Apr. 16th, 2015

A while back, I expounded upon the Jesus Problem*. The short of it is being so certain of a subject's goodness that one is willing to accept or attribute actions to the subject that would otherwise be identified as evil.

It seems that there's a mirror image in what I'm going to call Instant Evil. For my thinking on the name, imagine the packaging that says "Instant Evil: Just Add Evil". Here is the means of making a subject (or position) evil via the addition of evil.

A few months back, the show Sleepy Hollow provided an example. The antagonist, Walter, had a plot to awaken the latent magic talents of a town that had a solid population of the descendants of witches. Note: One element of the show is that witchcraft isn't evil and neither is magic. The means of awakening these talents would be the use of the sound of a specific bell.

Almost immediately, I figured out that this would be a good idea. Simply display the magic, ask for volunteers to enter a soundproofed room. Employ the bell in those controlled circumstances. Result: More evidence of magic. Simple but, perhaps, not incredibly fast.

Walter's idea, a plan that remains when his mother defects to his side, is to use the bell on an entire, well populated area, without any warning to anybody. The consequence identified in the show would be uncontrolled and, inevitably, result in casualties. The consequence not identified in the show was that this would make magic users and witches out to be terrorists.

No indication was given that the awakening of latent magic talents could be viewed as a good thing by anybody not willing to cause unnecessary casualties in order to accomplish it. Shouted aloud by the show "Awakening latent talents is evil!" with the unstated essential of "so long as you go about it in an evil way".

There has to be antagonism, in order for there to be conflict. And, said conflict can't be resolved by anything so simple as a concept so basic that I thought it up on the fly. (Really, I'd be surprised to hear that the majority of viewers didn't come up with a similar idea with similar alacrity.)

This is a problem for which I see far more examples in real life, none more glaring than the issue of LGBT rights.

Several conservative evangelical churches are self-identifying themselves as an analog to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. They oppose LGBT rights. Dietrich Bonhoeffer opposed the Holocaust. And, yes, there are claims that marriage equality will lead to the rounding up and killing of Christians.

That means that LGBT rights, which they view as evil, can't be called evil on its own, no matter how much they feel it. So, in order to make it evil, they have to add in the Nazis. There's an intense irony there, that just seems to go unnoticed by its enactors.

If you feel that something is evil or even just morally suspect, make that case on its own. That's both for fiction and for non-fiction. You can't prove something is evil by adding evil.

* http://wingedbeast.dreamwidth.org/3214.html



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