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June 08 2008

Buffy: hero, or genocidal maniac? Do vampires have rights? This argument discusses whether vampires count as sub-human (not deserving rights), or as persons--though not humans--still deserving rights. It uses the Buffyverse to support its argument.

Also, here is a "story" about real vampires in the world. Scroll about 3/4 down the page to see one of my new favorite images--ever. You'll see why.

Yuck. This is really sort of upsetting in the way it starts.
That Vampire Bush image is 7 kinds of awesome....
Would've been nice if they'd at least credited Alex Ross in the second link (which is umm, let's say "unbelievably wacky"). Frank "Nuke the Moon" J is a smartass, just ignore that bit if you miss the parody of partisan political interplay. In other words, don't take it so seriously :)
Vampires: varelse or ramen?
And on the topic of the second link.. "real vampires." I don't think I've ever read anything so vacuous and absurd in my life. I'm not criticising BandofBuggered here, I know you put story in quotation marks. But the article itself is just.. grueh.
I agree with the "yuck" on the liberals are vampires thing, Dana, but that's not the writer, but some other conservative dude. But I find the rest of it pretty interesting.

And yes, I absolutely love, love that Bush picture, though I too think that credit should have been given where due...I didn't even know it was Alex Ross, who is pretty darn cool. Thanks for the knowledge, zeit.

Vampires: varelse or ramen? MattK, I'm ashamed to admit that I don't get what you're talking about. But then again, as a college student, when I see "ramen," I think "noodle."

Edit to fix unintentional bitca-ness (sorry, zeit!)

[ edited by BandofBuggered on 2008-06-08 20:49 ]
Just a reminder that we "play the ball, not the man" here. You may disagree with someone's ideas/comedy stylings, but calling them names is not cool.

ETA - Its all cool, BandofBuggered :)
"I'm ashamed to admit that I don't get what you're talking about. But then again, as a college student, when I see "ramen," I think "noodle.""

(Also a college student) There's nothing to be ashamed of, it was just an obscure reference on my part. I was half hoping someone here would be familiar with what I was on about though, because it's basically the same scenario.. a genocide, someone greeted as a hero, later to be thought of as a genocidal maniac instead. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the title.

(Edited for clarity).

[ edited by MattK on 2008-06-08 20:52 ]
The Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card is the reference (specifically the concept of the Hierarchy of Alienness); for those interested see this page.
Several of my friends are liberals (bless their misguided souls), but I still love them with all my heart. This topic kinda' reminds me of cylon love on "Battlestar Galactica". Where exactly do you draw the line for what's inhuman?
I have many liberal and conservative friends, but lets try not to veer off the actual topic ;) In other words, its probably best that we discuss this through the safer filters of metaphor and the main part of the primary article.
I think Buffy's approach to the demon world is a lot more morally ambiguous and case-by-case than the main article lets on. No one around her really liked that she was making exceptions when dealing with individual vampires such as Angel and Spike early on or understood why she wasn't seeing them as categorically evil. She'll stake a vampire in a fight or beat one up for information, but she'll also pay one for help, ally with one outright, or even fall in love with one. It was the Initiative that saw vampires as non-persons without any rights to be recognized or complexities to be considered, not Buffy. She kills them, but she also spends a lot of time talking to them, working with certain individuals, and trying to figure out what motivates the ones acting less predictably. The last was a novel concept to the Initiative, and something they never bothered to do.

That Bush image has been around awhile. I first saw it on a t-shirt in a comic store, actually.
I thought that the way the Initiative dealt with Oz was a powerful way to show the black and white world the Initiative saw in regards to demons as opposed to the gray areas in which Buffy worked. I like the werewolf example because they are so dangerous for those three days, but other than that, they are humans. Buffy's response, to trap and maybe beat a little hell out of them, but not kill them shows where she stands on the whole demon/human thing.

She takes out that which is a threat to people, but does not harm a demon which is harmless--such as neutered Spike or Clem--or one that has humanity, such as a werewolf, or Angel when he's got his soul.

So based on this, it's a fine line to draw between who gets rights. Should Angel, who is more or less "good" until he loses his soul have rights? What about neutered Spike--or Spike with a soul? Do werewolves' rights disappear once they are lycanthropes, or only on the nights when they're wolfed-out?

As to the Ender's Game reference, I've only read the first book (though I've read it twice) but I now get the reference, if not the ramen thing.
Ah, the Ramen reference comes from the second book, Speaker for the Dead. I can't recommend it enough, especially if you enjoyed Ender's Game. Those are the only two Ender books I've read, and I read them both just a few weeks ago. In many ways, Ender's Game was a prelude for Speaker for the Dead. It occurs over three thousand years after Ender's Game! But Ender is in his thirties, I believe, due to the effects of special relativity (which makes complete sense scientifically too), so it really offers some unusual narrative opportunities in that respect.

I honestly didn't expect those books to be as good as they were. Especially so, since I very much disagree with the author's views on a number of issues, but nevertheless, what I've read of his work so far is brilliant.
Its true, you can disagree with people and like/respect them. Look at Joss and Tim! ;)
Do vampires have rights?


Have you ever tried reading a vampire their rights?
I couldn't stomach reading the whole article, because it was annoying from the first sentence, so I skimmed. Skimming is acceptable research for a comment, but not for an article, IMN-S-HO. He's talking about a world where there are no dumb vampires, so if he's watched Buffy, where we love our dumb vampires, he clearly hasn't watched it much.

AND he refers to the 'partial theme' of Matheson's I Am Legend, admitting he's never seen it.

I've seen it. I've read it. And I've seen the Omega Man forty bazillion times. Only the book, not either movie (there's an earlier one I've never seen), is about literal vampires. And if crossing the line into genocidal maniac is a theme of any of the iterations, then I somehow missed the memo. I think he saw some kid stand up and give an oral report on the book when he was in 9th grade and That Kid came up with the theme, which he stole from his older brother.

/rant>
I can just see it: "anything you say or do can be held against you in court..." as the vampire's trying to bite your neck. Yup, I'd hold that against him.

It would be even more amusing to see vamps in a Judge Judy-type of situation. That would be so awesome!

On the other hand, trying to arrest Buffy didn't go over so well, either. But Cordy argued that Buffy should have "extra" rights because she's a superhero. A fascist society: why can't we have one of those?

Still, I'd argue that vampires have rights enough that the Initiative's experiments on them bugged me. It's one thing to kill them so that they don't kill you or others, but to put zapping things in their heads is pretty cruel. Even for an undead monster. It's like de-fanging a snake and leaving it in the wild. But then again, as snakes would die without eating, but vampires don't, it's not an exact parallel, but still...

But I do think that there should be some mitigating circumstances for--well, mitigating circumstances. Like souls. Maybe not rights, per se, but the not killingness, like with Buffy. We *know* it's a bad thing when immortals are in political office.
Also the Buffyverse mythology was made as the shows went along. Anyone who thinks that Joss and co had a consistent well laid out view towards demons, vampires and mad gods has clearly been watching something else entirely.

Anyhow I would be on the side of let's kill vampires. They're monstrous creatures and regard us as food.
I don't agree with capital punishment for murderers, though I'm fine with life imprisonment. I sure as hell don't agree with torture.

OTOH, I agree with the side of let's kill vampires. They're demons, and they're pure evil. But I don't agree with the experiments and neutering as I view it as a form of torture. Still, it doesn't bug me when Buffy beats up people for information, because there's a purpose for that. What the Initiative was doing just boiled down to boys with toys.
I'm against any judgment based on is and not does. Some vampires have been productive members of society. Spike alone contributed heavily to the Sunnydale economy, particularly through frequent purchases of peroxide, black clothing, nail polish, and fried onions.
Vampires have no rights. I take a pretty hardline stance on this. IMO, it would have been perfectly acceptable, morally, to have staked Chipped Spike for the AR (or any of his several attempted murders in the chip years) or even just for being a wanker in general. Marginally 'socialized' vampires like Chipped Spike and even Harmony exist by the good graces of those around them.
A vamp is a vamp, no other way to put it.

[ edited by Madhatter on 2008-06-08 23:10 ]
"I don't agree with capital punishment for murderers, though I'm fine with life imprisonment. I sure as hell don't agree with torture."

Seconded, though I'm not really fine with life imprisonment either. If someone's feels sincere remorse, and is unlikely to reoffend, I think they should be given a second chance. Any form of punishment that goes beyond what is necessary to protect others is fundamentally based on anger and a sense of revenge. I'm not sure that's right.

ETA: That said, I am young and idealistic. If I was personally affected I might well feel differently. I just don't understand people who want revenge, it's not as if they can reverse the original crime.

Since I'm getting a little tangential here, I may as well link this back to vampires. The immediacy of the vampire threat makes having a fair trial and judgement a little problematic at best, and in a "it's either Buffy or you" scenario, where the "you" is a homicidal vampire, it's completely understandable. Buffy seems to have shown a fair amount of forgiveness in her time anyway.

[ edited by MattK on 2008-06-08 23:06 ]
Oh I completely understand revenge, I can think up numerous scenarios where I hope i'd be strong enough not to pursue it. But that's why we have the right to a fair trial, presumption of innocence, due process and all that other great stuff - to remove revenge and personal feeling from the equation.

Life imprisonment is reserved for those murderers that seem likely to murder again, most people that have murdered don't serve anything like life. Automatically imposing a life sentence on all murderers would just be us denying that we all have the capacity to murder, given the right circumstances i.e. we'd be telling ourselves the bedtime story that there's something fundamentally different about "those types" so that they need to be kept away from the rest of us.

Still, it doesn't bug me when Buffy beats up people for information, because there's a purpose for that.

Uh huh. So it's OK to torture bad "people", especially when it's for a good reason ? Hmm ;).

Killing (un-ensouled) vampires with impunity is dubious IMO. They're sentient, they have language, they have wants and desires (aside from just "survive"). Yes they're monsters but they're also more. Even the worst war criminals have trials and rights, the fact that vampires don't seems to me to be based on nothing but good old species-ism ;). In fairness, arbitrary as it is, Buffy does approach her killings on a case by case basis, it doesn't usually seem to be personal for her, not hate based.

(note that this is based on observing Buffyverse vamps, not on Joss' obvious stance which is "It's fine to kill both vampires and demons without the magic 'soul card' to play". Buffy doesn't usually kill "good" demons but i'm pretty sure she could with moral impunity, at least on BtVS and in that sense it's a meaningless question since you can easily see it as one of the "rules" of the Buffyverse that "Unensouled vampires are evil and have no rights whatsoever")

AND he refers to the 'partial theme' of Matheson's I Am Legend, admitting he's never seen it.

Yeah but he says he's read the book and isn't making any claims about the film(s) so I don't really see the problem ? The theme about genocide is fairly apparent to me from the book (*spoilers follow*).
What if you don't want revenge, you just want to be sure they can't murder anyone else (a guaranteed 0% recidivism rate)? Its not reversing the original crime, but maybe its balancing the equation. In a perfect world, I don't believe in capital punishment, but I don't live in that world. Back to the actual topic, my basic thought is - vampires are guilty until proven innocent :) Though one feels tempted to be lenient on the do-gooder vamps, its important to remember the beast is always waiting for a chance to get out. Even the soul-having types can be dangerous.

ETA - to follow on Saje's post.

that there's something fundamentally different about "those types"


Well, there certainly is in some cases, but not all.

They're sentient, they have language, they have wants and desires (aside from just "survive"). Yes they're monsters but they're also more. Even the worst war criminals have trials and rights, the fact that vampires don't seems to me to be based on nothing but good old species-ism ;).


Joke break - well have wants and desires, too, but I don't see that that makes them any less monsters! End joke break.

Well, that's all well and good if they stick with volunteers and pigs blood, one supposes. But if they go around slaughtering humans, then fair's fair :) Plus, their corporeal bodies are walking evidence of their being murderers. I realize that this leads us into all kinds of places that none of us have time to go re: people killing animals and a hundred other things. Tangent: hey, imagine a vampire human-farming co-op!. Organically raised free-range humans; the blood tastes better and you'll feel better, too!

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2008-06-08 23:21 ]
For the life sentence, I agree with that on the basis that anyone who's done actions warranting a life sentence deserve whatever they get.

I agree that if someone feels sincere remorse for his/her actions, then the sentence should be lighter. But they should still do a substantial amount of time relative to their actions.

But the problem is, once a person's taken a human life, what's the guarantee they won't do it again? And how do we know the person is showing true remorse?

Faith, for example, had remorse at first--it truly bugged her--but she wasn't ready to accept responsibility and repent. Until she did that, there was no hope for rehabilitating her. However, once she took responsibility for what she did and made steps to make amends, she was better off. Still, notice that "the man" wasn't ready to free her; she broke out--to save the world, but still...

And though it's not necessarily a good thing, I'm more in favor of keeping someone locked up in case they do it again rather than letting someone out because "here's hoping" they won't reoffend. And I think that punishment's first purpose is to protect the public. But I also think that certain reparations must be made, not based on anger or revenge, but justice.

Sunfire, I really like your reasoning on is versus does. Hence my thinking that Angel and Spike with a soul, or even chipped Spike deserve more consideration than does the average vamp.

MattK, I too am the proud owner of thoughts based in youth and idealism...and existentialism too, tying into the above paragraph. OTOH, I just recently took a class on Crimes, Trials, and Punishment, so I've had some time to already develop my thoughts.

ETA: Saje, the reason that it doesn't bother me when Buffy beats up vampires for information is because they're monsters without souls--and should technically not exist in the first place and will die soon, anyway. I don't, however, agree with wanton torture of vamps--the chips in the head and experiments for no reason. Just kill the vampires and be done with it.

And no, I am absolutely against torture of another human being, regardless of their actions, such as murder, rape, etc. There is no excuse for torturing a human being, IMO.

I guess this is one place where I draw the line between humans' rights and vampires' rights...hmm.

