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My biggest issue with the finale is that they tried to make us feel guilty for supporting Daenerys' journey.

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1 minute ago, Nightwish said:

Right, I thought it was his arrow, but nevertheless, the point is to see how potentially all characters could turn into villains because GOT universe is built, constructed and actually run by violence even in the pretense of the law.  

Again, I want to say that my argument here is not Dany's character, but how the script writers can so easily construct a character who results in violence because the GOT world allows it, since this is how the characters learn to resolve their problems. 

Point taken, and you are correct.

It's interesting (and troubling) to think that only 150 years ago, hanging people for stealing horses was commonplace in the US.

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3 minutes ago, SansaJonRule said:

Point taken, and you are correct.

It's interesting (and troubling) to think that only 150 years ago, hanging people for stealing horses was commonplace in the US.

And sad...

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3 hours ago, The One Who Kneels said:

Of course Ned was justified to execute Jorah. It was other people who apparently felt Ned would never execute anyone with the capacity for good unlike that crazy evil Daenerys.

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.

 

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Daenerys never executed anyone for being born into a slaving society. The masters of Meereen were crucified for murdering slave children not for being masters. The masters of Yunkai were left alone until they reimposed slavery after Daenerys had conquered their city abolished slavery and left at which point she considered executing them all but ultimately decided against it. 

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.

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But I'm fine with the moral hazard of killing being the point. The trouble is the show never treated it as such except suddenly with Daenerys in Episode 5. Again how many people did Arya murder? Yet it would still have been quite stupid and come out of nowhere to see her running down unarmed peasants in King's Landing and slitting their throats. Tyrion murdered his defenseless father with a crossbow but he still gets to be the voice of mercy and reason at the end of the show. Jon doesn't chuck Janos Slynt into an ice cell to let him rethink his disobedience he executes him (even as Janos cries, apologizes and begs for forgiveness) yet it's proof that Daenerys is mad or a monster when she executes the Tarlys? 

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.

 

Edited by rustythesmith

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1 hour ago, rustythesmith said:

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.

 

Sure and what would letting a conquered city reimpose slavery in violation of your will or refusing to execute traitorous lords who openly defy you and reject offers of mercy do to Daenerys rule? Yet both of these have been cited as actions that prove that Daenerys is uniquely mad or evil. If you don't hold that position then we have no disagreement here. This entire Ned Stark digression started as a claim that characters like Ned, Jon, Robb, Tyrion and others would never do what Daenerys did.

I would say there is in fact a world of difference between failing to make a genuine effort to sympathize with a society and killing people for the crime of being born into said society. If you want to say her plan for ending slavery isn't very well thought out I don't disagree. But again "didn't come up with a good enough plan to abolish slavery" is a far cry from foreshadowing mass murder or representing another step on the road to a genocidal tyranny isn't it? 

And if the show had mapped out how Daenerys went from kind-hearted person to genocidal in the name of kindness I wouldn't have an issue with it. But the show never did.  Daenerys just went from being a more or less reasonable ruler who has always been concerned with the welfare of the commoner and the downtrodden to genocidal tyrant who slaughters common people by the thousands when some bells started ringing. 

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3 hours ago, Hodor's Dragon said:

- It seems quite obvious that the quote you give - "The blood of my enemies. Not innocents." - cuts a lot harder toward Dany making distinctions as to who tastes her fire and blood than in favor of mass application to all as in epi 5. As does every act she has taken in the whole series.

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.

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She has blustered about burning cities down many times, but I read that as using threats as a tool, not as an actual intention. My interpretation by the fact that she never does actually do anything remotely like burning a city down to the ground, even when the SOTH are making things impossibly difficult for her rule and she just can't find out who is behind it in order to dispense justice. Threats are a known tool of the conqueror, after all.

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!

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The bit about "black and white" doesn't really move the needle either way in terms of making it seem likely Dany will ultimately choose mass destruction. Besides, while Daenerys may be pretty black and white about whether people support her or refuse, that's just what medieval rulers did. In other areas, I see her making some pretty nuanced and intelligent decisions.

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.

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- If Jorah gives her "end justifies means" re taking a little bite of slavery, SHE REJECTS IT. Not only does she free the Unsullied, she immediately puts them to work not by indulging in slavery, but by attempting to end it. She doesn't even nibble on slavery.

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.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

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.

 

 

Neither in the show nor the books is she shown as "slaughtering the people of Astapor".  In fact, she specifically commands restraint in both cases.

The criticism against her is that she marched off from Astapor without leaving any form of stable government in place, so that it quickly fell under the sway of a tyrant. 

If she had slaughtered the people of Astapor, it would be far easier to believe she would do the same at Kings Landing.

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36 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

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.

