Friday, October 23, 2015
Ethics of killing Hitler
But it's the ethical question that comes up the most often, and it has real-world use. It's pretty much the question Edward Snowden faced: should he break his oath and disclose the NSA's mass surveillance of Americans?
I point this out because my ethical response is "yes, and go to jail". The added "and go to jail" makes it a rare response -- lots of people are willing to kill Hitler if they don't suffer any repercussions.
For me, the hypothetical question is "If you went back in time and killed Hitler, would you go to jail for murder?". My answer is "yes". I'd still do my best to lessen the punishment. I'd hire the best lawyer to defend me. It's just that I would put judgement of my crime or heroism in the hands of others. I would pay the consequences, whatever they were.
Another way of looking at the question is: "If you had a time machine, is killing Hitler the best option?". Maybe if you sent a hot chick back in time to get Hitler laid as a teenager, he wouldn't be so angry at the world. Maybe if you went back in time and purchased his crappy paintings, or hired him as an architect, you could steer his life onto another path. Seriously, the time stream is full of butterflies that simply need to flap their wings in order to divert Hitler from genocide.
I point this out because it's "murder" that is the question, and Hitler is only window dressing.
There is a cybersecurity bill, "CISA", in front of congress right now that will be voted on next week. But "cybersecurity" is only the window dressing. The tech industry and cybersecurity experts oppose it. Its only supporters are the intelligence community, like the FBI and NSA. It's really a disguised surveillance bill. Just like people seem uninterested in stopping Hitler through some means other than murder, government is uninterested in stopping hackers through some other means than mass surveillance and a police state.
Anyway, those are my two answers to the "kill Hitler" question. If I had a time machine, my first choice wouldn't be "murder". If I did choose "murder", I'd expect to go to jail for it.