• Member Since 24th Mar, 2015
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The Hat Man


A man with a love of top hats and the finer things in life. Like aged rum. And UNICORNS.

E

This story is a sequel to The Iron Horse: Everything's Better With Robots!


Turing Test is a robot pony built by a formerly evil "mad scientist." It's the day before Sire's Day, and she's spending time with Twilight Sparkle, her very best friend and mentor. But she has questions: Why should Starlight Glimmer go free while her father is behind bars? And what separates one former villain from another?

(Set in early Season 6. A meditation on justice, on family, and on what makes a suitable pie filling.)

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 41 )

I don't think comparing Starlight and Cobbler is a good idea, because Cobbler launched a coup that could (technically) happen in real life whereas there's very little framework available to judge Starlight.

8992135
That may be a fair point. But also holy crap did you really read the whole thing that fast?! :rainbowderp:

...or maybe you were just remarking on the premise. :twilightblush:

Such a sweet chapter. For me it's still father's day so your not late with It. Starlight could have been imprisoned because her actions were altering the timelines till Equestria was a lifeless rock cobbler on the other hand his coup seems pretty small in comparison.

Reese #4 · Jun 18th, 2018 · · 1 ·

"What do you think about the notion of reform vs punishment? What makes one criminal more deserving of punishment than another?"
In this case, I think deterrence. As the conversation got down to, the main difference of concern between Starlight and Cobbler here is that a lot more people know about what Cobbler did. Both of them already sincerely desire to reform; imprisonment isn't going to help there. Looking only at them, it would be fine to let them free; perhaps not totally without observation at first, but not locked up or even under house arrest. If anything, Starlight has more inherent reasons to be imprisoned, since she's much more dangerous on her own, on the spur of the moment, and even accidentally than Cobbler. However, because Starlight's actions were much more obscure, there's much less concern about what messages different responses to her would send; her getting off lightly won't make other potential criminals less fearful if they don't know she's getting off lightly. Cobbler, unfortunately, flew up to the capital in a giant warship with a small army, announced himself, and began making demands; that's not just something that domestic potential criminals might pay attention to, it's something that almost certainly attracted the attention of the international community (if this Equestria's world has much of one; I don't recall). Whatever is done with Cobbler sends quite loud messages. The reformations of Luna and Discord were clearly unique cases, but Cobbler's just a pony. Let him off with nothing because you say you believe he's reformed, and other people might be inspired to take action against you, thinking that the worst case scenario is that they can also claim to have "reformed". Even if you don't fall for it, the harm can already be done.

So, the actions taken against Cobbler are harsher than those taken against Starlight not because what he did was so much worse (though it could well be argued that it indeed is, due to most of the damage Starlight did potentially being erased) or because he's more dangerous (he isn't) but because less harsh action against him is too likely to increase the risk to Equestria from other actors.

This is a great slice-of-life one-shot story. I look forward for more of Turing and co!

And seriously, how the heck is bowling a thing in Equestria?!

How are cards a thing in Equestria? Or baking pies. Or the longstanding question of how does a horse play a piano?

...And why does everything suddenly taste like copper?

8992465

And seriously, how the heck is bowling a thing in Equestria?!

How are cards a thing in Equestria? Or baking pies. Or the longstanding question of how does a horse play a piano?
...And why does everything suddenly taste like copper?

Did someone just dial *69?

Because that's a heck of a callback. :coolphoto:

Ri2

While this was a great story and an adorable family bit at the end, I have to wonder if part of the reason Starlight was never punished is due to Twilight's personal bias. She...hasn't been above hypocritical actions before, after all.

8992656
Nah I would agree that it has more to do with the fact that what Starlight did only personally affected a small group of people all of which forgave her.

Ri2
Ri2 #10 · Jun 18th, 2018 · · 2 ·

8992716
Aside from all those alternate timelines.

8992717
Fist of all there is no guarantee those other timelines still exist.

Second Starlight can not be held accountable for what happened in those other timelines. All she did was change a single moment in the past, she had no control over what happened from there and can not be blamed for the choices others chose to make.

