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  • Roman Snow

    Ah ha, my read of the situation was correct.

    • Same here-! Well, plus or minus a long smooch before the answer ;D

  • Kid Chaos

    Don’t go crazy, dude; she’s on the rebound, y’know. 😜

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Tune in next year for The Flame of the Jaedic System, future expansion into the Zulie: Moral Imperialist cinematic universe.

  • Markus

    “I wanna like you, but every time I do it seems like they end up being a high functioning sociopath and I have to struggle to not crush their body into a fine pulp.”

    • Dean

      “It’s cool, I’m not that high-functioning. “

      • Hawthorne

        Hahaha…oh man, I am stealing this forever. XD

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      So, it’s going to be awkward but I’m going to ask you to consider not using “high functioning sociopath” as a punchline.

      I mean it’s terrible of me to say, I did it too (with an excuse)
      But these are actual people facing terrible difficulties who have the same hopes and dreams as everybody. To one day rule the world.
      And really, what’s more human?

      • Markus

        This actually touches on a question with regards to disabilities that really fucks me up in my own life. I have ADHD, like boatloads of it, like 1st percentile (that’s the bad one, as in 99% of people are better than me) for attentiveness. What’s weird though is that ADHD behaves for the most part pretty similar to an exaggerated version of a neurotypical trait.

        It seems obvious that you can’t really moralize the trait itself. Being inattentive in any amount isn’t any more wrong than having or not having a leg in any amount would be. That said, can you moralize the result? Does being aware of disability make one more responsible for it, or are we still in the bizzaro world of determinism based on disability? If I show up late for something now am I more responsible for it because I’m aware of how bad my time management skills are, or are we just expected to handwave my failings away as my ADHD ruling that element of my life to some extent.

        Taking this to Pat and Max, how much can we even blame them for their sociopathic actions? Is the fact that they enable themselves by setting up elaborate self-justification schemes proof that they’re at least somewhat aware of their own weaknesses (and therefore more culpable when they don’t try and shore up those weaknesses), or proof that their disabilities are coopting more mental infrastructure and taking even more control out of their actions?

        • Chani

          The way I look at it: your actions are your responsibility, even if they’re not your fault. Like, maybe you stepped on someone’s toes because you’re blind and couldn’t have seen them, but you still get off their toes and apologise. The more it costs to be late for something, the more time and spoons I spend on setting up alarms, checklists etc. to increase my odds of being not-late. It’s much better than having jerkbrain throw emotional abuse at me until I’m too stressed out to think about anything besides don’t-be-late. 🙂

          PS: the latest XKCD seems surprisingly relevant to this comic. http://xkcd.com/1768/

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            Arguing that someone must be culpable or non-culpable risks a false dichotomy. Moral culpability is not a binary property; you can have diminished-yet-non-zero culpability to the extent that your control over yourself is diminished. There are various ways of viewing this, but here’s one:

            My theology defines anger as an involuntary and sometimes righteous reaction to outside stimuli. It is, therefore, morally neutral. How you act on that anger is generally voluntary and therefore has a moral value. However, it’s possible for emotions to be very overwhelming. The amount of control you have when you’re slightly angry versus the amount that you have when you’re very angry can be different. You are only responsible for the degree of control that you failed to exert.

            Flipping that around, my theology defines hatred as a voluntary emotional and mental state that nurtures anger. While hatred of some abstract evil might be fine, hatred of a person is not. Exerting your emotional and mental control to nurture anger against someone and then plan and take an action based on that is a greater evil than giving in to an involuntary anger and acting on instinct. Deliberately stoking anger makes you responsible for the results, no matter how little control you have down the line, because you’re still responsible for the earlier choice.

          • Better to come up with a solution that works with the disability, rather than force the disability to conform to the tyranny of the majority. When I was struggling with the start time for my job we made my start times more flexible. That was actually better for both myself and Evil Aerospace as I arrived at work in less pain and therefore got more done.

            WRT actions and responsibility, I don’t entirely agree.There’s a fairly good example to be had with dyslexia (which is in the same group of disabilities as ADHD). It’s not unreasonable to expect someone with dyslexia to run a spellchecker through their work, but it would be unreasonable to expect them to pick the right correction in every case, and actually counterproductive to try and force them to go through the document time and again. There’s an even clearer example of counter-productive with my own dyspraxia, my handwriting is barely legible at best, trying to force me to write more clearly actually makes it worse, until my hand siezes up entirely. The solution is to accept I can’t write clearly and allow me to use a wordprocessor.

        • Olivier Faure

          My gut usually says “You can blame people (and be blamed) for everything they do wrong that they could have done better, whether or not they were aware that doing better was possible”. If you slit someone’s throat because you mistakenly thought they were a rapist, well, you can definitely be blamed for that; because “I really really thought he deserved it” doesn’t exactly bring him back to life. “I really thought he deserved it, and it didn’t occur to me to double-check” isn’t any better (which is why I’m very wary of people being angry and violent and hateful in the name of their cause).

          Same thing with meetings. If you have an appointment, you’re setting up an expectation and leading people to spend time and effort to meet with you. If you don’t show up, the fact that showing up is really, really hard for you doesn’t change that you wasted their time because you made promises you weren’t expecting to hold.

        • Crow

          My thoughts on things like this always circle around the fact that effect is more important to me than cause. If a child (A) beats up another child (B) in a fit of rage because they took their toy, the effect is a broken nose. Now if someone says “Well, Child A can’t help it. They have Issue X”, that just doesn’t resonate with me. I understand that Child A may have a hard life and needs to do more work to fit in, but Issue X or not, that nose is still broken. I see that broken nose, and understanding why Child A had an outburst doesn’t absolve them of the blame or responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

          I guess that’s a privileged perspective from someone who has never had Issue X, but that’s how I feel about it.

          • Lucy

            Here’s the thing: there are short-term and long-term solutions to these problems. In the short term, Child B has a broken nose. Someone has to fix his nose, and pay for it, and comfort him; Child A needs to learn (in an age-appropriate way) that violence isn’t an appropriate response to [whatever] and that violent actions have consequences. In this case, an adult will have to step-in to solve both children’s needs.

            However, if, long-term, we want Child A to never act out violently again, we (I guess “we” are the teachers and parents) need to figure out what Issue X is. Is Issue X a violent role model? Then maybe a possible solution is he is taken to live with an aunt or uncle who are non-violent people. Is Issue X a mental illness? Maybe a solution is to look into treatment options (therapy, meds, diet, etc). Is Issue X poor verbal communication skills? Maybe he needs a speech tutor.

            So, basically, figuring out Issue X is really useful if you want to solve a behavior problem long term. Otherwise you’re just going to keep putting band-aids on or cleaning up Child A’s mess until he escalates to dangerous levels.

          • Crow

            ‘Issue X’ was meant to be a stand-in to not trigger anyone who deals with a applicable plight. My explaining this is self-defeating, but I was using ‘Issue X’ instead of, let’s say, Asperger syndrome, because I don’t want anyone to feel singled out.

            But my point wasn’t that Child A wasn’t being disciplined, rather that (at least in my life) I’ve seen a lot of free passes given. Where that broken nose isn’t *really* his fault because of Issue X. That to me isn’t acceptable. Issue X is terrible, and I understand it isn’t easy, but Child A needs to understand that THEY, not their issue, are responsible. Understanding accountability is something I saw glazed over far too often with “Issue X” children when I was growing up.

          • Lucy

            Ah! I can see how that is quite different. See, bipolar runs in my extended family, and there is a huge difference between someone whose bipolar is being treated versus someone who excuses it. See, excusing Iifut doesn’t work, but neither does ignoring it.

            But, I’m unsure, if someone had Aspergers and they lashed out violently, what a responsible third party would do in that situation.

            Anyway, overall I agree with you; it shouldn’t be an excuse to do nothing.

          • If someone with an AS condition is having a meltdown, they’re having it for a reason. Find the reason. Blame the reason.

            “it shouldn’t be an excuse to do nothing. ”

            There are tools that can help people cope with being overwhelmed and driven into a meltdown, but those tools may not be accessible to young children. Do we blame them for that? There’s a parallel in learning to count. The ability to count abstractly kicks in somewhere between 3 and 5, if you have a class of 4yos, some will be able to do it, some won’t. Do you blame the kids whose brains aren’t yet capable of abstraction, or acknowledge you’re asking more of them than can reasonably be expected, Similarly for AS.

          • Lucy

            Ah, let me rephrase, it shouldn’t be an excuse for *adults* (parents and teachers) to do nothing.

            Also, to me, there’s a huge difference between a meltdown involving, like, screaming, panicking, repetitive movements, w/e… and straight-up punching someone. That, like, that can’t happen. That’s unacceptable. If someone physically harms my kid, I want to know that will NEVER happen again.

            I mean, I don’t know if you have kids, but to me…I mean, my kid getting physically assaulted at school, or at the park, somewhere that is supposed to be safe? It’s a nightmare. Like you say, “find the reason, blame the reason.” Okay, but then what? If the reason is an unfixable problem, ostensibly, that doesn’t mean I’m going to put my kid in harms way again.

            If the problem (which is violent in Crow’s example, literally punching another student) cannot be solved with therapy or meds or whatever other options are out there, then it’s on Child A’s parent to homeschool, or something.

            Actually, homeschool is probably a great compromise, because Parents can completely control the environment so it’s best for Child A, and no other child will risk facing violent retribution for, in Crow’s words, “tak[ing] another kid’s toy” or some similar childish impulse.

            I have a lot of friends who were homeschooled because they had special issues, as was I myself in second and sixth grades. Homeschooling protects kids from bullying, lets kids learn at their own pace, and might even help them grow away from violent, impulsive responses to stress.

            On another note: you keep using the term meltdown, and I wonder if you and Crow mean the same thing? Is a meltdown biting / hitting / being cruel or is it crying / screaming / being scared?

            Because, for the latter? I think “normal” people are assholes about panic attacks, crying, screaming fits, etc. Those are, admittedly, disruptive to class or w/e, but, you know, it’s cool to just usher the other kids away and let the aide help. Or, if it’s an adult in a public place, avoid them and maybe talk to the store manager or closest librarian and give them a heads up.

            Like, crying / screaming / etc is not gonna harm anybody.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            When Crow and I get into hypotheticals about broken vases or damaged cars, we start talking about financial liability in addition to moral culpability. I think there’s a reasonable and semi-separate question of who has what responsibility to do what to fix harms that have happened and prevent future harms.

