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  • ∫ClΓ©mensΓ—ds πŸ™

    PLOT TWIST: Gurwara is actually all the commenters that are not you.

    Love Alison’s face in panel two, to be told such horrific things and take it with a charming “oh well.”
    The truth of her crimes is written on her face indeed

    • Stephanie

      Looks more like resignation to me than “oh well.” He had just given words to what she was already thinking about herself. I think she both expected and feared that he would say that, and in that panel of course she doesn’t know that he’s going to articulate both sides of the debate.

    • Alan_A

      Wondering if “the truth of your crimes is written on your face” might instead be something that Gurwara is saying to himself. That would make sense given that he’s launching into a debate with himself. If so, perhaps his scars have a story to tell – maybe with parallels to Alison’s recent experience.

  • Aile D’Ciel

    And THIS is why he wouldn’t accept anything less than two cents. Alison had to pay both parts of Gollumrwara, see? Acting! 8)

  • Shweta Narayan

    I love youuu prof Gurwara!

    …both of you XD

    • Weatherheight

      If you thought your love-hate relationship Guwara was complicated before…

      • Izo

        This is so true….

  • AustinC123

    Oh no
    Is there a superperson in this world who can bring comment sections to life

    that may be the worst imaginable power

    • Merus

      He was killed along with the other super-powered children that could have saved the world except Menace figured it was for the best

  • Weatherheight

    There is no force more terrifying and more awe-inspiring than a professor with frustrated thespian tendencies.

    Brennan, Molly.. Two Hooves up!

    ::balances precariously on his hind legs::

    I kept expecting Dan Akroyd to walk on from stage left, saying “Guwara, you ignorant slut!”

    ::tumbles over in barely suppressed giggles::

  • M. Alan Thomas II

    Every deontology vs consequentialism debate ever, in summary form.

    • juleslt

      There *is* a quite generally agreed upon deontological right of society to demand some level of participation from its members, according to their means. Most people don’t disagree with the *principle* of taxation.

      For the uniquely gifted with the power to do vast amounts of good, a kind of biodynamic community service could be imagined, even if the specifics necessary to keep it just would be pretty tough to agree upon.

      In the meantime the deontological principle can still totally give moral basis to taking matters in one’s own hands in the most egregious cases of “I’m not going to lift a finger even if it would save a thousand lives”.

      You do still need to make sure that you don’t do unnecessary harm, keep it a last resort, make sure it really is a clear-cut case rather than you getting into horrible habits, etc.
      Yeah, the specifics are hard, so you’d better try to make it society’s business rather than yours sooner than later.

      • M. Alan Thomas II

        I’m not sure if that’s deontological or consequential, especially once you add the caveat “according to their means” (to reduce the possibility of negative consequences from over-taxation). The fact that most people don’t disagree with the principle of taxation tells me nothing about the basis for their acceptance of it. The fact that they can disagree with it as currently practiced could very well be due to finding that current practice has negative consequences under a consequentialist analysis.

        And I think it’s a long leap from taxation to national service in terms of moral justification and public acceptance. Control over a percentage of your money and control over a percentage of your time (necessarily including positive control over what you do with your body) are different levels of intrusion requiring different levels of justification, if they are indeed justifiable.

        And, of course, it may be that society has the right to demand that, but that does not necessarily translate into an individual having the right to decide that society demands it and to enforce it without reference to an authorization by society (e.g., being a sworn officer of the state enforcing a law).

        • saysomethingclever

          isn’t that what many nations do with compulsory military service terms for all citizens?

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            Yes, but it’s hardly “many.” Plenty of countries retain the right to conscript in times of war but don’t use it in times of peace, or only have it as a backup should they not have enough volunteers to maintain minimum troop levels for their own defense, but very few have anything approaching universal service.

            Those countries that do have universal service are often those that perceive themselves as having to be ready for a potentially existence-threatening invasion on no notice, such as South Korea or Israel. Singapore feels similarly, especially given its tiny population; the only way for it to ever defend itself is to ensure that everyone is trained. Likewise Switzerland, which avoided being invaded in two world wars largely on the basis of having a fully-mobilized population that would make an invasion too expensive for the benefit unless fighting was finished elsewhere. Thus I said that it requires a different level of justification; societies are more willing to accept it as the perceived threat to society increases.

          • Smithy

            What about jury duty? This is a clear cut situation where the government asks for some of your time as a citizen to participate in the smooth running of the system of law.

          • M. Alan Thomas II

            That’s a good point, although again, juries are not actually a common feature around the globe. And in many of the countries that have them, they’re reserved for only the most serious of crimes (e.g., manslaughter, murder, treason, &c.), with lesser crimes tried by professional judges alone. Again, I think that this indicates a willingness to bring in a balancing test where only the most serious issues with the most serious of stakes, involving not only the deaths of victims but potentially the bodily confinement for life or even execution of another citizen, could possibly compel the bodily service of innocents.

  • Yirtimd2

    YEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! This is so awesome! Very, very fun joke-reaction to all commenters, yeah, this is what comments section was when she made Max by force, yeah, THIS IS IT! Applause with two hands and two legs! Bravo!!!

    • AveryAves

      And yet, I don’t think Brennan watches the comments, so this is really a result of trial & error moral problem solving.

      • Tylikcat

        …which is also to say that our commentary was fairly darn obvious.

        • AveryAves

          Well that’s what I thought first, before I realised that most would come to this specific argument if they were to think about the dilemma.

      • Zac Caslar

        There was the hundred-ish episodes of these comments that were directly moderated.
        Which suggests to me some probable creator-audience interaction.

        • AveryAves

          Pretty sure Molly (the artist) moderates the comments and Brennan (the writer) doesn’t interact with comments or whatnot for unbiasing writing or something

    • Absolutely, I do feel like I’m rereading the debate from a few weeks ago in comic form!
      Deja vu, anyone?

  • zellgato

    Visual teaching. Good plans.
    I will be sos urprised if he isn’tw orking with that fellow

  • Edward L. Howell

    Reminds me of “Geri’s Game” an old Pixar animated short. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OXJj-pSTvo

    • AbacusWizard

      Exactly what I was thinking! Solitaire philosophy chess!

    • Matrix

      I loved this short. It was a very good one and well executed

    • Eternal

      Me too ! Thanks for posting the link =)

    • Rugains Fleuridor

      Excercise for both body and mind.

    • Emily Smith

      I was just about to post this!

    • Izo

      It’s a good thing he wasn’t playing speed chess… wait… I just watched more… what?

  • Roman Snow

    Surely he has an actual opinion of his own he’s building up to.

    • Dean

      Well, of course he does. But this exercise isn’t about imposing his opinion on Alison- he presumably wants to help her come to terms with her actions and move on.

      • Roman Snow

        I’m only saying I hope he takes an actual stance, not offering speculation as to what he’s currently doing.

      • Roman Snow

        Taking a stance on the issue needn’t be an imposition, although I agree with you on his immediate intent.

        • Shjade

          She clearly considers him to be in a position of authority on matters of morality, ethics, etc.

          Simply stating his opinion would be imposing on her by making its existence known, as she’d feel compelled to accept it as “right.” Avoiding that until she can get her own thoughts sorted out a bit better is preferable.

    • juleslt

      Nah, I think he means to show her that several valid opinions can be had, and he’ll leave telling her that she should just make up her own mind.
      He’ll pretend that this wasn’t meant to be helpful at all, while in fact making both sides of the reasoning explicit is pretty damn helpful.

      • Couchsessel

        This is essentially the debate between utilitarianism and determinism which is one of the oldest dividing points in philosophy. Almost every philosopher will admit that there are some merits and downsides to both positions, no matter what their personal stance is.

