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  #11  
Old 03-20-2010, 10:49 AM
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By the way, I find it interesting that some folks have issues with the more controversial Prime Directive stories like "Homeward" or "Dear Doctor".

I don't wanna sound rude, but folks, use your brain and don't rely on your gut-feeling. Of course one's natural reaction is to help a dying race, but the Prime Directive reminds every Starfleet officer to consider the implications of help. A fellow might kill himself if he learns about super-powerful aliens who guard his poor people, a peacefully-dominated species might might not flourish as long as the dominating species is around ...or to be precise, helping one species means harming the other. It's about sociology, not evolution.
So what should you do? Simple answer, stay the f**k out of there, it is none of your business, you don't have the right to play God and choose between species.

Of course I don't wanna imply that disagreeing with the Prime Directive is wrong, on the contrary. But interestingly many people who don't like the PD just rely on intuition. Sorry folks, it's a bit more complicated so you gotta take your time and think through each case.
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2010, 11:37 AM
samwiseb samwiseb is offline
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In response to your prior post (since I don't feel like abandoning what I already wrote)

'Dear Doctor' I couldn't understand why anyone would take Phlox's position, let alone be swayed into it. It seemed completely arbitrary to me why that particular conflict would even constitute a valid Prime Directive dilemma.

Another episode had Archer chewing out Trip over trying to liberate a gender-less alien whose soul purpose was to serve (its?) people as breeding stock ("You did what I would've done? I don't even know what I would've done.") The old "political correctness means 'respecting' other cultures no matter how offensive they are" argument. This seems highly questionable. We have 'cultures' right here on Earth where 14-year-old girls can get stoned to death just for having their bodies violated. And they're untouchable because 'everyone knows' most critics in developed nations have this undeserved reputation for being either 'ignorant' or culturally unenlightened.

A more realistic Prime Directive episode might be 'Masterpiece Society', in which Picard broods on at least two seperate occasions about the damage done by saving a planet from a meteor fragment. Worf gets to play the oh-so-typically unenlightened realist: "We saved the colony from destruction!!" Picard, unnecessarily on the nose: "Did we?" (really, I think we get the point already) The thing is, Worf's the one who's right. Regardless of what hell there was to pay, they did what they were morally obligated to do, they knew what they were doing, they faced the music afterwards, but hindsight would not alter the facts. An okay episode, but definitely has that "Picard, get over it" feeling at the end.

Insurrection: As a movie, I think it greatly oversimplified the reasons why we exploit other peoples (Jim Cameron's Avatar is at least equally guilty). In a more realistic scenario, the Admiral's actions would not have seemed So Obviously Wrong. And where was the rest of Starfleet? Where was the opposing public opinion?

Pen Palls I liked, but again I'm not sure I understand why there's even a question about saving an unstable planet if it's known the people are in mortal danger and things couldn't get any worse for them anyway.
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:21 PM
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Suppose that everytime planet Earth was in danger, some benevolent aliens pass by and cease the catastrophe. I guess that the dinosaurs would still be around if some intelligent reptilians would have saved their distant relatives. What about nasty dictators, should the Federation get rid of all of them too?
Back to "Dear Doctor", it is a clear PD cause because you automatically hurt he Menk if you help the Valakians. Or the other way around, if you wanna help and free the poor subjogated Menk (a human perspective) you have to harm the Valakians.
You interfere into an alien society and change the course of their history, no matter whether you stop earthquakes, eliminate alien Hitlers or give one of two species an advantage.

I entirely agree that we humans share similar ethics and that stoning someone to death is not acceptable. But guess what, I also believe that executing someone via lethal inejction is not OK. I still don't invade the US and tell you folks what to do, because guess what, this would lead to war, not change your opinion and do simply no good. (I don't wanna engage in US-bashing but just point out that all cultures, even the most advanced ones, do something which somebody else considers as wrong.)

Back to Trek, what about the Klingons? Federation members value democracy and life above all whereas Klingons value aristocracy and death. They slaughter each other and others by the millions, so should we try to stop them? I guess this war would be even more bloody than the hypothetical war about the death penalty between Europe and America. So yeah, these are your options, tolerance of these barbarians and a fragile peace in the 24th century or an endless war. And even if you win one day, what will you do? Educate those nasty Klingons (worked with us Germans, but Klingons might not be interested in lessons about democracy), put them in a prison where they can do no harm, occupy their world? You would have to turn into them to make them become someone like you.

