If You Could Kill One Person on the Planet, Who Would You Kill?

Time to get dark for this week’s Dinner Table.

DT 23 - Kill Button - PYou get a mysterious package in the mail. Inside is a device with a type pad, a little screen, and a red button. The instructions say:

Type the name of a living person and then press the button. That person will die peacefully in their sleep tonight. Doctors will identify the cause of death as heart failure. No one will ever know that the person was murdered or that you had anything to do with it. The button can only be used once, only today, and once the button is pressed, there’s nothing you can do to undo the action.

To keep things simple, assume that you can ensure you have the right person by identifying their face on the little screen and that the package was sent to you from out of nowhere, not by any particular person, and that no one knows you have the device.

So…what would you do? You can just leave the device alone and it’ll be useless after midnight. Or you can pick someone to kill. Let us know what you’d do and your reasoning. If you think you’d kill someone you know but who isn’t famous, feel free to anonymously tell us about who that person is and your reasons for choosing them—I think we’ll all be pretty interested.


Tim’s Answer: Fun! The first thing I’d do is think about anyone I know that I really just want to kill. Sadly, I can’t think of anyone right now, so I’d then turn to the rest of the world. To me, there are two good reasons to kill someone off:

1) Practical. Someone who is causing an immense amount of harm to the world or to a cause you care deeply about. The key here is it has to be someone whose death will really change things. Hitler during WWII is the ultimate example, because from everything I’ve learned about WWII, Hitler was the driving force of Germany’s war effort. If you killed him, especially early on in the war, things would probably have played out completely differently. Bin Laden could have been a good one, but you’d have to be convinced that he in particular was a critical component of al-Qaeda’s ability to be effective—whether because of his ability to inspire action, unite otherwise fragmented efforts, or mastermind plans in a way that no one else necessarily could. Killing Bin Laden would have had to be a true, long-lasting blow to al-Qaeda’s effectiveness for it to be a good practical use of the button.

2) Justice. If you thought that killing Bin Laden would do little to change anything—that his #2 would just step in seamlessly and replace him without much effect—there could still be a justice-based argument to choose him. It would give you the chance to take future decades of life away from someone who took so much life away from others. If you want to be a sick fuck about it, you could take someone who deserves the worst of the worst and kill someone they really love—but that’s super shitty for the victim, so you’d have to consider whether you really want to be a full sick fuck about it.

I don’t have a great answer here. If I knew more details about geopolitics or the internal workings of terrorist organizations, I could probably come up with a good practical answer. But I don’t really know how much killing off the leader of ISIS would change things. I’m sure there are some heinous African war lords that are causing an unspeakable amount of human suffering and some corrupt leaders or politicians who are holding tens of millions of people down in poverty—but again, I don’t have a particular person in mind. I’ll go with the boring answer of this dick:


Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. I don’t know enough about Iran’s internal political workings to know whether that would change things there, but Iran has 80 million people and a lot of wealth and influence in a troubled part of the world, and if things could turn around there, it would have a wide-scale global positive effect. I think he’s more powerful than the Iranian president, so as long as he’s Supreme Leader, things are pretty hopeless.

Okay your turn. Be more creative than I was, thanks.

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  • kati

    What exactly do you want to change in Iran? Do you really think randomly killing a political leader and causing some political upheaval in a country whose human rights record is nowhere near as bad as other countries (N Korea? Saudi Arabia?) is a wise move? Sounds more like falling for anti-Iran propaganda…

    • Tim Urban

      Iran seems to be severely lacking in rights for its citizens, openness to the world, etc. while also being one of the few countries that could potentially do something terrifying with nuclear weapons. I thought about North Korea, but I’m not even sure KJU is really the one pulling the strings, so killing him seems less likely to affect things.

      • kati

        What you just said is absolutely no need to kill a leader, Iran is doing great by comparison with many countries in the region – you really want to create upheaval there, as well?

        Apart from that I agree with the sentiment of Jonathan and Trulinger (“I’ll go get the popcorn and come back to watch as people make plans on killing other human beings. Can’t wait to see what’s the most naive, politically or ideologically biased and geopolitically ignorant justification.”)

        • This is a really, really adorable liberal moment you’re having, all for it, you seem really fun to hang out with, but, as an Iranian whose parents fled during the revolution, I can tell you that Iran is by no means “doing great,” and I think most women I know back in Iran would be horrified and offended at your insensitivity. My parents can literally never go back home, because their home doesn’t exist. Nothing looks more naive to an Iranian than when someone belittles human rights violations happening to their family members in Iran as “propaganda.”

          Sure, it doesn’t have THE number one worst human rights violations on the planet. The point of the question isn’t just which country is doing the “worst” comparatively in the world, it’s about which leader you could remove such that it would actually be most EFFECTIVE. Removing the leader in NK, arguably, is much less effective, whereas Iran may have the potential to change without Khamenei. As with most foreign policy decisions, this doesn’t target the saddest “propaganda” documentary you’ve watched recently, but targets an area where change is possibly more likely.

          The Iranian Green Movement should be clear indication that it’s not Tim who “really wants to create upheaval there,” the PEOPLE want to, but they don’t have the power to do it alone. Check your ignorance.

          • Darius

            Well said. And let’s not forget that Iran is funding an immense amount of death throughout the Middle East, most recently in Yemen.

          • kati

            I’m sorry if it came across as insensitive – it was more likely ignorant. I was basing my observations and assessment on what friends, also of Iranian descent, have reported back from visiting Iran regularly and spending significant amounts of time there. From what I gather, many people are well-educated and de facto life is more liberal than the laws would suggest. That said, I agree that any human rights violations are unacceptable. Nonetheless, I am still really against what is written in the article, basing statements about “who would you kill” on self-admitted little knowledge about the country (“I don’t know enough about Iran’s situation”)

  • Jacob Nestle

    Hmm. Most practical, in my opinion, would be Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi: “caliph” and leader of ISIS. He’s a crazy zealot and is the main thing holding up the regime.
    Alternatively, Putin seems to be the driving force behind Russia’s continued militarism, oligarchy, and West-hating.

    Those are the two most practical ones I can come up with immediately. Tell me if there’s someone better!

    • kati

      No, Putin is moderate compared to the opposition in Russia. Killing him is probably stupid if you don’t want Russia to move even further from the West.

      • Jacob Nestle

        Maybe if the opposition went crazy the people would actually do something about it…

  • Raphael

    I think that killings leaders of some radical ideology is somewhat useless.
    They may have created, of course, the movement but their followers live on perpetuating the ideology thinking as a whole.
    So i think that i would kill a very corrupt politician in my country ( brazil ) maybe to put fear into the hearts of the other corrupt ones hahaha

  • João Pedro Gonçalves

    I’m going to be that guy. Kill Justin bieber!!!!!

  • Gromp

    Well, i’d probably use it to kill myself.

    • Sensorfire

      Aw please don’t. You’re worth more than that.

      • Blrp

        How do you know you’re not responding to Kim Jong-Un or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

    • DarkEnergy

      Even if you’re joking, don’t. Just don’t.

    • KC

      Gromp check out twloha.com

  • Dan

    Kim Jong Un probably

  • kpekep

    Putin, back in the 90’s

  • shodaner

    To be honest, killing one person off is of absolutely no importance in th current geo-political climate. The victim’s successor is more than likely to stick to the modus operandi. If you didn’t have the limitation of just one person, as in you’re in possession of something akin to the “Death Note”, then you could probably use that as a deterrent to potential warlords and mass-murderers. Just one person is of no significance. You’ll also have blood on your hands for the rest of your life, for something which ultimately led to no difference at all. I’ll just let it go and let fate (or mere randomness) take its course.

  • Truliner

    I’ll go get the popcorn and come back to watch as people make plans on killing other human beings. Can’t wait to see what’s the most naive, politically or ideologically biased and geopolitically ignorant justification.

    • Bill

      Don’t let your high horse eat all that popcorn.

      • Anthony Churko

        I’m with Truliner, but that was pretty damn funny.

      • hayley


  • jonathan

    Would I use it? Absolutely not! I’m no murderer.

    • James

      So if you had this option in 1940, you would let World War 2 rage on rather than killing Hitler?

      • Truliner

        How would we know what the outcome would have been if Hitler was removed from the stage? Maybe WW2 was a good thing for the world in the long run (obviously not for the people who died or lost people close to them because of it).

        • James

          Why fight in World War 2 at all then? The Allies went to war to kill people because they thought it was for the best. Since we “don’t know what the outcome” of any killing is, according to you, the Allies should have just stayed home? Aren’t there many situations in which a certain human dying is predictably beneficial to humanity? Was it a mistake to kill Bin Laden or to target other terrorist leaders? I lived in Nigeria for two years a decade ago, and I promise you that Sani Abacha’s unexpected heart attack in 1998 lifted Nigeria out of their worst period of tyranny and had that happened because someone pressed the red button on a contraption like the one in this question, they’d have done something great for many people.

      • dan

        There’s no reason to go back in time and kill Hitler. Just go back and convince the Vienna Art Academy to accept Hitler’s application to go to the school. Bribe them, whatever. Hitler goes to art school, becomes a successful and well-adjusted artist, and there you go. Problem solved.

        • Adam

          If I had the option, I’d prevent Hitler from ever having been born. Somehow convincing the Vienna Art Academy to accept Hitler might be an okay solution (but you’ve still got a person with a volatile personality, and little art talent, in existence; not to mention the fact that you’re a time travelling stranger with no influence in the artistic world). But I would (ignoring cliched time travelling paradoxes) kill Hitler if I had the chance.

          Maybe you can say WWII was inevitable, following the Treaty of Versailles, hyperinflation, the Dawes Plan and Wall Street Crash etc. Maybe you can say Germany would just have had a different leader who would have done the same thing (although the NSDAP might not have done so well if it weren’t for Hitler’s passionate, convincing speeches). But if there’s even a tiny chance that the Shoah wouldn’t have taken place, or that WWII wouldn’t have been on such a large scale (maybe a different leader wouldn’t have dared remilitarise the Rhineland, demand the Sudetenland or enter Czechoslovakia/Poland), then it would be worth a shot.

        • Aureon

          The thing is, Nazism (or an equivalent authocratic movement) would’ve happened with or without Hitler.

          The war effort, though, could probably be stumped with a well-timed kill.

  • alex

    Kim Jong un. I’m a South Korean. I don’t want to advocate killing anyone, but if the world needs one less person it’d be him for me. North Koreans have suffered too much. South Koreans have suffered too much. The division that is is not just a land, it created divisions in family, culture, ideology, blah blah blah. It has not been resolved for the last 60+ years!! Imagine a sibling in their 20s being separated by the line drawn solely for war interests… and still with a bleak future that they will see each other again!!! The governments’ differing interests have continued the separation, and the Northern side has been proven they don’t work in the best interest of their people yet their leader is trying to assert his dominance by killing more of his people, and act like a aggressive puppy in front of an elephant (that is the rest of the world) in foreign politics. It’s time to reunite!

    • consanguinity

      But even if Kim Jong Un died, one of his ministers or generals or relatives would replace him and would most likely be just as oppressive, as the propaganda the former rulers enforced has a huge effect on all the people of North Korea and making a change would be very difficult without help from other countries.

      • James

        Make him cry while singing Katy Perry on television

        • consanguinity


  • Rob Caballero

    Good criteria, but anyone causing enough harm to the world to deserve it has a #2 in place— that’s the whole nature of both organized terror and nation-states. That’s why machines like this wouldn’t make a difference other than maybe upping your own personal satisfaction.

  • Tula

    I guess I’m not as nice as all of you who say you’re not murderers. I would definitely use it – have to pare down the list some but there is no end of bad people out there without which the world would be a better place. I might choose someone like Des Hague, the ass&*% CEO who beat a dog and got caught. Except that he’s already received his justice and been fired. Maybe one of the CEOs of the companies that make plastic microbeads that are destroying our lakes and oceans – they don’t seem interested in paying for cleanup or stopping production of their environmentally destructive products, so perhaps the loss of their CEO would send a message. Or the head of a big company that is raping and pillaging the earth’s resources without any regard for the consequences on the people and other living creatures that remain after the plundering. Oh wait, that would be almost all of the major multinationals. Like I said, I would have to pare down the list.

    • Killing someone like that peacefully in their sleep would have zero effect, they would just be replaced and life would move on.

  • @look_at_this_dick

    death would be too kind to give to dick cheney. maybe one of sarah palin’s children. tom cruise?

    • Tula

      With you on Dick Cheney, though he looks like he’s getting there all by himself. Have you seen him lately? Looks like a scared, sick old man. Tom Cruise? OMG how could you? He’s made some dogs but I hope you’ll agree that Magnolia and Vanilla Sky were pretty good. What’s your damage with Tom?

      • @look_at_this_dick

        yeah i wouldnt want to put him out of his misery. i just want to damage scientology in some way

      • He ruined the concept of Jack Reacher lol

    • PopJack

      I prefer to believe you are using hyperbole. Else I suggest you get help.

  • Jim Jones

    I would use it on the guy who my wife cheated on me with, only trouble is, I wouldn’t want him to die peacefully…

    • Danny Mew

      Why not your wife? It was her cheating on you not him..

      • Jim Jones

        Well you know, I only got one shot at it, so might as well make it count, besides I hate the mother f, I don’t hate my wife any more…

  • Huma

    Historically, I would kill Marx before the majority of his writings on communism. I think he systematized and made an easy target out of a movement that should have evolved organically. Civic participation in government was turned into an “ism”

    • So many others studied and systematized important movements, is important to have these works. He’s one of the first to comment in the capitalism. And argue as much as you want that his survival may linked with the lack of god after work after, as the comunism and marxism took more spotlight than should and little more was produced after, but the world is a better place after him

  • Lewis W

    I would use it on a person with a terminal illness that wanted the option to die a peaceful death. It’s interesting I haven’t read any comments along the same lines.

    • Pepperice

      This was my immediate thought too, Lewis. Glad to see somebody else said it first!

    • Danny Mew

      But how would you choose which person? Who’s suffering has most merit?

    • I thought so too, and was surprised it wasn’t in Tim’s original suggestion. I just don’t know anyone this might apply to.