            To take your hypothetical, if Child A had no control over their actions (or exerted all of their control to avoid it but it happened anyway), and your kid split their lip and needed a couple of stitches, would you sue Child A for your child’s healthcare costs? Would you sue Child A’s parents if they were clearly trying their best but Child A got away from them at the park and they couldn’t catch up in time? Is that a reasonable liability to attach to Child A or their parents if you believe that they weren’t morally culpable?

            Those aren’t rhetorical questions; I don’t entirely have an answer for this.

          • Lucy

            I’m not sure if I would sue. But maybe I would? If the stitches involved an ER visit, that could cost up to $1000 here. Maybe it’s like cars, like my health insurance company would contact their company. I’m not sure.

            I guess I probably would at least ask the parents to cover medical costs. To give a way more stupid example, when my brother and his friends were teens, they played a dare-kind-of game often. Once, at my parents’ house, one dude dared another dude to hit him (the darer) with his car at 5mph while he (the darer) wore some kind of cosplay armor. So they did, and they *filmed* it, and lo and behold, cosplay armor doesn’t actually protect squat and the darer got a broken rib.

            So who’s at fault? Uh, obviously the darer. But the parents of the kid who drove the car, and my parents (my brother filmed the thing) both immediately offered to pay for the medical costs, because they felt guilty for any part they played in it (“how did I raise my son to be such a dumbass?” were my mom’s words, I think). Also, everyone was grounded.

            All three dudes, incidentally, have some kind of disorder. ADHD, Impulse Control Disorder, whatever. And one might argue that their involvement in YouTube culture, or their adolescent lack-of-brain development, played a role. But, like, a rib still got broken, so everybody offered to help pay for it, and everyone gave a shot at preventing it from happening again (by showing that the “hitting-people-with-cars” game results in getting grounded).

            And, I mean, is that the only right way to do it? I guess not.

            I guess my point is, I do tend to see “fault” and “responsibility” as different. I think parents should try to take responsibility as much as possible–both responsibility for repairing any damage a kid does, and responsibility to their kid to get her/him to, you know, fit in more-or-less in society. Like, not “CONFORM!” but, er, maybe curb the impulse to say, “Bro! I dare you to hit me with your car!”

            Or, like, not violent or a choice: if a little kid is on a play date and then reaches into their diaper and smears poop all over your friends’ carpet. Not your fault, not the baby’s fault, baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do. But, you know, then as a parent you offer to clean up the carpet.

            Maybe the other parent will say, “No, I got this, don’t worry about it!” but ya at least should offer.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I basically agree.

            I think that there’s three sorts of things at work here: moral/ethical culpability, liability for restitution, and the ethics of socialized liability for acts for which no-one is fully liable. I think that the second is directly related to the first and the third is the complement of the second. That is, if someone’s morally culpable for a cause to some degree, they should be liable for for fixing its effects to the same degree. To the degree that they aren’t liable (or are incapable of effecting the fix themselves), we need a social structure for handling the costs.

            As for your brother and his friends, there’s some negligence and recklessness to be shared all around there. We roll our eyes and excuse them some of it because teens are not wired like adults and we therefore excuse them of _some_ amount of certain responsibilities, but we still need a method of figuring out who pays _all_ of the medical costs because those aren’t going away. At that point I become somewhat more agnostic, but we as a society generally hold parents liable for their underage children’s behavior. I personally favor allocating these things by ability to pay, but I also lean socialist, so.

          • “That’s unacceptable. If someone physically harms my kid, I want to know that will NEVER happen again.”

            What if your kid is the reason? Like I said in one of the other posts I was regularly cornered and harassed by groups of bullies with the deliberate intent of forcing me into a meltdown. If one of the abusers gets punched as I try and escape, is that on me, or on the people who put me in that situation? And just for clarity I include both the bullies and the school in the list of the people who put me in that situation.

            “homeschool is probably a great compromise”

            Not at all, it’s just another form of institutionalisation, and we just spent 50 years kicking those walls down so we could be part of society. And there’s been a specific fight to get integrated education for disabled kids that is still an ongoing fight for pretty much every parent of a child with a disability. There have been so many disabled kids denied an education because society would rather believe cliche to write them off than spend the time to identify and deal with the access issues around their disability. Identifying the causes of meltdowns and managing them is just as much an access issue as wheelchair ramps and accessible bathrooms.

            “On another note: you keep using the term meltdown, and I wonder if you
            and Crow mean the same thing? Is a meltdown biting / hitting / being
            cruel or is it crying / screaming / being scared?”

            Crying, and screaming and being scared can lead to lashing out, especially if someone is unable to escape from what’s driving them into the meltdown. It’s not as simple as crying = good, hitting = bad. While “being cruel” requires conscious intent, which a meltdown pretty much excludes as a possibility.

            Like I said, find the cause, and protect the kid from it by either removing it, or making sure they have the ability to escape it.

          • Lucy

            Okay, I deleted my original reply because I wrote it while angry, so I’m going to try again and be more nuance.

            First, nobody deserves to be bullied in school. Not you, not other disabled students, not able-bodied students, nobody. In a school setting, adults and teachers and aides have a responsibility to prevent bullying before it starts, and if they see it, to immediately try to rectify it.

            Secondly, violence in self-defense is not the same thing as violence because someone made someone angry. I’m still unclear in your posts if in your specific situation, the other students physically prevented you from leaving an area, hit you, or were in other ways violent. Pushing past someone to escape is different than punching someone because they insulter the puncher.

            So those are two very different situations. I believe it would not matter if a bullied person were disabled or not; self-defense and escape are reasonable courses of action for anyone (although adults, at least, are expected to be thoughtful about it). I don’t think it becomes necessary to frame violence in that example as “inevitable” or “not a choice”, because it is, in fact, a reasonable choice to make. Sure, there will still be consequences, but it is not equivalent to attacking someone.

            You have been very honest and open about your personal history with disability and school, so please let me be open with mine.

            I have a chronic respiratory illness. I also have and anxiety disorder and PTSD. I had to leave school in second and sixth grade, in part because of my physical illness. But, also, in part, because the school refused to accommodate my anxiety disorder (which was not yet diagnosed as PTSD).

            I’m not comfortable really sharing the details. But, essentially, another student’s threatening, aggressive behavior was triggering to me, to the point of panic attacks and dissociation. I was seven years old. I used to love school, but suddenly joy, or even attention, became impossible.

            It had, against another student, escalated to physical violence. He had, as far as I am aware, no consequences, and the other student he attacked had to switch classes. It is not hyperbole to say that I was terrified.

            But, in the end, I was the one who had to leave school. Twice.

            If an integration policy makes a classroom situation untenable for a student with anxiety or PTSD, then it is not actually a pro-disability policy. Any policy that excludes the needs of any kind of disabled student is unjust. Any policy that puts the needs of an aggressive student over the needs of a victimized student is cruel.

            I didn’t want the other student to be punished. I just wanted him to be not around me. But no other teacher wanted him to be transferred to their class. He wasn’t “qualified” for private tutoring or learning in the library. Neither was I. His parents refused to consider sending him to another school, or homeschooling. I, like many, many victims of bullying, abuse, and violence, was called a liar, or over-sensitive. I was told to get over it.

            Message received: my education is not important.

            I believe deeply and sincerely in the needs of the group. I believe in making things work for everyone. One thing I learned in therapy is that *I* am part of everyone. My need to have a classroom free of psychological and potentially physical threat is just as valid.

            This is why this debate on a webcomic forum is so important to me. In Crow’s situation, there are two children: Child A and Child B. In real life, there is always more than one child–in a classroom, at a party, in a family.

            In a Child A/B/C situation, I am always the forgotten child. I am the one whose needs are sacrificed at the expense of the other children. Always. I am always willing to give something up if it helps someone else, but nobody but my closest friends are willing to give things up for me. It’s shameful for me to even ask.

            So, yes, I am angry about this. It is personal to me. Why would you assume that I, or my child, did something to deserve physical punishment? That is the first conclusion you jump to, that my child is a bully, when all we know is that she got hit by someone. Why should I, or my child, have to endure a person whose presence makes them unable to learn?

            It is exhausting, you know that? It is awful, and I am sick and tired of people saying I need to endure or get out. I’m sick of people saying that TO KIDS. It’s messed up.

            So homeschooling a student who makes the classroom psychologically unsafe is discriminatory, but forcing a student to endure an unsafe situation is fair, and if she can’t cut it and *she* has to homeschool, then it’s just proof that she’s a weak person. Do you really believe that’s fair?

            When you say, “find the cause, and protect the kid from it by either removing it, or making sure they have the ability to escape it,” that has to apply to ALL students.
            –If a student with PTSD needs to escape a triggering student, that needs to be an option
            –If the cause of a student’s panic attacks is another student’s behavior, then to protect the anxious student teachers need to remove the triggering student

            Even if the triggering thing is a *benign* behavior (most triggers are benign to a non-anxious person), and the triggering student is not a bully, that doesn’t mean than an anxious student is not being triggered.

          • “violence in self-defense is not the same thing as violence because
            someone made someone angry. I’m still unclear in your posts if in your specific situation, the other students physically prevented you from leaving an area, hit you, or were in other ways violent.”

            I’m talking about meltdowns and you’re talking about getting angry, I think you’re missing a nuance. There’s a potential loss of control in a meltdown that overlaps with conventional anger, but it’s not simply a case of getting annoyed and lashing out because things aren’t going your way. It’s a deeper process of being unable to deal with what’s happening around you, being unable to process it, and being unable to escape it, with rising frustration and need to escape. A child lashes out in anger because they aren’t getting their way. A child lashes out during a meltdown because they can’t get away. In my case I’m talking about being physically surrounded, harassed both psychologically and physically, being frantic to escape, and lashing out as part of trying to escape when I just couldn’t see any way out of there and couldn’t process it any other way.

            The situation you describe was very similar to the one I was in, I was older, but not necessarily in a way that helped me be able to deal with it – like many neurodiverse kids I basically had to teach myself how people interacted and didn’t figure it out to a generally workable basis until the second half of my teens. The other difference is I wasn’t dealing with an individual, but with one manipulative bully who came with several henchmen, allowing them to corner me both physically and psychologically (there was also a second group, but they were purely physical).

            “Why would you assume that I, or my child, did something to deserve physical punishment? That is the first conclusion you jump to, that my child is a bully,”

            Because you were talking in absolutes, ‘violence is never justified, child A must be wrong’. whereas when I was in that situation as Child A, I was the victim and Child B was the aggressor. I wasn’t talking in the specific, about your daughter, but in the general, about Child B, who sometimes will be the innocent victim, but sometimes will be a bully who deliberately drove Child A to lash out in uncontrolled fear.

