Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Masterpiece Society"

2 stars

Air date: 2/10/1992
Teleplay by Adam Belanoff and Michael Piller
Story by James Kahn and Adam Belanoff
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise makes contact with a human colony that has been willingly isolated for 200 years but may face destruction in six days because of the gravitational forces that will be caused by a passing stellar fragment. The colonists live in a biosphere and have been engineered to be the "perfect" culmination of generations of eugenics. They do not take lightly to talking to outsiders, lest they disturb the delicate balance of their hermetically sealed mini-society.

"The Masterpiece Society" is essentially a Prime Directive episode, with the twist here being that the Prime Directive does not apply because the colonists are humans. The story takes quite a while to get going, and the plot aspects involving the attempt to deflect the stellar fragment away from the colony employ off-the-shelf TNG technobabble and problem-solving procedurals. But there are some decent arguments here. Geordi, for example, disagrees with the very notion of this colony. (He would've been terminated as a defective zygote the moment his blindness was discovered.) This episode tackles questions about the consequences of culture contamination in a way that is uniquely Star Trek. I was most persuaded by the character of Hannah (Dey Young), who sees the opportunities that lie on the other side of the bubble, and wants out.

But as an hour of TV, this is just way too dry. The "relationship" between Troi and colony leader Aaron (John Snyder) and the consequences that ensue are especially unpersuasive, with overwrought love-at-first-sight dialogue that has no emotional credibility. The colony itself comes off as a sterile soundstage. Meanwhile, an undeveloped character played by Ron Canada is basically unnecessary, serving as a mouthpiece of obstinacy without much of a reasoned perspective.

And while Picard (and the story at large, which remains ambivalent) says his place is not to judge this colony's way of life, I will observe that it's frustrating and mystifying to watch people argue in favor of a philosophy that basically stifles free will while making societal evolution impossible — even as it argues that it's doing the opposite. (Hannah at least is willing to stand up and declare her freedom.) But forget about arguing over an idealized philosophy: These people would all have been dead had the Enterprise not intervened, and yet at the end Picard is still wringing his hands over bringing in an imbalance that could destroy what this place originally stood for. Well, I don't think much of what it stood for; this society of unremitting self-important blandness could use some imbalance.

Previous episode: Violations
Next episode: Conundrum

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210 comments on this post

Nic
Sat, Apr 2, 2011, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
I liked this one. The situation of the colony was a little extreme, but when you think about what is being done with genetics today, it doesn't seem that much of a stretch for the 24th century. And the philosophical issue of 'tampering' with who we are is certainly worth adressing BEFORE we actually reach that level of technology (if anyone hasn't read Brave New World I strongly recommend it).

As for the love-at-first-sight dialogue between Aaron and Troi, well he WAS genetically engineered after all. I would assume that everyone on this planet is a perfect flirt - to quote Q, "h
Nic
Sat, Apr 2, 2011, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Frak. I pressed enter by accident. The Q quote I was about to add was "How boooorring!"
methane
Sat, Apr 2, 2011, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
I haven't watched this episode in forever, but I'm currently reading an interesting book on the philosophy of Trek (Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos) that I picked up at my library.

I just finished a chapter on the false utopias encountered in Star Trek, and this was one of the episodes they used to illustrate the difference between TOS and TNG. In TOS, Kirk repeatedly comes across a 'perfect' society and overthrows it, claiming the prime directive doesn't apply to a backward society.

In the TNG era, the idea of enforcing your ideals on another culture has fallen out of favor. Whenever Picard encounters such a 'paradise', he gives them a good talking to, and maybe they'll change on their own. It satisfies our current cultural ideals, but it takes more skill to make that an interesting script.
Nick Poliskey
Fri, Apr 15, 2011, 8:43am (UTC -5)
Although this was another in the long line of "season stupid" episodes, I thought the premise here was one fo the better of the series. I think had the acting been better, this could have been a classic sci-fi (ala the city on the edge of foerver). As a previous poster mentioned, with genetic engineering already extant we are rapidly heading towards a world where Geordi would indeed be destroyed as a Zygote.

One fascinating aspect of this episode and others like it, to me anyways, is peoples automotic response. I would be not to far off to say that Star Trek fans are liekly majority Liberal. Yet the reponse fans have to these kinds of episodes is a very conservative response. Geordi is making at heart a pro-life argument here.

If you had to say the idea of a genetically engineered "masterpiece society" was going to come from a George Bush type person or a Barack Obama type person, the truth is, the right wing HATES these kinds of ideas. this is a very left thing. And my big secret is that I kind of admire the concept, and found myself sympathizing with the colony leaders. I know post-WWII morals must hate everything that sniffs of eugenics, but I don't think trying eliminate the worst ailments, and producing a rich society that with no crime, and other postives, is somehow worse to the crap we allow in the modern world. Yeah, I am not with Picard and crew on this one.
Michael
Fri, Apr 15, 2011, 10:35am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode quite a bit actually. It's a quite reasonable take on this sort of scenario that avoids Kirk-style ethnocentrism and talks about the reasonable objections and observations that people in this situation might have. Yeah, it's a bit slow, and this story reinterpreted through VOY or ENT would have included a tedious phaser fight or some other action element and been no better for it. It's biggest failing is, I think, a failure to take chances.

Treks stance against eugenics has always been sort of cheap and cowardly, painting every application of the technology in a poor light. How much more interesting would it have been to have the dome people be truly advanced, with mental capabilities far superior to conventional humans? Imagine members had wanted to join the Federation, but were not allowed because they were too smart (see DS9) or where members of the Enterprise crew want to join the colony because they believe it is a breakthrough in human evolution? The story doesn't go far enough to place the characters in interesting places (mentally). It kind of assumes that the dome people are misguided and the Federation is the culturally evolved one, which is too bad.
Jay
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
I found this episode just as tedious and as it's sibling episode, Season 3's "The Ensigns Of Command". I'm not sure who annoyed me more Goshevan from the latter episode, who was a hard headed stubborn leader, or Aaron, the level headed stubborn leader (who for some reason struck me as looking like he was made of wax).

Also, interesting that two of the most excrutiating guest characters Trek has ever had, Martin here and Ch'Pok in DS9's "Rules Of Engagement" were both played by Ron Canada.
Captain Tripps
Sun, Oct 9, 2011, 8:32pm (UTC -5)
Well Trek is at least consistent when it comes to eugenics and the attitudes of the in universe humans, which probably has more than a little to do with canon history, mainly the Eugenics Wars.

Also with regard to DS9 they weren't forbidden to join Starfeet because they were "too" smart, but because the Federation did not support eugenics or genetic manipulation, nor did it want to reward those who broke the law, fearing it would encourage others to do the same just to keep up. Which again, harkens back to the experiences earth had with augments.
procyon
Tue, Jan 17, 2012, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
This episode was pretty likeable in my opinion, at least deserving of 3 stars.

I was immediately reminded of Huxley's "A brave new world" when I saw it.
Geography Nick
Thu, Jan 26, 2012, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
Nice review, Jamahl - thank you. What hasn't been pointed out yet is the potentially simple observation that Picard seems to jettison his otherwise unwavering - at times spectacular - commitment to the prime directive. I don't buy the reasoning that because they're human they somehow get a break. What seems to be at odds here is species vs. way-of-life. The implication that "seeking out new life," and respecting what you find, does not include civilizations derived from earth is at odds with what I understand as the spirit of the prime directive. This episode is rather profound, therefore, in that it challenges us to sharpen our perception of how the prime directive cuts the line between nature (new life) and culture (new civilization).
Nick P.
Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Great Point Geography Nick (like the name).

That episode would have been very different had it been a group of Bajorans who were using Eugenics to advance themselves. And I am guessing since Bajorans are the classic "oppressed minority", Picard would have been far more favourable to their society.

Yes, this episode was handled very timidly, and could have been a great one.
Tom
Thu, Jan 31, 2013, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
It looks like the consensus from fans is that this is a very solid episode, I'm glad to see since I dont see why you think the episode is dry Jammer. But from all the comments most people think it was solid, imaginative and substantive.
Sintek
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 12:14am (UTC -5)
I'll take Gattaca over this fecal flake specked waste of film stock.
Sintek
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 12:29am (UTC -5)
I mean video.
ncfan
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
I'd just like to point out that if two dozen people leaving a society is enough to break it, then the roots of that society were rotten from the start. It was going to break eventually.

And given that those two dozen colonists are genetically engineered, I'm not sure that their future in the Federation will be a particularly bright one.
Jay
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
@ ncfan

Indeed so. Interestingly, the events of the S5 DS9 episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" would seem to suggest that the scientists in the S2 TNG episode "Unnatural Selection" were engaged in wholly criminal activity. If we're to believe DS9, Picard should have taken the entire staff of the Darwin facility into custody immediately.
Peremensoe
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 7:44am (UTC -5)
No colony of post-warp people--human, Bajoran, or otherwise--would fall under the PD in any case. They have left the phase the PD is meant to protect, moved out into the galaxy on their own terms.
mephyve
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
Waaaaah! We saved a populace from certain dooms.' 'Waaaaah if we hadn't come here they would have been completely wiped out' 'Now instead of annihilation, 23 people are happy because they have an opportunity to broaden their horizons ,' 'Waaaah, even though the rest of them are alive, they now have holes in the fabric of their society.' 'Waaaah, prime directive' (Riker was right by the way, the prime directive didn't apply here. Sometimes Picard is so cool, sometimes you just want to tell him' Shut up Picard!'
Anyway, this episode was a mish mesh of old themes and stories from past TNG episodes. The only enjoyable part of it was hearing Troi admit over and over again 'I am a useless counsellor. I am a useless counsellor. I am a useless counsellor ...' And what was with her telling the guy,'Don't say that' She's half Betazoid, it didn't matter whether he said it out loud. She already knew how he felt.
William B
Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 8:13am (UTC -5)
On the one hand, there are things I like about this episode. I like that Picard ultimately *does* regret hurting the community; this is a guy who really does believe that people have the right to build societies however they like, even if he disagrees with those results. I like too that the episode also suggests the appeal of a less structured, more spontaneous life, away from a genetically engineered society, is so clear that at least some people will be swayed by it even without anyone working hard to convince them; only Geordi makes an actual pitch for the strength of his own society to Hannah, whereas Troi and Picard try hard to stop themselves from imposing. I like, too, that conflicts within the episode are relatively quiet; despite his obstinacy, the Ron Canada character never tries holding people at gunpoint or something, which is how this story easily could have gone. And in fact, the character we are most likely to be sympathetic to -- Hannah -- is the one who does the most morally objectionable thing in favour of her cause, in claiming that there is a leak. As was pointed out earlier, the false utopia here contrasts a great deal to how TOS (or early TNG) would handle the same subject matter. This society is inert, but it is pleasant and it is not presented as an automatically oppressive culture, allowing for some moral ambiguity. The episode makes good use of Geordi, too.

All that said, it is true that the hand-wringing in the episode becomes excessive; at a certain point, claiming that the Enterprise did as much damage to their society as a stellar core fragment is a bit eye-roll-worthy. The episode feels padded out, as if there are not enough conflicts to sustain a whole hour; I feel like this would be more natural as a Twilight Zone half-hour episode. Many scenes eventually involve the same dialogue being repeated again and again. A fuller sense of what this society entails and what they might have that the Enterprise lacks, or vice versa, would have made the impact of the tragedy and/or triumph of Hannah and a few others leaving the colony that much stronger. And the fact that the society is not strong enough to survive the departure of two dozen people needs more vetting within the episode; at least someone should have pointed out that this society is pretty weak if it can't handle those departures at all. And yes, the Troi/Aaron romance was underwhelming. Ultimately, I admired some of what the episode did enough to bring it to 2.5 stars.
William B
Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
I gotta say, after a relatively strong opening -- "Redemption II" and "Ensign Ro" are pretty good, and "Darmok" is *excellent* -- the next ten episodes, up to the end of the first half of the season, was a pretty poor run -- probably the worst since season one. "Unification I" and "Hero Worship" were good; nothing else in this run really was. No episodes in this run are *terrible* to me, but...they all feel like misses, some of them close to working but ultimately falling short. "The Game" and "Disaster" manage to make decently watchable and interesting shows out of premises that are fundamentally flawed, and things like "The Masterpiece Society" and "Silicon Avatar" take potentially interesting premises and just don't push them far enough. Season 2 was on average about as mediocre as this run, but that's because season 2 had lots of strong and lots of weak episodes; there is a pervasive blandness to the run from "Silicon Avatar" to "The Masterpiece Society" which is a lot less fun than the roller coaster ride season two provided, IMO. I feel kind of depressed about this show now; which, well, I am glad that the second half of season five is very good.
JJ
Sun, Feb 9, 2014, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
I agree that the relationship between Aaron and Troi is absolute drek, however I do find Hannah's part of the episode compelling. The scene where she fakes the crack and talks about being preordained the big fish in science, and then suddenly finds herself in a very large pond is well done. The technical part of the story with the core fragment is mediocre at best. I also agree that all of the hand-ringing by Picard and others seems forced in order to clumsily bolster the colonies side of the argument, because as NCFan said, any society that requires coercion to exist is not one worthy of respect. Considering all of this, I think the 2 star rating is deserved.
SkepticalMI
Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
There is a real problem with Picard's regret at the end, regardless of whether or not the Prime Directive holds. Not to get too political, but Trek's utopia usually relies on classical liberalism, which is conveniently held up by wishful thinking that everyone will automatically approve of the new society. Yet Picard's regret at hurting the society moves beyond liberalism to leftism, where the state or the idea dominates over the individual. This sort of thinking inevitably leads to totalitarianism (as the leaders suggested forcing the 23 rebels to stay and likely would have to crush their rebellion in other ways). This is what Picard is supporting by putting the desires of the leaders of the society above the needs of the individual. This is not at all the same man who walked away when Roga Danar and crew were pointing guns at their world's leaders. To doom the people that want to leave to stay and submit to the Great Society is hardly a very enlightened view.

Or to put it another way, Spock's maxim of "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" is quite admirable when he voluntarily sacrifices himself. It is a brutal necessity when Troi must be willing to order a soldier to die in order to save the rest. But it is despicable when a tyrant uses that maxim to suppress and destroy individual rights for the common good. Picard is coming dangerously close to supporting the last option.

Other than that, it was a very interesting episode. It was interesting seeing how everyone came down on their support or disagreement with the society. Obviously LaForge was opposed. But Worf and Riker were also opposed, and they are the usual "barbaric" ones. Troi and Picard are the most supportive, and they tend to be the "enlightened" ones. And yet, the episode seemed to be opposed to the society, with Hannah being the most sympathetic character. So why is that? Well, Picard may have been just been being too cute by half in trying to balance his role as a statesman. And it'd be easy to say Troi was just thinking with her hormones, and thus her support was without thinking. But that'd be too easy...

What makes Troi tick? She's a very underdeveloped character, but never seemed to get an episode to challenge her inner ideals (See Ethics as an example of a character-defining episode for another undeveloped character in Beverly). Troi is just the nice one, the statesman, the peacemaker. But what does she believe?

I keep going back to a line by Riker in The Loss. He called her aristocratic. And maybe that is what she is. And it seems to fit here. She likes order, with everything in its proper place and naturally with her proper place being above others. It makes sense with her upbringing. She does appear to be a member of the nobility, even if her mother overstates it. And even though she assures herself that she is different from her mother, her mother's self assuredness that the universe revolves around her had to have rubbed off of her to some extent. And look at other pieces of evidence:

- She's a therapist. Her entire job is focused around finding troubled people and putting them back to normal. Taking disorder and fixing it. Putting herself in charge of other people's lives.
- She is terrified when she loses her empathic powers. She is now the abnormal one. And she takes it pretty hard. And part of the reason she takes it so hard is because she is now just like everyone else and can't use her special powers to her advantage. She loses her high ranking place.
- She is rather self centered in Night Terrors. Everyone else is dying from lack of dreaming, and she's sitting around complaining about a few little nightmares.
- She eventually takes the bridge officer test after Disaster. It was terrifying to her that the natural order might put her in command (as it did in Disaster) and that she wasn't ready for it. Clearly something had to change.
- She can be very authoritative when she feels she has the right to be. See Suddenly Human, where she as the therapist becomes the expert on the annoying kid. Her solution is to force Picard to bond with him, even though Picard is clearly uncomfortable with the idea and others could conceivably play the parent surrogate role. It didn't matter, this was her area of expertise, so she can push people around to fix this one problem.

I may be stretching it a bit, and I am certainly magnifying a negative aspect of her character beyond its intention. And it's not necessarily all bad. But I do agree with Riker, there is a little aristocratic streak in her (now that I think about it, the weird accent doesn't help matters any). So given that, it makes sense that this ordered society would appeal to her. After all, that's exactly what aristocrats want; an ordered society. And with the obvious nobleman expressing interest in her and her obvious attraction to him, it makes sense that she would lose her objectivity here. It really does seem to fit. So while her quick romance was boring to watch, I think it is a bit understandable. And I think her character here is still realistic for her.
William B
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 7:48pm (UTC -5)
@SkepticalMI, I enjoy reading your thoughts on these episodes, and I especially like what you've written about Troi. Definitely, she is one of the show's underdeveloped characters, but I have some fondness for her, partly because of these very negative qualities.

The linking of Troi with the aristocracy also gives a bit of added heft to "Face of the Enemy." One of the strengths of that episode, and one reason that it functions a *little* like "Ethics" does for Crusher, is that Troi is essentially placed in a position where she uses her ability to read and to manipulate people, long honed to help people solve their problems, as a way of dealing with Toreth. One of the ironies of that episode, too, is that in order to play the part of the Tal Shiar operative, she has to *become* a Tal Shiar-like spy and manipulator, all in order to undermine the ultra-authoritarian Romulan regime represented by the Tal Shiar. By playing into the concept of the entitled, higher-caste Tal Shiar operative, and by playing into Toreth's class resentments, Troi is able to project an image of entitlement which allows her to pass off any errors she makes in her performance as being the result of her contempt for the lower echelons of Romulan society. Part of what makes that episode gripping for me is that Major Rakal is someone with whom Troi might share a little bit, even though she also sympathizes (more strongly) with Toreth.
Taylor
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 3:10am (UTC -5)
Putting the typically unlikely whirlwind romance aside, my problem with this episode is the alleged fragility of the society. We're continually reminded everyone is wired to perfection, yet if a couple dozen people leave, everything is supposed to collapse? It doesn't make any sense. (And hello, this is Trek. Anyone remember Khan and The Space Seed? Genetic engineering led to supermen.)

