"No!"

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"No!"

Postby Sun tzu on Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:27 pm

Hm. Am I correct in assuming Lightbringer's reaction is in response to Linkara's apparent intention to use lethal force?
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Postby Linkara on Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:13 am

You would be correct. ^^
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Postby Wandering Observer on Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:27 pm

And here I thought that the chapter would be a big, long fight scene. Now things get interesting...
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Postby Linkara on Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:16 pm

Wandering Observer wrote:And here I thought that the chapter would be a big, long fight scene. Now things get interesting...


Nah, just about five or six pages. ^_~
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:24 am

Interesting indeed.
"When is it okay for super-heroes to kill?"
Marvel and DC have plenty of heroes with very strict "no killing" rules. Batman and Daredevil have actually gone out of their ways to save homicidal maniacs such as the Joker and Bullseye...But that might have less to do with personnal philosophy than with the writers needing the rogue gallery to stay alive.
To be perfectly honest, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it's not actually immoral for a hero to kill a supervillain who's himself relying on lethal force - not any more than it's immoral for a policeman to shoot back when a criminal's trying to gun him down. That a super-hero still tries to catch the villain alive isn't then a moral requirement - it's heroic.
Of course, Lightbringer and Linkara have somewhat differing perspectives. Lightbringer's a super-hero who's been assisting the police; Linkara, as far as I can tell, has been waging a war. To Lightbringer, Dark's basically a criminal who has to be arrested; to Linkara, he's an enemy soldier who needs to be killed before he kills you.
At least, that's my interpretation.
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:43 am

sun tzu wrote:Interesting indeed.
"When is it okay for super-heroes to kill?"
Marvel and DC have plenty of heroes with very strict "no killing" rules. Batman and Daredevil have actually gone out of their ways to save homicidal maniacs such as the Joker and Bullseye...But that might have less to do with personnal philosophy than with the writers needing the rogue gallery to stay alive.
To be perfectly honest, the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it's not actually immoral for a hero to kill a supervillain who's himself relying on lethal force - not any more than it's immoral for a policeman to shoot back when a criminal's trying to gun him down. That a super-hero still tries to catch the villain alive isn't then a moral requirement - it's heroic.
Of course, Lightbringer and Linkara have somewhat differing perspectives. Lightbringer's a super-hero who's been assisting the police; Linkara, as far as I can tell, has been waging a war. To Lightbringer, Dark's basically a criminal who has to be arrested; to Linkara, he's an enemy soldier who needs to be killed before he kills you.
At least, that's my interpretation.


You've got it partially right. In my humble opinion, it's not okay for a hero to kill under any situation. I think it's wrong when policeman and soldiers kill, as well. However, just because I think it's wrong doesn't mean I don't respect them or the ethics compounding the situation. Allow me to explain:

As I've said before (and actually sun tzu has read this on the CBR forums. ^_~), I believe in moral absolutes and that certain actions are always right and certain actions are always wrong. I believe killing is always wrong, but the situation around it is what pulls it into the grey area. A soldier is forced to kill in his profession due to circumstances outside of his control or because he feels he is in a state where his own survival is paramount in his mind. A similar thing can be applied to police officers, who are in a position sometimes to, in their minds, use lethal force to stop a criminal. I wish they didn't have to and maybe someday they won't, but I wouldn't hold them morally or legally accountable for having to do so.

For a superhero, though, it's different. The fact that they tend to have powers above and beyond the normal human means that they shouldn't have to resort to the same tactics as a police officer and a soldier. Louis was unable to abide by such a ruling because he was a fourteen year-old kid who was thrust into a situation outside of his control. However, as shown in the fourth book, he has had to reevaluate some of this preconceptions in order to defeat evil. One of those being that he needs to act like a knight and not a soldier. Now, some will tell me that being a knight includes the possibility of killing, but I say in return that Gallahad was the purest knight in the round table because he never killed, never drank, etc., etc.

Lightbringer's reacting to Louis in this manner because he sees him flying out at the Darkbringer with blades extended and it looks like he's going for his head. In truth, Louis is just so confident in his skills and his work with his katars that he believes he can stab and wound without killing (shoulder wounds, leg wounds, or slices across other areas without actuall penetrating deep into the flesh). Lightbringer, on the other hand, has never met Louis before and knows nothing about him other than the fact that he's flying at a criminal with a blade extended out in a "stabbing" pose.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:59 am

For a superhero, though, it's different. The fact that they tend to have powers above and beyond the normal human means that they shouldn't have to resort to the same tactics as a police officer and a soldier.

