TV

How Netflix's New Daredevil Series Makes Torture Into a Virtue

The superhero show celebrates the violent interrogations inflicted by its main character.

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"Daredevil" trailer/YouTube

The Daredevil series on Netflix is about how one man, alone and with right in his heart, can change a city for the better using only one weapon: torture.

Politically the Daredevil series, based on the long-running Marvel comic about a blind superhero whose alter-ego is a criminal defense lawyer named Matt Murdock, is a casual mess—a melange of half-digested, not especially coherent liberal and conservative talking points thrown together almost at random. 

The series' working-class Hispanics living in rent-controlled apartments under threat from evil developers is a basic lefty meme. The all-consuming corruption of government institutions, from politicians to police, is borrowed from libertarian or right-wing distrust of government. The Kingpin—a powerful crime boss and one of Daredevil's arch enemies—is a villain to liberals because he's super-rich. He's a villain to conservatives because he's a dreamy and hypocritical help-the-poor idealist. In short, there's a reason for people of every political persuasion to be flattered or irritated, as long as no one thinks about it too hard.

But amidst the ideological confusion, the one consistent value is torture. To unravel the Kingpin's web of corruption, Daredevil resorts again and again to threats and violent interrogation. 

Most of this involves straightforward thuggish brutality. Daredevil (Charlie Cox) asks a question, then hits or kicks the poor schmo who isn't talking. Sometimes the torture is more elaborate, with Daredevil using his ninja fighting skills to break limbs or snap bones. And at least one incident involves elaborate, prepared interrogation techniques. In what is probably a crib from the seminal Batman comic The Dark Knight Returns, which was written by influential comics scribe Frank Miller shortly after he wrote a similarly character-defining run on Daredevil, our hero drags his victim up onto the roof, ties him up, and then takes advice from his nurse friend Claire (Rosario Dawson) on how to use a blade to inflict unbearable pain.

"Daredevil" trailer/YouTube

On the TV series 24, torture is necessitated by the ticking clock. Harsh measures are underwritten by the certainty and imminence of terrorist apocalypse. Daredevil doesn't even bother with such shilly-shallying justifications. 

The show spends a lot of moral energy worrying about whether or not Daredevil/Matt Murdock will or won't commit murder. But violence short of actually killing someone is barely even greeted with a shrug. Claire, the nurse, has no compunction about using her medical knowledge in the service of torture, and the show doesn't even seem to realize that anyone might have such reservations. Daredevil doesn't torture any women—only the bad guys do that—but he cheerfully beats a 73-year-old man, a junkie who's barely able to stand, and various men who pose no immediate threat to the hero or anyone else. There's no time-bomb scenario—torture is just what heroes do. Daredevil even tortures one guy in order to find a new tailor.

Superheroes strong-arming villains goes back to early Superman and the beginning of the genre. But it's unusually central in the Netflix series, where it's arguably Daredevil's main power. His super-enhanced senses allow him to detect increased heartbeats and therefore tell when people are lying. Coupled with judicious use of torture, Daredevil becomes a human lie-detector; an avatar of truth burning through the layers of shadows and falsehoods in which the Kingpin conceals his machinations.

You could argue, perhaps, that Daredevil's torture has little relevance to debates about government torture. Daredevil, after all, is not a federal agent nor a cop.

But even if Daredevil is not an agent of the state, his use of torture still serves (and arguably even validates) official power. The Kingpin's final downfall is engineered when Daredevil terrorizes a witness into turning state's evidence. The guy agrees after Daredevil threatens him—and then the hero hits him another few times, just to emphasize the righteous motivating force of unaccountable brutality. The episode then moves on to a collage of FBI agents rounding up the bad guys.

The hero tortures and that torture races through the legal system, righting wrongs. Information gained through torture is not a poisoned fruit; it's justice itself.

In superhero narratives, violence outside the law, unconstrained by institutional checks and balances, is not compromised or wrong. On the contrary, vigilantism is actually more virtuous, precisely because it exceeds the normal workings of the legal system, and can inflict or exact punishment in a way that the courts and police cannot. Daredevil is, in that sense, a perfect, clarifying fulfillment of its genre. The hero is a hero because he hurts the bad guys. If Dick Cheney himself were underneath Daredevil's mask, he couldn't have argued the rationale for torture any more clearly.

NEXT: How Libertarians Are Changing Conservative Views on Economic Liberty and the Constitution

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  1. It’s a movie,like Dirty Harry.Hell the Avengers trashed NYC.

  2. …and what commentators whine about

    1. Die in a fire.

  3. It must be an interesting movie! I’ll definitely be watching,when It’s gonna be released?
    I’ll have to take a small break at my job at assignment help at http://www.assignmentmountain.com/ to watch it.

    1. I’m not clicking unless I get a good bhindi bhaji recipe from you.

  4. This is…a rather juvenile take on the “vigilante in comics” archetype. I’m still only 3 episodes into the show but generally speaking, these are characters set in broken systems, whereby there is no avenue for justice through due process. They are also characters that, if written well, highlight the personal cost of combating violence with violence: physical but more importantly, moral. The question is always “have you become what you are fighting against?”