Funny story: We were just watching this and my wife said what about the Prime Directive? And I said I don't think it applies to humans, which my wife disputed. And then Riker and Picard had a very similar conversation moments later.
Lal
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Only 2 stars? I would have given it 3. It's a competently written drama with an okay premise, but some great ethical dilemmas. Yeah the 'romance' was a bit lukewarm (not to mention that they became "in love" awfully fast), and Ron Canada's character was unnecessarily stodgy and single-minded. But Geordi's dialogue with Hannah, and her reasoning on why she needs to leave - it's pretty well done.

The society itself is puzzling, with questionable internal stability. I also think it wasn't visibly rigid enough - I would have expected a bit more uniformity of dress, with colours of cloth to differentiate professions. (Plus, there is a somewhat implied caste system at work, if some people are bred to be the top dogs, and others are bred for less high-profile jobs. But I guess there was enough holes in this utopia to see it as a dystopia anyway.

Too bad the Enterprise crew can never examine their claims of being "evolved" human beings more closely (Q comes close to do this from the get-go in "Encounter at Farpoint", but Q had to be the bad guy, so he's wrong no matter what). This is TNG, and Roddenberry's utopia has no problems because its blinders block any peripheral vision from coming through.
Satya
Wed, Oct 29, 2014, 9:14am (UTC -5)
I was particularly struck by the lack of urgency everyone (from the Colony... from the Enterprise... literally everyone) felt while faced with the planet's complete doom and destruction. 2 stars is about right.
Jen
Tue, Jan 6, 2015, 11:46am (UTC -5)
I like this episode for the thought provoking issues it raises. I want to point out that this story is different from Doctor Bashir, I Presume in that the DS9 story was about genetic manipulation- manually adding DNA or technically manipulating DNA in some way to bring about desired traits. This was outlawed by the Federation.

Masterpiece Society is about selective breeding, which is basically just putting two people together to procreate to encourage desired traits. Selective breeding hasn't been outlawed by the Federation (I think). In this episode, the leader says that "through controlled procreation they can create people without flaws". So while I think the colony is doomed, I don't think it is as ethically egregious as taking your kid in for a for a procedure to manipulate his DNA so he can be smarter.

What I find interesting is that Hannah was bred to be one of the best scientific minds of her generation but great scientists are curious and are always searching for more. So the very traits that they bred in her is the reason why she left.
CPUFP
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
This episode sure had a distinct season 1 feel. I hope that season 5 soon gets better...

What really bothered me about this story was how the whole biodome society is drawn as a strawman. Everything is done to drive the point home that genetic engineering is bad, bad, bad. Not even the people in the colony themselves seem to like it there, apart from that one ridiculous guy who kept grumbling about the intentions of the founders. Even their leader would rather start a relationship with a genetically impure outsider. And Picard and Geordie took every opportunity to talk down on the colony's social order (Yes, Geordie, we all understood the irony that the solution to saving the colony was inspired by VISOR technology. You really didn't have to say it out loud).

I wouldn't want to live in the colony, and I couldn't, since I too have had a severe health condition since birth. But the concept of seeing stability and even stagnation as a social ideal is not that far-fetched. Many cultures in human history have been built around the idea that an ideal society should be balanced out, with everybody assigned their proper place, and no need for any change. Within the Star Trek universe, we have cultures like the Vulcans and the Klingons who, in spite of being space faring races, have remained stagnant and mostly dismissive of any outside influence for centuries. So I find it odd that "the founders"' ideas are presented as utterly absurd. And anyway, this is Star Trek, so shouldn't the crew of the Enterprise be a little more interested in seeking out new life and new civilizations? This is a society built on values which are fundamentally different from those of the Federation, so why don't they at least try to get to know and understand them a bit? Troi is actually the only person on the ship who seems genuinely interested in the colony's culture, which might be due to her own aristocratic background (mind you, aristocracy is also dependent on selective breeding).

The problem is really that we don't get to learn much about the society from the inside. So they have boring piano recitals and their scientific knowledge is far behind that of the Federation (which is no surprise, given that for the last 200 years their scientist could not study anything outside of the walls of the biodome), but wouldn't it be interesting to see some areas in which they are superior to the Federation? You know, something that makes us interested in the survival of the colony as a society?

Given these points, I particularly liked the scene where Aaron gives his "six months" proposition. I fully understand that Hannah and her 23 friends want to get the hell out of this shithole, but apparently this will cause existential problems for the colony's genetic stability (which sounds really stupid - how small is their gene pool? - but let's take Aaron's word for it). Also, these people have had no contact with anything outside their walls for the past 200 years. So Aaron's suggestion to wait six months so they can all figure out how to deal with this new situation is actually quite sensible. I mean, what will happen to the people who leave the colony for the Enterprise? Shouldn't the Federation have some sort of specialists to integrate them into its society, and help them cope with the culture shock? From what we've seen in previous episodes (looking at you, "The Neutral Zone" and "First Contact"), they'll probably be left to their own devices in some guest quarters and then dropped off at the nearest starbase, never to be heard from again, where they would eventually succumb to depression because their skills, which had been regarded as perfect in their colony, are so far behind Federation standards that they'll hardly be qualified to clean space toilets.

The prime directive is probably my favorite Star Trek concept, but it's rarely handled very well. The problem is that usually the actual effects of interference on another culture are not shown, because the ship immediately flies off to its next adventure. One episode where this was done extremely well was Enterprise's "Cogenitor", where Trip and Archer have to learn the hard way that first contact missions can have serious repercussions on the affected parties.
CPUFP
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Another thing: My compliments to the visuals team in this episode. The establishing shot of the Enterprise next to the stellar core fragment and the outside shot of the biodome looked great and high above the standard for TV at the time.
Peter
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
I'd give this one a solid 3 stars. I've always liked the kind of science fiction that deals with an "engineered to be perfect" society, and I especially like it when these kinds of societies fall apart, are shown to be evil (think "Logan's Run") or are otherwise subverted even at the cost of violating the Prime Directive (like Star Trek TOS "The Return of the Archons". "Gattaca" is a sort of slightly newer analog to this episode, and it's a superb film. This episode falls short of "Gattaca," of course, but then you can't compare an hour of TV to a big budget film. As a Star Trek episode, this one is quite good. I liked the Hannah character in particular and the way that her seeing both society's advancements and Geordi's disability caused her thinking to evolve. I also liked the matte painting of the colony's exterior. That the view through the glass of the biosphere actually looked like the planet they were on was a nice touch, given the constraints of special effects.

I found the colonists genetically pre-determined roles to be an interesting (and frightening) idea, along the lines of "Brave New World." I must question why such a society would even need a leader,however. Everyone's role is clearly defined and the closed colony never faces any significant challenges or threats (until the solar core fragment nears, of course) -- so what purpose does Aaron serve? Where work roles are so clearly defined and the culture is stable, Ursula LeGuin's "The Dispossessed" paints a picture of peaceful and productive anarchy.
Troy
Tue, Jul 7, 2015, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
I give this one 3 stars. I actually thought the Troi-Aaron romance( Especially when you contrast it with Riker-Soren) one of the more believable whirlwind STNG romances. I especially like how Troi fights it, and I thought Aaron did seem to be a born diplomat. It has a good premise and I like how the friendly the dome dwellers are, their curiousity and humanity isn't shaken by the roles they are bred to play.
I don't think losing 23 members would doom the colony...what if the Stellar core fragment killed that just that many?
Luke
Mon, Aug 10, 2015, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
I'll admit that "The Masterpiece Society" has never been one of my favorites of TNG, to say the least. In fact, I've always considered it among my least favorites. That, quite simply, is because I found it boring, boring, BORING! Now, having rewatched it for the first time in I don't know how long, I have to say that I actively dislike it, and not just because it's boring (though it most certainly is still that!).

Dear God, this almost felt as bad as some of the dreck of Season One. Where do I even begin?

Let's start with the Troi-Conor romance, shall we? Trek has always had massive trouble with romance and relationships, but this has got to be the worst example of Trekkian romance, period! Am I honestly supposed to believe that these two people are completely in love? They've known each other for a grand total of a week, most of which they've spent apart! And even if we roll with the idea that Troi is head-over-heels in love with Conor, I have to ask a very simple question - Why? What the hell does Troi see in this guy? He's about as vanilla as.... well, actually, he's not as vanilla as anything; he's the quintessential definition of vanilla. The guy is so bland that he makes Orlando Bloom look like an emotional powerhouse. And, look, I'm sorry but Troi has never struck me as the kind of woman that falls for dull, unappealing, nondescript men.

Then there's Martin, Ron Canada's character. Talk about a complete and total waste of a great actor! Jammer says that the character is "basically unnecessary," but I'll disagree with that. There was a point to this character. That point was to, once again, straw-man conservatives as - well, as Jammer puts it - "mouthpiece(s) of obstinacy without much of a reasoned perspective." I mean, good God, they even have him directly say "this is in direct violation of the intentions of our founders." Why didn't they just have him say "this is wrong because these people might be Democrats and I'm a Republican" for crying out loud! Then, to make matters worse, the writers' straw-man doesn't even make sense by it's own logic because they have the "conservative" as the mouthpiece for the collectivistic society. Um, what?!! If I think about this aspect of the episode anymore my brain might implode.

Next, there's the horrible philosophy "The Masterpiece Society" seems to be pushing. Are we honestly supposed to think it's okay for this colony to completely destroy individual rights in favor of the collective good of the whole? Well, I guess so because.... look at all the nice shrubbery they have as a result! This so-called masterpiece society is despicable! Everyone has their lives planned out for them, there is no individuality and everyone is expected to care about the group at the expense of themselves. Is this reminding anybody of anything here? Isn't there another Star Trek race that does this exact same thing? Don't they do that for the exact same reason these people to it - to obtain perfection? Does anybody know who I'm talking about? Oh, yeah - THE GOD-DAMN BORG!!!! Aren't these the very reasons why we're supposed to abhor the Borg?! At least Genome Colony isn't forcibly assimilating people into it's little collective, but every other aspect of the Borg Collective is on display here and the episode expects us to just cheerfully except it because no culture is better than another. My brain is getting closer to the implosion point!

And, of course, there's the final scene with Picard and Riker discussing the Prime Directive. This scene encapsulates perfectly why the Prime Directive, or at least its application, is garbage. In the end you may have proved just as dangerous to that colony as any core fragment could ever have been? Really, Picard, really?! Quick history lesson for you here, Jean-Luc - that core fragment was going to KILL them. You, on the other hand, inadvertently brought about a slight cultural change. Are you honestly, HONESTLY!, saying that being FUCKING DEAD! is preferable to facing the unknown? Well then, you better put a phaser to your head and pull the trigger before you continue on your mission of seeking out the unknown. That unknown might change your culture, after all! But what's even worse is this line from Picard from earlier in the episode - "They've managed to turn a dubious scientific endeavour into dogma." Pal, that's exactly what you've done with the Prime Directive! You've taken something that was dubious to begin with and elevated it to such a level of dogma that you're actually willing to say that death is preferable to it's violation. The Prime Directive should be something that makes you stop and think about your actions before actually taking action, not something that is to be unquestionably obeyed.

Here's something to mull over. From "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"....

SPOCK: Captain, informing these people they're on a ship may be in violation of the Prime Directive of Starfleet Command.
KIRK: No. The people of Yonada may be changed by the knowledge, but it's better than exterminating them.
SPOCK: Logical, Captain.

And yet, here's Picard arguing the exact opposite. "Shut up, Wesley"? How about "SHUT UP, PICARD!"?

The blandness, the ridiculous romance, the continued belittling of non-liberal viewpoints, the immorality and the Prime Directive rubbish all add up to a 0 out of 10 score for this episode. However, there is one good thing that saves it from that scrapheap. And that is LaForge and Worf having an unapologetic distaste for the ideals of the colony.

1/10
Diamond Dave
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
An unusual episode in that the peril element is wrapped up early to continue discussing more philosophical points. My take is that it is also one of those rare stories that actually presents no good outcomes - you can argue the relative merits of intervention or non-intervention, granting asylum or not, but at the end of the day whatever course is taken the colony will suffer change that could lead to its destruction. Perhaps the outcome is the least worst. But it's not an unambiguously 'good' choice.

Unfortunately, the way this is all presented is particularly dry and unengaging, and offers no real advance on eugenics discussions. And the Troi relationship fails to convince. 2.5 stars.
Dan
Sun, Sep 25, 2016, 11:50am (UTC -5)
I had fun imagining the Troi hand-wringing scenes replaced with Riker in that role. "Captain, I have to confess, um, I think I've made a terrible mistake!" Man, that would be a great scene.

(A little bit of this mismatch is characterization, but it's mostly just a dumb sexual double-standard. I think Starfleet's "real" attitude about relationships with the locals is more closely aligned with how we see Riker getting treated.)
Dan
Sun, Sep 25, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Forgot to say: big props to this episode for acknowledging that the whole galaxy doesn't run on Enterprise Standard Time. A refreshing bit of realism.
Joey Lock
Fri, Sep 30, 2016, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
I've always liked this episode because of the idea of a closed society of people who believe they're superior end up needing to be saved by "inferior" people. It's a great analogy that just because you enjoy poetry, have a grand education or are generally smart doesn't mean you're superior.

Also the whole Troi situation in this episode was a little irritating, they made Troi act like a blushing school girl whose fallen head over hills within the first minute of meeting this guy then everytime he's mentioned she smiles like when shes speaking to Picard about him, it's like shes thinking with her heart (Or her ovaries) instead of her brain when judging from past episodes shes usually more analytical than this.
DLPB
Wed, Jun 7, 2017, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
As subtle as a sledgehammer. The episode goes out of its way to portray the genetically modified people's philosophy and culture as backward and bigoted—not once... but a few times. It even has Geordi more or less proclaim it, in case you missed what the writers were getting at. What did I find most amusing about this episode?

1. That Trek is pro abortion "pro choice".
2. That the argument this episode gives for genetically selected people being a bad thing is that healthy embryos which have defects are terminated - and who has the right to decide that?

So, straight away, 1 is in massive conflict with 2. Not to mention, 2 is being done for good reasons here (blindness is far more benign than, say, Downs Syndrome). 1 is usually done for selfish reasons - i.e. "I don't want a kid".

But that's not all. If we take the stance that all aborted life is wrong, because that life could have grown to do wonderful things, I hope you all stop masturbating or using any contraception whatsoever. I had a nice wank the other day - and I lost thousands (millions?) of healthy sperm that could have been the next best right wing reviewer, putting the world to rights! That poor sucker will never happen now. WHAT A MONSTER I AM!

Look, the whole logic of this episode is shoddy, because it's doing a one way street rolling of the dice set up—a hit job. AS USUAL. I agree to abortion up to a few weeks (I do mean a few), unlike most righties, but I also believe that when a baby is highly likely to be born with a disability, that should have a special consideration and be at the parents discretion in terms of how to proceed. And that I would extend for much longer than a few weeks. The unborn child is not thinking "Oh, can't wait to become a teacher". It isn't thinking anything at all.

The truth is, this episode, like most of these useless arguments, rely on emotion rather than actual science or what's in the best interest of those involved.
DLPB
Wed, Jun 7, 2017, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Loading of the dice*
Peter G.
Wed, Jun 7, 2017, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
@ DPLB,

Despite the hyperbole I think you make an excellent point about this episode's message being potentially contradictory with other in-universe morals we've been shown.

There is one mitigating factor in favor of the episode, which is that what the colony has done seems dangerously close to what led to the eugenics wars on Earth. While at first glance there are no supermen shown here, at the same time they can't possibly have achieved what they did merely by selecting the preferential fetuses in utero and aborting the others. It smacks of genetically modifying absolutely everyone to eliminate imperfection, and the only reason there are no Khans here is because they didn't design anyone to be like that. But they could have! And the Federation interdiction against genetic engineering isn't just to prevent Khans, but also various other ills including (*SPOILER* as we later hear in "Dr. Bashir, I Presume") a race to modify one's embryo just so that it can compete with everyone else.

So on the one hand I can see the argument that selectively aborting for 'excellence', while perhaps distasteful to many of us, is in principle identical to any type of abortion whatsoever once permitted. From that standpoint, assuming abortion is indeed a thing in the Federation (is it? I don't even know!) then this is a contradiction. However, if, as I suspect, the colony is entirely engineered, then there is a good case against them even though the episode skirts around that fact and doesn't deal with it in an upfront way.

Overall I think the episode's message is confused, and wants to be about 'natural life' whereas in fact its subject matter should have been a lot more specific and given us something better than a straw man argument.
Robert
Thu, Jun 8, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
Are we sure that Star Trek is pro-legal abortion (I'm not going to use pro-life or pro-choice here because I think they are sort of stupid in some ways)? Geordi clearly finds it a bit distasteful that he'd have been aborted when he has what it is clearly a "cureable" illness... but that said, I always thought LeVar said this with a chip on his shoulder about it.

In the early days at least, it was quite evident that using the VISOR was painful and that few people in the Federation use it and that it's not really a true "cure" for blindness. I wonder if perhaps people still did abort blind babies based on the way that LeVar acts that scene.

That said... aborting babies with physical defects is a different ball game altogether (as DLPB says) than aborting an unwanted baby. As DS9 shows us... unwanted pregnancies still happen. But as a few episodes with clones have shown, you can grow a baby in a maturation chamber I think? I think I'd be against legal abortion if you could transport your fetus through no damage to mom into a maturation chamber and put it up for adoption.

That said, I don't think the episode really goes THERE as much as it goes to the other place (what constitutes babies that are too "defective" to have).
Peter G.
Thu, Jun 8, 2017, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert,

"That said... aborting babies with physical defects is a different ball game altogether (as DLPB says) than aborting an unwanted baby."

Is it different? Think carefully about how you might define "unwanted" in this context. The people in this society find a baby 'unwanted' when it doesn't conform to the perfection of genome they're interested in. They very likely consider an imperfection in this sense to be a "defect", so what's the real difference then? Maybe you could try to distinguish between someone who doesn't want *any kind of baby* and someone who doesn't want *specific kinds* of baby, but in the end that ends up being a subjective distinction. Certainly in terms of law you couldn't distinguish between selective abortion and elective abortion, and since eugenics is illegal in the Federation it makes me wonder how they would govern such things. Do they allow 'breeding' of human genes but not direct gene engineering? If so that would seem to me to be a distinction that wouldn't really solve the problem of trying to eliminate 'inferiors' from the gene pool, which is exactly what this colony did.
MMM
Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 11:14am (UTC -5)
"These people would all have been dead had the Enterprise not intervened, and yet at the end Picard is still wringing his hands over bringing in an imbalance that could destroy what this place originally stood for."