[ edited by BandofBuggered on 2008-06-08 23:26 ]
Back to the actual topic, my basic thought is - vampires are guilty until proven innocent :)

In the Buffyverse-- and I am not joking this time-- I think the general rule of thumb is "evil if not very good looking." The good-looking ones might be evil, but the not so hot ones are always just out hunting without remorse. And even the good looking ones who seem more good or morally on the fence may become evil after sex. Or are evil but confused about it. Or evil with chipped-brain. Or evil and just keeping you talking while he tries to gain an edge.

So, in conclusion, stake any vamp who isn't pretty with quick efficiency and a clever quip. Take a little time to talk to the pretty ones, but don't put the stake down.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-06-08 23:28 ]
Wow, long post there! Sorry everyone...back to work for me.

I'm really liking this thread though, and it's funny, because I almost didn't post the link because I wondered if it was relevant enough. Y'all rock! :)
Sunfire - Vampires: its okay to have sex with them, just keep a stake handy. Or maybe thats just Buffy's opinion on the matter ;).

ETA - and she only excepts herself - its wrong for OTHER people to have sex with vamps, just not her.
Nah. I think she thinks it's wrong for herself, too. She was very conflicted about it, remember. Hence what may be the most painfully raw scene of the whole series for me, but one I rarely see mentioned-- where she confides in Tara and immediately begs her to please not forgive her for having sex with Spike.
Yeah, this is true. She probably should have considered being more conflicted about it before and immediately prior to (and perhaps even during) the act(s) ;) Being conflicted afterward is totally amateur hour behavior - anyone can do that! Okay, enough joking from me. That was some heartbreaking stuff and it rings fairly true to me as far as how broken people all too often behave when they are trying to fix themselves with the wrong actions/interactions.
She only felt that way because Spike (though pretty, before the JM brigade descend ;-) didn't have the magic soul card. She had no problems boffing Angel and, we can assume, would have continued to do so had he not gone banoonoos.

Well, there certainly is in some cases, but not all.

Well yeah but in context I was talking about those murderers that don't seem likely to murder again, like some guy that kills the drunk driver that killed his child for instance (I don't buy BandofBuggered's slippery slope argument that once you've done it once you've crossed some kind of "murder rubicon" - we are all capable of it, most people don't get a "taste" for it IMO).

Well, that's all well and good if they stick with volunteers and pigs blood one supposes. But if they go around slaughtering humans, then fair's fair :)

But sticking them in jail isn't even a consideration, right ? So we're treating them differently than we would a human that did the same. Why ? Species-ism is my thinking. It's treated like putting down a rabid dog but is that what vampires actually are (based on observation, not what we're told) ?

ETA: Saje, the reason that it doesn't bother me when Buffy beats up vampires for information is because they're monsters without souls--and should technically not exist in the first place and will die soon, anyway. I don't, however, agree with wanton torture of vamps--the chips in the head and experiments for no reason. Just kill the vampires and be done with it.

Ah, you said "people" upthread BoB, I thought you were including guys like Willy (who, AFAIK, wasn't a vamp). I also don't think the chip was about torture, it was an experiment to see if they could be controlled. Ultimately it was about weaponising them i'd imagine - the Initiative saw demons as particularly nasty animals and wanted to see if you could use them like you would an attack dog.
I read I Am Legend (though years ago) and it seems to me that in the book vampirism had become the societal norm and that by slaying vampires the protagonist had become the other and could not be allowed to survive.
Agreed on the "murder rubicon", though I love the phrase and so am tempted to argue more just so that we might use it again. Sticking immortal vampires in jail cells seems like begging for trouble to me. You think it's expensive to incarcerate people that eventually die? Plus, imagine a vampire prison break! (Also, while you're at it, imagine me not having three sentence fragments in a row!) That would end so badly. Based on observation, vamps live to kill humans and do evil, the exceptions are just that, exceptions (and oh so pretty, Sunfire might chime in!).
She had no problems boffing Angel and, we can assume, would have continued to do so had he not gone banoonoos.

I think there was more to it than the magic soul card, although it did indeed become the magic card to distinguish the new and less morally ambiguous (to Buffy anyway) Spike later in Season 7. Angel was all mysteriously heroic and darkly conflicted. Spike killed demons for something to do when he couldn't eat people anymore. Spike was always less apologetically vampish and more problematically human than Angel. Angel passed as human emotionally, I think. Spike not so much, although he never really got treated like other vampires either. Which makes for nice conflict like you'd never get in zeitgeist's totally boring version where people act all responsible all the time.
LOL!!! No way, man. I'm saying people often don't act responsibly and in a self-aware fashion, so it all felt more grounded/realistic than most shows so totally permeated by fantastic concepts could ever hope to be.
"The Murder Rubicon" sounds like a great title for a book. And I'm mostly talking about premeditated, no-qualms-whatsoever style. I'm not talking about the guy who accidentally killed another guy in a barfight, or something like that.

But I don't think that a man should be allowed to kill, like your example, Saje, the drunk driver who killed his son. It's a trite expression, but "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." And there are also arguments about the fact that revenge is never sated, but I don't want to skip down that alley just now.

I don't think that anyone has the right to take another person's life--that's why I disagree with capital punishment. So even the guy who's avenging his son's death is doing something very wrong; he deserves to be imprisoned even if he plans on never killing again.

So with murderers, as with vampires/demons, it should be a case by case basis. But, as zeit said, Based on observation, vamps live to kill humans and do evil, the exceptions are just that, exceptions.

And Saje, forgive my slip of fingers on the keyboard to say "people" instead of "vampires." As for punching Willie, it really wasn't torture in the traditional sense (though no pain is fun to endure), and it was also to help Willie save face so that he could keep his business going.

And I still think of the Inititiave as boys with toys playing around with technology and demons. They really didn't intend their work for good, though it wasn't intended for evil, either. But that's what it turned out to be. This is another argument for why people shouldn't play God.
I think the four of us (Saje, Sunfire, BandofBuggered, and myself) should start a band called Murder Rubicon and work this out over many lengthy prog-rock concept albums. If you think about it, you'll see that its really the only way ;).
I'm saying people often don't act responsibly and in a self-aware fashion, so it all felt more grounded/realistic than most shows so totally permeated by fantastic concepts could ever hope to be.

Sorry, I should have made it clear that I got your tone but thought your fake tongue in cheek revision of a more reasonably behaved Buffy was kind of hilarious.
Fingers were getting ahead of brain there on my part :). When's band practice?
Hmm. Band practice should always be at night, in a garage of some sort.
It seems to me that we'd have to be grunge rock (though the genre has all but died) because the band would have been inspired by BtVS.

I get to play guitar, yes? :)

ETA: though I guess prog-rock would be okay. As long as it's not screamo. And can we play a cover by The Clash? We could do "I Fought the Law," but then that would be a cover of a cover.

[ edited by BandofBuggered on 2008-06-09 00:18 ]
Well, we could always invent progressive grunge :) Anyway...
... and work this out over many lengthy prog-rock concept albums.

"Then, with a deafening roar and whoosh of spray, the argument against capital punishment turned about and drove at full speed towards the waiting debaters". Ooooh laaaa ! ;)

This is another argument for why people shouldn't play God.

Like Buffy did you mean ? ;)

I'm not talking about the guy who accidentally killed another guy in a barfight

Neither am I - for the most part that wouldn't be murder, that'd be manslaughter.

But I don't think that a man should be allowed to kill, like your example, Saje, the drunk driver who killed his son.

Err, neither do I. I'm not saying he's right to do that, i'm saying a) I can understand why he'd want to and b) that sort of man is no more likely to kill again than anyone else. Right now the legal system acts in that way too i.e. a guy like that, with an otherwise clean record who'll probably go on to be a model prisoner is very likely to get out after serving much less than a life sentence (and then, as much as an ex-con is able, will probably go on to be a normal, relatively productive member of society).

You think it's expensive to incarcerate people that eventually die?

Aha, the economics argument ! ;) Pragmatically, it's cheaper to kill everyone that commits an imprisonable crime but in reality we don't, we draw a line (in many places in fact, we don't draw a line at all and instead we say it's not OK to kill anyone for comitting a crime) so, unfortunately in some ways, that dog won't hunt, we're still back to drawing arbitrary lines. Good point about immortal criminals though, we think we've got prison overcrowding now ;).

I dunno, I see most vamps as more amoral than immoral, more like sharks. Some get off on killing for its own sake or torture or whatever, most just seem to attach no importance to human life and so take what they need, when they need it. Now imagine a shark that's sentient and can sit down and argue philosophy with you - still think it's fine to stick a ruddy great oxygen tank in its mouth and blow the poor bugger up ? ;)
Pragmatically, it's cheaper to kill everyone that commits an imprisonable crime but in reality we don't, we draw a line (in many places in fact, we don't draw a line at all and instead we say it's not OK to kill anyone for comitting a crime) so, unfortunately in some ways, that dog won't hunt, we're still back to drawing arbitrary lines.


Meant to say expensive and impractical, wasn't going solely for the economic argument. And, I'm afraid you are wrong that it would be cheaper to kill anyone who commits a prison-able offense, as the lost tax revenue would be horrific ;) Vampires don't pay taxes, though, do they? Bastards! Kill 'em all! And I wasn't saying that economics is an argument for or against capital punishment of humans (though its a consideration), I was saying that in the case of immortal prisoners the bill is infinite and therefore it is not a viable option/consideration. In closing, Jaws jokes are awesome.

I'm not sure I'd call vamps amoral... it bears further thinking on.
Wow, zeitgeist, between you, Saje, Sunfire, and me, I think we've got almost all non sequitur starters covered on one thread. It's amazing we've stayed OT thus far!

The albums, based on our scary brains, would probably be very disjointed and esoteric. Sweet. And I like the idea of progressive grunge.

"Vampires are creeps." "Yes, that's why one slays them." Situation resolved.

Saje,, are you picking on me the most because of what I said about the reavers the other day? Hoo, boy. I shouldn't have tried to match wits with such sage wisdom. ;)

Okay, and if a shark had the ability to sit down and discuss philosophy, I think he'd be able to distinguish between killing for fun and killing for necessity. So all of a sudden he's basically a person in a shark's body. So until he murders, he's given the benefit of the doubt. ...Unless he was a fan of Kant. Then we'd have to kill him straight away.

But since we've already discussed Ender's Game, let's go back to that: Ender's brother (Peter, yes?) was a scary SOB who truly got off on killing. He sees it's wrong, yet he does it anyway. That's an example of holy shit, who knows if he's repented, or if he's going to do it again for shits and grins? Then again, Ender killed two people before he even was genocide-guy. And they didn't prosecute him because a)they needed him to save the world. But if not, what would they have done with him?

And manslaughter is an interesting thing: I got advice from a lawyer once that if I *did* want to kill someone, I should back over him with my car so that I'd only get charged with manslaughter.
Hah, nah the reavers comment was fair and square BandofBuggered, never let it be said i'd victimise a fellow pedant ;). It's just that your posts are longer and have the most stuff I disagree with in there ;).

... I was saying that in the case of immortal prisoners the bill is infinite and therefore it is not a viable option/consideration.

Yeah but think of the infinity licence plates they could make for you ? ;)

OK, it'd be cheaper to kill all retired people and all non-US-residents and just let everyone else go (so long as they're unlikely to kill the sorts of people that will contribute taxes. Hey, maybe there should be a bonus if you murder the long term unemployed ? ;-)

I think you've just hit the nail on the head. It's jealousy, pure and simple. Vampires seem to have dodged those two inevitables we all face, death and taxes. Those bastards ! Kill 'em all, let FSM sort them out ;).

Anyhoo, hate to duck out on this but you guys will have to come up with the first few songs without my dazzling tea making musical abilities, gotta go to bed, night all ;).
OK, it'd be cheaper to kill all retired people and all non-US-residents and just let everyone else go (so long as they're unlikely to kill the sorts of people that will contribute taxes. Hey, maybe there should be a bonus if you murder the long term unemployed ? ;-)


That's the level of over-the-top thinking that I was looking for ;) Don't make this about countries, though. More later!
I think "Buffy" (the show and the character) rather dodged this argument with the vamp brothel shown in "Into the Woods." Those vamps were not killing people and not biting anyone who didn't want to be bitten. They did attack Buffy after she set fire to the house, but I personally felt that these vamps were making an effort to co-exist with humans. Not necessarily out of altruism but rather because it seemed more likely to encourage survival and renewable food supply. But there you have a case of vamps who aren't killing people, are perhaps no more likely to kill people than humans who run brothels (I'll go out on a limb here and say that we are talking about a likelihood slightly higher than in the general population, since this is a criminal enterprise, which tends to lead to violence), but who are targets simply because they are vampires, whereas humans doing *exactly* the same thing would not be targets. Even Giles, no big vamp fan, tells Buffy he's never directed her to the brothel because the vamps there are not much of a threat. I think Buffy made the wrong choice there, and not only because she was acting out of jealousy rather than even a particular philosophical choice.
When people start arguing more real world examples, I get lost kinda fast among the various scenarios. Taking it back to the Buffyverse, I'm not sure I'd agree that vampires are amoral, more that while the vast majority are a real threat to human lives, there are a few exceptions, which means "they are all evil and should be killed" is a flawed strategy for dealing with them. No one was more surprised than Faith to find out that Spike was hunting other vampires in a graveyard at night. But if she hadn't been willing to quickly accept that really implausible reality once confronted with it, and had persisted in trying to stake Spike, Buffy would have lost at least one valuable ally before her big fight with The First.

I can't play an instrument, but I can drink tea.

ETA: ooo the vampire brothel is a good example of moral weirdness, too.

[ edited by Sunfire on 2008-06-09 01:10 ]
After Spike regained his soul of his own volition, I had serious issues with the show. Now, mind you, I loved the re-ensouled Spike. The scene with him draped over the cross is, IMHO, quite possible THE single best byronic vampire scene in any medium.

