January 26th, 2006


here is where zorba takes a running leap into the flames of hell

There's this webcomic named Dominic Deegan.

Originally it was light humor. It got plot, as webcomics tend to do, and it got dark, as webcomics tend to do, and the writer struggled a bit (come on dude, you can't do a rock concert in a four-panel daily cartoon focusing on the performers, it does not work) and then he started this storyline.

"This storyline" is simple, and I'm going to summarize it, but you can read it for yourself if you like. (It's less than two dozen strips long.) A few new characters have shown up including an orc named Stonewater. Stonewater knows a semi-main character named Melna, and at some point in the past Stonewater raped Melna. Stonewater's a friend of our main character Dominic so he gets time to explain himself. Melna was the daughter of an orc hero he admired. The hero gave his life in an attempt to save Melna's. He was given the choices "rape Melna" or "watch as Melna's tribe killed Melna". He chose the first.

You can imagine the shitstorm this is producing.

There is, of course, a group that claims this is the best plotline ever. After all, it's about rape! Anything so edgy and sensitive *must* be good. There is also, of course, a group that claims this is terrible. After all, it's about rape! Rape should never be mentioned, to say nothing of trying to justify it.

I think they're both wrong, myself.

The first trivially so. I can write terrible plots about anything. That's not even difficult.

The second is harder. People seem to believe that not mentioning certain "unspeakable" things causes them to vanish. And if you do mention them you must repeatedly explain how terrible they are. You're not allowed to look at the other side, even playing devil's advocate. There is no other side - they are Evil because they have been proclaimed as such.



The Holocaust.

The writer isn't justifying rape. He's not trying to justify rape. He's not, anywhere, saying "rape is good, let's all rape people, yay yay happiness laughter sunshine rape and flowers". He's putting together a morality paradox. Rape is awful. Murder is awful. Which would you bring down on someone if you had to choose? Does it change if you would be the one doing the raping? If so, why? Which would you want chosen if you were the victim?

Let's talk about the Holocaust. Hitler was trying to be a good guy, remember. He honestly believed he was helping out the human race. Would it have been different if he was right? What if we had scientifically proven that white males with blond hair and blue eyes were stronger, smarter, and more competent than Jewish people? Would that justify it? Why?

And here's the biggest danger. I'm finding it really really hard even to write this. I keep wanting to end each and every sentence with "I don't feel this way, it's just an example! Really!". It's taboo to even mention these things. It's taboo to even consider "what-if" situations involving them.

We're not allowed to explore the bounds of our own morality.

And that's a problem.