Thursday, November 30, 2006

Update: Taco Bell Hacker

I've received a deluge of email (three messages) commenting on the moral ambiguity of the TB Hacker, who illegally voted 1000+ times to get a Taco Bell at MIT. I feel obligated to defend a fellow revolutionary.

Now, I'm no philosopher. My friend is, though, and he's writing his Ph.D. thesis on cognition and the difference between logic and reason (why America pays this guy ~$8 million per year and not people like my friend is a mystery, and a tragedy, to me). I've hung out with my friend enough to pick up a few things, namely a super-sophisticated understanding of utilitarianism.

The best definition of utilitarianism was given by Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one." In other words, the most important objective of a good moral system should be improvement to (or saving of) human life, even at the expense of a smaller number of people. It justifies disposing of not only small groups of expendable people but also other (archaic) principles like good and evil. Bottom line: Jack Bauer can torture a dude to save Los Angeles.

This defense applies to TB Hacker in spades. He may have violated the law, undermined our democratic principles, etc., but he did so to improve the lives of all MIT students by delivering a Taco Bell to them.

Need proof? Here are some case studies:

Abraham Lincoln. Honest Abe suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the War of Northern Aggression to save the Union and free millions of slaves.

Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica. She failed to follow utilitarian principles by refusing to steal the presidential election from Gaius Baltar. He went on to become Cylon collaborator, and her decision resulted in the deaths of 10,000 people and threatened the survival of all humanity. She didn't have the bravery of the TB Hacker.

Spock. He went into the dilithium chamber to save the Enterprise, knowing it would kill him. The ship--including Captain Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and 400 others--was saved. AND THEN, because he'd mind-melded his consciousness into McCoy and was reanimated on the Genesis Planet, he came back to life. So everything worked out perfectly. (You can buy all 10 Star Trek movies on DVD here for only $80!)

What do these case studies teach us? Stop attacking TB Hacker. He remains a Champion in my eyes, and is still owed his $50 of Border Bucks from me.

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