Fictional Ethical Dilemma

Loosely based on a subplot in a current TV series. And if you have seen the show or know the plot, ignore that fact.

So, here is the fictional ethical dilemma:

A person is directly responsible for the genocide of 1000’s of people. The families of the victims are calling for his execution.
That same person has a special healing gift that can cure deformities in the womb, allowing newborns to born and grow up healthy.
The person is sorry for what they have done in the past and wants to continue to help heal.
Do you execute them for past crimes?
Or do you protect them for future healing?

Define directly responsible. I know the show, and that was more of a “failure to act” than “directly responsible through his action” issue.

Since letting him continue to heal (on the show) IS essentially a death sentance, I’d let him go on with his work.

Even so, I’d let him go on with his work. Healing others is better pennance than the revenge of execution.

(Death penalty supporter btw)

Heal. Why would you punish society for his wrong-doing?

Aha! I found the other 4400 fan on this board!

IIRC, he was not directly responsible, but instead “stood by and did nothing.” So I’m not sure exactly how culpable he was.

In any event, the show solved it quite nicely, so there you go.

OK then, so between you and butler185, so much for my “ignore the fact if you have seen the show” suggestion. So screw it.

I asked this question to my SO during that episode of 4400. Seemed pretty silly to me to want to execute a man who supposedly had a way to cure all diseases in the womb. I mean, no matter what had happened, a potential cure for all future generations? Seemed pretty cut and dry to me.

Of course, the real show on the 4400 wimped out and didn’t come out on either side of the fence.

Hell, I would have let Idi Amin live free in Beverly Hills if he could have provided insight into the the cure for cancer or something as major as that.

Well, I haven’t see the show, but I knew what show you were talking about because I’ve seen a lot commercials for it. I don’t know any of the details of the episode, though.

Anyway, I would think that regardless of whether he was directly or indirectly responsible, if he was tried and found guilty of their deaths, he should remain in state custody, forfeiting his freedom and have to use his powers for good. Whether he is sorry for his crime or not doesn’t enter into it. If he’s guilty, he becomes a tool of the state for the good of mankind.

If he was aquitted, then he should be free to go and do what he wants including using his powers as he sees fit.

Believe it or not, 40 years ago this was the plot of a classic Superman comic book.

Lex Luthor was serving a life sentence in prison. He discovered a cure for cancer and gave it to the world. In gratitude, he was paroled.

He then built a 1960s style death ray and murdered Superman with it.


Just one or the other? Let him live, of course. Executing him does no good.


Nope. John Coffee was innocent. Not quite the same. In this scenario, the healer could be considered partially responsible for what happened.

Give the victims’ families the information about the healing power and allow them to decide whether the killer lives or is executed (take it to a vote). That way, their bloodlust can be responsible for the baby deaths or deformities.

P.S. Personally, if I were in that voting pool, I’d spare the bastard. But others may disagree, and they’d be the ones having to live with themselves.

It ain’t spelled the same

I knew that, but I couldn’t remember how it was spelled.

First, an aside: my husband and I (should I call him Crichton?) were watching this, and I initially got the impression that the doctor was tricked - at the time, he thought the police truly wanted to make a safe haven, and only when they came back with the militia did he realize what would happen, but didn’t do anything to stop it (like a single unarmed person could have done anything at that point.)

But that didn’t make sense with how batshit Tom went over it, and how guilty the doc felt. Hubby had interepreted that the doc knew what the evil plan was and voluntarily (kinda) sent out the safe haven message anyway. That certainly jibes better with the emotions in the ep and the general consensus among the characters that he was culpable for causing deaths, though he didn’t directly kill anyone.

Anyway, I said that even if I hated the guy with every cell in my body, I wouldn’t want him executed - that’s just stupid. Given that he feels guilty and wants to make amends, put him in prison for life and make him heal as much as possible. It’s a harder question if he’s unwilling to heal unless certain conditions are met, though. How far would you indulge him? That I don’t know.

Finally, is it just me, or was this a very poorly cobbled-together episode? It felt like the writers were all over the map. Nice to see Garret Dillahunt working though!

The same basic plot was used in a season 1 ep of Babylon 5 (alien war criminal has immortality serum - what do you do?). Answer: it doesn’t matter. The Vorlons will just show up anyway and kill her.

I’m against the death penalty, so I’d let the guy live anyway. If he can heal unborn babies, that’s a great bonus.

Hijack- I missed most of B5 when it went to cable. But, my family and I were struck by how much the Narn holy rituals sounded like a cantor singing in Hebrew. Did you notice any similarities in the chanting styles?

And The war criminal

revealed that she wasn’t giving humanity the serum as a form of atonement. The serum could only be made by killing humans. She was sure that it couldn’t be synthesized. She would give the serum to the human race and we would slaughter eachother to make more.