Morality in Watchmen

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:36 pm UTC

USELESS COUNTERARGUMENTS:
Spoiler:
The Great Hippo wrote:1) Why not just shoot him, poison him, or blow him up, 2) Why was he willing to involve secondary hitmen in his other plots but not this one, 3) If this was about penance, why do we have the iconic image of him covered in blood watching Comedian plummet, staring with what seems to be grim satisfaction--and why do we have the subplot about his first defeat at the Comedian's hand (and why is it so close in proximity to his description of his second success)?

Saying "This evidence is probably an example of Moore being dramatic, so we should ignore it" is cheating. What other evidence should we dismiss because it's just Moore being dramatic?

1) Ozy is the best hand to hand fighter in the world. He has never been seen using guns. He may simply be sticking to what he knows he can do. And like I said, him using his hands might have been out of penance. Walking in and shooting him in the head would have been a disservice to someone Ozy has explicitly said to be the source of his resolution, the Comedian's nihilism brought the true threat to humanity into perspective for Ozy. And again, like I said, it may have just been for a dramatic introduction to the comic series. An expert fighter being killed in hand to hand combat with an unknown assailant adds mystery. The reader knows he isn't a typical crook. It's so much better for the comic than Ozy simply walking in and blowing the Comedian's brains out. It may be a cheat, but it is just one of several interpretations. Your interpretation is far from rock solid since every point has possible alternatives. 2) He used a secondary hitman ONCE, and that was to stage his own attempted assassination, something he obviously couldn't have done himself. Every other part of his plan he did himself no matter how minute. He wanted to keep the fewest loose ends possible.3) I do not have my comic on me at the moment nor do I remember any such image of Ozy smiling at the death of the Comedian. If I remember correctly Ozy said the Comedian's involvement was a tragic circumstance, I can't be sure though. But like I said, all of these have many alternative interpretations. The Comedian's death cannot be used for either side of the debate.

The Great Hippo wrote:The smartest man on earth left a fucking riddle that a kid in a middle school history class could have solved as the password on the critical files that would lead them straight to him? Also, he clearly did not intend to kill Rorschach or Nightowl before Doctor Manhattan showed up (either that, or he intended to explain his plot to them in a highly condescending manner, then kill them--either way, pretty fucking vain).

1) He has Rorschach framed for murder and he is aware that Nightowl is out of his game. Nightowl and the Silk Specter deciding to break Rorschach out of prison and continue an investiagion, that Ozy did not initiate, that would lead them to Ozy's office is such a chance occurrence that Ozy couldn't have orchestrated it. For your accusation that his password is the culmination of an elaborate plan to get Rorschach and the Nightowl to his Antarctic base would mean he intended on the Comedian finding out (and killing him despite the Comedian deciding NOT to tell), Rorschach putting all the pieces together, staging his own attempted assassination (for the lulz apparently since he wanted them to find him out), framing Rorschach (apparently also for lulz), predicting that the fat and bloated Nightowl will come out of retirement and break Rorschach out, predicting that they will end up in his office and that they will start randomly typing passwords into his desk computer. It's absurd. 2) His plan had already been carried out by that point. He couldn't be stopped and he knew any logical person would keep it under wraps after the fact even if they wouldn't have let it happen beforehand. And remember, Ozy is still human and these were his friends. He probably gave them at least some chance to live. If they weren't "logical" and decided instead to inform the public, he could have killed them. Unlike the your password argument, the monologuing argument has merit, but there are alternative interpretations.

The Great Hippo wrote:Also, why not kill Nightowl and Silk Spectre after Manhattan has left? Why let them leave alive? Manhattan has expressed his noninterest in interfering anymore; now is his perfect opportunity to make sure his secret is 100% safe (and considering the stakes...). What stops him then?

Dr. M may seem like a true nihilist, but he obviously has emotions and cares for his friends. Dr. M may have been leaving Earth, but had he ever even once came back at some point in the future he would have known whether or not Ozy intended on killing them and would have stopped him before even leaving. Ozy couldn't be sure Dr. M wouldn't come back. After all, Ozy didn't intend on Dr. M coming back the first time. Given Dr. M tied up the Rorschach loose end and Nightowl and Silk Specter agreeing to keep quiet, killing them wasn't worth the risk of justice from on high.


