SFP

sfp-6-93-for-web

More updates! Volume in the comments section and my workload has increased lately, and moderating each comment has become too much for me to handle, so I’m no longer going to moderate them before posting. There’s an option to flag for inappropriate behavior, please use it if you see something that doesn’t seem to belong (bigotry or bullying in any form), or feel free to email us at [email protected] Also, if you’re a frequent commenter and interested in becoming a mod, let me know! We’d very much like this to be a civil and safe corner of the internet.

-Molly

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  • Tsapki

    On a lighter, perhaps comical note, I know people were commenting on Feral’s hair seeming to fluctuate some but is sort of has me wondering…

    If she gets a haircut, would it just instantly regrow to a preset length and stay like that? Much like the oddly placed setting on Saiyin hair?

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Hair doesn’t grow from the tips, it’s extruded from the roots.

      So my guess is getting a hair cut won’t trigger her regeneration, but pulling out her hair from the roots would.

      • You know, this also provides another horrifying new way for Feral to “do good.” She can have her hair yanked from her scalp every hour to provide brand new wigs for cancer patients. Better yet, in terms of simplicity, she can simply be scalped completely…

        Once again, this has taken me to my “ick!” place…

        • Izo

          I’ve mentioned this before in jest.

    • Sendaz

      The current favorite theory is consuming Wild Turkey promotes her hair growth as seen in recent panels.
      To be certain we recommend Alison bring in some more to allow for further testing. 😉

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        …is this really the favorite theory?
        People actually read my comments and find them entertaining?

        This is the most beautiful minute of this hour.

  • Axel_Celosar

    … And now Feral has just become a big fat target for the conspiracy.

    • Flimflamberge

      Good thing she just became even more unkillable than ever.

      • Yirtimd2

        And also she has non-shaving leg-hairs…

      • Sam

        But no more resistant to being dumped in a hole and covered in a few tons of dirt.

        • SJ

          But no more resistant to being dumped in a hole and covered in a few tons of dirt.

          And, if the SFP-verse doesn’t have Carbonite, I imagine that cement would work just as well.

        • Lostman

          It may take sometime, but she get out.

        • Ganurath

          Actually, she’s friends with Allison, so… yes, she is?

          • Sam

            Allison doesn’t have X-ray vision. It would be trivial for any global conspiracy worth the title to dump Feral somewhere Allison would have no chance of finding her.

    • masterofbones

      Eh, nothing truly game changing, unless cannibalism becomes legal.

  • Creamfilled

    Are we forgetting the part where Feral was doing this as an alternative to rotting in prison on murder charges?

    Sweet, you’ve saved your friend from having to do 24/7 donations, Allison. Now it’s back to jail on a life sentence for her!

    • Sam

      No, we’re just aware that that’s not the case. The deal was a pardon for tests on the viability of the procedure, which have concluded before we meet Feral in the hospital for the first time. Not to mention that you can’t actually un-pardon someone.

      • Agreed, and moreover, I’m not sure of the exact time scale involved here but I wouldn’t be surprised if Feral had already been in constant surgery for months by this point.

    • Walter

      Alison is above the law. That can apply to her squad if she decides it does. No one is going to throw Feral in jail with Alison around.

  • Yirtimd2

    And now her Injustice Begins – Alison now must make a decision – on one side of the scales

    – free will, even if it free will of some douchebag like Max, and on another side – happiness of her beloved one and saved lives of hundreds of millions good people – i think she will make a decision this is right thing to do, and this is her first step to becoming a world dictator like Superman. Now she will start to suppress free will of some douchebags, then it will be free will of some grey-scaled zone guys, and maybe she will suppress some good people, and all of it will be for a better good. Well – it’s a worst scenario and I don’t think it will be like that.

    • nat365

      I wonder what makes you class them as ‘good’ people. Merely being in need of an organ donation does not automatically make someone ‘good’. Alison and Feral’s actions will likely save as many rapists, murderers and child abusers as ‘good people’.

      Also, has anyone in the comments addressed the serious overpopulation problem that is sure to follow in the coming months and years? As crass and callous as it sounds, we actually do need people to die in order for the planet to be able to sustain us. We have not yet reached a technological or ideological point where we can live in a utopian society where everything is shared equally and resources are used responsibly and people only have as many children as the planet can handle. Unless the SFP universe is much further along in social evolution (and from what we’ve seen so far, no – it’s analogous to the real world in that regard), it seems to me this is going to end up being an absolutely *huge* problem very soon.

      • Yirtimd2

        Sorry, I didn’t think about your conviction that bigger part of humanity is not good people but murderers, rapists and child abusers and because of that humanity doesn’t deserve organ donations from Feral – I am really sorry for that, yeah, I am dead fucking serious about this.)
        And if tou think that our planet is overpopulated and many good people must die – so, maybe you will give us example? Begin with yourself! After all, living example is much better food for thought than some lines in the discussion, you know.

        • nat365

          Wow, that was… aggressive. I don’t actually think the ‘bigger part of humanity’ aren’t good people – there is plenty of evidence for humanity’s overall goodness (I already posted above in another reply about how the current scientific evidence shows that empathy is innate in babies – meaning that even before we learn to talk we care about others); But I do think a large enough number are not, so plenty of those who are saved by Feral/Alison’s actions will go on to do terrible things. That’s just a fact of life.

          Beyond that, I don’t think the planet is currently overpopulated (though we’re getting very close to that point). I have not at any point suggested anyone kill themselves! Or even that people should be left to die rather than saved! Simply that death is necessary for population control.

          And I don’t understand what you mean by ‘give us example? Begin with yourself!’ unless you’re either a) suggesting I should kill myself, which is a fairly extreme response to my reply to your post about a fictional world and hypothetical universal, worldwide organ donation, or b) suggesting I should make the case that, even though I am a good person, my death might benefit the world as a whole because it would contribute to population control… if you meant the first one, that’s pretty outrageous and out of all proportion to my point. If you meant the second, I think it’s self-evident. We all must die, and if I die because I need a transplant that never comes it’ll suck, but technically I’ll be making a space for a new life to come into the world – and that’s not such a bad thing… maybe that new life will be the one to ultimately solve the very real problem of eventual human overpopulation.

          But, ultimately, we are talking about millions more people worldwide living when they might otherwise have died, and a significant proportion of those people will go on to have children… the need for death in order to control population levels (of all species, not just man) is not some sort of outrageous theory with no evidence! It’s a real and necessary biological function. All those people living where they would have died will consume global resources. Their children will consume global resources, and those children will also survive when they might not have without Feral… and then, if you extrapolate all the way to the end result, we have multiple people dying not from organ failure/disease/blood loss, but from starvation, because the planet is out of food (unless they’re gonna eat Feral’s organs – which I found pretty sickening to type :-s) , or from pollution, because all those extra people had to drive their cars and consume their technology and throw away their plastic… I don’t think this is the ‘one punch solution’ that Alison wants – it will likely eventually make the world far worse, without some other major changes happening pretty damned quickly!

          When you weigh it all up it seems more and more that the ‘countless, countless lives’ meant very little to Alison when weighed against ending Feral’s suffering – because, based on her prior characterisation, it’s unlikely she hasn’t thought the negative consequences of all this through, but she decided to rush right in anyway – plow through Max’s objections by jumping straight from begging to outright violence and death threats, without even stopping at ‘sleep on it for a night’ in between, make it all happen immediately…

          I am, of course, happy for an end to Feral’s suffering, because that was just awful. But I think there’s a damned good reason for the deep and dark bags under Alison’s eyes. She’s not taking care of herself, she’s definitely not slept for days, and neither of those things contribute to good decision making. There’s going to be some terrible fall-out from all of this; if not immediately, then in the pretty near future.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            In real life, maybe. But this is a world where Alison outputs a lot more energy than she eats and Tara outputs a lot more *mass* than what she eats. Physical limits no longer apply.

            Paladin’s AI, Patrick’s multi-disciplinary-research and who knows how many other projects by unknown or unnamed dynamorphs will push the limits of the planet’s carrying capacity for quite a while, possibly indefinitely.

          • nat365

            Ok, while ultimately I do believe there will eventually be technological solutions to this problem (both in the real world and this fictional one), we haven’t been given any hint that world poverty or pollution is anywhere close to being solved in the SFP universe. In fact, that’s exactly what Alison is agonising over, the continued suffering in the world. What you’ve said may indeed at some point come to pass, but from what we’re given to understand in the comic, it’s not even kind-of close (or Alison’s ‘one-punch’ would already have happened/be happening).

            Handwaving the problem of millions more people in the world surviving to consume more of its resources and pollute it even further seems to me to be in the realm of ‘fanwanking’ (as it’s rather crassly called). As a fan you’re creating a solution to a problem the comic has created, but not yet even addressed, much less solved. It remains to be seen if this will come up, but for now it is still very much a problem.

          • Yirtimd2

            Well, Alison is just studiyng to solve World’s Big Problems. One of them – shortage of transplant organs – now is solved by her actions, no matter about it’s moral side, but now it solved. I think we must see what decisions she will make after that. Now she has that – make one douchebag move his ass – and millions + her beloved one is happy! What decision she will make? I think her conscience will torment her for this, but she will be fine, and then she will do it again and again and after all she will be some sort of dictator-dictator – some sort like Dark Dictator in Injustice or maybe like Father of Nations in “Red Son” – because now she can make decision like “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” – and oh shit she will be not just some dark tyrant, but COMMUNIST TYRANT! We are all fucked up!

          • Yirtimd2

            Well, I answered like that because I thought that you was just another Troll, but now I see that you had very deep reasons to think like that, so I am sorry if I somehow hurted you.
            And I am agree with Santiago Torotora – in this fictional world they have so great potential to make world much better place to everyone and they authors don’t use trope ” reed richards is useless” – so I think it’s not the problems they have to worry about. What about real world – yeah, it sucks balls.

          • nat365

            Whether you think someone is a troll or not (and I’m not sure why what I said made you think that I was…), you should be careful when your reply basically amounts to ‘go kill yourself’ – but trolls are awful and frustrating, and I imagine you replied pretty quickly rather than thinking it through, so I accept your apology.

            As far as Santiago, you can check out my direct reply – but, basically, with the current evidence from the comic I’d say it amounts to so-called ‘fanwanking’. The comic has made it clear that poverty, pollution and war are still very big problems in the SFP world, and has not suggested they’re anywhere close to solving them – hence Alison’s distress and frustration. She’s not looking to keep as many people alive as possible, she wants to end the suffering in the world. My point is that keeping as many people alive as possible, at this stage in our/SFP’s evolution, may not be the way to do it.

          • Weatherheight

            ::bows to nat365 in respect for their graciousness::

          • Weatherheight

            ::bows to Yirtimd2 in respect for their graciousness::

          • Yirtimd2

            ::bowed in reply::

        • Bob

          > Begin with yourself! After all, living example is much better food for thought than some lines in the discussion, you know.

          Jesus Christ. Not fucking cool, yo. Even to someone you thought was a troll.

    • Crow

      Free will is a funny thing for utilitarians to think about. At some point I think we can all relate to one of my favorite quotes:

      “I didn’t know that freedom meant people doing stuff that sucks. I was thinking more of a ‘choose your own cell phone carrier’ thing.” — Summer Smith

  • Dawnlighter

    When you think about it, there actually is a utilitarian case AGAINST Alison taking the actions that she did. Ironically, I personally find it more compelling than the rights-based arguments offered so far.

    The way I see, there are two problems with rights-based arguments. First, rights often conflict and there is no clear way to decide between them. My right to enjoy my music on my property may conflict with my neighbour’s right to sleep. My right to free speech may conflict with your right not to be insulted and denigrated. My right to own slaves may conflict with your right to be free. How are we going to decide which right takes priority? We could say that the right that takes priority is the one that promote the greater good, but if we do that, aren’t we going back to utilitarianism?

    In this case: don’t we have all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Dying of organ failure would certain interfere in the realisation of those rights. Therefore if the ONLY thing we are concerned with is the net gain or loss of rights, there is actually a case that Max should be forced to use his powers, even if it meant him becoming a slave for the rest of his life, as his enslavement is the liberty for countless others.

    The obvious response is that Max’s right to autonomy deserves priority because of the compulsion aspect. There is a big difference between forcing someone to give up their rights against their will and standing by while someone is unable to realise theirs.

    This, however, raises the second problem of rights-based perspectives – they are universal. While advocates of rights-based perspectives have some flexibility, ultimately, if you accept that it is wrong to violate Max’s rights to satisfy world-wide demand for organs, then you also have to accept it is wrong to violate people’s rights in other situations were doing so would alleviate harm. This reasoning implies that it is immoral for a society to impose rationing on people during wartime, compel children to go to school or prevent them from having consensual sexual relationships with parents, teachers, priests or classmates.

    At first glance, being abducted from your own house by an invincible goddess who could come back at any time may seem to be clearly a more egregious rights violation then the others I just mentioned. Whilst this is true, I don’t believe the distance is so vast as to render my examples inapplicable.

    If a child really hates school due being physically and psychologically bullied, sending them there for years may be akin to a prison sentence. In some ways, is that not worse than detaining them for a mere four hours?

    Can you seriously tell me that preventing lovers from sharing intimate moments together is NOT a major rights violation? If so, why does that right suddenly disappear if one of the people is a child? And why does that justification – whatever it is – not also apply to suppressing Max’s right to autonomy?

    And finally, what exactly gives the government the right to tell us how much we can eat, how we can spend our money or what materials we can during times of war or shortage? The fact that the survival of the entire country is at stake? No, that can’t be it. If we explicitly reject the prevention of suffering as a justification for coercing people into taking actions against their will, that rationale cannot be drawn upon now.

    Bonus question: Suppose Max were somehow able use his power in a way that prevented a wartorn society from needing to impose strict food and water rations that would leave people hungry. Suppose further that he decided not to use it, in order to spite Alison. Would it be more moral for the government to compel Max to use his powers, or to compel everyone to live on minimal nourishment for years on end? Or, since both options entail curtailing rights, is the only moral solution for the government to do nothing let the impending food shortage sort itself out, even if it leads to riots and starvation?

    That is the problem of having a purely rights-based perspective: unlike utilitarianism, you must respect those rights no matter how ludicrous the implications. Rights only make sense if you consider how they interact with other rights and what conditions permit their suppression.

    If we adopt a utilitarian perspective, however, we solve these conflicts easily. Children should be compelled to go to school and not engage in sexual activities because it is better both for them and society. Biodynamics shouldn’t be forced into slavery is because once they learn this is a possibility, there is an enormous risk of tension, violence and chaos that will cancel any possible utility benefit.

    Civil rights – including the right to not be coerced into using your powers – should similarly be respected because history has shown that society functions better when they are. It is true that violating someone’s civil rights might occasionally produce desirable effects. For example, ignoring search and seizure laws may take a murderer off the streets. However, the greater good is better served by violating no-one’s rights than by trying to selectively violating people’s rights. If you give people that level of discretion, sooner or later it will be abused and people will become scared that their rights will be the next to be violated. The social issues this situation will cause will surely outweigh the benefits of taking a few extra criminals off the street.

    I have just given a utilitarian argument as to why society is better off having a policy of never violating people’s rights, even if doing so in a specific instances would be beneficial. The trouble is of course, that this argument doesn’t really work when the benefit in question is a world-changing, off-scale-charts good. People wouldn’t be so afraid of having their rights violated if they believed this was an unusual once-off situation, unlikely to be repeated. The flaw of utilitarianism has always been that if the expected good is significant enough, literally any action, no matter how heinous, becomes both justifiable and morally obligatory.

    However, the unusual facts of this case also provide an argument AGAINST Alison’s actions. People have pointed out that once Alison starts down that path, she may end up an evil dictator. Normally I dismiss slippery slope arguments such as this because they tend to be base baseless assertions that can be used to prove anything. However, while we don’t know Alison will turn evil from following this path, our knowledge of human nature suggests it is at least possible. The more one violates their moral prohibitions because they have to, the more willing they are to do so when it is merely convenient.

    Furthermore, the mere chance that Alison’s ethics might be eroded is especially serious because Alison potentially possesses the unique ability to get away with anything she chooses. If I kidnapped Max to help Feral and somehow got away with it, my fear of prison would surely constrain my willingness to do so again. Alison faces no such fear, and thus no such constraints. Similarly, even if I was willing to commit horrendous evils for the greater good, without Alison’s powers, I have very limited ability to put that philosophy into practice. As the only thing stopping Dictator Alison from coming to be is her own moral principles, the slightest risk of their erosion is a threat to global security and life as we know it, and should affect utilitarian calculations as such.

    Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: If fulfilling the world’s demand for organs entailed a mere 0.1% chance of Alison turning evil, would you be prepared to take such a gamble?

    Bonus question: If someone you loved was wasting away due to lack of available organs, would that change your answer?

    • MrSing

      Quick answer to your “right” questions.
      You have a right as long as it does not violate another person’s right.
      Your rights can only be taken away as long as you are responsible for violating another person’s right.

      And in regards to your bonus question: I can’t count the evils and misery that have been brought into the world because people wanted to protect their loved ones at the cost of others. If there was a fifth horseman of the apocalyspe, it would have been tribalism.

      • Dawnlighter

        Thanks for that MrSing. I thought there was a simple answer somewhere I was missing.

        Any clue as to how to answer the rationing question? I’m honestly not sure how it would be resolved from a rights perspective, as to me, the one answer that doesn’t violate rights seems ludicrous. Is there something else simple that I’m missing?

        For reference, the question is: Suppose Max were somehow able use his power in a way that prevented a wartorn society from needing to impose strict food and water rations that would leave people hungry. Suppose further that he decided not to use it, in order to spite Alison.

        Would it be more moral for the government to compel Max to use his powers, or to compel everyone to live on minimal nourishment for years on end? Or, since both options entail curtailing rights, is the only moral solution for the government to do nothing let the impending food shortage sort itself out, even if it leads to riots and starvation?

        • MrSing

          Well, that depends.
          If he directly interferes with the warntorn society and directly causes them to have to impose these rations, yes, the goverment has a right to force him to stop being a dick. If he did not cause the war, assist in the war, nor did he do (as in actively participate) anything to prevent another party from helping this society, he does not bear a responsibility to help and the goverment does not have a moral right to force Max.
          The best thing the goverment could do in that case is to either find another party to help or to negotiate with Max until they have an acceptable agreement to help each other.

        • I disagree with the use of ‘compel’ there.
          The question is, would it be more moral for the government to compel Max to use his powers, or to allow malnourishment through their inaction / refusal to act?

          The active element of wrongdoing impacts majorly on both rights-based arguments – a natural event by definition is not in breach of any ethical code – and on utilitarian arguments – deliberate action in contrast to an ethical code can cause unintentional damage to the fabric of society and significant, negative ripple effects, whereas the lack of response causes other types of damage such as a growing tendency toward apathy.

          I still personally prefer the solution where Max is compelled to assist from a global utilitarian point of view, but it’s a serious breach of ethics. Most of the reason for that breach is that Alison’s actions are individual vigilantism independent of any law and targeted directly against one single victim.

          As a potential middle path I might suggest a taxation on the power of superpowered individuals whose abilities have drastically beneficial effects. As societies we currently tax those with the highest wealth and income more than we tax an average citizen precisely because those people have a greater duty to the preservation of the nation and the less fortunate. Rather than targeting specific successful enterprises individually this practice is codified into law and thus becomes one of the many compromises that citizens implicitly accept as payment for membership in their society. While the degree to which different aspects of society and different strata of income are taxed is a topic of frequent debate, most people accept the necessity for some tax as a source for public work and the running of society. Perhaps this could be mirrored by some form of non-military national service where biodynamic individuals of sufficient potential provided one or two days’ worth of paid, directed assistance per month in exchange for which they were given amnesty from standard personal taxation? We already know from Feral’s own situation that the government are willing to impose or offer biodynamic service as an alternative to judicial punishment.

          • Yirtimd2

            Yeah, yeah, just like in USSR – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” – and look what they had.

          • Dawnlighter

            Thanks for the answer, but I was actually interested in rights aspect of rationing.

            My understanding is that sometimes during war it is necessary to restrict how much food is available to the civilian population to ensure that enough is available for the troops. That means that the government is telling people that they are not free to buy as much food as they would like.

            Presumably, if the government did nothing, the laws of supply and demand would operate. Those with money would buy as much food as they needed; those who do not would be in trouble. Hopefullly, the government will ensure that the troops have enough food until the war ends.

            Correct me if I’m wrong but surely imposing rationing is as severe an active breach of rights as demanding that Max use his powers against his will. Especially when it is applied to the entire civilian population, rather than one person.

            If one is operating from, say a utilitarian framework, its easy enough to justify rationing on the basis of necessity and the continued survival of the nation. But if one explicitly rejects suffering as a reason to demand people take or refrain from actions against their will, I honestly don’t see how the government can do anything other than hope that a super will willingly help out.

          • I thought I had already answered this element of your question by inference. To clarify, though: rationing is a serious breach of autonomy, but one that can be imposed hegemonically on a nation by a governing force to prevent otherwise greater suffering and hardship and the survival of the nation – just as you say. So why is rationing ethically tolerable within a society poised somewhere between utilitarianism and libertarianism? Necessity is a good answer to the former, but lacks substance against the latter, and needs to be solidly proven in any case. Rather, an ethical ration is a temporary, wider-scale adjustment of the pre-existing obligations of membership within that society, and enforced evenly across the population by their recognised body of government. The action technically revokes some agency from individuals across the board but it is not targeted at any one individual nor does it establish a precedent against individual autonomy as a concept. In contrast to this Alison’s actions are individual vigilantism independent of any law and targeted directly against one single victim.

          • Dawnlighter

            That’s much clearer, thanks.

            You can curtail rights to keep society running, but it has to be for everyone or no-one. You can’t pick and choose specific individuals.

          • Agreed somewhat. You *can* penalise or punish specific high-profile individuals who aren’t pulling together with the greater whole after instituting a particular system, especially if their non-compliance makes the majority suffer and the system disintegrate. But they have to refuse to comply to begin with. You can design a system that leans harder on the wealthy than the poor. And you can certainly give individual tax breaks and passes as evidenced throughout the West at present, even if I don’t believe you ought to..

        • Sendaz

          Well actually you sort of already have an answer, though it isn’t the one you might have thought of.

          It is interesting to see how everyone is happy to dump these scenarios on Max, yet Alison is actually the very one most capable of accomplishing said tasks/scenarios you are setting.

          Because now that Alison has a fair flight capability, though I don’t know how much this affects her lift capacity, shouldn’t the governments now be clamoring for Alison to fly in food and water rations to said war torn regions?

          The Governments can get the supplies close in safer neighboring countries and she just has to handle the final leg of the journey, thus ensuring safe delivery to those who need it and deal with any opposition that pops up to try and take it away from those needing it.

          So the question now should be, is it right to impose on Alison to make her see that this is a greater good thing and that she should not have any issues with giving up School/Firefighting/Valkyrie for the time being while she plays Super Meals on Flying Wheels?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Honestly, that would be a much better independent study project than Valkyrie.

    • crazy j

      Under the Hierarchy of Needs, the most basic elements of food, clothing, and shelter are the most important. There are homeless people in the streets, poor who cannot get good nutrition, and children without proper clothing. These are serious problems.

      Now what would you do? Put the farmer, the carpenter, and tailor in chains unless they comply?

      • Dawnlighter

        If you are asking whether utilitarianism would suggest putting farmers, carpenters and tailors in chains until they comply, imagine what would happen if the government tried to implement such a law.

        Do you truly believe that society would be better off, that net happiness would increase? Or do you believe, as I suspect you do, that such a law would cause more problems than it would solve, and lead to destitution and chaos, leaving society worse off? In fact, I seriously doubt such a policy could be sensibly implemented at all.

        The only sacred rule utilitarianism has is that the decision must result in the greatest good, usually measured in increase in happiness. Because this policy would clearly not result in that, utilitarianism recommends against it. You are perfectly entitled to consider the effects on society as a whole, not just the individual cases.

        • “The only sacred rule utilitarianism has is that the decision must result
          in the greatest good, usually measured in increase in happiness.”

          But who determines happiness? The High Priest of Utilitarianism, Peter Singer, is perfectly willing to sacrifice disabled lives, because his bigotry leads him to conclude a disabled life cannot be a happy life. Greatest good is a slippery slope, subject to the whims and follies of the person pushing society down it.

          • Dawnlighter

            One of the advantages of utilitarianism is that its flexibility lets one justify sane public policies. I fully accept that the flip-side of this is that its more open to manipulation than a ridged universal principle would be.

            At the same time, are you truly saying that when developing its polices, the government’s should literally be ‘let’s NOT create polices that would be in society’s best interest?’

            Surely its better to at least try creating policies that improve society rather create them at random with no coherent basis.

          • Surely it’s best to create policies that don’t sell minorities down the river.

          • Dawnlighter

            With regards to government policies, the version of utilitarianism I favour suggests that the government should enact those policies expected to best advance the public interest – typically measured in terms of happiness – at least as well as any alternative.

            Which of the following policies is most likely to contribute to a better and happier society:
            A. One where the government sells miniorities down the river at the drop of a hat?
            B. One where human rights are respected and never breached?
            C. One where human rights are only ever breached in the rarest, most extreme situations (such as the ticking time bomb scenario)?

            Utilitarianism doesn’t explicitly consider rights specifically, but the fact that respecting rights is a well-known source of utility means right violations are not as insignificant as you think.

            Even if it were the case that oppressing a small minority would vastly improve average happiness, there is still the risk that if the government strips one group of people of its rights, what to stop it from stripping another? You are perfectly entitled to considering all of this in a conception of the greater good.

            I must admit through, from participating in this comments section that I have realised that in a world where superpowers exists, utilitarianism is much more prone to throwing up horrific recommendations than it would in the real world simply because there are different types of extreme situations.

            If we somehow had an Omalas situation (where, via magic, the torture of one child turned the entire city into a utopia where every need was provided and everyone was happy), my utilitarian arguments against right violations may not be as compelling.

          • Izo

            “But who determines happiness?”

            Clearly whoever can lift a car over their head. (/s) Funny how that was what initially made Alison quit being a superhero way back in the beginning of the comic.

          • Lysiuj

            Just look at all the happy faces on the cover of Superman #1!

          • Izo

            No one should ever use silver age DC as a useful example of anything. It was ridiculously stupid. Silver Age DC brought us the genius idea that Wonder Woman is a masochist who likes owning slaves if the slaveowner is a loving slaveowner,

            http://luchins.com/dickery/WW_03_they_want_to_be_slaves.jpg

            and that she’s so vain (because of ‘feminine vanity’ – UGH!) that she would have to escape from a prison blindfolded because tape was on her eyelashes and she didn’t want her eyelashes pulled off if she opened them completely.

            http://65.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m84gfqDvNV1rz1rzuo1_r1_1280.png

          • Lysiuj

            1. /s with regards to my last comment.
            2. Wan’t Superman #1 golden age? As in, it started the golden age?
            3. Agreed about your criticism of silver age WW, that’s some bullshit right there (Simone’s wonder Woman FTW).

          • Izo

            1. Gotcha
            2. Okay you’re correct there. Golden Age was 1938-1950, while silver age was 1956 to 1970. Both were equally ludicrous though.
            3. I’ve always been more of a Supergirl fan, and preferred the Loeb incarnation where it was confirmed that she was more powerful than Superman, and also I loved the Linda Danvers / Earth Angel of Fire version because of the philosophical arguments throughout that series. With Wonder Woman, it’s largely been not that great with the exception of her portrayal in the JLU cartoons and the latter part of New Earth and some of the animated movies. Also that they never gave her a particularly straightforward origin story and stuck with it, like they did for Superman and Batman. Actually most comic book women in DC during that time were given very convoluted and inconsistent origins – Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Powergirl, etc – the only one who had a rather stable origin was Barbara Gordon…. and then they crippled her for 20 years despite the fact that Batman had his back broken and recovered in months, while Superman died and ’twas but a flesh wound.’ death coma.

            Although my absolute favorite Supergirl has to be Berlanti’s Supergirl. Melissa Benoist is perfect for the role and the writing is great.

        • crazy j

          No matter how great the supposed benefit, things rarely work out as planned and someone is going to get the short end of the stick. This is a fact History teaches us time and time again.

          Look at the vast failures of the Welfare State.

          • Lysiuj

            “Look at the vast failures of the Welfare State”
            Meaning?

          • crazy j

            Billions spent and social mobility is worse now than ever before.

          • Lysiuj

            Okay… by social mobility do you mean the ability to get out of poverty? Cause my impression was most welfare states have greatly improved that ability.

          • crazy j

            Not really. Look at Education.

            New York State spends the highest amount per student when it comes to public education, to the tune of 20,000 dollars. That’s per year. In comparison, you could pay for two years of in-state tuition at the University of Indiana and still have two grand left over.

            So, does all this spending mean NY students are provided a better education? Not really, Florida spends less then half as much and has more top rated public schools then New York. A report from three years proclaimed that 4/5 NYCPS students entering into the City College system needed to take remedial courses. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/03/07/officials-most-nyc-high-school-grads-need-remedial-help-before-entering-cuny-community-colleges/

        • Yirtimd2

          You don’t need to imagine it, all you need is just to read Soviet Writers about life in USSR – just like Solzhenitsyn and his books, as example “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” – you will know that soviet people lived like in HELL, because individual rights were suppressed for the better goods, and the motto of soviet people was “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” – in books of soviet writers you will know what was the real life in that society, and you must know that these books were hevily censored and most hardcore details were hidden from reader, but even what we have is enough to make full picture.

          • Dartangn

            That’s the consequence of a specific method, and a goal that categorically was NOT the greater good. The Soviet Government’s primary goal was national power, and more specifically, personal power for the highest levels.

            Look at America, Australia, or Finland. Mixed economies and de facto socialism in every walk of life tend to be the norm, and the norm, because they have both a minimal cost, and a significant benefit.

          • Dawnlighter

            Which of these policies is most likely to result in the greater good, measured in terms of happiness? Is it:
            A. Ignoring people’s rights like the Soviets did;
            B. Not violating people’s rights; or
            C. Not violating people’s rights except in the rarest, most unusual of situations (e.g. the ticking scenario).

            I’m going to hazard a guess that you didn’t pick A.

            While it is true that under utilitarianism rights will always be subordinate to utility, remember that most rights exist BECAUSE it is well established that their existence promotes the greater good.

            For example, while it is true that allowing cops to beat confessions out of suspects may occasionally get a murderer off the streets, surely the overall effects of this policy is likely to be detrimental to society, so its best to ban this behavior.

            I can’t say there will never be a conflict, but I really don’t think the greater good and rights conflict as often as you fear. Generally, if ever there is a conflict, its only going to happen in rare and unusual situations, where ignoring them may actually be the best of the bad options.

          • Yirtimd2

            Well, I guess you are right, it’s good when ignoring people rights for greater good is exception to the rule and not the rule.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Nah. By paying them you motivate them to produce more than they would if they were slaves.

        Besides, the free market will tend to produce the optimum amount of carpenters, farmer, and tailors, while if you tried to manage all of that you might make a mistake and overproduce chairs and underproduce clothes, or something like that.

        It’s not a coincidence that free markets tend to be more prosperous than places where some strong authority figure micromanages their farmers/carpenters/tailors. Capitalism has its problems but chaining professionals is not one of them.

      • Dartangn

        Except the reality in that situation would require most of society to be in chains. That’s the problem. if you just had to put one farmer, one carpenter, and one tailor, people couldn’t push the button fast enough.

    • “Bonus question: If someone you loved was wasting away due to lack of available organs, would that change your answer?”

      It might change any of our answers, it doesn’t change the ethics and morality. Might does not make right.

      • Walter

        2 Schools of thought on that one.

        Team “This was justified” can squirm a lot, but we ultimately have to bite the bullet on MMR, for sufficiently great amounts of might. If Dark Alison will kill one human an hour unless she gets a candy bar, then it is “right” (in the same sense that Max’s abduction was “right”), to give her one.

        Team “Thou Shalt Not” can refute MMR, which is a large part of its attraction.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          Team “This was justified” can pre-commit to never giving candy bars to tyrants no matter how many people she threatens to kill.

          That way Dark Alison won’t have a reason to blackmail. That’s why hardcore consequentialists believe in never paying ransom, even if it costs the life of the hostage. It’s just good game theory.

          • Walter

            They can try…

            The thing about precommits from Consequentialists is that you are basically bootstrapping deontology.

            But deontological considerations only work as axioms. If Thou Shalt Not, full stop, though the heavens fall, then that’s fine.

            But if you are implementing “never give candy bars to hostage takers”, on a platform of “take actions that lead to best outcomes, this committment is one such action”, there is a squishiness there that Dark Alison can exploit.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Bootstrapping deontology using a better foundation than… whatever it is deontologists use is a worthwhile project.

            Most utilitarians in real life support some form of rule utilitarianism for several reasons, like protecting ourselves from bad ethical black swan bets, or damage control in case someone makes an arithmetic error in their utility function.

            In a world with super-powered individuals (and probable fast-takeoff of strong AI) these rules may have to be rethought, made more strict. From that point of view Max’s stubbornness starts looking reasonable: don’t reinforce violent coercive behaviour on the part of a super-person. Of course agreeing when Alison was being reasonable would have been a much better tactic.

            What is an example of an exploit Dark Allison can use RE: squishiness?

          • Walter

            Exploit:

            DA can kill a person. Then I can say “No candy, I precommitted”, and then she can kill another person. Eventually I’ll have to say “the consequences of my precommit seem to be this graveyard. I’m not sure this mounds bar is worth it.” If I am really a consequentialist, this is a persuasive argument.

            Biting that bullet DOES mean that a line of DA’s will stretch on into the future, but perpetually empty pockets are better than an endless cemetary.

            That’s what I mean by “sufficient great amount of might” in the original post. An actor who can suffer no consequences can bend consequentialists to their will. (Note, this is a feature, not a bug.)

            AI:

            A lot of that depends on what the setup is for superpowers in this setting. Physics is clearly not the whole story (Furnace most glaring example of this), and if super powers are magic then cognition may be as well. AI might not be possible (sorry Paladin), if thought in SFP is being carried out in souls and broadcasted to brains.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            If you as a consequentialist decide to give in to blackmail after all those people died then you, knowing that very fact, should decide to give her the candy right away.

            The point of precommitments is that once you take them you have to do them whether they are the right thing to do or not. Some people are working on robust decision theories that resist blackmail even by super-intelligences, but they are too complex for me.

            AI should be more likely if we know thought is not constrained to physics and biology. You wouldn’t even be limited to the power of your hardware: just channel a powerful enough soul (or a distributed conglomerate of several souls) and you are good to go.

            Superpowers give an additional avenue to AI, but the traditional ones still work. Coal is still a perfectly functional power source even though Furnace exists. It doesn’t invalidate normal physics, just like relativity didn’t totally invalidate Newton’s mechanics.

          • Walter

            Precommits:

            I get that that is intended to be the point of precommits. You can basically view deontology as a set of those. (The consequences of going to Heaven cause me to precommit to these religious tenets…)

            And if “Never Give In To Evil” is your deontological belief / precommit, then you are immune to blackmail. But you also have to hand in your consequentialist merit badge when you stop acting based on your current self’s estimation of consequences and start doing it based on your past self’s guess about what consequences would be.

            Resisting AI’s:

            I’m dubious that these people will succeed, but I’ve donated to MIRI for several years now. *fingers crossed*.

            SFP’s physics:

            I was suggesting that things in SFP may work differently, in terms of cognition, than they do in our world. If so they might work in a way that the traditional path to AI might not work.

            No real reason to suspect this, as you say, it looks like super powers are a bolt on to physics rather than a modification. Just an idle thought.

        • Successful coercion doesn’t make any difference to the morality of the coercing.

          • Walter

            Can you explain this more? I’m not following you.

            Deontological -> Might does not make right. Right is this series of rules.

            If STEALING IS WRONG is one of my rules, then even if you threaten to punt the earth into the sun it would still be wrong for me to break that rule.

            Consequentialist -> Might totally makes right. Right is defined by outcomes, which Might can warp to its will.

            If I refrain from stealing because it will increase net harm, and you threaten to kick the earth into the sun unless I steal, then the “right” thing to do is to steal, because the harm is less that way (one missing item vs planet destroyed).

          • I think we need to lose the overloaded ‘right’.

            Try instead: Threat of force may make some actions necessary, to minimise harm if the force is exercised, but that does not change the morality or ethics of the threat of force.

          • Walter

            I agree with that. Might Makes Necessary, for consequentialists, is perhaps a better way to phrase it.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I find it such an interesting feature of human thought that morality is not relative on perspective.
        Were I Alison, I would have conquered the world already and forced my rule (with the intent of making it a better place, if that matters)
        Were I anyone but Alison, I would have been so vehemently against her every act to prevent that very same thing from happening.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Feral continuous suffering might have increased the chance of Alison turning evil by more than 0.1%. It was only a matter of time before Alison snapped and it’s better if it happens now and for a good cause, rather than much later out of sheer emotional exhaustion.

      Inaction has its costs too.

    • The way I see it is, the entire application of codified law is effectively the restriction of the right to autonomy in specific situations for specifically codified reasons. This is why we have a large judicial system in which trained experts pore over the law and argue value judgements in order to more and more finely delineate to where those rights should and should not extend. Different systems of ethics and political belief favour different balances between autonomous sovereignty and utilitarian societal good. Most functional perspectives lie somewhere between the two.

      • MrSing

        That’s true, but we must take care to remember that laws are primarily for creating functional societies.
        In good cases this has a large overlap with good morals, but they aren’t the same thing. A true moral society might not be entirely functional.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      It is right for Max to use his power for the common good and wrong for him not to, but that does not mean it is right for Alison to force Max to use his power.

      First off, let’s consider the implications. The first is that, if a person has a superpower which could theoretically solve a major problem, they must be forced to do so at any cost, regardless of if they’re willing or not. That is literally your argument. Pre-boost Feral would need to be forced to undergo constant surgery, even if she didn’t want to. Someone can control plants? Now they’re forced to work on farms every day, increasing crop yields to solve world hunger. Hydrokinetic, terrakinetic? They’re a pair forced to dig wells in Africa. Biokinetic? I hope you like hospitals, because you’ll be healing a lot of terminally ill people.

      But it goes beyond that. Anyone who can provide greater benefits by working hard must be compelled to do so, regardless of their willingness. Doctors must be forced to work extra hours whenever there are more patients than can fit in a normal day, working until everyone’s been attended to or the doctor is so tired that it seriously impacts their ability to care for patients; moreover, doctors in areas with sufficient medical coverage must be forced to move to areas without. Soldiers and veterans who are still healthy and aren’t in a war must be compelled to support existing wars (should they be sufficiently “righteous,” by whatever criteria you use to judge wars), even if they’re sick of fighting. Unemployed people without exceptional skills must be compelled to work, even if the only jobs available are menial, unpleasant, and barely do anything, because it’s better than that person wasting time trying to find a job they’d like more (and which would pay better).

      This same logic applies to more than just work, though. If one agricultural region has a surplus, they must be compelled to give that surplus to somewhere which needs food, even if this means the farmers can’t be paid. If a person or institution owns a building that could house more people than it does, you must be compelled to let homeless people live there. The rich must be compelled to pay for the needs of the poor.

      By dismissing the importance of consent, you’ve lead to a situation where slavery is moral and property is meaningless. When an assumption leads to such absurd conclusions, the assumption must be questioned, and in this case, I don’t think it would stand up to questioning..
      It’s an interesting argument, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      • Dawnlighter

        Your forgetting one important thing: at the societal level, utilitarianism recommends adopting legislation and policies that best advance the public interest – i.e. promote the greater good, typically measured by happiness.

        Do you truly believe that if society implemented all of the changes you referred to – treating biodynamics as slaves, forcing doctors and soldiers to work until their abilities have been impaired – society would be better off? Is there any good reason that people would be happier under that type of regime?

        You clearly believe society would be worse off – and so do I! As the aggregate effect of those actions will clearly be detrimental to the greater good, we have good utilitarian reasons NOT to do that.

        Also, you do realise that I argued that regardless of the morality of coercing Max into using his powers, Alison really shouldn’t be the one doing the coercing?

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          If “greater good” and “the good of each and everyone” are interchangeable, then one of these has no purpose existing. Utilitarianism does leave some with nothing, that’s the point.

          • Dawnlighter

            There are various ways that the greater good can be conceptualised, but when dealing with society as a whole, it probably best to use rule utilitarianism, where the goal is to identify which rules, when legislated by government, are most likely to promote the greater good. The reason for this is that as a matter of practicality, the government literally can’t create legislation each and every act people may make.

            Naturally, rules created in this manner are not going to benefit each and every person. However,these rules have to be sufficiently sane enough that they could plausibly be presented to parliament without being treated as a joke.

            For rule utilitarianism in a public policy context, practicality matters. If its too stupid to be presented to Parliament, it right out.

            (I hope I understood you correctly).

      • Yirtimd2

        Hell yeah – “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” – Hell Yeah Soviet style decision.

        • GreatWyrmGold

          We all know how well that turned out…

    • bryan rasmussen

      > prevent them from having consensual sexual relationships with parents, teachers, priests or classmates.
      WHOAOAH! Unless by children you mean children that are now all grown up and stuff I don’t think we’re going to agree on consent being even possible.

  • I wonder how long the effect will last. Is it permanent or just temporary?

    • Sendaz

      given the look Alison has on her face, I suspect its only temporary and she knows Feral will need Re-Maxing periodically to sustain this rate of harvesting.

      Going to avoid going down the math route arguing whether a 40 hr /month deal will really cover world needs as this has been rehashed in previous days. But I am curious how much different the health scene is in this biodynamic world, because it seems either there has been a big kill off of it’s population or people are healthier in general.

      On a side note: Big Glomping hug! YAY!

      • Lysiuj

        Holy… I didn’t even think of this!

      • Cyrano111

        Re-maxing is a wonderful coinage and probably correct. It would make more sense internally to the story for a boost from Max to have only a temporary effect. And it does create a future narrative crisis point.

        The more I think about it the more I am sure you are right.

        • Tylikcat

          Oh, that’s wonderfully awful.

          Though I don’t know if it’s necessary.

        • Stephanie

          I’m not sure. It was an “oh crap!” moment when Alison coerced him the first time. But she already said that she’ll do it again if she needs to, so there wouldn’t be much conflict in her actually doing it again. It would be a rehash with no new ethical stuff to chew on. But maybe Max would have something planned for her second attempt.

          • Cyrano111

            Except that the second time she will need to arrange things with an already-conscious Feral, and it will be difficult not to have to explain things to her.

            Had Feral been awake last time, I’m *pretty* sure she’d have noticed “let’s do the arm a little more first” and Max screaming in pain.

          • Stephanie

            Couldn’t she do it after one of Feral’s surgery sessions, while she’s sleeping? I mean, it’s not like Feral was sedated the first time, since she can’t be sedated. She was just tired.

          • Cyrano111

            Sure, but if Molly and Brennan want to avoid the issue, the simpler thing would be to make re-Maxing unnecessary. I am suggesting that for narrative purposes it will prove to be necessary, and if that is the case it will also require explaining to Feral how her power is boosted.

          • Stephanie

            That’s fair, and it would be interesting to see what Feral thinks of how the sausage is made.

          • Weatherheight

            I am yet unconvinced that Alison fully comprehended the implications and ramifications of the Involuntary Kowtow Incident at the moment it happened. I tend to agree with those who have suggested that the last panel on this page is giving us a hint of future conflicted feelings on her part.

            And, as I usually say with most of my posts, I can see your point and consider it at least as valid as mine.

            ::mutters something about wishy-washy donkeys and trudges over to the cookie table… which now has cake again::

        • Weatherheight

          There’s a real estate agency in my neck of the woods that might claim copyright infringement. 😀

          Narratively, a temporary boost makes more sense to me, but I’m well established as an Evil Game Master™, according to my players. And the idea of Alison having to struggle with this same dilemma when not functioning on little or no sleep might well yield a different outcome. At the least the decision-making process should change. Or maybe not. 😀

          I’m also interested if Alison is going to keep the Involuntary Kowtow Incident to herself or not, and, if not, what the reactions of those she confides in are going to be.

    • If this solution does require that Max be periodically reemployed to enable Feral to continue to donate at the new rate, how can it be seen as anything other than temporary? Further, once Max dies (which, inevitably, he will, and probably sooner rather than later), what’s to prevent human greed from turning a bad situation (the loss of the infinite organ harvest machine) into a catastrophe (a war over the control of the finite organ harvest machine)?

      • Weatherheight

        Not to mention if Tara is not, in fact, eternal herself.

        Someone either here or at GrrlPower made a comment on using supers to solve problems and how it can potentially cause bigger problems in the long run when the free cake runs out. Free cake can (and has) been used as an excuse to not plan ahead and continue research and funding of same.

        Nice post!

        • The post I keep coming back to was where Leo Orionis pointed out that this boost of Feral makes her a single point of failure for the whole system- and if there are other points of failure that are just as bad or nearly so, then the system is, indeed, terrifyingly fragile. Depending on egocentric people to not look out for what they perceive as their own self-interests and security seems tremendously naive.

  • I would have thought that they would keep her clean to prevent infections.

    • Well, Feral’s pretty safe from infections, but she’s been almost continually in surgery for months, however much personal hygeine they’ve been doing, she’s probably been doing a lot of perspiring as she heals.

      • However, the recipients of her organs will not have such aggressive immune systems.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Maybe she smells like hospital. You know how hospitals have that unpleasant smell because of the chemicals they use to keep everything disinfected?

    • Walter

      It may not be possible. Feral may have a particular musk to go with her eyes, which her Maxxed gift might make unchangeable.

    • mugasofer

      Maybe she just smells like blood. So much blood.

  • Dawnlighter

    Another thing to think about: For those who support Alison’s actions, would that agreement change if you knew that the cost to Max were higher than has been shown thus far? Say if the conspiracy found out and murdered him? Of if the experience gave him post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? My mother contracted PTSD from being in a pharmacy when it was robbed. The thief didn’t rob her, didn’t pay any attention to her, but it was still enough.

    Now imagine how much more terrifying it would be for an unstoppable goddess to enter your home, seize you, proclaim her willingness to drop you into the ocean, fly off with you and outright state she will be back if she decides to.

    • JohnReinhardt

      No, fuck him.

      • Jagged

        Yeah, we only care about right and wrong about people we like.

        • joe

          I thought this was obvious. Except in this case the beneficiary of the misdeed is all people, not just one “tribe”.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          Feral is pretty likable but most people agree that her sacrifice was a “right” thing to do.

          • Feral elected to sacrifice her life, that’s different to electing to sacrifice someone else’s (which is potentially exactly what Alison did).

            (And I do have problems with even Feral’s sacrifice, as I’m not convinced it was psychologically healthy, there’s a strong argument it was a sublimated death wish)

          • If so however I’d expect Feral to react a lot more ambiguously to the news that she no longer has to undergo such trauma.. she seems quite happy, honestly. Perhaps she felt she didn’t deserve to live in the manner that she had been but was trying to ditch the lifestyle, not the life, and pay society back a little into the bargain?

          • “Alison doesn’t love me. I don’t deserve to love Alison. I need to live up to Alison. But I’ve done so much bad I can only do that by sacrificing myself.”

            The surgery becomes the death substitute, and she’s carried through on it.

            She’s now finding out there’s life after death.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Nobody thinks it was a healthy thing to do. That’s the opposite of the point of her sacrifice, which was helping other people become more healthy at the cost of her own health.

            Something can be the right thing to do even when it’s not the perfect thing. Same applies to Alison’s choice with respect to Max. What she did to him was wrong. What she did for the whole rest of the humanity is right.

          • demosthenese10

            Yeah, it’s almost as if people are forgetting all of the filler comics of Allison and her ethics class.

          • If Feral is not of sound mind, and I’m not convinced she was when she made the decision, then it’s society’s responsibility to safeguard her from herself.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Who decides whether she is of sound mind or not? Do you think she is crazy just because she disagrees with you?

            By that logic we can say that only a crazy person would refuse to help millions, and use that as justification to force Max.

          • A court appointed psychiatrist decides, just as in any other safeguarding case.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            A court appointed something did decide for Feral. She offered her help in exchange for a pardon, after all.

          • There’s a difference. The court okayed a plea-bargain, between the DoJ and Feral and her lawyers, but if they’d been paying due attention to her mental state*, then a court appointed psychiatrist would first decide if Feral was capable of entering into a plea-bargain. If the decision was she wasn’t in sound mind, then no deal, even if Feral, her lawyers, the DoJ and even the judge favoured it.

            *which would probably take information they didn’t have, but the nature of Feral’s deal was such I think they should have done it anyway.

          • How did I miss this? Joseph Heller would be proud…

            Well played!

        • motorfirebox

          Honestly, I’d think it was worth it even if I liked him. The cost to him (that we’ve seen thus far) is so small, and the benefit is so great. Max being a jerkface just means I don’t feel bad for him afterwards.

          • HanoverFist

            Yes, having your basic human rights thrown in the trash is such a small thing.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            You mean like that time Alison literally threw a rat-man in the trash for drawing graffiti?

            Funny how nobody complained that time.

          • Some guy

            It would have been rather difficult to do so, the comments section not existing back then.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            People in the recent comment sections have been saying that Alison jumped the shark, that her conduct is unprecedented and uncharacteristic of her.

          • Since I was (I believe) the one who commented about jumping the shark, perhaps I’d better clarify: I never said that Alison had jumped the shark; I said that I was concerned because it felt like the comic had jumped the shark.

            I still am.

