sfp 6 113 for web

Show Comments
  • The Duck From p.112

    I see. It all makes sense know.

    But if that’s why the chicken crosses the road… What of the duck?

    • You’re really making re-think a lot of things in my life.

      Thank you.

    • Lorcan Nagle

      The duck is the most dangerious killer in the natural world.

      • Izo

        Stop maligning the noble duck.

        • Mariana Esther Martinez

          You really don’t know about ducks. They are anything but noble.

          • Izo

            They are only to be feared by those who are evil, and so I guess we know where you fall when you eventually will be judged by the great duck in the sky.

          • Mariana Esther Martinez

            Yeah, ducks are only to be feared by those who are Evil… and by female ducks, and by other birds, and by dead juvenil male ducks.
            Sincerely, I’ll rather go to Hell than attract the “approval” of the great duck in the sky.

            (The following link describes some really disturbing biological sex habits, if you really like ducks or are queasy avoid it. There is nothing to graphic, but..
            It is weird that Cracked has the best science outreach articles sometimes.)

          • MrSing

            Applying human morality to animals is like applying olive oil as sunscreen. Missing the point while making a mess and probably ending in pain.

          • Izo

            Speaking of which, if you ever google the sexual mating habits of snakes, you might never sleep again for fear of nightmares.

          • SmilingCorpse

            You’re thinking of Geese, nature’s asshole.

          • Izo

            Geese are Fallen Ducks, who have turned to evil, yes.

            Forgive them Daffy, these fowlophobic heathens know not what they say.

          • Tylikcat

            Ducks who, having fallen, have gained access to Dark Powers.

            …that explains a lot, really.

        • Lorcan Nagle

          Hey, the duck is an enemy to be feared and respected. I’d never malign one

          • Izo

            Not an enemy. They have our best interests at heart.

            In nomine Daffy, et Donald, et Darkwing Sancti. Psyduck Amen



    • Fluffy Dragon

      the duck just found enlightenment and went to nirvana.

      • Izo

        Or perhaps it had enlightenment all along and was just visiting the lower planes, as ducks oft do.

    • Pol Subanajouy

      You know, it took me a really long time to realize the whole “To get to the other side” was a joke about the afterlife.

      • Don’t feel bad, because it’s not! It’s actually intended as an anti-joke, whereby instead of providing a humorous or clever punchline to an obvious setup one provides a simple statement of fact. Thus, instead of the humor deriving from the surprise of a departure from reality, the humor — such as it is — comes from the surprise of a departure from the expected form of a joke or riddle. This one, though, has been around so long and is so well-known (it dates back to at least the mid-1800s) that its original subversive and surprising nature has been completely lost.

        • Rugains Fleuridor

          Oh, good. Otherwise, I’d have felt stupid. Whew, dodged that bullet…

      • Merle

        Why did the chicken cross the road? Because there is power in movement. Not any particular movement, not dance (although also dance), not athletics (although also athletics), but movement. Just the absence of stillness. Just anything that takes a person from one spot to the next. And if there is a why, then so be it, but it is inconsequential to the fact of it. The fact of air in the lungs. The fact of feet, and a road. The implications of a road, and what it means to not go down that road or back the way you came, but perpendicular. To cross it. To make that move. Because the secret is, it was not to get to the other side, or to any other place. Places are beside the point. But just for the power of crossing. Of movement. That is why the chicken crossed the road.

        (Stolen shamelessly from “Alice Isn’t Dead”.)

        • Oren Leifer

          Now I’m almost motivated to write a story in which Alison & Patrick’s fantastic road trip took them through Night Vale. Now wouldn’t that be strange.

        • Pol Subanajouy

          Oh I love that podcast!

          • Merle

            Can’t wait for season 2!

      • critically_damped

        You should probably read Terry Pratchett’s short story “Hollywood Chickens”.

    • Spectacles

      [url=”http://www.octopuspie.com/2007-08-31/041-no-judgments/”]The duck seeks only bread[/url]

      • Hawthorne

        The true duck releases desire and accepts bread as it comes.

    • No – the chicken crosses the road to prove to the armadillo that it can be done.

      (Driving experience in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and/or Texas will be helpful in Getting that one.)

  • AshlaBoga

    The special place we hold for inaction? That’s a good point. It’s not a universal standard. There are Good Samaritan laws in some countries that make it criminal if you do not aid someone in severe duress. But most countries don’t make inaction a criminal offense, merely a social offense – and even that’s not universal. It’s a crime to let your child starve but not your neighbor. So the qualifier is that you are their legal guardian. What happens if we declare “We are all each others legal guardians?” Answer: we get a human with superpowers breaking arms in the name of the greater good.

    • 204
    • Jon

      That’s uh, that’s basically the exact opposite of what Good Samaritan laws do.

      Good Samaritan laws prevent the victim/person you attempted to help from suing you for trying to help them, a thing which, ironically, happens all the damn time otherwise.


      The principle that Guwara mentioned is actually used in the creation of laws – you cannot be (normally) compelled to positive action, except when you have a duty to act because of some responsibility you owe. An EMT on call has a duty to act to save a life, a random bystander does not.

      • Cyrano111

        AshlaBoga got the label wrong, but he’s right that some jurisdictions have laws doing what he says. You are correct that that is an exception to the general rule.

      • Johnathan

        That depends on where you are as well. In Quebec, Canada, the civil code actually does impose duty to act. This is not a good samaritan law though, it’s a duty to rescue law. France also has laws which impose a duty to act. These laws apply to situations of acute danger, obviously, and not preventative action, and certainly wouldn’t cover a case like Feral’s situation. But there are definitely places in the world where the law does assume we have responsibility over the immediate safety of those around us.

        • Mitchell Lord

          So…right law, wrong label?

        • Wormlore

          Nope, still wrong.
          Only people holding special jobs are compelled by law to act, in France at least.

          The most well-known example is if you’re a doctor, you’re obliged to help someone having a severe health issue right where you are. It also applies to some extend if you are trained in first aid.

          You have absolutely no duty to act if you’re not in any of those regulated job, and that makes actual sense: untrained “rescuers” often do more harm than good, sometimes putting themselves in danger, which would in turn increase the difficulty and quantity of work from actual rescuers.

          Also, the general law I know of does not compel action because it’s totally unreasonable to force people into danger zones because someone needs help. Most people’s first instinct in face of danger is to run away, making it criminal to… act as an average human.

          In summary, you shouldn’t “help” if you do so without knowledge and confidence.

          The Good Samaritan clause is there to defend people who tried to help because that’s also a human behavior, while acknowledging that such help might be from untrained people… or more simply because even trained people can make mistakes in good faith.

          • pipieau

            wrong to call it wrong

            In France we do have duty to act, ”non assistance à personne en danger ” (the act of not helping someone in vital danger) is a criminal offense punished by law.

          • Khno

            But s/he’s right in the sense that this duty is today mostly not to perform any actual gesture of help beside calling an ambulance and staying there until medics come. In the past it has been different, but the first thing you learn when you go through first help sessions is to not add injury to injury.

      • bryan rasmussen

        maybe the definition of the term ‘good samaritan law’ changes relative to culture assigning the term?

    • Elaine Lee

      Anyone who’s even in temporary care of a minor child is responsible for their wellbeing. A babysitter, of instance. Or a relative, or neighbor. You can go to prison for endangering or neglecting a minor child. Or an elderly person, for that matter. You can be sued in civl court for wrongful death, or for not removing ice from the walkway to your house, if someone slips on it.

      • Graeme Sutton

        Also, in most Canadian provinces at least, anyone who sees evidence that a child needs protection has a duty to report it.

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    While we’re on the subject, I summon a legal expert lurking in these comment sections to explain what’s exactly the difference between civil law and common law when it comes to the duty to rescue.
    They seem to be pretty much equivalent from where I stand.

    • Ellis Jones

      Not an expert per se, but you might be being confused by the naming conventions surrounding civil law tradition/common law tradition, and civil law/criminal law.

      Civil law as opposed to criminal law is (generally) the laws that are enforced via person v person court actions (criminal being person v state), whilst civil law tradition as opposed to common law tradition is “all law is statutory” (i.e. passed by a parliament as an act) whilst common law tradition is “judges can make law via binding precedent” (among other things, law is complicated)

      Thought it was worth pointing out because you seem to be possibly placing common law tort and civil law tort in opposition, when tort established by common law tradition can constitute a part of a country’s civil law.

      • Jon

        Well, there is a mountain of case law in common law which indicates that there is no duty to rescue, where as in civil law that could be changed with one alteration of the Civil Code.

        • Ellis Jones

          Uh, tell Clemens that, not me. I didn’t actually try to answer his question.

    • Cyrano111

      Of course it is hard to say universally, since the common law and the civil law vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

      As a general proposition common law countries adopt the rule that there is no duty to rescue, in the absence of an explicit legal duty to do so in some situations. But there are sometimes such duties. Section 217 of the Criminal Code of Canada, for example, says:

      “Every one who undertakes to do an act is under a legal duty to do it if
      an omission to do the act is or may be dangerous to life.”

      The “inaction” rule is more strongly followed in criminal law than in tort law – it is difficult to be guilty of a crime based on inaction unless the offence is defined in terms which clearly include an omission (“does or omits to do” or “fails to” for example). On the other hand tort law, and particularly negligence, is based on the “neighbour principle”, and it is less of a stretch to manage to be negligent through an omission. There is, for example, sometimes a common law “duty to warn” when you know a person poses a danger, but exactly when it applies is not entirely certain. Still, no matter whether we are talking about public or private law, common law countries tend not to penalise inaction.

      Generally that is equally true of civil law countries, but there the situation is more easily changed, and therefore more variable. For example the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, art. 2 says:

      “Every human being whose life is in peril has a right to assistance. Every person must come to the aid of anyone whose life is in peril either personally or calling for aid, by giving him the necessary and immediate physical assistance, unless it involves danger to himself or a third person or he has another valid reason.”

    • Mitchell Lord

      Essentially, Common Law is established by, well…precedent. It’s, essentially, the equivalent of “Common Sense”. It’s “The laws that have worked for the past 200 years.” Precedent is relatively rarely overturned. But, when it’s overturned, it’s kinda famous.

      “Civil Law” is comprised of common law and STATUTORY law. IE, “The law that’s on the books.” For instance, if someone passed a law outlawing, say…Pornography. Even if precedent was that pornography isn’t outlawed, then Statutory law would handle it.

      Civil law is properly contrasted with CRIMINAL law. Civil law is “I’ll sue!”. Criminal law is “THey go to jail.” Criminal law, you have to have “Beyond reasonable doubt.” 99.9 percent sure. Civil law, you have to have “Preponderance of evidence.” 50.000001%.

      • Izo

        I was going to respond to what Clemens said, but you already said what I was going to. Almost word for word, actually.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Thank you very much. So in essence the difference I was talking about regarding duty to rescue is made on a case by case basis by all governments, no generalities along the common and civil lines?

  • Roman Snow

    Hmm. Alright, this got more interesting than I gave it credit for.

  • Smithy

    I do appreciate that not only he illustrated the deeper philiosophical issues addressed by this situation, but that he demonstrated through a good sequence of arguments that her actions were actually self-consistent with her previously stated worldview. A great part of philosophy is constructing a moral framework and asking yourself if all your actions are consistent within it, and though the bare ethical standing of her actions are debatable, their consistency is not.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I could debate that. There’s an argument to be made that her becoming a tyrant isn’t inconsistent with her principles, rather the inevitable consequences of it, and that from the very beginning.
      We have loads of precedents with powerful people trying to make the world a better place.

      • AshlaBoga

        Clemens I think that you misunderstood what Smithy wrote. Smithy is saying that Allison’s principle are completely consistent with her actions. Smithy wasn’t defending her, but pointing out that the incident was Max was Allison acting according to “we are all in this together.”

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          Oh, indeed. Misread. Deleting! Although I realized he wasn’t defending her.

    • AshlaBoga

      Yeah, I liked that even though he couldn’t give her an answer as to whether it was right or wrong, he did make it clear that it was her philosophy put into practice. In the real world plenty of people reach the point where their applied maxims make them feel guilty, but they unfortunately resolve this guilt by mitigation (“he was a prick”).