Alien cultures have different ethics than we do and even if one considers this to be wrong and considers e.g. Klingons as barbarians who have to be stopped, it is not feasible.

You also mentioned "Cogenitor". From a pragmatic point of view, Trip should have taught the cogenitor to start an uprise among the cogenitors. To be more critical in general, he knows nothing about this culture. Just imagine a three-gender species with relatively few beings of the third gender. They are rare, so they might have a privileged status, kinda like a bee queen. Or the other extreme occurse, they have a slave-like status. That they are just normal citizens with normal rights is unlikely in my opinion because they have biological extra power and either they may use this extra power or it is taken from them. At once the cruel treatment seems to be much more natural.
Furthermore, what should Archer have done if he dislikes the treatment of the cogenitors and I am pretty sure he did? Telling someone outright that his or her culture sucks is not a way to start a dialogue. You won't achieve anything, even if your point is correct.

Diplomacy and feasibility have to be considered in every course of action and last but not least there is also the problem of abuse of power. If the job of the Federation would be to prevent all the ugly things in the galaxy, the intergalactic George Bush senior could just spit out nice words about the democratization of the nasty fascist aliens on Planet X while he gets his hands on their precious dilithium crystals.
I think that internal peace among hundreds of members and relative security concerning Klingon and Romulan threats is quite an achievement. The Federation was never meant to be more.
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  #14  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:21 PM
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As far as I can see the ultimate problem with the PD is that it is willingly and frequently broken anyway right across the entirety of Star Trek, from TOS all the way through to DS9 (where the biggest one - the manipulation of the Romulans into the Dominion War was carried out knowingly by Sisko).

Even Picard expressed more than once that even he doesn't view the PD as being rigid and unalterable (I think he says words about this in 'Justice' for example - not a great PD episode exactly but one involving it nonetheless) and every Federation Captain we have seen has broken the PD at least once, or can be argued to have been.

Therefore, my problem with the PD is that is seems to lack any true weight and simply gets invoked in situations that the Federation or a Captain simply doesn't want to entangle themselves with.

If it's the Starfleet General Order 1, the absolute rule and the directive that must be adhered to then why is it so routine to break it to suit the circumstances. What does it say about the society that it's most important rule can actually be excercised or not to suit the moment?

When Picard is willing to violate the PD in order to save Wesley Crusher, it becomes more than a little twisted for him then to later invoke the PD initially as an excuse to do nothing about Sarjenka's entire planet in 'Pen Pals', especially as he talks about not letting emotions get in the way of considering the PD.

You can use all the caution in the world but I would have to agree with Picard's own words that sometimes it can be an act of cowardice to use the PD to let people die when you've already broken it to save others.
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Last edited by kevin : 03-20-2010 at 12:25 PM.
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  #15  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:24 PM
samwiseb samwiseb is offline
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I guess what I should say is, I don't mind controversy. I prefer it. If it is earned, if it feels relevant, and if it is not preechy, hamfisted, overstated or trite. I would absolutely love it if ST had the balls to really piss me off.

One of my favorite Babylon 5 episodes was 'Passing Through Gethesmane'. You are manipulated into thinking you understand a situation, and then it flips, and suddenly you understand the other side all too well.

If I disagree with a lot of the ST Prime Directive episodes, it's because they seem arbitrary to me, like the issues are either no-brainer or they are have become too familiar and stale. It's like, come on people, you aren't even trying. 'Dear Doctor' couldn't shake me, because it didn't even really engage me. I'm thinking "Okay, one, I don't think you're showing me anything new here that we haven't already seen on ST, and two, I'm not even remotely convinced anyone would resolve it from this angle anyway. Maybe Picard would have... after midway through season 5" (Actually, I must confess I'd forgotten about 'Pen Palls').
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  #16  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:28 PM
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At least the PD keeps people talking outside of Trek episodes!
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  #17  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:30 PM
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As Sisko said, a guilty conscience is a small price for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. Dougherty and the Federation council probably thought along similar lines, might have been interesting if the movie focused more on this aspect.
I think it is perfectly OK to break your rules if your very existence is threatened. But if it is possible, follow rule number one; if you can stop a might Romulan-Klingon alliance without actively supporting Gowron, do it.

I also think that the ugly intelligence work against the Romulans if perfectly justified, it's not like they aren't your archenemy number one and the very reason for the existence of your Federation, it's not like the cold war hasn't already endured for centuries. The PD is more of an issue when it comes to real third parties in my opinion.