            Without going into details (again), this “the world is saved” solution is simply too easy and fails to address way too many logistical issues. Whether or not the moral issues will ever be adequately addressed (and, more and more, I’m of the opinion that they cannot be, given how this has been presented) is beside the point when I cannot lend credence to the idea that sparked the debate in the first place.

          • mugasofer

            >this “the world is saved” solution is simply too easy and fails to address way too many logistical issues.

            I mean, the world isn’t saved. A bunch of offscreen people we’ll never meet were saved, but all the world’s other problems still exist, including all the ones that impact the plot.

            The only plot considerations here are the impact on Alison’s character and the fact Feral is back. This isn’t happily ever after by a long stretch.

          • Well, yes, that’s certainly a point… but even the issues that this solution is supposed to have solved seem a little too improbable. We’ve been presented with a moral quandary that amounts to two choices:

            1) Allow Max autonomy and condemn countless, countless people to die

            or

            2) Take away Max’s autonomy and save countless, countless lives.

            Ignoring for a moment that there ought to be many more choices than those- those two choices should be seen as existing on a continuum- it also does not explain how Feral’s boosted powers have somehow also improved all the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary systems that also need exponential improvement in order to make harvesting enough organs to satisfy the entire world’s needs from a single host a realistic impossibility.

            That’s what I meant when I said if felt like the comic had jumped the shark.

          • AveryAves

            Actually I did think that was a little over the top! I’m here like “Ok…super strength…you could have done that with less hurting quite easily!”

            Granted the comic may have changed a lot in how it presents the story, so

          • SJ

            You mean like that time Alison literally threw a rat-man in the trash for drawing graffiti?

            Funny how nobody complained that time.

            Wasn’t the comment feature added months/years after that page was published, and closed almost immediately after?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I mean in-story. Look at Allison’s face in this page and the last one.

            She cares about Max a lot more than he cared about Rat, which is understandable, since she used to like Max.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I must ask: why the need for quotations when it’s crystal clear what you are responding to? It seems to only take unnecessary space.

          • SJ

            Force of habit.

            Besides which, when you’ve become acclimated to a moderated forum, and you are aware that there may be anywhere between “zero” additional replies to Post X besides yours, and “Infinity minus one” additional replies to Post X besides yours, by the time your post is approved, you do not assume that it is “crystal clear” to other people what you are responding to.

            Besides Which #2, we’ve already had at least one person (sorry to call you out, @Izo) admit that she doesn’t actually necessarily read to see who posted what, or in response to whom, before she starts replying herself. I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to guess that other, less vocal readers aren’t doing the same thing.

            Besides Which #3, I spend a lot of time reading and replying to this thing during downtime at work, which means that I am subject to a lot of start-and-stop typing. Quoting what I’m replying to helps me to keep my thoughts organized.

          • Izo

            “Besides Which #2, we’ve already had at least one person (sorry to call you out, @Izo) admit that she doesn’t actually necessarily read to see who posted what, or in response to whom, before she starts replying herself. I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to guess that other, less vocal readers aren’t doing the same thing.”

            No problem! 🙂

            “Quoting what I’m replying to helps me to keep my thoughts organized.”

            This is one of my big reasons for doing it also 🙂

          • Izo

            It’s a way to organize what one is responding to, especially as the threads get longer and more difficult to follow.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            …Hence why I was asking why use it when it’s not a long and difficult to follow thread, maybe

            Plus you can hover your mouse on the arrow between your handle and the handle of the person you respond to to figure what comment is being addressed

          • I typically use quotes to make it clear what, in any given post, I’m responding to. I don’t always use them, but if someone else wants to, it doesn’t bother me at all. :shrug:

          • Izo

            Considering how much I tend to write, and that I do it in another window while doing other work (usually involving the TEAS – USPTO thing, don’t worry about it) I just rarely bother to look at who wrote anything. I don’t really consider who wrote something to be as important as what they wrote, USUALLY. A few names do stand out sometimes though. Depends on how big the thread is, how big the posts are, how much I’m writing in response, and how much of a pain the reviewing attorney is being on nitpicking my TEAS form descriptions.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Speaking of that, I have still to hear back from you on Telegram, as I mentioned I wished. Are you still up for it? I would really like to discuss some things privately.

          • Izo

            Um… what’s Telegram? I didn’t see that.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙
          • Stephanie

            Compared to saving the lives of every single person who will ever need blood or an organ transplant, throughout Feral’s entire life? Yes, Max’s human rights are a small thing in comparison.

          • Philip Bourque

            You say that like those lives are saved just because the organs and blood are now available. There are still so many things that could go wrong. Don’t be so impatient to declare victory, lest you find it snatched from you.

          • Stephanie

            Yes, it is possible that this will get ruined somehow in practice. Nevertheless, we’re discussing whether Max’s autonomy is an acceptable price to save an enormous number of lives, and I believe that it is.

          • Philip Bourque

            While I am of the mindset that the ends justify the means, the problem is that the ends have yet to come about. Imagine it this way: you order something online and pay out the money. Was it still worth the price if you didn’t get what you ordered and there’s no way to get your money back?

          • Stephanie

            That’s true. But I still think the question is worth discussing under the assumption that the lives are saved, since lots of people disagree with both of us and think even this isn’t enough to justify coercing Max. And discussing ways that it might go wrong is also interesting, and if it does go wrong then it will also be interesting to discuss whether coercing Max was still justified.

          • SJ

            … And discussing ways that it might go wrong is also interesting, and if it does go wrong then it will also be interesting to discuss whether coercing Max was still justified.

            What would be interesting about that? The entire premise of Alison’s actions being justified is wholly dependent on it not going wrong.

            What is there to even justify about Alison’s behavior, if it doesn’t work? How do you stand behind “the ends justify the means,” if you don’t actually get the means?

          • Stephanie

            “What would be interesting about that? The entire premise of Alison’s actions being justified is wholly dependent on it not going wrong.”

            I don’t understand what the connection is supposed to be between the first sentence and the second sentence. I described two separate conversations that are interesting to have: one conversation about “is it justifiable to twist a guy’s arm if it does save thousands of lives a year,” and a different, separate conversation about “how might this plan go awry so that thousands of lives aren’t saved.” Why would the fact that Conversation A assumes the plan works make Conversation B less interesting to also have?

          • SJ

            I don’t understand what the connection is supposed to be between the first sentence and the second sentence.

            The connection is this: what’s interesting about discussing whether coercing Max is still justified, if it goes wrong? It it goes wrong, then it wasn’t justified, period. The only interesting discussion (and, frankly, mileage even varies on that, because I personally find it frustrating more than interesting) is if it’s justified if it does work.

            At least the question of “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person to save a million?” is an ethical dilemma that requires discussion, whether one finds it “interesting” or not. I don’t see how “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because you thought it would save a million, but it didn’t end up saving anybody?” could be. If you’re saying that it’s still an interesting discussion, even if it doesn’t work, then you’re effectively arguing that it’s justifiable to commit evil, as long as you can rationalize it in your head as being for the “greater good,” even if your reason is subsequently proven false.

            YMMV, but I don’t find that interesting, just reprehensible.

          • Stephanie

            It is interesting to talk about the ethics of a scenario where it works.

            It is also interesting to talk about the logistics of a scenario where it doesn’t work.

            We don’t know which scenario is true, so we can talk about both of them until we find out whether the cat is alive or dead.

          • SJ

            Uh, no. That’s not what I said, at all. Let me try to phrase it more clearly.

            It is interesting to talk about the ethics of a scenario where it works.

            It is also interesting to talk about the logistics of a scenario where it doesn’t work.

            What’s interesting about it?

          • Stephanie

            What’s interesting about it is the speculation about various ways it could go wrong, based on the information available to the audience. Like, how might the conspiracy respond to this, how might the organs turn out to mess people up, etc. Maybe you’re not interested in that kind of mechanistic stuff, but I am.

            But I think I see what you were actually taking issue with. You were talking about the third case I mentioned, “was the action still justified if it doesn’t work.”

            Yes, I do think it is interesting to discuss whether or not committing a harm for a high probability of a good outcome retroactively becomes immoral if that good outcome unfortunately doesn’t come to pass. As in, starting from the viewpoint “it’s justifiable to twist a guy’s arm in order to save millions of lives,” is the morality of the action determined in the moment of the decision, or is it only decided after all the consequences have happened? If you jump into a pool to save someone from drowning, are you performing a good action as you jump or does it only become good if the drowning person survives? Why is that not interesting to talk about?

            Or maybe I should say that I refuse to defend my position that talking about that wouldn’t be a waste of my time? In a really exasperated tone? But I won’t, since that would be unnecessary.

          • SJ

            https://i.imgflip.com/vugc6.jpg

            I see now that you and I are working from different values of “interesting.”

          • Stephanie

            What is that supposed to mean?

          • SJ

            What is that supposed to mean? And is there a reason you felt the need to accompany it with a derisive expression?

            So, let me get this straight: you throw some passive aggressive shade at me over a comment I made on a previous page, and then ask me what’s up with the derisive expression?

          • Stephanie

            Yeah, I threw some shade over that comment–considering that you got so theatrically exasperated over the thought of someone questioning how you enjoy spending your own time, then proceeded to give me the third degree over how I enjoy spending mine.

          • SJ

            Well then, since you already think that my reactions are “melodramatic,” there you should have already had the answer to your question.

          • Stephanie

            The word I used was “theatrical.” And they usually aren’t, but in that case it was a completely unwarranted reaction to a simple miscommunication that could have been cleared up in a sentence.

          • SJ

            And they usually aren’t, but in that case it was a completely unwarranted reaction to a simple miscommunication that could have been cleared up in a sentence.

            As much as it’s a pet peeve of mine to use this expression, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.

          • Stephanie

            You said that if certain conditions were met, the arc would be a waste of time. I responded as if you were saying that it would be a waste of the story’s time, because that’s what it sounded like you meant. You reacted as if I were trying to argue that it wouldn’t be a waste of your time. Why do you think that reaction was warranted? You were exasperated about something that never happened.

          • At least the question of “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person to save a million?” is an ethical dilemma that requires discussion, whether one finds it “interesting” or not. I don’t see how “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because you thought it would save a million, but it didn’t end up saving anybody?” could be.

            The problem is that nobody operates from a position of knowing, absolutely, the outcomes of their actions; the only thing we can do is to weigh probabilities of outcomes and make our best guess. In other words, the question becomes one of weighing the risks and rewards- and the probabilities of each becoming reality. We don’t ask, “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because you thought it would save a million, but it didn’t end up saving anybody?”; rather, we ask, “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because we believe the chances of saving a million outweigh the chances of failing to save anybody?”

          • SJ

            We don’t ask, “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because you thought it would save a million, but it didn’t end up saving anybody?”; rather, we ask, “Is it worth it to torture or kill one person because we believe the chances of saving a million outweigh the chances of failing to save anybody?”

            Yeah… I am not here for any of that. For me, the answer to your second question is a hard “No.” I’m not signing off on torturing/killing one person on the “chance” to save a million, unless that chance is one hundred percent.

          • And this, of course, is the point: apart from death, there is no such thing as a certainty. If a superheroic world, even death is debatable. In other words, it is never worth it to torture or kill one person to save a million because the certainty of success is never actually one hundred percent.

          • Philip Bourque

            I think that you’re changing the entire nature of the discussion by going that route. In the first place there’s no real way to judge the value of her action versus the results until the results are actually in and to me it sounds like you’re giving Alison’s intent the same weight as the lives of the people. It’s as though your saying her actions are justified because she means well. I’d like to remind you that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

          • Stephanie

            So, first–not changing the discussion, it’s its own discussion. “Is it right to trade X for a successful attempt at Y” is an interesting discussion in its own right. “Is it right to trade X for a chance of Y” is also an interesting discussion, separately. “Is it right to trade X in a failed attempt at Y” is a third, separate, interesting discussion.

            For the second part, the thing is that at the time you actually make a decision, you don’t know the outcome. All you can do is decide your intent, weigh the probabilities, weigh the information available to you, and make a decision with the best chance of achieving your intent. I do think intent has to have moral weight, because it informs the decision at the time that it’s actually happening. You have to decide which choice is moral in your eyes before you can choose. So if we can only weigh the morality of a choice after all of its consequences have happened, how can we ever make a choice in the first place?

            If it turned out that Alison’s plan didn’t work, I would weigh her intent and the extent to which it was reasonable for her to expect it would work, when deciding whether her actions were justified. If it turned out she only had really tenuous reasons for expecting it to work, I’d say, yeah, not cool despite her intent. If it turned out that she had very strong reasons to expect it to work, I’d say–in the moment of her decision, given the information she had, she made the right choice.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Something we haven’t talked about in this endless dance we’re having is that Max’ take on the matter might be understandably different.
            And if one of these two takes are wrong, how do you make sure it’s not yours?

          • Stephanie

            Mine isn’t the one that leaves a crapload of people dead forever, so…

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            And still we don’t focus the entire world’s resources to find a cure to senescence. Should we?

          • Stephanie

            Not all of them, but a hell of a lot more than we currently do, yes. Absolutely. Senescence is high on my list of inconceivably horrible things that absolutely need to stop ASAP.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            So more humans > better life for same number of humans, if I follow.

          • Stephanie

            No, if that were my thinking then I’d want people to pump out babies constantly to create more lives. My best-case scenario is the same number of people, but without the horrible protracted inevitable deaths. I’m aware of the logistical obstacles to that outcome.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            But still you don’t hide from the idea of not guaranteeing equal protection at all times to them all. That’s a drastic down. I go back and forth but I think it might be a worse downside than eventual death.

          • Stephanie

            I do actually believe that everyone should have equal rights. I don’t believe that “withholding an action only you can do, that will save an enormous number of lives” should be among those rights.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            You can summarize that one down to “body automony”. I still think it’s worse to live without than the perspective of inevitable death.

          • Stephanie

            I would be completely on board with knowing I would have to sacrifice my bodily autonomy in extreme edge cases where it would do an enormous amount of good…well, in any world really, but especially in exchange for not having to die of old age.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Brrr…

          • Stephanie

            I mean, it’s not like it strictly has to be one or the other. You can always strive for a world with deontological ethics and eternal youth.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            If we can’t, though, how’d’ya feel about forbidding people to make children before they are fifty and thusly getting the gene pool rid of people with low life expectancy? The better it goes and the farther we push the age at which having offspring is allowed, evolution does the rest. Life expectancy would improve significantly.

            There’s a sacrifice of your bodily autonomy for an enormous amount of good (heh) for you…

          • Stephanie

            There are so few women capable of bearing healthy children at age 50 that even attempting that would collectively screw us all, long before evolution could mitigate it. Evolution is a slow, slow process, and there would be no guarantee that increasing the age at which people can bear children would increase the age to which they can live.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It would have to, eventually. Killing off the ones who die young (by not letting them have children) would gradually increase not only the average life expectancy obviously but also its higher extreme, cause only everybody would have genes coming from long lasting parents.

            And we can start at 40 if that lowers the risk of the species dying off. Granted everything else must be put on hold, but that’s what thought experiments are for.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think it’s a feasible solution. It would take so many generations to see any effect whatsoever, when instead we could be doing like…anything else. And the kids born to old people would be way more likely to have health problems.

            Also a lot of people who die young do so from accidents, non-hereditary illnesses, etc that have nothing to do with how long they would have lived normally. People who survive to age 40 are not necessarily those with the potential for the longest natural lifespan.

            It just doesn’t make sense as an approach to dealing with senescence. Medical research, which occurs on a much faster timescale than evolution, is the way to go. Especially since even in the best-case outcome of the middle-aged childbearing approach, people would only live a little bit longer. They would still inevitably age and die. So it wouldn’t solve the senescence problem, no matter what.

          • Tylikcat

            You really want to be careful about avoiding demographic crashes. Having enough people of working age to support the elderly at any on time is kind of important – slow and steady is the way to go.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            One of the reasons why, potentially to everyone’s shock, I may every once in a while consider the future necessity of a mandatorily limited lifespan.
            (Another one being that there only is a non-infinite amount of matter on Earth to turn into humans)

          • Tylikcat

            Life expectancy and length of fertility aren’t equivalent. I mean, my maternal grandmother was squeezing out children until she was almost fifty, and yet died when she was, I believe, fifty-three.* (She kept going to the doctors with horrible headaches, which the doctors insisted were all in her head. Since she had brain cancer, they were arguably correct…)

            * Maybe fifty-six. Hm. Long before I was born, anyway.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            When I compulsorily mad scientist-ed this scenario, I was surprised by how difficult it turned out to be to find a way to breed only long lasting humans. The problem being that it’s something you get to verify only long after they can’t reproduce…I guess killing the children and grandchildren of people dying of natural causes below a certain threshold is too evil?

            (I can already see a scenario where a distressed person has to stab their 79 year old mother in the midst of a heart attack and go to prison for the rest of their life because it’s a better alternative than them and their children being wiped out by the Authority were it to know this elder was naturally dying before the stabbing happened)

          • Tylikcat

            The Heinlein approach – Methuselah society, or something like that? it’s been a really long time – was to provide incentives for people who had long lived grandparents to meet up and have kids. (Though I think they set their mark at 100 years, and depending, they might do better to aim at great-grandparents? If you’re aiming for a lot of progeny from these pairings, anyway.)

            That probably assuming that there are genetic single solutions to not aging, and that these solutions are compatible with each other, which isn’t necessarily the case, but could probably be dealt with in subsequent generations assuming you’re willing to eliminating culls from the breeding population.

            But now we’re back to eugenics. Seriously, I’d prefer direct genetic engineering for the most part, just in terms of what we know about overall cruelty. (Also, again, having had an awful lot of people tell me about what a fabulous future I have ahead of me as a broodmare. *snort*)

          • Izo

            Equal rights as long as you can’t do something that another person wants you to do. Especially if you’re rich and white.

          • Stephanie

            That is not fair. Beginning to end, it’s an extreme mischaracterization of the position I stated. You know that I have never, at any point, said that Max’s race or wealth is a factor in whether or not coercing him was justified.

          • Izo

            It’s extremely fair. Even if you haven’t used Max’s wealth or gender, a lot of other people have. It’s a forum in which other people are responding as well, including a lot of people who seem to say ‘Yeah! Force that rich privileged jerk!’ And some who claim that my own defense of Max is somehow because he’s rich, white, and male, as if to imply (incorrectly) that I am a rich white male. (TheDaviesCR and a couple of others, although theDaviesCR has done so like 2-3 times without any other reasoning in his posts). And even you (and you’re a lot more based on the ideals than the person, unlike many) have admitted that if the genders were reversed, you’d have a more visceral concern about what Al did.

          • Stephanie

            OK, so…When I say (paraphrasing) “I believe in equal rights with certain limitations,” and you reply (parahrasing) “Equal rights as long as you’re not rich and white,” it sounds very much like you are “rephrasing” my comment according to how you interpreted it, in order to highlight how my position is wrong. That’s generally what is communicated by that kind of reply.

            For example, if you said “It’s wrong to kill one person to save millions because people have a right to life,” and I replied to you, “Yeah, you have a right to life as long as you’re not one of the millions,” you would interpret what I said as a direct response to what you said, right? It would sound exactly as if I was rephrasing your position in an unflattering and inaccurate way. I think that you would be confused if you called me out on that and I said that actually, I was just referring generically to people on the other side of the argument, not to you, even though I replied to you directly and repeated parts of your comment in my reply.

            If you intended it to be a general comment about other people in the thread who aren’t me, it’s impossible for me to have known that, since you didn’t say so in the comment.

          • Izo

            “it sounds very much like you are “rephrasing” my comment according to how you interpreted it, in order to highlight how my position is wrong. That’s generally what is communicated by that kind of reply.”

            Stephanie, you’re usually not hypocritical in your posts (and I respect that) but considering that you do rephrase my own posts, I find this statement to be a bit hypocritical and you’re better than that.

            I’m pointing out that OTHER PEOPLE (not you, Stephanie, other people) have explicitly stated that they want bad things to happen to Max because he’s a rich white het male with privilege. There have been lonnnng lonnng threads about this.

            “at most I’ve seen people talk about how his privilege influenced him to be an asshole about this.”

            I’ve noticed, as when I mentioned that people have in the past launched ad hominem attacks at me when they disagree with my well-articulated statements, that you seem to have a type of unintentional blindness when it comes to seeing how people act to others when it’s not you on the receiving end. There have been a LOT of people who have talkd about how Max deserves this, how ‘yes! About time that jerk got what’s coming to him!’, about ‘There shouldnt be any compensation because he’s rich already’ And so on and so on. You just seem to have somehow skipped over all this and I’m not sure why, but it feels intellectually dishonest.

            Now I’d like to have us stop talking about each OTHER, and get back to arguing about what’s in the story. Thanks.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t know what to tell you. I literally have not seen anyone making the arguments you are describing. And again, I now understand that you weren’t referring specifically to me, but you composed your post in a way that incorporated parts of my post, to which you were replying–how exactly am I supposed to intuit that a comment based upon my comment, made in reply to my comment, is not actually directed at my comment?

            And yes, I have rephrased your posts before–rephrasing wasn’t the problem. The problem was that it appeared you were rephrasing my post and, if you were doing so, you would have been badly mischaracterizing my position. The appearance that you were mischaracterizing my position is what I originally reacted to; the fact that you appeared to be rephrasing my comment is why I believed you were mischaracterizing my position.

          • Izo

            “I don’t know what to tell you. I literally have not seen anyone making the arguments you are describing.”

            And yet they happen. Constantly. I generally default to the assumption that, given how much you post like I do, and sometimes posting more than me (which is a feat) that you’re noticing the same posts I am.

            ” And again, I now understand that you weren’t referring specifically to me, but you composed your post in a way that incorporated parts of my post, to which you were replying. How exactly am I supposed to intuit that a comment based upon my comment, made in reply to my comment, is not actually directed at my comment?”

            Because if it was a snarky add on to your comment that didn’t seem to have anything to do with your comment, it wasn’t directed at you? In any case, you know now.

            “All I am trying to do here is to head off further miscommunications by explaining how that one happened. If you reply to my comment with phrasing based directly on my comment, I’m naturally going to assume that you are referring to my comment.”

            Fair enough. You now know. I don’t want miscommunications with you either. 🙂

          • Stephanie

            Can you give me an example of a post making that kind of argument? Cause I’m genuinely not trying to intentionally overlook anything. Maybe we’re seeing the same posts and interpreting them differently?

            I’m glad we cleared up the miscommunication! 🙂

          • Izo

            I’d have to go a few posts back for some of them since two days of posts are missing (and the ones since then have had some …. fairly LARGE numbers of posts) but when I have some free time I’ll post a few examples for you. No problem. 🙂

          • Stephanie

            Thanks, I appreciate it! No pressure or anything, it’s not time-sensitive.

          • Izo

            Here’s one:
            “Happyroach
            I’d say we don’t take rich people down a notch because they’ve arranged the system to benefit themselves. During our most prosperous era, the top tax rate was 90%- it is more than arguable that as the top tax rate has declined, so has the general welfare of the country, to the point where basic infrastructure is difficult to pay for.

            In any case, taxing the rich, like using Max for a while, was an inconvenience, not long-term torture.”

            Here’s another:
            “Spongegirl Circleskirt
            Is it irony that the spoiled rich guy is lecturing Allison about getting her own way”

            Here’s a third:
            “Rens
            Somehow, it always turns out that *their* personal autonomy and property rights are paramount, and force is “evil”, except when they want others to use said force on their behalf — and they love to pretend that economic force or legal force is somehow sanctified and not the same.”

            Fourth:
            “Rens
            He doesn’t just fail to acknowledge the gardeners’ situation, he explicitly doesn’t think it *exists* — as far as he’s concerned, they have the freedom to say ‘no, I don’t want to overwork’ and take the consequences, and that’s the important thing. Like most entitled privileged assholes, he doesn’t seem to get that ‘consequences’ in this case equals ‘potentially lose this job, and I’ll run out of money for food by next week at latest’ and how that changes the equation.”

            “Max is a complete nit who I believe completely deserves this. Heck, even regardless, I’m very spiteful towards this man.”

            “This Guy
            Vindication, you are the sweetest wine.”

            “R
            as a person who deals with a lot of violence because folks who have power don’t give a shit and won’t lift a finger to help, this is 100% awesome.”

            “TheDaviesCR
            Even better than I hoped. Give the piece of shit everything you got, Allison.”

            “a person
            creating and incentives structure. Oh, fuck yes. Show this asshole how his workers make their god damn choices, the piece of human filth”

            “TheDaviesCR
            When the perpetrator’s income level is high enough, they get away with murder, here in the real world. So please do forgive me if I fail to weep at any of the suffering of this rich “victim”.”

            “TheDaviesCR
            Of course you would. It’s obvious whose rights you are actually concerned with, and unsurprisingly it’s the rich white guy.”

            “And everyone stood up and clapped.
            Next she finds Bill Gates and does the same thing to him so she has funding.”

            “Rachel Symski
            i can’t seem to put a picture in the comments but allison’s fist in the first panel mirrored to properly mimic the arthur meme with caption “when the privileged man won’t boost your superpowers””

            “guest
            Honestly, Max has got no real redeeming features – he’s immature, he blows up a small comments, he’s selfish, and inconsiderate and rather arrogant and ignorant and the list goes on and on. He doesn’t even have any sort of reasonable excuse for it – he’s a pretty, rich, white, and straight guy whose mommy is powerful enough to pull political strings for him. The biggest trauma he had was realizing that he couldn’t always be #1 and it made him cry just to talk about it – at 14 that could be a blow. Years later and you should have dealt with stuff like that, especially when you’re rich enough to afford legions of pills and therapists.”

            There are a bunch of others even more on point, although a lot of them are in the two days that have ‘disappeared’ and even more in the days where there was an insane amount of posts

            This one isnt saying it’s okay because he’s rich and privileged and a jerk, but it does defend Max even before the violenec happened by saying ‘she’s not going to force him’… Then afterwards defends her forcing him. It strikes me as funny considering what happened just two strips later and this person continued to defend Alison, in response to something I said about how Alison was not taking no for an answer and would inevitably physically force him at this rate:

            “pleasechangemymind
            I just… how is she forcing him to do anything? Trying to convince him, sure. Maybe being rude and abrasive and pushy, sure. But she’s not forcing him to do anything. And he’s acting like she is. He keeps saying “you can’t MAKE me,” “you can’t FORCE me to,” as a way of disregarding the fact that she’s not forcing, she’s imploring.”

          • Stephanie

            Thank you for finding these. After reading them, I think most of them are not arguing that Max deserves it for being rich and white; however, there are a couple that are. Since you put work into finding all of these, I’ll go through them individually so you know I gave them each serious consideration.

            1 is comparing taxation on the rich to “taxation” on Max’s powers (it’s Max’s wealth in “superpower”, not his wealth in money, that they argue justifies coercing him).

            2 is really just calling him a hypocrite. It doesn’t say that he deserves coercion for being rich, just that it’s hypocritical of him to get pissy at Alison for being privileged when he himself is privileged.

            3 is again just calling him a hypocrite, in this case for being opposed to the use of physical force while simultaneously using economic force to his benefit. If anything I’d say the implication here is that both forms of force are wrong.

            4 is saying he deserves it for his ignorant and self-centered attitude, not for being rich. They do say that his attitude tends to co-occur with privilege, but not that the privilege, itself, is what justifies coercing him.

            5 is too vague to draw any conclusions from. I’m assuming they posted it in response to Max being harmed in some way, but all I can conclude from this comment is that the commenter felt vindicated about that for any of many possible reasons, not necessarily connected to Max’s race or class.

            6 I think is pretty clearly talking about Max’s choice not to help with Feral, not his race or class.

            7 shows a clear dislike of Max, but is not stating here that it’s due to his wealth and class.

            8 seems to be saying he deserves it for being a libertarian. (I don’t, personally, think being a libertarian means he deserves it, but I do think there’s a big difference between saying “you deserve it for an attribute like race or class that you didn’t choose,” vs “you deserve it for your personality/opinions/ethics.”)

            9, yeah, this is pretty clearly saying that they see coercing him as more acceptable because he’s rich.

            10 is pretty hostile and unreasonable, although in this one they don’t appear to be arguing that his being rich and white makes coercing him acceptable, just accusing you of being extra-sympathetic to him because he’s rich and white.

            11 is a bit too vague to get a handle on, but there does seem to be an implication that Max’s privilege makes Alison more justified in coercing him, yes.

            12 isn’t saying he deserved to be coerced for being privileged, but instead that it’s extra-awful of him to have bad personality traits since he had so much privilege. I don’t agree with that–bad personality traits don’t exclusively arise from actual trauma, not all children of wealthy parents actually have access to psychological care, being able to afford a therapist doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll recognize or be capable of admitting that you need one, etc–but they don’t even discuss Alison’s coercing him in this comment, much less argue that he deserved it.

            In conclusion, I think that among the comments here that argue Max deserved to be coerced for any reason, the majority argue that he deserved it for being an asshole–not for being rich or white. Of course, I know that you take issue with that attitude as well. I also don’t prefer to approach the ethical dilemma from the perspective of what Max “deserves.”

            TheDaviesCR and possibly Rachel Symski do seem to argue or imply, “he deserves it for having racial and economic privilege.” You were right about that, and I had missed those before.

          • Izo

            Stephanie, this is why it’s not worth my time to pore through weeks of posts where there are thousands of posts on each page. When you’re looking at just snippets of posts which I’ve given so I don’t have a post that’s a novel-long, you don’t get the context, from their other posts about Max, or you minimize what they said. Or engage in inadvertent mind-reading (not an insult, I mean that you assume the best positive light for the posters even though context shows they are not meaning it in a positive light) of the posters since I’m not going to post 12 of their posts in their post history in order to give you all the context. Most of the people I quoted had also made comments about Max being privileged and an a-hole as well but since I don’t want to write a novel, or go through another 20 pages, you’re making an assumption that almost of them disliked max for his privilege, when there have been other THOUSAND POST LONG arguments about privilege. PS – saying he’s privileged and therefore deserving of what happened to him, at least with most of the people I quoted, also do include that there has been other posts equating being a rich white het male to automatically having privilege (and in those arguments I often argued that being a rich white het male did not give privilege – being rich gave privilege).

            Most of the people I quoted find (if you look at the context of their other posts) that Max’s a-hole-ness stems largely from his wealth, or his generally privileged life.

          • Stephanie

            I went to a lot of effort to read, think about, and respond to each comment you quoted. Your reaction makes me feel like that wasn’t worth my time, so I guess we’re even.

            “Max’s privilege turned him into an asshole, and he deserves this for acting like an asshole” is not the same thing as “Max deserves this for being privileged.”

          • Izo

            “I went to a lot of effort to read, think about, and respond to each comment you quoted. I acknowledged the ones that I agreed with you about. It seems that wasn’t enough. Your reaction makes me feel like that wasn’t worth my time, so I guess we’re even.”

            It didnt take you almost an entire day to get through just 2 pages out of weeks of posts. If I had to also post the context posts for what I just quoted, it would take me days or weeks. Could you possibly just assume there was context, especially since others have also acknowledged that this happens?

          • Stephanie

            I did assume there was context to the extent that I assumed these comments were taken from the pages during or following Alison coercing Max. But I don’t know what more I can do. If I don’t know what the context is, I can’t base my response on it. I thought that you would link me the posts where I could see them in context. Without that, all I can do is respond to what’s in front of me.

          • Izo

            They were, although the equating of Max’s a-holeness with privilege from being a white het male go back as far as their dinner. And I’m sorry but that’s waaay too much to go over which is why I’m asking you to just acknowledge that there is context, since you never noticed the posts in the first place and I did (as well as others who did, like SJ).

          • Stephanie

            I acknowledge that context exists, but I can’t know what that context is without seeing it. I can’t form an opinion about a black box. I am sorry, but that just isn’t possible for me.

          • SJ

            I tried to tell you…

          • SJ

            And yet they happen. Constantly. I generally default to the assumption that, given how much you post like I do, and sometimes posting more than me (which is a feat) that you’re noticing the same posts I am.

            I seem to recall having a similar discussion with @disqus_DkLklQDjEE:disqus , on a previous page, which resulted in her asking for examples of what I was talking about. I made a somewhat extensive post explaining what I was talking about, citing multiple examples, and her rebuttal could essentially be distilled down to, “Well, I don’t see it that way…”

            That was pretty much a conversation stopper. If two people having a conversation can’t agree on what it is that they’re looking at, there’s nothing else to discuss.

            It seems likely to me that she actually did see the same posts you did. But, just like with all the people who saw what Alison has done to Max and said, “That’s not really torture,” it’s probable that she saw the exactly which comments you’re referring to, and simply assessed them differently.

          • Stephanie

            There’s a good chance that is what happened. If I read a comment that referenced Max’s richness or whiteness, but that I didn’t interpret as using those attributes to justify coercing him, it wouldn’t be in my memory bank for “comments arguing that he deserved it for being rich and white.” Once I see the examples I’ll be able to tell for sure if that’s what went down.

          • Heh. Logistical obstacles made me think of a science fiction movie that came up with a solution for both of those problems; ever watch Logan’s Run? Mind you, the movie is quite a bit different than the novel…

          • Stephanie

            I never saw it but I’ve heard of the premise. Of course I wouldn’t support that kind of solution, haha. What’s the point of being young your whole life if it’s only like 30 years long?

            The pie-in-the-sky fantasy solution I’ve been thinking about is basically that if you want to get the eternal youth treatment, you’re required to be sterilized. So no forced sterilization, it’s just the price you accept if you want eternal youth, you can have all the babies you want if you’re cool with aging. You get the option to submit gametes to be frozen prior to the treatment. Each year it’s determined how many children need to be born to replace people who died from unnatural causes. Gametes are prescreened for genetic diseases and then chosen and combined by lottery, and children are assigned to communities in proportion to how many people volunteered to be caregivers in each community. They’re then communally raised by everyone who volunteered. I think this strategy eliminates most of the ways the limitations on making babies could be used for horrifying classist or eugenics purposes, but I wonder if I missed any critical flaws (aside from the fact that implementing it would require a total overhaul of how basically everything works and therefore it’s nothing but an idealistic fiction).

          • It’s an interesting idea, and it might even work. Of course, it might also create a new underprivileged class of people because, seriously, how can someone with a lifespan of give-or-take a hundred years hope to compete economically with someone who can live for literally thousands of years? I do like the fact that you’ve posited a way that the financial burden can be spread around, but I think it still spreads the burden far too much onto the mortals and doesn’t give enough of a burden to the immortals.

            Of course, I’m old, cranky, and cynical, and the only utopias I can believe in are the type that are really just a thin veneer covering a society riddled with rot, so…

          • Stephanie

            Yeah, I guess it’s hard because I would want people to have the option of remaining mortal, but then inevitably the mortals are at a disadvantage. I guess there could be like…designated mortal-only communities where you can go to live and work if you don’t want to compete with immortal people? Or maybe you get tax breaks for being mortal?

          • Dartangn

            The social contract tends to do that on a daily basis one way or another. It tends to be more of a function of degree.

          • motorfirebox

            Compared to completely ending waiting lists for organ transplants for at least the next half-century? Yeah, it is a small thing.

          • Tsapki

            I think the word you are looking for is privilege, not right.

          • HanoverFist

            So not being kidnapped and threatened with death is a privilege?

          • HanoverFist

            Not being kidnapped and threatened is a privilege?

          • AveryAves

            This is what I keep thinking like, everyone’s lamenting terror and destruction, and I’m like “…Max was only refusing to go out of ego? Like this tiny piece of spite towards Allison makes him think countless lives aren’t worth it? He’s left somewhat unerred after this (singular) experience?”

        • Eric Meyer

          Yup. All the morality in the world means bupkis if you don’t know the person being hurt. You can feel outraged, you can try to do things to help strangers, but that’s all coming from a sense of personal satisfaction or dissatisfaction. It feels ‘good’ to help, or ‘bad’ to not. But you don’t actually CARE unless its someone you’ve actually met. That’s how we’re wired. That’s why our society evolved from family groups, to tribes, to towns, to cities, instead of starting with distributed government and consolidating from there.

          • Lysiuj

            ….
            Fucking seriously?1!?!?1!?
            You can talk all you want about how society evolved and how psychology works etc, but I promise you that my sense of morality, and the morality of most everyone here, and the morality of most people on the planet, isn’t meant just for people we know and love.

    • motorfirebox

      The cost to Max would have to be pretty significantly increased for me to feel like it wasn’t worth it. Alison would have had to directly cause his death, not through some second-order effect but with her own action.

      • Santiago Tórtora

        Alison directly killed the guy who tried to kill Feral that one time when the guy with the flamethrower attacked the hospital. She killed someone to avenge/protect just a few lives (the doctors who were operating on Feral).

        What she did now doesn’t even compare. People just complain more because Max isn’t officially a criminal/super-villain.

        • Nathanaël François

          No one is claiming Al killing the terrorist was the right thing to do. The right thing to do would have been to detain him and have him tried for his crime. Threatening to kill the crowd of protesters and smashing things was not the right thing to do either.
          However, she was understandably extremely mad by the fact that someone had just attempted to kill her friend as she was laying down her life for humanity, and in the process had killed four doctors. I think she should get a pass on her action in the heat of the moment, especially since the terrorist being immediately killed is probably preferable to the situation where she didn’t act and he killed more people.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            That’s what I mean by people being OK with terrible stuff because it happens to someone labeled “criminal” or “terrorist”. Alison could have broken the guy’s arms and he would be harmless. There was no urgency.

            In Max’s situation there was more urgency. Every minute he was being a contrarian asshole someone somewhere was dying of a Feral-treatable disease, not to mention Feral’s self-imposed torture. The “heat of the moment” for the people Alison was trying to save is constant and ongoing.

          • phantomreader42

            Alison could have broken the guy’s arms and he would be harmless. There was no urgency.

            She could have, IF she’d thought of it, while he was in the middle of murdering several people and endangering the lives of others.

            In Max’s situation there was more urgency. Every minute he was being a contrarian asshole someone somewhere was dying of a Feral-treatable disease, not to mention Feral’s self-imposed torture.

            Said torture was self-imposed, and had been going on for long enough that a few minutes either way wouldn’t be particularly noticeable (days, yes, minutes, no). And given the stakes, it’s important to take the time to be certain that the solution will actually help. But I wouldn’t expect Allison (or really anyone) to be doing that kind of gruesome math when the thought of the person actually suffering it in real time is fresh in their mind. So I think it was less urgent than Allison might have believed, but I can understand why she would believe it was immediate.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I notice you didn’t include in your calculation all those “countless” nameless people who were dying of Feral-treatable diseases.

            Feral could have chosen to stop anytime (probably) but those other people had no say in the matter.

          • Kifre

            ” Every minute he was being a contrarian asshole someone somewhere was dying of a Feral-treatable disease, not to mention Feral’s self-imposed torture.”

            If that were true, how could Alison possibly support taking the time to grab a burger and bourbon and explain the situation to Feral so soon after she was enhanced? Surely, under that logic, the only morally correct action would have been to enhance Feral mid-procedure and not let her rest and eat until her 40 hours for the month were up. I mean if it were really just that damned urgent, how can they be having this conversation 13 hours after Feral was taken out of surgery to be enhanced?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            The doctors were asleep, and forcing them to work while sleep-deprived can cause mistakes. It’s OK to delay life-saving procedures when there is a good reason.

          • Kifre

            But they weren’t though, we were told that the doctors are working in shifts so there are only moments where there’d be any stop: http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-40-2/

          • Santiago Tórtora

            You are right, and that raises the question of how did they manage to boost Feral without anyone noticing. Is the whole hospital complicit?

          • Kifre

            Well, the panel we saw of the boost, feral was alone in a darkened room. Which means that everyone left her alone, out of surgery. Alison must’ve phoned ahead to arrange privacy.

          • bryan rasmussen

            well she gets a pass on her actions because there isn’t any way to force her to pay for it, or if there is we don’t know about it and I guess nobody wants it revealed just because she killed some jerk, it will probably take much more to reveal whatever they have that can bring Allison down.

          • Walter

            I think she should get a pass for on her action, because she is more powerful than the military and police.

          • phantomreader42

            I think she should get a pass for on her action, because she is more powerful than the military and police.

            If you’re going to hold the more powerful to a different standard, it should be a HIGHER standard, not a lower one. The fact that she’s more powerful should mean she has MORE responsibility to be careful, not less. Just like police or soldiers (or even experienced martial artists), being much more heavily armed and trained in combat than the average person, should be expected to exercise more self-control and refrain from initiating violence without a good reason.
            In Allison’s case, it’s complicated by the difficulty of imposing realistic consequences, and also by her relative lack of training which understandably leads to accidents that aren’t necessarily her fault (she’s incredibly strong, but “super-accuracy has never been one of my anomalies”). Still, being more powerful shouldn’t be a free pass to use that power recklessly.
            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2c7a8a473c353d1e876be18254d34fce45d5a4283381fe1e018b7b04e3b8d76c.gif

          • Walter

            “In Allison’s case, it’s complicated by the difficulty of imposing realistic consequences, ”

            This.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      What about it? I honestly don’t understand how a sad story about Max or his family is supposed to change the morality of the situation, when we know there are millions of such sad stories that were averted by Alison’s questionable action.

      If what she did was wrong, it will be wrong for a reason entirely independent of the cost to Max, since it’s clear that the benefits will outweigh those costs.

      • Dawnlighter

        Honestly, that was just a question I was curious about. I was asking because while I would be perfectly fine with Alison inconveniencing Max for a few hours and literally twisting his arm, I am slightly less comfortable with her potentially inflicting a lifelong mental condition. I was curious if anyone else felt the same way.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          You are right of course. Inconveniencing Max is barely discomforting, and inflicting lifelong trauma is extremely discomforting.

          The discomfort doesn’t compare to the lives saved, is all.

          • help im a bug

            how do you feel about abortion?

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Compared to my local environment, I’m extremely pro-abortion. By American standards, I guess I’m a regular pro-choice guy.

          • Tsapki

            That’s always been one of the funny but sad things I’ve seen about the pro-life side, that most of them equate pro-choice to pro-abortion.

        • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

          It makes me passably angry to read any mention of that as a “four hour inconvenience”, for instance. A lot of horrible things are, from the distance of hateful and ignorant people, “a short time of discomfort”.

          • SJ

            It makes me passably angry to read any mention of that as a “four hour inconvenience”, for instance. A lot of horrible things are, from the distance of hateful and ignorant people, “a short time of discomfort”.

            Nobody tell Dan Turner.

      • Jack Markley

        Society would fall apart if the authority were to act in a purely utilitarian manner. People’s self-interests falling out of their control causes them to want to retreat from society altogether.

        Allison has prevented a man from having control over his whole life and if she were to extend this policy to all other Dynamorphs with the ability to change the world on such a scale, it would have catastrophic results.

        • mugasofer

          That’s a consequentialist argument, though.

          Doing this to one person had good results, doing this to literally everyone on earth regardless of the benefits would have bad results.

          (Also, frankly, Max had already “retreated from society”. It’s hard to imagine how he could be less helpful, unless he joins a team of supervillains.)

      • Balthazar

        Well that is more of a Utilitarian dilemma isn’t it?

        In this case, yeah it does seem that the greater good of the many outweigh the petty complaints of Max, but what if Max died from boosting Ferals power? What then?

        And what if it wasn’t just Max, what if Alison had to sacrifice 1 person a year to keep Ferals regen high? Would it be worth it then?

        Yes, I know I’m pushing the hypotheticals here, and maybe in this case it really is just forcing a guy to do some good with no negative consequences, but it can be pushed further and further at least as a thought problem.

        I think for certain people when the cost outweighs the gain is lower than others and if you keep pushing it’ll eventually be too much.

        I for one have a lower bar than you and find it horrifying that Alison would violate Max’s autonomy by forcing him to do something he didn’t want to regardless the reason, but that’s mostly because I put a high value on personal freedom, which is partially tied to the fact that I have all my immediate needs satisfied, and I live in a society that (at least openly) lauds Freedom at any cost.

        By the way, I’m not insinuating the slippery slope argument here. I’m not saying that Alison will go on to be a totalitarian dictator over humanity or anything. I think it contradicts too much with who she is and what her goals are.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          What if you had to sacrifice thousands of people every year to preserve Max’s autonomy?

          Because that is what was happening before Allison twisted Max’s arm.

          • Balthazar

            Oh I understand your point and I think it’s valid. The damage done to the things gained are so different in scope it seems the obvious choice.

            However, like I said, I value autonomy and I think the call wasn’t Alison’s to make. Sure the results are important and if you were a pragmatist who cares about a little bit of arm twisting? But part of me wonders, wasn’t there any other way? And while I will say the results from her actions may be good, I don’t think I can say that violence and threats are “moral”.

            However, like I said before that’s easy for me to say. I don’t have family that need organ transplants, and I was never put in a situation where millions of lives were in the balance, so I can only talk I hypotheticals.

          • Stephanie

            I think it’s reasonable to say that the act of twisting Max’s arm was immoral in and of itself, but that it was dramatically less immoral than the alternative–allowing thousands of people each year to die painfully. In the U.S. alone, 22 people a day die waiting for a transplant.

            Sometimes you really do have to choose the lesser of two evils. Nobody likes doing it, but if you don’t, you end up with the greater evil.

            I do think that, with the stakes as high as they were, Alison should have come up with a better strategy for persuading Max than “go over there myself when he’s already pissed at me and yell at him.” I’m totally on board with saving thousands of lives per year by twisting a guy’s arm, but it would be even better to accomplish that without twisting any arms.

          • Weatherheight

            Lesser of two evils is a sliding scale, huh? 😀

            Alison is impatient, and her process here definitely demonstrated that.
            My issue with the lesser of two evils has always been that it presumes two choices – most often, there are most definitely more options. And I think that’s what was behind the hubbub earlier – some folks seeing it in terms of “given the situation as presented, which is the better choice?” premise, while others were in the “are these options really the only two options?” premise.

            Was a heck of a lot of fun, though. 😀

          • Balthazar

            And seeing I can only talk hypotheticals here’s another one.

            In the world we have millions of poor and needy and in other places high consemtration of wealth. Shouldn’t we be twisting the arms of everybody who makes above the average income in the country to give up part of their wealth?

            And let’s say your dream is to be an artist, but you are an incredibly skilled at surgery that could save the lives of millions. Should you be forced to give up your dream for the greater good?

            And finnaly what if Feral didn’t want to give up her organs? Should we still push her into the pain of being openly dissected alive for the greater good?

            I know the first and last are a bit extreme but applying the same logic, the greater good is still being served here. If you feel against that then I think it is reasonable to say everyone has values that transcend just net gain, mine is just that I dislike a minprity being trample for the “greater good”

          • Santiago Tórtora

            We kind of do that already, to a small degree, via taxes. People with above average wealth pay taxes to maintain public goods and services, while poor people don’t have to pay the taxes but can still use those public goods and services.

            You know how some libertarians say that taxes are theft? I agree with that, but I also think theft isn’t automatically evil.

            RE: Forcing artists to be surgeons, we don’t have to do that because we use other incentives, like paying surgeons a lot more than what we pay our artists.

          • Balthazar

            I view taxes the same way I view paying for rent. The government SHOULD put it to use protecting us and our rights (life liberty pursuit of happiness etc.) though when they don’t usually it’s due to us just not voting in the right people. But still I think my dilemma stands. Why don’t we just take the rich down a notch? Because if we kept doing that we’d have a non incentivized system of economy (cough cough communism) well yeah, but that’s when more arm twisting comes in right? (Again this is more of a slippery slope argument but still it has happened historically so it’s worth a mention)

            As for the forcing artists to be surgeons, yes we do pay surgeons more, which seems to be a lot better and less violent than the arm grabbing way right? Here is me again wondering if there wasn’t another way, but knowing how much the author loves throwing moral delemmas in our face there probably was no other way (at least Max certainly thought so)

            Your right about Feral of course, yes repercussions are always nasty, so let me make it easier for you. If Feral couldn’t escape, would you do it then? Yes fool proof is implausible but still we cut down the wiggle room for convincing Max so I’m sure this is a valid question as well.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            We don’t take rich people down a notch not because it would be against our principles but simply because it wouldn’t be in our own best interest. Capitalism as a system has its problems, but having to arm-twist rich people isn’t one of them. We can milk them better if we keep them happy.

            Max was special because he refused out of spite. The authors probably made him that way specifically to cause this dilemma.

            If Feral could not escape then sure, I would be in favor of cutting her up and cloning her and do lots of awful stuff to her until we figure out a way to duplicate her abilities. Too many lives would be saved at a much cheaper cost than even the most just of wars, for example.

          • Weatherheight

            The evidence of the 1950’s and 1960’s regarding taxation policy muddies those waters – the national programs involving highway construction for the Interstate system (as an example) was a Defense project that paid off far more in economic terms than anticipated, precisely because the government had a rather ridiculous taxation rate against the very wealthiest, which funds went to that project. This made the wealthiest even wealthier with virtually no capital investment of their own. Sure, they took a huge financial hit initially, but they got all that back and more.

            Which, in one sense, validates your point about “keeping the rich happy”, I guess. 😀

            In my opinion, taxes in and of themselves are neutral – it’s what we do with them that matters. The knee-jerk “taxes are bad” that has become a public mantra in recent years is a red herring. With better planning and with a long-term strategy that is implemented with an eye towards constant review of results and an in-process-adjustments strategy built into the authorization bill, we could do a lot better. But ideologies and personalities and vanity exclude..

          • Santiago Tórtora

            ” it’s what we do with them that matters ”

            That’s a bit like saying that twisting someone’s arm and threatening them with drowning is not bad if it is for a good cause.

            I agree with that, mind you, but for people who obsess about freedom and autonomy (even freedom to do things that are wrong and stupid, like not building infrastructure and not saving thousands of people with your superpowers) I would think that kind of thing was a matter of principle, not consequences or practicality.

