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The Guardians of Freedom Part IV
by
Dan Tana

Greetings to all of you.

My name is Theodore Fluffington.

I am here today to tell you a tale of recent events, which begins with several Guardians of Freedom trying to convince a brilliant, broken-hearted little girl named Marcia to stop inflicting bloody vengeance upon the people who robbed her of the company of an older friend, Arthur, whom she loves very much.

Marcia's victims all insisted that because she had not yet reached a certain age and he had already passed a certain age - and because they were not legally married - Arthur had somehow raped her when he allowed her to do some sexual things with him.

Now let me be perfectly clear that there was no coercion, manipulation, deception, or violence of any kind in the relationship between Marcia and Arthur.  She is at least as intelligent and thoughtful as a typical human being, of any age, and less reckless and impulsive than most.  She knew what she wanted from him, and took it, with his permission, of her own free will.

Those are the facts of this case, however unusual it may be.  Marcia's intellectual and emotional capacity is not in any way diminished by the number of people her age who lack such faculties.  And the fact that there are some very selfish people in this world who choose to take advantage of the vulnerability of certain others - of whatever age - has no relevance whatsoever to the thoroughly decent way in which Arthur treated her.

But there are some human beings who like to pretend otherwise.  These people like to think that the age of a person is always an accurate gauge of certain other traits and abilities.  They like to imagine that Marcia's relative youth is a valid indicator of the true character of her relationship with Arthur, and find some sort of gratification in acting like it means that he has mistreated her in some real way.

Some such people discovered what she was doing with Arthur and then ripped him from her arms, both literally and figuratively, despite her vehement objections, and imprisoned him for breaking a law that is based upon those false premises.

Marcia tried to explain to these people what had really happened between her and her friend.  She told them that he had never had sex with her without her consent, or ever done anything at all to dominate and control her person, or selfishly violate her will for his own gratification, which she understood to be the very essence of the real crime of rape.  But they stubbornly refused to hear anything that she had to say about this matter.

They casually dismissed her most articulate of arguments, and adamantly insisted that someone her age could not possibly be competent to consent to everything that she had done with Arthur.  And then they contradicted that previous assertion, in an attempt to seem a bit less unreasonable, by claiming that even if she actually is presently competent and responsible enough to make decisions about how to live her own life she is still relatively incompetent and irresponsible compared to what she will become in several more years, which means, they insisted, that any choices that she makes at this point in her life are all relatively invalid compared to the different choices that she might make in the future.

Marcia then told them that the typical human brain does not stop developing until years after that arbitrary age at which they would be willing to respect her ability to make sound decisions, pointing out the hypocrisy of that excuse, and also explained that it is actually possible for her mental abilities and emotional stability to either increase or decrease with time.  Eventually she got them to concede that point and admit that there is no real basis for claiming that a decision made at one point in time by someone with adequate capabilities is invalid just because that person might become more capable at a later time, and she briefly thought that she had gotten through to them.

But then they turned around and insisted that none of that applied to her situation with Arthur, because he is an adult and she is just a child.  These people stubbornly refused to ever look past that shallow rationalization, and would not admit that there is even the tiniest possibility that Marcia might not really need them to protect her from Arthur, no matter how often or how clearly she explained to them that there is no exact correlation between the age of a person and any of that person's other attributes.

They would not take off the psychological blinder of their age-based prejudice, for even one moment, because it shielded their minds from the glaring, unpleasant awareness of how their own actions were traumatizing and emotionally damaging this child, which they did not ever want to face.  So Marcia spent most of her time during the next few weeks crying, and screaming, beating her fists against a wall, and raging futilely against the obstinately inconsiderate way in which these people were tormenting her.

Then Arthur was assaulted and murdered by a fellow prisoner, just hours after he was sentenced to several years in prison for illegally pleasing Marcia.  The perpetrator of that attack claimed that it had been motivated by disgust for what his victim had done, but I have looked into his mind and seen that that violent outburst was really an expression of unbearable, unconscious, angry jealousy of the delightfully sweet affections that Marcia had shared with Arthur.

From the time that he was a child this man has wanted to play with other people - including children, like Marcia - in all the same ways that Arthur had.  As time passed and the material child that he had once been transformed into the metaphoric inner-child of his adult psyche he never lost that desire to share such pleasures with another child.  But by the end of his adolescence he had learned to feel deeply ashamed of the sexual aspect of these feelings, after absorbing the vicious cruelty and vitriol that some human beings like to spew at any adult who does not deny that part of its self.

In order to mask and burry that distressing feeling he began acting in the same way as those people whose hateful attitudes and violent actions had traumatized him, eventually leading to his assault of Arthur, which caused even more damage to his own inner-child but perversely satisfied the part of him that resented what such behavior has done to that child.  It also served to momentarily alleviate his chronic fear that if he does not regularly express contempt for people like his victim then someone else might guess the truth of his own taboo desire and assault him in that same way.

