heaves before the vomit proper.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I shall take that delicious mental image as a Halloween gift of yours.

        • Weatherheight

          In the USA, at least, “Hurk” is usually an onomatopoeia for throwing up, puking, barfing, regurgitating. I’m thinking the “drool” is coming from her mouth, not her nose.

          I’m thinking the trash can was behind Doc Walden… right?

          • MrSing

            He hides trashcans in his coat in case of emergencies. They also make his hips stand out beautifully.

          • Weatherheight

            Heh. It also acts as a marvelous codpiece.

            The ultimate “adult undergarment”.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙


    Alison can now make trashcans that weren’t there appear wherever she sneezes?
    The lore of this webcomic is taking such weird turns.

    • bta

      We have now entered SFP’s Silver Age, where Allison gets weird powers as the plot demands and she engages in copious amounts of Superdickery.

  • Manuel Simone

    I’m conflicted between not wanting to see Alison anymore playing the “villain” role by forcing people to do her biding, even for a noble cause and actually cheering for her to kidnap Max, throw him into a prison cell and use him to help more people. Hmmm, what a hard choice…Anyway, she feels so guilty that I doubt she’ll do the same thing again, at least in the near future.

    • Lostman

      What she just did was against her moral fiber, and she been working over time. Just look under her eyes, I think those are back bags under them.

    • TheLordofAwesome

      Umm, what exactly did he do to deserve being thrown into a prison cell? He did literally nothing wrong.

      • Manuel Simone

        He didn’t do nothing wrong, but I was just talking about keeping him prisoner in order to force him to use his powers to help others. Otherwise, he might ran away and hide so she’d be unable to catch him.

        • TheLordofAwesome

          So plunge Alison further into villain territory? Got it.

  • MrSing

    So now Alison is sort off in Max’s shoes.
    She has a secret that she does not want the world to know since it could endanger her and her mission.
    She does not want to do the whole thing with Max again and even tries to blow off the doctor’s suggestion. That’s probably for selfish reasons, since doing this made her feel guilty, but not doing it is costing countless lives in her eyes. Yet she still refused at first.
    She does not want to explain her reasons for this, just like Max didn’t want to. Both of their reasons seem to be selfish on the surface.
    She does not want to do this again because she does not like to be a villain, but the doctor is giving the same argument as Alison gave Max.
    So now I guess she is morally compelled to strong arm herself into committing more horrors for the Greater Good™.
    Heh, that’s pretty clever.

    • Lysiuj

      Good call!
      The major difference, of course, is it would be much harder to coerce Allison than Max.

      • Shjade

        By force, yes.
        However, she might be more vulnerable to other forms of coercion than Max was. Being convinced it’s the right thing to do, for instance, didn’t work well on Max at all, but on Alison…well.

        • Kifre

          I dunno…Alison has not yet been convinced by someone she didn’t like, regardless of the value of their arguments.

          • Shjade

            And since no one she likes will ever try to convince her to do something she wouldn’t want to do, I’m sure that will never come up.

            Wait.

          • Kifre

            Of course it will come up…..and? The point still stands that Alison doesn’t listen terribly well if arguments aren’t coming from a someone she is predisposed to listen to.*

            *and/or the world’s greatest manipulator. I guess she didn’t like him before she let him go, but it hardly seems like it should count.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t know–couldn’t you say that she was, in a sense, convinced by Gurwara? She was defiant at the time, but I think his demonstration with the black and white stones flipped a switch in her. It was such a straightforward, undeniable example of how vulnerable people who have no choice in the matter suffer when people who do have a choice refuse to risk their own welfare for the greater good. Perhaps he succeeded in convincing her that the only way to protect the weak is to take that choice away.

          • MrSing

            I don’t really think that was what Gurwara was trying to convince her of.
            Judging by the scars he bears maybe he has been in the hands of people who believe in the greater good before and he has some aversion to people thinking like that.
            Granted, that is all pure speculation on my part. You could be right for all that I know.

          • Stephanie

            Maybe I shouldn’t imply he was trying to convince her of anything. I think as a professor he was probably just trying to challenge her and force her to reexamine her axiom. Odds are good he would have responded similarly to whatever was the first axiom to be volunteered. But regardless of his intent, I get the impression that his demonstration precipitated Alison’s change of heart.

          • MrSing

            That’s fair.

          • Weatherheight

            I don’t think there was any change of heart here – Alison behaved entirely consistently with her established behavior within canon. There has always been a tension between what Alison proclaimed as her beliefs and what beliefs are demonstrated by her actions.

            Alison in the soccer game immediately prior gaining her powers is extremely strong evidence for this.

          • Stephanie

            That’s fair. I don’t think this is a 180 for her by any stretch. I just don’t think it’s a coincidence that that scene preceded this one. There’s a lot to suggest that she went to Max’s place already expecting that she would coerce him in the end. I think she would have been more reluctant, pushed harder for another solution, maybe even chosen not to coerce him in the end, if it hadn’t been for Gurwara’s demonstration.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You are kind of held to higher standards and are accountable for a little bit of self-questionning when transitioning between a rude football (screw you Americans) captain and the strongest human on Earth

          • Sendaz

            Except the stone game is already pre-rigged because you aren’t allowed to talk and act as a group, thus playing on the insecurities of the individuals.

          • Stephanie

            Sure, it’s not a perfect reflection of real life, but it certainly seemed to strike a nerve with Alison.

          • Weatherheight

            That was never a part of the rules – it was a reasonable assumption based on how the rules were presented, but he never said discussion wasn’t allowed. He just strongly discouraged it by his actions.

          • masterofbones

            wouldn’t have mattered. All it would take is one dissenter.

          • Kifre

            Mmm. I don’t know that I would say that. I don’t think Gurwara was really trying to convince Alison of anything, just to challenge and force her to examine her strongly held beliefs, which is what a good philosophy prof. does. He was clearly successful in challenging her beliefs…as demonstrated by Alison becoming uncomfortable and angry (a sure sign the ground is shifting beneath your feet) and then returning to it twice in later strips. But I think that Alison was already on the path to robbing others of their choice, so even if that WERE what Gurwara’s point (which I’d dispute) I don’t know that I’d say that he convinced Alison of anything she wasn’t already inclined to.

          • Stephanie

            I actually agree with much of what you’ve said–I don’t think I should have used the word “succeeded,” because it implies that he was trying. I think he was, as you said, just challenging her beliefs. But I also think that his demonstration struck a nerve with her, that it made her rethink her approach and brought her frustration with people not cooperating to the fore. I think–although this is only speculation–that if we could have seen her thought bubble in the instants before she slammed Max into the table, it would have shown a wide shot of those desks covered in white stones.

          • Kifre

            Oh yes, that class definitely effected Alison and forced her to acknowledge that even good people do not necessarily think like her (something that had been a blind spot). And yeah, that definitely influenced the interaction with Max. I doubt she’s done working through what started with that class.

          • Aroel

            I actually think it was the opposite. Her initial, pre-Gurwara response
            was that she had the right to force people to do the right thing, as you
            can see her doing with Max. I think the point of Gurwara’s lesson was
            that people can’t always do the right thing without real cost
            themselves, and that it would be tyrannical to force them to do it. And
            it’s only just know that Allison went and forced someone to do the right
            think that she’s getting the point of it, which is why she’s puking, maybe picturing a bunch students losing their scholarships and
            educations due to black stones.

          • Stephanie

            My recollection is that Alison had said on at least one prior occasion that she didn’t think she had the right to coerce people into anything just because she’s stronger, and in her argument with Gurwara she kept insisting that her axiom didn’t require tyranny.

          • Aroel

            That’s true. I guess it’s less that Alison thought she had that right and more that it was part of her overall attitude and behavior, even if she didn’t agree with it when stated outright, and she was in denial of this. I don’t think she ever decided it was actually the right thing to do, and more like she only just realized that that was what she was doing after she brought Max home (her statement that she had a right to coerce Max “because she was stronger” struck me more as something she was saying out of guilt and self doubt at the realization than out of genuine belief). It seems like she’s only just now beginning to process the implications, perhaps with help from Gurwara’s lesson.

          • Stephanie

            Hmm, I fully agree with your interpretation of the emotion behind “because I’m stronger”, and I also agree that the temptation to force people to cooperate has always been part of her, but I read the rest differently. I think yours is a valid interpretation, but to me it felt more like she had her ethical crisis before she went to Max’s place, and was already prepared to coerce him when she arrived.

          • bta

            Gurwara was teaching Allison the Student to always be critical of her own philosophical assumptions by using a simplistic, abstract game where she was proved wrong – he probably would have done the same for any “axiom” she came up with. But he inadvertently taught Allison the Superwoman to think of matters of altruism in terms of black and white – either people will follow her in her idealistic crusade, or she’ll have to force them. Terrible lesson for someone who doesn’t ever consider giving up helping people an option.

          • Weatherheight

            I don’t think she was at all convinced by Guwara – I feel like Guwara pegged her for who she was and she rejected that, only to realize very, very recently that maybe, just maybe, Guwara was right about her.

          • Stephanie

            That’s sort of what I was getting at with “in a sense,” although I couldn’t phrase it as well as you did.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            She didn’t like her Axiology professor, but she took his advice.

        • Lysiuj

          As I replied to Lostman, being convinced is different from being coerced (although in some cases it can be a kind of manipulation).

      • Lostman

        I think you got the other way around; with the right argument Alison can coerce in to anything.

        • Lysiuj

          That’s convincing, not coercion.

          • Lostman

            But she can be convinced with the right argument.

    • Kifre
      • Weatherheight

        Dear God in Heaven, we’re pulling in Harry Potter as corroborative testimony.
        The world’s gone mad, mad I say!

        • Kifre

          Harry….P…
          I know you are a very silly donkey and must just be braying…but also running the very real risk of being inundated with Hot Fuzz information!

          • Weatherheight

            Oh, I do apologize – never saw that movie.
            Although, bAsed on this clip, I may need to watch it. 😀

          • Kifre

            I highly recommend it. Pretty sure it’s on Netflix (if you’re in US).

          • Izo

            It’s a great movie. But most Simon Pegg movies are great movies.

  • Walter

    Thanks Bradley!

  • Kifre

    Well, at least Alison feels guilty. I’m not sure that provides too much comfort.

  • notquiteotaku

    “Oh, you’re clearly telling me that this was a one-time thing and you’re visibly distraught? Let me start a guilt-trip anyway!”

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I don’t see how it’s not clear to everybody that it’s Prof. Gurwara with colored lenses and a hair dye. He has the same mustache!

      • Kifre

        You know I totally went back to check if Gurwara had those super round cheeks…that’s what convinced me Dr. Walden wasn’t his alter ego. Gurwara has the cheekbones of -10 Charisma. Because defined cheekbones are for people we aren’t meant to like.

        • Stephanie

          But defined cheekbones look cool! I would say they are a positive modifier to Charisma. Also, I don’t think I’d enjoy hanging out with him, but I for one would like to see more of Gurwara in the comic.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            We definitely are bound to, and I am giddy for it.
            Hopefully he won’t expect Alison to justify her unjustifiable axioms again

          • Kifre

            I agree! They do look cool! But the characters who have had them so far….Gurwara, Max, Moonshadow, Violet, the journalist that hosted Alison’s unplanned unmasking. It’s a streak!

          • Stephanie

            Oh wow, you’re right. I never noticed that! Are there any counter-examples of nice people with cheekbones?

          • Sendaz

            I thought her Dad has cheekbones, but its hard to tell precisely.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            His pancreas definitely does!

            (I am so sorry)

          • Kifre

            Dr. Rosenblum has something going on …but it’s more like an emphasis on the “apple” of her cheek? It’s a round line on the inside of the face, near the nose, and doesn’t change the shape of her face….unlike the pronounced ridge that those other characters have.

          • Izo

            No. Everyone with cheekbones are evil.

          • Stephanie

            A cynical commentary on the human condition!

          • Weatherheight

            well, a cynical commentary on well-defined cheekbones, at the least. 😀

          • Izo

            And that’s a lesson in morality we can all get behind.

  • Rich The Bluegeek

    So she threw up. A bit late for an attack of conscience, but better late than never. The twisted part is that she can’t confide in anybody (except Patrick) without compromising Max and being even more guilty. So she can stew in her own guilt or go talk to the semi-reformed supervillain who probably has no moral qualms over what Allison did because he’s always been about the end justifying the means. I fully expect the consequences of her actions to end up far more severe than just throwing up.

    • Richard Griffith

      Patrick fingered Max with the dossier. So Patrick is already looking for what will happen from that information. This could be Patrick pushing Alison or part of Patrick’s plan to look for the hidden controlling group.

      • Dwight Williams

        Or he also knows the “whys and wherefores” of Max’s inaction, and he’s going for the trifecta of goals here. Pushing Max where he wants him to go as much as Alison and the hidden group.

    • Izo

      I really hope they are, because otherwise this would be a real letdown for the plot.

  • Crow

    I hope the cameo backer is the doctor and not the guy who is half a generic face.

    • Some guy

      That guy is totally Vault Boy.

  • Vertorm

    I am absolutely loving this current storyline. Making the hero suffer at the hands of their own doing? Absolutely genius. I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

  • Some guy

    Alison’s sickness is due to the realization that Gurwa was right, and she can’t ever undo that. She’s going to see his goofy smug smile in every crowd for the rest of her life.

    She’ll do okay in his class and eventually pass it on her way to her totally real and not at all bogus ‘Whatever I want it to be’ convenience degree, but it will still eat at her. She’s going to go through some pretty intensive therapy for the next decade.