And why not? He regrets that the only way to save them was to irreversibly change them. It's a good look at basically the Heisenberg Effect - it's difficult to passively observe, even more difficult to passively assist - inevitably you alter that which you observe or rescue. He wish there were a way to save them without foisting a change upon them. Picard is pretty forward-thinking here because even though he/they/we personally may think it was a good change, he recognizes that it should have been (in an ideal world) their choice and not his.
Robert
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.

"Certainly in terms of law you couldn't distinguish between selective abortion and elective abortion, and since eugenics is illegal in the Federation it makes me wonder how they would govern such things."

I suspect much like they do now. My wife is a carrier for something that can cause severe birth defects, but usually does not affect girls (being X linked... girls with a defective X are usually fine if they have a normal X).

We wanted to take a maternal blood test to check the baby's sex (science is cool) and then decide if we were going to go the additional step of having an invasive amnio. Surprise! Anti-legal abortion advocates pushed legislation that says we cannot have the blood test because they don't want people have sex selective abortions (this was revoked in mid-2014... too late for me, but you can have it done now). I have 2 little girls and did no further tests (we decided not to have the amnio) but it was a much tougher choice than it needed to be.

We are going to have to, as a society, decide if we want to continue to prevent people from accessing information about their own bodies because of what they might do with it. There are fetal blood cells present in the mother's body. This is a fact. In how many years will I be able to use them to see if my baby has blonde hair.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert,

There are certainly many cases to be made not only for abortion in the context you describe (I'm happy it turned out ok) but in others. In context of your scenario I see selective abortion as being rather similar to genetic engineering, since in both cases the idea is to prevent births that don't conform to some standard. The standard can be quite rational and humane, but nevertheless while your standard may be reasonable the question remains that if you should be allowed to make the choice based on this standard then why shouldn't others be allowed to make it based on a standard of their choice? You may think that a birth defect would give the new human an undesirable life, but what if someone else thinks that being born with an IQ under, say, 90, would lead to an undesirable life? How do you tell them your standard is correct and theirs is wrong? What if someone believes that being born female at all is an undesirable life? And then of course someone may feel that any life is undesirable and abort in all cases. There is an entire spectrum of reasons people might have for 'selectively' thinking a birth shouldn't happen, and so again my point is that at the end of the day selective abortion would become identical to elective abortion since the standard for selection would be completely arbitrary.

I guess we could envision strict government regulation based on...genetic data? Like a fetus with gene X can be aborted but not gene Y, and this rule would be enforced with no exceptions? But then elective abortion is eliminated altogether. So in the end when individuals want the freedom to choose whether to abort you end up with an inability to prevent eugenics, and when individuals want there to be a ban on unlimited eugenics then would end up losing elective abortion. So I think you're stuck with getting both or neither, which why I'm left wondering what the heck the Federation does to prevent eugenics in the breeding sense. It's not as bad as genetic engineering...but it still feels pretty bad to me.
Robert
Wed, Aug 16, 2017, 8:33am (UTC -5)
"So I think you're stuck with getting both or neither, which why I'm left wondering what the heck the Federation does to prevent eugenics in the breeding sense. It's not as bad as genetic engineering...but it still feels pretty bad to me. "

We are in agreement. The point of my story was that the only way to actually get one and not the other is to hide information from the patient. They let people take the test I mentioned under specific circumstances, but not others. Our case wasn't covered (for a variety of reasons not worth going into).

Other people think that people should be allowed to take the test, but only to identify birth defects. The doctor shouldn't tell you the sex. I feel very uncomfortable with the idea that doctors can withhold results of your own blood tests from you, but there we have it.

But you are 100% right. In old D&D like video games where stats were randomized if you wanted to have different stats you could use an editor or re-roll. Re-rolling likely didn't get you the stats you were looking for EXACTLY, but if you were willing to re-roll enough times you could certainly get closer. Selective abortion, could, in theory be used to re-roll your baby if you were heartless enough.
Rahul
Tue, Sep 12, 2017, 5:23pm (UTC -5)
A pretty dull episode that touches on some of the usual Trek philosophical questions -- Prime Directive, falling in love (unprofessionally), a colony's unchanged existence.

Again a genetically engineered perfect society proves to be all too vulnerable. Troi again falls in love with the main guy there sort of as a B plot (like "The Price" from TNG S3, you could see this coming from the first moment). This one's a slow-moving episode that didn't really take off until about 2/3 of the way through, when the engineer lady wants to leave and the colony's continued existence is threatened.

The argument of the colony not being able to survive if a handful of humans leave is vociferously made. The usual solution of having a colony adapt to something new has been seen in Trek episodes before ("The Apple" from TOS S2 comes to mind).

The wooden actors on the alien world is another drawback of this episode. The black dude with his constant warnings was tiresome.

The story about deflecting the fragment with some souped-up tractor beam didn't do it for me. It's pretty basic TNG technobabble stuff. It's an elaborate plot device to get the lady engineer to want to leave the colony, but the idea of effects of contamination of a closed society has been dealt with before -- it didn't feel like anything original here but rather a twist on some usual themes.

1.5 stars for "The Masterpiece Society". It felt a lot like one of those sterile TNG episodes from S1 or S2, with a bit of a twist at the end. Just took too long to develop into the interesting parts, no good guest actors, and the ages-old eugenics idea gets trotted out again.
Dr Lazarus
Mon, Apr 16, 2018, 5:10pm (UTC -5)
The very first time I saw this episode, I knew who could had put these people straight. Captain Kirk.

This race of people reminded me of the TOS episode, A Taste of Armageddon. Instead of killing each other in a long drawn out war, the two planets just fought a virtual war, where a computer, most likely a Playstation 3, just calculated probable deaths in some crazed Activision game, then the each planet actually killed those people. For them it was better than actual destruction of the planets infrastructure. Kirk put a stop to that nonsense.

Picard should had just told this Masterpiece Society to either act right, and he would stop the stellar fragment, or just let them die. Apparently they weren't as smart as they thought they were, otherwise they could had stopped the fragment themselves. They were just misguided Earthers. No doubt they are the ones who spawned Khan with their genetics experiments.
Saburac
Fri, May 18, 2018, 12:21am (UTC -5)
Any society that would completely fall apart because 23 people leave is not much of a society if you ask me.
NoPoet
Thu, May 24, 2018, 6:09am (UTC -5)
I found this an absolutely fascinating episode, as it is one of those rare Trek episodes that is nearly entirely character-based. I thought they made it pretty clear that this was a naive, isolationist civilisation where each person has a specific part to play. Expecting the civilisation to withstand the loss of numerous people along with contact from outside is blatantly stupid and I am disappointed that many people commenting here were not smart enough to think about that. Maybe I expect too much of fellow Trek fans.

What happens to any tribal community that is contacted by Western civilisation? What happened in South America when the Spanish arrives? What will happen on Earth if a massively superior alien culture turns up and offers us the universe, and human beings start forming loving and sexual relationships with them?

Why isn't anyone else capable of understanding history?
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Thu, Aug 2, 2018, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
For people in a quest for perfection, they were happy with rather ordinary physiques. Seems like they would have muscled up some.

And I'm not sure how having a couple of dozen people out of thousands leave your colony is somehow as bad or worse than having everyone destroyed by seismic activity.
borusa
Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Quite a lot of cliches in this episode but,for me anyway, it worked reasonably well until the last reel.

Haven't we been here before with scientists from an isolated society wanting to run away to space?

I concur with the above views and wonder how masterpiece a society it is that lives in a small bubble on an inhospitable world.
Some aspects of this story were missed or ignored when Enterprise was written. Our colonists are from the 22nd century but are shocked at the idea of transporters. Other comments in the show suggest the transporter was invented around the 23 rd century-oops!
JerJer
Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Data: "The [random space object thing] has a density of 100 billion kilograms per cubic centimetre." Uhh, bit exaggerated?
Jason R.
Sun, Oct 14, 2018, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
"Data: "The [random space object thing] has a density of 100 billion kilograms per cubic centimetre." Uhh, bit exaggerated?"

I think they said it was a neutron star fragment. Short of a black hole that would be the densest object in the universe. Not sure about the math (someone who knows this stuff could say) but yeah, ridiculously dense.
Aaron M.
Fri, Apr 5, 2019, 11:47pm (UTC -5)
Once again, you're review sucks!!!!

The Masterpiece Society is a great episode. How could you give Remember Me a higher rating? The Nth Degree a higher rating? You gave Time Squared from season 2 a higher rating!!! Those were the WORST episodes!!!

Anyone who doesn't give Redemption the 4 stars it deserves, I can't take anything they say seriously.
Nolan
Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Woah woah woah, there @Aaron M, cool the thrusters friend. I notice you've been taking umbridge with some o' Jammer's reviews. It's cool you feel so passionately about Trek. But let's not forget that it is an artform and that art is subjective. Everyone's unique lives give them an individual perspective through which they view the media they consume, shaping their thoughts and opinions about them. It's great you can enjoy all those episodes you've mentioned in other reviews, but just cause Jammer disagrees doesn't mean he's trying to convince you that you're wrong. It's just an opinion. No more right or wrong your own. I personally find this episode a bit slow and plodding, but I think it's cool you like it. I'm very interested in what you like about it. But don't get annoyed that we don't see what you see in it. Disagree sure, but don't attack someone for doing so, and please, tell us why you disagree. Inquiring minds wish to know. :-) Cheers!
Meister
Sat, Apr 20, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
My review got lost in the posting so I will try and remember. I think this was a 4/10. The only value was the Geordie conversation about a society pre judging someone's value.


Troi feeling shame for having sex? I guess Riker's one night stands were never with other societies as part of his away missions? Troi didn't breach the Prime Directive and only professionalism. I would agree. But riker dodged a bullet from the writers as I don't believe he would be more professional in this regard. After all in the next episode he has sex with Ro, a fellow crew member, who reported to him?? Didn't they know their ranks at that time?

The so called Masterpiece society was lame : a few people leave and 1000s are at risk? Haven't they heard of redundancy?
Ellert
Wed, May 22, 2019, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
It was very frustrating to watch this episode in this day and age, as the extreme stance against genetic engineering doesn't seem to fit the reality of genetic engineering at all.
The rigid painting of this society as a result of genetic engineering seems very short sighted and the disgust of Picard and Geordie towards ANY genetic tempering seems a bit childish.
Sean
Sat, Jun 1, 2019, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Re watching this snd I'm surprised nobody brings the prime directive in this one. Sidenote they seem to be using Troi alot this season..,
Scott
Thu, Mar 26, 2020, 10:40am (UTC -5)
"My review got lost in the posting so I will try and remember. I think this was a 4/10. The only value was the Geordie conversation about a society pre judging someone's value. "

This was my only problem with it. The idea that destroying some cells with a genetic defect is pre-judging people isn't right to me. It seems more correct to say in their society that Geordie would be born without those and other defects.


>Troi feeling shame for having sex? I guess Riker's one night stands were never with other societies as part of his away missions? Troi didn't breach the Prime Directive and only professionalism.

Riker's sex usually wouldn't potentially undermine their entire society and growth. The only time I can think that was a problem is that odd scene where he pretty much got blackmailed into being raped by alien doctor in the First Contact episode. The society in this episode requires isolation. They were already disturbing that isolation, but out of pure necessity. Troy went way too far past that. It's only not a Prime Directive failure because of the technicality that they are human.

"After all in the next episode he has sex with Ro, a fellow crew member, who reported to him?? Didn't they know their ranks at that time? "

One of the areas were TNG shows its age. Sex with crew members down the chain of command wasn't frowned upon as it should have been.

"The so called Masterpiece society was lame : a few people leave and 1000s are at risk? Haven't they heard of redundancy? "

They address this in the episode. The society is perfectly planned. They do have the redundancy to handle a few unexpected accidental deaths but many more than a few were intrigued by the outsiders with more advanced technology that were different and wanted to leave.

Honestly I think this is a great episode that makes one think about these values. Would you rather a tightly controlled society where everyone's needs are met and everyone has a purpose to fill to help the greater good (probably a not so subtle allegory to communism) or would you rather have a life where things are far more uncertain, where people have far more direction and certainty in life and have to compete with each other, but where that leads to faster growth and advancement at the expense of many not having a fulfilling life? Personally, give me the former.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, May 23, 2020, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
This really is a pretty long middling run of TNG. None of it is really bad per se, just kind of blah, like what Rick Berman did to the music after season 4.

Anyway, what irritates me most about this episode is Martin (Ron Canada's character). I just can't grasp his logic, because he's written as such an obtuse straw man, much like Gosheven from The Ensigns of Command as Jay mentioned earlier, or to a lesser extent Krola the security minister from First Contact. How can someone be written as so oblivious to the situation at hand? Martin and Gosheven give no consideration to their immediate threats, and they're even told, what good are traditions and such if we're all dead? That never stops them. At least Krola has somewhat more understandable, if still quite black and white, motivations.

The bigger problem I have is that we're never told just what makes Martin so worried about people beaming down or someone going to the Enterprise for a few hours or days. He just spouts "throwing off the balance" and "it goes against our founders' wishes." But what balance is being thrown off by this? Is he worried that extra people will deplete the oxygen in the biosphere, or introduce foreign germs that their society has no immunity against? Sure I can understand there being problems if people leave permanently, or stay permanently, but why is he so opposed to any contact/exchange whatsoever? We never learn that, so he just comes off as a nut.
Trent
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
I thought this episode had three great scenes. In the first, we watch a simple piano ceremony, which then leads to Troi and her impromptu lover's nighttime walk. It's an atmospheric little sequence.

Next we have Picard and Troi's conversation in the turbolift, where she confesses her lapses in judgement as he thoughtfully and sympathetically listens. Stewart sells the moment with some excellent, wordless closeups.

The next great moment simply occurs when Picard finally decides to beam down to the planet ("I think it's time I go down there and meet their leader" etc). The little sequence has a certain momentous quality to it; like a King finally deigning to visit the rabble and pass judgement. It's a trope (Picard finally beams down to dispense wisdom!) that seemed to fade away after season 1.

Beyond this, I agree with most criticisms voiced by others. Most annoying is the way the episode strawman's the "genetically perfect" society. A better script would have these uber-men questioning the supposed "free will" of Picard's gang, who are all beholden to a bevy of deterministic and indeterministic forces, and who are all themselves the products of a kind of evolutionary "genetic engineering".

A better script would have also logically discussed anti-natalism. If genetic engineering robs an individual of choices and challenges, as Picard argues, then life itself is an imposition without consent. You don't get to dictate what challenges a fetus deserves to face.

The ways genetic screening and engineering helps save lives, and helps avoid suffering and dangerous defects etc should also be brought up. Instead, the society is used to make a far narrower point: to defend the disabled, the impaired and the aborted. Which is fine. But it's a very narrow stance - a product of the 1980s-1990s - which ignores a range of massive ancillary issues.

Didn't Voyager have a similar, better episode on genetic engineering? I can't quite remember.
Mr Peepers
Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
The scene with Geordi saying he was glad he wasn't aborted because he was blind, reminded me of a Chris Rock skit.

"Doctors haven't cured anything in the last 50 years. Like blindness. You go blind, they don't got nothing for you. You go to a doctor, tell him you're blind, he says, "Hey why don't you get this dog to drag your blind butt around."

This society would bore me to death. Everyone is perfect, and nothing ever goes wrong. You are told that according to your genetic profile, you'll make an excellent sanitation engineer. It's what you were bred to do. I doubt you would be allowed to change professions because Martin will tell you that will upset the alignment of the stars or some other nonsense.

Hard to believe with these people's advanced scientific minds, they wouldn't build a few spacecraft to check out what other planets are doing. In 200 years, all they have done was create a few glass domes. How about finding a new planet where you can breathe fresh air?

And once again, Picard disapproves of any female senior staff member from getting a little action unless he is getting some too. Troi and Crusher and never had a relationship with anyone aboard ship, except Troi , who mostly grinds on Riker. He and the Captain do their do off the ship. Both hangout on Risa to get some action. It's no wonder these females hookup with some alien visitor before the first commercial break. Are they even sexually compatible? If you have spots, or a ridge on your forehead, I can't imagine what they got down below. Crusher hooked up with an alien whose body is controlled by a giant maggot. That copulation would totally gross me out. YUCK!!

These people would get along great with that planet that was made up of clones to survive. Both were made up of leaders who were insufferable dictators. Both were isolated and living with issues that were totally unnecessary. When a Starship visited, they all should had jumped onboard and got off the rock they were merely existing on, instead of lying and claiming their way of life was perfect.
Trent
Wed, Aug 12, 2020, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
@MrPeepers' "This society would bore me to death. You are told that according to your genetic profile, you'll make an excellent sanitation engineer. "

Now that I think about it, this episode is about the counselor falling in love with the president of the Planet of Guidance Counselors.
James G
Tue, Aug 25, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Really liked this one a lot. I hadn't seen it before. I especially liked the way it overcame and avoided some irresistible cliches. The leader of the genetically engineered society, for example - I expected him to be a villain, but his character is much more nuanced than that.

And the episode's ultimate conclusion - in the original series, Kirk would have forced them to abandon their wrongful ways and converted them to a more "normal" way of life. I'm sure there's a TOS episode where he ends up getting them to reproduce by having sex instead of some artificial method. But here it's much more nuanced, there's a real ethical question mark left hanging.

There's one really obvious flaw in this story, and it seems quite avoidable to me. The colony scientist. How could someone from a society that is, by her own admission, considerably less technologically advanced, and isolated from human technology by a couple of centuries, have been able to assist Geordi so capably? How could she have the necessary insight and understanding of Federation power systems? She operates the technology in engineering like she's been doing it for years.

And there's an example in this one of something that comes up time and again in Star Trek stories - Geordi or B'Elanna, or Scotty or Data or someone else comes up with a massive scientific technological breakthrough on the spur of the moment. Following a five minute conversation, about Geordi's glasses, the Federation now has the ability to move super-massive objects in space.

It's not clear (or perhaps I've forgotten) how big the colony is, but their leader makes his important pronouncement without the aid of a microphone surrounded by about 30 people. Star Trek does that sort of thing a lot, where a small town seems to stand in for a whole planet sometimes.

I don't really buy the relationship between Troi and the colony leader and it seems to add nothing to the plot. Furthermore the conclusion is real 1940s Hollywood cheese overload. Her dramatic apology to Picard that she's been unprofessional doesn't really wash, either. Riker seems to do that all the time.

Speaking of which - that turbolift journey seems to take a while. Over a century since the invention of the Transporter, isn't it a bit low tech to travel between decks in that fashion?

One nice touch is the piano recital given by the boy in the colony. It's cold and mechanical, intended I think to suggest a lack of warmth and humanity in the society he belongs to.