However, it was implied (or possibly said outright?) that Buffy didn't kill evil humans because of the possibility of their redemption. If this is so, then the instant she learned that Spike had re-ensouled himself, it became just as immoral to slay a vampire as they, too, were proven able to redeem themselves. It was one thing when a single vampire was cursed with a soul that it didn't desire, but when another vampire actively sought out and fought for that soul, we encountered a whole new shade of grey.
Since some people brought it up, I have to respond. Don't even try to pin this melon-headed idea on liberals. It was New Deal liberals who led us to victory in World War II after all and defeated that great bad. So we have our spurs when it comes to fighting evil.
Someone brought up the New Deal and WWII?
QingTing, I don't think it was the chance for redemption that stopped Buffy from killing humans. It's the fact that humans have their own justice system (flawed though it may be) to deal with human lawbreaking. So the redemption angle is interesting, but I'm not sure that's it, as technically anyone/thing can be redeemed if they wish it and if they act to make it possible.

I like the vampire brothel example, Shapenew, because it does add yet another level to the "which vampires should be killed" debate.

My thoughts on the vampire brothel: certainly the humans went there of their own free will from what we saw, so they are absolutely complicit in whatever happens to them, including their possible death. But I don't think of the vampires as trying to co-exist so much as trying to stay under the radar of the Slayer so they can exist at all.

And Buffy was absolutely fueled by rage when she burned the place/killed the vamps, but then again what the vampires were doing could be compared to drugs in that the people did it for the rush, and there is the element of risk and possible death. I'm not really sure if the Feds would consider it legal, either...

Plus, if you think about it, the people who are letting the vampires suck their blood could be going to donate that same blood to those who need it. Especially those bastards with O- blood--they're being selfish!

*Grumble* I just don't know. Would that Saje were awake to pick apart my argument. (Hey, feel like doing that for my thesis?) I've decided that you have two advantages over me: your British wit, and probably some years of experience with life and all that junk.
...That, and I'm on vicodin quite frequently these days. :) Cheers to all who disagree and make me think!

zeitgeist, I'm confused about the New Deal and WWII reference as well, unless it's referring to the fact that the site said that liberals are vampires.
But see, I'm a liberal, a flaming liberal--and I haven't burst into ash; plus I don't suck. So that's two counts against the "liberals as vampires" argument.
I never understood why the Restoration spell wasn't used more often. Ultimately, vampires are all innocent victims hijacked by demons. Their human selves are dead, lost to their family and friends, and submerged under the demon in them.

The Scoobies had the means to give them back their souls--to kick out the murderous demons and bring the victims back to (un)life. Hell, it was one of the first spells Willow cast, and she got much powerful later. And if Orbs of Thesla were cheapo enough to use as paperweights, I'm sure the Magic Box must have had a few hanging around. 7th season Willow had no trouble finding an orb, then fending off Jasmine-possessed Cordy and Restoring Angel at the same time.

Re-souling vampires would seem to be an unambiguous good. You bring back the submerged human soul, get rid of an evil demon vampire, and potentially create a powerful ally for good (as both other ensouled vamps became) all at once. You could even leave out the whole eunuch perfect happiness curse bit (Spike pretty clearly wasn't burdened by that one).

So… why not deal with vampires this way? It would make much more sense than slaughtering them.
The thing about vampires in Sunnydale, there were so many popping up all over the place, and they were so strong and so dedicated to killing people that for the most part, there wasn't a whole lot of choice. Either Buffy killed them when she met them, or they'd kill a whole bunch of people, because that's primarily what they do. No real option to store them in some jail and see if they'd be redeemed.

Even the Initiative, with the power of the military behind them wasn't very good at capturing them, numbers-wise. The great thing about Buffy is that she didn't use that as an excuse not to think about the problems of what she was doing. So if she knew one was harmless..she tried not hurt it. She didn't, you know, take the easy way out, and automatically demonize the demons. Heh.

(And she did kill a good looking, intelligent demon or two...Jonathan Woodward's vamp in Conversations with Dead People, for one.)
Hee, what an interesting thread. Of course, if we lived in a world (like Buffy's world) where "pure evil" existed, we'd have to radically refashion our idea of morality and just punishment.

And yes, rufustfyrfly (your name is confusing to type!) I was thinking the same thing: every "pure evil" vampire is also a victim, a person who has been robbed of their "soul," and it does seem inexcusable that more effort isn't put into finding a way to re-ensoul all these vamps, enabling them to be (sort of) the people they were (except immortal and still needing blood and... well...hm.) Buffy sort of side-stepped that issue blithely a few times, since it would have totally spoiled the show, and story trumps sense-making every time, as it should when we're making stories, but not when we're making sense.

The idea of vampire as victim is sort of interesting too if you think about all the scientific advances (? lazy turn of phrase, but I'm tired) showing us that behavior we've so long viewed as senseless and evil is often the result of some kind of "faulty wiring" in the brain. So those of us who wouldn't hurt a fly aren't necessarily morally better so much as "better made," or undamaged, perhaps. Of course, it's risky and disturbing to start down a path that says we can't choose who we are, or how we behave, but it's something I wonder about. Will our ideas of "good people" and "bad people" and punishment seem utterly cruel and barbaric one day?

Love the idea of a band called Murder Rubicon (in which Sunfire drinks tea). I'd buy tickets.
I've decided that you have two advantages over me: your British wit, and probably some years of experience with life and all that junk.

...unless it's referring to the fact that the site said that liberals are vampires.


Careful, he is Scottish and may or may not object to being labeled primarily as British :) Also, it wasn't that site that labeled liberals as vampires, that was a quote from another site used as a jumping off point with specific mention of "ignore that first part".

Spike pretty clearly wasn't burdened by that one


Well, Spike wasn't cursed with his soul he sought it out, though I would also point out that there was never a moment for Spike of pure and perfect happiness.

ETA - so we have a tea maker, a tea drinker, and a couple of people who play stringed instruments (who are virtuoso enough to play AND drink tea). Grammy gold, people. Plus, there could be pie!
Well, Spike wasn't cursed with his soul he sought it out, though I would also point out that there was never a moment for Spike of pure and perfect happiness.


I've always viewed Spike's soul as intrinsically different than Angel's. I'm not completely sold on the idea that Spike is cursed in the same way that Angel is. The whole "moment of pure happiness" thing might not be an issue for him.
That's what I'm saying (or was trying to at any rate); it ISN'T an issue for him. I was just also pointing out that I can't think of a moment he had of pure happiness anyway, so it didn't really matter :)
Can I make the pie? I just so want to be in the band! Who is the tea-maker? I missed that one...and now, weary though I am, I just spent another whole bunch o' minutes searching through this thread for who is making imaginary tea for an imaginary band. Couldn't find it. Sometimes I wonder if I have weird priorities. *sigh*
catherine - Saje said the following:

Anyhoo, hate to duck out on this but you guys will have to come up with the first few songs without my dazzling tea making musical abilities, gotta go to bed, night all ;).

Aha! Thank you zeitgeist. I need to get these things straight for the imaginary Murder Rubicon fansite I'm working on.
Well, speaking on behalf of the band, I must say that we appreciate your (at this point entirely imaginary, like the band) efforts.
I think Spike's moment of pure happiness was in "The Girl in Question" when his duster was destroyed he found out that the Rome office had several exact replicas of his duster. I've haven't seen him so happy before. :D
I can sing. And my mom can sew the costumes!
Yes, but only iced tea, and you have to dance to the sound of it being stirred. I've read this thread as diligently as I can at this time and as fatigued and beat up (Guard drill with urban combat training), but unless I miss my guess at reason there are different ideas of what's drearily called "agency" in the the thread throughout. How to resolve?
One aspect here that I think is often overlooked in discussion: is killing a vampire actually done for the benefit of the human being who died when the vampire rose? Look at Buffy and Ford and to some extent Holden Webster, Xander and Jesse, Angel and Darla in "Reunion," and Gunn and his sister, among others. How much is Buffy patrolling and killing vampires right after they rise from the grave an act of mercy and compassion?

EDIT: Also, to continue, I think this is a reason why the Ritual of Restoration isn't done more often, because simply dusting the vamp is far more merciful to the human than restoring his soul. Keep in mind that the soulfulness was originally meant as a curse; even if a vamp is cursed before doing any evil and so doesn't have the guilt, they still are put into a liminal state of non-human, non-vampire--and, really, undeath is worse than death. No vamp would choose to be dusted, but I think it's still a more merciful fate than giving him a soul, which he also wouldn't want. It's the same problem with The Initiative, really; giving them a head-zapping chip (or a soul!) is morally worse than killing them.

Now, if a vamp himself wanted a soul--if a soulless vampire said, "Give me a soul," the way Spike did, then that might be different; but this too presents problems.

And finally, a soul does not actually destroy the demon. Angel and Spike are still vampires; they still have evil demons inside them, and Angel constantly struggles with it. It's not as if giving them a soul actually negates the threat they represent; vampires with souls are exceptional bizarre hybrids.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2008-06-09 07:49 ]
Well, there's absolutely the idea of killing the thing that killed your friend/sister/etc. Sure there's an amount of retribution or justice. After all, remember how weird it was for Willow to see herself as a vampire (skanky bisexuality aside)? It's like watching the person you love (or in Willow's case, are) being this evil, amoral, person, destroying their life and hurting you. If someone you know has become a vampire, by killing their vampified self, you a) are exacting a certain amount of vengeance on the thing that has taken your loved one's body and b) are making the world that much safer for the next person.

I think that the soul issue is definitely a complex one. Angel's soul was a curse--everlasting punishment and torment for the people, and especially the gypsy girl, he killed. Spike won his soul after some brutal trials, and for him, it is a prize. Even so, he feels the pain of every person he's killed at first. Also, I agree that I don't think that the "moment of perfect happiness" caveat applies to Spike.

If we go back to the issue on torture, however: obviously the gypsies used the Restoration spell not to give a victim back his life, but as a way to punish him for all the wrong that the demon who stole his body did. They wanted to cause him pain, and for an eternity.

If you are firmly against wanton torture (or eggroll torture, for that matter), then giving a vampire back his soul would be causing him excruciating pain, guilt, and torment. It's, IMO, worse than what the Initiative did by chipping vampires, because at least the chipped vampire is only suffering for the future pain he would inflict, which means that he has to stop acting according to his nature. But at least he isn't burdened with a tormented soul. Remember how long it took Angel to be in a place where he can try to make amends as opposed to just suffer and eat rats.

So I say that for the most part--once again taking exceptions as they come--killing vampires who would otherwise kill people is the easiest, most cost-effective, and ultimately humanest way to work.

As for the band, I vote that we drink English Breakfast Tea, which I've grown quite fond of. I figure I can set up some sort of apparatus whereby I have a sort of beer helmet, except that it's a teacup and saucer, leaving my hands free to play my guitar.

And I warn you, I only know a few songs: some Social Distortion, Maggie May by Rod Stewart, and a little bit of musicians (and I use the term loosely) who were popular when I was in high school, such as Yellowcard, Howie Day, Green Day, and Down By Law.
...And it's all played on my 12-string acoustic.

And thanks for the warning, zeitgeist about my British comment. I just meant that Saje is from the British Isles...in which Scotland is included (right?!?). I did not mean to offend. But remember, I am a silly American whose mask raises the dead.

ETA: Sorry, all, I don't mean for these to go so long! I just keep typing and thinking, with my brain not always connected to my fingers.

[ edited by BandofBuggered on 2008-06-09 07:59 ]
Actually, Spike seemed to adjust to his soul in a relatively short space of time (Angel's "You spent three weeks moaning in a basement and you were fine!" may be overstating it, but he was a functional being within two years of ensoulment) and Angel might have come to grips with himself much sooner if a) he hadn't been not just any vampire but Angelus and b) he'd had a support system other than Darla once the change came. The happiness clause is specific to Angel; Spike got a soul in a whole other way.

But the adjusting to the soul issue aside, the vampire *inhabiting* the body is not the one who kicked out/suppressed the original owner. That entity would be the vamp doing the siring. And vampires still experience their vamp selves as themselves -- Dru is still psychic as she was pre-vamping, Darla is still angry at the human race as she was pre-vamping, etc. They all refer to their pre-vamp selves as "me," not "the entity who formerly occupied this body." The vamp seems to be the person, just with a radical change of agenda (caused by the demon). And again, apparently vamps can simply decide not to feed, as with the brothel. The human clients of the brothel would almost certainly *not* be donating blood to help other humans -- they'd instead by making the blood unfit for use by ingestion of more conventional illegal drugs. The vamps at the brothel could have easily avoided the Slayer by simply leaving town. Whether they were too frightened of possible bad consequences by killing their prey or whether they were in some gray zone where they felt a need to feed but not to kill we don't know, but if you have an instinct to kill and overcome it, you should be given some points and not have your house/place of business incinerated, IMHO.
WilliamTheB, their souls are already gone so their demon-possessed/infected bodies don't really matter anymore. I can see the compassion angle only from the fact that Buffy (or whoever) is stopping the vamp from doing harm to the host's family/friends and preventing them from feeding on the populace.

I see Buffyverse vampires the same way I see mosquitos--it's another species that's trying to do me immediate harm, so it comes down to Darwinism. The solution applies to both as well: I'm not just gonna let it eat me and it won't let up until I kill it. Simple as that.

Different when you're dealing with animals that attack due to territorial reasons, protecting young, etc. I'm going camping next week, hopefully won't run into any bears (going with experienced campers and I know food safety/storage, so not too worried). I hope I wouldn't have to kill a bear if it came down to one last desperate attempt for survival, but I would if it meant it or me. I would feel badly about having to kill another warm-blooded, yet I feel nothing over having to squash a mosquito. I dunno if this comes down to mammal solidarity or what. A lot of people seem to care more about things that are cute than endangered "ugly" animals, for example. I don't hate insects, I saved a caterpillar from drowning in the pool the other day, I catch flies and let 'em back outside since they're non-threatening like mosquitos, bees don't frighten me...So I dunno, it's a case-by-case scenario with animals. Whatever's a continual threat needs to die if it's attacking me, vamps were handled fine in the Buffyverse (they can't ensoul all of 'em...dunno if it's because they just didn't have the resources--orbs of Thessulah--but beyond that there's just the practical time issue--unless they employed an entire coven of witches and wannabes like Willow was in Season 2).

