How do you kill that which has no life paradox

This will come as no surprise to South Park fans, but it should nevertheless be mentioned. In the episode “Make love, not Warcraft” (season 10, episode 8), there is this hilarious scene:

So here comes the paradox then: how do you kill that which has no life?

South Park raised the bar regarding many aspects of humor: it is equally provocative as obscene, there is always something to be said about poo, and it remains hilarious to be point of soiling yourself.

Nothing South Park has done is original, they admit as much in “Simpsons already did it!” episode (season 6, episode 7). In fact, the very idea of a fart joke goes back as far back as Aristophanes (c. 446 BC – c. 386 BC):

SOCRATES (To STREPSIADES) Did you hear their voices mingling with the awful growling of the thunder?
STREPSIADES Oh! adorable Clouds, I revere you and I too am going to let off my thunder, so greatly has your own affrighted me.
(He farts.)
Faith! whether permitted or not, I must, I must crap!
(Aristophanes’ The Clouds, 419 BC)

But what about this paradox? If we take the paradox more seriously, the idea of killing something that has no life is not necessarily that problematic. This all depends on definitions of life and death (or technically killing) – philosophy reduced to semantics.

So let us look at killing from a moral point of view: is killing, as one of the commandments dictates, morally ‘problematic’ – or bad/evil as Christians would have it? Perhaps what this paradox shows us is more in the direction of hypocrisy (if not another paradox) – our Western civilizations (all in fact) have murdered without a second thought – and what is worse, they still do. So the question we should ask is not so much whether killing the other is morally ‘problematic’; but try to think when it is and when it is not. Interestingly enough (and yet again paradoxically), this is not a question for ethics – but one for politics!

I am sure to return to this point more often, so I will leave it at that – to keep the humor going.


Full episode of “Make love, not Warcraft” can be found on Vimeo.

For US visitors, full episode of “Simpsons already did it!” can be found on Hulu.


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1 Response

  1. David Mettauer says:

    Your analysis of this paradox is tainted from the beginning. You quote Christian theology as making killing unethical, however the Bible does not say that. It states that murder is morally wrong, not killing. They are not one in the same.
    In either case this does not address the paradox. How do you kill or in your case murder something that does not have life.
    Realistically, to terminate the existence of something whether it is alive or not is the real answer. To wipe something from existence whether it be inanimate or animate would be the same as killing it.

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