Monday, August 1, 2011

Guest: Justin Gustainis

VampChix welcomes Justin Gustainis to the hot seat today!  His latest HARD SPELL, is currently available and is a police procedural (of sorts) set in an alternate universe form of Scranton, PA.  More info below, and watch the book trailer at the end of this piece.  But first, Justin gives us his take on the VRA...

The Vampire Rights Amendment:
Civil Right, or License to Kill?
Justin Gustainis

I am assuming if you’re a regular visitor to Vampchix that you’re also a fan of the HBO series True Blood.  I’m a fan, too – so much so that in my idle moments (which are all too few) I sometimes imagine myself as a character in the show.  But being an older, professorial type, I don’t see myself as Sookie Stackhouse’s next boyfriend (I’m human, which probably disqualifies me).  Instead, I think about lending my academic expertise to the debate over the Vampire Rights Amendment, which has been a subject of the show (usually in the background) since the very first episode.

If this were real, I think I’d try to be the voice of reason, positioning myself somewhere between The Fellowship of the Sun, an offshoot of the religions right that hates vampires, and the vampires themselves, as represented in public by Nan Flanigan (who I think is hot, especially when she’s off-camera and in her leather-clad dominatrix persona).

So, here are my thoughts on the proposed Vampire Rights Amendment.

The ideas behind the Vampire Rights Amendment (hereafter the VRA) is essentially a sound one, but nonetheless I do not support its adoption.  Instead I propose amending it to become the Vampire Rights and Responsibilities Act.

I agree that vampires should have the same civil rights and protections as the rest of us – but, like you and me, they must become subject to human laws.  That may seem like a no-brainer at first glance, but let us look closer.

Although it’s something that Ms. Flanigan never discusses in public, vampires have their own system of government, their own laws, and their own enforcement mechanism.  There is a shadowy entity called the Authority – a group of vampires, names and number unknown, who have ultimate control over all vampires in the world.  There is something in Scripture about “A man cannot serve two masters.”  If the VRA is passed, whose laws will vampires follow – the human government’s, or the Authority’s?

Ms. Flanigan and most other vampires won’t discuss this either, but there is also a vampire governmental structure in place.  In the United States, each state has a “King” or “Queen” appointed by the Authority.  As long as they do not go against the Authority’s dictates, these “royalty” have absolute power over the vampires in their state – with “Sheriffs” appointed to run various “areas” within each state.  What happens to their authority over vampires, if the VPA becomes law?

And human law may view certain matters differently from vampire law.  For instance, if a human kills a vampire, that would, appropriately, be murder.  But if a vampire kills a human, that would be … lunch?  I know, I know, all the vampires drink True Blood now, and none of them ever attack humans, or ever will again.  I believe that.  But then, I still put out cookies and milk for Santa every Christmas eve.

Further, some of the punishments that vampire law inflicts on malefactors would probably be regarded as “cruel and unusual” under the Supreme Court’s definition.  For some offenses, a vampire can have his/her fangs forcibly, and painfully, extracted.  But other offenses are punished by death (what vampires call “the true death,” reflecting their current “undead” status) even as the United States (give or take Texas) is moving away from capital punishment.  What if the King or Queen of Vermont decrees that a vampire shall die, even though Vermont long ago abolished capital punishment? 

And there are punishments that vampires inflict on each other that are arguably worse than death.  For the gravest offenses, a vampire may be placed in a coffin wrapped in silver chains and buried for a year, or more.  The offender will eventually be dug up and released, although it is not uncommon for the victims of such torture to go mad while in the ground.  And if they do, then what?  There are no vampire asylums that I’m aware of, and the prospect of an insane vampire wandering the land is one I prefer not to contemplate.

And let’s say that vampires do agree to become subject to human law.  Special jail cells with silver bars and no windows would have to be built to hold suspects.  All court proceedings would have to be held at night.  And how can a human police officer be expected to arrest a being who is not only far stronger, but capable of moving faster than the human eye can see?  By the time the officer finishes saying “Police!  Freeze!” the vampire can be ten miles away, busy establishing an alibi.

These are some of the issues that will have to be addressed before vampires are granted full civil rights – before, not after.  Because once this particular genie is let out of the bottle, it’s not going back in – ever.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Ms, Flanigan has offered to take me out for a drink.  True Blood, of course.

My latest novel is Hard Spell, a police procedural (of sorts) set in an “alternate” Scranton, PA, where supernatural creatures really exist, and this is known and accepted.  But sometimes even “supes” break the law.  When they do, Detective Sgt. Stan Markowski of the Occult Crimes unit is the guy they call.

Someone in Scranton has started killing vampires, leaving odd occult symbols carved into the corpses.  Stan believes that the vampires are being used as sacrifices in a super-powerful spell being cast by a renegade wizard.  If the spell succeeds, BAD Things Will Happen – and Stan doesn’t know how many more dead vampires it will take.

You can read a lengthy excerpt of Hard Spell for free at the publisher’s website, here:

You may also enjoy the rather unusual book trailer, which is here:

1 comment:

Anna (Bite Club) said...

I just got my copy of hard Spell and am loving what I've read so far. The background mythology is so detailed and rich but the very best part is the attitude of Markowski. He is such an amazing character~ sarcastic, funny, intelligent and tough.

And who knew that Justin was a True Blood fan? Hmm, interesting. I think Nan and even Bill would be well served to take some of his advice about vampire rights.