… as always, the below contains spoilers…
Last time, we looked at the effect Rapture has on medicine. This time, we’ll look how the city changes what constitutes crime. Arriving in Neptune’s Bounty, Jack soon finds a body crucified on the wall before him.
Written over the body is the word “Smuggler”. This is odd for a few reasons. First of all, the punishment does not fit the crime very well. A smuggler is not the most vicious type of criminal, and the term doesn’t really carry a connotation of violent or dangerous. A smuggler implies that this is someone who moves contraband, but likely to avoid tariffs and embargoes. While Rapture has become a violent and terrible place, being killed in such a grotesque manner for smuggling seems odd.
This is more disturbing when one considers the ethical ethos of Rapture. The city is an objectivist paradise, where the government has no right to take a tax cut from businesses. Andrew Ryan rages against the parasite, taking his cut from the work of honest men, on banners, videos, and diaries throughout the game. For someone to smuggle, they would have to be moving goods past the ruling body of the city, but this would mean that they were avoiding Ryan. This leaves the question as to what they were smuggling.
Audio dairies from Sullivan, the security chief for Rapture, reveal that most of the smugglers are poets, artists and tennis players. Again, these aren’t hardened criminals, certainly not the type one would need to stop with a grizzly execution.
While it does turn out that Fontaine, Andrew Ryan’s greatest nemesis in rapture, is behind these smugglers, the smugglers themselves do not seem that dangerous. Further examination, of the crates and crime scenes in the area, reveal the contraband they have to sneak past Ryan.
They are smuggling bibles. The area begins to imply that the faithful of Rapture are much like the earliest Christians, hiding in caves to worship quietly in the Roman Empire, afraid of the powers that be. Andrew Ryan specifically built Rapture to be free of religion, viewing the Church as a parasite as much of the government. He abhorred their moral censure and felt it had no place in his world, and by doing so, morally censured them. He viewed them as a threat to his project.
He was right, in that Fontaine was using them to build his own power. By befriending the oppressed, the downtrodden who failed to find a better life in Andrew Ryan’s great experiment, he built an army. He used those Ryan tried to stamp out to fight against him. He built the resources and the public support.
From Jack’s perspective, it all starts with a single crucified man at the entrance to the area. The parallels create a great deal of sympathy for those who simply wanted to believe quietly, and who became pawns of bigger forces, who used them as symbols of evil, and as martyrs to drive their wars, which were not related to the beliefs of those who died.
Crime and religion are the same thing in Rapture, as religion is corrupted by the elite to their own ends.