But that isn't necessarily the case. Even a superhero can be put in a situation where killing his opponent is the lesser evil. Superman vs Doomsday. Arguably, Wonder Woman vs Max Lord. Generic-Hero-Whose-Power-Is-Heat-Vision vs. Villain holding a hostage in front of him in such a way that only his head is visible, and aiming a gun at Generic Hero. Generic-Hero-Whose-Power-Is-Exploding vs a psychic villain right in front of him who's about to launch a lobotomizing mental blast against everyone in the neighborhood.
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:41 pm

Ah, but all those examples could be argued against. ^_~

In the case of Superman vs. Doomsday, it was not until later that Doomsday actually gained some degree of intelligence, and even then the world got rewritten with that case. Doomsday is a wild animal, with no sentient thought - he's just programmed to kill and lash out.

Wonder Woman vs. Maxwell Lord was just irritating. I forgive Diana due to her warrior nature and her need to make a quick decision to save Superman, but if she had had time to think it, she needn't have done so. She could have easily knocked Max unconscious, freeing the direct mental control. It's also been established before that the DCU has some pretty sophisticated tech, including devices that can jam psychic abilities or inhibit metahuman powers. While they'd have to work hard to remove the brainwashing Max directly did on Superman, it wasn't impossible and he could have been held.

As for the heat vision, there are a number of methods they could use that needn't be directly lethal (albeit some can be crippling or incapacitating). They could use their heat vision to set the criminal's hair on fire, or simply burn an area of their skin. Either method sends the villain into a brief panic, giving the hero a chance to rescue the hostage. Alternatively, they could even use the heat vision to burn their eyes, blinding them either temporarily or permanently (albeit this one's more of a last resort due to its crippling nature).

The exploding power is a little trickier, but still doable. They could use their exploding power (if they can direct it) to blow up the ground directly underneath the criminal, be it in a powerful burst but not enough to kill them, merely knock them unconscious or just sending him into enough of a panic that the hero can use more exploding abilities to once more send the villain into a panic. Furthermore, another (more dangerous) maneuver would be to use the exploding powers to destroy the building they're in, hopefully doing enough damage to knock the villain out or simply bury them in rubble.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:36 pm

So, rather than do something that's guaranteed to save the bystanders' lives, the hero should jump through hoops to execute a complicated maneouver to save both the civilians and the villain, but is far more likely to fail?
This approach sounds to me like it's putting a higher priority on not killing the villain than on saving the innocents.
As opposed as I am to the capital punishment, I'd rather have policemen who are willing to shoot to kill when a criminal is threatening bystanders. I'd want the same with superheroes.
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 14, 2007 11:12 am

Yeah, I guess it's a matter of opinion on it, but I'd rather have superheroes more willing to save everyone than kill one villain to save the bystanders. To each his own. ^^
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:23 pm

Linkara wrote:Yeah, I guess it's a matter of opinion on it, but I'd rather have superheroes more willing to save everyone than kill one villain to save the bystanders. To each his own. ^^

I admit I don't get it. Shouldn't saving the innocents be the number one priority? We expect the police to kill criminals when not doing so would (most likely) result in immediate civilian death. Super-powers or not, super-heroes can find themselves in similar situations, where they need to kill the villain to protect the city (and any attempt at catching the villain alive will have a 70% chance of failing, allowing him to vaporize the town); why hold them to a different standard then? Just because someone's wearing spandex and has super-weaving abilities, that doesn't mean the rules of ethics apply differently to him. :-?
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:20 pm

Well, I just believe that there is always a better alternative than to kill. As a matter of ethics, as I said, I believe taking another life is immoral.
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:33 pm

Linkara wrote:Well, I just believe that there is always a better alternative than to kill. As a matter of ethics, as I said, I believe taking another life is immoral.