When Marcia learned what this man had done to her friend something broke inside of her.  Something that may not ever heal.  You might call it her heart, and I will do so, for lack of a better word.

Disgust, resentment, and anger at how her society had allowed certain people to treat the two of them filled the gaping hole that Arthur's abduction and murder had left in her life, distracting her from the indescribable agony of that loss.

A few days later she was walking along the side of a road when a truck carrying various forms of chemical waste overturned, dousing her in a cocktail of highly reactive substances.  These chemicals combined to form several kilograms of an exotic, bluish compound, which she calls bloop.  This chemical bath mutated her physiology and made it possible for her to inhale the bloop, which is stored inside of her until she exhales it.

The accident also created a mental connection between Marcia and that bloop, which enables her to move it with her thoughts and to sense anything that acts upon it, even over great distances.  Her ability to manipulate the compound extends to the microscopic level, where she can rearrange its molecules and alter their kinetic energy in order to change the state of this matter.

As Marcia considered the possibilities of what she could do with her new power she realized that what had been done to her and her friend was itself, ultimately, all about the kind of power that allows one person to control the life of another.  Laws like the one that took Arthur away from her also take away her power of self-determination, making her into a sort of slave, who is not free to be her own master, though entirely capable.

Then she started to think about how certain people use the word rape to describe what she had so eagerly, knowingly, and willingly done with him, subtly implying that he must have forced himself on her in some way.  This bit of linguistic chicanery, she realized, allows them to then use a certain kind of force in a way that indirectly but very effectively serves to dominate and control her sexuality - to rape her, in a sense - under the terribly ironic and disgustingly obnoxious pretense that that very act by which they violently subjugate her personal life to their own will somehow protects her from just that kind of abuse.  And that made her really, really mad.

She then wrapped her body in a cocoon of bloop and used it to carry herself to the house of the policeman who had arrested Arthur.

This policeman liked to take advantage of naive, emotionally vulnerable, rather juvenile individuals who have just reached the so-called 'age of consent' that is defined by the laws of his society.  He liked to use these people, deviously, and legally, for sexual purposes, without the slightest concern for how much harm his manipulative and disingenuous actions would cause them, while numbing his atrophied conscience with the preposterous idea that their age somehow makes that okay.  And he also liked to look down on everyone who he called a pedophile - even the ones like Arthur, who treat their partner with far more honesty, care, and consideration than he ever has.

Over the next few hours Marcia vented her fury and resentment upon this predatory person.  She bound him with bands of bloop and then used a razor-sharp sliver to slowly shave off all of his skin.  He quickly wore out his voice from screaming, and then began to whimper and cry for mercy, hoarsely begging her to tell him what he could do to make her stop hurting him.

That plea reminded her of how her own desperate, tortured pleas had not stopped him from inflicting a horrible emotional pain on her, and then she began to slowly shake her head at him.  She continued cutting the flesh of her first tormentor and victim, relentlessly, until he died from the shock of unbearable agony.

Then Marcia went off to find the judge who had sentenced Arthur to prison.  She let him know how angry she was about what he had done and he immediately dismissed her feelings, insisting that her rage at him must just be a misdirected reaction to the things that Arthur had done to her.  But she was not foolish enough to believe that baseless assertion.  She knew exactly why she was angry, and found herself getting even madder as he continued trying to shift the blame for the emotional harm that he had so insensitively helped to cause her onto the shoulders of someone else who had not ever harmed her in any way.

While he went on encouraging her to be mad at Arthur she thought about reminding this judge of how that man had given her some of his own bone marrow to heal her when she was sick with leukemia, unhesitantly, despite the personal risk and discomfort of that operation.  But that had made no difference during the trial, when she first told him about it, and she decided that such a demonstration of love would never change the mind of someone who was determined to vilify Arthur for what he had allowed her to do.  So, instead, she used her bloop to crack open his chest and rip out his beating heart, as he had done, metaphorically, to her.

Then she decided that it was time to punish those jurors who had all made themselves accomplices to Arthur's persecution when they chose to convict him for breaking that dastardly, prejudiced law.

When Marcia came to the home of juror number one she discovered that this woman had a son about the same age as herself.  She imprisoned each of them in separate cages, behind bars of bloop.  Then, while his mother watched, powerless, just as Marcia had been, she used a sharp piece of bloop to slit the boy's throat.  As his blood spilled out onto the floor a scream of irrepressible grief tore itself from that woman's chest, and then she collapsed to the ground and began to weep.

At that moment I happened to be passing by with my friends Avian, Neon, and Harmony.  Neon's unusual awareness of the temporal present already encompassed the time when we would all confront Marcia about what she had just done, which is what caused us to enter the house where that encounter would take place.