  • Sooty Mangabey

    I’m with Lewis W. As a veterinarian, I consider my ability to perform euthanasia as a means to end suffering a privilege.

  • Anonymous

    I would kill my mother, who abused me until I cut her out of my life, and who still abuses my sister. My sister whom I cannot convince that life could be much better if she would just leave. I do not wish justice or vengeance, so the dying peacefully part of this magic button is what appeals. I just want her and her influence on the world gone.

  • I would kill no one, I know no one who’s death would be a gift, and I don’t beleve in death as a punishment. And those deaths you mentioned, I would revisit your piece on Iraque as a counter argument.

    • Harald

      Please, don’t kill Arya.

  • Howl

    Hmmm, that’s difficult. It’s hard to say if killing one terrorist leader would change anything at all.
    Probably I would just leave it and kill nobody because I don’t think that killing ONE bad person had a practical, positive effect on the world.
    Sure, the device could be used for justice but I personally think that sleeping into death is far to kind for all the Hitlers and Bin Ladens in the world.

  • Bill

    It’s difficult to pick a person whose death would have a safe bet of doing more good than harm. You certainly can’t pick any religious fanatic type such as Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi as it would only make them a martyr. Unless this killing has the option of being performed via a lightning bolt from a clear sky, or the earth opening beneath the person’s feet and swallowing them.

    When it comes to taking out some powerful bad guy, the problem is that we’re just pushing a button on him. It’s not part of some grand revolutionary plan with oposition leaders ready to take over and make things right. I’d have to identify a target whose #2 man is a bumbling fool.

    • It wouldn’t make them a martyr, they died peacefully in their sleep remember.

  • Lambert

    Any totalitarian leader basically. They are responsible for countless death and ruined lives, and their death might be practical if their successor isn’t worse.

  • J-Flo

    Assuming every person in the world received one, the situation would be pretty nuts. Celebrities, heads of state, pretty much anyone who has made any kind of footprint (positive or negative) would be at risk. Thankfully I’m not famous and I don’t believe I have any enemies so I should be able to sleep peacefully. But if we were to imagine that everyone had a shot at using this device, that would be a totally different and chaotic situation.

    • Adam

      Yeah, if everyone had one things would be different. Assuming I knew that everyone in the world had one, I’d have to avoid choosing anyone famous, because I know someone else would kill them (how many people would choose Putin or Katie Hopkins or a Westboro Baptist member?) But then, who I would I have left to choose from? Even if I did some serious research into ISIS or North Korea or Iran, chances are, someone living in one of those places/affected areas would know about and kill whichever obscure figure I typed in. So I’d probably end up leaving it blank, or killing someone obvious but evil just to make it absolutely certain that they would die.

      I wonder how many people would use it…

    • James

      You forget those famous, powerful, evil people would have one as well.

  • dan

    There SEEMS to be no end of despicable people to use this gadget on, but if I really had this button, I wouldn’t use it. The warmongers, crooked officials, despots, douchebags, annoying people, bad drivers, cell-phone quackers etc, would require many, many gadgets, but it would be wrong and pointless to use the gadget. There are plenty of wanna-be warmongers, crooked officials, despots, douchebags, annoying people, bad drivers and cell-phone talkers to replace the ones killed by the gadget. So no, it would be pointless.

  • fevates

    I’ll use the wise worlds of a poet/master/awesome writer J.R.R Tolkien.
    “Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

    Though I wish many people were dead instead of just walking around, killings thousands of people and animals, it is not my decision, nor I think no one’s, to decide who should live and who should not.
    I understand that if someone murdered everyone I know and love, my speech would be probably different, or if I saw what these persons/monster many of you talk about in action, I would also have different thoughts. But I wish no one had to kill another one, for what ever reason.
    I thought about this before after seeing that awful movie with Cameron Diaz, that she could have 1M$ if she was pushing the button to kill someone she didn’t know. Once again if I was homeless and couldn’t get food for myself, I would probably say something different. But I’m lucky to be in my situation so I can say that my decisions should not involved dealing with someone else’s life.

    • fevates

      Also this is very interesting to think because as the evolution of humans go on, we discover always greater way to terminate someone else’s life. Until moment we found a weapon so strong it can eradicate the species. And fortunately for us, humans were strong enough to resist the temptation to trigger that mass destruction. And if you think about the futur and what kind of weapon we may have, we may reach a point were each individuals will have the power to terminate everyone else’s life. What I found sad about most of the comments here, is that I see that even humans in a peaceful context wish to terminate someone’s life. It shows that humans are tremendously far from evolving to the point were they can grow together as a species rather than just killing each other endlessly.

  • hayley

    Anne Hathaway

  • DarkEnergy

    Please tell me you’ve seen Death Note. This topic is basically the premise of Death Note.

    Anyways, I would use it to kill Kim Jong Un.

    • Adam

      I thought of Death Note too when I first saw this, as did a commenter below.

      However negatively Light was portrayed, I agree with him on some basic level. Call me a lunatic, but I think the premise of his actions were good. If you kill a serial killer who, if they had stayed alive, would have killed two people in the rest of their life, have you not actually saved somebody’s life? More than that, I would say that not all lives are inherently equal in value and that it’s better that a normal would-have-been-victim survive than a volatile criminal surviving. You have to make some tricky decisions about how much pain caused is worse than the death of the person causing it, or whether to kill some people who you think might go on to murder people in the future, but might not; it’s not an easy thing to do and guilt could consume you, turn you insane; the power could also turn you into a volatile person and you could end up doing more bad than good. But you could end up doing more good than anyone ever has in the history of the world, and shaping the future positively for everyone all over the world.

      • DarkEnergy

        I totally agree. Killing bad people can have a net positive effect for humanity, as long as you’re careful about it. The value of human lives are inherently unequal. Yet, everyone should be treated under the law. If there is some kind of judgement on someone’s “soul” when they die, I wonder how that is determined.

  • Danny Mew

    At the moment I’m thinking it might be the web designer/ builder of this page as it keeps freezing and cutting me out..
    But I’m sure I’ll get over it…

  • BillMontreal

    I suppose there is a recent lesson to be learned in that killing Saddam Hussein achieved nothing positive and did a great deal of harm. Be careful of what you wish for.

  • The_Postindustrialist

    No one really.

    Even the rationales you give aren’t really all that great.

    Practical: Even when someone is “evil” there’s a chance some good may come from it. A taoist story to illustrate partially:

    “A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled
    in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran
    away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console
    him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t
    a blessing?” Some months later his horse returned, bringing
    a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his
    father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?”
    Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved
    to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to
    console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure
    this isn’t a blessing?”

    A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every
    able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese
    frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son
    was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other.
    Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the
    changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.”

    Who is to say that if WWII didn’t happen, or Hitler and the Japanese Emperor weren’t stopped when they were stopped in the way they were, that things would be better? Because of Hitler and Pearl Harbor, we wouldn’t have developed the coding systems and the information networks we did (the internet). If Germany didn’t pursue rockets and atomic research, we wouldn’t have reached the moon, and we wouldn’t have nuclear energy. The bombing of Japan was horrific, but it also ensured that that form of warfare was so horrific we would never use it again. (and even though we stockpiled nuclear weapons during the cold war, the reason it was a “cold” war and not a hot one was because nobody wanted to have what happened to Japan happen to them again on a FAR greater scale).

    Additionally, as harmful as Hitler may have been, he was human. The “Obedience to Authority” study proved that anyone could stand there and man the gas chambers. His public works also did a lot to restore post WWI Germany and the difference between FDR and Hitler, policy wise and respective to their own countries, was not not nearly as great as we might like to think.

    As for “justice” I quote 1984:
    “‘The first thing for you to understand is that in this
    place there are no martyrdoms. You have read of the religious
    persecutions of the past. In the Middle Ages there was the Inquisition.
    It was a failure. It set out to eradicate heresy, and ended by
    perpetuating it. For every heretic it burned at the stake, thousands of
    others rose up. Why was that? Because the Inquisition killed its enemies
    in the open, and killed them while they were still unrepentant: in
    fact, it killed them because they were unrepentant. Men were dying
    because they would not abandon their true beliefs. Naturally all the
    glory belonged to the victim and all the shame to the Inquisitor who
    burned him. Later, in the twentieth century, there were the
    totalitarians, as they were called. There were the German Nazis and the
    Russian Communists. The Russians persecuted heresy more cruelly than the
    Inquisition had done. And they imagined that they had learned from the
    mistakes of the past; they knew, at any rate, that one must not make
    martyrs. Before they exposed their victims to public trial, they
    deliberately set themselves to destroy their dignity. They wore them
    down by torture and solitude until they were despicable, cringing
    wretches, confessing whatever was put into their mouths, covering
    themselves with abuse, accusing and sheltering behind one another,
    whimpering for mercy. And yet after only a few years the same thing had
    happened over again. The dead men had become martyrs and their
    degradation was forgotten. Once again, why was it? In the first place,
    because the confessions that they had made were obviously extorted and
    untrue. We do not make mistakes of that kind. All the confessions that
    are uttered here are true. We make them true. And above all we do not
    allow the dead to rise up against us.”

    In 1984, they turned the dissenters into believers (true believers), because they knew if you kill a leader, they become a matryr and others will follow in their footsteps. Just as with bin Laden. We killed him, and others have taken his place.. Others far worse.

    And so on and so on and so on… There’s no point and no end to it.

    Personally, beyond that, I think there are fates far worse than death. Primarily fear and pain. Death can be a release from those, but, if I hated someone truly, I’d probably rather consign them to a long life of suffering rather than a quick and painless death.

    • Adam

      I agree that you could never be certain of the outcome – you’re playing with fire, but I think it’s a gamble that could have paid off.

      Great things often come from war. But technology will advance, albeit slower, without wars. (Maybe it doesn’t matter much anyway – if you live without knowledge of the internet, you can’t know what you’re missing out on, and life without it is just normal.) The soldiers in wars would die anyway; no-one’s immortal. But they could have lived longer, and far, far less pain could have been caused.

      If I could have a simple choice, between choosing for WWII to go ahead and choosing for all that European tension to immediately, magically defuse, with Hitler no longer invading everywhere he can get away with, then I would choose to stop the war. I wouldn’t know what would happen, but I would calculate that it is more likely that the world would be better off if the war hadn’t taken place.

      • The_Postindustrialist

        I don’t think it would diffuse as easily.

        The debt that Europe owed the US was insurmountable, and that was the cause of a lot of the unrest. If not Germany and Hitler, it would have been someone else. (Mussolini and Italy is often forgotten. Russia was only on the Allies side because they were an ally of convenience, since Germany was invading them. We turned a blind eye to the horrors that were coming out of there. Again, the birth of the atomic age in two mushroom clouds over Japan probably was the thing that put a stop to the war changing from one against Germany and Japan to one against Russia after they were defeated…. In which case, I’m kinda also arguing the point that in some cases murder can result in good, although, it’s strange I’m also saying that Hitler had to rise to power in the other example). Instead of an all out war, we got a cold war instead.

        Anti-semetic sentiments were running high in the US prior and during WWII(and then anti-communist feelings), as with racism. The world in general was a boiling pot ready to overflow.

        My sentiments are that regardless of how horrific it was, it was a point of time that was inevitable. (not all of life and history is like that, but some points in time I believe are)

        I don’t think this means that we should either do nothing, or that we should consider our actions irrelevant. Hindsight may be 20/20, but the future is not. That in and of itself is marvelous in a way.

        I think that people should act in such a way that is the least morally wrong, and the goal should be to aim for a better future, but that choice is often difficult to determine.

    • Aureon

      The nihilist approach will ultimately boil down to “Why do anything”.
      You don’t truly know the consequences of anything. So why do it?
      This would simply be another action in the list of those you can do. Weigh heavily, and use it properly, like everything else – don’t be paralyzed by the unknown.

      • The_Postindustrialist

        That’s the sum of the existential angst that Sartre talked about.

        I wholeheartedly agree with you. We are propelled to choose, and then to rationalize our choices (“reason is and ought be the slave of the passions”), but we should do so knowing are eternally condemned to the consequences.

        If choices didn’t have serious weight behind them, they would be equally inconsequential.

  • d

    If I could ensure one person would die peacefully in their sleep at the time of my choosing, I’d pick myself. Selfish, I know, but what the hey.

    • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

      “.. it’ll be useless after midnight”

  • daughter in law

    My ex mother in law, whom I love dearly. This would be a mercy killing. She is in constant pain which a regime of pain killers does not do too much to assuage. She does not recognise people, tho she knows she should. It upsets and agitates her. She is 87. I would wish she has a peaceful passing.

  • Instant gratification monkey

    Interesting. In the current European conception of justice, justice can never be an objective reason for death penalty.

    • Aureon

      Such a tool wouldn’t be used for justice or revenge though.

      The only proper use would be to make measurable change for the better in as many lives as possible, like a blow to ISIS (Announce that God has deemed ISIS unholy, and will kill Al-Baghdad tonight by heart failure – And then it happens. Bam, ISIS is dead overnight).

      • Instant gratification monkey

        My comment was on Tim’s second point (justice). You are talking about thr other aspect (practical) which is of course an entirely different point.

  • anon

    I’d genuinely contemplate to do it to someone I know: My half-sister’s ex-husband/my niece’s father. Before you go on and judge me for having these thoughts, let me tell you a little about this situation.
    1. This man has custody of his 10-year old daughter even though her Mom is a way better parent than he is. My sister can’t legally see her daughter more often than once every two weeks or so because she’s disabled and the court justifies that as “being unable to raise a child in a healthy environment”
    2. He molested his daughter. That monster fucking molested my niece, and I’d kill him just for that if I could.
    3. Besides being a pedophile, that guy is absolutely ruining this child’s life. He won’t let her see her friends and she’s really depressed and scared all the time.
    4. Did I mention he’s an elementary school teacher?
    5. His death would result in a better life for my niece, for all the kids he’s teaching, his ex-wife and my family in general.
    If I were in possession of this device I’d actually think about it. I think I’d do it.

    • James

      Why don’t you grow some balls and protect your niece and kill him?

  • Chris


  • HD

    Someone has been watching Death Note lately :p

  • xow

    Interesting question.

    People saying they wouldn’t use the button aren’t thinking hard enough in my opinion. I think the difficult part is balancing the size of positive impact with the certainty of the impact being positive.