It's far different from say for example the villain of Shrek 4 who altered the past in a specific way so he could take over the kingdom.

Might as well compare a murderer that got away with WW2 era Imperial Japan.

I really do like the sort of arguments that can come from this discussion, where the conversation could go in many different ways. From the way that it was told in your story, it was made so that the only people who really know Starlight were the ones who put her through the system, while for Turing's father, it was more strangers judging strangers. However, there was also the factor of severity, with Starlight tampering with time having no discernible threat on the current timeline (and this is where it gets complicated, because time travel is always complicated no matter what), while the literal assault on Canterlot from Turing's father had a very major threat to the country. All in all, in the legal system, it definitely seems as if Starlight should be cleared of charges, seeing as most of the things she has done is more based on the idea of a family disagreement, not a nation wide threat.

In Turing's position, however, I can definitely understand her predicament, seeing a pony who, in her mind, has an equal crime, if not worse, than her father's, and she goes free while her father is sent to prison. That can seem a bit unfair. The argument made in the story about how it wouldn't be fair to Starlight that she reveal the "secret" to everypony is a little bit confusing, however. In the show, we see that Starlight tells everybody about how she was an ex cult leader, and nopony pays it any mind. In terms of tampering with reality, the ponies already had to deal with that in the form of Discord, and while he did have to be turned to stone for a while, he was eventually reformed. I think the right question is, then, "When will Turing's father be released for reform?" To that question, I have no idea...

As for bowling...the ponies also have violins, DJ stands, doors with knobs, hand (or hoof?) rails on stairs, trumpets, trombones, drums, advanced machinery, levers, and a whole bunch of other items that shouldn't be used with hooves. For the show's purposes, it was made for a funny reference to The Big Lebowski, not much else.

Happy beleated Father's day man, thanks for the story!

8992717 Agreed. Starlight Glimmer is either guilty of multiple cases of omnicide, by creating and then overwriting and destroying multiple universes, or if they were stable and continued after the timeline was changed again, responsible for more suffering than every other MLP villian ever, as she's enabled each one to have a timline where they won.

The unspoken part is that neither Twilight, Spike of Starlight returned to their original universe, as their very presence in the past, even if they didn't stop the Rainboom would have had some butterfly effects. Their current world is an almost identical copy. This means the original world was overwritten, or there's a timeline out there where the three of them just disappeared that day and were never seen again.

It's the same existential horror that underlies most time travel movies, even ones like Back to the Future.

There is another question, which I haven't seen addressed: what laws did Starlight break? Not, "what did she do wrong", but what specific laws did she break? I count 6 counts of unlawful confinement, resisting arrest, and criminal trespass. Yes, the results of her spell were apocalyptic, but I don't think that casting the spell was in and of itself illegal.
Now, Peach Cobbler, he attempted to overthrow the government, among many other things. So treason, criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, unlawful confinement... these are all categorically greater crimes than those that Starlight committed. :moustache:

Ri2

8992774
Do the laws of physics, time, and reality count?

8992774
Don't forget the theft of the time travel spell from the restricted archives and being ultimately responsible for its destruction. So theft and destruction of a major historical artifact/government property.

8992823
Fair enough, we'll add grand larceny, vandalism, and destruction of public and private property as well. It still doesn't add up to the scale of what Peach Cobbler pulled.

8992790
Almost definitely not, as Discord still walks free.

8992656
I personally headcannoned that she was under house arrest for a while before Twilight let her out to make friends.

8992149
No, I speed read. :rainbowdetermined2:

I do think placing Starlight under house arrest would have been prudent. She needs to be managed, it would have shown kids that actions do have consequences, and would have reduced backlash against her character.

I hope Cobbler gets parole.

8993072
An interesting headcanon! I suppose I hadn't thought that deeply about it, but I more or less assumed Twilight was keeping a close eye on Starlight for a little while without her being officially under "house arrest."

As for Cobbler... well, perhaps we'll see in a future installment.

Thanks for commenting, speedy! :rainbowdetermined2:

“I want my daddy to come home.”