    A few weeks after that, she will receive another package in the mail. It will contain a high quality 8×10 autographed photo of Gurwa, sent from his death bed with a message saying “I know what you did, and why. Glad I could help you on your way.”

    After that, Alison pretty much loses it and becomes a crazy cat lady.

    • Kifre

      ooo I do so hope we see another Gurwara strip.

      • bta

        His design is too interesting for him to just be a throwaway character.

        • Weatherheight

          Whereas the guy in the lab coat on the left in the first panel, cut in half as he is, is probably exactly a throwaway character.

          • Kifre

            He’s already half thrown away!

    • Stephanie Gertsch

      She can’t pass his class. He failed her and gave most of the students an automatic A because she chose the wrong stone in his exercise.

      • Izo

        She just failed the class before. This time she failed her humanity.

        • Stephanie Gertsch

          That seems kind of random when I didn’t mention anything about humanity.

          • Izo

            I was just latching onto the word ‘failed her’ so I can make a little quip about Alison. Nothing about you.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Got it.

          • Weatherheight

            Is this a new avatar, or am I spectacularly inattentive?

            And was there a memo I missed about everyone needing to modify their avatar? 😀

          • clēmēns, clēmentēs

            Alison rules, you all droll!

          • Weatherheight

            Let’s see if my attempt to bow to peer pressure works…

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I love everything about this.

      • Stephanie

        I still find it weird that he blew a trump card like that on the first day. I get that he wanted there to be real stakes, but like…is the administration going to have no problem with this? What if he wants people to pay attention on literally any subsequent day?

        • Stephanie Gertsch

          Yeah…I do like the idea of seeing how students respond in a exercise or game and then discussing it to show “people are complicated even in a seemingly clear-cut situation.” But did he really tailor that to the class or did he plan to do that exercise all along and just bluster until he got to it?

          And of course it would get him fired from any real university. And that poor girl who thought she might lose her financial aid because of a power-hungry teacher. That’s just cruel.

          • Stephanie

            Yeah, it definitely made for a compelling demonstration but it was indeed cruel. I’m sure he had some kind of game theory scenario in his back pocket to counter whatever axiom the first person volunteered, so he probably had plenty of time to come up with a variant on this one that had genuine, but not potentially life-altering stakes. There’s no way Alison would have won even a gentler version of the game, since “I didn’t hear that part”-guy and “I knew someone was going to be that guy”-woman, at minimum, would have put down the white stone.

      • That same guy

        You’re assuming that: A, Gurwa was serious about that despite his Willy Wonka style behavior. B, The college would actually let a professor auto pass/fail anyone the first day, and C, The administration that fires professors for slightly annoying Alison would let Gurwa fail her more capriciously than the last guy.

        • Stephanie Gertsch

          It seemed like the Guwara character talked to Allison after class and made it clear that he failed her (but allowed the other student with the black stone to work for his grade.) the next page is Allison complaining about the incident to Cleaver. It’s never suggested that university policy prevents failing or passing students arbitrarily (although in the real world it would).

          • Still that same guy

            He said it as he was turning away while smiling, and he had spent most of the class pushing her buttons. Alison was complaining to Cleaver because complaining to someone is what she (and most people that have friends) do when someone messes with them like that.

            Are you REALLY claiming that since the college never explicitly states they have a ‘no arbitrary first day course grading’ policy that they don’t have one? Come on now, I know this is a superhero comic full of people making stupid choices, but that’s not a reason to go hog wild with it.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Hmm what’ you’re saying is what I thought at first too. But everything stated in the comic shows the opposite. In fact, on the page you’re referring too the teacher character did seem to be laughing off the whole confrontation by saying he just likes to press buttons in class and it’s not serious. Then he turns around and basically says, but why on earth would you think you’re not still failed?

          • MrSing

            He also said at the beginning of the class that the previous proff. had died, which turned out to be a blatant lie.

            He seems like the type of person that spouts very blatant lies and tries to pretend for as long as possible that they are true until the person that is arguing with them realizes that they are being messed with.

            It is a very “guy” humor thing to do and it can work out pretty badly if the person you are doing it on has no experience with it. Not saying that only men have this type of humor and that all men would get it and women would never, but it seems to be something that men do more often. Gurwara is stretching the joke out for as long as possible without realizing how serious Allison is taking it.

            Or I’m wrong and Gurwara is being serious and has no respect for the educational system, but I think he’s really just joking.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Sure, I guess if he’s keeping up an illusion for his own reasons, there would be nothing to contradict that in the text. But yeah…either way that’s unacceptable behavior for an educator. It could be classified as “guy humor” except that it differs from the usual kind of joke only in he vast gulf between it and any kind of a sense of humor. (Apologies to Neil Gaiman.)

          • MrSing

            It is not a type of humor that works well with strangers, but it is not unusual for a philosopher to have, since it calls for the pranked person to call your bluff and think about your words.

            I’m not saying that you don’t have a sense of humor if you don’t get it or that Gurwara is the nicest guy for springing it on a unwitting student. But it is an actual form of humor that some people enjoy, even when they are being pranked.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Sure context is everything. that’s why it should be a no-brainer that you don’t insult strangers.

            And I’m not saying comedians are thin-skinned or anything, but if I bake a cake and someone eats it and says “This is disgusting,” my first response isn’t going to be “But you just don’t UNDERSTAND my avant-garde, edgy method of cake making!!!!!” Sometimes an icky cake is just an icky cake.

          • MrSing

            Of course, but I was merely explaining why I believe that Gurwara was not serious when he said that Allison would fail the class.

            The appropriateness of his actions is another discussion.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Sure. I’ve got no problem with people who joke on their own time. Educators are held to a higher standard.

          • SJ

            It’s not like she ever actually went back to the class; that’s really the only way she’d actually find out if he was serious or not.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            I’m teaching a class right now. If someone stopped coming because I made a careless remark that was misinterpreted, you know whose fault that would be? Mine. 100% Because I’m the one in power. And it’s 100% my responsibility to follow up with the student who stopped coming to class for no apparent reason. That’s true regardless of why the student stopped coming.

          • Still that same guy

            I’m not going to say it’s IMPOSSIBLE that she’s actually factually failed the class, given some of the… interesting ways this comic has justified plot points in the past, however…

            As you’ve claimed to be an educator, can you think of any possible circumstance where you would actually factually fail a student over a high school level demonstration, and have it actually stick? If you tried it, would you expect to keep your job? I’m not asking whether your student would believe you were serious, I’m asking whether it would work.

            Now assume for the moment you did find a set of circumstances in which it would work that don’t involve the student retaliating and getting expelled. Imagine this student has VIP status so large that it puts the worst rural school stereotype’s quarterback to shame. This student has already had a professor get sacked merely because she complained about getting a bad grade on a paper. He wasn’t let go because the grade was unfair (which it pretty much was), but because she complained about it. Can whatever scenario you’ve come up with hold out against that?

            Even if so, is it more likely or less likely than that Alison is just venting to everyone in her circle of friends while not being entirely factually accurate? Or as you’ve mentioned, that Alison just doesn’t know any better and the dean hasn’t been able to clear things up for her? (let’s be honest here, it wouldn’t be just a registrar or councilor, it would be whatever head guy of Alison’s ridiculous college personally trying to straighten it out) Alison is at best an unreliable narrator, so taking her dialogue as gospel seems unwise.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Hmmm… I’m considering whether she’s an unreliable narrator. Usually the unreliable narrator device is used to demonstrate an important theme. So another character still might totally contradict her later on–which has happened to her before when she was wrong. Until then I’m going with Occam’s Razor to believe what the text states explicitly and use that to justify my own theory, rather than coming up with my own theory and interpreting the text to support that.

            I’ve never really had a famous student, or a VIP student, so I don’t know what I’d do in that case.(Right now I’m co-leading a class with another grad student.) I do have some people right now who are slacking off on their work on a consistent basis. Had to have one “come to Jesus” meeting this week. Bleh.

            I did call out someone who was carrying on a personal conversation in class–talking over another student who was presenting. But it wouldn’t have occurred to me to find a way to sneakily flunk that student, however much I didn’t care for his attitude. In general I try to focus on people’s work and specific behaviors and statement rather than criticizing them as a person. If that kind of makes sense?

          • Still that same guy

            She’s not a future version of her self reminiscing about past events between scenes or dialogue. She’s an active character that coincidentally is a stressed out college student emotionally invested in the subject she’s complaining about. Less reliable narrator archetypes exist, but that doesn’t improve Alison’s credibility.

            You don’t actually need personal experience with the type student I mentioned. It’s pretty easy for even a non-educator to picture the type of person that gets their grades fixed and their skeletons closeted.

            Your anecdote makes perfect sense. At least I assume it does, I’m not going to try to debunk it as it agrees with my position 😉

            Occum’s Razor cuts both ways. You are assuming Alison’s statements are factually accurate despite previous characterization, basic real world probabilities, and even your own experience. I am assuming Alison’s statements are factually inaccurate based on previous characterization and basic real world probabilities in a superhero comic that is rather generous with character heel-turns and absurd (in real life) plot developments.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            I guess I find the idea that the authors will tweak the rules of academia to deliver maximum angst than that an entire class plus Max (I doubt Daniel is familiar with higher education) would deliberately keep information from her for no reason. Either I have to believe that college works differently in this world, or that all I know about humans and how humans behave is wrong in this world.

            Previous characterization and my own experience lead me to believe Allison thought with god reason that she failed a class and felt bummed about it for a while. Not that she didn’t fail a class and decided to keep up an elaborate charade for no reason (contradicting the fact she was clearly ready to reconcile with the teacher after class) and a whole bunch of other characters are going along with it for other undisclosed reasons.

            Allison’s a protagonist. No one is telling the story because this is a comic. If she were a narrator we couldn’t have scenes from Mary’s story that Allison never sees.

            Good storytelling is about what people believe and how they act out those beliefs. Not “But what if secretly secretly secretly they were planning something else the whole time! Plot twist!”

          • Still that same guy

            Going by Alison’s character as depicted in the comic, she quite possibly could actually believe she’s failed, despite how ludicrous the situation is.

            Her being the big famous star that didn’t have any kind of normal adolescence, and the way the college has bent over frontwards and backwards for her, she probably has no idea that this situation doesn’t actually stand up. It’s possible she sees her options as ‘Take the F’ and ‘Get Gurwa fired’, without realizing ‘Gurwa was joking, go back to class’ is an option. As she’s pursuing a nonsense degree anyway, she can just drop the class and have Paladin rubberstamp it.

            Alison may not have spoken to anyone else in that class yet, and as you said Daniel wouldn’t know any better. Max was all over the place so who even knows if that guy would know/care.

            I’m aware Alison isn’t literally a narrator on this comic. It’s one of the big reasons I don’t take everything she says as literal truth 😉

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            Poor Al… that totally sounds lovely me her. She just has a lot of feelings, okay?

            I would have expected Max to say “Um…that sounds off to me.” Because at that point he was overall sympathetic to her and trying to impress her.

          • Stephanie Gertsch

            (bleh double post) On page 54 she says to Max, “Technically I’ve failed the frickin’ class” so if it was a sham, she still doesn’t know about it days later.

            What the teacher said earlier was, “Your F in the class means it’s also okay if you don’t come.” (I had forgotten that the thanked her for her bravery in speaking up immediately before failing her.)

  • E S M

    Of course, the biodynamic whose boost is most exciting is Allison herself. She’s already Golden Age Superman. She can go full Silver Age.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Stress can do that.

  • Vodka Martini

    So tell me again why nobody is going to look behind Allison and try and figure out how she did all this? Because “I can’t go into more detail” isn’t going to cut it. Someone is going to start an investigation on her activities and maybe start pulling security footage and the like to try and figure out how this all happened.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I thought it was because once you live in a world with magic teenagers you start to lose a bit of curiosity when it comes to unexpected things that just happen.
      When “dunno, just sort of did” is the actual legitimate answer to “wait how can you fly now? How did that happen?”, I feel like you start to expect that answer to cover pretty much anything you’re not sure about.

      • bta

        I’m not sure exactly why Allison told the staff at all, she promised Max no one would know and she would have had easier plausible deniability if anyone just thought Feral’s regeneration spontaneously got faster.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          I think the answer lies in the script for this page:
          “DOCTOR WALDEN is introduced, thanks ALISON, makes her feel EXTREMELY GUILTY”

          You can’t have that without him knowing she actually did something.

        • Stephanie

          I think she had to make arrangements with the hospital for Feral to be out of surgery when she showed up to do the “procedure.”

    • Weatherheight

      Assuredly, they are going to push for more information, but from my limited experience with doctors, most doctors are more like Wilson and Cuddy than they are House (referencing the TV series House, MD). They’ve got enough on their plate to be willing to let go the tangents outside of their immediate area of interest.

      It may occur that someone will do as you say, but Dr. Rosenblum is definitely involved at some level here, and has a pretty big administrative and legal stick with which she can cudgel dissenters into submission.

    • Because, unlike Alison, they do have strong ethics. One of those is not to push someone to give you information if they don’t want to.

      There are ways of raising uncomfortable subjects without forcing someone. I can tell you from both theory and experience that trying to force someone is going to make them shut down. I remember when a surgeon tried to bounce me into an operation the hospital felt I needed. I refused it. In fact, I sill believe that his approach was a master class in what not to do.

      A few months later, I was given an appointment with his boss and he approached me in a way that gave me confidence.

      See also the discussion here about talking to patients how they want to die:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07z45x4
      (audio but transcript available if you scroll down)

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Alison is pregnant.