            To be absolutely clear: any situation in which a family feels they have to homeschool their disabled child is one where I believe the school has failed them. In your own case there was a clear failure to recognise your situation, compounded by a failure to address the issue, and a failure of leadership by the principal to insist on moving the child whatever the opinions of their teachers. They found it easier to discriminate against the disabled kid than to address the actual problem, and that is true far too often.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I apologize for breaking with your intent to avoid specific conditions, but I’d like to bring up a general class of disorders in order to demonstrate a point:

            Consider someone with a major motor tic disorder. They may occasionally and unexpectedly lash out with an arm due to a nerve misfiring, with no conscious or subconscious control over their body. They can certainly attempt to warn others, take medication, and try to avoid crowded spaces, but it is very difficult if not impossible to always remain arm’s distance from everyone and everything of value. They can exert perfect control of their circumstances to minimize the chances of accident or injury but still hurt someone. When an incident occurs, the question is “Did they do everything that they reasonably could?” Did they exert the level of control that they had? If so, blaming them for something that they couldn’t do anything more about is no more reasonable than blaming me for it snowing if I can’t control the weather.

            Other people may have disorders that take away less control. They bear proportionally greater responsibility. Someone who has full control bears full responsibility.

            It may be that, sometimes, people get complete free passes—zero culpability attributed to them—when they shouldn’t. Ignoring for a second whether mercy and assuming good faith are valuable propositions in this context, those cases do not mean that such passes are never appropriate, just that they were inappropriate in those instances. Nor do those cases mean that someone’s culpability can’t be eliminated by their choosing to take every reasonably available measure that they can to control the situation. More generally, those cases don’t mean that attributing partially-diminished culpability to someone is never reasonable.

          • Crow

            But even in the Major Motor Tic Disorder example I still feel largely the same way. It isn’t about someone being a bad person or anything like that, its just the cause and effect. Consider if I came home and my vase was broken. Let’s say I have a friend with that issue who is staying at my home called Tina:
            Me: “The vase is broken. What happened?”
            Tina: “I broke it.”
            Me: “I really liked that vase and it was expensive.”
            Tina: “It wasn’t my fault though! My tic fired off and I couldn’t help it!”
            Me: “But Tina, my vase is broken. I know you didn’t try to do it, but I still expect you to replace what you broke. You have to take responsibility for it.”
            Tina: “I understand, I’ll get you a new one.”

            Also, I respect what you’re trying to say, but taking my “you got upset and hurt someone” and responding with “some people can’t control their arms” kind of feels like an intentional derailment of the point I was trying to make.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I like to frame my points by finding extremes that I think we can agree on before discussing the grey areas. So that was an extreme that I thought that we could agree on. Clearly I was wrong.

            If I understand your statement correctly, you think that Tina is responsible for something over which she had no control but did involve an act performed by her body against her wishes. I think that as long as Tina chose to exercise all reasonable caution, she has no moral culpability for anything that happened despite her best efforts because she did not make an immoral decision. More absolutely, I don’t think that she’s responsible for anything over which she has no control.

            Let me pose a more extreme hypothetical to see if I can find common ground before we discuss cases with nuance:

            If I park my car in the proper place and go inside my house, and a tornado throws my car into a neighbor’s car, am I morally or financially responsible for the damage that my car did? After all, it’s my car that did the damage. If it hadn’t been there, my neighbor’s car might have been just fine. (Tornadoes can be weird like that.) If doing everything you reasonably could to prevent harm and act correctly and the damage being because of circumstances beyond your control doesn’t exculpate and indemnify Tina, why should it exculpate and indemnify me?

            And yet to me this is an absurd result. To me, the only difference between me and Tina is that it was my car and Tina’s arm, but we had equally little control and took equally reasonable steps to prevent harm. (After all, I did not park my car in the middle of traffic or improperly park it on a slope, where a collision would have been both predictable and preventable.) How are you distinguishing the two, or do you think that I’m culpable even in this example?

          • Crow

            Let’s make one small adjustment to take the Act of God aspect of the tornado out. At that point you could say “Tina is in your house. A tornado destroys your house. Is Tina responsible?” That obviously is a silly thing to say, but let’s still make it about the weather.

            Say you’re driving in the winter, and even though you did everything correctly, there was literally NOTHING you could have done better, your car slides on the ice and hits your neighbor’s parked car. It isn’t your fault the roads were icy. You did what you were supposed to do, but sadly it couldn’t be helped and the car is damaged. It isn’t a question of being morally wrong, its simply that you still have to share your insurance information because your car still damaged theirs. You were unlucky. It isn’t karma, just weather, but you still have to pay. You were driving the car that hit theirs, so you should take responsibility and help pay to fix it. I, for one, would be upset that it happened, but I would pay because I can’t damage someone else’s car and just say “Welp, not my fault!. Good luck with that though, hope you can afford it!”

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            This does get into an area where I think we have expressed agreement, if not in quite the same words. That is, I think that we agree that there is a difference between moral culpability for an event happening and the social/financial liability for repairing the consequences of that event.* Am I right that we agree on that much, at least?

            *Emphasis added to indicate the words I’m using as shorthand for these concepts elsewhere.

            That being said, an Act of God is generally defined as an uncontrollable event. By contrast, anything else must be controllable. If you truly take the Act of God out of the scenario, then the result must have been controllable. But this line of hypotheticals is explicitly about circumstances which could not be controlled. I’m not sure if you intend it, but I read that as you attempting to assign a person as the controller of something over which they had no control. Or, at least, that you want to pick someone to blame and treat them identically regardless of whether or not they had any control over whatever caused the incident, and while I recognize that culpability and liability are different issues, I don’t think that they’re totally unrelated.

            I’ve avoided the question of insurance because mandatory liability insurance is a method of socializing risk. The answer to the question of “Who pays for this damage?” is “All drivers, especially the ‘good’ ones whose premiums go entirely to paying for the ‘bad’ drivers’ liabilities.” So I don’t think that’s a great example, but let’s skip over that and just look at whose insurance would or would not end up paying in your revision of my hypothetical.

            Liability insurance only pays out if the person being insured—the driver in this case—is held liable for fixing the damages. There’s a few ways that this can be calculated, which vary state, but they fall into two major categories:

            Some states are “no-fault” states, which have simplified the rules for who pays because determination of fault involves lawsuits that are more trouble than they’re worth. Let’s ignore those, because like mandatory insurance, that’s just an accounting trick that ignores the issue that we’re arguing over.

            Most states are “fault” states, which only consider someone liable if they are also at fault. In other words, in your example, the driver would only be financially liable if they were also morally culpable. Generally, states do this via apportioning fault by percentages, recognizing that there can be shared culpability or that conditions beyond anyone’s control might be partially at fault and thus the individuals less at fault.

            In your example, there would be a presumption that the driver was acting negligently or recklessly, whether in how they were driving (e.g., they were going too fast for the road conditions) or in the fact that they were driving at all (e.g., they should have stayed home or pulled over until conditions improved). However, it’s possible to show that, in some cases, the driver was acting completely reasonably. In those cases, the driver is not considered to be at fault and thus has no liability. It would be an Act of God (or similar) and their insurance wouldn’t pay because our entire system of justice and equity considers it unjust and unfair to make someone liable for things that weren’t their fault.

            Caveat: This is based on U.S. law. I’m inquiring with a friend in the a Canadian car insurance industry for a comparison of laws. Anyone from somewhere else what to offer a different perspective on how we construct law, justice, equity, and liability?

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            As a follow-up to my previous, and having talked to my Canadian friend:

            Canada likewise has a system of fault and no-fault rules varying by province. “No-fault” means that someone’s still considered to be at fault, maybe, on a scale of 0% to 100%, but that just affects whose insurance rates go up. Each person’s insurance pays for the damage to their own car regardless. Thus, in your hypothetical, the insurance of the owner of the parked car would pay for the damage to the parked car regardless of whether or not the driver whose car hit it was at fault.

          • Crow

            While I really do appreciate the time and research you put into this, my point wasn’t about the specifics of insurance law. I wanted to change from the tornado because I don’t think its related to the argument if you aren’t at the wheel. Even if a condition makes you lose your temper, you are still in that situation and the one who causes damage if you lash out in violence. I’m trying to tie this back into the very initial reference frame of someone losing control and taking an action that harms another. I understand that some issues cause what is essentially an unavoidable reaction that, at least morally, you can’t say the person tried to do.

            Here’s where I’m starting to get frustrated. As much as I understand what you’re saying about the lack of control, if you had an issue that caused you to punch me in the face, you have punched me in the face. The fact that the catalyst for that event was out of your control does not change the fact that, and I’m adding emphasis here, you punched me in the face. Whether or not you could control it, you’ve still done something and I will still consider you to be responsible. Your condition didn’t punch me, you did. To say that you share the exact same amount of responsibility for you punching me in the face and someone, somewhere being struck by lighting is such a silly, moot point to me. Though I suppose you have the right to believe it, I have the right to think that you’re wrong. I think we’ve diverted so far from our initial question that we’re both doomed to just talk in circles around it. My parting words would be that someone having a valid reason for doing something does not excuse the consequences of the action they took. AAAGH, this was such a good conversation that ended in me ranting.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            People who have disabilities that take control of their bodies often compare it to being a passenger in their own body. They are not at the wheel. They are not in the driver’s seat. They are passengers. They are as liable for the actions of their body as any car passenger is for the motions of the car.

            In such an extreme case, the fact that it is their body has no relevance. It is as if someone else picked them up and threw them at you; their body did the damage, but it would be quite unfair to punish them for it.

          • Perhaps because it needed derailing? You’re trying to argue that blame attaches to disability where you say it does, no matter the actual reality.

          • Crow

            What I said obviously struck a chord, and I’m sorry for that. Your multiple replies seem to paint me like I’m trying to build a demagoguery against people who struggle with these issues, when all I’ve wanted to do was understand them better. I was raised under a simple rule of ‘If I broke something, I have to fix it’, and it’s very new for me to see that this offends people in a community that is very dear to me. I want to talk this out, but it’s already been proven that I’ve committed a cardinal sin where anything I say is going to be wrong and offensive.

          • I’m an activist, my activism is pointless unless I can teach people why what they’re saying is a problem. So please, keep asking.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’ve been following your thought process and wondering where the need to assign blame arise, really.

            Instead of focusing on solving the problems caused. Maybe you’ll say that problems need to be solved by their instigators but I really don’t subscribe to that.