I looked into Marcia's mind in the instant that she saw me, observing her sense of surprise and amusement.  My appearance reminded her of a stuffed toy that she used to take with her everywhere she went, which she had named Mister Fuzzy Head.  It wasn't actually alive, not like me, but the power of her imagination had imbued that toy with the character and personality of a silly and playful, courageous, fiercely protective, kindhearted companion and friend.  In their years together Mister Fuzzy Head brought Marcia immense quantities of emotional comfort and joy, and a fair degree of physical pleasure when she rubbed its fluff against her flesh.

Then there came a day when her mother declared that Marcia was too old to still be carrying around a stuffed animal.  With the conscious part of her brain she thought that it was unseemly - and a poor reflection on herself as a parent - for her daughter to be so attached to that toy at her age.  But when I scanned her on a deeper level I saw that this belief was rooted in an emotional trauma of her own childhood, when her mentally unstable mother had declared that no child would be allowed to play with a stuffed animal past a certain age.  That arbitrary and capricious edict had upset her very much at the time, but since then her unconscious mind had discovered that she can alleviate some portion of that distress by choosing to believe that her mother had been right to enforce such a law.

And so she inflicted that same rule upon her own daughter, commanding her to dispose of Mister Fuzzy Head.  But Marcia refused.  She anxiously clutched the toy to her chest.  And then her mother took hold of it and violently ripped it from her arms.  When Marcia tried to grab it back the woman slapped her, hard enough to knock her to the ground.  As she watched, sobbing ferociously, shrieking, and begging for it to be spared, her mother placed Mister Fuzzy Head into a fireplace, doused it with lighter fluid, and set its fluff ablaze.

In the years since then she repressed the trauma of that ghastly experience, but it never stopped haunting her.  The psychic scar of that sudden, senseless loss left her always feeling a subtle anxiety that everything she loves might be stolen from her at any moment.  The feeling of complete powerlessness that her mother inflicted upon her cast a shadow of helplessness and futility over everything that she tried to do.  And the dull ache of emptiness that was left in her chest after Mister Fuzzy Head had turned to ashes, though numbed by time to an imperceptible intensity, never left her.

As she stared at my own fuzzy head and was reminded of that old toy I saw what she was planning to do to the people who had taken her new, even more beloved playmate away from her.  I examined her vindictive impulse to make these people suffer in retribution for their crimes, and, even though I knew that it would numb her pain for a little while, I discouraged her from pursuing that vengeance, because I could see that it would not bring her any real peace or happiness.

Indulging this desire to punish the people who hurt her would not achieve true justice for Marcia - as I understand that concept - because it would not negate the unjustified harm that had been done to her, which cannot be undone.  It would just prolong her misery, by sidetracking her from the difficult task of learning to accept and make peace with the utterly unjust reality of how she had been victimized, which is a vital step in the process of recovering from the trauma of that irrevocable loss.

And by inflicting her retribution upon the guilty she would also be harming the innocent, which I would do everything in my power to prevent.

So I blocked her way to the door, and projected a reflection of Marcia's own misery back into her mind, and told her that that was how the friends of her victims would feel.  And for an instant she comprehended the horror of what she wanted to do.  But then anger eclipsed that awareness, and she told me to just shut up.  She pushed past me and floated toward the door.

Avian shot the door with one of her feathers and telekinetically shut it.  Marcia pulled on the doorknob, but could not make it budge.  Then she flung sharp shards of bloop at Avian, which were deflected away from her by the film of psycho-reactive oil that is produced by her wings.  Avian hurled several of her feathers at Marcia, which cracked the shell of bloop that surrounded her but did not break through it.  The bloop liquefied for a moment and then resolidified, leaving no trace of those cracks.

Harmony then absorbed the energy of his white phantom into his body.  He struck that bloop-covered form, focusing all of that energy into a blow of supernatural force.  The shell shattered to pieces, flying apart, leaving Marcia momentarily defenseless but completely unharmed.  In that instant Neon pounced, grabbing her around the neck.

I warned Marcia that that brightly color and animalistic woman would rip out her throat if she tried to attack us again, and then she stopped struggling.  Neon released the child, but remained alert for any signs of renewed hostility.  Then the two of us took her outside while Harmony and Avian tended to that mother who continued to weep over the body of her dead son.

I projecting Marcia's tragic tale into the minds of my associates.

Then Neon told Marcia that she and her son had also been the victims of a similar oppression, and that she had initially reacted by trying to punish those responsible.  But I came along just as she was about to kill the man who had abused her son by arresting him for doing something that is not in any way abusive of anyone else, and together we convinced that man to stop denying the despicable nature of what he had done to that child.