          • Weatherheight

            mmm.. maybe. For far too many, they talk principles but they also make a big deal about the money (or, as the old saying goes, “When they say “it’s not the money, it’s the principle of thing”, it’s more about the money than they claim.”). For others, they share with Max a resentment of being told what to do – I’ve watched more than a few people be given what they asked for but refusing to take it because it wasn’t at their behest.

            The point of taxation is to accomplish those goals that individuals or small organizations cannot fund on their own. I feel that people of good will can come to terms regarding good approaches to spending. For example, $90 for a hammer that can be bought at Home Depot for $20 seems a bad thing to me (not having bought a hammer in quite some time, i’m throwing out a number). I think most folks could agree on that. Other things may require more discussion or perhaps a conscious decision to move forward on items of consensus and to pilot out other approaches to see which approach actually does the most towards achieving the goals while minimizing unintended consequences.

            You seem to be hearing me saying that I’m okay with sloppy decision making – and I most definitely am not. My belief is that if people were less concerned about what is of their ultimate good rather than spreading the joy around, we’d be better off as a race. But many humans are greedy and selfish, and as long as resources are limited, we likely always will be. It is possible to convince others without coercive physical force, but the cost for doing that is to allow suffering you might have been able to prevent to occur by using force. Conversely, the act of using force to compel always involves inflicting suffering against someone – and I don’t consider myself wise enough to be able to correctly draw that line.

            Which is where we are now – and if I had a good solution, believe me, I’d be advocating for it. But too much depends on individuals, and I neither have compelling temporal power nor compelling rhetorical skills to change the minds and hearts of those people whose viewpoint is standing in the way the most.

            I empathize with Alison – but I’m quite a bit more aware of my limitations, both in my abilities and my self-imposed ethical limitations, which leaves me in one sense worse off and in another better off than Alison.

          • Happyroach

            I’d say we don’t take rich people down a notch because they’ve arranged the system to benefit themselves. During our most prosperous era, the top tax rate was 90%- it is more than arguable that as the top tax rate has declined, so has the general welfare of the country, to the point where basic infrastructure is difficult to pay for.

            In any case, taxing the rich, like using Max for a while, was an inconvenience, not long-term torture. There is a balance that can be made that includes short-term inconvenience for Max, and not requiring Feral to be subjected to continuous torture.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            Isn’t our most prosperous era right now? Some people get poorer, some people get richer, but on average (though notably not on the median) people are getting richer.

          • Weatherheight

            In terms of raw capital, yes.

            In terms of adjusted per capita income, no – wage stagnation hasn’t kept pace with other economic indictors in much of the developed world. The developing world is experiencing rather brisk wage growth and is adding asset, labor, and intellectual capital to the world economy, but with the exception of China (and possibly India – haven’t looked for stats on their economy in some time, so I may be *way* off base there), monetary gains don’t seem to be spreading to the general populace as fast.

            If one compares average standard of living, yes. If one compares average distribution of that standard of living… well, that gets a lot trickier. Most of the world’s economic might is increasingly concentrated in a relatively few wealthy people. And the relative gains of the poorest have not kept pace, proportionately, with the wealthiest.

            Money is like caribou – it does best when given room to roam and multiply. The current trend of increased capital control by fewer and fewer agencies has, in the past, nearly always had fairly horrible results. Robber Barons, the child workers and industrial slums of the early industrial revolution, the Men Who Built America group, and so on… regardless of the rest of his nonsense, Marx got that observation right. One can argue that those situations led to our current standard of living, but that’s cold comfort to those who had to live through those growing pains and on whose corpses and crushed hopes the foundations of our current lives rest.

            I, for one, eagerly await for when humanity gets to a post-need and post-desire economy, but there will need to be a sea change in human behavior to get there (unrealistic as it is, ST:TNG is the social structure I’d like to see, but since I’m wishing, I want superpowers too.) 😀

          • Santiago Tórtora

            You are literally complaining about a first-world problem. I wonder if that has something to do with how I can’t sympathize with Max at all. Like, even less than the average reader.

            See, I’ve always been poor, not compared with my neighbors, but compared with the “western standard of living”. So when Americans complain that the middle class is shrinking, that now two parents have to work so they can afford college degrees, big houses, multiple cars, and so on, I can’t help but think they are out of touch.

            The standard of living for the developing world is improving very fast, while the American middle class complains about the evils of capitalism we… also complain about the evils of capitalism, a lot, but our standard of living is *rising*, even my poorest compatriots, their children are now going to school, they have clothes, food, entertainment (I’m reading this comic for free), they can vote (not for the people I like, but they vote!). Poor people now don’t die unless they are unlucky (as opposed to being lucky to survive!)

            This is the most prosperous time ever for the majority of the world population. The developed world suffered from a very bad recession last decade that permanently reduced many people’s earning potential (losing a job without being able to immediately return to the workforce does that to you), but that is nothing compared to what the rest of the world is gaining, plus you will recover in the long term. You always do.

          • Happyroach

            Though this may seem odd given what I’ve said before, I do agree there may have been other ways to persuade Max. But then again, Alison had limited means to persuade him. And every hour she spends trying to persuade Max is an hour Feral spends in agony.

          • SJ

            Alison’s means were “limited” by her lack of wisdom and imagination. How else were they limited?

          • Balthazar

            Yep, and likely if this was presented in a philosophy class it would be as “You can’t convince him no matter what.” which is valid.

            To me though, Feral chose self sacrifice herself, Max (and I’m not saying he’s not a jerk face, cause he 100% is) did not and Alison should respect their auntonomy.

          • Mitchell Lord

            …I fear what an evil ALLISON could do. Or, even a “Thinks like Patrick” Allison…

          • Dawnlighter

            The first example isn’t extreme; your describing progressive taxation that exists right now.

            As for forcing Feral to give up her organs, it depends on which version of utilitarianism you use. I personally like to think of it from the point of view of the government. Yes, forcing Feral to donate her organs would save many lives, but that is not the only thing it would do.

            You would risk pissing off every biodynamic who will fear they will be the next to be forced to serve society. This could spark a rebellion that could be catastrophic to society. The risk offsets the potential benefits. Ultimately, I would argue that the greater good is not being served because the risk is too great.

            Of course, if Feral were the only biodynamic in the world, that might actually change things. The good probably would outweigh the harm. I suppose that is the most famous limitation of utilitarianism: in extreme situations, it offers extreme recommendations.

          • Raven Black

            Anyone arguing for “yes, chopping up Feral against her will is okay because greater good” I think falls very strongly to Balthazar’s argument about “anyone with above average income”. Peter Singer is one of the more … not-hypocritical people who publicly makes that sort of argument, in that he actually *does* throw a majority of his money and effort into maximizing ‘the greater good’, unlike almost everyone. But anyone saying chopping up an unwilling Feral is fine, who doesn’t use their resources to improve the lives of the maximum number of people, is really saying either “chopping up Feral is fine but not if *I’m* Feral” or, perhaps even more weirdly, “it is good to force me to help other people, but I won’t do it myself.”

          • Dawnlighter

            Robert Goodin once argued that utilitarianism is better used as a tool for guiding public policy than individual morality, as it avoids utilitarianism’s most well knows problems, including the “above average income'” one.

            If one wants to use utilitarianism as a guide to personal morality, its hard to escape the “above average income” conclusion.

            However, if you use it as a guide to public policy, then the question becomes: “would the public interest – ususally measured in terms of happiness – be served by legally requiring everyone earning above average income to give away most of their income?”

            As communism has shown, the answer is surely no. People are generally prepared to tolerate some level of taxation, but this is certainly less than what an individual ethic of utilitarianisms would demand.

            To a certain extent, it even some provides some reasons for not chopping up Feral against her will.

            How will the people react upon learning that government will torture one person to help others? What assurance do they have that they won’t be next? Scaring biodynamics like that is a recepie for disaster.

            What other right violations will the government condone in the name of the greater good? Can we trust that those violations really are for the greater good? Is the greater good really served by allowing a man or woman the power to simply decide to torture another and chop out their organs? If don’t draw the line there, is there still a line anymore?

          • GoodDamon

            First post here. As a philosophy buff, I just couldn’t resist.

            You make a wonderful point, both specifically and in the abstract; almost any anti-utilitarian thought experiment can be reversed exactly the way you have done so here, which is a wonderful way of showing precisely what sits on each scale, here.

            On one side, Max’s temporary loss of autonomy and some physical discomfort. On the other, lost lives, ill-health, and the extreme, unimaginable agony of millions of people. No matter which direction you play the thought experiment out, those are the actual factors you’re weighing against one another. Second-order effects are also on the table for examination; concerns about the possible slippery slope Allison’s actions represent, for example, or the possibility that so many lives saved will actually result in an issue with overpopulation and eventual starvation, but it’s hard to even get to the point of examining second-order effects until we’re actually clear on the first-order effects we’re comparing.

          • Lysiuj

            Welcome to the club! You picked the perfect day to start.
            Hostess pies and big sandwiches are to the right, and there’s tension-between-deontology-and-utilitarianism to spare!

          • Weatherheight

            Indeed, welcome! Punch is in the corner over there and …

            ::glances at the table and at Lysiuj::

            I thought we agreed on cake!

            ::puts the cake under a glass cover and pulls out the fruit pies and Big Sandwich™ out of the refrigerator while twitching his long silky ears::

            We’re going to need a bigger refrigerator and cupboard..

          • Lysiuj

            Look I can’t keep track, we come up with a new food joke every other day, and there’s only room for so much imaginary food around here!

          • Zac Caslar

            Sushi.
            The sushi is good, but use the damn tongs people!

        • Flipz

          I don’t know if Allison is “destined” to slide all the way down the slippery slope (like you, Balthazar, I doubt it), but from my reading of her I do think she herself might see it that way–that is, I think at some point she’ll end up applying the slippery slope argument to herself. The real question is whether she’ll do so in the context of fear of sliding further, or in the context of using it as a justification for even more morally questionable behavior.

          • Balthazar

            I real life the slippery slope isn’t as slippery as people make it out to be. In fiction… it’s like a moving sidewalk.

            The author broke some tropes before so maybe there won’t be any repercussions for Alison’s actions or she doesn’t declare herself “tyrant of the world” or something but I think most people agree something’ll probably happen.

            I think the argument is more, “but in real life is it right?”

      • GelasticJake

        This whole arch is reminding me of The Ones That Walk Away From Omelas. Only it is viewable from multiple perspectives. On the one hand, you have a society that must endure by subjecting a volunteer to excruciating torture for every moment of the rest of their life. On the other, you have a society that must endure by compelling the contribution of a free individual for a single evening under threat of violence by a figure of extraordinary power. Both societies are dealing with something awful, and both individuals will likely suffer additional consequences from their ordeals. Which one is easier to live with?

        If I had no personal knowledge about the people involved, I would find the society of the volunteer an easier one to live in. But with knowledge of these people as individuals, as Feral and Max rather than just “a volunteer” and “a compelled citizen,” I find that I grudgingly support Alison’s decision. I don’t know Max’s struggles, I don’t know his internal battles, I don’t know what consequences he’s going to suffer from what Alison did, and I admit that he doesn’t deserve what happened to him and it is awful that he was forced to endure it. You shouldn’t have to go through something like that just because you’re a dick.

        And yet… and yet…

        I keep trying to find a good analogy, but it’s late and my brain is tired and I’m failing. This is a complex and nuanced issue, not easy to summarize. Even I’m not completely sure of my position. This’ll probably keep me up all night, thinking about what I think and why I think that way. (The best kind of thinking, I love material that can inspire that kind of self-examination.)

        As a reader, who doesn’t have to deal with this moral issue in real life, I thoroughly support Alison’s decision for the simple fact that I like Feral and want her to appear in the comic more. (Really the creators’ decision, I suppose.)

        • bryan rasmussen

          well you’re not the only one to make the ones who walk away from omelas connection, although I don’t really agree – but if it was like that then it’s sort of like if Max was one of those people in Omelas who was brought in to see the suffering child and was told not only can you stop the suffering of this child but you will also increase the welfare of everyone in Omelas immensely and all you have to do is to wave your finger in the air and he said “no, and I would say no just because you want to end her suffering” which I mean, sure freedom of the individual and all that and slippery slopes oiled with the grease of Allison’s superpowers and whatnot, but people do get compelled all the time to do things for the greater good in our world in ways that hurt them far more than Max was hurt for goods that are much less good than what was achieved here so that’s why I’m ok with it. I mean if it was me I guess I would have compelled him quicker, sure I would come to him with the question “what do you need to do it?” and if he said “I need nothing and I will never do it” then I wouldn’t have begged or tried to get him to see reason I would say “ok it turns out you’re going to do it anyway” I guess that makes me history’s greatest monster (Allison would have to take a backseat on that)

        • Weatherheight

          Went and read the story (and am somewhat shocked that I don’t have that collection – big Ursula K. LeGuin fan). Interesting read.

          “The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”

          Anyone else find the irony in a writer making the above comment? 😀

          Thanks for turning me on to something new!

    • bryan rasmussen

      well, yeah conceivably if the consequences were otherwise than they’ve been shown to be than maybe I would change my mind. funny how that works out. But the conspiracy killing Max doesn’t really do it, that’s not a direct consequence.

      Anyway pretty sure the consequence is going to be Max working for Patrick.

      • TheLordofAwesome

        To be fair, we have yet to see the consequences. Problem with a page-by-post webcomic. You can’t readily turn the page to see what happens next until the next update.

        • bryan rasmussen

          same problem with time I guess. I assume the consequences is something about Patrick taking advantage of the situation or what else could it be – Max using power and connections to sue Allison? That would actually be sort of one of the plots twists that fit into this comic better, whereas Patrick getting himself augmented as part of his masterplan seems like more of a classic superhero comic ploy. Max getting killed by the conspiracy – I guess also class comic ploy and I would expect that as part of a Patrick masterplan story.

    • Walter

      Shameful as it is to admit, Max doesn’t really enter into this. If the cost to him was literally a Feral-esque setup of constant torment and anguish for the remainder of his life it would still be justified by the saving of thousands of lives.

      The fact that the cost has thus far been shown to be slight, that it helps the extremely sympathetic Feral and that he has been characterized as being unpleasant are icing on the cake, but the core argument for team “This was justified” is pretty much vanilla consequentialism. There were more people on the other track, so you pull the lever. Spock’s “needs of the many”, if you like.

      • Kate Blackwell

        By this argument, if Feral herself hadn’t volunteered for this in the first place, she should have been forced, too?

        • Walter

          Yup. Gotta bite that bullet. If torturing any 2 people can save millions, it has to get done.

          • pidgey

            Because humanity will be so much better off when nobody dies? It won’t be. That in itself would be a horrifying dystopia, even aide from human rights arguments.

            You can’t set any good on a pedestal as the “ultimate” good. You can have too much of literally anything, no matter how good it seems. The world in which nobody ever dies for want of an organ is a world that is so fundamentally different from ours that we simply can’t say what it’s worth to get there. Or even if it is.

          • Walter

            *Blink*

            Wouldn’t it be just like ours, but with thousands more living people, and 2 people being tortured? Like, people die because we don’t have enough blood, enough kidneys. Imagine if they didn’t. Ok. Does that throw off some crucial balance that I’m missing?

            I definitely agree that you can’t call anything the “ultimate” good. I’m not saying “Trading life for zillions of organs = good so let’s do that for everyone oh no wait I destroyed our race and all that is left is piles and piles of organs.”

            I’m saying “the lives of 2 people are a price worth paying to save the lives of thousands of people.” It would suck to be those 2 people, but right now it sucks to be those thousands.

          • pidgey

            No, it wouldn’t be just like ours, but let’s say the only difference is there are (millions) more living people and two people being tortured. What happens when one of those two decides to commit suicide? Killing the golden goose is a very real risk when you start talking about forcing people to do things that make their lives not worth living. Now instead of making some lives better in the long term, we get nothing.

            Aside from that, the world would rapidly start becoming dependent on this kind of resource applied at this kind of scale. It isn’t unrealistic to think that every single person who would normally die of old age could be kept going by sequentially replacing organs. An unlimited supply of blood would make many kinds of surgeries we can’t do efficiently enough to be practical, practical. How long before someone thinks of eating Feral-meat, arguing that it’s the only moral thing to eat, since she’s the only kind of food that won’t die from being eaten? The realities of humanity’s existence would start to be about very different things than they currently are, to the point where we wouldn’t be able to afford to go back to the way things were, much like how our modern culture can’t go back to pre-electric technology.

            We would become a “post-Feral” society, to coin a phrase, and Feral would be the single point of failure for all of it. So then what happens if some other person with superpowers comes along who can defy some other law of physics in a way which is exploitable in an even more horrifying manner? Feral suddenly becomes a precedent for human exploitation that is impossible to argue against, because everyone’s way of life depends on it. Personal sacrifice starts to become a requirement instead of something honorable. Everyone begins to look at everyone else as a resource rather than as a human being. Any argument that doesn’t start with “humanity as a whole will benefit if…” is dismissed as selfish. And thus we have backed our way into a dystopia where nobody has self-determination and everybody is miserable.

            I’m not saying it has to happen that way, but considering how close a lot of people *already* are to aiming for a world like that, I don’t think it would be very unlikely to suddenly find ourselves on rails to that future, and not being able to do much of anything about it, now that Feral has happened.

        • Dawnlighter

          Depending on which version of utilitarianism you are using, not necessarily. You are perfectly entitled to consider the wider implications of an action when using utilitarianism, not just the immediate ones.

          Imagine if a politician tried to get an act through Parliament suggesting that biodynamics could be detained, tortured and enslaved for the benefit of society. Once news of that spread, there are going to be social consequences.

          How do you think the public will react to learning that the government feels free to detail, torture or enslave them? Pissing off every biodynamic worldwide is a recepie for disaster. Remember that the greatest good is usually measured in terms of happiness, meaning that these factors are going to offset the expected benefits.

          Surely, politicians could try hiding this, but if it was ever discovered – and with superpowers in play, the odds of it being discovered are higher than in the real word – the consequences would be even worse.

          Ultimately, when you consider the huge ramifications of having a policy of kidnapping and torturing biodynamics, I would say that at most, torturing Feral for all her life for her organs at best will produce an overall small utility gain. Given the considerable risk involved, I think we have good reason to pass even on that. The risk of such a policy detracting from the greater good, rather than adding to it, is simply too high.

          If the only way to stop, say, half the population of the world dying, that might be a different story.

    • Dartangn

      Thankfully, the ridiculous gains, nonexistent down sides, and Max’s intentionally unlikeable character have made what might have been a legitimately good discussion into a farcical ethical fait accompli.

      • ampg

        I think you’re seriously underestimating Brennan and Molly, here. If nothing else, the haunted look on Alison’s face in the last panel is a good indicator that there’s more to come.

        • Kalirren

          Yeah, how -do- you interpret that look? It looks like Alison is feeling the actual sting of playing support, for once. She doesn’t feel vindicated at all!

        • Exactly, just wrote a comment saying much the same thing. Yes, they could have this be “look at the sacrifice Alison is making, allowing herself to feel bad so that she can save the world,” but that would make a stupid story and I don’t think that’s what’s coming.

        • Dartangn

          Perhaps, but considering the history of this strip with ethical dilemmas, I’m taking it as a given that things will continue as they began. I’m looking forward to being proven wrong, but I don’t expect it.

          There’s more to come, of course, but I doubt that this decision will be shown to be anything other than, on the whole, the right one. That’s why she has that expression. What comes later is her wresting with it. Which is interesting enough I suppose.

      • Stephanie

        Doesn’t seem like everyone thinks it was a fait accompli. I still see people saying that Alison shouldn’t have coerced Max.

        • Last panel: still pretty clear that Alison is not one of those who believe that she should have acted that way.

          It is indeed obvious that according to utilitarian reasoning her action would be justified. But I am not a utilitarian and do not accept that kind of reasoning, and I think Alison isn’t one either.

          • Dartangn

            “If you can fix a massive global donor shortage with an ongoing, 6 figure body count and catastrophic quality of life issues, in a few seconds without losing a damn thing, you must do it” isn’t a bad rule if you’re after something Kantian or otherwise deontic. The -sole- reason this is even an issue is that Max is catastrophically, excessively, ridiculously and unbelievably antagonistic about the entire thing.

        • Dartangn

          People can say that, and there’s certainly ground for examining the issue with a different example, but what the comic is -presenting us with- is another thing entirely. The difficulty here is not the issue, but in Allison’s reaction to it. The issue itself has not been presented in a particularly deep way. Wussy rich boy who doesn’t help because he’s a dick with a morality a 2 year old could drive a truck though, experiences incredibly momentary pain to literally cure the world of anything a donor organ can fix. That’s not the example you show if you want people to be truely ambivalent about the issue.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t know, I think it might have been necessary for the situation to be this extreme in order for Alison to actually do this. She had been trying pretty hard not to be someone who uses her power to control others.

          • Dartangn

            Either way, I’m waiting for the pay off to this arc to turn it into something other that a well illustrated textbook thought experiment.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        I’m starting to guess it’s only so that the fall will shock us even more. How impatient that makes me.

        • Izo

          This is ‘Who will Negan kill’ all over again. Argh!

          How will this blow up? Argh.

          I’m concerned that how it will end will be just as unsatisfying and infuriating as the Walking Dead cliffhanger tho. I’m hoping to be proven wrong on that but so far…. I’m not encouraged.

          • Lostman

            We all know something negative will happen down the line.

          • Izo

            I don’t know that the negative thing will be even remotely satisfying in comparison to the implications of what she did though.

            So far it’s been nothing but puppies and rainbows, and I’m suspecting that some people might poo poo on Alison’s actions if it ever becomes known, but most will be happy with her actions. And i don’t think anything will happen to either ruin the plan based on the massive flaws of Alison’s plan and actions, and I don’t think anything bad will happen to Alison personally as a result other than, MAYBE, some guilt. Big deal if she feels guilty if she’s willing to do it anyway.

            I don’t care if robber feels guilty for punching me in the face and robbing my house. I don’t care if he did it to feed starving orphans. I care about the bruise on my cheek and my feelings of being violated.

          • Lostman

            That negative thing lead to another thing, and it snowballs from there.

            You know what they about the bigger you are.

          • Izo

            … the more people you stomp into the ground?

            /s 🙂

            No but seriously, yeah I -hope- bad things happen to make this not a horrific moral, but the longer it takes, the less impact it’s having on the choice that she made, and more detached the end becomes in the minds of a lot of people from the means.

          • Lostman

            Well, the other option is someone comes along, and cuts Alison down to size.

          • Izo

            I’m fine with that. Especially if that someone is Max, like from being able to reduce or temporaily eliminate her powers, who shoots her or has someone else beat her up…. then decides to NOT kill her or something, and tells her ‘I’m going to do something that you did not choose to do with me. I’m going to now leave you alone. I want you to remember I didn’t have to stop. That I could have ended this permanently and eliminated you as a threat to my life whenever you decided you wanted. But if you ever come after me again, I will end this. If you ever come after anyone else in the same way you came after me, I will again end this.’

            Or to put it in the words of Batman….

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU94I6SjVow

            I don’t think that will happen obviously. I highly doubt Alison will get any real comeuppance as a direct result of this.

          • Izo

            Here’s the full fight btw. Pretty cool.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0ukzHm-Py4

          • Lostman

            But goes back what I said about consequences, and why I believe that some people at Brads convention may try to kidnap Max’s. For someone to come out of nowhere, and just beat Alison would make no sense. Having that person be the results of Alison actions…

          • Izo

            “But goes back what I said about consequences, and why I believe that some people at Brads convention may try to kidnap Max’s.”

            But that isn’t a consequence that punishes ALISON. That punishes Alison’s VICTIM. At worst, it makes Alison feel guilty, and just feeling guilty is a weaksauce consequence.

            ” For someone to come out of nowhere, and just beat Alison would make no sense. Having that person be the results of Alison actions…”

            How is Max someone who comes out of nowhere? Or someone Max hires and augments? Anything Max does now to stop Alison is the results of Alison’s actions, and the only problem is Max will be viewed as a villain, instead of as Alison’s VICTIM standing up for himself in the only way he can against a physical goddess.

          • Lostman

            Your assuming Max is going to be the one who strikes at Alison, there other people out there with powers. Other who want power boosting.

          • Izo

            I’m not assuming Max will be the one who strikes. Although if Max boosts someone else’s powers who then goes after Alison, it’s not exactly a far cry to think he’d be doing so in order to knock Alison off of her tyrannical high horse.

            It would also be good closure for Max as a victim, because Alison can’t claim to be the hero with him. She can’t claim moral superiority. She can’t claim victimhood as a defense for what she did. She’s the villain. He’s the victim striking back.

          • Lostman

            True…

          • Campor

            Here’s the thing, I don’t think it requires a bad thing to happen to everyone/Allison as a result of her actions to be interesting. If anything I’d say that’d revert it to black and white morality (oh, you did a bad thing for the greater good? Well you get punished for it because it was bad!). I’d find it more interesting if nothing bad happened but Allison was waiting for it. She goes a month and there are no clear negative repercussions for her actions, and that’s when she realizes exactly how dangerous it is for her to do what she does.

            Nobody’s stopping her. Maybe nobody ever will. That’s when she realizes that the line between hero and villain is a lot less clear than she thought, and her making this connection means she improves as a person to avoid going near that line again.

            If the universe conspires to punish her for her act, I’d find that too easy to be honest. We police and control ourselves first and foremost. When there aren’t many people who can feasibly take her down if she goes over that edge, I’d prefer she didn’t hit an invisible wall and instead had to learn how to keep herself in check.

          • SJ

            Here’s the thing, I don’t think it requires a bad thing to happen to everyone/Allison as a result of her actions to be interesting. If anything I’d say that’d revert it to black and white morality (oh, you did a bad thing for the greater good? Well you get punished for it because it was bad!). I’d find it more interesting if nothing bad happened but Allison was waiting for it. She goes a month and there are no clear negative repercussions for her actions, and that’s when she realizes exactly how dangerous it is for her to do what she does.

            Nobody’s stopping her. Maybe nobody ever will. That’s when she realizes that the line between hero and villain is a lot less clear than she thought, and her making this connection means she improves as a person to avoid going near that line again.

            Except, that’s the problem: unless you’re hardwired to give the protagonist of a story the benefit of the doubt, why would anybody believe that that’s even the most likely lesson that Alison would take from such an outcome? We’ve already seen that her critical thinking skills are suspect, regardless of whether or not you think this particular action is justified.

          • Izo

            “Here’s the thing, I don’t think it requires a bad thing to happen to everyone/Allison as a result of her actions to be interesting. ”

            Actually, it does. It really, really does. If she gets off of this without something negative happening to her and her plan, it sends the moral – hurt the weak if you think it will help people. This is an AWFUL message to send, plus it detracts from the idea that Alison is supposed to be growing as a person and learning positive messages. Nothing about what she’s doing is a positive message, and she hasnt grown – she’s gone BACKWARDS to the very thing that caused her initial nervous breakdown on national TV – that people see her as being worthy of important world problem solving just because she’s physically powerful.

            “I’d find it more interesting if nothing bad happened but Allison was waiting for it. ”

            That actually sounds incredibly lame to me, and she won’t learn anything from it.

            “That’s when she realizes that the line between hero and villain is a lot less clear than she thought,”

            No. That’s where she learns she can do whatever she deems necessary since nothing will happen to her as a result. Slippery slope accomplished.

            “and her making this connection means she improves as a person to avoid going near that line again.”

            Alison: I did this thing which goes against all my moral principles that I told Cleaver that I follow, and as a result I got EVERYTHING I wanted, made the world a better place, removed my best friend Feral from suffering, and nothing bad happened to me, the world, the plan, or anyone I love as a result of what I did. Therefore, I should never do something like this ever again.

            No…. I don’t see that being a logically consistent frame of thought for Alison. Or anyone.

            “If the universe conspires to punish her for her act, I’d find that too easy to be honest.”

            No, what’s too easy has been how everything has gone her way on this plan.

            “We police and control ourselves first and foremost.”

            Often because of a fear of punishment and others standing in their way who they can’t or won’t just plow through heartlessly. Especially if we fail to keep policing ourselves, and Alison stopped policing herself a few times already.

            “When there aren’t many people who can feasibly take her down if she goes over that edge, I’d prefer she didn’t hit an invisible wall and instead had to learn how to keep herself in check.”

            I’d prefer the wall be either Max getting an ability to remove her powers, or empowering someone else who can thoroughly mess up Alison in a way that she can’t or won’t be willing to do it again, or karma doing something to drill into her head that what she did was wrong so she WONT do it again, or a flaw in her plan which shows that the ends did not justify the means.

            Those arent invisible walls. That’s actions and consequences.

          • Happyroach

            Why is it necessary to send a moral message? I mean, we’re not watching “Davy and Goliath” here.

          • Izo

            Except there IS a philosophical discussion about that moral message being sent! (not /s)

            And why exactly are you pointing out Davy and Goliath. Maybe, by your logic, there is no moral message there either and the Lutheran Church is actually wanting you to only marvel at their claymation skills.

            (/s /s /s /s /s /s)

      • Walter

        I like Max.

        I think it indicates that the comic has struck the right balance that there are a zillion comments all of a sudden.

        Max could be a lot more (hurts people) or less (helps people) sympathetic. Instead, he’s someone who more or less looked at the cards they were dealt and folded. Left to his own devices he seems to just live idly, not really interacting with the world at large.

        I think that balance is a large part of what makes this arc work.

        • Weatherheight

          Thought provoking.

          I don’t quite like Max, but I’m pretty sure I get him and his decision process.
          I don’t agree that Alison’s choice at that moment and given all the other options left untried is a morally correct one, but I’m pretty sure I understand her decision process.

          I believe this story isn’t about right or wrong.
          I believe it’s about how the characters (and by extension all of us) make decisions.

        • Dartangn

          Him actively hurting people would be stepping over the suspension of disbelief line, even for this comic. He isn’t balanced, but he has recited a few speeches attempting to give him some depth. If he didn’t had those, he’d be dismissible, and everything happening to him afterwards would provoke minimal response because he’d clearly be a fictitious place-holder.

          • SJ

            What do you mean, “If”? Just look at how many readers are doing that, anyway.

          • Dartangn

            Yeah. SFP isn’t a comic for people who don’t like bumping their nose on the page. Investing yourself in the characters and story is hard work when crap like this keeps on popping up.

      • Izo

        I’m trying to figure whether to be sarcastic, and say how what Alison did was peachy keen and how nothing has or will happen to ruin this at all, or be genuine, agree with EVERYTHING you said, and say how this entire story arc is showing a HORRIBLE moral of the story which validates rape, slavery, kidnapping, torture, threats, battery, and all sorts of other atrocities as long as the payout is good enough, by artificially making sure that everything goes right with absolutely no downside except something happening to an artificially unlikeable character.

      • Mitchell Lord

        …This is actually a very good point. Max is rather a strawman. To the point, where even if he were to suffer a penalty of ‘hunted down and shot’…

        He PERSONALLY wouldn’t be mourned. Allison would no doubt feel incredible guilt, but only in the sense of “I caused a person to suffer”, not “I caused someone I know to suffer.”

        It would be closer to a military commander reading “List of civilian casualties in the latest operation.” Not. “GANDALF!!! NOOOOO!”

    • Stephanie

      I would still support Alison’s actions regardless of how much harm came to Max, because he is one person. No amount of suffering on his part even comes close to the enormous amount of suffering that Alison’s decision erased from the world.

      • Daryl McCullough

        But couldn’t you make a similar argument for harvesting kidneys (for example) against the will of the donor? You can live with just one kidney, so the harm to the donor is not too bad compared with the benefit to someone who would die without the kidney.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          I would totally donate my kidney in exchange for life-long health insurance, for example. Not everyone is as stubborn as Max is, so enough kidneys should be available if that sort of arrangement were legal.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            It’s a nice sentiment, but it makes the exploitation of human bodies too easy. It’s the same reason why legalizing surrogate pregnancies, or sex work, no matter how sensible that sounds, should not happen. A lot of it comes from moral grounds, admittedly, but the practical reasons are why it actually doesn’t go through.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            You say “it’s the same reason” like it’s something super obvious but I’m one of those deontologically-impaired weirdos who think traditional morality is bullshit until proven innocent.

            Can you be specific with those practical concerns? I was under the impression that some of the places where sex work and surrogate pregnancies are legal aren’t exactly dystopic (though some are).

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Honestly, I’d do a terrible job explaining it. If you have time, this article does it way better, in the case of sex work.

          • palmvos

            in short- the problem with what is called legal prostitution is that our current set of social rules for sex do not make it healthy for either the woman or the john long term.

          • This Guy

            This reads more like opposition to unreglated legalislation, which isn’t exactly the crushing blow to decrminialization efforts one might suppose.

          • ampg

            Um, surrogate pregnancies are widely legal in the U.S. Unless you mean forced surrogacy, or something. While there are certainly regulatory holes that could be exploited (which is pretty much the case with every regulatory structure in the U.S.), bad outcomes are actually pretty rare.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Right, I expressed that wrong. I meant commercial surrogacy. It’s self-evident for sex work that money is exchanged but even legalized, surrogacy can’t be a source of income.
            The same way it is legal to donate your organs but not to “sell” them in exchange for something, like the person I was responding to was considering.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I think the problems with selling organs can be solved without forbidding them completely.

            For example, the problem with someone being coerced to sell their organs to pay a debt can be solved by only buying their organ with a non-transferable service, like giving them free health insurance for life.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            This is the most cynical thing I am to ever say but… that might not be already the case because of something as heartless as math. It’s not impossible that the “market cost” of organs is less than the total amount of money you crazy Americans pay for health insurance.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I think insurance companies cover dialysis, which is very expensive. It might be a good deal for the company if they could give a basic insurance coverage to some healthy person instead of paying for the dialysis for who knows how long.

            I mean, you have to be relatively healthy to be able to donate a kidney, so it can’t be that bad.

          • Kifre

            So, hi. American lawyer, here. Spent some time pretty fascinated by the legality of surrogacy.

            In some states, it is accurate that you can only offer surrogate services ‘pro bono’. However, in others, there are no rules whatsoever and it’s kind of up to whoever happens to be the first test case. In the jurisdiction in which I practice, surrogacy itself is legal thanks to ONE opinion issued by the highest state Court of Appeals. And you may profit from it….provided however you are not running afoul of the statute(s) which prohibits child selling. Which is really very tricky, especially in the case of a ‘traditional’ surrogate who is the biological mother of the intended offspring. I have strong doubts that traditional surrogates can in fact legally profit…but it seems clear gestational surrogates could provided that it was very, very, very clear what the rights and services of all parties would be. And I’m not even going to start in on what would be necessary to manage risk for the intended parents.

            There is a LOT of room for abuse, but I tend to think that the best way to tackle that isn’t making surrogacy (or profiting from it) illegal. That seems to just outsource it to the state next door and prevent people who might benefit on both sides of the equation from having a reproductive choice open to them. Best thing seems to be carefully crafted legislation.

          • Ben Posin

            Indeed, one of the reasons we elected to contract with a clinic and surrogate overseas is that the legal status of all parties was much clearer and involved much less risk of litigation down the line, at least as a practical matter. Knowing that the birth certificate would from the start bear our names with no need to make an application to a court was a big deal to us.

          • Ben Posin

            Well, as the parent of two kiddos via commercial gestational surrogacy, I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. I agree 100 percent that there is the potential for exploitation, but think that’s a problem to be addressed through sensible legislation and regulation rather than a blanket ban. There’s a whole lot of benefit that can come to all parties from such a transaction, I know that first hand.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Do you live in the US? Goddammit where are my files, I can’t keep up with the legislation of our medieval state system. Gosh, anytime you wish to evolve into an adult country, go on ahead.
            I don’t disagree that there’s a lot to benefit here but the complex potential risks and the intersection of gender problems have me really, really wary.

          • Ben Posin

            I live in the US, but worked with a clinic and surrogate in India. I foresee a fun conversation coming.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            You outsourced a job that could have benefited a fellow American! How dare you!

          • Ben Posin

            Best face up to the fact that we live in a global economy.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Only that it’s so rude of you to have come tell me you disagreed like I was factually wrong that it is illegal there (rather than on the subjective opinion of its worth, which I wasn’t sharing)
            I don’t claim to know the consequences of legalizing these and hold my own opinions on the matter, I was just presenting the argument as it exists.

          • Ben Posin

            What in the world are you talking about? Let’s review the bidding:

            You said that you don’t think that legal surrogate pregnancies should be a thing. Which is absolutely your subjective opinion, and one you’re entitled to.
            I said I disagree, and noted that part of the basis of my disagreement is my direct participation in a commercial surrogacy transaction, which, as you can imagine, reflects and influenced my subjective opinion.

            You asked where I live.

            I explained that I lived in the US, but that the transaction took place in India.
            *Where, by the way, it was entirely legal for me to take part in this transaction at the time it occurred over the course of 2014. My wife and I entered the country on medical visas for the stated purpose of commercial surrogacy, signed formal contracts in connection to the surrogacy, had the citizenship of our kiddos confirmed by the US Consulate and temporary passports issued for the kiddos after their review of the relevant documents and medical records, and were granted exit visas after an interview and review of documents with the local police commissioner.

            You then told me I was rude for disagreeing with you as if you had made a factually wrong statement about commercial surrogacy being illegal. As noted above, you WOULD have been factually wrong had you made such a statement, but you should go read your initial post again, which was in fact subjective statement of how you feel about the legalization of commercial surrogacy.

            Yeesh.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            Okay so the “so rude” was sarcastic and only meant to explain why there was no disagreement to be had. As per what you see in my first comment, no, these aren’t my opinions, my bad if you interpreted them as such.

          • Ben Posin

            Double yeesh. I will take you at your word, but will try to remember that conversation with you is bad for my blood pressure.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            I take offense of the fact that you didn’t assume it was the case before.

          • Ben Posin

            Oh, and though I didn’t mention it above, I likewise disagree with you regarding sex work.

          • Rumble in the Tumble

            What? You want something in exchange? Are the warm, fuzzy feelings coming with the fact that you’ve donated a kidney for The Greater Good™ not enough for you, you insensitive clod?

            Oh wait, that warm, fuzzy feeling is your only kidney shutting down. NEVERMIND, THEN :v

        • Stephanie

          A kidney transplant from someone without Feral’s superpowers only lasts a few years, and one person can only provide one kidney. So the trade here is the permanent loss of an organ (with all the health risks and costs that come with that), plus the moral cost of coercing the donor, in exchange for another person having a better life for a few years. That is a significant benefit, but I don’t believe it’s enough to justify the harm done.

          • phantomreader42

            A kidney transplant from someone without Feral’s superpowers only lasts a few years

            Where do you get that? I have a relative whose transplanted kidney lasted decades, until he died for other reasons. Though it was from a sibling, not a random donor.

          • Stephanie

            It depends on a lot of factors and varies widely. A kidney from a living donor lasts an average of 12-20 years.

          • Twenty years as an upper average is a seriously life-changing duration for most recipients, mind, especially if they were mature or middle-aged before whatever source of kidney failure started to set in. It’s the difference between enjoying the rest of your life in a full and active capacity and a few years of limited, painful existence on frequent or constant dialysis.

            This would be an even better deal if people could purchase free insurance by signing up to provide a kidney for medical use whenever necessary; either immediately, if there were already a demand for their organ, or later, when that demand appeared. In such cases potential donors might go years without having to undergo any procedure with free medical care for the duration.

            Of course a basic free-to-use healthcare system would be ideal..

          • Stephanie

            Oh, it’s absolutely a huge deal, I just don’t think it’s to the point of justifying forced donations. There just isn’t enough of a difference between the harm done and the harm spared, in my book. Especially when there are other, better strategies for increasing the availability of kidneys–I like the one you proposed, and of course making postmortem donation opt-out instead of opt-in would make an enormous difference.

            I’ve heard some people join “kidney chains” where they aren’t a match for their own loved one, but they donate to someone they are a match for, and someone farther down in the chain donates to their loved one.

    • Yirtimd2

      Well, I think I will be happy if some Goddess really will fly in my apartment and take me by force, and it will be one of her habits.)

      • Wulf

        Don’t forget your safeword.

        • Sunstone. It’s Sunstone, amirite?

          • Wulf

            Indeed so, perhaps an idea for a superhero spinoff. Although, anything slowing down the release of the more “mundane” storyline would be very sad indeed.

          • Heh, while the idea is fun, there’s no way I’m suggesting it to Shiniez… what if he decided to run with it? What would happen to his plans for Mercy and Jasper?

          • Kifre

            A net uptick in his readership’s already critical levels of F5 mashing?

          • palmvos

            no Sunstone is over long live Sunstone. Mercy is now the word.

    • Steele

      I’d feel more for him, and against Alison on this, if he was actually -presented- as being scared, or if it was revealed that maybe he has some mental disorder that prevents him from showing or expressing fear. He only responded to the momentary experience of pain… which to me, nullifies any idea that he’ll develop PTSD, but we’ll see.

      Assuming he does? Well, let’s take the conservative view on this: He made the dumb decision (to not assist willingly), so he reaps what he sows. He could have put his comfort/pride aside, pulled up his bootstraps, and done what needs to be done, but no.

      What I’d like to see happen is Alison paying DEARLY for this, and I don’t just mean feeling bad.

      • SJ

        … He only responded to the momentary experience of pain… which to me, nullifies any idea that he’ll develop PTSD, but we’ll see.

        I don’t really think that’s how PTSD works.

        Assuming he does? Well, let’s take the conservative view on this: He made the dumb decision (to not assist willingly), so he reaps what he sows. He could have put his comfort/pride aside, pulled up his bootstraps, and done what needs to be done, but no.

    • mugasofer

      It would be tragic if such an immensely valuable resource was lost. But obviously not using it at all isn’t a solution.

      It would also be tragic if this ruined his life, even if it didn’t have knock-on effects for the rest of the world – PTSD is quite plausible in this scenario, and frankly that would severely shake any sane person’s worldview. But it would would be an infinitesimally smaller tragedy than was just averted.

      (Assuming the people who think this is all a lie are wrong, of course.)

      • Walter

        Feels like the fail here was that this somehow became a binary choice between:
        1: Kidnap him this instant
        and
        2: Leave him alone forever

        Like, where was the “3 : get Patrick to understand what motivates dude and then let’s try and social engineer a situation where he’ll cooperate” choice?

        You can always fall back on 1, and if you manage to pull off 3 it is probably a lot more durable situation than the one we ended up in.

        • SJ

          Like, where was the “3 : get Patrick to understand what motivates dude and then let’s try and social engineer a situation where he’ll cooperate” choice?

          Or, really, anybody besides Alison.

        • palmvos

          I’ve heard speculation before that maybe Patrick put notes on exactly that in the file. it seems odd that he wouldn’t getting into the same room or general vicinity of Max would not be difficult for Patrick. Its one of the reasons i am in the camp that says he sent the file before he learned of the breakup. (though how he couldn’t see that coming is a bit of a mystery- Max + Alison seems like a match made in hell. and that’s before Max’s power was known.)

    • Mitchell Lord

      Allison, no doubt, did a bad thing. That said…I cannot FAULT her for it. Primarily, because, well…

      The sheer benefit to numbers of people that cannot be counted anymore is so high. Furthermore, everything she did was to protect a friend who was undergoing a fate that is far, far worse then death.

      Allison deserves to feel guilty for it. And, it is not something she could, or should, ever do again. But, at the same time…I cannot fault her for it. Like, if I were a Judge, I would empathize, but I would put her in jail still.

      • Weatherheight

        It’s hard to judge when you don’t know everyone’s story.
        It’s sometimes harder when you do.

    • pleasechangemymind

      It’s straight up just the trolley problem all over again. There is no right answer. It always comes down to each person trying to weigh the outcomes.

    • a person

      Ok, so I am a person who supports Alison’s actions here, and no, it wouldn’t change my stance. I would definitely feel bad for him, as I do now, but it doesn’t change that in my opinion what she did is morally acceptable.

    • Noah

      Look back to Alison’s discussion with Cleaver in issue 2. Alison has been trying to do good work in the system for a while now but the fact is that she doesn’t really want to. There is so much wrong with the world and she could just go to all the people who refuse to fix it for their petty reasons and force them to do it. She doesn’t do that because it doesn’t work and it would never work. She hates the fact that she’s best at violence and yet violence never does anything to help the world.

      Here we have a situation where she doesn’t have to convince large amounts of people, she doesn’t have to become a dictator, and she doesn’t influence others to become violent to solve problems. She abuses one person, putting them in danger, and in return her best friend is pulled from hell and thousands of people are saved.

      Maybe it’s wrong but this exact scenario is what Alison has wanted from the start of the comic. After Moonshadow and Patrick she is finally presented with an opportunity to use her powers for good and this is what that looks like.

  • Sorry, I can’t help but wonder if Feral has been taking tips from Sandra North:
    http://www.sandraandwoo.com/2011/12/22/0336-the-poem-iv/

  • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

    Not much here to munch and we’ve overworked Molly more than enough, so I’ll just be passing by today.

    To confirm: I don’t think Alison looks betray guilt for what she did to Max. What it cost to get there. More and more I’m convinced what the doctor is saying is a lie.

    See you next time, and let’s enjoy this glorious ship while it sails with grace.

    • She does seem to be laying it on very thick.

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        And these are the only times Alison looks dejected.
        Something’s fishy over there, I can smell it.

        (And it’s not Tara.)

        • Sendaz

          oooh… what if the Max boost also is boosting Feral’s natural pheromone production.
          How long can Alison hold out before she falls under its sway? 😉

  • Lysiuj

    Thanks for all the hard work moderating, Molly! Everyone – let’s try to be good kids and play nice.

    • Ditto on that!

      And the fact that moderating has become so time-consuming is a measure of the quality of the story telling, so thanks to both Molly and Brennan for that.

    • Agreed! Thank you Molly. Apologies for the level of hassle you’ve had to deal with, too!

      I think some community moderators would be a great addition to the site – if you had enough trustworthy hands you could revisit the idea of approved commenting, but even if not, it would help to defuse a few crises. I’d love to offer but my schedule is extremely variable to the point I wouldn’t be able to provide a reliable source of support.

    • Tylikcat

      Hear, hear!

    • Pol Subanajouy

      Hear, here.

      • Weatherheight

        Oooh, self-referential call-back.
        Nice.

        • Pol Subanajouy

          It feels weird that I have commented enough that I can even make a call back. Sometimes I try to throttle how much I saw in the comments because I don’t want to domineer the rather good conversation that develops but if I can make a call back…well that’s a good sign I talk too much already. 😛

      • Well played.

      • Dellis

        I see what you did there. Clever xD

    • Lostman

      Three cheers for Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. Running a online is community is not easy.

  • Newbie

    Ok, now they’re just taunting the shippers.

  • I kinda like this storyline because it’s a shift from the X-TREEM NAVELGAZE!! of the conference pages. It’s less about people thinking five levels deep about how you feel about how I feel about how you feel about how I feel about your feelings, and into some straight actioned moral ambiguity.

    Of course now I figure we’ll go until page 108 or so to discuss how Alison feels about what Feral feels about what she did, but still.

    • ugh this is ultimately going to turn into Feral not being friends with Alison anymore, I bet

      • Tylikcat

        Maybe.

        But that’s not really the point.

        Look, a lot of people who crappy things, but they have friends who approve of what they do. That’s not a perfect ethical barometer. In this case, I think Tara could very reasonably decide that a) Max was a dickwad or b) Alison did a difficult but ultimately loving thing… and in either case decide she was okay with it. Those are pretty reasonable for Tara (who after all, didn’t do the thing.) Neither addresses the central ethical issue.

        From a narrative standpoint, it’s useful to have a disagreement among friends, because it’s a useful way to illustrate consequences and other ethical issues. But at core, the ethical question isn’t how Tara feels about this.

        • Weatherheight

          In my life, I spend a lot of time “hating the sin but loving the sinner”, as the saying goes. These are dear friends who are mostly good people but who have these buttons that get pushed and off they go (and I am absolutely certain they feel the same about me – they’ve told me so), but I yet consider them my friends as they consider me their friend, even though I have some significant issues with how they treat other people from time to time (as I’m sure they have issues with me).

          While I agree that the resolution of the ethical issue shouldn’t be based on affective reaction, I also feel that affective reaction plays into any decision we make to some degree and it’s probably not a good idea to dismiss it out of hand (note: I’m not implying that’s what you were trying to say – this is going a little far afield). Recognizing that influence goes a long way to properly balancing that influence and not allowing it to override the ethical, practical, moral, and experiential issues that lie at the heart of any decision.

          In short, while feelings shouldn’t be the sole arbiter, I’m not sure they can be easily dismissed in decision making (granted, I tend to fall very far towards the “avoid that knee-jerk emotional reaction” end of the scale, so I may be overcompensating for my overcompensation of my basic tendency).

        • Okay. Now, having said all that…ugh this is ultimately going to turn into Feral not being friends with Alison anymore, isn’t it

    • Stephanie

      I liked the conference pages. 🙁 I thought they had some really cool worldbuilding.

  • Lysiuj

    “Let’s make a home on this floor and never leave!”
    Well that’s juscmxhv gh+7#+;$’Vd yve

    *cough*
    Sorry, my… screen seems to have stabbed me in the heart…
    I’m sure I’ll be fine

  • Last panel, there’s that guilt people were saying was being ignored.

    • GreatWyrmGold

      Because it was being ignored. And I hope that panel isn’t all we see of the guilt, because it should be more than that.

      • Dean

        How was it being ignored? Pretty much every strip since Feral woke up has had at least one panel of Alison looking unhappy and shame-faced. She knows what she did was wrong, but she believes the results are worth it. I wonder if that will change?