    On the long and chillingly unthought of list of unintended side effects of amping Tara came an body resilience so strong as to expand outwards to fulfill the body’s perceived immediate needs. Too hot? Tara doesn’t sweat, she radiates an Area of Effect breeze to garante a cool temperature all year round.
    Potential danger detected? Adrenaline comes pumping out not just her but any close ranged member of her party.

    Object of sexual interest pinned down on the ground? Tara’s ovaries transform into teleportation chambers to directly beam down haploïds and commence the wonderful circle of life.

    Naturally, such a pregnancy would only last five minutes because who needs that kind of time in utero when both your mothers are immortal?

    • Kifre

      The true Lesbian Dynamorph Jesus emerges. O.O

      • Tylikcat

        The Annunciation.

    • bta

      What Allison took for a strong smell is really just Tara’s gametes entering her nose and bloodstream.

  • Some guy

    The ‘nurse’ that shows up is actually Gurwa, and the medicine he gives her is a bitter pill called “I told you so!”

  • Philip Bourque

    To continue a discussion from the last page, because I lost the thread. Someone said that Alison made a great decision, having weighed the consequences, gathered information and then acted upon it. I posit that that is not true at all; Alison was emotional, frustrated and not thinking straight, she spoke perhaps ten minutes with an biodynamism expert, whose expertise is at best questionable, listened only for the answer she wanted to hear and then acted on that. I say it was a very, very stupid decision and the only reason things worked out is because of luck or divine intervention, if you wish to perceive the author as a divine entity for the SFP universe.
    As for today’s comic; don’t worry Alison, you’ll get over those niggling feelings of guilt so that you’ll be able to charge in recklessly to save more countless, countless lives(TM) next time and again, and again, and again. Unless Max commits suicide.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I’m sort of relieved to see her say that’s not something she can ever do again?
      Meaning acting tough in front of Max after she forced him to perform was just because she’s a terrible person, not actual plans?

      • Philip Bourque

        Saying “never again” is utterly meaningless. If it did mean something, addiction wouldn’t be a problem. If she were to create a fortress of solitude for herself and never interact with the world in any way shape or form, I would agree with you. But since she gets involved with stuff, the first solution she’ll think up in any given situation is to MAXimize the power output. Because that is the easiest and quickest solution.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Well sure but at least she’s saying it, and as far as we can tell, not with the intent of lying to the doctor. Whether she’s deceiving herself is another story.

          • Philip Bourque

            Of course she’s deceiving herself. People do that all the time. “It won’t hurt.” “This is the last time, I promise.” “I’m sorry.”
            She feels guilty this time, next time it won’t be as bad.

          • Izo

            “Why did you make me do that to you?”
            “You know how I don’t like to hit you, honey!”
            “I’ll quit this time, for real!”
            “And this time, I mean it.”

  • Superfrick

    But Allison, the person in room 3A has the ability to make Kittens even CUTER and hypoallergenic.

    • Weatherheight

      Okay, anyone who can makes house pets hypoallergenic and not need expensive medications needs to be augmented, ASAP.

      ::sneezes as some cat hair floats by and rubs his eyes::

      • Stephanie

        There are totally hypoallergenic cats. With fur, even. The downside is that you can’t really find them in shelters. According to someone I know who has them, get them from a breeder who sends you T-shirts that have been rubbed all over each kitten in the litter so you can pick the ones that don’t set you off. But of course there are the ethical considerations.

        • Weatherheight

          My understanding is that what makes a lot of people allergic to cats is their dander. As I understand it, dander is a combination of the cat’s hair and skin and their spittle. The spittle contains an enzyme that helps cats break down their fur into something that is less harmful to their digestive tract.

          I suppose that hypoallergenic cats would lack that enzyme entirely or have significantly lower levels of it, which would seem to me to potentially cause problems with its health. That’s sounds both expensive and hard on the cat.

          Friend of a friend had one, and there were pills involved for the cat.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t know, my professor didn’t say anything about the cats having health issues or requiring pills. I suppose it’s possible that she just didn’t think to mention it. I’m mainly concerned with the “buying from a breeder” part.

    • Tylikcat

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fe01db25821650a688af9e1728e3b059b214cd780a032417b12ec740abcd9e22.jpg

      (From my sister’s circus school – someone is fostering kittens and bringing them over on Tuesday afternoon to be socialized. Ridiculous, no?)

  • Stephanie

    I wish she’d at least hear him out. People could be suffering and dying needlessly because she can’t handle compromising her principles.

    Maybe she should give it a couple of months and then go on a world tour of all the people who aren’t horribly dead thanks to what she did. Make a connection to the human element on that side of the equation. That might help her put this in perspective.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    It’s a more uncomfortable, complicated situation if this sudden upgrade to Feral’s powers are known to have come from some sort of action from Al. Ugh, there will be times now in the future where Max’s booster abilities will be able to do incredible good for the world and of course he’ll hate the idea of helping and Al will be tempted to force him again. 🙁

    • Lostman

      Oh, Max will be forced to use his power again. It’s a question of what his powers for, and to who end…

  • Tylikcat

    Okay, so… I don’t really think this is going to happen, and in some ways I think this is a terrible idea, but I have a plan:

    Alison needs to try to work things out with Max. First, because it’s the right thing to do, second, because there are other important things that could use his abilities, and she’s effectively made herself the keeper of the keys to the castle. Which is awful all around, but there it is. Damn straight she’s throwing up in a wastebasket. (Wastebaskets are ubiquitous in hospitals, I have no trouble with her finding one within a stride or two.)

    She can’t go to him directly. First of course, because it would be awful and cruel. Second, because she’d mess it up – I mean, it would be great if she didn’t, but let’s be reasonable. Third, she probably can’t handle it much better than he can.

    So she need a mediator. But she can’t out him – I mean, she’s already done him enough harm, and she promised him that much. It would also help if this was a person with some serious negotiations skills. So it has to be someone who knows about Max already, which would be… Patrick.

    *and here I fall off my chair laughing*

    I’ve been thinking that Alison needs to sit down and explain this all to someone. I mean, really, to lots of someones. But that first conversation… it’s going to be tough. I mean, Tara is the obvious person, but she needs to convey what she did, why she did it, how bad she thinks it was, and… everything. It can’t be someone who is going to tell her it’s okay. And I don’t know if she can to someone who will just hate her for it.

    Which kind of makes me wonder if the person she might be able to talk to about it the best is Patrick.

    O-kay! Except for all the reasons that Patrick is also the person she still doesn’t want to talk to at all, and who is also possibly the last person who should be her emissary to Max.

    I just had to share this with you all.

    *goes to pop some popcorn*

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I simply can’t wait to see all the ways this genuinely perfect solution to a whole bunch of the world’s problems is absolutely never going to work.

      • Stephanie

        My biggest concern about the “get Patrick to convince Max” solution, from Alison’s perspective, is that Alison doesn’t trust Patrick. I can’t say I particularly trust him either. If he were trustworthy, getting him to mediate would definitely be the perfect solution as far as I can see.

        • Tylikcat

          Well, if Alison has any sense, she doesn’t trust herself either, so!

        • Kifre

          She trusts when he tells her the cabal exists. She trusts that he’s actually working on finding them. She trusts that if she gives him a year lead time he’ll still be around to turn in to the powers that be like she said she would.

      • Tylikcat

        Hence my hilarity.

        …this is more or less the kind of solution I’ll often try in my actual life.

    • Arkone Axon

      HAHAHAHAHAHA!

      You just made me realize… she has completely lost all moral credibility with Patrick. When Patrick finds out… oh, that is going to be HILARIOUS…!

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Come to think of it, she never seemed to hold any resentment over the shady things he was doing once he surrendered. That’s not why they broke things up.

      • Tylikcat

        Hey, if anyone is going to understand, it will be Patrick.

        • Stephanie

          I can definitely picture him being cool with her motives but scoffing at the inelegant execution.

          • Tylikcat

            You use the gifts you have.

          • Sendaz

            yeah, he is sooo going to rag on her about tearing up the cheque. ;P

        • MrSing

          He’d probably need all his powers and resources to keep a smug smile of his face during the entire conversation. In exchange he gives her a coffee mug with an extremely smug anime girl printed on the front.

          • Sam

            Which she promptly smashes on his face.

      • Kifre

        Patrick is going to take one look, read her, and then move on to discuss the most pragmatic way forward. Alison will stand there shamefaced, try to mumble something….an apology? an excuse? I don’t know, but Patrick will cut her off. Tell her he already knows whatever she’s got to say and get back to business.

        • Tylikcat

          Actually, I think Patrick will let her say the things she feels she needs to say… and is not going to try to force her to talk about the things she’s not up for, even though they’ll both know he knows them. Which is why Patrick is perfect, and why he was so awesome as Menace.

          dum dum DUM!!!

          …though it’s possible that skill set does apply even when he’s trying to be better, y’know?

          What doesn’t make this work is all the unresolved crap between the two of them – on both sides, might I point out. And this probably isn’t quite the time for them to have great long talk about everything (though that would be awesome!) or to strip down and screw like rabid weasels (though… well, that might be productive…?)

    • Weatherheight

      I love this scenario, but I would rather it be Dr. Rosenblum.

      • Tylikcat

        I don’t think Dr. Rosenblum knows about Max – not enough, and Alison would have to tell her more – I just don’t think she could be an effective emissary. It might even be dangerous to her.

  • Anna

    So, what our friend Doctor Walden seems to be saying is that this is a wonderful opportunity, and it could be applied in many ways, and it’s a valuable gift. This means bad news for Max, now that people have seen his power in action (despite not knowing it was him), it doesn’t matter what Allison said. He’s in more danger than he was before.

  • Izo

    And now we see the supposed ‘downside.’ The lame, weaksauce, ineffective downside, which I hope is not the ONLY downside. The poor little bully feels guilty. As it stands so far… no real downside to the plan, no real consequences to Alison, Feral, the plan, or anyone other than feeling sorta bad after the fact.

    Now for the response I predict to me from some people. Because I get the same responses every time

    Izo, we’re only X strips in! Wait to see if there will be more of a consequence for Alison’s action! (wondering how many times this will be used)

    Izo, she feels awful about what she did, hasnt she suffered enough? (no. she hasn’t suffered at all. guilt for doing something bad is meaningless if there are no consequences or ability to stop her from doing it again or closure to her victim)

    Izo, her own guilt is far more of a consequence than anything society could do to her! (riiiiight – until the next time she does it. And no closure for the person she forced and, by all reasonable expectations, would have traumatized.)

    Izo, stop reading the comic if you don’t like it. (I do like the comic. I don’t like the current story arc so far because so far it’s teaching a terrible lesson)

    Izo, comics arent supposed to teach lessons (it still does, anyway)

    Izo, Max wasn’t traumatized, he was just annoyed afterwards. (yeah, maybe he learned he shouldnt protest in front of the superhuman psycho).

    Izo, stop siding with the rich white male like I expected you to! (hi TheDaviesCR… I will not send pics to prove the non-white female part, and if you want me to prove I’m not rich, send me money, since we all know that rich people don’t need more money /s)

    • Santiago Tórtora

      It’s not like we had the downside of inaction shoved down out throats either. The comic doesn’t show us the misery of all the people who need organs. It just mentions them and lets us infer the rest.

      • Izo

        And look – now we have the pro-bullying, pro-violence defenders who feel that no downside is necessary at all. 🙂

        Think the consequences to the protagonist is the same meaning as consequences to a background characters that aren’t even shown in the comic – or even mentioned by name. Or even mentioned at all beyond the abstract?

        Not doing something good is not the same as actively doing something bad. If it was, every person on the entire planet would be guilty, and for some reason, based on your past past arguments in posts, you think it’s a good thing to paint as people as bad person for inaction (as long as it’s not you or people you like). Doesn’t that sound a bit hypocritical?

        • Santiago Tórtora

          No. I’m OK with not being perfect. I do think it’s very stupid to not jump on the chance of being less imperfect just because you want “a perfect solution”, like Gurwara(?) said.

          That’s a separate topic, though. What I think our real disagreement is about is that you like your morality tales to be more anvillicious. That’s an aesthetic preference that we won’t be able to (and wouldn’t want to) resolve by argument.

          • Izo

            I don’t need morality tales to be anvillicious, but I do need there to be a consequence for bad behavior beyond mere guilt for doing bad stuff – especially in a hero story. A story where the bad guy wins and nothing bad happens to them is not a great story.

            But yeah, I guess some people like a ‘The Stand’ and others like ‘The Mist’ (in case you know both movies 🙂 )

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Erm, Izo, Alison is sick.
      Alison can’t be sick.

      I don’t know where this is going but it looks like huge consequences.

      • Izo

        Why cant Alison be sick. Is immunity to nervous nausea part of her anomaly?

        I mean… if it is, fine. But I think it’s just nausea from nerves and guilt, not from disease. It’s meant to relay ‘look at the poor protagonist. She REALLY feels bad about what she did to the point where she threw up! Now you have to feel bad for her and forget that she did something evil’ I mean… what happened that would cause disease anyway?

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          I don’t know, that’s why I’m holding my metaphorical seat and not calling shots.

          • Izo

            I honestly hope you’re right. That Feral is now some sort of biodynamorphic disease-carrier because of the augmentation, that will kill people instead of cure them, and it’s so severe that even Alison gets sick from being touched by Feral. But I doubt you are, here. I think you’re just hoping the consequence isnt just ‘guilt’ and reading a more significant consequence into it.

            If it turns out to be something like that though, I’ll give a mea culpa.