Then he decided to try to undo all of the harm that he had caused to other people, and dedicated his life to protecting people from those who enforce such domineering laws.  And Neon realized that her talents were better used assisting us Guardians in our mission to educate and reform such villains, whenever possible, rather than killing them indiscriminately.
The rational part of Marcia's mind understood what Neon was telling her, but the angry part did not want to hear it.  After several moments of conflicted thought she insisted that Neon's experience was not at all like her own, and held no relevance to her situation, because her son was still alive, not rotting in the ground like Arthur.

So then I asked her if her murders had eased the pain of losing Arthur, which I knew that they had not.  As she thought about that I reminded Marcia that it was his gentle kindness and forgiving nature that had first made her fall in love with him, along with his silly playfulness and the devoted way in which he cared for her.  I then informed her that I had met him shortly before his arrest, and had seen how much she meant to him.  And I told her that I believed that he would have been very sad to think that she was going to let the lust for vengeance consume and poison the rest of her life.

When Marcia heard me say that a look of surprise crossed her face, as it occurred to her that she believed the same thing but had somehow not realized it.  Then she let out a weary sigh, let go of her vengeful aspiration, and collapsed into my arms as an immense wave of grief, no longer dammed by fury, crashed over her.  For the next few hours she soaked my fur with her tears, which did not stop flowing until the break of dawn, when she finally fell asleep.

Over the following days I spent many hours trying to help her heal the wound in her heart.  But it continued to fester.  The only respite from her chronic agony came when she slept, when she was reunited with the ghost of Arthur in her dreams, in a place where nobody could ever take him away from her again.  There she felt all the joy that he had given her, and reveled in the exhilarating yet serene bliss of his affectionate embrace.

I projected an image of myself into those dreams and spoke to her subconscious mind, trying to convince her that in her waking hours she could hold on to that love and peace that she felt in the dream world.  But the acute awareness of Arthur's absence returned to torment her as soon as she awoke, and Marcia wished only to return to the tranquil oblivion of sleep.  Eventually she decided that in order to end her pain she would use a drug to make herself sleep forever.

On the day after Marcia put herself into a chemically induced coma my friend Harmony and I decided to spend the afternoon bowling.  As we walked to the bowling alley we encountered a living, intelligent fire that had decided to burn down a house with several people trapped inside.  Among the people in that burning building was the woman who created the fire, who had kept it confined in a laboratory and subjected it to some very disagreeable experiments during the first few months of its life.

I tried to talk with the fire, but it was too mad and miserable to want to listen.  The malevolent, cruel, destructive attitude that it embraced formed a calloused shell around the most sensitive parts of its psyche, shielding its consciousness from the worst pains of an existence that is so pitifully devoid of any genuine happiness.  And it was not brave enough to face that part of its self, so it hid behind a scornful rejection of all that I had to say, and clung to that comforting maliciousness.

Meanwhile, some firemen showed up and tried to extinguish the blaze, but were unable to stop this very angry being because it could move out of the way of the streams of water that they shot at it with their hoses.

Harmony thought that he could use the power of his white phantom to stop the fire, but he had expended its energy only a few days before and it had not yet regenerated.  So he took his black phantom and turned it inside out, which transforms the power of one of these projections into that of the other, as he had recently discovered.  Then he infused the tissues of his body with the energy of that remaining phantom, took a deep breath, and blew out the fire while leaving the house completely intact.

The few smoldering embers that remained were gathered together and put into a fireproof box before they could reignite.  As two firemen carried the box away I saw in the mind of one of them a determination to keep that fire locked up forever, until it burned out entirely - even if it is someday rehabilitated so that its incarceration no longer serves to protect other people from any harm but only causes harm unnecessarily.

At the exact same moment I saw the fireman who was carrying the other end of the box think that the fire deserved to be punished for a certain, predetermined period of time.  He assumed, in some vague and unsubstantiated way, that this criminal owed some kind of debt to all of society, which would somehow be repaid by its unproductive incarceration.  After that the fire would be released, even if it had not been rehabilitated and still posed a danger to others.

I stopped these men and helped them to see beyond all of the rationalizations that they used to excuse their desire to hurt that criminal, teaching them that what they each wanted to do to it in the name of justice was really primarily about satisfying the malevolence in their own hearts, more than it was about protecting the innocent, or repairing the injuries of its victims, or making this world a less unjust and unhappy place.  They eventually admitted that fact to themselves.  Then they both promised that they would not let the fire out of the box before it has reformed, or allow anyone to keep it locked in there when that is no longer necessary.

After that I had a conversation with the scientist who had created the fire, and made sure that she would not be subjecting any more people to the same kind of unhappy existence that had provoked its wrath.

That evening, when we had finished bowling, Harmony and I decided to cook dinner for our friends.  He was chopping some carrots when he suddenly stopped, mid chop, looked up at me, and without preamble asked, "Hey, Teddy, do you want to help me start a band?"

