Monday, August 27, 2007

To kill a child


For one, thanks to you all for the birthday wishes. But now that all the birthday jazz is over and done with, back to the matters at hand.

This will be one of the more difficult questions I've ever asked. Look at the child in the center of this photo. Take a close look at him. If you had the opportunity, would you kill him? Better yet, imagine the following scenario:

You're a time traveler. You travel back to 1910 Austria. As you enter a local bar, you find yourself seated directly across from a young man who we'll call Adolf. This Adolf character is a relatively quiet young man, but at the time he seems friendly enough. Raised as a Catholic alter boy, he is now an aspiring artist. This guy has never even picked a fight with anybody before; much less started a world war that killed millions of people. He buys you a drink but then excuses himself to go the restroom. While he's away, you pull out the vile of poison you intended on using. The question is: do you? Do you kill a man for something he hasn't even done yet if it means saving the lives of millions of innocent people?

What do you do?

- ACL

19 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Cynthia said...

Whoa! Tough call. I think I'd be inclined to do it, but only after I tried to get into his head first. I would probably strike up a conversation with him about Jewish people, politics, or some other thing just to get him going. From there, showing him the error of his thinking. But if I had to poison his drink as a last resort, I think I might do it.

But who knows? Maybe the minute Hitler was killed, somebody else would slip in and take his spot.

Interesting question! Much needed for a Monday morning!

Hope you had a good birthday, by the way!

Diane J. said...

Depending on how long I was there, I'd try to influence his thinking by sharing all I could of the gospel with him. Otherwise, I'd do nothing.

How could I justify killing him while breaking the "Thou shalt not kill" commandment myself? The end does not justify the means.

Plus, by judging Hitler, I place myself equal to God. I am not God, and although I may not understand His ways, I know that He has a plan and His reasons for allowing things to happen.

If God had not allowed it, Hitler could not have done all he did. I don't understand His reasons, but there's a lot of things I don't understand.

Anyway, that's my reasoning on the matter.

Love and hugs,

Diane

Nic said...

What do I do? I wonder where the child's parents are as he shouldn't be inside a bar.

All joking aside, if one is going to hold somebody accountable for their potential actions in the future (or is it the past since we're saying that I'm a "time traveler") then one is implying a belief in the existence of fate, & not a belief in free-will. If that's the case, then one better be damn sure that fate exists as nobody sane would want that type of blood on their hands. Also, in a world where fate trumped free-will, wouldn't the question of "What would you do?" be moot?

In any regard, if I remember correctly, "Minority Report" ended w/ the termination of the "Pre-Crime" division, and as much as I hate to use a Tom Cruise flick as an example of a society learning a lesson, it did make a point (plus it was a decent flick, Tom Cruise aside).

-n

J. Alex said...

I saw an episode like this on the Twilight Zone (the newer ones; which sucked horrendously compared to the Rod Serling series). The time traveller successfully killed the Hitler baby along with herself. But in doing so, the housemaid replaced the baby with another she bought from a gpysy. This alternate child wound up being THE Hitler. As Cynthia mentioned, history has a way of occuring no matter what.

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
First things first. Happy Birthday my friend! I'm sorry I'm late, I just got back from vacation. This is a real dilemma. On one hand, I believe in Eastern Philosophy, so I believe I am responsible for my own actions no matter what other people do and should be judged on them. However, I also believe in confronting evil and as a good person I believe I have a responsibility to not let people get hurt if I can stop it. I think I would have to do what is right and kill a man I know would kill far more. Even though, since he hasn't committed the crime yet, I will have to answer for it. I guess the way I would have to justify my actions in my own mind is to think of the hundreds of thousands of kids I would save and not the one I would kill. Truman had to face the same decision, and I do think he made the right one. Once again I turn to my favorite quote, "All evil needs to prosper, is for good people to do nothing."

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

This is a tough one.I think though I would kill him if I was sure what his future actions were.

Andre said...

Interesting responses. I asked about this hypothetical situation not taking into account all of the circumstantial details that you all included. So let me try this again without all the other "what ifs" (I admit, it's hard to do especially when I'm asking a "What if" question to begin with). You're sitting across from a young Adolf Hitler. You know that he's going to become the man he was. You have the power to stop him right then and there by killing him. Do you?

For you guys that answered, would your responses remain the same?

J. Alex said...

Andre, I can't speak for everyone else, but this one is difficult to answer just because of the options you leave. You make it seem like it HAS to be option A; kill him or option B; let him walk out and become the murderous Hitler. You rule out the possibility of any other interventions; making your question difficult if not impossible to answer.

Nic said...