    • Philip Bourque

      For a change of pace, I’d like to say I understand your views and share your disappointment in.this matter.
      Out of curiosity, how would you have handled it? Myself, at the least, Feral would have become inoperable simply because she would heal to fast for harvesting to be possible.

      • Izo

        I would have handled it very similar to how it’s handed with Deadpool’s supercharged healing. Deadpool’s healing works by the cells continually mutating to a dangerous degree. To the point that the reason why he isnt dead from his own regeneration power is because he also has terminal cancer. While I don’t think Feral would need to die, I would think a good resolution to what Alison did would be that her organs, when put into someone else now, keep mutating as well which results in the organs that are transplated into others essentially killing them, either quickly (like Deadpool when someone else gets his powers) or slowly (like how cancer is about mutating cells).

    • wiltbloococo

      I think it’s far less interesting if Alison’s plan had failed or had an immediate “downside”. It’d be too simplistic of a lesson to say “If you do bad things, you won’t get what you want and bad things will happen to you!” That’s not always the case.

      It’s more interesting to explore the idea of “Hey, I did bad things and it worked out perfectly! Why don’t I do this more often?” This kind of thinking is more insidious. Wherever it pops up, be it politics, business, family, or social life – it inevitably leads to destruction. The key thing is that it’s not obvious or quick. So you can have a tyrant who brings his country to ruin because war and genocide boosted the economy. A CEO whose company can’t keep up because he went for short term profits over investment in the future. A mother who raises rebellious and spiteful children because being controlling and strict kept them inline when they were kids.

      Alison’s path to destruction won’t be obvious or quick, e.g. “oops Feral now just randomly died and the organs exploded for some reason, boy did I mess up”. And it won’t be solely her own guilt. It can any or all of the following:

      – The conspiracy will now murder both Max and Feral, directly resulting in 2 innocent deaths, and ruining Alison’s plan to save the world
      – People find out what Alison did and her Valkyrie project falls apart because her peers, coworkers, and the victims she’s helping see her as a hypocrite
      – Max becomes a Menace-esque mastermind using his wealth and superpower to get other biodynamics to go after Alison and her family/friends, and generally muck things up for her

      • Izo

        “I think it’s far less interesting if Alison’s plan had failed or had an immediate “downside”. It’d be too simplistic of a lesson to say “If you do bad things, you won’t get what you want and bad things will happen to you!” That’s not always the case.”

        I don’t think so. I think that the longer it takes for a downside to happen, the more people disassociate the consequences from the cause, especially in a story format like this one. Certain formats can be long and drawn out, or delayed for a long time (like if it’s a TV show with a lot of flashbacks to the incident, over and over again to keep the crime fresh in the audience’s mind) and others can’t be without making it not seem as bad.

        “The conspiracy will now murder both Max and Feral, directly resulting in 2 innocent deaths, and ruining Alison’s plan to save the world”

        I think it would suck if Max died because of this, but if Feral did also, it would at least be a consequence that would actually hurt Alison. I don’t think that would happen though. Feral isn’t an adversary of Alison’s, and most of the deaths or firings or disappearances or imprisonments have been people who Alison had a problem with.

        “People find out what Alison did and her Valkyrie project falls apart because her peers, coworkers, and the victims she’s helping see her as a hypocrite”

        This would be good. Although I’d still feel it was unsatisfying. But I can see that still being able to work in the long run as a downside, except if it’s too far removed from her crime.

        “Max becomes a Menace-esque mastermind using his wealth and superpower to get other biodynamics to go after Alison and her family/friends, and generally muck things up for her”

        This would suck if Max was made out to be the villain, since Alison is the protagonist so that people have a kneejerk reaction to make the protagonist the hero, even if they arent being heroic in their actions. It would suck because Max is not a villain. He’s a douche, but not an evil douche. And in this case, he was the victim, and making him the villain is basically victim-blaming.

        • wiltbloococo

          I feel that the webcomic format is perfectly fine for longer drawn out arcs. Being able to pull up any page at a moment’s notice is helpful for understanding the context of every event. For example I remember when Alison was buying the burger and bourbon this scene, commenters pointed out a page back in Issue 3 where Feral mentioned it. I’m thinking if Alison gets hit with a consequence in the future, we can easily load up the page where Alison forced Max and make the connection and say “here’s where it all began”.

          It’s interesting that you don’t think Feral will be hurt because she’s a friend of Alison’s, and that only adversaries of Alison were affected negatively. There is an exception which is her dad getting cancer. But I suppose that’s different because a disease is random, while most of the other events you mentioned – firings, imprisonments, deaths – were a result of her own actions.

          Making Max a villain would be completely different from victim blaming. Victim-blaming would be saying “He’s a douche! He should have said yes! He deserved being forced into it by Alison”. Max being a villain would simply mean taking revenge. Nothing to do with why he was victimized in the first place.

          • Izo

            “I feel that the webcomic format is perfectly fine for longer drawn out arcs.”

            It really isn’t, because of the snail’s pace at which most webcomics progress as it is. It’s just a basic element of the format… so when you make it an extremely long and drawn out consequence that doesn’t happen until months, or even years later, many readers will have stopped reading and never actually see the resolution, unless they’ve been reading in binge-form. Which makes it a different type of format than ‘webcomic’ format.

            “I’m thinking if Alison gets hit with a consequence in the future, we can easily load up the page where Alison forced Max and make the connection and say “here’s where it all began”.”

            But the emotional impact of what she did will be old and mostly forgotten by a majority of people by that point. Heck, I’ve read the comic since nearly the beginning, and I’ve forgotten large chunks from early on and have been reminded of them in other threads.

            “It’s interesting that you don’t think Feral will be hurt because she’s a friend of Alison’s, and that only adversaries of Alison were affected negatively.”

            Because it’s true, with the exception of her father getting cancer, which had nothing to do with ANY actions on the part of Alison or anyone else. It’s just ‘he got cancer.’ It’s not some sort of consequence for something Alison did.

            “But I suppose that’s different because a disease is random, while most of the other events you mentioned – firings, imprisonments, deaths – were a result of her own actions.”

            Yes, that’s my point.

            “Making Max a villain would be completely different from victim blaming.”

            No it wouldn’t. It would be saying ‘Look at that villain, trying to hurt our hero, Alison. Sure, he was forced against his will and threatened with death by her, and told she would do it again if she wanted to, but he should get over it! He’s evil for actually defending himself against or getting vengeance on his attacker, who violated him when he did nothing aggressive against her in the first place and was just not a person who agreed with what Alison wanted to do. It most certainly IS victim-blaming to make him a villain. Alison is the villain in a story arc with Max in it after what she did. And all the guilt-vomit in the world doesn’t change that.

            “Victim-blaming would be saying “He’s a douche! He should have said yes! He deserved being forced into it by Alison”. Max being a villain would simply mean taking revenge. Nothing to do with why he was victimized in the first place.”

            Both what you said AND what I said are examples of victim blaming. You’re saying the victim is a villain because he or she wanted revenge and protection against someone who violated them and said they would do it again, with the ability to make good on that threat and with no one capable of stopping them.

          • wiltbloococo

            RE: length of formats – I know some great critically acclaimed shows where things happen at a snail’s pace. Consequences for certain actions can take place a season or even multiple seasons apart. I don’t think there’s a problem with people not understanding the consequences in these cases. The shows I’m referring to are The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.

            RE: people affected by Alison’s actions – this is interesting. Why do you think only her adversaries are negatively affected by her? Is there an in-universe reason, or is it because the creators of the comic wanted it to be that way?

            RE: villains and victim blaming – first, I didn’t use the word villain as an accusation of Max’s behavior or character for getting revenge. I only used the word “villain” as a shorthand for “person who uses his powers to antagonize of the protagonist”. In this case the better word would be antagonist. But even if we used villain to mean “a contemptible bad guy”, then it’s still not victim blaming.

            Victim blaming applies to how someone was behaving before they were victimized and saying their behavior caused it. Not what they did afterwards. If someone takes an abuser to court, no one says “you deserved to be abused since you’re being spiteful and now suing your abuser”. Doesn’t make sense. Same case with Max. If he gets revenge it’s not victim-blaming to even call him a villain in the slightest because revenge by definition is after the fact. You can call it a poor narrative choice, just not victim blaming.

          • Izo

            “I know some great critically acclaimed shows where things happen at a snail’s pace. Consequences for certain actions can take place a season or even multiple seasons apart. I don’t think there’s a problem with people not understanding the consequences in these cases. The shows I’m referring to are The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad.”

            Actually the shows you mentioned keep continually relating back to the bad action, and actually continually pile on negative over negative action so the emphasis of the negative actions don’t make the consequence seem detached. Especially Breaking Bad. Not to mention a TV show can put a LOT more information into each show than a webcomic can per strip.

            “people affected by Alison’s actions – this is interesting. Why do you think only her adversaries are negatively affected by her? Is there an in-universe reason, or is it because the creators of the comic wanted it to be that way?”

            Um…. because I’ve read the comic, and only her adversaries have been negatively affected by her actions. And the more adversarial they are, the more significant they are affected negatively.

            I don’t think there’s an in-universe reason – it just seems to be because she’s the protagonist, so only bad things happen to people whom are critical of her. So far only Gurwara hasnt had something bad happen to him yet because of Alison’s actions, although he IS painted as an awful person (heck I -hated- Gurwara and thought he was an unfair jerk because he was so clearly presented as such).

            “I only used the word “villain” as a shorthand for “person who uses his powers to antagonize of the protagonist”. In this case the better word would be antagonist. But even if we used villain to mean “a contemptible bad guy”, then it’s still not victim blaming.”

            Yeah, antagonist would be less victim-blamey, although it still does paint Max in a more negative light since he’s an unlikable antagonist who is inherently selfish. His positive attributes are very buried by the time Alison does what she did. Still, at least antagonist isnt ‘villain.’ Villain is a DEFINITE negative thing and would definitely be victim blaming as a result.

            “If someone takes an abuser to court, no one says “you deserved to be abused since you’re being spiteful and now suing your abuser”.”

            Except Alison can’t be brought to court unless she allows herself to be. There is absolutely no closure at all. There is no justice whatsoever for Max.

            “If he gets revenge it’s not victim-blaming to even call him a villain in the slightest because revenge by definition is after the fact.”

            Actually yes, it’s victim blaming then because he was given NO alternative whatsoever to defend himself from future attacks, no ability to have any sort of closure or justice whatsoever since Alison is completely immune from punishment (barring the world war 3 thing you mentioned, which I find highly unlikely to happen). His ONLY way to ever be safe again is, based on what you said, to be a ‘victim’ rather than to find a way to be safe from the evil psychopath who will use and hurt him for her own goals any time she wants, and who told him that she can do so whenever she wants and he can NOT stop her because she’s stronger.

            “You can call it a poor narrative choice, just not victim blaming.”

            I can call it both.

          • wiltbloococo

            I feel like we have different definitions of victim blaming.

            In an example story where a domestic abuse victim illegally takes revenge on their abuser by committing horrendous torture, there is no victim blaming. Even though we made the victim into a villain, nobody in the story blamed the victim for being at fault for their original abuse.

            In another example story where a domestic abuse victim gets told by the police “well if you didn’t want to be abused, you shouldn’t have married your spouse,” there is victim blaming. The police are blaming the victim for the abuse, hence the term “victim blaming”.

            Do you disagree with any of the above? If so can you elaborate on how you’d define victim blaming?

          • Izo

            “In an example story where a domestic abuse victim illegally takes revenge on their abuser by committing horrendous torture, there is no victim blaming. Even though we made the victim into a villain, nobody in the story blamed the victim for being at fault for their original abuse.”

            First, I’d like to say that the main difference between this and the Alison example is Max does not have the option of using legal means to have Alison arrested. She is beyond what the law can do to her. He has NO options if he doesn’t take matters into his own hands to get revenge, or even to get protection for the next time Alison decides to make him do something ‘for the greater good.’

            So yeah, if a domestic abuse victim takes revenge by committing horrendous torture illegally instead of going the route of going to the police, then they’re a victim. They might be a sympathetic villain (like Mr Freeze is) but they’re a villain because they had the OPTION of a legal recourse and did not take it. If the HAD no option to a legal recourse…. then I can’t call them a villain. Normally, in real life, you almost always have a legal recourse. However, if she trained in how to use a firearm and self defense, and the next time he tried to hurt her, she shoots him and kills him? I can’t call her a villain. It would be victim-blaming.

            Alison throws the entire idea of punishing her for her crime by legal means out the window.

            To repeat, Alison cannot be stopped via legal recourse. She’s stated as much several times in the comic. She’s stated as much to the police. And to her enemies. And to her friends. And to her friends-turned-adversaries. And to Max himself after she forced him. This greatly mitigates any action Max does in response, and I can’t see calling him a victim any more than if it was a case of domestic abuse where the abuser was a superpowered husband beating on his abused wife, knowing the police can’t do anything to stop him even if she goes to the police.

            “In another example story where a domestic abuse victim gets told by the police “well if you didn’t want to be abused, you shouldn’t have married your spouse,” there is victim blaming. The police are blaming the victim for the abuse, hence the term “victim blaming”.”

            Yes, this is more obviously victim blaming.

            “Do you disagree with any of the above? If so can you elaborate on how you’d define victim blaming?”

            I don’t disagree with any of the above, except that if a person is incapable of being dealt with legally because they are beyond society and the police and government’s ability to stop them, the victim no longer has a choice in the matter if they ever want to feel safe from the victimizer, and I can’t see them being called a villain. Even legally, I can see such a situation being one where the victim might be unable to separate right and wrong anymore when dealing with the victimizer (as if legal insanity) or at the very least, GREATLY mitigating their crime.