    One option for a small but basically guaranteed to be positive impact would be to use the button on a death row inmate, preferably one who is indisputably guilty and has exhausted the appeals process. This saves the government money to keep that person incarcerated and eventually the cost of drugs used for the execution. It also saves the inmate the possibility of an unnecessarily painful death in the case of a botched execution.

    Moving up the risk/reward ladder would be picking somebody who has done or continues to do something heinous, but on a small scale. Depending on your views, this would be somebody like George Zimmerman or Casey Anthony or possibly the Westboro Baptist leader.

    Another notch up would be people of greater prominence but not quite at a geopolitical level of consequence. Jihadi John comes to mind. It’s unlikely to have broad ramifications, but is almost certainly a form of justice and maybe a small step in the direction for good. It’s also unlikely his replacement could be significantly “worse”, a greater risk with people like Kim Jong Un.

    Finally at the top of the scale are the people with significant power. As mentioned, these have the most risk of actually making things worse, but with the possibility to do the greatest good too. This tier is too risky for me.

    My pick is Anders Breivik. There’s no question of guilt, and with only a 20 year prison sentence there’s a significant chance that this prevents future atrocities. Good mix of justice and impact with very little downside.

    • Good response

    • Blrp

      Breivik is never getting out though. You should probably do your research next time you decide to kill someone.

    • HartAttack87

      The Reaper got the Westboro Baptist leader, if you mean Fred Phelps.

  • Esther Herold

    My mother. She is her 7th year of alzheimers. She has no comprehension and no longer speaks. She always said she would want to die under these circumstances.

  • Innocent Bystander

    Russ…I really hate that guy.

  • Ektesh

    The CEO’s of all factory farms. They’re worthless sacks of sh** who have caused the suffering of BILLIONS of animals just to give people a meal they forget in four minutes.

    • Bill

      But meat is so delicious!

    • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

      Which CEOs? The ones who own the feedlots? The ones who own the farmland? Those who produce the feed? The situation is more complex than you assume.

  • Zach Goldfine

    The grim reaper. Then we could all live forever.

    • That would be literally catastrophic, easily the worst suggestion IMHO.

    • Douglas

      And what if you get sent to jail for life? you will suffer forever

      • Moreover, what would we do in only a few years when the planet quite literally runs out of space? I like the lol idea of killing the Grim Reaper but the consequences are unthinkable.

  • Camille

    I would have to pass. I wouldn’t want to live with the knowledge that I took matters into my own hands. And although I would love to ensure myself a painless death, I’m not ready to go tonight.

  • RayK

    It would take some thought, but whoever is responsible for the most human death and suffering in the world.

  • @look_at_this_dick

    suge knight. hes not gonna be convicted of course

  • wow

    Kim Jong Un. No sucessor, North Korea has no dictator, one step closer to freedom

    • I thought this myself but I’m not sure he is the puppet master, although I don’t know how they’d spin it to the people. I’d love to see his gay, liberal brother take over though.

  • I iz a person.

    Remind me not to sleep tonight.

  • Richard Kenneth Niescior

    You know whom I’d choose?

    Not somebody who has stirred some shit, we all assholes, from Hitler to Nelson Mandela, so that is a boring game.

    I’d pick on of the most renowned people, and it will not be an arbitrary decision where it is like ‘just take him’, it would be a person where everything surrounding them would turn to clusterfuck. Maybe it stirs shit and leads to World War 3, now that is interesting.

  • To ask this question you must not have read enough fantasy
    stories as a child. Every time you use some kind of magic you are playing with forces beyond your understanding, and it WILL come back to bite you in the ass.

    The desire to kill is usually a short lived angry response
    to some information. For example I would have said Henry Ford when I first read how responsible he was for selling Hitler on the anti-semitic plan. (And what a total dick of a person he was.)

    But from a historic viewpoint consider this. A major reason
    that the German war machine failed was the drain on its resources from the death camps (which Hitler made his top priority.) If they did not have this loss of resources they could have won.

    After WWII Stalin killed 50 million Russians. How many people would a victorious 3rd Reich have killed?

    By this math 6 million people (or was it 10 million) died to
    save …well at least 50 million.

    • They never had a chance of winning because they would never have been able to match the might of America. I say this as a Brit.

      • Diego De Vita

        actually they were going through the same process of building the atomic bomb but where strongly slowed down by the surrounding countries (including Britain and Scandinavians)… America just got there first for that reason and closed the game

        • Fair one. I’ve never considered that, and no matter that the US had overwhelming numbers, there would have been nothing they could have done if they didn’t get in first on the atomic bomb.

        • Jeff Lewis

          VE day was May 8th, 1945. The first successful atomic bomb test wasn’t until July 16th, 1945, and atomic weapons weren’t used in battle until August, 1945, against Japan. Sure, the war would have played out differently had Germany developed a bomb before the war ended, but the U.S. didn’t use atomic weapons to ‘close the game’ with Germany.

          • Diego De Vita

            Thanks for pointing out this very important detail I was not very aware of.. shame on me. This makes the nuclear bomb detonation on Japan even more unnecessary. But who am I to judge? did they take the right choice? I don’t know. Anyway as you also realized in your comment, the war would have played differently if Germany could develop their own bomb before U.S. did. I don’t know the deep details about it however I’m quite sure they had the know-how but practically were not able to collect the needed resources because their enemies strongly slowed down the process. I’m quite sure that if Germany was successful doing it, they would have dropped the bomb to destroy the most strategic military points belonging to the enemies anticipating the D-day and removing any chance for the allies to be a threat for their european conquer. Probably my knowledge of the whole picture is not clear enough and I may be wrong again… in the end their “kingdom” was not going to last as long as they expected despite their eventual atomic bomb but for sure Nazi would have even more blood on their hands.

    • Adam

      Henry Ford was also responsible for the moving assembly line and Model T Ford, which created a lot of prosperity all over America. If you want to kill someone with the intention of preventing Hitler from coming to power (although the rest of your post implies you don’t), then I’d choose someone like his mother, who (to my knowledge) was in no large position of power and didn’t contribute anything great to any society.

      Also, fiction isn’t necessarily accurate because it’s just someone’s ideas: we don’t know what would happen if we killed [leader X] or [person Y], but many fantasy stories display curiosity as dangerous – for whatever reason (maybe just to stop kids from accidentally killing themselves).

    • Aureon

      You read fantasy and got “Don’t deal with the arcane”.

      I, personally, got “Understand the arcane before using it”.

  • Austin Schroth

    Let’s make this interesting…what would happen if someone chose God? If God died, would anyone even know? I personally know plenty of people who “know” he exists. Would these people then “know” he’s dead? Would they act any differently in their lives with this knowledge? What would the devil do? Would “all hell break lose?” WWJD? He wouldn’t know it was me, so would he punish humans or forgive? What happens to heaven? What if God doesn’t exist? Then nothing would change right? Does that prove God doesn’t exist?

    • The thought crossed my mind but I would think that a religious person would say that God is not a human so the button wouldn’t work.

      • Austin Schroth

        I thought that too, but figured I’d propose it anyways.

    • what do you mean by “knowing” god exists?

      • Austin Schroth

        People have told me, “I know God exists.”

      • It’s in speech marks, religious people have faith that God exists. It’s an interesting suggestion but I would imagine the immediate response from a believer is that the button wouldn’t work, so the conversation ends there.

    • Pippin Covington

      I dont think God is really a person

    • Rachel Deering

      That is certainly thinking outside the box! Good answer!

    • Adam

      It’s certainly an interesting idea, but I think it’s a bad idea to go with in any situation:

      (1) The button works and kills an omniscient omnipotent God: well, the Universe is screwed.
      (2) The button doesn’t work because there is no God: no-one will believe you (unless everyone had a similar button), and you’ve proven nothing, because you don’t know the difference between situations 2 and 3.
      (3) The button doesn’t work because God isn’t a person / able to be killed: you’ve not proved anything, because you don’t know whether this is situation 2 or 3, and you’ve wasted your button (assuming you wanted to use it on someone else).

      • Austin Schroth

        I agree. I think there would be no change and that proves nothing.

    • ejoty

      Which god?
      There are over 2,500 deities listed in Michael Jordan’s ‘Encyclopaedia of Gods’.
      And if you killed Loki, Kali would still exist.

      • Austin Schroth

        Great response!

    • Jeff Lewis

      Well, if there aren’t any gods right now, anyway, the people who ‘know’ they exist are wrong or fooling themselves. So of course they’ll keep on knowing their gods after you hit the button, since hitting the button isn’t changing anything, anyway.

  • Niko Takalahti

    Am I the only one who is so full of rage that I would choose my ex wife? (I know it sounds so god damn cliche) but the abuse I suffered and how she got away from any responsibility after leaving me stranded in all foreign city (in where she dragged me in the first place) all by myself. She cheated on me and then after disposing me from the picture, she jumped straight to another mans arms. I am suffering from severe depression and she is kinda the only reason for that.
    This kind of device would finally give me the peace that (I for myself think) I deserve….
    P.S. Sorry from bad grammar. From Finland.

    • Iris Stephen

      I know this is from ages ago and you’ve heard it all before, but it’s true that ‘holding on to anger is like drinking rat poison and expecting the other person to die’. You are depressed now, but you have the power to dig yourself out of that hole again if you choose to. Find yourself help if necessary, there’s no shame in it. Don’t give her that much power over your life.
      And I’m a woman as well, but believe me, people like your ex wife come in both genders.

  • Melisa

    I was just thinking about this last night. Years ago, a relative of mine was molested repeatedly by her grandfather, when she was young (pre-puberty, because he could then avoid impregnating her). She told her mother, who at the time was a single mom assisted by her parents in the raising five children. Her mother made excuses for the grandfather, even going so far as to (mis)use their religion to justify his actions. To this day the truth has been hidden from the grandmother. My relative has since grown into a mature adult, who has processed that horrific time as well as perhaps anyone can process it, and become a mother herself. For some years since, the grandparents moved in with another one of their children who lived in the country of their ancestral origin. Recently, the grandparents moved back in with their daughter, to the house where my relative once struggled to understand what was happening to her as a child. My relative and her young children live nearby, as she still maintains a close (but complicated) relationship with her mother. There remains a good deal of denial, secrecy, and inability to accept the reality what happened on the mother’s part. the grandfather behaves (and perhaps believes?) as if those past events had no great impact on the family. It is not clear whether any of the other children that grew up in that household had a similar experience (when asked, they deny it). At any rate, I thought that if there was some way to cause the grandfather an early death, peacefully, it might be on the whole better for that family.

  • Jacob Fields

    I wouldn’t kill anyone. First of all, if they were “famous”, or known for doing something bad to a large number of people (like Adolf Hitler, for example), I would leave it for a larger group of people to decide. Even if he’s dangerous, he’s just one person, it’s the whole organization that is to be concerned about. If it was on a personal scale, even though that person wronged me, I’m sure that there are some good contributions that they have made. It only gets to the level of someone completely destroying my life that I would use this device on (including maybe someone that killed a close relative or something), but that hasn’t happened to me so far, so I wouldn’t have any real motive for that.

  • Bindle

    Antonin Scalia, hands down.

    I had this little idea once, called One Free Murder (OFM, pronounced, of course, Off ‘Em.) The idea was this: each person got one free murder in his/her lifetime. Only the record keepers got to know if you’d already punched your option, no one else gets to know, therefore you remain a threat to everyone. Most people would never use it for moral reasons. I’d never use it because I couldn’t be sure I’d run into the biggest ass of my lifetime yet. You can’t shoot your ass off and still have it, so to speak.

    But just enough people would come out of the doctor’s office with six months to live and . . . blow away the next guy who cut him off in the highway or was snotty to him at the cash register or . . . well, take your pick.

    Think about what it would to for social intercourse! (Not to mention highways.)

    I used to think that politicians had to be exempt from being targets, since just about all of them would be somebody’s target, but that was a couple of decades ago. I’ve changed my mind. Think what that would do for gridlock in D.C.

    • HartAttack87

      I’m pretty sure George Carlin had a similar idea. Legal murder once a month.

    • Aureon

      Indeed, killing Scalia while a Democratic president is in office, so he’d be replaced by a progressive Justice, would make a pretty big difference.

    • Bindle

      Whoops, finger-twitch. I certainly didn’t mean to thumbs-up my own post. Really, George Carlin had the same idea? I’m in good company, then. But I do think once a month is a trifle excessive. There wouldn’t be many of us left on the planet. I’m not *quite* so cynical to accept, yet, that this would be a good thing. . . . But I’m close.

      My personal guess is that our kind of an intelligence, one that can manipulate its environment (which dolphins, say, have a limited ability at, due to the difficulty of building a starter-tech fire underwater) is always a dead-end, everywhere in the universe, one of the possible ‘filters’ of why we don’t seem to find any extraterrestrial intelligences. (See Fermi’s Paradox, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox.) That is, all such species become technologically clever far faster than they become wise.

      The planet and life will continue, the former for another 5 billion years or so, the latter for about half a billion in any complex form on this blue sphere. Perhaps our own species will just be a little hiccup in the grand scheme of life.

      • Bindle

        Ha! My bad. A Google on ‘George Carlin _legal_ murder,’ as HartAttack87 had it, had better results. Gooo, George!

    • Myles

      Please see a therapist. Disagreeing with someone (who hasn’t even committed any real crimes, except for having a different viewpoint than your own) shouldn’t justify murder in itself. I wonder if you would say this to Maureen Scalia, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or any person you met on the street.

  • André Rodrigues

    If one accepts that ISIS is not just a bunch of psychopaths who are hijacking religion for their own selfish reasons, but that most of them are actually fundamentalists who truly believe they are following the Koran as faithfully as possible (as misguided that may be), then the death of the Caliph by heart failure during the night would deal a great blow to their confidence, since it would be difficult to deny it as an act of god at such a critical juncture.

    If you don’t agree with the premise, I strongly suggest you to read the following article: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/

    • Jeff Lewis

      There was a study done back in the ’50s, with an accompanying book, When Prophecy Fails. A cult believed in a coming apocalypse on December 21, 1954, but obviously the apocalypse never occured. Rather than abandon their beliefs, they rationalized why the apocalypse was avoided (thanks to their efforts, of course), and then doubled down on the proselytization and recruitment efforts.