Last edited by horatio : 03-20-2010 at 12:39 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:34 PM
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OK, one could indeed argue that in a fight for long-term survival then there could be justification for some suspension of the rules - that would in effect be the point of 'Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges' even if it's not a PD episode - but then states of War and being in a fight for survival does not account for all instances the PD has been broken.

I mean, what Sisko did is still a violation irrespective and if it's the big rule then he should have been called upon - if it weren't for the fact it was done with the implicit consent of Starfleet.

Which just reinforces that the PD is only as absolute as the Federation decides it to be in the moment. This seemingly is also a method of interpretation that Starfleet Captain's can employ as well. Which comes back to the fact that for all the rhetoric about how important it is - it is actually rather mutable in application.
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Last edited by kevin : 03-20-2010 at 12:42 PM.
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  #19  
Old 03-20-2010, 12:45 PM
samwiseb samwiseb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horatio View Post
(I don't wanna engage in US-bashing but just point out that all cultures, even the most advanced ones, do something which somebody else considers as wrong.)
Oh, I completely agree. We deserve to be bashed anyway...

Quote:
Back to Trek, what about the Klingons? Federation members value democracy and life above all whereas Klingons value aristocracy and death. They slaughter each other and others by the millions, so should we try to stop them? I guess this war would be even more bloody than the hypothetical war about the death penalty between Europe and America. So yeah, these are your options, tolerance of these barbarians and a fragile peace in the 24th century or an endless war. And even if you win one day, what will you do? Educate those nasty Klingons (worked with us Germans, but Klingons might not be interested in lessons about democracy), put them in a prison where they can do no harm, occupy their world? You would have to turn into them to make them become someone like you.
See, now there's the type of effective, relevant and engaging PD story ST needs.

Quote:
You also mentioned "Cogenitor". From a pragmatic point of view, Trip should have taught the cogenitor to start an uprise among the cogenitors. To be more critical in general, he knows nothing about this culture. Just imagine a three-gender species with relatively few beings of the third gender. They are rare, so they might have a privileged status, kinda like a bee queen. Or the other extreme occurse, they have a slave-like status. That they are just normal citizens with normal rights is unlikely in my opinion because they have biological extra power and either they may use this extra power or it is taken from them. At once the cruel treatment seems to be much more natural.
Furthermore, what should Archer have done if he dislikes the treatment of the cogenitors and I am pretty sure he did? Telling someone outright that his or her culture sucks is not a way to start a dialogue. You won't achieve anything, even if your point is correct.
Very insightful observation that the Cogenitors would not have equal status anyway... I confess I had not factored that. I don't think Archer 'should' have done anything differently than exactly what he did, because he wouldn't have been in a place to anyway for the very reason you mentioned. I would settle for him not hitting 'us' over the head with how ignorant we are with the Cogenitor's society (even though it turns out I was rather ignorant to not take some factors into account).
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevin View Post
OK, one could indeed argue that in a fight for long-term survival then there could be justification for some suspension of the rules - that would in effect be the point of 'Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges' even if it's not a PD episode - but then states of War and being in a fight for survival does not account for all instances the PD has been broken.

I mean, what Sisko did is still a violation irrespective and if it's the big rule then he should have been called upon - if it weren't for the fact it was done with the implicit consent of Starfleet.

Which just reinforces that the PD is only as absolute as the Federation decides it to be in the moment. This seemingly is also a method of interpretation that Starfleet Captain's can employ as well. Which comes back to the fact that for all the rhetoric about how important it is - it is actually rather mutable in application.
Yeah, if someone stands in your flat with a knife you don't care much about the usual rules of living peacefully together, be nice, treat others like you wanna be treated etc. You get the hell out of there or also grab a knife and it's either you or him.
It has been quite some time since I have last since "Justice" but as far as I remember, the Enterprise crew wasn't aware of the Edo laws or someone didn't brief the away team correctly. Anyway, someone made a mistake, either the Edo or folks aboard the Enterprise, yet not Wesley. So it seems a bit unfair that he has to die.
And it is of course again about survival, why should a misunderstanding lead to the execution of one of your crewmembers and not just any random ensign but the son of your former love.


Quote:
Originally Posted by samwiseb View Post
See, now there's the type of effective, relevant and engaging PD story ST needs.
I agree that the style of a lot of the late PD episodes was lukewarm, it seemed like they just follow a pattern that has "worked", franchise fatigue and all that: "Last week we had a holodeck malfunction episode, how about a Prime Directive story this week?"

Last edited by horatio : 03-20-2010 at 12:58 PM.
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