    I don’t see anything wrong with being entertained and mentally challenged about questions regarding the relative morality of violence in differing circumstances. Apparently Noah either has all the answers already or fails to see the relevant questions.

    1. “The question is always “have you become what you are fighting against?””

      Hmmm…dressed up as the Devil, torturing people…I’m going to say, yes.

      1. Maybe you could perform an exorcism for him.

        1. *There* you are, I thought you’d given up, like Tonio.

          1. I’ll give up when you stop pimping your mythology.

            1. The mythology that torture is wrong and shouldn’t be encouraged in popular culture? Sure, one of the most pernicious myths of our day.

              /sarc

              1. Deliberately misunderstanding is a sort of lie, Eddie. Why do you make baby Jesus cry?

                1. Fd’A said I was pimping my mythology with my anti-torture comments.

                  1. No, you are pimping your mythology, ever so subtly (as usual) with your devil comments.

                    You wear your religion on your sleeve and insert it EVERY fucking chance you get so the rest of us will know how pious you are. The implication, of course, being, how superior you are to the rest of us heathens. End purpose? I don’t know, to start religious conversations in the hopes of creating converts? Or is it just that your an asshole who needs to feel superior to everyone else?

                    I don’t really give a shit about your psychoses, OR what mythology you follow. If the discussion is about religion, have a nut. I only ask you not constantly throw it in my face when it’s not. If you can manage that (which I’m positive you can’t) we’ll have no issue. If you can’t, you can fuck off and expect to be called out as an asshole when you do it.

                    1. But when we call him an asshole he then gets to play the martyr card.

                    2. St. Eddie, patron saint of whiners.

                    3. But DareDEVIL does dress up as THE DEVIL. Is anyone who discusses this wearing their religion on their sleeve and inserting it into the conversation? I don’t buy it.

                    4. He dresses as the Devil because it takes place in Hell’s Kitchen, no? Dressing as the Devil has absolutely NOTHING to do with “him becoming what he is fighting against”, as was the topic. Eddie had to jump on it and subtly insert his religious beliefs on a topic that has NOTHING to do with religion.

                      He does it all the time. How many off topic abortion threads from his religious magazines does he post a week? How often does he cite religious sites and magazines? How often does he put a religious overtone on his comments?

                      You may worship however you choose. But if I want a sermon, I’d join his cult. And if he continues to be a dick about it, he’d better get used to me calling him a fucking asshole, for it.

                    5. He dresses as the Devil because it takes place in Hell’s Kitchen, no?

                      Not Gordon Ramsey?

                    6. Francisco –

                      Your m/o seems to be

                      1) Be the first person in a thread to mention my religion

                      2) denounce me for dragging my religion into every thread.

                    7. That’s very good Eddie. You can read. That’s exactly what I said I’m going to do.

                      But let me reiterate. Every time you introduce your religion into a conversation, no matter how subtly, that has nothing to do with religion, I’m going to call you out as an asshole for it.

                    8. What about when you shove your “wisdom” and “insight” in someone’s face, St Francis of I’mEasy?

                  2. You’re stupid, Eddie, but you’re not this stupid. Lying is a sin.

                    1. Warty,

                      I know you are, but what am I?

                      (You see, I can operate at your level)

              2. The mythology that torture is wrong and shouldn’t be encouraged in popular culture?

                I note that the Catholic churches I’ve been in all seem to delight in the blood and nails depictions. No simple abstract crosses, these all have a guy nailed to them. Looks like a hit from the Italians.

                1. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the Spanish Inquisition.

                  1. So…you expected the Spanish Inquisition? That goes against everything I’ve been taught.

            1. I apologize, it seems you *haven’t* given up on your stalking.

              1. Whine louder, Eddie, maybe someone will care.

      2. GKC, there’s a reason why mens rea is (supposed to be) a necessary element of an action becoming a crime. It’s also what usually makes for good character development.

        1. You’re saying Daredevil doesn’t have the necessary mens rea to be guilty of torture?

          1. I’m saying understanding motive is necessary to understanding the character.

    2. Noah pretty much analyzes most comics at a “rather juvenile” level. Comments like this:

      Claire, the nurse, has no compunction about using her medical knowledge in the service of torture, and the show doesn’t even seem to realize that anyone might have such reservations.

      Make me wonder how much time was actually spent watching the show. She is clearly uncomfortable with the torture that Murdock inflicts in that scene and despite a short fling with Murdock in fact stops a budding relationship because she is uncomfortable with the violence that he inflicts on others.

      Murdock himself is mostly ok with violence, but he grew up in a culture with two major role models who glorified violence. He struggles with the question of murder because of his Catholic upbringing (thou shalt not kill being a commandment…not thou shalt not hurt people).

      Those around him have far more issue with it. In fact Noah’s contention that it “glorifies” vigilantism also ignores the conflicts between Murdock and Foggy about doing things the “right” way via the law and the “wrong” way by vigilantism.

      But hey, lets focus on “torture”…because that was made “ok” in a series that did a pretty good job presenting characters who are morally questionable people and take (with their knowledge) morally questionable actions.