Re: Spike
There's absolutely nothing in the narrative of the show to suggest that the gypsy curse happiness clause that was placed on Angel applies to Spike. Why would it ? It never even occured to me while watching Season 7/Angel Season 5. A good number of viewers still assume it though, simply based on it being an important detail of the only souled vampire we'd known of up 'til souled-Spike.

With the Buffy comics featuring Dracula a lot lately (and I kinda hated that Dracula became a part of the show back when Season 5's premiere aired, but I think he's kinda awesome in comic form, even as far back as the story in Tales Of The Vampires, which I loved even though it was kinda goofy for canon), it brings up an interesting thing about souls. Since Drac was hugely immoral to begin with, I wonder if there was barely a change in basic behaviour when he lost his soul and the demon took over when he died and was vamped. Like instant sympatico in the brain.
The thing I've always wondered, in terms of the demon inside the person, is this: according to Buffyverse lore (I'm not well versed enough in vampires outside of it), vampires were created when the last true demon fed on a human and mixed their blood.

So, based on that, is it like there's a new demon "born" every time a vampire sires another vampire? Or is it just the same demon infecting each and every human. So when a vampire sires someone, they're sharing the same blood...so, technically, same demon, yes?

And I don't mean this in the sort of split-entity "you kill one, you kill them all" type of deal, but more of the same demon killing each person, and just inhabiting more and more bodies. Which in that case, would mean that the vampire who looks like your friend is the thing that killed your friend because it is also the sire.

And, I just confused myself. I think.

As for killing animals, I for one hate to cause harm to a sentient being. I try to keep from squishing bugs, although when I get bitten, my first instinct is to slap the bite spot, often killing said bug. I would feel remorse over killing an animal personally, even if it were a kill or be killed situation--but I would do it. OTOH, I eat meat with no problem, because I figure that the animal was dead already, it wasn't my fault, and my not eating it would be someone else's delicious burger.
By the way, zeitgeist: I love the logo and the title for our world tour. I think that we should sell, among other things, tea-shirts :) and tea cozies...whatever those are. And perhaps laurel wreaths for people's heads, and spears, and helmets.

Also, our fans would have to wear togas. And we need some sort of clever name for them. Or I guess we could just call them our Romans. And we'll have bacchnals before our concerts. Where we'll eat grapes and speak in Latin. We'll always be reminding our manager that radix malorum est cupiditas.

Okay, so which of our fans will be crowd surfing or stage diving?
I can be the one stage diving! And lending you my ear, (being Roman and all), buying the tea-shirts and eating pies and cheering on the guitar playing, cup and saucer wearing, band members. Have me a hankering for some progressive grunge, tea drinking and mosh pitting. (Will have to wear something appropriate under the toga though.) Catherine, how's that imaginary fan site going? Up and running yet? If you build it, we will imaginarily come.
You are right BandofBuggered, speaking for myself here, I'm Scottish and have no objection to be called British. I am a British citizen, after all. What I am not is English.
I have nothing to say (well, maybe I do, but I just don’t feel like it) that hadn’t been said, except, “She’s a maniac, maniac…!!” Sorry, the song wouldn’t leave my head since I read the title unless I showed it to the world.
Don't make this about countries, though.

Fair point, why should it just be the US that benefits from this revolutionary concept ? ;-)

You are right BandofBuggered, speaking for myself here, I'm Scottish and have no objection to be called British. I am a British citizen, after all. What I am not is English.

Yeah i've no problems with being referred to as British (though thank-you for the consideration ;) even if i'm a Scot first and always will be (in my experience, Britain is more seen just as the landmass and people with strong opinions on the matter are usually bothered more about the United Kingdom, which is a political entity. That's for the so called home nations though - i.e. England, Scotland and Wales - Ireland's more complex). Don't call us English though, you wouldn't like us when you call us English ;).

Cool, we have a logo ! It's obviously high-time we virtually split over creative differences so that we can virtually reform and go on yet another tour of the world's teas - "Murder Rubicon '09 - The Brewing a Second Pot Tour". How does everyone take theirs BTW, just so I know ?


The way I understand Jossian vampirism, siring is more like "letting another vampire in" from some other dimension, Spike and Angel talk about their demons, not the demon so I think they're separate entities. Course, they could be like cuttings from the same plant, "genetically" the same but different because of their "environment" (i.e. who they inhabit).

To re-ensoul or not to re-ensoul, that's the question. Interesting point WilliamtheB, is it more merciful NOT to potentially open the "victim" up for a lifetime of guilt and torment ? Is it better to exist, even if it's a life of (potentially) unending guilt ? Course, for me that's one of the big inconsistencies of the Buffyverse - Spike and Angel weren't "in" when "they" committed their atrocities, that was the vampire. So why do they feel guilty ? The same reason the vampires refer to William and Liam as "me" I reckon i.e. they share the same memories and the way you tell that you're you is IMO, you remember being you before and you don't remember any major disconnect between then and now. If you could bring the soul back and wipe their memories of what they did as vampires (and Willow/Tara problems aside, that seems fairly trivial in the Buffyverse) then they wouldn't have the guilt. But would you have saved them or just someone that looks like them ? I.e. would they still feel their own "me"ness ?

In practice, I guess you can understand Buffy's actions BUT I still maintain there's a difference between what's pragmatic and what's strictly moral and morally she's in a grey area I reckon (even if it's constantly presented as being pretty black and white - "No fangs good, two fangs bad" ;).

OTOH, I eat meat with no problem, because I figure that the animal was dead already, it wasn't my fault, and my not eating it would be someone else's delicious burger.

Hmm, that assumes that demand (and therefore supply) is fixed, no matter what people do. Imagine if suddenly 100 million people became vegetarians overnight, would we need to kill as many cows next week ? The effect is (much) smaller with one person but the principle is the same I reckon.

(note i'm a meat eater through and through and am certainly not having a go at you BoB but I eat meat because I like the taste, texture and easy protein not because it's on ethically solid ground ;)
I think that vampires DO (or should) have rights, just like humans. But I also think it's all right to slay them without due process of law. There is a situation where it is okay to kill other humans without due process of law: war. And I think that in the Buffy-verse there is, essentially, an endless war going on.

This means, of course, that if you capture a vampire or have some way of thinking/knowing that it is not evil you should give it some semblance of due process (at least a chance to prove that it is not actually evil) before killing it (just as we mostly do to prisoners of war).
Really, I think agency is a very interesting concept in regard to the discussion. Also, BoB's exception from vegetarianism comes straight from the teachings of the Buddha (as lame as I still think it is).
Oh, I know way better than to call you English, believe :) I'd just been reading something on changes in how people see their identity, specifically people identifying as Scottish first. Their didn't seem to be much negative reaction to being termed British, but better safe and all that :)

If you could bring the soul back and wipe their memories of what they did as vampires (and Willow/Tara problems aside, that seems fairly trivial in the Buffyverse) then they wouldn't have the guilt.


And I wonder how many of them would let their new found power corrupt them in some way or another.

(note i'm a meat eater through and through and am certainly not having a go at you BoB but I eat meat because I like the taste, texture and easy protein not because it's on ethically solid ground ;)


I'm with the tea-maker on this one :) Totally tangent, but I was just reading an article on how specific isoflavones mimicked female hormones in the male body and contributed to infertile. The studies were linked to two specific purified isoflavones, but something to watch out for if you are substituting soya for meat proteins. Four or more servings per week seems to be the point it gets iffy.

dreamlogic - Agency is definitely an important concept to the discussion and also the distinct concept of moral agency. We've been discussing it without naming it per se.

And you may think its lame, but the Buddha eating meat is a demonstration that obstinacy and attachment are seen as a barrier to nirvana in Mahayana practice. Plus, I don't see BoB and the Buddha's reasoning to be the same.
I like WilliamTheB's point about merciful dusting (plus that sounds hilarious out of context). True--if this is a person who has been murdered (as human) and forever changed whether they have a soul or not, perhaps a "real" death is the kindest option.

zeitgeist, I love the world tour logo! I think I'm going to have to make a tea-shirt (ha ha, thanks BandofBuggered that's very cute) out of it. I'll sell them on my imaginary fansite (which is up and imaginarily running, Jossaholic: www.murder_rubicon.com and you have to click your ruby slippers together and jump through the dimensional portal).

ETA: Couldn't resist--took your logo to zazzle.

[ edited by catherine on 2008-06-09 14:02 ]
Ha! If I'd known you were going to do that I would've made it a resolution fit for print.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2008-06-09 14:20 ]
Saje, I couldn't be more off topic if I tried, but it's about the cows. If we didn't drink milk and eat beef, it wouldn't be too long before there weren't any cows at all.This is not an animal that, as evolved, has, or ever had, a place in the wild, as apart from human caretakers.

I don't know, maybe it would be better if there were no more animals of their kind for us to consume, or maybe it would be better if domestic food animals were treated properly, so they had nice lives while they were around, but the supply and demand thing is pretty complicated for cows, anyway.

People, however, would do just fine without vampires, so they should really leave us alone.
can sing, write lyrics, play guitar/fiddle/percussion... loves tea... Join band?
I'm late to the party, is the band still playing?

QingTing, I don't think it was the chance for redemption that stopped Buffy from killing humans. It's the fact that humans have their own justice system (flawed though it may be) to deal with human lawbreaking. So the redemption angle is interesting, but I'm not sure that's it, as technically anyone/thing can be redeemed if they wish it and if they act to make it possible.


Jokes aside, there are two instances from the show that I find interesting into this take, actually make that three. Not that I want to re-trivialize the discussion, instead focusing on the deeper philosophical and ethical implications of this issue, but I think it is just easier to just reflect onto the matter through the show's context.
The first one is the whole mess about Faith murdering an innocent in "Bad Girls" and there was the whole aftermath in the following episode, and how heavily Buffy reacted towards it.
There is one of my favorite lines from "Primeval", in which Buffy tells the general how's he's playing on her turf. In this sense, it seems that for Buffy and the Scoobies that there is whole another moral system that rules the supernatural world, that human law does not reign on, and maybe should not be used as reference as a way to judge vampires, and in the general sense the actions from the supernatural beings. So guilty in supernatural terms, may have a wider meaning and sometimes even different meanings compared to human law. But as a lot of people did point out, it does get mixed up with personal feelings, and personal views, which made a lot of Buffy's allies, including her best friend different to other standards - not saying that I agree with those standard, just pointing once more towards what we saw on tv.
The third instance, is the whole debacle of Willow turning evil in the end of season 6. I assume that the Watcher council must have played a lot of cards, cause when she returned to Sunnydale a few months later in Season 7, there wasn't much of legal outcome to what Willow did at the end of the previous season, while Faith was imprisoned, for a few years.
It's funny how the council just left her there, and never played any cards to re-acquire Faith as an asset, you'd assume that trying to re-acquire a slayer would be some sort of a priority for them.
OTOH, I eat meat with no problem, because I figure that the animal was dead already, it wasn't my fault, and my not eating it would be someone else's delicious burger.

By the same reasoning, humans are going to die anyway. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short. If one vampire doesn't eat a citizen of Sunnydale, another one is likely to try at some point. One vampire not eating someone is another vampire's delicious Happy Meal still walking around.
The band is resting and mourning the loss of their drummer, John "Stumpy" Pepys, who died in a bizarre gardening accident just this morning. Wait, thats a different band ;)

It is interesting that the council was never shown trying to re-acquire Faith, although given their previous failures in doing so, I guess its understandable. It is interesting that Faith gets to go to prison and Willow gets to go on vacation in the countryside of England. Let this be a lesson to you all; if you kill someone accidentally you go to jail, if you kill someone on purpose (and are Buffy's best friend) and beat up your friends with dark magick, you get to walk the dales!

ETA - now, see that's initiative! QingTing's second post here and already wanting to be a part of the band.
Plus, I don't see BoB and the Buddha's reasoning to be the same.

It's been a long time since I read about this, so I might have a whole lot of looking up to do to argue about it, but as I recall, the Buddha, though he never ate meat himself, said that a Buddhist could eat meat if the animal was not killed specifically for them to eat. I know there's a lot of controversy out of that issue. I read Tricycle once in a while.
Ah, I may need to reread as well. What I remember was that he had eaten meat on occasion when that was what was presented to him/available to show that stubbornness and rigidity were not virtues nor were they conducive to reaching an enlightened state.
I got up early to work & have spent most of the time reading this thread instead. Looking forward to the MR reunion tour.

I'm finding the idea that vampires are sentient sharks (who therefore shouldn't be slaughtered with impunity) awfully convincing. And I can't get the "soul" thing to mean anything for me in real life. But I supposed I've always loved Buffy in spite of its supernatural morality rather than because of it.

As for eating meat for the protection of cows, toast, if you look at how most cows are treated, at least in the U.S., I don't think that argument holds up very well.
It isn't an argument in favor of eating ill-treated cows, jcs. Nor did I say it was. That's the point. It may, however, be an argument in favor of legistating proper treatment of cows and other domestic food animals, and possibly an argument in favor of eating said well -treated cows.Or not. Maybe it would be better if there were no animals who owed people their lives and deaths in this way.

It is also an argument against a simplistic form of supply and demand logic when it comes to domestic animals.It works a little better if applied in the form of say, only buying animal products from known local sources who you are sure treat their livestock well. Which is certainly not to say I always do this myself, though I do try to make the effort. For whatever it may be worth.

[ edited by toast on 2008-06-09 15:47 ]
Never thought I'd see this thread unravel for so long -- and lead so many interesting places.

I studied at a Buddhist temple in Japan long ago and the roshi told newcomers a story about getting invited out to a local businessman's home for dinner (a big deal in Japan, nobody brings dinner guests home), being served meat, and eating it without comment. His lesson: don't get attached to the rules.

Interesting moral-complexity factor that vampires are people no longer in control of themselves -- hence the longstanding identification of vampires with addicts. They feel guilt I think the way an addict feels guilt at the acts committed under the influence.

