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Warring Sides: Letter to the Editor

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Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson proudly presents: an editorial civil war exploring both sides of the most controversial topic of our timethe 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.

In this special weekend edition, the paper has printed a letter from a Bugle subscriber who wants to air his thoughts. 

Dear Mr. Jameson,

This letter is in response to Dave Baxter's defence  of the Superhuman Registration Act. While I myself am against said act, I think Mr. Baxter has raised some excellent points in his article. However, there are also a few flaws in his logic.

For one, he cites the Fantastic Four as an example of heroes whose public persona does not endanger their family. Mr. Baxter forgets that the Four are their family. Reed Richards and his clan are more than capable of protecting themselves. Even their youngest member, the Richards’ son Franklin, once transported the bulk of Earth’s heroes into a separate plane of existence. This is hardly a convincing example of a vulnerable family. It’s all well and good to live in the Baxter Building in a family unit that can manipulate fire, erect invisible force fields, or bench press a Buick. But what of the heroes whose loved ones are mere mortals?

It has been suggested that these ordinary relations can be protected by security systems designed by Stark Industries or the equivalent, that the science heroes of the world can turn their skills to home defense. Terrific. I guess that means Spider-Man’s close ones can never leave the house again. A hero’s families can’t be protected by the same measures in their places of work, on the street, or at the local cinema or daycare. Security measures at home can protect against a supervillain attack, but how do they function in other areas of life that are not as prepared? Are we to assign them personal 24/7 bodyguards? Surround them with Kree-level force field tech like some sort of cosmic Bubble Boy? Is the government prepared to foot the bill for such programs?

Mr. Baxter also claims that there are no documented cases of criminals seeking reprisal against ordinary law officers because they are not identifiable vigilantes; they are simply "the law." Hogwash. There are indeed cases of cops and their families who have been threatened by criminals seeking revenge. Crooks sometimes hold grudges against the officers that sent them to prison or undermined their illegal activities. Organized crime figures regularly threaten people who are in their way and that can include that person’s family and friends. Slapping a uniform or an official badge on someone does not dissolve their individual identity or eliminate the vendetta their foes may harbor for them. Cops and government agents can be the subject of personal attacks too.

Granted, in such extreme cases, a normal law man's family can be defended by 24 hour guards or the witness protection program. Steps can be taken to prepare for expected reprisals. But a superhero's enemies operate in a totally different sphere than ordinary criminals. When faced with villains who can juggle buildings, teleport, cast spells, control minds, or reshape reality itself, sometimes a hero's anonymity is the only defense that hero's family has. Do we really have faith that a government agency—which Mr. Baxter admits would be imperfect—can provide adequate protection against such contingencies?

Being the relative of a publicly known meta-human officer would be like waving a piece of meat in front of a rabid dog. And shielding from telepathy or necromantic arts is considerably more involved than putting a spouse in a bulletproof vest. The bulk of the agency's funding would be tied up in the protection of its operatives' families against every known form of superhuman, paranormal, and supernatural attack. How then could it operate in an effective manner? How could its agents keep their focus knowing that everyone they care about is essentially now wearing a target?

Please don’t misunderstand. I regret that costumed super-beings take the law into their own hands. It saddens me that their actions and judgment can sometimes lead to great tragedy. But until the government can give me a convincing defense against the dark god Loki or prevent Kang the Conqueror from erasing my ancestors from the time stream, non-registered superheroes are a necessary evil.

Like it or not, the masks, the codenames, and the secret identities are a part of what these heroes have to do to safeguard their loved ones and keep them separate from the insane world of gods and monsters the heroes operate in.

      Eric Lindberg
      Oak Park, IL

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