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This section was my workspace for philosophy essays between July 2006 and April 2008. I call this "Prehistoric Kilroy" because it gave me practice for more disciplined essays in Kilroy Cafe. Also see my philophical blog and Twitter feed.

Issue #90, 5/15/2007

Super Person Saves the Day! (Chapter 1)

By Glenn Campbell
Family Court Philosopher

[Experimental fiction.]

My main problem right now is Wonder Gal.

She won't stop saying "Or what?" at Child Welfare hearings. Every time she does, she vaporizes another caseworker.

She gets away with it because members of the Super Team have "limited liability." This means that if we accidentally kill someone in the course of saving the world, we can't be sued or prosecuted for it. This is important because saving the world is risky business.

Let's say you stop a speeding train that's racing out of control toward a washed out bridge. By using your superpowers to prevent the accident, you might be saving the lives of 200 people but in the process you could also end up killing one of them. Even though you saved 200 from certain death, the lawyers are only going to care that one dead person and his grieving family. Unless there is some sort of legal protection, which is covered in the Limited Liability Contract (LLC), then a superhero is going to be tied up in litigation forever.

The trouble with Wonder Gal is that she abuses the LLC privilege. She often kills people for no good reason—mostly men but sometimes women who trigger some sort of jealousy thing in her. She fries them with her super sarcasm, which is a superpower you don't read about much in the newspapers. Every time she says "Or what?" at a Child Welfare hearing, we lose another inattentive state employee.

I'm not saying that some of them don't deserve to go, but Wonder Gal is indiscriminate. She'll fry anyone who says the wrong thing, whether or not the world is really being saved in the process. She spews all sorts of sanctimonious rhetoric about how she's "saving the children," but what is her deadly sarcasm really accomplishing? She's creating an environment where no one wants to work for Child Welfare! Which is worse, a neglectful caseworker or none at all? Wonder Gal doesn't understand that in the human world, you have to make compromises.

I have received so many complaints about Wonder Gal that I can't sweep the problem under the carpet anymore. She is threatening the delicate political position of the whole Super Team. If this goes on, we're going to become Outcasts again, and I don't think any of us wants that, even Wonder Gal.

Each of us on the Super Team has our own unique superpowers. I, for example, have the ordinary Superman-type powers: (a) super strength, (b) fly through the air at supersonic speed, (c) indestructiblity (except in the presence of Kryptonite), (d) super hearing, and (e) x-ray vision. (I also have (f) another kind of vision which is harder to explain and that I will get into later.)

I am seen as your standard, All-American, white-bread superhero, more emotionally stable than the rest, which means I am expected to be the leader. What this basically means is that I have to attend more meetings, give more speeches and endure more public flack than anybody else. I am also expected to resolve personnel issues within the team, like the problem with Wonder Gal. This isn't what I want to be doing, but it has to be done.

I didn't get into the superhero business to do administration. I really thought I would be saving people full time. These days, however, there are forms to fill out and hearings to attend. Nine times out of ten, you have to get a person's permission before you save them, and if you save them without permission, there's probably going to be an investigation afterwards. Right now, I spend maybe 2% of my time saving people. The other 98% is spent on bureaucracy, paperwork, politics, law, diplomacy and personnel issues.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm walking a tightrope that no one understands but me. We're not Outcasts anymore. We have more-or-less integrated ourselves with humanity, but there has been a high price to pay. We may have "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men," but most of the time we can't use them. Usually, it is just the threat of our superpowers that gets things done, and, frankly, it is usually an empty threat.

Every time you exercise your superpowers, there are complications. Let's say you save 10,000 children from starvation. What are those children going to do? They are probably going to grow up and reproduce in a few years and create twice as many starving children in an environment that can't even support 10,000. The team has tried to advocate birth control, but that's a political hornet's nest, especially on the American side. We're supposed to be promoting "abstinence before marriage," at least if we expect to maintain our federal accreditation. Gimme a break!

Most of the time, the easiest thing is not to save anybody at all, and sadly that's become our default position lately. I think it has hurt the morale of the whole Super Team. I mean, I can't even get Atomic Boy to come out of the Test Site anymore. He'd rather just sit there and fizzle. He can still blow things up, but it has to be deep enough underground so there's no fission by-products in the air, pursuant to EPA regulations. Even then, there's a public outcry if he rattles the casinos downtown.

Atomic Boy is another one of my personnel problems, but he's not an active problem like Wonder Gal. Atomic Boy just isn't going anywhere with his life. He hasn't saved anybody in years, and he doesn't even want to save himself.

Wonder Gal is my main problem right now because she is actually killing people, and I'm at a loss for how to deal with her. For one thing, I don't know what all of her powers are. She's really cagy about this and likes to keep secrets. I know that she has the power of invisibility when she chooses to use it. I have seen it with my own two eyes—or not seen it, if you know what I mean. Even my x-ray vision can't detect her when she goes into full cloaking mode, but I can still hear her slinking around, especially when she is wearing jewelry. The trouble is, she knows I have super hearing, so she can make accommodations for it. I, on the other hand, don't know everything she is capable of.

When Wonder Gal isn't invisible, she's drop-dead gorgeous, in a cultural norm sort of way. And I mean drop-DEAD gorgeous. She's like cocaine to the average human male, and many of them, quite literally, will walk off cliffs for her. She leads them to believe that they'll get more of her attention if they do such-and-such a daring act, and most poor saps will do it or die trying. That's part of my personnel problem: She's wasting men. She points out craftily that she hasn't actually lied to anyone and has never forced any man to walk off a cliff for her. They all do it on their own. I say, "Yeah, but you're a superhero! You've got responsibilities above and beyond what you can get away with. It's not their fault that you're the perfect genetic specimen. If you've got invisibility, you should use it more often."

She just laughs at me seductively and bats her eyelashes in a frivolous way that, fortunately, I am almost entirely immune to. Wonder Gal's feminine wiles have no effect on me. Or at least very little effect. Okay, I admit that we've had our trysts in the past, but that's just a matter of happenstance. If you are a superhero of the male gender and there's only one available super woman on the whole planet, you're bound to get together. It's like being stranded on a desert island with her.

But this hasn't clouded my vision any. I know she is a killer, and if I have to banish her, I will.

To Be Continued... (Maybe)

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