Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Anit-Registration Papers: Part II, Safety

Why do we submit to the government? As a species, and certainly as a nation, people value their freedom; however, humans almost universally submit to government authority and the rule of law. Why? Many people argue, but the basis for our American union comes from John Locke's social contract where people sacrifice total freedom to secure the rights to "life, liberty, and property." Implied within these rights is the essential right to freedom needed to maintain these essential freedoms. Unfortunately, another essential part of human nature is violence. No matter how much progress we may make as a race, war, murder, and general acts of violence refuse to leave us alone. Particularly when we get scared.
People fear nothing more than what they can't understand, or things they don't know which is the reason we fear anything from the dark, to a shark, from people of other orientations to people of other nations. Imagine how scared people might get of someone biologically or accidentally empowered with abilities that made them definitively different. If white supremacists have a problem with someone who has brown skin, how will they feel about someone who occasionally has green skin? I don't think I have to explain the horrendous actions that hate groups can act out, but let's consider what happens when groups are convinced that some different poses a threat, consider what happens.
Why do homophobes act violently against gay people? No, not the religious objections, why do people assault, injure, kill, and torment someone from the LGBT community? For the authors two cents, throwing boiling water on my lover and myself seems like something that convinces a gay person that straight people are kind of crazy. There has to be more to that than a simple belief in a higher power, it is a fear for the things one knows and has always known. Why did the white middle class fear the entrance of the African-American community? Because tradition of the time dictated that they were unintelligent, and violent. Imagine if there was a group of different people who could do literally anything. Not in the figurative way where someone can work their way out of poverty to a better life, but as in the little boy sitting next to you might be able to manipulate the space-time continuum. In the Marvel Universe, that has been a reality.
Consider the X-Men (I know I've brought them up, shut up). More specifically, think about the Sentinel Program. The Sentinels were the result of Congress skipping the registration step and getting straight to the hating. The Sentinels were super-powered robots specifically engineered to seek and destroy mutants, regardless of their ability. Maybe it was an Omega Class like Phoenix or Professor X, but as I've previously mentioned there are also some mutants who posses the magical ability to not get off the couch to change the channel. If the representatives of the people within the cannon are willing to pass that plan, along for action instead of passing a budget or something, what would happen if they had their targets already marked? Magneto's fears might prove accurate.
Among the dark moments of Marvel is Magneto's backstory as a survivor of the Holocaust. Those were just people that a small angry man convinced Germany were harming them and their blood. If we live in a nation where people can be convinced to go to war across the world because a guy on cocaine thinks we should, than what will happen when some random guy in sunglasses has unstoppable lasers come out of his eyes.
I know what everyone reading this is thinking, what about the people who might get hit by said lasers? I will never say that isn't a relevant concern, but no one has the right to assume that might be a problem. Cyclops can keep his vision contained with quartz sunglasses, and a threat that isn't acted out isn't really much of a threat at all. Let's look at the Second Amendment.
Any way you look at it, a gun is a threat to someone or something. Even with a responsible owner, accidents can happen. Guns are designed to inflict damage on, if not kill something. Those are not humans. People need to be treated equally, and to ask people to risk their safety without reason is a true violation of basic rights. People are people, not weapons. Maybe they can hurt someone, but so can absolutly anyone else. Now, let's say you do see superhumans as weapons.
Certain people aren't allowed to bear arms, but the average person can, and even then, a person chooses to buy a gun. I don't just wake up one day with an AK in my bed. I would register it, because I am choosing to gain the ability to be dangerous. The average superhuman might not be a threat, and they certainly don't want to. That's like forcing me to take an AK and then routinely checking the rounds. Iron Man is the worst person to talk about the necessity of registration. He is free from the concerns of regular heroes. He chose to have powers, he makes his abilities, and he really doesn't need to worry about anything happening to him, or the people he loves.
That is the final security to be wary of, the security of the people around the powerful. If you're worried about spoilers, don't read any further, but know some bad things happen, and potentially in Civil War itself, and remember there's a reason the family of the President's family also gets Secret Service protection.
Tony Stark has nothing to worry about. He has enough money and influence to protect himself and Pepper. What about a poor high school student, someone like Peter Parker. In the Civil War plot line of the comics, as soon as Spider-Man shows his true self, Aunt May dies. While the stereotype of superheroes would suggest that they have no one to lose, every hero has someone close. Daredevil has Foggy. Hawkeye has a wife. Thor has Natalie Portman. V, also has Natalie Portman. Even if a hero has power that could be a threat, the revelation of their secret identity could hurt the powerless people who just happen to be in the lives of a mutant. As a billionaire arms manufacturer, Stark might be able to ensure the protection of those around him and himself beyond his powers. The average person, and therefor the average superhuman, can' t.

I would like to imagine that the presence of superhumans wouldn't scare people toward violence, but looking at the world around me, and the world contained in the Marvel Universe, I can't. If they don't give a reason, superhumans shouldn't be considered a threat, and so they shouldn't have their safety and the safety of those around them jeopardized.