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Tue, Oct 29, 2019, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

I don’t remember anyone ordering you to “summarily toss aside his contributions” - so that comment seems like a defensive straw man. I am afraid you are ignoring my point.

Tiger Woods is immaterial to this discussion. He is a celebrity who whacks balls around; he has no pretensions to moral stature. The men I name are famous for supposed moral stature.

Mohammed has been regarded by billions of people as God’s right hand. That his personal behavior and sayings have resulted in tragic abuse of billions of women throughout history, is waved aside.

MLK and Gandhi both strutted around claiming to be liberators. But they were perfectly happy to keep some of their fellow people in chains for their own pleasure and power. And today, plenty of females and children in India, and plenty of African American women, continue to suffer from what they modeled. “Our hallowed leaders were fine with stomping on women and children; so let’s not worry about their inconsequential chains.”

JFK is regarded as some sort of noble knight who wanted to raise American society to idealistic heights; I know plenty of old folks who sigh and say, “If only he had lived, America today would be so much better!” But in his own home, he created a corrupt and degraded society in which the powerful (himself) felt free to hurt the unpowerful repeatedly and without a second thought.

But what’s worse than their behavior is the universal societal rule that these men deserve knee-jerk hagiography. We are all complicit in agreeing that the abuse of women and children is perfectly acceptable. Women and girls, men and boys are repeatedly trained to swallow this as true and normal, every time a teacher or preacher or newsman or parent sings the praises of these “great men.” I myself was trained to sing the praises of three of them all through school, and understood that I must never criticize them. (My children were trained to adore and emulate and all-but-worship the fourth.) The lesson is pounded in repeatedly: if a saint stomps his boot down on the necks of wives, women, and children, that does not tarnish his sainthood and is not worth a mention. In fact, to even mention it is despicable or ungrateful or blasphemous. And if a saint models the abuse of women and children of his family, then the same behavior is acceptable at all levels of society. If we accept it in our saints, of course we should accept it in lesser men.

I think that when a man’s public pose is completely and repeatedly contradicted by his private conduct - and when his private conduct serves to normalize and give license to widespread similar abuses among his followers - and when even decades and centuries later we speak of these men as our saints, and teach our children to dismiss and ignore the “inconsequential little people” they hurt - damage is done to society. And victims are perennially taught their place.

Picard, in the episode, stood against that. It’s a rare and thought-provoking position to take.

I think that’s important.
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Mon, Oct 28, 2019, 5:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S6: Man of the People

Mohammed did it.
Gandhi did it.
MLK jr did it.
JFK did it.

Not only are all of them revered and their domestic victims brushed aside, but even today those who criticize their abusive treatment of wives and children are called haters (Islamophobes, racists, shrill feminists, etc) for even mentioning the tribulations of these “great men”’s families and girlfriends. Muslims don’t care at all how Mohammed’s Wife Number Eight felt when Mohammed came to her smelling of a dozen other women he had just banged. Black Americans don’t care at all about the feelings of Coretta Scott King or any unrecognized child of their hero. American fans of JFK don’t care at all how much JFK hurt Jackie. We don’t really think of her as a human being who mattered, and we don’t think any less of her husband for how he used her. When pressed, we come up with ridiculous theories - “Maybe she didn’t mind. Maybe they had an understanding. Maybe she was having a hundred affairs, too. Anyway, she could have left him if she’d wanted to.”

I wonder what it must have been like for Jackie K. to know of her husband’s countless infidelities, and confront him in private, and suffer whatever insults he visited on her, yet have no power - and be coerced into acting as his smiling prop and loving helpmate in the eyes of the world. How helpless she must have felt to escape her situation or be listened to by anyone, when all the nation viewed her husband as a wonderful man and called her lucky, and all those around her - the press, the White House staff - knew his behavior and closed ranks around him. How enraged she must have been to be told constantly what a saint he was.

I’m really surprised that this episode gets panned by most people here. Sure, it has its problems, but it tackles a much more interesting human problem than the usual “attacked by aliens” or “warp core breach” plot. Troi, who doesn’t usually get much material beyond ‘nurturing counselor and pretty female’ was awesome in her early scenes when she played the vamp and when she told that ensign to quit whining.

Three stars.

(By the way, if memory serves, a DS9 episode touched on the same issue, though only in passing - with a dead hero of Bajor, worshipped by all, being finally revealed by his long-stoic widow to have been a nasty husband.)
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