    • FlashNeko

      How do we know “eh, he sounds like a prick to me” WASN’T his personal opinion but he considers that irrelevant to what he’s ultimately trying to demonstrate?

      • Roman Snow

        While it may have been his personal opinion, it was not his philosophical opinion.

  • Haven

    And then he gets in a fistfight with himself.

    Alison demands a refund.

    • Abel Undercity

      The winner takes on Colin “Bomber” Harris in the final.

    • Tylikcat

      Why would Alison demand a refund? Sounds like popcorn time. (And I like Gurwara.)

    • Pol Subanajouy

      Please. I didn’t know I needed this.

    • Tdoodle

      HE’S EVEN DOING A COSTUME CHANGE. Gurwara, my heart.

  • Abel Undercity

    I’m not the only one reminded of Stephen Colbert’s “Worthy Opponent” bit, am I?

    • 21stCenturyPeon

      Or Gollum arguing with Smeagol.

  • Krys Hunter

    Ahhh, one penny for each perspective!

  • Lostman

    I feel like this is somehow breaking the fourth wall.

  • RantGirlRants

    Oh I like him!

    • Merle

      You don’t have to believe me about this, and you’re totally welcome to keep using the image as your icon, but – that’s one of my World of Warcraft characters! Jateej, a Blood Elf paladin on Thorium Brotherhood server.

      Commissioned it a dog’s age ago, and it was a nice surprise to see someone using it.

      • RantGirlRants

        Many moons ago I ran Reckless Ascension on TB. I found the pic years ago and have loved it forever.

  • zarawesome

    Gurwara is a difficult personality to get a bead on.

  • Arkone Axon

    Yeah. He’s being a VERY good teacher here. He’s not just telling her his opinion. He’s not even just giving her a choice of opinions. He’s using his theatrics to highlight the facts, as he gives her… ALL the facts.

    He’s trying to get her to think. And by thinking, to figure out a path to redemption. Philosophy isn’t just “high minded thoughts utilizing lots of polysyllables.” It’s thinking about HOW to live, how to behave.

    I’m reminded of two things here. The first is the Superman animated series series finale, where Superman threatened Hamilton to get him to save Supergirl’s life. Later on in Justice League Unlimited we find that Hamilton decided to join up with Cadmus as a direct result of that… and because Superman never did try to make amends with him. Later on Superman tells Darkseid that he feels as if he lives in a world made of cardboard… and he isn’t just talking about buildings and bodies, he’s talking about how the description “immortal super strong flying alien with laser eyes” can apply to both a beloved champion AND to the monster of a grade B horror movie. How he has to take care with his actions.

    But the second thing I’m reminded of is… a playground. And Allison tearfully screaming, “If I knew how to fix it I would!” Gurwara is… trying to teach her how to fix it.

    • Daniel L Clark

      Man I do not remember that scene. Was that before his duel with Aaron Burr?

      • Arkone Axon

        Justice League Unlimited season finale? This:


        • Shad H

          Thaaaat….definitely killed some people when he flew through those buildings.

          • Tsapki

            Depends on if the building had people in them. Though given there are civilians standing in the streets, it seems pretty damn likely. This is why I like Grrl Power, the big alpha hero of the main group talks about how all the fight scenes we see in comic books and such would result in dozens of people getting killed and gives viable alternative to reduce the chances of people dying.

          • Arkone Axon

            Quite possibly. Though in his defense, it’s A: Metropolis, where they’re pretty good about emergency evacuation procedures, and B: in the middle of a worldwide alien invasion led by the guy Superman just punted through those buildings. A lot of people were dying.

  • Wood

    A good teacher must always be a good comedian.

  • Lysiuj


  • Manuel Simone

    Gurwara, the 2 cents stand-up comedy actor/professor who doesn’t hesitate to make a little fun of the strongest being in the world, but who’s wise enough to actually let her choose what she thinks is best for her and not push her in a certain direction. Plus he’s pretty fun to have around, I’d have loved to have him as my professor back in the school.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Assuming he actually did this sort of thing (or something in that vein) when he was teaching, and not just when he hunted down a superhero in need of psychiatry.

    • Matrix

      Ever see History of the World Part 1? “What’s your Profession?” “Philosopher.” “Oh, Your a Bull–iter?! Have you Bull–ited lately?”

      • Manuel Simone

        No, I didn’t see it. Its a comedy show? (I’m a fan of comedy shows, especially british ones, and if it is that, then I’ll have to thank you for suggestion).

        • Matrix

          Mel Brooks Movie very funny:

          • Nobody

            Ah Mel Brooks, the king of parody. To bad his style of parody was replaced with the “‘movie’ movie” genre.

        • Weatherheight

          There are several Mel Brooks films that are juvenile, scatalogical, and filled with very, very bad jokes, and these films somehow manage to be witty and socially relevant despite themselves.

          Blazing Saddles
          Young Frankenstein
          History of the World (Part 1)
          Robin Hood: Men in Tights

          He has several other films that are a bit more highbrow (i.e. he treats them a bit more seriously) but are still pretty good absurdist movies.

          The Twelve Chairs
          The Producers
          High Anxiety
          To Be or Not To Be

          There was a Blu-Ray collection from a few years back that’s a pretty good bargain, but I strongly suggest you watch a couple of his films before shelling out. Like Monty Python, Mel Brooks tends to polarize reactions – people either like his works or hate them.

          Mel Brooks Collection

          Pedantry Achievement Unlocked!

          • palmvos

            ::gives Weatherheight Spaceballs The Apple::

          • Huttj509

            My mental response to “you can’t joke about that” is “no, you *shouldn’t* joke about that. Mel Brooks could pull it off. You’re not Mel Brooks.”

            That dude really understood comedic timing, context, and framing.

          • Izo

            You forgot Life Stinks πŸ™‚

  • GreatWyrmGold

    I don’t think it’s a good sign that the Gurwara arguing against Alison pointed out the various crimes she committed, and the Gurwara arguing for her just said “Lots of bad stuff happens, who cares?” That argument is incredibly weak.

    • MisterTeatime

      I think what the latter actually said was “lots of bad stuff was happening, and she stopped it.” (“We now stand in a world where thousands live that were doomed to die…”, i.e., Alison’s actions saved lots of lives.)

      • GreatWyrmGold

        Ah. I misread that.

    • Lostman

      I thought for a second that Gurwara became the comment section.

  • Walter

    I really like Alison’s little smile in the second panel. It’s very her.

  • Tylikcat

    I find it hard not to wish she’d given him three cents.

    • Karmik

      **Takes off his tie
      “You’re both senile fossils! Cool Whip is the superior desert topping!”

      • Weatherheight

        No, new Shimmer is a floor wax!
        It’s a dessert topping
        It’s a floor wax!
        Hold on you two, new Shimmer is a dessert topping… AND a floor wax!

        • palmvos

          this has reached disturbing levels.
          can we go for disquieting?

          • Weatherheight

            Completely stolen from the first year of SNL – one of their fake commercials (Chevy Chase delivered that last line).

            My third favorite right after “Happy Fun Ball” and “Bris in a Cadillac”.

        • Spongegirl Circleskirt

          Guess I was ten hours too late. πŸ˜›

      • Spongegirl Circleskirt

        It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping!

        • bryan rasmussen

          it’s a floor topping and a dessert wax.

      • korbl

        Do you think if she gave him 8 cents he’d have stripped down to his socks and underwear?

  • Wolftamer9

    I was writing some SFP-Worm fanfiction where she discusses morality with Taylor Hebert, but it seems my services weren’t needed.

  • BGB

    Anyone else picturing Stephen Colbert arguing with himself in different colored ties?