ALL the feels! :fluttercry:

Interesting concept, Hat Man. If I may, I would like to add my perspective.

Comparing Starlight and Cobbler's actions.

Starlight started a town of talentless, Cutie Mark- less ponies and ruled over it as a dictator, for the very childish (or to some people, stupid/lame) reason of "my best (and possibly only) friend got his cutie mark and abandoned me." She grew up despising Cutie Marks. I say childish because even though she is genius when it comes to magic and problem-solving, certain aspects of her social interaction is practically identical to a child's. I believe this because of 1) having a friend betray/abandon you at a very young age is very traumatizing especially if he/she is your only friend. (I know because I speak from experiance.) She probably would have shut herself out taking yer social interaction to an absolute minimum, and since she's Starlight, she would it to the extreme, and 2) from season 8 (I haven't seen it yet, but I believe I know enough from spoilers. I could be wrong, though), She also had to grow up with no mother. Her father probably spoiled her to no end to protect her cause he was scared. So when she asked to be alone, he probably gave it to her. I don't think he raised her properly. So she grew up with a grudge against pony nature. Her only goal in life was to get back at nature. So when Twilight and her friends took away all that she worked for, she vowed revenge against all of them, but since Twillight was the leader, she got the blunt of it. And Starlight being the intellectually genius, but mentally childish, overreacted and did something without thinking through all the repercussions of such action.

Cobbler (now please correct me if I get any of this wrong, i tend to have a poor memory sometimes) was a loving father who wanted to save his daughter's life no matter what it took. He was a genius in the field of technology especially in that time frame. So he invented something to save his daughter's life and revolutionize Equestria. Celestia, being afraid of new technology, shot it down. (Though she did bring up the good point of having to properly test it before public use) Cobbler having "if you won't help me, I'll do it myself" mindset, a small grudge against her started. He then did the surgery anyway. It worked for a little while, but not long enough. Eventually sweet little Georgia Peach, his precious daughter died. At that moment, he blamed Celestia for her death. (Which is very natural. During/After a time of deep depression/anger/loneliness/etc... it is natural to push the blame, to punish others, so you can cope better) His original grudge increased 100 fold and devolved into hatred. He wanted vengence/revenge. However, he was still a good pony on the inside, so he decided to change Equestria for the better. He convinced many many other ponies to join him in his journey. Cue Techquestria and their years of planning and scheming to originally become their own nation then take over Equestria. Eventually he became so desperate to have his daughter back, he tried to recreate her.

Now for the actual actions.
Starlight *almost, practically* enslaved a small town of ponies and used magic to remove their cutie marks and talents. Even though no one seemed to knew of its existence beforehand (though I am wondering how Luna didn't know with her dream abilities, but then again, it hasn't been too long since she got back, maybe she just hasn't been there yet:applejackunsure:) Twilight most likely informed the Princesses afterwards. Months passed, in which she spied on Twilight to learn her weaknesses. After many months of espionage, she altered a time travel spell, which she probably had to steal to obtain, to preventing the Sonic Rainboom from happening, therefore causing the Mane 6 to never meet. After some talk, she learned the error of her ways and tried to correct her mistakes.

Cobbler led an secret army to attack Canterlot and Equestria in a Giant Technologically Advanced Airship. Also before the attack, his people controlled the minds of some ponies, like the guards, and probably made many illegal underground actions to evolve Techquestria to what it was. During the attack, I do believe he not only attacked, he threatened to kill. (Announcing it to Everypony around). Eventually he was rescued from whatever force warped his grief into insanity, with Turing's help.