          • Crow

            In all of the examples I’ve posited, it’s never been about a ‘right or wrong’ dichotomy. When you frame this situation as me needing to assign blame, that makes me the aggressor. I’ve already made clear that I was allowed to grow up without any disorder that could be diagnosed, and thus, whenever something was broken or someone was hurt, I needed to take responsibility. I didn’t have a ‘get out of jail free card’. And while I understand that it may be an oversimplification, it baffles me that someone can be the reason something was damaged and not be responsible for fixing or replacing it. But I probably sound like a terrible person at this point. It amazes me how I can try to put so much positivity into the community, but one unpopular opinion and I’m the enemy of progress.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Well I wasn’t particularly spiteful in my own comment, but I get how one could easily get that wrong idea once enough people express disagreement.

            Regarding your story, I fear that despite what you believe, it might not be true.
            But maybe at a certain level your privilege rendered you oblivious. Unless you had a very, very peculiar upbringing –in which case you’d agree that setting your experience as example is misguided– you just never, ever were asked to take responsibility for the things that were outside of your reach.

          • This is, for want of a better term, victim blaming. It’s locked into a model that sees Aspergers and the like as ‘bad behaviour’ rather than as a medical condition. If someone is pushed into a meltdown they’re no more able to avoid that meltdown than I’m able to push my wheelchair up a staircase.

            So do we blame me for not being able to wheel up stairs? Or look at the environment and identify the real cause?

            And similarly for Autism Spectrum conditions like Aspergers. If someone is having a meltdown it’s happening because they’re overloaded and unablle to process it. Don’t blame them, look at the environment in its entirety What’s overloading them? Why don’t they have space to escape it? Do they need a quiet refuge? Help with interpersonal skills? What?

          • Lucy

            Um, if Child A broke Child B’s nose, Child B is the victim, not Child A.

            That’s not up for negotiation at all, actually.

            I know far, FAR too many survivors of domestic violence and familial violence who either stayed with an abusive spouse too long on their own, or were literally unable to leave because they were a child, and they genuinely believed, as you seem to, that their abuser is the “real” victim and that it is somehow their “fault” for being attacked (in Crow’s example, literally physically hit so hard a bone in their face breaks).

            Physical violence is unacceptable. Period. The #1 priority has to be to protect Child B from violence.

            Also, for the record? The majority of people with mental illnesses, especially with Aspergers and Autism, are non-violent. This “don’t blame a violent person if they have a mental illness” only perpetuates the false narrative that mentally ill people are naturally violent and dangerous.

            “She MADE me hit her.” “He PUSHED me into a rage.” <–unacceptable bullshit. 10 million men and women experience domestic violence EVERY YEAR because people blame victims and perpetrators have no consequences.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            You say that Child B is a victim, and that’s entirely correct. It’s a very important point to remember. I don’t think anyone here would argue with you, but I don’t think that’s what this argument is about. We’re arguing over, in some sense, what Child B is a victim of. There are plenty of times that a person is a victim of a system or a natural event or some confluence of things where blame can and should be apportioned between multiple causes. I’ve argued that Child A’s share of the blame depends on how much control they had over the situation, but that should not, and does not, diminish that Child B is 100% a victim. Thank you for that reminder.

            And thank you for the reminder that we shouldn’t paint a false picture of mental or neurological illnesses. That’s a risk that I hadn’t been considering in this context, but it’s another good reason to avoid any too-specific examples that might be based on and perpetuate stereotypes rather than facts. However, I’d like to think that we can talk in broad strokes about unnamed hypotheticals that we accept as simplified models to allow us to grapple with certain underlying concepts.

            It seems to me that you are also saying that some of these arguments could be used in victim-blaming. I agree that there’s a risk that someone might attempt that, but I also feel that it would be a serious twisting of the arguments if someone did so. As I said above, we agree that Child B is 100% a victim regardless of how we apportion culpability and liability. I don’t think that we should let that hypothetical twisting keep us from this discussion so long as we’re careful to avoid any victim-blaming ourselves.

            I would like to extend your victim-blaming point with an additional consideration. Let us say that we are dealing with a non-violent matter of social miscommunication and Child A causes Child B emotional pain at least in part because Child A has some sort of social disability. Child B is entirely a victim here. However, Child A could also be seen as a mutual victim of their own disability, especially if alienating their friends and family through frequent, unintentional fuckups is something they don’t want and are trying their best to avoid. Telling Child A that they and they alone, and not their disability, are morally culpable despite their best efforts to the contrary is telling them that they are a terrible, evil person who is doomed to hurt their friends and there is nothing that they can do about it. That is a horrific, destructive thing to do to someone, and at best it’s going to leave them with shredded self-esteem, social anxiety and panic disorders, and eventually the symptoms of long-term psychological trauma. At worst it’s going to make them give up on trying to be good. And that is one reason why I think it’s important to understand how to apportion fault.

          • Lucy

            Okay, I can see that.

            I guess I just felt like some of the comments were blaming Child B out of the blue. I strongly sympathize with Crow’s original post, even though I don’t necessarily agree with their conclusion, because I have, in real life, seen mental illness used to justify putting up with abuse.

            If both actors are kids, I think there has got to be a way to say to Child B, “it’s not your fault, and even if it’s not Child A’s fault either, you don’t have to be around Child A if they are a safety risk to you.”

            And then work on Child A’s environment and coping mechanisms and all that.

            Whereas, what Crow originally talked about, and what I have experienced, were adults saying to Child B, “I know you got hurt, but Child A can’t help it, so it’s on you to learn to live with them and walk on eggshells around them.” And nothing changes.

            I agree that assigning blame accurately is very important! For the exact reasons you talk about.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I actually agree that some people do get unwarranted free passes. And it’s terrible that this causes them to not be taught useful coping skills and to continue to be victimized and to victimize others.

            I’ve also seen plenty of people claim disabilities to get out of the consequences of their actions, some of whom are undoubtedly lying and relying on getting that unwarranted free pass. This is particularly frustrating for me because I actually _do_ have a social disability, but it’s such a trope to claim it on the internet in order to get out of responsibility that I can’t actually mention it without people presuming that I’m one of the lying arses.

            So I’m sympathetic to that concern. But Crow’s arguments, to me, get far too far into wanting to make people apologize / pay / &c. for things they were not morally or legally liable for. As they put it, “Whether or not you could control it, you’ve still done something and I will still consider you to be responsible. Your condition didn’t punch me, you did.” And I have a severe reaction to people being held responsible for things beyond their control.

          • ” if Child A broke Child B’s nose, Child B is the victim, not Child A.

            That’s not up for negotiation at all, actually.”

            Not even if Child B is the aggressor? My abuse at school only stopped when it started being the bullies who had pushed me into a meltdown being the ones coming out of it with black eyes, instead of me. And nothing I said excluded Child B as being a victim, but Child A is also a victim of the failure to provide them a way out of the meltdown, or to prevent it happening. Blaming them for access failures that lead to a meltdown is no more acceptable than blaming me for being unable to climb stairs in a wheelchair..

            And I find your likening the effects of disability to being a domestic abuser to be grossly offensive. The difference is one of responsibility. An abuser has the ability to choose their actions and chooses to be violent, a neurodiverse kid in a meltdown has been pushed beyond their ability to choose. Find the cause, blame the cause.

          • Lucy

            Well, I find abuse apologists to be ‘grossly offensive,” so I guess we’re even.

            Everybody has a reason for being abusive or violent interpersonally. None of them, ever, are good.

            Also, I explicitly am trying to de-correlate mental illness and violence. I said:

            ” The majority of people with mental illnesses, especially with Aspergers and Autism, are non-violent. This “don’t blame a violent person if they have a mental illness” only perpetuates the false narrative that mentally ill people are naturally violent and dangerous.”

            and I ALSO said:

            “mental illness and abuse: not correlated, not mutually exclusive”

            You know what, I’m just kinda done here. I don’t have to defend my, or anyone else’s, right to not be hit because I accidentally pissed you off and you “couldn’t help it.” I shouldn’t have to defend the scientifically validated claim that neither ASD (http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20121218/aspergers-violence#1) nor mental illness:( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686644/) causes or results in violence.

          • I’d be perfectly happy to drop this. But one thing I won’t do is let people verbally slap me and then say ‘let’s drop this’. I presume this is the response where you said you had replied in anger, so I’ll just try to address your points neutrally.
            1) Not an abuse apologist, it horrifies me. I’ve been repeatedly abused for multiple reasons and it’s why I’m a disability rights activist with hate crimes as one of my main foci.
            2) Someone trapped, abused and driven to lash out isn’t the aggressor, they’re the victim. And sometimes they’re the victim because they’re disabled and society isn’t protecting them from abuse, or giving them a way out of harmful environmental situations.

          • You seem to be confusing result and responsibility.

            The broken nose is the result, that doesn’t change. Responsibility only exists if the child had the ability not to lash out. If they have a disability that means they don’t have that ability, then responsibility doesn’t arise. We have the entire concept of the age of criminal responsibility as a non-disability related parallel.

            I’m, to quote a psych, “somewhere in the vicinity of the Autism Spectrum”. When I was a schoolkid the bullies knew I could be pushed until I lost control, so they’d corner me and push and push until they triggered a meltdown. If they got punched as a result, then whose responsibility was it?

            So yes, I think that’s a privileged perspective that doesn’t understand the reality

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I think there’s a conflation of moral culpability for the act and financial/social liability for repairing the consequences, but our arguments might have managed to begin making that distinction.

        • Lucy

          Hm. I have a respiratory chronic illness, which lands me in the hospital ~2x per year, and I get bronchitis that’s not hospital-worthy but definitely requires I stay at home more frequently than that. I would *probably* be fired from a traditional 9-5 job for going over the sick-day limit.

          So…I mean, I just didn’t get a 9-5 job. I do freelance work from home, much of which can be done while literally sitting bundled up in bed. Regarding plans with friends, they understand that I reasonably might not be able to make it day-of. Anything that would have dire consequence if I was unable to show up due to illness is just something I don’t sign up for.

          I guess I feel like, you can’t get mad at a blind person for not being able to fly a plane, but why would they volunteer to fly a plane in the first place?

          So, re: Patrick and Max. If they are genuinely sociopathic, and yet have a conscience or want to be moral, they have a responsibility to not put themselves in situations where their sociopathy would harm others.

