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I have known a lot of people - both male and female - who have felt comfortable launching into passionate descriptions of horrific acts of violence that they wished to commit against hypothetical strangers. These fantasies varied in intensity, they varied in length, they varied in degree of realism or specificity, but, devoid of context, they were all quite horrifying. The key, though - the reason these descriptions were normal and acceptable, and not just the ravings of a dangerous psychopath - is that the people saying them were all parents, and they all prefaced their fantasies with the phrase "if someone ever hurt my kids".

And y'know what? I'm not going to try to claim they were wrong. Someone hurts or molests or kills your toddler, and you feel it's ethically okay to tape them to a chair in your basement and mess up their eyeballs with a red-hot steak knife? I'm not gonna argue that point. Go apeshit on them peepers, I doubt any jury would convict you.

I think maybe there should be a limit, though. Somewhere. There has to be a point where using insults, injuries, or even deaths of others as justification for your own actions is no longer unselfish, a point at which it's clearly about you and not about the victim you're avenging.

I've said before that Ellen is the superego of the group, but it's worth noting that the superego is not necessarily the same thing as the conscience, and not necessarily always right. She is usually right, though.

(Sunday night, INT: EB and JH's apartment)

JH: Ellen, I do care about you, and as long as I'm involved with this whole... thing, I don't think I can-
EB: Stop.
JH: But I have to say-
EB: No, I mean stop. Stop the thing. Stop whatever weird, dangerous drug dealer revenge thing you're doing.
JH: It's not revenge.
EB: How is it not revenge?
JH: It's not about me. If it were just about me, I could let it go. But... I mean, you heard me say a kid is dead, right?
EB: Oh, so revenge for yourself would be selfish and aggressive, but vengeance for someone else is altruistic and noble and anything you do is completely justifiable, right?
JH: It's... it's not vengeance either.
EB: What is it?
JH: I don't know yet. I still don't have all the information. I'm following up. Being my brother's keeper.
EB: Well, I don't think I can be in a relationship with someone who's involved in things like that.
JH: Could you respect me as a person if I just let it go?
EB: ...okay, I know you're trying to be dramatic here, but fucking yes.