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rustythesmith

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  1. Empathy worked out for Ned very well. Ned's kids were better served by Ned's principles than Cersei's kids were served by hers. His kids are still alive and hers are dead. The show is admittedly limited with how much of Dany's psychology it can portray, but I think they portrayed more than enough of it. Dany does not learn from her mistakes and runs from the painful task of admitting that they were mistakes. She greenlit the bloodmagic, making her responsible for the deaths of her husband and baby, even though she was warned against it by both Mirri and the Dothraki. This is a recurring thing all the way through her story. Dany also pathologized her dragons and followers as her "children". Jorah warned her against that pathology in Qarth but she guilted him into playing along with her unhealthy fantasy. This pathology later leads her to make bad decisions, justifying them with the make-believe "mother/child" relationship.
  2. No, moral judgements have to be made in the context of the environments in which the actions in question were performed. You're committing the exact error that you're accusing the showrunners of committing. Jorah practicing slavery is not equivalent to the slave masters of Slaver's Bay practicing slavery. Slavery has been successfully outlawed in Westeros and Westeros now operates mostly peacefully as a slave free society. Slavery is considered perfectly acceptable in Slaver's Bay and it is absolutely necessary to be involved in the slave trade in order to survive there.
  3. If I can understand why a person did a thing and I am able to admit that I might have done the same thing in his situation, then how in the world am I justified to punish him for it? This is the fundamental question at the heart of justice that every would-be judge has to contend with. When you think about it long enough, it forces you to define a highest value. What is our goal? What is this system meant to protect? Life, liberty, property? If the purpose of justice is to protect something, what should it protect above all else? In the western world, that highest value is human life. Now that we know the system's purpose, we can continue the thought experiment at the hypothetical extremes where we will find the boundaries that constitute a functional definition of ethics. If I can understand why a person did a thing and I am able to admit that I might have done the same thing in his situation, then how in the world am I justified to punish him for it? Conceit: If I were able to know everything there is to know about this person, his culture, norms, values, his life experiences, neurology, biology, genetics, upbringing and so on, then I have no reason to believe that I would not have done exactly what he did if I were in his situation, in his culture, experienced his life experiences, were born with his neurology, biology, genetics, and was brought up the same way he was brought up and by the same people. This is sympathy at the most extreme. There is no conceit more sympathetic than this, and it happens to be impenetrable. I had as little choice in my biology as you had in yours. I had as little choice in my parents as you had in yours. I had as little choice in my place of birth as you had in yours. I can't point to any justifiable reason why I wouldn't think, feel, and behave exactly like you do if I were you. And you can't point to any justifiable reason why you wouldn't think, feel and behave exactly like I do if you were me. In other words, people, their nature and their environments are inextricable. If we're going to judge someone, the appropriate way to do it is to consider the person in context of their nature and their environment, not our nature and our environment. That is why our laws differentiate between premeditated crimes and crimes of passion. It's why our laws differentiate between sanity and insanity. Adult and child. Sober and inebriated. Healthy and sick. Resident and visitor. The context always matters in moral judgements. Even though the case for this degree of sympathy holds up in theory, it doesn't hold up in practice. There are earthly limitations upon how much sympathy we can afford to extend to one another. For example, even though I may be able to sympathize with the idea that a psychopath raised by an abusive family in poverty had no chance at not becoming a serial killer, I still need to lock him away in order to stop him from killing people. I don't know a better way than that to protect human life. But if one day I manage to come up with a better way, then that would be preferable. Notice that the degree of affordable sympathy tracks with the wealth