Similarities between crimes:
As Turing stated, both could have, and would have if not for intervention, destroyed Equestria. Both had crimes that came before their major one. But here are the major differences.
Almost none of Starlight's actions affected the general public, because most ponies did not know. Her town was not discovered by the public until after she was defeated and excaped. (Even though it was on a map...). Espionage on royalty, (I have no idea what the actual crime name is called) is called espionage for a reason. "You're not seen/caught." And her big time shabamble was unseen by all but Twilight and Spike. Now Turing makes a good point. What If those new timelines were created still exist? But what if they already existed and Starlight merely opened the door to each? What if they were created, but then destroyed as soon as they got ducked back into the portal? As Turing mentioned, what if mere travel through time changes something in the present? It is very much so hypothetically possible. However, even if it ruined several creatures' , ponies or not, lives and improved others, since they were not involved with the incident, there is no way to know. The only ones that would notice differences would be Twilight, Starlight, and Spike, not even the ones affected would know. And since it is impossible for them to know every single little detail about everypony they ever met, it would be practically impossible. It would be impossible if neither knew the pony supposedly affected beforehand. There is literally no way to know. All the crimes we know for certain she committed include: Almost/Nigh (not quite Sombra-level) mind control / slavery; espionage on royalty (don't know if this serious or not); (most likely) theft of a established scroll of magic from most likely an at least somewhat secure location; altering of an established spell, illegally and dangerously; committing an action that endangered Equestria and risked destruction.
Sounds like a lot right? It would be, but since almost no pony knows about most of these actions in the first place, and the ones that do are super duper forgiving (sometimes I think too much so), it would be unlikely to have much punishment.

Time for Cobbler.
He illegally performed untested surgery on many non-pony test subjects and his own daughter. He brainwashed some ponies, such as the guards. He developed, invented, and even used a WMD to use against Equestria. He led a secret army to eradicate/defeat/take over Equestria. He attacked, and nearly won. During the attack, he (and I don't think I stress this enough.) inside a Giant Weaponized Technologically - Advanced Airship! announced his attack (so everypony would recognize his voice and possibly even his face) and threatened with death. That is probably really really serious stuff in a more peaceful land like Equestria. No pony knew what he was about to do, but they knew about the danger involved. They were scared and did not feel safe. So when he was defeated/surrendered/whatever happened, they wanted to feel safe again so they wanted him punished. It's human (or in this case, pony) nature. They want to feel safe. Whenever anything presents itself and makes them feel unsafe, they want that thing gone so they can feel safe again.

They both committed smaller illegal acts before their 'big one', in which endangered Equestria and many ponies' lives. Starlight's was known to almost no one, while Cobbler's was known to everyone. Another difference is that Starlight acted *almost* as if she didn't truly know any better while Cobbler knew exactly what he was doing, but he didn't think it was really wrong, due to his grief - driven insanity. This might have led to Starlight deserving more of a chance to learn, while Cobbler needed time to truly cope with the guilt from his actions, and the death of Georgia Peach.

So honestly, even though it stinks having him in jail, it might a method of him truly getting better.

Well that's my view. If anything is incorrect, feel free to correct me.

And just to throw your head for a loop, what if the Sonic Rainboom was the vibration that caused the stacks of books to fall leading to Sunburst saving Starlight and obtaining his cutie mark? That means by preventing the SRB, the books never would have fallen, and Starburst didn't obtain his cutie mark right then and abandon Starlight, so she wouldn't create the village, and none of this would happened in the first place leading to an infinite paradox.

Signing out, VShuffler42

(P.S. Um. Reading the story took less than 5 minutes. Writing this took a couple hrs. Wow I'm long-winded and such a slow typer.)

I've often thought Starlight should have been punished, but considering the theme of the show is forgiveness I can understand why she wasn't.

Well, I liked it. :twilightsmile:

Part of the problem, from my perspective, is that Cobbler, as President of Techquestria, did a lot more than simply invade Canterlot. He, and his proxies, are also guilty of:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Animal Abuse
  • Reckless Endangerment
  • Mind-control
  • Mental Manipulation (erasing memories)
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Incitement

...to name a few, along with countless violations of medical and scientific ethics that took place from the beginning. There's also the various sadists, psychopaths, and murderers (or would-be murderers) that were employed and utilized by Techquestria which he enabled.

His invasion and subsequent near-massacre of Canterlot is only the most recent crime he's committed. And while he's willing to admit that the invasion was a mistake, he's neither inclined nor able to atone for his other misdeeds.

