Friday, February 12, 2010

Iron Man v. Captain America

Spencer Ackerman takes the side of the Civil War-era Tony Stark in the somewhat-silly spat between Marvel and the Tea Party movement. Ackerman's argument is on point, as far these things go.

But Ezra Klein then jumps aboard and things get a little screwy. Klein writes:

I'm not even sure what the case for the other side is, and the libertarians I've asked haven't been able to come up with one. If the state has any legitimate function at all, it's to train and regulate people who could accidentally kill everyone in a hundred-mile radius.

I wonder what a certain Charles Xavier would have to say about that. Klein may not realize it, but he's going way past Tony Stark and into the territory of Sen. Kelly's Mutant Registration Act. Does Klein really think that (in the imaginary, superhero world) the government has an imperative duty to register anyone with the power to inflict massive damage on society? First of all, how massive is massive enough to count? (Switching universes, would Bruce Wayne cross the threshold, even though he's a non-meta-human?) But most importantly, what if the mutant with this ability doesn't fight crime, but just works a day job at Innertrobe? Should they be forced to register with the state? (As Erik Lensherr might ask, should they be required to carry papers, too? And maybe a distinguishing marker of some kind?)

Maybe. Maybe not. But surely there's a reasonable case to be made for the idea that the government shouldn't require a citizen to register with them just because the individual has special powers.

By the by, without having though too deeply about the subject, it strikes me that it's difficult to be pro-Superhuman Registration Act (Tony Stark) without also being pro-Mutant Registration Act (Sen. Kelly). Not impossible, certainly. But not trivial, either. Despite Stark's protestations, requiring a hero to register with the Feds and take a couple classes is not exactly like getting a driver's license or buying a handgun.

1 comment:

jjv said...

This reminds me of the 70's "Kung Fu" days when some schmo trying to be intimidating would say "these hands are registered as lethal weapons with the FBI."