          • wiltbloococo

            Edit: still writing, accidentally pressed submit.

            I think I get what you mean now. You’re saying that in cases where a victim must commit a crime to stop their abuser, where they had no other way of protecting themselves, then it would be . Of course

          • Izo

            Yes, that’s what I’m saying. Which would be the situation that Max IS in.

            Therefore I can’t see him as being a villain, even if he does something to try to get revenge on or kill Alison or does something to make Alison pay for taking away his agency.. He is still the victim, trying to stop the actual villain from doing the same thing to him again (and/or possibly others, although I doubt Max would be considering others necessarily that Alison might do something similar to) in the future, as well as getting justice which is not possible by any other means by society since Alison lives outside of and beyond society’s rules. Reducing a description of him to a villain, in this case, would be tantamount to victim-blaming.

  • Arizona Hurn

    Am I the only one worried that wasn’t just a nervous, anxiety-caused vomit? I hope she didn’t inadvertently hurt herself.
    And on the hot topic of morals, I think it’s interesting that in some other cases, people would want a character to get hurt just because they don’t like them. Now we have a character who is spoiled, very rude, jealous of other people and allowing them to be hurt because of that. I don’t believe he’s actually afraid for himself, he’s just a brat. So people condemning Allison…I wonder if it’s because they see themselves in Max.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      This is dramatic vomit. Alison can’t be sick, why does it look like everybody forgot she is impervious to Absolutely Anything(TM)?
      Everybody need to worry the hell up!

      • Izo

        1) Since when can’t she be sick? She’s invulnerable. She doesn’t have immunity to disease.
        2) This is very clearly ‘guilt vomit’ not ‘disease vomit.’
        3) How would ‘disease vomit’ tie into what she did as a consequence? What does Max have to do with causing disease?

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          She’s invulnerable. She doesn’t have immunity to disease.

          Y’know sometimes y’all make me wonder if my unchallenged genius is wasted here

          • Izo

            I will elaborate. She is invulnerable to physical harm. That does not necessarily include disease. She isn’t invulnerable down to the cellular level necessarily. And a virus is smaller than a cell is even. Think about how on X-Men, someone like Rogue can get sick from a cold, even though she’s nigh invulnerable. It’s someone like Wolverine, who is not invulnerable, but has regeneration, that can’t get a cold. This has actually been in the comics with invulnerable people getting common illnesses.

            Not to mention I think this is anxiety vomit, not disease vomit.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙
          • Izo

            I said catching a cold. Not feeling cold.

            Unrelated question… I wonder what Alison would do if it was her sister who had Max’s power, and her sister did not want to help in Alison’s plan. Would Alison threaten to kill her sister and then torture her?

          • Sendaz

            They are siblings… of COURSE she would.
            Oh wait, you meant about forcing her to do Max like stuff. ;p

            Moooooooommm, Alison is making me do sparkly things against my will.

            Alison Green, stop picking on your sister and go to your room.

            But Mom.. it’s to save the world.

            Well the world is going to have to be saved tomorrow, because right now you are marching upstairs young lady

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …how do you write in orange?

          • Sendaz

            Just use except take out the spaces inbetween then your words, ending it with (again no spaces) to create some coloured words .
            Can only do orange here so far.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh, a hyperlink without a link. Clever.
            Also don’t patronize me I know what tags are you mewling quim

          • Sendaz

            *shrugs* But not all forums use the same format of tags. Most of my forums use [ ] for their tags vs the they use here plus most of the forums I frequent let you use colour codes and I don’t presume to know which forums you hang out at. Sorry if being detailed offended you.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            But I use tags constantly here 😢

          • Weatherheight

            A noogie, followed by a dutch rub, then an indian burn, escalating to a zerbert, and finally either a “two for flinching” or an Atomic Wedgie.

          • Izo

            I’m actually asking the question seriously 🙂 What do you think Alison would do if it was her sister who had Max’s power, and her sister did not want to help in Alison’s plan. Would Alison threaten to kill her sister, and then torture her if she still resisted?

          • Weatherheight

            I doubt the approach would have been the same, but assuming all things played out the same, one of two things would have happened, in my opinion:
            1) same beatdown until Jen capitulated, or
            2) tattle on Jen to Mom and Dad.
            More likely the second, to be honest.
            And now I want to see that family meeting at the kitchen table.

          • Izo

            “1) same beatdown until Jen capitulated,”

            Do you REALLY think there’s any chance at all that Alison would threaten to kill or start to hurt and break her sister’s arm? ANY at all?

            “2) tattle on Jen to Mom and Dad.”

            As amusing as that would be to watch as a kitchen table discussion, what if Jen still said no. Do you think her parents, who have always taught Alison to not force others just because she’s stronger, will say ‘but for our youngest daughter, we WILL force her or allow Alison to force her.’

          • palmvos

            How else would you know that you are a genius except by contrast to our alarming denseness?

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You just bought yourself one more day in the eternal blessing that is my presence, you precious naive child

          • palmvos

            ::is now getting a tan in the glow of ∫Clémens×ds ::

          • Izo

            Oh hell I have to upvote you and Clemens just for this marvellous back-and-forth.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think this is disease vomit, but don’t we have confirmation that a fine enough edge can penetrate her TK barrier? It’s not outside the realm of possibility that a virus could get through, they’re nanometer scale.

          • Izo

            A virus is definitely smaller than 2-3 microns.

          • Stephanie

            Exactly–so then I guess the question is whether a lot of force is also required to penetrate the barrier, or if anything small enough can get through.

          • Izo

            I don’t think she would have been asking Pintsize about the size of the edge of the blade if it was dependent on strength instead if sharpness. So probably just needs to be small enough.

          • Stephanie

            The possibility I’m proposing is that both strength and sharpness are required.

          • Izo

            That’s not actually how sharpness works. The sharper a blade is, the less strength is needed for cutting. That’s sort of the point of something being super-sharp. It gets to go in the spaces between the matter it’s cutting to separate it.

          • Stephanie

            You still need to apply force to cut, though. If you place an incredibly sharp knife against a tomato in a zero-gravity environment, and neither object has any momentum, the knife isn’t going to cut the tomato.

          • Izo

            Yes you still need to apply force to cut, but the amount of force necessary DECREASES inversely with the increase in the sharpness of the blade. So an incredibly sharp blade will cut with MUCH less force, making superhuman strength unnecessary.

            Not to mention the scenario you just decribed isnt something that would or could happen in an attempt to use super-sharp blades (or virii) against Alison.

          • Stephanie

            I understand the relationship between sharpness and the necessary amount of force. What I’m suggesting, which is just speculation, is something like…Only when a blade is extremely sharp, can it cut Alison with an amount of force that’s achievable by any living entity. E.g., Cleaver is strong enough to cut Alison’s skin with blades as sharp as his. Perhaps a regular human wouldn’t be able to cut Alison with Cleaver’s blades, and at the same time, even someone as strong as Cleaver wouldn’t be able to cut Alison with any blunter blade.

          • Izo

            Ok I think I might need to get a little more into how sharpness works (not trying to be insulting). Matter is composed of mostly empty space. The sharper an object, the more it can be inserted within that empty space as a wedge to disrupt the bonds. Strength would not be a factor since the edge would not be meeting the same amount of resistance.

            I understand what you’re saying – honestly I do. But I don’t think it would make sense unless Alison’s invulnerability goes down to the atomic level. A virus i about .004 microns, and most human cells are about 1 micron (for comparison, the diameter of a single strand of human hair is about 10 microns).

            I’d normally say what you’re arguing is comic book science logic (which tends to be inaccurate) and agree with you, but since the comic is a deconstruction, I’ve been avoiding using comic book science logic and I’ve been relying on real science.

          • Stephanie

            I get why there’s less resistance, but there’s still some amount of resistance, right? Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but as long as the amount of resistance isn’t zero, it should require some amount of force to penetrate the barrier. It’s just substantially less force than if the edge were blunter and meeting more resistance.

            To be clear, I’m not arguing that a virus couldn’t penetrate the barrier–after all, I think it was me who originally pointed out that viruses are smaller than the edge of Cleaver’s blade. I’m just proposing a scenario that could explain it if it turns out that viruses actually can’t get through.

          • Izo

            “Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but as long as the amount of resistance isn’t zero, it should require some amount of force to penetrate the barrier. It’s just substantially less force than if the edge were blunter and meeting more resistance.”

            Yes there’s a basic misunderstanding that I’m failing to explain apparently. But maybe I can at least explain this…. 2-3 microns was able to cut Alison. Lets assume, for the moment, that it actually does work the way you’re supposing, and that the strength of Cleaver is required for 2-3 microns is necessary to slice Alison. it’s not and you can see in the comic that Cleaver was able to inadvertently cut himself at that sharpness (which would imply that his strength was not necessary for that) but lets just assume it is. The average virus is about .004 microns. At 1 1/2 microns, it would require half half his strength, at .75 microns it would be 1/4th Cleaver’s strength. At .375 microns, it would be 1/8th Cleaver’s strength. At 1875, it would be 1/16th of Cleaver’s strength. At .09375, it would be 1/32nd of Cleaver’s strength. At .046875, it would be 1/64th of Cleaver’s strength. At .0234375, it would be 1/128th of Cleaver’s strength. At .01171875, it would be 1/256th of Cleaver’s strength. At .005859375, it would be 1/512th of Cleaver’s strength. And it wouldnt be you’re down to about 1/1028th of Cleaver’s strength that you’d be at the amount of force necessary to cut Alison. And that’s assuming Cleaver required all his strength to be cutting Alison. Which it wasnt. He required almost NO strength at his level to be cutting her. He was accidentally cutting even himself, and he’s supposed to be at her level of invulnerability.

          • Stephanie

            OK, I see what you’re saying now. There is no disagreement between us on the basic idea that a nonzero amount of force is required to cut something with even a very sharp blade. You’re saying that the virus is so much smaller than the blade that the amount of force required would be achievable by the virus.

          • Izo

            Exactly. For that to not be the case, Cleaver (and Alison) would have to be so ludicrously powerful at their base strength/invulnerability level as it is that they’d be able to lift entire continents and brush off nuclear explosions. 🙂 (possibly exaggerating but you get what I’m saying now)

          • Stephanie

            Cool! Glad we’re back on the same page. So in conclusion, if it’s possible for Cleaver to cut Alison, it should theoretically be possible for her to contract a viral infection. I wonder if the comic has ever addressed whether she still gets colds, I can’t remember.

          • Izo

            I don’t think it has addressed that (just that she suffer from extreme heat or cold, which has nothing really to do with disease), but it seems to have specifically NOT pointed out regeneration or healing as one of her abilities, and it’s shown her being able to break her own arm, so I’m assuming that she CAN get sick just like she can get fatigued.

          • Stephanie

            I wonder if that would make an engineered disease a viable last-resort option for taking her out, if she became dangerous enough to warrant the risk.

          • Izo

            Yeah, I suppose that’s a possibility as a way to take her out since she doesn’t some easily found ‘kryptonite’ illness for a batman-style exploit.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Why couldn’t she get a cold then?
            But more generally if this is disease vomit and the actual reason why she got sick, I will actually for real no take backs resign from this whole commenting business, this is such contrivance

          • Stephanie

            I don’t remember whether we have confirmation that she can’t get a cold. If we do, maybe the necessary factors to get through her TK are a fine enough edge and sufficient force behind that edge?

            In any case, I think it’s super, super unlikely that she’s legitimately ill, like with an actual sickness.

          • Loranna

            Alison’s invulnerability clearly follows anime rules. She is, therefore, capable of suffering (in no particular order): nosebleeds, anxiety-induced vomiting, large bumps on her forehead, large bumps on the large bumps on her forehead, and spontaneous lock up of all her muscles, freezing her in place like a dumbstruck statue.

            Alternatively, Feral’s augmented abilities include the power to proactively negate biodynamic sources of harm. Or in other words, Feral doesn’t just regenerate, she suppresses and negates other anomalies! ^_^

            Loranna

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Sometimes I think I comment too much these days to try to fill the void you’re leaving when you don’t so much ♥

          • Loranna

            You’re a sweetheart ^_^

            As for my lack of commenting of late, well, truth be told . . . I’ve been having trouble keeping up with all the replies. Most anything I might have thought to say, in the last couple of updates, was already said by multiple posters by the time I saw the new page o.o You all are prolific, I’ll say!

            *goes back to swimming through the ever-growing comment section, while wrestling with a bit of writing*

            Loranna

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Oh no… this is what I was genuinely worried about. We need to consider doing something about it, encourage people to leave it to a few comments and replies when the numbers start to go over the hundred… And I’m definitely the worst offender.
            I don’t want people to feel overwhelmed and choose to not participate, the decision to start commenting here one fateful day brought me so much…

          • Weatherheight

            This also means that, when struck by someone who clearly does not have the appropriate strength to accelerate her to escape velocity, she nevertheless can be be struck by someone and sent pinwheeling into the sky, to fade into a glorious final twinkle in the heavens.

      • Arizona Hurn

        I saw somewhere that they said maybe she’ll literally make herself sick from guilt but I see that it’s more likely that Max’s power did not work so well for her. That would be pleasing justice for everyone, no?

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          That would be sweet, yeah.
          Less so if it was voluntary (which it most likely isn’t since she flew Max back home) We have even self-sacrificing martyrs around.