      In other words, people who are heavily invested in a belief with an accompanying social structure are unlikely to abandon the belief when faced with contrary evidence. If the head of ISIS were to die from a heart attack, I don’t think for a minute that ISIS would falter. Hell, they might just claim that he was so good that he got called home ealier.

  • Paula


    • tanya

      I don’t know you but please don’t.

    • Rachel Deering

      If you are not joking, please get help. I’ve been there and life does get better!

    • Dan

      I really hope you’re not serious, but if you are, there are places you can get help. Look up the suicide hotline or search for a support group.

    • Karen Edgerton

      No Paula. We need you. The deeper the pain the wiser we become and the more we have to offer. Please – seek help.

    • ektesh

      You’re too good for that. Keep living, you deserve happiness.

    • Keir

      Of all the contenders in the world.. Just yourself?

  • jaime_arg

    Be careful, Tim. You might get put on a list for naming Khamenei. You know, that thing where one crazy person tells other crazy people that they should kill X blasphemous person whenever they encounter them.

  • Rachel Deering

    I don’t support the death penalty, so I could not justify killing someone because the almighty “I” think that they deserve to die. UNLESS, I could see at that moment that anyone in the world was torturing or killing another person, especially a child, I woud kill them without hesitation.

    • Karen Edgerton

      Can I send you his name?

  • cybernetichero

    If I can only kill one person that annoys me I may as well use the thing on myself.

  • Karen Edgerton

    I would kill my brother GS. No problem at all.
    1. He violently molested me for 10years and tried to kill me 3 times. I know he has abused many of his students over the years.
    2. He is a high school teacher.
    3. I believe he is quite capable of murder.
    4. I may not be able to affect the masses but giving revenge to all those he has hurt because I chose not to kill him when I was young would help me sleep better.

    • a

      Hi Karen, is there something you can do in real life to improve this situation? I mean, hypothetical situations aside, you must have considered reporting him, right?

      • Karen Edgerton

        I took it to a detective in 2000. I was in my 40’s and the detective and the Crown believed me but the school administrators were too afraid of the liability issue. He admitted to some with me but I had no ‘hard’ evidence so they couldn’t make it public for others to come forward. The attempted murder of a 14yr old by a 17yr in 1971 (they have to go by when it happened) was a fine of $25 if convicted. So yes, I tried very hard.

  • tommo_montana
    • DrSuess

      classic episode… “don’t worry… I’ll give it to someone you don’t know” (volume up on foreboding music)
      I saw it on the original series; I didn’t realize it was in the 2nd set. Gave me the creeps!

  • Michael

    Since the guy who molested me as a child is already dead, I don’t have any contenders. If he were still alive, however, he would definitely be my choice. Getting molested was in no way my fault, yet it has scarred me for life, and extended negative tendrils into every aspect of my existence. No matter where you start in untangling the skein that is me, the thread you pick will always trace back to that one thing sooner or later.

    The whole thing is impressively complex when you really start getting down into it. Did I get singled out because of who I was, or did I become who I am because I got selected? There is no way to answer that question without a time machine.

  • Crossbow McStabby

    dang, this just got real…maybe you should post a little hotline number, there Tim. also, it might be possible to kill someone for some other end outside of the “practical” or “justice” categories, such as to advance some sort of medical procedure or discovery (ex: killing someone whose body could be used for science)… that said, killing ‘evil people’ (whatever that means) at the individual level can’t really solve anything (after all, it is only base eye-for-eye logic) gotta enter those dudes into the justice system to integrate them into the practice of civility for their death to have any long term impact on social ideology. maybe the better question would be: “if you could brainwash someone to suddenly enact civility consonant with your own conception of it, who would it be…”

  • DrSuess

    George W. “dubya” Bush
    Now… getting to him prior to his 2000 election would have been much better. .. it would have avoided a couple of false wars and several hundred thousand lives… (including the nearly 5000 American military casualties.)
    The current trend of republican science denial would have been nipped in the bud. As it turned out, Gore was completely right about carbon dioxide and human influenced climate change.

    If you also take into account his 8 years of pro banking, pro oil, let the poor folks take care of themselves – post Katerina policies. .. there is no way America and the world is better off for his existence.

    Since Tim didn’t say we were allowed a time machine function. .. I’d still use the button on Dubya today during his retirement for justice purposes. He was a liar, a war criminal, religious fanatic and anti – intellectual who set back global peace processes decades.

    BTW…. if we were allowed the time machine. .. I’d go back to 1979 and get Regan.

    • Steve

      Yeah, I’m sure things would have ended up much different without Bush at the helm. After all, we can see what a difference Obama has made with more drone strikes and wars than Bush could have dreamed of.

      • Aureon

        Hi, Mr. “Look at me i’m so smart every politician is the same”.
        Do you really think that Gore wouldn’t have done _something_ for global warming, or not dismantled the anti-terrorism unit before 9/11, or, at least, wasn’t from a family with personal ties from the direct beneficiaries of the Iraq Wars, the saudis?
        Do you really think Gore would’ve slashed the top rates of taxes as throughly as Bush did?
        And the list goes EVER on.

        • Steve

          Oh boy, we’re playing the “what if” game based on assumptions about things that never happened. Considering Gore wasn’t president during 9/11, who the hell knows what would have happened. What’s next? Are we going to discuss WWII battles and what would have happened if Hitler won the war?

          What we can look at is how the (D) party handled post 9/11 after Bush left. Since it’s now year 7, one more time, YEAR 7, since Bush has been in office and we have more drone strikes, more wars, more instability all over the world, I’m going to go ahead and say Obama is no different. In fact, he’s worse if that was at all possible.

          But please, go on about things that never happened based on assumptions you have. It’s so much fun. (not serious)

          • Aureon

            We have MORE wars?
            In which the USA is involved?
            Please list.
            Please inform of how the handling of the Lybia war was in any way as terrible as the Afghanistan and Iraq war.

            As far as i know, Obama has pulled out of Afghanistan, and started no new wars. That’s -1, compared to Bush’s +2.

            • Steve

              Last post to you because you’re an obvious troll.

              If you think destabilizing North Africa (starting with Egypt and Libya) isn’t as bad as the rest of the middle east, I have ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.

              PS – The war in Afghanistan isn’t ended. I’m in Afghanistan at this very moment writing this message. The war in Iraq isn’t ended either and considering we funded and created ISIS, I’d say that’s a pretty big fuck-up as far as foreign policy goes.

              Then there’s Yemen, no description needed at the colossal failure there. There’s Uganda which is always forgotten by those who plug their ears and go “la la la la” instead of pay attention. There’s the fact we’re now working with Iranian special operations groups, the same groups who created/shipped EFP (explosively formed projectiles) all through Iraq in 03-09 that killed hundreds of US troops and maimed thousands more.

              But yes, because some guy (you) wants to follow party instead of principle (read: be a complete coward), it’s understandable how you’d ignore all this.

              Don’t bother responding, I’m not reading any of your trolling.

  • Fathero4

    I am shocked no one has mentioned Putin yet…

    • JimRob

      That would not probably help things too much. The power in Russia is held by people who are just using Putin as a puppet…

    • Koondog

      I’m shocked no one has named Big Dick Cheney. Karma alone should move him to the front of the line. Any line.

  • Bette Pollex

    Whoever it would take to get Fox News off the air.

    • Ádám Zovits

      Part of the question is identifying a person whose death could have a meaningful impact on the world. I don’t think such one exists for a huge modern company.

  • Jonathan Wells

    I’ll probably be flagged somewhere for this and never be able to get on a plane again, but I would pick Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, if I were to use the button. The list of shit that guy had done to my country, once known for its progressive social policies and environmental track record is just stunning. From muzzling scientists to dismantling social programs, the man has been a blight on this country. We need an ethical, humanist leader more than ever, not a people pleasing corporate puppet. I don’t know if anyone better would necessarily replace him, unfortunately. I’m hoping for an NDP win in the next federal election, and the loss of the incumbent might put a dent in the Conservative’s campaign. All that said, I wouldn’t actually use the button, if given the option. I don’t believe in the death penalty, and believe there are consequences to every action we take. I’d rather not live the rest of my life as a murderer, thanks. I’m actually a bit surprised at this question and the enthusiasm it has stirred up. We are talking about killing another human being here, as discrete and clinical as it the set-up is. You would wake up every morning for the rest of your life knowing you had personally caused the death of another. I’m not interested in that karma.

    • Karen Edgerton

      Again. I would wake up happier if GS was dead. Ecstatic if I got to do it. walk a mile in my life. Not a tough thing to live with at all.

  • Andrew

    Does “God” count as a living person?

  • Andrew

    Or this: if Christians are correct in believing that Jesus will return some day as a living person, what if someone used the button on him? What would the new(er) testament have to say about the cause of this second death? And since god/Jesus/holy spirit are supposedly one and the same, does that effectively mean that God had been killed off?

    • lldemats

      Good question. The people who made all that stuff up never thought of a device like that so couldn’t write in a second (or really third) coming.

  • Rajarshi Ghosh

    Well, the first question should be that the machine should have a feedback system if the person selected by me, is already on the hit list. I would not want to waste such an opportunity. The fun would start when each time I type in a specific name, and it shows that name already exists in the hit list. How many such chances would be allowed? And, more importantly, as a name cannot be a primary key, how would the machine identify my intended target ?

  • Digvijay Parmar

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi……I would go for this son of a bitch. He is causing to much harm to the world. Even if he is dead as media says I would go for his soul and kill it. And as some of the people who answered(that they would not kill another Human Being) I will not feel guilty for what I did and I will be happy for all my life that I murdered This asshole.

  • Diego De Vita

    if you asked me few years ago, it was Silvio Berlusconi .. and there’s not even need to say why. But right now who even cares about it? I guess that most of my personal enemies also are not supposed to be that powerful or behated like in the past.. despite there’s always someone in your twisted mind that deserves to die, in this moment it’s difficult to choose one among the many 🙂 so right now my only preference would go to an entire category reather than a specific person 😉

  • Ian

    Took me all of 10 seconds to choose … Benjamin Netanyahu…. without so much as a blink of an eyelid … in my opinion the single greatest threat to humanity.

    • hhfd

      As someone who’s living under his “reign” for the past three government I can sum up my response to one sentence: you know nothing Ian..
      And I’m not speaking as one of his great supporters.

    • Pavin

      Your opinion mate. But Israel is a great country and while I don’t agree with Mr. Netanyahu’s politics I admire the man and his passion towards stabilizing the region and protecting his people.

    • moshe hill

      Saying Bibi is a “threat to humanity” is like saying a hockey goalie is the greatest threat to score. All he’s doing is playing defense and yelling out instructions to his other defenders on how to play more defense. He’s not a threat to anyone. He’s just preventing others from coming into his zone!

  • HartAttack87

    This is probably a thread where everyone should really make use of the anonymity bit. I see a few have not.

    • Karen Edgerton

      I purposely signed as I always do – who I really am. Gave the initials of my wanna be victim. Maybe the Butterfly Effect will find him and justice will be as it should.
      I understand those of you who see murder as a really bad thing and it is. But in my little world raping and torturing a child/many children is a one way ticket to the death penalty. No redemption. Ever.

      • HartAttack87

        Do what you want, but if you wind up having a lot of trouble because you called for someone’s death and attached your name to it, does that make the situation any better? Most likely anyone who knows you well knows who this person is and can see this or easily find it.
        I’m not saying what you feel isn’t valid or possibly justified. I’m saying anyone who is publicly and openly saying “I’d totally kill {person in my personal life},” might find this was a bad idea if that person happens to meet an untimely demise.

        • Karen Edgerton

          Actually no one who knows me knows him and vice versa. Even the relatives I have left don’t know my name or where I am. And if publicly saying on a Wait But Why Dinner Table hypothetical website what my answer to the question is somehow could be taken as making a legally binding statement etc. then the IP addresses of everyone who said a public figure just turned on a government site somewhere. So honestly I feel safe. I used my real name etc. because it is the truth. I no longer hide from the truth. BUT that is just my choice.

          • HartAttack87

            Correct, that’s why I generally advised against any of it, particularly if the public figure is a current or former politician in the country where that IP address resides.

            • Karen Edgerton

              I believe if I can’t stand behind my comments about a COMPLETELY impossible scenerio then I will always be afraid to voice what I believe on the very real stage of life. At the same time I will support you in giving your vote anonymously.

            • HartAttack87

              Didn’t give a vote. Didn’t advocate for anyone’s untimely demise at all.

  • lldemats

    I was going to say Elvis Presley, just to be cute, but this is too important. Then I thought of the guy who activated Skynet in Terminator 3, but he bought it anyway and besides, he was fictional. It seems to me that a collective intelligence such as we Wait But Why readers are could agree on an evil movement to take down and coordinate our little devices to make the world a better place. Yeah, I thought of Putin, but he’s such a dick, and the people around him are probably dicks, too. Russia won’t disappear as a state, and we probably wouldn’t want it to. So, after thinking about it, I would use my device on the number 2 guy behind Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whoever he is, and thanks to Digvijay Parmar for his well-thought out choice. To that end, we could coordinate our choices to take out Boko Harum’s leadership, too, top to bottom. But ISIL first. No way such evil assholes could even be considered by some as liberators, by any stretch of the imagination.

  • E.G.

    Firstly, there are some worrying statements here of people saying they would
    pck themselves. It might not feel like it right now but you have a gift and you
    need to live so the world can share the wonderful person you are. Please please
    please talk to someone today, now this instant. Pick up the phone and call
    someone. Tell them how you feel. Please do that.

    I guess the rules state we are not allowed think about a terminally ill person who, in utter agony, yearns to die but is not allowed to due to their ridiculous national laws?

    Ok so.

    I’d push the button and it would be you, the person who has already added their firm but fair suggestion to the list about another human
    being. Why? Because now you know how it would feel to be on the receiving end
    of sanctimonious flippancy like this. But who am I to force this silly decision
    on you? All of a sudden my decision is probably “utter bull” compared to your awesome but equally lethal excuses, right? Right now, you are angry – examine that emotion.