Anyway - if only because it represents an interesting ethical dilemma with an uncertain outcome that steers away from a predictable formula, I think this is one of the better Series 5 episodes.
Robbie
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 11:55am (UTC -5)
I'm pretty much in agreement with Jammer's review. History shows that whenever an effort is made to pursue a "Utopian", it involves an effort to suppress human free will. Geordi's views on being aborted for not being "perfect" are thought provoking. And Picard's hand wringing about making the only rational choice (letting everyone die was hardly a good option) made me want to say "shut up and suck it up already!"
Mal
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
The Masterpiece Society

TNG season 3 episode 13

"This is wrong.”

- Troi


3 stars (out of 4)


Ordinarily I would start my review with a quick side-swipe at @Jammer for completely missing the point of the episode, or maybe I’d say how nice it is to see two Babylon 5 actors - Ron Canada and John Snyder - here in an episode together. But I’m not going to do that.

Instead I’ll say, please scroll up and read @SkepticalMI's excellent write up of this episode. Now here’s someone who completely groks counselor Troi.

Here’s what @SkepticalMI says,

"I do agree with Riker, there is a little aristocratic streak in her (now that I think about it, the weird accent doesn't help matters any). So given that, it makes sense that this ordered society would appeal to her. After all, that's exactly what aristocrats want; an ordered society. And with the obvious nobleman expressing interest in her and her obvious attraction to him, it makes sense that she would lose her objectivity here. It really does seem to fit. So while her quick romance was boring to watch, I think it is a bit understandable. And I think her character here is still realistic for her.”

I also love how @William B picks up where @SkepticalMI leaves off, to expand the examination of Troi into “Face of the Enemy,” which is a perfect vehicle for Troi, since she gets to play a pompous, almost aristocratic, Tal-Shiar.

Allow me to, perhaps, add to what these two have already written. Another piece of Troi’s backstory is “Half a Life.” That’s the one where Troi’s mom falls in love with a man who has to kill himself because he turns 60, but he’s trying to save his planet which is in danger because its sun is dying. In our conversation in the “Half a Life” thread, @Peter G. and I discuss how that alien culture would rather preserve it’s way of life (kill people at 60) rather than make an exception for a man over 60 who might be able to save them from their dying sun. Their way of life is more important to them than their actual life.

Same here.

This “Masterpiece Society” comes very close to preferring death due to collision with a celestial object - over the risks of making contact with outsiders. And here, instead of Troi’s mom, we have her daughter falling in love. Because, say what you will about the Troi mother/daughter duo, but they are both deeply drawn to strong cultures and traditions. Mama like what she like.

Some folks here, like @Luke, seem incredulous that such close-minded societies can exist ("that core fragment was going to KILL them. You, on the other hand, inadvertently brought about a slight cultural change. Are you honestly, HONESTLY!, saying that being FUCKING DEAD! is preferable to facing the unknown? Well then, you better put a phaser to your head and pull the trigger”). Which brings me to the point of this episode (which @Jammer does indeed seem to have missed, but @NoPoet has picked up on perfectly).

Here’s what Picard says at the end,

RIKER: We had to respond to the threat from the core fragment didn't we?

PICARD: Of course we did. But in the end we may have proved just as dangerous to that colony as any core fragment could ever have been.

There is a very old poem with the lines,

In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

The poem was written a hundred years before “The Masterpiece Society” aired. It tells the reader to go forth into the world and help people (“work another’s gain”), to go forth into the world and help people progress (“seek another’s profit”), but to always do that while remaining outwardly humble (“check the show of pride”) and being straightforward (“open speech and simple”).

The poem was written to the Americans, telling them to go out and take over the Philippines.

Here we have Picard reaching out to help these people. And even though he did it with the best of intentions, by interfering, he "may have proved just as dangerous to that colony as any core fragment.”

The poem is titled "The White Man's Burden”. Today that phrase stands not as an exhortation to go out and colonize the world, but rather as a warning. A warning that even those who come to help you, who say they have nothing but the best intentions, may nevertheless be your destruction. In reaching out to overcome an imminent disaster, you risk destroying the very civilization you have made so many compromises to protect.

Sometimes there is no avoiding the end. For completely rigid cultures, the end is only a matter of time.
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Given that the nature of the interference here is partially genetic exposure, partially cultural exposure, in both cases we might say that the Enterprise brought contagion with it. From that standpoint there may be a parallel here with the Europeans coming to the Americas. Intentions are irrelevant if your mere presence wipes them out. You can talk about whether they're stupid, or cowardly, or whatever you want, but if they know for a fact that you being there is going to hammer them then perhaps they're not being so dumb.

That being said it's worth mentioning that while their society might have been ideal from the point of view of individual satisfaction, it was also weak. Any system that cannot absorb strange inputs and survive is ultimately going to be short-lived. That's why our immune system doesn't involve keeping infection out, but rather letting just enough in to learn its tricks and incorporate it. Too much and one is overwhelmed. The same is true on the cultural scale.
Booming
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
Aristocrats want a heavily stratified society (everybody wants some kind of ordered society, even anarchists). They mostly don't want social mobility because it threatens their position in society which is basically true for... well almost all elites. What are you supposed to do when you children are idiots, let them compete with other fairly or even worse equally. No! You give 2.5 million Harvale and let the system do it's magic.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
I haven't watched this since it aired, but I remember it being super boring and stagey with obvious plot holes.

I might give it another shot, I'm kind of curious to see if "adult me" agrees with that assessment.
Luke
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
Since my review was mentioned (even quoted - always a plus, thanks) let me just clarify my thoughts. I'm not saying that such close-minded societies can't exist. Just look at any social media echo chamber for proof that they do.

My problem is with Picard and his, in my opinion, disgusting speech at the end of the episode. In fact, the episode's coda also shows that the Prime Directive is a rather revolting concept (at least in how it is almost universally applied on Trek). He, and the PD, are flat out saying that death is preferable to change. Yes, that core fragment was going to kill these people. What should they have done then? Just sit back and watch as all those people die? I'm sorry, but.... .... no, that is NOT the answer. I mean, I know that is precisely what this crew will later do in TNG: "Homeward" (good grief, they'll even pat themselves on the backs for doing "the moral thing" as watch as millions upon millions of people perish), but that doesn't make it right. If you have the power to help people stave off death itself and choose not to, don't try to hide behind some weak justification like "we don't know what the consequences will be" (I'll tell you EXACTLY what the consequences of inaction would be here - DEATH!) or "oh, but the interference might change their culture" (their culture won't be around to change if they suffer.... what's that word again?.... oh yeah.... DEATH!).

I've quoted this before in discussions of other episodes, but it's worth repeating every time the Prime Directive is used to justify something repulsive like "let's just let people die". From TOS: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky"....

SPOCK: Captain, informing these people they're on a ship may be in violation of the Prime Directive of Starfleet Command.
KIRK: No. The people of Yonada may be changed by the knowledge, but it's better than exterminating them.
SPOCK: Logical, Captain.
Mal
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, thanks for that quote from Kirk. I think that Kirk shows us that Picard is just one man, and there is a huge difference between how Kirk and Picard interpret the Prime Directive - which shows just how much flexibility the law actually permits.

Take Kirk in “Private Little War,” one of the most morally ambiguous episodes in the entire Trek canon (even DS9 rarely touched that territory). There, when Kirk learned that the Klingons were arming one side in a civil war, he decided that the Prime Directive allowed him to arm the other side.

https://youtu.be/ENjT2Z_kWJk

Centuries later in DS9’s “The Circle,” an Admiral orders Sisko not to interfere in a Bajoran civil war, even though they’ve discovered that the Cardassians are arming one side. As the admiral says, ""The Cardassians might involve themselves in other people's civil wars, but we don't. The Prime Directive applies, Ben.” No points @Luke, if you can guess whether Ben Sisko follows that order ;)

Even the reboot movies - for all their flaws - understood that the Prime Directive was a law, and like all laws, was interpreted by different men differently. Here is Christopher Pike chewing out Kirk and Spock for saving a planet of primitive humanoids from destruction by an erupting volcano,

https://youtu.be/3ARWf0vBwZM?t=25

I think the biggest difference between Picard on the one hand, and Kirk and Sisko on the other, is that Picard loves the Prime Directive, while Kirk and Sisko have merely learned to live with it.

The joy Picard gets out of using the Prime Directive as a technicality to solve the drug addiction problem in Symbiosis is palpable,

https://youtu.be/ppykquyAUyY

But @Luke, I think the key point is that Picard never tells other people (like Beverly in the clip above) to shut the fuck up and follow the PD. He listens to them. He sympathizes with them - heck, sometimes, as with Data in “Pen Pals” and Worf’s brother in “Homeward”, he actually helps them help others, even when that help conflicts with his personal interpretation of the PD. For crying out loud, the man violated the Prime Directive 9 times by season 4!

SATIE: Would it surprise you to learn that you have violated the Prime Directive a total of nine times since you took command of the Enterprise? I must say, Captain, it surprised the hell out of me.

Which brings me to a conversation @Luke and @Peter G. were having over in the ENT’s “Dear Doctor” thread. @Peter G. pointed to the Babylon 5 race the Lumati as a parody of the Prime Directive taken to the extreme,

https://youtu.be/FX01h1P3p-s

Picard is nowhere along that spectrum. In “Half a Life”, Picard doesn’t want the alien race to die. He wants to help them bring their sun back to life. But they have to want him to help them. He’s not going to impose his help on them. In “Pen Pals” Picard lets Data help his little friend Sarjenka, even though Picard is against the whole thing. Instead, Picard listens to all the perspectives, and in the end, he changes his mind,

https://youtu.be/FLHH-mE94Pk

Which brings us back to “Dear Doctor”. Archer wants to help one of the races on a planet, even though their death would mean that through natural selection, the other race would thrive. Phlox thinks it is wrong for the Enterprise to be picking genetic winners and losers on this planet. Archer talks through the issue with T’Pol, and in the end, like Picard, decides to change his mind,

https://youtu.be/T8k5HbspfrA

That’s what good leaders do.

They don’t always come up with the right answer. But they use everything at their disposal to come to the best decision they are capable of. They do their best, and it is hard.

The Prime Directive is a tool that helps them come to a good result. But it is only a tool. Sometimes it is not enough - as Picard learned at least 9 times by the time “Drumhead” aired. Picard is not afraid to re-examined his beliefs under a powerful lens, as he did in “Matter of Time” when he found himself on the other side of the PD

https://youtu.be/K2U4pssEqHY?t=103

So, @Luke, just as “the Constitution is not a suicide pact,” so too, the Prime Directive does not say that "death is preferable to change.” But it does say that change has to come from within the society, it cannot be imposed. The native people in “Private Little War” asked Kirk for help defending themselves against weapons supplied by the Klingons. The Prime Directive allowed Kirk help them. Here in “The Masterpiece Society,” the leader asked Picard for help, and Picard did help them. Even if that help would ultimately be responsible for the Society’s destruction.

23 colonists leaving might have been a slower death for their way of life than collision with a solar fragment. But it was a destruction nonetheless. And the Prime Directive allowed it.
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
@ Mal,

I think both your argument and Luke's have merit, as obviously the PD is wrought with difficulty at the best of times. However I do think I would like to add something to clarify one major issue:

"In “Half a Life”, Picard doesn’t want the alien race to die. He wants to help them bring their sun back to life. But they have to want him to help them. He’s not going to impose his help on them. In “Pen Pals” Picard lets Data help his little friend Sarjenka, even though Picard is against the whole thing. Instead, Picard listens to all the perspectives, and in the end, he changes his mind,"

The general canon of the PD as I understand it suggests that a specifically *pre-warp* civilization cannot be offered help of any kind under any circumstances or even contacted directly (Pen Pals, Homeward, First Contact) whereas a warp-capable civilization can request help and receive it. However in the case of a warp-capable civilization the PD still forbids offering assistance in any case where the people in question are divided and do not agree on the matter. It also forbids offering help if that help will directly alter the political and social landscapes of that people.

So cases like Pen Pals and Homeward are open and shut PD situations that only resulted in Picard deciding to help because the initiative had already begun and to suddenly withdraw the contact and offer of help would be not only callous (which in some sense the PD may be at times) but also a betrayal. I don't think Picard was particularly happy about going along with Nicolai in Homeward, and in Pen Pals it would seem that things were far too developed between Data and Sarjenka to pretend that they could avoid involvement.

Contrast with other episodes like Half a Life, Redemption, and The Hunted, where it's not a question of helping those people being illegal, but where unless they are unified in their request the Federation isn't going to start taking political sides.

Kirk is exceptionally cavalier in some of his decisions, for instance in A Taste of Armageddon, where he springboards from getting the Enterprise out of their grasp all the way to shutting down their fake war. This was certainly not done at their request; but I think for him the line was crossed when they began to be aggressive toward his people. If he had only heard about them I doubt he would have rushed over to bring it to a halt. So here it seems the line he drew is the Federation won't *start* a process of interference, but if the people in question are the initiators then Kirk is within his rights to follow up and take action. In A Piece of the Action and Patterns of Force, the argument is different: a major PD violation has already occurred, and Kirk sees further interactions as being the only way to clean up the mess. That he does so in world-changing ways speaks to the immense power Starship Captains wield, but otherwise these 'violations' seem to be exceptional in a way that cannot be defined through rules.

The one episode that truly has no great justification for the PD violation is A Private Little War (and arguably Errand of Mercy), where Kirk's interference is certainly not done at the request of a unified people. His justification is that the Klingons already spoiled their natural development, so there's nothing left to protect any more. But while in a Sisko-esque manner this makes a kind of rough sense, strictly speaking the PD doesn't empower a Captain to make sure a planet's development goes fairly; it just says don't interfere. One can't help but feel that Kirk did this for reasons other than Federation law. Maybe it was friendship, or maybe the Cold War need to beat the Klingons; but either way it's a rough decision. I suppose if I had to invent a good rationale for it I could make a case that with Klingons as allies the local people were no longer a pre-warp civilization; but even then the political divide should have prevented it.

I'm being a bit pedantic about this just to make sure we're all talking about the same thing. I'm pretty sure Luke is talking about the pre-warp cases, where letting younger races die is what's at stake. I don't think Luke is talking about standing back and letting the Klingon civil war play out by itself. So from that standpoint I really do think B5's Lumati are at minimum an apt satire of the notion of not lifting a finger to help or to hurt 'inferior species'.
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 4:08am (UTC -5)
@Luke
The prime directive is probably conceived with interference of colonial powers in mind. The USA itself committed genocides, ethnic cleansing towards numerous less developed people. In America, the Philippines, Polynesia and so on. Often these things were done with intentions that were perceived as noble or at least in the best interest of the people colonized/influenced. The same is true for any major European power and even some of the mid-sized ones like Belgium. These things still happen. The US Iraq (2003) war is such an example. The argument there was that getting rid of Saddam and turning Iraq into a democracy would turn the entire region into a paradise. Or put in another way, if a dictator murders minorities (like Kurds and Shiites, in this case) is it not justified to invade to prevent further deaths?

I think the prime directive is the desire to prevent this with an absolute stopgap. The whole "let's not help these people because they could become space hitler" is a lazy attempt at justifying something that cannot really be justified if taken to extremes like this because it collides with basic human desire to help those in need. Problem is, the moment you start to approach this rationally it can get ugly very quickly. Great powers will always find justifications to use their immense power and convince their populations that they are doing the right thing, the prime directive prevents that.
Tomalak
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 9:19am (UTC -5)
The Iraq War obvs went terribly but calling it genocide or ethnic cleansing renders the term meaningless.

"The same is true for any major European power"

Genocide and ethnic cleansing by Britain? France? The Netherlands? Italy? All were major European powers, with the arguable exception of Italy.
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I wouldn't call the most recent Iraq war genocide or ethnic cleansing. What I meant was that the US government used the argument of nation building as one justification for the war, another was the cruel treatment of the Kurds. They basically said invading would not only save lives but improve the entire region.

Britian did quite a few. They invented the modern form of the concentration camp during the Boer wars. I could certainly find several wars/occupations of the British Empire where they annihilated tribes. Northern Ireland policies could be called a form of ethnic cleansing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantations_of_Ireland

France. That's easy. The Algerian war, that one really had it all, ethnic cleansing, chemical warfare, concentration camps, mass torture. The occupation of French Indochina was very brutal, too.

Netherlands I guess for a while in the 17th century they could be called great power. Maybe they had too much to do fighting the 80 years war.

Italy under Mussolini did quite a few nasty things.
Jason R.
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 9:50am (UTC -5)
@Booming don't forget Canada. Our Prime Minister admits we are committing genocide (present tense). I have been waiting for him to surrender himself to the Hague for trial and execution but sadly since the pandemic he hasn't been travelling much.

"https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2019/06/04/we-accept-the-finding-that-this-was-genocide.html"
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 10:07am (UTC -5)
@Jason
While I'm quite sure that there did happen some ethnic cleansing in Canada. I'm not sure if the term genocide seems appropriate here. I guess it is open to debate. I had a Canadian friend once and she told me that Canadians of European origin are very intolerant towards the natives. So who knows.
Here is the 40odd pages long explanation for the use of the term. I won't read it. :)
https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Supplementary-Report_Genocide.pdf
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 10:34am (UTC -5)
So I watched it .... more like skimmed it. It's just as boring and stupid as I thought it was 30 years ago.

The Troi relationship was a yawn. I did like the scene where she confessed it to Picard, but why is she freaking out? Most of the senior staff has done the same thing more than once. *cough Riker cough*

My big beef with this episode hasn't changed: 12 people leaving is enough to wreck their society?

They have a wide enough genetic base to preserve racial differences and fill every niche. They'd need a population of thousands to do so (even with their genetic selecting). 12 people shouldn't upend that balance.

Shouldn't there also be retired people who formerly held those positions and young people being trained to replace them? Those niches can still be filled. One scripted line about the unexpected never happening doesn't erase the fact the unexpected WOULD happen.

How much science can one lady do when she's sealed in an environment? Why would that cause the collapse of their society?

They also state that the scientist had been working on a solution to the collision for weeks (her phased pulse idea), but she also said the colony couldn't generate that energy ..... yet everyone in leadership had no idea the collision was about to happen? Plot hole!

Also, a stellar core fragment? Why not just make it a magnetar or something that actually exists? Even in the 80s, we knew a "stellar core fragment" was impossible. Bad science.

Also, the music in this episode was HORRIBLE! Parallel fifths, french horns playing a note twice and then going up a half step, the same atonal whole tones droning over and over: silence would have been preferable to the soundtrack. Berman wanting this kind of music was a BAD call. (They also managed to find maybe the worst piano piece Chopin ever wrote ... so at least they were consistent).

