... another flippin' poll involving Buffyverse morality that I found interesting. It's just a single question, and one with a relatively short answer too - so I shouldn't bother cutting at all - except, I will anyway:
Hmmm... you know what, I hope shapinglight won't mind because I really need to just copy/paste some of her explanation so you can see what the actual question is about ...
"We weren't supposed to care about them, and to make sure we didn't fall into that trap, Joss introduced the vampires-are-soulless-and-therefore-can-n
Of course, with the introduction of Spike and Dru, things began to get messy, and they only got messier when Spike became a show regular and poor, hopeless Harmony got vamped. They got messier still when Angel had his fling with Darla in AtS season 2, Spike and Buffy had their affair in BtVS season 6, and when Harmony became a regular in AtS season 5, and so on and so on. In other words, the vampire characters grew personalities, let us into their lives and made us care about them, or at least be intrigued by them. They became people, not things, or some of them did.
That being the case, I'd be interested to know whether people think there's some measure of degree in the way the good guys can treat vampires as opposed to the way they treat other humans. Please note, I'm not saying they shouldn't kill them. It pretty much goes without saying that they have to. But if they treat them badly otherwise - for instance, the way Spike treats Harmony, and the way Angel treats Darla in Epiphany - does it matter the same, or less?"
Does it matter if the good guys treat vampires badly? (So, you see this is really about how the heroes treat the enemy they are fighting or sexing in the case of the Buffy/Spike debacle of BTVS: S6)
My answer to the poll is yes, yes it does matter. It matters because if you stake a vampire, you're a warrior defending a (mostly) defenseless and (presumably) innocent public from being preyed upon (not to mention those vamps who decide destroying the world isn't a suicidally stupid plan). If you take your time in beating them to a pulp or otherwise torturing them - you're a psychopath (Hi, Season 3 Faith! Loved you, but wouldn't wanna be close to you).
In other more non-battle situations, there has to be a certain level of moral decency that goes along with being (as opposed to pretending at) being a hero. Can anyone argue that Buffy treated Spike like crap during S6 and that we thought less of her for doing so, despite the fact that he was a soulless demon who would have gone on another killing spree the second he was free of it? And, yes, he would have. He proved this when he thought the chip was malfunctioning and tried to pick up a girl for a bite - the chip did not change him - it just broadened his horizons over who not to prey upon (maybe) beyond Drusilla.
It matters not because of what the vampire or other demon would suffer nor really what we as the audience feel toward the character if they don't have boundaries on their behavior (it's not like Buffy knew she was being watched by tens of millions while she was beating Spike into steak tartar). It matters because without those boundaries on human decency, the line between villain and hero can disappear too easily (again, S3 Faith - or RL examples of war-time atrocities against civilians). Heroes need to act heroically - even when it's hard or makes life more difficult or dangerous or when they just plain don't want to due to disgust or rage, not to provide a moral role model, but to protect themselves from becoming the very thing they're fighting against.
And, don't give me that "Wouldn't you torture somebody if you thought they had information that could stop a nuclear attack on a city?" crap either. Of course, I would. And, we'd expect a hero to in that sort of extreme situation - if Buffy had no clue where Angel was and she knew that Acathla was set to be open, I wouldn't exactly be crying if she tortured her way through a few demons to find out where to go... but that isn't okay because it's moral or heroic (too often, anti-heroes are looked at as true heroes, at least in America - see Wolverine, Batman, any 80's renegade-cop-who-plays-by-his-own-rules movie) but because it's the only option for stopping a far greater obscenity from taking place. It's the last, desperate option - and the true hero should angst over it and analyze their behavior later and should never be glib or good with it. It should hurt to stoop to that level, no matter what the evil is they're facing - including confronting the soulless evils of the Buffyverse.
Doing what has to be done to protect the 'innocent' is one thing - mistreatment is quite another... one is acceptable because it needs to be done to stop an ongoing abomination, the other is not because it is damaging to the heroes sense that they're on the right side and have a moral authority to do what they have to do. Killing demons is part of a war effort to protect people. Degrading demons is an act of cruelty - and no hero should feel good about acts of cruelty.