Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The dead are not a minority

The dead, of course, are the largest majority group ever. Everyone, presumably, will end up dead and so the ranks of the dead, the most non-exclusive club ever, are growing every day.

And yet Good Cop, Dead Cop treats the dead as a minority group. The dead have no voting rights, cannot hold office and are not entitled to employment. Only a patchwork of UN resolutions and presidential executive orders and open source initiatives protect and support the disembodied. The sole U.S. law protecting the rights of the disembodied is the AfterNet Equal Access law that created the AfterNet in 2001.

In real life, I have no idea how long it would be before the disembodied would be granted the rights the living enjoy. Consider that in the fictional world of Good Cop, Dead Cop, the discovery of the afterlife was in 1997 and the book is set in 2004. Would this be enough time for legislation to be passed? Remember that the end of the millennium included riots and a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Many people considered the discovery of the afterlife to be a sign of the end times. People were committing suicide, regimes were toppled and religions abandoned.

So with everything that’s happened, why are the disembodied treated as a minority? Partially because relatively few of the billions of dead are sane enough or technologically competent enough to use an AfterNet terminal. And it takes training before most people can use an AfterNet terminal, so it might be some time before your dead mother contacts you. So without a personal connection to the dead — your husband or sister or uncle — you might be able to deny to yourself the reality of the afterlife.

And even though the dead are a majority, they are a silent and invisible majority. But the reality of the afterlife will be more and more apparent, especially once the baby boomers start showing up on the AfterNet.

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