Author : Thomas Keene

The Secretary set the tablet in front of the Director. “This is the file we have been asked to review. The news is calling him the ‘felon artist.’ He’s quite the celebrity right now.”

The Director thumbed through the man’s profile. “Convicted of murder at twenty-four, five counts of rape, and theft. Sentenced to wear a behavioral correction collar for twenty years… I don’t understand, is he famous because he went on to become an artist after correction?”

“No. After he was issued the collar, he decided to take up painting, and discovered he was quite good at it. He claimed he was never good at it before, and that the effects of the collar were what “unlocked his genius.” The mechanism tends to have negative side effects like neuroses, synaesthesia, and reduced IQ, so it’s entirely possible that there could be positive side effects. We’ve been using them for decades, but the ban on experimentation has made data on this topic very sparse.”

The Director finished reviewing the tablet. “That’s quite a lot of money he made as a professional artist! It’s a great example of how the collars can help felons function in society. Did he lose his artistic ability when the collar was removed at the end of his sentence?”

“Allegedly. He apparently planned this as a career move, he had already been scheduled for several talk shows months before his sentence was up. He claims he can’t paint anymore, and demands that the government have his collar returned. Critics claim he’s only doing this to drive up the prices on prints of his later works.”

The Director growled. “No, we can’t! These collars are dangerous! They change the way people think, and that power can be abused if it falls into the wrong hands. Cities could start collaring people who are diagnosed with minor mental illnesses, and then minorities. Companies could put them on their employees saying they’re keeping them from stealing and being lazy, but they could just make them be loyal so they can abuse them and not be reported. Hell, parents could try to collar their kids just to make them sit still in church!”

“I understand…”

“And that’s why it must be abundantly clear to the public! These collars are a safe, cheap, and effective alternative to prisons. They keep the public safe, and they help felons reform. That’s it! Anything more violates the human right to think!”

The Secretary sighed. “I know, but this man is threatening to kill someone to force the government to collar him again!”

The Director uncomfortably adjusted the tie around his neck. “These collars are to prevent atrocities and crimes against humanity, not change us against our will. If he’s going to use them as an excuse to do something regrettable, then we will have to act, not only to protect potential victims, but to keep the collars in the public eye as a tool for good. Put some pressure on local law enforcement, see if there’s any institution left in this country that we can have him jailed in for intent to murder…”

The Secretary took down a few notes, then left the Director’s office.

The Director reached under his shirt and scratched at the plastic collar wrapped tightly around his neck. “We have to prevent atrocities and crimes against humanity, not change people against their will…”

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