        • Kifre

          Alison’s faces in all the panels since she hit the hospital were fairly ambiguous. They could be read as guilt, but many of them were context appropriate too for someone who has been flying all night, is exhausted, and is now responding to a friend who is confused and for a minute upset and taking things the wrong way. This last panel is the first unambiguous “something’s up” face. I’m not actually convinced that it is that Alison feels guilty about Max…I think there may be something else going on.

          • SJ

            Exactly. Every panel in which it looks like Alison might be emoting guilt could also be reasonably explained by simple fatigue.

      • We’re going to have to disagree, because I think the guilt is the whole point of the story. Everything we see is directed towards examining that.

    • bta

      When it comes to some wars, there are a lot of movies that are entirely told from the point of view of the perpetrator of something horrible and invite you to feel sorry for them for what they had to do, and few movies about the actual victims’ POV (see also: Ender’s Game). Not to draw any comparison with SFP, which I don’t think is going to be that dishonest, but showing guilt isn’t everything and can be a somewhat blindsided way of narrating a bad act.

      • SJ

        I mostly agree with this, except for the part about not thinking that the comic could be that dishonest. I have no such faith.

      • The wider point I was addressing was the claim that Alison was doing morally dubious acts, and the story was not holding her to account, whereas I feel the story has been going out of its way to address that.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      I don’t know, it looks like Alison only looks down when the doctor is giving specific details. The superimposition of her words and Alison’s face, two pages in a row, looks very perplexing to me. Like she knows something about the words, not necessarily what they cost.
      Hmmmmm

  • Manuel Simone

    Awww, Feral here is like a kitty who’s happy that her owner saved her from a certain death. That’s so sweet, I love their relationship in all ways possible (including as lovers), they’re so perfect together and Feral not only forgave Alison but also she’s beyond happy. Hmm, now I can say that Alison did a good job even if she had to scare a bit someone.

  • “Needless deaths due to lack of blood ….”

    Interesting. I’m less convinced Feral could make blood donations unnecessary. Apparently world donation levels are 81 million units, each unit is about half a litre, so 40.5 million litres, divide by 12 months * 40 hours, and Feral would have to be producing about 85 cubic metres of blood an hour. That’s going to be messy.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      It’s not like the rest of the world will suddenly stop donating blood. Hopefully.

      Feral can still be useful for people who have weird blood types or who need hemodialysis.

      • GreatWyrmGold

        Assuming Feral isn’t AB+.

        • I’m fairly sure that if her tissue types of all kinds adapt to their hosts her blood would do the same, making Feral the ultimate universal donor. Less O-, more a nebulous blood-like substance which adapts its rhesus levels and type depending on the recipient.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          The doctors said she is an universal donor in a previous issue.

    • Unless they can extract some bone marrow and it keeps generating blood after removal?

      (note: I have no idea how the body makes blood…)

      • motorfirebox

        You don’t? Man, what are they teaching kids in school these days? Look, it’s simple: when a mommy blood and a daddy blood love each other very much…

        • MrSing

          No, at night you put a human tooth under your pillow and in the morning the stork will have put the blood into your child’s body. We celebrate this by having a man dressed entirely in red (symbolising the blood) hiding chocolate eggs all over the house.

          Don’t you people know anything?

          • motorfirebox

            Stop trampling my religious beliefs with your science facts! Teach the controversy!

      • Izo

        In a normal world, the body makes blood by first making plasma (the liquid part of the blood) from water, and red blood cells which are carried in the plasma from recycled iron, and white blood cells and platelets from the spleen (which also recycles destroyed red blood cells).

        In Feral, the body makes blood indirectly by torturing rich white unlikable men who believe in freedom of choice.

  • GreatWyrmGold

    …Things are working out too perfectly. Something feels off.

    • bta

      It’s missing a soundtrack. And a dance number.

      • Weatherheight

        And a comedy relief animal…

    • Richard King

      Yes.

      Logical other shoe to drop would be that the modified organs now continue to regenerate within their new hosts and a) (friendly version) cause them to become like feral or B) (oh eff you version), cause a new version of feral to grow inside the hosts, eventually killing them like a chest burster.

      But that’s just the cynic in me talking….

      • Walter

        I’m feeling “Max kills himself”, or “The Conspiracy takes action”, as far as consequences go.

        • Tdoodle

          “Max finds (legal, media or conspiratorial) recourse” is the consequence I’m anticipating. If Max keeps himself anonymous (or decides he’s okay with being acknowledged as a super), Al and Valkyrie are about to get some bad press.

          • SJ

            If Max decides that he hates Alison enough to go public, then Valkyrie is done, at least as long as Alison remains attached to it. D-O-N-E, done. Not even the most strident “ends justifies the means,” utilitarian commenters here can deny that what Alison did to Max violates every principle that Valkyrie was founded on.

          • Izo

            Nah, probably everyone will be fine with it. Or at least the only people who will not be fine with it will be mean people who are jerks, and all the good people will be okay with it.

            (/s)

      • Philip Bourque

        That’s what I was thinking too. Of course, the author may simply boil this down to a mere moral dilemma.

    • Dartangn

      That’s the thing. Allison’s kinda screwed up her own worldview, and everything turned out for the best. She’s undercut herself morally, and done the wrong thing in the wrong way for the right reasons, and it turned out to be a huge success.

  • DMetria

    I don’t approve of Alisons methods, but Max is a really selfish, entitled ass, and I don’t know any other way she could have convinced him. I think Alison is going to struggle with it as well.

    • bta

      I don’t know, maybe she could have asked the various people she knows that Max wasn’t pissed at for a disastrous date to help her convince him (including bringing in the world’s best manipulator, which, if unethical, is in a lot grayer area than a straight-up death threat). Or made him see the kind of situation Feral was in and see if he’s unmoved by it – to him, Feral is just a name, and you get the impression he’s not seen a lot of suffering in person in his life.

      The point is, sometimes there isn’t a peaceful way of doing things, but sometimes there is and violence is only the quickest answer. So let’s not oversell Allison’s decision as coldly pragmatic – there’s no way she had all the elements for how the “intervention” would go, and she feels very strongly about Tara’s situation and probably has some animosity toward a guy who disappointed her so by proving to be a spoiled douche. Not to mention her complex about being unable to save the world with one conveniently placed punch.

      • Weatherheight

        And a father whose problem might very well fall within Tara’s bailiwick to resolve.
        Poor Geoff…

      • SJ

        I don’t know, maybe she could have asked the various people she knows that Max wasn’t pissed at for a disastrous date to help her convince him (including bringing in the world’s best manipulator, which, if unethical, is in a lot grayer area than a straight-up death threat). Or made him see the kind of situation Feral was in and see if he’s unmoved by it – to him, Feral is just a name, and you get the impression he’s not seen a lot of suffering in person in his life.

        The point is, sometimes there isn’t a peaceful way of doing things, but sometimes there is and violence is only the quickest answer. So let’s not oversell Allison’s decision as coldly pragmatic – there’s no way she had all the elements for how the “intervention” would go, and she feels very strongly about Tara’s situation and probably has some animosity toward a guy who disappointed her so by proving to be a spoiled douche. Not to mention her complex about being unable to save the world with one conveniently placed punch.

        I feel like your first and second paragraphs are almost in conflict with each other… Like, you’re pointing out how obvious it was that Alison didn’t really try that hard to convince Max to help her, while at the same time suggesting that it wasn’t really all that bad that she did what she did, because she was feeling some angst, and didn’t really have time to make a more informed decision, the latter idea I strongly disagree with, presuming that’s what you were saying.

        Feel free to correct me wherever I am reading you wrong.

        • bta

          In my book, that she was so emotional about it is a point against doing it.

          I think that Allison simply wasn’t in the best position to make the decision she made. I do think it’s a morally wrong decision in a “categorical imperative” sense (I’m far from a libertarian, but I consider what she did a violation of bodily autonomy), but mostly I’m disappointed because it was a reckless, in-a-rush decision that illustrates that Allison still is at a point where she’s seeking quick, preferably violent answers to problems, without considering if there’s a smarter way of doing things.

          There are so many ways Allison can alienate herself from humanity, and so many occasions for her to damage people. This means she needs greater restraint, even if it not acting immediately has its own cost. Allison has a potentially very powerful ability, that she mostly hasn’t been using for most of the story outside of the biodynamic equivalent of a couple of fistfights. If she starts using it to force people to do thing her way, or as her primary tool to change the world (rather than simply her celebrity, network, or simply her own intelligence), then that makes her abnormally powerful. And a powerful person cannot let their emotions influence what they have to do, especially if, like Allison, they have no historical precedent to emulate on how to use that power (not a lot super strong, super durable humans in SFPworld’s history).

          She is a human being and not an unfeeling robot, and that means that the burden of proof is on her to prove that she deserves more power than the average person. And if not, then maybe the wise thing to do is to not use it, even if it means the status quo isn’t shaken. On the other end, if she’s willing to use it, then she needs to show greater strength of character than what she’s shown so far, or else we should all be very worried.
          Is she a naturally nice person? Ask her soccer playmates, or the former Guardians – being an abrasive, elitist jerk is her natural inclination.
          Is she willing to expose herself to new ideas? To some degree, yes, but Gurwara’s class shows that she has obvious blindspots and does not react kindly to being reminded of them.

          Is she naturally a pacifist? Ask her herself, she admits that on a primal level, she enjoys hurting people and exerting strength over them, that it’s what she does best and has been primed to do.
          Does she have a complex about not being able to save the world from itself? Oh boy…

          All of this should lead to a very concerning picture. With great power and great responsibilities, should come even greater self-control.

    • HanoverFist

      “Max is a really selfish, entitled ass”

      He is, but he has a right to refrain from using his powers if he wishes.

      • SJ

        “You can’t take away people’s right to be assholes!” – Simon Phoenix

    • Cyrano111

      He is selfish, but Alison also proved him right. He thought he would be in danger if people knew of his power: within hours of learning of his power, Alison physically assaulted him because he had it, and has told him she might do it again.

    • Weatherheight

      ” I don’t know any other way she could have convinced him.”

      Agreed – Alison wasn’t the best choice for this negotiation.
      Dr. Rosenblum, Lisa, Hector, hell, even Brad if you’re willing to really stretch it…
      Each of these folks have plausible reasons to know about Max’s anomaly, appear trustworthy from Alison’s point of view, have a positive reputation, and have little or no baggage directly associated with Max heretofore.

      Alison’s past with Max made her an awful choice as negotiator, and she should have known that. Choosing to do this herself is a serious lapse of judgement, even for Alison, who has demonstrated repeatedly a tendency to resort to aggression and/or violence when she doesn’t get her way. I suppose the idea of not spreading the word about Max is reasonable as justification for Alison to keep this in her roundhouse, but the only extant telepath out there, in canon, is Patrick – and he already knows.

      All that being said, we can’t change the past in the comic (Damnit, just thought about Patrick and Time Travel again), And judging from the look in that last panel, if nothing else, I think you’re completely right about Alison struggling with this (from personal experience, keeping a dark secret from a dear friend is not an easy row to hoe).

      • bta

        I don’t know if Hector/Pintsize is a great communicator, but he could certainly empathize with the “boohoo, I don’t get to be a flashy superhero and must do hard, not-as-cool work” self-pity better than she does. Allison regrets not being able to be a simple superhero too, but for her it’s all about the results,, whereas for Hector and Max it’s about the coolness factor. Hector managed to get past this kind of thinking, so it’s possible he could help Max do so too.

    • wiltbloococo

      Alison could definitely have convinced Max a better way.

      1. “To make it worth your while, here’s 25 million dollars. I have this money because I cashed in, and did not rip up, a check that someone gave my organization.”
      2. “If you help me, you’ll be owed a favor from the most powerful being that has ever lived.”

      And option 2 is itself like dozens of different options.

  • bta

    Allison is dealing with Feral’s physical contact a lot better than that one time she sent her flying. I suppose their friendship, along with being invulnerable and having a pretty emotional moment, makes one a lot more comfortable with these sort of things.

    • Weatherheight

      Being “dead tired” probably helped dull those twitchy mother goose reflexes too. 😀

    • Mechwarrior

      I’m hoping that it’s a sign that Alison is becoming more confident in her sexual orientation.

      • bta

        There’s been no sign that it’s the “orientation” part that she’s sexually insecure about – just the fear of any of her crush getting literally crushed.

        Ironically, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem with Feral, who’s about as indestructible as she is, but outside of that one kiss we’ve never really seen Allison consider romancing a woman. I guess we’ll see.

  • HanoverFist

    “That would require the State Department working with other countries”

    I think I’ve figured out how Max is going to get revenge…

    • Tylikcat

      That would take Max having a lot of political finesse, and his mother having very specific forms of access. I’d… be kind of surprised?

      I mean, there are some great ethical arguments that could be made assuming Max was willing to out (or semi-out) himself – access to medical advances obtained through unethical means is something that has been discussed a WHOLE LOT in the the scientific and medical communities. (In some large part because Nazi researchers did discover interesting things and what are you going to do with that?)

      That would be an awesome role for Max to take. From what we’ve seen of him, I don’t see it.

      • Mechwarrior

        As I said a few weeks ago, it’s actually an Urban Legend that the Nazis made major contributions to modern medical knowledge. In reality, they were just interested in chopping people up for fun. The real area that they contributed to was the space program.

        • Stephanie

          Yeah, their science was largely crap. Lack of controls, lack of decent record-keeping…their results are pretty much useless.

          • Mechwarrior

            Most of the time, they weren’t even making much of an appearance of scientific study.

        • Tylikcat

          I suppose regardless of whether their data was any good (for that matter, I don’t know how many people discussing the ethical use of their data had much knowledge of the contents of their data) that they performed their experiments did lead to an awful lot of discussion in the realm of medical and scientific ethics. Or at least, that’s the way I was taught it.

          • Mechwarrior

            I’m sure that it did end up triggering plenty of ethics discussions. The Nazis were absolutely responsible for the death of the American eugenics programs (though this still took an unfortunately long time). I’ve just seen too many people say “oh, isn’t it awful that so much medical knowledge comes from Nazi experiments” so I try to point this out often so that people can stop feeling guilty about something that isn’t true.

          • Tylikcat

            Yeah, from my standpoint the most interesting part is the debate over whether to even look at the results. That presupposes that they are potentially interesting, not that they necessarily are. On a personal level, as I don’t have direct skin in this game*, I’ve tended to respect the wishes of the people who don’t want the data looked at. (Well, that, and it’s not something I’ve decided to read up on a lot, so my background is fairly casual. I have a love-hate relationship with discussions of research ethics.)

            While publicly supported eugenics has thankfully fallen, there’s a shit-ton of eugenics in popular culture, and probably concentrated in some subcultures more than others. I wish I’d gotten quite as clear on the subject when it was more of a going concern for me because being mouthy about it is a great hobby. (Though even now I have a lot of people trying to tell me that my intelligence and skills perfectly befit me for being a broodmare.) And I could really go forever without hearing another gripe about how only stupid people are breeding.

            * While my background is more of less a quarter German, they left Germany around the end of the nineteenth century and claim not to be Jewish. Though my cousin who went to Europe with my uncle to look into the family history swore that some indications to the contrary turned up. However, she is now dead, and in her version of events her father this information from the record by the time they crossed the Atlantic. (I have absolutely no clue if any of this holds up. Though this is entirely in keeping with what I know of that uncle, and that cousin was an excellent scholar and not prone to fabrication.)

    • Weatherheight

      Maybe – I have this impression Max doesn’t want his mother involved in his life at all.

      Now, Senator Mom may very well take up that cause on her own as her punishment against these uppity biodynamics who think they know better and who threatened her son.

      Interesting idea.

    • MrSing

      “Oh, I assume you must be Feral, right? I’ve heard so much about you! A great inspiration. I’m here to help you help even more people. You see, I’m very rich and I’ve decided to finally do my part for society. I’ll donate resources to make sure we can reach as many people as possible.
      Unfortunately this will mean you will have to spend probably around 400 hours a month in surgery, but I think we can both agree that this is a sacrifice that must be made.”
      Now THAT would be evil.

      • Stephanie

        Feral still wanted to donate constantly before she found out 40hr/month would provide all the organs they could handle. I think if she found out that 400hr/month could now save even more people, she’d be all for it.

        • Weatherheight

          Heh – I totally agree.

          But how would Alison feel about that, I wonder, if the point of the exercise for Alison was to reduce Tara’s suffering while not compromising the good Tara was doing?
          Remember, the point here is to get back at Alison, not Tara.

        • MrSing

          I know, it’s more for him to use against Alison, since I’m sure she wouldn’t be all that happy about it.

      • HanoverFist

        I was thinking more along the lines of “Since your boost there have been some minor side effects in the recipients. We suspect these transplants may not safe. No more organs for anyone.”

  • weedgoku

    And as many people have called it, everyone is happy and violence has solved yet another global problem, no one has learned any lessons. Life is great if you just punch anyone you don’t like and violently assert your power over anyone who can’t fight back and force them to do what you want, it means you’re right!

    • weedgoku

      TIME TO GO PUNCH FARMERS UNTIL WORLD HUNGER IS FIXED FOREVER!

      • Tylikcat

        …or maybe the people who control storage and distribution? Not that I’m advocating punching, but you might as well aim your punching.

        (Also, “the people who control” is an interestingly recursive problem that should keep most folks busy for a while…)

      • palmvos

        our current hunger problem is more of a distribution problem than a production problem. last i heard there are countries where both of these things are true simultaneously:
        1. people are starving
        2. food gifted to the region is rotting in a warehouse.

        • Izo

          Alison is a horrible person for not spending all of her time transporting food from warehouses to people who need it. She isn’t saving countless countless lives because she’s been busy futzing around in an axiology class, going on dates, arguing about gardeners, and going to biodynamic conventions.

          /s

          Wait actually only partially /s. I do think Alison is a horrible person now.

          • Lostman

            The world is made by horrible people, and that’s what wrong with it.

          • Stephanie

            This I think is a valid point, despite the sarcasm. Alison has been wasting time she could be using to do an enormous amount of good. I’m on board with her taking philosophy classes and going to biodynamic conventions, because it’s ultimately beneficial for everyone for such a powerful individual to refine her code of ethics and maintain perspective on the experiences of less powerful people, but she’s also spent a lot of time on things like fire rescue that could be replaced with other, hugely more efficient ways of accomplishing good.

          • Izo

            ” I’m on board with her taking philosophy classes and going to biodynamic conventions, because it’s ultimately beneficial for everyone for such a powerful individual to refine her code of ethics and maintain perspective on the experiences of less powerful people, but she’s also spent a lot of time on things like fire rescue that could be replaced with other, hugely more efficient ways of accomplishing good.”

            If ‘good’ depends on lives saved, then her going to college and taking axiology classes is actually the biggest waste and most evil thing she could do with her time. Doing stuff which completely ignores her obvious powers (how does an axiology class take advantage of her powers to lift a building? it doesn’t) means that people are dying every second that she’s in a classroom, or hanging out with Paladin on the couch discussing Valkyrie, or fretting over money, or visiting her family, or going on dates, or going to Clevin’s music thing, or going to parties or protests, or ANYTHING else. She should be spending all of her time using her flying ability and superstrength to carry warehouses of food to places that have starving people, icebergs to places which have droughts and people dying of thirst, and organs from Feral to people who need them.

            Since she isn’t, she is selfish, wanting to do things like have a life and learn about fancy shmancy philosophy courses. Even the firefighting at least saves a few lives compared to her wasting her time expanding her mind with philosophical concepts as if she’s a normal person who can’t juggle tanks.

            ….

            /s

          • Stephanie

            I understand that she could be using the philosophy class time to save lives. I’m saying that kind of education is important as a vehicle for her to learn how to use her power responsibly, in order to save the most possible lives in the long run without accidentally ruining everything.

          • Izo

            “I’m saying that kind of education is important as a vehicle for her to learn how to use her power responsibly, in order to save the most possible lives in the long run without accidentally ruining everything.”

            It seems like a very selective and biased view (not attacking you, just attacking the idea being biased, not you) of who gets to do what they want vs who is forced to do what the world needs, based almost entirely on the fact that Alison is the protagonist.

            A philosophy class never saved a single life, and the only thing taught in Gurwara’s class was ‘your axiom is wrong unless you’re an evil tyrant.’ Which means her entire time in the axiology class was not only a waste, but according to the reasoning you’ve given in the past on this thread, it might as well have been reckless indifference to human life.

            It’s not according to the view I’m giving, but it is according to the construct of logic you’ve given.

      • Walter

        Fix World Hunger by eating Feral, duh.

        • Izo

          I’ve…. I’ve mentioned this before. Last strip 🙂

      • Izo

        This Feral thing does solve world hunger.

        Feralburgers. Yum.

    • Stephanie

      It’s been seven pages. Let the story develop.

      • Philip Bourque

        It’s been at least 8 hours in the comic world (they had time to do tests for Feral’s power boost), more than enough time for a train to derail.

        • Stephanie

          More than enough time for one or two of a multitude of possible trains to derail. It doesn’t have to be this train.

          • Philip Bourque

            I suppose it’s just because I myself am a writer, but I fell that it should have absolutely been this simply because it was a direct result of Alison’s actions. Ultimately, it’s all in the hands of the Author.

          • Stephanie

            There’s still ways for it to go wrong that are directly Alison’s fault, but will take longer than a few hours to arise.

          • Izo

            I hope so. But I am increasingly doubting it being anything satisfying as a moral.

      • Izo

        How many pages of everything being happiness and rainbows should be needing to go by until we are allowed to criticize the horrible morals of this story?

        • SJ

          IIRC, when I asked that question in the Page 92 comments, someone suggested that I check back in about 206 pages or so. So, a little over a year from now.

          • palmvos

            259. because this arc has been going for over 200 already ballance.

          • Izo

            A common way that people eliminate criticism is to tell the person being critical (especially when justifiably critical and not just trolling) go away and come back later when we’ve forgotten about this controversy since you won’t have as receptive an audience anymore to your point of view.

            Or sometimes the more sparse ‘If you don’t like it, leave’ (which ironically is what people used to say to liberals many decades ago).

          • SJ

            “Used to”? “Decades ago”?

          • Izo

            By which I mean it was more socially acceptable to tell liberals ‘If you don’t like it, leave it.’ While now it seems more acceptable to tell that to people who don’t share the same values.

            In general it’s the people who have the more power, whether liberal or conservative, telling the people who have less power, ‘if you don’t like it, leave it.’ as a very lame and contrived way of eliminating opposition.

            I tend to think more in terms of authoritarian vs libertarian than conservative and liberal though, since both conservative and liberal people can be either authoritarian or libertarian, usually depending on if they have uncontested power or not. The whole ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’ saying.

          • Lostman

            So by this action, Alison is more of an authoritarian in your view. Right?

          • Izo

            Yes.

        • Stephanie

          You don’t even know what the morals of the story are, because the arc has barely started.

          • Izo

            1) I can make a guess to it based on what’s been seen so far.
            2) I can infer based on past story arcs (albeit mainly the Moonshadow arc applies here, if any does)
            3) I’d love to be pleasantly surprised that I was entirely wrong.

          • Stephanie

            I don’t think that the Moonshadow arc implied that she was in the right. If anything, it highlighted how wrong it is that murder in the context of costumed nonsense gets a pass, rather than saying it was wrong that her thing didn’t get a pass. Moonshadow was pretty explicitly getting psychologically messed up from what she was doing, started to stray from her principles (attacking Alison), etc.

          • Lostman

            The funny thing was I thought Moon Shadow arc was major base breaker. Then we get here, and more divided here then we are there. Maybe it because here the main character did take action, while in the Moon Shadow arc Alison was more passive at the end.

            Here my question here: what govern’s Alison thought progress?
            Is it emotions or, logic?

          • SJ

            Here my question here: what govern’s Alison thought progress?
            Is it emotions or, logic?

            Based on her decision to pivot to violence without even pursuing a third option to coerce Max, despite her actions turning out to be not remotely as time-critical as she led Max to believe, I don’t know how anybody could think that Alison’s thought process is governed by logic.

          • Stephanie

            Probably both, that’s the case for most people.

          • Izo

            “I don’t think that the Moonshadow arc implied that she was in the right.”

            Except Doctor Rosenblum seemed to excuse what she was doing. And Alison did too by letting her go and not pursuing her or at least convincing her to give herself up. And that’s after Moonshadow said she doesn’t care if she kills a few innocent people along the way because she was wrong sometimes.

            Not to mention she DID kill (or at least kidnap and put in place the situation that caused his death) at least two people who didn’t actually commit a crime. The date rape-attempt-suspected guy who Alison had already stopped before any crime actually happened, and who everyone else was saying was NOT trying to date rape her, and Furnace. I’m a lawyer. I believe in due process of law. I like stories that delve into this, but I don’t like when people come out of those discussions with the opinion that due process of law is unnecessary.

          • Stephanie

            Alison didn’t let her go. Moonshadow escaped.

            I’m not defending Moonshadow at this time, so I’m not gonna debate about the ethics of her various kills. All I’m saying is that I believe the narrative made her a complex, reasonably sympathetic character with understandable motives, while still showing that her actions were both causing harm beyond what she intended and slowly destroying her. It didn’t imply that she was in the right. Even characters who are wrong can–and generally should–have understandable, internally consistent motives.

          • Izo

            “Alison didn’t let her go. Moonshadow escaped.”

            She had her though. When Moonshadow was injured and unable to move at first even. Then didn’t try to stop her from escaping. Nor did she try to pursue her afterwards. And since that story arc, nothing came of it. Moonshadow doesn’t seem to be getting hunted down to face justice or anything, especially by the one person who has the best chance OF catching her.

            “All I’m saying is that I believe the narrative made her a complex, reasonably sympathetic character with understandable motives, while still showing that her actions were both causing harm beyond what she intended and slowly destroying her.”

            I’d argue that she wasnt particularly sympathetic once she started slicing the legs of innocent people, or kidnapping people who had never done what she was accusing people of, or killing people who did not commit a crime, or telling Alison that she wouldnt feel bad if she DID kill someone innocent and it wouldnt stop her from continuing, but she was a complex character and psychologically damaged.

          • Stephanie

            She did have an opportunity to apprehend Moonshadow if she’d continued restraining her after resuscitating her, but I believe that was a tactical error rather than a conscious decision to let her go free.

            Moonshadow hasn’t been hunted down yet, but that’s not unusual. Feral had an arc a while back, then she was in the background for a while, now we’re revisiting her situation in this new arc. Moonshadow escaping reads to me like fairly standard setup for another arc focused on her in the future. It’s like when you’re playing a tabletop game and the recurring enemy boss escapes at the end of the fight so that they can come back a few sessions later when the plot has advanced.

            Re: your last paragraph, I think that is fair. “Sympathetic” is pretty subjective. In my case, I sympathize with her fear and her bitterness at the injustice she’s seen and experienced.

            Also I added a little more of my thoughts on the Moonshadow arc to my last post in an edit if you’re interested, I don’t think edits show up unless you refresh.

          • Izo

            “She did have an opportunity to apprehend Moonshadow if she’d continued restraining her after resuscitating her, but I believe that was a tactical error rather than a conscious decision to let her go free.”

            I think it was a conscious decision because Moonshadow was her friend and Alison felt guilty for leaving the guardians, as if that was what lead to her taking the enforcer role, which is what ‘broke’ Moonshadow.

            “Moonshadow hasn’t been hunted down yet, but that’s not unusual. ”

            I’ll grant you that its not unusual, but it does make it hard to have closure over a troubling message when the only people who die or get fired or get put in prison are the unlikable male characters.

            “Also I added a little more of my thoughts on the Moonshadow arc to my last post in an edit if you’re interested, I don’t think edits show up unless you refresh.”

            I think I see your edit so will respond to it. I agree with what you said in the edit about how ‘the world really is fucked up in the ways she described, but she’s reacting to that in an unhealthy and ultimately harmful way.’

          • Stephanie

            I guess we just disagree on our interpretations of Moonshadow’s escape scene. My reading of it was that Alison didn’t realize when Moonshadow replaced herself with an illusion, and that Moonshadow was long gone by the time she dropped the act. There’s no way Alison could have tracked down a photokinetic with a head start who was actively trying to escape. IIRC she only ever had the chance to get her hands on Moonshadow because Moonshadow dropped stealth to try to stop fire guy from blowing himself up. But I guess there’s nothing in the scene that explicitly contradicts Alison intentionally permitting the escape, even though that’s not how it read to me.

            I do agree with you that Alison felt guilty about her role in the path Moonshadow went down, and I think it’s plausible that she unconsciously held back, maybe kept trying to talk her down past the point where she would have switched to violence with someone she had no personal connection to, and that she’d have been successful in apprehending her if she’d been more ruthless. I just don’t think she ever decided, “I’m going to let Moonshadow go.” She wanted Moonshadow to stop doing what she was doing and get help, and apprehending her would have been the direct route to that outcome.

            I agree that it’s uncomfortable not to have closure on Moonshadow’s whole situation, but I don’t think we’re supposed to have closure on her yet. I suppose Alison doesn’t have closure either.

  • Jack_T_Robyn

    What is truly more seductive about evil than the good we can do with it?

  • Tim Hundley

    I’d just like to point out the excellent job of drawing the four eyes illusion in the fifth panel. I can’t recall seeing another artist ever do that. It’s a very nice detail.

  • Antongarou

    to continue the various discussions…
    I’m not sure what Alisson did was wrong, in and of itself, the relative harm to Max seems minimal, and from Feral’s reaction she was very much suffering. The problem here is that Max was never taught empathy, as far as we can see(yes, empathy is not an innate part of our cognitive package – same as language). This makes him, essentially, a sociopath. He can be taught right an wrong, but it will take time and require his willing cooperation.So asking would not have worked unless Alisson gave him a strong incentive. And Alisson was not willing to spend that time and effort because Feral would be suffering all the while. Please remember people – we’re talking about someone in her twenties. Her tirade at Max during the date? was not appropriate. Yes, he was abusing his workers, and he should have been fucking called on it. But what she did didn’t stop it, because she lashed out instead of explaining and acting like an adult(because she isn’t!)

    Most of all what Alisson did was HUMAN. One of her best friends was suffering horribly on a constant basis and the person who had the power to do something about it won’t even let her finish the sentence she was starting to ask him. So she snapped. And she forced him to help her friend, because that was the choice she saw.

    Re: tailors etc. This is a bad comparison because most people can become tailors(or capenters, or bakers) so you can pay the homeless hungry people and give them materials and lessons and repeat until there are enough people doing this, to give one example.

    PS. am I the only one noticing or is Feral flirting with Alisson there?

    • nat365

      There’s actually much more evidence suggesting that empathy *is* innate than the opposite. Here’s an article based on just one study, but there are many more:
      https://stephaniedaviesarai.com/empathy-is-innate/

      ETA: Of course, like all other innate characteristics (reflexes such as breathing and blinking excepted), a lot depends on how it’s nurtured. We are far more complex beings than: Add DNA A to experience B and get C.

      • Antongarou

        I think we are using different definitions of empathy – you use it as “see someone in pain, understand and care”. I use it as “understand the emotions reactions of another human and how they would change the way they feel”, which is much more complex. The first(what I call “sympathy”) can be seen in very young children, the second requires the ability to form theory of mind, and so appears much later. It is much more complex, and does require nurture as well as nature. A good contrast between the two is a small child seeing a parent is sad, and trying to play with the parent *because that what makes the child happy when they are sad* vs. an older person seeing a sad friend/parent and sitting with them to let them talk out the sadness(if they wish).

        A very important point here is that theory of mind is both developmental and skill, much like language – if a child does not develop theory of mind within the relevant window, they probably never will. Given what Max told us about the way he was raised, I’m not sure how much theory of mind he actually has. You can see it in the way he behaves when not “on script” – he behaves almost like a spoiled brat, right? Because he can’t understand other people will be hurt, and when they are hurt he doesn’t fully understand why.

      • Antongarou

        to make this even clearer – I believe Max to be more self centered than selfish: he has trouble really understand circumstances other than his own. He really believes he is doing the illegal workers a solid one, because he never was in a tight enough bind he would work for anything that will keep his head over the water, so he thinks they really could say no. This is not a justification, but it is a reason.

        • nat365

          I’d agree with that. I’ve always thought the Max-hate on here has been way, *way* over the top. Sure, he’s said some outrageous things, but it was partly playing devil’s advocate with regards to Feral (and I’ve met plenty of people in real life who insist on doing that even when they don’t technically believe the argument they’re making). We have no idea if Max actually thinks what Feral was doing wasn’t truly selfless; only that he believes she probably gained something for herself out of it, and tried to argue that with Alison (who was obviously in no mood to hear it – something he should have taken into account, since Feral is not a theoretical, but an actual person, an actual friend/loved one of Alison’s, doing something Alison would likely find incredibly painful to think about, much less hear her ‘honour’, so to speak, impugned) – and, funnily enough, I’d actually agree with Max on that. She was definitely looking for some form of absolution via her actions, and that doesn’t actually negate the fact that what she was/is doing is selfless. We shouldn’t need things to be so black and white, and a good deed is still a good deed, whether the person who performs it wants credit for it or gets something out of it or not. There’s nuance to everything.

          With the workers, I think you’ve put it perfectly. It wasn’t that he had no empathy for them or that he didn’t care – simply that he had no real understanding of the pressure of not having money – that sometimes what seems like a choice, really isn’t.

          We keep forgetting that these characters are teenagers/in their early twenties. Scientifically speaking the brain isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties, and maybe not even then! They are not fully equipped to make adult choices, or to really understand that kind of nuance – and this is especially true in Max’s case, given he grew up with everything handed to him. How on earth is he supposed to understand what true poverty, true money worries, true fear of not being able to put food on the table means? And Alison blowing up at him rather than understanding that and debating the issue properly in an attempt to make him get it? A symptom of her own youth and lack of nuance.

          Basically, everyone is behaving as if they’re horses with blinkers on. Youth, inexperience and the way they grew up (because Alison, too, had plenty of privileges while growing up, even if they were tempered by the responsibilities of heroism forced on her by government) is colouring their worldview and driving them to actions that are terribly unwise.

          It’s technically already caught up to Max, what with Alison’s death threat and all (something he didn’t deserve, no matter how big a jerk he might be – and as I’ve already said, I’d say he’s far less of a jerk than a lot of readers seem to think). Alison’s consequences can’t be too far behind her. God, I wish that girl would learn to think before she acts! Being stuck in this ‘one punch solution’ frame of mind is so… so immature! I just want her to grow up so she can start using her powers and celebrity and intellect to do some real good in the world, instead of driving herself mad with this child’s viewpoint of ‘maybe if I can press the right button I can fix it all!’ That’s not how life works. I don’t think it’ll ever be how life works.

          • SJ

            It’s technically already caught up to Max, what with Alison’s death threat and all (something he didn’t deserve, no matter how big a jerk he might be – and as I’ve already said, I’d say he’s far less of a jerk than a lot of readers seem to think). Alison’s consequences can’t be too far behind her. God, I wish that girl would learn to think before she acts! Being stuck in this ‘one punch solution’ frame of mind is so… so immature! I just want her to grow up so she can start using her powers and celebrity and intellect to do some real good in the world, instead of driving herself mad with this child’s viewpoint of ‘maybe if I can press the right button I can fix it all!’ That’s not how life works. I don’t think it’ll ever be how life works.

            And, see, Alison’s growth into that person is the webcomic that I thought that I was signing up for. I thought that the classroom scene was going be the watershed moment that put Alison on the path to self-actualization and self-realization as a mature adult with superpowers. Instead, I’ve found this series to be nothing but a string of endless disappointments, ever since she left Brad’s support group.

          • Stephanie

            She didn’t leave Brad’s support group all that long ago, and good stories about character growth generally include some dark moments/regressions that ultimately serve the growth.

          • SJ

            She left Brad’s support group long ago enough. I’m not talking about relative time, or narrative time, I’m talking about real time. At this point, it’s been weeks (months?) of real time, since she left the support group. And, since I wasn’t being clear, I said that I’ve found this series to be nothing but a string of endless disappointment since then; I never said anything about not being disappointed until then. I’ve been plenty disappointed for the majority of Issue 6.

            The classroom scene ended on Page 41. That was six months ago. I’ve been disappointed with, like, ninety-five percent of everything that’s happened in this webcomic for the past six months, so pardon me if I’m not agreeable to comments that amount to, “It’s only been seven pages!” Miss me with that.

          • Stephanie

            In that case, maybe you should come back in a few months and archive binge.

          • SJ

            Don’t think that I’m not strongly considering it… I recently (in the last month or so?) decided that I will not be reading any more incomplete fanfiction, because I don’t have the temperament to put up with neverending cliffhangers. I don’t think that there’s a non-sitcom TV series that I’ve watched week-to-week since Netflix started streaming.

            The only reason that I’ve gone this long with this is because I tend to be much more tolerant of things that frustrate me during the NBA’s offseason. Now that basketball is back, though?

            http://memecrunch.com/meme/11TW5/ain-t-nobody-got-time-fo-dat/image.png

          • Stephanie

            That seems like a wise move. If you read the entire arc in one go after it’s finished, you’ll be able to find out whether it resolves itself to your satisfaction in the space of an hour or so, instead of over the course of several months.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      Feral flirts with Alison very often. It’s shown in one of their flashbacks.

      Alison even said “she’s back”, acknowledging that this is Feral’s usual personality and her previous somber demeanor was an anomaly.

    • Yirtimd2

      Yeah, because Max was some sort of bad guy and his sufferings and suppression made millions of good people happy, now Alison has right to make all bad guys to move their asses for the greater good. Just like in Soviet Gulags. Oh yeah I know where it all goes.

      • Stephanie

        I mean…Not that his being a bad guy meant he “deserved” it or anything, but I think it’s hard to argue that Max isn’t a bad person. He sat there and listened to Alison explain that with one single act, he could save one person from a lifetime of torture and an enormous number of people from suffering and death…and he decided, “Nah, I don’t feel like it. All of those people can die.”

        • Yirtimd2

          That’s how it all starts – just one exception from the rule, then it will be incidents, then it will become necessary evil, and then it will be norm, and nobody did not have time to blink – and everyone must make what they can do, even if they don’t want it.

          • Stephanie

            Descending down the slippery slope is not mandatory. Alison is capable of choosing not to break her ethical principles for any situation less extreme than this. If she actually does start trying to control everything, we can judge her for it then.

          • Weatherheight

            There was an interesting study that came out this week involving lying. The test population was small by my lights and I haven’t looked at it too closely, so I can’t speak to its validity. However, the upshot of the study is that the amygdala has a very interesting response to lying. Initially, there is a cognitive response to the dissonance created by the lie and the perceived reality. Over time, that response decreases in intensity until eventually it is significantly less (and in a very few cases, no different than baseline state of making a truthful statement).

            Put another way, our brains can become more “comfortable” with lies over time, making it easier to be comfortable with lying as one practices more. Which suggests that, at least with lying, the slippery slope is very, very real.

            That said, I agree with you that Alison is not doomed based on this one act… but it seems wise to me to be at least a little troubled by it. Let’s see how this plays out.

          • Stephanie

            Oh, it’s real, it’s just not inevitable.

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      Tara’s come on is indeed quite sublte. Like that time she straight told her she was in love with Alison. So subdued!

    • Mechwarrior

      Feral has been carrying a major torch for Alison for years. The last time she tried kissing Alison (in a flashback) Alison accidentally punched her through a wall in surprise.

    • Weatherheight

      I like this analysis – you got some very interesting points going on here. Since I am a pedant, however, I am compelled to quibble

      “This makes him, essentially, a sociopath. ”
      Sociopathy / psychopathy is diagnosed based on a lack of empathy and a high level of manipulative behavior that are so egregiously beyond the norm that it is well outside a standard deviation of those behaviors. Max hasn’t shown that, yet (I will concede the possibility is there).

      “He can be taught right and wrong, but it will take time and require his willing cooperation.”
      There is a pretty large debate about if sociopaths can truly be taught to internalize ideas of right and wrong moral behavior. The vast majority of studies indicate that, while sociopaths can be taught what the rest of us consider to be right and wrong behavior, they typically don’t internalize those behaviors. Rather, they adopt the behaviors as a practical matter geared towards greater ability to manipulate those around them for the reasons of the sociopath, not for the social reasons inherent in those ideas of right and wrong. Put another way, they can answer the questions as they have been taught to answer them, but they don’t really believe the answers apply to themselves.

      “Yes, he was abusing his workers… ”
      Maybe.
      While narratively Alison’s assumption makes sense and serves to drive the plot forward, it’s a really huge assumption. As someone who has worked in construction and knowing a bit about the associated field of landscaping, I’ve met plenty of workers who would be more than willing to work those hours if the price was right; I’ve also known plenty of folks who took on more than they should have and had to meet their contractual obligations by working weird hours; I’ve also met all kinds of people who work those odd hours due to logistical issues and personal preference. I’m pretty sure Max isn’t the sort to be involved in the negotiations of the domestic help vis a vis their compensation, so his whole “they’re being paid under the table” thing came off more “know it all” than “I negotiated that myself and thus am in a position to know”.

      This is not to say that, if Max is truthful, that the situation doesn’t suck – if Max is truly knowledgable, then Alison did right, IMHO (I agree with you that she could have done better 😀 ). I just can see Max being an entitled twit and saying what might have worked great with his “social circle” while not actually knowing a damned thing about that situation – I’ve seen (and been) a young man talking out his ass all too often.

      Thought provoking post, though!

      • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

        Sociopathy / psychopathy is diagnosed based on a lack of empathy and a high level of manipulative behavior that are so egregiously beyond the norm that it is well outside a standard deviation of those behaviors.

        Hey… 🙁

        • Weatherheight

          Heh.
          Work harder, if that is your goal – you’re not even close yet. 😀

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            My goal?

  • Cyrano111

    Max was wrong not to want to help Feral and her task. He was wrong whether he is personally unlikable or not.

    But the fact that he was wrong is not the same thing as saying it is ok to force him to be right.

    Every single person reading this webcomic and these comments could instead be doing something else, right now, which would improve the condition of others. As I have said before, we are all Max. A world where the most powerful person decides whether we live the life we choose or the life she chooses for us is not one that any of us should want to live in.

    That is not only true where the dictator has evil motives: it is at least as true, perhaps more true, where the dictator has benevolent motives. As CS Lewis once wrote “The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated: but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end because they do so with the approval of their own conscience”.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      I think it’s wrong to equate us with Max, because we refuse to save a couple of lives and Max refused to save “countless”. It’s not the same.

      • weedgoku

        Not really. Once you start blaming people for lives they didn’t save, you’ve gone far off the track of being reasonable or logical. If you’re going to pin “countless” on max you might as well pin “countless” on every single person not dedicating their lives to constant self sacrificing charity work as well. After all we should all be forced to do something if it’s possible for us to do it. So unless we are blind, mute cripples we should all be out there saving lives 24/7.

        • Santiago Tórtora

          Not 24/7, but if you had the chance to save countless lives in a few hours (like Max) or in 40 hours a month (like Feral) it would be very evil not to do it.

          Normal people like us can save a couple of lives a month by working hard and donating everything we can, so we are only a little evil.

          • Stephanie

            Well–it’s not quite that bleak! Donating wisely can save more lives than that even if the amount you’re able to donate is not very much.

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve only recently transitioned from being a net-welfare recipient to being barely able to give.

          • Stephanie

            Check out Givewell! Every year they publish reports on a small number of charities that they’ve extensively vetted for transparency and proven results. It’s a great resource for people like you and me who can’t afford to give much, and want to get the maximum impact out of what we can give. I generally donate either to Against Malaria Foundation, which distributes insecticide-treated bed nets, or Give Directly, which distributes sums of money directly to the extremely poor.

            You can also improve the impact of your donation by setting aside money every month for a single, large annual donation. That way you don’t incur extra transaction costs like you would for many smaller donations. You can find more tips like that by searching for “effective altruism.”

          • Santiago Tórtora

            I live in a poor-enough country that the old narcissistic method of “giving to people in need that live close to me” is an attractive proposition.

            Like, I know Against Malaria Foundation saves a lot of lives giving mosquito nets to Africans, but in my country we have an infestation of an invasive species of mosquito (originally African, go figure) that transmits dengue fever, so maybe I should just buy mosquito nets and distribute them myself? Food for thought.

          • Stephanie

            Maybe! Distribution would be a challenge for a single individual, but if you find or form an organization to work with, it could totally work.

          • Pythia

            Last time I linked this, literally nobody signed up using my link(they have a counter so I can tell), maybe now someone will?

            http://tab.gladly.io/?r=11141785

          • Lysiuj

            Signed up, thanks!

    • weedgoku

      “Max was wrong not to want to help Feral and her task. He was wrong whether he is personally unlikable or not.”
      How so? Not wanting to use your skills in an action that puts you at personal risk for zero reward doesn’t make you wrong. Very few people work for free. Even fewer people are willing to put their lives at risk for free. Wrong is when you assault someone. Blackmail them. Threaten them. Force them to put themselves in danger. All for personal reasons.

      Was max being selfish? Certainly. But at least he was being open about it. He put his life above other people as would the vast majority of humanity. Alison lied about her motivation, abused her power and authority, broke laws and took away his agency. She is objectively wrong.

      • Cyrano111

        You and I do not fundamentally disagree. Indeed, Alison proved that his fears about having his power known were entirely justified.

        Feel free to read my main point as “even if Max were wrong it would not be acceptable to force him to be right.”

      • phantomreader42

        “Max was wrong not to want to help Feral and her task. He was wrong whether he is personally unlikable or not.”
        How so? Not wanting to use your skills in an action that puts you at personal risk for zero reward doesn’t make you wrong.

        This requires the assumption that neither saving lives, nor sparing others pain and suffering, nor the opportunity to actually USE a talent you thought was worthless constitute a “reward”. They may not be a sufficient reward in Max’s understanding, and it is his life and ultimately his decision, but he was definitely offered compensation of some value for his help, even if it’s somewhat nebulous and intangible.

        Very few people work for free.

        Very few people are sufficiently rich they can afford to work for free. Max is such a person.

        • Izo

          So you believe that once you make a certain amount of money, you must work for free for the greater good as determined by someone else with more power than you, and be compelled to by physical force and threat if you refuse?

          Congratulations, you just described, in general, communism.

          • There’s something wrong with communism?

            And of course quite a few billionaires have decided, “you know what, this amount of money is obscene, I’m going to stick everything I’m not using into a foundation and do something good with it.”

            There are, of course, those who decide they’re going to buy their country’s political system instead, but that’s capitalism for you.

          • Izo

            “There’s something wrong with communism?”

            Nah, and the hundred of millions who have died, literally it numbers over 100 million people in the 20th century alone … nothing wrong with that either.

            /s /s /s /s /s /s/ss/s/ss/s/s/s/s/s/s/s/s/s

            …. /s

            It’s a horrifically broken, evil, inhumane and prone to squashing human rights political system, barely one step away from dictatorship.

            Unless you’re being sarcastic, in which case I have it on good authority from people who like to scold me that you should put a /s afterwards. 🙂

            “And of course quite a few billionaires have decided, “you know what, this amount of money is obscene, I’m going to stick everything I’m not using into a foundation and do something good with it.”

            What number is ‘quite a few?’ Also…. when did Max become a billionaire?

          • Tsapki

            Communism, like most political systems, work great on paper. “Everyone gives what they can, everyone gets what they need.” The problem is the human element that twists it to it’s own ends.

          • Izo

            Actually it’s socialism that works great on paper, but it then devolves into communism (or worse, outright fascism, as happened with Nazism), which doesn’t work great on paper or in practice, but I agree with your basic point that the human element makes stuff like communism and socialism inherently flawed.

          • Tsapki

            Huh…I was fairly sure Switzerland is a socialist democracy and is doing alright, but I honestly am not invested enough in the political scene to make a good defense on any front admittedly.

          • Izo

            People actually bring this up with me fairly often when I’m in a political discussion. And I’ve gotten a pretty regular response to that.

            1) Switzerland is only socialism within a parliamentary democratic framework. Just like Germany was before the Socialists took over and removed the framework.
            2) Switzerland is almost entirely homogenous, and has a very small population. The larger a population gets, the more a socialist system crumbles or corrupts itself as the costs involved in taking care of the population increase.
            3) Socialism does not have to be an instantaneous devolution to dictatorship, or an instantaneous crumbling into chaos (It took quite a while with Greece, for example).

          • vlad43210

            As someone who was born in the USSR (and educated myself extensively on its system of government and history), I feel like I can weigh in on this.

            The USSR had a terrible history of human rights abuse, genocide, unlawful incarceration and hard labor; we must not forget this (and in fact it needs to be discussed more widely)! However, that history in my mind does not discredit the practice of the richer and more fortunate giving back to society. Any country with a progressive tax system (including, arguably, the US) does, in some way, force people who make enough money to donate some of the fruits of their labor for the greater good, and it’s not human rights abuse. The key, as always, is not taking things too far.

            To bring it back to the comic, this is the crux of the moral dilemma as I see it. I think that forcing people to do something is wrong and awful in principle. But forcing a person to minorly inconvenience himself to save thousands of lives? I start to see Alison’s point of view.

            [SPOILERS for WATCHMEN]
            To get super nerdy and philosophical here, I recall the conclusion of Watchmen. Oz’s plan seems pure evil to me, but it’s about the manipulation of people through massive violence to stop bigger violence; and yet, much of the team agrees with Oz and tries to pressure Rorschach to be silent. What if Oz did not create a monster to kill millions? What if he just made all of New York have to go without sleep for a night? At what point do we agree with Rorschach, and at what point do we start to see Oz’s point of view?
            [/SPOILERS]

            All that said, I absolutely want Alison to confront her choice down the line. And I want the world to confront it, too. Should she be tried for assault? Are superheroes above the law in some cases? Do their incredible powers short-circuit the “end does not justify the means” argument? These are all excellent questions, to my mind, but they do not have answers at this point. So I can’t either unilaterally condemn or praise Alison.

