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Dionysus
March 20th, 2006, 06:49 AM
WARNING: IF YOU'VE NEVER READ "WATCHMEN" BY ALAN MOORE AND DAVE GIBBONS AND DON'T WANT TO SEE SOME MAJOR PLOT SPOILERS, THEN READ NO FURTHER. PLEASE SEE ORIGINAL THREAD (IN WHICH THE SAME SPOILER WARNINGS APPLY) FOR THE ORIGINAL QUOTES AS WELL AS THEIR CONTEXT

This thread stems from a discussion in THIS (http://www.onlinedebate.net/forums/showthread.php?t=5579) thread where we were discussing our favorite villains from books, moves, etc. It deviated from the topic when there was a mild disagreement as to who was the "real" villain when the actions of Ozymandias vs. Rorschach from "Watchmen" are compared to one another.

To sum up, Ozymandias, a former "super" hero, is a person of remarkable intellect and influence who secretly engineers a disaster that causes the death of thousands of innocent people. His intention was to to use the disaster and its implications to unite all the rest of the planet under one cause and it works perfectly. He pulls it off flawlessly.

Rorschach is another former hero who is now a considered a vigilante because his actions are no longer sanctioned by the government (the same reason Ozymandias is a former hero as well). He has no sense of compromise or failure. For him, the ends never justify the means and he believes one must never compromise this belief, even if it means the destruction of the world.

In my opinion, Ozymandias is the bigger villian because of what he did. Clive sums it up nicely:


The people that Ozymandias targetted were not threatening him or anyone else; the justification for killing them is therefor specious.

The issue is not numbers, but substance. Killing one person to save two is only justifiable if the means are justified. Intentionally killing innocents is never justified (or else they wouldn't be "innocents"), so killing one ostensibly to save two is obviously wrong. It is exactly that line of thinking that allows jihadists to murder innocents to bring about the "greater good" of Calyphas.But I also agree with Zhavric for reasons that he describes here:


At the end of Watchmen, he's [Rorschach is] ready to restart WWIII because the person who stopped [Ozymandias] it did so by killing half of New York (along with a bunch of ther innocent people). Half of New York is really a small price to pay for stopping America & Russia from nuking one another and the whole world... but it was accomplished through a lie that was sure to spawn a perpetual falsehood.

I think of him [Rorschach] as a villain because his actions sincerly haunt me. What if the horrible actions Bu$h is taking with his presidency are the lesser evil to avoid a far worse fate?Hyde also touches on the subject:


Rorshach infamously states though, "NO! NOT EVEN IN THE FACE OF ARMAGEDDON! NEVER COMPROMISE!" Whereas Ozymandias did the deed and the rest fell into his justification for it, Rorshach was the only one with, to me at least, a humanistic enough viewpoint to say that such actions aren't heroic, but truly villainous. Everyone else compromised and said, "Okay, this looked inevitable so it made sense to sacrifice for the 'Greater Good'." whereas Rorshach seemed to believe, as I do, that there could be a way to stop it without killing innocents.

So, what's your opinion? Obviously, Oz is a bastard for what he did. But is Rorschach any better when he's perfectly prepared to plunge the entire world into war over his unwillingness to compromise? He is willing to send the entire planet into a war that will result in countless loss of life or possibly even the near extinction of the human species, all because a personal conviction that chooses to impose on the world. He would completely undo world peace for the sake of his personal beliefs.

But then there is the New York to consider. Who speaks for them?

What say you?

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 07:21 AM
Obviously, Oz is a bastard for what he did. But is Rorschach any better when he's perfectly prepared to plunge the entire world into war over his unwillingness to compromise?

"Unwilling to compromise in what" is the question. When we compromise our morality just so that we can be comfortable with the status quo, we have failed. If peace comes at the price of denying innocent people the right to live, then it comes at too high a price.

You say that the benefits outweigh the costs: that the deaths caused by WWIII outweigh the deaths caused by Ozymandias, so O is justified. Doing evil in the pursuit of good is evil. Only a coward refuses to do the right thing because it "costs too much".

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 07:28 AM
For him, the ends never justify the means

I agree with your characterization of Rorshach except for the above. Remember who we're talking about here. This is Rorshach who breaks a guy's fingers for information. He breaks into Owlman's house and eats his food. He uses hot grease to defend himself in prison which leads to the prisoner's death.

Clearly, to RORSHACH, the ends justify HIS OWN means, but no one else's.

He has a code of conduct with which he regiments his existence, but isn't above resorting to criminal acts (such as breaking a finger) for the overall good (getting crucial information).