THE REAL ISSUE:
I have already admitted that Moore intended on making Ozy look like a narcissist because of his name because I can't explain why he chose "King of Kings". Besides for the idea that he intended on people finding out about his plan, all of your arguments are at least possible interpretations. As I have said, I now merely argue that Moore's message was that Ozy's motivations were gray given his interview at the end of one of the later chapters where he says he believes anyone can attain his physical and mental abilities through shear determination. Ozy is objectively stronger and faster and more intelligent than any other human, and I believe that Moore tried to communicate the narcissism that would go along with that position that is usually ignored in superhero characters like Superman. However Watchmen not only tackles the psychological repercussions of true superheros but also matters of what is moral. Ozy is also supposed to represents moral pragmatism, which wouldn't be true if his motivations were nothing but his own vanity. The way I see it now is that Ozy is a satire of Superman and the complaints lodged against most superheros. Why do these beings with so much power fight petty thugs? And doesn't being objectively BETTER than everyone at nearly everything make one a narcissist/elitist by definition?

If you believe that one life shouldn't be sacrificed for millions then it doesn't make sense for me to argue with you about Ozy's motivations as you will never accept the logic of moral pragmatism. So I'll ask you, if there were a 99% chance that a million people are about to die and only a 1% chance those million people would die if you killed one of those million people yourself, would you do it? If you answer no for any reason then we must agree to disagree because the numbers don't lie, one should act.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby mosc » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:11 pm UTC

I'll make a couple points

1) I totally agree that Ozzy was intended to be super narcissistic. I also like the comment about comics generally ignoring human nature for such a mismatch of physical and mental prowess compared to "normies" leading to superiority complexes. Superman may not be the best example because he ain't human but whatever. I'd note that comics do touch on it for their villains quite often but you're right, heros rarely deal with it.

2) Ozzy wanted to be the hero of the world. He wanted to do it on his own as much as possible. I think this plays into his motivations for several actions. Whenever possible, he did things on his own. Yes, he used indirect methods to kill nightowl etc but he can't be everywhere at once. The comedian was too big a risk and too strong to trust to others.

3) I agree he wanted witnesses to his awesomeness. He wanted the watchmen to watch him save the world. The comedian got in his way, but the others he toyed with. I agree, the password is too illogical to be anything but a choice plant to bring witnesses up. The whole "he can't kill them because it would have happened after the tachyon exposure" argument holds no water. He could have killed them the instant they landed if he chose to. The whole area was littered with cameras, there's little to indicate that it wasn't also littered with defenses.

I don't remember the diary's ending that clearly but I thought it more directly implicated the timing of the catastrophe and the reasons Ozzy was implicated.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:22 pm UTC

mister k wrote:But as I've said before, I don't see that it was the only plan. As you've now conceded, Ozy is basically a walking ball of hubris and that implies to me that, were he not, he might come up with a better plan. One that potentially involved Dr Manhattan, rather than potentially antagonising him, which had the result of driving the planet even closer to nuclear armageddon.

I don't think claiming Ozymandis as evil is sensible, but I won't brand him as good. Those who perform moral calculus with so much ease are more than a little disturbing.

1) I would not use the words "walking ball of hubris" lol.
2) He only had the one plan and time was up. The world was literally going to end the very next day if he had not activated his machine. Even if he was full of himself, he would have chosen the least morally reprehensible option. The fact that he chose the one that killed millions means he had no other options apparent to him. One has to keep in mind, he is nothing more than a moral pragmatist in a unique position, he isn't Hitler. You seem to have as good a grasp on that as anybody though.

As I said in my last post, Ozy's seemingly narcissistic personality is to be expected of someone who is faster, stronger, and smarter than practically everyone on Earth. He supposed to represent a superman, or an uberman if I'm not misinterpreting Nietzsche. Afterall, Watchmen is a superhero satire. Rorcharch represents the deluded insanity of absolute justice, Nightowl represents the feeling of impotence an everyday guy would go through after retiring from superherodom. Dr. Manhattan represents the social detachment that would go along with losing one's humanity. The Silk Specter represents... being a girl :? ? And Ozymandias represents the absurdity of superheros fighting petty crime in the face of much deeper troubles humanity faces by unleashing the horrors of moral pragmatism in otherwise impossible situations.

However, this thread isn't about Watchmen as a satire of superheros. The topic we are supposed to be discussing are the moral perspectives represented in Watchmen. This however has been muddied up with Moore's intentions of making every character represent several things and make sure every character seems deeply flawed. We are at a crossroads in the discussion.

WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHERE WE GO FROM HERE:
I created this thread, but far be it from me to redirect something that we have all made our own. So I'll ask you guys. Should we focus on Watchmen as a satire of superheroes and drop the discussion of conflicting moral perspectives? Or should we drop Watchmen and discuss various moral perspectives like pragmatism? I honestly can't see us effectively straddling both topics without each of us resorting to darting in between subject matters to fit our ill-defined and ever changing arguments.

