Episode 464: It’s Not Murder, It’s Justice

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Zombie Cliche Lookout: Justified Killing?

We’re going to continue along the justice train in this episode, where we ask that perennial zombie survival question: is killing ever justified? Let’s tackle the obvious first and assume that, in cases of true self-defense, then the action is justified. But what about when your life isn’t on the line? How about situations where a wrong needs to be righted, but there is no longer any law enforcement to do the job? Or how about when someone is a potential danger, and you worry that letting them lose will just give them an opportunity to attack you down the road? Where do you draw the line?

In most zombie stories, this comes down to what kind of person the main character is. If it’s a traditional hero, they’re not going to kill unless they have to. Gritty dramas might make the killing something that needs to be done, but that the hero doesn’t relish. And then there are the anti-heroes, who just kill and don’t worry so much about justification.

About this Episode:

It’s been bothering me for a bit know that Clem’s name hasn’t yet been mentioned in the comic, so I was pretty happy to find an excuse to use it.

Also, I’m playing around with my lighting setup a bit, so you may notice some differences here. I’m not sold on the new setup just yet, but one thing that I really like is that the shadow cast by Clem’s hat is more pronounced,which makes him look more threatening.

Discussion Question: So, Is There Justifiable Killing?

I’m sure you all saw this one coming: taking a queue from the zombie cliche lookout, do you believe that there is just thing as a justifiable killing? Again, let’s completely ignore self-defense, since that’s sort of a special circumstance.

13 thoughts on “Episode 464: It’s Not Murder, It’s Justice”

  1. I’m leaning towards no on this one. If the rule is that if you kill someone you get killed, doesn’t that just lead into that eye for an eye until everyone is blind kinda thing? Not sure what I would do personally in the situation that our group is in now.

    Spelling mistake: ‘do you believe that these is’ should be ‘there is’

    • Good thoughts here, and thanks for pointing out the typo. I’ll fix that.

      And yes, I think you would run into the danger of “everyone is blind” thing with that line of thinking.

  2. Regarding the discussion question: This is essentially a case of morals. If the moral feeling of the group is that someone intentionally killed another person in the group then they have to decide if they want to put up with that person being in their group any more. Since society in this fictional zombie apocalypse is falling apart, it is up to the survivors to decide how to deal with unwanted persons in their group who have done morally wrong things in the view of the group.

    • Right you are, BV. So you’re saying this should be a group decision, and that would make things more fair?

      On an unrelated note, glad to have you back around. Watch out for those cyclones!

  3. It depends on the situation. If the person who killed had a reason, i.e. it was in the heat of the moment, or their logic was otherwise impaired, and it was obviously a one-time thing, then there’s no good reason to kill the killer; punish them, of course, but if they’re otherwise healthy, you may need their help later.
    On the other hand, if the killer is just simply disturbed or a danger to the group somehow, then it may be justifiable to put them down for the good of the group. In an ideal situation, such a person would be put into a mental institution to receive treatment, but in an apocalypse, that’s not an option, and the group likely can’t afford the burden or distraction of restraining and caring for the disturbed person. It’s a cold stance to take, but in that kind of world, logic has to win out over emotionalism and sentiment if you’re going to maintain long-term survival.

    • Interesting thoughts Darg. When it comes to heat of the moment/impaired logic, how do you know if that will happen again?

  4. The question is less about morals and more about practicality in a zed apocalypse. Currently most societies can afford to care and house those who commit crimes. With Zeds around and no law enforcement and limited supplies a dangerous person or just an uncontrollable one would need to be eliminated from the group.

    Banishment may sound like a good idea but since this is probably a death sentence also you really just have the choice of killing them or locking them up and caring for them. Its not like they would come back with a militia and a tank.

    • Very logical response here.

  5. This is a tricky one, Justified killing apart from self defense would seem to involve one of the following.

    Euthanasia (hes bit and hes gonna turn so we gotta put him down)

    Assassination (I have a chance to take out someone who presents a
    real threat but not at that particular moment)

    Survival (He has something I need to survive but he wont share)

    Punishment (He committed a terrible crime)

    #1 is a no brainer,

    #2 is highly situational

    #3 is just plain wrong but there may be some who can see a set of
    justifiable circumstances. IE. We have a group memeber who needs
    antibiotics, the guy in question has plenty but wont sell or trade any
    unless we give in to a completely unreasonable demand like letting
    him keep a 13year old girl we have in the group as a wife/slave.
    That guy I would drop on the spot.

    #4 is really tricky. I always remember one of my favorite lines from Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring

    “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

    Still, Sam killed an un-armed man and that is very had to justify.

  6. Well the situation at hand is a bit tricky, they want justice but there is no justice system so the only thing they can think of in the situation is to kill him or throw him into the street which would likely kill the person but in a more painful way.

    And as a side note revenge killing isn’t the best option, taking the sagas as an example there was a guy who in the end had to kill himself to avenge his brother in law(I think)

  7. I reckon this is something The Walking Dead TV series is doing well to portray.

    Back in season one when Maerle got left on the rooftop, season two when Rick, Herschel and Glen end up saving Randall, and what happened next. In season three when they came across the prisoners, and season four when Tyrese and Carol were faced with the situation with the older sister.

    I think the one that hit home the most for me was the Tyrese/Carol one, “just look at the flowers” although that could be because it is freshest in my mind.

    In my mind it is always going to be a debate with different people as to what is “justifiable” when killing someone, as different people have different opinions, history, outlooks on life, that sort of thing.

    • *Merle

      Where did that a come from? 🙂

  8. Unfortunately, absolutely. In a ZA world, my daughters come first. If you’re a danger to them? You need to go. I don’t know if I could do it, but I would hope so.