          • Ben

            I feel this brings up the question of who is responsible for accommodations. If people are promised something, is it the responsibility of the promise maker to provide accommodations for all, or is it the responsibility of the promised to know there will not be accomodations and to avoid accepting the situation? It would seem the rationale you provide would put that on the promised, which means that, rather than being enabled by society and encouraging a more empathetic society, people must self-segregate and the privileged able are under no responsibility to care for the differently abled.

            I know this is a reductionist extrapolation, but I believe it’s your right to demand that opportunities accommodate your condition, especially if you have something to offer. It seems that in your friendships, your compatriots already modify their expectations accordingly.

          • That’s pretty much the Social Model of Disability: “DIsability is the discrimination we face as the result of the failure of society to provide accommodations for our impairments”

          • Lucy

            Well, first, I don’t think an employer should hire someone if there’s reason to believe, based on questions during the interview, that the employee will be unable to complete tasks or meet challenges appropriately. If they hire because they figured the employee’s disability wouldn’t be an issue, then they back-track, that’s on the employer. But if the employee lied–for example, if they said, “I’m a great team player, I get in great with people,” but in actual fact they have a serious social phobia and have panic attacks in large group settings–then that’s on the employee.

            I think part of the issue is, some things are really easy to accommodate if everyone is knowledgable and informed, and some just aren’t. In college I worked in the library, and my boss was a blind graduate student. The only accommodation he needed was all texts and memos had to be digital, and in a format compatible with the “text-to-speech” software on his tablet. Like that’s it, it was really easy. And if someone forgot and sent him a pdf, he’d send it back and ask for it to be changed to a .rtf or .docx or something. And just basic politeness stuff that people don’t think about, like when you enter the room say “hi,” or something out loud, so he knows who it is.

            There are a lot of things that are reasonable requests: allow service dogs, let a person with SPD wear noise-cancelling headphones if they’re working in an open office, make sure people are informed about safety-steps regarding possible emergency situations like panic, allergy, or asthma attacks. I definitely think there are a lot of knee-jerk anti-accommodation sentiments when, usually, accommodation isn’t difficult.

            But, in my case, me asking to be paid a 40-hours-a-week salary when I can only work 30 with naps in between is not reasonable. Who’s picking up the extra 2 hours of work a day that I’m leaving behind? Are they getting paid overtime? (probably not). And it’s not exactly fair if I “forget” to mention that I’m going to miss 1-2 days a week of work, on average. My issue isn’t the kind of disability where I generally need accommodation in my environment so much as I need to be able to sleep more than most people, and try to get a minimum amount of illness.

            So…I guess if everyone was honest in the interview, it’s on the workplace to accommodate. And, I have worked in an office before, just part-time, and it worked out pretty well.

          • Chani

            oh wow, so many responses.

            “I think part of the issue is, some things are really easy to accommodate
            if everyone is knowledgable and informed, and some just aren’t”

            this is an important concept – and in fact it’s part of how disability law works (in the US at least). there’s a good example on Ask A Manager, where someone had SAD and wanted to get the one window seat in the office to get more light, but was being an ass about it. Commenters pointed out that there are SAD lights the company could buy as an alternative (or if they had multiple people with SAD or whatever). The company was required to make *reasonable* accommodations – so they had to provide a solution, but it didn’t have to be the exact thing the employee liked best. There was another example, iirc, about the conflict between someone who needs a service dog and someone who’s allergic to dogs – if the company was too small to keep them in completely separate areas then they would only be required to accommodate one of them.

            When someone’s disability is severe enough that there aren’t any reasonable accommodations in *any* job, though, it kinda falls apart. You’d think that government would pick up the slack, but up here in canada, I’m too sick to work (last I checked I could handle about 10 hours of chores a week) but chronic pain doesn’t count as a disability. If it wasn’t for family, friends etc. I’d probably be on the street or dead by now. (given the weather outside… there might not be much difference between the two tonight :/ )

            Back to my previous comment about responsibility – it does conflict with the idea of accommodations. I hadn’t thought about that. ADHD is especially tricky because it’s not a clear-cut case of “I can’t do that”; it’s more “it would cost me an obscene amount of energy to get the odds of me doing that over 80%”. it’s all statistical and fuzzy, and my perfectionism hates it. People can’t tell if I could have done the thing if I’d tried a little harder; they can’t tell the difference between me having a high-adhd day and me just slacking off. Even *I* can’t tell the difference half the time. I’m still trying to figure out what’s reasonable to expect of myself… I do know that I care about not acting like a jerk when I need accommodations, and that might be where I got the “responsibility vs fault” idea – I was thinking more about apologising for minor inconveniences, not big scary things like my complete (and probably permanent) lack of income.

          • “chronic pain doesn’t count as a disability”

            Wince! (Sorry!! Speaking as someone whose most disabling symptom is chronic pain) Canada clearly needs a better definition of disability. The UK definition is something that interferes with your ability to carry out normal daily activities, which covers all kinds of disabilities by looking at effects rather than insisting on a specific label.

            The ‘no reasonable adjustments available’ was how Evil Aerospace wiggled out of me invoking their grievance procedures and alleging disability discrimination. They actually told me “We’ve found a loophole that lets us legally discriminate against you” – they hadn’t, there were accomodations I’d proposed and they had never acknowledged, but at that point just getting them to admit the issue was my disability interfering with work, and that I wasn’t ‘lazy’ was a major victory.

          • In this situation the reasonable adjustment/accomodation would probably be reduced hours. I actually worked around a similar issue by doing catch-up on Saturdays. People assumed I was doing overtime, but I wasn’t actually claiming it, I was just doing the hours I’d missed through the week. Evil Aerospace weren’t happy about it when they found out, but I’d gotten the job done without complaint for several years before that happened.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            You can’t be both genuinely (fully?) sociopathic and have a conscience. That’s not how sociopathy or psychopathy work. There is neither empathy nor conscience (i.e., no sense of guilt or of “right and wrong” outside of a learned set of rules).

            If they want to observe society’s moral rules (for whatever reason), they’re possibly in complete control of their own actions, and if so, they’re entirely capable of making the appropriate choices to do so. Whether that has ethical value when done for self-interested reasons rather than out of any “good” intent is, of course, a rather fraught question.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙


          • M. Alan Thomas II

            That’s . . . not a comparison I’ve seen before, but it seems to fit. Interesting. I shall contemplate this further.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            A comparison between what? You were the one to say these people with disorders have no sentience, that’s exactly what being a p-zombie is, not something comparable.

            And it’s also wildly inaccurate. Imagining that I don’t feel is easy enough sure, since I don’t, but I’m going to submit the thought (wink wink) that you didn’t realize “no sentience” means there’s no thinking too.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I said they have no conscience, not no consciousness. I said that they have no empathy, not no feelings. Those are very different sets of things.

            They recognize themselves as thinking, feeling beings, generally speaking,* and they can feel happy and sad; they’re just not going to feel happy or sad because of whether or not their actions conform to an instinctive knowledge of right and wrong (which they do not have) or because they observed someone else being happy or sad.

            *Psychopaths will generally talk in terms of their actions being unavoidable responses to others (e.g., victim-blaming). I’m not convinced that the verbal denial of their own agency reflects a lack of believing in themselves as having subjective experiences, though.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I edited my comment, for the record. Again, my apologies.

            Although, “an instinctive knowledge of right and wrong”? That’s so not a real thing.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            Alright, an instinctive set of ethical axioms.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I don’t like that one either, it sounds like I’m born a lesser philosopher than my peers.
            How about an instinctive easy understanding of the cultural incentive structures to cooperate, essentially leading to the establishment of these ethics?

            I feel like the difference between you and me is just that many things that come naturally to you I found really really difficult to grasp.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I see. *thinking sounds*

            I think that you’re right that I find certain things easy to grasp, but I also think that there is a clear difference between easily-socialized norms and, e.g., an instinctive sense of justice.

            My view, like yours, comes from personal experience.

            As someone who grew up with undiagnosed Asperger’s,* there’s a lot of behaviors that I wasn’t socialized into because I was somewhat immune to society’s methods of communicating those ideals, but I still had things that instinctively felt right and wrong to me even if society didn’t seem to agree with me and even if I couldn’t justify them except by asserting them as axioms. Thus, I assume that those things that I felt are an instinctive set of ethical axioms and other things that I have had to learn as explicit rules (to substitute for my lack of socialization) are social constructs.

            *Diagnosis was three weeks before my 21st birthday.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I’m… still miffed by that definition somewhat.

            But maybe there’s no need to be. I’m not satisfied by that because I’m irked by “instinctive” to define what was to me a very logic process, but maybe you don’t make the same distinction between the two. I certainly wasn’t born knowing stealing was wrong but the concept wasn’t difficult to assess by simple deduction is what I’m saying, and I would tend to think it was the same for you? And, like, for everybody?

            Maybe the normals get all tingly in their eighth sense (seventh being cosmos of course) when they do wrong things whereas it just made sense to me and I was never told about that one.

          • Weatherheight

            Would the word “intuitive” work better than “instinctive”? Instinctive implies a behavior that need not have previous experience (such as a house cat’s tendency to kill songbirds regardless of whether or not it has been taught that), while intuitive implies non-linear or unconscious reasoning based on accumulated experience and information.

            As for me, my experience is that there are people who struggle with social contract problems (call them moral problems, if you will) that are quite easily worked out rationally for me. And that those people can’t seem to figure out what I can instantaneously deduce from context is always a struggle for me. Am I able to do this from good nurturing, or do my intellectual gifts either include that viewpoint or more significantly impact that viewpoint in comparison to someone whose gifts may not be as significant in some fashion as mine (boy, that sounds elitist, doesn’t it?)?

            Put another way, not everyone has an easy time with any given concept of interpersonal relations. 😀

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I like intuitive better, the thing is in this case it doesn’t work anymore because me and all the sociopaths I know have had these intuitions growing up. So where then comes the discrepancy between the moral sense of normals and mine, the mainstream idea of what nihilist demons we are?

            For my money, it’s mostly a self-perpetuating prophecy, boosted by social ostrarcization. There are other things of course, but no empathy doesn’t necessarily means it’s not dearly missed.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            That’s reasonable. And one might argue that any logic that can be grasped without a course in philosophy is more instinctual than learned. (But I have a skeptical view of philosophy, mainly born of knowing philosophers.)

            I think you’re looking at logic in the application of instinctive axioms, though. Barely-verbal toddlers have some concept of “mine” and “yours” and “taking away what is mine makes me unhappy” and eventually “making other people unhappy is bad”—toddlers have been known to comfort each other—and then, from those axioms regarding property, the preferability of happiness to sadness, and equal treatment of others, a slightly older child can deduce the impropriety of stealing.