    • David Bapst

      +1; the point of philosophy mainly as a tool for dissecting arguments, and making sure that ones stances are internally consistent, and identifying inconsistencies, is often overlooked.

    • pidgey

      Thing is, I don’t think she was ever in doubt that her behavior and her chosen axiom were

      internally consistent. Rather, her distress came the fact that her axiom led to internally consistent behavior which she found abhorrent. Having someone else reaffirm the same doesn’t do a whole lot, as far as I’m concerned. It was never in doubt in the first place.

      This is a huge problem with philosophy in general: people think internal consistency makes things better, somehow, more moral. Reality is never so simple. You can’t even take a framework as basic as mathematics and make it both comprehensive and consistent. It’s been logically proven as an impossibility: no system of rules which purports to be self-referential can be complete. So what on earth are we doing trying to do, pretending like philosophy can do it any better?

      Make a rule that says “it’s better if people don’t die” and horrible, self-consistent things will result. Make a rule that says “happiness is better than unhappiness” and horrible, self-consistent things will result. Make a rule that says “respect other people’s boundaries” and horrible, self-consistent things will result. The only rule that holds total sway over everything is the one that says no rule holds total sway over everything, and the only reason it works is because it’s inherently self-contradictory.

      • Smithy

        I can’t say I agree, rationally dissecting your internal consistencies and moralities is a crucial step in stepping out of one’s personal perspective and avoid tribalism: if you never ponder what are your core tenets and how your behavior reflects that in which you believe, how can you ever understand both how you, but others around you will act?

        On Mathematics, it is true that making it consistent has often times been difficult, but that is actually one of the main goals of logicians, ensuring that mathematics itself is on a solid foundation, for how can reality be defined if the system used to describe it contradict itself?
        In fact, one can easily argue that the whole of modern civilisation and techological progress is based on the tenet that reality obeys self-consistent rules, before using them to improve our own techniques and devices. In that sense, philosophy is no different, and in fact is a close cousin to all science, except that it seeks to understand and perhaps improve our own moralities and behavior into something more sensible.

        Of course reality is so complex that the rules best used to define it, or those that could improve our society, will hardly ever be simple, but that does not mean that they do not exist.

        • pidgey

          Godel proved, a century ago, that a self-referential system of rules can never be complete, no matter how simple or complicated you make it.

  • Yirtimd2

    Guwara looked in the mouth of madness. Madness ran away…

    • Mujaki

      Madness needs to floss more often!

    • Loranna

      Brave Sir Madness ran away


      Bravely ran away away

      (I didn’t!)

      When Gurwara reared his dapper head

      He bravely turned his tail and fled


      Yes, brave Sir Madness turned about

      (I didn’t!)

      And gallantly he chickened out



    • Seer of Trope

      He should hang with Dr. Yamada.

  • Zac Caslar

    So there we go. Axioms are pretty pointless and scale matters. The Real World isn’t always pretty, but it is Real. Free riders are tolerable but not all the time and not infinitely.

    Right thing the wrong way, good job and thank you Allison. The hero’s burden isn’t her enemies, it’s her allies just like her worst enemy is her conscience married to her capacity for action.

    • Zac Caslar

      And fuck Max.

      • Seer of Trope

        “Oh sick! You fuck him yet?”

        -Daniel Wolczek

      • Lostman

        We all be sorry for Max soon, I got a feeling.

  • kev

    “All the real ethicists are in nursing school anyways”
    good, good good

    • Tylikcat

      OMG, but I think of teaching nursing students.

      a) obviously, it does not hold that even a majority of nursing students are ethicists.
      b) I spend much more time teaching upper level courses to pre-meds. I’d actually really like to work with nursing students more, as it’s an interesting population, but in my limited experience, so very frustrating, and I haven’t spent enough time there to figure out where the communication gaps were occurring. Diffusion. Why is diffusion so hard? Diffusion is really important in physiology.*
      c) in my (mostly casual) contact with nursing students doing graduate research, there also seems to often be a qualitative over quantitative cultural bias. Of course the folks I got on best with tended to crave more solid numbers and less squishiness end up at odds with people over this. Maybe this all works great for ethicists? It mostly seemed really vague and irritating.

      * Yes, I tend to see things in a quantitative way. But I care about teaching and can be flexible! (This is the problem of not being a primary instructor there – if it’s my class and I get to know the students I can work these things out.)

    • spriteless

      Nursing school as in where lil’ kids are taught, or nursing school as in where people learn the trade job that supports medicine and saves lives?

      • ampg

        The second one. The first one is nursery school.

      • Beroli

        The first one’s called nursery school (unless “nursing school” is a form I never heard before). I didn’t think there was any ambiguity that Gurwara was saying “the people who really care about this stuff go into nursing” until you posted that comment; now I’m wondering if it’s a form I wasn’t familiar with (or even a typo) and it was meant to be him shrugging “only small children care about this stuff.”

  • Arkone Axon

    I don’t think he’s actually finished with his lesson just yet. So far all he’s done is put on a big show and present both sides in their extreme, and then stopped for a drink. Now he has to bring it home into something more workable. Like, for instance, what she’s going to do about Max, if she is indeed responsible for him.

    Not to mention that, if nothing else, he should point out, “philosophical exercises aside, you probably should see about getting an attorney. You committed multiple felonies, after all.”

    • Merus

      We know Alison’s committed multiple felonies that were waved away as collateral damage. Of course, they were poor people, and Max is rich.

      • Weatherheight

        If you’re speaking of her actions as a member of the Guardians, I’m guessing she had some indemnity as a civil agent for those actions. In addition, much of that damage would probably have been laid at the feet of the villain who started the whole mess, much like someone fleeing to evade arrest can be charged with any and all property damage resulting from that flight.

        Some of her “free lance” work is a bit more iffy, but most of what we’ve seen on camera prior to “The Max Incident” has mostly been felony property damage resulting in stopping a crime in progress and manslaughter in defense of others during the commision of a crime. Again, prosecutors tend to be more hesitant to charge apparent de facto heroes.

        The guy she shoved in a trash can? Yeah.. that’s pretty.. uhm.. worrying.

        • masterofbones

          She has threatened to murder an entire group of peaceful protesters.

          • SmilingCorpse

            It stopped being peaceful when some crazy ran in with a flamethrower and tried to roast Feral alive.

          • masterofbones

            If the crowd had moved as a group to get him into the building, or if he had fired his flamethrower from the group, I would agree. But the group protesting doesn’t even seem aware of the flamethrower, much less are they culpable for the burning of Feral. We don’t even know if he was ever a part of the protesting group.

            Now, I would agree that the circumstances do mitigate her fault – she had extremely good reason to be distraught. But her actions were still criminal ones. I mean, she destroyed a random person’s car(may not have been part of the protest at all), destroyed the road and a lamppost, threatened a cop, resisted arrest, and only *then* did she threaten to kill everyone present.

          • SmilingCorpse

            There are countless examples on the news when the actions of one declares an otherwise peaceful demonstration as a riot. If Alison wasn’t there, I’m sure the riot police would have cleared them out regardless. As for her actions, those seem to fall outside the purview of our conversation. My argument was focused on the crowd.

          • masterofbones

            But these actions weren’t connected, as I already pointed out. There was one person in the building, let in by security. There was a group outside protesting. The two groups were entirely separated, as evidenced by the police officer who attempted to arrest Allison for her actions.

            As I already said, if the person who used the flamethrower had been a part of the demonstration, you would have a point. As it is, the two events were only loosely connected

          • SmilingCorpse

            …which begs the question, why would security let someone who is clearly armed enter a hospital? After revisiting that section of the comic, it seems that the flamethrower guy either snuck past security or coerced his way past. Which doesn’t exclude him from the group outside. As for Alison’s actions, I’m not including them because I agree that there was no excuse for what she did. She straight up murdered the guy. However, I couldn’t glean from the comic if the man was or was not a part of the group. I will concede that point, but I will keep my stance that the guy was an extremist that took it upon himself to burn someone alive for his views that seemed to be inline with the protest outside. Take Alison out of the equation, and any police chief would have declared the demonstration a riot.

          • Zac Caslar

            The secretary at the door was an inside actor for the greater group and probably helped hustle the burner to his target.

            Theoretically he’s only wearing a couple of fire extinguisher sized tanks, a medium-ish sized piece of plumbing and a welder’s mask.

            Wouldn’t be hard to stick it all in a cardboard box, dress up like a generic delivery person, go straight to the desk, get escorted to an empty room adjacent to the target, get suited up, light the pilot light and prepare to purge some race traitors! Yeeeha!

            There’s also the question of what the burner’s back up plan was and I’m confident it involved fleeing back to the crowd if, as a guy who’s just set a major blaze >in a fucking hospital< he could go inintercepted to an exit in the chaos of fire alams and emergency lighting and automated voice reminds to keep calm and evacuate the building.

          • SmilingCorpse

            That’s all plausible. However, even though this was the case, his plan hinged on the hope that no one would search his box before he geared up.

          • Zac Caslar

            Do _you_ get searched when you enter hospitals?

            Nobody’s ever gone through my pockets at the ER because that kind of violation of privacy is, as the lawyers say while salivating, “actionable.” And there are all those oh-so-_serious_ “no weapons allowed” signs visible at the entrance.

            Remember: decency takes a distant back seat to requirements by insurance companies and possible threats of lawsuits.

            Incidentally my claims about the secretary are based in actual scenes from that arc.

          • SmilingCorpse

            Axon made the same claim. So it seems that the facts do support the claims that 1) This was an inside job involving the receptionist, at worst. 2) It involved part of, if not the whole crowd.

          • Arkone Axon

            There was a movie with a similar premise, actually. “Rules of Engagement.” Denzel Washington plays a Marine officer being court martialed in a cowardly attempt to scapegoat him, after he orders a gunship to open fire on a crowd of rioting people that included small children… and also gunmen who were killing the marines under his command. The plot itself is about whether or not he was justified in doing so, as his attorney (played by Tommy Lee Jones) has to deal with government officials concealing evidence and fighting to throw Denzel to the wolves.

            It’s actually a fairly common (and despicable) tactic, in fact: slipping into crowds sympathetic to your views in order to use them as human shields.

          • Tylikcat

            It does depend what you are carrying. I used to work in a research lab on the eighth floor of a children’s hospital. One evening a week, I taught a sword class after work, so I’d bring my sword case with me to work so I could teach later. The one I was using at the time was kind of a boundary case – most folks tended to assume it was photographic equipment, and I am very good at presenting myself as friendly and upstanding, but the case did say “Chinese Martial Arts” in Chinese, so anyone who could read Chinese would guess pretty quickly what was in it. I asked for (and received) permission to carrying my swords with me. (Hey, Shifu gave me the case. What do you do?)

            (As is usual in these circumstances, the security guards were curious and wanted to see the swords, which I was totally fine with, please don’t get fingerprints on the blade.)

            There is generally some security, depending on the circumstances there might be increased security, and you’re going to stand out more if you carry something odd looking.

          • Weatherheight

            I used to use nuclear materials in my construction inspection job (the gauge is used to detect soil density and moisture content). I had to go through safety training, wear a radiation monitor, and keep rigorous records regarding my nuclear gauge (yes, that’s its name – although we tended to shorten that to “my nuke”).

            I was doing soil density inspection at a job site – at Fort Leavenworth. Before the job started, I (and my boss) had to meet with the security group for the base, get a special photo ID badge and signed & laminated paperwork.

            I still got stopped and my vehicle fully searched every day for a week before I managed to cycle through all the various guards – must have had something to do with the large radioactive material symbols on the bright yellow carrying case for the gauge in the back of my truck (38″ long, 20″ deep, 24″ tall – the case, not the truck).

            Then the new guy showed up – I spent 20 minutes at the gate before someone from the Army Corps of Engineers could get down there to verify I really was who I was. I complimented that soldier for his keen eyesight and vigilance. Hey, he was doing his job – and I’m glad we’ve got confident and diligent soldiers guarding our military bases. 😀

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, there was probable cause to connect them. In fact, Patrick stopped her with that sign of his: “I HAVE THEIR NAMES.” Meaning he knew that many people in the crowd were indeed involved. And also the receptionist at the front desk. And then he had them killed later on (because he IS a supervillain, as he ended up reminding her).