Yeah, this was not good. One ⭐ is all I can muster.
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 11:00am (UTC -5)
If you go back in history, I don't think there was any group that would be immune from the charge of "ethnic cleansing". Back then, "might is right" ruled the day.

Even Native Americans participated in such activity (in fact, they didn't just do it to each other, they also did it to the environment, which is the reason the Americas have barely any large predators).

If you're going to apply such a lens, then do it to everyone. Of course, if you do so, you'll realize how silly it is to single out some for what everyone was doing.
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 11:09am (UTC -5)
And why are you guys ignoring what happened in Serbia, Tibet, the Ughuyrs, Uganda etc? Most of the most recent examples of ethnic cleansing wasn't in Canada or France, so why this focus on the historical actions of only Western countries?

I hope political correctness isn't the cause of your myopia .... although that would explain why most people don't speak up about current day examples.

Either you don't know about today's cleansings (which you should) or you do know and are too scared of being labeled racist to mention it. Or, I suppose, you just don't care (or maybe you even approve).
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 11:36am (UTC -5)
*sigh* No Dave I'm not saying that there were no other cultures, empires and so on that committed genocides or ethnic cleansing but this forum is about Star Trek, a show from the USA. So issues like the prime directive should be seen in a Western context. Because stories are a reflection of these issues.

"Either you don't know about today's cleansings (which you should) or you do know and are too scared of being labeled racist to mention it."
Seriously?!

"Or, I suppose, you just don't care (or maybe you even approve). "
Are you actually accusing me of being pro genocide?
Shame on you. :(
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
There is a reason you only want to focus on the historical actions of Western nations instead of current day genocides being committed in other places. I merely delineated all the possible motivations that might explain your short-sightedness.
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
And since when was Trek an America-only analog?

I mean, you're in Germany and you saw it. I personally saw repeats in every county in Europe I visited back in the summer of 1994.

TNG was one of the most successful internationally distributed syndicated shows of the 90s for a reason.
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
The whole notion of "I can't mention anything but Western countries in my critique because TNG was made in America" is a total cop-out. You SHOULD be applying these criticisms to what's actually happening today instead of harping on a past that can't be changed.

The lessons these shows teach doesn't stop when they reach our (now wide open) borders. If you think they do, I don't think you get Trek is supposed to be about.
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
I was writing about authorial intent. What the reason was that these authors/Roddenberry invented something like the prime directive.

I don't know what culture war rabbit hole you have fallen down lately but I'm starting to doubt that you will ever make it out.
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
If you think the author only meant for this episode to be a Western allegory, you are sadly mistaken.
Booming
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Again. I was talking about the Prime Directive in general.

Quote:" Creation of the Prime Directive is generally credited to Original Series producer Gene L. Coon.[7][8] The Prime Directive reflected a contemporary political view that US involvement in the Vietnam War was an example of a superpower interfering in the natural development of southeast Asian society; the creation of the Prime Directive was perceived as a repudiation of that involvement.[9][10]

So yeah the prime directive is a western allegory.
And just for you #AllGenocidesMatter
Happy now?
Dave in MN
Fri, Apr 2, 2021, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
The sarcasm really underlines your sincerity.
Booming
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 1:23am (UTC -5)
Uh, it burns. After calling me uneducated, short-sighted, scared, racist and genocidal I must admit being called insincere really hurts.

You once said that you work at a university. Considering your reading skills I hope not in a scientific or teaching capacity.
Dave in MN
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 8:37am (UTC -5)
I called you uneducated? I said I work at a university??

Booming, you're deluded.
Booming
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 10:23am (UTC -5)
Me? Deluded?!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnVocaQbqqg
Mal
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 12:57am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN, don’t bother. There is an old saying, “there are none so blind as those who will not see.” And there are few peoples with bigger blind spots as to genocide as those in Germany.

Fortunately the writers for Star Trek were far more culturally and historically literate. And of course they didn’t suffer a guilty conscious. The men involved in creating Star Trek and the Prime Directive had fought and bled on the right side of history.

Gene Roddenberry fought in World War II against the genocidal Germans. James Doohan (Scotty) was injured at Normandy on D-Day fighting to free Europe from the grips of the genocidal Germans. Leonard Nimoy (Spock) knew well the efforts the Germans undertook to eradicate his people, and he served in the US armed forced. DeForest Kelley (Bones) also served in the military during WWII - for the Allies.

As to the Prime Directive, to the extent someone wants to credit the idea to Gene Coon, let’s remember that Coon was a Marine during World War II, and he went back to the service for the Korean War.

There is a great episode in season 1 of Star Trek (TOS) called “Errand of Mercy” in which we first meet the great Klingon warrior Kor, who of course will later have an even bigger role in DS9. As my review of that episode explains, the episode explicitly compares the situation between the Federation and the Klingons - into which the Organians have been dragged - to the plight of the Armenians.

KIRK: Another Armenia.

SPOCK: Sir?

KIRK: The weak innocents who always seem to be located on the natural invasion routes.

Whether it was the Persian empire, or the Roman empire, or the Ottoman empire, of the Soviet empire, Armenia always seems to be getting the short end of the stick.

In “Errand of Mercy,” Kirk and Spock find themselves in “another Armenia” that has been occupied by the Klingons. Kirk implores the Organians to fight back, but they refuse. He offers to help them, but they refuse. They want nothing to do with violence, and they insist Kirk do nothing to interfere. No points if you guess whether or not Kirk abides by their wishes.

Here’s the exchange between Kirk and Spock - and you’ll notice that Spock also agrees that it is makes sense to use violence to convince the Organians to fight back,

SPOCK: We'll receive no help from the Organians.

KIRK: Maybe, but sooner or later they'll start resenting how the Klingons run things. If we could prove to them they could do something to strike back, to keep the Klingons off balance.

SPOCK: Verbal persuasion seems to be ineffective. Perhaps a more direct approach?

KIRK: That's exactly what I had in mind. Mister Spock Did I or did I not see something that looked like a munitions dump outside of Kor's headquarters?

SPOCK: You did.

KIRK: I think it's time we did a little simple and plain communicating. Tonight.

SPOCK: A very meritorious idea, Captain.

So Kirk and Spock become terrorists. Or gorilla fighters. Whatever words you prefer.

https://youtu.be/uvZEQ-DtIlo

Like so many complex and nuanced Star Trek episodes, “Errand of Mercy” was written by Gene Coon.

You might ask why the Germans don’t know this Armenian history in Star Trek? Well of course the last genocide of the Armenian people was conducted by the Ottomans during World War I. Can you guess which side of that war the Germans had allied themselves?!?

It took the Germans 100 years - yes, one hundred years - to express its “regrets"!

"The Bundestag regrets the inglorious role of the German Empire, which, as a principal ally of the Ottoman Empire, did not try to stop these crimes against humanity, despite explicit information regarding the organized expulsion and extermination of Armenians, including also from German diplomats and missionaries.”

The two Genes collaborated again on another episode that mixed history with the Prime Directive, this time the Roman planet in “Bread and Circuses.”

SPOCK: I had no idea you were that much of a historian, Doctor.

MCCOY: I am not, Mister Spock. I was simply trying to stop you from giving us a whole lecture on the subject. Jim, is there anything at all we know about this planet?

KIRK: The SS Beagle was the first ship to make a survey of this star sector when it disappeared.

SPOCK: Then the Prime Directive is in full force, Captain?

KIRK: No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet.

MCCOY: No references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilisations.

@Dave in MN, the Germans would rather not have to deal with this complex world history, and the deep thought that went into the evolution of the Prime Directive. Thought put in by men who had seen the evil the Germans wrought first hand.

The Germans were so triggered by Prime Directive episodes that directly implicated their evil, they actually banned “Patterns of Force” for almost 30 years.

So don’t be surprised if they don’t know much about history - the history of Star Trek, the history of the Prime Directive, or the history of the world. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Booming
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -5)
@ Mal
Racism much?

There is no more extensive topic in German history classes then the Holocaust. Patterns of Force was forbidden because until the late 90s any kind of depiction of Nazi symbols was forbidden. But you didn't know that, did you? Because if you in fact did know that then you would have used the Holocaust to score a few cheap points during a racist rant.

Your parents must be so proud.

Oh and about the Armenian question. You really shouldn't talk about international politics if you don't have the faintest grasp of these topics. Not to mention WW1 history.

I'm sure the country you are allowed to exist in is famous for flowers and hugging.
Dave in MN
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Germany was an antagonist in the two largest wars of the last century (and actually started one of them). During the Cold War, it also very easily could have been the flashpoint for a third global conflict, which is kind of an unbelievable "accomplishment" for a country that only had 80 million people at the time.
Dave in MN
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 11:40am (UTC -5)
@ Mal

I didn't know the backstory about the German Trek bans. Very interesting!
Booming
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
To recap.
I responded to Luke about his opinion that the Prime Directive is just a very bad idea (paraphrasing). I gave reasons why the writers saw it differently in the 60s. Gave examples that probably informed their views and also one recent example. After some research I mentioned a wikipedia article that clearly states that the inventor of the Prime Directive came up with it as a response to the Vietnam War. All that drove Dave to one of his rants about why I ignore ethnic cleansing in the rest of the world even though I did mention the Kurds in Iraq. Then he accused me of supporting genocide because I hate Western culture, I guess, or because I support red China or Buddhist Myanmar. I'm not quite sure. Then Mal jumped in and called all Germans evil. What a productive week. All's well that ends well. :)
Jason R.
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 4:56pm (UTC -5)
Are you guys actually disagreeing about something? I can't tell.
Booming
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
I'm really not sure. Mal (which in French means bad) hates Germans which I think is bad but can you disagree with a feeling? And with Dave, who can say what we are arguing about. Not mentioning enough non western ethnic cleansing, I guess. Being insufficiently pro western culture maybe? Do you know what his point was in relation to my comment directed at Luke? I really don't know.
Mal
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 2:47am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN, history is a fascinating thing. I suspect it is much easier to learn German history outside of Germany. Take for example, the very first genocide in the 20th century, where Germans slaughtered 65,000 african tribes people in Namibia.

Just like it took 100 years for the Germans to apologize to Armenia (which was mentioned in TOS “Errand of Mercy"), so too it took Germany 100 years to apologize for the genocide of africans in Namibia. They said sorry, sure - but they refused to pay any compensation to the victims’ families!

But wait, there's more.

The history of africans in Star Trek of course starts with Uhura.

In “The Changeling,” after a probe erases Uhura’s memories, there is a sweet scene of nurse Chapel helping Uhura relearn everything, including language. Uhura reverts back to her native Swahili. The language is very deep within her, and maybe it is easier to relearn your mother tongue over other languages, after you’ve lost your memory.

And how did Swahili become the official language from amongst all the languages of all the tribes in the parts of Africa where it currently predominates? Well, I’m glad you asked. Turns out, it was the Germans that are responsible. It was German rule in Africa that formalized and imposed Swahili as the language de jure. The more you know :)

@Dave in MN said, "Germany was an antagonist in the two largest wars of the last century.” Yes, in fact, Norm McDonald, who voices Yaphit on The Orville, has a fantastic standup routine on exactly that:

https://youtu.be/fIO0DesXpdo

Of course, as the late great Robbins Williams said, don’t expect the Germans to have a sense of humor,

https://youtu.be/VF2P_LuEF80
Booming
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Ok, sweetheart, tell us how you feel. :)
Remind me again, who was the last US president that killed less than a 1000 foreigners? Carter maybe?

"Yes, in fact, Norm McDonald, who voices Yaphit on The Orville, has a fantastic standup routine on exactly that:"
We are very hopeful for number III. Now that glorious US of A has forced Germany into soon becoming the third biggest military power which the German population really didn't want but the US were so adamant. So thanks US for forcing the more pacifistic Nato members to rearm. You gotta hand it to the US to find a nice way to sell the idea of extreme militarization. The 2% goal. Brilliant. 2% sounds like nothing, doesn't it?
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 8:01am (UTC -5)
What Admin hasn't "killed a thousand foreigners"?

First off, you're being incredibly simplistic by using the word "killing", but I'll set that aside to answer your question.

The correct response is the Trump Administration. No new wars and plenty of peace deals under his watch.

BTW, your country has hoodwinked us into defending your country and footing the bill to this very day. You reap the benefits while wagging your finger at us. That's very hypocritical.

If you want to condemn America, you might as well indict its co-conspirator Germany.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 8:10am (UTC -5)
And frankly, it's YOUR country's responsibility to defend itself, not ours. The blame shifting here couldn't be more obvious.

If the German people are as "enlightened" as you claim, then surely they will vocally oppose any rearmament and instead show the world what a pacifist utopia they truly are. Who needs militaries, right? Can't we all just get along?
Nic
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 10:56am (UTC -5)
Booming is a mentally unstable troll who resurrects thread after thread with stupid, offensive points, trying to provoke political debates. Comparing British concentration camps to Nazi death camps above, for example, is basically holocaust denial. But she constantly accuses others of racism and white supremacy.

Please don't feed this bigot and liar.
Rahul
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 11:16am (UTC -5)
could not agree more Nic. well said.
Booming
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Ha! I would never call Germans enlightened but for a long time because of some historical incidents the Germans were somewhat opposed to high military spending. That is why the government increased it more than 10% in 2020. I guess people were distracted by other things.

"And frankly, it's YOUR country's responsibility to defend itself, not ours."
Yes, America is being ripped off. This has to end. I agree. Let's close Ramstein, Aviano and the other dozens of military installations. Get your boys home. Save all that money. Germany alone is from 2021 onward spending more on defense than Russia. France, Italy, Spain and Poland are also spending quite a bit. I think we are fine. There sure aren't any other reasons why the US is keeping all those military bases. It is just being benevolent and nice as powerful empires usually are. Your understanding of politics is impressive. :)

Trump was president aka held the highest office and is responsible for foreign policy and the military. Who else is responsible for whom American soldiers kill? Hillary probably. ;) Trump has certainly killed more than a thousand people. Probably reached that number in 2017 already and I'm not even counting his betrayal of the Kurds that led to the Turks steamrolling through northern Syria.

" No new wars and plenty of peace deals under his watch."
When not starting a new war becomes an accomplishment. Clinton and Obama didn't start wars, as well. These peace deals would have happened anyway. Had more to do with Israel and Sunni states finally agreeing that Iran is the bigger threat. But ok, I guess we can give him that. Peace with UAE, Bahrain and North Sudan ( until recently known as the naughty Sudan) is a nice accomplishment.
Booming
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@Nic
Hello there. The British came up with the general concept of the concentration camp, many Boers died there. It was quite gruesome. Of course Nazi Germany took it to a whole new level. There are basically two main types of concentration camp. In Germany we separate them into concentration camps (still more deadly than the British variant; mostly situated in central and western Europe) and then there were the ones that we call "Death camps." like Auschwitz which had extensive facilities to murder thousands per day and dispose of the bodies.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, I'm done.

I'm not going to debate someone who thinks conjecture is evidence (i.e. no evidence the U.S. under Trump murdered thousands of people).

Thanks for the reminder, Nic.
Booming
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
You want evidence.
I quote
" With these additional assessments, CJTF-OIR assessed that a total number of 191 reports of civilian casualties during 2017 were credible, with approximately 864 civilians killed and approximately 219 civilians injured."
That is from the US Department of Defense.
https://media.defense.gov/2020/May/06/2002295555/-1/-1/1/SEC-1057-CIVILIAN-CASUALTIES-MAY-1-2020.PDF

Maybe just the numbers for Afghanistan. This time a non governmental source. Civilians killed by US Airstrikes (other cases not included).
2017: 157; 2018: 393; 2019:546;
Again only Afghanistan, only airstrikes
https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2020/Rising%20Civilian%20Death%20Toll%20in%20Afghanistan_Costs%20of%20War_Dec%207%202020.pdf

Now you and you friends can insult me some more for telling you guys the truth. Facts don't care about your feelings and all. You are human garbage.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
Do you guys see how this works?

Booming's own evidence only says 197 deaths in Afghanistan were credible in 2017 and there is nothing factual cited about whether these deaths were due to terrorism or being caught in a cross-fire or if they were providing material support to Al Qaeda etc

I love when someone owns themselves! 🤣😅
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
I misquoted the number, but my point stands.

She equates reports of civilian deaths in "incidents" as actually being murders by American troops. It's both dishonest and pathetic.
Jason R.
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 6:33pm (UTC -5)
I don't want to get dragged down this rabbit hole but I will say that for several administrations now, the US has conducted routine extra judicial assassinations through drone strikes. Thousands of people. No trials, nothing resembling a standard of proof that we would understand in criminal law, no oversight that we can vet as civilians.

Now I get why they do it since 911 and I am sure many of these targets were very bad people. But, consider this: even in a first world criminal justice system with every judicial protection and procedure, innocent men get convicted all the time. And these men ain't getting the full criminal law protection. And I say it again: *thousands*.

Even if you forget entirely the civilian collateral damage (which is also significant) and just focus on the ones they intended to kill, that is alot of dead men.

I don't know for sure what is in that black box and outside of a select group of insiders I don't know if anyone can know - and that's a scary thought.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
Where is the evidence that we kill thousands of innocent civilians by drone strikes every year? Mathemstically, we'd be killing at least a dozen a day ..... so where's the evidence?

Show me. The daily news reports of all these murders of innocents should be easy to find.

And where is the evidence that we act without the cooperation of other governments? Show me what happens behind the scenes at the State Department.

Prove to me that we act indiscriminately and these "thousands" of targets annually have no evidence or convictions proving their guilt.

I see a lot of assertions and little actual facts being presented.

Setting that all aside, I won't deny that we use drones because it eliminates the need to use boots on the ground, but almost every goverment on Earth has secret enforcement groups that carry out espionage and counter-terrorism efforts. Guess what ?

*gasp*

THEY USE DRONES TOO!

And if they don't use drones?

Then they do it old school.

OMG!

I know this is hard to believe, but the United States isn't unique in this regard. But I get that people like to kick around the top dog. It's anti-Wal Mart Syndrome on steroids.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
And it's funny, not a peep from anyone other than myself about the most obvious country guilty of current day genocide: China.

They use and kill with drones, both domestically and on the border in Kashmir. They have concentration camps right now. They are seizing land that belongs to other governments to build military bases. They are systematically murdering an entire ethnic group. They may be responsible for creating a worldwide pandemic.

And not a peep from anyone. ... because, you know, Western Countries Bad.
Dave in MN
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 7:21pm (UTC -5)
And no, I don't consider an essay by politically active Brown University professor with no military or government experience to be evidence. I want actual time-stamped proof.