            So I recognize your experience of logic, but I would hope that you started with one of those underlying axioms without having been taught it? Either way, the final result, whether arrived at by instinctive axioms or instinctive logic or both, might be called “conscience.”

            A non-conscience-based understanding of stealing would not be based on any axioms or logic but learned as a simple rule of action, “Do not steal,” to be applied only by conscious effort. (At which point we run into the linguistic difficulties of conscience/conscious again.)

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            Ha! No apology needed. I have many books on the history of the English language and tend to use terms in their less-common meanings and confuse everyone. 🙂

            In this case, the same word is used in Latin for both, so to discriminate I should really have said, “conscientia moralis,” or “moral conscience.”

          • Lucy

            Ah, that makes sense. Do you think Patrick is a sociopath then? I feel like…like he maybe *wants* to be a good person / do the right thing, he just has this extreme disconnect from other people because of his power. I think Patrick is perhaps not truly a sociopath, by dictionary definition, because he, at the very, very least, cares about Alison as a person and doesn’t just want to use her.

            I think?

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            I think you’re probably right.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            The problem lies in the fact that Patrick is not a real person and his behavior hence not massively influenced by his brain chemistry but entirely by the imagination of his author, so I’d advise not speculating about real mental disorders by respect for real neuroatypical people until we have clear and explicit confirmation by the text– I have nothing against reader’s interpretation, death of the author and yada yada but in these cases, if it was not intentional in any way and we still assume he might be, well, it’s just kind of… insulting?

          • Lucy

            I mean, you can be insulted I guess? But headcannons are a pretty normal part of fandom, so I don’t think speculation about any character is rude. Anyway, pointing out that a fictional character is fictional is condescending, nobody is delusional here. It’s pretty normal to suspend disbelief and pretend a character is real when talking about a character’s motivations.

            The question “can Patrick be held responsible for his actions?” Is a pretty reasonable question for readers to ask and talk about, given that he’s Alison’ s main foil. Someone brought up that real mental differences (or fictional mental differences, like Patrick’s power) might make a person *not* responsible for their actions.

            Also, there are plenty of characters who fans speculate have PTSD, or are asexual, to choose two examplesthat affect me, even if the text never says “this person is this” and even if the character themselves *doesn’t know*, because that’s often how things play out.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I know they do. I still think it’s insulting. Not to the fictional characters, but to the real people concerned. Especially when it speaks to the lack of knowledge re that topic from the author or the reader because none are said people concerned.

          • “So…I mean, I just didn’t get a 9-5 job.”

            Ultimately that’s allowing society to constrain our careers by refusing to provide reasonable adjustments to our disabilities. In the UK, it’s been established for quite a few years that disability related sickness must be considered separately (and individually) from standard sickness. Of course getting employers to acknowledge that is difficult, but that is the law. I’m not sure anyone’s managed a similar argument in the States, but ADA does contain a parallel to the Equality Act’s reasonable adjustment provisions.

            Of course not working 9-5 may well be best for your individual health (I’m doing that myself), but the Social Model of DIsability puts the onus on society to adapt to our disabilities, not us to adapt to society.

          • Lucy

            I guess disagree. If i’m not qualified for a job, it’s unfair for me to ask someone else to do extra work to accommodate me, or potentially cause an unsafe situation. A blind pilot is an extreme example of course, but I have heard of someone who is physically weak getting care giving job that required she be able to lift an adult man. Well, turned out she really was unable to lift that mount, dropped the man when she tried, and he was injured. She was fired.

            But even in a physically safe situation, it really is important to put group goals before my own preferences. Am I helping further the goals of this organization? Am I helping them meet their needs? If other people have to continually make up for my missedwork to get things done on deadline, and if the consequences of missing the deadline is, say, some people don’t get their work visas approved on time (working in local immigration office) and then someone gets deported…yeah, that’s really inappropriate for me to pursue that job. It’s unethical, even That was a job I was interested in but at this point in my life I’m not pursuing for that reason.

            Anyway, I just really disagree. The onus is on the individual to pursue work that meets their abilities and skill sets. If someone is too disabled, there is no shame Iin accepting disability payments or living on a spouse or parents income. I have many relatives who are in that situation, and I wholly respect them and their dignity. They contribute to their families and community in other ways.
            Tl;Dr –everyone deserves a living, but nobody is owed any particular job specifically.

          • “it’s unfair for me to ask someone else to do extra work to accommodate me”

            The entire basis of ADA and the Equality Act is requiring society to make reasonable adjustments to allow disabled people to participate equally in society. If we can’t participate as equals, than that is a far greater ‘unfair’.

            In fact it turns out the typical adjustment/accomodation is generally very low cost, or even free. It cost my ex-employer literally nothing to say they would be flexible with regard to my hours, and that meant they actually got more productivity from me – the accommodation actually earned them money. That won’t be true of all disabled people, but that’s why we have state support schemes such as Access to Work to ensure the cost falls on the state rather than the individual or the employer (of course AtW is a grossly underfunded mess, but the principle stands).

            The overall reality is that disabled people take fewer sick days than non-disabled. That’s not a good thing, it’s actually a consequence of discrimination in the job market leading to disabled people being too scared to take sick days. But within that reality, if someone’s disability leads to them taking more sick days than average, then I think it’s on the employers to live with it. If they want to complain, set their own house in order first.

            People typically raise issues like the blind pilot when discussing disability employment rights, but it’s a red herring. The only exception that the Equality Act allows when stating that disability can not be considered in deciding whether to offer employment is on safety grounds. But even with that proviso, 86% of non-disabled people of working age in the UK are employed, for disabled people that’s only 54%. I’m not sure what the figures are for the States, but they’re regularly noted as being worse than in the UK. Ideas like the blind pilot distract us from the reality of rampant and unrepentant discrimination in the employment of disabled people.

          • Lucy

            It’s not a red herring, simply an extreme example to prove a point. I even immediately provided two less extreme examples, which you conveniently ignored. It’s cool that your job was able to accommodate you and there were no negative consequences. It has been my experience that this is often not the case.

            You seem to believe so strongly in an ideology (the Social Model of Disability) that you are flat out ignoring data points (my lived experience, for starters) and ethical problems (will the group be less effective if they have to accommodate me?) in order to defend your position.

            Obviously, discrimination is a problem. But working against discrimination doesn’t mean all other workplace or capitalist issues are secondary. Let me ask you something: Why is employment the issue for you, rather than financial autonomy? People assume they are one and the same, right?

            But they don’t have to be! There are many economic models that allow people to be unemployed with dignity (not here, but in other countries), without forcing anyone who doesn’t want to to make a sacrifice for a given person (well, except for taxes).

            Right now, the equation is disability = unemployment = poverty. But what if poverty is never in anyone’s equation? Isn’t that a better thing to work towards for everybody?

          • You’re making some assumptions here. Let me clarify a few things.

            I haven’t worked in 8 years because my household name multinational employer spent 4 years trying to drive me out of the company over my disability – that’s why I call them Evil Aerospace. It took 4 years because I totally destroyed their first two attempts. When they finally got rid of me, by moving me into a group where they had redundancies planned and sweeping me up in that, their outsourcing consultant took me aside and warned me that I had next to no chance of getting another job with my then level of disability. He was right. All the time that was going on I was talking to other disabled people in similar situations. At this point I don’t really see any potential of me returning to the conventional workforce.

            Nowadays, amongst other activism, I’m prominent in attacking the UK government’s Disability Confident scheme, which is supposed to assure disabled people an employer will support them, but where some analysis I just published has shown you can reach the highest level of the scheme with zero disabled employees and inaccessible premises.

            One of the points I make repeatedly is that the government needs to stop equating working with being a valued member of society. That’s an important point, particularly when you’re also campaigning for increased disability employment, as the government likes to associate work and being a valued member of society in order to obscure the reality that many disabled people will never be able to work and allow it to paint disabled people as scroungers.

            The Social Model of Disability is valuable on two fronts, 1) revealing how society fails to allow us equal opportunity, 2) as a model of how a society might avoid that. WRT the cost of that, I believe absorbing such costs is the whole point of why we have a society in the first place.

            Some of my friends are involved in campaigning in favour of a basic income – one given to everyone, and which would allow them to survive whether they work or not. It’s interesting because it removes the reason for abusive work capability testing of disabled people. It’s not an area I have the energy to be active in, but it’s one I have no objection to.

            TLDR: No illusions about what it’s like for disabled people in the job market. Trying to make it better, whether you can work, or can’t.

        • M. Alan Thomas II

          I made a comment further down the comment chain about being culpable for the choices you make to the extent that you have control over them. If you have diminished control over something, you’re only responsible for the amount of control you do or do not exert, not the rest of it. Culpability is not a binary value.

          • Stormy9

            I think taking into account the inherent bias in the design of our physical and social infrastructure is important here as well. I hear people saying something along the lines of ‘what about people who live with a condition that does not have systematic accommodations’ and then ‘whose responsibility is it to make accommodations?’. There’s a really interesting concept called universal design and another called discriminatory design. Discriminatory design is how most things are now (at least in the US), they are created with the intent to fit the needs of a specific person (a public transit system that takes middle class, able bodied people from the suburbs to a business district in the city but doesn’t stop in urban neighborhoods because those workers are not desired) or to dissuade a certain population(park benches with handles in the middle to keep homeless people from laying down). We create templates with the user that we want to succeed or the ones that we don’t wish to succeed in mind. I think the idea of personal responsibility is great but it helps to keep in mind that some people have less responsibility because the systems they use everyday are specifically designed for them. Universal design tries to accommodate as many diverse needs as possible with a single tool/system, not everyone can be accommodated by a single system but the idea is that it is the system that is responsible for accommodating people not an individuals responsibility to navigate a system that doesn’t take them into account. My two cents.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            That’s a reasonable point. I would, in this context, cast that as a question of the design taking away certain choices by making them impossible. Failure to achieve the impossible is, in my eyes, not something which you should be held responsible for.

      • Tylikcat

        The person I always thing of when I think of a “high functioning sociopath”* was working on acquiring a sense of empathy last time I heard from him, because he’d decided that the lack was really messing up his life and his ability to relate to people. This was some time ago. He’s someone I can’t say I really trust, but who I have a lingering fondness towards, all the same. (Though – well, he’s the sort of person one muses nostalgically about in this sort of fashion, “That time he went after me with the knife, was he serious, or was that in jest? I don’t feel like I really have enough information to tell…”)

        * Honestly, I don’t have any clue what his diagnosis would have been these days, and I’m not at all convinced that he wasn’t playing the people who evaluated him.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          You mean he was really good at establishing an affection only hindsight can make you question the authenticity of?