The vampire brothel sequence is important here and I still remember the poignancy of the sad vamp who picks up, feeds on and is slain by Riley.

Tea: Ty-phoo for me.
It's been a long time since I read about this, so I might have a whole lot of looking up to do to argue about it, but as I recall, the Buddha, though he never ate meat himself, said that a Buddhist could eat meat if the animal was not killed specifically for them to eat. I know there's a lot of controversy out of that issue. I read Tricycle once in a while.


I was raised a Buddhist, however, I don't consider myself really a Buddhist, as my faith is not really into it, but I do agree with some of the philosophy.
dreamlogic is correct mostly, considering, general pure Buddhism. Things do get foggy when you start to look for regionalism.
Some traditional Buddhist temple, won't even allow you to enter with meat, in whatever form, it may be.
However, Chinese Buddhism which got heavy influence from Confucianism and Taoism, depending on how heavily the part of the triangle is onto the temple, meat inside the temple, is not only acceptable, but sometimes requirement to some rituals, especially in important holidays.
But, I'm not qualified to discuss this play into other influence type of Buddhism, such as Tibetan, Hindi, etc.

It's been a long time since I read about this, so I might have a whole lot of looking up to do to argue about it, but as I recall, the Buddha, though he never ate meat himself, said that a Buddhist could eat meat if the animal was not killed specifically for them to eat. I know there's a lot of controversy out of that issue. I read Tricycle once in a while.


It's funny that we've sticking mostly with Buffy issues in this discussion, but we'd have even more fun if we throw in all the ambiguity issues that Angel, brought in, specially after the team took over W&H. I was just re-watching Harm's Way during the weekend, and aside a lot of the funniness into a Harmony centered episode, there's a lot issues pertaining supernatural ethics and morality in this episode.
Sorry, toast. Somehow reading your comment (among the 90 others) I skipped completely over the 2nd paragraph. :) I do my best to eat local, too, but it's time-consuming & expensive.

hence the longstanding identification of vampires with addicts.
Hmmm. And we probably shouldn't go around killing addicts, either. I'm starting to think I need to join People for the Ethical Treatment of Vampires. Chips all around?
I think I know exactly what you mean about that, toast. It's the thing that confounded me back when I was young and trying to be an enlightened liberal (from a very conservative culture). How much can we change of our course from history, and how much should we try to? We can't reverse the domestication of animals, for instance. So what happens next?
So what happens next?


I'm assuming we talk about it endlessly online ;)
Stumpy ! Noooooooooooo ! (he owed me eleven quid)

If we didn't drink milk and eat beef, it wouldn't be too long before there weren't any cows at all.

Yeah, fair point toast, cows wouldn't survive in the wild (many domestic animals would struggle i'd imagine, part of the sort of forced over-specialisation we've subjected them to). I agree about the nice lives BTW, I try to eat organic/free-range meat when I can and avoid stuff like veal. I'm already trying (and, admittedly, often failing) to eat local cause of the whole carbon thing.

(to be blunt about eating meat, frankly, I weigh my suffering against the animals' and - a few situations excepted - find mine more important. In my own defence, this is purely because i'm very, very selfish ;)

The question of agency is at the heart of the matter and it's implicit in most of the posts here but i'm not sure it really helps much. Vampires seem to be fairly clear-cut agents, they act as they choose, within limits, same as we do (or the same as we kid ourselves we do at least ;). They're also fairly clearly (usually - Spike gums up the works here) NOT moral agents in that they can't choose not to be bad (without assistance like a chip or a soul - in fact, you could even make a case that a Buffyverse soul is the ability to know right and wrong and make an uncoerced choice between them).

But so what ? Young children arguably aren't moral agents either for instance, so should we be able to kill young children whenever we feel like it ? Probably not (OK, OK, definitely not, even the really noisy ones ;) because they'll become moral agents and, as someone alluded to upthread, as soon as Spike got his soul back, it became clear that all vampires have the potential to become moral agents. Vampires are basically moral children and Buffy is like the strictest mum you will ever meet ;).
But even children (!) can and in most cases do feel empathy and remorse and things, and when they're too little to feel that (babies), they're too little to do much of anything, let alone drain us of our life-blood. Generally speaking. Still, I like the idea of Buffy as strict vampire momma.

I'm less convinced by the sentient sharks thing. It's not that they just like blood and la di da. I think cruelty and diabolicity (hee) are part of the package, or they're supposed to be. But consistency on that point was never Buffy's strong point, really, so it's hard to use it as a basis to make an argument (very important) about vampire policy.

Re. the eating of meat and what do we do about the way things are and the way we're up to the neck in it, that's a trickier problem methinks. Eating beef in particular feels harder and harder to justify. Sometimes it's exhausting being a person in the world, la... I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of energy negotiating various kinds of "bad" vs. "yum."

Ha! If I'd known you were going to do that I would've made it a resolution fit for print.

Who says a fangirl can't have multiple Murder Rubicon tees? Or, teas?
Of course, young children don't usually spend their time hunting and killing adults, so there are fewer public safety reasons for putting them down.
Sheesh, I go away for one little, teensy weekend, and you guys do all the fun stuff - form a band, break up, reunion tour, drink tea. I feel so left out.

Spike and Angel weren't "in" when "they" committed their atrocities, that was the vampire. So why do they feel guilty ? The same reason the vampires refer to William and Liam as "me" I reckon i.e. they share the same memories and the way you tell that you're you is IMO, you remember being you before and you don't remember any major disconnect between then and now. If you could bring the soul back and wipe their memories of what they did as vampires ... then they wouldn't have the guilt. But would you have saved them or just someone that looks like them ? I.e. would they still feel their own "me"ness?

Dollhouse anyone?
Hopefully barboo ;). I do sometimes wonder if Joss realised there was a slight inconsistency re: Spike/Angel and their guilt/atonement and decided it'd be cool to examine it in a bit more detail. Though of course, to some extent it seems like he's already decided on an answer because Echo does indeed have "something else", some vital spark that allows "her" to persist despite having her memory wiped repeatedly i.e. the premise of 'Dollhouse' seems to be that "self" is more than the sum of our memories.

Of course, young children don't usually spend their time hunting and killing adults, so there are fewer public safety reasons for putting them down.

Yeah but again, that's a pragmatic argument, not a moral one. I agree Buffy's doing the "right" thing, if not for her it seems like Sunnydale would be over-run fairly quickly.

If we had the choice between killing 10% of all young children or watching 90% die, we'd probably (with great regret) off the 10% - I don't think that necessarily makes it a morally right decision (though many people do) because you're weighing lives as if their worth can be calculated, as if some are more deserving than others.

[ edited by Saje on 2008-06-09 17:02 ]
Of course, young children don't usually spend their time hunting and killing adults

Have you guys seen Dawn of the Dead (2004), with the zombie baby? I just saw it recently (best zombie movie I've ever seen).

Realistically, the way we work these things out is through law. Extremely imperfect, but incorporating the best things we can, as we go along. I like that Joss included us respecting the law (where possible) in Buffy, less in Firefly, but that was a more corrupt government.
Extremely imperfect, but incorporating the best things we can, as we go along. I like that Joss included us respecting the law (where possible) in Buffy, less in Firefly, but that was a more corrupt government.


The Government figure, is not also that well portrayed in Buffy, a certain centenary mayor comes to mind and how the Initiative was playing in Buffy's turf, comes to mind once more, also.
Since we're talking about morality, here's an article from the Jan. NYT Magazine that I thought was pretty interesting.


(And I'd also recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan for people who are exploring the ethics of their eating habits.)

ETA: I can't believe I finally made a working link!

[ edited by jcs on 2008-06-09 17:24 ]
Not that anyone is talking about it but kudos to Skunk, the "Real Vampire" author, for the totally suprising discussion of HIV in such a reasonable and based-on-fact manner. Believing people can suck the life energy from others with their psionic powers or the affinity some people have for the consensual drinking of blood seems pretty harmless, if odd, and does not seem all that different from any number of beliefs most religions profess. Transubstantiation, anyone?

But HIV? Pretty real and serious. So I say, drink the blood of the willing as much as you like, as long as it is free of HIV and you do not drink more than the recommended 473.18ml per 8 weeks from one person, and hang out at the mall trying to suck the life energy out of consumerist mobs.
I think the argument that it's more humane to kill someone than let them live with bad memories it not only b.s., but against the law in the real world. Otherwise, the Allied troops would have killed rather than liberated the prisoners in the concentration camps (for an extreme example of people living with terrible memories for the rest of their lives). We would consider this adding atrocity to atrocity, not an act of mercy.

As for the vegetarian conversation, I've been a vegetarian since age 10 (and have absolutely no sense of humor about it :) ), precisely for the reason that, while I cannot shut down the slaughterhouses, a) I can at least say "not in my name" and b) if I ever do get into an argument with a vampire, I can honestly say, "Hey, I know you think you're bigger, smarter and stronger than me, and you certainly have total control of this situation, but if you can survive without killing me, please do so -- this isn't a hypocritical request" :)
Interesting article,jcs. One of the most compelling aspects of the vampire ethics question to me is the victim becomes monster thing. As Spike said, in Angel, while recovering from having his hands sawed off by the tormented, demented slayer, "so were we all, once", or something to that effect.

All of these parts of us are us, the pre-accountable child, as well as the souless vampire, even though we have varying degrees of actual ability to understand/control our actions. It seems to me if we want to redeem ourselves properly, we have to be responsible for all we've done, regardless. We can excuse other people because of their limitations and circumstances, but it is a pretty slippery slope doing the same for onesself.

Cause where would you stop. I mean, there's some sort of explanation for pretty much everything we do..and explanations can help a person understand how it might have happened. But there is a sense in which you are always a different person than you were before. Doesn't mean you are not responsible, does it?

[ edited by toast on 2008-06-09 18:05 ]
"Once upon a time"
I do sometimes wonder if Joss realised there was a slight inconsistency re: Spike/Angel and their guilt/atonement and decided it'd be cool to examine it in a bit more detail.


Actually I was just pointing out that the theme of memory and selfhood, that appears to be the focus of Dollhouse, is one that has been part of Joss' work for a while.

Also the issue of moral agency. Interestingly, for instance, Xander never shows remorse for attempting to rape Buffy in "The Pack", but Spike is roundly condemned for the same act, although he is arguably as possessed as Xander was at that moment. Joyce is never shown expressing remorse over trying to kill her daughter in "Gingerbread." Anya doesn't seem to feel the slightest degree of remorse over the havoc she wreaked for two thousand years in her first incarnation as a demon. Willow however does feel remorse and believes that she deserves punishment for her actions. Basically, the underlying foundation behind all of these seems to be...inconsistency. However, Joss set out to tell good stories, not to create a rigorous philosophy of responsibility and moral action, so I'm willing to give him a pass on that.

As far as why Angel and resouled Spike do feel the need to atone for their actions despite the arguable lack of moral responsibility, I would go back to what you suggest Saje, it is the fact that they remember doing it. Their hands were the hands that murdered for fun, their mouths were the mouths that drank the blood, and their minds are full of those memories. How could any being with a soul remember all of that and not feel the need to atone - if not be driven entirely mad by it?

And um, could I maybe be in the band occasionally as a guest vocalist? I've been working on "Try to Remember" (the Fantasticks) with my singing teacher. I think the world is just waiting for a progressive/grunge rock version of that.
The Buffy novel, Here Be Monsters, deals in part with this theory, as Buffy is brought before a mystic court, having been charged with the murder of vampires.
Saje said:
is it more merciful NOT to potentially open the "victim" up for a lifetime of guilt and torment ? Is it better to exist, even if it's a life of (potentially) unending guilt ?

Depends on which victim you ask, I suppose. Some would probably rather die than be re-souled if it were possible to consult them beforehand. It’s kinda tricky for me personally ‘cause it’s been shown in the Buffyverse that there’s an afterlife and, potentially, a heaven of sorts. Even without the hints of that (like with what Buffy remembers post-death), there’s enough supernatural stuff going on in the world, that if I were aware of it all, I might have more hope. As it is, I’m a pretty cynical agnostic who’s tried and failed to go atheist. So I dunno…I guess if I lived in the Buffyverse and I got vamped…soul me up just in case and I’ll go the Angel route and try to do some good.

The question of to soul or not to soul depends on the length of time of being vamped too. If Willow finds out Xander’s been vamped that night, have the orb and spell ready the following night and he hasn’t even had a chance to eat anyone. All he’ll be left with is a nasty feeling of temporary lust for human blood and since he already came back from that sort of thing just fine after “The Pack”…no worries.

Sunfire said:
By the same reasoning, humans are going to die anyway. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short. If one vampire doesn't eat a citizen of Sunnydale, another one is likely to try at some point. One vampire not eating someone is another vampire's delicious Happy Meal still walking around.

Species solidarity. I liken a vamp to any animal more dangerous than something I can swat or easily run/swim away from. They’re tigers, sharks, whatever you like. I can’t reason with ‘em, they’re gonna kill me. The vamp is gonna try to survive and thrive just like any other animal (that includes us), I suppose they have a right to the same as anything else in nature…in the context of the show, I’m just hoping we (in the form of Buffy and friends) beat them because I don’t wanna die or see the deaths of people I care about or anyone, really. The vamps in the Buffyverse thing…it just doesn’t come down to morals at all for me, it’s us vs. them from a purely primal perspective. I don’t care if they have intelligence (possibly borrowed because they’re inhabiting complex-brained humans—who knows if the demon itself is/was intelligent on its own. The thing Angel devolved into in Pylea would indicate they’re a lot more base).

barboo said:
Anya doesn't seem to feel the slightest degree of remorse over the havoc she wreaked for two thousand years in her first incarnation as a demon.