          • Sendaz

            Well, I still think she is just stressing, but let’s assume there is a non-stress/guilt cause for this that is possibly tied to Max.
            Down the Drain) Max’s power draining Alison seems unlikely since she flew another round robin after the boost and should have shown signs sooner, but still a possibility.
            Badder Bugs) Didn’t you also mention in a previous post something about immortal bacteria as a side effect of Feral’s boost? Who is to say Feral might not now be carrying a bio-dynamic version of the common cold or similar. Or for that matter, can Max control who gets boosted? Could Alison herself have gotten a bit of a hit of the Max Factor due to proximity during the Boosting and the wee bugs she normally carries around inside her, but were never able to affect her, now are stepping up to the plate?
            Something that could infect Alison where normal diseases/bugs couldn’t is a bit frightening.
            You are what you eat) Max’s final revenge was he recommended the food joint on her way out, knowing it was so bad that he hoped Alison and Feral would get food poisoning. Petty and futile, but its the small things sometimes.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This is the way the world ends.
            Not with a bang.
            But with an alliance between the New York Postal Service and Big Beau’s Burgers. (And liquor store)

          • Weatherheight

            My name is Weatherheight, and I approve this apocalypse.

        • Izo

          Honestly if a side effect of Max’s augmenting Feral was something that gets people sick and/or dead…. yeah, this would be a real consequence. I’d give a big mea culpa and have to take back my misgivings about this entire story arc.

          I don’t think I’ll be having to though.

  • TheLordofAwesome

    So two possibilities out of this that I can see:

    1. Alison is so wracked with guilt over her actions she makes the choice to put as much distance between herself and Max as possible, and throws out any idea of forcing him to do something against his will.

    2. Internalize her guilt, and justify her actions to herself to the point where she disregards any idea that what she did was morally wrong and continues to force Max to be her “one punch solution” to all the world’s problems.

  • Brenna Raney

    This is like the Omalas story. Max is the kid in the closet and Allison is the only person who knows about him, and now she has to choose whether to have a perfect society at his expense or walk away.

    • Mechwarrior

      Except that either way, she still has to live with the fact that she’s the one who stuck him there in the first place.

    • Stephanie

      There are definitely parallels, but I think it’s important to remember that the Omelas child was kept locked in a basement sobbing in its own filth for its entire life, whereas Max would just have to periodically throw some sparkly lights on people against his will.

    • cphoenix

      In Omelas, every adult knows that the kid in the basement exists. And that knowledge makes Omelas sweeter for them.

      This is not at all like that.

    • KatherineMW

      Yes and no. In Omelas it was one person enduring permanent torment. In Max’s case it’s one person being coerced into exerting occasion mild effort, and then going back to his life of complete luxury.

      • SJ

        Well, you know… that, and the PTSD that likely manifests as a result of being assaulted by an invincible demigod, who also told him that she would do it again whenever she felt like it, and that there was nothing to do to stop it.

        But sure, other than that, he gets to go back to his life… of looking over his shoulder, and jumping whenever a shadow is suddenly cast from overhead… or fighting off a panic attack whenever someone shouts out “Hey, look! It’s Mega Girl!” Or…

  • Walter

    It’s funny to see him calling for a nurse, just because it makes me think about what parts of a hospital Alison can actually use. Like, she is invincible, so needles are probably out. But she eats/drinks, so medicine is probably ok.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      She usually can’t be sick, though, so maybe for the time being her invulnerability is out, for whatever reason?

      • MrSing

        Nah, being psychologically shocked can cause the body to initiate the fight or flight system. Puking makes it easier to flee.
        It’s the same principle as why birds so often poop before they fly away when they are startled.
        She isn’t sick, her body is just reacting to stress.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          I can’t even say that what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense given that we’re working with a superwoman

          • bta

            She still (presumably) has the brain of a normal human. In a way, that’s a disadvantage, she can’t rely on good old instincts because her super strength is enough to make her physical and social interactions with the world different from the kind of experience these instincts are for.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t think the premise of a Strong Female Protagonist was thought this through to their inevitable logic conclusions, because it’s not necessarily interesting and I’m not sure I want or care to know how Alison’s menstrual cycle works.

            But okay. I’m swayed. She may be able to make herself sick with anxiety or guilt.
            I still think this is not what we’re seeing here.

          • bta

            I don’t know, that reading of the situation seemed obvious to me: she’s been shown to be distraught and exhausted for several pages, the doctor finally makes the remark that pushes her over the edge, it all comes out – literally.

            Seems to me that her power giving out at this precise moment would be more convoluted.

            Though if that was the case, Patrick would have a strong advantage over her – he could torment her psychologically to make her physically vulnerable.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I think it’s more egregious to expect us to simply accept that the poor child feels *soooo much* guilt over it she’s physically sick despite nothing in the world ever managing to put a dent in her health, than accept that something happened during the procedure and where it leads won’t be pretty.

          • Stephanie

            But that’s a normal response to intense guilt, it’s not a “sickness” any more than crying is. When I was like 12 I threw up because I realized I had RSVP’d yes to the birthday party of a soccer teammate and forgot to go.

          • Weatherheight

            Ouch….

          • bta

            Do we know that she doesn’t get sick, though? She’s unaffected by physical traumas beyond really sharp blades and said herself that she doesn’t suffer from extreme temperatures, but I don’t remember anything about her immune system. But it’s possible that I don’t remember a specific page.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Because it would be dumb if she could

          • Kifre

            I see no reason that Ali’s menstrual cycle wouldn’t work the same way everyone else’s does. So no need to think on it 😉

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I totally see plenty of reasons why!

          • Kifre

            Well now I’m just interested.

          • Weatherheight

            I’m ashamed to say that I never once thought about Alison’s menstrual cycle before now and now I am having a bit of a difficulty not thinking about it. I’m such a guy…

            ::droops his ears and waits for the heaps of shame::

          • palmvos

            are we seriously going to argue that a woman who is 20 years old and has not had sex lately is going to at this time have a bad period? seriously? I know periods suck and all that (academically) she should be just about done with puberty and have had a stable cycle long before this. no, unless somehow pregnancy is contagious now… (someone actually posted that theory and i like it if it is a bit silly)

          • Izo

            And just as you say that, a little mini Feral bursts out of Alison’s stomach and starts singing showtunes while wearing a hat and holding a cane. Hello my baby hello my darling hello my ragtime gal.

          • Loranna

            Upvote, because you’ve gone to plaid. ^_^

            Loranna

          • Izo
          • Kifre

            That wasn’t my intent, but there’s nothing that precludes her from having a bad one from time to time.

            Honestly, I mostly commented because it struck me as odd that the person who floated the pregnancy idea didn’t want to consider whether Alison had anomaly effected menstrual cycles!

          • MrSing

            Well, it’s not like her mind is super.
            The mind causes the body to puke in stressfull situations (not for all people of course, but enough that it is a recognised thing). So her puking isn’t that bizarre, regardless of her powers.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I still think this isn’t what we’re shown here, even if I’ll sighingly agree she could make herself psychosomatically sick.
            We’ll see.

          • Stephanie

            I’ve thrown up for no other reason than feeling guilty before.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You are not the world’s most resilient and strong human being.

          • Stephanie

            She’s resilient to external forces. We’ve seen her cry, so she’s not resilient to normal emotional responses.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’ve conceded to that in other comments. Okay. We’re making up rules anyway so why not.
            Still.
            I think having her sick out of sheer guilt is kinda cheap and heck, I would even take a “the guilt is making your invulnerability significantly decrease” metaphor (which is absolutely pretty much the same thing) instead.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t understand, it’s not making up rules. It’s just a normal emotional response. Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but a lot of people associate guilt with nausea.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I meant the rules regarding what she can gets sick of and what she can’t. It’s not like invulnerability makes biological sense. The webcomic establishes how it works and we are to accept that given the rules stay coherent.

            I go back to what Mary was saying to Alison, about not being even human because she never experienced fear, pain. The look on Alison’s face saying on it’s own that no matter what she can counterargue to that, Mary is not entirely wrong.

            The impact of that moment loses a bit if it turns out she did feel these vulnerabilities.

          • Stephanie

            I think Mary was referring to externally imposed fear and pain. She was describing the terror of living in a world where someone else can just decide they’re going to hurt you and then do it (yes, like Alison did to Max). That kind of vulnerability is something Alison really hasn’t been able to experience since her anomaly manifested.

            This is just guilt-induced nausea, a direct result of Alison’s own choices. Alison is still the one with the power here.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I know what Mary was referencing. If it makes more sense, I feel it is more poignant if Alison is *absolutely* invulnerable, even from the side effects of stress, anguish, etc. All the things that make us human.

          • Stephanie

            I guess that’s fair, poignancy is pretty subjective.

      • Walter

        She can’t be sick? I didn’t realize that. Interesting to think about why that is.

        I remember from when she broke her arm that her power is really TK on some level. She’s surrounded by a selectively permeable field. If I’m recalling that right, then maybe she never gets ill because her field filters out microorganisms and poisons.

        Thus, her guilt can make her vomit, while raw fish can’t. Similarly, her flight can break her arm, but a building falling on her is just brushed off.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Stop making me reconsider my assumptions this is so much more interesting if she actually is sick and we get to worry why

          • Walter

            It’s a bit ironic that if one of Alison’s organs failed, the only one that Feral’s donations couldn’t save would be her, as they couldn’t cut her open to make the transplant.

          • Sendaz

            Actually they could.
            Cleaver’s blades can’t cut her bone, but they sliced her meat just fine.
            Just be a bit harder to work around the ribcage and such, but it could be done.

            Though if this DOES turn out to be just a bad burger………..

          • Walter

            If he cooperates, sure. But is he saintly enough to aid the woman who is the only reason that he lives in jail? Like, if she is gone he will be free.

            I mean, Daniel seems nice enough to Alison, but she is stronger than him. Would he still be kind if he was the strongest? The “they are just small” line may have been partially referring to himself.

          • Walter

            To be clear, I think she’s fine. But if she isn’t, I wouldn’t bet that Daniel will help treat her.

            She is the only reason that he lives in jail. If she is gone, then next time he gets out there’s no one to recapture him. I’m not sure that he’s saintly enough to metaphorically build the cell around himself.

          • Stephanie

            He really admires her, though. He acknowledged seeing her as a genuinely good person despite his believing most people are garbage, and he openly worries for her well-being. I think he would help.

          • Walter

            There’s a concept that floats around consent discussions from time to time, that there are situations where no matter what someone says, you can’t assume that they mean it.

            Like, in OitnB, the guard and inmate relationship. No matter what she says, that isn’t cool, right? She can’t consent, because there’s no way to know if she is saying what she believes, or whatever will get her through the nightmarish situation she is in.

            Daniel is in a similar boat. Put yourself in his shoes. This lady beat you down and her goons locked you up. Now she comes by and wants to be nice, wants to feel better about herself.

            Choose:
            A: Go along with her, get whatever treats she brings. Maybe she’s reluctant to fight you next time. Maybe she talks to some of the little people, they let you out early?
            B: Tell her to go bleep herself. Get nothing. Rot in jail forever.

            If he says B, I believe him. No reason to lie. But if he says A… does he mean it? Are they really buds?

            Cleaver tried to hack her in half. That’s what he did when he was free and strong. Now he is in jail, and knows that she is stronger. Now he is pressing A very hard.

            A guy shows up in a shelter. Picks out one of the ladies with the black eyes. “Baby, I’m so sorry. I’ve changed, I need you.” he too is pressing A. He’s saying the thing that he has incentives to say. Do you believe him?

            Some Daniels say A because they have changed. Others say A because it is obviously the better thing for them to say.

          • Stephanie

            He seemed sincere, and he doesn’t strike me as a skilled enough manipulator to fake it to that extent. Playing along and being nice is one thing, openly and without prompting breaking down with guilt over the people you’ve hurt is another. But I won’t say it’s impossible.

          • Weatherheight

            I agree with you here – Daniel encounters someone who is his equal in brute power and who has no reason to treat him with dignity and respect (at least, from Daniel’s perspective), but that person does so anyway. Daniel is desperately in need of a friend and Alison is it – she’s the only person (from his perspective) that has the life experience to understand him. Daniel hasn’t left not because he has some great plan, but rather the opposite – he’s begun to reject his old life but hasn’t figured out a new one yet. I strongly suspect that he wants to make sure he never disappoints Alison (his only friend).

            I agree, however, that I could be way off base here. 😀

          • Izo

            I’m not so sure how much he’d admire her if he found out what she did, surprisingly enough. She admires her because he think she’s ‘too good for this world, and he’s scared for her because of that.’ I think he’d think all her talk about being good despite being able to do bad things was all a crock. Especially after he started realizing that all those people he killed did not deserve to die.

            Then again maybe he’d go back to being unrepentent.

          • Walter

            So, thinking about Alison being sick…

            Wouldn’t it be a brutal irony if she needed a transplant? The only person that Feral’s organs can’t save is the woman who can’t be cut open to put them in.

        • Izo

          And here we have an example of me agreeing.

    • Weatherheight

      “Reflexes got the better of me” – I Shot the Sheriff, Eric Clapton

  • Grayson Towler

    Hmm. Well, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop regarding Feral’s ability to supply the world’s needs for blood and organs in just 40 hours a month… but it seems that really is the straight-up deal.

    Much as I enjoy the comic, that particular development crosses my personal plausibility threshold. As many commenters pointed out, the numbers really, really don’t add up. Trying to picture what it would be like for the doctors to harvest that much biomass out of one person so quickly is actually extremely revolting… I’d be throwing up too!

    (Yes, I know that’s not why Alison is throwing up.)

    This Max/Feral plotline has asked me to swallow some pretty big givens. The biggest is the logistics of Feral’s donation program. The second biggest is that Alison could have known so precisely how Max’s powers would affect Feral… since Max doesn’t willingly use his powers, there can’t be much of a body of research on how they work even in the classified file.

