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Law and the Multiverse 92

Posted by timothy
from the canna-break-the-laws-o'-physics dept.
An anonymous reader writes "jwz posted a link to this intensely nerdy blog co-authored by two attorneys who write about applying real-world law to comic books. Example topics include Mutants and Anti-Discrimination Laws (a three part series!), Is Batman a State Actor?, and Federalism and the Keene Act."
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Law and the Multiverse

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  • by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:08PM (#34445334)

    And yet you decided not to be an expert and spend time doing other things yourself.

    You don't get to dictate how other people spend their time.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:40PM (#34445512)

    Not to mention "The Incredibles."

    I mean, how long do you think some do-gooder who's Doing of The Good involved the typical comic book level of property damage would stay out of court (and bankruptcy) in Real Life?

    "Lookit, I don't care if he did just stop an invasion from a Hell Dimension, SOMEBODY'S PAYING FOR THAT GODDAM WINDOW!!"

  • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @05:22PM (#34445716)

    Meh. You and I spend our time on some random website semi-conversing with other people who largely agree with us. The person(s) who wrote that ain't getting paid for it, so that's their hobby, and I just learned a lot about about our laws and got some really good conversation material because of it. Sometimes even lawyers deserve a little time away from work.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @05:23PM (#34445724) Homepage Journal

    The short version is that easily-created corporations did not exist until the mid-1800s, so it would only be a solution for immortals that aren't actually very old yet.

    Of course, the mid-to-late 1800s was also about the time that it started becoming more difficult for people to establish an identity simply by saying who they were. An immortal older than that could have existed very easily up to that point just by moving around a lot, and then -- seeing which way the winds were blowing, with corporations becoming effectively immortal people in the eyes of the law -- started building a corporate identity.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:22PM (#34446004) Homepage Journal

    I'd much rather experts spend their energy trying to get Bush and Cheney behind bars for willful torture, and other possible war crimes, than worry about pretend beings.

    So do you think about doing your job, and nothing but doing your job, all the time? If not, why not?

    The blog is written by comic book nerds who happen to be lawyers. It's natural for them to think about how their professions might apply to fictional worlds they enjoy. It's entertaining for them, and for the rest of us reading it. No further justification is needed, and there's no reason to think it detracts from their ability to do serious business.

    I'm a full-time scientist and occasional science fiction writer. The latter does the former no harm; if anything, they're complementary.

  • Re:Wrong mix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grond (15515) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:56PM (#34446194) Homepage

    In a world where superpowers, immortality and such exists, and are known in the open, laws should take them into account. Laws are meant to adapt to a changing world, what if we did that in a world where noone could go faster than 40km/h, and suddently someone with a modern car jump in? Our world hadnt laws regarding fast cars before, but somehow the legal system acknowledged that something changed and added laws for them.

    It's true that laws normally adapt to changing circumstances, but in many comic books the world is presented as essentially the same as our own, except with superheroes and supervillains. Legal institutions and actors like courts, the police, judges, lawyers, juries, mayors, governors, legislatures, etc still exist and seem to function like they do in the real world. Occasionally a point is made about a new or different law, such as a Mutant Registration Act or the Keene Act. Our conclusion (and the premise of the blog) is that in the comic book world the legal system is basically the same as the real world, so there must usually be some way to reconcile the law of the real world with the facts of the comic book world. So for example we can find a way to make the Keene Act constitutional.

    Sometimes it is not possible to do this, though. For example, if we conclude that Batman would be a state actor in the real world, which seems likely to me, then that would lead to contradictions in the comic book world. Therefore, Batman is not a state actor in the comic book world, and the law must be different in the comic book world. Then we can think about the most likely tweak to the law in the comic book world necessary to accommodate the facts.

    Basically we first try to explain how the facts and the law agree. Failing that we figure out how to adjust the law to fit the facts. Failing that we say, eh, it's a comic book.

  • Re:Speaking of law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shawb (16347) on Sunday December 05, 2010 @01:40AM (#34448588)
    The argument is especially useless when you consider that our knowledge also changes. When we labeled everything we could see or study as the universe, we had insufficient reason to think there was anything else. That definition eventually came to pretty much mean everything that arose from the big bang that we can interact with. We have since come to the conclusion that there may indeed be more than just that which came from the big bang. Changing the definition of the word "universe" and then coming up with a term that encapsulates its current meaning causes more confusion than simply accepting the fact that the etymology may be imperfect, especially once you consider that there is a long legacy of papers, books, etc that use the term "universe" which would have to be corrected.

    Unless you want to start arguing that we need to find a different name for the atom. You know, that which can not be divided.

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