9002171

9024224

I think I agree with both of you. Starlight did have plenty of crimes too, but I always got the sense that she didn't really know how big of an impact her 'BIG' crime would have, and we have no way of knowing what the consequences are, if there any at all. Meanwhile, Cobbler knew what he was doing, and even if he is sorry and surrendered, he still did create a group of ponies hell bent on overthrowing Equestrian rule. And while most of the group is now working in there own country to try and make things better legals and ethically, some of the crazy ponies such as the nurse that tried to kill Applejack and that one militaristic pony that wanted to cut the robotic arms off of Gadget are still out there according to the ending of the original story (if I am remembering that correctly). So like it or not, Cobbles actions will definitely have much more of an impact in the world as a whole no matter what, while Starlights actions are still unknown and likely less severe than now having a few crazy ponies running around Equestria. If Starlight's mindset on equality inspired a cult or some such as I saw in the Weedverse, then I think that punishment would be more fitting.

Let me know if i missed anything as I love civil debates, and good job on the story overall :twilightsmile:

8992774
Starlight assaulted a princess, technically treason.

9065755
Equestria seems like a place where they would overlook simple assault.

Starlight was worse then Cobbler. Her big crime she did for purely selfish reasons with no regard to Equestria's fate afterwards. Cobbler, while there was some personal revenge involved his ultimate goal was a better Equestria. While he brainwashed guards for security reasons. He could easy recruit because Celestia's stance on technology anger many ponies trying to better Equestria. Like the telephone, Celestia felt that was less personal then a LETTER!? A letter can't invoke your own personal tone the way a voice can. THen of Course Georgia. She didn't need to die but Celestia's fear and a corrupt board made that happen. So in the end Starlight should have been treated harsher then Cobbler but isn't and that is a hypocracy.

My issue with how this fic looks at reform vs punishment and Cobbler vs Starlight is that it ignores other precedents that Equestria has already established with other villains such as Nightmare Moon and Discord. Equestria as a whole tends to focus more on rehabilitation than punishment. Twilight's stance here that the only difference between Cobbler and Starlight's cases is public knowledge makes absolutely no sense given the much more public cases of Nightmare Moon and Discord. Discord in particular was a mission for rehabilitation - instead of locking him away for his crimes, Celestia specifically gave him over to the mane 6 to teach him the error of his ways - and once reformed, pretty much let free. Similar arguments can be made for Sunset Shimmer, while less extreme than Discord, also had actions that were pretty public. Sunset also got 'let off' pretty easy - because she had learned the error of her ways and committed to learning and doing better.

Frankly, given all the precedent set by the show in all these other cases, imprisoning Cobbler just to prove a point to the masses (the ultimate reason that Twilight has given here) just doesn't make any sense. Any of the other points that are being argued are a little moot because they aren't brought up in detail in the fics. If Twilight gave a lack of remorse about other crimes as the issue, sure, but that's not really what the fic discusses. The point that Twilight makes in the story here is that the masses require a suitable punishment for public crimes, and that the illusion of justice meted outweighs the purpose of justice in the first place, and that just doesn't gel with the spirit of Equestrian harmony. Equestria hasn't ever been about who's more "deserving" of punishment, that's never been the point of their justice system.

Edit: I do still like the story, though! This is more just in response to the author note about how reform vs punishment is displayed in Equestria.

9069277
I would argue that Nightmare Moon, legally, is treated as a separate entity from Princess Luna- And besides that, did she really hurt anybody?
As for Discord, I do agree... Except, if you think about it, is it actually widely known what Discord did? Or rather, that it was Discord who did it? The first time Discord was defeated, Celestia stuck him in her garden and nobody knew. I’d argue it’s entirely possible for nobody to know Discord was to blame.

9078495
I agree with you on Nightmare Moon. With Discord, though, I believe his crimes were fairly well-known. After all, they had a big public award ceremony for the Mane 6 when they beat him, and he's had no less than 2 stained glass windows devoted to his defeat.