Things to start disusing for each topic choice:
Watchmen as a Satire - If every superhero in Watchmen represents some aspect of being a superhero, what the heck does the Silk Specter represent?
Moral Perspectives - What does one think of the morality of action versus inaction when one is in a unique situation to help? For example,
Spoiler:
One is in an elevator with an unconscious baby that is becoming increasing blue in the face. You have some adult CPR training that leads you to strongly believe that the child is suffocating due to a blocked air passage and that the child will almost certainly die if nothing is done to help. However, you have no infant CPR training and an attempt to dislodge the obstruction my inadvertently crush the baby to death. On top of that, if the child dies due to your attempt you may be sent to jail for attempting something you had no training in. Do you risk your own freedom and take actions that you believe are this child's only chance at survival; or do you take no action in hopes of avoiding possible incarceration, save yourself the guilt of crushing the child, and allow the child to suffocate?


And why can't I use red text? :( Can I use other colors?

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:55 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Ozzy wanted to be the hero of the world. He wanted to do it on his own as much as possible. I think this plays into his motivations for several actions. Whenever possible, he did things on his own. Yes, he used indirect methods to kill nightowl etc but he can't be everywhere at once. The comedian was too big a risk and too strong to trust to others.

Anyone else he used would have been a loose end. I don't see any reason to hold the level of his involvement in his own plan against his personality when a perfectly logical reason is there to explain why he did nearly everything himself. And killing the Nightowl? He didn't kill either Nightowl. The first Nightowl was beat to death by a gang of hoodlums.

mosc wrote: I agree he wanted witnesses to his awesomeness. He wanted the watchmen to watch him save the world. The comedian got in his way, but the others he toyed with. I agree, the password is too illogical to be anything but a choice plant to bring witnesses up. The whole "he can't kill them because it would have happened after the tachyon exposure" argument holds no water. He could have killed them the instant they landed if he chose to. The whole area was littered with cameras, there's little to indicate that it wasn't also littered with defenses.

1) I believe he killed the Comedian because he found out about the plan BEFORE it was carried out. The reader knows the Comedian wasn't going to tell anyone about it, but he killed him nonetheless. Ozymandias knew the Comedian's outlook better than anyone. It was the Comedian's outlook that changed Ozymandias perspective on humanity's troubles. The Nightowl would have spilled the beans (beans... Rorschach... symbolism?) had he known about the plan ahead of time, but Ozymadias knew Nightowl wouldn't risk the world ending by telling everyone the attacks were a hoax simply because of his sense of justice. Rorschach would have told everyone regardless and he died for it. The clear distinction between who Ozy killed and who he let live was whether or not they found out before the plan had been put into action. There is no other reason he would kill the Comedian and not the Nightowl.

2) His password might have been obvious, but for it to be considered part of Ozy's plan to lure them to his base solely to have witnesses, then it must also be true that he orchestrated a ridiculous number of events. The entire plan would need to include purposefully letting the Comedian find out about his plan to avert war, killing the Comedian (he kills the witness he supposedly wants apparently for nothing but lulz), let Rorschach get on the case and contact all the Watchmen alerting them something is up only to frame Rorschach for murder and get him put in prison (again for apparently for nothing but lulz), try and get rid of blame by faking his own assassination attempt (which is the opposite of what he supposedly wants to do), assumes the fat and out of practice Nightowl will break Rorschach out of prison, and then hopes that despite all his actions Ror and Nightowl make it to his company office and start typing in random passwords. It's ridiculous. The more likely scenario is that Ozymandias is still human despite his intellect and thus makes mistakes. That said, he obviously wasn't expecting company in Antarctica and thous wouldn't have had death-lasers installed under every snowflake. Surveillance systems are standard of every compound, especially when they are owned by the richest man in the world.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby mosc » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:24 pm UTC

Why do you go so far with it as to say he had to have arranged all that? I just said he wanted to be tracked down. There's a difference between that and planning everyone's involvement out in full detail. I think the piece about him loosing to the comedian before was to give him motive for wanting to kill the comedian independent of his plans to save the world. He seems to hold the other watchmen in high regard, the closest thing he has to peers. He does not seem to want them dead or incarcerated.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Why do you go so far with it as to say he had to have arranged all that? I just said he wanted to be tracked down. There's a difference between that and planning everyone's involvement out in full detail. I think the piece about him loosing to the comedian before was to give him motive for wanting to kill the comedian independent of his plans to save the world. He seems to hold the other watchmen in high regard, the closest thing he has to peers. He does not seem to want them dead or incarcerated.

If I want someone at my birthday party I don't rely on my friends cracking into my computer files to find out my birth date and help them along only by making my password the name of the location of the nuclear bomb test depicted on the poster above my computer. How would Ozy rationalize his deduction that making his password easy means the Watchmen will come to his Antarctic base? Why go to all the trouble of trying to get rid of suspicions and put Rorschach in jail only to expect the Watchmen to end up in his office? Hell, the cleaning lady would more likely to stumble upon his "evil plan".