and advancement of the society. The richer and more advanced we are, the more sympathy we can afford to extend to one another. This is why the people in Westeros perform executions and dismemberment for crimes that might only warrant imprisonment in the modern world. They can't afford to house and feed all the criminals, so they have no choice but to either set them free or execute them. This is where the rubber meets the road. There is a degree to which we have a responsibility to extend the maximum amount of sympathy that we can afford to extend. That's roughly what the Democratic party argues for. And at the same time, there is a degree of sympathy that we can not afford to extend. We can't afford to dine prisoners on gourmet food and we can't afford to set serial killers free. If we pay a cost that we can't afford, we hurt the people we're trying to protect. That's roughly what the Republican party argues for. When we're trying to navigate the landscape of right and wrong, we're dealing with the push and pull of those two forces. Sympathy for the external versus sympathy for the internal. How do we save more people without hurting the people we already have? The civilizations in Slaver's Bay and in all the world of Planetos are not as advanced as the ones we live in. They live in a pre-enlightment, mythic era when people do not yet believe that they have a right to life and liberty, nor that they have a right to change the systems that govern them when those systems don't protect their right to life and liberty. For the sake of argument, let's pretend that you're born to a slave master in Astapor and you happen to be more enlightened than everyone else. When you come of age, your father dies and you inherit his house and slaves. What do you do next? You could sell everything and leave the city. That would at least move you out of the path of Daenerys's dragons by the time she comes around. But you haven't done anything to improve the world, and slavery is still happening in your home town. If Daenerys is justified to kill people for practicing slavery, then you're a bit of a coward who has abandoned his community to die rather than actually trying to improve it. So you want to stick around and try to get your city to stop slavery. How are you gonna do it? Their entire economy is based on slave trade. You're going to have to build some kind of business that can produce value for the city that doesn't involve slavery. The climate isn't very good for farming, but you plant some trees anyway. In the mean time, you try to treat your slaves well. You can't free them because then your household will lose its wealth. In destitution, you'll just become a slave yourself. But you can treat them better than all the other slave masters by feeding them the same food that you eat, allowing them to roam freely and promising that you will free them soon. The other masters start to notice that you're a gentle and generous slave master, but it doesn't ring alarm bells for many of them but the particularly cruel masters. You begin to petition your leaders for some minor slave rights. Maybe we should make it a rule that every slave should have at least two meals per day. Well, now you've drawn attention to yourself, and the other masters don't appreciate what you're suggesting. One meal a day is enough for household slaves. If you keep this up, you're going to become an outcast, you're going to be assassinated by your peers, rebelled against by your emboldened slaves, or you're going to fall into financial ruin and become a slave yourself. The point is that being a slave master is absolutely necessary in order for a citizen of Astapor to stay alive. It is not at all reasonable to expect them to collectively discard the practices that they depend upon to survive, and it isn't reasonable to expect some enlightened hero of Astapor to change the way his entire world functions by planting some seeds and handing out pamphlets that read "Slavery is obviously bad, friends. Let's stop doing it." No amount of understanding you have will turn you away from genocide. This is what every tyrant in history has thought about their cause. They were absolutely certain that they could tell the good guys apart from the bad guys and that they didn't need to bother sympathizing with the bad guys.
  4. In both the show and the books, Dany slaughters the masters of Astapor. I recommend watching and reading it again. The criticism is that Dany didn't shoulder the moral responsibility to find a way to pursue her ideal that doesn't involve the wholesale slaughter of these people. Tyrion's 7 year compromise demonstrates the correct approach and casts Dany's Fire and Blood approach in a new light, that it was morally reprehensible from the outset.