Anya’s the most interesting case, IMO. I figure she only lived 20 or so years as a human before D’Hoffryn took her in and spent the next 1000 years (where did people get 2000 from ?) carving out her reputation as a sort of demonic patron saint of scorned women…there was a major disconnect there in terms of seeing humans as equal. D’Hoffryn and his girls seem to see humans as the Greek gods viewed them…lesser beings to be toyed with. Suddenly being stripped of her powers and confined to a mortal body again (though apparently always of the same mind and never without her soul) wasn’t gonna suddenly cause Anya to change. She only lived 4 and a half years as a human again. She was able to grow to care about at least one (Xander) and I dunno how much she truly cared about the rest or whether she cared about them solely because Xander did and she was maybe merely picking a winning team to belong to (speech with Andrew toward the end of Season 7 notwithstanding…that almost implied she was just on the cusp of really coming to appreciate humanity in a whole new light). I should probably re-watch “Selfless” again, see if there’s something more in there.

On the subject of cows

I started trying to buy only organic meat last year (turkey, beef, chicken, even pork once in a blue moon), have kept up with it pretty well. It’s really not that much more expensive for a single guy with decent income to feed himself organic, especially when I cut out the middle man and order directly from the farms. They ship on Thursdays, right to my door, in the morning before work. I buy in bulk, keep it in the freezer, and don’t really need to worry about going to the grocery store for meat for a few months. I can’t help eating non-organic at a restaurant or a family barbecue, but for the most part I’m cooking for myself so I figure I’m doing more good than harm to the slowly changing North American meat industry.

I investigated a couple local farms (and farming co-ops) and feel confident in the quality of the meat and the care they have for their animals (which isn’t to assume that all regular non-organic farms treat their animals badly, ‘cause I have friends who used to run a dairy farm and I know that ain’t true…but it’s nice to have it mentioned on the package, which regular meat never does, and seriously emphasized on their websites and in their brochures).

On the guilt over eating meat front…I don’t feel any. Pretty accepting of humanity’s long history as omnivores (apparently we—or the thing that would evolve into us—started off as herbivores according to some bits about evolution that I’ve read, but I have no idea if there’s conclusive proof of this based on our teeth or whatever). I love animals, but I’m not about to give up a quality source of protein (and other nutrients) for specific livestock and cut out sources of nutrition that have been consumed by my ancestors for god-knows-how-long.

[ edited by Kris on 2008-06-09 21:30 ]
Kris,
As it happens I just watched "Selfless" again last week. Anya has changed significantly by then. When she comes face to face with what she has done in the frat house, she is willing to give up her own life to reverse it.

Re: our supposed herbivorous beginnings, we're primates and primates in general are pretty omnivorous animals. There are some particularly specialized species such as leaf-eating monkeys that rely more or less entirely on vegetation, but most primates like to supplement their vegetables with a little high-quality protein. I studied monkeys in Peru that were primarily fruit-eaters, but they also stalked insects and small animals, such as frogs and lizards. Larger-bodied primates such as baboons and chimpanzees hunt and eat small mammals. Meat-eating goes back pretty far in our ancestry.
Yep, if you could ask folks before re-ensouling that'd take the decision out of your hands. The question remains though, it's just not you that has to answer it anymore ;).

(and as far as I know our biology reflects that we're omnivorous - overt characteristics (like teeth) are often the features that evolution operates on the quickest and so are very unlikely to have lasted the tens of millions of years since we were (possibly) herbivorous shrews or whatever. Stereo vision indicates we're predators (cos depth perception is very handy for hunting stuff that moves quicker than your average carrot ;), our teeth are built for tearing meat as well as grinding vegetables, our guts are longer than your average meat-eater (but can't process stuff like grasses which are kinda everywhere - if you're a strict vegetarian it'd be very handy to be able to eat them). And lastly, our family are (AFAIK exclusively) omnivorous too (i.e. the primates). ETA: some of which barboo mentioned but with more of that darn knowledge stuff ;).

Cause where would you stop. I mean, there's some sort of explanation for pretty much everything we do

Where I stop is at uncoerced choice. If at any point William or Liam were "there" and given the choice to not kill and still chose to do so, then they're morally culpable. But that's not how it works - the vampire can inhabit a perfectly decent person and that entity becomes a killer. The former inhabitant has no say at all in what happens because they're not even there.

Personally, i'm actually fairly doubtful that we have a choice in the sense of a totally free-will since every choice we make is determined by what's happened to us before but i'm with Kant in that we've to act as if we do. And the idea behind uncoerced action is that whether we have free-will or not (i.e. even if you're not ultimately responsible, even if it's an unbroken causal chain all the way down - as it surely must be IMO) if no-one's forcing you then you have to take responsibility for your actions. We take the credit for good decisions after all, rough with the smooth and all that ;).

(and to relate it to 'Dollhouse', as i've wondered before, should Echo's initial choice - assuming it was uncoerced - to become an active mean she's morally culpable for everything she does thereafter, even while imprinted ?)

Actually I was just pointing out that the theme of memory and selfhood, that appears to be the focus of Dollhouse, is one that has been part of Joss' work for a while.

Yeah, my point was more I don't think it has ;). I.e. I think Joss needed a Byronic vampire riddled with guilt on a quest to atone and so he made one, I suspect he didn't sit down and think "Wait a minute, what does that mean for the concept of self ?" until (possibly) afterwards. Could well be wrong though and only Joss really knows ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-06-09 22:06 ]
What Saje said.

ETA - love love love the way this thread took off from a somewhat iffy link. Just had to say that.

And, Saje, here's the limited edition re-union tour Buffified logo t(ea)-shirt graphic. I know you can't resist 5 minute GIMP graphics :)
Sunfire:
By the same reasoning, humans are going to die anyway.

Of course. Nearly anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies would have me for dinner if given half a chance, and I harbor absolutely no animosity toward them for this; it's in their nature to do so, just as it's in my nature to return the favor.

However, I'd still shoot anything that tried it, you understand...

ET correct mistyping. Oops.

[ edited by Rowan Hawthorn on 2008-06-10 00:12 ]
Yeah, Saje, they are always saying that the former inhabitant of the vampire's body is not even there, but then it seems to me that they act as if they are there, in some sense. And not just the rare ensouled ones. Vampires are, after all, meant to be a hybrid of human and demon.

Maybe it is just that they have the memories, but there seems to be a personality element, too- though not the same one- related in some way-sometimes even opposites seems related (eg. Spike, before and after). Maybe this is just my skewed view- not sure.

In a sense, becoming a vampire seems like a giant, irresistable excuse. And there are, of course, degrees of coercion. Some people become vamps on purpose, or because they don't care what happens to them,or because they are looking for a kick, and don't ask questions- while others-like Drusilla, were resistant. Is there a difference then, in culpibility, or not?

How much consent/coercion will be involved with the dolls? Can't wait to find out.

When vampires get soulful, they do feel the guilt, as if they had that free will-even if they didn't. Darla feels it, even though she despises and resists it- she hates how she feels human, and not just because she's mortal, I think.
Late. To. The. Party.

Okay, one of the things I've always wondered about in the Whedon vampire'verse is where does a human soul go when a vampire takes over the body? If souls are retrievable from "somewhere" - as they surely are in both BtVS and Angel - then what fresh hell or limbo are they consigned to until - whenever? Either they are "alone" - which is a kind of solitary confinement - or they are in some kindof group soul lounge or rest home... or what? Are they suffering intentional punishment, or is it perhaps incidental punishment, as they are separated from all they know and love? What is their state of awareness, especially in terms of what the possessing demon is doing while in their former flesh wrapping?

And then ultimately, what is supposed to happen to them? In the case of re-ensoulment, we're fine, but if a vampire is killed in possession of the body, is the human soul already in its "final place" or does it move on - and based on what criteria?

Well, obviously these are unanswerable, but I must confess I have thought about it. Maybe even a little too much, considering this kind of Whedon-searching sorta supplants looking at the bigger unknowable questions in the bigger, unknowable universe out here. But as Joss once said about Veronica Mars, she solves the little puzzles, because like us, she can't unravel the bigger ones.


barboo: "Basically, the underlying foundation behind all of these seems to be...inconsistency. However, Joss set out to tell good stories, not to create a rigorous philosophy of responsibility and moral action, so I'm willing to give him a pass on that."

That is the ultimate answer, of course, but I think part of the joy of Joss' stuff is that it is so well-constructed that you can be led to believe that it is a comprehensive and fully thought-out almost autonomous world, and of course, it's not. But for patchwork, as it necessarily must be, it's pretty damn good.

That was an interesting article by Pinker, jcs (and congrats on your breakthrough linkage) - I especially note this:

"The moral sense, we are learning, is as vulnerable to illusions as the other senses. It is apt to confuse morality per se with purity, status and conformity. It tends to reframe practical problems as moral crusades and thus see their solution in punitive aggression. It imposes taboos that make certain ideas indiscussible. And it has the nasty habit of always putting the self on the side of the angels."

and I also liked his thoughts on the primary moral spheres, and their ranking and placement in different cultures.

I'm so proud of you'all for getting such a truly original band together in such a short time, and zeitgeist, your final logo is a pip. I'm assuming you'll be selling your delightful music-and-tea-drinking sounds on the InfraNets, so do let us know when we can expect that, and where. I'll be happy to supply back-up vocals and um... flavorful herbal tea packets as needed.
Wanted to jump in here.

I'm sorry, I don't have time to read ALL of these comments, but on my skimming, I noticed that we're not talking about the Angel series. Angel, but not the show Angel.

My reason for bringing this up is because: 1) It's part of teh Buffyverse & 2) It brings a better picture of demons & vampires (less of an "us" vs. "them" approach as seen on Buffy.

In particular, let's look at the episodes when Gunn's old gang would kill fully integrated, harmless demons. True, they also killed baddies, but what about the good ones? Technically, they're demons and don't have a soul, but they play a role in human society and have integrated themselves to the human rules. Why should they be killed? Receive less rights? Especially if they're paying taxes.

If PETA can fight for rights with animals and give them the treatment that some of our homeless can't achieve, then I believe our society should open up discussions on rights for demons & vampires. Vampires can always have a choice: live by our rules or be dusted. It's the same with human killers in our society today.

Regarding: human killers. I think life in prison is a waste of money. They go through trials and our justice system to prove their guilt, and when proven, should pay the price. (Same with vampires.) Dexter has my vote for alternative methods of disposing with serial killers. He finds the evidence that they will (or have) killed innocents again, and takes them out. In fact, vampires could have a symbiotic relationship with our serial killers. Once proven guilty, put the serial killers' names on a list for the "okay" for vampires to feed on. This would not only give vampires a way to feed and be "legal", but they would be aiding their justice system by taking out the trash.

I find it silly that comments here advocate that vampires are "evil" and should be exterminated, but defend murderers & their rights. After all, "good" and "evil" are perceptions that have placed judgement into our society. The willing taking of a life should not be ambivalent. It's biased to provide one set with the benefit of the doubt (humans) while executing the other (vampires). It is species-ism. Either terminate all or acquire a method to enable both chances to function "properly" in our society.
I'm assuming you'll be selling your delightful music-and-tea-drinking sounds
Now wait a second--I didn't think we were going to be listening to them drinking tea. I'm all for the teapot gurgling and whistling and the aroma of Ceylon, but I don't want to listen to these guys slurp. :)
Wonder how much I could get for my ticket on e-bay?
1-Not touchign capital punishment or meat eating.

2-PErhaps a better model than a police or judicial one would be a military one. And not a rules-of-war as in modern and post-modern wars, but in a traditional tribal sense.

3-Vmapire as victim; The eprson is dead; they Were a victim of a different vampire. (I'm viewing Giles's "looking at the thing that killed him" speach as rhetoric designed to get Xander's head straight on what was needed and not a scientific statement.) The body the vmapire is using is more of a weapon; it's no more (or less) a victim than a tree is a victim of someone who cuts off abranch to club someone else to death with.

4-Resouling 1 Angel and Spike were resouled and heeled by different processes. So true happiness should only apply to one.

5-Resouling 2 It wouldn't make all vampires good. Confining to active ones, Harmony might not care very much, Shiela perhaps even less, Lyle Gortch wouldn't be affected at all.

6-Resouling 3 It's an odd punishment. Can be seen as punsihment for the demon or for the dead human.
Thing is, not everyone wants to be a hero, even if they have powers. Plus,even people who are decent could fall to temptation with powers plus appetites. ALso, waht of soemone who'll miss their favorite garlic pot roast too much?

Angel never mentioned calling Willow to curse the pregnant Darla so she could "remember loving it."

6- Respecting demons'; rights; in a fic I won't be writing* I have Amber Benson and her demon make-up artist discuss that very issue with Buffy Willow and Kennedy on a movie set. I figure if anyone would be sensitive to the needs of law-abiding demons in a human-dominated world, it would be my Goddess Herself

*because I have no real story for it

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2008-06-10 01:40 ]
korkster, we don't know that all demons are soulless, just vamps. Indeed, in "Selfless," D'Hoffryn refers to "the life and soul of a vengeance demon" in a context where he's not likely to be using figures of speech. Lorne behaves as though he's got a soul. To say all demons are soulless based on vampires is like saying all mammals have four stomachs based on cows :)

DaddyCatALSO, you know that Amber Benson was in vamp makeup on "Supernatural" -- and apparently (see other thread about this) some company is selling likenesses of this.
Wow, guys, I leave you alone to do errands and a doctor's visit, and I come back to learn about organic meats and buying local because of carbon. Hmm. I must admit, I loves me some steak, and I don't have much of a say as to what kind of cow it was, as my parents still buy/cook the food around here. :)

I think it depends on what you consider a "soul" when you look at demons as having souls. Demons, by and large, are considered soulless creatures bent on destruction. On the other hand, there are demons like Clem and that guy who had the Books of Ascension, who were harmless and seemed to have consciences. But did they have souls, per se?

Anya killed without remorse for over a millennium, fueled by rage and indignation, or something like that. She truly hated the man kind. But then, after dating Xander and getting to know humans again, she feels serious remorse over slaughtering the A&F catalogue. I'm not sure if she has a soul as a demon, but she definitely has all of her human feelings, memories, and conscience--for the most part. Remember, she didn't mind turning that dude into a worm.

