It occurred to me during Episode 2, then again afterwards during the discussion, that the conventional moral position whereby killing the St. John's is considered the lesser, baser option, had it all backwards.
Here's a typical post on the issue:
Originally Posted by Viser
Yeah, definitely fighting the St. John brothers. That was very intense, I actually killed Danny out of anger, because of what he had done to us, but after knowing Clem witnessed it I instantly felt like I shouldn't have done that. Didn't kill Andy though, he being like "Get back here and finish this!!" was epic.
Thing is, if you leave the St. John's alive, aren't they simply going to continue, as long as they're alive, trapping, mutilating, murdering, and eating innocent travelers? Don't you have the moral obligation to execute them, whether in anger or after due consideration?
What would their punishment have been in the pre-ZA world for their Dahmeresque crimes? Life imprisonment, at a minimum, and a death sentence in any state that allowed it. The only question remaining is, does the ZA provide a mitigating circumstance? In this case, I think, clearly not. There's still food out there. They do live on a farm. The soil is still fertile. They have corn, for example. They have at least one cow's worth of meat and the ability to dress and prepare that meat, in the neighborhood of five hundred pounds of it, which would last a small family at least several months
Life imprisonment wasn't an option, so executing the family was the only moral thing you could have done, given the circumstances. That it might have occured in front of Clem was unfortunate, but you didn't have the option during the game of taking Danny aside and killing him out of Clementine's view.
It wasn't an easy choice, but killing the St. John's was clearly right choice, the moral choice.