Monday, January 20, 2003
Oh, the Inhumanity!
Just when it seems that the human race has finally groped its way upward towards a significant level of maturity, this comes along. [Article link requires paid subscription to the Wall Street Journal; see excerpt below.]
It used to be that anyone outside of a person's immediate family wasn't considered to be truly human. Everyone else was a sub-human or an enemy, subject to being killed or conquered or enslaved or otherwise exploited without a second thought. Over the centuries the definition of humanity was slowly extended to include the rest of the tribe, then the rest of the nation, eventually even the rest of the world. Over the centuries it was extended to include tolerance for other cultures and other races and other religions. It's been a long, difficult struggle towards enlightenment, with many set-backs along the way.
But apparently we aren't quite ready to take the final step...
Fans Howl in Protest as Judge Decides X-Men Aren't Human
The most incredible aspect of this whole sordid affair is that the U.S. Government defended the X-Men's humanity, while Marvel stabbed them in their non-human backs.
Marvel Fought to Have Characters Ruled Nonhuman to Win Lower Tariff on Toys
by Neil King Jr., Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2003
Judge Judith Barzilay huddled late last year with a telepathic professor and a cast of mutants to ponder an age-old question: What does it mean to be human?
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Her ruling thundered through the world of Marvel Comics fans. The famed X-Men, those fighters of prejudice sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them, are not human, she decreed Jan. 3. Nor are many of the villains who do battle with Spiderman and the Fantastic Four. They're all "nonhuman creatures," concluded Judge Barzilay.
Marvel subsidiary Toy Biz Inc. pushed Judge Barzilay to declare its heroes nonhuman so it could win a lower duty rate on action figures imported from China in the mid-1990s. At the time, tariffs put higher duties on dolls than toys. According to the U.S. tariff code, human figures are dolls, while figures representing animals or "creatures," such as monsters and robots, are deemed toys.
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