this speaks to me on a spiritual level.
"How can you approve of Ned Stark beheading an innocent man in the name of some arbitrary laws?"
"How can you approve of Daenerys crucifying people because select members of their society did something awful. How can you approve of Daenerys burning people alive because she wanted to steal an army from them?”
"How can you approve of Arya murdering people in cold blood?"
"How can you approve of Tyrion having a singer cut up and possibly put into food the underprivileged of King’s Landing eat just because he thought the guy knew something about him?” “How can you approve of Tyrion murdering an innocent girl in cold blood simply for looking after her own survival?”
Tons and tons and tons of characters (even well loved popular “good guy” characters) in this series kill people for a varying level of reasons, some justifiable and some not. I can’t just decide not to love a character because they killed people.
AND HERE’S ANOTHER FACT: Melisandre has no authority to carry out the executions on Dragonstone. She advises Stannis on how to handle his TRAITORS. You know, people who commit treason which is universally punished by death? And he listens, because he respects her and knows that she has abilities that could help him win the throne. Melisandre has no control over Stannis’s actions, contrary to popular belief, he’s a grown man with free will.
Just because people have a harder time stomaching burning people alive (unless it’s by way of dragon apparently) as opposed to just beheading doesn’t make it any less of a lawful execution. They don’t go into their reasons for executing the people they execute in the show, but the fact is the only people they kill are people actively committing treason against Stannis. So would you call Ned’s first action in the whole series a “murder”? And if you would, would that make you like him any less?
If you only want to approve of characters who have never killed anyone, you’re going to have a short list to work with.
you know what’s even sadder? that Ned is practically Stannis. Robert eschewed his blood brother for someone else who is virtually like him. I’m guessing it’s an unintended consequence of Robert being fostered at the Vale. He spent that time with Ned, they both squired for Jon Arryn. That created a bond of brotherhood between them that couldn’t have been a zero-sum equation with Robert’s relationship with Stannis if Robert and Stannis had always been close. But they weren’t. Exacerbated by the fact that they lost their parents when they were young. So they were cast adrift from each other early on—initially by difference of temperament, then eventually by loss of connection. There was no one to enforce the idea of family, legacy, or unity. Robert could have, as the eldest, but Robert was never dutiful and always did what he wanted. They could’ve both been responsible for the upbringing of their much younger brother but with the chasm between them, how could they? Then before they knew it, war was upon them. Only 7? 8? years transpired between the death of their parents and the Rebellion that would’ve wedged them farther apart, perhaps permanently in spite of having won the war. Robert and Stannis are barely a year apart. Each is strong where the other is weak. They could’ve been a better team than Robert and Ned could have been because family would have strengthened their loyalty to each other. Ned was always worried about Winterfell because that was his place. Imagine a story where Robert trusted Stannis and Stannis loved Robert and Renly looked up to them both and obeyed them. I’ve said this before but they’d have been an unholy trinity that could’ve had King’s Landing on lockdown. Robert is king, charismatic leader that threads the three of them together with the people. Stannis is the military man, the strategist that would balance Robert’s ferocity and brazenness. Renly would be the politician—Robert would ease tension between political rivals with his good nature yet Renly would’ve had the foresight to deepen political ties into something more fruitful. He’d have diffused Stannis’ aloofness as well. They could’ve been great complements at their best but in the series they’d been fractured, thus weaker. They’re masters of their respective fields. AS THAT TEXT POST GOES—A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE AKA IF ONLY THE BARATHEONS HAD REMOTELY LIKED EACH OTHER.