And simply losing a fight against the Comedian doesn't seem to outweigh the reverence Ozy has for the Comedian due to the Comedian's role in shaping Ozy's outlook of the world.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jan 27, 2011 11:16 pm UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:1) Ozy is the best hand to hand fighter in the world. He has never been seen using guns.
...
He used a secondary hitman ONCE, and that was to stage his own attempted assassination, something he obviously couldn't have done himself. Every other part of his plan he did himself no matter how minute. He wanted to keep the fewest loose ends possible.
Uh... that's not true at all.
OZYMANDIAS wrote:No one will know. Those involved are all dead, killed by killers who killed each other, a lethal pyramid...
Last time I checked, you need more than two people for a pyramid. Also, either Ozymandias hired a killer to kill Moloch (meaning he hires killers) or he shot him himself (meaning he shoots guns). So, yeah. Either way, nope.
SpazzyMcGee wrote:Walking in and shooting him in the head would have been a disservice to someone Ozy has explicitly said to be the source of his resolution, the Comedian's nihilism brought the true threat to humanity into perspective for Ozy.
Ozymandias blows up a boatload of innocent artists without ever so much as meeting any one of them; why isn't this a disservice to them? Ozymandias describes Edward Blake as "practically a nazi", and later reveals his suspicions that he assassinated JFK. After describing his initial defeat at Blake's hands to Nightowl and Rorschach, Ozymandias tells them that he decided then and there that the next time he fought Blake, it would be on 'my terms'. Does this sound like someone who respects Blake or someone who is holding one hell of a mother-fucking grudge?

Keep in mind, Ozymandias doesn't just kill Blake. He beats the man into a fucking pulp. The imagery is gruesome, and deliberately so; Ozymandias could probably have dispatched Blake in a relatively painless way, but he decided to kill him in a very violent, very agonizing, very personal way. Why do you think that is?
SpazzyMcGee wrote:1) He has Rorschach framed for murder and he is aware that Nightowl is out of his game. Nightowl and the Silk Specter deciding to break Rorschach out of prison and continue an investiagion, that Ozy did not initiate, that would lead them to Ozy's office is such a chance occurrence that Ozy couldn't have orchestrated it. For your accusation that his password is the culmination of an elaborate plan to get Rorschach and the Nightowl to his Antarctic base would mean he intended on the Comedian finding out (and killing him despite the Comedian deciding NOT to tell), Rorschach putting all the pieces together, staging his own attempted assassination (for the lulz apparently since he wanted them to find him out), framing Rorschach (apparently also for lulz), predicting that the fat and bloated Nightowl will come out of retirement and break Rorschach out, predicting that they will end up in his office and that they will start randomly typing passwords into his desk computer. It's absurd.
I agree, it's absurd that you think that's what I was claiming.

I only was pointing out that Ozymandias may have selected a soft password in an unconscious hope that his incredible duplicity would be discovered by someone; someone he could then give his splendid speech to and then kill (or not, if he had reason to believe they wouldn't rat him out or wouldn't be believed even if they did).
Ozymandias wrote:Dr. M may seem like a true nihilist, but he obviously has emotions and cares for his friends. Dr. M may have been leaving Earth, but had he ever even once came back at some point in the future he would have known whether or not Ozy intended on killing them and would have stopped him before even leaving. Ozy couldn't be sure Dr. M wouldn't come back. After all, Ozy didn't intend on Dr. M coming back the first time. Given Dr. M tied up the Rorschach loose end and Nightowl and Silk Specter agreeing to keep quiet, killing them wasn't worth the risk of justice from on high.
Doctor Manhattan clearly states that Laurie is his one remaining tether to this world and the only person he still cares deeply about; it's strongly implied that the US government is aware (see the government agent's conversation with Laurie when Manhattan leaves; her job description is to be his anchor). Ozymandias stole these files for his psych evaluation on Manhattan; he's aware of this. The only person Ozymandias has to avoid fucking with is Laurie; everyone else is fair game. Until Laurie and Manhattan shows up, he isn't even aware she's going to be there.
SpazzyMcGee wrote:And simply losing a fight against the Comedian doesn't seem to outweigh the reverence Ozy has for the Comedian due to the Comedian's role in shaping Ozy's outlook of the world.
...'reverence'? Yeah, uh, you might want to reread the conversation at the end.
SpazzyMcGee wrote:If you believe that one life shouldn't be sacrificed for millions then it doesn't make sense for me to argue with you about Ozy's motivations as you will never accept the logic of moral pragmatism. So I'll ask you, if there were a 99% chance that a million people are about to die and only a 1% chance those million people would die if you killed one of those million people yourself, would you do it? If you answer no for any reason then we must agree to disagree because the numbers don't lie, one should act.
This is irrelevant in a discussion about Ozymandias' motivations. If you're a moral pragmatist, then why he did what he did has absolutely no relation on whether or not what he did was right. From a utilitarian's point of view, whether or not he's a narcissist has no impact on whether or not it was the right call.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:01 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:This is irrelevant in a discussion about Ozymandias' motivations. If you're a moral pragmatist, then why he did what he did has absolutely no relation on whether or not what he did was right. From a utilitarian's point of view, whether or not he's a narcissist has no impact on whether or not it was the right call.