          • Izo

            “At what point do we agree with Rorschach, and at what point do we start to see Oz’s point of view? ”

            Had Dr. Manhattan been able to see the future (Oz’s machine had blocked off this future from him), he would never have killed Rorschach because he would have seen it was doomed to failure as well.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwu_rilQa1A

          • “I’d really rather not debate Switzerland though”

            Perhaps because people might question how factual their assertions are:

            1) and 3) amount to ‘the sky hasn’t fallen yet, but it will, you see if it doesn’t.

            2) Switzerland homogenous? It has four national languages, four core ethnic groups (French, German, Italian, Romansch).

            4) Explain to me how population is relevant to liberty? Or Per Capita production? You do understand the advantages of scale in a larger population size?

            And as for actual liberty metrics, the State of World Liberty Index, which combines Liberty indices from such noted leftist organisations as the Heritage and Cato Foundations ranks Switzerland 2nd after New Zealand, with the US not in the top 10.

            The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Liberty has Switzerland at 4 and the US at 11.

          • Izo

            “Perhaps because people might question how factual their assertions are:”

            No, because it would send the thread off on a tangent.

            “2) Switzerland homogenous? It has four national languages, four core ethnic groups (French, German, Italian, Romansch).”

            … have you ever BEEN to Switzerland?

            “4) Explain to me how population is relevant to liberty? Or Per Capita production? You do understand the advantages of scale in a larger population size?”

            Yes, I do. And the smaller a population is, the easier it is to pay for the needs of the populace. The larger a population is, the less money there is to spread around to the populace per person, because the amount of spending soon overtakes the amount taken in from taxes. The amount of people in the entire nation of Switzerland is less than the amount of people in JUST New York City, and across a much wider area of land for Switzerland.

            In short, the smaller a population is, the more easily a government can pay for everything without going bankrupt. The more the government can pay for everything without going bankrupt, the more power it’s able to have over its people because they are the gatekeepers.

          • bryan rasmussen

            >The larger a population is, the less money there is to spread around to
            the >populace per person, because the amount of spending soon overtakes
            the >amount taken in from taxes

            Why? I think I need something more than an assertion.

          • Izo

            Um… basic economics?

            If a nation’s ability to produce wealth does not expand at the same speed as it spends money, a socialist or communist system fails. Therefore, to slow down the point of failure, you can’t expand your population, so the amount of money being spent does not expand that quickly. You artificially limit your spending by limiting your population growth on which you’ll be spending money.

          • Izo

            “Perhaps because people might question how factual their assertions are:”

            No. Because it’s a massive tangent from what is being discussed here. And yes, it’s very homogenous, and a teensy population with a large land area (8 million) while the US has over 325 million and massive diversity.

            So getting into a big discussion on Switzerland would drag us far from the original point of this thread, which I’m thinking you might have even forgotten this far down the thread.

          • “a teensy population with a large land area (8 million) while the US has over 325 million”

            Swiss population per square mile: 490. US population per square mile: 84. Theoretical advantage US on both efficiencies of scale and available resources.

            “And yes, it’s very homogenous, … while the US has … massive
            diversity.”

            Approximately 37% of the Swiss population was born abroad (2011), in some cantons more people were born abroad than in Switzerland. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Switzerland#Demographics Meanwhile in the US, 13% were born abroad (2013), so Switzerland is around 3 times as diverse as the US.

            You keep throwing out assertions that aren’t actually backed by the facts, I’m simply injecting the actual facts into the discussion.

          • Izo

            “Swiss population per square mile: 490. US population per square mile: 84.”

            Perhaps you can use the land where populations actually exist in the US instead of an average that includes barren desert terrain?

            “Meanwhile in the US, 13% were born abroad (2013), so Switzerland is around 3 times as diverse as the US.”

            What percentage of Switzerland is a color other than white? I’ll give you the answer. Less than 6%.

            How about the United States? 37% (17% hispanic, 12% black, 5% asian, 2.4% multiracial. And 11% of the nation’s counties are ‘majority-minority’

            What percentage of Switzerland is a religion other than a sect of Christianity, or atheist? I’ll give you the answer. Less than 5.6% (5% of which is muslim).

            How about the USA? 25%

            It’s not that you’re not giving facts. It’s just that you’re giving SKEWED facts that weighted to give an incorrect reality.

          • “Perhaps you can use the land where populations actually exist in the US
            instead of an average that includes barren desert terrain?”

            Well, if I did that, then I’d also have to exclude the Swiss mountains and lakes…. Have you looked at Switzerland recently? It’s kind of lumpy, with big wet patches.

            “It’s not that you’re not giving facts. It’s just that you’re giving SKEWED facts that weighted to give an incorrect reality.”

            Oddly enough, that’s the problem I have with your posts. You make sweeping assertions that sound like they might be true, in order to confirm your political biases, but if you actually happen to live in or know the places you’re making claims about, then as often as not they bear no relation to reality.

          • “it’s socialism that works great on paper, but it then devolves into communism”

            Except in every western European country over the past century.

            “or worse, outright fascism, as happened with Nazism”

            Ah, yes, Naziism, that ‘socialist’ movement that emerged out of the ultra-right, army-funded Freikorps street gangs, with its core links with capitalist industry and eventually resulted in a quasi-feudal state where the barons of the party directed state investment to their own pet companies. Actually, we have a lot to thank the unbridled capitalism of the Nazis and the Italian fascists for, the desire to enhance personal returns for the political elite hamstrung the industrial efficiency of both states.

          • MrSing

            As someone that is actually from western Europe where communist parties where part of the political scene for a while, it works a bit different.
            We do not have one single overarching political party take hold over the entire country.
            There are many different parties, as much as 17 in my own country as of right now, that are competing to form coalition parties. A party could even only have 2/3% of the total votes and still get one of the many seats in the coalition. Though they would have very little sway in that case.
            My country has a system where there is very little chance that one single party gains power alone, so we might have had communist elements in our political scene, we never even got close to true communism or any of the other forms of political standpoints.
            The same is so for many countries in western Europe.

          • “As someone that is actually from western Europe”

            British here. Regular single party socialist governments since 1924, in fact multi-party governments are a rarity, but not a sign of Izo’s alleged inevitable descent into communism.

          • MrSing

            Coalition goverments are not a rarity in Europe. There are something like 34 I believe.
            And we both know that socialism and communism are not the same type of goverment.

          • Yeah, my point was that even in sole power, socialist governments show no sign of doing what Izo claims is inevitable.

          • Izo

            They’re NOT in sole power though. Where are you getting that they’re in sole power. They’re in coalition governments.

          • MrSing

            Wait, where did Izo imply that socialist goverments turn into communist goverments?
            No sarcasm, I haven’t read all of her comments.

          • Izo

            I said socialism and communism were related by being on the same end of the political spectrum (more government control, as opposed to less) – they’re both closer to fascism than democracy, republicanism, or libertarianism (classic liberalism as it tends to be in many parliamentary nations). Although when socialist countries get too large, they have to (by design) start taking more control from the people and industry in order to ‘take care’ of its population via spending a smaller and smaller piece of their economic pie (since their intake of treasure is expanding at a slower pace than their spending). That’s what happened in countries that started off as socialist and became fascist or communist, like the USSR, Cuba, and Nazi Germany – to name a few of the more prominent examples.

          • Izo

            “Ah, yes, Naziism, that ‘socialist’ movement that emerged out of the ultra-right, army-funded Freikorps street gangs, with its core links with capitalist industry and eventually resulted in a quasi-feudal state where the barons of the party directed state investment to their own pet companies.”

            Oh for crying out loud. Yes, Nazism was a socialist movement. It’s even in the frickin’ party name. Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – the National SOCIALIST German Workers’ Party. And they were not right wing. They were left wing. Right and left wing are political spectrums ranging from authoritarian to libertarian (with the extremes on either side being absolute fascism and absolute anarchy).

            Nazism did not come from capitalists. It took over businesses that were not loyal to the state so the state could control them. IF anything, one of the greatest heroes in Germany secretly working against the Nazis to save jews WAS a capitalist – Oskar Schindler.

            Also you don’t seem to know what feudal means. Nazism wasnt even remotely feudal. The only thing even remotely similar in that respect is that a feudal systems formed in monarchies, and traditional monarchies are also on the socialist end of the spectrum (left, rather than right)

            Think of it like this since you seem to have had everything mixed up from how left and right is portrayed in American politics .

            Left and right are not political parties, but systems of authoritarianism. The more to the left you go, the more authoritarian it is. The more government controls, the bigger and more powerful government is, the less they have to account to the people, and the more the government takes care of things for the people, until you get to the most left – a single tyrant ruling over everything and having supreme authority over everyone – basically the most hardcore fascism you can conceive (usually this can only last for the life of the dictator though). The more to the right you go, the smaller government is, the more private businesses (and individuals) have control over themselves, the less regulations there are to protect consumers and workers aside from pure market forces of supply and demand, until you get to the MOST right – no government at all – ie, anarchy (although anarchy is impractical and is usually just a transitory state between governments).

            Democracy and Republicanism are both sort of in the middle, with Republicanism being very slightly closer to the libertarian side (since it encourages written laws which survive the existing government – res publica … the public thing – ie, the law – a government limited by the written rule of law), and Democracy (demos kraten – people to rule… rule of the people/majority rule) being very slightly closer to the authoritarian side (since it encourages majority rule and the power of the mob)

            The idea that liberals are automatically the left is incorrect, just as the idea that conservatives are automatically the right is incorrect. Liberals and conservatives can BOTH be either libertarian or authoritarian, depending on how much they want a central government to control their lives vs having control over their own lives.

            Nazism was HORRIBLE for capitalism, in fact. It only worked within the war setting because the state either owned the companies or the companies had to do whatever the state said if they wanted to keep their companies.

          • Don’t look at the label, look at the facts. Do you deny that Naziism emerged from the far right Freikorps? Because you won’t find a single historian specialising in the period who does. The party was explicitly anti-communist from the outset, it flirted with left wing economic ideas, but rapidly dropped them in favour of strong links with capitalist business which were fully established before it gained power.

            If Nazism and capitalism weren’t linked, why were the owners and managers of Krupp, IG Farben and Flick prosecuted for war crimes, including crimes against peace/planning an aggressive war, with only the IG Farben contingent being found innocent on that count. Why did prominent financier Wilhelm Keppler, a party member from 1927, found the Freundeskreis des Wirtschaft, later evolving into the Freundeskreis Himmler/Freundeskreis Reichsfuehrer SS, to funnel support directly from financiers to the party via Himmler and strengthen links between business and the party? Why was Albert Speer part of Hitler’s inner circle?

            WRT feudalism, the Nazi state saw a concentration of political power into the hands of a handful of ‘barons’ – Himmler and Goering most noticeably – who each used their power to establish powerbases that included both industrial and military/paramilitary elements under their personal control. In the case of Himmler that’s the Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe and the Waffen-SS and in case of Goering it’s Reichswerke Hermann Goering (probably the biggest company in the world in 1942, with half a million employees/forced labourers), and units such as Fallschirmpanzerkorps Hermann Goering* and the Luftwaffe Felddivisionen. It might not be classic feudalism, but warlords ruling private armies and private economies are close enough that it gets the idea across better than most alternatives.

            *Yes, Goering’s Luftwaffe had armoured divisions.

            I fully understand what you’re saying about the dual axes of left/right and authoritarian/libertarianism, it’s a concept I subscribe to myself. However even within that construct, the Nazi party, except for some early flirtation with populist ideas, was overwhelmingly a rightist/authoritarian party with strong and bidirectional links with the core of German industry/capitalism.

          • Izo

            “Don’t look at the label, look at the facts.”

            I am looking at the facts. You’re not. The key feature of someone who is ‘right wing’ is small, limited government. You can’t have that in an authoritarian or fascist country.

            “If Nazism and capitalism weren’t linked, why were the owners and managers of Krupp, IG Farben and Flick prosecuted for war crimes, including crimes against peace/planning an aggressive war, with only the IG Farben contingent being found innocent on that count.”

            They were following the will of the government! Not to mention stacked with Nazi supporters who were given special dispensations. A free capitalist society does not just do the government’s bidding. They were essentially quasi-governmental institutions for the German war effort.

            They didn’t ‘flirt’ with left wing ideology. They came to power with it! Don’t call them right wing – call them authoritarian. And that’s left wing. You can say they didn’t have ‘liberal values’ but you can’t say they arent left wing if you’re going to say they were fascist and using the government to control German industry. ‘Right wing authortarian’ is an oxymoron that doesn’t even make sense. Right wing libertarian, on the other hand, makes sense. Or even right wing anarchist. You’re using an incorrect term made popular by people who don’t understand the terminology where people equate ‘left’ with ‘liberal’ and ‘right’ with ‘conservative’ either ignorantly or to be purposefully misleading.

          • “The key feature of someone who is ‘right wing’ is small, limited government.”

            That’s a political concept of “right wing” that holds largely in the US, though gaining some traction in the UK through politicians bought influenced by US right wing think tanks. It’s a facet of modern neoliberalism, not traditional concepts of the right wing. The UK concept of ‘conservative’ is explicitly authoritarian and in its Conservative form explicitly right wing.

            “They were following the will of the government!”

            So, they were only following orders? Oddly enough that’s not what the court found.

            “Not to mention stacked with Nazi supporters”

            Demonstrably not true, the management of Krupp, IG Farben and Flick predated the rise of the Nazis and opted to develop strong links with the Party prior to it taking power.

            “They didn’t ‘flirt’ with left wing ideology. They came to power with it! ”
            Look at the dates! The Nazis came to power in 1933, Keppler was a Party member from 1927 and founded the Freundeskreis des Wirtschaft in 1932 at Hitler’s request. If the Nazis were raving leftists, why were so many bankers and executives queuing up to associate themselves with them before they gained power? And why were they so eager to funnel 1 million marks a year of their own money to the Nazis via Himmler?

            “‘Right wing authortarian’ is an oxymoron that doesn’t even make sense.””

            You’ve said yourself that left-right economics and libertarian-authoritarianism are separate political axes, therefore right wing AND authoritarian are clearly possible within your own terms.

            The Political Compass, https://www.politicalcompass.org/, has been analysing politics in terms of those axes for 15 years. It actually has an ‘authoritarian right’ reading list linked from the front page. And if we look at its findings, every US election has the Republican and Democratic candidates solidly in the Authoritarian Right corner of the graph. In fact most mainstream political parties are Authoritarian Right.

          • There are many different forms of communism, but the root concept is common ownership of the means of production. The USSR wasn’t a communist state, the state/party owned the means of production. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a piss-poor bureaucratic oligarchy that used democratic centralism to demand submission to the decisions of the party. Ditto for China and all the rest. Trotsky called it a degenerated workers state. A theoretical communist society shouldn’t even have a ‘state’. Actual communist communities are few and far between, mostly small communes and similar.

            My personal belief is communism probably can’t function above the community level, but we shouldn’t confuse the dictatorships that called themselves communist with actual communism, they’re two different political systems.

          • Izo

            “There are many different forms of communism, but the root concept is common ownership of the means of production.”

            No there aren’t. There are different levels of which a communist state will impose its rule over the people and industry, but there are not different forms of communism. There’s never been a ‘perfect example’ of a communist state or a ‘socialist state’ because it simply can’t exist. They even tried it in the American colonies in Jamestown and it failed horribly there as well and almost destroyed the colony.

            “The USSR wasn’t a communist state”

            Yes it was. Do you mean it wasn’t a PERFECT communist state? Now that’s just arguing semantics. And communism IS an oligarchy. So is socialism.

            “Ditto for China and all the rest.”

            China is also a communist state. You’re getting into semantics by saying it’s not a pure communist state. The US isnt a pure democracy (in fact it’s not a democracy at all, it’s a republic, but that’s another debate)

            The point is each of these nations were striving TOWARDS a pure form of their government, and instead they get quasi-fascist (or outright fascist) states. Communism is a BAD idea, which fails to even remotely meet its ideals when put into practice. Every time.

            “Actual communist communities are few and far between, mostly small communes and similar.”

            They tried that in Jamestown, a small community colony of about 150 people, and almost all of them died after a year or two of what was basically an experiment in socialism or communist governing (although they didnt call it that). The thing that saved them, funny enough, was starting to use a capitalist structure instead – mainly because capitalism relies on the idea that people ARE going to be greedy, self-interested, and lazy, and makes it profitable for them to NOT be the latter, while getting the first two to work for the community’s benefit while still working for the individual.

            “My personal belief is communism probably can’t function above the community level,”

            I agree with this, but even at a community level, it doesn’t last long. And a community that cannot grow and evolve is doomed to failure.

            “but we shouldn’t confuse the dictatorships that called themselves communist with actual communism, they’re two different political systems.”

            Not really. Every single attempt at communism has become indistinguishable from a dictatorship or oligarchical dictatorship. The fact that the pure form has never been realized is because utopia doesn’t exist and pure forms of anything don’t exist. Reality is not perfect. People are not perfect. And government sure as heck is not perfect.

          • David Claughton

            I feel compelled to give the other side of the debate a fair shake and point out that Capitalism is also a system that works far better on paper than it ever does in practice.

            In an ideal world you would start a capitalist society with everyone starting with the same amount of wealth. From there everyone would compete or cooperate depending on which is in their own self-interest and the result would balance out exactly resulting in a “rising water level raises all boats” situation where everyone is more, but still equally, wealthy.

            In practice of course it doesn’t work like that. For starters, coming from a feudal society we have never been in a situation where everyone has had an equal share of wealth and even if we had, random chance would probably have resulted in some people benefiting more than others over time.

            The problem is there is no mechanism in pure capitalism offering a “negative feedback loop” to correct the case where more wealthy people exist. Quite the opposite – there are positive feedback mechanisms where such people have additional power and influence and can use them to increase their own wealth at the expense of others. (I realise I’m stating the obvious here!)

            About the only thing that has helped historically to an extent is, for example in pre-war US when governments levied 80-90% taxes against millionaires which could be used for public works projects. Unfortunately the conditions no longer seem to exist where any government in the US could come to power with the ability or desire to rain in capitalist excess to any realistic extent.

          • Izo

            “I feel compelled to give the other side of the debate a fair shake and point out that Capitalism is also a system that works far better on paper than it ever does in practice.”

            Actually, quite the opposite. Capitalism is something that, on paper, sounds like it should fall apart, but in practice works oddly well because it RELIES on human failings like greed and self-interest to maintain the system, and human beings almost always manage to do so. It even takes some level of altruism into account.

            “In an ideal world you would start a capitalist society with everyone starting with the same amount of wealth.”

            The fact that you had to start with an ‘ideal world’ means that you’ve already removed yourself from practice. We do not live in an ideal world, and people do not start with the same amount of wealth. Capitalism takes that into account. You haven’t.

            “From there everyone would compete or cooperate depending on which is in their own self-interest and the result would balance out exactly resulting in a “rising water level raises all boats” situation where everyone is more, but still equally, wealthy.”

            No again. People do not all work at the same level. People are not all the same intelligence, same strength, same work ethic. People do not all have the same skills, and those skills are not all in the same demand, and people do not all have the same needs, likes, and dislikes. A rising tide may raise all boats in general, but does not do so equally. It just rises them all.

            “In practice of course it doesn’t work like that.”

            Well, it’s good that you acknowledge that at least. Your initial premise is still wrong though.

            “For starters, coming from a feudal society we have never been in a situation where everyone has had an equal share of wealth and even if we had, random chance would probably have resulted in some people benefiting more than others over time.”

            We didn’t come from a feudal society. The first society we had in the United States was one based on mercantilism. Even England was no longer feudal by the time the colonies were started. Mercantilism was the theory that trade generates wealth and is stimulated by the accumulation of profitable balances, which the government should encourage. All colonies were expected to make money for the king. Capitalism was a naturally good answer to this. They tried a socialist structure first, in Jamestown, and they almost destroyed the colony with it.

            I agree with the last part of your sentence though, partially. Some people would benefit more than others. I disagree that that inequity is going to be random. Sometimes it might be random, but usually it’s based on people’s actions and choices in life.

            “The problem is there is no mechanism in pure capitalism offering a “negative feedback loop” to correct the case where more wealthy people exist.”

            How’s people becoming wealthy a problem? That seems like it would be a good thing. Even for the poor people in the United States, they often live much better than the middle class people of other countries which don’t engage in capitalism. Do you have heat in your house? Do you have a TV? (98.7 percent of American households have one, and a large number of those who don’t do not voluntarily because they use other methods like streaming. For that matter, a huge portion of even poor people have internet access and phones. The idea that anyone has the chance to BECOME rich, based on their choices in life, is a good thing. Does this mean it’s guaranteed? No. Does this mean that people who start rich are at an atvantage? But if one person becomes a winner in the capitalism game, it doesnt mean another person automatically becomes the loser. It’s actually possible for both sides to win. The answer to getting a bigger piece of the pie is not take more of someone else’s pie necessarily. It’s ‘bake a bigger pie.’ It happens, but it’s short-sighted. Because baking a bigger pie will both help the rich person get even richer than if he or she takes part of the poor person’s pie, with the added benefit that the poor person gets a bigger piece of their pie as well. Which they can then use to buy more stuff from the person with the bigger piece. Is it equal? No. There’s no equality of outcome. In real life, there is no equality of outcome, so capitalism is built around dealing with that.

            “Quite the opposite – there are positive feedback mechanisms where such people have additional power and influence and can use them to increase their own wealth at the expense of others. (I realise I’m stating the obvious here!)”

            This is true. In a capitalist society, the rich can and often do get richer. And yes, to some extent, it CAN be at the expense of others. It’s not at the expense of the poor though. It’s usually at the expense of other rich, because it makes more sense to increase your own wealth at the expense of someone else wealthy. You’ll get more money that way. There’s a reason the other person is rich – they have access to a market and consumer base that you should want. If you don’t want to compete with another rich person (like… if you’re not rich enough to compete with the rich), the alternative is again not ‘find the poor and crush them’ – it’s find a place where no one is competing at all, or take an existing model and offer something the rich person is NOT offering, and fill that void, because most of the time, you won’t be able to out-quality the person who can afford to pour more money into their business than you can. That’s just how capitalism works.

            Does this mean the rich will never exploit the poor? Of course not. They might. There are a-holes everywhere. Would they prefer to exploit other rich people? Yeah. Rich people would rather get more money from other rich people than eliminate the middle and lower class who buy most of their stuff. It’s better for them in the long run.

            “About the only thing that has helped historically to an extent is, for example in pre-war US when governments levied 80-90% taxes against millionaires which could be used for public works projects.”

            Actually 80-90% taxes on millionaires don’t work, especially not in the long run. it just makes the millionaires move to places where they are not being taxed 80-90%, or create tax shelters so they don’t have to pay anything, or far less than you’d think is normal, because they can afford people who know all the loopholes. The answer? Eliminate all the loopholes. The way to eliminate all loopholes? Make the tax system simpler, so there are less places for loopholes to form. That tends to require lower taxes though. Our highest period of growth was actually after Reagan got the TRA of 1984 passed to reduce the graduated tax from a high of 94 percent down to 35 percent (with the other levels being, I believe, 15 percent and 25 percent, and below 15 percent was zero).

            “Unfortunately the conditions no longer seem to exist where any government in the US could come to power with the ability or desire to rain in capitalist excess to any realistic extent.”

            Of course there are. There are LOTS of consumer protection groups who do have a good deal of power over capitalism, and who protect the rights of the consumer and there are hundreds of laws on the books to protect workers and consumers from unsafe business practices, monopolies and illegal trusts, and price gouging.

            Is it perfect? Definitely not. But that’s because people aren’t perfect. It still manages to work though better than the other systems.

            Maybe one day, someone will come up with a system that works perfectly, but I wouldn’t hold my breath, and that system will not be socialism or communism or a dictatorship. The world is doing better now for the poor than it’s done in most of the entire rest of the history of civilization – including, as you mentioned, feudalism.

          • “Do you have heat in your house? Do you have a TV?Do you have heat in your house? Do you have a TV?”

            Do you have universal healthcare, free at the point of delivery?

          • Izo

            So if I don’t have free health care, then I’m not as well off as another person in a country that has to ration his or her electricity each day and has no phone, heat, air conditioning, or TV? Because when I was in the Dominican Republic, health care was practically free, but electricity was rationed (and you needed a generator if you wanted more than a very minimal ration of it), no one had AC (and they NEEDED it), I had visited the house of a lawyer there and it was a TINY two room apartment which was comparable to what I had as a college student working as a waitress to afford the rent, and most people didn’t have TVs. Heck, in some places I went to, they didn’t have floors. I would not say they were better off.

          • Air-con as a necessary measure of wealth? What a uniquely American view.

            Most of the items you list are luxury items, healthcare and heat are not, they are basic essentials. The US, through failure to provide free at the point of delivery healthcare condemns much of its population to a third world level of healthcare, while leaving much of the rest in thrall to their health insurance providers should they or a family member happen to develop a long term medical condition. That isn’t wealth, it’s a balance of terror.

          • Izo

            “Air-con as a necessary measure of wealth? What a uniquely American view.”

            According to my cousin’s family in the DR, they saw it the same way.

            “Most of the items you list are luxury items, healthcare and heat are not, they are basic essentials.”

            Free healthcare actually IS a luxury item. But my point, of which you are getting off the topic, is that even the poor in the US have a much more luxurious life than the middle class or well-off in many other nations which have free health care. I mean, even the ACA is inherently flawed and is going to go bankrupt in a few years. By next year the prices are going to be skyrocketing, and as is, a lot of people are now paying more than they did before for less, or paying more for stuff which they do not need. In addition, the cost added to businesses is increasing prices and cutting full time workers. It’s just basic economics. And lets not forget that now you have government bureaucrats, not doctors, in a position of telling patients what is and is not worthy of medical treatment, and what type of treatment

          • “Free healthcare actually IS a luxury item.”

            Not from where I’m sitting. Healthcare for all is a basic human right. Article 25 of the UNCRPD states that health care must be available without discrimination, many disabled people are unable to work, therefore unable to pay for healthcare, therefore there must be provision for free healthcare.

            No matter how many fripperies you may have access to, life isn’t luxurious is you are wondering how to keep your child alive in the face of a long term illness. The US healthcare system forces far too many families into bankruptcy, when it isn’t failing them completely.

            “Making health care subject to the free market competition would lower the costs”

            To quote a recently viral post “Skin to skin contact in delivery suite: $75” How exactly is charging a mother to hold her baby lowering costs? And that’s far from the only example of exploitative charging in the US healthcare industry.

            Surveys repeatedly shown the US pays far more for a lower overall standard of healthcare than other 1st world states. It’s high end capability (when you have the money) is very, very good, but it’s average delivered performance is piss-poor, and it utterly fails far too many people.

          • Izo

            “Not from where I’m sitting. Healthcare for all is a basic human right.”

            Forcing others to pay for it isn’t.

            “Article 25 of the UNCRPD states that health care must be available without discrimination, many disabled people are unable to work, therefore unable to pay for healthcare, therefore there must be provision for free healthcare.”

            As we all know the pinnacle of morality that the UN is. Remind me again who they’ve had run the council on human rights? Noble countries known for their human rights such as… Congo, Cuba, China, Qatar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the UAE, Venezuela? All countries with sublime, clean bills of purity when it comes to determining human rights.

            Or the UN ‘peacekeepers’ engaging in slave trades and sex trafficking and rape gangs? Perhaps it’s humane rape gangs and sex trafficking and slavery?

            Or the myriad of antisemitic resolutions passed by the UN against Israel? I’m sure that when the nations that keep bringing up these resolutions finish their myriad attempts to ‘push the jews into the sea,’ they will do so quite humanely. Well… as long as they see jews as human. Which most don’t… even in their legal charters.

            How about hte UN human rights commissioner Navi Pillay’s report to the UN (A/HRC/25/40, par. 72, citing E/CN.4/2005/72/Add.4) stating, and this is a quote:

            “When Palestinean men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault.”

            Ah yes, the UN – pinnacle of human rights for all. As long as you’re not jewish, a woman, a yizidi, a kurd, a prisoner of war being tortured in violation of the Geneva Convention (unless the accused country is the US or Israel), anyone who wants freedom of speech and/or religion, or Israel in general.

            /s

          • “Forcing others to pay for it isn’t.”

            Society exists to protect everyone. We pay taxes to enable that. Freeloading may work for the rich, but it says an awful lot about them.

            Wow, you really don’t like the UN, do you? Yet if I’d cited another declaration of Human Rights, the US constitution, I’ve no doubt you’d be desperately defending it. Yet that’s a document that explicity allowed slavery and that still doesn’t have an Equal Rights Amendment. And here’s the Republican candidate for President talking about murdering families as collective punishment, wondering why he can’t threaten people with nuclear weapons, proposing to ban an entire religion from visiting his country and openly talking about sexually assaulting women.

            Feet of clay are universal, but when we say these rights are universal, and fight for that, we rise above them.

          • David Claughton

            I won’t respond to your reply point-by-point, mostly because I’m supposed to be working 🙂

            I live in the UK, so when I say capitalism came from feudalism I meant in Britain (back in Tudor times and before, long before the colonies were formed). Probably should have made that clear.

            Naturally it’s a good thing for people to be more wealthy – as long as everyone gets that opportunity. As you suggest the idea that anyone can become rich is a good thing and is the basis of the “american dream”, but unfortunately I consider it to be largely a fallacy. A person cannot in general start off penniless and through dint of hard work alone, become a rich man. It’s certain true that this is a good and mostly successful approach to avoiding starvation in the west, unlike in the third world, and many people do somewhat better than that – but rich? that’s mostly a lottery than only a lucky few win.

            I probably mis-stepped when I suggested that everyone should be equally wealthy – that’s obviously not strictly necessary in a capitalist society, but I would argue that no-one should have more power and influence than anyone else as a result of greater wealth – and in particular they shouldn’t have the power to subvert the system (through campaign funding and tax avoidance for example) as a result of greater wealth.

            Unfortunately we know that some people (or more commonly corporations) can and do influence government at both state and federal level to give them an unfair advantage over others. While there are indeed organisations that push back on this practice, sometimes successfully, it is a practice that is rife, because politicians quite like being wealthy too!

            It’s also true that in many cases people and corporations don’t necessarily set out to “crush the poor”. However by taking every legal and quasi-legal effort to increase their own profit, the poor often ends up being caught in the cross fire.

            I never intended to suggest that capitalism is necessarily a bad system, or that some form of socialism would be better. And I absolutely agree that it is better than feudalism! I do maintain that there are some flaws that are at best worrying (and at worst destabalise the whole system) and center around the fact that there are few if any sustainable ways of limiting the overreach by corporations. The system itself encourages organisations to do everything they can possibly get away with to maximise profit, and allows them to buy off and avoid any attempt at oversight of their actions. The results are the sub-prime mortgage scandal as the most obvious example, as well as the “too big to fail” debacle which followed it and didn’t even begin the prevent the problem from reoccurring in another guise somewhere down the line.

          • Izo

            “I live in the UK, so when I say capitalism came from feudalism I meant in Britain (back in Tudor times and before, long before the colonies were formed). Probably should have made that clear”

            Except it doesn’t. Capitalism came from mercantilism, not from feudalism. This is even well documented historically.

            “I probably mis-stepped when I suggested that everyone should be equally wealthy – that’s obviously not strictly necessary in a capitalist society, but I would argue that no-one should have more power and influence than anyone else as a resul t of greater wealth – and in particular they shouldn’t have the power to subvert the system (through campaign funding and tax avoidance for example) as a result of greater wealth.”

            It’s more than just everyone does not have to be equally wealthy. People also have different levels of work ethic, different priorities in life that might not include money, different skill sets, different amounts of intelligence or physical ability, different environments, and different upbringings. There are a lot of reasons that equal wealth for all is an impossibility that ignores basic human behavior and history.

            “A person cannot in general start off penniless and through dint of hard work alone, become a rich man.”

            Actually yes they can. The following are example of people who were poor, and several of whom were even homeless or penniless, who are now worth millions or billions through hard work, skill, and a little luck. All of which is factored into capitalism

            Ben Carson (one of the top 3 neurosurgeons on the planet – worth 10 million)
            Jim Carrey (one of the top 3 people able to talk out of his butt literally and make cringe-worthy movies – worth 150 million)
            Leonardo Dicaprio (one of the top 3 people dying in a boat sinking when that woman could CLEARLY have moved over for him to survive – worth 217 million)
            JK Rowling (Harry Potter author – worth 1 billion)
            Kenny Trout (founder of Excel – worth 1.7 billion)
            Howard Schultz (founder of Starbucks – worth 2 billion)
            Ken Lagone (founder of Home Depot – worth 2.1 billion)
            Oprah Winfrey (I hear she’s been on TV or something – worth 2.9 billion)
            Shahid Khan (owner of Flex-n-Gate and the NFL’s Jacksonvile Jaguars – worth 3.8 billion)
            Kirk Kerkorian (mega-resort owner – worth 3.9 billion)
            John Paul DeJoria (creator of John Paul Mitchel Systems Shampoo – worth 4 billion)
            Do Won Chang (founder of Forever 21 – worth 5 billion)
            Ralph Lauren (I hear he makes clothing or something – worth 7.7 billion)
            Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple, rebranded Apple to sell ipods and iphones – was worth 10.2 billion at time of death)
            Francois Pinault (founder of Kering – worth 15 billion)
            Leonardo Del Vecchio (founder of Ray Bans – worth 15.3 billion)
            George Soros (does anyone not know who he is? – worth 20 billion)
            Li Ka-shing (founded Cheung Kong Industries – worth 31 billion)
            Harold Simmons (lived in a SHACK with no plumbing or electricity – expert in corporate buyouts – worth 40 billion)
            Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle – worth 41 billion)

            Point is – the American Dream? Not a fallacy at all.

            “Unfortunately we know that some people (or more commonly corporations) can and do influence government at both state and federal level to give them an unfair advantage over others. While there are indeed organisations that push back on this practice, sometimes successfully, it is a practice that is rife, because politicians quite like being wealthy too!”

            I can’t disagree with this part – you’re absolutely correct about that, and it’s horrible that this happens, and happens often. But pointing to bad behavior of some does not mean the system itself is worse than other systems. This sort of corruption happens in ANY political system unfortunately, because people are faaaar from perfect and prone to greed, corruption, and dealmaking. The difference is, with capitalism, that actually doesn’t make the system crumble. Ironically, what makes capitalism crumble is trying to turn too much of it into socialism.

            “It’s also true that in many cases people and corporations don’t necessarily set out to “crush the poor”. However by taking every legal and quasi-legal effort to increase their own profit, the poor often ends up being caught in the cross fire.”

            Sorry but I see that more as rhetoric than actual fact. Of course, if a poor person tries to compete with a large corporation, they’re likely to get crushed in a head-to-head competition. Ie…. if you go over to Mike Tyson and challenge him to a fight, you’re going to get your head caved in within about 0.8 seconds. It doesn’t mean Mike Tyson was out looking to beat you up though. Although considering it’s Mike Tyson, maybe he was. The guy’s a psycho wife-beating ear-eating nutcase.

            “center around the fact that there are few if any sustainable ways of limiting the overreach by corporations.”

            I don’t disagree with this either. We have stuff like the Sherman Antitrust Act and other anti-monopoly laws in place, but I worry about overreach by ANY authority – individual, corporate or government-based

            “The system itself encourages organisations to do everything they can possibly get away with to maximise profit, and allows them to buy off and avoid any attempt at oversight of their actions.”

            It also encourages organisations to have a good reputation among the consumers, since consumers control what happens with their wallets. That’s why so much money from corporations are used for corporate responsibility projects (ie, charitable projects and money spent to help communities). It’s not because the want to be helpful. It’s because they want to have a good reputation so they can make money. Capitalism here is basically bribing them to be charitable, by saying ‘if you are charitable, you will make more money’ or ‘if you are more charitable than the other guy, you will more likely be able to crush that guy in business.’

            “The results are the sub-prime mortgage scandal as the most obvious example, as well as the “too big to fail” debacle which followed it and didn’t even begin the prevent the problem from reoccurring in another guise somewhere down the line.”

            Actually the problem with the sub-prime mortgage scandal with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and other too-big-to-fail companies is that they were not treated like normal corporations – they were treated, by the government, as quasi-government institutions, not subject to the rules of laissez faire economics.

            Good talk though.

          • David Claughton

            “Except it doesn’t. Capitalism came from mercantilism, not from feudalism. This is even well documented historically.”

            Global modern capitalism came from mercantilism, but in England at least we had an earlier form of capitalism that Wikipedia calls “Agrarian Capitalism” that pre-dates mercantilism and replaced feudalism. So I think we’re talking at cross-purposes.

            As for your list of rich people, you say yourself not all of them started out poor. I agree it is certainly possible for someone to become rich from being poor. I disagree that everyone or even most people have this opportunity though because it’s not usually just a matter of rolling your sleeves up and working hard – there’s usually a fair amount of luck and being in the right place at the right time involved as well. Also bear in mind that if you really are starting from poverty you won’t have had a college education which is the “normal” route to higher paid jobs, which puts you at an obvious disadvantage. The fact that so many people in the US believe in the fallacy that “anyone can become rich with hard work” is what leads to the idea that there shouldn’t be free healthcare (to use an example from a previous post) – “why should we pay for your healthcare, you’re only poor because you’re a lazy b*s*t*d” is a refrain I see on too many forums (happily not this one, at least so far!)

            “Of course, if a poor person tries to compete with a large corporation, they’re likely to get crushed in a head-to-head competition”

            I don’t understand why you don’t see this as a problem – a poor person (read small company) should be able to compete with a large corporation provided they can genuinely do a better job at providing the same product or service. Sadly this hardly ever happens because corporations play dirty, leveraging massive patent portfolios that small companies cannot hope to match, as just one example.

            Having said all that, I get the feeling we’ll have to agree to disagree on most of these points – we should probably start to draw a line under this anyway – we seem to have strayed somewhat from the point of the comic!

          • Izo

            “As for your list of rich people, you say yourself not all of them started out poor. I agree it is certainly possible for someone to become rich from being poor.”

            Uh… no I did not say they ‘not all of them started out poor.’ I said, specifically, all of them DID start out poor. And some were even homeless at some point in time. And now they’re millionaires and billiionairess, and some are among the richest people on the planet.

            “Also bear in mind that if you really are starting from poverty you won’t have had a college education which is the “normal” route to higher paid jobs, which puts you at an obvious disadvantage.”

            About 8 of the people I mentioned didnt even get a college education. Some were dropouts even from high school.

            Also, there are people like Ben Carson. Regardless of his politics, he was dirt poor, got scholarships, and came from a VERY poor family in a single parent household where his mother was illiterate. His education was entirely through hard work and study.

            Does not having a higher education put you at a disadvantage? Yeah. Probably. But the US is still a country where you CAN get an education if you want one. You can get grants and loans. You can get scholarships. You can go to trade schools, online colleges, and 2 year colleges (and then transfer to a 4 year college).

            The ‘American Dream’ is about equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. And we all have many different routes to those opportunities.

            “I don’t understand why you don’t see this as a problem – a poor person (read small company) should be able to compete with a large corporation provided they can genuinely do a better job at providing the same product or service. Sadly this hardly ever happens because corporations play dirty, leveraging massive patent portfolios that small companies cannot hope to match, as just one example.”

            I don’t see it as a problem for the same reason I don’t see it as a problem that Mike Tyson can beat any average joe off the street in a boxing match. You don’t attack someone where they are strongest. You attack where they are weakest. And yes, some corporations play dirty. Others don’t. Most don’t, in fact. When an ant is fighting against an elephant, my money is on the elephant to win the fight, even though the elephant is unlikely to be fighting dirty to win. The only time I think it IS a problem is when the corporation uses illegal tactics, or is a monopoly, since that goes against competition and equality of opportunity.

            “Having said all that, I get the feeling we’ll have to agree to disagree on most of these points – we should probably start to draw a line under this anyway – we seem to have strayed somewhat from the point of the comic!”

            I’m sure there are some points we’d agree on, even if there are a lot we disagree. For example, we both agree that this tangent has strayed waaaay too far from the comic 🙂

            Good talk. 🙂

          • “Every single attempt at communism has become indistinguishable from a dictatorship or oligarchical dictatorship.”

            The French Communist Party has been part of the French government on 3 occasions, the Italian Communist Party was a significant part of the Italian political scene for many years until evolving into a social democratic party.

          • Izo

            “The French Communist Party has been part of the French government on 3 occasions, the Italian Communist Party was a significant part of the Italian political scene for many years until evolving into a social democratic party.”

            Both of those countries are not communist – they are parliamentary democracies. The US has a communist party also, but the US is not a communist country.

          • Exactly.

          • Izo

            … um… okay so I think you don’t understand that those are therefore not communist countries, although France is extremely authoritarian left wing FOR those types of political systems. They have systems set in place to allow for a transition between different parties and coalitions of parties. You’re basically muddying up the terms (and I’m not sure you realize it hence my less sarcastic or adversarial response right now).

          • SClayton

            So perhaps the problem is not with Communism, but with a one-party state of ANY economic philosophy.

          • MrSing

            I think you are confusing communism and marxism.
            Communism is, by design, a system of goverment that leads to horrible dictatorships.
            Marxism is the nicer variant where people don’t get exploited, but it is too impractical to implement in any larger goverments and entirely dependend on the idealism and good naturedness of the people involved.

          • I think you’ll find it’s the other way around. Marxist-Leninism is the one party state version, strict communism should have neither party nor state.

          • MrSing

            No, I meant classic Marxism, as the one invented by Marx, not the one that Lenin turned it into. Which was really more of an critique on the state and on class anyway.
            Communism, while stating that there should be no state, always immediatly gets a state involved. There has been no iteration where communism was used on a large enough scale to be considered a legit form of goverment where the state did not from basically the very start took over.
            So, even though you are correct with your definition, communism on a scale where it could be without a state can not exist in the real world and is therefor a broken system that after many tries always ended in dictatorship.

          • Oren Leifer

            Yeah, kibbutzes/kibbutzim are a perfect level of community-scale communism. Above that, bureaucracy and the difficulty with associating more than a few hundred people with specific faces and people you know would make it difficult to impossible.

          • MarvalAlice

            If your wondering if there is something wrong with communism you can just ask anyone who has ever experienced it, they tend to say similar things.

            the heart of it is how much the philosophy fails to understand humanity, and the necessity that, no matter who you are or what you are doing, there is someone who can tell you “No”

          • Like Izo you’ve missed my point. The ‘communist’ governments we’ve seen to date have been one-party oligarchies, not communist. I don’t think communism will work at the state level, but we’ve yet to see a real example to judge from.

          • Oren Leifer

            Also, given that the actual Communist Manifesto is a prediction of trends rather than a list of solutions, “Instituting Communism” is like hearing that there’s going to be an earthquake and planting explosives to make sure it “happens”. Besides, it’s explicit in Marx’s writing that he does not want or believe in top-down instituted “Communism”

          • bryan rasmussen

            If he wanted money he should have asked for it. He could have said hey I’ll do it but not for free, I want something for my actions. I want 6 billion dollars. And then Allison might have twisted his arm or she might have said I’ll be right back and then her phone would have rang before she could fly off and it would be Patrick on the line “I’ll cover it”.

          • Izo

            “If he wanted money he should have asked for it.”

            Why should he have to ask?

            If I come up to you and tell you to go cut my grass, and act demanding about it, are you going to first say ‘how much will you pay me?’ or will you say ‘Screw you lady, who do I look like – your gardener?’

            Now… if I then say ‘I’ll pay you $10,000 to cut my grass’ will you more likely think ‘$10,000 for maybe an hour of my time? I guess right now I’m a gardener!’ or would you say again, ‘NO! I said screw you lady, who do I look like – your gardener?’

            You might, but there’s more of a chance now that you might not. And if you then say the latter, I’m not allowed to beat the crap out of you until you decide that being a gardener is a good career path for you (and without getting the $10,000).

            PS – why do you think Max should know that Alison even has that type of money. Or that Alison would be willing to do him superpower favors to make it worthwhile? She has seemed rather entitled from their dinner, at least in his eyes (I know, as hypocritical as that might seem for Max, but that would be his perspective anyway).

            “He could have said hey I’ll do it but not for free, I want something for my actions.”

            Why should he be on both the buying and selling side of this transaction? Alison came to him to ask for something, he didn’t come to her.

            “she might have said I’ll be right back and then her phone would have rang before she could fly off and it would be Patrick on the line “I’ll cover it”.”

            Based on what – the fact that she already tore up the check? Why are you putting the impetus on MAX to do anything when it’s Alison who wants something?

          • bryan rasmussen

            Yeah, your example about being demanding about cutting the grass is a pretty good one, if only that was anything like the scene where she was asking, because that scene was more like begging him and appealing to his better nature to get him to do something not very much like cutting her grass but very much like helping save the lives of thousands of people. But other than that slight difference, pretty good analogy so I can totally see how it makes sense to do the screw you what do I look like your gardener response. Now it’s true he did do the screw you what do I look like a person who cares if people are dying whom I could easily help at no expense and very little difficulty to me, but that sounds a lot less principled than the whole gardener thing.

            I don’t expect that Max would know that she has that kind of money. But it’s a hypothetical, maybe he says an astronomical amount to be a bigger jerk than normal, it is a possible way it might have gone.

            But anyway I said if he wanted money he should have asked for it for the simple reason that you seem to think it’s wrong to ask people to work for free even if the thing denoted by the term work in this case is not Max’s principle method of employment and is more like what most people would term ‘a favor’. Of course the real reason why he didn’t ask for money is because he doesn’t need it and is not interested in doing it for money whether or not there is any to be had,

            >Based on what – the fact that she already tore up the check? Why are
            you >putting the impetus on MAX to do anything when it’s Alison who wants
            >something?

            Based on Patrick probably monitoring the conversation real-time, reading her mind that she is going to go ask him for money and calling up to spare her the trip. As far as putting the impetus on him to do anything, you were going on about the whole working for free and communism thing, so maybe he should have asked for money if that was what he wanted. He didn’t ask though, because he didn’t want it. So the working for free thing is not really an issue, the issue is working under force. And where that is the case it’s not me putting the impetus on Max to do anything when it’s Allison who wants something; it’s Allison who is putting the impetus on Max to do something because she wants it. It’s just me being totally fine with that because I would do the exact same thing to Max under the circumstance – although probably I would have offered him some money first or asked him what do you want to do it rather than asking him to do something for the good of humanity because he’s already pretty established that he would never care about that.

          • Izo

            “But it’s a hypothetical, maybe he says an astronomical amount to be a bigger jerk than normal, it is a possible way it might have gone.”

            The main point I am trying to get across is it’s the duty of the person making the request to offer something, not the duty of the person being asked for a favor to demand something in return. After all, it would just look bad that way anyway….

            “I need your help!”
            “What’s in it for me?”

            “But anyway I said if he wanted money he should have asked for it for the simple reason that you seem to think it’s wrong to ask people to work for free even if the thing denoted by the term work in this case is not Max’s principle method of employment and is more like what most people would term ‘a favor’. Of course the real reason why he didn’t ask for money is because he doesn’t need it and is not interested in doing it for money whether or not there is any to be had,”

            I see no reason to blame the victim for not doing something to prevent the perpetrator from doing a crime. It’s incumbent upon Alison to ask, not Max. She’s the one who wants something. If you go to get a job at McDonalds, with no real leverage, do you say to them “I will work for you, but only if you meet my set of work demands. First, I want $20 an hour, with a paid vacation. Second, I require a personal assistance. Third, I am going to need a private break room for some personal me time every few hours.”

            Or would you go to a McDonalds and the manager says “The job pays $8 an hour, do you want it or not?”

            Alison already knows that Max is not going to be altruistic. She should take it upon herself to figure a non-violent way to convince him through an actual incentive method, which is something he already has said at the dinner is something he DOES believe in.

            And no, torture is not an incentive structure. It’s a protection racket. You can’t create the problem then say you will solve the problem if you do as I say, then call that an incentive structure.

          • bryan rasmussen

            I agree she should have asked what he wanted, I certainly would have, and it seems sort of a weird telling part of her character that she didn’t. That she didn’t consider it sort of implies that she didn’t really care what Max wants, because well she’s pissed at him for being such a shit and in a way it is very much poetic justice – he dissed Feral, now he must help Feral.

            Or maybe she cares too much what Max wants, but in her opinion it had better be only one thing. She wants him to want to help.

            I wonder what would have happened if he had said yes, of course I’ll help. Would she have then felt attraction to him again? Was the not offering him compensation because she was angry she had ever felt attraction for him? I mean really she could have gone about any number of ways to get him to do it nicely, she could have called Patrick and asked for his help. Of course she didn’t need to do these things because of her powers, but she could have so as to not run the risk of needing to use force. And she decided not to do anything but ask Max, please be decent. And he wasn’t.

            I think essentially this was their second date, and now they really are broken up.

          • Izo

            “because well she’s pissed at him for being such a shit and in a way it is very much poetic justice – he dissed Feral, now he must help Feral.”

            You do realize it’s even worse if her reason for what she did is simply that ‘she doesn’t like him because he suggested Feral’s act might not be entirely altruistic?

            “She wants him to want to help.”

            Well then she failed utterly and completely. I think a lot of the reason he didn’t want to help HER in particular is because of how she acted. He will now always associate helping Alison with anything with her being an evil psychotic tyrant fixated on violating his autonomy because might makes right and liberty is unnecessary.