    All of a sudden there are a million reasons why your decision
    was way, WAY better? Of course, you’re a better person than the person you want
    to kill? And you know hat for sure and as your anger builds I’m an asshole for not understanding you,
    no doubt. You didnt have to play the game – but you did.

    You like your life, don’t you?

    Ok, I changed my mind and won’t push the button.

    Keep it and use it to make the world a better place without killing because
    each and every killer has an excuse. And don’t think I’m excusing the person you
    suggested in your choice, no, not at all. Not for one second.

    As shitty as the world can be sometimes, less people contemplating killing
    might help us all evolve.

  • nielmalan

    I’d type in Robert Mugabe. But I won’t press the button.

  • Rafe

    It’s the age old ethical dilemma between doing what’s right vs. what’s good. Would you kill one person to save 10 million from being killed? Do ends justify the means? Personally, regardless how tempting it would be to kill Hitler pre WWII I wouldn’t be able to press the button and live with the conscience of having a direct responsibility for killing someone. I think history has proven that there’s an endless supply of crazy and amoral people to replace the ones in anyone’s list.

  • Aaron Barbee

    I hate basically no one. Even when my ex-wife told me she was pregnant with another man’s baby, I only kicked her out. I’m too laid-back. As mentioned already/previously, I’d love to see lots of the ISIS/Terrorist/etc. people dead. But, am I going to assume that I am the only one with this device and I’m not able to team up with others to take out an entire faction of nut-cases.

    With that said, I would probably “help” my co-worker’s father-in-law. He had a stroke a week or so ago and is in a vegetative state. The man worked hard his whole life and has a very strong heart, but his brain has shut down. She has put off work and personal trips to be by her husband’s side. But they know only the morphine is keeping him from suffering.

    I think it would be nice for his suffering – and his family’s – to end peacefully such as a heart attack while sleeping.

    • Emma

      I hear what you’re saying about your co-worker’s father-in-law, but do they know for sure that all hope is out? I’m only saying because my father suffered his second massive brain hemorrhage a couple of years ago, and he was in a vegetative state for about a month in the beginning before his recovery started (all the way from not moving to walking again, and although he can’t speak, his brain is sharp and his reflexes are quick). Of course if the father-in-law is brain dead that is a different story. I wish him the best.

      • Aaron Barbee

        Hi Emma. That’s great news about your dad!

        I’d say this situation sounds different than yours. According to my co-worker, her father-in-law is completely non-responsive and the doctors are basically waiting on him to expire. He’s apparently in his late 80s or so (my friend is nearly 60 herself). Thanks. 🙂

  • whatsanenigma

    Oooh I want several chances at this…

    1) John Connor. Yours truly, SkyNet.
    2) Me, and then I would stay up all night so that I couldn’t “die in my sleep” and then I would know with 100% certainty that I had cheated death.
    3) Rush Limbaugh. Sure there are other whackos out there who would take his place, but let’s at least have one less person out there spewing ignorant hate-filled garbage. (But damn, then my first amendment leanings get all worked up, so I guess I can’t do that one.)
    4) Preemptive conditional strike against anyone who would use it on Tim Urban. This guy is hilarious and makes me think about stuff in a totally different way, and I want him around for a long long time!

    • Matthus Gougeus

      2) You wouldn’t know. Maybe it would just prove that the box doesn’t work at all.

  • Jeff Lewis

    Maybe I’m taking the question too seriously, but as far as justice or vengeance, my answer would be no one. It’s the same issue I always give my nephew a hard time about when watching comic book based shows or movies. Who made them judge, jury, and executioner? Sure, it’s gratifying in fiction to see the bad guy get theirs, but in reality (in certain places, at least), there’s a system of checks and balances to make sure justice is fairly administered. Vigilante justice, or even more primitive eye for an eye retribution have no place in modern society.

    The only answers I’ve seen that seem appropriate are to help terminally ill patients end their lives in locales where assisted suicide is still illegal, though I’d want to be awfully sure that’s what the patient really wanted.

  • Felipe Lisbôa

    Oh, hard question. If I had a death note version, where I could pick a lot of names to kill, I would kill a lot of people, from the leaders of ISIS and the warlords of Africa to neo atheists like Richard Dawkins and ridiculous wealth persons like Warren Buffet. I would like to kill some of the “big heads” behing FIFA and basically every person that disagrees from my opinions and are famous or rich or arrogant. I would like to kill people that I think are a disgrace to the world of music, like Madonna or Justin Bieber, but I would let Zayn Malik alive.
    Since a Death Note is not an opition, I would kill my boss. She’s a bitch.

    • Matthus Gougeus

      Dawkins ? Really ? He’s harmless. Except if you consider truth to be hurtful on a long-term basis.

      • Felipe Lisbôa

        I don’t agree with him. And I don’t agree with you too, wich makes you a great candidate to be in my death note.

        • Matthus Gougeus


          • Yiorko Chaz

            what’s more natural and lovely than killing those you don’t agree with?

  • Easy

    I’d type Kim Jon-un and press that button with a huge smile on my face. I know most people would say there are worse guys out there doing more harm, but I don’t care. The dude has gots ta go.

    • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

      The country might receive a hit internally, but nothing really will change. Another fat, entitled North Korean bureaucrat will take his place, and people will continue to be oppressed.

  • hal9thou001

    The person who created the device.

  • phil

    Killing unfortunately will never solve anything, since all the polarized humans that have been named so far will be replaced (probably by someone even more radical) and nothing will chance.
    The question should have been; which person would you choose to influence with your ideals, as so they can act them out in the world.
    One clear option would be for example the pope; killing him will yield nothing, however influencing him might make the church more progressive and at least allow birth control and STD prevention on the african continent.
    Same goes for G. W Bush, killing him would have yielded very little, maybe made things even worse than they were. However, influencing him with ideals might have changed so many things… climate policy, wars, financial crisis, wealth gap, health care etc…
    So there is really no need for a little killing device, in fact, if it would ever be so important to kill someone that the benefits merrit the act, I’d gladly rise to the occasion and kill that person whichever way I can, and take the consequences for it. Killing someone with a little secret device without consequences for oneself is just a coward’s despicable dream, and I feel sad for those who really consider it.

    • HartAttack87

      I think you meant Donald Rumsfeld. This is how hypothetical murder buttons get dangerous.

  • V0lkisch the Edgelord

    First off, I would suggest dictators whose removal would have an immediate positive effect for millions (e.g. Hitler, Saddam, Pol Pot, maybe Assad), but assassinating already-entrenched dictators in relatively-stable countries, like the Iranian president or Kim Jong Un would probably not change much, if there’s another standing in line to take their place. I’m not too sure about Africa, but Mugabe certainly wouldn’t be missed. If there’s any one person posing an imminent threat to world peace, it’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph” of ISIS – remove him without mercy. Benjamin Netanyahu barely makes this category, if only because he’s a jerk who singlehandedly stands in the way of Israeli-Palestinian solutions – again threatening world peace by doubling down on a hypocritical Apartheid fueled by paranoia, resentment, and American tax dollars.

    Onto the domestic front, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona is a sick fucking asshole, and the embodiment of everything wrong with the American Criminal Justice system. Locking away, deporting, and separating “illegals” who otherwise contribute to the economy, and leaving petty drug criminals out to roast in pink underwear in a scorching desert tent is borderline gulag.

    Next up on my shitlist are the owners of private prisons, “troubled teen” retreats, ex-gay conversion therapies, and “alternative” drug rehab programs, as well as the corrupt judges willing to ruin lives to lock more people in the system for the sake of profit, and keeping “undesirables” off the streets. Can you tell how much I hate the War on Drugs?

    I would suggest Fred Phelps next, but he’s actually rotting in Hell right now so nevermind. Maybe the next highest person on the WBC hierarchy, along with “faith healers” and anybody seriously pushing creationism in public schools, like David Barton, Ken Hovind, Ken Ham, or Ray Comfort. Extreme pro-lifers, rapture cultists, and “sovereign citizens” looking to avenge Waco all go here.

    As for politicians, there’s a number of slimy, corrupt assholes on both sides. On the left, I can name Dianne Feinstein, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Janet Napoletano, and Harry Reid. On the right, I can name Steve King, Louie Gohmert, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Joe Barton, David Duke, Karl Rove, David Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. I wouldn’t miss these lying, insincere ideologues for a second. Oh yeah – also Lyndon LaRouche, whatever ice cream flavor his cult are supposed to represent.

    Then… there’s the sensational media demagogues we’d all be better without – Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Jenny McCarthy, Nancy Grace, Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson, Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, David Brooks, and Anita Sarkeesian are all dishonest, lying scumbags committing a poisonous, polarized assault against truth.

    Last on the list are vapid “Top 40” pop artists and “famous for being famous” celebrities with not a lick of talent or batshit insane scandals like Paris Hilton, Kim and the Kardashians, Snooki, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paula Deen, Tila Tequila, Mel Gibson, OJ Simpson, Nicole Richie, Kevin Federaline, Barbara Streisand, Woody Allen, Bristol Palin… you know, those people in the tabloids. Or better yet, the slimeball paparazzis writing the tabloids. Nothing of value would be lost.

    So yeah, that’s my shitlist. NSA calm down it’s only hypothetical, not gonna waste my time and freedom killing these people, even if I wouldn’t hesitate for a second, higher up on the list.

    • Artyom Karapetov

      Holy cow, I hope you never get access to nuclear weapons.

      • sjd

        or a death note

    • James

      I pity you for being so full of hate

    • Leo X

      Save a push of the button for suicide, just for the sake of consistency.

    • Little Miss Marie

      You scare me a little with that last point on your list, dude. I’ve got totally normal friends that are ‘bronies’ and lots that adore anime. I’m an athiest, a feminist (by the dictionary definition), and I hang out on tumblr, reddit and buzzfeed. I’m also a young woman nearly finished a university degree; a millennial. I kinda associate with being a hipster because I’m young and I like tight jeans and big glasses and dudes with beards.
      The fact that you’d kill me over it though, that just gives me the chills.

    • Iris Stephen

      I have to respect that you are a political equal opportunity hater. But if you had to choose just one – who would it be?
      Cannot agree with Michael Moore being that far up the shit list, but Bernie Madoff is an interesting one – almost certainly a corporate psychopath with very little concern for the wellbeing of others, had a damaging effect on billions of people, but in a completely non-violent way. It’s ethically interesting to compare a crime like his to that of a murderer who killed a single person, albeit in a gruesome way.

  • WW

    I cannot possibly weigh one life against the potential butterfly effect. Who is to say that killing an evil dictator won’t change the course of history for the worse? This only works if someone can also tell the future. I might hang onto it though as insurance. If at some point someone poses immediate danger to me or my loved ones, then I can easily defend myself.

    • Button only works today, sorry!

      • WW

        Well then I pass!

    • Jeff Lewis

      I agree with not wanting to kill anybody (see my comment below), but not for the butterfly effect. I mean, that could be an excuse not to do anything. What if by going out to the movies tonight, my car causes just enough atmospheric disturbance to create a tornado in Oklahoma that kills the boy who would have become the future general that stopped the future Hitler? Or, it could be that by staying home, I don’t cause a tornado, which would have killed the boy who would grow up to become the first dictator of the U.S. If you’re worried about the butterfly effect, every single action could potentially alter the future for better or worse.

      • WW

        Well I mention the butterfly effect primarily because people justify killing a dictator or a murderer because they claim that they know that it is the greater good. How can anyone know that? But I completely agree with you. The mindset that people can be the judge, jury, and executioner is dangerous. It undermines law at worst, and on a very basic level causes the ridiculous angry mob mentality that you see in a lot of comments sections of blogs.

  • BillMontreal

    I wouldn’t use this button on anyone. However, if I can amend the fantasy to have the power to prevent someone from being born I would use that on Rush Limbaugh. He has spread so much hate and radicalized so many that I can truly wish that he had never been born. I am also confident that if he never existed that no one else would have risen up to take his place. What makes him even more vile is that I don’t think he believes his own shit. I believe he spews that garbage out for the money and nothing else.

    • whatsanenigma

      So just push the button on him already!

    • Hannah Arendt

      . . . from which we can conclude with absolute certainty that you have never actually listened to his show. You’ve probably heard some out-of-context clips on MSNBC, possibly introduced by that great apostle of peace and tolerance Al Sharpton.

      You hate Limbaugh because you’ve been told that you must hate him if you wish to be considered a good and smart person. Therefore fantasizing about killing him is a good and wise action in your mind.

      What is his crime? Not starting wars, not oppressing millions. No, his crime is not having the opinions you have been told are correct. For that you want him dead.

      How does it feel to realize you are a fascist?

      • BillMontreal

        Your conclusion is absolutely wrong. I have listened to his show from painful opening to painful close many times. I know what garbage it is and I have lived among his listeners. I lived in Kansas and Missouri until five years ago. My judgement is my own, not from out of context clips. No one person is more hateful and generates more hate than this piece of scum.

        • Hannah Arendt

          Then no doubt you can easily provide examples of his “hate” so we can judge for ourselves, right? If he’s so “hateful” you can probably find something from the last week or so.

          • BillMontreal

            Yawn…you bore me.

            • Hanna Arendt

              In other words, you don’t have any actual proof of what you say, because the “hate” exists only in your mind. That’s why fascism appeals to personalities like yours: it lets you spill out the overwhelming hate for others that you’re normally too frightened to express. You can safely join in a mob and feel powerful.

            • BillMontreal

              ha ha ha, no “in other words”. You simply bore me. Emphasis on simply.

            • Hanna Arendt

              Evade, evade, evade. Frightened little man with no mob around him doesn’t know what to do. When he’s part of a mob he can feel powerful, but alone he’s terrified.

              All you have to do is provide some quotes to back up what you said. If you really did listen to Limbaugh so much that should be child’s play. But you can’t do that, because you’re a damned liar. Fascists like you always lie.

            • BillMontreal

              ha ha ha…it is on you. I could randomly pull a quote with closed eyes. You provide one quote that shows RL as a loving (non-hateful). Can’t be done. You are so delusional. ha ha ha

            • Hanna Arendt

              You could randomly pull a quote, but you don’t. Because you can’t. Because you’re a lying little fascist.

              You asked me for a quote? How about this: https://radiothon.org/rush/

              Guy’s raising money for leukemia research.