  • Seer of Trope

    Perhaps what he will demonstrate is Hegel’s dialectic process of an argument between a thesis (the end doesn’t justify the mean) and its antithesis (the mean doesn’t justify the end). If I had to guess what the synthesis, the resolving conclusion, will be, it would be that the nature of the mean determines the nature of the end, therefore an action and its consequence cannot be treated as independent events. It’s not a simple price-result exchange of her sacrificing one person’s autonomy for the end of saving thousands of lives. She will have to live with a crime, and she might has well set off a domino for a greater consequence.

    • Karmik

      I feel like part of what this is leading to is the realization that she had hit a point where she was a monster no matter what. Once she became aware of (what we are meant to believe was) a 100% guaranteed cure for the ills of anyone on the planet in need of organ transplants, she was either a monster for abetting the continued suffering of a good person and tacitly permitting the deaths of the faceless thousands who couldn’t get a transplant in time or she was a monster for going forward with the action that removes the previous problem but at the cost of an innocent person’s dignity and independence no matter how briefly. She had to choose which monster she could live with being. Once she was aware of it, and had to make the choice between action and inaction there was really only one outcome. Alison hasn’t proven to be an in-action kind of person when there is a problem to punch.

      • Weatherheight

        TANSTAFL: There Aint No Such Thing As a Free Lunch.
        All genuflect before Heinlein.

        • Tylikcat

          Phooey – there may be no free lunches, but there is good engineering.

          Which doesn’t mean the fact that Alison handled this badly and sucks at this kind of thing necessarily means it could have been better. It might have been doomed. Still, it was a diplomatic task handled by a tank (who was also an ex-girlfriend). (There were also good reasons not to bring arbitrary other people in.)

          • Loranna

            I agree, Alison shouldn’t have brought other people in – though I do wish she’d taken the time to sleep on the matter, and, say, seek advice from someone – like, say, Brad – with a proven record of handling problematic situations. General advice, of course; nothing specific, for obvious reasons.

            Even that may not have helped – nor, necessarily, been offered, though I like to think Brad would have offered what advice he could – but I do wish it’d been tried.

            And that’s my one and only contribution to the never-ending debate. Let’s sit back and watch Gurwara at work! I brought the popcorn πŸ™‚


          • Raven Black

            Though even sleeping on it would be an extra 8+ hours of torture for her friend, and maybe some amount of third-party death, which could have been averted at the small cost of ~4 hours of frustration for a jerkface. The window of time in which it’s worth trying to find a third way is pretty small on pure utilitarian grounds.

            (Though this calculus also ignores the inevitable future extra-super-villains.)

          • Loranna

            I . . . respectfully decline to argue calculus, as any argument I make will inevitably boil down to me saying, in essence, “that’s silly.” ^_^

            That, and long staring at these equations, as well as other equations in other forums and in my personal life, has left my poor brain numb to the idea of moral debate, and I am more interested in wondering how Gurwara’s performance would go if he had been wearing a hat. o/


          • Weatherheight

            Heinlein’s use of the phrase was, essentially, “Everything has a cost. You can mitigate it, but nothing is free.” Specifically, this is the tagline used by spacers who have to pay for everything, even their air.
            Pu another way, Alison will pay something for any significant act she does – she’s just very, very aware of this particular case.

            Speaking as someone who has run down decision trees much less complicated than this one and still made horrible choices, I can analyze her choices and deem them less than perfect but still understand how sh got there (this is not, by the way, as you say endorsement – just analysis).

            And I also say Phooey – I want a free meal now and again, darn it! πŸ˜€

          • MrSing

            The perfect person to convince Max was already in on all this. In fact, he informed Allison of Max in the first place.
            Calling Patrick would have been easier, quicker, and would not have exposed Max to any more people who didn’t already know about him.

          • SmilingCorpse

            That would be the same thing as what Alison did, just a different method. Patrick uses mind control. Coercion of the mind over coercion by force is still coercion.

          • MrSing

            Patrick doesn’t mind control, he reads minds.
            He would have found a way to willingly convince Max to help, since it would be incredibly easy for him to know exactly how to do this.

          • SmilingCorpse

            Or, the more likely scenario, he finds compromising information leverage against him.

          • MrSing

            I guess we will never know.

      • MrSing

        Well, she could have also tried to convince him in better ways, of which there are many that would not have cost that much extra time. That could have very possibly prevented her from doing an evil action for the greater good.
        That’s really one of the biggest problems with how she approached the situation. She hardly tried before going to the good ol’ reliable violence and threats.
        She’s just not a very good person because she has such a tendency to be comfortable with using awful means. Not because she is willing to use them, but because she prefers them.

        • Seer of Trope

          From the way Alison’s guilt is making her sick to the point of barfing and giving her sleepless night, it seems pretty clear that she’s NOT comfortable using physical coercion on innocent people.

          Yes, there are other ways that she could have gone about convincing Max. One I can think of right on the top of my head is establishing common ground when Max tells her how he wanted a different power by telling her own story of being given responsibility over matters deciding life and death at a young age and how no matter badass her power is, it does very little in the problems she cares about, like her father’s cancer. By creating a ground for empathy and opening up Max to the idea that his power is badass, Alison could have convinced Max to use his power for the greater good and be appreciated, even if at self-interest.

          But this is something that I, a reader with total knowledge, third-person perspective, and unlimited time to think of a response, thought of. Now, if someone rejected an idea that could not just save a friend of mine who’s in daily torture but also thousands of lives at the simple cost of four hours of his/her time because he/she didn’t want to and to spite me, I’m not sure if I would have had a mind clear of rage.

          • MrSing

            She is clearly quite comfortable with using violence. In the past we have seen her using violence to solve nearly all of her problems. She even admitted that she loves using it and wants to kill or punch everyone that disagrees with her.
            There is no denying that Allison has a strong habit of being violent.
            The only reason she feels bad about using violence is because of the way she was raised. She admits this freely in the past (see her conversation with Cleaver).

            So, the disgust she is feeling now is her desires coming into conflict with her teachings. Teachings she only seems to want to uphold because they are held by people she respects (her parents) not because she sees the inherent value of them.

            She pays some lip service to these teachings, but from her constant behaviour it can be gleamed that she’d rather just do things her way.

            One of the easiest ways she could have at the very least tried to convince Max to work for her is to compensate him for his work. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked, maybe it would have. But you have to admit that it is mostly a natural thing to think of for the vast majority of decent people to try to compensate people for their work instead of demanding it. That this incredibly obvious strategy never even crossed her mind speaks volumes of her character. Especially when you look at her past behaviour.

            Her thought process goes straight from demanding to coercing when “her buttons are pressed” as the prof put it.

            This made her create her own false dilemma where the only options where coercion of an innocent and letting people die.

            When a drunk driver hits someone, or when a tired truck driver causes an accident, we still blame them. They put themselves into a situation where they were not fit to perform actions or make decisions. Allison being tired and emotional make it clear why she did the things she did, but it does not excuse her actions or clear her of the guilt of creating a false dilemma.

          • Zorae42

            Compensate him? With what? He’s rich, she’s not. She had nothing to offer him other than the knowledge that he’d be saving thousands (more really) of people, which he turned down out of spite.

            Since you brought up drunk drivers… Is it wrong to physically restrain/manhandle a drunk person against their will to get their keys from them and prevent them from driving? What if you only do it after begging them, pointing out all the reasons they shouldn’t do it, and even offering to pay a cab to drive them home and they still refused? Or is it better to not ‘infringe on their rights’ and let them drive off, potentially killing themselves and other people? Or is it better to call the police and force them to pay a fine and potentially serve time/lose their ability to drive all together? All just because you’d rather not interfere with them because it’s against your principles.

