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WARRING SIDES: All Hysteria Aside - Part II

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Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson proudly presents 'Warring Sides': an editorial civil war exploring both sides of the most controversial topic of our time—the Superhero Registration Act. Should masked vigilantes be forced to unmask before congress? Should all super-powered individuals be documented and controlled by state and federal legislatures? Is this an idea whose time has finally come? Only one thing is certain: whether we're super or human, we're all fiercely divided upon the answer. Making a stand for the pro side is heroic fiction critic Dave Baxter.

WARRING SIDES: All Hysteria Aside - Part I

So, what of the cries that government sponsored heroes would be forever entwined within a web of debilitating Red Tape? 

This is the height of hysteria and illogical thought.  A policeman does not need to “fill out paperwork” before he can dash into an alleyway where a citizen is currently being attacked.  Even if off-duty, a deputized official of the law can act of his own judgment but he will then afterwards be held accountable, and then, yes, his or her actions will need and should be documented.  But never will this Red Tape (which seems to have taken on mythical proportions in the American populace’s mindscape) hinder a hero from saving any day of any year. 

An official authority acts first – he does not “need permission” to stop “Doc Ock” (as my colorful colleague Mr. Dexter K. Flowers calls him) if Mr. Octavius is at that very present moment causing public unrest of any kind.  The deputized hero would be answerable to any resultant actions carried out in stopping Doctor Octopus, but they could – with literally “all authority” – stop him.  Then they would bother filling our paper-work.  Turning heroic vigilantism into an organized institution may, as I have given as an example before, give a hero pause before they take over another country, but would that not be a crucial benefit?  Can we allow individuals to become uncontrollable despots – even if they’d be despots with hearts of gold?  And do such actions help any situation regardless of intent?

Let’s look at Latveria and Reed Richards’ takeover – the status quo has been restored with nothing having come of it; was it necessary then?  And what of a street vigilante such as Daredevil who last year single-handedly replaced the Kingpin of crime in Hell’s Kitchen – what possible good did such an act accomplish?  There has always, in the history of complex civilizations, been organized crime.  It is the height of naiveté to believe that there magically one day will not be, and if one does “take over” all crime within a city, then even if their operations remain “illegitimate”, they cannot – if guided by an honestly moral hand – act as a criminal organization would.  Over a very short span of time, this once-criminal mob would then become an “institution” and no longer be a crime syndicate. 

Once this occurs, and holding by the logical, historically backed theory that a criminal organization will (and perhaps even must) exist in any complex society, then crime will simply organize itself elsewhere, and the heroic attempt to quash such a structure is as futile as taking down one kingpin today only to have another rise tomorrow (which is precisely what local law enforcement works towards).  This then, proves that all vigilantes are precisely as useful in wholesale crime control as any official authority, but any official authority will have backup, jurisdiction, justification, and some measure of control over the exact acts their agents carry out.  Is this – all hysteria aside – seriously a debate?

Next the nay-sayers ask: what of the magical, the cosmic, and the super-natural beings?  Obviously, due to the diverse nature of meta-human figures, the SRA act will not be a one-size-fits-all product.  Cosmic heroes are literally visiting dignitaries, and can easily be treated as such.  Diplomatic immunity can be granted, though it would be reasonable to request that their actions be documented, that their knowledge be shared with government and local authorities.  Any diplomat would be granted a similar treatment, but none would be allowed to bandy about the country without any accountability whatsoever.  If these heroes are truly cosmic and consistent visitors to numerous other planets as well as our own, I can’t imagine they haven’t taken such cultural considerations seriously before. More than likely we are the ones behind the curve on this.  They act the diplomat everywhere they go, but we have been woefully behind in culturally evolving to include our own extraterrestrial diplomacies as a true and ongoing governmental concern.  The SRA act would be the beginning of such a definitive organization for just such a thing.

And the super-natural?  Are people really this unimaginative that they believe there is no proper, regulated solution?  Let’s look at the most well-documented and consistently witnessed case of a possibly demonic presence in America: the so-called Ghost Rider.  Many have said that, as a being of extra-dimensional origins, he is compelled to do what he does, and has little choice as a free-willed human being would.  Well then, perhaps using this creature as a humane alternative to the death penalty will keep all his victims lawfully inflicted by his “penance stare”, allow for an ultimately evolved form of capital punishment, and keep such a “spirit of vengeance” within the law and allowed to do what he is called to do.  There is an absolute separation of church and state.  Just because one is an “angel” or a “demon” – if they wish to live on a permanent basis in the USA, they will abide by our laws and they will be answerable for their actions.  We will spend all resources to accommodate them in whatever way possible, as these beings are what they are. Expecting them to deny what they are physically unable to deny would be akin to not allowing special handicaps to the physically disabled, which is a consideration our government most certainly takes seriously.

The final consideration, and perhaps the most imperative to address – would there not be corruption and abuse of power within any such body as the SRA act would create?  The answer, sadly, is: of course there would.  There is corruption in every congregation of human beings (and super-powered beings) that exists today. The SRA act will not absolve nor rid humanity of this type of sin.  Democracy itself is flawed, riddled with dishonest and frankly criminal individuals, but without it, the strongest, richest, most freedom-laden nation this world has ever seen would not exist.  The age-old adage “nothing is perfect” rings absolutely true, and we cannot shy our eyes away from the evils we must constantly wage war against; yet equally, if we allow such concerns to stop the evolution from anarchy to fair and equitable legislature, then we would be allowing a visionary ideal to fall to the wayside, much like the vision of the United States itself was once given to a small group of men who then created something every other nation swore would never hold.

The last time a large number of citizens of this country wished to live as they wanted to live rather than how the federal government told them they needed to live in order to create a solidified, united nation, it led to the American Civil War.  And while the war was terrible indeed, would anyone of unquestionable sanity truly say that Lincoln was an extremist monster for having staid his ground and having declared war against those who wished to treat “freedom” as “autocracy”, who (as a modern parallel) wish to define “equality” as how they define the word, choosing that a certain group of super-powered individuals deserve to obey the law while they themselves do not?  Such a mentality does not deviate from the kind of close-minded thought that allowed men of a certain color fewer rights than that of another.

Equality: this is the answer.  There is no question.  We wish to keep our heroes, we wish to keep them and utilize them well beyond a time when their powers and lack of experience will force us to turn against them.  The world is becoming a vastly more complex place than it was when they first appeared in number, and they themselves are multiplying exponentially year after year.  Even the loss of so many mutants has hardly affected the overall number of powered citizens that must be considered.  I want heroes.  I want true heroes.  Not glory hounds, and not those who are addicted to their heroics as a vain celebrity in addicted to their own stardom.  I want heroes, and that means those who wish to help, who wish to build a better world and a better nation, and to do such a thing, to truly accomplish something greater than the sum of its parts, the SRA act must be accepted, embraced, and believed in.

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