          • SmilingCorpse

            Oh dear. I missed the part where he had them killed. But thanks for the assist nonetheless.

          • masterofbones

            >probable cause to connect them

            Enough to warrant investigation, but not riot police unless the group itself became violent. And a person going out and threatening to kill a bunch of people loosely connected to the attacker

            >I HAVE THEIR NAMES

            I assumed the “I have their names” thing was just saying that he knew the names of everyone present. But you could be right. Also where did he get the sign? And why didn’t he know what was about to happen? Or if he *did* know, why did he allow it to happen?

          • Weatherheight

            Oh yazzzz….
            I found that whole scenario highly odd from the get go.
            Wasn’t it odd that right before Alison went to the hospital, she was riding with Patrick and he said, in effect, “I have something I need to go and do.”?

            I’ve re-read it twice and it still felt.. hinky.

          • masterofbones

            It’s hard with situations like this, because it could just be the author forgetting about the full extent of a person’s powers, or it could be an actual bit of foreshadowing. (see also patrick + alison’s argument).

            But if we assume the author has fully thought about this, it would seem that patrick has plans upon plans upon plans.

          • Arkone Axon

            That was so he could have his meeting with a number of illuminati types and receive some information. Incidentally, one of those individuals he met with? Max’s mother.

          • saysomethingclever

            O.O Really? what page was that, and does she say her name? because i totally missed that.

          • Arkone Axon

            Look back through the archives and you’ll see it. Patrick wrote that sign on the spot just to stop her from her tirade because he knew she was indeed ready to commit mass murder… for the same reason he knew their names. He’s a mind reader. He KNEW who was involved. While she was killing the guy with the flamethrower (before he could murder anyone else) he was scanning the minds and seeing who was responsible.

          • masterofbones

            >Look back through the archives and you’ll see it.

            I did. The sign said “their” names. It did not specify whose names “their” meant.

          • Weatherheight

            Yeah.. also… worrying. All those counts of assault…

      • Arkone Axon

        Her actions as a member of the guardians can be justified under “good samaritan” laws. It’s legal to break into a house – if the house is on fire or if you can hear screams from someone being assaulted. It’s legal to physically attack someone – if you catch them in the midst of an assault on someone else. And you can even steal someone’s property – if you’re doing it to save someone’s life.

        However, urgency is also an issue – that’s why it’s okay to kill someone to stop them from committing a murderous assault, but not okay to kill them to prevent them from doing it again in the future. That’s why her assault on Max lacks the “good samaritan” defense. (Not to mention that, as you noted, Max is indeed rich – or more specifically, his PARENTS are rich… and powerful… and dangeorus)

  • AbacusWizard

    “He is… if we are all in this together.”

    I really like the direction this argument has gone.

    I’m involved in a historical reenactment event with a very strong sense of community, and a few years ago the saying “Not my circus; not my monkeys” (in the sense of “not my problem”) swept through the group with much amusement. It never seemed quite right to me, though, and I finally figured out why: the community is one big circus, and we are all each other’s monkeys.

    • critically_damped

      The one assumption everyone’s making is that the axiom of a tyrant is necessarily a BAD one. It isn’t.

      • MrSing

        It’s historically proven that tyranny is an awful form of practical governing.

        Logically there are points in favor of it, but practically it is an awful idea with no long term stability.

      • pidgey

        The point of philosophy is to develop frameworks for making decisions. How exactly is Gurwara’s performance here helping her establish a decision-making framework? I feel like he’s doing very much the opposite, justifying a decision without justifying future decisions that could cite this one as precedent.

        Unless Gurwara suddenly starts suggesting that Alison’s victimization of Max be reproduced on a regular basis (or the opposite), he’s not being very philosophically helpful, here. All he’s doing is trying to make her feel better by doing some performance art.

        • shink

          The words “the exception that proves the rule” come to mind after reading your post here. This instance is the exception, every once in a while it takes a tyrant to enforce the decision that creates the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The rule of course is that tyrants are bad…in practice. But we also have Plato’s Philosopher King, presented as the best form of government by Plato. The Philosopher King is a ruler who acts in the best interests of society as a whole at all times, and has the intelligence and knowledge to always know what that decision is. Plato, and the vast majority of serious political thinkers after him concede that the Philosopher King doesn’t really exist, indeed can’t exist. It is a myth, it is the idea of a king, but in reality we merely get the shadows of that idea on the cave wall, imperfect imitations correctly labeled as tyrants for their imperfections, and thus the worst form of government.

          The idea persists though, and while a person cannot live up to the ideals consistently enough to truly be worthy of the title, it is an ideal that can on occasion be realized in brief encounters with the muses of inspiration. “Tyrants are bad”, is something already clearly accepted by Alison, this is not a point that Gurwara needs to drive home for Alison’s proper education in philosophy and so he isn’t. “Sometimes tyrants get it right”, that’s a point that Alison needs to learn, given her unique abilities combined with her dedication to attempting to live up to the ideal of the Philosopher King. Her super powers are in fact a tool she can use to help make the world a better place, and this will generally mean physically threatening, intimidating, or harming others. This is a tool she has used before (to intimidate Menace, to stop Moonshadow, as Mega Girl), and a big part of her discovering how to help the world is learning the proper application of the force she is so uniquely qualified to apply.

          • Akiva

            Did you ever read Jo Walton’s “The Just City”? Time travelers aided by Athena try to establish Plato’s City, humanity ensues. Good stuff.

          • “The exception that proves the rule”, BTW, does not mean that an exception somehow establishes that a rule is valid – the use of “prove” is an older one, meaning to test (As in “proving grounds”).

            What it actually originally was understood to mean is that, if the rule cannot be extended to allow the apparent exception, the rule has failed the test and needs to be mended, extended or scrapped outright.

        • solkan

          I think you may be overlooking the difficulty of teaching philosophy. How do you teach someone how to find answers without telling them the answers or necessarily knowing the answers?

          At the moment, he’s demonstrating two different schools on thought, one which views her action as morale and the other which views her action as immoral. Both schools of thought have supporters and both schools of thought are applied at different areas.

          So the exercise for the individual is figuring out what the answer is, when no one else knows.

          Most importantly, his opinion of her actions doesn’t matter in this context. That’s probably the most important point in this as far as learning goes.

  • Eternal

    Hm. I can’t relate the positions of both Guwaras here with those in the previous strip. I am missing something. Can someone explain to me how placing morality in the action or result places them against each other with regards to compelling moral action ?

    • Thrice.Great

      Jacketed Guwara is changing tacks slightly. Jacketless Guwara was arguing that the result of the action, if socially or morally positive, is a good thing. Jacketed Guwara is arguing that compelling moral action in itself is a contradiction; buried in the argument is the idea that moral acts can only come about as an act of free will on the part of the agent performing the action.

    • Smithy

      Jacket Gurwara argues that all the possible outcomes of an action are never fully predictable, ( for example killing a tyrant MAY make the world a better place, or it may cause terrible chaos ), therefore any decision taken cannot be justified by how you think it’ll turn out. ( Killing is wrong, so you can’t ever kill anyone no matter the possible good it may bring, as you can’t know for sure )
      Non-Jacket Gurwara argues that the very purpose of action is expected results, and that you cannot pretend that the two aren’t inter-linked ( of course killing is wrong, but that tyrant will almost definitely kill thousands more and this is the only way to stop him )

      They then go on to discuss the exact wrong that was done here, the forced compelling of the moral action.
      Jacket Gurwara argues that we cannot, should not force each other to conduct an action even if it’s a helpful action, as that is punishment of inaction. Punishment should only be reserved for doing the wrong thing, not failing to do the right thing.
      Non-Jacket Gurwara then argues that pressuring each other to do the right thing is an important framework of society, particularly in education and parent/child, and that if we all have a responsiblity to help each other, we also have a responsiblity to ensure we ALL help each other.

      Jacket Gurwara, when taken to its logical extreme, has a tendency to create a framework of non-intereference: you shoulnd’t do cruel things to each other, particularly for infringing another’s freedom, and everyone should just do his own thing.
      This can easily lead to possible anarchy or as everyone else turns violent and you refuse to interfere, end up as the nicest man in the graveyard without ever having taken a violent action to change things.

      Non-Jacket Gurwara when applied wisely can lead to many positive real-world outcomes, and will actually have an effect on the world, but should forever fear moral corruption. After all, at some point YOU are deciding which is the best outcome and what outcome to pursue, and then applying force to bring it about, which is basically a dictatorship (dictatorships can be benevolent, but seldom are as they are only as kind as the people leading them)

      • Eternal

        Thanks a lot !

        I had totally misunderstood the point of this strip. Actually, English is not my native language and it turns out that my understanding of the word “compel” was wrong… Thank you for making realize that! I thought that they were talking about a moral system prompting people to do the right thing, and totally missed that they were actually talking about what Alison did.

        And of course, thank you for your explanation in inself. The way you say it is more explicit than what’s in the strip =)

        • Smithy

          Yeah, compelling is a neat word, but it is still fairly rarely seen. Basically, “to compel” means “force or drive another to an action”. The most common usage I’ve seen is “a compelling argument”, to signify an argument that is very convincing, such as “if you do this you have a huge reward, like a ton of carrots”, or the type recently seen “if you don’t do this, you get ‘some sort of bodily harm’ “.

          • Zac Caslar

            When the police do this it’s called “entrapment.”

      • Weatherheight

        Excellent summary.
        Have a carrot.

        ::offers a carrot to Smithy by holding it in his teeth::

        • Izo

          Actually no offense, but it’s a very bad summary. Because it’s not about Action vs Inaction.

          It’s about COMPELLING someone to act by force vs COMPELLING someone to NOT act by force.

          Compelling someone to act by force is a horrific thing to do, because it reduces the world into a ‘might makes right’ concept. It’s not ‘defending’ others – it’s being a bully and a tyrant, putting your own will over the will of others by forcing them to do things against their will, just as the rapist wants sex and forces another to have sex with them because they are stronger, or just as the mugger wants money and forces another to give them money because they have a gun or knife (or are just plain stronger).

          Compelling someone to NOT act is to actually defend others, or by making a punishment for when someone else already has done something. Don’t rape, or you’ll go to jail. Don’t kill, or you’ll go to jail and possibly be executed yourself. Don’t cheat someone, because if you do, THEN the government will make you pay that person for your fraudulent behavior.

          • Stephanie

            You might not agree with how Gurwara is framing the debate, but as far as I can tell, Smithy did accurately summarize what’s written in the comic. It’s a good summary. It sounds like your real issue is either with the comic, or with the opining Smithy included after the summary.

          • Izo

            Um….. There was a COMPLETELY different post there before. One that specifically said the question was ‘Action vs Inaction.’

            You can’t write one post, then when someone responds about that post, change the post to something entirely different, then tell me that I misread the post. What the heck….

          • Stephanie

            I didn’t write the comment you’re referring to, which is why I said “Smithy’s summary” and not “my summary”. If it was edited sometime between your response and mine, I obviously wasn’t aware of that. I responded to what I saw. Not sure why that warrants a “what the heck.”

          • Izo

            It warrants a ‘what the heck’ because I responded to a COMPLETELY different post that was changed AFTER I wrote my post. I was describing what Gurwara was ACTUALLY saying, compared to what the original post was inaccurately saying (that it was about action vs inaction, when it’s actually about compelling inaction vs compelling action)

          • Stephanie

            OK, great, but that has nothing to do with me. Again, I wasn’t the one who wrote or edited that post. I responded to what was there when I read the comments, several hours after you posted yours.

          • Izo

            Okay, but it does make your post response to mine moot, since I was responding to something completely different than what’s currently on the board.

            In any case, like I will repeat, Gurwara is not talking about action and inaction. He’s talking about compelling action and compelling inaction.

          • Stephanie

            Nobody is arguing that Gurwara is talking about action vs inaction.

          • Izo

            The original post was, and didn’t talk about COMPELLED action or inaction at all. Which is why I said it was completely inaccurate, and now is much less so because now it has several paragraphs about COMPELLING action and inaction.