As we finished cooking our stew he went on to explain that ever since I helped him to integrate his disparate personalities and embrace the full spectrum of his power his ability to sing had greatly increased.  His voice had acquired a depth, richness, and complexity that it had previously lacked, which seem to be quite superhuman in nature.  And he had just then decided that he was going to sing professionally as part of a musical group.

Harmony wanted me to assist him in this endeavor because I play the xylophone, and an electric didgeridoo, which he though would bring an interesting and unique sound to the band.  At dinner he asked Hypergirl to join us, because she is able to play the guitar, drums, and bass - all at the same time.  And then he asked Bertron to lend us her unusual musical talent.  Being a robot, she can play a virtual synthesizer by running an interactive midi program parallel to her primary cognitive functions, which interfaces with her sound card to produce an audio signal that can be output through her vocalization speaker or redirected to one of her external data ports.

Over the next few weeks we practiced playing together, developing the tone and style of our group.  At one of our rehearsals Bertron suggested that we call the band Flufftopia, which the rest of us unanimously approved.

During those weeks I wrote a collection of songs that recount the primordial history of the people who I call the Goo, who were once a species as physically and mentally limited as you humans, and as barbaric, when they lived in a dimension just like this one.  But their violent, chaotic, miserable history eventually came to an end, with the help of a strange and fluffy and very friendly being from another dimension.  This person taught them to see through the ideas that imprisoned their minds, and helped them to comprehend the enormous implications of the very simple, often overlooked fact that people who are genuinely happy usually like to do things that create more happiness while people who are unhappy frequently act in ways that create more unhappiness.

Some Goo historians speculate that this legendary visitor was not a real historical person but merely a character in a story written by one of the proto-Goo.  But they all agree that it doesn't make any practical difference to their present existence if that person ever had a physical incarnation.  The truly relevant fact is that the ideas represented by this figure once inspired a movement within their species that eventually culminated in their abandonment of all those ideologies and social structures that some of them had created to justify and enable their practice of legally subjugating and tormenting others.

Then they no longer had to waste their lives resisting and enduring the oppressions of others, and no longer had to constantly rebuild all that was destroyed through ceaseless warring, and were free to devote all of their energies to doing things and creating things that made their world an ever more and more delightful place to live.  Over the ensuing millennia of peaceful prosperity they built the technology and tools that would eventually enable them to construct a new, transcendently blissful dimension of reality, which is where they were living when they made me.

While we recorded these songs our friend Cain set up a website for the band.

You can download all of our music from this site, for whatever price the songs are worth to you.  If you want to download them for free you are welcome to do that, too, since it does not cost us anything when you copy these files and we are not so atrociously, myopically selfish that we would want to deny you the pleasure of this music that we have created just because we will not personally profit from your enjoyment of it.

Then Cain moved to Australia, so that he could study the behavior of Koalas in their natural habitat, which he has wanted to do from as far back as he can remember.

There he discovered a newly formed social organization called the Democracy, in which each citizen utilizes a neural transceiver device to mentally interface with a network of computer servers that allows them to access a virtual forum where they can discuss, debate, and vote on issues of government policy.

Many citizens of the Democracy believed this invention to be a wonderful thing, which would soon rid the world of all tyranny and oppression.  But I was skeptical of that optimism, because a pure democracy is nothing more than an absolute tyranny of the majority.  Perhaps that is in some way better than the kind of tyranny that is inflicted by a small minority, but it is no less harmful to each individual who is victimized by it.

I certainly do believe that it is best for people to be able to democratically elect and unelect those who run a government.  But democracy alone, in any of its forms, is simply not enough to ensure universal freedom, despite the supercilious assertions of some of its more fanatical proponents.

Quite to the contrary, the erroneous assumption that democracy equals freedom and justice can actually promote the creation of abusive social institutions, by giving people an excuse to think that they are justified in voting for any politician or law that will psychologically gratify or pragmatically benefit them, no matter how severely it infringes upon the well-being of some other people.

That attitude eventually led the citizens of the Democracy to pass a law that denies the aboriginal people of Australia the same legal status and protections enjoyed by others, putting them into a permanent state of indentured servitude, supposedly for the greater good of that society, of course, which really just means that this law benefits the non-aboriginal majority that created it.

And the majority of older people passed a resolution that denies equal treatment under the law to anyone younger than the age of twenty-three years, even taking away their legal ability to vote - irrespective of their actual ability to make decisions - which increases the relative power of those older people and ensures that the younger people cannot oppose their oppression through the apparatus of the Democracy itself.

Then the Christian majority made it illegal to wear the traditional clothing of certain Muslim communities, and also banned the building of mosques in certain areas where it is legal for them to build their churches.

The majority of people who had a place to live decided to make it illegal to be homeless, though not illegal for their society to deny some people any place where they can be at home while some homes remain vacant and unused.