    3. Catatafish’s comment would make sense if Noah were exaggerating the usual “rough justice” vigilante element and misinterpreting it as sickening torture — but no. The scene where Daredevil enlists a nurse to help him find more painful points for his knife (while she wears a mask to heighten the victim’s terror, Klan-like) really doesn’t leave him any moral values to lose. It also shreds the last coherent motivations for either of those two characters, who have become as bafflingly self-contradictory as the Kingpin. With completely random action, it’s not just the morality that stinks, it’s the story-telling.

  5. Other than the murders, I thought the Kingpin was a good antihero for the first 2/3 of the show. He wanted to improve the city by getting rid of rent controlled squalor.

    Seriously, the show deals with the violence- it’s his “devil”. He can’t help it. he realizes it’s bad. his friends realize it’s bad. they live in a literal comic book world- violence works in comic book worlds.

    1. Seriously, the show deals with the violence- it’s his “devil”. He can’t help it. he realizes it’s bad. Deciding it’s bad but you can’t help it isn’t dealing with it. So far, the show just wallows in it.

  6. Jack Bauer begets Daredevil as Chris Kyle begets…?

    1. Bullseye? Hawkeye? Ghostrider? (too soon?)

      1. Paste Pot Pete?

      1. Sheldon saw what you did just then.

        1. Mussolanza?

  7. Eh, I think its pretty obvious that torture only works for daredevil because of his super powers. Everybody else in the underworld can’t tell when the information they get is good or bad (which led to one groups downfall). Daredevil because he can hear heartbeats (and more importantly the criminals don’t realize that he can do that) can tell if the information is good.

    1. WE HAVE A WINNER!!!

    2. yes it is fun to pretend that humanity can engage in superhuman scientific feats like listening to someones heartbeat. perhaps one day we could make a machine that could listen to heartbeats and perspiration. and also whether your asshole contracts (for kicks). i would call it the Daredevil Machine.

  8. “these are characters set in broken systems, whereby there is no avenue for justice through due process.”

    This is a good summary of how a lot of people view the War on Terror – going into dysfunctional countries and communities and trying to find out who the enemy is and what he’s planning. Thus, say some, we need torture to find out what’s going on before the enemy can do bad stuff.

    I’m not saying I agree, but I can certainly see how a well-crafted superhero story can reinforce that message.

    If entertainment can influence us for good, why not for evil?

    And this isn’t a matter of turning viewers into torturers themselves, but of making them less concerned when the government does torture, and less likely to protest in the media or at the ballot box.

    1. Superhero stories are always state propaganda.

      1. State propaganda is often a (super)hero story.

      2. Even Deadpool?

  9. Noah’s way late to the party re: superheroes torturing people.

    Or does torture only count when the victim is actually being physically harmed?

    1. I assume the victim in this case is the person who paid money to see that movie.

  10. Why pick on Daredevil? This has been going on in stories probably since the first grunted reenactments around campfires millions of years ago before spoken language with grammar even existed. It doesn’t set out torture as the central theme of the stories. It’s just a vigilante beating up bad guys.

    Lots worse things to get riled up aboout.

    1. We are internet libertarians. The more things we find to rile us, the more powerful our hate makes us.

      1. Goooood………gooooood…….let the hate flow through you………..

  11. His super-enhanced senses allow him to detect increased heartbeats and therefore tell when people are lying. Coupled with judicious use of torture, Daredevil becomes a human lie-detector; an avatar of truth burning through the layers of shadows and falsehoods in which the Kingpin conceals his machinations.

    This appears to be the (sick) key to it all: torture is only bad in real life because the information obtained is unreliable.

    The dangers of utilitarianism, folks.

    1. You know what else increases heartrate? Being tortured. The very act of indimitation intended to get the information would invalidate the ‘check’ for accuracy.

      1. Superhero stories are designed for people with the intellect of 11 years olds. So, 90% of the population.

        1. I happen to sell Superhero stories. All I expect is an acceptance that the world in the books has a different ruleset for powers.

          1. ^This^

            Good superhero stories should pose the same types of questions that good sci-fi or fantasy stories do. All are predicated on placing the reader into a set of circumstances and societal rules that are different from the ones they currently experience and forcing them to figure out just how “universal” the lessons of real life are, whether they are dependent on the system or whether they are mere fictions of it.

    2. I would say what that information is, the degree of likelihood that it will directly save lives and whether the possessor of it has already or intends to commit violence on others play a role in it too, Nikki.

  12. Daredevil has some competence, but politically it combines the worst of both worlds: the normalization of torture (that’s how you can tell the gritty superheroes from the non-gritty ones on tv, as apparently costume designers don’t want to have their characters wearing dozens of pouches and boots that grossly deform the actors’ feet) and lots of illiterate whining about rent control and the 1%.

    You can tell you’re becoming cranky when your lukewarm review of a comic-book show streamed over your $49 Chinese tablet entails a discussion of general equilibrium theory (which Karen Page could stand to learn a thing or two about, bless her 1%-hating heart) and its praxeological shortcomings.

