I dont do this very often in this column, but this week, its almost required. Over the past several years, Ive attempted to show a few of you (especially Brenda) how the law overlaps and can affect each of us in our everyday lives. But over the weekend, I found a website that discusses how the law can come into contact with the most extraordinary lives those of superheroes.
The website, www.lawandthemultiverse.com, discusses how people with superhuman power can legitimately make oodles of money while using their powers without breaking any types of law, and, if said superhero really doesnt care about personal liability, what will happen to them if they rescue five hostages, but destroy the entire city of Des Moines while doing it.
I know, I know. Usually, we have some sort of person with extremely, some may say otherworldly powers, and what are they going to do within society? Should we ask them to sublimate their powers so they can go about living life like a regular, average Joe for the rest of their lives?
On a side note, I would use my powers, should I have them, for everything. I would use super speed to get where I needed to go ASAP. I would use my powers of super strength to get all sorts of things done to impress people and to get jars open. I would use my powers of persuasion and/or foresight to make myself super, super rich.
However, this site really makes you think about having superpowers in todays society. When I was a kid, superheroes could do whatever they wanted without fear of liability. But recently, a number of movies have attempted to make the issue of superpowers, and the harm that said powers can do, a central issue to the plot.
In The Incredibles, the family had to go into the superhero protection program so that they would not be responsible for the collateral damage associated with stopping evildoers. There was an episode of Futurama that conveyed the same message the most important reason to have a secret identity was not to protect those that you loved and who loved you, but to prevent the inevitable civil lawsuits from piling up do to your exploits. In Watchmen, the government passed legislation preventing anyone from putting on a costume to fight crime under the theory that said law would discourage vigilantism.
Continuing, your super speed would run you afoul of basically every moving violation, in every state, known to man.
Your super strength would run you the risk of killing people and destroying tons of property just within the course of doing your duties. Forget about going out one night and have a few pops. Imagine the resulting damage from your drunk flying, drunk texting, or drunk smashing stuff around.
And then, lets just think for a moment if you have some sort of power that allows you to read other peoples minds, or to see into the future. Believe it or not, there are laws on the books that make it illegal to use those types of talents to your advantage. Sure, these laws usually refer to people that have inside knowledge of the outcome of any type of game of chance or sporting event, and it wouldnt be a very difficult task to connect someone reading someone elses mind, or going into the future, to ensure that the law applies to them.
In any event, its an interesting site to see what would happen to people if they indeed possessed super powers. Believe it or not, I used to think about this a great deal as a kid as I read through my dozens of comic books, and was surprised that no law enforcement agencies would ever stop said superheroes and throw them in jail for the sheer amount of damage they caused doing their super things.
Mind you, it would appear as though the danger said superhero was protecting us from far outweighed the damage the superhero committed.
Sure, I was (and still am) a huge geek for thinking this way, but it always seemed to me that the superheroes got off pretty easily when it came to this type of stuff.
Who paid for all of the carnage? Did the governments around the world just pass the hat around until all of the repairs were made? Or did insurance companies gladly accelerate the claims process so that the payouts would be received and the damage erased by the next months comics?
All good points, and I guess well have to wait for next weeks funny papers to learn the answers.
Christopher Markham writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.