              Now, how about some evidence to support your smelly little lies? But you won’t put up any. You just going to evade some more, because that’s what lying little fascists like you do. You fantasize about killing people who are both more successful and morally better than you. What a disgusting thing you are, and I think you know it when you are alone in the dark.

            • BillMontreal

              ha ha ha, you fell for it. I’m not lifting a finger for a little snotnosed twelve year old with a vocabulary of 200 words. I’ve never run into a troll that’s more transparent than you. Waste your time trying to get a rise out of me if you want.

              You only make me laugh more. Ha

            • Hanna Arendt

              See? Nothing. You’ve got nothing. You’re a lying little fascist who masturbates to the thought of people dying. You are repulsive.

              And if I’m wasting my time, why have you replied to me FOUR TIMES now? You can’t let it go. The fact that I exist and think you are a disgusting little fascist terrifies you. You want to be part of a mob and feel powerful, but I keep reminding you of how small, frightened, and impotent you are.

              So tell me again how you totally don’t care about me. You will. You can’t not do it.

  • Alex Demas

    Kim Jong Un.

    • J Birdy

      I agree!

  • syr

    Bashar Assad for sure

  • I would find it very difficult to push the button as it only aids in the cycle of violence. My conscience would weigh heavily on me even if I chose someone with the motive of justice in mind. A decision like this would definitely negatively impact the ego in various ways.

  • Jales Naves Júnior

    Mark David Chapman, back in 79.

  • AnnaVana

    This is a really good question. Initially I went down the road of KILL EVIL PERSON. But then – with a nudge from my S.O. – I realized there IS someone in my life who I would push the button for, but in a completely different way. I would push the button out of mercy. Here are the circumstances: I have a very dear friend who 5+ years ago, when she was not even 30 years old, suffered a horrible traumatic brain injury as the result of a bike accident. I was there in the immediate aftermath of the trauma and throughout her “recovery” from medically-induced coma to vegetative state. I was there in the beginning when we wondered what it would be like when she opened her eyes, if “she” would be there. And I was there when it became clear over many, many, many months that “she” would never “be” there again. This is a truth that is unspoken among her closest loved ones because it is so profoundly painful to confront. When a person loses brain functionality to the degree to which she lost it horrible things happen to the body muscle spasms, infections in the mouth, urinary tract infections, bed sores, and for her – countless major and minor seizures. And there is no magic treatment and no full recovery to hope for. We watched, in the beginning, as other TBI patients arrived in the ICU, only to observe them advance through comas to consciousness. Later, in rehab, we saw patients recovering over months from beds to wheelchairs to walking with assistance. Regaining some semblance of their former selves, creating a new way of living in this world. Nothing changed with her. There was no light behind her eyes, no consistency in responses, no form of rudimentary communication of yes or no. Nothing. Just a damaged and suffering body, resembling to less and less a degree a person we once knew and loved. Of course, she has been a bright and dynamic person – unique as all individuals are. She was full of life and energy and had incredible depth of spirit. She was a person who brought friends together, forging new connections all the time and enthusiastically managing a large, rambling social network, of which she was a beloved and core member. And she was smart. She was someone who would have contributed more good to this world than she would have taken. And now that is over, and has been over for 5+ years. I would push the button for her, for her family and for her friends because while modern medicine can do remarkable things, it can’t do anything else for her.

  • TheDemoMan

    I would kill Putin before everything escalates in Russia

    • ericsp23

      The political reality in Russia right now is such that anyone who replaces Putin will likely be as bad or worse than Putin is.
      This is something I think people might not be considering in the discussion on this topic. When talking about taking out political leaders anywhere, we need to consider that these people came to power and have exercised their power in a way that we find undesirable because of the political situation where they live, which isn’t likely to change just because the current leader dies.

  • Artyom Karapetov

    I wouldn’t kill anyone. Those who run the wars and strive to maintain the poverty and terrorism keep themselves invisible. And, even if they went public, there’s no point doing this. If you get rid of some asshole, there are plenty to replace him.

    In order to really change the world, we need new mentality on the species scale, that makes us less inferior than we are right now. The fact that this discussion is even happening suggests that humans are incredibly stupid animals, willing to kill their own kind. When did revolutions achieve anything positive? We need an evolution, not another assassination plot.

  • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

    Is anyone else thinking Death Note right now?

    For those who haven’t seen it, that’s basically the whole premise of the show. I don’t usually like anime but I particularly liked it, the way it dealt with morality and justice was quite interesting

  • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

    Given that Tim Urban has written an article about non religiousness, I’m surprised how many people hate Richard Dawkins for merely having a somewhat differing opinion.

    • Juniper Moot

      I would like Dawkins silenced because he sneaks a lot of misogyny into his athiesm and I wish athiesm would replace him as an icon of influence with someone more respectable as a human being. But I don’t want him dead, only replaced.

  • As I was thinking about this and reading other comments it struck me that, essentially, this akin to the process an assassin probably goes through — if we’re contemplating killing those we do not know then we’re being invited to be assassins. Every assassin clearly thought that the individual they were taking out was the worst of the worst and needed to die for the betterment of humanity. And while we may think we’re much more reasoned and intelligent and informed than they, I’ll bet they thought the same thing too. There’s a kind of arrogance there, a sort of assumption of being omniscient about what’s best…

    ‘course, there can be arrogance too in just giving advice, and therein lies the delicious grey richness of being human. }:)

    If I had received this button, I would only consider using it on someone for whom had expressed interest in dying, due to a terminal illness and other end of life issues. (And even there I’d grapple with judging how terminally suffering they are, chances for betterment, etc). Which means, right now, it would go unused until midnight, and be gone.

    As tempting as it is to think it (and I do think it at times!) life and lives are too uncertain for targeted “immediate turnarounds” brought on by violence. It’s not to say transformation cannot happen quickly, for it can and does — but that super rarely comes at the end of a fist.

    • DeeDee Massey

      But hired assassins have the name already chosen for them, and in some cases their actions are legally protected.

      Initially, I wondered if this was an exercise to see who would have the mindset to operate weapons of war or carry out death row executions. Having such a device in a military conflict would enable much cleaner threat neutralization and with less collateral damage than an explosive. Instead of handing a soldier or executioner a weapon or machine, just give him/her the box and a name/personal identifier.

      I suspect that most people would use it if they knew they were acting with the blessing of their society and the laws of the land, where life/death decisions are made democratically by the majority and not by the one. However, this scenario presents an individual with the option to murder someone of one’s own choosing surreptitiously and inconsequentially, not to carry out a legally sanctioned killing, such as in defense (self or national), capital punishment, or end-of-life care. Most people wouldn’t be so sociopath to put in an unjustified name arbitrarily just to use it because they can. At best, some people might use it in a Dexter-ish context (killing known evil-doers who are evading the law).

      Nevertheless, it’s a method of rogue vigilante justice or mercy killing. What the exercise determines is whether the potential user possesses the propensity to kill outside of the law.

      • Ah — I was meaning only to indicate/compare to the non-hired assassins, those who are not doing it “just for a job”; so the likes of whom took out Abraham Lincoln, Yitzhak Rabin, Dr King, etc… (though the concept of “sanctioned” assassination is an interesting one to debate too }:)

        • DeeDee Massey

          I should have understood your context, given the following.
          “Every assassin clearly thought that the individual they were taking out was the worst of the worst and needed to die for the betterment of humanity.”

          Hired assassins probably wouldn’t need to justify how “good” or “bad” the target is, if it’s just a job. Then again, maybe some only take the job if they can assign more meaning to their work than money. (benevolent assassins?)

          • There’s something about the phrase “Benevolent Assassins” that just makes me giggle (I’m a fan of absurdist humour, so that’s probably why. :P)

            • DeeDee Massey

              It sounds like a good name for a blues band.

              I just now found it used in the “Cruel 2 B Kind” game, but it holds a different meaning.

              Your fish picture is cool, by the way. ;-P

            • Yeah, it would indeed make a great band name. Hmmm…. }:)

              And heheh, it’s a picture of a lynx standing on a rock in front of a river, but it kinda does look like a fish jumping out of the water at the small scale, doesn’t it? I bet I’ll never be able to unsee it as a fish now, popping back and forth like those illusions that change depending how you look at them… 😛

            • DeeDee Massey

              Either way, it’s cool (and super cool if you took the picture).

              And now I’ve twice targeted you with niceness. Mission accomplished. Muahahahahaha!

            • Ahhh! Benevolent assassin strike! Well played… well played }:D

  • Digvijay Parmar

    lol…check this out
    a day after i posted

    Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ‘seriously wounded in air strike’

    • Artyom Karapetov


      • guest

        Ctuchlu, Illuminati and Half Life 3 confirmed

  • Rodolfo Caprielli

    Dilma Rousseff

    • Rodolfo Caprielli

      I’ll Change my answer to: Lula
      Why: Lula is the main reason of class conflicts in Brazil.

      • LRP

        You could choose to kill Dilma or Lula, I honestly don’t care and I’m not a huge fan of them or the Workers Party, but the reason you provided just made me cringe a bit.

        Actually, you’re right in a sense – Lula empowered the working class throughout his years in the union and in the government. If there wasn’t such a thing as “class conflict” in Brazil before him, it wasn’t because Lula invented it, but rather because the working class was frail and inconspicuous. I’m glad he helped them to reorganize and stand up to the crap they’ve been taking for so many years.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Sorry, one won’t cut it. Has to be at least a billion.

  • CousinApril

    I would never have the heart to end someone’s life, but I have been thinking about the practical end of the spectrum and had a thought I’ve yet to see expressed in regard to it (although I didn’t scroll all the way through).

    While it’s obvious that a choose someone who’s the head of a political regime, most of them would be replaced by someone similar. A few people have suggested talking head types, but I would take it one step further. I call out Dr. Oz and other supposed health gurus such as the food babe and whoever is crisading the Anti-Vaxxer cause these days. First, and most obvious, because these people spread harmful missinformation that has a direct effect on the well being of their viewers, and often, the children of their viewers. But unlike other powerful talking heads out there (and in fact, most people listed) their cause of death by heart failure would actively discredit some of the beliefs they spread. So if I were to push the button, this seems like an especially effective choice.

    Honestly though I could never imagine doing it. Even those I detest most in my personal life I only wish would move far enough away that I would never have to see, speak to, or hear them mentioned in present tense again.

  • Alex Mac

    As mentioned many times before me, I’ll kill Kim Jong Un. It depends a bit though, if I could I would probably talk to the governments of America and South Korea to get in on this plan, if they don’t believe me though, I would probably just not use this. I hear that there really isn’t a successor yet, but a general might take in. With the combined efforts of a couple of armies a really quick attack can be put on North Korea while they are still in disarray from there leader they worship dies. Hopefully, it could become democratic and the thousands in labor camps could be released and the millions suffering under him will live a better life.

    • ericsp23

      I agree the world would be better without the Kim dynasty in place in North Korea, but I doubt that Kim Jong Un’s removal would do much to help out the people of North Korea. China would certainly intervene very quickly to put in a puppet government. China wants no part of a pro-western democracy in North Korea and they would do everything in their power to keep that from happening. If we or the South Korean’s attempted to intervene it would likely lead to a direct military confrontation with China.

  • Jacob Friend

    First reaction is I have no interest in using the button,

    After some reflection I think I would use the button on my Grandmother.
    (She is 92 has dementia and requires 24/7 nursing care and has expressed her wish to die on numerous occasions)

    Tim left out a whole category of use cases: 3) Compassion. I see a number of people has previously pointed this out.
    There is some very difficult moral thinking that a compassionate killing throws up.

    This sub divides into at least 2 sub categories of consenting / unable to consent (obviously the 3rd position of non-consenting would not be compassionate)

    To start with that the person to be killed must genuinely wish to end their life.
    A compassion case would also ultimately have to pass the Golden Rule test that if you were in their position you would want to end your life, (maybe a selection of many people would need to pass this test)

    Is this enough to be truly compassionate?
    How do you deal with someone who want to die right now but would change their mind if circumstances were to change?
    How do you really know someone wishes to end their life? especially difficult for someone who is not able to give consent.

  • Matthus Gougeus

    I have a long list of people, all of them being widely known over the world.

    But I’m pretty sure that I would just hide the box, wait until midnight and throw it in the trashcan. I’m not that kind of person.

    Edit : thinking more about it, I might use it. I’d wait outside a bank for a rich guy carrying a lot of cash and hit the button when I can take his money. Wouldn’t matter if he’s a good guy. I’m poor.

    I still prefer not using it at all though.

    • Rachel

      that plan would kind of backfire because the rich guy wouldn’t die on the spot; he’d die in his sleep. so that means you’d have to know his name, enter his name, follow him home, know when he’s sleeping and where he places the money, break in without drawing attention, and then steal his money.

      • Matthus Gougeus

        Not worth it then. 🙂 I’d just throw the box away.

    • TheMenacingErmine

      “But I’m pretty sure that I would just hide the box, wait until midnight and throw it in the trashcan. I’m not that kind of person.”

      “I’d wait outside a bank for a rich guy carrying a lot of cash and hit the button when I can take his money. Wouldn’t matter if he’s a good guy. I’m poor.”

      “Wouldn’t matter if he’s a good guy. I’m poor.”
      “I’m not that kind of person.”

      • Matthus Gougeus

        Yeah. I edited my message after thinking more about it. But did not think of making its meaning coherent. I apologize for that.

        More thinking and… I think I’m more on the “I’m not that kind of person” side. I probably wouldn’t be able to do it if that box was real.

  • Shadowbox Wanamaker

    If you’re interested in this idea, check out the anime series Death Note (or its manga original). I’m pretty sure it’s on Hulu for free, and Netflix. It’s based on this concept, except you can use the notebook indefinitely and you can be a lot more specific than “dies peacefully in their sleep.” It’s the only anime I’ve watched all the way through and gone back through it more than once.

    • A Friendly Dinner Table Reader

      same here; not much for anime except some osu! community stuff but I watched Death Note with a passion

  • IsAnyoneThere

    To paraphrase Clarence Darrow:
    I won’t press the button, but I’ll read the obituaries with great pleasure.