          • Stephanie

            OK, let me rephrase: I’m not arguing that Gurwara was talking about action vs inaction, so you don’t need to keep telling me he wasn’t.

          • Izo

            No I’m saying the original poster was saying that before the post was changed, and I was responding about THAT interpretation being wrong. Had nothing to do with anything you said at all. It’s all a moot point now since the post has been changed. Pretty sure we’re going back and forth over a moot point right now.

          • JeffH

            Don’t you think that panel 2 has Guwara explicitly addressing your point (not to mention the rest of the page)?

            You assert that compelling someone to act by force is a horrific thing to do (and you are of course entitled to your opinion), but Jacketless Guwara argues the other side of this — that compelling certain people by force (children, criminals, etc.) is a necessary part of civilized culture.

          • Izo

            I was initially responding about a post which specifically said that Gurwara was talking about action vs inaction, which is not what he was talking about. The post has been since changed. My post was saying what Gurwara was ACTUALLY describing.

          • Weatherheight

            From Eternal’s original post:

            “Can someone explain to me how placing morality in the action or result places them against each other with regards to compelling moral action ?”

            Fron Lostman’s original post:
            “Action, vs inaction. It a hard choices as if you believe in karma.”

            Smithy responded first to Eternal, and I responded to Smithy’s post.
            Smithy hasn’t responded to Lostman’s post (as far as I can tell…). And you’re absolutely right, Lostman’s response doesn’t quite address the ambiguity Eternal wanted clarification on – I’m not sure it’s an adequate summary of the Guwara Positions, either, but that’s not what I was complimenting.

            Guawara’s argument/counter argument says that, essentially, that both methods and results factor into our decision of whether an action is good, and the separation of these two points muddies the waters (granted, he has both sides arguing one element of the synthesis, but…). Which is, horribly oversimplified, what smithy wrote, while also pointing out the weakness of each position.

            And yeah, I had to do a lot of scrolling up and down to figure out where that was coming from. That said, your framework is also worthwhile to use as a vantage point – I’m not seeing Guwara framing it that way.

          • Izo

            And I’m responding to LOSTMAN’S original post. Which seems to be gone and now Smithy is there instead.

          • Weatherheight

            Aha – now it is clear.. well, clearer.. 😀

          • Lostman

            You summoned me?

          • Izo

            Yes, what happened to your post? I was responding to it and apparently it’s disappeared into the ether and been replaced with Smithy’s.

          • Lostman

            I think it has to do the fact I post by accident halfway through, and then editing it. Then again you maybe talking about another post, in which I don’t remember.

          • Weatherheight

            I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

            Why, so can I, or so can any man;
            But will they come when you do call for them?

            Apparently, Izo can and they (or Lostman, at the least) do. 😀

      • Lostman

        Action, vs inaction. It a hard choices as if you believe in karma.

        The Good: Millions are saved, and feral is free
        The Bad: we all know that this could of been a trap, and something bad will happen somewhere down the line. This could be mutable things that could negatively effect mutable aspects to Alison live

        The Good: Nothing happens to Alison.
        The Bad: Feral is still being rid apart daily for parts, and millions still are dying as they did.

        • Alan_A

          The tough karmic lesson is that inaction is a form of action – in the sense that inaction generates consequences just as action does.

          In other words, there’s no escaping karma this side of nirvana.

          And if you’re Zen, you’d say that nirvana and samsara are one and the same.

          So here we are, then.

          • Lostman

            Meaning Alison has no choices but to play. It’s a lose-lose situation because Alison morality won’t let her past up on a chance like this, and that inaction still has a moral cost. But to act has the results in same way; only we don’t how it will effect Alison in the long term. However, I can see this effecting Alison personal, and that project she was working along with other people in her life.

          • StClair

            “You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game” – the Laws of Thermodynamics, and so much else.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    If I was strong enough to accidentally rip people’s limbs off, I wouldn’t ever want to be drunk, either.

    • Stephanie

      She’s mentioned in the past that that’s indeed why she doesn’t drink.

      • Lostman

        Any bets on when she breaks the rule?

  • Danygalw

    You’re a good person, you did a bad thing. It’s a contradiction; it’s also the only safe position you can land on, for everyone else. you’re good so it was good so you could do that sort of thing again–please don’t! it was bad so you’re bad so there’s no point avoiding–please don’t!

  • Markus

    I think Gurwara is trying to show Al something very important:

    Making an ethical claim in the face of uncertainty is fucking terrifying.

    • Elaine Lee

      Although this would be taking ethical action.

  • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

    Now here, he has a point… almost. “We are all in this together” only becomes the axiom of a tyrant when you change it to say “we _must_ all _act_ as though we are all in this together _right now_.” It’s only impatience, arrogance, and a willingness to do evil to achieve one’s ends that makes it tyrannical.

    One can take the stance that “we are all in this together” without attempting to physical force others to take action through violence. There is this thing called “teaching” where we teach people to think deeply about the consequences of their actions… where we promote the formation of empathy and it’s proper application in early life. None of which requires either tyranny or total inaction.

    It still puts everyone as responsible to and for everyone else… but stops short of using violent means to enforce that mindset. This is the logical conclusion of requiring the means and the end to be justified separately. It takes time… but if one take a long look at the history of morality it’s clear progress is being made.

    • Nathanaël François

      I think you’re missing the point: even if you take time to teach, what do you do with the lone individual who does not want us to all be in this together? How do you enforce it except with violence? Alison tried to convince Max do to good, but he clearly wanted no part of it. Do you think more teaching might have changed his mind? Even though it would also have resulted in more people dying?
      Compare the case of the parent not taking car of their child. Do you support letting them be and just teaching them that it’s wrong (even though the child will die if you don’t take them away)? Or do you support taking the child away immediately?

      • Random832

        The question is not whether you support taking the child away (which
        you could be logically consistent in not defining to be a punishment),
        it’s whether you support throwing the parent in jail.

        • Stephanie

          I don’t think that analogy relates as well to the Max incident. Taking the child away is inflicting the minimum amount of coercion/suffering on the parent necessary to protect the child, much like Alison inflicted the minimum amount of coercion/suffering on Max to ensure he immediately used his powers to protect the thousands of lives.Throwing the parent in jail is penalizing them beyond that, which would be more like if Alison had beaten Max up after he was done boosting Feral to punish him for not doing it voluntarily.

          • Random832

            Yeah it occurred to me that the analogy doesn’t fit in more ways than that. We could imagine a hypothetical where there is some way in which there is something *only* the parent can do to ensure that the child survives and that comes *this* close to stumbling into an abortion debate.

      • A friend was actually involved in setting up national policy on this, it’s complicated. The optimum outcome requires taking a chance on the child’s safety, just taking them away mostly guarantees their safety, but often causes other problems. Judges have to take chances in deciding whether removing a child is the appropriate response, or whether there’s a chance of turning the family around. Sometimes either option can blow up in their face.

        This is a model for the sort of dilemma Alison was facing, positives and negatives to both action and inaction, but I’m not convinced it works for Max’s situation, there’s no positives in exposing himself, and no negatives he cares about in not.

      • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

        The biggest part _you_ are missing is that we do _not_, in fact, have any situation where our society supports violently forcing someone to take action. Quite the contrary… if some one puts others into harms way through inaction they usually aren’t even faced with criminal charges. Civil, maybe, but not criminal (in the US at least). And when they are faced with criminal charges, such as in extreme cases of the hypothetical case you’ve given, we still don’t try to force them to do the original thing. We simply arrest them… which the vast majority of the time involves very little physical violence and ends in incarceration. We do not threaten their health and lives to get them to do the original thing. Such is universally accepted as unethical.

        And the major difference between Max’s position and the position of our hypothetical dead-beat parent is that it’s very clear how the h-parent’s inaction will lead to abnormal harm for the child. On the other hand it’s not clear how or even if Max’s inaction would lead to abnormal harm for the people who needed those organs. There’s an argument to be made that, all things being equal, these people dying of organ failure is normal…. while the child being neglected isn’t.

        Again… take the long view. We as a society have already accepted that a parent has a responsibility to their child. We as a society have not yet accepted that people with superpowers have a responsibility to people suffering organ failure (and neither have they in the world of SFP either, apparently). But there was a time when it wasn’t accepted that parents were really responsible for their children either. The difference between then and now is education on a societal level… something that takes generations.

    • shink

      Aye, progress is being made, but that progress is also underpinned by ever greater more credible threats of violence. The modern state at least in theory holds the wealthy and powerful to the same code as the rest of us, a thing that used to be much less true. This accountability backed through force is what holds the rich and powerful back from making us work 70 hour “days” in unsafe factories with working conditions that cause short term and/or long term health conditions. If you think I’m exaggerating any of that go look up the working conditions of the Chinese workers that make your iPhones. Or just look at workers conditions in the US in the 1860s-1890s.

      One of the greatest victories any civil rights movement can achieve is to convince the state to classify them as a group worthy of special protection and to threaten violence against those who would victimize them unfairly (see hate crimes, equal opportunity employment laws).

      • Zac Caslar

        Though on the topic of policing there’s also Broken Windows theory. One of it’s conclusions is that some criminals may more specifically be people who’re extra sensitive to environmental cues as to what a society considers tolerable.

        Point being “order” meaning more than law and enforcement and instead being about combating environmental notices of social and infrastructural decay. Things like broken windows and graffiti etc being subtle statements that a given area lacks the resources to prioritize small and consistent bits of maintenance and as such that support and relief mechanisms are giving way to “individual initiative” while the greater society ignores it all.

      • “There has been no great power war since WWII.”

        No widespread great power war might come closer, remember the Korean War ended up as the UN vs China, but stayed a localised conflict.

        I’m not certain nuclear weapons made the difference, what we’ve learnt since the end of the Cold War is that the both sides saw the other as more likely to start a hot war, which is actually semi-stable as a political situation. And India and Pakistan, were at war in the Kargil within a year of Pakistan joining India as a nuclear power.

    • UnsettlingIdeologies

      I want to come back to Gurwara’s earlier point about justifying the means separate from the ends. What does that even mean? How can one justify the means without reference to some end?

      • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

        I covered this last update, actually.

        “Yes, you justify “the means” by considering their consequences… _all_ their consequences. “The end” is only one of those consequences. And it happens to be the one you want so you’re already predisposed to see the end in a positive light.

        But there are other consequences that have nothing to do with the desired end. Some of them are indirect results. Some of them only apply when the given means is used repeatedly. But all of them are part of the consideration of whether or not a the means is justified.

        Both the means and the end must be justifiable separate from each other. Yes, the end should be considered when justifying the means but it is only one small part of that, not the entirety of it.”

        It’s not that you justify the means without considering the end. It’s that you justify the means without considering the end _exclusively_.

        • UnsettlingIdeologies

          I completely agree that you need to think broadly about consequences, but I don’t see evidence of you doing that in the first post. It seems more that you are assuming a priori that teaching is inherently morally superior to violence. There seems to be no consideration of the fact that waiting for lessons to take hold may (at times) result in more deaths that could be prevented with more expediency.

          Of course, I’m not trying to say that expediency is always preferable, but rather that it may sometimes be preferable. My point is more that focusing on the “means” is often based off of larger “rules” (whether explicitly stated or not) that attempt to construct systems of categorizing actions as just/unjust (or good/evil, moral/immoral, wise/foolish, etc.) without accounting for context. It seems you are falling into that very trap when you state categorically that “It’s only impatience, arrogance, and a willingness to do evil to achieve one’s ends that makes it tyrannical” (at least within the context of arguing that physically forcing others to act is necessarily an example of this).

          • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

            ” It seems more that you are assuming a priori that teaching is inherently morally superior to violence.”

            I assume nothing. Teaching is morally superior to violence because it does not introduce additional harm. That’s reason, not assumption.

            Also remember that Max wasn’t causing harm. He was negligent, at most. But he was not the source of the harm. Causing harm to prevent inaction can only add to the harm caused in the world… not reduce it. It is thus self defeating and irrational.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            “Max wasn’t causing harm. He was negligent,”

            This is a semantic distinction. He may not have been the initial cause, but his inaction was a proximate cause. His intended actions (because, again, the distinction between action and inaction is semantic) were going to result in more deaths than would be caused by a different course of actions. That is a causal relationship.