Immoral, perhaps, but can it not be the lesser evil?
In WWII, should Allied soldiers have refrained from killing Axis soldiers? I believe all the shooting and bombing was, in fact, the right thing to do - because the consequence of refraining from it was Hitler becoming emperor of the Earth. Was there a "better alternative than to kill"?
If yes, then I'm all ears.
If no, then we've established that in some circumstances, killing is the best course of action.
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:45 pm

I wonder if this is technically invoking Godwin's law? ^_~

Seriously, though, you're right, in wartime (and WWII in particular), killing is the lesser evil. As much as I believe killing is wrong, letting Nazis or tyrants continue to hold their power would undoubtedly have been the wrong decision to make. Like I said, soldiers who kill in battle is pulled into a gray area due to the situations surrounding them. There was no other way to stop people like Hitler or Hussein. Do I still think that the killings were wrong? Yes. Do I feel we were backed into a situation that had no better alternatives? Yes, as well.

However, that's taking into account nations going to war with one another and war can be used as a positive force to bring about greater change for a society. It's still WRONG, but humans aren't perfect and sometimes we have to do things we hate or we'd rather punish ourselves over to bring about a greater good. But I don't want that in my superheroes, because I truly believe there's always a better way when it comes to individuals or the small factor. Wars are forces in themselves, primarily beyond the control of individuals because there are too many factors to consider, especially when it comes to the greater good. But then we have individual criminals, be they superpowered or not. Wars are fought over ideologies and the defense of the innocent, but individual criminals serve no positive benefit to society and people like superheroes, who actively choose a dangerous life in order to improve things, should not be willing to implore the same unethical tactics as criminals in order to achieve their goals. That's why I don't find people like Manhunter or the Punisher to be heroes - their vigilantes. Now, on the other hand, if you have someone like Cassandra Cain, who committed a wrongdoing but realized it was a wrongdoing and strove to be a hero as an act of redemption, then you've got something to work with.
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Mar 14, 2007 11:36 pm

But I don't want that in my superheroes, because I truly believe there's always a better way when it comes to individuals or the small factor. Wars are forces in themselves, primarily beyond the control of individuals because there are too many factors to consider, especially when it comes to the greater good. But then we have individual criminals, be they superpowered or not. Wars are fought over ideologies and the defense of the innocent, but individual criminals serve no positive benefit to society and people like superheroes, who actively choose a dangerous life in order to improve things, should not be willing to implore the same unethical tactics as criminals in order to achieve their goals.

That strikes me as unrealistic - assuming that, outside of war, there's always a better, non-lethal way. Why should there automatically be one?
Suppose the Joker, having recently gotten some form of small power-up, wants to duke it out with Batman, and so takes a kindergarten hostage, threatening to start administering Joker toxin to toddlers if Batman doesn't show up quickly. Gordon happens to know that Batman is out of town. Does he try to negotiate with the Joker - which is likely to result in more innocent deaths, considering who we're talking about - or should he just get a SWAT sniper to shoot him in the head?
I'd say that in this scenario, not killing him would constitute an irresponsible, unethical gambling with civilian lives.
That's for Gordon. It's possible to craft a similar scenario for a superhero.
Suppose Myx, trying to be original, creates a bizzaro Luthor - Lexaro. Lexaro is just as determined to kill Superman as the original, and builds himself a kryptonite-coated power suit. He confronts the man of steel with it, and shatters his spine, completely paralyzing him below the neck (including flight capabilities. He doesn't even have the lung control necessary for ice breath). Believing his enemy to be completely helpless (being a crazed bizaro, he's somehow unaware of the heat vision thing), he smiles victoriously at Superman and tells him that he's now going to torture Lois and Jimmy to death, and turns away.
Now, the only thing Superman still has is his heat vision. The only part of Lexaro not protected by the power suit is his head. If he goes for a non-lethal attack, Lexaro will quickly recover, and go one to kill his loved ones. Solution? Just blow his head up with heat vision.
I don't think of Punisher as a hero either. But to say that superheroes shouldn't kill under any circumstamce strikes me as wishful thinking that ignores logic in favor of idealism.
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Postby VinnieD on Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:07 am

See the JLA animated series. Clearly sups would lobotomize him, and turn him into a drooling zombie for the rest of his life.