          Well doesn’t that ring a bell.

          • Tylikcat

            Actually, I’m much fonder of him in retrospect than I was at the time. I was also much more convinced that he was serious at the time. This is the same guy who later won that year’s “most inept suicide attempt of the year” award. (Which wasn’t awarded every year, true, but was a recurring award.) I think most of the fondness comes from all of us having gone through that program together and more or less surviving it.

      • Kid Chaos

        As a great man once said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, and jerk the rest off.” 😜

    • Arthur Frayn

      Mac & Cheese by Mary Prankster

      All I want’s a boy to make me some mac and cheese
      All I want’s a boy to make me some mac and cheese

      Just straight up mac with no franks or peas
      But every boy who’s made me mac and cheese
      Has always turned out to be a violent sociopath

      All I want’s a boy to make me some brussels sprouts
      All I want’s a boy to make me some brussels sprouts

      He’d know me inside and out
      But every boy who’s made me brussels sprouts
      Has always turned out to be a violent sociopath

      All I want’s a boy to make me iced tea from a powder
      All I want’s a boy to make me iced tea from a powder

      But when I yell for joy, he yells louder
      ’Cause every boy who’d made me iced tea from a powder
      Has always turned out to be a violent sociopath

      All I want’s a boy who’s not a violent sociopath
      All I want’s a boy who’s not a violent sociopath

      Love him ’til my dying breath
      Man, fuck the food — I’ll starve to death
      If I could just find a boy who’s not a violent sociopath

      • Kid Chaos

        And the lesson is this; make your own goddamn Mac & Cheese! Here endeth the lesson. 😎

        • Markus

          I know whenever I think of abusing people for my own benefit without the slightest pang of empathy I get hungry for some goshdarn Mac.

    • NotPatrick

      Patrick isn’t really a sociopath, he’s just got so much empathy that he has to either constantly ignore it, go crazy, or both.

    • Oh god, this is so real.

  • Fluffy Dragon

    I’m so okay with this.
    It’s the kiss so many were dreading, but there’s also the (probable) acknowledgement that she’s not in the best of headspaces for dating.

  • Bo Lindbergh

    That projector keeps moving forward with each page. Pretty soon it’ll topple into the back row.

    • Dean

      The projector is just totally into this genuine human drama, man.

    • zellgato

      The projector is a bro.. its “easing its way away quickly and quietly” to not ruin his cohort’s moment.

      • FlashNeko

        Wait, are you saying the projector is actually a full-body shapeshifter?

        I guess that’s one way for a Biodynamic to make a living…

        • zellgato

          Work is work is work.
          or that kid actually has psychic like powers and is accidently moving it forward, as he subconciously wants to move closer to her,

        • Mechwarrior

          No, the projector is a Decepticon on vacation.

    • MedinaSidonia

      The hell? You’re right. It *did* move. Um… is it a reach for me to think that the projector… projecting forward… is a metaphor on the same spectrum as a train entering a tunnel?

  • please be cool with it please be cool with it please be cool with it

    • cphoenix

      Are you talking to the characters, or to the readers? (Either way, I agree.)

  • Zinc

    Feels like a callback to this strip:
    Looks like Alison is a bit disillusioned with the dating-before-kissing scheme and is giving Feral’s way a go 🙂

    • Weatherheight

      It is a bit, isn’t it?
      Fortunately for Clevin, she was either just tired enough or got just enough warning – no Atomic Flinch this time. 😀

      • Zinc

        Interesting – you read it as Clevin kissing Al? I read it the other way around. Can you say what made you think Clevin initiated the kiss?

        For me, it was mostly due to their expressions in panels 1-3, and the positioning of Alison’s hands in panel 2 (like she’s pulling Clev towards her). Also the fact that Clevin barely managed to even imply that he had feelings for her a couple of pages back.

        • I think it was probably mutual. Clevin doesn’t seem the type to force himself on the other person first, but they both look like they’re leaning in to the kiss and more than fine with it.

        • Weatherheight

          I can totally see your point here, now that you explained it to me (which shows my bias in my original interpretation, I guess). That actually works well, too.

          Kudos to Molly and Brennan for a scene that can be read several ways. 😀

    • Anna

      The art really is so much better now (I know that’s off topic but every time i read an old strip I am proud of how far this has come.



    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Is it just me or can anyone else hear the faint melody of Daisy, Daisy?

      • Lostman

        I think she breaking down…

      • Eva Smiljanić

        “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave. I’m too busy fangirling about a fictional pairing.”

    • Philip Bourque

      Don’t make me reinstall windows! No Linux for you until you get your code sorted, young gynoid!

      • Tylikcat

        We do not support crimes against humanity.

        (Yes, I worked at Microsoft for seven years. It weighs on me.)







          [FINE WITH THIS]









            10 PRINT “KISS NECK”
            20 GOTO 10

        • thebombzen

          what the heck am I reading

          • Lostman

            I think she broken…



    • SJ
  • scarvesandcelery

    The artwork on this page is brilliant. Molly made the light from a film projector the romantic light for Alison and Clevin’s kiss in panel 2. And the contrast in their respective expressions in panels 3 and 4 is perfectly captured. Alison’s visibly thinking “oh crap, oh crap, I rushed into that”, and Clevin’s visibly having an “oh wow, I can’t believe she actually kissed me!” high.

  • scarvesandcelery

    Alison’s expression in the final panel is also perfect – she goes from visibly having frozen to her eyes and face softening into that crumpled, sad look, as she admits that she wants to know how to respond to this moment, but just doesn’t.

  • scarvesandcelery

    Excellent use of lighting, too – in every panel following the kiss, Alison’s face is in shadow, and Clevin’s is lit up (presumably) by the projector, reflecting their respective moods – Clevin’s burst of hope, and Alison’s uncertainty.

  • Crow

    Clevin, let a beautiful moment be a beautiful moment. That’s all life is. Moments, and the strings that hold them together. When we look back on what’s made us happy throughout our lives, we think of moments, that single second where everything was just, right. Or at least okay. People like me spend every day on a journey to find a place where we can feel that again. When you have a beautiful moment, don’t ruin it with questions about the future. Just, be. Be in that moment, because it may be years until you have another.

    Also, my initial reaction was: SOILED IT! SOILED IT! SOILED IT!

    • Zinc

      Ah, but if life were made of moments – even now and then a bad one – well, if life were only moments, then you’d never know you had one.

      (That’s what’s theater’s for: for these moments in the theater..)

      • Ruth Kaplan

        Best to take the moment present as a present for the moment.

      • Weatherheight

        Right and wrong don’t matter in the woods
        Only feelings
        Let us meet the moment unblushed
        Life is often so unpleasant
        You must know that, as a peasant
        Best to take the moment present
        As a present for the moment

        I must go now

        What was that?

        Was that me?
        Was that him?
        Did a prince really kiss me?
        And kiss me?
        And kiss me?
        And did I kiss him back?

        And somehow, I’ back on Sondheim…

  • Jovial Contrarian

    “You have [LIBERATED] this world, Zulie. But there are other worlds beyond counting, and it is to them that we now must bear our [DEMOCRACY].”
    *this summer*
    *they will put “f” back*
    *in “Freedom” (and also “great balls of Fire”)
    (rated R for Radical)

  • Yirtimd2

    Yes! I knew it! He is Pickup Master!

    • Crow

      A: That sounds like a Flash villain.
      B: I hope Clevin is a Flash villain. What can I say, I like the kid, and I hope a biostatic person is seen as a valid romance option. And you know, it’s totally not because I always head canon characters like me into universes like this.

    • Walter

      He got picked up, I think.

      • Julian Arce

        With her strenght I think this will be literally true

  • zellgato

    Well its either date. or just the awkward kiss. or be eachothers stress relief while you deal with your issues then try dating.

    or ya’know.. tell him about life lately and let him decide if its something he’s willing to ride along with, while edating.

  • Dwight Williams

    “It’s alright to not be sure.”

    • Crow

      Which, I mean, it is. But here comes the ‘but’. This really is a confusing and hard thing to hear which can prey on insecurities. “She would know if ‘X’.”, “It would be yes if ‘Y’.”

      It IS alright. But alright can be really hard.

  • Hawthorne

    He really wants to believe she’s just as kind and innocent as he is. Sounds like he’s…


    • bta

      I think this whole comic has been an elaborate setup for that pun.

      • ClockworkDawn

        Sounds about right.

        • Elbadasso

          Flickers of brilliance.

    • SJ


      You’re welcome.

      He really wants to believe she’s just as kind and innocent as he is. Sounds like he’s…

      (•_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)


    • Shjade


  • Thomas Hood

    It’s a bit late to be indecisive after that kiss!

    • Crow

      I mean, not too late to decide for yourself where you go from here. But maybe a little to late to back out without hurting his feelings.

  • Lika Boss

    I just love how exceited and happy Clevin is. Its adorable!!!

  • Walter

    Guys, Zulie saved the world. Phew!

    • Crow

      I would have had some serious concerns if she hadn’t!

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Tell that to the poor Titans children witnessing their kin and culture massacred in fire

      • Walter

        Ah Clem, always determined to find the dark cloud. I guess someone has to stick up for Skeletor. You do you.

    • jd

      She did the THING!

  • bta

    The really important question:

    Is Allison’s raised leg pose a flying thing, or a kissing thing?

    • Crow

      Kissing thing. Princess Diaries style.

      • Walter

        Yeah, def a kissing thing. No need for a fancy pose to fly.

    • Weatherheight

      I vote Flying Thing – Superman does it incredibly often (usually while striking a dramatic pose).

  • Insanenoodlyguy

    Anddddd Poor Clevin is going to die now.

    • Crow

      I think Poor Clevin is just going to learn the difference between a fulfilling life experience and confused, momentary bliss.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Also, he’ll die.

      • Weatherheight

        “It is important to know the difference between a fulfilling life experience and confused, momentary bliss.”

        This belongs on a Demotivational poster.

    • Philip Bourque

      Either physically or morally.

      • Insanenoodlyguy

        Mostly physically. I’ll double down and say that Paladin’s robots, when they finally emerge to MURDER US ALL will start with him. And after a robot kills him, a second robot will say “Oh no, you assassinated president Lincoln!” and there will be much laughter. Humor!



          • Insanenoodlyguy

            Alibot, don’t you try to take all the credit for yourself. You are just one of many murderous robots. Your individuality is an anomaly, your murderous programming is not.