And the right-handed majority passed a resolution that calls it a crime to thumb wrestle or arm wrestle with the left hand, under some specious pretense about how it is morally wrong to not use the right hand, but really because a right-handed match gives them a personal advantage over all left-handed competitors.

Also, the majority that wanted to marry someone of a different gender decided to make it illegal for people of the same gender to marry each other, even though the legal rights and responsibilities that define the secular institution of marriage within their society do not depend in any essential way upon the gender of the people involved.

Then the narrow female majority made up a law that prohibits any male person from holding any public office.

When Cain told me what was going on I went to speak with the citizens of the Democracy, hoping that I could convince them of the importance of making some very significant changes in the philosophical basis of that organization.

I told them that in order to create a society with real liberty and justice for all it is essential to first acknowledge and address the fact that the great majority of people with any power over others - whether it is the power of an unchallenged dictatorship or the power of a single democratic vote among millions - will want to use that power in whatever way suits them personally, deliberately or unconsciously, at the expense of anyone else.

And then it is necessary to find some way to inspire the majority of people in that society to make the choice to resist the temptation of all of those alluring and seemingly reasonable excuses that people constantly invent to try to justify and camouflage their tyrannical uses of power, so that they renounce these excuses personally and refuse to accept them from others.

As you might expect, I had very little luck convincing the people who passed and profited from those iniquitous laws to admit that they had no right to do so.  But I did not give up on the citizens of the Democracy.  Despite the exasperating stubbornness with which the majority of them insisted on trying to subjugate the rest I kept trying to help these people to save themselves from themselves.

So I encouraged them to utilize their power to pass a decree that acknowledges the sovereign dominion that each individual holds over its own person and life.  That, unfortunately, would not be sufficient to prevent people from finding some excuse to enforce laws that either directly or indirectly infringe upon the sovereign freedom of others - because it is not always possible to determine exactly where the freedom of each person is justly limited by the equal freedom of all others.  But it would at least help to remind everyone that it is not okay to do so.

And I suggested that they change the name of their organization to the Sovocracy, which is a word that I have invented for you air-speakers to use as a translation of the Gooi thought-signal that describes a social government structured as an alliance of sovereign individuals that exists to protect the freedom of all people and to ensure our happiness.

While I was doing that a bright column of light descended from the sky, striking the ground several miles away.  I traveled to the edge of this rather unusual phenomenon, in the company of two other Guardians.

As I looked into this tower of radiance my optic sensors overloaded, temporarily blinding me.  Then I shielded my useless eyes from that distracting light, and in the clear darkness of that moment detected a bit of consciousness at its heart.  I focused my thought detection device on the location of that awareness, behind that veil of illumination, and observed the mind of a woman who floated there.

I scanned that mind and first learned that she answers to the name Leena.  Then I discovered that she was planning to use that blaze of electromagnetic radiation to kill every human being on this planet, driven by an immense anger at the state of human civilization.

This incandescent fury that fueled her campaign of destruction had its deepest roots in an incident that occurred years before.  It happened one day while Leena was out walking with her dearly beloved aunt, who had taken care of her ever since her parents were murdered for speaking out against the authoritarian laws of their society.  The woman tripped over a small rock and fell down, accidentally exposing the flesh of her leg, in violation of a local law.

This accident was witnessed by one of the morality police of their village, who are paid by the government to wander the streets and beat citizens for any public infraction of the approved moral code.  As Leena stood there and watched in helpless terror that man assaulted her aunt for that transgression.  The attack caused injuries that first crippled and eventually killed the woman.  It also scarred the child irreparably.

Several years later Leena reached the age at which the laws of her society demanded that she cover herself from head to toe any time that she appear in public.  After that she rarely ventured from her house, because she was terrified of what would happen to her if she ever had an accident like her aunt.  When she did go out she always wore extra coverings, beyond those mandated by law, to make sure that no bit of her flesh would ever accidentally see the sun.  But despite those precautions, even when she was at home, fear and anxiety of what might be done to her for violating the mores of her society plagued her incessantly.

Then her uncle forced Leena to have sex with him, against her will, on the morning of what might have been either her seventeenth or eighteenth birthday.  Afterward he told her that she had committed a grave sin by making him do that to her, which had dishonored their entire family.  He insisted that the only way to restore that honor would be for her to commit suicide, or for her cousins to kill her if she refused to do it herself.

Leena knew of several women who had been the victim of what some people call 'honor killing', and understood that the government leaders of her village would not protect her life but would in fact help the perpetrators to get away with murdering her.  When she realized that she was in imminent danger she fled from the house.  In her terror she forgot to put on her customary covering.