Right now I'm thinking it's irresponsible of Batman to have not killed the Joker, or the police to have given him the death penalty. Or at least used lethal force to stop him.
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Postby Linkara on Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:11 am

Well, first of all a bizarro Lex Luthor would be an idiot who lived as a bum. ^_~

Secondly, yeah, I'd probably agree with the police to take the shot, albeit I'd hope they'd cap his legs or his neck (something nonlethal but paralyzing) first but I wouldn't expect them to if they had the first shot. I'll say it again - I still think it's WRONG but the situation drags it into a grey area.

Thirdly, with a suit made compeltely of kryptonite, a chunk of it that large would probably KILL Superman after a brief time of exposure. And even if it didn't, the radiation itself would prevent his heat vision from being activated. But going beyond just those boundaries, the advantage of a shared universe is that Superman is not alone and he has some damned powerful friends. Batman could easily come up with some type of acid that would dissolve the suit or Martian Manhunter could pass through the suit, grab Lexaro, and pulls him out of it. Or Wonder Woman could just punch the damn thing really hard or throw her tiara at Lexaro's head with enough force to not kill him but knock him out. Or, to use a situation from a recent issue of 52, Steel could just beat the crap out of Lexaro. ^_~

Fourth, look, I get your point, but I disagree with it. The problem is any smart man can come up with a scenario where a hero might be forced to kill. And you know what? Odds are the hero will probably take the easy way out and just kill the villain and I wouldn't blame them for it. But I'll be damned if they don't at least beat themselves up over something that is unbelievably wrong. No one has the right to take away another person's life, no matter what atrocities they commit. Intention is irrelevant. Should they necessarily be punished for it? No, because circumstances sometimes force people into doing things they wouldn't necessarily do. Like I said, it's still wrong, but sometimes in a crisis situation they don't have the time to think out a different plan. While I wish and hope for them to be able to think up a different plan, odds are they won't be able to in the brief amount of time they have, but what I'm saying is that an alternate, nonlethal plan DOES exist.
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Postby Sun tzu on Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:01 am

Thirdly, with a suit made compeltely of kryptonite, a chunk of it that large would probably KILL Superman after a brief time of exposure. And even if it didn't, the radiation itself would prevent his heat vision from being activated. But going beyond just those boundaries, the advantage of a shared universe is that Superman is not alone and he has some damned powerful friends. Batman could easily come up with some type of acid that would dissolve the suit or Martian Manhunter could pass through the suit, grab Lexaro, and pulls him out of it. Or Wonder Woman could just punch the damn thing really hard or throw her tiara at Lexaro's head with enough force to not kill him but knock him out. Or, to use a situation from a recent issue of 52, Steel could just beat the crap out of Lexaro.

That's missing the point...And, in his state, how is he going to call them - nevermind call them fast enough to stop Lexaro from killing his friends?

Fourth, look, I get your point, but I disagree with it. The problem is any smart man can come up with a scenario where a hero might be forced to kill. And you know what? Odds are the hero will probably take the easy way out and just kill the villain and I wouldn't blame them for it. But I'll be damned if they don't at least beat themselves up over something that is unbelievably wrong. No one has the right to take away another person's life, no matter what atrocities they commit. Intention is irrelevant. Should they necessarily be punished for it? No, because circumstances sometimes force people into doing things they wouldn't necessarily do. Like I said, it's still wrong, but sometimes in a crisis situation they don't have the time to think out a different plan. While I wish and hope for them to be able to think up a different plan, odds are they won't be able to in the brief amount of time they have, but what I'm saying is that an alternate, nonlethal plan DOES exist.

I just don't think superheroes should be held to a different standard of morality than other people...And while I agree that you should capture the villain alive if you can, I don't think you should gamble innocent lives on it.
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Postby Linkara on Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:36 pm

Well, I admit, you have a good point and after careful thought, I do have an answer for you, but I've decided I like the answer enough that I'm actually going to incorporate it into Lightbringer at a future point when someone brings up the same reasons you do. ^_~ I'm sorry if this seems like a cop-out, but I really like what I came up with and I don't want to spoil it for later.

I admit, you have legitimate reasonings and I like I said, I can forsee a situation where it might happen, but it still feels essentially like the Watchmen dilemma of whether you have to kill a few to save many, and I just don't agree with it.
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Postby Sun tzu on Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:45 am

All right then - guess I'll sit, watch, and enjoy the show.
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