          • MrSing

            Allison is actually pretty damn rich. She has movies and an entire toy line, for which she gets significant royalties. We already saw this.
            Not to mention that she destroyed that cheque.
            Not to further mention that she is a celebrity, the most powerful human on the planet, and has connections with very powerful and useful people. She could have offered him many things that he did not have.
            In fact, he might have been very quickly convinced, not making it necessary for people to die in the negotiation time. But we’ll never know that, because Allison went for the violent approach almost immediately. Which is why her actions are morally reprehensible no matter what ethics you hold.
            And you seem to be confused about my way of thinking. I’m not a pure deontologist, I believe that human rights and freedom should not be violated unless someone is responsible or will be responsible for violating the rights or freedoms of another person (with some sidenotes included).
            A drunk person that wants to drive has created a situation in which they are responsible for being in a state where they will endanger other people. This person should be stopped, since they are infringing on the rights of other people by recklessly endangering them. Taking away their drivers license and car until they’ve sobered up is more than acceptable.

        • Karmik

          I don’t believe she could have convinced him to do anything. Maybe if they hadn’t last parted on ugly terms and were still in the whole courting phase she might have had a chance but even then I doubt it given what we found out about his inner character. I think the only way it could have gone down was the way it did. Her lack of sleep impeding her decision making certainly didn’t help her come up with an alternative though.

          Both choices were equally unconscionable and she took the one she thought she could stomach. The fact that Max was a bit of a douche probably helped the medicine go down but its still a tough pill to swallow.

          • MrSing

            She didn’t even really try. Which is what taints her decision no matter what system of ethics you believe in.
            We will never know if she could have somehow convinced him or if other ways would have worked, because she was terrible at convincing him to do anything and quickly gave up and started using force and threats.
            It might seem like there were only two choices, but that is mostly because other options weren’t tried or even considered by Alison.
            She created a false dilemma.

          • Sanca

            “My answer is no. It’s going to stay no, and it’s always going to be no. And even if I wanted to do it, I might still say no, just to you. Just to watch you realize that, for once, you weren’t going to get your fucking way. How does that sound?”
            -Max, immediately before Alison forced him to help

            Now sure you could maybe convince them to change their mind, but honestly when that level of hostility is the response to a morally sound and reasonable request, at least by your perspective, the motivation to try would be difficult to find, especially when you have the power to get what you want without all that effort.

            That said, Alison’s actions following that were most definitely illegal and I find it quite difficult to say they were acceptable from a moral stance, as well-intentioned as they may have been, and that is exactly where Alison is now struggling to figure out if what she did was acceptable.

          • MrSing

            You do have to take into consideration that Max only said this after Allison soured the conversation completely.

            First of she demanded his help, while having seen him freak the fuck out over just being asked things previously. She knew that he hated demands, but did not take this into consideration when trying to convince him.

            Second, she never once considered compensating him for his services, instead expecting him to do it because she said it was the right thing to do. Another thing that would have agitated anyone being asked to perform a task they don’t like.

            Third of, she mocked his petty reasons for not liking his power and not wanting to use it. Another bad thing to do when you want someone’s help.

            Fourth of all, he specifically says that even if he wanted to help, he would say no “just to you”. Heavily implying that he says no because Allison was so spectacular awful at convincing him that he would never say yes to her. But not to another person if they might have approached him and tried it.

            Allison just totally failed in every aspect of talking Max into it and rushed towards the violence.

            Max isn’t sympathetic, but Allison was incredibly incompetent and demanding in their talk. It’s very telling of what kind of a person is by the way she went into this and how she ended it.

          • Ben Posin

            Nah, this is goofy, if what we’re talking is ethics. Yeah, Allison maybe “soured” things by not treating him exactly as he wanted to be treated or by not pitying him for being such a special snowflake—but that’s a question of suck up technique, not ethics. He’d made it clear that he wasn’t willing to help. That the door to negotiation was entirely closed, because he wanted to teach her a lesson. So she took him at his word, and didn’t screw around while her friend lay strapped to a table with her organs being cut out, without anesthesia.
            I’ll entertain arguments that resorting to violence was unethical, but I can’t get behind the idea that the problem here is that, given the pressures involved, she’s a bad person for jumping to that step when she did.

          • MrSing

            If you want someone to help you and you go about by making demands, insulting them, threatening them, and then apply pain until they do what you want, you are terrible at negotiations.

            Allison went in with no real intentions to peacefully convince Max, outside of making a demand and him helping her without any further ado.

            For the entire conversation Allison did nothing but make demands, insult him, and threaten him. No matter the nobleness of her goals or the pettiness of his reasons not to help, that is simply not the way to go about convincing people.

            She went in with a mindset of forcing him to help her, if not by asking, then by making him do it. This is the entire reason the argument went so badly and why she went for the threats and violence so quickly.

            The entire way the conversation went reflect incredibly poorly on Allison’s character and while Max is an ass, Allison wasn’t much better.

            Pressures explain why people act bad, but it doesn’t make their actions or behaviour any less bad.

          • Sanca

            She handled the conversation poorly sure, she didn’t take the time to actually think things though before rushing to his house in the middle of the night. I do however doubt that even with rest, being more sympathetic in her actions, or offering compensation would have made much if any difference. However I wouldn’t say that she went into the conversation planning to force him to help, she just went in without a plan.

            Also she didn’t actually say all of his reasons for not wanting to help were petty, she said that the risk that helping her would put him in was valid, she offered him all the protection should could provide and made the quite valid point that there are people that already know his secret.

          • MrSing

            Fair enough. Though we will never know if another method would have yielded any results.

            We can both speculate about it, but now we’ll never know.

            Though I think Max was right in doubting that Allison could protect him. She doesn’t have an exactly stellar record of keeping people alive and safe from threats that are more subtle than rampaging villains.

          • Ben Posin

            The argument went so badly because she genuinely doesn’t understand his point of view—to her it is so obvious, axiomatic, that it’s good to help other people, and that if there’s some we’re particularly suited to doing so without much of a cost, of course we should want to! When she asked “how have I not ever heard of you?” she honestly didn’t understand how he could have been sitting on the sideline for so long, if that’s what he’d been doing. So her thought wasn’t to show up with a powerpoint presentation outlining potential incentive structures, payment plans, etc. It was to show up and say hey, I’m sorry I left things badly between us and was a dick, but forget about me, here’s this great way you can “save the world” and rescue my friend with a quick trip and a zap—we’ll keep you anonymous if you want, no muss, no fuss.

            And, largely because Max IS a prick, this broke down pretty quickly to his strong statement that he was entirely unwilling to do it regardless of any argument or how much sense it might make, just because he wanted Alison to be denied what she wanted. There wasn’t really a great moment for Alison to do all this alternative strategizing that you wanted her to do once things got going.
            So, yeah, given the way Max operates, maybe you’d have done a much better job. Maybe MOST people would have. And if you want to fault Alison’s ultimate decision and action, well, I’m open to folks disagreeing with me on that. But Alison showed up in good faith, and was undercut in the negotiating process by her inability to emotionally understand Max’s attitude at the outset, not by some moral failing that let her eschew being persuasive.

            Or, well, that’s my opinion anyway, man.

    • Preacher John

      Synthesis: The means is the end. It’s a false division. Both must be considered together, in toto.

      • Regret

        But causality is not linear, it is a complex multidimensional web.
        So what you are saying is that you always have to think of everything.
        That is impossible.
        A more reasonable expectation would be to try to choose the lesser of all evils [i]that you know about.[/i]
        You can’t really fault someone for not choosing an option that is not known to them.

    • M. Alan Thomas II

      Or we go to virtue ethics as a fallback when it’s impossible to resolve at that level or we realize that normative ethics and applied ethics are different things.

    • saysomethingclever

      Nicely reasoned.