            “Was the not offering him compensation because she was angry she had ever felt attraction for him?”

            No, I think Alison is simply not particularly intelligent or capable of stuff like strategy and persuasion beyond punching things and hurting people. She’s a thug.

            “And she decided not to do anything but ask Max, please be decent. And he wasn’t.”

            He was decent in the talk at first. He just said no. He didnt start getting spiteful until Alison started getting insulting and rude.

            “I think essentially this was their second date, and now they really are broken up.”

            Don’t make it too easy for me to make the rape analogy again… k?

          • bryan rasmussen

            you do realize that I’m just suggesting explanations for why Allison might have gone about the things the way she did, not suggesting the way she went about it was the optimal way to do so. That is to say I think she was emotionally clouded regarding Max, and did it the way she did because she wanted other things from him she didn’t get. In fact those things she could never get by force. She couldn’t force him to be altruistic, but she could force him to help Feral.

          • Izo

            “you do realize that I’m just suggesting explanations for why Allison might have gone about the things the way she did, not suggesting the way she went about it was the optimal way to do so.”

            Yes I realize that. I’m just arguing that is what you’re saying WAS true, then it is even worse as far as a slippery slope goes.

          • The Distinguished Anarchist

            Well this seemed to escalate quickly…
            Just a few minor clarifications:

            The whole “Nazism didn’t grow out of capitalism”:
            -Yeah, it didn’t grow out of socialism either. Hitler was NOT a socialist, nor were any of his heinous, long-term associates. Adolf Hitler was a populist, ultra-nationalist, demagogue who put the word’s “socialist” and “worker” into his party name to gain the support of Germany’s disenfranchised working class, and use the revenue from the country’s massive industrial backbone to finance his rise to power. In fact, once he got himself into place, he then jailed every single person, even members of his own political party, who still thought they were going to do this whole silly socialist thing.

            “The ACA is more broken than anything was in the past.”:
            -I… wow…
            “Misinformed” is probably the most polite descriptor I can apply to that sentiment. Let’s not forget that it was the insurance companies’ rampant exploitation of the system that lead to the need for reform in the first place.
            They abused their policy holders by taking premiums from them for decades, and then canceled their policy once they developed a crippling major illness. They imposed hidden lifetime caps on the amount of health care any one person could receive. They created “preexisting condition” clauses that made it impossible for millions of Americans to even get coverage. And in response to your remark about bureaucrats determining appropriate health care instead of doctors, I would like to point out how insurance provider’s avoided payments on more expensive treatments by arbitrarily classifying them as “experimental.” These are also the same insurance companies that unilaterally canceled policies that
            Now, premiums are set to go up on account of Aetna and other providers pulling out of areas where they have to cover people under the ACA in an attempt to cause the whole system to collapse on itself. Of course they want it to fail. They want it to fail so that they can go right back to the same kinds of exploitation they’ve been doing for the past thirty plus years. Because they know that all of the lawmakers that are pushing so hard for a repeal right now are going to replace the law with nothing. I don’t attribute any of this to malice. Insurance providers are just trying to run a business. But that right there is both the point and the real root of the problem. As long as healthcare is treated like a business it will always be about generating profit first, and helping people second. No decision an insurance company ever makes will be in the general public’s best interest.

            But anyway, I really wanted to talk about Alison and Max.

            The short version? Alison was wrong. Morally and ethically wrong, and there exists no system of justice in which she was in any way right.

            Let me explain:
            There exists a concept called bodily integrity (more commonly called bodily autonomy). Basically it states that the physical body is inviolable, and that all human beings have total self-determination over what happens with their own body. It’s why you cannot be compelled to donate organs or other against your will, even when the other person will certainly perish as a result of your inaction. It’s why even touching another person constitutes assault, and why people can do as they see fit with their remains after they die. Any breech of this concept is considered, at minimum, unethical, and in many cases, criminal.

            It’s also why comparing what Alison did to Max to rape or burglary is completely legitimate, because in terms of bodily integrity it absolutely was. The concept does not care why the other person was violated. Only that they were. She used her superior physical ability to compel Max to act against his wishes. In a fair and unbiased system of justice, Max is the victim. The circumstances are irrelevant. The only thing that would be in question is what would be what appropriate for Alison’s punishment.

            And so far as that goes… Alison has not only demonstrated no remorse for her actions, but in a roundabout way stated that given the same circumstances she would make the same decision again, and DIRECTLY stated that she would take the same course of action in the future should she (and she alone) deem it appropriate.

            You tell me how she should be treated.

          • Izo

            “Yeah, it didn’t grow out of socialism either.”

            Yes it did. Even by the name of the Nazi party you can tell that it did.

            “Hitler was NOT a socialist, nor were any of his heinous, long-term associates.”

            Yes, they were. The fact that they did something abbhorent and believed that their abbhorent, hate filled beliefs were what was going to help German society doesn’t change that they were socialists.

            “Adolf Hitler was a populist, ultra-nationalist, demagogue”
            None of that changes the fact that the nazi party was a socialist movement.

            “who put the word’s “socialist” and “worker” into his party name to gain the support of Germany’s disenfranchised working class, and use the revenue from the country’s massive industrial backbone to finance his rise to power.”

            You could almost replace Hitler with Marx and Germany with Russia and have the same sentence…

            It’s something many people don’t always understand – that socialism and communism tend to require an authoritarian regime (the extreme of which is fascism), while more liberal policies tend to require a more libertarian setting (the extreme of which is anarchy). The Nazis were voted into power under a socialist ideology, and put in place socialist systems. They did this to gain the support of the workers, yes, but the actions they took were ALSO socialist. If the abandonned socialism, they would have lost their population support. Most of the Germans followed the Nazis not because of fear, but because they thought the Nazis were going to give them stuff (especially after the economic devastation Germany suffered from the treaty of Versailles after WW1)

            “”Misinformed” is probably the most polite descriptor I can apply to that sentiment.”

            Even the designers of the ACA admit it’s fundamentally broken and is going to go bankrupt within a few years. Not to mention it’s already costing the average people who rely on insurance more than they paid before – not to mention hurting people’s ability to get full-time jobs (and when quoting statistics, remember I said ‘full time’).

            ” Let’s not forget that it was the insurance companies’ rampant exploitation of the system that lead to the need for reform in the first place.”

            I’m not saying the old insurance scheme was good. I’m saying the new one is worse. Plus would be unconstitutional if not for the fact that the Supreme Court incorrectly and bewilderingly claimed that the ACA is a tax (which would make it constitutional), which even Obama said it was not.

            I think the best route would have been to allow people to buy whatever level of insurance they want in the same way you buy a toaster or a TV – through state lines, being able to shop for the best price and ONLY the features you want. The insurance companies blocked that because they’re corrupt, and they LIKE the ACA because it will be making them more money until it collapses, at which point they’re going to gouge everyone unless they remove the state ‘walls.’

            “They created “preexisting condition” clauses that made it impossible for millions of Americans to even get coverage.”

            I have no problem with removing the preexisting condition clause. It’s one of the only things about the ACA that I find to be a good idea.

            “And in response to your remark about bureaucrats determining appropriate health care instead of doctors, I would like to point out how insurance provider’s avoided payments on more expensive treatments by arbitrarily classifying them as “experimental.””

            Again, I’m not saying the old way was good. I’m saying the new way is worse. They should have replaced it with something that’s actually BETTER. And preferably something not arguably unconstitutional, doomed to go bankrupt while taking medicare down with it even faster than it was going down before, and something where they don’t have to blatantly lie to get it passed. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? Not even remotely true.

            “These are also the same insurance companies that unilaterally canceled policies”

            Insurance carriers are pieces of crap. I agree. Next point.

            “Now, premiums are set to go up on account of Aetna and other providers pulling out of areas where they have to cover people under the ACA in an attempt to cause the whole system to collapse on itself. Of course they want it to fail. They want it to fail so that they can go right back to the same kinds of exploitation they’ve been doing for the past thirty plus years.”

            Do you realize how much money the insurance carriers are making from the ACA? They’re LOVING it. They’re not making it fail. It’s failing on its own. They’re just fleecing people to get the most money they can from the taxpayers before it DOES fail.

            “Because they know that all of the lawmakers that are pushing so hard for a repeal right now are going to replace the law with nothing.”

            They should instead replace it with something better. Like the free market. Or personal accounts. Heck, keep the old system in place and give everyone $X a year specifically to be used for insurance costs, and anything about the insurance costs, the people get to keep. Even that type of plan would still be more efficient and less costly than the ACA.

            “But anyway, I really wanted to talk about Alison and Max.”

            YAY, something we’ll be more likely to agree on. 🙂 (I’m assuming at least)

            “The short version? Alison was wrong. Morally and ethically wrong, and there exists no system of justice in which she was in any way right.”

            YAY I was right! We do agree!

            Actually I don’t even have to comment on anything else in your post because I agree with every single word you wrote 🙂

            I think Alison should be treated like the criminal that she is. Put into a restraint like Cleaver’s. Or find another biodynamic who has the same opinion that Alison went too far who might have a non-strength-based way to stop her, since Batman normally doesn’t challenge Superman to a fistfight. He uses trickery and attacks where Superman is weak, not where he is strong.

            Well except in the Dark Knight Returns, in which he just put on a suit of armor and had Kryptonite arrows. But Alison doesn’t have a kryptonite factor unfortunately.

          • Lostman

            Well… the truth is the Nazis (Hitler) said they were both enemies to both Socialism, and Capitalism. But the truth is that Nazism at it’s core was what ever Hitler it to be.

            Using Nazis in a argument is like throwing mud.

      • Wormlore

        First, congratulations at reading and replying to only part of the comment.

        Second, to answer your question, “wrong” is debatable. I suppose here we can call “wrong” the fact of not helping when you clearly have the ability to.

        Third, Cyrano11 also properly stated that forcing someone to do “right” is at least as “wrong” – and probably more – as not helping is. What are you disagreeing with there?

        • weedgoku

          “First, congratulations at reading and replying”
          Thanks. I’m pretty good at it, I know.

      • masterofbones

        > Alison lied about her motivation

        To be fair, she probably convinced herself that she was telling the truth.

        >took away his agency

        Also to a lesser extent took away Feral’s.

      • Alon Rand

        Alison being wrong does not make Max right. This is not a zero-sum game, where if one side is deemed a loser the other side is by default the winner. Alison was wrong to compel Max to do this (though she told herself she was doing right under an “end justifies the means” argument – the fact that she keeps hanging her head demonstrates she knows better). Max was ALSO wrong to refuse (the fact that his stated motive was to “show Alison” that she “doesn’t always get her way” demonstrates that, on some level, he ALSO knew better). Of note, however: Max was morally wrong, but legally within his rights. Alison was both wrong AND breaking the law.

        The ethics of complex acts are at least as complex as the implications of those acts – this single action has MASSIVE implications – it’s going to change the lives of, as Alison said when trying to convince Max, “countless, countless” people. You cannot reduce them down to easy answers. Alison was wrong to compel Max, but she was not wrong to try to find a way to gain his help – the long-term benefit of this is almost literally incalculable (assuming, of course, that Feral’s enhanced ability doesn’t go haywire down the line).

        At bottom, Alison’s mistake was giving in to her own frustration and impatience. She’s been looking for a big, singular act that will have a massive, sustained impact on the world for the better, because she’s still very young, and has a history of being able to have a very large effect on the world. She hasn’t yet come to grips with the fact that the entire world is a lot more complicated than comic books – or even a group of kids playing out their version of a comic with actual powers – makes it out to be. Changing the world in a big way, permanently, require sustained hard work, not singular, huge punches.

        • SJ

          First of All™, Max is not the protagonist; he does not have the same narrative responsibility to be moral that Alison does.

          Second of all, Max is the victim. Not Alison, not even Tara. Max is. He’s not required to be right. “Rightness” is not a prerequisite for victimhood, nor is it a prerequisite for victims to be entitled to sympathy.

          EDIT – Aside from that, though, I agree with your basis thesis.

          • Alon Rand

            I wasn’t talking about this in terms of “narrative responsibility” – I was treating them as each examples of real-person behavior.

            And treating Max as solely and only a victim oversimplifies the scenario in another way. Yes, he is A victim of Alison (not THE, A). To a lesser extent, Tara could be considered a victim of Alison’s actions as well, given that she wasn’t consulted before Alison took action. But Max made choices as well – the fact that his choice was inaction does not mean he has no moral status.

            It’s tempting to compare Max to a rape victim, or a victim of a mugging, because people in that circumstance have also been compelled through the threat of force to do the bidding of another. But it isn’t that simple – Al was forcing him to rescue millions of people from pain, suffering, and death, by doing something literally no one else on Earth can. There is no easy metaphor for this, but something close might be (peron A) putting a gun to someone’s head (person B) to force them to pull another person (person C) hanging off a cliff to safety. There is a risk to the safety of person B – over and above the threat against them, they might be pulled over as well. If person B does nothing, person C will almost certainly die – but it cannot easily be said that it will be person B’s fault. And it isn’t right to say that person A is within the right to force person B to save person C, but given that person A isn’t strong enough to pull C up themself, it isn’t precisely wrong, either. This is a complex moral quandary – nobody is morally clear.

          • SJ

            I wasn’t talking about this in terms of “narrative responsibility” – I was treating them as each examples of real-person behavior.

            What reason is there to do that?

            And treating Max as solely and only a victim oversimplifies the scenario in another way.

            Strongly disagree; the scenario is appropriately simple, not overly so.

            … Al was forcing him to rescue millions of people from pain, suffering, and death, by doing something literally no one else on Earth can…

            Which is exactly why it’s pointless to have this discussion in terms of “real-person behavior.” There is literally no one in the real world who, solely by his or her own actions, has the power to save Countless, Countless Lives™. Real-person behavior does not apply.

          • Alon Rand

            Because that is what almost everyone here is doing. If we discuss this only in terms of what abstract moral lesson this story might teach, it quickly stops mattering who did what or why – all that matters then is what the author might have intended to tell you by writing this. And frankly, that’s not a very interesting discussion to me.

            But since you and I are apparently talking about entirely different things while using the same language, there’s actually no further conversation to be had, so I’ll just leave it there.

          • Max had the opportunity to prevent Tara suffering. He explicitly used that as a weapon to hurt Alison by refusing to help her and stating that as his reason. That means he took on moral and ethical responsibility for Tara’s suffering on two different levels (general ethical responsibility towards people in danger, specific ethical responsibility not to make people suffer for personal gratification).

            None of that excuses Alison, but Max’s hands are actually bloodier. Alison exerted minor physical harm on Max and kidnapped him for several hours – which are serious charges. But Max a) proposed to extend Tara’s physical suffering indefinitely and b) did cause it to be extended by a minimum of several minutes, which might not seem like much, but when you’re having organs ripped out with no anaesthetic probably seems like a lifetime.

            Max is Alison’s victim, but he was also Tara’s victimizer.

      • MarvalAlice

        I realize not everyone understands this, but the idea of helping others being its own reward isn’t just a cliche, It’s chemistry. we’re social creatures, helping each other causes a number of beneficial chemical reactions in our minds and bodies. so he did have something to gain. it just wasn’t material.

        • weedgoku

          But feeling good about yourself doesn’t really outweigh the downsides of using his ability and obviously he thought so. It also doesn’t keep you alive when people start asking questions and come to conclusions about the one guy with one specific super power whose information someone’s just leaking around now.

    • Weatherheight

      For quoting C.S. Lewis, you get an upvote. 😀

    • Psile

      We are not all Max. Max has the power to save 6,000 lives annually with almost no effort. The rest of us don’t. I get what you’re saying, and absolutely go out and help people. Volunteer, donate blood, whatever. Do good stuff. Be as much a super hero as you can. If you don’t want to, well that’s your right.

      We’re talking about something totally different here. Max is the only person on the whole planet who can help these people. It’s just him. That’s not fair and he didn’t ask for it. Neither did the people who need the organs. Life’s not fair, etc. etc. Another thing that really tilts this against him is the profoundly small amount of effort it would take. The only thing he has on his side is that is exposes him to some risk, but it is really hard to say if he is more at risk in hiding than exposed since in hiding he doesn’t have access to any legal recourse if someone finds out his secret. It’s a bit ironic at this point, but I digress.

      Motives matter because motives dictate action. If you pay attention to Allison’s facial expressions I don’t think her conscience is clear. Sometimes we’re faced with a lesser of two evils situation, though most of us will never have to deal with one as massive as Allison is. Allison had a choice of two wrong actions. Either violate Max’s personal rights and freedom by assaulting him and forcing him to act in a way she deems fit or let thousands of people die. What she did was wrong, but refusing to act is also a choice.

      Aside from that, morality is not a strict path. Allison is not destined to become super-empress now that she made someone do a thing with her powers. She still is going to make every choice individually and weigh the pros and cons. She still wants to live in a world where suffering is alleviated including violence.

  • danny in canada

    This is nice, but I’m just waiting for some horrible backfire.

    For instance, does Max’s enhancement thing eventually wear off?

    • Walter

      There was her conversation with him about potentially doing this again. That seems to indicate it might be temporary, although she could also have been referring to getting him to MAX someone else.

  • Walter

    Many thanks to the creators for your constant modding efforts up till now. I think that the community that you shaped has been pretty great!

  • bryan rasmussen

    Anyway I’m pretty bored about the moral discussion of should she or shouldn’t she have. I guess I am just interested in how this works in relation to the supposed conspiracy if there is one.

    I say if there is one because I have to consider there are two other possibilities – one there isn’t one and Patrick made it seem like there was one to not get turned in by Allison, with his powers he identified the best way to turn her and protect himself. Two there is one, but it’s only time traveling Patrick.

    If there is a conspiracy then the conspiracy was supposedly killing anybody whose power had the capacity to change the world too much. I actually think there is one and that this is the reason that Patrick keeps Paladin’s inventions on his license – he’s protecting her.

    But the problem is that various powers in conjunction or elevated in the manner that seems to be happening to people’s powers as they mature are as potentially world changing as any of the singular powers that were killed – this world is pretty much at the level of “If Reed Richards existed the world would be changed immeasurably” with a lot of different people slotted in for the value of ‘Reed Richards’, that is to say it seems like the world of the comic should start changing too much and too quickly about now due to the increase of power, and the abilities that powers working in conjunction create, prompting conspiracy movement to protect the status quo.
    Some people whose existence is as potentially world-changing as those killed:

    Paladin.
    Feral – after augmentation by Max.
    Pintsize ( given the stuff he is supposed to be working on now may produce world changing stuff)
    Obviously Patrick
    Max ( by augmenting people like Feral to be world-changers)

    So now the conspiracy if it exists has a reason to kill Max, and Feral.

    Paladin is neutralized enough that the conspiracy probably don’t want to kill her. Does the conspiracy even know about Patrick?

    Patrick if he isn’t the cause of the killing will want to protect Max and Feral, this might in fact have been his ploy (although I expect he will want to get augmented as well)

    • Lysiuj

      All of this is actually enough to start convincing me that Patrick was full of shit, and there is no conspiracy.

      • Sendaz

        It is a possibility, though I do think it unlikely.
        All Alison ever got to was Patrick’s word and some files which could have been mocked up… there were no bodies to actually doublecheck against and it’s doubtful Alison ever asked about the dead biodynamics with her Doc.

        • Lysiuj

          Basically, yeah. And all the above examples start to seem like they’re piling up. I mean, if this group of people is set on preventing any BD person from changing the world… well, we’re seeing the start of some pretty big changes.

          • Weatherheight

            Which, is there is a Conspiracy, would seem that now is a very good time for them to act, no? 😀

          • palmvos

            how do we know they haven’t yet? where did that idiot get a flamethrower? or can you just go the the surplus store and buy one? supposedly flamethrowers are against the Geneva convention… but US citizens can own one. because no one could come up with a legal definition of a flame thrower. and before you ask there is sorta a legit use for one…
            its a specialized welding torch- the gas is heavier then air so you fill the holes with it….then light it. I’ve seen videos of the gadget- its underwhelming to operate. (needs more Micheal bay!)

          • Weatherheight

            Obligatory Lens Flare!

          • palmvos

            the camera explodes.

    • phantomreader42

      I say if there is one because I have to consider there are two other possibilities – one there isn’t one and Patrick made it seem like there was one to not get turned in by Allison, with his powers he identified the best way to turn her and protect himself. Two there is one, but it’s only time traveling Patrick.

      But why would time-traveling Patrick (or any time-traveler, for that matter) wait until the powers they wanted to eliminate manifested before killing the kids with those powers? We’re talking about someone from the future, who knows what’s going to happen, and when, and to whom. It would be less disruptive, and leave less of a trail, if they eliminated the potentially troublesome biodynamics BEFORE they actually activated their powers. Possibly even by slipping their mothers something that would cause an early miscarriage, though that would require traveling back 14 additional years which introduces its own complications.
      Maybe if it were Patrick specifically, he might do it to deliberately leave himself a clue to what he needed to do later, but that seems a bit too complicated even for him. Any other time traveler would want to avoid getting caught. Which seems like a good reason for them to eliminate the telepath, but then they clearly didn’t so that raises the question of why not?

      It’s possible that a time-traveling biodynamic would be limited in range by the Storm, unable to travel to before superpowers started manifesting.

      • bryan rasmussen

        I suppose that Patrick would want to kill the people killed by the conspiracy because he would find out they actually represented threats of some sort that needed to be taken out, if that was the case then he would kill them in a way that gave him the clue to the conspiracy existing because the conspiracy existing ( and him not having any way to find it ) was what caused him to research time travel possibilities in the first place. Common time travel trope.

    • Weatherheight

      What makes Patrick compelling to me is that he’s essentially pointed out the very reason why there is no manifest reason to trust him in Chapter 3. So we have to decide – can we take it on faith that he’s turned over a new leaf in his life, or is he telling everyone what they want to hear?

      If the latter, then the “Conspiracy” may be his cover-up of his own actions, no time-travel necessary (not axiomatically excluded, but not necessary). If the former, one has to wonder to wonder just how the Conspiracy actually works.

      Nice post!

  • Superfrick

    Alison’s actions were cruel to Max. But in the cold calculus of life, I have to admit that I would have done the very same thing. It’s scary, when you think of someone with ultimate power forcing decisions for the betterment of the world, but I think these things will need to be weighed on a case by case basis. And really, Alison is incapable of shrugging off introspection and guilt. Her choice is going to weigh on her and shape her future actions.

    • Her choice is going to weigh on her and shape her future actions.

      This… is actually the opposite of comforting, no matter how I look at it.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    Now we get to see who in the comment section subscribes to utilitarianism.

    • Tylikcat

      Which will be news?

      • Yirtimd2

        ME!ME!ME!

  • Philip Bourque

    Since the Max coercion incident, there have been a huge increase in the number comments. Your moderation efforts are to be lauded. I’d still love to see the author’s response to the whole unfeasible numbers & logistics comments from the last comic, unless that’s spoilers. Also the doc’s last line makes me laugh. I’m sure we’ll come up with new and creative ways to make each other suffer to pick up the slack. Plus there’s always war, that always causes plenty of suffering. Al should solve that next, she can punch Max into powering up another super to save the world again. More power: the cause of and solution to all life’s problems. Don’t mind me, I’m a cynic.

    • Burke

      Tim Allen, ladies and gentlemen, give him a big hand! (More power, more power, grunt grunt grunt.)

  • Mujaki

    “…will become an oddity of the past.”
    One problem with that, though. She can constantly regenerate, but she can still AGE, right?
    Is she still going to be coming in for her forty hours, in fifty years? Two hundred fifty?
    Just because she can’t be killed doesn’t mean she can’t die.

    • Yirtimd2

      People die if they are killed! – you know?

      • RobNiner

        “And that’s how it should be…”

    • Stephanie

      Can she age? I’m not sure about that.

      • phantomreader42

        Well, she looks older than 14…

        • Sam

          Now I’m imagining tiny immortal Feral trying to argue her way into a bar.

          “No, really, I’m 21! I just look like this because of my mutant powers!”

          “Yeah, sure, kid. That’s what they all say.”

          • phantomreader42

            There’s a Neil Gaiman comic where that is a MAJOR plot point. “Eternals”, I think it was? Bunch of immortal superbeings lose their memories and have to recover their identities because the illusion-making kid decided to rewrite reality so he could finally GROW UP after who knows how long as a perpetual child fully aware of all the others having adult fun that he wasn’t allowed to join in. One of them’s called “Mark Curry”, and another “Ike Harris”.

          • Heh. Now I’m imagining Max-imized(tm) Regeneration actually becoming so efficient that it not only halts aging, it actually reverses it.

            “Blasotcyst Feral’s jar is carried into a bar…”

          • Yirtimd2

            Benjamin Button?

        • Stephanie

          Yes, but aging as in developing to adulthood and aging as in senescence are different processes.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            What about the time in-beteween? It’s not like you hit your peak at 24 and right then it’s all senescence all the way down, is it? What’s happening to a human body from 25 to 60?

          • Stephanie

            As far as I know it pretty much is senescence all the way down.

          • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

            oh god I’m already dying

          • Stephanie

            I know, right? I turned 24 this year, I’m in despair.

          • palmvos

            ::leans on cane and peers at Stephanie::
            come talk to me when your kid is 24!
            muscle density and power peaks at 25 so you have one more year….make some memories before your back gives out.

          • MrSing

            Reminds me of the movie “The Last Unicorn” in fact.
            Spoilers for, like, a thirty year old movie:
            As soon as the unicorn is turned into a human she says “I can feel this body dying all around me”.
            Woof! That hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it.

          • Kifre

            What about menopause, though? My understanding has always been that it’s due to running out of ovum, not cellular degeneration. Presumably Feral will hit that eventually as part of aging. I mean, ovum wouldn’t regenerate since they’re not damaged or actively created in an adult.

          • Stephanie

            It happens when the ovaries stop producing estrogen for whatever reason. But true–Feral could run out of ova and become unable to reproduce, while remaining physically youthful.

        • MrSing

          Maturing from child to adult is a different kind of aging than biologically “degrading” from adult to elderly.

  • Anna

    I knew it!!!!

  • Hawthorne

    I kinda wondered if they were going to show how her organs reproduce so fast that they’ve removed a set from her body and they just keep pumping out copies of themselves when you cut them, hydra-like. Or if they cut out an organ and a whole new Feral grew around it but one without an aware mind that they could then harvest from forever.

  • Hawthorne

    Oop, and wait…is Feral immortal? Because otherwise that “oddity of the past” is only going to last about another probably 80 years maximum.

    • MrSing

      Actually, with her healing ability she might very well be.
      If she had any form of normal biological degradation that occurs in base line humans, it would be very obvious in her appearance and DNA by now, because of the many times she’s had to reconstruct parts of her body.
      She’s also immune to most toxic substances, so we can assume her DNA does not suffer damage, or is capable of repairing itself quite effectively.
      I’d say with the rate things are going, either she is nearly biologically immortal, or she’s going to fall over in the next five years.

    • Izo

      I don’t think she’s immortal, but like Wolverine, her lifetime will be extremely, extremely extended. Thats my read on it at least.

  • Stephanie Gertsch

    Red panels in the middle = love? 😀

    I also like feral’s unshaved legs. But I wonder if her being unwashed would affect the sterility of the operating room. Maybe not because her organs are so tough?

    • ∫Clémens×ds 🐙

      The thing is, all of us are not just our cells, but the biomass of microbes living in symbiosis on and inside us. It applies to Tara, too. Consequences? Immortal bacteria

      The actual problem wasn’t organ output, but how fast she wastes –fairly expensive– surgery rooms. Maybe we need to twist Max’ arm some more to get a Super whose power is tidiness to sweeten the deal.

      • Sendaz

        > Consequences? Immortal bacteria

        Now we know why the New York Postal Service¹ offed the girl who could talk with pathogens!
        Because they knew this might well happen and understood what a game changer it would be if she could communicate and direct said immortal bacterial diseases.

        ¹ another term for the Conspiracy. See Clémens×ds 🐙 for more details on this.

    • Stephanie

      She’s been asleep for 13 hours, so she might just reek from lying in her sweat that whole time.

  • Yirtimd2

    Well after reading comments for three hours, I think I need to tell my opinion – I think it’s very complicated and i want to make list.
    First, I think that Alison is the strongest being on Earth in this universe, maybe she is some sort of living goddess, and no one can fight on equal terms with her. And because of that the government make all what they can do to not piss her off and maintain her in good mood – like when they dismissed her teacher because he had some arguing with her – it’s all because they don’t have any countermeasures against her in case if she will make full-on rampage – like in DC universe government has Captain Atom who can fight with Sups in theory, and many other guys, but here they don’t have anything to stop her.
    And this going to the second – after all, in the end it’s always a matter of force – of brutal and ruthless force, you know, who is stronger is right after all. Winners are not judged, and if somebody will fight with her she will defeat them and she will be good winner and they will be bad losers. And everyone who will be her enemy by default will be bad person, this is logic of our world you know. No matter what everybody think about how bad or good her actions are, she can do it, she is doing it and she will be doing what she wants – that’s all.
    And third – I think Alison has started to obtain some sort of Messiah Syndrome. You know, Hitler and Stalin were thinking that their actions were right – just read books what they wrote – they believed that they were making some sort of “Ideal Society”, “Earth Paradise”. “End justifies the means” – they really wanted to “save the lost sheeps” by their own unique methods, and no one could stop them from doing it. Because they really believed that their actions were right and they had that messianic desire to “save” people, oceans of blood were shed, and their imaginary “paradises” were built on hecatombs of real corpses, because “they died for greater goods” and “they all were bad people after all” like prisoners in GULAGs and “untermenches”. And in Alison case she saw that little torture and supress of one “bad” person – is a key to happines and prosperity of millions – and now she can think that she can make world much better place just by suppressing some “bad” people and this may have very big consequences – because Hitler and Stalin became “Messiahs” not in one move, it was gradually – step by step, little by little, corpse by corpse – because they too were sorry and was tormented by deaths of those who was killed by their decisions – it’s obviously seen in their books and writings, but after all they got tired to feel remorse and they just stopped it at one point – and Alison now is too feel remorse, but after thousand repeat she will be tired of it and she will just become emotionless machine who will be obsessed with idea of greater good.
    So, summarizing this – I think she has all premises to becoming a worldwide dictator- “messiah” type – she has great power, she can defeat anyone who dares to fight against her, she already made her “first blood” – Max, she want to help people and save them. I think now all what she needs is some sort of ideology and new Empress of Humanity will be ready. Or maybe she will be just another Injustice-type Superman or Red Son.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think Alison is necessarily going to go full dictator, but I do think it would be interesting as hell to read about.

      • Izo

        I think alison going full dictator would be terrible as hell to read about, especially if no one can do anything to stop her. It’s the same thing to me as the ‘gore porn’ of what Negan did in the Walking Dead just becuse they couldnt stop him.

    • This Guy

      The neoreactionary movement (extreme far right who believe life truly would be better under a king, although this is by necessity a reductive summary of their viewpoints) have an analogy to explain why dictatorships behave badly, shoot and oppress people who threaten them, and make life generally miserable. The argument is that dictators have insecure positions. They’re mortal, and they can be overthrown and killed, so these kinds of actions are a natural response.

      The analogy argues that if, say, an omnipotent, invulnerable alien named Fnargl took over earth for its own purposes, it would create a secure dictactorship, and things would generally be better. Fnargl would impose its own rules to secure its own goals and generally leave people to do whatever as long as they didn’t violate them. It has no reason to monitor the behavior of its subjects because it can’t be overthrown, can kill anything that tries to overthrow it, and can’t be hurt anyway. This leads to a dictatorship that is pretty all right as long as you don’t do the things that Fnargl forbids – which, in the analogy, presumes not paying a universal sales tax it implements. Long story.

      Alison’s in a prime position to become a Fnargl. A boost to her own power from Max (all for the sake of saving lives, to be sure), would make her an excellent version of the analogy, she could institute all the rules she wants to make her perfect world, and nobody could stop her.

      It’s neat when opposed ideologies agree.

      • Yirtimd2

        Oh shit, I didn’t think about possibility that she can use Max to become a real Goddess! Well, people of this universe had very limited chances to defeat her but after this they don’t have even them now!
        Now I guess author will do something with Max, because if he will be left like this after all he will become some sort of “Reed Richards”, whom as we know very useless in the end.
        And if she will become Fnargl – World Empress of Humanity – so yeah, world will become in her own toy, giant real-life simulator like sim city – Sim Earth! With living toys!

      • Sendaz

        If you want another example of a more compassionate dictator, not sinless mind you- he can be deadly when crossed but genuinely tries not to cause undue harm at times, you might want to pick up Alan Dean Foster’s ‘The Man who used the Universe’. Basically it is about a person who takes over more and more and in doing so ends up running everything in the galaxy. It was a very interesting novel and you can get it fairly cheap in paperback or download.

        http://www.legendsmagazine.net/135/universe.htm

      • Lysiuj

        Now I know you said their position is more complicated, but still… what’s their point? A king has no less precarious a position than a dictator.

        • This Guy

          Part of their point with this specific analogy is discussing how exactly one secures one’s own sovereignty and property rights, and is beyond the scope of this discussion – partly because I don’t want to engage in that deep a dive into an ideology whose conclusions with which I so thoroughly disagree.

          Another part has to do with how colonizers deal with the colonized in the real world, and how in those circumstances, either an effective dictatorship or a laissez-faire relationship is more effective than the muddled response that is frequently committed today. Again, unless SFP gets into biodynamic supremacy movements (and how has it not at this point? Would that be too X-Men, too on the nose? SFP being blunt, perish the thought) or similar ideas, beyond the scope.

          The larger point of the movement as a whole is that the political ideas and revolutions of the Enlightenment were a mistake, we’ve made things generally worse than better by implementing its ideas and liberal virtues (in the classic sense, not the modern sense), and the whole thing should be discarded.

          What I specifically find interesting is that I think a lot of people would be on board with an Alison-shaped Empire of Fnargl because it would generally agree with their ideas about the way the world ought to work.

          • Yirtimd2

            Hell-Yeah! Alison-shaped Fnargl Empire with some sort of X-Mens with noble birthrights, who will rule simple citizens without them – this will be so great, I don’t think that even Warhammer 40k could make competition to that story. Holy crab, galactic empire with noble Superhumans and Immortal Superpowered Empress (because she will use Max to Maximize her powers, no matter how many times she will need to torture his arms) – no dirty xenos can stand a chance.

    • palmvos

      1. I agree that the government is likely taking a ‘keep her happy’ approach to Alison. This is one of the reasons that her actions to Tara’s Lynch mob was so muted. I think the School dismissed the teacher because they did not want Alison to leave. They were about to expel the boy who was trash talking her after the date rape incident when he was killed. i reread that and I think Alison’s test for that is quite good- if the guy can’t name the girl passed out drunk .. he shouldn’t be taking her home by himself.

      as far as stopping Alison the only way I can see to stop her is to legally declare her dead and threaten anyone who helps her with prosecution. (this means no bank accounts at all, no credit cards, no mortgage, no place she can rent. if the punishment for helping her is stiff enough everywhere she goes people will run away. she will be able to steal anything, and unable to buy or keep anything.

      • Yirtimd2

        And if government will make such a mistake she will fly to White House and will kill all of the government by literally torn their heads off and then she will make it with Pentagon and will tear their limbs off, and after that she will find secret government bunkers and she will tear them by half – and all of it will be translated online on internet and live on TV – I don’t think that something like no bank accounts and no credit cards can stop her from doing this at all.

        • palmvos

          she will try- someone will be fast enough to get away, and sooner or later she will have to sleep. no one can rule alone, they must have followers to rule. also yeah it will be covered live- like the natural disaster that it is.

          • Yirtimd2

            I think with follower like Feral she can sleep deep and healthy. And there will be very much hair-shirt followers, who will die to protect her with pleasure.

  • JohnTomato

    Al isn’t experienced enough to see where her actions are taking the people around her. She’s embarrassed by her spreading Max’s “gifts” around.

    Let’s see where the other gifts wound up and the unintended consequences.

  • Mitchell Lord

    Second to the mods. I’ve been a moderator. It can SUCK. But, something that hit me…

    How unethical are MAX’S actions? (Some other people brought it up a bit, but I figure I might as well ask it straight.)

    • Yirtimd2

      Very Unethical, but he has his own rights and free will to make or not to make ethical and unethical things, like any other human being in USA – you know?

    • Stephanie

      Intentionally choosing to condemn probably tens of thousands of people a year to painful deaths, plus one person to a long lifetime of constant torture, out of petty jealousy and spite? Pretty unethical in my book.

      Of course, not everyone agrees that condemning people by inaction is morally wrong the way actively murdering them is. But as I see it, if Max gets to choose, those people are exactly as dead either way.

    • Walter

      Doing nothing is always ethical. A morality that enslaves isn’t worth subscribing to. You always have the option to decline to act.

      • Izo

        “A morality that enslaves isn’t worth subscribing to. You always have the option to decline to act.”

        Um… arent you one of the people who have been saying what Alison did was right? You know… where she enslaves another to do something for her plan, which she believed would be good for humanity, and how this is a good thing?

        Also… Max had the option to decline to act? I mean… act or die does not actually mean there’s an option to decline.

        • Walter

          Yeah, I think Alison was justified in what she did. I also think Max was justified in what he did.

          I don’t really believe in a universal ethic. In the Walter scheme the deer has no duty to lay down for the hunter, nor the hunter to put aside his gun. Max has no obligation to help a single soul, Pa Kent in Superman is not wrong. That said, if Alison sees a way to help lots of people, and the cost/benefit ratio is good, she can take that too. She is not obligated to do so, but I won’t call it evil.

          As far as his option goes, I meant before Alison abducted him. His options narrowed at that point.

          • SJ

            I don’t really believe in a universal ethic. In the Walter scheme the deer has no duty to lay down for the hunter, nor the hunter to put aside his gun. Max has no obligation to help a single soul, Pa Kent in Superman is not wrong. That said, if Alison sees a way to help lots of people, and the cost/benefit ratio is good, she can take that too…

            I don’t necessarily completely disagree with this, in the abstract, but what I keep coming back to is:

            1) Who should be doing the calculus on this cost/benefit ratio, and
            2) Why are so many people comfortable with it being Alison?

          • Walter

            1) The actor, yeah?

            Like, imagine you are standing around, a guy comes running up/past. Normally, you never tackle people. It isn’t a thing that you think is good. You think, in fact, that tackling is wrong. But you hear garbled shouting that convinces you that the police are right on dude’s heels.

            Time to make a cost/benefit call. Tackle or no?

            I’ll always support your right to not act. You can let him go by. Maybe the shouting is about someone else, and anyway it isn’t your job.

            Or you might think it is worth it to tackle him. My judgement on your action will be based on what comes next. There is an initial penalty for tackling, and thereafter I’ll take what I know of your decision making process, what I know of what you know, and what the outcome ultimately was before I render my judgement.

            Alison chose to abduct Max, threaten to drown him, and torture him. I put a hefty initial penalty on her for that. But I can see what she is thinking, and it looks like the outcome was an overall good, so I’m tentatively with her on this being a right thing to do.

            2) I’m not in charge of many people brah. You got to ask them yourself.

          • Lostman

            2) Why are so many people comfortable with it being Alison?

            Maybe it’s due to the nature of superhero stories, or maybe it’s the fact many people share Alison values.

          • This is, essentially, my issue as well: why are we giving the decision-making power in such a case to a single individual? It’s not that I don’t think Alison’s decision could be justified; it’s that I think it should be vetted by more people who are, hopefully, more qualified to make this sort of analysis. Even Alison has stated that she doesn’t believe she has the capacity to make these decisions by herself based on nothing more than the fact that she can punch holes in mountains…

          • Izo

            “Yeah, I think Alison was justified in what she did. I also think Max was justified in what he did.”

            I consider that to be holding two entirely contradictory views then (although I do like the hunter/deer analogy).

            “the cost/benefit ratio is good, she can take that too.”

            I refuse to ever accept a cost/benefit ratio when it comes to enslaving people for some greater societal good (in the eyes of some people). There was a civil war over that.

            “As far as his option goes, I meant before Alison abducted him. His options narrowed at that point.”

            His options were non-existent as soon as Alison found out what he could do, because of what Alison’s decisions were before she even went into his house.

          • Walter

            “I consider that to be holding…”

            I thought I explained it pretty clearly, but I guess I failed. Think about the court system, or sports, or bargaining, and you’ll get it.

            “I refuse to accept…”

            Cool.

            “As far as his option…”

            Seems like we agree on this.

          • Izo

            “I thought I explained it pretty clearly, but I guess I failed. Think about the court system, or sports, or bargaining, and you’ll get it.”

            Some people probably already know this since it’s been mentioned before, but I’m an attorney (and I’ve also been a mediator in alternative dispute resolution before that, during law school). I know about bargaining and the court system, but I don’t think two diametrically opposed points can both be right. Compromise involves both sides giving something. Alison didn’t give anything. She just asked, then demanded, then forced. And in court, usually one side wins, the other side loses. And sometimes one side SHOULD lose because their strategy was wrong-headed in the first place (even if for a good result). This would be one of those examples.

          • Walter

            It feels like we agree that Max did nothing wrong, but disagree about whether Alison did or not. I’m satisfied with that.

          • Izo

            So we’re agreeing to disagree. That’s fine. I just hope neither of us would ever be put in Max’s position to be that helpless against a tyrant.

  • Crow

    Several things:
    1. The comments aren’t moderated before posting now, so, you know. ANARCHY! WOOooOO!
    2. “You have cleansed that suffering from the world” sounds way too on the nose to not have a “but…” or serious downside coming super soon (Also, sounds like it came from a super-villain monologue about why their methods are for the greater good)
    3. Love the leg hair of Tara, such a Tara thing (Tara Lynn? Never sure with 2 part names. Is it one name with a space? 2 first names? First and middle names?)

  • Moral dilemmas within the story aside, I do hope everyone has taken this as a reminder to register yourself as an organ donor so that another person might live a longer, better life. Your organs: it’s in you to give.

    • palmvos

      oh and if you do register to be a donor, Tell Your Loved Ones! they won’t take your organs if the parent, spouse, child, or decision making party says no at the time regardless of what it says on your license.

  • Yirtimd2

    Also about love to the tyrants – if you know Russian language you need to watch this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6d4Jf76Lmc – here some russian historical bloggers talk about Ivan The Terrible and how great he was, here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd0ylj9sLmI – they talk about how bad democracy is and how good is totalitarian regimes, here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BASfn62GIw – they talk about how effective and good were repressions of Ivan the Terrible (SIC!), and here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRF9Bxn5clA&list=PLQCYG6lKBuTaAKOOMXL5EYsW8dd5wSxth&index=63 – they talk about how great and good ideology communism was – and you look how many subscribers they have and how many likes they make – you know, maybe if Alison would like to become a dictator, all what she need is just to go in Russia and declare herself Romanov’s descendant and become Russian Empress – and start some new war to conquer the world, russians worship their dictators, and now they will get what they want – a living goddess in flesh and skin, all-pretty and superstrong! This is the wet dream of all Russians I think – to worship and die for some goddess like her – there will be no regret for them.

    • Santiago Tórtora

      When Alison unmasked herself someone mentioned a possible superpowered war with China, and Patrick said he once took over his home country.

      Apparently that sort of thing happens.

    • MrSing

      Haha, yeah, we humans tend to glorify the old days, no matter how they actually were.

      My country used to be a colonial power that really messed up some other countries. Our ancestors are basically the equivalent of the Nazies in their movies (funny how my country was later subjugated to the actual Nazies, cosmic karma, perhaps?)

      You won’t hear much about that when people talk about the good old days though.

      Or how people glorify our kings and queens of the old days, with their knights in shining armor. Don’t pay attention to the fact that half the country was starving or dying from a plague all the time.

      I guess overlooking the problems of the past is just an universal thing for humans.

      • Yirtimd2

        ehmm…, Excuse me sir, are you Russian? I am sorry if I am somehow insulted you so, it was just a joke, you know.

        • MrSing

          Oh no, I’m not Russian, nor am I insulted. No harm done.
          Lots of European countries have these kind of people and this kind of history.
          So it’s just that I recognise it when people glorify the days of dictatorships and I thought it was pretty funny that Russians have to deal with that kind of stuff too.

          • Yirtimd2

            Well yeah, I think almost all countries had this period of some sort of “teenaging dictatorship period” and I think it necessary period to its adulthood. But I think too many Russian people stuck in this period, and it’s funny and somehow scary I think. And yeah, too many of them love their Dictators like Stalin and other very interesting and “philanthropic” rulers like him. They even marching with his Portraits every year on parade on May 9th – even now, when they know all the truth about him and his regime. I just don’t get it.

          • MrSing

            Ah, nostalgia and propaganda are very powerful tools.
            We live in the present, so we can see all the problems there are right now and we are so used to the benefits of this time that we often forget them.
            Most of the people in my country don’t even know what true hunger is, even though we knew it as short as sixty years ago.
            But when we go in the past we only remember the good things and the bad things, well, those are just glossed over or forgotten.
            My own country doesn’t really like to mention that we were one of the last European countries that outlawed slaverly. It’s a shameful memory, so most schools and goverment programs don’t mention it. It’s the same for all the other memories that are painful.
            And thus, the more we forget about the bad, the more the past seems brighter and brighter.

  • Hiram
  • Mechwarrior

    Now there’s something you won’t see in Marvel or DC: a female superhero with leg hair.

    • Yirtimd2

      NOOOOO!OO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY EYESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Soqoma

    OH! Allison’s face at the end.
    Molly and Brandon, you are truly doing something brilliant. The story evokes so much joy and shame and relief and dread all at once here.

  • Yirtimd2

    Now, after all these 400 comments, I really want to know what Molly and Brandon really think about all this sh*t that flooded commentary section page. I Really Want to Know!

    • Izo

      It’s not really bad stuff that’s being posted, even without the moderation. No one’s threatening another person, no one’s cursing another person out. It’s still a civilized debate.

  • MedinaSidonia

    Many of you seem to think that the world is afraid of Alison because she is so powerful as to be more or less unstoppable. But unless I’m missing something, that’s not true at all. Didn’t Pintsize say something about micron-thin blades being a threat? This would imply that there is at least one tech-based countermeasure. Add to that any meta with a psi powers. Add to that a dogpile of, say, a hundred supers each of whom has only a fraction of Alison’s power. I’m sure I could think of more, but that right there is plenty for this world to have a robust anti-Alison protocol.

    • MrSing

      Look at Alison like she a bomber plane that is carrying nukes.
      Sure, there are ways to deal with it, but no one wants to upset the plane that can turn a large part of the country into a waste land before they take it down.

      • MedinaSidonia

        Oh, sure. Granted. I understand why no one would want to provoke her, and there would certainly be an incentive to let her do what she wants. All I’m saying is, I’m sure that her world has a well-established protocol for handling her, and that there’s a big difference between “Oh no, we have to do what she wants because no one can stop her!” and “Here’s the big red binder. If she’s out of control and has killed x people, break the seal and follow the instructions inside.”

        • MrSing

          Oh, you mean like that. In that case, yeah I agree. Alison is probably thinking she is more unstoppable and unmissable (for the goverment) than she actually is.

        • According to Alison’s doctor, current plans for Alison-gone-bad are focused on evacuating the planet; given that Alison has recently developed the ability to fly, even that might be insufficient.

          • MedinaSidonia

            Huh. I must have missed that one with the doctor. I’ll need to re-read.

          • Sorry it took me so long to find this… The specific page was actually only back in Issue 5. The stuff leading up to it was fun, too.

          • MedinaSidonia

            Ah, yes. Thanks. I probably read that as more of a joke, given her expression.

          • palmvos

            I strongly suspect that the doctor’s answer about what to do if Alison went rogue was an attempt at humor.(successful) it would work better than pointing out that if they had a plan the last person who should see an outline, code name, hint of, or know anything about it is Alison herself. In fact that’s an interesting question- would the normal doctor-patient rules allow Alison’s doctor to participate in a discussion of how to stop her if she went rouge? would it matter if Alison’s parent had signed a form back when Alison was 12 that that was part of Alison’s participation in the program?

          • I’m actually inclined to agree, but I don’t have any evidence beyond narrative compulsion to do so. Addressing the question of whether or not Alison’s doctor could participate in that discussion… I’m not sure, honestly. She certainly couldn’t be compelled, but I don’t know if she would be able to participate voluntarily or, for that matter, if she could participate in a purely hypothetical manner. I’m fairly certain that, had Alison’s parents given permission when she was a child, those rights would revert to Alison as soon as she became legally responsible for herself, just as the rules protecting the privacy of minors in school revert to the children when their parents are no longer legally responsible for them under FERPA.

          • palmvos

            from the doctors comment about intelligence- she probably makes reports and answers questions to a group that does work on the problem…

        • Yirtimd2

          Interesting, what kind of protocol could it be? Hmm… Maybe there are bunch of secret bunkers with super-secret ammunitions like 1-microne-blade katanas (like in “Untill Death Do us Part” manga), some sort of magical artifacts and maybe heavy power armor. And maybe they made secret negotiations with all world superheroes on that case of scenario. And they could have secret protocol of simultaneous strike of thousands of nukes. And maybe they could have some sort of spec-ops like X-Com. And maybe they have her clones ready to be released from secret labs (like Bizarro). Or maybe Pintsize already planted some sort of bomb in her head – just in case, you know.

          • MedinaSidonia

            Now that you mention it, preparing a bunch of supers to fight her wouldn’t work because they couldn’t trust everyone to keep the secret. But gathering and training them after she went over the edge would work, assuming she left them enough time. I think the secret bunker is the likeliest scenario. It would be expensive, but insignificant compared to the money that world spends on metahuman affairs, or heck, even compared to what our own country would spend on a countermeasure against a commensurate threat.