 

 

I might be able to understand that the masters of Slaver's Bay are perpetuating a system that they were born into but I can muster exactly 0% sympathy for them. Any understanding I have doesn't alter the fact that they are perpetrating and profiting from the enslavement, mutilation and brutalisation of other human beings. Doing nothing at Astapor would have allowed that system to continue for generations to come. It is reasonable to argue that Dany's actions lacked solid long-term planning and that there are no easy bloodless solutions to forcing freedom on a region. However, her time in Mereen has shown that appeasement of the Grand Masters isn't a solution either.

It's likely that in the books Dany will come back to Slaver's Bay with a full measure of fire and blood and I'll likely be very conflicted about it. However, I think Dany isn't the one with a failure of imagination. Like the Dragonlords of Valyria, the masters of Slaver's Bay just failed to recognise that their doom had come when she stood at their gates.

Edited by Wall Flower
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5 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Neither in the show nor the books is she shown as "slaughtering the people of Astapor".  In fact, she specifically commands restraint in both cases.

The criticism against her is that she marched off from Astapor without leaving any form of stable government in place, so that it quickly fell under the sway of a tyrant. 

If she had slaughtered the people of Astapor, it would be far easier to believe she would do the same at Kings Landing.

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.

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9 minutes ago, Wall Flower said:

I might be able to understand that the masters of Slaver's Bay are perpetuating a system that they were born into but I can muster exactly 0% sympathy for them. Any understanding I have doesn't alter the fact that they are perpetrating and profiting from the enslavement, mutilation and brutalisation of other human beings. Doing nothing at Astapor would have allowed that system to continue for generations to come. It is reasonable to argue that Dany's actions lacked solid long-term planning and that there are no easy bloodless solutions to forcing freedom on a region. However, her time in Mereen has shown that appeasement of the Grand Masters isn't a solution either.

It's likely that in the books Dany will come back to Slaver's Bay with a full measure of fire and blood and I'll likely be very conflicted about it. However, I think Dany isn't the one with a failure of imagination. Like the Dragonlords of Valyria, the masters of Slaver's Bay just failed to recognise that their doom had come when she stood at their gates.

So, based on your comment, when certain people in the US decided it was time to end slavery, they would have been right to kill any slave holders who weren't willing to free their slaves and you would feel zero sympathy for the slaughtered slave holders?

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5 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

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.

In the show, the only innocent that gets killed is a horse.  I'm willing to accept  that innocent people died offscreen, but there's nothing depicted to suggest that Dany conducted a wild massacre.  If the show runners are now trying to retcon Astapor into being an act of genocide, they're cheating.

In the books, there's considerable ambiguity about who exactly died.  Certainly, a lot of Good Masters in the Plaza, but the fact that so many free people survived to be later enslaved by Cleon again demonstrates that this was no act of mass slaughter.  Dany's fault was that she left people in charge who had no chance of governing successfully so that Cleon took over.

As you say, Dany could realistically have just washed her hands of situation at Astapor and said "not my problem" or she could have  purchased some slave soldiers and marched away - and saved herself a great deal of grief - but it's very hard to argue that she made the morally wrong choice.  The first two choice are by far the most easy and expedient;  the one she took (and the books make it clear that if she failed she would be brutally tortured to death by the Good Masters) the morally difficult one.

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31 minutes ago, SeanF said:

In the show, the only innocent that gets killed is a horse.  I'm willing to accept  that innocent people died offscreen, but there's nothing depicted to suggest that Dany conducted a wild massacre.  If the show runners are now trying to retcon Astapor into being an act of genocide, they're cheating.

In the books, there's considerable ambiguity about who exactly died.  Certainly, a lot of Good Masters in the Plaza, but the fact that so many free people survived to be later enslaved by Cleon again demonstrates that this was no act of mass slaughter.  Dany's fault was that she left people in charge who had no chance of governing successfully so that Cleon took over.

As you say, Dany could realistically have just washed her hands of situation at Astapor and said "not my problem" or she could have  purchased some slave soldiers and marched away - and saved herself a great deal of grief - but it's very hard to argue that she made the morally wrong choice.  The first two choice are by far the most easy and expedient;  the one she took (and the books make it clear that if she failed she would be brutally tortured to death by the Good Masters) the morally difficult one.

In the show, didn't she tell the Unsullied to kill anyone not wearing a collar, or did she just say the masters?

Either way, I did not like what she did here. She made a bargain she never intended to keep. Never mind that the guy was a total A-hole, honorable, morally upright people don't do that. It was probably the first example of her ends justifies the means attitude. And that is a dangerous attitude to develop.

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41 minutes ago, SansaJonRule said:

So, based on your comment, when certain people in the US decided it was time to end slavery, they would have been right to kill any slave holders who weren't willing to free their slaves and you would feel zero sympathy for the slaughtered slave holders?

Not American, but wasn't the civil war fought (with deaths on both sides) at least in part to end that system of slavery? People were prepared to kill others and die themselves to end slavery. I'm afraid that I do feel sympathy for the slaves in that conflict rather than the slave owners who fought to retain their right to own and profit from other human beings.