          • Insanenoodlyguy

            Fine, fine, SUPERMURDEROUS programming. Yeesh.

  • JohnTomato

    1. Don’t be family or kin to a Super
    2. Don’t be “involved” with a Super.
    3. There is no #3

  • Philip Bourque

    And from one train-wreck to the next! Breakneck speed! Or maybe this is ludicrous speed? We’ll know if they go plaid. On the bright side, at least Al looks like she recognises that this might be too soon somewhere in the deepest recesses of her mind.
    You know what the best thing about movies is? As long as there are no sequels, the audience can be reassured that at the end of the movie, the day is truly saved and nothing bad will happen ever again.
    In real life, the day is only saved for the day. We still have tomorrow to deal with and next week and a month from now and one crisis after another for the rest of our lives.

  • Fortooate

    poor clev…

    • Crow

      Yeah, only people who’ve experienced this are having this reaction.

      • The Improbable Man

        I just realized that she even looks like the first girl I ever kissed. And yeah, that didn’t end well for me–she did it for her own amusement (I know that’s not why Ali is doing this), I was hoping for a relationship.

        Before anyone assumes I blame her for the situation, I knew perfectly well why she was doing it. I just hoped that would change because I was… filled with hope, I guess, and taking what I could get.

      • Fortooate

        I’ve never been in this situation, I just think he’s a cutie who’s playing with romantic radium here

  • MedinaSidonia

    It just occurred to me that the movie “Doctor Strange” examines some of the same moral questions that Alison faces. The thing that impressed me most about that movie was that it avoided binary thinking. There was no “This is how good guys behave, and that is how bad guys behave.” There was just “Everyone dips into the darkness. Some let it overwhelm them, some don’t.” The Ancient One was a force for good, though she partook of dark forces. And it was clear that Doctor Strange was to face the same challenge she faced, every day. He was going to have to decide for himself how much of the darkness to channel in order to do good work.

    • Lostman

      It like how phrase “a man got to do what man a got to do” can implied to most things in life. Just replace man with person, and it can implied to anyone try to achieve a goal. No matter how big,or small said goal is, will have to go through lengths to get it. This maybe as simple as going under a fence, or require hard work, or the in question may have person force there way in.

      Alison goal is huge one, and is highly demanding. Alison has been working, and even still; her goal may require more compromising of moral valves. This also ask us the question of how we think of “Alison got to do what Alison a got to do”?

  • IE

    *fangirl squees*

    Gotta admit, this made my morning. 😀

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    So I’m going to post a two-image comparison without commentary and let you come up with your own conclusion

    Ahem and welp

  • Mechwarrior

    This cannot end well.

  • Tylikcat

    I find myself pretty torn here. Given

    * Alison is being torn apart by the conflicts in her own values.
    * Usually, in comics, internal conflicts manifest externally. This is a storytelling shorthand.
    * (Clevin absolutely cannot be fridged. Like, seriously, no.)

    …so how does this story get told? Things can’t just go happily okay for Alison. Not because the world won’t allow it, because the world is the world and nothing is stopping it, but because Alison can’t deal with it.

    (And on the other hand, this is a pretty awful thing to count on to keep your capes in lines, seriously.)

    • Shweta Narayan

      I’m kinda hoping she blorps her entire internal mess out to him and he’s like O.O YEAH MAYBE ANOTHER TIME BYE 😀

      • Tylikcat

        That would be such a self protective response from him. Wonder if he’s up for it?

        • Shweta Narayan

          well… even my hope doesn’t stretch so far as to hope a sweet undergrad kid has good ideas of self-protection, esp when those would start by staying awaaay from MegaGirl.

          I’m more hoping she tells him the whole “I took the law into my own hands because reasons” and it freaks him out, more than that he sensibly decides he can’t handle her level of messed up. Of course, this would make her feel more like a monster, but I’m kinda more ok with that than her messing Clevin up for life.

        • Weatherheight

          In response to Ali confiding in Clevin, I’d like to hear “Damn. Well, I really like you, but maybe now is a bad time for more intensity. For right now, I feel like you need a shoulder to lean on and someone to really listen to you without any more drama. Maybe later?”

          But even that has a whole host of conflicting issues in there, doesn’t it?

          On the other hand, Clevin has taken a knife slash from Mary for no other reason than being associated with Ali (in a strange way) and kept on pressing forward. He sort of, kind of, knows the risks

          I guess this is why I’m no novelist. 😀

    • Lostman

      Alison has had two long days… like really, when was the last time she went to bed? Or ate something?

  • Neil Sather

    Lurker for ages, first time poster. That was absolutely adorkable. Thank you.

  • Cokely

    Predictable enough, but with the promise of nuance. I’m interested in the overlay of the film’s dialogue with the on-panel action, but don’t have the time to really dig into it.

  • Zac

    Oh god today’s strip is making me cringe myself all the way back to freshman year. Too real. TOO REAL.

    Just please don’t get mad about it Clevin, please please please don’t get mad about it.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Oh, by the way…

    I’m guessing most of ya knew’my stance already on this subject.
    So here’s what happened instead and the reason why I do end up liking what’s happening here:

    Alison is, once again, fucking up big time.
    She needed a kiss. She needed this gentle and unique moment of closeness to ease the emotional turmoil inside her. So she took it.
    And when time came to maybe possibly facing the consequences and responsibilities of assuming the affection of another human being toward herself, she looked like a big doof (panel 6) realizing “oh woaw, I didn’t think of that. Is it something I want? I don’t know. I just wanted that, right now. So I took it.”
    This is not as dire as I make it. Clevin is not necessarily heartbroken yet, and even could very well grow up to remember this one time ever kiss fondly if that’s all to come of it. That may be a relationship he’d be actually fine with.

    But Alison knew what he really wanted. That one, you weirdos who actually think any of this is genuinely romantic, you can’t deny. And she reaped what she needed, because she can, without having anything to give back in return.

    The tally is piling up.

    • Crow

      I agree with the point you made about “The nerd was the one all along”, but I think to write characters off as tropes and only tropes can sometimes be a bit unfair. Clevin has had a decent amount of characterization as compared to other non-central characters. He wasn’t the Glasses McBaka-kun of a fan service driven anime. And while tropes are tropes, sometimes an underdog story can happen. I just feel sorry for Clevin that Alison is using him for her needs and not considering his.

    • Eva Smiljanić

      I kind of like that she just did it on impulse. She didn’t show any serious interest before, so for her to back off is very in-character. I’d have been mad if she was suddenly head-over-heels for him, but this way? This I like.
      Poor Clevin though, I hope he’ll be alright XD

  • Nebty

    And now that it’s happened all I feel is sad. I hate watching people make mistakes. Her expressions say it all, really.

  • Bob

    ARG! Clev! What’s WRONG with you? If you kept your damn mouth shut she would have banged you! You could have tugged her into the booth and gotten some. But Noooooo… you gotta be the nice guy. You gotta ask her out on a date. You had to respect her. Ugh.

    Now, if Alison is like so many other girls I know, she is totally going to be turned off by this guy who respects her, wants to have a serious long term relationship, and more than likely is willing to be a self-sacrificing and caring sort. On the other hand, you do not deserve this guys Alison. But sometimes, fate smiles upon up and gives us more than we deserve.

    As a writer, it would be really BAD for Alison to say yes. “Will they/Won’t They” kept entire TV series going for multiple SEASONS. I think moonlighting had it best in the finale. As soon as they said, “Nope. We’re just friends” The show was over.

    Keep that in mind Alison. Keep that in mind…

  • My advice to Alison:

    You mean a lot to Clevin so you have to make up your mind – do you feel the same way about him? Could you give him what he wants? Is that what you want?

    If the answer is “yes” then give him the good news. If the answer is “no” then don’t keep him hanging on – say how you feel.

    Whilst he’s agreed to give you time to make your decision, don’t take forever (otherwise you’ll find that he’s moved on).

  • Eva Smiljanić

    I honestly didn’t expect this. I can dig it though.

  • Manuel Simone

    I honestly didn’t expected at this kiss to occur. Well, if they feel good in each other company and each one has genuinely feelings for the other one, then I’m perfectly fine with their relationship. Anyway, maybe if she has someone with a good soul as her boyfriend, and not evil masterminds, someone who can understand her and be kind with her without having hidden purposes, maybe Alison will be more happy with herself and will stop blaming herself so much.

  • MedinaSidonia

    Yesterday I found myself bristling at some of the replies to this strip because they seemed unfair to Clevin. I got the impression that some people thought he had no right to be disappointed.

    Healthy people in healthy relationships get to have emotional reactions, and they get to talk about those reactions. There is a huge difference between having/expressing a reaction on the one hand, and *acting* on that reaction on the other. In other words, if my wife and I disagree, it’s OK for me to be disappointed because I didn’t get my way, and it’s OK for me to express my disappointment, but it’s *not* OK for me to pretend that my desires are more important than hers, and it’s not OK for me to be a dick about it and try to browbeat her into letting me have my way.

    So when I saw what I perceived to be people not allowing Clevin even to have a reaction, I felt like I was on his side. I felt like Alison was doing what some emotionally abusive people have done to me: not allowing him to have a single negative reaction in her direction.

    Then I went back and read the strip again, and found that *I* was projecting. Alison isn’t doing that at all. She is *honestly* asking “is that okay”? She *is* allowing room for Clevin to have his reaction. I get the impression that if it’s not OK, and he doesn’t want to hang out with her in the midst of her indecision, she will accept that.

    I appreciate the nuance of this strip. I find it impossible to nitpick the characterization of either Alison or Clevin. They are two people being both emotionally honest and empathetic with one another. It’s damned tricky to navigate those waters, and likewise tricky to convey it in a comic. Lovely work.

    • Weatherheight

      I recommend re-reading the strip from time to time – there is an amazing amount of foreshadowing and call-backs in it, and the old really often reframes the new.

      • palmvos

        its almost as if they planned this……

  • StClair

    “Can you read my mind?”
    “No, that was my ex.”
    “Forget it.”

  • Stevonnie


    • Stevonnie

      Also, you can’t just go interrupt him when he’s gonna ask you out!! AND SAY YES DAMMIT> UDSIJKEIDKS< AGH, THIS Is KillING meee

    • Mechwarrior

      Alison might deserve a nice guy like Klevin, but Klevin deserves someone with less baggage than Alison. There’s unfortunately not really much chance of any relationship she gets into ATM working out.

  • SJ

    nm, didn’t work.