  • Merle

    I don’t know if I like Gurwara yet or not. But either way, he’s certainly interesting.

    Also, hello! First comment on the comic! I just finished an archive binge. Wish I’d started reading this sooner!

    • Weatherheight

      HEE HAW! (That’s how a donkey says hello!)
      Welcome to this very odd yet wonderful community.

      Punch is along the back.. nope, sorry, strawberry daiquiris and gin, neat, along the back wall.
      And.. hmm, coconut cookies and lemon meringue pie on the table.

      The bucket of carrots is mine – mitts off. πŸ˜€

  • Philip Bourque

    She’s getting her money’s worth, that’s for sure.

  • Guancyto

    Trolling Level: Starting to Spawn Sockpuppets

    • Weatherheight

      Puppet show!
      Much better than a Bag of Rocksβ„’!

  • Ben Posin

    I’m a little curious as to how much she told him–and surprised at the the trust she is placing in him. Alison did seem to take seriously Max’s desire for privacy, and her promise to keep his secret from leaking out—apparently Feral’s doctors don’t even know that a person was brought in to use a power on Feral, just that Alison did something. But the biggest part of a secret is knowing that a secret exists. It seems like at minimum Alison told Gurwara that there was someone who was in some way able to save thousands upon thousands of lives at almost no personal cost, and that Alison literally twisted his arm to make him help out, resulting in lives saved. Even if that’s literally all she told him, following the news and reading up on whatever fan sites inevitably stalk Alison should point him towards the change in Feral, which pretty much gives you most of the secret except for Max’s name. And who knows, if the fan sites caught Alison on her date with Max, he might be on the list of people to be looked at eventually if you’re trying to run this secret down.

    • Elaine Lee

      It’s fairly easy to tell a story in a way that gives the gist of the problem in a way that leaves out the details.

      • Stephanie

        Sure, but I think what Ben’s saying is that Gurwara may be able to put together the story by connecting Alison’s detail-free version to recent events.

      • Ben Posin

        Maybe—-but based on his performance and previous comments it looks like he already knows:
        1. There was a man who Alison recently dealt with who could have easily saved thousands of lives at very little cost
        2. Alison forced that man to help by kidnapping him and literally twisting his arm
        3. Alison feels bad but is conflicted, because what she did worked and saved thousands of lives.
        Based on that, it shouldn’t be hard from gossip/news to notice that Feral suddenly can donate tons more organs, and is now hanging around with Alison. I don’t think it would be that tough for Gurwara to guess the connection between that and the above—so now he knows that Alison knows a guy who was able to help Feral in this way, but is hiding that ability. So that’s most of the secret out of the bag, and prying into Alison’s life might lead folks to Max before too long.

    • Giacomo Bandini

      No. You see,Little before having his secret meeting with Max, Alison was at at a conference attended by hundreds if not thousand of biodynamics. What is more probable: that one of them secretly evolved a new power – and these kind of things happens, think to moonshadow and Alison herself; or that the guy she was dating was secretely a biodynamic?

      • Ben Posin

        Eh….maybe, I suppose it could provide some cover. But so far the developments all seem to be in line with the people’s original power. Daniel/Cleaver’s knife/tumor things got sharper, Mary got better at manipulating light, and Alison got some more use out of the telekinesis it turns out she has been applying to herself. Assuming these biodynamics are already known and catalogued, they actually might be pretty easy to dismiss as potential candidates.
        So I do think this is still showing a lot of trust in Gurwara, and is not really in the spirit of the promise she made to Max (though I don’t think that promise was repeated after he said no to her request).

  • pidgey

    If this is proposing that the means don’t justify the ends somehow, I emphatically disagree. The means absolutely justify the ends, in every situation, without exception, always and forever. That’s what it means to live in a determinate universe.

    • Stephanie

      Gurwara is taking both sides on the issue and debating it with himself. So only one of his “personas” here is proposing that, and the other one is disagreeing.

      • Lostman

        As of now, I’m more on the line of think of what are the consequences going to be. While the good consequence of saving countless lives is good, I can’t but think about what the bad consequences are going to be.

        • Ordinary Tree

          So, not just Means justify the Ends, but also Karma thrown in?

          • Lostman

            Something like, it’s more of “don’t get caught” mentally.

    • ∫ClΓ©mensΓ—ds πŸ™

      A revolution that has to be violent to overthrow tyrannical oppression comes to mind.

    • Elaine Lee

      I fall more on the side of the Utilitarians, but it’s your “always” I can’t go with. Couldn’t we say that the ends “often” justify the means? Guess you’d need that third penny though.

      • Beroli

        Okay, either I’m confused, you are, or pidgey is.

        Coatless Gurwara is the one who said Coated Gurwara was arguing, “the means justify the ends” as opposed to Coatless Gurwara’s position that “the ends justify the means.” That is, as I understand it, the means (threatening Max and twisting his arm) were more important than the ends (enough organ donation for the entire world). pidgey expressed agreement with the means justifying the ends, you with the ends usually justifying the means. So either pidgey expressed wholehearted agreement with Coated Gurwara and you expressed qualified agreement with Coatless Gurwara, or I misunderstood something somewhere.

  • IE

    This week, Guwara sums up the comment section for the past chapter.

    • spriteless

      I wish he’d gotten to it sooner.

    • weedgoku

      He also reveals that he has a secret teleportation coat.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Man, that guy is good.

  • Cokely

    If and when time travel is ever possible, I will go to the past with this page and save the comment section months of trouble, causality be damned.

    • Stephanie

      But then everyone would just argue over which Gurwara is right.

      • Cokely

        They were already doing that all the way back in “This is unconscionably bad pedagogy” times. At least this will help people stay focused and avoid rehashing the hypotheticals over.

        And over.

        And over again.

        • Stephanie

          Fair point. Actually, you know what I bet would have happened if the past comment section had access to this page? People dissecting Gurwara’s phrasing, and arguing one of the following:

          1. The creator is clearly depicting the Gurwara who agrees with me as making a better argument than the opposing Gurwara! Suck on that, opposing commenters!

          2. The creator is clearly depicting the Gurwara who agrees with me as making an inferior strawman argument! How dare he?

          I joke, but I actually am kind of interested to see whether any of the creator’s personal opinion bleeds into the text in the coming pages. I’m gonna try not to read too much into it though, because I know I’m biased to see the arguments for my side as more compelling.

          • Weatherheight

            So do we all. πŸ˜€

  • SmilingCorpse

    I get the need to act out both sides of the argument, but does he really need to insult himself?

    • Beroli

      Arguably…yes. If he just stated the positions dispassionately, it would sell short that there’s plenty to be legitimately really upset about in both these positions.

    • Stephanie

      It’s probably just his way of having fun with it.

      • Philip Petrunak

        I think he as also reached a conclusion, but is allowing her to see and understand his thought process better.

    • Weatherheight

      Need? Nope.
      But it sure is fun, isn’t it? πŸ˜€

  • Kifre

    Oh, hey. One man Comments Section.

  • Orphiex

    …Oh, I **like** this approach.

  • Eternal

    Wow, I never put it like that before.
    Truth be told, don’t the means always justify the end?

    Say, if we knew with 100% certainty that sacrificing babies in some dark ritual every year would reduce the number of natural disasters for the next year, I don’t think we would be willing to do that.

    Maybe if it was just “sacrificing people” we may be willing to go through with it, but only within a certain context (only as a punishment for horrendous crimes or – if we deem even that unethical – only if people volunteer to be the sacrifices).

    That being said, in this case the harm caused to save people is of a different kind (not death), it’s coercing people to do things against their will under the threat of violence, which is closer to slavery or rape (depending on the context). I’m not sure how to rate one against the other, but I’m pretty sure that the answer is not fixed and depends on your religion and stuff.