It matters because if Ozymandias is ridiculously narcissistic he might of rejected other plans in favor of one that kills millions simply because the latter involved him more. Ozymandias' plan must have been the ONLY option to warrant such horrible losses.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:21 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:It matters because if Ozymandias is ridiculously narcissistic he might of rejected other plans in favor of one that kills millions simply because the latter involved him more. Ozymandias' plan must have been the ONLY option to warrant such horrible losses.
Do you understand how Ozymandias could be driven by pure and absolute narcissism yet still make the correct decision? A true moral pragmatist doesn't care about intentions; they only care about results. These two questions-- "Was Ozymandias a narcissistic sociopath"--"Did Ozymandias make the right call"--are wholly separate issues. I've mostly been addressing the former, not the latter.

Frankly, I don't think the story contains enough information to address the latter. It's deliberately left ambiguous ("I leave it in your hands").

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:20 pm UTC

first of all, great graphic novel, great movie.
i agree, most of these posts seem to be about the characters personalities and not the moral questions themselves. to suggest there were alternatives to the choice to kill millions or nuclear holocaust kinda negates the whole point. yes, if there were other options then all these people were just self centered douches. no one is debating that. (well, some people were debating that) i think from a moral stand point rorschach was the only one with a leg to stand on. he did kill people but only people who were deserving. it just seems to me that in a choice between the good of the many outweighing the good of the few there really isnt a moral side. and thats pretty much what i got out of it. in fact morally, i think, if its just in human nature to be so destructive the morally right thing to do would be nothing. just let them all f-ing kill themselves. like dr.m said theres no physical difference between a dead person and a live person, you're just taking away human intent and emotions from the equation (which are majority negatively anyway, right?) rorschach seemed to be the only true nihilist cause he really didnt care about the people one way or another, dr. M was on the right path but he really did care about the silky sperctre, which is the only reason he decided to do anything at all.

i dont know, and even if they werent on the verge of nuclear holocaust Ozy still saw the need (or just really wanted) a united planet which would save billions either way and uniting us against aliens and super beings was probably the only way...right? (and i say "right?" cause if i'm wrong i would like to be informed) but in doing so he did mutilate all human morals if that is what it takes just for us to get along morality seems pretty useless.

but the way i see it, if all life is extinected on the planet, the universe doesnt notice, morality is no longer a question, rorschach for the win.

[snip]

- Az


and some people dont seem to understand the concept that dr. m doesnt see the future, he experiences his whole life all at the same time. its a cool idea but since we could never experience it for ourselves its hard to say what effect it would have on us mentally and emotionally.
Last edited by bloatyspizzahog on Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:29 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:27 pm UTC

bloatyspizzahog wrote:i think from a moral stand point rorschach was the only one with a leg to stand on. he did kill people but only people who were deserving.
People he decided were deserving. Readers always seem to forget that he was seconds away from killing or otherwise seriously harming someone because she lied about him on TV. He only decides not to because he sees her children, and feels a rare moment of empathy.

Don't feed the trolling

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

If your intent here is to be a dick, you're well on your way towards success. However, that should not be your intent.

- Az


rorscach may have acted immorally. but morals are subjective of course and as long as he saw what he was doing as right, then as far as i see it he was sticking to his morals.
no compromise.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

bloatyspizzahog wrote:rorscach may have acted immorally. but morals are subjective of course and as long as he saw what he was doing as right, then as far as i see it he was sticking to his morals.
no compromise.
Should we also ignore the fact that Rorschach was incredibly inconsistent and often contradicted his own moral code? Or would that be cheating? How does him seeing what he did as right equate to him sticking to his morals? If I say 'murder is wrong', then murder you because I see it as right, am I sticking to my moral code? Is 'sticking to his morals' a password for 'doing whatever the hell he wants so long as it feels good'?

I will never understand the respect Rorschach gets. Fantastic character, but inconsistent, contradictory, hypocritical, and morally repugnant to the core.