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2 minutes ago, Wall Flower said:

Not American, but wasn't the civil war fought (with deaths on both sides) at least in part to end that system of slavery? People were prepared to kill others and die themselves to end slavery. I'm afraid that I do feel sympathy for the slaves in that conflict rather than the slave owners who fought to retain their right to own and profit from other human beings.

Well, the causes of the American War Between the States (as it is more properly called) are still debated, and not a topic to get into much here but yes, for many fighting for the North the reasons for going to war included ending slavery. And actually, more Southerners who did not own slaves fought for the South than did own slaves.

I agree you are 100% right in having sympathy for the slaves. But that was not my question. Basically, is death a morally right punishment for slave owners?

 

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3 hours ago, SansaJonRule said:

I agree you are 100% right in having sympathy for the slaves. But that was not my question. Basically, is death a morally right punishment for slave owners?

 

Wasn't Ned Stark about to kill ser Jorah because he got involved with the slave trade? Within the world Dany was part of, death penalty was (whether or not it is "universally moral") accepted and even deemed necessary.

What the show does in the end is using our modern sense of what is right in order to justify the murder of Dany, while using the Westeros sense of what is right in order to resolve everybody else's fates (for example, nobody in Westeros cares anymore that Tyrion fled King's Landing after killing his father and lover). 

I absolutely agree with the original poster. They should have had the spine to write Dany's end differently. In the end, it would have made more sense if she, hovering over King's Landing and hearing the bells chime, had stooped down on her dragon, landed near the closest Starbucks, and ordered a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino Blended Coffee.
 

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1 hour ago, Wall Flower said:

I might be able to understand that the masters of Slaver's Bay are perpetuating a system that they were born into but I can muster exactly 0% sympathy for them. Any understanding I have doesn't alter the fact that they are perpetrating and profiting from the enslavement, mutilation and brutalisation of other human beings.

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.

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8 hours ago, rustythesmith said:

 


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.

 

 

Well, how did empathy and unterstanding towards his enemies work out for Ned Stark?

Even more than in Westeros, the veneer of this ideal of civilization in thin in Essos. 

As a conqueror with a goal, there was a spit chance she could make it. See using the 'gratitude' of freed slaves and an approach to religious freedom by facilitating the growing power of the Red Priests as examples of finding a path with the least resistance that still allowed her power and dominion.

It was once she got to Westeros and tried to keep that mentality that she failed.

Was it a matter of mental instability as some claim about her messianic complex after being hailed as Mhysa?

Was it naiveté after the stupidity she heard as a child from the likes of Illyrio?

I wanted the complexity of those themes exploited in the show, not here in these discussions.

That's what still disappoints me.

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2 hours ago, Vanadis said:

Wasn't Ned Stark about to kill ser Jorah because he got involved with the slave trade? Within the world Dany was part of, death penalty was (whether or not it is "universally moral") accepted and even deemed necessary.

What the show does in the end is using our modern sense of what is right in order to justify the murder of Dany, while using the Westeros sense of what is right in order to resolve everybody else's fates (for example, nobody in Westeros cares anymore that Tyrion fled King's Landing after killing his father and lover). 

I absolutely agree with the original poster. They should have had the spine to write Dany's end differently. In the end, it would have made more sense if she, hovering over King's Landing and hearing the bells chime, had stooped down on her dragon, landed near the closest Starbucks, and ordered a Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino Blended Coffee.
 

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.

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5 minutes ago, rustythesmith said:

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.

And Daenerys grew up in Essos.

She was little more than a slave to her brother and he effectivelly sold her as such. 

Compromise with an oppressing party from a position of weakness is feasible? 

As many people have pointed out here, we're going with the Sansa logic that all of Daenerys' power comes from her dragons. 

Take away that threat of force and what is she?

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Posted (edited)

People that are undirectly defending the masters by saying Daenerys did evil by slaughtering them, or not trying hard enough to befriend them, must have slave trader ancestors. 

That can be the only explanation. 

Don't apply your modern vision of evil/wicked/whatever to a fantasy world.

Edited by Targaryen Peas

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3 minutes ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Well, how did empathy and unterstanding towards his enemies work out for Ned Stark?

Even more than in Westeros, the veneer of this ideal of civilization in thin in Essos. 

As a conqueror with a goal, there was a spit chance she could make it. See using the 'gratitude' of freed slaves and an approach to religious freedom by facilitating the growing power of the Red Priests as examples of finding a path with the least resistance that still allowed her power and dominion.

It was once she got to Westeros and tried to keep that mentality that she failed.

Was it a matter of mental instability as some claim about her messianic complex after being hailed as Mhysa?

Was it naiveté after the stupidity she heard as a child from the likes of Illyrio?

I wanted the complexity of those themes exploited in the show, not here in these discussions.

That's what still disappoints me.

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.

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