A couple of days after his departure, Sgt. Eagle sends this letter to Triple-Forte...
From: Sgt. Eagle
Sorry that whole parole thing didn’t pan out for us, but I only work with teams that arrest murderers. In fact, I was on a team once where one of the members committed negligent homicide (it was our team leader, actually). He went to prison; that’s just the way things are in my world, cats. Best of luck, though. Maybe it will click for you with Super-Bat-Fox-Guy-Man.
Anyway, the reason I’m writing is that you expressed an interest in what team bylaws looked like, so I am enclosing a (redacted) copy from a team I was on, once. Make of it what you will.
THE BYLAWS OF THE SUPERHERO TEAM KNOWN AS [team name]
SECTION I -- PURPOSE
[team name] is dedicated to protecting the weak, promoting the common good, and upholding the laws of the United States of America. To these ends we have gathered in a single body, combining our powers, talents, and skills that Justice and Freedom may reign among men.
SECTION II -- MEMBERSHIP
A. Initially, the membership of [team name] shall consist of [redacted list of members].
B. Applications for new memberships will be considered at the Annual Meeting (sect III), or at special meetings called for that purpose by the president.
C. To be considered, an applicant must:
.....1. Have been working in the public eye as a superhero for at least two years, or must come recommended by a non-member superhero of good reputation working in the public eye for at least five years.
.....2. Be of high morals, with no stain on his character.
.....3. Have powers, talents, and/or skills which will strike terror into the hearts of evil men everywhere, or which will support and complement the powers and abilities of the existing team. These powers must be demonstrated in an agreed way at an agreed time and place to the membership at large or such members as they choose to delegate.
.....4. Vow to adhere to the letter and the spirit of these bylaws, and to never disgrace [team name].
D. Applicants which do not meet some or all of standards of paragraphs C1 through C3 of this section may be accepted as Auxiliary Members (hereafter Sidekicks) for an indeterminate probationary period, under the specific tutelage of a member in good standing. No exceptions can be granted to paragraph C4.
E. Applications are debated in a closed meeting, during which all existing members are expected to voice their views on the applicant or applicants. At the close of this meeting votes are taken, and a given application passes only on a unanimous vote. Sidekicks may be taken on with a 3/4 vote, and with the approval of the appointed tutor.
F. Sidekicks are not full members, and do not have the right to vote. They may attend closed meetings only with the unanimous approval of the members. Sidekicks who have worked with [team name] for at least two years may be promoted to full membership by a normal membership vote, on the unqualified recommendation of their tutors. For this vote paragraph C1 of this section is waived, although paragraphs C2-4 apply in full.
G. Members are cautioned to apply their full judgment to any vote of membership. Heroes are expected to be above personal vindictiveness, yet at the same time team morale issues due to internal friction can become a serious impediment to the smooth functioning of the team. An "aye" vote is a dedication to work for the full integration of the new member with [team name].
SECTION III -- BUSINESS MEETINGS AND VOTING
A. A "Business Meeting" is defined as a meeting for the purposes of carrying out the formal business necessary to keep [team name] functioning at peak efficiency. It is expected that in the normal course of things that [team name] and also various sub-portions thereof will regularly meet to investigate crimes and combat villains, and to promote the general welfare in other ways (such as by appearances at high school assemblies): none of these other meetings are business meetings for the purposes of this document.
B. Once a year, on the first Monday after [the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic], [team name] will gather to elect a new president (sect IV) and to review the team’s finances (sect V) and battle drill (sect VI). The team will also meet at such other times as the president shall direct, to deal with other business that may arise.
C. The president shall, except in case of emergency, provide two weeks notice of any business meeting. Members have the right to waive this notice by a majority vote.
D. Attendance at all business meetings is mandatory, but said attendance may be accomplished by phone, menta-beam, or other remote communications option at the individual member’s discretion.
.....1. If physical circumstances or actual emergency prevent a given member from attending, he may appoint some other member his proxy, notifying the president by written note or other means of communication.
.....2. If a member does not attend a meeting even by proxy, his vote shall be recorded on all votes taken as "Absent", which shall count as an abstention. Disciplinary action shall be initiated as indicated in Section IX.
.....3. If it proves impossible to notify a member of a meeting, his attendance is waived.
E. All votes are simple majority of non-abstaining votes cast unless otherwise indicated. In the interests of transparency all ballots are open and recorded by name.
