Remember that time I won the Murder Game? I'm sure you do, since it's one of the defining moments of our generation. People are always asking each other, in hushed and slightly reverential terms, "Where were you when you found out that Joel won the Murder Game?"
I know I'll never forget where I was, mostly because I won.
Recently (like within the last few hours), Kristin has accused me of cheating at the Murder Game, and has suggested that I might have googled "Murder Game Lethal Luau" and then watched a ten minute video of the important parts of the Murder Game on YouTube several times before attending the birthday murder dinner. She also alleges that I allegedly confessed watching this alleged YouTube video to her, and then she posted the alleged details of this alleged confession on her alleged Facebook page. She's thrown out a serious allegation about this alleged cheating that I allegedly confessed to, and now I have no choice but to respond.
How best to do so, though?
I could start by attacking my accuser and attempting to cloud the issue. I mean, sure, Kristin says that I cheated at the Murder Game, and maybe I did, but let's not forget that Kristin... is a smoker. She smokes cigarettes, and sometimes, she puts them out and leaves the cigarette on the ground and just walks away. Nevermind that birds might eat them and die, or they might drift into piles on people's lawns or porches. Small children might pick up those littered butts and put them in their mouths, and won't somebody think of the children? Am I the only one here who's worried about them? I believe that children are our future, and they shouldn't have to live in a world of discarded cigarette butts.
Kristin says "cheating" and I say "children", and which of those do you like more?
Please, think of the children before you answer, and also think about another way that I could respond, which is by trying to claim the moral high ground. In Victor Hugo's immortal classic Les Miserables, Jean Valjean is relentlessly pursued for nineteen years by the obsessed policeman, Javert, for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. It is the story of a man who is completely destroyed by his accuser just for trying to survive, and in the end the actual crime of stealing bread is insignificant compared to the cruel and relentless pursuit of "justice" and "punishment". In thinking of the tragedy of one decent and caring man torn to shreds for the pettiest of crimes, all I can do is ask, "Would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your family?" Of course you would, but what if your family didn't need bread? What if your family needed to win the Murder Game?
Exactly. You'd do what was best for your family.
On the other hand, I could just respond the way Batman would. A few years ago, the Justice League fought a villain named Prometheus. He was a master strategist, but he was also a master fighter, because he had a special computerized helmet wired into his nervous system, and he used that helmet to download the fighting styles of the best martial artists on the planet, including Batman. The problem was that while Prometheus was throwing Barbara Gordon out of a window she managed to snap a piece off of his helmet, damaging it, so Prometheus had to break into the Justice League base to steal his backup helmet from the trophy room in order to fight Batman. Anticipating this, Batman hacked the backup helmet and waited for Prometheus to put it on and get overconfident, at which point Batman downloaded the physical skills of Professor Stephen Hawking into Prometheus' nervous system and then punched him in the face.
Batman and the Huntress discussed this for a minute while the defeated Prometheus lay on the floor:
Did Batman cheat? Or did Batman consider the problem and implement the best possible solution without worrying about whether it was fair?
I'm going to go with Batman's answer to that one, and not just because I like him. However, I am going to consider yet another alternative response, which is that maybe in the long run cheating at the Murder Game makes us all better people. It's like in the movie Bring It On, a compelling drama about cheerleading, teamwork, and a little bit of cheating. See, the captain of the award-winning Rancho Carne Toros, a somewhat abrasive girl who "puts the whore in horrible" known as Big Red, had for years been driving out to East Compton to videotape the cheerleading routines of the East Compton Clovers and then pass them off as the Toros' own, winning them a number of national championships. When the Toros' deception is revealed by surly new girl Missy, who is either bank or bank-rupt depending on which Toro you ask, they end up working twice as hard, banding together, and learning about what's really important.
Cheating, although morally wrong, actually helps them to grow and become better people, and really, isn't that what everyone wants? To become a better person? I know that's all I really wanted, which was to become a better person.
And also to win the Murder Game. Which I did.