So you made the cover of the Flint "urinal", errr, excuse me, the Flint Journal. I would've scanned it & posted a link for all of the out-of-towners here, but sadly, ½ my lunch ended up on your face. ;)

-n

Andre said...

@ J. Alex: I suppose you're right. I guess that's one of the drawbacks of asking hypothetical questions and expecting yes or no answers. I mean, only Sith Lords deal in absolutes anyway, right...? :)

@ Nic: I just noticed the article myself. I'm not a huge fan of the Journal myself (too "Pro Williamson for my liking), but I absolutely adore Shena (Abercrombie). Frankly, I don't think the Journal deserves her. She's a gem. I'm prepared to shank anybody who says otherwise.

HeiressChild said...

hey andre, i've been thinking about this since yesterday. i really wouldn't want to kill anyone for any reason. even if i were writing a t.v. show with this plot, i might try to think of another way out.

maybe going back could alter the circumstances without me having to be the one to destroy someone's life. even playing, i don't want to be the killer.

on another note, you're in a magazine there? i know i'm all up in yours and nic's conversation, but i want to see it.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Had more time to think about it and my answer is wavering. I kept thinking that God intervened and killed whole cities to protect Israel but somehow that seems like a different scenario. Dare we take someone's life because we think it is God's will? Sounds borderline insane. Isn't that what psychotic killers say? So, I guess I am saying that I don't have the conviction to kill Hitler in your scenario.

I note that I have read of at least one prominent Christian Theologian who would never think of taking a life but after seeing the evil of Nazi Germany actually said that he would kill Hitler if he had the chance to bring all that suffering to an end. Sorry I can't remember his name.

HeiressChild said...

like LGS, i kept thinking about the cities/people that God destroyed too, but since that was God directly doing the acts, that's different; so i stand by my previous answer.

Andre said...

The question came from a movie I have called "The Last Supper". Don't be fooled by the title. It's not about Christ. Rather, it's a dark comedy about a group of liberal roommates who invite clearly Conservative guests over for dinner, engage in discussions, and -- if they can't change their guests' minds, they kill them. The point of the movie is to show how extremists on either side can be dangerous and how MOST Americans tend to be drawn to the middle. They use the Hitler question to decide whether they would commit an act as extreme as murder to make the world a "better" place. To kill if the ends justify the means.

The more I think about it, the more I say that I'd let Hitler walk out alive. Like LGS said, people kill because of idealogy all the time; but they usually get labeled as wackos. Unless, of course you're the President of the United States. In which case, war and death are somehow justifiable. But I digress...

Each time I think I have an answer, I only find that I'm further away from one.

Andre said...

Oh, before I forget: Sylvia, Nic was referring to an article about me that made our local paper. It was about the work I did in New Orleans. No big deal. Though I HATE the picture they used...

HeiressChild said...

andre, i saw that movie about 2-3 yrs ago. now, i'm very careful about whose home i go to for dinner.

i also read the article about you on joslyn's blog. what a nice honor, even though i know you didn't help out for the recognition. congratulations, even though you may not want it.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

You know after reading some of these responses. I would have to agree with many of them.

Before reading your post I knew who the child was, I think it was the way he was standing. If you look at Hilter as man he has that same posture.

I do not think I would kill him, because as one poster stated, it could very well be that someone else would end up being Hilter and doing his deeds anyway. I think I would look what is around Hitler as a child, how coud I influence him with the time I had. I do not believe that we are born bad people. However, I do believe that we are taught behaviors that ultimately mold who we become. Of course, I also believe that as we become adults we choose our path. We can do as we were taught or be something better or worse; free will.

Somewhere in Hitlers life there was horrific events that created a monster and by the time he became a man it was to late and he was not strong enough to change his fate.

HeiressChild said...

i liked the way inside our hands/outside our hearts looked at it.

Andre said...

@ Sylvia: "i'm very careful about whose home i go to for dinner."

As long as you don't drink from the blue pitcher, you should be OK. :)

@ Inside/outside: "I do not think I would kill him, because as one poster stated, it could very well be that someone else would end up being Hilter and doing his deeds anyway. I think I would look what is around Hitler as a child, how coud I influence him with the time I had."

You raise an interesting point. I think that many people seek instant and emphatic solutions to problems. Rather than trying to do the difficult job of engaging with a person like Hitler, many people tend to want a quick, easy, and effective solution. They would either kill him or let him walk and let things be as they'll be; myself included. But one thing I'm starting to see a little differently now is that getting to know a person, listening to them, and discussing their his ideas with them; while often too time consuming and patience-testing, is the good indication of a person's character. Being able to do that is where the REAL test is.

Welcome to my blog. Hope to cross paths with you again!