            “Causing harm to prevent inaction can only add to the harm caused in the world.”

            Again, this is a claim without any evidence, and it’s one that relies on both careless semantic distinctions between action/inaction and an oversimplified conception of harm. For example, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., people were dying pretty much daily and the federal government was failing to do anything. What was killing them was inaction. AIDS activists (in particular ACT UP, but other groups too) did lots of work to save their communities, but some of the most important work they did was marches and public “die-ins” that stopped traffic on major streets–sometimes for hours–and other disruptive acts. These actions were specifically designed to maximize disruption and visibility. They may have even caused some folks to be late to work (which can result in someone being fired if they work in a low wage job without job security) or added to the workload of custodial staff (activists did glitter bombs, dumped cremation ashes on the white house lawn, did banner drops, wheat pasted signs up places, etc.) who are already generally overworked and underpaid. But these particular harms were less harmful than the deaths caused by the refusal of the federal government to invest any money into AIDS research or public health initiatives around HIV/AIDS. If they had attempted to follow your maxim of “causing harm to prevent inaction can only add to the harm caused in the world,” it is very likely that the federal government wouldn’t have acted as quickly as they did and more people would have died (as a result of inaction).

            Hell, a simpler example is reporting an abusive racist employee (or even a lazy, negligent one) to their supervisor. That will likely result in the sanctioning/firing of that employee–harm. Or campaigning to get an awful politician out of office. Losing public office is literally losing a job–again, harm.

          • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

            First off, a little education on what semantic actually means. Semantics is the branch of linguistics that deals with meaning. So your use of the word “semantic” here to imply there is no _meaningful_ difference between the two arguments is not only incorrect… but ironically so.

            But sure… lets talk semantics. Lets talk about the meaning of the word “cause” as a verb. To cause an effect (effects being the natural consequences of a cause) means your _actions_ (as opposed to inaction) led to that effect happening. More importantly it means that had you not taken those actions _or taken no action_ the effect would not have happened.

            So no, Max’s inaction did not _cause_ anything. Nor can it _cause_ anything. The very meaning of “cause” (hey you’re the one who brought up semantics) precludes inaction being the cause of anything.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            Inaction isn’t a thing! That is precisely my point. It’s a theoretical construct that is often (including in your argument) used to try and claim a particular course of action is the neutral/default path and thus requires less examination of the causes and impacts of that path. Inaction (by any reasonable definition) would mean not doing anything. Are you actually claiming that Max wasn’t doing **anything**? If he had not gone with Alison, would he have just been sitting and staring? (It’s worth mentioning, since you want to get technical with definitions, sitting and staring would still be doing something.) Of course not. He would have been doing something else instead (whether that something was sleeping, or playing cards, or talking to a friend, or writing sad poems in his journal about how life is so unfair to him).

            What you really mean is that you see any of those things as the default, and thus they don’t have any inherent ethical value/implications. But if he is doing those things instead of saving thousands of lives (especially if he can save those thousands of lives with little expenditure of energy), then there are ethical ramifications. To use another comparison, a surgeon who decides to take a nap during the middle of surgery would surely be considered the cause of the death of their patient. A parent who ignores their child rather than feeding them would be considered the cause of their child’s starvation. A shortstop who just stands there while a grounder goes between their legs would be seen as having made an error. They made the error (as in they caused it) as a result of their “inaction” (or, I would argue, their wrong choice of actions–standing still instead of kneeling and stopping the grounder).

            Max wanted to do something else instead of helping. If he had done that other thing, more people would have died than if he did the thing Alison wanted him to do. That is a causal relationship.

          • UnsettlingIdeologies

            And for what it’s worth, when I said it’s a semantic difference, I was trying to point out that your argument relied on nothing more than semantics–i.e. rooted entirely in a particular way of defining words.

            Your argument was effectively:
            1) Let’s define “cause “to mean that an “action” leads to a particular effect.
            2) Let’s define “inaction” to mean “not action.”
            3) Therefore, we can conclude that “inaction” cannot by definition be a “cause”, because it is not an “action.”
            4) Let us now define “action” to refer to the specific set of behaviors and choices that Alison wants Max to make, thus defining “inaction” as anything other than that specific set of behaviors and choices.
            5) Finally, we can conclude that Max wouldn’t have caused anything, because he would have done “inaction” instead of “action.”

            It’s a semantic argument that is trivially true because of the way you define the words.

      • Ellis Jones

        It’s a misdirecting cliche. The consequences of your means are your ends. If you brake a car as a means to save a man, your ends are a braked car and a saved man.

        As far as justification goes, you must evaluate whether those ends are net good or bad. That is how you justify (not) taking the decision.

    • tai

      So… Allison getting mad that she was the only one to put down a black stone is what puts her on the tyrant axis. And accepting that others do not share the same axiom but acting as though they did is the path back. Smiling, knowing that only she will put down the black stone and that though her axiom may lose this time others may change and not by force.

      • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

        Actually part of the mistake she made before was arrogantly believing her perspective was so self evident that surely every one else already understood it. She already made the mistake of acting like everyone would agree with her. What she should have done is have a calm, frank discussion. If Gurwara refused to give her the time to do so she still could have attempted to do so after the fact (for “next time”).

        In other words… she should have tried honest conversation rather than standing on her soap box and talking down to everyone around her. This is actually a problem that has become common place in liberal circles… too much arrogance and contempt, not enough honest conversation. Not that conservatives aren’t guilty too… but liberals seem to revel in it.

        • Ellis Jones

          I’m pretty sure Gurwara was just being realistic. You don’t get the opportunity for a calm frank discussion every time you have to make a decision that affects other people.

          • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

            Which I specifically accounted for in my previous comment. Perhaps read all of it this time?

          • Ellis Jones

            When did it become a faux pas to implicitly agree with someone? Tone down the snarkiness, please.

          • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

            I apologize. So far you are the only person who has responded with any kind of agreement… and the wording of your reply left room for me to see it as disagreement.

            None of which justifies being so caustic in my own response. So, again, I apologize.

          • Jeremy Cliff Armstrong

            Really this whole thing has been unsettling for me. It disturbs me that people can’t see how Alison’s actions were wrong or understand the long term implications.

            When the initial discussions about this were going on I compared it, quite intentionally, to the rise of Nazi-led fascism in Nazi Germany. Specifically how the German people could turn a blind eye to the subjugation of an entire people which, in turn, made the Final Solution possible. That’s quite literally where Alison’s mindset leads… people forget the Nazis were a socialist movement focused on making the (predominantly Jewish) upper class take responsibility for the economic plight of post-WW1 Germany… by force if necessary.

            Still not a justification for snapping but hopefully it helps understand where I’m coming from.

  • Stephanie

    It seems like the point he’s making is that Alison’s actions were consistent with her own axiom, but I thought Alison already acknowledged that at the start.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Yeah, he didn’t really resolve that conflict, he kind of landed where she had already arrived on her own.

    • SmilingCorpse

      True. However, I think that the implication is the how our ideals and the world we live in mix like oil and vinegar.

    • Lysiuj

      What she previously said, was that Gurwara was right about her being a tyrant. But, what he’s pointed out now is that she’s also following through on her axiom.
      It’s like:
      Al – “You were right prof., I am a tyrant.”
      Gurwara – “Well whether or not you are, you acted according to your axiom, and did what was, in your eyes, moral and morally consistent.”
      Al – “Huh.”
      Like, she’s already reached the conclusion that she’s a tyrant by virute of coercing someone, but hasn’t yet asked herself if her axiom has led her here, if it necessarily leads to tyranny, if she still believes in that axiom, etc.

  • Weatherheight

    There are few things in life more crushing than the realization that your righteous position can be used to justify you taking actions of a monster. Leave it to Guwara to deliver a crushing argument with all the force of a sledgehammer and with a bare minimum of condemnation.

    A good friend of mine from college talked about “the little guy in my brain who beats me up every night.” He had a framed poster on his wall that read exactly that – “Don’t beat yourself up too much.” Hadn’t thought of him in years.

    • Zac Caslar

      Socrates commented on the presence of a daemon or oracle within him who’s good opinion was worth keeping, that it spoke quietly but firmly.

  • Weatherheight

    Brennan, Molly – great work on these last few pages – I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.
    And now, everyone, give me links to see more comics that are much like these pagers. 😀

  • qixlqatl

    Allison didn’t do it to save thousands of people’s lives as an expression of some philosophical principle, she did it to save Feral, her friend, from the constant torment. (The thousands of people do make a nice justification, though…) No philosophy can really cover every eventuality, and no one can live in perfect accordance to any philosophy’s principles.

    What Al did was clearly wrong…and I’d have done the same, if not worse. How many of us wouldn’t do the same for our loved ones, even knowing there would be legal consequences? There won’t be any legal consequences for Al, since the government will hand-wave her excesses away to avoid displaying their impotence. Her only punishments will be social, as people distance themselves from her to avoid becoming ‘collateral damage’. If she is ostracized and isolated, what consequences will remain to be feared?

    Damn fine writing, Brennan, and Molly’s artwork really nails it.

    • Ben Posin

      I think you’d be selling Alison a bit short if you thought she only did it for Feral—she finally accepted Feral’s decision (at least as a preliminary solution) because she did feel for the people dying with out organs, and recognize the need that they be saved. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to go from there to being motivated to wanting to help everyone who needs a transplant if that suddenly became possible. But I agree that it was her connection to Feral that promoted this problem so high on her priority list, and prompted her to act so quickly when faced with Max’s intransigence, so I guess I agree that you have a good point and I am just sticking up a bit for Al.

      I’m a little bemused by comments like yours that what Alison did was clearly wrong, but that you’d expect good people (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt!) would do the same thing. I feel like there’s some tension in that statement.

      • Arkone Axon

        It’s a moral conflict – a lot of people who agree that stealing is wrong might very well resort to theft in order to survive, or to ensure the survival of a loved one. The game “This War of Mine,” where you play a group of refugees trying to survive in a war zone, is a wonderful example of that – when resources are scarce and you know there’s a family with enough food to keep you from starving, and you have a crowbar…

        (of course, I found that building up an improvised business – trading alcohol and then clean bandages and medication – was an even better survival strategy… which makes the issue even more interesting. I found a better way, a third option, even in that situation)

        • Izo

          It’s a really good game 🙂

        • Oren Leifer

          It’s one of the best depictions of war.

      • qixlqatl

        Would she have done the same had Feral been a stranger to her? Even Alison knows she wronged Max horribly, and she is paying a price in internal torment (TANSTAFL). If she were not, her world would probably wind up crushed beneath her heel, just like she crushed Max. Who would stop her? Alison’s guilt and shame are all that make her sympathetic at this point. She willingly used her power to subjugate the will of a *relatively* innocent person. (Max *is* a selfish asshole,sure)

        Yes, there is tension in that statement. See the last sentence of the first paragraph in my original post. All philosophical systems will have those moments of tension. Sometimes the tension will break one way, sometimes the other. Good people often make bad choices, sometimes for the very best of reasons. People of goodwill will feel guilt over it and strive to improve and make amends.

        • Ben Posin

          I don’t know if Alison would have done the same for a stranger. But if she wouldn’t, perhaps THAT would be her moral failing, not that she acted for a friend. The history of moral “progress” is not so much the creation of new moral rules, but rather expanding the circle of people one’s moral instincts apply to, beyond family, tribe, nation, race, etc.

          • qixlqatl

            I fail to see how how the subjugation of the individual right to self determination is “progress” of any kind, much less “moral progress”. If there is no individual will, morality becomes meaningless, there is only “the good of the collective”. Collectivism must assume either human moral perfection or that morality is irrelevant.

            A willingness to act immorally for the benefit of ones loved ones is an understandable, if tragic, human failure. A willingness to divorce action from individual morality for “the greater good” (collective morality) has yielded industrialized slaughter of staggering scale at least three times in human history, and who knows how many instances of localized tragedy numbering “merely” thousands. (I don’t know why, it just is.)