    Not that it’ll make me stop reading, but I felt the need to comment. I love the moral dilemma being presented here, but it feels like some plausibility has been sacrificed to bring that dilemma into effect. Hope this is received by Brennan and Molly in the intended spirit of respect.

  • Giacomo Bandini

    “I ll think about it, doctor. Just wait until i find the way to kill myself. Done that, i ll come back to you.”

    Ok. I’ve thought a little about that. Basically, it boils down to two different moral question.

    1) Is it morally justified to enslave or even sacrifice single individuals for the greatest good(which is a different from the greater good, by the way)?

    2) is it acceptable to let Alison become a godlike figure, arbitrarily deciding what is the greatest good and what is not?

    For the first question, my personal answer is a big YES. Yes, the total gain for humanity trumps even the sacrifice of one single individual. in Watchmen

    SPOILER

    Ozymandias sacrificed the entire population of newyork to save humanity from NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST. Sarcrificed milions so save billions. Evil, but necessary.

    SPOILER

    2) On the other hand, the second question points out that the whole thing is out of control. If Alison should ever been corrupt from this kind of power, she would be unstoppable. The risk of a God-Empress are too big. Unless Alison find a way to stop herself.

    If i was in her shoes, i would have enslaved Max. But before doing that, i would have made sure that there was a way to stop me should i ever go rogue, or lost control, and i would have given these power into the hands of people who i could really trust, better than me in a moral way.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      The difference between the things we do and the things we hold up as moral guidelines

    • Mechwarrior

      I’d just like to point out that the ending of Watchmen strongly hinted that Ozymandias’s actions were about to be revealed, which would undo all the gains. And that “sacrificed for the greater good” is usually a matter of expediency rather than actual need: Ozymandias could probably have changed the world for the better without using such a morally compromising solution but it would have been more difficult and taken more effort on his part. He took the easy way out, then tried to justify it as “for the greater good.”

      • Izo
      • Arklyte

        Actually it was revealed that USA and USSR were ALREADY negotiating partial disarmament if I recall right. Not sure if that hint is in comics or in film though.

      • MrSing

        It is actually implied in a lot of interresting ways.

        First off, watches, watchmen, the doomsday clock, they are all symbols of a deterministic universe. Dr.Manhattan even seems to be correct in his assumption that the entire world is just a watch that is ticking towards whatever the laws of the world intend.
        In the comic itself it is often said that nuclear war is inevitable. That it is human nature to destroy ourselves and that Ozymandias has merely bought a temporary reprieve. The doomsday clock might have been set back a few minutes, but it will keep ticking forward, forever.

        Secondly, Ozymandias idolises Alexander the Great. A man who conquered a large part of the world. But at the end of Alexender’s life it all fell apart. Will the peave last without Ozymandias’ guidance?

        Next, there is the Gordion knot. Ozymandias praises Alexander for cutting the knot “lateral thinking, generations ahead of his time”. But he fail to mention that Alexander BROKE the knot to solve it. In taking a short cut he has forever broken the knot itself.

        Ozymandias’ name is also significant. From the poem that states that “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.” There is nothing left of the poem’s Ozymandias’ works, but the desert and a broken statue. The comic’s Ozymandias’ work is maybe implied to also be for nothing in the future?

        Another interesting mirror is “Tales from the Black Freighter”. The character in that book goes crazy trying to prevent the Black Freighter from reaching and sacking his hometown. He is so driven to despair that he uses the dead bodies of his crew to build a boat to go and stop them (much like how Ozymandias uses the dead to unite the world in peace). But in the end the character in the Black Freighter kills two innocent persons and beats his wife to death because his grief has caused him to see evil everywhere. All his efforts only served to destroy what he had sought to protect. Ozymandias makes a reference that he dreams that he is “swimming to a …” heavily implied to be the Black Freighter that the character swims to towards the end.

        Not to mention that Dr.Manhattan implies in his last conversation with Ozymandias, when Ozy tries to ask Dr.Manhattan to say that it all worked out in the end. Manhattan says “In the end? Nothing ever ends.” Again implying that the sacrifice only gave temporary reprieve.

        A pet theory of mine is that the sacrifice of Bubastis is also symbolical. Ozymandias sacrifices Bubastis to trap Dr.Manhattan in the I.F. machine to stop or destroy Dr.Manhattan. Dr.Manhattan is basically the cause of the Cold War lingering on for so long in the Watchmen universe, when it didn’t in our world. Dr.Manhattan also seems as impossible to stop as the nuclear holocaust. He succeeds, but after a few seconds Dr.Manhattan is back, making the sacrifice of Bubastis effectively pointless.

        (I like Watchmen a lot.)

        • Weatherheight

          Alan Moore also did an interview shortly after the final comic came out and said, essentially, Ozymandias’ actions were immoral actions on every level possible that nevertheless had the potential to have a positive outcome in the long term. He was quite deliberately calling into question the comic trope of violence solving problems while at the same time undercutting the idea that the means redeems the ends.

          The point about Bubastis has resonance, although I think it was intended to demonstrate just how far Ozymandias had gone down the path of madness. He was visibly upset about a genetically engineered pet and hesitated for a moment, nearly destroying everything he had worked towards for years. Then he chooses, reluctantly, to destroy her.

          And he doesn’t appear to give a second thought to all those people in NYC he’s going to sacrifice; indeed, he seems to demonstrate that the house pet has more value than all of those people combined.

          Huge fan of Alan Moore, even though his assumption that every superhero is a a closeted sexual deviant is a bit grating. 😀

      • Giacomo Bandini

        I say no to both your points.
        The end of watchmen is much more nuanced than that. The ending of watchmen is that a scandalistic journal with little credibility will publish the maybe falsificated journal of a notorious psychopathic vigilante with the incredible claim that the alien invasion who claimed millions of life was staged. What are the chance that this is going to be belived?
        Alan Moore would not being the genius he is if all the story boiled down to “bad action get discovered and punished”.
        And secondly…. are you saying that building an alien, inventing teletrasport, create tachions, and trying to kill a living god is “the easy way out?”

        • Sendaz

          >And secondly…. are you saying that building an alien, inventing teletrasport, create tachions, and trying to kill a living god is “the easy way out?”

          Actually that is pretty much the very definition of deus ex machina 😛

          • Giacomo Bandini

            No, no. This was the villain’s (from the story prospective, not in the moral sense) plan. A deux ex Machina is a different thing.

        • Mechwarrior

          It wasn’t “bad action gets discovered and punished,” it’s that Ozymandias is doomed to failure. Heck, look at his freaking name; the poem it’s from is all about the inevitable decline of and failure of the greatest of men. The point is that everything he’s done, everything he thinks he’s accomplished, all the sacrifices he made, they’re all going to turn out pointless.

          And yes, inventing a giant space flea from nowhere to distract the two nuclear superpowers that are about to come to blows is actually taking the easy way out instead of trying to do something with his power and influence that’s based on getting the two sides to avoid conflict through improving relations between them or otherwise figuring out something that would have a foundation not built on lies.

    • Izo

      “For the first question, my personal answer is a big YES. Yes, the total gain for humanity trumps even the sacrifice of one single individual. in Watchmen”

      Actually, in Watchmen, it’s implied that it all unravels afterwards because of Rorschach’s Journal making what REALLY happened known to the world.

      “If i was in her shoes, i would have enslaved Max.”
      I’m really happy you’re not in a position of power then…

      “But before doing that, i would have made sure that there was a way to stop me should i ever go rogue, or lost control, and i would have given these power into the hands of people who i could really trust, better than me in a moral way.”

      You’ve already gone rogue once you took that first step.

      • Giacomo Bandini

        As i’ve answered to mechwarrior, the ending is much more open than this. Moore makes sure to put a lot of unpredictible factors in the situation: the newspaer has little credibility, Rorshack is a psicotic vigilante with no public respect, there is no proof of the autenticity of the journal, and there is no factual proof for anything it says.

        I don’t think that the ending wanted to point at future unraveling of the truth, but rather make a satirical point on how the truth, in the watchmen universe – and probably our own – would be only knowed from the conspirationist readers of disqualified newspaper.

        Actually you are making the point for me; a goverment, a collective decision body, can make mistakes far greater than any single individual; i’ll say more, a goverment MUST do some evil acts, it’s in his very nature. A goverment has not an intrinsec power, and before doing anything, good or bad, it must do what is necessary to enforce his own power. a goverment who does not worry about his continuation do not survive long.
        But a super powered individual would not have any of this restraint, and he will have respond only to his coscience. Ironically, this individual can potentially be much more generousr of any possible goverment.
        Hitler did not get in power and then decided to kill the jews: the hate of the jews he was spreading was (one of) the reason(s) he got in power. And paradoxically, if in place of the reich we had a superpowered hitler, Shoa would have nevere happened: because no matter how evil an individual could be, there is no way that a single person could kill six millions people on his own.

        And no, i don’t belive that you go roguewhen you simply violate a moral code. This kind of slippery slope is only for comics books.

        • Izo

          “I don’t think that the ending wanted to point at future unraveling of the truth, but rather make a satirical point on how the truth, in the watchmen universe – and probably our own – would be only knowed from the conspirationist readers of disqualified newspaper.”

          I know in today’s politic world of scandals that arent affecting either candidate, no matter how much they spew something racist, or cause someone’s murder, or hide/destroy emails, or perjure themselves, or scam people in a university fraud case, or make sexist remarks, or cause deaths of an ambassador and soldiers and blame it on an youtube video, or anything else, it’s easy to think that any truth that comes out in the public is going to be ignored as conspiracy theories. But for most of politics, and especially for the period of Watchmen, scandals actually had repercussions. 🙂

          Rorschach’s journal being published is foreshadowed to ruin Ozymandias’s plan even after Rorshach’s murder by Dr. Manhattan, as stated by both Ozy and Manhattan when they said how ‘if the truth got out, everything Ozy had done would have been for nothing.’

          “Actually you are making the point for me; a goverment, a collective decision body, can make mistakes far greater than any single individual;”

          In part, this is true. But only when making decisions for that individual. An individual is able to make decisions for THEMSELVES better than a government can, for the most part. However, that also goes for individuals who think they can make decisions for other individuals. Put Alison in the role of a one-person government, and you’d have the same problem. And now you have Libertarianism in a nutshell.

          “i’ll say more, a goverment MUST do some evil acts, it’s in his very nature.”
          No, a government is supposed to do good acts, not evil ones, as part of its nature. A government sometimes slips into doing evil acts in the attempt to do good though. Which is why strict limitations need to be placed on government to keep it from getting too powerful and trampling on individuals. So that when it does too many evil acts, it can be held accountable and, if need be, changed. And again, we have Libertarianism in a nutshell.

          “A goverment has not an intrinsec power, and before doing anything, good or bad, it must do what is necessary to enforce his own power. a goverment who does not worry about his continuation do not survive long.”

          Unless you live in a republic, in which case the government’s first duty is not supposed to be to itself, it’s to its people. That’s why republics like the United States formed. Because previous government archetypes were inherently flawed in the exact way you’re describing. And it’s so easy for even a republic to slip back into that way of thinking.

          “And no, i don’t belive that you go roguewhen you simply violate a moral code. This kind of slippery slope is only for comics books.”

          1) Are we reading non-fiction right now? 🙂
          2) Even in real life, once someone starts committing crimes, especially violent ones, it becomes easier and easier each time. The excuses start piling up. It’s obviously exaggerated in comic books and webcomics, but I think you understand what I was getting at.

  • JohnTomato

    Insufficient data upon which I could form an opinion.

    We’ll see where this goes.

  • Arklyte

    Ahh, so Max’s powers HAVE drawbacks? Or was it just nerves that got over Allison(I think, I’ve finally memorized this damned name!)
    Wonder how much “buffing” will require for someone whose only excuse from saving the world in their own words is a bunch of US patents in hands of corporation with terrorist ties which will result in her gaining neither fame nor wealth from them and… well, that’s basically all there is actually. To take any action on that person in case of leak, one would need to prove it first if I recall it right.
    Sources of salt? Trying to create true sentient selfaware AI as a servant above all and expecting it to be happy about it and presence ofart in workshops somehow reminding me of Bioshock… or she’s simply a true objectivist and I don’t get it?

    • Stephanie

      Signs point to her throwing up because she feels guilty.

      • Sendaz

        Runners up for Why Alison is tossing cookies are:
        #4 Greasy, greasy burgers. Okay if you got regeneration, not so hot for normal tummies.
        #3 The doc is an unregistered and unsuspecting biodynamic whose power is to induce vomiting. It’s why he does admin desk work mostly nowadays.
        and
        #2 Pregnancy, Feralison shippers rejoice!

  • KatherineMW

    This makes me really frustrated that we din’t know the cause of biodynamism and its different forms. We know it’s not genetic; if it was, or if people knew how it works, there would be the potential to (consensually) modify people to give them specific powers. Out of the 7 billion people in the world, there would certainly be someone who would be willing to get the same powers as Max and use them to help others.

    Absent that…I’m remembering Patrick’s Book 3 comment that “if you know everything about a person and still can’t make them do what you want, it says more about you than the person you’re trying to control”. Perhaps the lesser evil here is for Allison to ask Patrick if there’s some motivation she hasn’t thought of that could get Max to help voluntarily. Perhaps wanting her to do so is why Patrick sent her that information in the first place.

    • Stephanie

      “Out of the 7 billion people in the world, there would certainly be someone who would be willing to get the same powers as Max and use them to help others.”

