February 23, 2019


Commentary for February 23, 2019:

This part of the scene was pretty tricky to write. Kathy just spilled her guts (and, as the writer, I can assure you that she has been completely honest), and now Sally Acorn, duly elected President of the Terran Union has got to decide what to do about it. Kathy didn’t deliberately cause the extinction of a civilization, but her careless actions led to that nevertheless. That wasn’t her intention and she didn’t realise it was going to happen. But does that clear her of any wrongdoing?

I’m not kidding when I say I’ve spent a long time thinking about this and trying to figure what I would do in these circumstances. And I don’t really know. But what would Sally do? Well, as a leader, her first responsibility is to her people. If the Alatárans threaten the Terran Union, then turning over a wanted fugitive might be the safest option. But if she’s not guilty of the crime she’s been charged with, what then? Even if she is guilty, what if the penalty facing her conflicts with the standards of the Terran Union?

This is a legitimate problem in extradition cases in the real world. Someone may have committed a serious crime in one country and fled to another. The first country may want them extradited to face trial and possible execution. But if their country of refuge is one that opposes the death penalty, they may have a reason to resist extraditing them. The Terrans have no formal relations with the Alatárans, and therefore no extradition treaties either one has to abide by. So, given the penalty awaiting Kathy, is the Terran Union -- which most certainly does not practice what we might call “corrective brainwashing” -- obliged to hand Kathy over?

Well, until the final panel, Sally was unaware of the penalty Kathy was facing and had assumed that a less invasive form of rehabilitation was what Izumiya had meant when Serena spoke to her. So, her decision, which she felt was the best for all concerned, was to extradite Kathy, but send legal advocates to her homeworld with her to help try and clear her name. Of course, in addition to not understanding what Izumiya meant by “rehabilitation”, Sally also didn’t know that Kathy had already been tried in absentia -- something many real world countries frown upon, and the Terran Union certainly does too. So, Izumiya came to Earth to capture Kathy and return her to Alatára III for sentencing only. That makes things a little more complicated, because Izumiya has intimated that denying her will make an enemy of her, and the Alatárans are thousands of years more advanced than the Terrans. Can Sally afford to anger them? Alternatively, can she justify compromising the principles of the Terran Union by submitting to a superior power’s bullying tactics?

More of this question on the next page!

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