    • Sendaz

      I think your use of the word robust may be a bit of a misstatement.

      http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/449/
      Actually they didn’t know if Cleaver’s new blades would cut bone or not, though the Doc suspects the bones would be harder to cut and even Alison said Cleavers were definitely less than 3 microns across. So it is likely they don’t have the tech to cut her bones yet, or the Doc would have tested it by now in a controlled lab so they could figure out the parameters of her defenses.
      A psi type with controlling powers might well do something, but no one knows of any or if they do they aren’t telling. Everyone assumes Patrick can control people like that, but he says he can’t though he is real good at manipulating by tapping those secrets.
      A dog pile would end up with a lot of dead supers and even then I would not bet against Alison.
      And supposing for a moment a dogpile did hold her down for a bit, what then? She just has to start breaking the ones in reach until there is no more pile to dog her with.
      While I don’t think the world is necessarily afraid of her, I don’t think there is much in the way of protocols to contain her if she went rogue.

      • MedinaSidonia

        Wow, it’s been a long time since I read those. I wasn’t remembering it right. Here’s the one I was thinking of. I realize that it’s open to interpretation, but the conversation seems to imply that such a thing as a “sub-atomic” blade exists in that universe, and that it could spell major trouble for Alison.
        http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/page-41/

        About the dogpile scenario: am I forgetting a strip that established that there were no other supers remotely near her power level? I mean, for your failed dogpile scenario, the other supers would have to be like straw men compared to her. If each super had even a small fraction of her strength, they could kill her, just as a hundred–or probably even ten–four-year-old children could kill me.

        • Sendaz

          >About the dogpile scenario: am I forgetting a strip that established that there were no other supers remotely near her power level? I mean, for your failed dogpile scenario, the other supers would have to be like straw men compared to her. If each super had even a small fraction of her strength, they could kill her, just as a hundred–or probably even ten–four-year-old children could kill me.
          The dogpile scenario works well against normal strength levels because 2 or more persons can subdue and restrain a single person.
          But how well does this work with super strength? Even if they are of comparable levels there are still problems. For example, we have seen Alison chuck menace’s robot tank thingies. An Army tank weighs in around 50 – 85 tons depending on model. Considering the ease in which she handles it, lets say she has Str enough to handle 100tons.
          The government, perhaps subtly spurred on by Max’s mom, sends out some supers to bring her to heel. So lets say the get Lou’s Ferrigno’s grandkid who happens to come in at the 75 ton class Str, and four other guys who come in at the 50 ton lift range. So no pushovers in their own right.
          Waiting until she leaves a local bar with a slightly tipsy Feral in toe, who is enjoying her 5 minutes of a warm buzz before it wears off, the team swoop in.
          The 5 supers leap in, knock Feral to one side and dogpile onto Alison. Their combined lifting weight is 275 tons versus Alison’s ‘mere’ 100 ton lift. Sounds like a plan no?
          Except Alison doesn’t have to lift 275 tons… all she has to lift is 5 guys whose combined weight is maybe 1 ton between them.
          Remember those superhero scenes where everybody dogpiles on the hero and all looks lost, but then he flings everyone aside?
          yeah, that… it’s not just a matter of Str, it’s also a matter of Mass.
          Yes, they are supposed to have the Str advantage, but can they fully apply it in a dog pile? Probably not, because they aren’t braced like they are when lifting something. So Alison is probably going to send some of them flying.
          A better way would have been having Louie the 3rd grab from behind around the middle, twisting her to parallel to the ground while each of the 4 guys grabs a limb and everybody pulls.
          Now, they are able to brace and apply the relatives Str more effectively, while Alison is now off the ground and can’t utilize her full str against any specific one of them. So her 100 ton lift is being spread out among the four guys, who each can handle 50 tons so they should have her while Lou is holding the thrashing torso like a bronco rider. Pull out some cleaver-based blades and either hamstring her if they want her alive, or slit the throat if its a kill mission.
          But all is not lost for Alison. She can fly. Depending on her Flight Lift capacity, if she can get them off the ground they will lose a lot of their Str advantage unless they also can fly and expend force while doing so. Once in the air she can start playing cymbals with the two guys on her arms, because they have gone from 50tons possible to just being Mass on the ends of her arms. Maybe they can take the beating, maybe not, because remember while Alison has both mega strength and high defenses, that doesn’t mean everyone will.
          So a group of supers could potentially take her, but it would not be a certain thing and they can’t afford any mistakes, because all she needs is one to slip up to potentially tip it back in her favor.
          And too many bodies actually can get in the way of each other, better to have a well organized team who can coordinate over a blind mob that trips over itself.

    • Sam

      Just asphyxiate her. It’s far from clear that she has significant resistance against toxins, and she’s almost certainly just as susceptible to hypoxia via neutral gas as an ordinary person.

      • MrSing

        I would say her weakest point is her friends and her family.
        They are the ones most likely to be threatened or attacked to pacify Alison.
        Far less risky than a direct attack and they might even keep Alison as an asset in case they need her.
        Goverments can be pretty damn dirty and clever when they want something.

        • Yirtimd2

          Yeah, and it will be like in Injustice – it just pissed Superman off and made him worl-wide dictator – well, I think operatives can catch her family but I don’t think anyone will have enough balls to really point a gun on them, even not saying about pulling the trigger.

  • pleasechangemymind

    Can I just take a break from this (albeit fabulous and fascinating) discussion to say how happy this page makes me? Just the look on Feral’s face, the joy in her smile… gah, especially given how she looked last time we saw her. Regardless of the larger ethical implications (which are also important), it’s really nice to see her and Alison happy for a minute. =)

    • palmvos

      next page,
      doctor-
      would you two like some privacy? i can come back.
      Tara (thinking fast) YES!
      narrator- the rest of the page is left blank deliberately.

  • allneonlike

    I have no idea why people are flipping out over Alison being “a dictator” for insisting that Max use his resources to contribute to society. I think it’s fascinating (read: super depressing) that the Alison vs Max arc went live the week Donald Trump admitted to paying 0 federal income tax on live TV. The majority of SFP commenters don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Unless the majority of people here are hard-line libertarians or anarchists, this entire dictator meltdown has been imo nothing but a huge misogynistic tantrum. When you live in in a society, you must contribute to that society, or you will be punished by the state, via the state’s monopoly on armed force. If you don’t pay your taxes, you’re going to go to jail. If you fail to appear for jury duty, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Enforcing (see what I did there) civil participation with the threat of violence or imprisonment or some other form of punishment is not scary and evil and a huge ethical dilemma, it’s one of the basic conditions of a functioning government.

    Alison has been working for the state, enforcing the law among biodynamics, since she hit puberty. When people say she was a child soldier, they seem to be kind of missing the part where she wasn’t press-ganged into some rogue militia, she was working for (and still works closely with) the United States government. It’s pretty naive to say that she and Hector started the superhero thing themselves when they were very clearly being groomed into a weapons program from the second they set foot in those camps. Alison, specifically, has been tasked with bringing other biodynamics in line when they start getting destructive, . It’s not clear what branch of the armed forces the BDRP was associated with but Mega Girl was absolutely a government employee. And as a biodynamic, Max is under her jurisdiction. The demonizing and panic people have at her forcing someone to participate in a society instead of being a parasite on it really makes me wonder about the profile of this comic’s readership.

    In particular, the loyalty and sympathy I’m seeing here for (white, rich, male) people who are functionally mass murderers is just mindblowing. It’s both fascinating and infuriating to watch this comic develop more or less in parallel with the current US presidential election. That meme going around where men keep dithering “I just don’t know which one is worse” about Trump vs Clinton while women, minorities, and the rest of the world try to tell them the obvious choice. There are so many people here and in the real world willing to give the benefit of the doubt to wealthy, abusive white men who don’t pay his workers and whose resource hoarding is at minimum threatening to take away medical access to millions of people. The refusal of so many people to confront Trump as a fascist is coming from the exact same place as the commenters whining “but Max’s rights were violated…” The literally thousands of comments on this comic’s arc dissecting every motive of Alison’s for signs of impending tyrannical dictatorship is such a god damn depressing echo of the “Well, but Hillary’s emails…” and the hyperscrutiny that any powerful woman has to endure when trying to do the right thing in the public sphere. The saddest thing is that most of the people commenting here are too stuck in self-congratulatory philosophical bullshit that I don’t think they’re even aware that this story arc is a political allegory.

    Molly, I hope taking leave of moderating comments is a relief to you, because one of the unpleasant things about SFP as a comic is knowing that it’s a comic being drawn and co-written by a brilliant young woman whose readership seems to have nothing but suspicion and contempt for successful women, period.

    400+ comments about how Max was horribly violated and counting. Daraprim still costs $750 per single pill. Molly, I hope you and Brennan have thick skins and a strong gag reflex.

    • SJ

      I have no idea why people are flipping out over Alison being “a dictator” for insisting that Max use his resources to contribute to society. I think it’s fascinating (read: super depressing) that the Alison vs Max arc went live the week Donald Trump admitted to paying 0 federal income tax on live TV. The majority of SFP commenters don’t seem to have a problem with that.

      The federal government doesn’t send invincible demigods to your house to torture you into paying your taxes.

      Also, when it comes to punishing tax cheats, there’s still this thing called… Damn, what’s that term again? Oh yeah, due process. Remind me again, did Max lose his rights by due process?

      • palmvos

        citing due process for taxes is a joke. and this is from someone who has been pretty consistent that Alison did not have the authority to do what she did.
        remember in tax court you are guilty until proven innocent.

        • SJ

          Like I’ve said before, on previous pages (not specifically about tax penalties, but about due process), whether or not you think that the system is broken is an entirely separate conversation from whether or not the system exists.

          One of my biggest problems with this arc has consistently been the fact that there are no checks and/or balances on Alison. There is no entity or governing body with the power or authority to be able to impeach her, when she fucks up. Say whatever you want to about whether the system works like it’s supposed to, but at least there is a system in place, through which justice can be pursued. That doesn’t apply to Alison, which is why I am so strongly opposed to this arc.

          Someone who cannot be made to answer to anybody should not be trusted to make life or death decisions that affect other people, IMO.

          • palmvos

            ‘Someone who cannot be made to answer to anybody should not be trusted to make life or death decisions that affect other people, IMO.’

            the issue with this is your demand violates the story setup. interestingly enough some of my favorite books feature something very like that. the catch is that the person who is effectively a god has been raised by some powerful people who have neglected to press the point that he has far surpassed them in power. but then Belgarath has never had much in the way of scruples. and his daughter has been trained out of most of them.

            anyhow- I would say that we cannot at this moment see an 100% effective countermeasure to Alison, but is that really necessary? seems to me at least one person has managed to stop her from her clear purpose once. Perhaps others can and the story we see is focused on Alison herself. any countermeasure would be kept away from her unless it was deemed necessary to use it. so far Alison has not attracted that level of attention. that could change.

          • Please, please, please tell me that you are not basing moral arguments on the Belgarion. Don’t get me wrong: I love the series and, especially, Eddings’s mastery of dialogue, but the series is hardly what I would call hard-hitting when it comes to moral dilemmas.

            If, incidentally, you really enjoy Eddings’s writings, I could suggest a number of other authors you might enjoy who are stylistically comparable and, arguably, more on point with decision-making in a morally gray world.

          • palmvos

            umm no- i was comparing Alison to Belgarion- both are godlike and in reality have few limits if any on their power. Belgarion perceives limits on his because of how he was raised. his political power is limited but as Zakath had reason to learn… his personal power a bit excessive.
            as i understand it SJ was demanding that Alison should have someone who can hold her accountable as in stop her when she goes rouge in story.
            indeed the Belgarion and the Mallorean are some of the most stereotyped and standard books in existence.Even the characters noticed the plot recycle!

          • Fair enough. Despite my ambivalence over holding up the Belgariad or the Mallorean as exemplars, I will point out that both do have figures that are, arguably, capable of holding Belgarion in check. While Belgarion does, in fact, best a god, he does so because the god actually takes a misstep and unmakes himself (if I recall). In the second series, the prophecies are shown to be significantly more powerful than Belgarion, himself. In other words, while most cannot present a serious challenge to Belgarion, especially once he takes ownership of the Orb of Aldur, there are always some who, to one extent or another, can.

            Now, in terms of a series that really does well with moral and ethical questions, I strongly recommend Terry Pratchett’s discworld series and, in particular, his Samuel Vimes sub-series. I would also recommend Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series- the entire series is excellent, but the best stuff happens starting in Mirror Dance and going forward, with Memory being a particular standout in the series.

          • palmvos

            ROTFL…
            I have been following the hyperactive little git for a long time. and might i say that between the royal choke-chain and… now many kids?!?! they’ve finally pinned him down to the relief of many many people. though the story of how Aral captured Cordeila or did Cordiela capture Aral? was a ride.
            as you point out the prophesies can and do best and stop Belgarion. Torak was mocked to death, and the orb killed him.
            I discovered in my … censored… that i prefer listening to audio books. I have all but one of the vorkosagan books (the new one) and much of eddings works (among others).
            I could swear i tried the discworld saga and didn’t like it.perhaps i entered in a bad spot.

          • If you entered discworld in the beginning, then I would definitely say you entered in a bad spot; his early discworld novels, honestly, were actually too fantastical for me to get into initially, at least until I was more familiar with the characters, and I was still never a huge fan of Rincewind. I would recommend, instead, starting with either Guards! Guards! or, even better (although later in the series) Men at Arms.

            I am still wrapping my head around Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen; I don’t object to it, it’s just a bit hard to reconcile all the different parts- and, yes, I also wanted a little more space opera; I’m selfish like that…

            Incidentally, I agree with you, regarding format- I drive about an hour-and-a-half to-and-from the prison I work in, so I like to use that time listening to books. It’s been my preferred method for years, now.

          • SJ

            I agree with you, to the extent that it would indeed be a violation of the story’s setup. Personally, I consider that to be a shortcoming of the storytelling.

          • Stephanie

            I think the lack of checks and balances on Alison is an important and recurring motif in the comic, rather than a flaw. It’s what raises the stakes and makes it so critical that she succeed in finding “the right thing to do,” and more importantly, avoid choosing the wrong things to do. Alison must succeed at constructing a code of ethics that will create the best world, not just for her own personal growth, but because the everyone’s safety depends on it. It ultimately falls to her to keep herself honest, because if she goes too far down the wrong path, there’s no one who can force her away from it.

          • SJ

            … Except that the one and only reason that “everyone’s safety depends on it” is because she has taken it upon herself to decide that it’s up to her to “create the best world.”

            This is not a responsibility that was ever placed upon her: like I said on a previous page, she wasn’t appointed, elected, or even nominated. This is a burden that is wholly of her own selection.

          • Stephanie

            OK, if you’d like me to rephrase, I can instead say it’s critical for her to construct a code of ethics that won’t cause her to ruin everything. Those high stakes exist because she is capable of ruining everything.

          • SJ

            Then she’s doing it wrong. If she actually cared about constructing a code of ethics that won’t cause her to ruin everything, all she’d have to do is take a vow of non-interference. She won’t save Countless, Countless Lives™, but she’s guaranteed not to “ruin” anything.

          • Stephanie

            I know you think she’s doing it wrong. I’m not trying to debate the validity of Alison’s code of ethics at this time. I’m talking about storycraft. The fact that she can’t be stopped if she goes bad is a stakes-raising plot point, not a flaw.

          • SJ

            Those two things are not mutually exclusive, in this case.

          • Stephanie

            Why’s it a flaw that she doesn’t have a safety net? Wouldn’t it be boring if she did?

          • SJ

            You and I are not operating from the same base value of “boring.”

    • I think the assumption that people are supporting Trump (or Hillary) simply because they have not chosen to drip bile on either candidate in a webcomic forum that is not about the American elections is a pretty impressive leap. Further, calling those same people misogynists is disingenuous and offensive. Maybe you’d like to read over your comment again and reconsider your distinctly inflammatory remarks?

      • Stephanie

        I don’t believe they claimed that anyone was a Trump supporter. Their argument is that animosity toward Clinton and animosity toward Alison are rooted in similar ideas, not that they inevitably coexist.

        • Actually, the line was:

          I think it’s fascinating (read: super depressing) that the Alison vs Max arc went live the week Donald Trump admitted to paying 0 federal income tax on live TV. The majority of SFP commenters don’t seem to have a problem with that.

          Unless the majority of people here are hard-line libertarians or anarchists, this entire dictator meltdown has been imo nothing but a huge misogynistic tantrum.

          Now, I will admit to a degree of interpretation, here, but it sounds an awful lot like “if you aren’t railing against Trump in these forums, but you are saying something against Alison’s actions, it means you are a misogynist.”

          My problem with this is (1) this webcomic is not about the American elections. I can flat guarantee that, if it were, I would not be reading it because I find the entire farce incredibly depressing.

          (2) The assumption is that not airing your opinion that Trump is an evil fascist is equivalent to saying that “it’s okay for Trump to do evil because he’s a man, but it’s not okay for Alison to do evil because she’s a woman.” To the best of my knowledge, no one has made any argument that even comes close to this.

          (3) Making an argument about animosity towards Clinton is nonsensical because it is not an issue this comic addresses. Note, also, that the OP did not say that- that was your interpretation. Trying to derail the discussion and turn it to American politics feels like an attempt to avoid the very real issues that the OP chose to simply gloss over.

          • Stephanie

            Honestly, that part sounds more like confusing wording than anything. I certainly didn’t read it as saying the commenters should have complained about Trump.

            I believe the OP did extensively compare the animosity toward Alison to animosity toward Clinton, even if they didn’t use those exact words.

          • Actually, you’re right about him bringing up the possibility that this comic is a political allegory; I think he’s wrong about that, personally, since this arc actually began with Gurwara, but that doesn’t make your point less true.

            It also doesn’t change his opening broadside, which began with the assumption that not openly castigating Trump in this forum was equivalent to supporting him, nor does it take away from the fact that he effectively said that the only reason people had a problem with Alison’s actions was because she is a woman and they (the commentators) are misogynists.

          • Stephanie

            Do we know that they’re male? Should I be using male pronouns?

            I don’t necessarily agree that taking the anti-armtwist position here equates to misogyny, but I can see where they’re coming from with their frustration about powerful men being given the benefit of the doubt while powerful women are quick to be reviled.

          • In fact, we don’t know that at all; we know that, historically, it has been far more common for men to masquerade as women on the internet than the other way around, but, honestly, I don’t even know if that’s still a relevant statistic.

            I’m not saying that I can’t see his frustration; I think everyone has found parts of this arc incredibly frustrating. I am saying that pouring vitriol onto the forum by implying that anyone who doesn’t agree with your viewpoint is necessarily a misogynist is more harmful than good.

            You will note, I hope, that I have never disagreed with your right to believe and advocate for a different set of values than I have; you have never made an accusation towards me that I find inherently offensive.

          • Stephanie

            Yeah, it’s not the kind of thing I would say, because I generally like to engage only with the ideas people state outright. I can’t read minds, so I’m not gonna try to tell people why they believe something. At the same time, I think OP brings up an important perspective to consider; after all, the act of treating/regarding women differently than men isn’t always intentional or even conscious. I think it’s a useful reminder to question ourselves honestly–“would I think differently about this question if the demographics involved were different?” And if we truly wouldn’t, then great.

          • No doubt. On the other hand, changing the gender of the subjects necessarily changes a huge host of other variables, as well; I would question if it’s actually possible to swap the genders of (for example) Max and Alison and still tell the story in the same way. Certainly, I think the story would be much less believable and, as a result, would probably not have gotten as significant a response. After all, why argue over something that is clearly little more than escapist fantasy?

            Despite what has been written over the last few weeks, all attempts at displaying the scene from a gender-swapped perspective have been, at best, weak and, at worst, farcical. I will say that, were Alison and Max given exactly reversed roles in this story, I don’t think anyone would have claimed that his use of physical force against her was justified, if only because they would have been accused of supporting violence against women.

          • Stephanie

            Giving myself an honest self-assessment here…I think I would still have said the use of force was justified given the stakes, buuuuut I’d have been kind of skeeved out at the authors setting up a situation where violence by a man against a woman was justified. It’d seem in poor taste since violence against women is such a pervasive problem in real life.

          • I can be absolutely certain that I would not; I wouldn’t even pretend to look at larger issues. I’m not proud of that; I’m just self-aware enough to know that it would hit a button for me and I wouldn’t be able to see past it.

          • Sam

            Let me put it this way: I’m pretty confident that swapping the genders on page 86 would not create a visual narrative that was /more/ sympathetic to Al.

          • Stephanie

            Sure, but swapping the genders is only one option. What if Al and Max were both men, or both women? It’s worth thinking about.

          • Sam

            Honestly, the genders involved are less important to me than the participants having recently broken up, especially given the heavy emphasis placed in the comic to statistics relating to violence enacted in just that scenario. To turn around and go “but what if beating up your ex… was good actually?” is… unsettling to me.

          • Sam

            Let me just clarify in advance that what’s unsettling to me is the comic’s handling of the situation, not your comments on it.

          • Stephanie

            That’s fair. It would be better if they hadn’t been dating so that those disturbing implications wouldn’t exist.

          • That’s a very good question, really; I suspect that, visually, at least, fewer people would have a problem with it. Once the realization of relative physical power came in, however, we’d probably have a pretty similar outcome. Of course, I suspect that we’d get a similar outcome if we removed powers from the equation entirely and instead used guns (for the coercer) and nanotechnology (for the coerced)…

          • Izo

            I think most people who are defending Alison would be lambasting Al for what happened there if the genders were reversed.

          • Wulf

            I read allneonlike comment a few times, and I find your effort of finding an “important perspective” within it similar to searching for platinum in a random skeptic tank. I’m sure somenone could convert it to something espousing the opposite viewpoint and it would still be under a ton of excrements.

          • SJ

            I don’t necessarily agree that taking the anti-armtwist position here equates to misogyny, but I empathize with their frustration about powerful men being given the benefit of the doubt while powerful women are quick to be reviled.

            Empathy for that position would be a lot more reasonable if there were an in-universe counterfactual… But there isn’t one.

          • Stephanie

            I actually do remember someone saying that the angry fire guy got a lot more sympathy during his arc than Alison is getting here. But I wasn’t active in the comments at that time, so I don’t know how true that is.

          • SJ

            I, too, remember somebody claiming it happened, but I don’t remember it actually happening.

          • Lysiuj

            He really didn’t. The best he was getting at the time was “well, he’s still a disgusting douchebag but I guess he has to deal with personal issues as well”, and “well he’s still a disgusting douchebag but he didn’t deserve to die just cause of that”.

    • Lysiuj

      A political allegory… about Trump and Clinton? Really?
      400+ comments with a lot of disagreements, not a unanimous voice. But sure, you can choose to see what you want to choose to see.
      So any criticism of Allison is out of fear of strong women, huh? Presumably you use the same excuse whenever someone brings up any criticism of Clinton (apparently defending a white rich man = despicable, but defending a rich white woman = the only reasonable opinion, never mind if some people think she’s behaving in a tyrannical manner. I mean, if you really want to open this up to parallels with the presidential race…)

    • Sendaz

      I can well understand the frustration about Trump and Taxes, and the fact that he is still being audited isn’t as uplifting as it should be because we all know he has teams of accountant numbercrunching to make it work his way. The whole tax system needs an overhaul there is no doubt on that and its despicable he can sit there and gloat about it.

      However SJ’s point of due process still stands. Alison took off the mask to grow up an quit playing games. She isn’t a government employee anymore, or if she is the writers have not shown her doing anything involving government work since then. Her seeing the Doc is most likely part of the ongoing Biodynamic research, plus they are the only ones equipped for any special needs she might have.

      Remember when Pintsize came to her asking her to tag along on a capture run and she turned them down, saying she was out?

      When she decided Max was being a leech she made that decision to make him participate, not the government nor the people, she was acting as a free agent.

      Did some good come of it? Absolutely, but she wasn’t operating under any auspices or agency at that time because by Alison’s own words, she wasn’t working for them anymore.

      I raised the question in another post about how would people have responded if Alison had decided Feral was the perfect organ donor before Feral had made the decision to donate and basically took her and strapped her down to a table to make her an involuntary donor, granted one with a gizmo to negate the pain of surgery, because the first team of docs working on her should have been able to neutralize the pain or significantly reduce it by mechanical means, ie severing the nerve ends or other means since drugs wont work.

      If Alison had dragged Feral off to surgery against her will, even if the procedure was somehow rendered painless, it would still be wrong even though it would mean countless lives are being saved, because Alison would have been making that choice, not Feral or the society Alison is supposed to be representing.

      So yeah, what she did to Max was wrong, necessary perhaps and certain had benefits from it, but still wrong. Because Alison believed she knew what was best and acted on that. And that is where the danger lies. Not in her gender, not in her power, but in the fact she couldn’t be asked to really discuss it with anyone, beyond maybe asking the Doc if the boost would even help Feral or not. If she really felt that society would benefit from it, why not put it to the people and let them decide?
      Of course one would then argue all the anti-biodynamics would just drag it into an endless squabble. And yeah it could, that’s the risk of democracy, but it is still a fairly decent way to operate.
      And for that matter, thanks to Max’s folk keeping him buried so long, there is probably damn little information about his abilities and possible side effects of the boosting. How would Alison feel if she finds out that yeah Feral is boosted now, but it basically makes her effectively mortal again and each further boost trims years off her life? She would be devastated, but she does tend to leap in and ask questions later.
      Again we don’t know this is a possibility, but then again we don’t know it isn’t because she just rushed in to save the day.
      It’s hard I know, it’s not unlike the medical field where drug research finds tantalizing new drugs that have great potential, but they have to go through years of testing when they could be on the market right NOW and saving lives. But that testing is there because what might be a short term gain could have even worst long term consequences.

    • Rumble in the Tumble

      Well, the important thing is that you’ve managed to find a way to condemn and feel superior to a single group of people by generalising on a single common characteristic. Just like all of youse war-mongering, criminal Clinton-lovers‼

      Now excuse me, I need to go and yell at some clouds.

    • Wulf

      I’ve been reading a thousand or two comments of the past few strips, and this is certainly one of the most repugnant I’ve seen so far. Of course, the truly terrible ones likely did not get through the previous moderation effort. It still managed to get a few upvotes, so maybe I am just missing something from not being from or in the US.

  • MartynW

    Ends. Means. A lot to think about here. No clear answer either way. Alison annoyed and scared a person, and saved millions of lives. That’s a pretty big thumb on the scales. But as the punchline to the old story goes, “see how easy the first one is?”

  • C.L. Inky

    Did….a ship just set sail here? Like, I’m not just being a pig, am I? I’m not the only one seeing this? I mean, look at panel 3. That is some smoldering gaze right there.

    • Stephanie

      Nah, you’re not being a pig, Feral having a crush on Alison has been canon for some time.

      • Mechwarrior

        Like since Feral was first introduced.

    • Sendaz

      Yes you have excellent eyesight.
      But Alison is just friends, though the two do sort of balance each other a bit.
      Of course Feral is probably one of the few potential partners Alison could have that she would not have to worry about permanent accidental injuries with, which is a bit of a deep seated and understandable fear of hers.

      • Didn’t her doctor tell her that she probably(tm) didn’t have to worry about injuring her sexual partners, way back in issue 1? I’m pretty sure I read that correctly…

        • Sendaz

          It’s the probably though… yeah using her enhanced abilities seems to require her to think about it, but also remember when she threw Feral through the window for kissing her unexpectedly out of the blue?
          strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-3/page-11-3/

          • Yes… that was the joke about the ™… 😀

          • Sendaz

            fair point.. and in most cases you are probably™ right 🙂
            Just not sure I would feel up for a round on Intimate Alison Roulette.

          • My mind just went to some incredibly crude places that are in really bad taste; I won’t share them, so now you have no one but yourself to blame when your mind inevitably goes into the same places mine just did.

            I miss the dA :mwahaha: emoticon so much!

        • palmvos

          from the context it was referring to the actual act. (see man of steel, woman of tissue paper) . as long as Alison allows it- she should have limited problems. and lets just say that Tara+Alison won’t have quite the same mechanical issues.

  • Izo

    Yes, this is sure progressing to show how this was a bad thing with negative consequences. Yessiree.

    /s

    • TheLordofAwesome

      Give it time. The comic updates two times a week, we’ll see the backlash to Alison’s choice in good time.

      • Izo

        Maybe. Maybe not. I’m concerned that it’s not going to be remotely satisfying or an actual consequence, then be forgotten.

    • Sendaz

      *waves*
      Hi Izo 🙂
      Glad you could make it.

      0% sarcasm detected
      ———————–
      You might want to skip over Whiskey Jack’s and mine discourse on the dangers of biodynamic dating

      0% sarcasm, but hints of mentally scarring imagery detected. Proceed with caution.
      ————————

      • Lysiuj

        Oh come on, she’s worried enough about people missing her sarcasm, now you don’t even notice when she added “/s” at the end?

        • Sendaz

          We did though. Izo got it. 🙂

        • Izo

          My days and nights are constantly filling me with worry that people will not notice my sarcasm.

          /s 🙂

        • MrSing

          Hey, is it okay with you all if I start using the “/s” in a sarcastic way?

          /s

  • TheLordofAwesome

    Okay, morality of the situation aside (Ali’s motives were good, but her methods were wrong)…

    Feral, sweetheart, take a day off and get yourself cleaned up. You could use it.

  • GaryFarber

    Max has the power to increase the powers of others.

    Could he decrease the power of others?

    • This seems highly unlikely; if he could, wouldn’t he have used it on Alison to prevent himself from being used in the first place?

    • Izo

      I. Wish.

      • I’m ambivalent about this. While I definitely hope that Alison runs afoul of the law of unintended consequences, I’m hoping the payoff is fairly natural and organic. Giving Max a power that, essentially, just short circuits Alison’s powers would feel a bit too much like Deus Ex Machina, to me.

        • Mechwarrior

          It would definitely create the issue of why he didn’t just depower her the moment she started to threaten him.

          • Izo

            Unless it’s a naturally occurring increase, like Alison’s ability to fly.

        • Izo

          I don’t think it would be a DeM to give someone else a power that actually LIMITS the actual ‘god in the machine’ here. If anything, it would give a counter-example of ‘might makes right’ – what happens when you no longer have the might. How right are you then?

          Btw, I’m not saying Max has that power Im wishing he will GET that power as his powers increase, just like everyone else is getting increasing powers naturally (like Alison, Cleaver, and Feral pre-Max’ing)

          • Yeah, that was how I was reading your post; that and a wish that he had had that power so that he could have prevented Alison from coercing him in the first place.

            I’m saying that allowing Max to develop a de-powering power would feel like a narrative DeM and I hope they can come up with something better.

          • Sendaz

            Yes and No.
            If Max suddenly today or tomorrow develops a power dampening ability I would say yeah, that’s a bit DeM.
            However, Max is basically a Super in the Power Closet in the sense that he was always hiding it and thought it was useless.
            So he probably never really explored his power or pushed himself to see what it could do, granted the latter is probably difficult to gauge since you would need another Super to boost and then compare before and after testings.
            Right now he has the ability to manipulate whatever power it is that gives the Supers their abilities and shove a load of it into another, giving them their boost effect.
            Depending on his level of control and sensitivity, not THAT kind of sensitivity- we know he’s a douche- the other kind, if he was suitably motivated and had someone to help him train it with, I could see him practicing with it until he could potentially learn how to yank this mojo back out of a Super.
            But it would mean opening up to someone else, and given his feelings on the matter, that could be a long time in coming….
            Again this would probably not be a permanent thing, but rather draining whatever passes for their powerbar or mana levels. Even if the power replenishes itself fairly quickly, he could potentially leave someone vulnerable at a key moment.

          • If it were written that way, I would agree- that would not constitute DeM. It also would not be terribly satisfying as a consequence to her misdeeds. For a consequence to be meaningful, it almost always has to have a degree of immediacy.

          • Sendaz

            Not necessarily, some take time to ripen. Like when Alison found out her teacher who was giving her grief in school had had a partner that was killed during one of her throwdowns as Mega Girl and she didn’t learn about that until much later in the aftermath of her fight with Cleaver.
            However I do agree there probably would have to be some immediacy in this case as most of the readers probably wouldn’t want to wait for a few years of comic updates for Max to train up.
            South Park Montage then? 😛

          • Personally, I would vastly prefer something that negated the good of her action or that made it so horrific that it couldn’t be allowed to continue. My original idea that the various organs continued regenerating outside of their host, thus producing infinite Feral clones, all of whom would then be harvested… regardless of whether or not each clone was as willing as the original donor (or even capable of giving consent); that was the sort of consequence I would have liked, even if it did make me retch a bit.

            Similarly, if a long-term effect of the boost to Feral’s regeneration created serious and widespread complications, that would also be acceptable. Imagine, if you will: Feral is immune to infection and, likely, so are her organs. That does not mean that she couldn’t be a host for a plague that ends up sweeping across several countries because it remained undetectable until it had been implanted in a new host whose body then nurtured it to maturity… and when people realized that was what was happening, I’d be willing to bet that the backlash would be biblical.

          • Sendaz

            Wow… multi-clones to super carriers.
            That’s… diabolical.
            Well played, well played indeed.

          • I don’t claim to be a great writer… I’d like to be, but I’m really just a talented amateur. Still, I’ve read a few good authors, here and there, and they influence my devilishness…

          • Giacomo Bandini

            No, that would be wrong. You see, this is a scenario which would play even if Alison has not forced Max, but also if max was helping by his own free will. Such a turn in the story won’t punish Alison choice to use violence, but the decision to use Max at all, because the problem would not be in the choice of Alison, but in the very nature of Max and Feral’s power. The morality of the story won’t be “Using violence to achive any goal, even humanitarian ones is always wrong” but rather “Using superpowers to change the world is always wrong”.

          • Um… first, I’m not convinced by the argument that using violence to achieve any goal is always wrong; that’s someone else’s endgame. That said, I agree that violence should always come at a cost and, when it does not, it reinforces the idea that violence is an easy solution.

            The morality I think ought to be made is that decisions should be accompanied by reason and a solid understanding of potential consequences… and they should not, in general, be made unilaterally by individuals without experience in such matters for large populations whose continued health and well-being depends on the success or failure of their plan. Granted, that is not as pithy as “Violence is wrong,” but I think it’s a far better lesson.

          • SJ

            Um… first, I’m not convinced by the argument that using violence to achieve any goal is always wrong; that’s someone else’s endgame. That said, I agree that violence should always come at a cost and, when it does not, it reinforces the idea that violence is an easy solution.

            Which, then, begs the question: what would constitute an adequate “cost” for the use of violence to serve the “greater good”?

            That’s really the deal-breaker for me: people love to say, “Well, if it were your loved one, you would do it, too!” And maybe I would. But, I would be doing it with the full understanding and expectation that it’s going to come back around and punch me in the nuts, figuratively speaking. I feel like, even if you believe that it is morally right to commit atrocities for the “greater good,” you should still have to suffer the consequences for committing those atrocities. It may be morally right to steal to feed your family (and mileage varies on that), but that doesn’t mean that you get to avoid serving time for theft.

            A huge part of the problem that I have with this arc is that I don’t know what I would accept as a suitable “cost” that Alison would have to pay in order for her “better world.” What I am sure of is that her feeling guilty ain’t gonna cut it.

          • That’s really the deal-breaker for me: people love to say, “Well, if it were your loved one, you would do it, too!”

            I’m going to assume that you were not implying that I have ever said this, because I haven’t The truth is that I don’t know if that would be sufficient motivation for me, personally, and I certainly cannot judge if it would be sufficient motivation for anyone else. People who claim they can are justifiying themselves with a logical fallacy.

            I simply refuse to assume that there are no situations in which violence is an adequate or appropriate response.

            I believe if you look through my comments, you will find that I have not excused Alison’s actions; indeed, I’m one of the many who believe that Alison must be held accountable, or else this story sends an absolutely terrible message,

            As regards guilt and its value, there was a line at some point- and I have no doubt that I am misremembering it, at some level- where a protagonist is considering going easy on a seemingly-reformed antagonist and his mentor takes him to task, saying something along the lines of, “suffering, pain, death… and to balance it, he sheds a single tear? Guilt is by far the cheapest currency going.”

          • SJ

            I’m going to assume that you were not implying that I have ever said this…

            To the contrary, I more sort of used your post as a springboard to talk about something that’s been on my mind, that happened to run parallel to your post. The only part of that that was actually about any part of your post was the initial question: “what would constitute an adequate “cost” for the use of violence to serve the “greater good”?”

            It’s hardly necessary for you to try and answer the question for anyone else. I’d take it as a kindness if you just answered for @Whiskey Jack. Anyone else can answer or not answer, as they feel inclined.

          • Okay. Well, the first thing to realize is that you do not purchase violence; you pay for using it. Therefor, it is not a question of what an adequate price is; the question is at what point the value of the reward outweighs the penalty for the means. In my case, I think self defense would be an adequate reward- if I am preventing immediate harm to myself or a loved one, at that point, I am willing to suffer the penalties that accrue to inflicting harm on another.

            The obvious question for most people, at this point, is whether or not Alison’s maneuvers could be considered defense of a loved one (Feral). Curiously, few people seem to be of the opinion that she might have been justified, but still ought to suffer a consequence- people are very binary in the way they consider this issue: either what she did was good (or enough good) that she should suffer no penalty, or what she did was bad (or enough bad) that she should reap no rewards.

            Personally, I fall more on the no-rewards side of the spectrum, mainly because her problem wasn’t defense of Feral from immediate harm; it was defense of Feral from chronic harm, which is not the same thing at all. Given that, she had other options which she did not pursue, from alternate forms of negotiation, to use of political pressure- and if you don’t believe that Alison could exert political pressure, then maybe you’ve forgotten that Alison accidentally got a professor fired just by complaining about him…

          • SJ

            Aside from the fact that I feel like the passage, “Therefor, it is not a question of what an adequate price is; the question is at what point the value of the reward outweighs the penalty for the means.” is needlessly pedantic (since I don’t actually think that those are different questions), I find that I agree with most of this.

          • Izo

            I do think it would be a good way to turn the current moral completely on its head. Especially the more that Alison’s actions seem to be only reaping benefits and happy snowflake merriment.

          • Lostman

            The irony of what you said is that I was wondering if people could remove someones powers, and how that would effect someone.

        • SJ

          Giving Max a power that, essentially, just short circuits Alison’s powers would feel a bit too much like Deus Ex Machina, to me.

          How would you feel about another dynamorph seeking Max out, who may not have the power to short circuit Alison’s power as-is, but would if they were augmented?

          Because that’s kind of what I’m hoping for.

          • In terms of narrative? It would depend very much on how it was played. I tend to forgive comics a lot that I would not in regular novels, to be honest, but this would still need to be handled pretty carefully, or else it would feel a lot like railroading the plot.

  • Chris

    Leaving aside the Max issue, is Feral now immortal and thus will have to witness everyone she loves wither and die before her eyes?

    • No one knows, yet. Personally, I kind of like the idea that her regeneration has been boosted to the point where she not only no longer gets any older, she actually gets younger, eventually de-aging out of existence altogether, unless Alison can find a way to completely remove her powers…

      • Sendaz

        Chibi-Feral is going to be soooo cute.

        • Does it make me a bad person that I laughed at this?

          • palmvos

            no

      • MrSing

        While a fun(?) scenario, aging does not work that way.

        • Heh. I know that aging doesn’t work that way; in fact, I’m aware that, while there has been a significant amount of research into the subject, no one can honestly claim to understand aging 100%. On the other hand, we have a universe with a girl who can “punch holes in mountains” and where surgical teams can extract literally all the organs needed to satisfy the needs of the world in a matter of a little under two days from a single donor… ignoring, for a moment, the idea that a single donor can actually produce that many organs… who’s to say that, once kicked into overdrive- Maxed out, as it were- Feral’s regeneration couldn’t function that way?

          Granted, having it do so would probably violate my own distaste for DeM; I’m just pointing out the difficulty with assuming that our scientific understanding is entirely relevant to the SFP universe. And, possibly, I might be engaging in a little dark wish fulfillment…

          • MrSing

            Eh, I’m one of those people that love semi-realistic approaches to this kind of stuff.
            Sure, I can accept a girl that is superstrong and flies, but if she grabs an airplane by the tail to stop it from crashing, that tail better not be able to support the entire weight of the plane with only two hands as pressure points.

  • Gabriel Normandeau

    I feel that Alison will walk to a police station and surrender herself after this.

    • While the sentiment is nice, I fail to see how this really works. Alison could walk into a police station, sure, but no force on earth can keep her there if she later decides that something else is suddenly going to take a higher priority.

  • Roman Snow

    “You will have cleansed that suffering from the world.” Methinks this is what will lead the evil conspiracy to become something more palpable than just Patrick’s word.

    Assuming that wasn’t just a mind-reader’s clever manipulation to get the super hero off his trail. And I don’t think it was.

    • Roman Snow

      Oh right, comments aren’t monitored anymore. That was really weird seeing my comment just go up immediately.

      • MrSing

        Power, unlimited power etc.

  • Izo

    “That will depend on the State Department working with other countries to handle the safety and legality of the process…”

    Pssh. Legality shmegality.

  • FlashNeko

    So there are two major thoughts running through my head:

    1) Did Max ever actually SAY he was hiding his powers because he and his mother were afraid of them being abused or was it was brought up as MAYBE something he’d be worried about in the comments section? I’ve been reading that scene again to check and see if it ever came up in the actual comic but all I’ve found is him saying, “I don’t wanna because I hate you for having an opinion that isn’t like mine and because my powers aren’t super-special awesome enough!”

    If I missed any moment where he specifically said otherwise, please point it out to me because it seems important to verify that fannon isn’t overruling cannon.

    2) Given the way people have talked about Max’s personal autonomy and how violating it should result in some instant karmic backlash of misery for Alison… by that standard, if Alison had decided to listen to Max’s orders and just leave, than a plane flying overhead that was somehow carrying a tactical nuke should have crashed into the house, setting off the nuke and vaporizing the both of them instantly.

    Because, again by the standards presented, that would have meant Alison was enabling a mass murderer via Negligent Homicide who has already violated the autonomy of thousands by refusing to use his powers to save them and would gladly continue to do so to thousands more out of pure spite.

    And it’s not like Alison hasn’t let mass murderers go free before *cough cough* Moonshadow *cough cough*, so it would be just another thing she “deserved” to be punished for.

    Like, I’m genuinely curious as to why Max’s autonomy somehow has a greater value than that of anyone else? Why is okay for him to violate the autonomy of so many others but the second someone threatens his well, that person is a horrible b—h who should die in a fire?

    I mean, this is a case where someone’s autonomy is going to be violated either way so I guess it depends on if you feel it’s more okay to have that autonomy violated passively or actively?

    • If you’re attempting to apply legality to morality, you’ve failed. Max was not in a position to directly benefit anyone whose life was in imminent danger, nor can it be said that his action posed no risk to himself. There is, to my knowledge, no law in the US that makes it criminal to avoid harm to yourself, even if it comes at the risk of harm to another, provided your avoidance does not directly harm the other.

      Max’s failure to act is not the same as choosing to act in a harmful manner. Further, Max’s power by itself did not benefit all of those people that will likely live, now- the power that will likely give them extended life belongs to Feral. Max’s power did nothing to increase Feral’s survivability that we are aware of; it just increased her rate of production.

      So… I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this argument.

      Now… as to why some of us would like to see this abuse of powers backfire? I think, at least for me, it comes down to the fact that I tend to view Superhero stories as morality tales; if good triumphs through unjust means, what lesson is being taught? Why do I want it to apply to Alison (and why am I not interested in whether or not it also applies to Max)? Again, this is simple: Alison is the protagonist of the story. Max barely even qualifies as a third rate antagonist, at this point.

      • FlashNeko

        “Max’s failure to act is not the same as choosing to act in a harmful manner.”

        See, it’s not a FAILURE to act from what I’ve seen. It’s a DECISION to not act. That’s a pretty big difference. Willfully choosing to do nothing when you can do something does bear the weight of responsibility for making that decision.

        “Further, Max’s power by itself did not benefit all of those
        people that will likely live, now- the power that will likely give them
        extended life belongs to Feral. ”

        Which is now boosted to the level where she can save many who originally would have died even with her original sacrifice in play… because of Max’s power. It was what changed the paradigm and it absolutely must be considered in any sort of judgement towards responsibility.

        • Leaving aside the fact that I don’t buy into the panacea that has been presented…

          Max’s decision to act is, legally, a failure to act. The charge of negligence cannot be made to stand up in court. You are simply and categorically wrong.

          • FlashNeko

            Except people HAVE been convicted for those kinds of “failures to act” (tragically, usually in cases when a woman bleeds out from pregnancy complications and the father does not seek out help for whatever reason) so yes, the charge of negligence HAS been made to stand up in court.

          • It might be interesting trying to equate the cases, but I’d be willing to bet that the negligence in question (and, to be fair, I’m only basing this on what limited understanding I have of criminal law) was not the failure to seek help, but rather the choice to do some other thing which actually resulted in harm.

          • palmvos

            as someone who can be charged with negligence it isn’t quite that simple. to make your argument you are asserting that everyone is ‘their brother’s keeper’ negligence applies when there is specific responsibility and it is not applied (at least in the US) as broadly. Part of the spousal relationship is an agreement for responsibility to each other. If i design a crane (i did recently) and fail to incorporate a reasonable safety factor in the calculations, i can face criminal as well as civil liabilities. that’s negligence. there was a case where a woman was raped violently in broad daylight, in front of a camera, people went by. as far as i know no charges were sought on the people who went by and allowed it to happen. parents are legally responsible for their children’s actions as more than one parent who let their teenager have a party found to their cost.

            I feel that Max’s actions are reprehensible, and writing laws about it is a good debate. I am not comfortable with the idea that existing law covers it. it is possible that the laws they have about Biodynamism do cover this, if so someone should have said by now in comic. I feel that there should be an immediacy and some limits to any liability otherwise we chain Alison to that generator again. which your argument pulls us strongly to.

    • Izo

      “1) Did Max ever actually SAY he was hiding his powers because he and his mother were afraid of them being abused or was it was brought up as MAYBE something he’d be worried about in the comments section? I’ve been reading that scene again to check and see if it ever came up in the actual comic but all I’ve found is him saying, “I don’t wanna because I hate you for having an opinion that isn’t like mine and because my powers aren’t super-special awesome enough!””

      He refers to how it’s dangerous for him if it got out that he has powers, so yes. He did. Alison even acknowledges this before promptly dismissing it.

      “2) Given the way people have talked about Max’s personal autonomy and how violating it should result in some instant karmic backlash of misery for Alison… by that standard, if Alison had decided to listen to Max’s orders and just leave, than a plane flying overhead that was somehow carrying a tactical nuke should have crashed into the house, setting off the nuke and vaporizing the both of them instantly.”

      What you said here makes absolutely no sense at all. A Karmic backlash for Alison violating Max’s autonomy would show a positive message that you do you not violate people and abuse your powers. SpiderMan – With Great Power comes Great Responsibility.

      Having a nuclear missile drop on Max’s house because he did NOT agree to help her isnt even remotely the same thing. The moral there is what…. Be a better person or you should die?

      WTF.

      “Because, again by the standards presented, that would have meant Alison was enabling a mass murderer via Negligent Homicide”

      You clearly don’t understand what negligent homicide is. Negligent homicide requires an act. Not an omission to act, unless that omission was caused by an initial act as well (ie, ‘you tell someone to go get help while you go save drowning person, then sit there and do nothing’ is different than ‘you see a drowning person and don’t save them because you’re worried that you’re a bad swimmer and will drown too, but you don’t tell anyone else to NOT save him who is a better swimmer’)

      “who has already violated the autonomy of thousands by refusing to use his powers to save them”

      You clearly don’t understand the definition of autonomy either. Max has not violated ANYONE’S autonomy. Please look up the definition in a dictionary and try again.

      “and would gladly continue to do so to thousands more out of pure spite.”

      He doesn’t want to help Alison, the person who came into his house, wouldn’t accept no when she asked him to do something gratuitously, before insulting him, guilting him, and belittling him.

      “And it’s not like Alison hasn’t let mass murderers go free before *cough cough* Moonshadow *cough cough*, so it would be just another thing she “deserved” to be punished for.”

      While Alison letting Moonshadow go was a bad thing, that’s again an omission to act. Acting is even worse than failing to act. Plus pointing out that she didn’t get punished for one bad thing doesn’t excuse another bad thing. That doesnt even make sense.

      “Like, I’m genuinely curious as to why Max’s autonomy somehow has a greater value than that of anyone else?”

      Seriously, look up what autonomy means. Max is not violating ANYONE else’s autonomy at all.

      In fact, I don’t think you’ll actually bother to look it up, so i’m going to give you the definition.

      Autonomy – the state of existing or acting separately from others; self-directing freedom and especially moral independence

      In no way whatsoever has Max prevented anyone from choosing to do ANYTHING they want by not helping. The ONLY person who had their self-directing freedom and moral independence removed was, in fact, MAX.

      “Why is okay for him to violate the autonomy of so many others but the second someone threatens his well, that person is a horrible b—h who should die in a fire?”

      Your statement is wrong and you need to learn the definition of the words that you use. He. Did. Not. Violate. Anyone’s. Autonomy.

      “I mean, this is a case where someone’s autonomy is going to be violated either way so I guess it depends on if you feel it’s more okay to have that autonomy violated passively or actively?”

      How the heck do you violate someone’s autonomy PASSIVELY? Having a goon do it for you while you wait and watch? That’s still active.