  5. Since Dany is still operating with a good and evil world view, she is doomed to run into the problem that everybody who operates with the good and evil world view inevitably runs into. How do you tell the good from the evil? It isn't as easy as Dany thinks it is. That fact is demonstrated to the audience consistently throughout the whole story. It's hammered into us over and over again, such as when the reviled Kingslayer confesses to Brienne that his kingslaying was an act of unprecedented heroism. And such as when the beautiful and charming Cersei Lannister, who Sansa idolizes and trusts, is revealed to be a spiteful and wicked woman who abuses Sansa's trust. Dany's failure to put herself in the shoes of her enemies and to make a genuine attempt to sympathize with their position is a mistake that she repeats consistently. She decides that the people who practice slavery are not worthy of sympathy because they are already deserving of death by virtue of practicing slavery. She's naive to the fact that, if she had been born into a slaving society as these people were, she would almost certainly be a slave master herself. Moral relativity calls to our moral responsibility to try to sympathize with each other and reach a compromise no matter how different we are. Dany often doesn't shoulder that responsibility, especially when it's particularly easy to skirt. How many times does a person have to threaten to burn cities to the ground before you take them seriously? Why do you feel that Dany is uniquely justified to use threats of killing to gain access to the Merchant's ships? Threats of killing can certainly be a justifiable move to make. We're shown an example of it when Jaime Lannister uses such a threat to pressure Edmure Tully into sacrificing his pride so that the defenders of Riverrun may live. On one hand we have "Give me ships or I'll kill your whole city." And on the other hand we have "Spare all the lives and families in your city by surrendering or I'll kill your family." One threat is used to acquire ships that Dany has no right to. The other threat is used to minimize the loss of human life. The contrast between these parallel situations shows us that, at least with regards to threats and at least in relationship to Jaime, Dany is more villainous than Jaime. These parallel situations crop up all over the place to provide the audience with the tools necessary to identify that Dany is on a downward trajectory rather than an upward one. Whether or not any given person will identify them as tools and apply them, in order to suss out the story's premises and the future of the characters, is a responsibility that is left to each individual viewer. If you didn't pick up the tools or didn't identify them on a first watch, like I didn't, then surprise! That isn't "just what medieval rulers did." This society and its laws and norms emerged specifically for the purpose of facilitating human cooperation so that they might not have to kill each other anymore. Civilization is a project to collectively produce enough excess prosperity to meet everyone's basic needs. It's the result of people choosing to make the survival of the group superordinate to the survival of the individual. Though it's often mistakenly characterized as the opposite. You're right, Dany does reject it. At Astapor, she is faced with two options she doesn't like: 1. Don't buy the Unsullied and continue on my journey without an army. She doesn't like this option because she's afraid she will end up like Viserys. However, according to the human life premise of the story, this is the correct option. She should do what's right even when it's difficult to do so. 2. Sacrifice her ideal (and her dragon) and buy the Unsullied. She doesn't like this option because it goes against her anti-slavery ideal and of course she loves her dragon. Rather than choosing the correct option, she acts in defiance to this seemingly unwinnable dilemma. She finds a way to have the best of both worlds. With little planning, she launches a campaign to abolish all slavery in the region and begins her campaign by slaughtering the people of Astapor. Her rationalization is along the lines of: "If I'm freeing the slaves, then I'm not really using the slaves." So she has preserved her ideal on a technicality by imposing an unfair cost on the people of Astapor who she failed to sympathize with. And she gets to acquire her army at the same time. According to the premises of the story --- that the appropriate way to behave in the world is to hold true to your deepest ideals even when it's difficult to do so --- then the appropriate choice for Dany here is that she should have walked away from Astapor without buying the army. Yes, it would have been risky in the short term, as Jon's mercy toward Ygritte was risky. But Dany's self-sacrifice would have earned her a reward in the long term because self-sacrifice in service to the human life ideal is the story's most fundamental premise. In other words, walking away from Astapor would have all worked out for her in the end.