    • Stephanie

      “I don’t think we would be willing to do that.”

      Well, it depends on your outlook. TBH I’d potentially be down with your baby-sacrifice example, depending on the ratio of sacrificed babies to averted disasters, and assuming we don’t know of any alternative strategy that would save more lives at less cost. On an emotional level it’s horrifying, but people dying in natural disasters is also horrifying.

      • Eternal

        Well, I get what you mean, and I know that lots of people will call themselves “utilitarists” and say that’s the “logical option” but I think it is a reductionist idea that leaves out a lot.

        The main objection I have to this is that agreeing to this means that you agree to be under a system that may choose to kill you or your loved ones when convenient. That’s agreeing that for example tomorrow someone may come to your house and take away your husband, wife, parent or child to bring them to a slaughterhouse so that their blood/bones/skin/organs can be harvested to save 10 people. That’s just plain horrifying.

        • Stephanie

          When weighing whether or not an action is acceptable for the greater good, I do think “the loss of utility from living in a society where this action can be permitted” should be accounted for. For example, in the case of the organ harvesting thing, I believe a society where people could be organ-jacked like that would lead to more total suffering than the organ transplants could alleviate. But that doesn’t mean that all “lesser evil” tradeoffs work out that way. That’s why these choices should be approached on a case-by-case basis, and always with an eye toward finding an even better solution that further minimizes harm.

          • Eternal

            That seems fair, but I don’t think computing such a utility function is doable at all.

            On a personal basis, there are people who may prefer to die (depending on how) than to lose a limb, people who prefer to lose their lives than to compromise their pride, honor or principles, etc.

            At most you may get some heuristic on a perceived utility through voting or through polls, but that’s very far from the actual utility function. And how do you even define “utility from living in a society” for a newborn child ?

            In addition to all that, you cannot just average personal utilities into some compound utility. If something drastically raises the expected utility for half the people and drastically lowers for the other half, you cannot consider it to be overall neutral, because in practice it would probably lead to a civil war and low utilities for about everyone.

          • Stephanie

            Sure, I think it’s probably not possible for humans to compute that utility function with high enough resolution to decide whether committing a harm is acceptable to avert a harm that isn’t dramatically worse. For that reason, in most situations I would err on the side of doing no harm. In the case of Max, however, the utility cost of letting him go uncoerced was definitely dramatically worse than the utility cost of coercing him. It’s like how I might not be able to tell a pile of 1,000,000 jellybeans from a pile of 1,250,000 jellybeans, but I can certainly tell the million-jellybean pile apart from a handful of jellybeans.

          • Eternal

            Well, if you only compare “people not being saved by Max” with “Max being mistreated” and choose the lesser evil, I’d say that you are right.

            But I think say that “considering that mistreating Max was ethical”, that “hurting him was okay” is what really hangs in the balance here, and it seems to me to be the worst evil of the three.

            And in this specific case, the debate should not even be between those, because there were better ways to make Max do it that were not tried first (as Asimov wrote, “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”): he could have been offered compensation (monetary or not, by Alison or by other people that may want Max to help if they know about him). Should he keep refusing, there may be laws in place that make him not helping illegal (here in France, not helping people in danger when you can do it without any risk to yourself is illegal). And if all that fails, I can’t imagine that making the story public would not make him feel so much like an ass (I mean, not saving millions of people even when offered millions of dollars in exchange? seriously?) that I think that the social pressure would make him do it.

          • Stephanie

            Well, I think “is it right to hurt someone” and “can hurting someone be the right decision” are two separate questions. I think hurting Max was a bad, harmful act in and of itself, but I also think it was the right decision, considering that the alternative was letting all those people die.

            There are other things she could have tried, yeah. No guarantee they’d work, but she could have tried (granted, at the cost of people continuing to die of organ failure for as long as she kept trying). However, the amount of harm she alleviated with her actions is so much greater than the harm she caused that I can’t condemn her decision. Like, if someone gets an A, I’m not going to condemn them for failing to get an A+.

            Plus, to address your specific examples, I think bringing the law into it or going public would have inflicted more harm on Max than twisting his arm did. He had legitimate reasons not to want anyone to know about his power.

          • Eternal

            Well, it would be a nuisance to him, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s more harm. And there’s always the possibility of the story being in the news with his identity kept secret.

            About “is it right” vs “can it be the right decision”, I agree that the two are separate questions, but I think that the mere fact that we could be willing to make the decision affects the answer for the second one. Like, even if we somehow came to the conclusion that it was the right decision, being willing to go through with it should weight in the balance and I think it would make it the wrong one.

          • Zorae42

            I’m sorry what? How is giving him a sore arm more harmful than outing him to the public and making him a possible target of numerous villains as well as legal coercion to practically make him a slave (similar to the position Paladin was/is in)? Threatening to out him to the public is an even worse death threat than the one she actually gave him. Villains would be much crueler in their method of torture.

            But it was the right decision (assuming there are no unforeseen consequences like all the extreme deontologists here are hoping for)? She was literally a super hero. She infringed on people’s rights all the time if she deemed it was for the better good (to a much larger extreme than happened here, but those people were actively causing harm rather than passively). So it’s not like this is new behavior for her or sending her down a slippery slope (especially since she feels so bad about doing it).

            As a super hero, she practically functioned as a police officer for other super people. If you want, you can just judge her actions as enforcing those laws that make it illegal to not help people. What she did to him was no worse than what would be acceptable than a police interrogation in an extreme/time sensitive case (i.e. child kidnapping).

          • Eternal

            I was not thinking about the “sore arm” part and more about the coertion part. To me, being forced to do things like this seems almost as traumatizing as if he had been raped.

            For the “functioned as a police officer” part : that can only be true if there is a law like this in this universe in this country, and even then it’s different than police, because police has oversight so that (at least in theory) they cannot abuse their prerogatives. If they overstep their boundaries, they can be prosecuted and even jailed.

            … but I agree that almost all superheroes operate outside the law. Vigilantism is indeed illegal. An being at the same time police, judge and executioner is something that is only found in superhero fiction and in dystopias.

        • Kelvandil

          The problem with your way of thinking is that you’re pretending that your husband, wife, parent or child can’t already be taken away because something happens to them and there aren’t organs available for transplant. Pretending that certainly makes life easier to live, I would assume that it’s healthier, and i strongly recommend that you keep pretending that, unless you’re in a situation where you’re able to do something about it.

          A system like the one you’re objecting to per defenition means that your loved one (on average) is less likely to die, would you seriously be willing to risk their life because that way of death would be easier for you to stomach? You can be damn sure that if I get to choose either to flip a coin and if it’s heads my family dies in a car crash, or to roll a die and if it’s 6 they get taken away to have their organs harvested, I’ll roll the die no matter how horrifying it is.

          • Eternal

            That a very good point. I had to think a lot about this one.I agree that in terms of pure probability you’re right.

            I could explore ramifications of the choice when pushing the logic to even further extremes, but that would play more on the emotional side of things so let’s discard this train of thought for now.

            Back to the example you gave (the coin/die one). The point I want to make is that probabilities and statistics are not all there is to this problem, so let’s imagine that the probability is the same: either a 1 in 2 chance that a familiy member dies in a car crash, or a 1 in 2 chance that a family member is killed by your country. To me, the second one feels worse, don’t you think so? I had to think a lot about why, though, to understand what made it worse.