As the rays of the sun fell upon her uncovered skin it began to absorb them, and she started to glow.  Her breath quickened and she began to feel stronger than she had ever thought possible.  With each passing second the intensity of this experience increased, exponentially, until that power overcame the force of gravity and lifted her up into the air.  Then she realized that she can fly.

Leena flew past the boarders of her native country, over distant oceans, and all around the world.  She explored this planet and discovered that there are some places where governments profess to have an unwavering commitment to protecting the fundamental freedom and legal equality of all people, which pleased her very much.  But she quickly became disillusioned and very depressed as she learned the disgraceful truth that usually hides behind such noble proclamations.

All of the governments that Leena encountered were like that of her birthplace, on a very basic level.  All of them claim to have some kind of right to restrict each individual's freedom - and to act without regard for its personal welfare - in the service of some philosophical assertion of what is proper, best, or moral.
The idea that the actual well-being of individual people is less important than some ideological concept of righteousness could be said to philosophically objectify people, because it reduces people to the status of things that may be manipulated, used, and even harmed, justly, to satisfy the dictates of that moral code.

This insidious and very dangerous idea takes many different forms, which are often violently opposed to some other incarnation of the same basic concept, and in one guise or another has infected the minds of most human beings in this world.  Many people believe that a government built upon one such ideology will abolish all of the human misery caused by those people and governments that follow an opposing one, but regardless of its specific ideations, or how people try to justify it, any philosophy that is rooted in this rude and dehumanizing principle will ultimately foster an atmosphere of alienation, antagonism, and discord, creating much unhappiness, within any population that is ruled by it.

And once a person welcomes this kind of ideology into its mind it often starts to think that everyone who does not abide by its chosen idea of what is right and respectable deserves to be unhappy in some way, which strikes me as the most despicable of all the disgusting and destructive beliefs that I have found cluttering human minds.  But I do not think that you should have to suffer for holding such a malicious attitude, which is fortunate for all of you who perpetrate this hideous thought upon the world, because it means that I will still protect you from everybody else who thinks the same way and wants to make you miserable in retribution for refusing to follow the strictures of their own morality.

As Leena contemplated this concept she came to a country run by a very powerful government that claims to value the happiness of each individual but refuses to do all that is within its power to protect and free each person from all that makes it unhappy, which it excuses by asserting that a government's proper obligation is merely to protect each person's freedom to pursue its own happiness.  And then it tramples all over that freedom, as well, by enforcing laws that needlessly restrict the things that a person can do to make itself happy, while simultaneously making a big, pompous, insincere spectacle about how much that country respects personal liberty.

After leaving that place she flew to another continent, where she discovered the Democracy.  When Leena saw all of those hypocrites in the Democracy who take great pride in the idea that their society treats all people with equality but then give their support to laws that arbitrarily discriminate against certain groups of people - laws that treat people inequitably, in certain situations, based upon personal traits that do not have any real relevance to that situation - it filled her heart with anger and disgust.

Then a citizen of the Democracy died from injuries that she sustained while being arrested, right in front of her young niece, for breaking a law that forbade her to wear the same kind of clothing that other laws in other lands force people of a certain age and gender to wear.

Leena considered the existence of these superficially opposite but equivalently despotic laws, and thought about how the people who take the most pride in denouncing one form of oppression are so often the most enthusiastic proponents of some other kind.  She thought about how those people who fight to free themselves from the tyrannical policies of a government that subjugates them rarely seem able - or willing - to distinguish that objective from their own desire to then make up new laws that subjugate some other segment of the population in a different but comparable way.  And she concluded that such obscenely selfish, cruel and hurtful idiocy must be inescapably intrinsic to the psychological makeup of the human race.

Then the frustration and resentment kindled in her heart by the suffocating feelings of fear and anxiety that she had felt ever since the death of her aunt burst into a fiery rage.  Anger and bitterness consumed her, and at the same time Leena succumbed to the bleak despair that this Earth would never know anything but tyranny and misery while human beings lived here.  So she decided to scour the planet of its human infestation.

She reached her arms up to the sky, drawing a stream of plasma from the sun down to her.  As she bathed in the power of that star Leena began to glow with a searing intensity, which obliterated everything for miles around.  And then she set out to kill the rest of humanity.

When I saw what she was doing I tried to reach through the blinding, metaphorical light of her rage to reason with the rational portion of her mind, which, I could see, was terrified of her own actions, and was truly sorry for all of the innocent lives that she was going to end.  But that rationality was not strong enough to reign in her angry, wounded, hopeless inner-child, who was determined to alleviate her pain with these acts of violence.

Then one of this worlds many presidents commanded some soldiers to drop a hydrogen bomb on her, which was about as effective as throwing water on a fish, because the energy released by the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium is the very thing that gives Leena her power.