            If it is okay to force Max to use his power to help Feral be a better donor, there would be no difference in kind to force Feral to remain in that operating theater forever. That moral stance reduces individuals to mere resources to be exploited, and I know of no historical examples where it has yielded positive results.

          • Ben Posin

            Dude, I was just pointing out that if Alison was more motivated to act because Feral was someone she knew, I don’t think that cuts against the morality of her action. I get that you have other objections to what Alison did, and maybe I will take them up when I have more time, if they don’t persuade me. Maybe pea coffee?

          • qixlqatl

            No problem. I exploring my own thoughts as I go, more or less 😀 I thought “pea coffee” was HILARIOUS! 😀 One final thought, though: the only reason we need morality at all is that we are individuals. If we were not, if we were a hive mind or duplicates of each other, there would never be any moral conflicts that needed to be resolved.

      • Moi

        I don’t think Alison realized what the effect was going to be, other than making Feral’s regen powers work better and faster, so that maybe Feral could spend some time off the table.

        From a practical point, although I realize we’re talking about a comic-book world here, I think what they’re setting up with Feral is kind of horrifying: they’re going to set the entire world transplant system to depend on this one donor, and the support system to transport and implant them which isn’t in place yet… Shades of making the Flash run on a treadmill to provide power for a city, or depending on Doc Manhattan being around to act as the global deterrent for war.

        • Stephanie

          Alison told Max that boosting Feral would save “countless, countless lives.” I think that’s solid evidence that she went into this knowing (or at least expecting) that it would do more than just give Feral some time off.

  • Philip Bourque

    Is anyone else getting an ‘after-school special’ vibe from all this? I’m expecting someone to come out and say “And knowing is half the battle!”

    • SmilingCorpse

      I don’t think it really matters at this point. Even if the moral is hackneyed, it’s still a good moral. And at least they dared to dig deeper than any after school special ever even dreamed to.

      • Merle

        Is it really hackneyed, though? I think there’s real debate. I mean, I’m not sure if she did “the right thing” here – forcing someone to use his powers, at threat of harm.

        I’m not sure that there is an “easy” answer here.

        • SmilingCorpse

          I’m saying it doesn’t matter if it’s hackneyed, not that it is outright hackneyed. And I agree, it’s a very important issue for Alison to tackle. I’m glad they are delving as deep as they are.

        • Zac Caslar

          Ding! Gold star to Merle.

          This is two goods in opposition acted out by two people equally correct. That’s an old definition of “tragedy.”

          This is damn good stuff worthy of examination in at least a basic collegiate philosophic theory course.

      • Philip Bourque

        And what moral have you derived from all this? What I’ve seen is Al taking an action which she believes is the right one, then regretting said action for reasons. She seeks justification from someone else because she can’t justify it to herself anymore. She then runs into Guwara who then runs through the ideas of both sides of the argument, ends with the axiom thing and says “that’s why I said that”.

        • SmilingCorpse

          The “moral” is that ethics in theory is one thing, ethics in practice is quite another. And from my point of view, Alison is looking for clarification, not justification. And Guwara using her axiom at the end is to drive home how anyone can arrive at the conclusion she arrived to.

    • Jovial Contrarian

      “The other part of the battle is violence!”

  • Eva Smiljanić

    I love her face in the first panel. I mean, it’s how I feel during this convo

  • Merle

    Okay, I definitely have a new favorite character in this comic.

    I’m also put in mind of Peter Singer (who I only found out about through Unsong, but who is actually a real person) and his arguments toward effective altruism.

    Would you call someone morally lacking who, knowing how to swim, refuses to save a drowning child?
    I think the answer is “yes” – at least, it is for me.
    Therefore, inaction cannot be defended as morally neutral.

    What if you have an expensive coat, and getting it wet will ruin it?
    I think most people would agree that no coat is worth a child’s life.

    However, effectively, this is exactly what you do whenever you buy a new coat with money that could instead go towards feeding a starving child.

    …I’m horribly oversimplifying here, but basically, this comic is making me think, and that’s a good thing.

    • AshlaBoga

      Peter Singer is one of my favourite philosophers. He’s gotten a lot of flack for people taking some of his writing out of context, but I think people misunderstanding philosophy is pretty common (every “fan” of Nietzsche I meet seems to have never read his work).

      “If it is in
      our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby
      sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally,
      to do it”

      Obviously Singer would find Max’s inaction immoral. However, Singer might not approve of tyrannical methods to compel Max to save lives. You cannot fully separate means and ends, so part of the result of forcing Max to obey is that the precedent would apply to anyone with useful superpowers.

      Feral was mentioned to be a universal donor yes? If that’s the case she actually should go back to the hospital 24/7 and start giving blood.

      150,000 – 175,000 people die every year from lack of organ donations.
      Over 400,000 people die every year from lack of blood (a substantial amount of those deaths are from hemorrhaging in childbirth). Back to the hospital Feral, you have more lives to save!

      • Zac Caslar

        I know Singer as the root of those awkward conversations about bed nets.

        Modern consumerist spending is like running into a burning building and ignoring your neighbor’s child while you look for your kid’s favorite stuff animals.

        Also Feral was giving blood the entire time as well. It’s stated that with her upgrade she’s hit the logistically practical limit of organ and blood donation.

        (and try to resist the Grognardian reaction to demand knowledge of how that’s possible.)

        Worthy of reminder is that “being perpetually vivisected” part of the experience. Lest we forget and pretend that we’d be any more eager to go back to volunteering for the Living Hell experience. And Feral did volunteer as the flip side to the Singerist idea would have been to kidnap Feral and skip that troublesome personal initiative step that very plausibly could have gone unacted upon.

        Which leads us back to Max and his problem _except_ for that massive issue of scale of suffering.

        • AshlaBoga

          Okay, I must have missed the blood donation part. That definitely requires time dilation or something since the world demand is well over 108 million litres/year.

          • Zac Caslar

            Grognardian instincts, AshlaBoga.

            Also who besides Feral gets to decide how much she gives? If she hits the practical organ limit and the demand for blood remains unfilled who else decides that she MUST stay and give more blood?

            Tara’s already far beyond any reasonable moral responsibility to begin with lest we ignore the “outrage” of Max’s arm being twisted.

            That is of course the scale. Permanent and perpetual unspeakable agony versus a couple hours of inconvenience and a sore arm.

      • Zac Caslar

        Oh and to Nhilists add “Objectivists” and whatever remains of Silopsists.

        They HATE Singer.

      • palmvos

        Feral can now put out more blood and organs than they have the logistical and political ability to use. at least that’s what the doctors tell us. The New York Postal service may be interfering.

        • Weatherheight

          Freemasons. Bet you anything itsFreemasons.

          • palmvos

            in deference to another comm enter- its the little mice…..

          • Weatherheight

            Freemason MICE!

            ::scampers away in sheer terror as fast as his hooves can take him::

          • palmvos

            ::needs help::
            ::cant get off floor laughing::
            THE MICE ARE COMING!!!!

          • Weatherheight

            You know just how clever they are because they manage to do the various secret handshakes with those tiny little paws and no opposable thumbs.

      • Let’s remember Singer thinks its perfectly appropriate to kill disabled infants and replace them with a ‘better’ one, and advocates just that. The man may be a leading philosopher, but he’s also a disablist bigot and absolutely loathed by the disability movement worldwide.

  • TheLordofAwesome

    This man is one of my favorite characters.

  • Loranna

    And today, we see that, in the Alisonverse, long years of practice of a skill can in fact give you superpowers! Case in point: Professor Gurwara, whose performing and philosophical skills are so great, he can make the sky itself blush a pretty shade of pink to hear him argue with himself!

    That look on Alison’s face in the insert panel? That’s the look of a superwoman who has just met her Badass Normal match. And he didn’t even need a fancy green rock ring to do it ^_^ (The glowing emerald light would have clashed with his Talk The Sky Pink power anyway.)


  • Azyuwish

    I had to go back and look up “The Axiom of a Tyrant” discussion, just to make sure I was on the same page with what’s going on today.
    “We’re all in this together” was the way Alison phrased it, but really, you need to read what what they both had to say to get the significance now.

    • Weatherheight

      Alison uses the phrase “We got this” a lot early on – it’s pretty much the family motto.
      Her reaction to Guwara’s initial argument has a lot of facets to it.
      Those facets have taken a beating since then… 😀

    • Danygalw

      I disagree with Guwara’s “Sarcasm is the opposite of bravery” axiom.

  • Glen Raphael

    People with specialized training are often regarded as having a *moral* duty to rescue, but this gets reflected in the law mainly in the form of rules that you can’t sue people for trying to help, not rules that they can be punished for not helping.

    My parents were National Ski Patrollers so when we drove to the mountains our car contained two people with advanced Red Cross first aid training and medical supplies. In the 1970s it was clear if we saw a car accident we DEFINITELY SHOULD stop and try to help, but by the late 1980s people were getting sued – and losing! – for trying to help so the situation became ethically murky. Eventually there was a successful effort to pass “Good Samaritan” laws to make it explicitly clear that providing first aid without expectation of reward is not a punishable act. Nowadays stopping to help is usually supererogatory as far as the law is concerned. So you might have a moral duty to act but not a legal one.

    Here’s a collection of such laws by state: https://recreation-law.com/2014/05/28/good-samaritan-laws-by-state/

    In just a couple of US states it is actually possible to found liable for *not* helping in an emergency, but the most you’re usually required to do is call 911. Wikipedia says ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law ): “Violation of the duty-to-assist subdivision is a petty misdemeanor in Minnesota and may warrant a fine of up to $100 in Vermont.”)

  • Soqoma

    I am so excited to re-read this in print. What’s the timeline for volume 2, anyway?

  • Evan

    One difference is the state monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Just because it’s okay for governments to use force, doesn’t mean it’s OK for Alison or Moonshadow to do it. Why not? ‘Cause that way lies 10,000 warlords; a bad situation for everyone unless you really like the petty power abuse of being a warlord. (You probably won’t be a warlord.)

  • JohnTomato

    Lifeguards, like I was, are trained to keep themselves alive at the possible cost of the life of a drowning person. Can’t save anyone if you’re dead.

    • Zac Caslar

      This is true….probably. Or at least I think it could be.

      I’m not a lifeguard.

      But it looks like a “reasonable risk” clause. It’s kind of like the difference between accepting the risks of doing something possibly fatal and being explicitly ordered to kill yourself. There is a fine line, but a real one.

  • ClockworkDawn

    Okay, this is kind of random, but has there been any evidence that Al has anything more than a normal human lung capacity? Just trying to think of ways one might be able to kill her.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t recall any such evidence. I think if you wanted to kill her that way you’d need to do it stealthily, like pump her apartment full of inert gas or something. If she knows she’s being poisoned or suffocated she’ll just leave the area, and it won’t be possible to stop her.

      • weedgoku

        Or just shoot her when she’s flying. Or asleep, I don’t know if the comic’s ever shown that her powers work while she’s asleep.

        • palmvos

          If it were that simple- they’d do her hair with a general anesthetic or at least sleeping pills, instead of an industrial grinder!

        • Weatherheight

          At some point they made a point of her strength being a deliberate act to use, but her invulnerability seems to be an always on thing, based on various other pages (as palmos just ninja’d me…)

          • weedgoku

            Sleeping might be out. We still haven’t seen anyone try. But while flying she’s already managed to injure herself, so that would be the go-to time to just snipe her.

          • Weatherheight

            I got the impression that she was going all-out with a brand new power – it’s not unreasonable to me that would put unfamiliar stresses on her body that it might not be prepared to handle since she’s still learning how to use the power safely – in essence, her anomaly was trying to do two things at once and her trying to force it made her anomaly hurt her (resonance effect, dissonance effect, take your pick). We also know that as she gets hurt, her anomaly makes it harder for her to hurt in that fashion going forward. It seems plausible that boat has now officially sailed.

            That said, it’s also not unreasonable that she’s more vulnerable while flying – the question is how much. Suppose she has a pool that powers her anomaly and is additive to her base abilities. Going in to HERO System Mode…

            She may have base STR of 40 and Defenses of around 36s/12r (this would make her invulnerable to small arms fire and very unlikely to be stunned by the same). An armor piercing round might get through but would unlikely to kill her – it’s sting like a bugger, though..

