Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mutant registration act: threat or menace?

RadioLab did a recent piece on a customs loophole whereby human-shaped dolls get taxed at 12% and monster dolls get taxed at 6%--which led Marvel lawyers to argue that their mutants action figures were not human. Jad and Robert overreach and try to make a connection between human-mutant relations in the comic and in the customs tax bracket.

But they did get me thinking about the Mutant Registration Act, which seems a) like an invasion of privacy that might be warranted in the case of child molesters--but not in the case of innocent people--and b) maybe not such a bad idea.

I say this because Marvel's X-Men has been used as an allegory for various real-world prejudices, like anti-Semitism, Civil Rights-era racism, and homophobia--and a registration act for those would be pretty ridiculous, right? Has anyone--even the most terribly prejudiced--ever recommended a registration act to keep an eye on homosexuals in our midst? (Wouldn't that also force many anti-gay activists to admit that being gay was a state, not a choice. After all, a registration act for people who choose to wear plaid would be pointless and constantly shifting.)

But why would a registration act for mutants be potentially useful? Because each mutant is an individual, with individual powers. (Which, if you think about genetics that underpins their mutant powers, is kind of weird.) It may be useful to know what powers are out there.

But we still run in to that whole "privacy" issue and that whole "innocent" issue--mutants aren't guilty of anything other than being mutants, so by what right could their privacy be abridged?

Oh, shut up, my bread machine is done making bread.


  1. First: I guess it would depend on how anti-gay activists are looking at homosexuality. There is a pretty strong school of thought, that seems to be that homosexuality is a "choice". I'm not sure if I group THAT school of thought in with people (seemingly evangelicals mostly) who think it is a sickness that can be cured. If it is the first, then I agree that registration would force these people to admit its NOT a choice. However, if they feel that they are "sick" then they may feel they are merely keeping track of a disease by registering them.
    I mean up until some point gays were grouped with sex offenders, or rather were considered sex offenders because back in the 50's what we now consider a sex offender didn't exist and the "morality police" seemed more interested in making insulting PSA's about how a gay man will be waiting to pray on you in the bathroom. (I think the one I remember was called "Boys beware"?) So those people who view it as some sort of sickness that can be spread and or cured don't really have to admit anything to themselves. Unfortunately I knew a guy who's parents tried to send him to one of those awful "pray the gay away" camps.

    Then: Mutant Registration. It is most definitely wrong and an invasion of privacy. It also always seems to be spearheaded by some jerk who fears their existence and somehow wishes to destroy them. Yes, most mutants aren't guilty of anything but being mutants, but then there are the mutants who abuse their powers and do bad things. However, if you register only those who use their powers to commit crimes then it doesn't seem to far a fall to have someone suggest that all of them should be registered in case they decide to use their powers for crime which sort of persecutes someone for something they may or may not do which is likely to piss a bunch of people off royally and maybe turn those who wouldn't be criminals to acts of violence because, "fuck that!". Scientifically it would be useful, but even if the records could be kept confidential there is always the chance that someone could come along and find a way to access and misuse them.

    Don't some mutant powers overlap? I haven't been in the Marvel Universe for a while so I don't remember. Enjoy your bread.

  2. You raise an interesting possibility about the Mutant Registration Act--what if it registered only mutants who were lawbreakers? After all, we have fingerprint and DNA databases which primarily record people who've been caught up in law operations. (I'm not claiming that these people who get entangled are guilty, only that they've gotten arrested.) Sure, a Mutant Registration Act that only registered law-breakers could be abused (i.e., you could manufacture suspicion in order to get a mutant to register), but so could fingerprint and DNA databases and we live fine with them. (Do we? Is this one of those things where I think it works fine, but inner-city black kids get hassled about?)

    Now, before we get into a big argument about this, I should say that I'm someone who (theoretically) doesn't necessarily feel that privacy is inviolate, which gets me into all sort of trouble at the big liberal meetings.

    Do black-belts have to register anywhere?

  3. As far as I know black-belts have to register with various martial arts organizations once they pass the test, but not with the government. The whole, "my body is registered as a lethal weapon" thing is bogus.