“The case was debated for almost ten years. According to the laws of the federation, the definition of ‘murder’ was ‘unlawfully depriving a natural person of their life’. The laws did not state that ghosts were ‘natural persons’. Naturally, ghosts did not have a ‘life’.
“Furthermore, the forces that supported ‘ghosts are not human beings’ were still very influential, and many ordinary citizens had yet to change their prejudice.
“Therefore, after the case was debated in the court of appeals, the evil Cultivators were found not guilty of murder. They were only sentenced to prison for a few misdemeanors.
“The result infuriated many people, including the little girl’s younger brother.
“It had already been ten years since the little girl passed away because of her disease. The little girl’s brother had grown into a soldier of the federation army.
“He had fought valiantly in the battles against beast tides. Unfortunately, he was caught by the acids of a ‘Single-Horned Sour Lizard’. His left eye, left arm, and left foot were seriously corroded, and he had been forced to replace the left side of his body with artificial counterparts. Then, he retired as a disabled veteran.
“As a disabled veteran, he lived quite a comfortable life materially. However, the young veteran was more than infuriated by such injustice that the criminals were found not guilty after they manipulated, tortured, and obliterated his sister’s soul.
“He was a very smart young man. In the ten years of trial, he taught himself all the courses about the federal laws and mastered advanced skills in debating. Also, while the ideology that ‘ghosts are human beings’ spread out, he made a lot of good friends who shared the same belief. They gradually became a new force in society.
“After the evil Cultivators were found not guilty of murder in the court of final appeal, the young man made a shocking decision.
“He sued the federal government!
“There’s no need to talk about the details. Anyway, in the end, those who believed that ghosts are human beings and those who didn’t had a fierce debate in the supreme court. The trial was also live streamed to the entire federation. Almost every citizen was watching the debate.
“In the court, the angry young man asked exactly the same question I asked just now, except that he did it much more violently than me.
“He stabbed the man-made crystal heart inside his chest with his cold mechanical arm and asked, ‘Am I a human being?’
“As technology advanced, more and more people were replacing their broken limbs with artificial organs.
“If somebody’s finger was damaged and they replaced it with an artificial finger, were they a human being?”
Jin Xinyue was attracted by the story and could not help but nod. “Of course!”
“Then, was the young manwho had replaced half of his body, including his heart, with machines driven by spiritual energy because of battle woundsa human being?”
Jin Xinyue nodded. “He definitely is!”
“What if it were more than half?” Li Yao asked. “What if 51% of his body were artificial? 99%? 99.99%?”
He asked exactly the same question just now.
At that time, Jin Xinyue would have answered easily with the federal laws that the young man was still a human being.
However, right now, after learning everything, Jin Xinyue was deep in thought.
“The angry young man’s real question was, what exactly makes a human being?
“If everybody believed that somebody whose body was 10% mechanical was a human being, and somebody else whose body was 99.99% mechanical was not, then there was certainly a tipping point between 10% and 99.99% that separated human beings from non-human beings.
“Let’s say that the tipping point is 50%.
“If so, for a disabled veteran such as the young man, if 49.99% of his body was replaced by machines, he was still a human being.
“But if he was unfortunate enough to have been spat on by the ‘Single-Horn Sour Lizard’ one more time in the battlefield, it is possible that 50.01% of his body would have been replaced by artificial organs. In such a case, he was no longer a human being, was he?
“It is obvious that such a theory was too absurd. There was no such a tipping point. It was not at 50%, nor at 90%!
“Even the brain could not be the criterion to determine a human being, either. At that time, the technology to repair the brain was fairly advanced. Many people who suffered heavy brain damage would implant recovery chips into their head. Naturally, they were human beings.
“Therefore, a human being whose body was 99.99% mechanical was still a human being!
“Then, was the tipping point between 99.99% and 100%?
“Assume that a disabled veteran was so heavily wounded that only 0.01% of his braincells could be retained, and all his other body parts were substituted by artificial organs. According to our theory just now, he is a human being and should enjoy the rights of one.
“What if it was not 0.01% of his braincells but 0.001% or 0.0001%?
“The number can be reduced infinitely until it reaches zero. Where should the ‘tipping point’ be located? If somebody with 0.00000001% or more living braincells was a human being and somebody with less was a ghost, wouldn’t it be too absurd?
“Weren’t the so-called ‘ghosts’ human beings whose body was 100% mechanical? Was there really any essential difference between them and someone who was with 99% artificial organs?
“The angry young man’s questions silenced the entire court.
“All the citizens who were watching the live stream began to reflect on the definition of ‘human being’, too.