            She then has a pool of points whose default setting is additional STR and additional defenses (boosting her to say 60 STR and Defenses of 60s/24r) – this would stop most conventional weapons with the exception of, again, AP rounds. However, when she turns on her Flight, she has to take the points to do that away from the boost to her STR and Defenses.

            My guess is this isn’t likely – Alison feels more like a Elemental Control (a bunch of more or less related powers which are all available at the same time) rather than a Multi-Power (a group of powers that can be used one at a time, like different clips of ammo for a gun).

            Even in that case, however, she probably has some form of vulnerability – it’s sort of a trope of the genre. The question is what that vulnerability is and how common it is. My guess is pretty rare – otherwise she’d already be dead; she is, after all, a veteran of the Guardians and is well known to be their heavy hitter. If I’m planning a crime and there’s a chance her team is going to show up, I’m going to research the crap out of Mega-Girl and I’m going to try things not already tried (not actually true – I’m going to ensure there’s no way they can show up).

            HERO System – It involves math, but it can be used in so many situations.

    • Arkone Axon

      They’ve made it clear she’s invulnerable… in terms of her skin and her soft tissue injuries. But she still breathes and ingests food and such. She even almost drowned during her confrontation with Mary.

  • Skudplastr

    THERE’S A COMMENT SECTION! I’ve been reading for over a year and I only *just* now found this! And apparently right in the middle of some heated debate. 😳

    • Lysiuj

      Welcome! I’d tell you that you’ve got a lot of catching up to do… but the last few pages pretty much sum it all up 😛

    • Weatherheight

      HEE HAW! (That’s how donkeys say “Hello!”)

      Welome to our wonderful and very distinctly divergent community.
      Punch… yes, it is punch today, will wonders never cease… Is over on the back wall.
      Looks like cupcakes and … beef jerky… over on the snack table…

      Ooo.. turnips are in the bucket today! Yay!

      ::trots over to the bucket next to the snack table and begins munching happily::

      • Skudplastr


    • Tylikcat

      Welcome! Heavens, yes, there’s quite the community here.

      • Skudplastr

        I see that! Thanks for the welcome 😁

    • Loranna

      Hello friend; glad to have you ^_^


      • Skudplastr

        Thanks! 🙂

    • I thought it was fairly quiet just now 😉

  • Lysiuj

    Anyone else feel like this is one of those pages that just hits you and leaves you breathless?

    • weedgoku

      Yeah, terrible analogies always hit me like a real foggy fart too.

      • Lysiuj

        Well if the fart left you breathless then it must have been very foggy indeed, and hit you with quite a bit of force too. Actually you should probably get that checked out…

  • StClair

    This man. THIS MAN. <3

  • Manuel Simone

    Gurwara quickly became one of my favorite characters of this story. Kudos to authors for creating such an interesting, smart and eccentric (but not ridiculous) characters.

  • Flesh Forge

    Hey you know that enhanced interrogation thing we do, y’know, the waterboarding or maybe some therapeutic electrode therapy or some ~locker room horseplay~

    as long as it’s for a good cause and as long as you remember to feel bad afterwards, torture is actually pretty great! *pat pat*

    ps: it’s a lot easier to convince yourself if the person you’re torturing is a really not very nice person who is super selfish, then it is SUPER ok!

    • Arkone Axon

      Honestly, considering the fact that the argument here is actually “Max is a jerk who doesn’t want to be used for his powers, so he deserves to be forcibly used for his powers,” it’s more like… “the Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” with some people here openly stating that the kid was a jerk and should be reviled and spat upon rather than receive sympathy. “Fuck that kid.”

      …Hell, I just realized while typing this up. This is actually the plot to the first X-Men movie. Rogue being forcibly used for his powers… Alison was basically Magneto here.

      • AshlaBoga

        We thanks to that comparison I now want an “Alison was right!” T-shirt

      • Stephanie

        I don’t think there’s any reasonable comparison between a severely cognitively impaired child who had no conception of the reason for its suffering or any opportunity for agency in the decision, and also was condemned to a life of ceaseless suffering, vs a functional adult who knowingly refused to do one single painless thing to save thousands upon thousands of lives and was then forced to do that one thing.

        Like, pretty much the only thing they have in common is that they were both forced to facilitate the wellbeing of many strangers. The nature of the harm inflicted on them is wildly different, and their respective levels of personal douchebaggery (none in the child’s case, a lot in Max’s) are even more wildly different.

        • Arkone Axon

          That’s actually what I’m talking about. This:

          No one does evil without justifying it first. My second comparison (of Alison to Magneto and Max to Rogue) shows another way to justify it.. the sort likely used with the kid in Omelas. “Well, it’s a tragedy – but it’s important. Sacrifices must be made. What is one life compared to so many others?”

          Everyone who calls Max a douchebag keeps going back to that as their baseline assumption, ignoring his viewpoint and motivations. He can’t simply be frightened of the consequences of being revealed as an anthromorphic Super Mario Brothers Mushroom for every biodynamic in the world. He can’t be suspicious of the motives and words of someone he neither likes nor trusts at the moment. No, he disagreed with someone who said “I have no evidence or assurances beyond my words that this is okay, but you need to do this to save lives.”

          I’ve read the reasons why Max “deserves” it, and they boil down to this: He’s a wealthy cisgendered caucasian heterosexual male, and those things mean that anything done to him is permissible (which, btw, qualifies as sexism, racism, etc…). If pressed to give an example based on something he’s DONE rather than something he simply happens to have been born as, the answer is, “he said no!”

          Well, considering that Max is the child of members of the same “Harmony Council” that was killing biodynamics deemed too likely to change the world to be allowed to live, that he prizes freedom above all other things (in a way that suggests he’s a prisoner in a gilded cage), and that he lived in fear of people finding out his only superpower is “makes other powers more powerful,” he was pretty well justified in saying “no.” And since her response was “then I will inflict pain, physically force you there, make you do it anyway, and then sneer at you with a promise that I can and will do this again whenever I feel like it,” he seems to have been pretty justified in viewing her with suspicion.

          Seriously, CAN you provide a reason other than “he said no?” Or does the entire argument of “Max is a douchebag” rely on the assumption that he was completely unjustified in saying no?

          • Stephanie

            I think I’ve said this a few dozen times by now, but the reason Max is a douchebag is because he was going to let thousands of people die horribly every year for the foreseeable future, when he knew he could easily save them. This makes him a douchebag for the same reason that he’d be a douchebag if he watched a child drown in shallow water while doing nothing to help. So yes, the reason is “he said no,” because what he said “no” to was saving an inconceivable number of human lives just as valuable as his own. Absolutely none of this has anything to do with him being a white cishet dude–that’s a complete strawman

            Note that saying he’s a douchebag is not equivalent to saying he “deserved it.” What Max “deserved” is irrelevant to the question of whether coercing him was justified. He had to be coerced because those thousands upon thousands of people didn’t deserve to die.

          • Arkone Axon

            Yeah. Problem there is that he didn’t know for certain that thousands of people were going to die if he didn’t act.

            And yes, I know you’re going to point out that of course they would because we know Alison was telling the truth… but HE DIDN’T. He spent half his life being terrified of being found out as a walking video game powerup, and then the person who he knows doesn’t like him, whom he didn’t much care for at that point, and who is known to be very violent and dangerous when provoked (“he’s our friend, please don’t kill him?”), informed him “I have a plan that will save thousands. All the proof you need is my unsubstantiated claims and statements, coupled with emotional pleading.”

            I’ve actually experienced similar pleadings in the past, people begging me to help them like that… and some of them were genuinely in need, and some of them were con artists looking to take advantage. She offered no proof, no reassurances, nothing to justify his risking everything for her goals. Then, when he rather reasonably said “no,” she didn’t even try to reason further, or find someone else to ask (since his biggest reason was “because it’s YOU asking”), she simply grabbed him and confirmed all his worst fears.

            But as you said, the real question is: was coercing him justified? Short answer: No. Long answer: It was literally the worst possible way to take what she wanted. As in, it was even worse than making him do it and then snapping his neck so he couldn’t tell anyone what had happened or seek retribution. She poisoned him against any further attempts to use him, she made an enemy out of him, she made an enemy out of the mother linked to the “Harmony Group,” whatever that is, she opened herself up to criminal allegations, public exposure and humiliation (Cue the political commentators: “look what “Mega Girl” does to people! No wonder nobody wants her around!”), and she ensured he’ll never, ever work with anyone else she knows, or do it under laboratory conditions so they can study his powers and ensure there are no harmful side effects or lasting repurcussions. In other words, it was unjustified not because it was evil, but because it was STUPID.

          • Stephanie

            Max gave absolutely no indication that he didn’t believe Alison was telling the truth about the countless lives. Every single objection he made was predicated on the premise that the lives would be saved if he acted, but he wasn’t acting for XYZ reason (because “you can’t tell me what to do”, because “I don’t want my secret publicized”, because “fuck you that’s why,” in order).

            There really is nothing in the canon to justify absolving Max of his decision on the basis that he might not have believed Alison. You could certainly argue that it would have made sense for him to disbelieve her, but that wouldn’t change what actually happened. He clearly accepted the premise that he had the option of saving thousands of lives, and he knowingly, deliberately chose otherwise.

            Regarding your last paragraph, does this mean you would have considered her action justified if she’d done it in a way that brought less risk of public backlash on herself? So, saving thousands upon thousands of lives can’t justify it, but for her to commit a greater harm than she did in order to protect herself would justify it?

            Or would it only have been justified if she’d done it using a method that ensured Max’s future cooperation, and in that case, is it totally cool for thousands upon thousands of people to die if such a method didn’t exist? Cause that’s some baby-out-with-the-bathwater logic right there.

          • Arkone Axon

            Actually, none of his objections were predicated on any such premise. He wasn’t even touching on the subject of whether or not lives would actually be saved by his actions. Page 86 of this chapter. He simply stated that it was too risky (for reasons I’ve already pointed out in previous comments) and that he did not trust or like her enough to willingly put himself in her hands.

            Nor should he have. The lecture scene back in Gurwara’s class highlighted that. Not only did she not “save” the other student, but she failed to even take a moment to find out the facts beforehand, to learn whether or not the other students might have cooperated or not. Nevermind the one who wasn’t paying attention, one of those students declined to cooperate because she couldn’t afford to lose her scholarship for the sake of Alison’s principles. She is not very good at thinking things through, and speaking as someone who has always been larger and stronger than most others, it is a BAD thing to be that reckless with power. You either learn to be careful and look before you move, or you learn to put up with angry glares and upset feelings from fragile people who own fragile things. And the latter means choosing to let them be damaged rather than make an effort to be responsible.

            As for why I would say that snapping his neck would have been a better choice? Simple: Her actions were evil. What she did was what all the greatest villains in history have done. She decided that her ideology trumped that of others, and that her ends were all important, and that anyone who would not cooperate deserved to be forced. Furthermore, that “anyone” is someone she already did not like. She WANTED to be vile to him. She was able to rationalize cruelty to someone she didn’t like.

            And at that point, she might as well have owned up to it. Especially given the nature of her victim, and his relatives. She would have been better off covering up her crimes and then hoping no one found out. Just said, “well, you’re a rich prick and I don’t like you, and I don’t think anyone will miss you.”

            Of course, that would be the SECOND worst thing she could have done. Literally anything else would have been better – especially bringing in someone like Brad, or Paladin. Someone who is not her who can convince him. Or attempted to barter in good faith. Instead she simply asked “nicely” (though she couldn’t go two pages without insulting him, so “nice” isn’t the word I’d use to describe) and then decided she was ready to take what she wanted from the evil, heartless jerk who had… just told her about attempting suicide in the hopes of developing powers before he hit the ground. She gives more sympathy to Cleaver/Daniel, and he’s a convicted mass murderer.

          • Flesh Forge

            I’m relieved not every reader is giving each other high fives over how wonderful Allison is and how much that prick libertarian whiteboy deserves whatever he gets.

          • Stephanie

            If you’re arguing that Max’s objections were unrelated to the premise that lives would be saved, the result is the same: in a scenario where Max is capable of saving thousands of lives by boosting Feral, he refuses to do it. If Max refuses to boost Feral regardless of whether lives will be saved, then it inescapably follows that Max refuses to boost Feral even if lives will be saved. That is why Max is a douchebag.