      Can confirm that I would trade a limb for that opportunity.

      • Izo

        Much as I’m sure you’re a very nice person in RL, in the hypothetical situation of you having powers, I’d be much more comfortable with you having Max’s powers than Alison’s powers 🙂

    • Weatherheight

      Well, I seem to recall Dr. Rosenblum saying that there is a genetic component but that it’s very complicated, implying it’s not a single gene but rather a large and complex constellation of genes that varies from anomaly to anomaly (all TK anomalies will involved a dozen or more genes in common, for example, but may also be affected by other genes in the sequencing), but I may be misremembering.

      I also seem to recall an implication that a person could be tested – but that may have been a completely different test than a genetic test.

    • palmvos

      “This makes me really frustrated that we din’t know the cause of biodynamism and its different forms. We know it’s not genetic; if it was, or if people knew how it works, there would be the potential to (consensually) modify people to give them specific powers.”
      actually- the comic is confusing on this point. there IS a genetic test. that was part of the story about the Innates- lisa bradley (paladin) for example tests positive. all the kids (that they could test) were tested in those camps. yet no new bios occur. its important to remember that it was children in utero who were given powers during the storm. so at the very least its two things- you need a gene and it needs to be externally activated.
      also, gene therapy AFAIK is still very experimental. without an understanding of operation and activation of the genes there would be no way to implant them into willing or unwilling subjects. (and yes there are people that crazy.)

      • SJ

        What is the x-factor in biodynamism, I wonder? We know that every dynamorph was in utero during the storm, but that not everyone who was in utero during the storm ended up developing biodynamism. Was the particular gestational phase the common link? Was there some other genetic marker that all those kids happened to have, which the radiation from the storm mutated into what caused the dynamorphs?

        Like, imagine if all of the fetuses in the world today that had the markers for sickle cell were exposed to some extraterrestrial form of radiation while at a specific phase of gestation and, instead of being born with sickle cell, those kids were all born with superpowers? Maybe that’s what happened?

  • MartynW

    Ethics is a complex issue.

    Alison is in a state now where she essentially violated someone’s rights for the “greater good.” This is a slope that’s so slippery it might as well be covered in ice. However, she still is acknowledging that she did something wrong, and accepting the responsibility and the burden of it.

    The real problems in human society start when people start convincing themselves that violating someone’s rights for the “greater good” is actually a virtue.

    • Stephanie

      I think it’s important to remember that the “greater good” is not just an abstract, especially in this case. It’s easy for statistical numbing to blunt the impact, but there’s a human element that’s being overlooked.

      There is a person out there somewhere slowly dying of organ failure. Maybe they’re someone’s husband, someone’s mother, someone’s child. They had hopes and dreams about their future just like you do, little joys and hobbies just like you do. All of that has been ripped away from them. That whole life they imagined for themselves is replaced by the extended agony of lying in bed while their body falls apart, poked and prodded with needles, maybe no longer even able to eat, seeing the people they love sobbing over what’s become of them. Like the student in Gurwara’s class who had no white token to put down, they have no choice in the matter–without Alison, Max, and Feral’s intervention, they wither away in front of their loved ones until they die.

      Now multiple that by 22 people every single day. In our world, that’s how many people die waiting for transplants in the United States alone.

      Alison didn’t just violate Max’s rights for some nebulous greater good. She violated his rights for the sake of every single one of those people, all of whom would otherwise have endured terrible suffering, and none of whom had the choice to survive until now.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I’m going to ask the question directly to you. Would you have felt the same had Alison imposed Tara to undergo constant surgery for absolutely the same result?

        • Stephanie

          Yes. But I don’t think that would have been practical, since it requires the cooperation of so many more entities than Alison is capable of coercing on her own.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well, Alison can kill them all and their children, it’s not like coercing is very hard once she gets on with it no matter the number.

          • Stephanie

            The more people involved, the harder it gets and the more ways the people you’re pissing off can find to undermine you. Something on that scale would be impossible to do secretly, so now the whole world is pissed.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I kind of find it fascinating that you’re giving the thumbs up to “most efficient way to control the world: a guide”

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think Alison is in a position to control the world. She could probably get there if she really set her heart on it and spent years cautiously maneuvering and maybe had the assistance of someone more skilled in that sort of thing, but trying to do it all in one go would be biting off more than she could chew.

      • Cokely

        To speak more clearly:

        There’s an article I used to use when working with students in rhetorical analyses, and unfortunately the name of the author escapes me, but it was an early example of an “In Defense of Torture” argument from the 1980s. It was an interesting piece to work with in regards to discussing logical fallacies (and I’m going to avoid the obvious ones here) because of the method the author used to get the reader to agree to using torture on increasingly smaller scales.

        First, the author described the standard ticking time-bomb scenario and asked the reader if they’d torture, then followed with “If you agreed with me, then you agree that torture is permissible. You must now agree that it is permissible in smaller cases,” moving on to a discussion of a plane hijacking, and then, at last, asking whether or not the torture of a person was acceptable for the sake of rescuing a kidnapped baby.

        That last example was the interesting one, because it was the first time the author had invoked the moral character of the person being rescued. In past examples, the quality of the persons saved didn’t matter as much as the quantity. But of course invoking the moral character of the people saved can change that math. If the plane hijacked were a prison plan full of murderers and rapists, suddenly students who had advocated for torture were less inclined to agree, as they were for any instance of the final example that wasn anything less than a purely innocent person like a baby.

        Likewise, the trolley problem relies on the viewer believing the people on the tracks don’t somehow deserve to be there. Remove “Five people on one track and one on another” and replace it with “five and one child molestors” and suddenly nobody wants to flip the lever unless it can somehow derail the train and take out all six.

        My point in this is that if you are going to invoke the moral character of the persons saved by Alison’s actions, you should also consider the reverse. There are now genuinely awful people who the world would be better off without, dying of organ failure, and perhaps not guilty of a crime that would also lead to their removal from society. These people now, in a post-organ-scarcity environment, have a new lease on life.

        You can, of course, argue that bad people shouldn’t get access to these miracle organs, but that’s an entirely thorny new problem, isn’t it.

        • Stephanie

          I don’t believe I invoked the moral character of the people Alison is saving. I invoked their humanity, not their character. People who are not nice still have names, connections with other people, hopes and dreams, life plans, hobbies, etc, and are capable of immense suffering.

          Regardless, I don’t think the possibility that some bad people will be among the saved would justify withholding salvation from everyone else.

          It’s similar to how I look at welfare programs. I don’t believe in making all the recipients jump through a bunch of hoops to prove that they “really” need it, because those barriers make it harder for people in genuine need of help to access it. I am okay with a few people taking advantage of the system, if that’s the price of making it accessible to everyone who needs it.

          I would still flip the lever and save the five if one of them was a child molester. I can’t justify allowing 4 innocent people to die just to kill him. After he’s untied, he can go through the judicial process like everyone else.

          Edit: Wait, you mean everyone tied to the tracks is a child molester. I think I’d still save the five, but I don’t think that’s really comparable to Alison’s thing unless there’s some really strong correlation between “needing a transplant” and “being an awful person” that I’m unaware of.

          • Cokely

            “Better that a hundred guilty people survive organ failure than one innocent person die of it.” An odd play on the standard quote.

            They are indeed people of great humanity, which is exactly why they are capable of great suffering. I wouldn’t argue that humanity is value-positive, because that requires pretending all the awful bits are somehow inhuman.

            Setting aside the judicial process (since the comic’s view of it is clearly that is an untrustworthy tool that only aids the powerful, e.g.), what do you see in the intrinsic value of life such that your goal is to increase it as greatly as possible? This is clear here and in the other comment about anti-aging above – you seem to believe that if the net result increases quantity of extant life, the net result should be pursued, and forced if necessary. What leads you to that conclusion?

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think I said a hundred guilty people to one innocent person. I have a more favorable view of humans than that. I have no reason to expect that the overwhelming majority of transplant recipients would be horrible people.

            The point of invoking the humanity of the people who will die wasn’t to argue that humanity is value-positive, but to promote an empathetic perspective on the enormous amount of suffering that Alison’s actions will alleviate, in contrast to handwaving it as “the greater good.”

            I don’t really want to get into a tangent about the “is immortality desirable” thing. Suffice to say that to me it’s self-evident that the state of being alive is intrinsically valuable. The organ thing, however, is more about alleviating suffering than “increasing quantity of extant life;” if I really just wanted more people to exist, I’d be opposed to contraception.

          • Cokely

            You’re right, you didn’t say a hundred. I misquoted Blackstone’s formulation, my apologies. It should be ten. Is that a more appropriate number?

            In response to the edit: Yes, all six victims being horrible is a farcical hypothetical, but in the story leading up to this, so were all of the hypotheticals arguing that torture was appropriate. Really, the concept of the comic that’s been leading to weeks of arguments is farcical. The point was that by emphasizing quantity of life, the argument convinced readers to overlook quality of life until it came time to argue that torture to save only one person was acceptable. At that point moral character took on a very sharp focus in the piece.

            I understand the need to invoke an empathetic perspective, but I am not sure why one should privilege empathy for those suffering because a bad person is dying over empathy for those whose suffering will be alleviated when a bad person dies. Why is the former’s suffering greater than the suffering of the latter?

            And while I agree with you about the intrinsic value of being alive, I think I’d argue with you about the precise value of being alive, and that this value can be easily eclipsed by a number of different factors, and the character and actions of the living are amongst them. Further, “alleviating suffering” is not necessarily something achieved by continued survival and recovery – right-to-die movements would argue that that they are working to alleviate suffering, for example.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think the ratio of “guilty” transplant recipients to “innocent” transplant recipients is 10 to 1, either. To be clear, there are very few people so horrible that I would actually believe they didn’t deserve to live.

            “The point was that by emphasizing quantity of life, the argument convinced readers to overlook quality of life”

            You don’t think people who are dying of organ failure take a serious hit to their quality of life? How about the people who grieve for them when they die, is that not a quality of life issue?

            “but I am not sure why one should privilege empathy for those suffering because a bad person is dying over empathy for those whose suffering will be alleviated when a bad person dies.”

            That’s not what I said. The point is to have empathy for people in general who are dying of organ failure, which may include–but is not limited to–some fraction of genuinely bad people. I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that the small number of bad people saved would be able to commit enough harm to even approach, much less outweigh, the good accomplished by making transplants available to everyone.

            “right-to-die movements would argue that that they are working to alleviate suffering, for example”

            Yes, and I believe in the right to die. However, enabling people to commit suicide doesn’t alleviate the suffering of the loved ones who will grieve their loss, and it still results in the person being denied a full life. Absolutely allow people to choose suicide when there’s no better option, but it’s even more important to take steps toward a world where death is no longer the best option for anyone.

          • Cokely

            I can conceive of some scenarios in which a post-organ-scarcity society with completely-to-mostly unregulated access could cause more harm than heal, but given that your view is “extraordinarily unlikely” rather than impossible, there’s not much point in articulating them. I guess I’d put it to the more direct question of what kind of regulations, if any, you would put on access to organs in this post-scarcity environment.

            As for “empathy in general,” as a stance it can only go so far – like life, it has value, but that value is outweighed for me by other factors. I’m not going to ask for an exact mathematical equation unless you are far more of an extreme Benthamite than I had originally supposed, but if you have even some vague hierarchy regarding the value of life that would be helpful here.

          • Stephanie

            Probably no regulations. Even criminals in prison are entitled to medical care.

            I think that the lives of people who accomplish more good than harm over the course of their lives are more valuable than other lives, but I also think that it’s usually too difficult to distinguish one type of person from the other, so it’s only reasonable to take that factor into account in really extreme situations. Like I’d be willing to sacrifice many lives to preserve Feral’s life, for obvious reasons.

  • Arkone Axon

    It just occurred to me while looking through the comments on this page what’s really bugging me about all this. (And guess what? It almost – ALMOST – validates Ayn Rand. So congratulations to all the “Max deserves worse and Allison is blameless” people, you just convinced me that the idiot train fanfic writer with the lifelong crush on a child murderer had a point)

    What I’m about to say is important for real world self defense, this is not something open to debate because it’s something that instructors emphasize when teaching how to defend against assault. No one is ever the villain in their own minds. Everyone who does something morally wrong has first rationalized it and justified it in their own heads. Which is why it’s important to understand for self defense – when a mugger attacks you, they have already had some time to think about it and justify it. By the time the attack comes, the mugger has convinced themselves that YOU are the real bad guy, that society (and especially the rich, entitled BASTARD that YOU are, you miserable jerk!!) has stolen from him, robbed him, and he’s taking it back! …At which point the mugging occurs, and you have to train yourself to respond to a sudden and generally VICIOUS assault coming from someone who thinks you’re the bad guy and is prepared to inflict crippling or lethal damage in order to “take back what belongs to them.” (So when I say “it’s not open to debate,” I mean I’m talking about actual facts used in developing real world responses to sudden surprise assaults; the need to suddenly shift into a proper mindset and react to the actions of someone who is already very much in a violent mindset)

    And… by saying that Max is the bad guy here, that he should have done yadda yadda… this becomes a gang mugging. I’ve heard at least one commenter here speak of loved ones who have needed organ transplants. Well, Max has what you want. And by making it into a collective “he has what we want but he isn’t rushing to share! TAKE IT BY FORCE!” you’re just making it into a group assault. So from a meta perspective, every single person here claiming that Alison was justified in forcing Max to act against his will, traumatizing him, terrorizing him, etc, is engaging in a sort of gang mugging. (ditto the rush to dismiss what happened as “just a bit of arm twist