Edit:
bloatyspizzahog wrote:no compromise.
Yeah, about that: Rorschach compromised the fuck all over this story.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:27 pm UTC

rorscach may have acted immorally. but morals are subjective of course and as long as he saw what he was doing as right, then as far as i see it he was sticking to his morals.
no compromise.


His moral code wasn't I should do whatever the fuck I want, so its entirely possible for him to compromise his moral code.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:10 pm UTC

i love the topic. i think its very interesting and we could all learn a lot and its a great opportunity to see things from different points of views.
but i can see why its not a lot more popular cause its seems people just want to take one line from someones elses post and just say its wrong usually without saying how and really usually not putting examples from the story. (this is not a challenge to prove me wrong about the preceding sentence lol) although mr the great hippo had a good point about ozy using a gun to kill moloch but that wasnt to murder moloch, it was to frame rorschach. it was kinda an empty argument. but i do respect the fact you brought it up just to make the other guys statement seem less valid. well played.
i'd like to hear your ideas on morality of these characters in the situations they find themselves in.

rorschach was a sociopath. i mean clearly. it couldnt be more obvious how crazy he is. thats mostly why i like him so much, i think, just in my personal, as it relates to me, (so no point in arguing this to me) he is the most interesting character. its painted right on the front of his face. we're all looking at the same thing but we all see it differently. from what i got out of the novel he believed in everything he did. and was unwavering in the face of total annihilation. thats what i respect.

this of course being a fictional universe and since we didnt create it these are just opinions. you'd just be wasting your time by dissecting my statements. but you're obviously very clever judging by the fact how well you argue. so i would like to here you're views on these characters and their actions.

[snip]
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:02 pm UTC

bloatyspizzahog wrote:but i can see why its not a lot more popular cause its seems people just want to take one line from someones elses post and just say its wrong usually without saying how and really usually not putting examples from the story. (this is not a challenge to prove me wrong about the preceding sentence lol) although mr the great hippo had a good point about ozy using a gun to kill moloch but that wasnt to murder moloch, it was to frame rorschach. it was kinda an empty argument. but i do respect the fact you brought it up just to make the other guys statement seem less valid. well played.
I... buh? That was brought up explicitly because SpazzyMcGee claimed that Ozymandias 1) Didn't use guns, and 2) Didn't hire other killers. The Moloch example proves one of those statements to be absolutely wrong (not to mention the quote from Ozymandias where he mentions all the hired killers he just finished killing...).

SpazzyMcGee was pointing out that Ozymandias wouldn't stoop to having the Comedian killed for these reasons; I was addressing how these reasons don't stand up when you examine the text. That's how this works: You make a claim, support your claim with evidence, and then we all get to throw rocks to see if we can knock it down.
bloatyspizzahog wrote:rorschach was a sociopath. i mean clearly. it couldnt be more obvious how crazy he is. thats mostly why i like him so much, i think, just in my personal, as it relates to me, (so no point in arguing this to me) he is the most interesting character.
Oh, I agree, he's an immensely interesting character, and I think that (from the perspective of a reader) he's my favorite. I just get confused when people think that he applied his morality consistently; he didn't. Allen Moore goes so far as to even draw attention to the fact that Rorschach is inconsistent (do you think Rorschach's worship of Truman is just a coincidence? Compare Truman's situation concerning the use of nuclear arms with Ozymandias' situation).
bloatyspizzahog wrote:this of course being a fictional universe and since we didnt create it these are just opinions. you'd just be wasting your time by dissecting my statements. but you're obviously very clever judging by the fact how well you argue. so i would like to here you're views on these characters and their actions.

not that i wouldnt love to argue endlessly about our interpretations, i just get enough of that offline.
That's the thing; it's not really much of an interpretation when it's clearly there in the text, highlighted in red. People arguing that Rorschach is consistent--that he sticks to his own moral code--it's like arguing that the orcs in Lord of the Rings aren't supposed to be evil. They cut down trees, bleed black blood, and murder children in the night. They're evil.

I mean, I'm all for a little wiggle room when it comes to interpretations, but there's such a thing as an interpretation that's just flat out wrong--that completely ignores what's actually in the text.

Edit: Also...
bloatyspizzahog wrote:from what i got out of the novel he believed in everything he did. and was unwavering in the face of total annihilation. thats what i respect.
Now here's the part where we get into some wiggle room.

I don't think Rorschach was meant to be a heroic character; he's more effective as a tragic character. In the end, he refuses to compromise on one point, and pretty much knowingly commits suicide (asks Manhattan to nuke him). He's crying as he does this, peeling off his mask.