F. Debate at business meetings shall be conducted with decorum, under the guidance and example of the president.
SECTION IV -- PRESIDENCY
A. The president of [team name] must meet the following qualifications:
.....1. He must be one of the most experienced members of the team as regards crime fighting.
.....2. He must be a man of high personal honor, without any appearance of partiality.
.....3. He must be willing and able to make the extra commitment to the formal business duties of the team, without in any way letting his crime-fighting duties suffer.
.....4. He must be a full member of [team name], in good standing.
B. The president of [team name] has the following duties:
.....1. He presides at all business meetings (sect III), and resolves tie votes.
.....2. He is responsible for the team's finances, including the organization of fundraisers (sect V).
.....3. He leads the team's battle drill (sect VI), or delegates this duty to the most qualified member.
.....4. He organizes team charity events, team mentoring events, and evaluates all team members on their participation in the public events program of [team name] (sect VII).
.....5. He sets an example of ethical behavior for [team name] to follow (sect VIII), and is responsible for the administration of discipline within the team (sect IX).
.....6. He keeps his eyes open for potential new recruits, especially such recruits as will cover holes in the team's capabilities, and encourages likely prospects to apply (sect II).
C. The president is selected for a one-year term at the annual business meeting (sect III). A reasonable time is allowed for nominations, and if there is more than one nominee then an election is held immediately.
.....1. If no candidate gets a majority on any given ballot, then the candidate with the fewest votes is removed from consideration and another vote is held.
.....2. In the case of a tie (for either first or last) a second vote is held as before, and if the tie persists then the candidates in question must attempt to settle the issue among themselves by negotiation. If negotiation fails then the sitting president breaks the tie.
D. If at any time the president is no longer able to carry out the full duties of president, he should call a business meeting for the purpose of stepping down and allowing the election of an interim president until the next annual meeting.
.....1. If the president's inability is temporary, he may at his option request a pro tempore replacement, until such time as he is able to resume his duties. In this case it is possible that only part of his duty load will be transferred.
.....2. If the president is unable due to disability even to call a business meeting, the senor team member aware of the situation shall call the meeting, and shall preside at it until an interim president can be elected.
.....3. If the president is failing at his duties, and refuses to step down, any member can call a meeting for the purpose of a Vote of No Confidence. If the president refuses to preside at such a meeting and hold the necessary vote, then the senor member present shall preside.
........a. Upon a successful Vote of No Confidence, the president is removed from office, and the senor member present presides over the election of the new interim president.
........b. Upon a successful Vote of No Confidence, the former president is stripped of his good standing.
...........i. He is not permitted to vote until the next annual business meeting.
...........ii. He is banned from ever standing for election to president again, unless reinstated in that right by a unanimous vote of the membership.
...........iii. His other rights within the team are suspended temporarily until the interim president has reviewed his case and made appropriate ruling.
SECTION V -- TEAM PROPERTY AND FINANCES
A. An account will be established for handling [team name]'s funds with [epstein's mom] or whatever financial institution the members shall designate. The president shall monitor the handling of the funds by the designated institution.
B. Funds for the team shall be raised by donation from the members. Members are encouraged to donate to show their support for the mission with which [team name] is entrusted.
C. In the event of a shortage of funds for necessary purposes, the president shall call a meeting of the membership, to first solicit donations, and to then if still necessary discuss fund raising options. In the event that a fund raising scheme is approved by the membership all members are expected to participate as directed by the president.
D. All durable goods used exclusively by individual heroes remain their property, and other members of the group have no call on said goods, although the owning member may loan such goods on a short-term, one-time basis as he sees fit.
E. All durable goods owned by the team itself (e.g. [mercury's bathtub]) shall be used only for team activities, and not for private activities; note that crime fighting is normally a team activity, but that it shall be construed as private when individual team members intentionally eschew team participation in their investigations. In activities of questionable case the president shall rule whether the activity is a team activity or a private one.
F. All durable goods used by the team as a whole shall be owned by [team name] rather than accepted on loan from individual members or others, to simplify issues of authority and responsibility, as quibbling over goods is harmful to team morale.
