Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pointless Question #57

This one may potentially fall into Pointless Debate: What do you think about Super Registration Acts if the real world suddenly started producing supers?


MWchase said...

Well, if we had one, I wouldn't want any space-Guantanamo stuff going on.

Supers start bringing in fantastic aesops when people try to draw parallels, because, if you think about it, it would be kind of like gun licenses. Um, if the guns were empathic weapons permanently fused to your body.

Narratively, and often causally, superheroes are in some way responsible for the existence of supervillains, so I think I'd prefer a preemptive crackdown on vigilantism, with increased emphasis on training law enforcement officials. Unfortunately, those decisions correspond to the Oppressive Fascist Police State direction of narrative, which brings up a weird sticking point: narratively, the best course of action in a comic book is that which sells more issues by keeping the heroes in action. In real life, our well-being isn't tied to circulation figures.

But then again, maybe supers could be deputized or recruited into law enforcement. Which brings up something I was wondering... Alter-egos are meant to protect the family of the super from retribution. How come cops never have to do this?

(By the way, it looks like the coding I have set out for myself might be like pulling teeth. I can't figure out how to use 3D stuff with python, at all. Not in a 'it's so unintuitive!' sense, in a 'Seriously, what is the module called?' sense.)

Don said...

As long as they don't turn Tony Stark into a complete douche for no apparent reason and result in an overly self-serious series of events wherein people nobody cares about die and which are eventually resolved in the lamest anticlimax ever, sure.

Stogoe said...

I think that as long as you're not using your superpowers for 'good' or ill, you don't have to register. Peter Parker can have spidersense and climb walls, and not use his powers and be a normal guy, but the moment he webs a guy to a lamp post or holds up a bank, he's fair game. As a private citizen, you've got no authority to go beating up bad guys.

Anyone who wants to be a 'superhero' would have to be an official of the government, because vigilante-ism is pretty obviously untenable for a peaceful society.

Of course, 'supers' could work as private security or licensed and bonded bounty hunters/PIs, too but "supering without a license" would have to be a crime.

And just think of all the property damage that 'supers' get up to in the comics. You'd have to be monumentally stupid to fight crime without some sort of safety net to cover accidental property damage, which again pretty much blows anonymous crimefighting out of the water. Otherwise, you get nabbed by the cops on an off night, go to prison for uncountable charges of battery and willful destruction of property, and then owe tens of millions of dollars to everyone in the city when you get out of prison.

MWchase said...

I hope that's what I was trying to say.

There are some subtleties, like good Samaritan laws, but it would be somewhat odd to pull that off anonymously.

MWchase said...

Wait, no, that wasn't what I said. What you said is more right than what I said.

Rhoadan said...

Stogoe's got some good points. One thing that I never thought about until I played a DC Heroes game where the PCs were super EMS responders was that a lot of supers have, shall we say, unique medical issues.

Even absent a formal registration act, a medical database on supers might be necessary so that medical personnel can deal with those issues even if they've never had to treat that particular super before. How this would affect, or be affected by HIPAA is not exactly clear.

Tom Foss said...

In the real world, superpower registration is just a good, necessary idea. Like I've said before, when you take on a privilege that puts other people's safety in your hands--driving, owning a gun, teaching, practicing medicine, serving food and alcohol, etc.--you are required to be trained, licensed, and periodically monitored or re-evaluated. If a mutated gene gives you the ability to control the weather, then you should have to receive training in how to properly use that ability, and be given a license after you pass appropriate tests about safety and procedures and laws regarding such abilities. Using those abilities recklessly should get you fined or censured or arrested, like anything similar.

Hell, metahumans should be required to wear MedicAlert bracelets to inform EMS about their abilities, weaknesses, and special needs: "Allergies: Kryptonite, magic. Medical conditions: impenetrable skin."

The danger, of course, is in the databases. Any supervillain could use the usual identity theft procedures to find out everything about a given hero's name, weaknesses, and so forth. That'd be a danger, but I think the licensing and registering would render moot a lot of the masked vigilante stuff anyway. Plus, many of the villains would likely have their abilities registered as well, which means it'd cut both ways.

The issue with how it's presented in comics usually revolves around secret identities, evil government organizations, unregistered villains, and a perceived privacy right to be a costumed superhero. The real-world situation simply couldn't keep that up.

By the way, in thinking about this post, I realized that "Red Dawn" was the 'real-world' equivalent of JLA's "Tower of Babel"--the villains get a hold of the heroes' specific registration information, then use it to preemptively eliminate any resistance. In JLA, it was Batman's files on ways of taking out the various Leaguers, in "Red Dawn," it was the records of registered gun owners.