  • Matthus Gougeus
  • sabs546

    Hard choice
    Wouldn’t want to use it
    I have nobody I really hate maybe someone from ISIS or the the illuminati, that’ll cause an uproar

    Hard question because it’ll have to be supportive influential otherwise it’s a waste of an opportunity

  • J.Nerdy

    I would be loathe to use it…but, If I must, then myself. That much power, cloaked in anonymity, it would only be just to turn the device on he whom wields its.

  • Malarious

    Hmm, this was a little bit tricky. First thought: “Well, someone rich, obviously — a powerful and successful CEO whose death would cause stock prices to plummet. Short-sell a bunch of these stocks the day I push the button, then when the company’s value crashes, buy them back the next day.”

    This lead to a few concerning Google searches, including, “Killing CEO effect on share price”. Turns out it’s actually more common for the death of an executive to *increase* the share price of a company, which seemed pretty counter-intuitive at first. At least, this was the case a few decades ago. Relevant paper: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/25717/0000274.pdf?sequence=1

    Anyway, I’m still convinced that killing a majorly successful CEO will harm his company, so obviously the big question is, which one do I kill? Elon Musk comes to mind, but really, I can’t bring myself to kill that guy. I’m a definite fan. So next on the list is… Jeff Bezos. Except I’m kind of a fan of Amazon too and I like the way he runs his company. (This personal investment is probably why I’m not a very good, well, investor).

    Scouring some lists, I came across David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, the biggest realtor in the USA. Eeeeveryone hates realtors. Apparently he’s done really well for the company. So that’s that, decision made, I guess. I’ll sell short a bunch of Simon Property Group shares (like, a buuunch. Max out my credit card and then apply for some more instant approval ones, and max those out too. I doubt I could get a loan in under 24 hours, so I’d just make do with what’s possible.)

    In total, I expect I could make maybe $70,000 off the button, with no preparation beforehand. Other possibilities include finding an illegal assassination market and using that to make some quick money, but it seems less reliable than investing. It’s kind of unfortunate that the conditions attached to the button mean that it’s a real challenge to use it for personal gain, unless there’s someone in my life who I want dead right now.

    • Matthus Gougeus

      I see a flaw in your reasoning if the death of a CEO makes the stock drop : in the short-term, you earn even more money if you don’t buy the stocks back after they dropped.

      However if the stock goes up upon CEO death, it’s easier of course.

    • J.Nerdy

      Death for personal gain, I have to imagine, would have deep psychoactive ramifications…if your amygdala is intact.

      That beings said, realtors do suck…and $70k (I assuming this after repayment of revovling debt and any compounded interest, brokerage fees etc…), do seem to tip the scales in your favor.

      Assassination approved.

  • moshe hill

    So from what i’ve read (so far) people seem to be discussing the person over the method. The method, as stated is “That person will die peacefully in their sleep tonight. Doctors will identify the cause of death as heart failure.” In a lot of cultures and situations, this would be an honorable death. So i wouldn’t use this Al Khameni or other terrorist leaders or even Kim Jung Un, because that person will be looked on honorably, remembered fondly and then replaced by his followers. So there are 2 criteria I am thinking about when trying to decide a person. 1) shifting what this person will do in the future. 2) someone who is beloved and influential, but i dislike the direction he/she is going, and his/her successor will change how they do things. For example, if Star Wars wasn’t already purchased by Disney, and the direction of that Universe wasn’t already (hopefully) corrected, I would probably say George Lucas. He deserves an honorable send off, but he should not be in charge of making more movies, or possibly further modifications of the Original Trilogy. but that choice is moot because he is no longer in charge.

    That being said, I would have to say Matt Groening. With each passing year that the Simpsons goes on as a mediocre to terrible TV show, the memory and reputation of those first 8-10 seasons gets tarnished. I feel like Fox will renew that show as long as Matt Groening wants them to renew it, but he doesn’t deserve a painful, violent or dishonorable death. If he dies in his sleep, he’ll be forever remembered and respected, and the Simpsons will have a send off episode and hopefully will finally end. Then we can remember the great times and not say “is that show still on? it hasn’t been good for like 16 years!”

    • CousinApril

      That’s why I was considering Dr. Oz, The Food Babe, and other so-called health gurus who spread harmful missinformation and sell scam products to people who don’t know better. It’s the one group of people I could think of where death by sudden heart attack would do damage to their image and actively discredit them.

      • George Salomon

        I think this whole article makes it kind of clear that.. the organisations of terror and politics are much greater than the group of people within them. Removing a leader will not kill a faction. Removing a president won’t change the fact there’s a thousand other willing political bureaucrats willing to take their place and enact greedy policies hidden through the power of language that cause crushing pain. =/ world is a fucked up and terrible place and it’ll take a lot of change, evolution or revolution, maybe several times over, before we end up anywhere we’d like to be as a whole.

      • Linda Russ

        Is it a definite that these health gurus are equipped with honest knowledge, or are they brainwashed by the corporations like Rothschild brainwashes us into mindless jobs, mindless consumerism eyc, and we don’t really have any idea until we are informed. Just a thought!

  • wobster109

    I really wish I knew more about geopolitics too! Based on my limited knowledge I will rule out obvious choices such as hated political figures such as terrorists (easily replaceable) and villainous dictators (because recent dictator removals have tended to throw their respective countries into horrible chaos and infighting). The disgraced former-doctor A and the antivax celebrity J come to mind. (Sorry, I’m really frightened of being arrested for making a violent threat.)

    Another option is to email all my friends and ask if any of them have a relative dying of Alzheimer’s with a cryonics contract in place. My understanding is Alzheimer’s actually ruins the brain, degrading the connections and destroying brain tissue. For those people it’s better to be preserved sooner with more of the brain intact. I’d probably go with this option. I estimate removing only the highly-visible J would not make a noticeable difference to herd immunity.

    • Juniper Moot

      It only let me upvote your cryonics-alzheimers idea once but I want to state unequivocally that I think this is by far my favorite idea in the whole comments section 🙂

  • Matt

    For me, it would have to be Rupert Murdoch. The man is probably the single most powerful person in the world in terms of how much he can influence people (in that he owns most of the news in Australia and a large chunk of the news in the UK, as well, of course, the US and beyond).

    The thing is, he doesn’t always use that power for good. He uses it to get Fox News to spout off about about the Middle East in such a way that it clears the way for his company Genie Energy (co owned with Dick Cheney, and the like) to start mining operations over there. He uses it to hack people’s phones and then sell the information gleaned. I don’t know about other countries, but here in the UK he uses it to give people like Katie Hopkins (think a British Ann Coulter) a place to voice their vile opinions.

    This is more insidious than many world leaders, partly because he probably has more assets than most world leaders, partly because he holds the fate of multiple countries, I guess similar to a superpower state, and partly because unlike most world leaders, he wasn’t elected. Not only that but whole governments (certainly the British government, I’m sure others too), are in his pocket, and do pretty much anything he says for fear of his machine turning against them. He is one of the most corrupt non-politicians there is.

    Of course, Murdoch is likely to pass away in his sleep sometime soon anyway, and his kids are poised to fight to the death in order to take the reins when that happens, so I’m not sure how much good it would really do.

  • korakys

    I can think of many, many worthy candidates. I think killing a “strong man” like Vladimer Putin, Ali Khamenei or someone like the President of Turkmenistan could have a large positive effect on those countries. There is also Kim Jung-Un whose death might well lead to the breaking of the dynasty and a small, but significant acceleration to a Chinese economic system.

    Killing someone like Barack Obama, the King of Saudi Arabia or Ben Netanyahu would have little effect as they are so easily replaceable by more of the same unfortunately.

    If I was going for pure justice though there is one clear candidate, widely acknowledged as one the most evil men of his generation (who is still alive), Dick Cheney.

    However for me I would probably kill someone a bit closer to home for somewhat selfish reasons. I would elect to kill my own Prime Minister. The PM of New Zealand, John Key. He is exceptionally popular in this country (about 50% approval) while his party, the National Party, is not popular at all yet still gets to rule the country by riding on the back of his popularity. Killing him would ensure the National Party, whose policies are slowly destroying New Zealand society, would be voted out at the next election and would be unlikely to return for some time.

    I am sick of watching the suffering in my own country.

    PS; To turn this question around, who would I want to see become more famous (out of people that I don’t personally know) I would say Arvind Kejriwal.

    • Stephen

      When I first came to NZ one of my first thoughts was, how does this wanker manage to speak so long without actually saying anything? And how horrible must Labour be that he keeps getting elected? That said, he just doesn’t have the capability to be dangerous doing this like putting a few dozen SAS and spies under American command. Better targets exist.

  • Linda Russ

    Rothschild Family. This should require no explanation as this is where everything stemmed from that is evil. Tax, Corruption, Greed, Capitalism, Mindless Consumerism, etc, etc, etc.
    look into this one folks!

    • What the fuck you mean, everything that is evil? Have you actually read any pre-Rennaisance history? I’d say it’s pretty fucking evil. Human psychology has not changed since the dawn of recorded history.

      And if you knew your shit, which you don’t, you’d know that the number of deaths caused by war as a percentage of population, globally, has been decreasing steadily throughout human history. Things are getting less evil, not more. But just as most arts, the art of bullshit/propaganda is getting more sophisticated. Hence your misguided fear.

      • Linda Russ

        It is my choice, not yours my friend.
        You are a very angry person, maybe some therapy, a nice gin and some yoga lol

      • naijaboy_

        Pre Rennaisance history, Every History has its evil, the modern history is the worst of it all.

        • How so?

          • naijaboy_

            When people try to talk crap about the past, they hell add a lot of negativity to it not realizing how bad we are in proportion to their own time. Let’s see, with the introduction of Capitalism and Socialism, people have to work and get paid before having daily bread. Pretty much everybody had their own little businesses, worked up each other, instead of some corporation that buy everything or some government that controls everything. Socially, there is no sense of community, kids can’t play with some type of worrying about government or kidnapping. Divorce rate very high, kids growing up without being under the care of their fathers and mothers. Sexualized society. Everything these days is out there, it’s like people can’t keep certain things to themselves. Like not forget the idea that people just feel they are entitled to something. Lack of decency, and respect. The amount of people killed in modern era makes other era look like cake. In all of that, I don’t think one era is better than the other, I don’t really think it is worst either, just different and it should be treated that way. There is more but I think you get the gist.

            • You are regurgitating a lot of crap you’ve been fed, unfortunately. Virtually none of that is true, at least not in the sense that “those were the good old days.”

              “The amount of people killed in modern era makes other eras look like cake”

              Totally false. Yes, many millions were killed/died in the two world wars, but then again, if you look at those numbers in terms of a proportion of total population, it’s not much worse than any other single bloody period in history.

              Add to that, deaths as a proportion of population caused by war are and have been going down as a global trend throughout history, even including the two world wars. That is a fact, look it up.

              Add to that countless more democratic governments instead of serfdom and colonial oppression, free and open trade instead of exploitation and war between major powers, and the continual trend away from independent, often warring nations and toward unification (NATO, the U.N., the European Union, etc. etc).

              Add to that the countless improvements to the quality of life of the average person, as well as to the most well of and worst off of people, provided by advances in medical science, and science and technology in general.

              Basically, life is better now in every goddamn conceivable way than ever in history, and if you don’t agree with that, it’s probably because you’re upset about society taking away some privilege you used to enjoy and leveling the playing field. Granted, I’m making some big assumptions there, but you do sound pretty dumb and entitled.

            • naijaboy_

              Sorry life is not better, it is simply changing and different. Obviously this is very objective. I am a Nigerian born immigrant living in America, how entitled am I? Looking at the proportion, it is pretty hard because the census is not very possible in olden time, you would have to count the population of the whole world which we don’t know, we only speculate. Of course war is going down, diplomacy, allegiance and of course thanks to the bunch of nuclear weapons we have. All it takes is for such to get into the wrong hands and the rest is history. We have an illusion of of leveling field. Sorry but advancement doesn’t equate the quality of life. It is not material things that make a society. Why do you think old people say back in my day, bla bla bla even though they are aware of the very advancement you seem to be so happy about.

            • “Why do you think old people say back in my day, bla bla bla even though they are aware of the very advancement you seem to be so happy about”

              Old people say that because their brains are degenerating and they’re no longer rationally minded people. No shit.

              I commend you for your choice of where to live, by the way— I’m glad you chose America, and it makes me proud to live here that people choose to come here. This country of my birth is enriched by becoming the country of your choice.

              That said, I still don’t know what part of the past you’re looking at that looks better than the present. You mentioned nuclear weapons. What about the fact that 60 years ago, nuclear weapons were actually used in war (just after being invented), whereas today, people are more worried about them becoming unusable due to deterioration than they are about them being used? Doesn’t that say good things about society?

              And you didn’t really address my points about improvements in education, medicine, science, etc.

              And you’re right, material wealth is certainly not the only determining factor in quality of life. But it sure as hell helps.

              I read an article awhile ago on Waitbutwhy.com (check it out, it’s a great blog) about a guy’s trip to Nigeria. He said that despite the widespread poverty, Nigerians describe themselves as one of the more happy groups of people around the world in surveys.

              I find that ironic in two ways; firstly in that you’re Nigerian by birth, yet seem discontent with the state of the world, and secondly, how can people feel so happy when their country is a relatively poor, dangerous place to live (compared to Western Europe and North America)?

              Maybe the answer is, “It could be a hell of a lot worse.” And that, I think, is something to not lose sight of.

            • naijaboy_

              Nigerians are one of the most happiest people. I am certainly not discontent. I am very much content but it doesn’t mean things can’t always be better. Which proves my point, a country like mine which by western standards is in poor shape has a group of people who are happy. That is because they is a sense of community. Like I said, it is subjective and I play devil’s advocate when people try to make the past like this inferior thing. 60 years ago is still modern. There are improvements, but there are things we have also decreased in.

  • Stephen

    The problem with this is that you need to predict the next Hitler, Kim Ilsung, or Cheney before they actually get power and become obvious and start something unstoppable. And like someone stated, there’s little point in killing a sheik or Netanyahu who’s just going to get replaced by someone similar.

    For now I’d go with al-Bagdadi. Yes, he’d get replaced by someone similar, but only he’s been able pull off this state-that-doesn’t-exist right under the American’s noses. If he died and they started infighting, it could really deal this organisation a mortal blow.