G. [fire base tango], or whatever future base(s) [team name] may acquire, is off-limits to non-team members, except with the permission of the president. Guests may be brought into the outer security antechamber while their entry into the base proper is being discussed. Guests admitted with the president's permission will be issued passes limiting their access to the briefing room, certain labs, and/or the temporary living quarters.
H. [Redacted paragraph of legal boilerplate dealing with the ramifications of the destruction of other people's property during a super battle. The laws have changed since then. Consult your favorite shyster for more details.]
SECTION VI -- BATTLE DRILL
A. The president or his delegated substitute (hereafter "Drillmaster") shall establish the battle drill for [team name], to insure effective crime fighting technique and response to various threats. This battle drill shall consist of:
.....1. A general training schedule for the membership, emphasizing teamwork and the protecting of innocent bystanders on the field of battle.
.....2. A remedial training schedule for any member or members who are deficient in basic combat technique, speed of battle response, or alertness.
.....3. Special training schedules on the request of individual members who desire to improve some specified aspect of their combat preparedness.
.....4. General tactical plans for use in battle, consisting of such things as normal areas of responsibility, code words for special situations, and chain of command.
.....5. Special tactical plans for use in battle against specific foes.
B. The battle drill will be revised from time to time, as experience reveals weaknesses in the team's approach to combat, and a report on the general combat preparedness of the team will be prepared by the Drillmaster for presentation at the annual business meeting (sect III).
C. As super powers involve quantities of force which can easily prove fatal when used carelessly, all battle drill will emphasize the importance of clear fire lanes, awareness of civilians on the field of battle, and economy of force against non-super antagonists.
SECTION VII -- PUBLIC EVENTS
A. [team name] has a strong commitment to mentoring and public example in the encouragement of freedom, honesty, and justice. To this end the president shall from time to time arrange public appearances of the team at high schools, civic events, and the like.
B. Each team member is to select a personal charity to which he will devote a portion of his energies.
.....1. Monetary donations that the hero receives for individual exploits become the property of his charity.
.....2. The hero will make public appearances on behalf of his charity. (Amended) This provision is waived if it violates the hero's religious strictures.
.....3. The hero will personally participate in the work of his charity from time to time, as his schedule permits: serving food, building homes, etc.
C. A hero's personal charity must be selected with the purposes and reputation of [team name] in mind.
.....1. If, in the opinion of any member, a hero's personal charity reflects poorly on [team name], he shall speak to the president, who will consider the matter and counsel the hero in question, reporting back to the concerned member the outcome of the conversation.
.....2. If a hero's charity becomes a matter of concern for the group, a vote may be taken at any business meeting, and if a majority so direct the hero must select a different charity.
SECTION VIII -- TEAM ETHICS
A. With great power comes great responsibility. All members of [team name] will hold themselves and their teammates at all times to the highest moral and ethical standards.
.....1. The hero shall live these standards, both in their public and in their secret identities. A double-minded man is a dishonest man.
.....2. The hero shall help and encourage his teammates and others in the community in holding moral standards, and shall look for such help and encouragement himself. None of us are in this alone.
.....3. When forming temporary alliance with other supers or super teams, particularly those of other nations, the hero shall show due deference to variation in custom, but this is not to be construed in any way as abrogating his responsibility to adhere to the moral and ethical standards in this section, to be an example of same, and to enforce the laws of the United States. At all times he should ask himself, "What is just?" and "What is the law?"
.....4. The hero must remember that as a result of his heroism, others will hold him up as a role model, rightly or wrongly. He must act always so that they do so rightly.
.....5. If the hero finds himself emotionally at odds with any of these ethical standards, he should remember than he is not a private individual, but rather is a member of [team name] and a public emblem of same. This does not mean that men of good will cannot disagree, and if the hero's conscience is truly troubled by a situation he finds himself in, he should consider the following:
........a. In the end, we must each answer to our own consciences, and so they must be the final guides of our behavior. It was our consciences, after all, that prompted us to become heroes in the first place, rather than villains.
........b. If there is time for consultation, it is always better to discuss matters with your teammates before you act. If you can trust a man with your life in battle, you should be brave enough to ask him for his advice, even if you later decide not to take it.
........c. If there is no time for consultation, then whatever decision you make, you must live with the consequences. You should do this in a way that honors the trust of your teammates, since they will have to live with the consequences, too.
........d. These bylaws are subject to amendment (sect X). They are not carved in stone. On the other hand, if you violate a rule that you could have peacefully campaigned to change, that does not make you a noble rebel. It makes you a self-seeking egotist.
