Dr. Manhattan’s Defensive Trial
The graphic novel series The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, contains a controversial issue involving the killing of Rorschach by the hand of Dr. Manhattan. The controversy is whether the death of Rorschach was necessary and Dr. Manhattan acted in the correct way, or if Dr. Manhattan acted incorrectly and should not have killed Rorschach. I believe Dr. Manhattan was justified in the killing of Rorschach because Dr. Manhattan acted in defense of the entire planet Earth. Rorschach would have sent the public into frenzy, the image of the super heroes would have been destroyed, and Dr. Manhattan’s moral obligation to protect the people of Earth led to the justification of the killing.
By killing Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan was able to prevent the public entering a frenzy of chaos and disarray, in fact defending the human race from itself. The resulting chaos brought on by Rorschach would have caused the world to enter a whole new kind of life style. More deaths and losses would be experienced by every nation of the world, and Dr. Manhattan was able to foresee this terrible outcome so he was able to make the decision to sacrifice one life for the lives of millions. The amount of confusion and ignorance based off of Rorschach’s intelligence would have played a major part in the wars that could have possibly occurred. By killing Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan acted on different reasons than the Comedian did when killing the reporters who exposed President Nixon. The killing of Rorschach was intended for the betterment of the world, while the killing of the two reporters was bad in that “Richard Nixon used this success and, unmarred by Watergate (in a flashback, the Comedian alludes to having assassinated Woodward and Bernstein), encouraged a repeal of the 22nd Amendment, removing presidential term limits, allowing him to serve an unprecedented fifth term in office during the events of Watchmen.”1
Another reason why the killing of Rorschach is justifiable is the duty of Dr. Manhattan and his moral obligation to protect the people of Earth. By protecting the people he has become fond of them and begins to care about them and focus on the miracle of each and every human being “And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, meeting, siring this precise son; that exact daughter…until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you that emerged.”2
The killing of Rorschach, by Dr. Manhattan, I believe was justified by having the world’s population best interests in mind which override the moral beliefs that murder is always one or another, black and white. By letting the information Rorschach knew leak into the public mind, it would have caused a great change in the world such as warfare and the super heroes would no longer be seen as protectors, losing the trust of the people they are supposed to be serving. By killing one person to save potentially a billion people, Dr. Manhattan had to make a call much like the one President Truman had to make in 1945 and refers to the bombs dropped on Japan. Truman’s speech justified the dropping of the bombs to put an end to the war as well as to save lives, “We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We will continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan’s power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us.”3
2 Moore, Alan. Dave Gibbons. “The Watchmen.” DC Comics, New York, New York. Issue 9 page 26.
3 Truman, Harry. “HARRY S. TRUMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DROPPING OF AN ATOMIC BOMB ON HIROSHIMA.” March 17, 2006, 12:31pm .