Rather, I think Discord is in a different category. Discord didn't get off light: he was imprisoned in stone for a thousand years. And not only that, he was apparently conscious that whole time.
When talking about why he got released, it might have simply been a practical matter: if he got out once and obviously wasn't deterred by his punishment, then letting him out to reform him might have been better in the long run. I don't think his situation really matches Starlight's or Cobbler's in a way that makes for a good comparison.

“If she is allowed to be free,” Turing said, holding out her other hoof, “then why not my father?”

Oof. Das a spicy wham line.

“You’ll have wrecked her life… and it won’t change anything for your father.”

Gosh dang it so many wham lines.

He chuckled. “I was going to tell you and the others about this later, but this morning Celestia notified me that my first parole hearing has been moved up by six months. I’ll get to make my case three months from now.”

Eeeeee!

“Understood,” 004 said, picking up the ball. “Gift is insufficient. I will destroy it immediately.”

Well someone is still learning.


Well this was a cute little story!

:trollestia: "Because he's an OC. "

This story is OKAY, but it's not really worthy of your other writing. At the very least the message is rather one sided and NOT nuanced like your other stories. It's more of a "I'm right and you're wrong". Not only that, but it doesn't really bring anything particularly new and amazing to the Timeline/Universe, unlike the previous story.

I mean one difference between Starlight's Crimes & Peach Cobbler's crimes is that one is mostly circumstantial evidence (Heresay), and the other is Public Knowledge. Starlight did NOT intend to really cause any real serious HARM. She just wanted Twilight to loose her friends, but she did NOT want to actually harm Equestria. Peach Cobbler DID willfully intend to cause harm, though you could argue he was possessed and therefore not responsible for his actions.

As others have also said: Most of what Starlight did is NOT technically illegal. Also nobody really saw her doing stuff, and there's not much if any hard evidence tying her to said "Crimes" or actual crimes. Plus also for Equestria there's no real lasting harm, unlike what Peach Cobbler did, or at the very least that's how a lot of the populace would take it. For Starlight she was effectively under House Arrest & Parole for quite awhile. Plus she was punished by being forced to learn about Friendship RIGHT, which isn't a real punishment, but still technically a punishment since she didn't have freedom proper.
Plus you gotta make an example out of ANY would be conquerors, otherwise you just tell everyone "HEY! Go ahead and try to take over the country! No real consequences here!! Oh and feel free to hijack the Sun & Moon, because it's no big deal"

8992753
Well SOME of that stuff could be EASILY explained by one thing: Unicorn Supremacy.
Let's not forget that Unicorns have ALWAYS been part of the Ruling Class and still are today. The Pegasi were also quite powerful as well. So many things work just fine with telekinesis...or with wings/flight. Earth Ponies tend to get the shaft a lot, because they are not the ones with much influence and power typically.
Then eventually....it's just a TRADITION. The ponies don't even REMEMBER why they do it, don't question it, that's just the way it's always been if you ask them. We see this even with a lot of more recent History, such as Pink going from Neutral to Masculine to Feminine as a color. There's also Diamond Engagement Rings as another primary example, or having White Wedding Dresses & Cakes.

8992727
You're absolutely right!


Albert Einstein did nothing wrong by erasing Hitler from time!

He couldn't possibly have foreseen Stalin going through...with...

For me Startard Glimtard's crimes would have been forgivable if she hadn't have had to research the main 6 so heavily. To learn their weaknesses. Their origin. I REFUSE to believe she could have done all this snooping and research without learning about Nightmare Moon, Discord, or TIREK.

What is the sound of one hoof clapping?” Twilight asked, leaning forward on the table. “Which came first: the dragon or the egg?”

That would be called tapping twilight

9148940
Although in show canon A lot of the rich ponies just happened to be earth ponies.

And yeah I agree, there’s a big difference between someone doing a personal attack and a attempted revolution By force no less

I think the BIG question in all of this is do the ponies have a constitution/ bill of rights? If not, it's all moot. The pony's lord would dictate the punishment. I.e. Cobbler would be subject to Celestia and Starlight to Twilight.

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