........e. Nothing in these guidelines should be construed as encouragement to violate the laws of the United States of America. If we cannot obey the law, the public has no reason to trust us to enforce it honestly.
B. Certain basic ethical principles should guide a hero's behavior.
.....1. Honesty: This is the first among virtues. Without support for Truth, we cannot know right from wrong or just from unjust, and thus have no business being superheroes.
.....2. Justice: To each according to his due. To deny justice is to steal from others, whether it be their possessions, their good name, or their rights or place.
.....3. Mercy: Killing with super powers is far too easy. True heroes never kill intentionally, and take great pains to avoid killing accidentally.
.....4. Courage: As heroes we place our lives on the line for Truth and Justice. We recognize that someone must face down the evil that men do, and we gladly volunteer to be that someone.
.....5. Teamwork: One for all, and all for one. Each of us has his weaknesses, but by working together we can overcome them, or at least compensate for them.
.....6. Hope: We cannot make the world perfect, but by our efforts we can make it better. That's why we strive, and why we must never give in to despair.
.....7. Humility: We cannot make the world perfect, but if we allow our efforts to be poisoned by pride, we will not even be able to make it better, as we will begin to turn more and more to that which feeds our pride rather than that which improves the world.
.....8. Kindness: Law without love is merely a cage. What the victims of crime need most is kindness. A fallen foe is just another victim, albeit of himself, and as such should not be mocked. We do not fight from personal rancor, but to promote Justice.
.....9. Respect: All men are made in the image of their Creator, and all deserve respect of their basic human dignity, without regard of race, creed, or national origin.
........a. This respect should extend to ourselves. We should behave with dignity, and should be scrupulous in our personal appearance. (Amended) Section VIII, Paragraph B7a, Part 2, regarding personal appearance, does not apply to [giant swamp monster hero].
........b. We should also show respect to the Higher Power, as mandated by our individual faith traditions, for in our work as heroes we will encounter many examples of vile human behavior which will make us doubt the rightness of universal human dignity, and only by His example will we maintain our perspective.
C. One of our purposes is to support the existing law-enforcement structure of the United States. As such, we must obey the law ourselves, in the little things as well as the big, even where we might personally disagree, or we will become hypocrites.
.....1. When traveling abroad, we should obey the laws of the countries we find ourselves in. They have a right to their laws, just as we have a right to ours.
.....2. This applies only on a limited level to totalitarian states. In such states the people are denied their rightful sovereignty, and as such the laws are not per se legitimate. Many laws in such countries (e.g. traffic laws) will be innocuous and should be obeyed, but one must always be careful not to become part of the enforcement mechanism of an evil state.
D. There are certain ethical concerns that are of particular importance to superhero teams. These are the positions taken by [team name] on these issues.
.....1. Trophies: The team will maintain a trophy room, for any team trophies or awards.
........a. The property of others is never to be stolen to use as a trophy. Only things given, purchased, or awarded may be used. Discarded official evidence may be used, if donated by the police with assurance that it need not be returned to some other owner.
........b. It is perfectly acceptable for a team member to maintain a private collection of mementoes representing his victories in battle, displaying them in the team trophy room.
...........i. Personal items must represent personal victories.
...........ii. Care should be taken that any competition engendered by such mementoes remains healthy, and improves rather than degrades the morale of the team.
.....2. Bribes: Heroes do not take bribes. All items and remuneration given by the grateful population shall become property of the team, and if they have no application to crime fighting they shall be donated to charity. Award plaques and the like are a partial exception, and may be displayed as personal mementoes as described in Paragraph D1b of this section.
.....3. Romance: A hero is entitled to a personal romantic life, but it must be conducted in such a way as to in no way interfere with team function, and to in no way reflect badly on the team. To this end heroes are strongly encouraged to limit their romantic life to their secret identity, and not to disclose their hero activities to their inamorata. Heroes whose romances interfere with team function or cause the team public embarrassment will be subject to disciplinary action (sect IX).
.....4. Dirty Laundry: Disputes between team members are not a suitable topic for press interviews. Difficulties within the team should only be made public as described in Section IX.