I look at Rorshach as something of a foil to Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan. Spider's motto is the truth at any cost. Spider has a few moral conundrums that face him, but he's blessed with a thoroughly corrupt president who's committed terrible acts. Thus, no matter how bad Spider gets (shooting people with bowel disrupters... murdering assassin secret service agents... etc.) His moral compass is always pointing in the right direction.

Now consider if we took Spider and put him in Rorshach's place. What happens when Spider DOESN'T have a greater good to strive for? What happens when the truth will get millions of people nuked? I think Spider would actually remain silent... but that's mildly off-topic.



I would have liked to have seen Jon (Doc Manhattan) off Ozymandis rather than Rorshach. Oz is guilty of murdering millions of New Yorkers. Rorshach hasn't done anything so heinous and there's no compelling reason to believe anyone would take Rorshach seriously. Remember that in his spare time, he was the guy carrying around the "End is nigh" sign. The only reason I bought the ending is because I was convinced earlier on that Jon is so out of touch with humanity / human behavior / society / etc that he saw killing Rorshach as the only option; he just didn't get that no one would take him seriously.

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 07:32 AM
Rorshach hasn't done anything so heinous and there's no compelling reason to believe anyone would take Rorshach seriously. Remember that in his spare time, he was the guy carrying around the "End is nigh" sign.

Ah. Rather indicative of a certain political philosophy: Take seriously those who murder innocents and blow up buildings, and do not take seriously those who engage in peaceful protest and debate. I wonder what effect rewarding terrorist activity would have on the amount of terrorist acts?

Dionysus
March 20th, 2006, 07:38 AM
"Unwilling to compromise in what" is the question. When we compromise our morality just so that we can be comfortable with the status quo, we have failed. If peace comes at the price of denying innocent people the right to live, then it comes at too high a price.Agreed.


You say that the benefits outweigh the costs:Wha?

I don't think I did. I see it like this:

Oz wants "X". Oz is willing to commit an act that will result in the death of thousands in order to achieve "X". Therefore, Oz sux.

Ros wants "Y". Ros Oz is willing to commit an act that will result in the death of thousands in order to achieve "Y". Therefore, Ros sux too.

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 07:42 AM
Wha?

I was referring to Zhavric's position, not yours. Confusion Man strikes again!

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 07:42 AM
Ah. Rather indicative of a certain political philosophy: Take seriously those who murder innocents and blow up buildings, and do not take seriously those who engage in peaceful protest and debate. I wonder what effect rewarding terrorist activity would have on the amount of terrorist acts?

WTF are you talking about? Booger, myself and others have painted the picture of the corruption in the Bu$h administration, from the lack of WMD's to the Downing Street memo, to the bogus "mission accomplished" and on and on.

If you were alive in the Watcmen world and most of New York had just been killed by a giant space monster, do you think you'd believe Rorshach? Remember he's indicting one of the most trusted names on the planet and contradicting a (literal) huge body of evidence. Rorshach has a journal, a few events that he thinks fits together, and nothing else. He didn't bring anything back from Antarctica. The other people who know are keeping quiet and all the physical evidence that the alien was grown is gone.

Why WOULD you believe him?

Dionysus
March 20th, 2006, 07:44 AM
Confusion Man strikes again!DAMN YOU, CONFUSION MAN!!!!!

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 07:48 AM
WTF are you talking about? Booger, myself and others have painted the picture of the corruption in the Bu$h administration, from the lack of WMD's to the Downing Street memo, to the bogus "mission accomplished" and on and on.

...

Okay...


If you were alive in the Watcmen world and most of New York had just been killed by a giant space monster, do you think you'd believe Rorshach? Remember he's indicting one of the most trusted names on the planet and contradicting a (literal) huge body of evidence. Rorshach has a journal, a few events that he thinks fits together, and nothing else. He didn't bring anything back from Antarctica. The other people who know are keeping quiet and all the physical evidence that the alien was grown is gone.

Okay...


Why WOULD you believe him?

First off, that isn't the question. The question is whether Ozymandias is justified, not whether Rorshach's explanation of O's actions would be believed.

Second, you are introducing superfluous problems. The question of "How do we know that person [x] is telling the truth" is not a MORAL question, but an EPISTEMOLOGICAL one.

Third, I would believe whichever side presented the most convincing argument. But that's irrelevant.

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 07:57 AM
you are introducing superfluous problems. The question of "How do we know that person [x] is telling the truth" is not a MORAL question, but an EPISTEMOLOGICAL one.

That's not what I'm getting at at all. You said:


Ah. Rather indicative of a certain political philosophy: Take seriously those who murder innocents and blow up buildings, and do not take seriously those who engage in peaceful protest and debate. I wonder what effect rewarding terrorist activity would have on the amount of terrorist acts?