  13. And “The Elf on the Shelf” fosters an acceptance of the surveillance state. Yep, we’re really seizing that libertarian moment, aren’t we?

    1. Why don’t you eat a box of fuck off and get the fuck out of my trailer, Lahey!

      1. Now you’ve done it. He’s gonna be watching you like a shithawk.

    2. +1 Toilet Paper Roll Condom!

  14. “The Daredevil series on Netflix is about how one man, alone and with right in his heart, can change a city for the better using only one weapon: torture.”

    It isn’t real.

    It’s just a show.

    None of the actors are actually harmed during filming. It’s just make up and special effects and acting.

    Relax. Superheroes aren’t real.

    1. Next from Noah Berlatsky: X-Men’s disturbing endorsement of slicing people up with metal claws.

      1. And what is Bat,an’s stand on AGW? We need to know?

    2. Relax. Superheroes aren’t real.

      Tell that to the copsuckers.

  15. “Politically the Daredevil series, based on the long-running Marvel comic about a blind superhero whose alter-ego is a criminal defense lawyer named Matt Murdock, is a casual mess?a melange of half-digested, not especially coherent liberal and conservative talking points thrown together almost at random. ”

    Maybe that’s because Daredevil isn’t a political show so it makes no sense to force political readings onto something that isn’t trying to make any sort of political point.

    This would be like saying Star Wars has no explicit political agenda. No shit – it’s entertainment and not everything has to be political.

    1. Yeah, I saw a Transformers flick the other day.

      They destroyed half a city in a fight.

      But that’s okay because it wasn’t real.

      It was CGI.

      1. Too bad, think of all the Stimulus if that were a real city

    2. I think this goes a bit beyond politics narrowly conceived, and goes to the attitudes being inculcated in the audience – attitudes which may be reflected in people’s behavior as voters, jurors, etc.

      1. That’s a very progressive notion, though, isn’t it?

        Does everything in the media have to be about upholding liberal values?

        Wasn’t American Sniper unacceptable for that reason?

        1. What definition of liberal are you using?

          As I said, torture goes beyond politics narrowly conceived – it’s a matter of putting pro-torture ideas into the general culture.

          1. I’m talking about how the media has to indoctrinate everyone–that’s it’s true purpose.

            That’s a very progressive notion.

            1. I’m aware of the escapism argument, I’m simply saying that if entertainment can uplift is, then by implication it can also degrade us. I’m going by Berlatsky’s description of the program – if he’s correct it sure has a lot of positively-portrayed torture scenes.

              What happened to “I’m not going to torture you – I’m the good guy!”

              If we’re going to abolish censorship by the state, then viewers have a responsibility to do the job the state did – distinguish bad from good, uplifting from degrading.

              1. Since the average participant here believes self to be supra-130 on the S-B and therefore able to discern fantasy from reality (except in economics, ecosystem biology, genetics, law, and the fine line between overt-autocrat-covert-statist and everyone else), I’m sure that nobody anywhere is getting indoctrinated by what obviously is entertainment.

                I’m sure the discussions I’ve had with various friends who cite movies and TV shows as informative because they reflect human values/human society, and who bristle when I remind them it’s just entertainment and one shouldn’t use TV or movie characters as role models — that’s just fantasy, because some genius who calls himself a libertarian says so.

                1. I mean it’s not like you can find anyone who thinks cops and prosecutors are never wrong because CSI and because Jack Bauer and because Law & Order and because Netflix has a whole lot of programming that reminds people Hitler was evil and those poor Jews in Israel might get wiped off the map by someone’s rhetoric. I’m sure that’s all irrelevant. Because someone who can’t imagine others being gulled, he/she/it insists nobody can be so hoodwinked or ideologically nudged. Everyone is well-read, objective, logical and rational, and nobody gets their ideas about “reality” from TV or movies. NOBODY!

          2. I haven’t seen American Sniper, but I understand he shoots enemy soldiers on the field of battle, rather than torture them after they’re captured. The former is something soldiers do once a war is legitimately begun.

            1. Cindy Sheehan says we should engage them in dialogue and be nicer to them so they like us. Then there will be no wars. Which are just bad.

              1. Who is “them”? THA TERRRRRISSSSSS! ???

  16. Having finished Daredevil this weekend, I think the broad arc for the show will be about Murdock’s journey from vigilante to superhero. In the universe of the show he is still on the vigilante side of the storyline, where torture is part of his toolkit, as is the application of violence being the only way he knows how to defend the people of the city.

    As Catatafish points out, Murdock must operate within a broken system where there is quite literally one honest cop (hinting at a truth about our world few want to grapple with), Wilson Fisk is able to murder at will, order murders with no danger of being stopped, even to the point of having suspects murdered by police in the station while being interrogated (once again, a bitter laugh at the “fantasy” aspect of this.) A one point, Fisk murders dozens of his own allies (which causes untold deaths as collateral damage), and sends the police in to murder the survivors. When there is no law, what is the libertarian response to that? Nothing? Murdock certainly didn’t initiate any violence, and acts in defense of people not able to defend themselves.

