In a thread I can’t be arsed to link to, someone (probably me) brought up the famous* moment in the Firefly pilot† in which Malcolm Reynolds, faced with the vengeful henchmen of a mob boss he, Malcolm, has just betrayed‡, offers the henchmen back the money he was paid for the job, only to be told that the henchmen plans to hunt him down and kill him regardless. In response, Mal flat-out murders the henchmen by kicking him into the running engine of his ship, which naturally turns him into meat confetti. Here’s the scene if anybody needs a reminder. And here’s today’s question: was what Malcolm did ethically justifiable?
My initial thought was yes, but on a further pondering I’ve decided it’s iffy. Yes, the henchman was a probable danger to Serenity and her crew. But he wasn’t an immediate danger, nor really the ultimate danger; that would come from his boss, Niska, whose name I can’t be bothered to verify the spelling of. The henchman was talking smack, yes, but he is obviously Niska’s man; he does whatever Niska tells him to do, and nothing that Niska forbids. Killing him at that moment isn’t strictly necessary, and does nothing to lessen the danger from the boss. I’m understand why Malcolm did it from a practical point of view, and from an artistic point of view I applaud Joss Whedon’s choice in having it happen – but I’m still not easy about it from an ethical point of view.
How about the rest of you?
- In certain circles.
† Well, it aired first, didn’t it?
‡ For good reason, maybe, but that doesn’t matter with kingpins of crime.