  6. Well I don't know about other people, but I wouldn't argue that Ned would never execute anyone with the capacity for good. Everyone has the capacity for both good and evil, so that would rule out executions entirely. What Ned and what I think a good ruler has to do is try to sympathize with everyone who will be affected by his decisions before he makes a decision. While it's inescapably true that Jorah still had the capacity for good, that capacity has to be weighed against the costs of not executing him. Not executing Jorah would demonstrate to everyone else that selling people into slavery is actually something they can get away with, and that the Lord doesn't actually enforce the values that he proclaims to hold. Daenerys failed to make a genuine effort to sympathize with the slave masters. That failure is no different than killing people for the crime of being born into a slave society. If she had successfully placed herself in the shoes of the slave masters, she would have developed a greater awareness of their position. She would have realized that, had she been born into this society herself, she would absolutely be a slave master too. That conclusion draws attention to her responsibility to formulate a more sophisticated plan to abolish slavery that preserves the most human life that she can manage to preserve, including the lives of the masters. That doesn't necessarily preclude killing, If, for example, after Tyrion's 7 year compromise, the masters were to fail their part of the agreement and continue slaving, execution might become justifiable. People, as a general rule, do not understand that they, themselves, have the capacity to slaughter a million people. Our belief that we would never do what The Mad King, the Great Masters, or Daenerys did is exactly the naivety that puts us at greater risk of becoming like them and doing the horrible things that they've done. Daenerys's story is an attempt by the author to remedy that problem. If we can map how Daenerys went from kind-hearted person to genocidal in the name of kindness, then perhaps we don't have to make the same mistakes in our own lives. Stories are peoples' attempts to revitalize dead dogmas into living truths. The show and books allow us to sympathize with Dany's crimes against humanity specifically for the purpose of showing us the ugly truth that, had we been in her position and lived her life, we may have done exactly the things that she did right up to the point that she nuked a city in the name of mercy to future generations. That's why when people point to the fact that Dany is a sympathetic character as evidence that she never would have done what she did, it shows me that the lessons her story has to teach are particularly important at this point in history.
  7. Ice isn't water. That's when I stopped reading.
  8. Too easy. This scene is an amalgamation of scenes directly from the books, all of which I've already analyzed in an essay. I'll try to sum up the bigger points. 1. Dany's disgust for slavery and the people who practice it is amplified by her experiences in this scene. "The blood of my enemies. Not innocents." This quote demonstrates that Dany has a good and evil view of the world. If GoT and ASOIAF has an anti-premise, it is the good and evil world view. It's the reason the story is hailed for its "grey" characters. The good and evil world view is GRRM's biggest criticism of conventional fantasy. The good guys are beautiful and wear white while the bad guys are ugly and wear black. And it's the reason the whole book series is written from a first person point of view. Martin is drawing attention to the problem of moral relativity. 2. Jorah and Barristan are literally the angel and devil on Dany's shoulder in this scene, walking on either side of her. Jorah sells Dany on the idea of taking a bite out of the fruits of slavery by buying the Unsullied. It's the "ends justify the means" argument, one of many bad lessons Jorah teaches her. Barristan makes the case against it by pointing out that people followed Rhaegar because they loved him, not because they were bought. Jorah gives the last line of the"and Rhaegar died" speech, which is the next and perhaps most harmful lesson that Jorah teaches Dany. The takeway for Dany is that nothing she does matters if she dies. It suggests that death is the worst thing that can happen to her, or rather, that she should sacrifice her ideal when it is expedient. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person, as we see with other characters like Theon. And there are some values that are worth dying for, such as protecting children, like we see Ned do. And, perhaps, not taking a bite out of the fruits of slavery.
  9. I'm up to the challenge. Put any scene to me and I'll tell you how it foreshadows or develops Dany towards the mad queen ending. Edit: Oh yeah I meant scenes with Dany in them.
  10. It's funny how the guy says there is SOME groundwork for Dany going mad bit by bit. I laughed pretty hard at that. I would be hard-pressed to find a single scene in the entire show that doesn't in some way either develop or foreshadow Dany towards the mad queen ending. To add to that, he's wrong about foreshadowing and character development. Foreshadowing isn't always character development, but character development is always foreshadowing. As long as I understand how people work. Your behavior now foreshadows your behavior later.
