Day 64: Is it REALLY okay to punch Nazis? (A DnD alignment analysis)
I struggled with this question heavily. Within my political bubble, I saw mostly one perspective: it is totally okay to do this, fellow liberals and moderate conservatives. This was unsatisfactory to me. I’m going to guide my thoughts via the most reliable tool for measuring questions on morality and ethics: the Dungeons & Dragons Alignment Chart.
Below is a DnD alignment breakdown, based on questions of morality (good, neutral, or evil) and ethics (lawful, neutral, or chaotic). One’s response to a situation might be influenced by their alignment.
So, is it okay to punch a Nazi?
Lawful Good: No.
Neutral Good: Yes, but it’s illegal, so… be discreet.
Chaotic Good: HELL YES.
Lawful Neutral: Assault’s against the law, but I kinda get you.
True Neutral: Punch ’em, don’t punch ’em. Do what you want. Or not.
Chaotic Neutral: How much would you pay me to punch him?
Lawful Evil: The government should make it legal to punch Nazis.
Neutral Evil: I will punch whomever I please, Nazi or otherwise.
Chaotic Evil: LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR.
What is the alignment of the Nazi?
In the world of DnD, one’s combative motives also depends on the alignment of the enemy as well. Paladins (strictly Lawful Good “holy knights”) defeat creatures such as orcs, goblins, and giants all the time, presuming they are evil characters.
Are Nazis evil as well, or do we just need them to be to feel good about ourselves? Another way to think about this question: if the question is really a matter of good vs evil, how certain are you of being in one of those camps? Even so, is it only natural to beget violence from that dichotomy?
What are the consequences of punching a Nazi?
So you’ve punched the Nazi. The counter-response might be worse. Removing one’s ideology from understanding that infamous video, it looks as if someone expressed himself in a public area, not openly threatening or harassing anyone. He subsequently was blindsided by a punch to the face.
Those who don’t agree with any use of violence against self-expression will see this and criticize it out of principle. Those who agree or are at least ambivalent to his ideology are now further galvanized to his position. In my view, this video didn’t raise the bar on discussing complex issues such as race and nationalism — it risks compromising our ability to discuss at all.
What if this were a video of someone who believed in an extreme view of Shari’a or socialism? I have a pretty radical view on euthanasia, age limits, and saving the entire healthcare and social security system (I’ll share it in the future, maybe) — do I deserve a punch in the face?
As delightful as it is to watch someone be violently suppressed for having diametrically opposed political beliefs, such approaches are hypocritical and don’t work in the long run. I’m reminded of this great clip from The West Wing when Sam Seaborn talks about the folly of terrorism and violent resistance and how, over and over again, non-violent resistance triumphs in the end.