    Why torture is morally wrong, Daredevil is not a libertarian, his universe is not a libertopia and the show itself is not presented as libertarian programming. This veers very close to arguments that men making video games to be played by men are guilty of not providing enough positive portrayals of South American Trans-lesbian union organizers in their games.

    1. ^^^ This.

    2. SugarFree,

      I think Noah’s article raises some good points, as did some of the comments in response (including yours).
      Has anyone read the actual comics and if so is the series true to the nature of Daredevil? That would be my primary interest and if the answer is yes a broader question would be whether or not the timing of the show is partially due to our society’s increased tolerance for torture (a debatable point but an opinion I hold).

      SugarFree: “I think the broad arc for the show will be about Murdock’s journey from vigilante to superhero.”

      Does/has the character of Daredevil “evolve” morally along his journey thus far?
      Would the character’s development or personality been approximately as interesting if he abhorred torture and relied upon his heightened senses to wear an opponent down through “torture-free” interrogation?

      As you well know, there are many ways to develop a character in fiction. I like to write stories with a lot of grey area, but which include a few characters that are what most of us would easily call good and a few we would call reprobates.

      I’ve found that placing a character of higher than average morals or even one of average morals into a difficult situation where he or she must struggle to maintain his or her nature (or “alignment” if you will) is challenging and quite rewarding.
      It’s far better than having, let’s say, the equivalent of an Orc in a Superhero costume by who’s actions might makes right, at least in my opinion.

      1. “Has anyone read the actual comics and if so is the series true to the nature of Daredevil? That would be my primary interest and if the answer is yes a broader question would be whether or not the timing of the show is partially due to our society’s increased tolerance for torture (a debatable point but an opinion I hold).”

        It varies depending upon who the writer of a particular comic book run is, but I believe the most famous run of Daredevil stories was when Frank Miller was writing for the property in the ’80s. Miller, being Frank Miller and all, made the series VERY violent compared to what it was before and I think it’s that series that the Netflix series is essentially founded on.

        As such, I don’t think Daredevil’s Netflix series shows ‘society’s increased tolerance of torture’ since this version of Daredevil dates back to 1979.

        1. Thanks for the information, Irish.

          Miller certainly seems to be a fan of torture, regardless of when he writes.

          Have you seen the new Sin City movie yet?

          1. No, I heard the new Sin City was pretty terrible.

            Miller has completely lost his mind. I don’t really read comics and mostly know about them third hand, but his All Star Batman & Robin was pretty infamous for having a ridiculously abusive relationship between Bruce Wayne and a pre-teen Robin.

        2. I had a long comment eaten by the squirrels, but Irish got to the gist of it.

      2. Would the character’s development or personality been approximately as interesting if he abhorred torture and relied upon his heightened senses to wear an opponent down through “torture-free” interrogation?

        I think asking if a story would be “better” if it was different is fairly illegitimate in the terms of fiction, especially given that the valuation of “better” is being done from a viewpoint the creators do not hold nor can be expected to hold. The NAP upholding superhero is for you to write.

        1. The NAP upholding superhero is for you to write.

          I can just see the argument between characters now:

          Unprincipled Character: “You can afford to stick to your high horse because you’ve got powers to protect you”

          Hero: “I’m trying to set an example.”

          1. UnCivil,

            I suppose our NAP upholding character would have to be a regular hero-type without powers, born into an unprivileged situation?.

            1. Interestingly, this has been handled in superhero fiction for decades, but the morality in question is usually centered around the ethics of killing, rather than torture. Torture (at least the psychological variety) is seemingly always present.

            2. I’d have a hard time working them in to my setting because the government barriers to entry and the mandated insurance costs would prevent such a person from breaking into the field. That is unless they were unlicensed, which can get them arrested.

              Of course, you could always write your own where the structural conditions of my setting would not apply.

        2. SugarFree,

          I was asking for an opinion, but see that I wasn’t clear.

          I’ll go a different route. If I had two characters, and one had a transformative evolution while the other was originally a person of strict morals and was able to keep to them throughout, which one do you think you would you prefer reading about, or do you think they would be equally interesting to you?
          Or am I still missing your salient points and therefore your response the same?

          “The NAP upholding superhero is for you to write.”

          A good challenge.

          1. Of course the transformative journey is better storytelling, but Noah seems to want to imply that the character of Daredevil is predicated on torture, but I think that ignores both the history of the character and the indications built into the show itself.

            I think we both misunderstood each other a bit. And I’m a bit, shall we say, sensitized to react to the argument that I thought you were making.

    3. This veers close to arguing that no one should criticize anything because someone somewhere wrote criticism you disagree with.

      1. Not at all. Your article boils down to Daredevil not upholding an ethical code that you prescribe to, not whether he is consistent in characterization as presented.

        And, as I pointed out below, there are far worse perpetrators of what you are complaining about, namely hundreds of cop shows. You are bring up the fantastical Daredevil for it’s topicality and ignoring far more popular–yet just as fantastical–shows presented as the real workings of our despicable justice system.

        1. Talking about the ideology of a work of art is something critics have pretty much always done. Why shouldn’t you? Freedom of speech was designed first and foremost to protect political speech; making some sort of special “don’t talk about politics” proscription on critics seems really confused.