Thousands could be anything from 1,000 to 999,000; but let's pick a nice even number. Is 5,000 annually fair? How about ten thousand? Twenty?

Whatever number you choose, pick any month in the last few years and show me news reports that add up to the annual numbers of innocent deaths you claim.

And if you can't?

You're entitled to your believe whatever you want, true or otherwise.... but you aren't entitled to others having to accept your assertions as truth.
James White
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
It's a good thing you people post anonymously.
Mal
Mon, Apr 5, 2021, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Amen @Nic, well said!

https://i.imgur.com/blZFzUb.jpg
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 4:15am (UTC -5)
"Where is the evidence that we kill thousands of innocent civilians by drone strikes every year? Mathemstically, we'd be killing at least a dozen a day ..... so where's the evidence?"

You need to reread what I wrote. I stated the USA has killed "thousands" period. Not thousands annually, but thousands over the course of many years. And I didn't say they were "innocent civilians" although some certainly were (official sources don't deny this).

Reread carefully what I said about the black box and respond to the point I made, not to the one I didn't.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 4:39am (UTC -5)
"https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_from_U.S._drone_strikes&ved=2ahUKEwipiuvXpunvAhWPVc0KHZgaDN8QFjAAegQIBxAC&usg=AOvVaw0L4AwrMK9LV8aVqlin25iB"

This Wiki article has some numbers about total drone deaths. I am, by the way, ignoring civilians entirely and speaking just about the actual targets, who do number in the thousands. I didn't see a tally over the entire drone war but whatever number you prefer, just run with it if you please - the number isn't the point whether it is 6,000 or 8,000 or 3,011.

I am simply noting that even a 1st world justice system convicts a fair number of innocent men. And I question whether execution by aerial drone has the rigorous standards of a Jury trial.

So when you apply any % to those figures and then add to that % the actual collateral damage estimates (which are unintentional civilian deaths) it is quite alot.

Not saying America is evil or that China isn't worse or whatever.
Dave in MN
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 10:21am (UTC -5)
I think there's psychological value in analyzing what people choose to focus on in a esoteric conversation.

America's history ignited enough passion in you to post thrice about it (even though you about couldn't find the evidence to back up your assertions when pressed for proof), but China's past AND present actions (genocide, concentration camps etc) apparently doesn't make you passionate in the slightest.

China has millions of victims .... if "thousands" of "killimgs" trigger you, shouldn't millions of deaths make you discombobulated and apopleptic?

If you truly cared about the human rights of all people, you would be posting about China's actions without any prompting from anyone ... but you can't muster half a sentence of condemnation, even when your hypocrisy is pointed out to you multiple times.

Only you know the reason why.
William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Holy moly. Jason is a lawyer. He's Canadian but we Canadians are extremely tied to the US and so we have particular stake and complicity in US choices. He is saying in his typically logical, fact-based way that he finds the legal justification for drone strikes troubling, and he has reasons to be interested in North American law. Nothing he's said has given and indication that he's trying to make any global statement. Lawyers also know that they can't litigate every case simultaneously.

Why am I defending Jason right now rather than Chinese dissidents? I'm so monstrous! Oh well.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Dave I am not even sure you'd end up disagreeing with me if you took the time to address what I am actually saying here versus what you seem to imagine I am saying.

But to be fair we are so accustomed to hyperbole that when someone makes a small point, there's a knee jerk tendency to blow it up to something it isn't - like you seem to be doing here.
William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 11:02am (UTC -5)
It's also funny because Jason is obviously not in the "ultra-woke" crowd or whatever and has pointed out how much he dislikes them, that he'd vote for Trump to spite people who put up "silence is violence" signs, has made fun of our own Prime Minister's definition of genocide in this very thread. FWIW I think I skew further "left" than Jason.

Aside, my saying "logical, fact-based" isn't a particular statement that I agree with his conclusions. Maybe the facts he linked to are misrepresented. Whatever. I haven't seen any evidence that they are, but anything is possible. But I see no evidence at all that he's deliberately misrepresenting to grind some axe.

I guess one major flaw we Canadians have is pretending to be above the fray at times so maybe this is an instance of it. Still. And now, exeunt.
William B
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I guess at further risk at being dragged in, without getting into Booming's general behaviour on the board either way I don't think their initial behaviour in this thread in talking about the PD was out of bounds or showed a tacit support of German genocide or whatever. It seems extremely plausible to me that Roddenberry et al. were primarily basing the Federation on the US with some specific modifications, and the modifications are then primarily *modifications to US policy*. The PD in this scenario is a modification to US policy because the Federation is basically in part inspired by the US template, and so it's totally relevant to view the PD as a response to US policy. Possibly this is incorrect and Roddenberry, Coon et al were thinking of other instances of imperialism or whatever.
Dave in MN
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
IMaybe we do agree, I don't know.

But what U don't understand is this reticence to condemn the country with the worst human rights record whilst expending tons of energy to go into detail condemning others for what would account to a tiny microscopic fraction of abuse (if your allegations were indeed true).

Getting passionate about what now you say is hundreds of deaths annually while ignoring millions of others just seems obtuse (and yes, hypocritical) to me.

In the least, your responses should be proportionate to the crime: that is the way I see it.
Dave in MN
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
* But what I don't understand ....

Sorry, typo.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Thank you, William, for speaking up in Jason R's defense. His points are indeed fact-based and certainly conveyed nothing partisan.

@ Dave,

Regarding China, you will find overall that people are hesitant to allow themselves to be aware or to care too much about things they are powerless to do anything about. Dwelling on such matters is typically a one-way ticket to depression and anxiety. That's not to say we should be ignorant of it, and in fact I agree vehemently with your concern. *However* the attempt to turn your desire for attention on that topic into a partisan rift is going to make things worse, not better. Peace with your countrymen *might* relax awareness enough that there's room in overall consciousness for foreign troubles, even ones that we are powerless to affect. However my belief, and perhaps this plays into Jason R's comments, is that one should not point fingers outward until one's own house is in order. It doesn't matter if someone else is worse. There will always be someone worse to distract us from cleaning up our own act.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
To be fair, without going back to forensically audit this thread it may be that Booming was disproportionately condemning America. I just caught the tail end of this.

Regarding China, as Peter correctly points out, it was not the topic at hand so I didn't mention it as it didn't seem pertinent. Also Peter is right that Americans and especially Canadians these days don't have much say in what China does.

One last point: America isn't just any old country. It is the world's last superpower and indeed, the originator and incubator of many of the fundamental ideas of international law, human rights and other ideas we take for granted today. Americans have a certain self regard in this way and see them as the world's "good guys". As a Canadian, I can tell you that many of us still share that view, even if it's fashionable to look down on Americans (who Canadians really envy if we are honest with ourselves)

Yes, I could take the time to condemn China, Russia and probably half the countries in Sub Saharan Africa. But those countries don't claim to be bastions of human rights, freedom and justice do they? Why shouldn't a country that deems itself exceptional in its own mythos be held to its own inflated standards?
Rahul
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
"However my belief, and perhaps this plays into Jason R's comments, is that one should not point fingers outward until one's own house is in order."

I don't agree with this at all. Does that mean that we need to be perfect in order to criticize another (not that we necessarily want to) ? I sure hope not. Who in this world is perfect? Nobody is. That is part of this whole political correctness nonsense that some (the left) would want to impose on us and ultimately control us with.

This is also precisely what totalitarian regimes like Beijing will hold up against us when we try and criticize it. And while we as individuals or even a middle power like Canada can't do much to significantly impact China, it absolutely does not mean we should not condemn the genocide in Xinjiang or do whatever it takes to free detainees like the 2 Michaels and speak out about all of China's wrongdoings like the national security law in Hong Kong, threatening military action against Taiwan etc. etc.

This is not to say that the US shouldn't "do better" but to say it ought to clean up its act before pointing the finger at China is totally ludicrous. And it's really the ruling communist regime in Beijing that has to be taken to task -- the distinction between it and the ordinary citizens of China must be recognized.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"Does that mean that we need to be perfect in order to criticize another (not that we necessarily want to) ?"

No, it means that if the majority of your developmental time is spent pointing at "him! that guy! bad!" then not only does nothing change, but you and your environment probably increase in anxiety. Add in the premise that the target of your concern is something that you can't materially affect, and not only does anxiety increase but so does the feeling of dissolute helplessness. Whereas if all of that mental energy went towards dealing with your own flaws, and perhaps those of your immediate environment, quite a lot could get done. And I believe as well that improvements on a 'local' level have much more of an impact globally than one might think. They inspire, raise confidence, set an example, and create a positive-minded morale.

But none of that says to ignore things abroad, and to remain silent about them. It's just to keep in mind that I don't think railing about it does one very much good. Some attention - ok. But not too much, for one's own good. I think I learned that the hard way.
Rahul
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.,

To some extent we may be conflating the individual and a sovereign nation in terms of this notion of getting one's house in order before pointing the finger externally. And ironically enough I come up with 2 very different "suggestions" based on which point of view of I'm speaking from.

My prior comment was primarily speaking from the point of view of sovereign nations -- the US or Canada -- vis-a-vis China since that what I gathered the prior 2-3 comments were addressing.

But if I'm speaking as an individual, I'm not blaming other individuals (not playing the victim card) but am taking responsibility for myself and my own actions and circumstances. And that's where I think you're coming from.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

Quite right, I mean that an individual does best to manage him/herself and the immediate environment. Pointing fingers and losing sleep over bad things in the world is counterproductive. Rarely if ever is it even possible to constructively change faraway people and places. To do so destructively, on the other hand, isn't always that hard.
Trish
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 8:39pm (UTC -5)
Man, I know that this site gets periodic flare-ups of tangential arguments (some of which have gone on for years), but I'm not sure I've seen such a display of what-about-ism in a long time.

Saying that one country did something wrong is not saying that it's the ONLY country that ever did anything wrong.

Saying that another country (also) did something wrong is not a defense of any wrong one's own country may have done.

If believing both of those principles makes me "woke," so be it.

Now, back to Trek:

How come Troi feels so guilty about being "unprofessional"? It's not as if she was providing therapy to the man she was having a dead-end fling with. Not that I personally approve of dead-end flings, but, well, it's not as if Captain Kirk hadn't set a pretty clear precedent. I'm surprised that we're supposed to think that such things are a big deal in the Trekverse.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish,
"Not that I personally approve of dead-end flings, but, well, it's not as if Captain Kirk hadn't set a pretty clear precedent. I'm surprised that we're supposed to think that such things are a big deal in the Trekverse."

In S1-2 I think we find TNG very much in the libertine camp, but by S3 and onwards the tone changes, almost to the point where it eventually becomes almost modest about sex. That's not an in-universe explanation, but I do think it permeates the writing. Just look at Conundrum for an example of a sexual encounter being treated as a really embarrassing thing, by Riker no less! He was certainly not in the headspace of a frolicking player by that point.

If we did want an in-universe explanation, I suppose one could suggest that serving under Picard is a whole other deal than serving under Kirk. On Kirk's ship everyone had a smile and a friendly wink when someone would find someone of the opposite sex to spend time with. But Picard's ship has a more earnest air, a professionalism that, despite a slightly informal tone, carries a great weight of setting an example for humanity. I expect that Troi may have felt differently if having this fling under a more boisterous captain.
Trish
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Perhaps!

Or it could be that because she is a professional in a field with strict ethical codes, she might be more cautious than a typical person in "the service."

Then too, I had forgotten that in "The Price," she didn't seem to feel there was anything wrong with having an affair with a negotiator for an opposing power, until she found herself in a conflict of interest. Maybe that made her more gun-shy. Not enough to keep her from doing it again, but enough to feel guilty about it.
Mal
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
Thank you @Rahul and @Peter G. for your conversation above.

@Rahul is absolutely correct - no one is perfect, but you can’t let that stop you from trying. There is a great scene in the Babylon 5 episode “And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place” where Sheridan asks some visitors why they risked helping him, since the news media has been reporting for months that he is a traitor. One responds,

"I didn't think so, but if I was wrong, I was wrong. I'd rather do something, and make a mistake than be frightened and be doing nothing. That's the problem back home. Folks have been conned to thinking they can't change the world, have to accept what is. I'll tell you something my friends, the world is changing every day. The only question is who's doing it.”

And @Peter G. is absolutely correct - to make the biggest difference (and to some extent maintain your sanity) it is important to focus on the things right in front of you. Worrying about things on the other side of the world is crazy-making, and probably just a sad excuse to ignore the problems right in front of you. The same episode of Babylon 5 has a beautiful scene on this point as well,

https://youtu.be/NJBAFDvqEq4

And so @Rahul and @Peter G. seem to be converging on a solution - individuals focus and fix local issues where they can make a difference, and nation-states do what nation-states were invented to do - focus on issues half way around the world.

That division fits really well with our discussion on the Prime Directive. After all, the Prime Directive only binds Starfleet officers. Civilians are free to ignore it. Why is that? Because the Prime Directive is Federation policy, and when Starfleet officers act, it is the Federation acting. We saw the difference between civilians acting and officers acting quite clearly in TNG’s “Angel One.”

In “Angel One,” first civilians, and then the Enterprise crew find themselves on a planet run by women. Both the civilians and the crew - well at least Riker - sleep with these very unique women.

@Trish, Sex with Riker seems to be considered within the bounds of the Prime Directive (see also “Justice” and maybe also “First Contact"). Maybe not Troi ;)

But then the question comes up later in “Angel One" on equal rights for men. Obviously the crew of the Enterprise is forbidden from interfering under the Prime Directive. But not the civilians. There was nothing stopping them from putting down roots and agitating for change. And there was nothing the Enterprise crew to do to stop them.

Because, at least for the writers who have crafted Star Trek, and who fleshed out the rules of the Prime Directive over the decades, there really is a big difference between action on the part of the Federation (i.e., the nation-state), and action on the part of the individual.

And trust @Rahul & @Peter G., a few of the best TOS commentators (along with @William B.) to help me see this new side to the Prime Directive after all these years! Thank you.

There is also another division in the application of the Prime Directive that might go more towards @Luke’s legitimate concerns with Picard’s final scene in “The Masterpiece Society". And that is the difference between how the PD is applied to pre-warp civilizations versus how it is applied to space-faring civilizations. @Peter G. puts it this way above,

"I'm pretty sure @Luke is talking about the pre-warp cases, where letting younger races die is what's at stake. I don't think @Luke is talking about standing back and letting the Klingon civil war play out by itself.”

Completely agree.

The rule seems to be that if a space-faring civilization requests help, the Federation gives it. We see that in “The Hunted” where James Cromwell asks Picard for help in capturing the escaped veteran Daynar. But if a space-faring civilization is divided, then the Federation keeps out of the internal affairs.

That is the issue in so many episodes, including as @Peter G. points out, TNG’s “Redemption” with the Klingon civil war, but also at the end of “The Hunted” itself. In “The Hunted,” once it appears the legitimate government is no longer in control, Picard withdraws and leaves James Cromwell to sort things out for himself,

PICARD: I have all the information I need for our report. Your prisoner has been returned to you and you have a decision to make. Whether to try to force them back or welcome them home. In your own words, this is not our affair. We cannot interfere in the natural course of your society's development, and I'd say it's likely to develop significantly in the next several minutes. It's been an interesting visit. When you're ready for membership, the Federation will be pleased to reconsider your application. Mister Riker, four to beam up.

God, Picard really loves the Prime Directive, doesn’t he!

The rule for pre-warp (i.e., developing) civilizations is the one that @Luke seems to detest. And I can see why. It seems to create a double standard. If the pre-warp civilization is united and reaches out for help, the Federation will still not help them. Why is that? Why one rule for space-faring civilizations, and a different rule for the technologically backward civilizations?

I’m not sure we get a explicit "Picard gives a Speech” type answer to this one. But various TNG episodes, including “Who Watches the Watchers," makes it clear that Picard at least thinks along the lines of the late great scifi writer Arthur C. Clarke.

Clarke said that, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

It appears that Picard feels that pre-warp cultures will just think he is God (The Picard) and that the Enterprise is magic, and that that they will feel compelled to do whatever these “gods” are telling them to do. There is no good way to help them without completely changing who they are.

To pick up on the important thread @Trish adds to our discussion: if sex is our metaphor, then think of pre-warp civilizations as being below the age of consent.

But the crucial point here @Luke, is that while Picard believes this - he is just one man, and it is not the only viewpoint in starfleet. Data disagreed in “Pen Pals” and was able to help his young friend even though her civilization was below the age of consent. Kirk disagreed in “Private Little War” and was able to help his friend’s people. Sometimes we forget that Picard is not the Federation. He’s just one Captain on one ship in the fleet. An amazing man, worthy of being a role model,

https://youtu.be/JiKwAS1qaCk

But just a man.

Which brings us back to Prime Directive question in “The Masterpiece Society”.

Since these were space-faring humans, the Prime Directive said that if they unified and asked for help through officials channels, the Federation would help them. And they did, and the Enterprise helped them. But usually space-faring races have already had their interstellar cherries popped, long before anyone from the Enterprise ever shows up.

These folks were very different.

“The Masterpiece Society” was like a non-space-faring race, isolated from the galaxy, and their society was too rigid to adapt to outside influence or change. Yes they were above the age of consent. But that didn’t mean they were mature enough to handle the interference. Helping “The Masterpiece Society” was allowed under the PD, but it would probably in the end only postpone the inevitable.
Dave in MN
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish

Actually, I think it does.

Ot' s very strange for me to see some a person profess to be a bleeding heart, yet they can turn on and off their concern like a light switch. If one cares about human rights, then that passion shouldn't stop at certain geopolitical borders.

The fact so many jump in to say it's fine to bring up genocide and then only focus on Canada, France and the U.S. is baffling to me.

Why is that the first and only thing we're discussing?
We're ignoring a burning house to point out a smoldering ember. That is illlogical.

For the record, I'm not speaking from the position of a nationalistic rah-rah cheerleader. I just don't care for when people make assertions without verifiable evidence, nor do I like when those who crow the loudest about their virtues selectively apply their focus.

BTW, the reason this conversation went on a tangent is because some people think the allegories in this episode can only be selectively applied to certain Western cultures.

My whole point is that there's literally no ethical, allegorical or moral reason to limit or focus the discussion on U.S. drone usage or Canadian genocide or Boer concentration camps. If you are going to take that route, then apply your scrutinizing lens fairly and look at CURRENT EVENTS and which country is doing the bulk of the world's human rights violations.

Otherwise, you are just another hypocrite standing on a box.
Dave in MN
Tue, Apr 6, 2021, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
And honestly, China is probably the closest modern parallel we have to the societal paradigm portrayed in this episode.