I think it's pretty clear that, for Rorschach, merely existing brought him untold amounts of anguish; he had a painful life and he couldn't deal with the world as it was. I don't think he was unwavering in the face of total annihilation--I think that, secretly, he welcomed it.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby mmmcannibalism » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:40 am UTC

Oh, I agree, he's an immensely interesting character, and I think that (from the perspective of a reader) he's my favorite. I just get confused when people think that he applied his morality consistently; he didn't. Allen Moore goes so far as to even draw attention to the fact that Rorschach is inconsistent (do you think Rorschach's worship of Truman is just a coincidence? Compare Truman's situation concerning the use of nuclear arms with Ozymandias' situation).


Isn't that covered by the fact the the nukes used in world war two were used in a defensive* war to save the lives of the defending. Especially considering that Rorschach doesn't seem like the guy to object to total war if the war was justified?

*japan shot first, so fighting against japan is a defensive action.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:06 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:Isn't that covered by the fact the the nukes used in world war two were used in a defensive* war to save the lives of the defending. Especially considering that Rorschach doesn't seem like the guy to object to total war if the war was justified?
I don't think Alan Moore would refer to Truman and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during Rorschach's arc unless he wanted us to consider the parallel; destruction of a city to justify the ending of a war. Whether or not the use of the nuclear bomb was justified as a means to end the war is also a contentious issue (and was coming under fire during the period when Watchmen was published, no less).

Rorschach mentioning his worship of Truman as a hero isn't the only reference, for example; the image of two silhouettes embracing one another (which is another reference to Hiroshima) makes Rorschach notably uncomfortable.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby bloatyspizzahog » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:48 am UTC

[snip]

rorschach didnt want to die. he didnt welcome death. he knew he had to stick to his moral beliefs and couldnt keep the fact that ozy killed millions to himself.
and he knew dr. m wasnt gonna let him go tell on ozy. he knew he was gonna get exploded and that there was no other outcome. i'd be sad too.

and spazzy was just saying when it came to ozys choice of dispatching of people he preferred to use his bare hands, he said this cause people asked why ozy wouldnt just shoot the comedian (and he couldnt hire a hit man cause the comedian was still too bad ass). of course when it comes to complex plans involving setting people up the obvious choice would be a gun for that specific scenario. it doesnt mean ozy goes around shooting people. it was just a necessity.

its been a while since i read the book, could you enlighten me on some examples of rorschach doing things he didnt think was right, and maybe later regretted.(for example he thought murder was wrong but killing a murderer was fine cause they were guilty people who would only continue killing if not stopped permanently). like i said before dont tell me this doesnt make sense to a reasonable person, cause he is in fact out of his freakin mind. i was just saying from what i remember he had a twisted moral code but he stuck to it. he thought killing millions of innocents was wrong. it doesnt matter if it could save billions. it doesnt matter if the only alternative was extinction. killing millions of people is wrong.

and i would like examples from the time after he became rorschach because i consider that to be when he cemented his ideals and truly became rorscach. thank you

edit: and the other guy is right about using "the bomb", it was a war time scenario which they attacked first, they were actively trying to destroy us and it was in the defense of the american people. unlike ozys plan to preemptively wipe out millions of innocents all around the world to save people from their own fear and stupidity. again, i can see the flaw in the logic but i can also see how rorscach would see one as right and one as wrong. and thats what we're really talking about.at least i am.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby mister k » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:35 am UTC

I suspect Rorscach follows his own moral code, but I'm not sure how thats a meaningful statement, seeing as his moral code is pretty much that he is a force for good and most others are not. He'll happily snap innocent people's fingers, commit vigilante justice, threaten to murder elderly private citizens, break into people's homes, wound policemen who are only doing their jobs... He never expressly gives his moral code, but it does seem to be that justice flows from him. He's deranged, and attributing morality to a deranged sociopath probably isn't a good idea.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby workover » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:23 pm UTC

The way I interpreted this was all the watchmen were sides of the same coin (or dice...). The message was that there is no inherit morality or eternal truth. Dr. Manhattan was, for all purposes, God. This showed us that a God wouldn't know what we should do any better than us, and probably wouldn't care what we do. Just because you have great power doesn't mean you care for everyone you affect, or (more importantly) even know all of the people you are affecting. No matter what kind of power you have you are still just a person(living being) and your actions are subject to judgment and criticism even though you may feel that you are correct. I believe Ozy thought he was doing the "right" thing and had honestly thought that the other Watchmen would applaud him, or they weren't as powerful as him so their opinions don't matter. All of our opinions are of the same value, some of us are just better at enforcing our opinions and carrying out our own plots. The moral dilemma at the end of the movie is just to show us that there is no such thing as an eternal ethic code. It is always up to our own interpretation. Does our own moral code matter? Rorscach thought so, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre chose happiness over their moral code. Perhaps the truth is that everything is impersonal, what happens happens and everything will move on.
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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby Azrael » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:09 pm UTC

Several edits and a few posts have been removed. I'd like to remind a few of the regulars not to be baited quite so easily.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby Algrokoz » Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:54 pm UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:
To start off let's discuss the morality of Ozymandias' plan. Was it right of him to kill tens of millions to save humanity or was Rorschach right?