.....5. Secret IDs: A hero has the right to a secret identity if he so chooses. He may keep this identity secret from his teammates, as long as he is not using it as a cover for behavior prohibited by this section. If he elects to reveal it to his teammates they must honor his confidence and under no circumstances reveal his secret (except: sect IX, paragraph B6).
.....6. Fans: Heroes will attract fans, but some heroes will attract more than others. Fans should not be allowed to become a bone of contention within a team. Fans should be treated as people rather than objects, and should never be exploited monetarily or sexually. Fans are a great motivation for setting a good example.
SECTION IX -- DISCIPLINE AND EXPULSION
A. If a team member has violated, or is believed to have violated, these bylaws:
.....1. The hero who discovers or suspects this should go to the suspected offender, and speak to him in a respectful way about his concerns. This should end the matter in a well-functioning team, but human nature being what it is further action may be necessary.
.....2. If the suspected offender cannot explain his behavior, and fails to correct it, the discovering hero should take his concerns to the president, or if the president is the offender to the senor team member other than the president (hereafter "Mediator").
.....3. The mediator shall sit down with the involved heroes and discuss the situation with them, determining the facts of the case and seeking a negotiated settlement that is consistent with these bylaws and the harmony of the team.
.....4. If the offender does appear to be violating the bylaws, and persists in his error, the mediator shall call a business meeting to formally discuss the situation. The mediator will function as president at this meeting.
........a. Care will be taken to ensure that the offender is given every opportunity to explain his point of view.
........b. After a frank discussion of the facts, a vote shall be taken as to whether the offender is and remains in violation.
........c. The offender may not participate in this vote.
........d. If the vote fails then the offender is pardoned and the team will discuss ways to resolve the current personality conflict.
.....5. If the vote goes against the offender, then he will be given the immediate opportunity to agree to mend his behavior. In cognizance of his response to this opportunity the team will vote on whether any additional sanctions shall be imposed on the offender at this time; the offender may not participate in this vote.
.....6. Available sanctions include:
........a. The offender may be censured. This puts him on warning to behave properly in the future, but has no further effect.
........b. The offender may be required to make a public apology and perhaps other amends. This is particularly appropriate when the offense is against someone outside the team. Other sanctions can be attached provisionally to this one, such that if the offender fails to make the indicated amends the other sanctions come automatically into force.
........c. The offender may be denied the right to vote for a designated period of time, not to exceed 6 months, or until some condition is met. Other team privileges can be restricted in the same way.
........d. The offender may be demoted to Sidekick, but only if he previously served on [team name] as a Sidekick.
........e. The offender may be suspended from participating on the team at all for a designated period of time, not to exceed 60 days, or until some condition is met. This requires a 3/5 vote.
........f. The offender may be expelled from [team name], with the possibility of readmittance after at least one year. This requires a 4/5 vote
........g. The offender may be expelled from [team name], with no possibility of readmittance. This requires a unanimous vote.
B. If a team member has violated, or is believed to have violated, the laws of the United States:
.....1. The hero who discovers or suspects this should report his findings in full to the president, or if the president is the suspected offender then to the senor team member other than the president (hereafter "Investigator")
.....2. The investigator shall if necessary and possible check the basic facts of the case, to be sure there is no misunderstanding. In the case of a misunderstanding he shall report the matter to the discovering hero and to the suspected offender, so that differences can be aired, and offer his services as a neutral party.
.....3. If the case cannot be proved to be a misunderstanding, the investigator shall call a formal meeting of the team to inquire into the situation. If in the opinion of the investigator the accused is a flight risk, he will take whatever steps he deems prudent to negate the possibility of flight.
.....4. At the meeting the accused will be given the chance to clear himself. On a unanimous vote in his favor the issue is put to rest. The hero initially making the accusation shall not participate in this vote.
.....5. If the vote is not unanimous, then trusting in the justice system of the United States of America, the accused will turn himself over to the authorities.
.....6. If the accused refuses to surrender to the authorities, [team name] will do everything in its power to apprehend him, and will cooperate with the government even to the extent of revealing the accused's secret identity. In this case the accused automatically forfeits his membership in [team name].
SECTION X -- AMENDMENTS
These bylaws can be amended by a 3/5 vote at the annual business meeting (sect III). Proposed changed to the bylaws should be published to the membership at large at least two weeks prior to the vote. In urgent situations these bylaws can be amended at any business meetings, without prior publication, with a 3/4 vote.