            I think that what my objection boils down to is this:
            1) The main role of a society/political system is to ensure the safety and rights of its citizens
            2) Here, the citizens’ rights are respected if we assume everyone agrees to this at one point and it’s in the law and stuff
            3) However, as said in 1), the society has a duty to protects each and everyone of us, and that comes into play. “Ensuring everyone’s safety” is not the same as “statistically increasing everyone’s safety”. Let me explain: imagine you were to live your life in peace and eventually die of old age (or whatever convenient), but you get selected for the harvest. This means that you are about to be killed by the country that swore to protect you. Killed so that the country may save others, maybe, but killed nonetheless. Instead of protecting each and everyone of us, this country would protects some at the expense of others (even if it’s fewer others). Isn’t it a form of betrayal? Can this country really be said to protect its people?

            I guess the difference is about the same as the one between hiring someone to protect you that has a 1% chance of failing in doing so, and hiring someone who does protects you with 100% certainty but has a 1% chance of shooting you in the face. The probability of dying is the same, but you can only say that one of the 2 is really protecting you, right?

          • Kelvandil

            I do agree that there’s an extra cost to dying in such a way, and if the increased risk of dying is minimal enough it might even be worth taking that risk. My view is that just changes the people dying without reducing the number of deaths it shouldn’t be done, if it means sacrificing one life to save two it should be done, the line goes somewhere in between, and where exactly that is is too complex for me.

    • You do know that Ursula Le Guin wrote an actual story based on that, right?


      • Eternal

        Oh, I didn’t know that, thanks (^_^)

        If I believe the synopsis from your link on wikipedia, this short story introduces the concept and then puts into question what the fact of knowing how the system works changes, do I understand correctly ?

        I’m probably overlooking years of philophy by saying this, but is it really about whether it is moral/ethical? From what I understand the whole thing is that in this utopia/dystopia, people benefit from a system that they think is just, but that they would without hesitation deem unjust if they knew its inner workings.

        While ignorant, they enjoy the benefits of the system without having to think about the morality of it. When they come to know the truth, they have to face the fact that they can’t keep benefitting from the system if they stand by their own morals, and the only question becomes “do I go back on my principles when doing so goes against my immediate interest ?”

        Basically, what I am saying is that this short story seems to be about human ugliness and selfishness. This reminds me of this short story in which people get the choice of whether to press a button, and if they do someone unrelated to them tragically dies and they get a million dollar.

        • Actually, no. Most people in the story when confronted with the truth chose to stay.

          This is a parable for the western world. We can be confronted with things like child labor in places where our goods are made cheaply and then shrug because it’s not happening to us.

    • IE

      The interesting thing is, we already ‘sacrifice the babies’, so to speak, and for far less than the prevention of natural disasters.

      I don’t want to take this too much into specifics, but just as a few examples:

      – You’d be hopelessly naive if you think that American (and allied) bombs haven’t killed babies and children in the Middle East over the past ten years
      – There’s an incredibly high chance that at least one thing you own or enjoy was created by child labor, slavery, or both. Probably many things.
      – Chocolate alone causes more suffering than most of us can imagine.
      – Special interest lobbyists have kept hazardous materials in circulation (look at the history of lead paint and asbestos, for example) well past the time when their dangerous nature was understood, causing sickness and death in thousands just to stay in business. For their campaign contributions, our congressmen let them.

      And so on. Those are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head.

      These aren’t abstracts. These ‘babies’ are being sacrificed right now, as we speak.

      The interesting thing is, if someone were to gather, say, five infants… and somehow the killing of those five infants would prevent all of the above death, abuse, misery and more… I think most people would not let them do it.

      It doesn’t matter if a missile was aimed at a baby’s head or at an infamous terrorist standing right next to the baby – the baby is dead either way. But we call the first condition murder of the innocent, and the second ‘collateral damage’. We don’t particularly care about the collateral sacrifices, only the intentional ones. Isn’t that interesting?

      • Eternal

        Let me be clear on this: I don’t believe that most of the modern societies we live in conform to the moral principles on which they were built, and I think that the only reason we allow them to trample those principles is because we have grown so used to the horror of it that we came to think that there is no other way.

        That being said, we did not fall so low (at least, I hope we don’t have) that most of us would all choose against morals if they had an explicit moral choice to make.

        In short: what you listed are things that exist right now, but that don’t make them less immoral. Don’t ask me to express a view that would make them somewhat okay, and don’t ask me to agree that everyone actually agrees to it against other options.

        Now to answer your point:
        – First, “collateral sacrifice” is not the right word. It’s called “collateral damage”, and it cannot be seen as a sacrifice as the victims are usually neutral people, not people on your side.
        – Second, I don’t think that the general public doesn’t care about collateral damage. They either don’t know, or think that it cannot be helped. They don’t choose collateral damage against other options. Also, collateral damage is something that happens in the context of war, and for many people war is something immoral in the first place: this is basically comparing immoral solutions between each other, so that may impact the way people think about the morality of it.
        – Third, in the example you used, the babies are about to die anyway, so that may affect the moral standpoint of people on this issue.
        – Fourth, the baby dying is in any case the murder of an innocent, whether you kill it or anyone else does. If you kill someone who is dying from cancer, it is no less of a murder (assuming it’s not helping someone commit suicide, obviously).

  • JohnTomato

    You ugly swine!

    You insolent goat!


    You have to build an ethical frame work and try to act within those boundaries. Be true to yourself or you’ll end up being a liar to everyone.

  • StClair

    Look up “Socratic dialogue”, everyone. πŸ™‚

  • Weatherheight

    And by happy coincidence, I heard this song today –

    Two Cents Worth

  • RDW0409

    Talk about a morality play!

  • Philip Petrunak

    You know, as a man literally covered in scars, I would think he would find the idea of having a dislocated shoulder being hardly something to complain about. I mean, those are deep scars. Those are right into the flesh. That’s the kind of thing you’d see on someone who was tortured.

  • BMPDynamite

    ….. (reluctant smile) Hee hee. I’m starting to like him more now.

  • Graeme Sutton

    Is anybody going to mention the possibility of simply bargaining instead of resorting to lethal threats? It wasn’t like Allison didn’t have anything to offer and if she couldn’t find what payment Max would be willing to accept she could always ask her telepath friend for the cheat code, all without any resort to violence.

    • Giacomo Bandini

      i’m sorry, but with “telepath friend”, you mean the socipatic ex-terrorist and ex-supervillain who pretended to reform, btu recently revealed to be still crazy and evil?

      • AshlaBoga

        He’s evil but he might actually think of himself as her friend. Remember how he was cut off when saying “Best-” https://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-18-3/? I think he was going to say friend. Being fond of someone doesn’t prevent you from hurting them, and plenty of Nazis were awesome to their families. I actually despise those Nazis the most, that they could love and cherish their families and go torture and slaughter helpless innocents with no remorse makes them more vile, it’s not a redeeming feature in my eyes.

      • Graeme Sutton

        Whether or not you description of Patrick is accurate I don’t think any of the things you’re mentioning would make Patrick less likely to do her this favor if she asked so I’m not seeing what your point is.

    • Zorae42

      What on earth could she, a middle class-ish college student, possibly offer a wealthy, son of a senator? He literally picked her up in a helicopter and flew her to a private dinner on the top of one of his family’s buildings…

      Especially since he said that he wouldn’t help her out of spite. There was nothing she could’ve offered him to get his help. Unless she went to Max and indebted herself to the manipulative jerk, which is clearly not acceptable either (although I personally would’ve liked to see him again, I really enjoyed his character).

      • Graeme Sutton

        You mean what could she, the most physically powerful human on earth, who is close friends with the best inventor on earth, possibly offer him? Are you joking? And if she can’t think of something, she knows a guy who can tell her everything that Max wants and how exactly to offer him it in order to get him to comply, a guy who is also perfectly willing to offer her million-dollar checks.

        • Giacomo Bandini

          The woman you are describing wasn’t able to find the money to start her own project valchirie. So yes, there is no way she can get the money….. unless accepting checks from super villains.