“The case seriously influenced the laws and policies of the federation later.
“As for the young man, other than appealing to the court of law, he also visited the leadership of the Federation’s Disabled Servicemen Association and finally won the support of the entire association and even the federal army!
“The reason was simple. Although the Grand Desolate Plateau had been conquered, small-scale conflicts with demons were still on, not to mention that a great war against the Blood Demon Sector might be coming soon. Therefore, the federal soldiers and Cultivators had the highest death rate in the federation.
“A Cultivator’s soul is usually very solid. The ordinary soldiers of the federal army were mostly energetic, healthy young people, too. Therefore, the odds that part of their soul lingered on after their death were much higher than when an ordinary person died.
“If a federal soldier fought bravely for their country and was unfortunately killed, turning into a ghost, only to find that they had lost all his rights and that anybody else could savage, torture, and enslave them without being punished, wouldn’t it be hilarious?
“Therefore, the federal army and the major Cultivation sects gradually began to support the young man, and the prevailing stereotype in society was slowly twisted, too. More and more citizens agreed that ghosts were human beings. Those who disagreed turned into the minority.
“After all, everybody would die someday, and anyone could become a ghost after their death. Therefore, they had to consider for themselves, too.
“Eventually, the federation government lost the case!
“Two years later, the federal government issued ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’, which, for the first time, legally defined ghosts with independent will as ‘natural persons’. Ghosts were acknowledged as federal citizens, enjoyed all the pertinent rights and responsibilities, and were protected by the federal army and the Cultivators!
“After more than a hundred years of integration, the living and the deceased of the federation have become an inseparable whole. Biases against the ghosts are no more.”
Jin Xinyue was greatly touched. Then she suddenly thought of something else. “What about the evil Cultivators who killed the little girl? They must be guilty of murder now, mustn’t they?”
A mysterious smile popped up on Li Yao’s face. “The laws of the federation are built on the foundation of non-retroactivity. As they were found not guilty of murder in the final trial, how could you punish someone, who had already been tried, with a new law?
“In fact, the few charges that they were found guilty of were all misdemeanors. One year before the ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’ was issued, they were already out of prison and enjoying their happy life again.”
“Fine.” Jin Xinyue frowned. For some reason, she felt sorry about the old case a hundred years ago.
Ever since she turned into a human being, she seemed to have more and more emotions.
However, she felt that her master’s smile was very weird. She thought of something and asked, “There’s more to the story?”
With a smile, Li Yao replied, “Not much, except that the few scumbags were killed by the young man’s comrades half a year after they got out of prison, one month before ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’ was enacted.”
Jin Xinyue was dazed. She observed, “I thought that the young man chose to appeal because he respected law and wanted to use the law as his weapon. It didn’t occur to me that he would still break the law and lynch the criminals in the end.”
“Lynch the criminals, they did, but break the law, they did not. The federal soldiers were the defenders of the country and the law. How could they violate the law that they swore to protect?
“The young’s comrades were all charged, but they walked out of the court freely in the end, too. They were not found guilty of murder!”
Jin Xinyue did not understand. “Why? Was the court under the pressure of the federal army?”
“Of course not! It was because, technically speaking, before the ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’ was formally enacted, the young’s comrades were all ghosts instead of human beings.”
“Don’t you understand? The young man’s comrades were all the spectral Cultivators who had sacrificed in the battlefield and only had their souls left!” Li Yao explained. “Before the ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’ was enacted, the Star Glory Federation did not acknowledge the human rights of ghosts.
“Ghosts were not human beings. Therefore, killing a ghost was not murder. It was also why the evil Cultivators were found not guilty in the first place.
“Then here comes the question. It is not a murder when a human being kills a ghost. Then what if a ghost kills a human being?
“After the revenge case took place, the law enforcement examined the federal law in retrospect and realized, to their surprise, that the federation had always been fighting against the demons since it was established and there were endless clauses regarding the demons who were considered to be the greatest threat. But none of the laws were actually about ‘ghost killing someone alive’!
“It was quite understandable. Even in the world of ancient Cultivators, it was unlikely for the government to make any guidelines on how to sentence a ghost that had committed murder, right? At that time, the Cultivators were responsible for ‘removing the evil’. When an evil ghost killed someone, monks, priests, and Cultivators would be there to eliminate them.
“But it was already a new era and a society ruled by law. The law is above everything. The Cultivators had to do their work legally, train legally, and help the weak legally.
“Before the ‘Affirmative Action for Ghosts’ was enacted, the young man’s sacrificed comrades were not ‘human beings’ from a legal point of view. How could they be found guilty of ‘murder’?”