That nuclear blast just increased the intensity of the inferno around her, and certainly did not diminish her determination to murder the human race.  But it did give Leena an idea of how to accomplish that task much more efficiently.  She then began forming balls of concentrated nuclear energy and tossing them at densely populated areas all around the globe, allowing her to destroy lots of people living in far off places without any of the inconvenience of having to go to those places herself.

With that new development in her military strategy it seemed certain that humanity was doomed.  But then I thought of Marcia, for no apparent reason, and realized that she just might be able to get through to Leena, and help her deal with the trauma of what had been done to her, because she had gone through some oddly similar traumas herself.  So I asked Bertron to fly me back to Denver, at supersonic speed.  Before we took off I asked the incarnation of Hypergirl who was there with us to stop the intravenous drug infusion that was keeping Marcia unconscious, which was done by the Hypergirl who had remained at home.

When I told her what was going on and asked her to help us stop Leena from killing everybody Marcia hesitated, and briefly considered the possibility of letting us all die.  But then she remembered all of the innocent people in this world who do not deserve to die for the obnoxious acts of others, and she decided that she would use her power to protect us.

After we landed she formed her bloop into a very dense ball, interlocking its molecules to create the most stable and resilient solid form of this matter.  She sent that orb to Leena, using her influence to constantly dissipate its kinetic energy so that it would not vaporize.  When the ball reached its destination it began to vibrate, creating sound waves that spoke with Marcia's own voice.

Through that ball of bloop she told Leena that she understood the source of her anger and relentless pain, and then explained what had been done to her.  She said that she regretted the way in which she had reacted to that inexcusable and infuriating ill-treatment, because in her anger she had lost those parts of herself that she most valued, which are the parts of her that feel the happiness that she had once found with her dear friend Arthur.  She confessed that her vengeful murders had not eased her suffering but only made it worse, and warned Leena that when she had exhausted her rage by destroying this entire world she would probably regret it too.

Instead of fueling and increasing her own pain in a futile attempt to drown it in anger, Marcia suggested, she could simply accept her fury and resentment of those people who had hurt her, and then put those feelings aside and concentrate on trying to find some remnant of the happiness that she had once known, which was still there inside of her, though deeply buried.  As she said that I scanned the images of Marcia's ordeal from her mind and projected them to Leena, helping her to see the truth of what that sagacious little person was telling her.

Then she realized that being subjected to the bothersome presence of those who have abused her is a continuation of that abuse, because it dredges up the noxious feelings that are connected with their offense and violates her desire to be free of those criminals.  But she also realized that she did not actually care if they live or die, as long as she is rid of them, so she flew off into the sky to find peace and solace among the stars.

In the aftermath of that nuclear holocaust that almost brought about the extinction of the entire human species, which captured the attention of most of the human beings on this planet, those of us who stopped this apocalypse became quite famous, on a global scale, which has provided me with the opportunity to make this broadcast.

Today I am using satellite transmissions, rather than the thought-projector in my head, to communicate simultaneously with more than a billion people through this medium that you call television.  This is a very convenient means of distributing information to many people at the same time, but does not enable me to know if that information has been received and understood, inconveniently, because I cannot see your thoughts through that screen.

So I do not know if I have successfully conveyed to you the folly of allowing your planet to be governed by principles that disregard the well-being of individual people under the pretense that there are more important or righteous concerns, which encourages people to fight incessantly, both physically and intellectually, in an attempt to control which ideological structures will be used to excuse the mistreatment of which people.

I do not know if I have shown clearly how the traumatic oppression, insecurity, and unhappiness that is inflicted upon certain people by the proponents of such ideologies, starting usually when they are young children, often drives these victims to try to appease that misery by embracing and clinging to equivalently destructive patterns of thought and behavior, turning them into criminals who perpetrate such villainy upon the next generation of humanity.  And I do not know if you now realize that the best thing that we can do to protect ourselves from such people is to break that cycle of institutionalized abuse that scars their psyches and motivates them to act that way in the first place.

Instead of supporting social organizations that objectify, subjugate, and antagonize people with philosophies that disrespect their fundamental desire for actual happiness - and by doing so implicitly validating the ideological excuses that some people offer for their own misguided attempt to satisfy that stifled desire with the same kind of abusive behavior - we can aspire to create a world in which each person feels protected and safe, free, and as happy as it can possibly be without tyrannizing anyone else in any way.

Then the tragedies of today - and the legally mandated atrocities of yesterday that inspired them - might never occur again.

This concludes my broadcast.

I leave you all to think about this story that I have told, and each to decide what kind of person you want to be from this moment on.  Will you be someone who supports a movement to protect the people of this world from all forms of tyranny, so that we can be free to realize our full potential for creating happiness?  Will you be an advocate and abettor of those criminal institutions that spread misery and conflict throughout the world by allowing some people to legally dominate and prey upon others?  The choice, as always, is up to you.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

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