          I don’t know that I’ve actually ever seen a show worse than Daredevil in its treatment of torture, including 24. They could be out there. But in any case, just because other shows are bad doesn’t mean this one’s good. Nor does it mean I can’t talk about this one.

          and of course it’s a news hook. That’s how news sites work.

    4. The first season of Arrow had him running around the city killing and torturing people. The next two seasons have been about his arc to become more than that angry vigilante and stand for something while protecting the city. I could totally see Daredevil (and if they ever actually did another Batman show) following the same sort of arc.

    5. They went through a similar evolution on ‘Arrow’.

    6. As Catatafish points out, Murdock must operate within a broken system where there is quite literally one honest cop….

      Jesus, it’s a fucking TV show made about a cartoon. What is this, Perez Hilton’s Show?

  17. Vigilante characters use torture and violence. They always have. They are ment to be cathartic stories, not blueprints for policy. Bitching about it makes very little sense.

    1. But…some people take them as a blueprint for policy. Remember, we still live in a world where astrology is considered legitimate.

      1. A single episode of Law & Order is seen by more people and does far more damage than Daredevil ever will.

        1. The show Cops immediately comes to my mind as well.

        2. Yep. This is a comic book show on a paid service, for crying out loud. L&O, or just about every show on CBS, has a much larger audience and does pretend to be a realistic depiction of the criminal justice system and how it should function.

      2. Some people believe in a Benevolent Monarch or State. Shall we cease singing “Good King Wenceslas” lest we encourage them?

        Anybody who seriously mistakes the Marvel Universe for reality is too addled to find his way to the polls on the right day.

        1. Anybody who seriously mistakes the Marvel Universe for reality is too addled to find his way to the polls on the right day.

          That’s what “early voting” is for!

    2. You guys must not have seen a lot of classic vigilantes if you think this level of torture is standard. I love good pulp, but this took the fun out.

    3. So if you identify with the so-called vigilante, it doesn’t matter whose agenda he advances?

      This must be that post-irony “irony” I keep hearing about.

  18. My Daredevil movie was so much better.

    Plus now I’m batman.

  19. So, not only does Berlatsky see every piece of entertainment in terms of its validating (or not) “official power,” he also doesn’t know enough to warn people that he has put a serious spoiler in a review!

  20. The Kingpin’s final downfall is engineered when Daredevil terrorizes a witness into turning state’s evidence. The guy agrees after Daredevil threatens him?and then the hero hits him another few times, just to emphasize the righteous motivating force of unaccountable brutality. The episode then moves on to a collage of FBI agents rounding up the bad guys.

    You know, SOME OF US HAVEN’T FINISHED WATCHING THE FIRST SEASON.

    1. Exactly. I think we know who the real,villain is here.

  21. As long as Daredevil is torturing government agents, who cares?

  22. And the vampire guy from Being Human slaughtered all those people on that train. Where was Berlatsky and his strongly-worded article of libertarian analysis then? Huh?

    1. And what about when Peter Griffin burned down a children’s hospital?

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NuhDE6mQHsk

  23. The “hero” of this story is the roommate who punched the snitch in the face.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/albert……nbnQP8MQQ

  24. I see the conflict that gives the story it’s energy as maintaining ones personal ethics in that fuzzy gray area operating within the system, and outside of the system.

    1. Again, I haven’t seen it, but Berlatsky says the torture scenes are portrayed as routine, not as something to generate angst in the protagonist.

      1. Well Biggie your going to have to watch it for yourself, and make up your own mind. =)

        1. Just ignore him. His whining might have some sort of validity if he didn’t worship a genocidal storm god.

          1. The irony is that a central component of the Murdoch stories is his Catholicism and how he reconciles it with his actions.

            1. Eddie won’t know about that sort of stuff, he just wants to make a pro-censorship argument and thought he could get away with it on this particular thread.

              1. What is your definition of censorship and how do my remarks qualify as pro-censorship under your definition?

                1. Hey, Sugarfree,

                  What is your definition of censorship and how do my remarks qualify as pro-censorship under your definition?

                  1. ugarfree,

                    What is your definition of censorship and how do my remarks qualify as pro-censorship under your definition?

                    1. I’m beginning to think you’re not going to answer.

                      Presumably because your argument is so airtight and obvious you don’t even have to make it!

                    2. Haven’t gotten around to answering yet?

            2. “The irony is that a central component of the Murdoch stories is his Catholicism and how he reconciles it with his actions.”

              In the movie, a priest refuses him absolution for his acts because he (Daredevil) refuses to repent of them.

              1. The Hollywood version, not the Netflix version.

                1. In the comics he is often seen as a bleeding heart by others, including Punisher and Wokverine.

              2. GKC, I’m only 3 or 4 episodes in and it’s been a LONG time since I read a fairly limited early 90s run of the comic (and I only watched the Affleck movie once). My comment wasn’t meant as snark at you. If it’s done thoughtfully, I think the juxtaposition of the “reality” of Murdoch’s Hell’s Kitchen with the aspirational moral teachings of his church can offer up some good stuff.