Perhaps the soul that D'Hoffryn refers to is in fact one's consciousness, as in there's the demon's body, there's a demon's thoughts, but there's still a thing that thinks about the thoughts. Hell, if I could remember the Descartes I read many moons ago, I would be much better in discussing this.
True, Shapenew, we don't know if all demons are souless. I was bringing up the "demon" topic because demons are considered evil, which is one of the main arguments on this thread that vampires should be killed. How do we know if they have a soul or not? We assume that they're souless & bad until proven otherwise (see Season 2 premier of Angel). It's a reverse system. Why?

Serial killers usually have no remorse for the crimes they committed. Some even believe that that's what should be done. And yet the system gives them the benefit of the doubt.

Vampires are doing what's in their nature: to feed off of humans. Yet it's wrong, and they're slaughtered for it. From their POV, wouldn't it be wrong to change their nature instead of acceptance?

If anything, pigs & cows to us are what vampires view us.

Re: soul vs. consciousness. If demons & vampires are willing to integrate into the human society, and willingly do so because it supports their interests, does it matter if they have a soul or not? If their beliefs support "our" beliefs, can't we live in unity?

Why do our goals have to be the same? Everyone is entitled to their own culture, their own religion... why not the same with vampires? If they find willing participants/blood donors, and no ill will is found, should they be punished for pursuing their vampire heritage?
I kind of want someone to bring Boondock Saints into this argument. I wonder if anyone will think of mentioning it?

And korkster, we're not pigs and cows: we're Happy Meals with legs. :)
korkster, I wasn't saying that demons having souls was necessary to their integration into human society. Presumably all humans have souls and there are quite a few of them who have proven they cannot be safely integrated into human society :) Having a soul seems no barrier to homicidal behavior; not having a soul is no guarantee of homicidal behavior. I'm just saying, there's no more reason to assume no demons have souls because vampires don't than to make generalizations about what mammals possess and don't possess based on one particular species.
That's a fair point about demons and souls but if they do have souls then the case is pretty much settled I reckon - Buffy is indeed a mass murderer - and we need to ask the hard question of why it's OK to kill any demon but humans - evil knights excepted ;) - are still off limits (then it really would just be species-ism IMO).

(imagine if Clem was around at the time and Faith had killed him instead ? I think the Scoobs would be in her face about it cos Clem was nice and they liked him but i'm equally sure they wouldn't have seen it as anything like as bad. Why not ? Cos Clem eats kittens ?)

I know you can't resist 5 minute GIMP graphics :)

I'm so easy me ;-).

toast: Yeah, Saje, they are always saying that the former inhabitant of the vampire's body is not even there, but then it seems to me that they act as if they are there, in some sense.

To me it's more like they act as if they remember being there and need to deal with that somehow. We see repeatedly that B-verse souls are separate entities (that can even be stored in jars ;) and we're also told repeatedly that the soul is, somehow, the person (no one claims for instance that Illyria actually is Fred in any sense, even though "she" has full access to Fred's memories) and that the person is gone once vampirised.

My pet theory/fan-wank is that in order to preserve their "me"ness Spike and Angel had to "own" what they'd done as vampires, otherwise the memories of what it seemed like they'd done would be overwhelming and cause their "selves" to fracture (as Spike's seems to at the start of S7).

Hell, if I could remember the Descartes I read many moons ago ...

Yeah, The Buffyverse is pretty much predicated on Cartesian dualism i.e. on the idea that it's even meaningful to talk about a person separate from their body (one of the things that makes it straight up fantasy IMO). Not dissing Descartes of course, he did the best he could with what he had but what we now know about the brain makes defending it a pretty tough row to hoe I reckon ;).

If anything, pigs & cows to us are what vampires view us.

Maybe. But the day a pig can ask me not to eat him is the day I swear off pork forever ;).
I think the four of us (Saje, Sunfire, BandofBuggered, and myself) should start a band called Murder Rubicon and work this out over many lengthy prog-rock concept albums.
zeitgeist | June 09, 00:10 CET


And your stage sets could be itty-bitty undersized tombstones and crypts. ;-) Haven't read the rest of the thread yet but I couldn't leave that one lying there.

On a more serious note, anyone who could actually compare Spike with Harmony is someone I have to conclude was just not, paying attention to .... oh, say the entire storyline of the entire series.
@ More Points:

1- Yes, the brothel-vamps attacked Buffy after she arsonated the place. However Riley's vamp hooker was trying to leave at the end. Admittedly she might have had to start hunting and killing again to survive until/unless she found naother brothel, so Buffy was justified to thate xtent, but let's be honest, Buf staked her out of spite.

2-Fiath versus Willow ; The Council knew Willow was under a fugue-like state, the coven not the Counicl did the main rehab, and Wilow was "hard to recognize" when she did those few things she was actually seen doing. So likely no case was brought against her by name. So not a whoel lot of Council markers would eb required.

Whereas Faith, the idea was for her to learn by being inside. So the Coucil was willing to leave her there until needed.
Maybe. But the day a pig can ask me not to eat him is the day I swear off pork forever ;).


I'd think about it ;) What? Pork is delicious!

And your stage sets could be itty-bitty undersized tombstones and crypts. ;-) Haven't read the rest of the thread yet but I couldn't leave that one lying there.


You'd think we would've worked out the difference between feet and inches by now ;)
Totally tangent, but I was just reading an article on how specific isoflavones mimicked female hormones in the male body and contributed to infertile. The studies were linked to two specific purified isoflavones, but something to watch out for if you are substituting soya for meat proteins. Four or more servings per week seems to be the point it gets iffy.


Ah-ha! One more good argument for going vegetarian. Men substituting enough soy protein for meat could help with the world's over-population problem. ;-)
Yeah, it would potentially solve it in one generation as the amount of reduction of motile sperm seems to make pregnancy impossible.
But seriously ;-) .... answer to original question: Hero. (It's a fantasy show.)
Flawed, complex, conflicted hero (no other kind is really interesting) but in the context of the show, ya gotta go with "hero".
We're talking about soy and sperm counts? This band is terrible.

I'm just saying, there's no more reason to assume no demons have souls because vampires don't than to make generalizations about what mammals possess and don't possess based on one particular species.

Spike Angel : Buffyverse demons :: monotremes : mammals

OK technically the analogy works better with the Turok-Han, but still.
We're talking about soy and sperm counts?

Rock and roll, man, rock and gosh-darned roll !

;-)
now, see that's initiative! QingTing's second post here and already wanting to be a part of the band.


What can I say, Zeitgeist? I'm a go-getter.

And to take up BandofBuggered's Boondock gauntlet, didn't the comments on Dexter cover that mentality already? Unless you believe the Saints were truely on a mission from God. Then we can discuss Frailty, too...
Souls; I don't see as relevant point. The "souless" discussion may have been mentioned in passing regarding other creatures, but i was essentially used reagrding vampires. It's a human body moving around and with intellignece but no human soul in it.
The SLayer doesnt' kill vampires becuase they're soullless but because they're supernatural and dangerous. So are the demons. It's a war and it's her job ot fight it.

ShapeNew; Yes, I know about that acting job of AMber's and the sculpture. I was just syaing, in the cotnext of my story, the woman doing her make-up for the fictional movie I had AMber appearing in was herself a "Klivegaru demon" and AMber, much to the surprise of BW&K, knows this. Even without the story, maybe I'll post that scene someplace.
And to take up BandofBuggered's Boondock gauntlet, didn't the comments on Dexter cover that mentality already? Unless you believe the Saints were truely on a mission from God. Then we can discuss Frailty, too...


Oh, I totally hadn't seen the Boondock gauntlet being thrown down. Great flick... and a long discussion sometime :)

ShapeNew; Yes, I know about that acting job of AMber's and the sculpture. I was just syaing, in the cotnext of my story, the woman doing her make-up for the fictional movie I had AMber appearing in was herself a "Klivegaru demon" and AMber, much to the surprise of BW&K, knows this. Even without the story, maybe I'll post that scene someplace.


So you were writing fanfic about Amber herself interacting with Buffyverse characters? No offense meant, but that strikes me as slightly creepifying :).
Reviewing some things I missed:

korkster: I think the distinction between evil humans and demons is a categorical one. Slayers don't kill or even go after the former unless they're using magic because they and their watchers don't want to usurp the functions of the justice system. Whether or not human justice fails in any specific cases, that system iss till in palce and SLayers need toa bide by it; scragging criminal isn't "part of the war."

Saje: I swear solemnly in the name of Green-Apple-Charley I wasn't comparing Harmony and Spike, just using her as an example of how other vamps might react or not react to being re-ensouled. Drusilla, being insane now and knowing she was insane when she died, might react by, say, just blaming it all one "the lady with my face" and not worrying about it. Maybe.

zeitgeist; Well, I see your point. Now several cyberfriends of mine have done it, involving portals to parallell worlds, and they were good solid fics, one wher Willow Xander and Dawn meet Tony and AMber, and one where Buffy Xander and Willow meet Joss.

I'm not doing mine mainly because as I said I don't have a full story and, partly fort he reason you mentioned, I don't feel strongly enough about it to put one together. I was inpsired by those old epsiodes of shows like _Her's Lucy_ or _Diagnosis Murder_ where the characters met the actors who played them on studio sets. I did have one slapstick scene I hate to lose involving Bufyf and Freddy Prinze JR but that's the way it goes.
I have been enjoying this discussion and all its permutations and tangents. I don't know that I have anything more to add to the discussion of vampires and souls at the moment, but I would like to apply for manager of the Band. I'm organised, I can sing and play music - even compose a bit, although I don't think grunge is my style so staying on the sidelines might be a better choice. Oh, and my oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies are to live for. Nobody wants to die for them - either kind - they're too good! ;)
I was inpsired by those old epsiodes of shows like _Her's Lucy_ or _Diagnosis Murder_ where the characters met the actors who played them on studio sets. I did have one slapstick scene I hate to lose involving Bufyf and Freddy Prinze JR but that's the way it goes.


Dig. Not exactly the same vein, but I definitely need to rewatch the DS9 episode Far Beyond the Stars.

samatwitch - I think you should totally mak-- er, manage the band (and make cookies!).
Yep good cookies are management is an essential for any successful band.

... where the characters met the actors who played them on studio sets.

Reckon that kind of breaking of the fourth wall can work and is cool when it does but though it might add to the viewing/reading experience, it never adds to the story IMO (practically by definition). Trying to think now if Trek ever properly broke the fourth wall (I suspect not, it usually took its world fairly seriously, if not always itself - though it did a fair bit of that too ;).

(can't remember if i've mentioned this before but in 'Far Beyond the Stars' the magazine office set had little notes addressed to the authors and Armin Shimerman's character had been given one that said "No-one will believe a cheerleader can kill vampires" ;)

Saje: I swear solemnly in the name of Green-Apple-Charley I wasn't comparing Harmony and Spike ...

Reckon you've mistook me for Shey there DCA ;).
Saje - You have, but the I must've missed it the first time around. Thanks!
OK cool, rather than repetition, consider it a "last chance to see" ;-).
Saje:
Maybe. But the day a pig can ask me not to eat him is the day I swear off pork forever ;).
Saje | June 10, 10:12 CET


He may not ask you not to eat him, but I don't see that pig willingly lying on a platter at your feet either. Made me laught, BTW. :) And, hey, even if the pig did ask, I'd eat him anyway. Why? Because I'm the dominant species and I can. I think I lean towards Spike's POV with the whole Thanksgiving episode. Well, until he's shot full of arrows, at least.

DaddyCATALSO:
korkster: I think the distinction between evil humans and demons is a categorical one. Slayers don't kill or even go after the former unless they're using magic because they and their watchers don't want to usurp the functions of the justice system. Whether or not human justice fails in any specific cases, that system iss till in palce and SLayers need toa bide by it; scragging criminal isn't "part of the war."


I agree with you there, but in terms of this thread, I thought we were exploring the potential ramifications of being a slayer IF vampires were to be considered equals, i.e., integrated into society. Would Buffy had a place in that world? Would she be the "military assassin" type for those who broke the rules about only eating certain people? Would it be wrong to go against her nature to stop demons/vampires (souled/souless) if she weren't allow to kill them unless specified otherwise.

In the Buffyverse, I get the rules. They're layed out with reason as the season goes along. But the defining statement is that vampires aren't part of society; they have no function or role. Well, what if they did? What if we accepted them not only as equal, but as dominant?

Those questions were the reason why I brought up the souled killers vs. souless demons/vampires issues. Some said it wasn't okay to kill the killers but had no questions about killing the demons (whether they did any evil or not). The whole classification of "evil" is what throws me. Who's to judge and who's to say? If harm is caused to a non-willing victim, punishment (via death) should occur. Accidental harm, or participation from someone who's willing to take the risks of dealing with the "fringe" of society, should not be dusted away so readily IMO.
He may not ask you not to eat him, but I don't see that pig willingly lying on a platter at your feet either.

Douglas Adams wrote a scene like that. It's pretty funny and creepy.
Yeah, in 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe' (in the HHG2TG TV series the cow in question was played by future Doctor Who, Peter Davison BTW. Err, just FYI ;).

He may not ask you not to eat him, but I don't see that pig willingly lying on a platter at your feet either.

My point isn't whether he's willing, my point is if he's aware of his own impending death and has language then he may well be a person and I don't eat persons.

If harm is caused to a non-willing victim, punishment (via death) should occur.

Unless the victim is a pig apparently, then it's "might makes right" ... right ? ;)

(the serious point being, the crux of the matter is surely what constitutes a victim and that aside, as i've said all along, what we can do and even what we must do isn't necessarily the same as what we should do. I.e. "is ain't necessarily ought" and because we have to do something for survival doesn't necessarily make it morally right - unless "survival of the fittest" is the whole of the [moral] law)
korkster; Good points, and I think I was actually trying to deliberately avoid examining deeper rules by setting out a working principle. Given my limited posting time, I tend to rush.