            There’s only one possible way you could use “maybe he didn’t believe her” as a defense of his actions. That would be if he had specifically and exclusively objected to helping her on the grounds that he didn’t believe her. That’s the only scenario in which he refuses because he doesn’t believe her, but would not have refused if he did believe her–that is, it’s the only scenario in which Max isn’t willing to let many thousands of people die to serve his self-interest.

            That didn’t happen, so that argument is moot. Max is explicitly, canonically, undeniably willing to let many thousands of people die to serve his self-interest. Again, this is what makes him a douchebag.

            Your argument about snapping Max’s neck just doesn’t make sense. “She did a bad thing, therefore she should go whole hog and do something even worse, and that will somehow be better?” What ethical system could possibly justify that kind of thinking? You argued before that snapping his neck would have been less “evil”, and you’re arguing now that snapping his neck would have been better for Alison–are you equating “good for Alison” with “objectively good”? I’m seriously confused about what you’re trying to say here.

            Also, this is barely relevant but I have to add it: Max didn’t “attempt suicide.” Attempting suicide means you’re actually trying to die. Max did not want to die and he was not trying to die. He was using physical danger as a tool in his attempts to unlock his powers, because he was a teenager and teenagers take stupid risks. Equating that with actual attempted suicide is honestly trivializing a serious real-world problem.

          • Arkone Axon

            One: you’re consistently and repeatedly denying that Max has any rights to sympathy as one of the lives who deserves to be saved. And you can’t even say that he lost those rights when he refused; if his possession of rights is conditional on him doing what Alison wanted, then he never had them to begin with. He was VERY justified in not wanting to put himself in a very, very dangerous situation. Which she then threw him into with a contemptuous declaration of him being so very immoral for refusing to do what she thought was best. And you keep dismissing that.

            When you jump off a roof because you’re hoping to develop flight powers on the way down, that’s not just a “little boy wanting to be Superman” motivation. He was already a teenager there, and intelligent enough to know better. That sort of behavior is roughly analogous to teenagers who cut themselves. The moment he said “I jumped off a roof,” Alison should have made noises of sympathy – instead she had already closed her heart off to him. In her mind she was already not a person. She had already denied his humanity.

            And as for snapping the neck… it’s very simple. What she did was evil. Snapping his neck would not have been less evil, it would simply have been less stupid.

            That’s my second biggest objection to her actions (the first one being the denial of his rights and rush to victimize him with thin justifications meant more to excuse her cruelty than the achievement of her goals). Namely, that she wasn’t just evil, she was STUPIDLY evil. She committed horrible crimes without any attempt to cover them up, because she’s so accustomed to wreaking violence and not being punished for it that she assumed she could do the same thing here. Evil is bad enough, but she was being STUPID.

          • Stephanie

            Max’s life has value. However, 1: he isn’t automatically going to die by the hand of God as a result of boosting Feral, and 2: the value of his life is outweighed by the combined value of thousands upon thousands of lives, every single year, for as long as Feral lives. Scale matters. Max is a douchebag for wanting to sit on his ass at the expense of thousands of people and their families, and–separate from the fact of his douchebaggery–it was necessary to coerce him for the sake of those thousands of people.

            Max’s behavior is absolutely not analogous to teenagers who cut themselves. Not at all, and again, the comparison trivializes a serious issue. Self-harm is an unhealthy coping strategy that depressed teenagers use for emotional self-regulation. Conversely, “I’m going to put myself in danger to get something I want” is a teenager taking a stupid risk because his capacity for judgment isn’t fully developed yet. Perfectly happy young people in perfect mental health take stupid risks like that all the time–reckless driving, reckless drug/alcohol use, performing dangerous stunts without head protection, and yes, jumping off of tall things. Et cetera. The propensity of teenagers to take stupid risks is both common knowledge and well-established in academic literature. It is not equivalent to, or even comparable to, self-harm.

            Although there are many ways Alison could have handled that situation better, murdering Max is not one of them. The reason Alison didn’t kill him is because her priority was to minimize the amount of harm she inflicted in the process of boosting Feral, not to minimize the amount of risk to herself. Her actions were “smart” or “stupid” to the extent that they achieved or interfered with what she was actually trying to accomplish. Killing Max would have fallen into the “stupid” category.

          • Arkone Axon

            Again, you’re dismissing Max’s situation and sentiments. Let me provide an analogy, to further highlight this.

            Imagine Superman learns that one of Lex Luthor’s nefarious financial backers has a daughter – a superpowered daughter, no less. And in fact, this young woman’s powers give her the ability to save lives, many lives… if she uses them.

            Just a few problems there. One: her father does not want her using her abilities, possibly due to selfish reasons, but also possibly due to his fears regarding the second reason. Two: Her powers will make her a target to every supervillain in the DC universe, when they find out what she can do.

            Now, Superman will be saddened by her refusal to help… but it is her decision, and he has to respect it. That’s how his parents raised him, to be respectful of others. But… as soon as he leaves, along comes the Utilitarian!


            The Utilitarian grabs her and flies her out of her penthouse apartment as she screams for help. But he gives her a little twist of the arm, along with a reminder that he could rip it off just as easily, because he knows what he’s doing is right. He then carries her to where she can use her powers… or rather, be forced to use them. Afterwards he informs her that it’s her own fault for not using them willingly – and that whenever he needs to use her powers, he will. Her consent is not required. He’s doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and if anyone objects to his terrorizing a frightened young woman and using her body without respecting her wishes, he’ll just point out that she comes from a wealthy background and therefore she cannot possibly be a victim. By saying “no” she earned this, she deserved to have it happen.

            Now along comes Lex Luthor, who hits the Utilitarian with his greatest weakness: public exposure. The entire world finds out that this “superhero” just assaulted, kidnapped, and terrorized an innocent girl and told her it was her own fault for saying “no.” The Utilitarian’s attempts to argue the morality of his actions are cut short by everyone who asks a simple question, “What happens when you decide one of us needs to be sacrificed for the greater good?”

            Luthor then whispers a little advice in the Utilitarian’s ear. “You can kid yourself about how you were doing it for the greater good. I do it all the time. But you can’t kid everyone else – and if you’re going to do something that the rest of society thinks is evil and criminal, even if you think it’s right… DON’T GET CAUGHT.”

    • Zorae42

      Ah yes. Because waterboarding and electrode therapy are the same as twisting someone’s arm. Oh boy, better lock up every person who has ever pinned someone until they said uncle. Better fire every police officer who ever shouted at someone during an interrogation since by hurting their ears and causing them emotional distress they were torturing their suspect.

      • Flesh Forge

        If you’re going to endorse torture you should embrace it fully, yes a superhumanly strong person twisting your arm and promising to continue until you do what they tell you is in the same category as waterboarding or electric shock or any other form of torture you can think of. As long as we really don’t like the guy we’re torturing and it’s for a good cause, everything is justified, we’re all in this together. Well except for that prick we torture for it.

        • Zorae42

          Except no? I think it’s fine to throw your drink in an asshole’s face, but it’s not cool to stab them. Just because I think speeding a bit is fine doesn’t mean I think going 80mph through a school zone is fine.

          And again, if what she did was torture, then anyone who has ever played “Say Uncle” is also guilty of it. And most of our cops are guilty of it too.

          • Flesh Forge

            So as we see, yes, some people actually really do think torture is no big objective deal, it’s a matter of degree and who’s employing it. If you don’t understand why this is a troubling outlook then a conversation in a webcomic comments section is not going to fix that, but I suggest you start with “okay google/siri/cortana/whatever, what are human rights?”

          • Zorae42

            I’m not saying what she did was no big deal, it’s not something that she should do whenever she feels like it. Just like you probably shouldn’t throw your drink in people’s faces all willy nilly (although I guess I’d personally be hard pressed to say the same about speeding lol). It just wasn’t Torture, in my opinion.

            I realize that you could (and some do) define Torture as ‘causing someone pain to make them do what you want’. But that seems way to broad of a definition that could be applied to many situations that most would agree are not torture (e.g. forcing someone to say Uncle). And I believe calling such acts Torture (this one included) cheapens the meaning of the word.

            Just like if you kiss someone against their will you’re not raping them. It’s still sexual assault (and not acceptable), but it’s not Rape.

            I’m pretty sure everything is a matter of degree and who’s employing it. That’s the basis of our laws/police/penal system. Doesn’t feel much like a conversation when you refuse to address half of what I say and you’re responses are all incredibly condescending

          • Flesh Forge

            Inflicting pain on someone to coerce them into doing something against their will is the literal, unambiguous definition of torture. “Some people” who define it this way include the United Nations and Amnesty International. But it’s okay, We’re All In This Together.


          • AshlaBoga

            Well, no one ever seems to listen to the UN, so I’m hardly shocked that their definition is ignored. I feel like the UN has sort of failed.more than its succeeded in enforcing human rights.

          • Zorae42

            No, their definition is “severe pain”. Not any pain at all or we’d be torturing each other every single day.

            I’m sorry but twisting someone’s arm is not putting them in severe pain. It’s a thing people do pretty commonly as I’ve started multiple times before. We’d never have been allowed into the UN if they considered arm twisting torture since our police do the same (if not worse) all the time. Hell, we even use “well if you twist my arm” as an idiom because it isn’t commonly viewed as torture.

          • Flesh Forge

            It was enough pain to make him scream, and enough pain to make him do something he said earlier he would not do, but I’m glad it happened in the literal dark (as opposed to in Guantanamo Bay or some other “dark” place) so we can have some leeway over how much pain and coercion equals torture and feel that this was good and just. As long as the police don’t leave any marks on you whatever they do is okay too. It’s not really fascism, it’s for the greater good 🙂

  • Raven Black

    But surely it would be far more ethical to go into nursing-school-school-school-school, where you learn to teach people to teach people to teach nursing! That’s what the *real* ethicists do.

    • Tylikcat


      am I doing that? (I mean, point of fact, I’m in it for the lulz.)

    • palmvos

      no no no no… this is how it goes
      those who can do.
      those who can’t teach.
      those who can’t teach, teach teachers.
      (rip mom- she was a teacher)

  • moriati

    Just dropping in to say thank you Molly & Brennan, I’m really enjoying this storyline.

  • Emily Smith

    That was worth considerably more than two cents. He should up his rates!

  • Richard Barrell

    I wanna see his reaction to her explaining the specific reason why she doesn’t drink. I’m imagining it’ll probably be something along the lines of, “Ah, yes. Good point.”

    • Beroli

      Considering he said “a principled stance,” he probably already knows.

  • Freemage


    Came here from the link list at Grrl Power. Yesterday. Just finished the archives. Today.

    Damn, this is some of the most amazing writing I’ve come across. Looking forward to making this a regular read.

    • Karmik

      I got here the same way, took me a lot longer to clear the archives so go you! It’s been a ride.

  • Mouser

    So the next time I see a homeless man, I should mug someone who HAS money and hand it over?

    No. There are limits, and this is the reason that there are no professional philosophers.

    • AshlaBoga

      That’s his point, her maxim doesn’t have any limits and is thus the maxim of a tyrant. Really, most maxims are flawed because there’s too much variety in life to ever have a short moral code that never has been exception. “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t mention animals or self defense but those concepts are mentioned in the Testament. So basically, he asked the class for an axiom that summarizes their philosophy because it was a night impossible task. Only Alison felt bold enough to answer. It’s a common teaching technique, ask a question and tear apart any and all answers.

  • Our girl is beginning to think, not just react.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Reflecting on this climax, I think it relevant to the political left of America at it’s most idealistic. Like how the base line thought/assumption for modern liberalism is that unity is worthwhile goal and global unity an even better ideal. But that doesn’t have to be shared by many. Some people don’t care about unity, they might just care about getting theirs, turning over their one stone to white or black, and to hell with everyone else. And that’s their right.

  • Edward Yin

    I’m having a little trouble following the conversation. Can someone explain it to me what he is trying to tell Alison?

    • Flesh Forge

      “Torture is good, embrace Fascism” hth

      • Edward Yin