                1. OK, and I repeat, I’m relying on Berlatsky’s summary of the Netflix series. If he’s left out some nuance than my analysis will reflect that error.

                  1. Hey Biggie. If you cannot deal with the Dare Devil. I can’t wait how you are going to freak out when they introduce Electra, or the Gael. =)

  25. A moral dilemma scenario:

    A person admits to having taken and hidden someone in some life threatening manner and refuses to tell where they are: Does it violate the NAP to use “enhanced interrogation” methods to extract information from this person?

    1. My first question is how do we know that the person doing the admitting actually did the abducting? People have falsely confessed to all sorts of things.

      1. Let’s assume the confession is not given under duress and is consistent with other evidence.

    2. I will likely get excoriated for this but my concept of the NAP does take into account “defense of others.” It is, however, predicated on perfect information (you’re pointing a gun at my kid in front of me). If killing you in defense of others is compliant with the NAP then I see nothing that forbids taking a belt sander to someone’s dick in defense of others. Like I said above, that’s all based on the unlikely scenario of my knowing you have the information, my knowing that someone’s life is in imminent danger, my knowing that you are morally culpable for placing that person in danger, and my knowing that the information will have a substantial chance of saving that person’s life.

      1. It is, however, predicated on perfect information (you’re pointing a gun at my kid in front of me).

        How about “I buried your kid in a box 2 hours ago”?

        1. I consider being buried alive the “imminent danger” I outlined above. If the other questions are answered satisfactorily, your bits get the belt sander.

          1. PLASMA CUTTER!!!!
            Isn’t science fun?

    3. Yeah, I would have no moral dilemma about torturing someone for information about my daughter’s whereabouts if she was abducted.

      1. I have less issues when someone in a desperate situation does it, with the backing of the power of the state. I think that’s why its not so threatening when Daredevil does it. He won’t suddenly become dictator.

  26. The cops have come to think of themselves as members of the military, and everyone is the enemy or a potential enemy. I suppose this might have something to do with the proliferation of SWAT teams and the transfer of military-style weapons to police forces around the country, even in little hamlets where the use of such weapons seems ridiculous.

    It’s time to re-civilianize the police forces. They are not the military, never were intended to be the military and certainly can’t attempt to continue as pseudo-military forces. Let’s take away all the helmets, night vision goggles, and other hardware they don’t need.

    1. They don’t have “military style weapons”, they have actual military weapons. And that’s OK.

      It’s how and when they use their weapons and gear that needs to be scrutinized, not the fact that they have it.

      Your argument is ridiculously close to the gun-control narrative that merely having a gun makes you a murderous psychopath.

  27. Once again, Quid est Aequitas? What is justice?

    Until you answer this question, all this is nonsense.

    What is justice? It is repayment for the wrongs (aggressions) done to the victim. It is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. It is what NAP demands. If someone steals from you, they must repay (with interest). If they took your eye, they should have theirs taken, or recompensate their victim in another way that the victim agrees to.

    Is torture right? That depends on what the Aggressor did. It’s likely the wrong thing to do, but unless you actually know what justice is, it’s pointless to whine about how “it isn’t justice”.

  28. I think its important that Reason devote column space to finding things Problematic in mass media.

    Because otherwise, murdering video game whores wouldn’t feel nearly so special.

    1. You’d think the yokels would be in here screaming “cosmotarian!” But I guess they save that for the article about how droning wedding in Yeman and then circling back to hit the first responders might not be the greatest idea.

      1. They prefer throwing those comments at the Jacket or Shackford. Noah is still too occasional a writer for people to get worked up about. A few more columns like this and they might. Libertarians are nothing if not willing to eat their own.

        1. True. They keep their powder dry for Nick-hate.

          This isn’t even a bad article, even though I disagree with Noah’s analysis. Mostly my complaint it that is a bit like raving about the existence of stopights when the cops are killing people like Freddie Gray are getting murdered for “making eye contact.”

          1. My main complaint is that it isn’t a very good analysis of the series. Overall I agree with you though.

        2. It wouldn’t really be eating their own. I’m not a libertarian ? though I share some political common ground on issues like torture.

          1. “I’m not a libertarian” I am okay with that. The best part about being a Libertarian is challenging your own principles.

      2. I can’t speak for the Yokels (I am, after all, an urban elitist from NY)…

        …I just think, as you suggest below, that the same people who frequently bitch about things like how “prostitutes are depicted in Video Games”…

        …. and whether or not Daredevil is Gay-Friendly enough when he’s using Bush-Era torture methods on his possibly Arab-looking super-villain enemies….

        …seem to have little interest in the examples of actual “real life” oppression = like police in Wisconsin kicking down people’s doors in the middle of the night, or kids in college being convicted of “Rape” a year plus after the fact by university tribunals, or people being thrown out of work by “benign” minimum-wage hikes, or the endless examples of people having their lives and careers destroyed because someone said something impolitics on teh Twitters…. (or suggested that maybe they wouldn’t cater a gay wedding, *in theory*….)