  11. This is an important point of agreement that I think goes overlooked in these conversations, so I want to put a hand across the aisle here. I don't think anybody is supposed to feel guilty for falling in love with Dany and supporting her for the whole story. On the contrary, we ALL loved her, more or less. I think that's exactly what the writers intended because it's crucial for revealing the conflict in our own hearts.
  12. Ned was justified to execute Jorah. Are you really trying to cite Ned's hypothetical execution of Jorah as evidence that Ned is merciless like Dany? Jorah knew the punishment for selling slaves was death. He did it anyway. The slavers did not know the punishment for being born in a slaving society was death. Dany killed them anyway. There seems to be this mistaken idea that the progression to murdering a million people goes 1 3 10 100 1000 100000 1m. That isn't how it works. It goes 1 and then 1 million. If you can justify murdering one person then you can justify murdering 1 million because all you do is apply the same justification 1 million times. This is just a psychological truth. It's why mass killings happen out of nowhere. It's why the family of mass killers often say that they had no idea their son, daughter, uncle, friend or father was capable of something like that. People were NOT paying attention to the psychology of the character of Daenerys. Her progression didn't come out of nowhere, it was developed slowly since season 1 right in front of you, but we weren't paying attention to it because we sympathize with her. Step 1: I know it's wrong but I'm not the one doing it. (Viserys, Wineseller) Step 2: I know it's wrong but I'm not the only one doing it. (Crucify masters in retaliation) Step 3: I know it's wrong but someone made me do it. (Tarlys made me kill them. Sansa made me kill Varys.) Step 4: Now she doesn't know it's wrong anymore. The mechanism that was telling her the difference between right and wrong is corrupted and broken, because she kept misusing it and broke it. That's why she feels perfectly justified to burn KL and everyone in it. Jorah WARNED her to look away from Viserys's murder. Barristan WARNED her not to crucify the masters and apply mercy. Tyrion WARNED her to apply mercy and let the Tarlys think in a dark cell JUST LIKE NED DID when Ned changed his mind.
  13. This always comes up and I think it's ridiculous. How is death a choice? Death is the absence of a choice. If I gave you a choice to do something or die, you wouldn't feel like you have a choice because dying isn't a viable option. It's the end of you and the end of all your future options. Tyrion even has an internal monologue about this exact thing in the books. He thinks something along the lines of: Slaves could fight to the death for their freedom. Therefore slaves are only slaves because they choose to be slaves. It's an extremely ugly and wrong rationalization that places the blame on the victims. That's exactly the same thing Team Dany people are doing with the Tarly situation. They're saying it's the Tarly's fault that Dany burned them alive because Dany gave them a non-choice.
  14. I just wanted to make it clear that I don't defend what Arya Stark did to House Frey. I think that decision was an enormous mistake on the part of the writers. I feel the same way about Sansa's execution of Ramsay.
  15. This is a community forum, not a private chat, so I am addressing everyone who is still defending Dany's actions at this point. I was being polite by referring to you in the collective. But if you would prefer that in the future I attribute your naive positions entirely to you then that's agreeable. I've already pointed out that the distinction between owning a slave and benefiting from slavery is not a particularly important one when it comes to the ethical problem of slavery. And I've already proven that Dany held that exact same position in season 3. So Dany is absolutely served by slavery from episode 101 to episode 806, using a definition given by Dany herself in season 3. There are patterns of argumentation and patterns of behavior across the set of all Dany defenders. I've already proven the first by listing every argument in their repertoire. I think you're demonstrating the second. These patterns more than warrant some kind of group identification. I've chosen to identify them as Team Dany and I think it's a respectable enough term. If someone were to call me Team Jon it wouldn't offend me in the slightest. I engage with people as individuals regardless of which groups they belong to. If I've misrepresented you at any point, feel welcome to point it out. I have a tendency to make assumptions about my opponent's positions to save time. Judging from your responses and lack thereof, I don't get the impression that any of my assumptions about your position were misplaced.
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