The lack of freedom and choice, the pre-selection of careers, the control of who gets to reproduce and when .... there's NO way this episode's best modern day context is as a parallel for Canadian, French, British or American espionage activities.
Mal
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:03am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN said, "China is probably the closest modern parallel we have to the societal paradigm portrayed in this episode. The lack of freedom and choice, the pre-selection of careers, the control of who gets to reproduce and when.”

Fascinating. In my comments for the “Balance of Terror” thread, I proposed that if the writers meant for the Vulcans to stand in for the Japanese, the Klingons the Russians, then the Romulans stand in for the Chinese.

https://www.jammersreviews.com/st-tos/s1/balance.php

Here is what I wrote, riffing off a line from Dr. McCoy ("Now I know why they were conquered.”),

“If anyone is the equal of the US, economically, militarily, it is the Chinese. You can feel it when you drive on their roads, visit their cities, ride on their trains. So while the Vulcans were cool and logical, they were conquered like the Japanese. And while the Romulans might be far more emotional, they are at least are their own people.”

So, @Dave in MN, how would one deal with the Romulans/Chinese?

The posture towards the Romulans has, for decades in Star Trek, been a neutral zone - both in TOS and in TNG.

In DS9, Sisko abandons decades of Federation policy and drags the Romulans into the Dominion War by facilitating the murder of a Romulan senator and pinning the blame for that murder on the Dominion (yeah, DS9 was fucking dark that way!). But even during the Dominion War, the Federation and the Romulans were already preparing for their mutual hostility as soon as the war is over ("Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”).

And even when the Federation and the Romulans were aligned during the war, the Federation did nothing about the slave-like treatment of the Remans (“ST: Nemesis”),

DATA: As you can see one side of Remus always faces the sun. Due to the extreme temperatures on that half of their world, the Remans live on the dark side of the planet. Almost nothing is known about the Reman homeworld, although intelligence scans have proven the existence of dilithium mining and heavy weapons construction. The Remans themselves are considered an undesirable caste in the hierarchy of the Empire.

RIKER: But they also have the reputation of being formidable warriors. In the Dominion War, Reman troops were used as assault forces in the most violent encounters.

PICARD: Cannon fodder.

If that’s the situation with the Remans, @Dave in MN, why do we think things would be any different for the Uyghurs?

The only lasting solution to the Romulan problem we see in Star Trek is the one proposed by Spock in “Unification”. But that took centuries to fulfill - we finally see what Unification looks like in the 32nd century in the latest season of Discovery. I don’t doubt that in 900 years, the Chinese relationship with its offshoots - whether that is Hong Kong or Japan or Taiwan - will be very different from what it is today. But short of Unification in a few centuries, what option does Star Trek present for us today, other than a strong Neutral Zone, and a strong show of force if they ever venture out of their territory?

There is very little to be done by those of us on the outside, about what is happening inside. And that is the heart of the Prime Directive.
Booming
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 2:46am (UTC -5)
@Dave
"BTW, the reason this conversation went on a tangent is because some people think the allegories in this episode can only be selectively applied to certain Western cultures."
This! I never said that you cannot apply Star Trek to modern settings. Nobody did. That you are still perpetuating this lie is unbelievable. Yes, China is doing ethnic cleansing in Tibet and Xinjiang, same goes for other countries. Every country has wonderful and horrific aspects and the more powerful they become the more pronounced the horrific aspects normally get. As finally somebody else pointed out. I was just saying that the authors probably were influenced by examples from Western countries because these countries were ruling almost the entire planet not so long before the came up with the Prime Directive. When I wrote the "this is true for every important European country as well." I was already trying to avoid being dragged into another debate by the anti wokist crusaders. I was even thinking about including Japanese Imperial policies which in China and Indochina amounted to democides but thought that this was not necessary. I guess I was wrong.

Dave your intellectual laziness and your arrogance based on ignorance is too much to bear. You and your nationalistic friends (Nick; Rahul) from the well-shaved monkey brigade win.

Ignorance: 103478284 Reason: 0

Mal, despite misrepresenting some information at least did some work. It is her right to hate Germany or maybe she just wanted to hurt my feelings.

I was once in Namibia and one of the most memorable moments there was when we visited a holy lake, basically a deep hole in the ground. The naturalistic religions in the region revered it (in the past). Beautiful place. The sun was shining and there were these huge running birds (ostriches, I think) which scarred me a lot and then there was a sign. That sign read as follows: "During their retreat in 1915 the German colonial forces dumped several artillery pieces and machine guns into this lake." It made me terribly sad.

Sorry, everybody else. People insulted me and I got really angry. Still am. I was rude myself. I tried staying out of these arguments but Dave's attack was just too baffling. I stopped following the debate because I felt like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY7v21Zy1yE&ab_channel=xCrink2
Jason R.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 4:25am (UTC -5)
"For the record, I'm not speaking from the position of a nationalistic rah-rah cheerleader. I just don't care for when people make assertions without verifiable evidence, nor do I like when those who crow the loudest about their virtues selectively apply their focus."

Dave fwiw on the specific subject of the drone war you should know that the fact that "thousands" have been killed (in general, not specifically civilians, innocent or otherwise) is not really a controversial statement.

It is hard to find any kind of official tally from quick Google searching so I can't say if it is 3,002 or 8,004 and I specifically avoided citing civilian sources that you might not trust like the NY Times.

Suffice it to say I don't need "evidence" that this is happening because it's not a secret and the US government clearly admits it is happening and has been for years. It is not controversial, full stop!

Now you may not agree with my "black box" concerns - and that's all they were, concerns. I hardly accused the USA of genocide or said your leaders should go to a war crimes tribunal. I just said I worried how these targets were being verified and if we applied a "false conviction" rate you would expect even in a decent civilian criminal justice system, that would add up to alot of innocent blood, before you even address the actual "collateral damage" numbers which officials absolutely acknowledge too.

And seriously, how do you know my "outrage" is selective? I'm not allowed to raise a modest concern about US foreign policy in a topic *about* US foreign policy without providing my CV showing I gave equal time to war crimes in Tibet or Sudan and 10,001 third world dictatorships? Is the fairness doctrine back? Are you it's new ombudsman?

By the way, on the Troi issue the PD wouldn't apply to humans although from the episode it looks like Picard was perhaps trying to honour its spirit. I would say that in context, Troi's concerns about her judgment were more about how her affair could destabilize this delicate society, which wasn't in issue in say The Price or with Riker in Angel One.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 9:59am (UTC -5)
I know your outrage is selective because this is, what, five or six posts from you about governmental abuse of human rights? You STILL can't be bothered to even type a sentence about any other country besides America.

And frankly, you are conflating what happens in a military setting with counter-terrorism efforts and espionage. You've made zero effort to delineate the two.

And what about Russia using drones in Syria? They are currently doing the most killing with drones and they have a much lower standard for using force ... yet you don't say "boo" about that either.

Just be real: you only want to condemn Western countries. I'm not saying there's nothing to condemn there, but you certainly seem to have made that your cause celebre. Embrace your singular focus!

I'm sorry that that's the conclusion I'm drawing, but I'm only going off what motivated you to type multiple responses.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:13am (UTC -5)
And how is Troi's actions any different than Riker's in "Angel One?

In both cases, a main cast member was boning the leader of a society undergoing upheaval due to outside influence, all during negotiations. The only difference between what Troi and Riker did is the genitalia they used to do it.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:34am (UTC -5)
@ Mal

OUTSTANDING post!!!! You explained that so well that you've piqued my interest to rewatch this episode.

*****

All I'm asking is that people take the lesson from the episode, look at the real world .... and then apply that lesson in EVERY circumstance.

And once that lesson is fairly applied, energy and attention should be focused on where the lesson learned is needed most.

Yes, you still apply that lesson everywhere, but some things need to be prioritized.

Looking at this conversation through that prism, I wouldn't have even spoken up if we'd started with the worst offenders first. Yeah, we can talk about America, but why is that the first and only thing some people seem to care about?

If we're being intellectually honest, this shouldn't be a Bash The West Fest.
Jason R.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:38am (UTC -5)
"I'm not saying there's nothing to condemn there"

Great, we agree after all!
Jason R.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:45am (UTC -5)
"In both cases, a main cast member was boning the leader of a society undergoing upheaval due to outside influence, all during negotiations. The only difference between what Troi and Riker did is the genitalia they used to do it."

God help me that I actually have watched Angel One enough to know this but Riker's dalliance takes place *before* they are even aware of the nascent men's rights movement.

Also, Riker's relationship had no effect on the planet's culture. It simply wasn't relevant as neither side was against it. In Troi's case just them being on the planet was disruptive to say nothing of going to bed with their genetically engineered leader.

I was, nevertheless, going to say that in a meta way, Troi feeling guilty for doing something similar to what Riker did was a double standard - except for the fact that in the Price, also Season 3, she did the same thing without any guilt.

The evidence is decidedly inconclusive.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:46am (UTC -5)
.... but that condemnation should have been preceded by an acknowledgment that we care about ALL humans and dozens of posts about the most egregious violations of our fellow man. I

nstead, we have people applying ethnic, racial and political biases to rationalize about which humans we should care about and discuss.

No, we DON'T agree.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:53am (UTC -5)
" Had no effect on their culture"?!?!

Their leader literally had intimate relations with a man from a society where males weren't subjagated and her decisions were absolutely altered by her first-hand experience. Even without the issue of the castaways, he was still having a relationship during first contact talks.

No difference that I can see.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:03am (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN,

You appear to be trying to push back against woke culture's tendency to rail against one's own country to the exclusion of other concerns, which I do understand. However I will point out to you that your argument is taking the current form at present:

"How dare you criticize X when you *should* be criticizing Y instead?"

But this formulation is actually a standard woke maneuver - to insist that outrage and condemnation be directed in pre-specified directions. The notion that individuals should be free to voice their own concerns as they see them is the only reasonable pushback against this pressured focus of ire. Telling people what to be concerned about is just joining the fray using the techniques you seemingly dislike. If your concern is people who are obsessed with condemning the culture that gave them so much, this would be an appropriate criticism of a larger, patterned behavior that seems to deliberately give a pass to much worse practices. There is no evidence of that here, and of all people Jason R is not the droid you're looking for.

This forum thrives on people speaking whatever is on their mind, and I don't see any reason to try to police that and insist on what the "real" priority should be, or what needs to be included with posts as disclaimers. You may ask well demand trigger warnings as well. People here already scoff at the demand for spoiler alerts!
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:05am (UTC -5)
I can think of a Trek lesson that might help you prioritize and focus your outrage:

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few."

If you are still having difficulties with deciding which humans you care about, then perhaps if you ponder it, this lesson may help you erase your prejudices:

"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:11am (UTC -5)
You are using the IDIC to prove to me how we *have to* speak in the way *you* would prefer? Do you realize how absurd that is?
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:12am (UTC -5)
@ Peter

I respect your thoughtful reply.

I just don't see why it's okay to differentiate humans by borders and cultures and then use that differentiation to deprioritize what deserves attention. That seems politico- and ethnocentric to me, if not outright racist.

I also don't see why it's okay to exaggerate, conflate or make up facts to score points.

Again, I can't decide what motivates others to post, but if I were on the sidelines and I saw the backpedaling someof the other posters here are doing, I would have popped in to say something about that.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:14am (UTC -5)
If your preferential order for caring and speaking out is based on skin color or what flag is waving over a human's shoulder, then yes, IDIC.
William B
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:18am (UTC -5)
Regarding this thread in general, Booming talked about the West specifically not because of this episode but because of how they interpret the Prime Directive's motivation. That got the topic of Western/US foreign policy up. Jason posted once about drones and then every subsequent post about that topic was clarifying his intent on bringing that up. The idea that he's only focused narrowly on drones is IMO a complete misreading of what is going on. If people are misunderstood or criticized, they will typically defend their position or clarify their intent. That's how conversation usually goes.

I genuinely don't see any evidence that anyone is indifferent to non-Western crimes. People are, however, very resistant to being told that because they didn't bring up XYZ they don't care about those topics, or are not allowed to bring up other topics, and IMO rightly so, for the reasons Peter articulates.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:25am (UTC -5)
And Peter, you can think however you want to.

It's probably a good thing China has sealed itself off from the internet. If any Tibetan or Ughyur saw this conversation, they'd be really disheartened that almost no one in this fanbase really seems to care about them. The best they get is a "Oh well, what can WE do about it" defense.

Kind of sad.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:33am (UTC -5)
Peter, are you saying IDIC is not applicable if someone is from another country? Should I care less about some humans depending on which goverment they have?

I just want to make sure I understand you.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:40am (UTC -5)
I'm saying that your position is apparently "infinite diversity and infinite combinations, except for your combinations and your diversity! Agree with me!" IDIC means to accept that others are different, think differently, and have different priorities. The Andorians are warriors, the Vulcans believe in peace. But in the Federation they have to respect each other's differences. Even better than that, they have to realize that these differences make the Federation stronger, not weaker. Conformity of thought and of form is not do be desired. It may sound counterintuitive to you, but in your concern for China you should in some sense be reassured that other people voice other concerns. There is room for all; or at least there is if you believe IDIC.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:55am (UTC -5)
That's a whole lot of words for "IDIC means genocide isn't condemable (or even mentionable) if it's a different culture doing it".
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 11:58am (UTC -5)
How is it IDIC to watch one culture exterminate two others and say nothing?

That's antithetical to IDIC.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
You're saying that the amount soneone should care about their fellow man is proportionate to how similar they think and act ..... and you're using IDIC to say it.

I honestly don't get it.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Dave, you really don't get it. My only suggestion is to go back and re-read the posts carefully. If you so I suggest you may see that you are mostly responding to things not said, and misreading the responses that are said. You just now paraphrased what I wrote, which in no way resembles what I actually did write. If you can't put the other person's position back to them in a clear way that they agree is what they meant, you will certainly get nowhere arguing with them about how wrong they are. How can you know if they're wrong if you're confused about their actual position?
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
Peter, you began by reminding me that people think differently than me.

You followed that by listing alien cultures by stereotypes and then applied those racial caricatures in a political example, using the Federation as an example of a political entity strengthened by being in a "diverse" universe filled with oppressive regimes that commit atrocities.

You created a STRONG inference that we shouldn't judge other cultures.

Don't be coy and pretend like that wasn't at least partially your intent.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Setting all that aside, you CERTAINLY can judge a culture one that culture decides to completely erase two others.

There's a lot less IDIC when you subtract two cultures from the planet. That alone should make it a top priority for EVERYONE.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN,

"You created a STRONG inference that we shouldn't judge other cultures.

Don't be coy and pretend like that wasn't at least partially your intent."

Then let me be clear: that has nothing to do with my intent, is far from it, and in fact is essentially off-topic in regards to the point I was expressing. You can take this as a given: you are far off in your estimation of what other people here are meaning. I suppose you will have to decide whether we are all liars, or whether you may need to re-evaluate how you're reading posts. I agree with some points you've made along the way, so don't fall into the trap of thinking this is an ideological disagreement. It's about you not being able to feed back to others what they are actually saying.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
I was responding to something YOU wrote. If it was off topic, why did you type so much and why are you now admonishing me for responding to it? You typed all that and put it in that order for a reason.

Setting aside the fact that if Andorians were real, it would be offensive to call all of them "warriors"; I have NO problem with a diversity of thought, but where is the diversity here?

The only points I see being made are

#1. "The West (mostly America) bad."

and/or

#2. "We can't do anything about it so why discuss it?"

and/or

#3. "No one besides you cares about the Ughuyrs or the Tibetans being exterminated and how dare you point that out. Be happy that at least you care. "

and/or

#4. "Accept that we prioritize a few hundred terrorist targets over millions of men women and children. You are wrong for finding that hypocritical."

and/or

#5. We should care more about the humans that look and act like we do. IDIC means be silent.

****

I think I understand perfectly.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Since zero of those points come close to representing what anyone here has said, yeah, I'd say you're having a problem parsing other peoples' posts. Maybe the written word is read differently by different people; maybe the technology makes us mistrust each other; maybe other things. Whatever it is, you're getting it very wrong, man.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
Other than Mal, I don't see anyone compelled to say a word about the current-day slaughter. They're more concerned about whether a few hundred/thousand terrorist targets in a battlefield situation had a taxpayer-funded defense attorney.

Literally, right now as you sip your coffee on the couch, innocent Ughuyrs and Tibetans and the innocent family members of dissidents are being lined up in a firing squad .... or they're starving in a slave labor camp ..... or they've been forcibly separated from the family .... or they are being reprogrammed in a detention center.... or they're being raped by ethnic Han troops ..... MILLIONS of people.

Right now. Literally. Now.

And the response is a collecrive shrug. WTF is up with that?!

It boggles the mind.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
And I wrote hundred SLASH thousand. Don't read that wrong.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
I will give this thread some credit, I think I actually genuinely understand how The Holocaust could happen now.

I always thought the reasons for it had to be incredibly socially complex, but I guess a "successful" genocide really only requires that good people shrug it off before they go watch a video on their Chinese-made device.
Rahul
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

maybe you should read what I touched on a bit last night (as part of addressing something else) -- one of the causes of great significance to me is to alert people to the atrocities of the Chinese communist regime
Jason R.
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Dave out of curiosity what have you been doing to stop Chinese atrocities (outside of talk)
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
What am I doing? A hell of a lot more than what you're doing, which is absolutely nothing at all.

#1. I'm bringing more awareness to the issue. I doubt there's a person reading this who can still claim ignorance about Chinese genocides.

#2. I don't buy Chinese products and I encourage others to do the same. Why support a country that flaunts such twisted actions?

I'm one man but I can still influence others.

My hope was that others here would say " Yeah, what about China? Let's explore that allegorical resonance to this episode". Instead .... well, you know what happened.

If, as a result of my actions, a couple dozen people reevaluate their priorities and a couple of those people are equally impassioned and then pay it forward to their social groups, a domino effect can be created where none existed before.

Our voices have power. We should use them, especially when confronted with cultural extermination and genocide.

@ Rahul

You did touch upon the issue previously and I should credit you for that. Credit is so bestowed.

To explicate on your post from yesterday:

It seems that some people are beholden to their pet issues and are too stubborn to allow anything else to deviate their attention. Perhaps they are unable to have opinions on multiple subjects. I don't know.

Whatever the reason, their molehill is a mountain and that's that. It's especially shocking when you consider that we're all Trek fans .

I also have to wonder why there's a reticence to even mention China's sick policies.

Is it fear? Do people here not care? I don't know what the fuck the problem is, but I'm disappointed in the general lack of caring about it.