It's not a matter of "taking them seriously" because of what they do. I'm addressing the very serious problem that Ror faces: He has no evidence and no credibility. So it's not a matter of rewarding one side over the other.

The issue is why kill Ror when he's not a threat? The only answer I believe as a Watchman reader is that Jon doesn't understand that people won't believe him. Jon sincerely believes that Ror can threaten the peace that Oz has caused.

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 08:00 AM
It's not a matter of "taking them seriously" because of what they do. I'm addressing the very serious problem that Ror faces: He has no evidence and no credibility. So it's not a matter of rewarding one side over the other.

You take O seriously because he blows up buildings. You dismiss R because he doesn't. If R blew up buildings, would you take him seriously?

The question isn't "whose argument is more believable", but "Are O's actions justified?"


The issue is why kill Ror when he's not a threat? The only answer I believe as a Watchman reader is that Jon doesn't understand that people won't believe him. Jon sincerely believes that Ror can threaten the peace that Oz has caused.

The issue is whether O's actions are justified.

The "peace" that O created came at the cost of thousands of innocent lives. Those who do evil in the pursuit of good are themselves evil.

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 08:14 AM
You take O seriously because he blows up buildings. You dismiss R because he doesn't. If R blew up buildings, would you take him seriously?

The question isn't "whose argument is more believable", but "Are O's actions justified?"

Already addressed that. Jon should have wasted him.



The issue is whether O's actions are justified.

The "peace" that O created came at the cost of thousands of innocent lives. Those who do evil in the pursuit of good are themselves evil.

See above.


The more I think about it, the less Jon makes sense to me. He starts out apathetic, leaves Earth for Mars where he decides humanity can get bent, brings his girlfriend there to argue for humanity, doesn't listen to her, but then decides that humanity is worth saving. Then, he comes to Earth, finds Oz, decides ultimately to let him live even though he killed all the humans he now finds precious & unique, kills Rors for threatening the peace which he (moments ago) didn't care about... and then LEAVES so that it all might start over in a few years.

We just sort of accept that he's weird and distant and alien and ignore that he flip-flops around on how he feels about humanity.

If he was going to kill someone at the end, it should have been Oz...

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 08:19 AM
Already addressed that. Jon should have wasted him.




See above.


The more I think about it, the less Jon makes sense to me. He starts out apathetic, leaves Earth for Mars where he decides humanity can get bent, brings his girlfriend there to argue for humanity, doesn't listen to her, but then decides that humanity is worth saving. Then, he comes to Earth, finds Oz, decides ultimately to let him live even though he killed all the humans he now finds precious & unique, kills Rors for threatening the peace which he (moments ago) didn't care about... and then LEAVES so that it all might start over in a few years.

We just sort of accept that he's weird and distant and alien and ignore that he flip-flops around on how he feels about humanity.

If he was going to kill someone at the end, it should have been Oz...

Wtf does Jon have to do with this? This isn't a "All the BS about Watchmen that Zhavric can spout" thread, it's a "Ozymandias vs. Rorshach" thread.

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 08:26 AM
Wtf does Jon have to do with this? This isn't a "All the BS about Watchmen that Zhavric can spout" thread, it's a "Ozymandias vs. Rorshach" thread.

Who kills Rorshach? Doc Manhattan.

Who lets Ozymandias live? Doc Manhattan.

We cannot dismiss his relevance to this discussion as he takes it upon himself to act as judge / jury for both men (and for Rorshach executioner). There's what we think and there's what actually happened in the book... and what we feel should have happened and why. Do you recall why Jon lets Oz live?

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 08:28 AM
We cannot dismiss his relevance to this discussion as he takes it upon himself to act as judge / jury for both men (and for Rorshach executioner). There's what we think and there's what actually happened in the book... and what we feel should have happened and why. Do you recall why Jon lets Oz live?

The central question is whether O was justified in killing innocents to avoid war or not. Why Jon lets Oz live is a question about Jon, not O.

Dionysus
March 20th, 2006, 08:31 AM
The more I think about it, the less Jon makes sense to me. He starts out apathetic, leaves Earth for Mars where he decides humanity can get bent, brings his girlfriend there to argue for humanity, doesn't listen to her, but then decides that humanity is worth saving. Then, he comes to Earth, finds Oz, decides ultimately to let him live even though he killed all the humans he now finds precious & unique, kills Rors for threatening the peace which he (moments ago) didn't care about... and then LEAVES so that it all might start over in a few years.

We just sort of accept that he's weird and distant and alien and ignore that he flip-flops around on how he feels about humanity.