        Talking about what happens on TV shows as “socially concerning” just seems retarded in the modern context. its Gawker-esque. You’d think there’s already an excessive amount of that sort of thing on the internets, and we probably don’t need to add to the pile.

        1. I agree with this and SF can call me a yokel, I don’t really care.

    2. You find it problematic that I find things problematic? I find that problematic.

      Criticizing people for being critical is a snake that eats its tale.

      1. “Criticizing people for being critical is a snake that eats its tale.”

        Yeah, i heard that same comment the other day

        when people suggested that the Oberlin “pre-protest of a speech that hadn’t even happened yet” was itself beyond ‘criticism’.

        Its considered “punching down” or something to point out that they are completely retarded.

        1. Anyone who would use “punching down” in anything but mocking derision of the concept is “conitively challenged” to the point of raving madness.

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  30. Eh, I’m not too concerned with the torture in Daredevil. Much of what occurs in that show over the top as it’s a comic adaptation. You take the torture sequences with a big dose of incredulity. Besides, people break way too easily to be realistic (for example, the professional hitman who gives up the head honcho’s name despite knowing it’ll lead to his family’s deaths after a minute with the hero).

    24’s depiction of torture was way more problematic. Despite clearly being fiction, it was set in a semi realistic world dealing with threats we identify with, against villains that we could conceivably find in the real world. The justifications for that torture — the ticking time bomb scenario, etc. — were actually the subject of a major debate not long ago.

    24’s writers’ decision to make that torture almost always WORK with seemingly little moral reflection from Jack Bauer for his inhumane actions — and definitely never any punishment directed against him by his government superiors for breaking laws forbidding torture — does not compare to Daredevil in any way.

    1. Torture always works in Daredevil as well. And torture is often used in a law and order context, as well as a national security one, as Jon Burge shows.

      1. Noah. Sometimes the hero fights against tortures as well. Like I told Biggie. The entire comic series is an exploration into ethical grey areas.

        http://www.writeups.org/fiche.php?id=2396

  31. Sure, the torture is inherently unlibertarian. As is the initiation of violence, which occurs quite often. As with every other superhero, violence is means to the Daredevil’s ends. What sets superheroes apart from the rest of those who use violence to achieve their ends is that superheroes don’t use guns and can dodge or withstand bullets.

    Both the means and the ends of the Daredevil are subject to criticism.

    What is the end for which the Daredevil is torturing people, beating them senseless, and inadvertently killing them? To secure renters from eviction from their rent-controlled apartments if they don’t accept a generous offer to move. I can’t think of many things that are more anti-libertarian than that.

    1. To secure renters from eviction from their rent-controlled apartments if they don’t accept a generous offer to move.

      Except, of course, that was Foggy and Karen.

      Murdock was out trying to stop the Russian mafia from kipnapping people and selling them into chattel slavery. And murdering anyone who got in their way.

      1. Except, of course, that was Foggy and Karen.

        Not only that, they were doing it because, you know, that’s sort of their job as legal representatives (well, at least Foggy’s job). Though they seemed to actually care about their clients’ plight and believe in the issue, the hired-gun lawyers who don’t believe a word they’re saying disturb me way more than the idealists.

  32. He’s a villain to conservatives because he’s a dreamy and hypocritical help-the-poor idealist.

    Must be a different one from the guy I saw. The guy I saw said the words but he all he cared about was the money. Which makes him conservative, right?

    1. The way he said it kind of made me think part of him believed it in order to justify his brutality to himself and the woman he loved.

      1. Or justify it for her so she can accept him while knowing how brutal he is?

  33. Nerds.

      1. Just recognizing us….kind of like saying “hello”.

  34. Portrayal is not endorsement.

    Comics are like soap operas. They are stories wherein we live out our emotional impulses. Who doesn’t have the impulse to torture bad guys? It is a catharsis, that is all.

    1. Of course. But the movies used to be more subtle – a bad guy would do the stuff we have bottled up in our ids, then the good guy would stop them and remind the audience that it’s wrong.

      And it was arranged that, while maybe the bad guy had some of our bad traits, the good guy who fought him was ultimately more sympathetic.

      1. Of course. But the movies used to be more subtle

        That had far more to do with government imposed and threatened censorship than it did with writers being more “subtle”.

      1. Sutherboy that is.

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  36. I thought the same thing about the new Batman movies from like, 2007 or whatever.
    Batman’s running around torturing villians for information and using NSA-like total surveillance via cell phones.
    But it’s ok, because he’s the good guy.

  37. Is Noah bullying DD because DD “differently enabled”?

  38. OK, sugarfree, I’m going to repeat the request I made above – you said I was advocating censorship. Could you give us your definition of censorship and specify how I have advocated it?

    1. You know, I suspect he doesn’t have a good answer to my question.

  39. But was it in accordance with Humane Torture Protocol?

  40. Having watched the show and knowing a little of the comic it is based on, it’s a “poor man becomes Batman” mythology. Seriously, how is it any different? Batman does many of the same things including and most especially torturing criminals to extract information.

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  45. Noah, it appears, hasn’t seen the episode where his dear Liberal victim decapitates the Russian human trafficker with his car door…

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