I had fun yesterday thinking up scenarios where you could kill a baby and get a medal for it, so I decided to come up with some more unlikely scenarios for use in future arguments.
Suppose you had a freezer full of human embryos, and they would thaw out and die unless you killed a baby that was about to cut off their power supply. There is only one baby and a thousand frozen embryos, each a “potential human being”, and your only chance to save the embryos is to shoot that baby with a cross bow. You have only one dart, so you can’t chance anything but a kill shot. Do you shoot the baby? What if it is a really whiny toddler? A sullen teenager? An incontinent old man?
There are suspected terrorists holed up in the mountains. A local warlord has them in his power and agrees to turn them over to you if you will sacrifice a dozen children to his deity Moloch. Moloch requires that his sacrificial victims be burned alive in a furnace. There is no other way to get the terrorists who will go on to kill more people in their terror campaign. Do you shovel babies into the furnace? If a dozen babies were in a house where the terrorists were hiding, would you firebomb the house and chalk up the dead babies to “collateral damage”? What is the difference between the two scenarios?
Your country is at war with another country. You suspect that you can get the other side to surrender if you make a show of your brutality. To get the desired impact, you reckon that you will have to kill everyone in an entire city. Do you order the systematic shooting of every single man, woman, and child in a city you have in your power? What if you could drop a single bomb and kill them all at once? If you had to strangle everyone, would that make a difference? Did I mention there are lots of cute babies in the city? Would you do two cities?
A man is wanted for failure to appear in court on a weapons charge. You suspect that he might be armed and might resist apprehension. Do you shoot and kill his wife and baby while trying to apprehend him? A religious group refuses to turn over its leader who is wanted on a warrant and holes up in its compound. Do you set fire to the compound and kill a lot of them, including some babies to save time?