And the comments about pork, particularly your "domminant species" take, that was exactly the motive I had in mind when I imagined a comic book super-villain (a serious albeit over-the-top villain, not a Howard the Duck style goofus adversary) called War-Hog, the Nietzchean Super-Pig.
Well, Saje, I think that we also have to remember that BtVS was written, acted, directed, produced, and watched by people.

I think that if vampires had a TV show, it would be different--unless it were written by ensouled vampires....oh, hell. I should just quit before I'm too far behind. :)

But I think another thing we have to take into account is life-span, when it comes to delicious entities such as pigs. For example, a pig that is not slaughtered for pork chops and bacon will not live much longer than another few years. Meanwhile, it will keep eating, develop a bad back from leaning over troughs, and develop adult-onset diabetes from never watching its diet.

I think that part of being human and being to read/write/philosophize (to use a Bill&Ted word) is that we consider humans not only as sentient, but also as thinking, moral beings who are able to have a direct influence on their surrounding environment including flora and fauna. Hence, we can choose to eat/preserve said flora and fauna.

Think of how demons look at us: we have such short lives, and are not able to think on the grand scale that, say, Anyanka and Halfrek were able to just because we're not able to live that long and experience that many things.

But since demons don't actually exist, and besides tortoises and a few other animals we're pretty much the most long-lived, we have to go from our point of view.

Samatwitch, I like cookies. :) I actually made some slice'n'bakes, and I underbaked them. They were very unsatisfying.
Sunfire: "Douglas Adams wrote a scene like that. It's pretty funny and creepy."

As did his buddies, the Pythons of Monty. It's also funny, without being quite so much of the creepy.
I love how we keep writing, even though this thread has well been fallen off the main page.

Saje:

My point isn't whether he's willing, my point is if he's aware of his own impending death and has language then he may well be a person and I don't eat persons.


Would language be something along the lines of communication? Like, towards other pigs, for instance? Because, if that's the case, then I would argue that pigs do have language in the fact that they communicate to others in their species. And, a counter-point could be make that for those of us who don't speak Russian can't communicate. Would it be alright for me (who doesn't speak Russian) to eat a Russian? At least, until I learn and understand their language?


If harm is caused to a non-willing victim, punishment (via death) should occur.

Unless the victim is a pig apparently, then it's "might makes right" ... right ? ;)


Well, yes. As being the "superior" species, we control/mandate the fate of others as BoB says. But if one superior being kills another superior being, courts and trials come into order, even if the superior killer is viewed as a "monster" instead of a "superior killer". Who has more power, vampires or humans? I think BtvS function in the order that humans have more power because of the population, but if the "big Bad" ever got their way (and won), we'd definately be in the minor.


(the serious point being, the crux of the matter is surely what constitutes a victim and that aside, as i've said all along, what we can do and even what we must do isn't necessarily the same as what we should do. I.e. "is ain't necessarily ought" and because we have to do something for survival doesn't necessarily make it morally right - unless "survival of the fittest" is the whole of the [moral] law)


And the question arises, who appoints the "should" in our actions? If nature AND nuture were erased (say, like an Active), wouldn't one be truly free to disover the "shoulds" on their own? Of course, the minor glitch being that once the Active walked outside into our society, their actions would adapt to the surrounding populus and the experiment would be tainted. The taint coming from a traditions of "shoulds", of course. And furthermore, your "should" and my "should" may be similar, but I would bet that they may not mesh with the "shoulds" in Afghanistan or Iraq.

BandofBuggered:


Well, Saje, I think that we also have to remember that BtVS was written, acted, directed, produced, and watched by people.

I think that if vampires had a TV show, it would be different--unless it were written by ensouled vampires....oh, hell. I should just quit before I'm too far behind. :)


Interesting perspective, BoB. I'd be interested to see what vampires watch on television. And what sort of government structure (if any) they would enable. I doubt democracy, for some reason. But would it be so cliche to go the Dracula king route too? Hmm.
Would language be something along the lines of communication? Like, towards other pigs, for instance?

Short answer, no ;). Language is more than just communication, many entities that almost no-one would consider persons can communicate in the sense of signalling (either to prey or predators or others of their own kind) but language requires abstraction of the symbols/sounds involved from the thing they represent (it's this abstraction that allows language to expand, evolve and even to represent things that don't or even couldn't exist).

You've also handily ignored the first part of my statement korkster, about awareness of impending death ;). That in itself encapsulates awareness of your own existence, an ability to imagine the future, awareness of mortality, the motivation to avoid it and possibly even regret over lost opportunities.

Re: your Russian example, I didn't say the language has to be understandable to me, I just said having language is one indication of personhood (and even if you don't understand a foreign language, i'd bet quite a lot that you'd recognise it as language). I don't deny it'd be easier if the pig could speak English though (or schoolboy French in a pinch ;).

And the question arises, who appoints the "should" in our actions?

Well, not really since where the "should" comes from is sorta what we've been talking about all along ;). And I say again, we're not talking about what we can do, we're talking about whether we should. Being a "superior" species means we also have the choice not to take certain actions.

If nature AND nuture were erased (say, like an Active), wouldn't one be truly free to disover the "shoulds" on their own?

Well you can't be organic and erase "nature", our bodies are the nature part of the "nature/nurture" combination (in fact even inorganic entities - e.g. robots - would have a nature in the sense of certain abilities and limitations resulting from the matter they're made up of) but to take your example of a "blank slate" human, your question is circular, it begs the question because it assumes that "shoulds" are there to be discovered when in fact, it's entirely possible that "shoulds" only arise from nature and nurture and aren't some separate "thing" at all (that would be an absolute morality as, for instance, handed down by a god, like the 10 commandments). Then you sort of contradict that by (rightly) pointing out that other cultures have different "shoulds", derived from different sources.
Okay, Saje, give me a chance to weed through your explanation.

BTW, I didn't skip that part of the pig->human approach. You answered your own argument there, and I agreed with it. If the pig is aware of its soon death, and was able to convey that to you through language, you wouldn't eat it (your words, loosely). However, even though the pig may struggle against what will bring his end, he isn't capable (to your mind) of conveying the "stop; don't eat me" phrase that would cease your view of him as bacon. So you eat him. I get it.

My only little cry is how do we know that their "squeals" aren't language to that species? I mean, one may not know Russian, but they're still human. What's the learning curve for the language gap between species?


Well, not really since where the "should" comes from is sorta what we've been talking about all along ;). And I say again, we're not talking about what we can do, we're talking about whether we should. Being a "superior" species means we also have the choice not to take certain actions.

I agree with your assessment, but I think you're misunderstanding me. Yes, we've been discussing the "should" in this thread, but (in general) who would be adequate to make the final decision? Who would speak for the entire human race and decide what species are on par with us? Seeing that we are human, and therefore have no real understanding of anything besides us in regards to being superior, are we even in a position to pass judgement on vampires?

As a WHEDONesque species, we can't even reach an agreement on comic book art to approve for Angel (not that our opinion matters). How are we qualified to spread our opinions on species-ism?


Well you can't be organic and erase "nature", our bodies are the nature part of the "nature/nurture" combination (in fact even inorganic entities - e.g. robots - would have a nature in the sense of certain abilities and limitations resulting from the matter they're made up of)


Need to clarify: I understand taht we can't erase nature from our systems (in regards to breathing, eating, blah blah). What I meant to say was if we could erase the memory of nature in regards to the "dos" and "don'ts". Nuture, IMO, is more based on this due to the environment one is placed in. This would need to be erased. If the memories and adaptions our species have developed can be wiped out, no more in an isolated room, what would be there to guide us in our decisions? We would have to truly depend on ourselves for such an encounter.


but to take your example of a "blank slate" human, your question is circular, it begs the question because it assumes that "shoulds" are there to be discovered when in fact, it's entirely possible that "shoulds" only arise from nature and nurture and aren't some separate "thing" at all

Which is entirely plausible, but let's pretend that they can be erased. No "shoulds", nothing.


(that would be an absolute morality as, for instance, handed down by a god, like the 10 commandments).


Not an absolute morality. No god. What you learn about "shoulds", you learn on your own.


Then you sort of contradict that by (rightly) pointing out that other cultures have different "shoulds", derived from different sources.


It's not a contradiction. If one were successful at removing a person (baby) from society where there are no cultural influences, there would be no "shoulds". To learn the "shoulds", to learn for your mistakes, requires interaction. It's successful in isolation.

However, one the Active subject interacts with society (wherever they are), the experiment is immediately a failure. The Active would view the environment around them and adapt/adjust to the conditions. They would be implanted with the "shoulds". If the Active walked into Bankok, the "shoulds" would be different than if the Active walked into Texas.

We can't not have an influence on others. Sometimes I wonder though, if that's such a good thing. How can anything truly be discovered or invented once the theories have been proven, the joke has been laid, the central characters have been killed. Even if there are actual "new" ideas outhere, we impose comparisons, place "shoulds" onto the context and then make a judgement.

You gotta (but may not) agree with me on that point. Just read the other threads on how similar/dissimilar our fellow Whedonesquers use their judgement. Just like, "those sets look like the W&H sets", even though they're not.

Do you get me?
If the memories and adaptions our species have developed can be wiped out, no more in an isolated room, what would be there to guide us in our decisions?

Absolutely nothing. Why, what do you think would be there ? What do you actually believe "blank slate" to mean ? See ? Assuming there's anything there to guide us is assuming the very thing we're trying to find out (i.e. it's begging the question).

It's not a contradiction. If one were successful at removing a person (baby) from society where there are no cultural influences, there would be no "shoulds".

Ah, I may see where the misunderstanding's occurred. By "should" I don't mean in the sense of what society expects us to do, I was using that as a shorthand for "what is morally right". So when you say "there would be no "shoulds"" that's begging the question because it assumes that "what is morally right" is something that can be discovered outside of society, as if it's an external thing (and whether it is or not is what we're trying to determine).

I'm not saying the idea of an absolute morality is definitely untrue BTW (though that's my own personal belief), i'm saying that to assume from the outset that you can discover "what is morally right" in isolation is to assume it has any meaning in isolation which is partly what we're asking (i.e. how do we know "what is morally right", where does it come from - is it just what society decides or is it maybe some function of the human brain, possibly related to empathy OR is there actually an absolute morality that exists apart from human bodies and societies ?).

Which is why

Not an absolute morality. No god. What you learn about "shoulds", you learn on your own.

is a contradiction since if you can learn something on your own when you start off as a completely blank slate (no memories at all, not even the built-in kind that evolution has provided us with) it must come from outside of you (because you start with nothing inside and you're not interacting with other people) which means it's in the world, not in you i.e. it's a real "thing", it's absolute. Or when you say "If the memories and adaptions our species have developed can be wiped out" do you actually mean not quite "wiped out" ? ;)

I think the idea of being completely blank (without, as you say, even our "natural memories") means it then doesn't make sense to say "We would have to truly depend on ourselves for such an encounter." because if we're completely blank and don't interact with others then there is no "self" to depend on (our selves arise from a combination of nature and nurture and you want to remove both from the equation).
It's funny, Saje, because I agree with you.

You say "contradiction", I say "experiment failure". Of course, if our blank-state Active has no interactions of any sort in its isolated state, there can be no determination of what is "right" and "wrong" because there's no action to provoke thought to promote it.

My focus was that if the Active were to walk outside into our world, not only would the experiment fail due to the contradictions of no contact/influence, but that the society the Active is in would eventually assimilate it.

And I aslo agree that there is no absolute morality. We are defined by our experiences and our interactions with others. I can't wait to see how this topic unfolds on Dollhouse.

Back to topic.

Okay, so let's not take an isolated human, but an isolated society. A whole bunch of Actives that live in a jungle somewhere, no radio, no internet, no other humans. Their shapings of "right" and "wrong" would be interesting to see. Would their society view man and woman as equals, or value one above another? What traits in their village (if they had one) would they take pride in? Hunting? Reproducing? Math? Would they live together, or in individual, non-communities?

But, more to the point,

Would it be right for us to judge this society? They're humans, with language, but with different viewpoints on morals (maybe their cannabals). And, if they insist on living in the fringe (like vampires), are we allowed to represent them in their best interests, whatever that may be? What if they took life in the dark and feared the light? What if they ate raw meat (without fire)? If they're accused of vampirism, would we stake them? Would there be any way to tell that they contained a "soul"?
Well that's the practical application of all this philosophising - to what extent should we impress our own morality on others, especially if you happen to think there's no real reason to believe our morality is actually "correct" (in the sense of being the One True Morality i.e. irrefutably right) ?

Course, the reality is, might does make right, even if we do it for all the best reasons. Whenever the state (or other people/cultures) stop an individual or culture doing what they want to do (even what they might be naturally inclined to do) because it's been deemed morally wrong, it's only actually effective because we can stop them i.e. there are more of us or we're stronger in some other way.

In that sense, without an absolute morality we're left with the moral framework being decided by the majority (which I really don't like BTW but it still seems to be true). And so in the Buffyverse, because vampires are vastly out-numbered, "we" can decide they have no rights and so, to all intents and purposes, they don't.

(the same applies to the Bill of Rights BTW, which is a wonderful sentiment but not really based on fact IMO. There's absolutely nothing "inalienable" about any of the "rights" within it, nothing inherent to humanity about the right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness - that's just something the writers chose to make inalienable by definition)

[ edited by Saje on 2008-06-12 10:13 ]
I'm totally sleeping with one of the guys in the band.
The thread is dead, long live the thread !
Oh sweet Jesus. That Murder Rubicon reference zeitgeist dropped in another thread earlier was a self-reference to our fake Whedonesque band. I'd totally forgotten that line of jokes ever even existed.
Well, I still remember how to make tea so whenever you guys wanna get the fake band back together ...

It all seems so long ago, I can't even remember why we fake split-up.
Creative differences, I think. Or that one time the sugar ran out early and we all had bitter tea. Bitter and dark, like our music.
Sure, blame the tea maker - whadda we not have a drummer to pin this stuff on or something ? Besides, sugar in tea makes baby Jesus cry - it's basically like slapping the queen or wiping your arse on the Union Jack.

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