    • perrucci

      A little surprising to see Netanyahu mentioned here. With the number of evil people in the world it seems very odd that you would single out that PM. Is there really no other national leader that you could come up with…maybe someone in a country that is trying to make nuclear weapons instead of the man trying to stop that country from getting nukes..?

      • Stephen

        When it comes to bad guys he’s on the news a lot more than most, and hence he comes to mind.

        As for nukes, in the past 15 years Netanyahu’s country has spent billions of their and America’s money developing the ability to extend their range to nuke almost any place in the northern hemisphere.

        • perrucci

          Wait…I thought you might have just made a mistake but it honestly sounds like you think that the Prime Minister of Israel is a “bad guy”. I feel like Putin and Erdogan come up in the news much more often and those guys kill their political rivals or pretend genocide isn’t a big deal.
          As for nukes, Israel is the only country in the world that is under constant threat to be destroyed by other nations so there is a strong need for nuclear capabilities when their would be murderers outnumber them a thousand to one.

          • Stephen

            If that’s true, and it need not be – in parts of the world Jews and Arabs have lived peaceably for centuries – it could help justify a need for nukes. But ICBMs? Why does Israel need to be able to nuke NYC? Maybe because they know that America will then run to their defence if it’s clear Israel’s neighbours are about to overrun it?

            And why is Pakistan now developing nukes that can hit Israel when its only threat is India? And why would Iran love to, too? Perhaps if the world had declared from the start the whole region would be nuke-free there’d be fewer extremely dangerous leaders in that part of the world.

            • “Perhaps if the world had declared from the start the whole region would be nuke-free”

              Yeah, and if unicorns shat golden rainbows, we’d all be rich. Fat chance.

              If you knew that all of your immediate neighbors were intent on hurting or killing you, and you could not move house, and your allies were all in the next neighborhood over, I think you’d want some pretty heavy artillery too. But you don’t put yourself in their shoes, why? Either you hold them to a higher standard than you do yourself, or because you don’t think they have the same rights as you.

  • Ana

    I would honestly kill my horrible ex boyfriend. Sorry world.

  • human

    No human has the right to chose death for another human, other then himself.

  • cotpoe

    This is a slippery slope question, my answer is an unambiguous no one.

    No one has complete factual ( the “Truth”) regarding another person’s crime. And even if the crime itself is objective truth – there is the question of the intent behind it and also whether the person pulling the trigger was an instrument of another’s provocation. Finally the greatest question of them all – what gives a certain sentient being the “right” to terminate the life of another. Where should the bar of moral high ground be. There is no answer. An act of cold-blooded murder is simply that. A cold blooded murder – no matter whether it is done by the State or the individual. The State especially hypocritically being based upon enforcement using violence -hard power is hardly the moral saint to judge this question.

    The only time it may be allowed is in actual defense of life as a last resort. Period.

    All the naive assumptions especially for supposed “evil” leaders are simply that. The Truth especially for “news” and events are submerged in great propaganda. I am honestly surprised by Tim’s answer. You demonstrate great intellect my friend. However on the topic of geopolitics and propoganda operations directed at citizenry you seem to be quite naive. De-humanization and demonization of an opponent you plan to go to war with is a de facto instrument of Statecraft for your war to be accepted by your masses – after all they are the ones who have to sacrifice in blood and broken homes. A good strong dose of such psychological ploys is the doctor’s treatment for the herding of mass opinion. Be careful before you blood your hands based on the psychological bias and world view shoved upon you by those who profit from it. Manufactured Casus belli by aggressors to appear as victims in war are an old card in statecraft.

    Secondly, even for leaders who are surely high-order psychopaths, one has to be naive to think such “leaders” operate in vaccum. To often the power on the throne is but a puppet pulled by those behind the throne.

    Finally history is often written by victors for the purpose of claiming the high ground. The person who history regards as “evil” might as well be the good guy whose name as been maligned by those with power to suit their purpose.

    Only direct sufferers at the hands of wretched examples of humanity may deserve consideration in this hypothetical question. And here also – the cycles of vengeance turn and burn without bringing any peace – over long periods, such generational conflicts become endless where reciprocal vengeance just adds to misery – Sins of Father is a terrible tragedy.

    So even if one is the direct sufferer of a horrendous crime, the reciprocal act would not bring peace. Vengeance may be but not peace.

    Finally, have you put yourself in the shoes of the criminal – what was his childhood, the injustice and suffering he has gone through to bring his character to such a state. More often than not, it is the society that breeds the criminal that is equally responsible.

    The only right thing is for society is to draw the bottomline – violence is not acceptable. Period. Not direct, not indirect. Not homicide, nor war crimes planned and directed by elite to further their agenda packaged as just “wars”. The only solution for those who violate this – is to isolate and imprison ( whole life if necessary ) – clinical surgery of the cancer. And thorough examination of the context of the crime so that the society can learn and grow from it.

    And yes, use of psychological tricks to make the cold logic areas of brain dominant ( indirect pushing button killing) rather than emotional areas involved in actual killing directly does not make it any less repugnant. The cold logic of “for the greater good” has oft be used to justify the most heinous of crimes. A person and society at large must deeply examine themselves to avoid all the pitfalls. Distant ideal sadly.

    • Bullshit. If you don’t think killing Hitler pre-1932, and therefore averting the Holocaust, would have been a worthwhile murder (yes, fuck it, murder), than YOU are a terrible fucking person.

      “The cold logic of “for the greater good” has oft be used to justify the most heinous of crimes.”

      Yes it has, but how the hell is that relevant, like, at all? The misuse of that “cold logic” in one instance does NOT negate its efficacy in any other instance. Case by case basis only.

      “what was his childhood, the injustice and suffering he has gone through to bring his character to such a state”

      Very good point. Unfortunately, you can’t murder his childhood, now can you. Practicality, sir and/or madam, practicality.

      • cotpoe

        First sir, I have never not mentioned not putting Hitler and the likes of him to Justice – if proper procedural consensus and society will is to put him to death then death he deserves. What I was saying is that the personal convictions of one person is not enough to put anyone to death. No single person has the right to be the judge,jury and executioner of any person ( except in active violence scene like in middle of shooting where immediate self-defence or self and innocents takes precedence due to time factor). Every person needs to pay for their crimes. But no anonymous person has the right to be the judge,jury.executioner for that crime. Even the violent mob of angry sufferers extracting mob justice would have greater fairness – since they are direct sufferers and somewhat group consensus is involved. The question of – what prevents the person given the judge,jury,executioner terrible great power from misusing it for petty vendetta? Just because it may be justified in this particular case does not make it right. Even for terrible war crimes – especially for terrible war crimes since crimes of State require the cooperation – physical, technical,industrial,financial and political of a large number of power centres. Yes Hitler should have been unquestioningly put to death – but after a trial – not a silent murder at night ( that is too easy for him). And together with Hitler all those involved in the know should have been punished too. This includes those eugenic scientists who found a welcome home for their research in US ( Project paperclip) after the war. This also includes the financial and industrial elite who supported and propped up Hitler and his machinery but who got of scot free. Do not take me for a fool or morally heinous. I was simply arguing for you to not become a murderer alone – it is too heavy a burden to bear alone. If it must be borne ( and there will always be cases where this is true) it must be borne by the society at large together making sure no one complicit escapes justice.

        • “No single person has the right to be the judge,jury and executioner of any person”

          I agree, but the whole point of the exercise is to disregard that. And then the question becomes, do you want to prevent millions of innocent deaths, or don’t you?

  • Harry


    • Voldemort


      Me: Knock Knock
      You: Who’s there?
      Me: You know.
      You: You-know-who?

  • Fart Garfunkel


    • Juniper Moot

      If you wake up the next day, would you believe the box failed, that the whole box thing must have been a dream, that for you the afterlife must look just like the inside of your bedroom, or that life on earth must be some sort of inescapable hell?

  • Leadfree

    Then what about our Commander in Chief ordering a drone strike on a US citizen without
    any due process because he considers the target a terrorist ?

    • Guest

      He is also wrong

  • sam

    kim jong un. at least there’s be a chance of positive change, however slim.

    • Walrus Alt

      Have you seen Kim’s family tree? He would be replaced within a day.

  • If it could kill someone from the past, I would pick Euclid because I hate geometry class.

  • reallytiredofreligionatm:/

    abraham, 100% abraham the father of bullshit-religion, without that stupid idiot the world would be so much better… so yeah, ehmm hitler.. well he wasnt actually directly cause of the nazis.. if you know what i mean, oh and thinking about it, if religion didnt come, hitler wouldnt have any jews to kill!, 2 birds with one stone much?

  • OpenYourTinyMind

    Thomas Midgley, Jr!

    Hands down. Killed and maimed millions of people, plants and animals, poisoned streams and polluted the very air we breathe, fucked the ozone layer right up. All for money. Glad he strangled himself, but I would push that button for him to die. In his sleep. As a feotus in his mother’s womb. We would be fridge-less for a little while, and the war would have been different, but it would be better than this man’s legacy.

  • SeeRexx

    What about one of those big oil bought congressmen? After all they are responsible for the global warming, SMOG(7 million deaths each year), lungs, brain diseases, and all the millions who will die from the fossil fuel combustion toxic wastes in the atmosphere. Droughts, extreme temperature, hurricanes and storms, floodings etc… If Let’s say 10 or 50, or 100 of us pick each one of those, what a news story tomorrow morning! 🙂
    Of course they would be replaced, but a little justice is welcome in our corrupted political systems..

  • Tipsy

    Anyone who can be held responsible for creating factory farm and their systems, except for the engineers. And the workers who are repeatedly caught throwing chickens in mass graves. Throwing calves into the bolt gun line, slicing the throats of sheep without anaesthesia in Halal slaughterhouses after bashing them.

  • Tipsy

    Oh and I don’t know about kill, but David Cameron should be sequestered somewhere where he can’t delay progress and generally attempt to repeal human human rights, or speak for hours without ever saying anything, ever again.

  • Chiel Wieringa


  • Lontar

    I wonder if people realize that they’re tacitly supporting the death penalty/euthanasia with their answers. Granted this isn’t the place for politics, but it’s interesting what hypothetical situations can stir up in people.

    • Clifton Lemon

      And why exactly is this not the place for politics?

  • Moonbeam

    No one. Taking a life, even with the intention of saving more lives, is not my choice to make. The decision of who will die and who will continue living is God’s choice to make, not mine or any other person’s. If vengeance shall be taken, then the vengeance shall be God’s. If mercy shall be given, then the mercy shall be God’s.

    • Juniper Moot

      I tend to agree in that I believe punishment and vengeance are wrong and “bad” people (classified as people who do bad things to other people) should be locked up for other peoples protection but that no one should be bothering to pass judgement on anyone else as much as they can help it, but…

      If someone were suffering from a painful terminal illness and you could help them die faster and they asked you to, would you help them as they asked (in effect letting them have agency over their own fate) or would you demand they let God decide when their suffering should end?

  • John Seidel

    Kim Jong-un. Right now.

  • VT

    Christopher Columbus. No doubt. We’re still calling people “Indians” or “West Indians” because of that lost killer jackass who cut up and enslaved people just for entertainment, oh yeah, and to make money. Chris should get it before he ever even boards a ship, maybe before he ever looks at a shoreline.

    • The post’s question was about someone alive right now, rather than a historical-but-dead person. So many people to choose from in history, for so many reasons! But, who would you pick that is currently alive?

  • Juniper Moot

    One could always type their own name in and spare THEMSELVES from further suffering. (Not that I would if the box were given to me today, but I have had bouts of serious depression and this was my first instinctual answer, after thinking of the abusive ex who triggered some of the worst bouts of depression and no doubt will always bring more misery than benefit to anyone gullible enough to get close to him)

    Also, though this next persons life isn’t mine to decide, by all your logic Dick Cheney and various other American politicians would be excellent candidates (seriously, he’s lived long enough!) Also the higher ups at Nestle.

    But after giving it more thought…

    I might just type the name of whoever sent the box, to prevent further potential boxes from falling into the wrong hands or something like that 😉

    • Nick Embury

      Such a great comment.

  • Guest

    I dont agree with reason number 2. Killing someone just because he killed thousands of other people does not make/mean justice, it is pure revenge. That’s the main reason people discuss about death penalty

  • Samsquanch6

    I can’t believe no one said Bashar Al-Assad. He is a straight up villain and at the top of a list of individuals indicted for the greatest responsibility in war crimes for prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
    However, would killing him create a power vacuum like it always does? Probably, yes. Still, that is my final answer.

    • Vladimir Putin

      you are a f****** idiot

  • Cankrist

    Easy! The person who made me face this dilemma in the first place. Thousands of people die every day, but why should I add one more?

  • Jim Mataczynski

    Option 1 is seductive. The ex who is bleeding your bank account, the prick at work who deep sixes your work, the BFF who ridicules at every chance. All deserving, but only short term gain. Option 2 is quirky. Killing Hitler as as a teen would likely prevented WWII, but the face and moral complexion of Europe would be quite different; killing him as Reichsfuhrer would likely not have changed WWII significantly. So I guess that leaves me with option 3. …Really? There is no option 3? Well, that sucks!

    • Hedder

      Your BFF deserves to dies because he ridicules you? Really? Wow, I wonder if he would still be your bff if he knew you put him on your imaginary “hit list”

  • Lisa Danley

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  • Joey Bates

    Kanye West.
    The reason I looked this question up was to hopefully find others answering the same.

  • Iris Stephen

    Don’t think I would actually do it if it was in my power to do so, but if I had to choose?

    Likely John McCain. He often manages to come across as charming, classy and humble in his political career, but hear me out. The man was captured and tortured during the Vietnam war. Many (including those of my family members who are old enough to have wartime memories) would emerge from such a horrible experience with more empathy and the desire to never see this happen anywhere else or to anyone else ever again.
    What does he spend his life doing once he gets out? Being the number one cheerleader for the weapons industry. You did not deserve your second chance.

    Second choice: Dick Cheney. Would no longer make any difference to present day politics, but the man is a war criminal, and unlike his opponents (some of whom are as morally bankrupt), he will never be tried in the Hague.

  • Bob Bobberson


  • Jeby

    Justin Bieber?

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