      • FlashNeko

        “What you said here makes absolutely no sense at all. A Karmic backlash
        for Alison violating Max’s autonomy would show a positive message that
        you do you not violate people and abuse your powers. SpiderMan – With
        Great Power comes Great Responsibility.”

        Then shouldn’t Max’s power come with that same responsibility? Why is he allowed a free pass from that?

        “Autonomy – the state of existing or acting separately from others; self-directing freedom and especially moral independence”

        Which is what people withering and dying in hospital beds from diseases that Max’s power up to Feral will prevent had taken away from them. How is that morally any different?

        I will ask politely to not make the assumption I am an idiot. I know the definition of autonomy and an argument can certainly be made that it applies to the victims of Max’s actions.

        “In no way whatsoever has Max prevented anyone from choosing to do ANYTHING
        they want by not helping. The ONLY person who had their self-directing
        freedom and moral independence removed was, in fact, MAX.”

        Because you have so many choices you can make and so much life to live when you’re withering away in a hospital bed from what is still a fatal scenario because someone who can make a massive, game changing difference quite literally with a wave of his hand has actively decided to sit on their butt and do nothing when they could do otherwise.
        s

        If Max was just some normal rich jerk, sure, the weight of responsibility for the sick and weak would not be upon him (beyond maybe the argument that he should donate to charities from time to time). But he has power. Does that not come with responsibility?

        I should note here, I am not saying Alison was right for what she did because two wrongs do not make a right, as they say. I guess I’m just confused why his wrong is somehow more forgivable? Is it because his victims are a faceless horde while his victimization is shoved right in your face?

        “How the heck do you violate someone’s autonomy PASSIVELY?”

        By saying and doing things like, “I am just going to sit here and do nothing and let the train hit the five people because I refuse to accept I am making a choice between them and the one. Because even though I am one of the only ones with agency in this scenario, I am refusing to acknowledge that agency by saying ‘not my problem’.”

        • Izo

          “Then shouldn’t Max’s power come with that same responsibility? Why is he allowed a free pass from that?”

          Max is under a responsibility to use his power responsibly…. if he USES it. He’s not USING it. That’s the point. If you use power, use it responsibly or do not use it at all. Max chose to not use it at all. That’s not a free pass. That’s a valid and fair choice.

          “Which is what people withering and dying in hospital beds from diseases that Max’s power up to Feral will prevent had taken away from them.”

          Not from Max they didn’t! They had their autonomy taken away from fate! Or from a disease! And unless Max has some hidden power to cause diseases, then he didn’t violate anyone’s autonomy.

          “How is that morally any different?”

          To paraphrase Max: “Jesus Alison, it’s about choice!”

          It’s extremely different to blame someone for something they did not cause, and compare that to someone taking away someone else’s autonomy because of acts which they SPECIFICALLY are causing to happen… directly at that!

          “I will ask politely to not make the assumption I am an idiot.”

          When exactly did I call you an idiot? Oh yeah… never. I will ask you politely to not libel me.

          “I know the definition of autonomy and an argument can certainly be made that it applies to the victims of Max’s actions.”

          Clearly you don’t know the definition. Your post is showing that you don’t know the definition.

          “Because you have so many choices you can make and so much life to live when you’re withering away in a hospital bed from what is still a fatal scenario because someone who can make a massive, game changing difference quite literally with a wave of his hand has actively decided to sit on their butt and do nothing when they could do otherwise.”

          Repeat after me, please?

          Max. Did. Not. Cause. That.

          Cause. He did not do anything actively to create that situation. If he didn’t exist, the situation would still exist. His existence does not change someone else’s autonomy. Why is this so difficult for some people to get?

          “If Max was just some normal rich jerk, sure, the weight of responsibility for the sick and weak would not be upon him (beyond maybe the argument that he should donate to charities from time to time). But he has power. Does that not come with responsibility?”

          By that logic, why not force him to give half of his money to charity, and a charity of your own choosing, at gunpoint?

          The scary thing is you might actually say that someone SHOULD do that.

          “But he has power. Does that not come with responsibility?”

          Only if he actually chooses to USE that power. THEN he needs to use it responsibly. He’s not using that power. If he’s not using it to actively hurt anyone else, then he’s not taking away anyone’s autonomy. If he’s not using his power at ALL, he’s not being irresponsible in its use. Because being irresponsible in the use of something requires actually using it in the first place.

          If someone tells me that I’m irresponsibly owning and using a gun, I’d tell them ‘but I don’t own a gun, even though I know how to fire one, so how can I be irresponsible in using my firearms.’

          “I should note here, I am not saying Alison was right for what she did because two wrongs do not make a right, as they say.”

          But you are making a moral equivalence between someone actively violating someone’s autonomy, and someone doing no action at all.

          “I guess I’m just confused why his wrong is somehow more forgivable?”

          Because his act wasn’t a wrong. Because he didnt even have an ACT in the first place. He didn’t even cause a situation in which he’d be under an obligation TO act.

          “Is it because his victims are a faceless horde while his victimization is shoved right in your face?”

          No, it’s because he did not cause the problem, and he was not using his powers irresponsibly, or at all, and neither you or any other individual person should have the authority be able to force another to act against his or her own will if there’s even the slightest bit of danger involved.

          “By saying and doing things like, “I am just going to sit here and do nothing and let the train hit the five people because I refuse to accept I am making a choice between them and the one.”

          God, I hate the stupid trolley question. It’s such a poorly designed thought experiment, ignoring multiple other third, fourth, fifth, and more options, and ignoring anything to bring us up to the situation of the artificially binary choice.

          How about stopping the trolley. How about derailing the trolley if you’re the only one on it, or having everyone jump off the trolley, then derailing it. How about having someone put something heavy in the path of the trolley. How about CALLING AHEAD to tell people to untie the one person. How about telling people to jump from the trolley? Then tie the switch, so you can run out and warn people on the track? Why is that person happening to be on the trolley in the first place and having done nothing for such a long period of time that he is waiting until this point to make a choice?

          The trolley question isnt about morality – it’s just consequentialist apologetics. I once read someone say that:

          “You might as well take the lack of control to the extreme, put the person in a sealed room, shackled to a chair and gagged, injected with anesthetics so they can’t move at all, then force them to watch one person or a group of people die and ask “which one made you feel worse?”

          When you remove a person’s ability to act, you remove their moral agency. The reason we have increasingly restrictive scenarios is because people come up with unique and creative solutions. Consequentialists WANT you to suffer one of their two consequences, so you are forced into a position of thinking ONLY of consequences.”

          Remember when spiderman had to choose the hero’s dilemma of ‘Save the woman you love or suffer the innocent children?’ And he chose a THIRD option? How about Avengers 2, where instead of letting the city be destroyed in order to save the entire planet, they took a third option there too. No one minded that they didn’t stick to some arbitrary binary solution, and instead acted HEROIC and to their heroic moral principles.

        • Izo
          • Stephanie

            This is an example of one of those “sadistic choices” in a lot of media where the hero never has to actually make the choice, because a third option exists. But what would the equivalent of Spiderman’s super backflip double rescue have been for Alison in this situation? There’s no amount of risking her own life that would replicate what Max was capable of.

          • Izo

            Here’s a third choice that took me about 5 seconds to think of.

            Have Paladin start creating artificial organs instead of robots that self-destruct. If she refuses, tell her you’ll break her arm or kill her if she does not use her genius to do so.

          • Stephanie

            Does Paladin’s power extend to the creation of artificial organs? Isn’t she a super-roboticist? It doesn’t necessarily translate.

          • Izo

            Paladin can create artificial organs. She created her leg.

            not /s

            She can create artificial hearts and artificial kidneys at will. She hasn’t.

            not /s

            She’s therefore a selfish person who doesn’t care about people’s lives because she’d rather fritter away her genius making robots that self-destruct. For that matter, she could make robot doctors which are superior to any normal doctor, who could remove organs far faster and more precisely than human doctors, further maximizing Feral’s donations and shortening the time of her suffering, but she hasn’t. Alison clearly must threaten her life if she does not comply and do this.

            /s

          • Stephanie

            That would be a great use of her ability, but I don’t know that you can argue it’s the best possible use of her ability. Unlike Feral, she’s got a pretty widely applicable power.

          • Izo

            I can argue it with all the assurance that Alison had in arguing how Max should use HIS ability.

            What has stopped Alison from forcing Paladin to do what I suggested anyway? Seriously… why should Alison not force Paladin to create artificial organs for people. Is it really more important than creating robots that start beating themselves over their head?

          • Stephanie

            The goal is to create true artificial intelligence, which has the potential to result in greater good for humanity than artificial organs would. Or greater evil. We’ll have to see how that goes down.

            Putting that aside, it’s a lot more impractical to force the invention, development, manufacture, and distribution of a new technology, than it is to make one guy sprinkle Tinkerbell dust one time.

          • Izo

            “The goal is to create true artificial intelligence, which has the potential to result in greater good for humanity than artificial organs would.”

            By what metric have you determined that true AI has the potential to do greater good than artificial organs? I’m unaware of any movies or books in which artificial organs had a risk of enslaving humanity, or artificial organs becoming a slave race.

            “Or greater evil. We’ll have to see how that goes down.”

            Point being it’s easy for Paladin to create artificial organs. Heck, she can create a robot which will create artificial organs after she has the schematics down for them, and then go back to working on AI so she can create the next Ultron or Skynet.

            “Putting that aside, it’s a lot more impractical to force the invention, development, manufacture, and distribution of a new technology, than it is to make one guy sprinkle Tinkerbell dust one time.”

            By what metric are you determining this as well? Especially if MAx’s boosts are temporary, while a robot that can make artificial organs is a permanent, long term solution.

            The only reason I can see is Paladin is likable, and Max is not.

          • Stephanie

            “By what metric have you determined that true AI has the potential to do greater good than artificial organs?”

            You wouldn’t care for my idea of a utopic AI-related future, so let’s move on.

            “By what metric are you determining this as well?”

            Because it would be an incredibly time-consuming, complex, easily fucked-up process requiring the cooperation of an enormous number of people and the acquisition and use of an enormous amount of resources. It certainly could not be done secretly, and doing it openly brings in a whole host of additional points of failure. There are some things you just cannot reliably accomplish with brute force.

            “The only reason I can see is Paladin is likable, and Max is not.”

            That has absolutely nothing to do with my reservations about your forcing-Paladin-to-invent-artificial-organs plan. You’ve asked me repeatedly to take you at your word about what’s going on in your head, so I’m going to ask you for the same courtesy here.

            “Point being it’s easy for Paladin to create artificial organs. Heck, she can create a robot which will create artificial organs after she has the schematics down for them, and then go back to working on AI so she can create the next Ultron or Skynet.”

            Don’t get me wrong, that’d be great. She could also do a crapload of other, even more useful things. Perhaps Alison should have a conversation with her about that, find out what she is and isn’t capable of, and convince her to take a utilitarian approach to her research. Paladin, who knows the full breadth of her abilities and has an extensive working knowledge of her field, would surely produce a better educated guess about how she can maximize her utility than you, I, or Alison could.

          • Izo

            “You wouldn’t care for my idea of a utopic AI-related future, so let’s move on.”

            That’s just deflection, and not answering the question, so I’ll ask again – by what metric have you determined that true artificial intelligence has the potential to do greater good than artificial organs. Which one has less danger involved, and which one has less ethical problems about creating an artificial slave race involved?

            “Because it would be an incredibly time-consuming, complex, easily fucked-up process requiring the cooperation of an enormous number of people and the acquisition and use of an enormous amount of resources.”

            Where did you get thaat it will take an enormous number of people and resources, for a supergenius like Paladin to create artificial organs? People have created them, decades ago, in the real world. Paladin could do the same thing, but 100 times more efficiently.

            “It certainly could not be done secretly, and doing it openly brings in a whole host of additional points of failure.”

            With Paladin, it wouldnt NEED to be done secretly.

            “There are some things you just cannot reliably accomplish with brute force.”

            I don’t see why you can’t use brute strength and threats to force Paladin to invent artificial organs easily, with any more difficulty than it took Alison to force Max. And you havent actually explained why.

            “That has absolutely nothing to do with my reservations about your forcing-Paladin-to-invent-artificial-organs plan. I would support the plan if I thought that it was both feasible and the best possible use of Paladin’s time. You’ve asked me repeatedly to take you at your word about what’s going on in your head, so I’m going to ask you for the same courtesy here.”

            Why do you not want to answer a trolley question when it involves Paladin? You’ve said, multiple times, that trolley questions are good ways to get down to which ethical decisions are better. Forcing Paladin is a better long term solution than forcing Max.

            Feral will NEVER have to be operated on by forcing Paladin

            They can produce the same amount of artificial organs as Feral was donating her real organs. Plus they can create artificial eyes too.

            A production line which can produce artificial organs will last far longer than even Feral’s long life, plus these factories can be made throughout the world to also eliminate the problem of distribution.

            And all for just threatening to kill Paladin and maybe some physical violence inflicted upon her if she selfishly wants to keep doing stuff like making, unsuccessfully, AIs. There are so many other things Paladin could be doing to help the world, IMMEDIATELY, than building robots with malfunctioning AIs.

            “Don’t get me wrong, that’d be great. She could also do a crapload of other, even more useful things. Perhaps Alison should have a conversation with her about that, find out what she is and isn’t capable of, and convince her to take a utilitarian approach to her research.”

            And if Paladin says no, she doesn’t want to have to spend the rest of her life creating only what Alison says is best for the world, and wants to do her own thing, I guess Alison should slam her head against a wall and explain that she gave her a chance to do it by her own volition.

            “Paladin, who knows the full breadth of her abilities and has an extensive working knowledge of her field, would surely produce a better educated guess about how she can maximize her utility than you, I, or Alison could.”

            So Paladin is qualified to decide what she should do with her own life, but Max isn’t qualified to decide what he should do with his own life. I see.

          • Stephanie

            I really do not want to get into an argument about my fantastical AI utopia dreams, which I 100% guarantee you you would hate, so again: moving on.

            I think the major point of divergence here is the question of whether Paladin can create complex artificial organs all by herself with a gun to her head.

            That really is just not possible. I think you’re dramatically underestimating how complex and time-consuming such a project would be. You can’t just slap together a functioning organ. We have already seen that Paladin relies upon an extensive, fully-staffed laboratory to carry out her work.

          • Izo

            “I really do not want to get into an argument about my fantastical AI utopia dreams, which I 100% guarantee you you would hate, so again: moving on”

            So why not first take care of the world’s organ needs with artificial organs before moving to AI. No one’s dying from needing AI. Or take care of clean free energy for the world. Or build a robot which can remove Feral’s organs quicker and more efficiently than any doctor could?

            Then, after she’s done with whatever REAL worldsaving ventures Lord Alison has determined are important, then Paladin can do her AI utopia thing. Unless Alison decides that she needs to stop that for something else. Free slaves for everyone can be on the back burner.

            “I think the major point of divergence here is the question of whether Paladin can create complex artificial organs all by herself with a gun to her head.”

            Considering that normal people who are not superpowered geniuses have created it in the real world decades ago, it should be child’s play.

            “That really is just not possible. I think you’re dramatically underestimating how complex and time-consuming such a project would be.”

            About as complex as a google search for ‘artificial then using a fraction of her brainpower to find a way to improve decades-old technology cheaply and efficiently.

            “You can’t just slap together a functioning organ–much less several separate types of functioning organ.”

            She did so with the robots flying around her lab.

          • Stephanie

            “Considering that normal people who are not superpowered geniuses have created it in the real world decades ago”

            Yes. With laboratories and staff. Not by themselves locked in a room with a Superman expy menacingly pounding a fist into her palm.

          • Izo

            “Yes. With laboratories and staff. Not by themselves locked in a room with a Superman expy menacingly pounding a fist into her palm.”

            And none of them were superpowered geniuses either.

            Also, I don’t see anyone else in Paladin’s lab.

          • Stephanie
          • Izo

            Okay thanks for showing me that. Perfect then!

            Have Alison threaten Paladin’s life if she does not direct her dozens of assistants to work on stuff which will maximize lifesaving techniques and inventions and reduces human suffering. Make a formula to determine which things MOST reduce human suffering. She clearly has the manpower, apparently. It should therefore be even easier. Have Paladin call her department heads on the phone with their new orders. With her genius, she can direct MULTIPLE lifesaving and suffer-reducing inventions at the same time!

          • Stephanie

            The more people are involved, and the longer it takes, the more points of failure in a plan that relies on brute force.

            But sure. If you really think Alison should do that, then that’s just fine. Of course, that means accepting the premise that it’s acceptable to commit small harms to avert greater harms, which means you’d have to concede that it was more moral for her to coerce Max into augmenting Feral than it would have been for her to walk away.

          • Izo

            “The more people are involved, and the longer it takes, the more points of failure in a plan that relies on brute force.”

            There’s only one point of failure, since there’s only one person upon whom force would be used – Paladin.

            “But sure. If you really think Alison should do that, then that’s just fine.”

            Clearly I don’t think Alison should do that. i’m making an extension of your own logic of Alison doing that to Max. If I actually believed that what I’m suggesting would be a MORAL thing, then I’d be saying it was okay to do that to Max as well. It’s not. It’s immoral and wrong to do it to Max. It’s immoral and wrong to do it to Paladin.

            Although, as you’ve tried to argue, Paladin might be more willing to do it under her own free will than Max. If she would do so willingly,then why bother to force Max at all when you have an alternative solution?

          • Stephanie

            There are many points of failure, unless you can absolutely, one hundred percent guarantee that Paladin won’t find some way to get a message out about her predicament, and that not a single one of her colleagues or employees will pick up on a change in her behavior.

            “Clearly I don’t think Alison should do that. i’m making an extension of your own logic of Alison doing that to Max.”

            And if you could convince me that it would actually be a reliable way to increase utility, more so than any other possible uses of Alison’s and Paladin’s time, I would say “yep, that’s moral.” So I’m not really sure what your goal is. You already know I support violent coercion when it alleviates an enormous amount of suffering, so convincing me that there are additional ways Alison could alleviate suffering via violent coercion won’t budge my position on the Max issue at all. It’ll only make me say, “Great, she should do that too.”

            “If she would do so willingly,then why bother to force Max at all when you have an alternative solution?”

            Feral can only make organs. Paladin can do a variety of things that don’t even necessarily include making artificial organs (see palmvos’s comment). Devoting Paladin’s versatile time to something Feral can already do would be redundant and wasteful. So make Max boost Feral, and then have Paladin use her time to do something else that’s enormously beneficial for the world.

          • Izo

            “There are many points of failure, unless you can absolutely, one hundred percent guarantee that Paladin won’t find some way to get a message out about her predicament, and that not a single one of her colleagues or employees will pick up on a change in her behavior.”

            1) How is that any different than Max telling someone else.
            2) Paladin is more likely to AGREE to do it than Max was.
            3) If Paladin did not want to do it, and Alison did force her to, and lets say she did get a message out….. what could they even do to Alison anyway? She’s beyond being able to be stopped.

            “And if you could convince me that it would actually be a reliable way to increase utility, more so than any other possible uses of Alison’s and Paladin’s time, I would say “yep, that’s moral.” So I’m not really sure what your goal is. ”

            My goal is to say that there are better ways to accomplish what she wanted to do without forcing Max against his will. I was also trying, at the same time, to say that if you DO find forcing Max to be justifiable, it would also be justifiable to force Paladin.

            “Feral can only make organs. Paladin can do a variety of things that don’t even necessarily include making artificial organs”

            Except Paladin doing what Feral is doing would mean Feral doesn’t need to go through torture. Which is still effectively the main reason Alison did what she did to Max.

            But hey, if you want to say that there’s no downside to what Alison did to Max, then fine. Great moral. The strong should prey upon the weak.

            /s

          • Stephanie

            1) Because it’s done already. Grab Max, wave him over Feral like a salt shaker, bing bang boom job’s done. He can go tell people now and cause new problems, but the enormous good has already been accomplished. Whereas Paladin would have numerous opportunities and tons of time to undermine an extensive project like the one you’ve described before it could actually come to fruition.

            2) If she agrees to it then it’s a moot point, we’re no longer talking about the question “must Alison coerce Paladin to do X” in that case. At that point we just come back to the issue that asking Paladin to do something Feral can already do would be wasteful and redundant.

            3) Being unable to harm or stop Alison does not equate to being unable to undermine her projects. Flying around being totally unharmed but also completely useless would be a “lose” condition for someone like Alison.

            “My goal is to say that there are better ways to accomplish what she wanted to do without forcing Max against his will. ”

            By forcing Paladin to do something that would take way longer? Isn’t that at best a wash?

            “I was also trying, at the same time, to say that if you DO find forcing Max to be justifiable, it would also be justifiable to force Paladin.”

            Yes, it would be justifiable to force Paladin to do something that was likely to alleviate an enormous amount of suffering. I just don’t think your specific plan of forcing her to invent artificial organs is practical. Brute force works best for simple, one-time demands, like “hand over the data” or “turn on the infinite clean energy artifact” or “sprinkle fairy dust on this lady.”

            “Except Paladin doing what Feral is doing would mean Feral doesn’t need to go through torture. Which is still effectively the main reason Alison did what she did to Max.”

            How do you know that Alison doesn’t care about all those lives saved? 40 hours a month for Feral is an enormous improvement over her previous situation, and she still saves millions of lives.

            “But hey, if you want to say that there’s no downside to what Alison did to Max”

            Yeah that’s, uh…not what I said. At all. I’ve said like a billion times, including in comments directed at you specifically, that I expect there to be negative consequences for this.

          • Izo

            ” Because it’s done already. Grab Max, wave him over Feral like a salt shaker, bing bang boom job’s done. He can go tell people now and cause new problems, but the enormous good has already been accomplished”

            How exactly did Alison know that it would be that easy with Max’s power? He’s almost never used it. There couldnt have been intensive testing in the file.

            “Whereas Paladin would have numerous opportunities and tons of time to undermine an extensive project like the one you’ve described before it could actually come to fruition.”

            So instead of it being bing bang boom and increasing Feral’s anomaly for an indeterminate period of time (do we know if it’s permanent or temporary), we bing bang bang bang bang bang boom with Paladin and create robots which can do the operations flawlessly at a far greater speed than human doctors, and create a series of machines which can create artificial organs on a conveyer belt to not just help for the amount of time Max’s augmentation is active, and not even just for the lifetime of Feral, but FOREVER. You save everyone’s lives FOREVER. Without torturing anyone.

            “How do you know that Alison doesn’t care about all those lives saved? 40 hours a month for Feral is an enormous improvement over her previous situation, and she still saves millions of lives.”

            I didn’t say she doesnt care, but it wasnt her priority because there’s no way in hell she could have known how it would have been in an outcome with any certainty. The ONLY mostly certain thing was that it would help Feral (and even that wasnt entirely certain).

            “Yeah that’s, uh…not what I said. At all. I’ve said like a billion times, including in comments directed at you specifically, that I expect there to be negative consequences for this.”

            It’s also what you imply every time you try to squash every concievable downside to the actual plan Alison came up with. You’re saying the plan is perfect, and the only way it can be bad is if something happens later unrelated to the plan, or directly related to Max, probably to make Max a villain because we can’t possibly have Alison “The Armwrecker” Green actually pay consequences for her actions in the way of punishment to her or a failure in her plan. Nope. Everyone gets organs forever. Utopia for all because of violence, bullying, and the strong enslaving the weak. Lovely lesson.

          • Stephanie

            “How exactly did Alison know that it would be that easy with Max’s power? He’s almost never used it. There couldnt have been intensive testing in the file.”

            “Couldn’t” is overstating it. He was tested in some way as a teenager. We don’t know the specifics.

            “I didn’t say she doesnt care, but it wasnt her priority because there’s no way in hell she could have known how it would have been in an outcome with any certainty. The ONLY mostly certain thing was that it would help Feral (and even that wasnt entirely certain).”

            “Help Feral” and “save lives” are mutually inclusive in this case. If this plan wouldn’t enable Feral to save more lives faster, Feral wouldn’t be free of constant surgery. The mechanism of helping Feral is to enable her to save more lives faster, that’s the entire point. Alison could not know that she could help Feral unless she knew she could help Feral save lives.

            “we bing bang bang bang bang bang boom with Paladin and create robots which can do the operations flawlessly at a far greater speed than human doctors”

            You can’t “bing bang boom” complex robotics. Paladin is superhumanly skilled, she’s not a literal deity.

            “You save everyone’s lives FOREVER. Without torturing anyone.”

            Unless Paladin says no. Then you have to torture her. Is that more acceptable to you than torturing Max?

            “It’s also what you imply every time you try to squash every concievable downside to the actual plan Alison came up with.”

            I have proposed downsides! I have proposed them in direct response to your insistence that there wouldn’t be any! What more do you want from me?

          • Izo

            “”Couldn’t” is overstating it. He was tested in some way as a teenager. We don’t know the specifics.”

            You seem to have overlooked the word ‘extensive.’ They wouldnt know if his powers are temporary or permanet augmentations, and what the effect on different types of other biodynamics there are.

            “”Help Feral” and “save lives” are mutually inclusive in this case.”

            No they arent, since one possibility could have been that she would heal too fast to even have surgery, meaning she would no longer be viable for donating organs. Another possibility is that the healing is so out of control that another person getting the organ would die from them (like in Marvel’s Deadpool).

            So no, “help Feral” and “save lives” are not mutually inclusive. I chose the words ‘help Feral’ instead of ‘save lives’ for a reason.

            “If this plan wouldn’t enable Feral to save more lives faster, Feral wouldn’t be free of constant surgery.”

            This would be a third example of Max’s augmentation not saving lives, since in that scenario, no additional lives would be saved – all that would happen is helping Feral, not saving lives.

            “You can’t “bing bang boom” complex robotics. Paladin is superhumanly skilled, she’s not a literal deity.”

            Sure she can, conceivably. Forge does. So do a lot of other geniuses who get their intelligence from superpowers instead of common brainpower. PS238 has Zodok. DC Comics has Gear. Marvel has Forge (and a bunch of others, actually) DC also has Brainiac. If she can’t do anything better than a normal person, how does she even be considered a biodynamic in the first place?

            “Unless Paladin says no.”

            Do you think Paladin is as selfish as Max?

            “Then you have to torture her. Is that more acceptable to you than torturing Max?”

            In the unlikely event that Paladin is, for some reason, just as selfish as Max is, then it’s not more acceptable. It’s just as acceptable, unless you think Paladin and Max are worth different amounts as human beings worthy of not being tortured.

            “I have proposed downsides! I have proposed them in direct response to your insistence that there wouldn’t be any!”

            Downsides to this plan actually working with no negative effects to Alison or Feral or the ‘countless countless people?’

            What are they? I don’t recall you saying anything. There have been people who say she’d be guilty, which is not a downside. There are people who said Max would kill herself, which is a downside for MAX, not Alison or Alison’s plan or Feral or the countless countless people. There are people who said Max would make what Alison did public, to which I’d ask – what would anyone actually do about it? Nothing. They can’t do anything. There are people like me who suggested that Max could augment someone capable of beating Alison, or his power could augment to include shutting down people’s powers (like Leech from Marvel), but when I suggest those, people poo poo the very idea of that as a deus ex machina, despite that not even remotely being a DeM (which means they don’t know what a DeM is).

            “What more do you want from me?”

            I’d like you to tell me right now in a straightforward answer, if that wouldn’t be a problem.

          • Stephanie

            “No they arent, since one possibility could have been that she would heal too fast to even have surgery, meaning she would no longer be viable for donating organs. ”

            That would not be helping Feral. If “helping Feral” meant, to Alison, just removing her from the surgery, there has been a much simpler way to accomplish that since before she even met Max.

            “This would be a third example of Max’s augmentation not saving lives, since in that scenario, no additional lives would be saved – all that would happen is helping Feral, not saving lives.”

            ?????? That’s not what I said at all.

            “Do you think Paladin is as selfish as Max?”

            You’re the one who initially brought up the idea of Alison coercing her, you tell me.

            ” If she can’t do anything better than a normal person,”

            There’s a biiiiig gulf between “normal person” and “capable of spontaneously materializing a bunch of fully functional artificial organs from thin air with a metaphorical gun to your head.” Even geniuses have to plan, build, test, refine, and most of all fail. Remember this page?

            http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-5/page-71-2/

            The one where Paladin’s project is a complete failure after “months of work?” I realize that artificial organs aren’t quite on the level of true AI, but they’re pretty freaking complicated and we have canonical evidence that Paladin doesn’t just “bing bang boom” her projects into perfect existence. She devotes actual time, effort, and money to her work.

            I’m in bio research, by the way. I have an idea of how long it takes, and how expensive it is, to break new ground.

            “What are they? I don’t recall you saying anything. ”

            You don’t recall your posts where you’re like “Wow I guess nothing bad will ever happen to Alison because the authors think violence is great,” and I’m like, “I’m certain there will be serious negative consequences to Alison because conflict drives stories, here are like eight examples of ways this could go tits-up”?

            “Downsides to this plan actually working with no negative effects to Alison or Feral or the ‘countless countless people?'”

            Shockingly, in a scenario where there aren’t any downsides to the plan, there aren’t any downsides to the plan. You’re the only one of us who seems to expect that scenario to happen.

          • Izo

            “That would not be helping Feral. If “helping Feral” meant, to Alison, just removing her from the surgery, there has been a much simpler way to accomplish that since before she even met Max.”

            It ‘helps’ her by giving her a reason that her self-sacrificing nature can’t keep putting herself into this torturous but voluntary situation.

            “You’re the one who initially brought up the idea of Alison coercing her, you tell me.”

            I brought it up as sarcasm and you know that I did, since I told you I did. To point out the hypocrisy of not being okay with forcing Paladin, but being okay with forcing Max.

            “You don’t recall your posts where you’re like “Wow I guess nothing bad will ever happen to Alison because the authors think violence is great,” and I’m like, “I’m certain there will be serious negative consequences to Alison because conflict drives stories, here are like eight examples of ways this could go tits-up”?”

            No I don’t recall you saying ANYTHING about the way the plan can now fail, or how Alison or Feral can suffer any personal consequences at all beyond Alison feeling guilt, or Feral not wanting to be Alison’s friend when she finds out. And then I believe one of the thing you argued was that Feral wouldn’t de-friend Alison over this. So you were arguing AGAINST negative consequences for this happening.

            “Shockingly, in a scenario where there aren’t any downsides to the plan, there aren’t any downsides to the plan. You’re the only one of us who seems to expect that scenario to happen.”

            Because such a shockingly ill-thought-out plan, made possible only through violence and threats, should have downsides. If everything is perfect then you’re going to have them living in a freaking Utopia and Alison stars as the Mary Sue of that utopia.

          • Stephanie

            “It ‘helps’ her by giving her a reason that her self-sacrificing nature can’t keep putting herself into this torturous but voluntary situation.”

            Which could have been accomplished much sooner by physically removing her from the hospital and refusing to let her go back. Evidently, that doesn’t count as “helping Feral” in Alison’s eyes.

            “No I don’t recall you saying ANYTHING about the way the plan can now fail, or how Alison or Feral can suffer any personal consequences at all beyond Alison feeling guilt, or Feral not wanting to be Alison’s friend when she finds out. ”

            Then I don’t know what to tell you, because I listed one thing after another over the course of a full day of your sarcastic “everything is puppies and roses” posts.

            You seemed to have a lot of trouble believing that I hadn’t noticed other people making certain arguments or calling you names. I’ll nevertheless give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t notice or forgot about all of my posts on this topic that were literally replies to you, some of which I’m pretty sure you even responded to. Maybe Disqus crapped the bed with the reply notifications, who knows.

            In the end, though, I did actually say in like ten separate comments that I expect there to be some kind of negative consequences for Alison and/or Feral, and I went on at some length about what they might be. I’m not going to entertain further accusations that I expect everything to be puppies and roses, because I clearly don’t expect that.

          • Izo

            “Then I don’t know what to tell you, because I listed one thing after another over the course of a full day of your sarcastic “everything is puppies and roses” posts. For example: https://gyazo.com/f87c6b2cff99… And hey, we’ve even had this exact same argument before: https://gyazo.com/563ec3c889e9…”

            Okay thanks for the reminder on this. Never saw this one before

            “You seemed to have a lot of trouble believing that I hadn’t noticed other people making certain arguments or calling you names. I’ll nevertheless give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t notice or forgot about all of my posts on this topic that were literally replies to you, some of which I’m pretty sure you even responded to. Maybe Disqus crapped the bed with the reply notifications, who knows.”

            You and I post a pretty insane amount of stuff, and until recently there was a pretty long time difference between our posts and when it went public. It’s entirely possible we miss some posts from each other. Plus until yesterday, I didnt GET email Disqus notifications at all.

          • Stephanie

            You can get email notifications? Good god, I hope I never accidentally turn that on, that sounds like a nightmare.

          • Izo

            Well before I could, I probably missed a LOT of responses because I don’t check the page every hour to see who responded to me – and you respond to me a LOT (and vice versa for me responding to you)

            It’s not much of a nightmare. I don’t respond to everyone, and I don’t respond regularly anyway. I’ll probably turn it off (although it’s on a tertiary email address that I use anyway)

          • Stephanie

            I just look at the reply notifications on my Disqus page. But sometimes they inexplicably don’t show up and I only see them when scrolling the comments.

          • Izo

            I almost never look at my Disqus page, so I’m not sure how to respond to that 🙂

          • palmvos

            as far as Artificial organs. Paladin has less than 1/2 the skill to do it. robotics is the EASY part of artificial organs. you need some incredibly brilliant chemists and a revolution in biology. most of our organs are involved with chemistry. the mechanical functions are usually minor, but no less daunting. one of the runner ups on dance your PhD was about heart valve replacements- the mechanical ones tend to shred the blood as it goes through, so maybe paladin can solve that one. but the real mystery is the control system i.e. how does the heart know when to slow down and speed up? when they were working with an artificial heart it was a stopgap until a donor could be found – AFAIK because they were having problems integrating it into the control system.
            as far as chemical functions. when was the last time you saw a renewable filter that didn’t need maintenance including cleaning or element replacing for 20 years! i’ll wait.

          • Stephanie

            You’ll get no argument from me on this. I’ve been saying this whole time that forcing Paladin to invent artificial organs is infeasible for a variety of reasons.

          • palmvos

            I am sorry. I did not mean to sound like i was disagreeing with you. I was supporting your position.

          • Stephanie

            Oh, OK! I was confused because of the way some parts of it were phrased. I appreciate the support, thank you!

          • SJ

            What has stopped Alison from forcing Paladin to do what I suggested anyway? Seriously… why should Alison not force Paladin to create artificial organs for people.

            Forget organs; death is unsolvable, anyway. Why hasn’t Alison threatened to drop Paladin in the ocean, until/unless she builds a machine that can provide the world with unlimited clean energy? Or build, like, a nanite defuser to de-weaponize all the world’s nukes? Or develop FTL travel, so we can colonize off-world, and solve our overpopulation problem?

          • Izo

            Those are all excellent questions as well. Paladin is clearly very selfish for not wanting to give the world unlimited clean energy, and needs to have Alison force her to focus on that, by violent means if she has the audacity to think she has autonomy.

          • Stephanie

            ” death is unsolvable, anyway. ”

            No way! We’ll get there, as long as we don’t accidentally extinct ourselves first. It’s not ordained, it’s just biology, no more unsolvable than any other biological problem. I mean, eventually you get to the heat death of the universe and that’s it, but I’d say surviving that long counts as beating death.

      • This Guy

        I’ve been seeing you make this commentary across the comments for the page at large – there needs to be an obvious backlash because otherwise people will get the wrong message.

        Despite agreeing with you about the backlash, I feel like what you’re arguing for has the effect of infantilizing the reader.

        • Izo

          “Despite agreeing with you about the backlash, I feel like what you’re arguing for has the effect of infantilizing the reader.”

          It’s not infantilizing them to say that bad actions should have bad consequences. It’s pushing a narrative that doing bad is bad. Which one would think is an obvious lesson to learn but there are many people who seem to default to what is the actual ‘infantilization’ of the choice – I want something, so I am going to take it.’ THAT… is infantilization. At least if there’s no consequences.

          Stories send messages. That’s why people write stories.

          • This Guy

            And to suggest this has a pervasive influence on such a scale that stories must be didactic is pretty infantilizing. It’s suggesting a lack of agency in the reader which, ironically, is the thing you want this story to tell them they have.

          • Izo

            No it isn’t suggesting a lack of agency at all. It’s suggesting that people are easily influenced when in an echo chamber though. Which they are.

            Also, this is a story about deconstructing a popular story archetype – ie, superheroes. And also HEAVILY about philosophies. So of course it’s natural for it to be relaying a moral (btw to anyone who hasn’t googled, didactic means a story or message intended to teach, particularly in morality as an ulterior motive, although the word can also be used to say teaching someone in a patronizing fashion, which I’m assuming This Guy means, in which case he’s wrong since there’s no patronizing necessary to give a moral lesson.)

          • This Guy

            You are assuming wrongly. The didactic is a valid choice in choosing to frame a story, and there are plenty of arguments for moral instruction as a necessity for a text to be considered capital-A art. It’s just a standard with which I strongly disagree.

            But what echo chamber? What do you know of the reading diet of the comic’s audience, such that they aren’t also reading stories with alternative points of view?

          • Izo

            “You are assuming wrongly.”

            Nope. You are. I explained the dual meaning of the word didactic. For the first definition, of course it should be didactic – it’s a story about morality in a deconstructed superhero genre, and delving into the morality of different philosophies. Of COURSE it’s going to have didactic elements to it. They wouldn’t even allow this forum if that wasn’t the case.

            “But what echo chamber?”

            The echo chamber that would exist if not for the fact that there are people who disagree with what the protagonist is doing. In no way have I even implied that this forum IS an echo chamber, and you should good and well know that. Lets not read false words into my posts.

          • This Guy

            “Of COURSE it’s going to have didactic elements to it. They wouldn’t even allow this forum if that wasn’t the case.”

            Save we could be discussing many things that have nothing to do with the philosophies’ presented: Artwork, writing style, pacing and framing of the comic, discussing possible influences from other works in the genre, etc. Very little HAS to be discussed regarding the morality of the comic, and I suspect they wouldn’t shut the place down if people chose not to do so.

            “The echo chamber that would exist if not for the fact that there are people who disagree with what the protagonist is doing.”

            What do you think I meant when I said “reading diet?” Presuming a reader never bothered to look into the comments, believing them to be a cesspit, what other materials could they be reading such that they would not automatically take these actions at face value?

          • Izo

            “Save we could be discussing many things that have nothing to do with the philosophies’ presented: Artwork, writing style, pacing and framing of the comic, discussing possible influences from other works in the genre, etc.”

            The discussions on the forum have not, for the most part, been about the artwork, writing style, pacing and framing of the comic. They have been about the philosophical questions brought up by the comic.

            “Very little HAS to be discussed regarding the morality of the comic,”

            Have we been reading a different comic for… most of this comic’s history?

            Morality in the comic is one of the key feature ABOUT the comic and has been since the beginning. Morality and philosophical questions about what is and is not right to do is the basis for ‘social justice.’

            “What do you think I meant when I said “reading diet?” Presuming a reader never bothered to look into the comments, believing them to be a cesspit, what other materials could they be reading such that they would not automatically take the actions in the comic at face value and as evidence of right and proper behavior?”

            If a reader of the comic wasn’t reading the comments, any reference about an echo chamber would be a moot point in the first place.

          • This Guy

            “They have been about the philosophical questions brought up by the comic.”

            I’m not sure how this disproves “We could be discussing many things.” Let me emphasize “could” here. Are you saying that it would have been impossible for the readership to be more interested in the aesthetic qualities of the work than in the didactic qualities?

            “Have we been reading a different comic for… most of this comic’s history?”

            This is the comic that’s seen gradual but consistent aesthetic changes over the course of its run such that the characters look significantly different compared to their original piece, that shifted to color pages with a soft color palette, and started sacrificing detail in character design for more iconic appearances, right? (Contrast Feral’s more, well, feral appearance in her first pages to the much softer look in her reappearance).

            You’re right, surely there’s nothing interesting to discuss there. Let’s have the trolley problem argument for five months instead.

            “If a reader of the comic wasn’t reading the comments, any reference about an echo chamber would be a moot point in the first place.”

            I understand now. You thought I meant the comments were the echo chamber. I didn’t. Echo chambers can be a broader term encompassing the sum of all media a person consumes. Somebody could read these comments thoroughly, but still consume media from other sources which validates the ideas you find distasteful, and more persuasively or effectively than any contrasting viewpoint you could provide. Somebody could never touch these comments, but consume a diverse range of fiction that lets them see nuance and disagree with the text.

            My point in all of this, before I get too far into the weeds, is that yes, you are infantilizing the audience by demanding a clear didactic response to this text. You are assuming that somehow absent a dissenting voice these comments would be an echo chamber of enough power to convince them to consciously or unconsciously be influenced by the text without any real agency or say of their own.

          • Izo

            “I’m not sure how this disproves “We could be discussing many things.” Let me emphasize “could” here. Are you saying that it would have been impossible for the readership to be more interested in the aesthetic qualities of the work than in the didactic qualities?”

            Now you’re just engaging in semantics over obviousness. Yes, based on simple observation of what people have discussed on the forum for most of the history of this comic, readers who read the comments are more interested in the didactic qualities than the aesthetic ones.

            Even when the comic was a lot less polished art-wise, people were discussing the philosophical and moral aspects as the primary topic of discussion. As the art improved… people are still talking about the philosophical and moral aspects as the primary topic of discussion. This isnt some sort of guesswork. This is actual fact from normal observation.

            “You’re right, surely there’s nothing interesting to discuss there.”

            Well, not only are you being sarcastic (and without even doing /s for which people get annoyed with me, but I guess for you it’s a double standard), you’re also being purposefully and willingly blind to what people have discussed here as the majority of the posts since the beginning of the comic. I’ll give credit to Molly’s art adding to the story a lot,and she’s clearly a gifted artist, but the moral and philosophical implications ARE the most interesting things here if you base that judgment on who talks about what in the postings, even though the art has indeed improved a lot since its beginnings. That can be said about almost EVERY comic though – webcomic or even syndicated comics. But with this comic, the thing that has made this comic more unique than others are the questions it brings up.

            And you KNOW that’s true. You’re even arguing it right now! How many posts have you made discussing the comic’s color composition as the main portion of your posts?

            “Let’s have the trolley problem argument for five months instead.”

            1) I hate the trolley problem. But this comic discusses a lot more than that simplistic problem usually, although this arc has been reduced to a trolley problem repeatedly, which is yet another reason that I’m not a fan of this arc.

            2) /s when you’re being sarcastic, but more people have made trolley problem posts than posts about the pastel colors vs black and white by a huge number.

    • palmvos

      point 1.
      http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-85-2/
      panel 2 then 3. although max hasn’t said the exact words that revealing his power would cause himself to be a target. its very clear that Alison picked that up from his comments and he rolled with it. its also AFTER page 84 where they start trading insults. incidentally page 84 is where we ind out that mom got him excluded from the files. though the reason given there is about the worst one possible- and likely what derailed the whole conversation. ‘didn’t want me to be part of the freak-show’ Alison’s response is on point- ‘what does that make me the bearded lady?’ and later on we get the line about how Max is the only persons she’s met who’s had to back up and clarify what he means as often as he has.

      I wasn’t on the comment verse for the moonshadow arc- but calling her a mass murderer seems… inappropriate. She is the ultimate end of the vigilante- for a similar character (and it would not shock me to see someone else has made the comparison) see Dexter who is a serial killer. Mass murder is usually expressed as an act that kills large numbers in a single action. (ex: misuse of rental truck and fertilizer) note that Mary is also on the run now. as far as the double standard max’s autonomy the comic itself points that out- see Mary’s speech on page 147 and 148 of issue 5 (last and first)

      as far as the time frame i agree with you people are impatient I’m the one that came up with 260 pages a page ago in response to a question of how long should we wait for negative consequences.

      I second the idea the legality =! morality. whisky jack as already done a good job of pointing out that in ethics and morality action and inaction are neither congruent nor equal.

      • FlashNeko

        “whisky jack as already done a good job of pointing out that in ethics
        and morality action and inaction are neither congruent nor equal.”

        Which is an odd thing to say, considering the Trolley Scenario this whole part of the story arc is is based on, ABSOLUTELY depends on action or inaction to demonstrate one’s ethics and morality.

        • This, I agree with; I do not consider the trolley scenario to be a worthwhile thought exercise, though, because it requires an artificial elimination of variables that is impossible for me to give credence to.

          Note, also, that this story, despite the way it has been presented, is not a true trolley scenario as other options have existed continuously and simply been ignored.

          • FlashNeko

            Yeah, I kind of hate it too, but more because I’m someone who hates working from the assumption that you have to become a murderer in some capacity to decide what kind of person you are.

            But that’s a whole different argument for another time or place. 😛

        • palmvos

          the Trolley Scenario is specifically written to do that- the way it is stated frames it as a choice between two actions.either the trolley will hit the 5 or the trolley will hit the one. you choose. it creates an artificial setup that limits choices. the situation with Max does not collapse into that level of simplicity. as someone who uses models and simulations professionally- keep in mind they all have limits.

    • MrSing

      I believe that what Max did is not, in fact, neglicent homicide.
      Max, as a citizen, has not taken up any duty or skill (think fireman, policeman, doctor) that would morally bind him to act when a person is in danger. Innate skills do not bind you to a duty. Someone with extreme hand-eye coördination is not required to become a surgeon or soldier, even if they have an extreme aptitude for it.
      Futhermore, Max is not an indirect or direct cause of the death of these people. He has not, as far as we know, ever caused an organ to fail. So he is not responsible for their deaths.
      Futhermore, Max puts himself in a real risk if he decides to reveal or use his power.
      If someone falls of a bridge in a wild river, you are not required to jump after them to save them unless you are a lifeguard or have taken up another duty to help people. Especially if jumping in after the other person might result in your own death or serious harm, which is the case with Max.
      So, while what Max is doing by his inaction is appaling, you can’t call it negligent homicide.

  • Giacomo Bandini

    You know giuys, beyond the moral considerations and how it will end, i’m still in awe of how beautiful and rich is this story arc.

    Let’s consider Max and Alison: as individual they cannot be more different from one another; but on an existential level they are the same. Both of them are persons trying to escape their destiny, in this case, their genetic destiny. Both of the have been forced from fate to play a certain role, and they have trying to escape from it. Max wanted to be free, but instead he got a power who could change other people’s life. Alison wanted to important, relevant, and for a time she belived it to be, but then, courtesy from Menace, the cold reality struck, her, : she was only a violent grunt who can punch some robots and put some bad people in their place; but she cannot change a thing, for real.

    And then these two troubled people met. In any other work of fiction, they would have see theselves as kindred spirits, and would have ended helping each other realize their dreams. But in this marvelous little masterpiece, this trope was subverted, and they became rivals. Each of them has seen the other as a foil, a privileged fool who was squandering his or her gift, and they clash with each other. At the end, they forced each other into the role they have been tried so hard to escape: Alison litterally forced Max into playing the role of the superhelper; and while actually, for once, being able to reach her goal fo changing things for real, she obtains those results by using violence and forcing her will on someone else, in a sort of dark reflection of when she was a superhero and was punching supervillains and criminals.

    What a beautiful story, really.

  • Yirtimd2

    Oh God, At first this discussion was so easy to me and I thought I knew what’s right and what’s wrong – Alison was bad because she made her first step to becoming World-Wide Dictator, and Max was douchebag victim, whose free will and rights were ignored, even if he was so douchey, he is human being with his rights and free will. It was so easy and obvious to decide that it’s her own Start of Darkness, the beginning of her own Injustice. But now, after all these 600+ commentaries I am not so sure about this. So I wanted to look at it from other side.
    What if Alison would make it by democratical methods – she could organize some sort of national voting to decide “must Max use his powers or not” – and make it some sort of propaganda movie, well like, you know, when they show all these ill people, better if it is some random ill 10-year girl who needs a transplantation, and while she giving interview she will be coughing but trying to smile, and then interview with her crying relatives, some interview with married woman with four kids, and some short interviews with these kids in style “will you miss your mom if she will die?” – and show them crying, and in the end – interview with Feral – that all about it’s her own decision, that it was act of her own free will – and some footage of operations with blood and gore, while dictor telling us that she immune to sedatives and she feel all this pain 247.
    And periodically they will make some inserts with Max’s interview, who is not giving a shit about them and showing him as rich boy who live in big house, eat tasty food, wear damn good clothes and enjoying his life full-on! And dictor must tell something about “one day we need 3000 transplant organs, Feral can make just 100, but with his assisting she could make it 40-hours month and it will be enough” – and showing Feral crying because she knows that, but she respect his own rights, and then movie shows us like how she is strapped down and cold steel machinery start working and footage stopping when it touch her skin and spill first blood – and then next scene – Max saying that he don’t wanna help them, even if he doesn’t cost to him anything because he is offended by Alison as ex-girlfriend and Feral is her friend – I think after this movie there will be so many people who will make him to do what they think is right thing, just like some relatives of those who died because of his selfishness, and no one will give a damn about his rights and free will.
    Alison could make such a thing easily, but she choose another variant. Well, it is all because she is just too young and don’t know how to manipulate masses at all. You know, manipulating people is much easier than forcing them to do anything. Mayb she will learn about this with time.

    • Just outing Max’s existence would be an act of violence against him.

      • Yirtimd2

        That’s all what you can say about it? I am dissapointed

        • weedgoku

          It’s all that needs to be said. No one has the right to force him into doing anything he doesn’t want to do and putting his life in danger by spilling a potentially life threatening secret to the public is a disgusting tactic much like assaulting him to force his hand in the first place.