If he was going to kill someone at the end, it should have been Oz...As I recall, Jon was atemporal. The only time he was surprised in the book was when Oz used tachyons to throw off his senses which allowed him to temporarily remove his intrinsic field. Otherwise, to Jon, everything was happening simultaneously. It makes you wonder how he could ponder the decision to kill Ros when he knew ahead of the event what he would inevitably do.

In any case, I agree that he should have killed Oz and not Ros. Ros would be hard-pressed to convince anyone of Oz's plan whether he was dead or not.

Zhavric
March 20th, 2006, 09:37 AM
Ah. Rather indicative of a certain political philosophy: Take seriously those who murder innocents and blow up buildings, and do not take seriously those who engage in peaceful protest and debate. I wonder what effect rewarding terrorist activity would have on the amount of terrorist acts?

Sorry, Clive. I forgot that only you were allowed to muse / go off-topic.

Dion: I just re-read the book a few weeks ago, but I can't remember why Jon lets Ozy live. There's some argument he makes, but I don't remember it.

As for his actions overall, he should have tried to find a way to stop nuclear war without having to resort to murdering half of NYC. You'd think the world's smartest man would have been able to figure that one out...

CliveStaples
March 20th, 2006, 11:41 AM
Sorry, Clive. I forgot that only you were allowed to muse / go off-topic.

How was I off-topic? I was discussing the justness of O's actions. If people reward it, they encourage it; if they encourage it, then they must not disapprove of it.

Dionysus
March 20th, 2006, 12:18 PM
I asked Illuvatar to move this thread here since the 'Watchmen" was listed as a potential "to read" and also because the thread seems to have quickly lived and died in "Off Topic". Maybe we can come back to this thread if we all read the book.

Mr. Hyde
March 20th, 2006, 07:59 PM
More than just their world view needs to be considered. Their character, motivation, actions, and results have to be taken into account as well, as do their affect on those around them.

In the case of Ozymandias you have a megalomaniacal man who believes it in the greater good of humanity to sacrifice a few thousand in order to save a few billion. I can't remember his motivation in fighting injustice, if he even had any, so I can't correctly comment on that area. His actions consisted of lying, manipulating, mass murder, global deception. The result was that mankind was spared some years, and in this case, as he would eloquently explain, the ends may indeed justify the means. However, one may ask, "How do we know? Would the combination of the heroes together be able to front an effort to stop such a threat as world wide death and destruction?" Indeed, an exercise in epistemology that needs to be considered.

Then we take Rorshach. A man of no superhuman ability (to my recollection), but motivated by his witnessing the inaction of good people in a bad world. A motivation summed up in answer to the infamous, "All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing." His actions consisted, again, speaking from memory, of brutality and straight forward aggression to get answers. He never compromised a belief. In the end he shouts, as I said earlier, "No! Not even in the face of Armageddon! NEVER Compromise!" THink about that for just a moment. More than just his prior actions, this speaks of everyone else's actions everywhere in the world and even more loudly it speaks to the heroes accompanying him when the situation is revealed in full.

Rorshach is no super genius. He has no godly moral code as Superman, no vast education to help decipher the world as Batman does, no mystical abilities at all. He's just a man with a belief that, in that moment states, "Killing ten people to save a thousand is not heroism. It's still murder. And murder is wrong." He never compromised.

The case for both men is not a case for, "Hero believes X and pushes X belief on others." It's a case for, "Hero supports Humanity and the Law, and enforces that where others aren't able."

In this case, Rorshach stands up for humanity, for the thousands that died. WHo else would justly speak for them? Everyone else believed it to be aliens. Ozymandias wouldn't speak for them. He spoke for the billions of others. The ones he selectively let live and based on what? What did use to decipher what made the thousands worth less than the billions? The infamous tag across the cityscape of the Watchmen world is something to consider, who indeed, "Watches the Watchmen?"

Needless to say I see Ozymandias as the villain here. Rorshach was no saint, but he didn't commit mass murder in the name of "The Greater Good" either.

Slipnish
March 21st, 2006, 07:35 AM
I dunno what's worse. Debating the morals of a graphic novel, or the fact that so many of us here, are geek enough to have actually read it...

It was good btw...

And for the record, both are villians.

Though I like Rorshach's mask better...

I think killing the innocents, as Clive (maybe somewhere many posts ago) said. Oz's actions are worse only in that they had been carried out. R's plot to cause or to allow events to unfold into possible/probably war because of his inability to compromise is equally stupid, but not an act as of yet....

I dunno. Been way too long since I read the thing. I think I'll have to buy it again... can't imagine where my copy went.... Probably one of my buddies made off with it. Bastards.