          • Graeme Sutton

            What made you think I was talking about money? There are other ways to bargain.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            …….. unless that you are proposing prostitution, i can’t imagine anything. Anything legal, anyway. Allison’s powers consists in breaking things, coerce and intimidate: if for not having to use her powers on Max she has to use her powers on someone else, well, i do not see the gain.

          • Graeme Sutton

            Are you actually this stupid or just pretending to be? She could offer him a free rescue or even a lifetime of free rescues: Max is rich, connected and has a superpower that makes him a target for any supervillain but gives him no way to defend himself, having the most powerful superhero in the world owing you a favor is an excellent investment for someone in that situation. She could offer to give money to his parent’s political campaign (or get patrick to do it for her), no matter how rich they are american politicians always need more money, just ask Romney. She could offer to get Paladin to set up their electronic security system, or really any kind of advanced technology they might benefit from, with Allison’s contacts the possibilities are pretty extensive.

          • Giacomo Bandini

            SHE DID IT. She offered all the things you mentioned. And guess what? He still refused.

            “I can promise you i would do everything in my power to keep you safe. I can point out that, clearly, this information is already out there, and the danger and risk is a fact of your life unremittingly.

            I can underline how much safer i’d be if you had the kind of support system that taking these risk would create”

            And about Patrick…. do you remember that he is an unstable ex -supervillain? Are you really sure that involving him is the wisest course of action?

          • Graeme Sutton

            Considering that she only knew about Max’s power because Patrick told her, I’m pretty sure he was already involved. And an offer of exchange of services often gets a quite different response when presented as an actual offer instead of a self-righteous and condescending tirade.

      • Skylar Green

        “There was nothing she could’ve offered him to get his help. Unless she
        went to Max and indebted herself to the manipulative jerk, which is
        clearly not acceptable either.”

        Wait… why would that not have been acceptable? What this says is that Feral sacrificed, so Max should sacrifice, but Alison has not really sacrificed anything in this example. Why is sacrifice off the table for her?

        • Giacomo Bandini

          “Unless she went to Max and indebted herself”

          This phrase makes no sense, since she already was going to Max… i think Zorae42 meant Patrick, which fits more the decription of “manipulative jerks”.
          I’m sure you agree that get indebted with an ex supervillain is not a good idea.

  • AshlaBoga

    I think she did the right thing but I’d be concerned if she didn’t feel any guilt about threatening and harming Max.

    I will posit a hypothetical: perhaps after a month of non-violent persuasion she could have convinced him to help. In that month however, over a thousand people died from lack of organs that would have been saved if coerced him after his original refusal. Ergo, taking longer to talk things over ended human lives.

    This complicates the issue of whether she should have tried diplomatic methods since the extra time could have killed people.

    P.S: Of course, the issue for me is that there’s no way that Feral could actually be supplying all the organs needed in the world. “In the United States alone, more than 100,000 people are waiting for
    organ donations, and many of these patients will die waiting.”

    Removing over 1,000,000 organs a year would simply take more time than Feral is giving unless they had a doctor with superspeed. I am simply going to presume that perhaps a powered individual who can create time dilation bubbles is lending a hand. Hand waving the logistics allows us to focus on the philosophical and moral points.

    • Stephanie

      “I will posit a hypothetical: perhaps after a month of non-violent persuasion she could have convinced him to help. In that month however, over a thousand people died from lack of organs that would have been saved if coerced him after his original refusal.”

      Excellent point, and to add to that–there would have been no guarantee that he would ever change his mind, so Alison would have been sacrificing people’s lives every day just for the hope of convincing him. And then as the days went by and more people died, if she ever thought “This is too great a cost, I should just give up and coerce him,” she’d have to contend with the fact that all those people would have died for nothing.

    • KatherineMW

      An alternative, with moral complications of its own, would be to ask Patrick for assistance – a person who has flatly stated “if you know everything a person is thinking, and you still can’t get them to do what you want, that says more about you than about the person you’re trying to control”.

      If there was a way to convince Max to provide assistance voluntarily, Patrick would know it. (And trying to maneuver Allison into associating with again – and/or to get her to show her darker side – was probably a substantial part of why he sent her that information.)

      But given Patrick’s prior crimes and his evident lack of remorse for them, and Allison’s resulting attitude towards him at present, asking him for assistance was not ever on the table for her.

    • Skylar Green

      Well, even if we presume that this won’t trigger the makers of the conspiracy that Patrick mentioned to go ham on this whole situation, let’s still examine it for the long-game:

      If you suddenly, and by that I mean maybe in the course of a few short years, completely catch up with the organ donation backlog, or even stock organs for when they’re needed… someone who simply is in charge of tracking those numbers for world health organizations is going to take notice. And unless there’s a huge spike in organ donation registries, it won’t make sense that all these spare organs are available. Someone’s going to ask where they’re coming from, and there were still plenty of people who didn’t like that Feral was donating organs. Something’s still probably going to hit the fan just by independent review.

      One could propose that there’s a marginal limit to how much this will help, simply because it will bring too much attention too soon, relative to the obscurity of the project that’s otherwise necessary to make it work.

  • martynW

    Heh. Pixar’s “Geri’s Game.”

  • Jason Rivest

    …I’m starting to really like that guy!

  • Spongegirl Circleskirt

    Gurwara: Man of a thousand philosophies!

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    And now a re inaction of the Pixar short Geri’s Game…

  • Tsapki

    Comment Thread Discussion Man, or CTDM, here to save the day!

  • I get the feeling that some of Gurwara’s dialogue has been crowdsourced from eager readers.. xD

    • Lostman

      Wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

  • Hawthorne

    A third Gurwara appears in a top hat and monocle, trying to placate the first two. A fourth Gurwara, clad only in a 1920’s era ankle-length striped bathing suit, demands ice cream.

    • Skylar Green

      And a fifth Gurwara, wearing a Tron battlesuit and identifying only as G/urW4R.exe, watches and awaits the end of the world with a cold rage.

      • weedgoku

        A sixth shows up. He’s just naked and starts applying whipped cream to his nipples.

  • Kerlyssa

    the old bastard’s growing on me. still an ass, but one w a sense of humor.

  • Danygalw

    Yes, I like this a lot.

  • Virgil Clemens

    The professor should reach into a true wellspring of ethical considerations…

  • Izo

    I have to admit that this strip is pretty amusing. πŸ™‚

  • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

    The last two panels create a false dichotomy. There’s also the idea that both the means and the ends must be justifiable separately from each other. Which was my argument at the time. It was met with repeated “the ends justify the means” arguments though.

  • This is going exactly where I hoped it would!

    Gurwara is, first and foremost, a teacher. He doesn’t care about results and grades, only that his students actually learn. He could tell Alison she did wrong, but she worked that out for herself, and the problem is that, being who she is, she’ll likely keep running into situations like this. So she needs to be taught how to evaluate both sides, and maybe to realise that there is no perfect answer.

  • Balthanon

    Imagine how interesting this would have been if she’d had a nickel, dime, or quarter in her pocket. πŸ™‚

  • Adam McKinney Souza

    Reminds me of a philosophy prof I had in Uni. He’d run his classes neutrally, very careful never to throw his weight behind one Name or another, always making sure to explain their viewpoints as dispassionately as possible. When one of us felt strongly about one issue or another, he’d sit excitedly and listen to us make our cases… and then absolutely annihilate our arguments. A few times other students piped up, excited that he had seemingly finally thrown his weight behind a viewpoint, if it was theirs. When someone assumed he agreed with them, he’d decimate THEIR viewpoint as well. It was like watching an old kung fu master thrash his students and then help them to their feet, ready to learn again.