First off, i don't really think the book sets Rorschach at odds with Adrian in the first place. They both are do-whatever-it-takes personalities, but for Adrian social morals are subjective whereas they are not at all to Rorschach. Rorschach's problem wasn't that he killed millions of people, only that among those millions, there were surely people innocent of such a punishment*. However in the spirit of the post, I feel that we are now sufficiently removed from the question to answer it historically as well as philosophically. Historically, was Adrian right? No. His obviously had too little faith in humanity in general as we (in the real post-1985) did not end up killing ourselves. Furthermore, I SERIOUSLY doubt that his plan would have addressed the many other forms of human blackness like child prostitution and blood-diamond slavery/murder. So, yeah, not the best idea. Philosophically, was he right? A more difficult question as there are certainly situations where you have to play the numbers game. But I personally don't think his judgment that this was one of those times was a correct one.

Now, the more interesting question is, given that we must now accept Adrian's gambit as a fact at this point, who made the right decision, Rorschach or Dan? Is it okay to compromise your moral valuations in the name of peace and harmony? Or is zealotry the answer?

To address the similarities with Hiroshima, it's simply really. Rorschach is only a bare step above an animal. In his mind, the Japanese attacked us; they deserve retribution. But the people in NYC were not offenders in his mind. He has no moral qualms about killing millions of people in one blow, but they have to be people that HE thinks DESERVE it, however misguided and imbalanced that judgment is.

You have done an excellent job systematically demonstrating that your desired means of participating in Serious Business is to reply to the first post of old thread, disregarding all intervening discussion. This is ... problematic and should be curtailed. Meaningful participation in this section involves responding to more than just the first post.

Otherwise, welcome to the forums, please read the forum and Serious Business section rules at your earliest convenience.

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Re: Morality in Watchmen

Postby piki » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:44 am UTC

Moral norms. We need them to fight chaos, to retain order and stability, ultimately our survival, survival of our genes. They are norms, something commonly established, not something absolute. Because we cannot have absolutes. We cannot have perfect information, and if we had it, we would need unimaginable processing power to sort it out.
And the biggest problem of all: if we would be 100% certain (perfect information and perfect processing) that some (moral) action results in some (good) outcome we still have to agree what is 'good'. Good for us? Our family? Our community? Our species? It's survival? Life on earth? Life in universe? Universe itself? Because giving something to 'someone' means to take it from 'someone' else. Basic physics. It's simply not determinable and therefore, arbitrarily chosen by majority as a common notion.

Moral norms dictates what is right thing to do in certain situations. Common situations, situations where information we have seems perfect, probabilities seems close to 100%, we don't try to estimate much more that few steps ahead (in a never-ending chain of (deterministic?) consequences) and collateral damage seems negligible.

Wherever we complicate things, add significant collateral damage, more uncertainty, more causal steps, more actors, and generally larger stakes, stakes to big for one individual, things get complicated, big debate arises. It's not that morality is too hard, it's just too ambiguous in general, and many have a hard time to accept it (that is the way it should be!).

It depends on intelligence. Moral norms are established by people with average intelligence, average perception of: available information, probability, consequences and causality, average notion of 'good' outcome. We also break most of that norms with our own perception of their importance. People with low intelligence can end up to have 'screwed up' or 'wrong' moral norms as perceived by anybody else. People with high intelligence can also end up to have 'screwed up' moral norms, as perceived by majority, and all people in general probably already have 'screwed up' moral norms, as perceived by some theoretical even more advanced/evolved/intelligent alien person etc... ending with (theoretical) god himself.


Rorschach illustrates danger in moral rigidity, Ozymandias danger in moral superiority, in dealing with stakes too high for one person alone, no matter it's intelligence (which IS in practice, fairly limited, in this world or Watchmen's), Dr. M danger in not caring (being the person with most powers to actually do something with minimal damage, amplifies that).

I think that, in reality, we have to be aware that morality is many shades of gray but that shouldn't stop us from trying to make it (want it) more black and white, although, not in a way 'no matter the costs'. In reality, we are hoping never to encounter difficult moral choices, and if we do, we do our bests knowing that we may be utterly wrong in the end and even if we end up being right, it may not be appreciated at all.


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