Ladies and gentlemen, what follows is one half of a non-responsive debate between myself and Erik Copper. After reading this argument, I would encourage you to go and read his article, which will contain the pro-Iron Man position, before voting in the poll at the bottom. The winner of the debate will receive absolutely nothing, and the results will have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the actual film. Also, if you were on one side and either argument convinced you to switch sides, please let us know in the comments. While it is entirely possible that the reasons for the Civil War in the film might prove to be different than the original comic book, for the purposes we are going to assume they will be the same or similar. Let's begin.
The Civil War is about one thing and one thing only: freedom. No matter how you look at it, it all comes down to the personal freedom to help people or not help people. This is a debate about freedom versus government regulation, and I would encourage you not to allow my opponent to convince you that it is about anything else. He will try to tell you that it is a question of security, it is not. He will try to convince you that the regulation and registration of superheroes is to keep you safe, this is just simply not the case. He may even try to tell you that superheroes should be trained and that they deserve to be paid for their service, but I will point out that this is a red herring. The simple fact is that most superheroes have had extensive training and they don't do what they do for money. I will show you that this is only a question of freedom and how regulating superheroes will actually make society less safe.
1. The Government Has No Right To Demand Superheroes Identify Themselves
First and foremost, demanding that superheroes identify themselves is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment clearly protects "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." This has been interpreted by the United States Supreme Court to include your identity. If law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion to demand the average citizen identify himself, shouldn't the federal government also produce such reasonable suspicion that a given hero is committing or has committed a crime before they can force them to identify themselves? Of course it does, so the Superhero Registration Act is Unconstitutional on its face.
2. Only Heroes Are Going to Adhere to the Registration. Villains Won't.
How, I ask you, will this Superhero Registration Act serve to keep the public safe if only law abiding super beings, those only interested in helping the common man, register? Do you really think people who live outside the law are suddenly going to turn themselves in and reveal their true identities? Of course they aren't. Is Mysterio going to suddenly show up at SHIELD headquarters and give them his real name? Absolutely not. He would be stupid to do that, and we are stupid to as that the heroes, who are a threat to no one and only want to help the public, place themselves and their loved ones in danger by registering under their real names. Forcing superheroes to register will do a lot of harm and absolutely no good.
3. The Last Time We Required an Entire Class of People to Register, They Were Soon After Rounded Up and Sent to Internment Camps
Remember the Japanese during World War II? Those internment camps that you would have to look really hard not to see as the same as the concentration camps the Germans, who were the bad guys in that war, were keeping their Jewish prisoners in? Remember those guys? Yeah, how about we not repeat that injustice with people who are literally risking their lives every day for the safety of us regular folk?
4. When Government Regulates Something, You Get Less of It
It is an often proven fact that when the government starts regulating stuff, the market shrinks due to excess red tape and hassle. Sometimes, regulations are put into place specifically to discourage people from entering a specific market. While the Superhero Registration Act may have good intentions, there will also be unintended consequences. How many superheroes do you think are going to just decide to hang up their capes rather than register. If the intention of the Superhero Registration Act really is to make us safer, then I must ask you how much safer are we really going to be when superheroes decide to stop superheroing?
5. The Government Can Not Keep Superhero Identities Safe
The U.S. government has promised that all registered superhero identities would be kept secured in a server only accessible to the highest SHIELD operatives and authorized government officials. They have promised that there is no danger of identities falling into the wrong hands, thus placing the heroes and their families in undue risk. This sounds fair enough, except when has the government ever been able to keep their secrets. Edward Snowden did a great job of showing the American people, and the world, really, just how incompetent the government is when it comes to keeping their own secrets safe. How can we possibly trust them to keep the secrets of our superheroes safe?
6. Who Decides Who the Villains Are?
If every superhero in America is now a government agent, trained and paid by the state, how long until the government starts pulling their strings? Sure, they may be promising the heroes complete autonomy now, but how long before they are rolled into the greater military industrial complex? How long until the superheroes are being sent overseas to fight ISIS or whoever and the American people are once again left to fend for themselves? Many of these heroes do what they do to give back to their own communities, and not to be sent to foreign lands to do the bidding of the government.
7. Who Watches the Watchers?
Or, in other words, who protects us from the protectors? We already have the police, and many police departments are rampant with corruption that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Chicago has had a corrupt PD since forever. The NYPD is rampant with corruption, even after Serpico. The LAPD, while hunting down Christopher Dorner, opened fire on a vehicle containing two women, a vehicle that, by the way, in no way matched any description of a vehicle Dorner was suspected to be driving. So if the superheroes become part of the police, who will protect us from incompetence and corruption in various less than reputable police departments around the country?
8. Superheroes Can't Effectively Do Their Jobs As Government Agents
For superheroes to be truly effective, they oftentimes have to operate outside the law. They can get away with this because they have secret identities and they aren't bound by the same rules as law enforcement. Once you begin to regulate them and put them on payroll, you rob them of a useful tool in combating crime. And seriously, how can Daredevil effectively interrogate a criminal if he has to read him his Miranda Rights first?
9. The Superhero Registration Act Backdoors Mutant Registration, Which We Already Decided Was Bad, Right?
Yes, the X-Men are currently licensed out to Fox and there are no mutants in the MCU. That is, however, irrelevant. The fact remains that all super beings, whether they are actively engaged in superheroing or not will be required to register with the government, even if it is in an inactive capacity. Didn't we already decide that we don't license people to live? Will registered inactive super beings also be forced to put surveillance cameras in their homes and offices to ensure that they are not engaging in any undocumented superhero activity? I know, you think that's ludicrous, right? You're about to accuse me of perpetrating Reductio ad Absurdum, right? Well I would ask you to keep in mind that we are talking about a law that would require an entire class of people to register with the government like cattle. We've already moved beyond talking about human beings here, the government is already stripping them of their dignity and their autonomy.
10. The US Government and SHIELD Have Already Been Infiltrated By Hydra!
Are we so quick to forget the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Keep in mind that this movie will be taking place in a world where the most vile and evil terrorist organization on Earth have already infiltrated the US government. They have already taken over the highest positions in SHIELD. They have agents who are Senators, Generals, judges, police (which would actually explain Chicago, New York and LA) and just about every important position in between. I propose that we can't trust the US government because we can't be sure it even is the legitimate government anymore. Thank goodness we have superheroes like Captain America who are willing to hang on to their integrity and fight for what is right, and who has the guts to point out that just because it's the law doesn't necessarily make it right.
There you have it. My argument as to why Team Captain America is the team to support in the Civil War if you care at all about your rights and your personal freedoms. And you might be sitting there right now saying to yourself, "I don't have super powers, I'm not a vigilante, this law doesn't affect me." Well, while you're sitting there saying that, let me leave you with one more thought: if the government has a monopoly on super powered beings, how long will it be before they do pass a law that affects you? Allowing the government to have a monopoly on force is never a good idea. Always remember, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. What could be more absolute than the most powerful nation in the world having a monopoly on all of the super powered beings?
So who's side are you on? Be sure to head on over to Erik Copper's profile (linked at the top of the article) and read his pro-Iron Man argument and then decide for yourself. Then vote in the poll, and feel free to continue the discussion in the comments.