Trekkies should know better.
Rahul
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN

In my experience people are caught up in their own little worlds and it is hard to think of suffering half way around the world. For example, the Chinese communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong has been compared to another holocaust. They literally harvest their organs for transplant tourism -- it's an evil the world has never seen -- and this horror funds even more persecution.

In any case, keep up the good work. You don't have to prove anything to people like Jason R. or anybody else but just be mindful that (especially on a forum such as this with limited communication) you're not going to get the depth of response you might be expecting.

I could go on and on about why there is a reticence to take China to task -- it has to do with money, business/political interests of course but in my experience, talking to people face to face about what the communist regime is doing usually proves fruitful. But on this forum, which is to discuss Trek, I wouldn't expect to see a whole lot of obvious support.
Dave in MN
Wed, Apr 7, 2021, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul

You're right, of course. Thanks for understanding why this is so important.

I'll readily admit I' started being snarky with a few people while discussing this, but it's very tough to completely counterbalance my disgust at the casual indifference to widespread suffering (all whilst they cry copious tears about poor innocent Al Qaeda and ISIS members).

China is guilty of the worst crimes against humanity committed this century (and it's still ongoing).

People should feel bad for caring so little that the current obliteration of two cultures doesn't even register on their radar when discussing human rights violations.

I won't apologize for ruffling a few feathers to make that evident.
James
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 12:32am (UTC -5)
If we're looking for clues why no one seems to care about some of these atrocities mentioned, I'd say this discussion thread is a fairly accurate microcosm of the general situation. When there's a prize for who's right, which country is superior, which president was better, or concerning the endless left/right debate, that's when these issues start to matter.
Booming
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 1:13am (UTC -5)
@Dave
Just got around to read your response to my quote from the DoD report.
"Do you guys see how this works?

Booming's own evidence only says 197 deaths in Afghanistan were credible in 2017 and there is nothing factual cited about whether these deaths were due to terrorism or being caught in a cross-fire or if they were providing material support to Al Qaeda etc

I love when someone owns themselves! 🤣😅"

Wow, if you had bothered to read a little further (two lines to be precise) the report states:" Even though military operations to defeat ISIS are a coalition effort consisting of the coordinated efforts of many nations, this report only lists civilian casualties attributed to the use of U.S. weapons."
Do you not get what this report is about? It is, apart from a general report on civilians casualties inflicted by the US military, a report about checking claims by family members who seek compensation when the US military kills civilians. It is about ex gratia payments. That means that they could prove that 191 civilians were definitely killed by US weapons and 864 probably. In 2017 alone.

And attacking Peter and Jason? Two conservative members of this forum. Jesus...
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 7:56am (UTC -5)
@ James

Why is genocide so hard to condemn? You shouldn't need to compare and contrast it in order to denounce it.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 8:08am (UTC -5)
We're not scoring points here, we're discussing the real world.

I know it's shocking, but sometimes certain countries DO behave worse than others, some Presidents are more and less effective, some liberal and conservative policies have opposing benefits and harms and so on. You can claim that's not the case, but that's an absurd premise to make.

Yes, it's not always easy to have such conversations nowadays, but you act like it's a bad thing to even attempt a dialogue (which is akso hypocritical of you because you've already posted a dozen times about your point of view).

If all it takes to keep you from denouncing the cultural extermination of millions is the fact that you don't want someone else to be correct, then you've got WAY bigger problems than your wayward moral compass.

I mean, think about it.

Millions are being systematically oppressed, but you're digging in your heels because.... why? I still don't get it.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 8:16am (UTC -5)
And I confused Jason and James ... *sigh*

Regardless, my point stands.

I will admit that I hoped at least some of the people shedding tears over ISIS soldiers would also express en
their feelings toward Chinese genocide, but it's been three days and I don't think it's going to happen.
James
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Why is genocide so hard to condemn? I think I answered that: because people don't take notice of things that hold no perceived benefit for them. And that should be obvious by the fact no one was talking about it here until someone's feathers were ruffled by a criticism of Trump.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 8:46am (UTC -5)
@ Booming

I didn't "attack" anyone. I pointed out the cognitive dissonance in putting all their focus on the due process rights of terrorists while ignoring millions that are raped and murdered.

As far as the rest of your comment goes, I'll make myself plain.

You are FULLY aware that our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq were targeted by terrorists and that firefights were a common occurrence. Most of these incidents happened in heavily populated urban areas.

Collteral damage was often unavoidable and the terrorists have had no issue with killing innocent people. Case in point: every terrorist attack. You haven't established what you think you have.

But sure, let's fault America. All those poor sweet innocent ISIS terrorists are pure and blameless! 🙄
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:09am (UTC -5)
Reread the thread before you rewrite history, James.

I reviewed the episode and immediately followed it up with two posts bringing up Chinese policy. Trump wasn't even mentioned until the next day.

I'm sorry but I'm not going to allow an OBVIOUS lie to stand.

Scroll up, people. Hit control-F, type "Dave" and go through my responses.

That DIDN'T happen. Lies.
James
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:22am (UTC -5)
And would you have mentioned China without the opportunity to defend western countries, accusations of political correctness, etc? I highly doubt it.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Yes BECAUSE THE CLOSEST MODERN ANALOG TO THE SOCIETY PORTRAYED IN THIS EPISODE IS CHINA. I would have brought it up anyways because there is no way to divorce China from its actions.

The conversation didn't happen that way because some people were more concerned with sympathizing with ISIS and Al Qaeda.

You are acting like it's a bad thing to protest genocide. What the hell is your malfunction?!?!
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:30am (UTC -5)
It says something about you that, instead of apologizing for a brazen lie, you attack my sincerity.

You don't seem to have any personal morality so why are you wagging your finger at me?
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:42am (UTC -5)
Booming brought up Western foreign policy in response to Luke talking about the Prime Directive in general, not because of anything particular to this episode.

As for the reason for focusing on the West in discussing the PD, the argument for Booming's focus there is not that the West is worse than China, but that the PD is about "how should WE behave." It is plausible that the Federation is mostly based on the West, and so efforts to minimize Federation interference would be based on instances of Western interference gone awry. This makes complete sense to me. It has nothing to do with what the worst crimes in the world are, but why the Federation itself would want to curtail its power/why the Trek writers would want to curtail its power, and one of the main reasons would be evidence that the modern day closest Federation equivalents are still at risk of overreach.

Jason brought up drones because whether there are legally dubious deaths on US hands for recent years was then in play in the thread. Jason himself had said that he didn't follow every point Booming made closely. Every subsequent post of his, except for about Troi, was clarifying and defending his original post against misinterpretion. The description of him shedding copious tears over the subject or whatever doesn't match at all the way he's come across in this thread to me.

Of course Chinese atrocities are terrible. IMO the reason people are not explicitly saying this is that I think people feel that they are accusing them of positions they do not hold, and do not feel they have anything to prove. And I agree. I don't think anyone should be required to list all atrocities in order to discuss any legally dubious actions. The things Dave seems to be saying about Jason and Peter, and Booming, seem radically different from what their intent appears to be. I don't really understand how this break has happened.
Jason R.
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:43am (UTC -5)
"Yes BECAUSE THE CLOSEST MODERN ANALOG TO THE SOCIETY PORTRAYED IN THIS EPISODE IS CHINA. "

May I ask why? (please don't bite my head off)
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:49am (UTC -5)
I'll go out on a limb and say that I think some of the issue is a sincere communication breakdown. For instance, I think the intent of Peter's bringing up the Vulcans and Andorians was misread by Dave. I don't know whose fault it was.

Peter was attempting IMO to show that the Vulcans and Andorians have to listen to each other, basically, rather than assume the worst. But the analogy was not to different nations in the world, but to *this thread*. Different people in this thread are focused on different issues, and it's better not to assume the worst of people's motives for their current conversational focus. The use of Vulcans and Andorians had nothing to do with any kind of cultural or national essentialism, and was an unintended part of the analogy. I can understand how that would seem to be implicit in his analogy, but IMO it is completely unintended by Peter, and it didn't occur to me at all when reading it.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:53am (UTC -5)
The reason there is a "break" in because there are huge incongruities and dissonances in both what triggers people to speak up AND in how they formulate where to apply their attention.

I don't believe that the philosophy that Trek teaches was intended only for Western audiences, and regardless of that intention, the truths it teaches are universal.

I also don't believe non-interference is a Western concept at ALL, that's a HUMAN concept. (To say otherwise is to say that non-Westerners like to interfere .... which is another uncomfortable unspoken truth about this line of thought). Maybe that's part of the "break" too.

If someone wants to use some artificial lines on a map to decide which human rights are worth defending, that's on them.

But I think they should own up to the fact that they don't care because those people are, for whatever reason, "different".
Booming
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:54am (UTC -5)
"Collteral damage was often unavoidable and the terrorists have had no issue with killing innocent people."

Good point, Dave. If a superpower bombs third world countries on the other side of the planet and kills 1000+ innocent every year in the process then it is obviously not to blame. It's like with those 2.5 million dead Vietnamese. That is all on the Vietcong. If people would just accept American rule everywhere whenever it demands it then nobody would have to die. Thanks for clearing that up.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:55am (UTC -5)
Perhaps if the Tibetans and Ughuyrs joined ISIS, they might care about their rights then?
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:55am (UTC -5)
I'll lay my own cards on the table and say that, like Peter I think, my current focus is on untangling what has happened in this thread, rather than actually litigating any international crimes. The reason I think this is worthwhile for me is that I feel a greater ability to weigh in here on this thread than on international atrocities. It's easier for me to do it, because it is more manageable in scale and easier for me to get a psychological handle on. I am fully aware that it is much less important than Chinese government atrocities (which are horrible). Call it narrowness of vision if you will. Gotta start somewhere. :)
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Dave, the reason I am saying the West is where people focus regarding the PD is not that only the West should not interfere, but that the PD is in part about self-censorship. The point is that *good*, well intentioned, organizations can still wreak havoc. It is obvious and "goes without saying" that evil empires with no respect for human rights will do evil if they interfere. The question is not why it's good to avoid genocide, but why it's important to restrain oneself even in cases where the downside is not obvious.

The only reason to bring up Chinese government atrocities in this context would be if it could be argued that the intentions behind those atrocities were good.
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:05am (UTC -5)
I say "in this context" in the extremely specific context I am mentioning. Of course anytime can say reasons why general noninterference is preferable. But there are particular arguments about the PD that are stronger when more ambiguous cases are being argued, IMO. The concept behind the PD applies not just in the worst cases in the world, but in more ambiguous cases, and indeed more ambiguous cases are a better arena for litigating the PD in some respects.
Booming
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:18am (UTC -5)
William has now pointed out several times what my original point was. I didn't even give my own opinion just what could have informed the decision to come up with the PD.

It is quite amazing watching Dave have debates with imagined points others did not make. It is also quite telling that you, Dave, haven't mentioned the Rohingya with one single word.

"Perhaps if the Tibetans and Ughuyrs joined ISIS, they might care about their rights then?"
You insulted me and called me a liar because I pointed out that there isn't a single US president for decades who has less than a 1000 people on his conscience. Now that you know that I was right the entire time, you just say that it doesn't matter. When the US military kills innocent then it is always on your enemies and when your enemies kill innocent then that is also on them. You are saying that the US is not responsible for the any war dead. Oh and nobody here is saying that what the Chinese do isn't horrible. You are arguing with yourself.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:18am (UTC -5)
I'll own up to my faults in this.

I'll fully acknowledge that I got indignant at certain points (and being indignant doesn't promote healthy discussion), but the notion that I only care about Chinese atrocities because it was a useful rhetorical tool is really offensive to me.

It also didn't help that I'm seeing people fret over battlefield terrorists not being read their rights. (Yes, me using the word "crying" was somewhat hyperbole, but still, it's not THAT much of hyperbole considering the volume of text hand-wringing about terrorist's human rights).

I knew two guys who were killed overseas in those pointless wars and I would happily trade them for the terrorists who sniped them, even if meant those terrorists didn't get a lawyer and were immediately blown up by a drone. (Unlike some, I'm fine with that in a battle scenario.)

That may explain some of how this thread went sideways.

Well, hopefully by now I've proved that I truly care about this subject. If not, I'm worse at this debating thing than I thought.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:23am (UTC -5)
I literally never said "any" so stop lying.

I don't expect an apology so, unless you surprise me, I'm done responding to you, Booming. Forever.

And trust me, I have NO problem putting you on infinite ignore. I know you crave attention ... so it'll be the prize that never stops paying dividends.

Just know that, ten years from now, I'll still be chuckling at your wasted efforts to get me to engage.

Toodles!
Booming
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:28am (UTC -5)
Why do I have to think of this clip? That's you Dave.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6S9HnNGik4&ab_channel=lbtve
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -5)
"I also don't believe non-interference is a Western concept at ALL, that's a HUMAN concept. (To say otherwise is to say that non-Westerners like to interfere .... which is another uncomfortable unspoken truth about this line of thought). Maybe that's part of the "break" too."

Sigh, of course it's a human concept.

Look, maybe the Trek writers were much more universalist than in this theory. Trek certainly reaches for a unified earth future. But it strikes me as being very inspired by 1960s American culture, and reacting to that. American foreign policy is on their minds. It is not, at all, a statement that only Americans can do evil, but that Vietnam and the "good intentions gone awry" narrative that tended to dominate thinking about American involvement is relevant. It's about what might have been on the writers' minds.

From Wikipedia (I know, it's just Wikipedia):

"Creation of the Prime Directive is generally credited to Original Series producer Gene L. Coon.[7][8] The Prime Directive reflected a contemporary political view that US involvement in the Vietnam War was an example of a superpower interfering in the natural development of southeast Asian society; the creation of the Prime Directive was perceived as a repudiation of that involvement.[9][10]"
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:33am (UTC -5)
When this episode was written China was a non-issue to mainstream American thought and writing. There is essentially no chance that China was the intended analogy with this colony. Obviously one can map China onto it, and in 100 years there may be other societies that strikingly fit, but that doesn't mean it's the writer's intention. And those here talking about the PD and the West are talking about the writers' intentions and the series message regarding the PD. That discussion doesn't bear really at all on the details of this colony and whether it resembles any current-day societies. That is, as far as I can tell, off-topic to the issue of how the PD is playing out and whether it's about the U.S. or not.

Now as an aside, I don't think China maps well onto the colony well at all. Sure, China has engaged in some limited eugenics, and sure, they have a more regimented society than we see in the West. But the similarity stops around there as far as I can tell. I see a lot more Brave New World here, where people are genetically engineered to love their niche in the society, where everyone is made beautiful and perfect, where their pleasure and fulfillment is maxed out using technology, and where the slightest perturbation or free thought would bring the whole thing tumbling down. It is fundamentally a weak society, whose stability is guaranteed only so long as it can remain isolated from 'the savages.' China, on the other hand, is a demonstrably strong society, where you would not easily find cracks in the system to topple it over, and where despite having probably low morale in certain respects, the ever-present eyes of government make sure that everyone is watching everyone. It looks a lot more to me like Orwell's vision in 1984, if we needed to make comparisons of this sort in the first place.

The colonist here really do look like nice and happy people, not stifled victims of an oppressive and cruel thought police. Their main problem is that they cannot absorb the shock of outside influence, but also cannot survive without it. That doesn't sound like China. So this analogy in the first place was forced, to say the least, and continued to be forced, apparently to make some kind of political point that IMO has little to do with the episode at hand.
William B
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Dave, I am very sorry for the loss of your friends overseas. Genuinely.

Jason is a lawyer, and lawyers are interested in the law. I might be mistaken but it doesn't seem even to be very emotional for him. I think he is interested in what the laws should be regarding drone strikes. And he should be, because it is important to be able to consider how to deal, via the law, with the conflict between different values (universal human rights versus safety, etc.).

I am grateful that you, Dave, care about the crimes being committed in the world, by terrorists and by the Chinese government.

I am grateful that Jason cares about the judicial process, because I would rather have a lawyer be attentive to these details rather than be tempted to cut corners when faced with wrongdoing. Note that as far as I can tell, Jason didn't even say he thinks drone strikes are wrong, but that he doesn't know whether he supports the black box nature. I think it's a really important point.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:47am (UTC -5)
@ James

Yes, you may ask why and I'll answer nicely.

The society in this episode was portrayed as

#1. Being selectively bred. Human relationships have no factor in the offspring reproduced.

This is analagous to the Chinese limiting when and who can have children and their enforced marriages of ethnic Ughyurs and Tibetans to Han Chinese.

#2. The individuals in the habitat had no independent agency.

The Chinese often force their populations to give up their jobs and move on a whim, forcing hundreds of thousands to relocate to the ghost cities they've constructed. The Chinese goverment also forces millions into certain professions against the people's will, they force allegiance to a goverment with full control and they openly use slave labor.

#3. The society in the episode kept essential facts hidden from the populace that should be known. It was known for weeks that the habitat would be destroyed yet the knowledge of that was kept secret.

This is analogous to the Chinese goverment's complete control of the dissemination of nformation. That government lies or covers up its actions as a matter of policy.

#4. The society portrayed in this episode used social pressure to suppress the wishes of the individual.

China's social credit system.

#5. The society in this episode created the notion that some people are inherently deserving of leadership because of their genetics.

This is analagous to the racist notion of Sino superiority and the way in which China suppresses minorities within its borders.

I'll probably think of more congruences, but I think that's a good start.

And the reason these comparisons are apt is because it illustrates how this episode failed to consider what would actually be entailed in creating such a society.

That habitat was still filed with humans and we're more fickle and random than what's shown here. In order to create such a "utopia", strongarm tactics like what the Chinese use would also have to be a factor.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 10:59am (UTC -5)
And of course the Trek writers were universalist.

The creators populated the ship with all different kinds of people for a reason. The lessons applied to everyone onboard no matter what their heritage, age or gender was.
Mal
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 1:25pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G. said, "I see a lot more Brave New World here, where people are genetically engineered to love their niche in the society."


If you research Dor Yeshorim, I think you'll find "The Masterpiece Society" has more similarities with the use of matchmaking to combat Tay–Sachs disease. The writer of the episode - James Kahn - came from that community, and was also a trained doctor.
Dave in MN
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
@ William

Thank you for saying that. 👍
Silly
Mon, Apr 12, 2021, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
I kind of liked it, but it was flawed. Picard's wangst at the end was just silly. Also, the leader bemoaning how hard it would be after these people left-- well, he may have believed that, but I don't. Of course, that gets into the very dark nature of what is really going on in that place.

I liked Deanna revealing her affair to Picard. I don't think it was wrong for her to have the affair, but it was information she thought that Picard needed to know.

I also liked the way the leader ultimately just let the ones that wanted to go, leave.


I'm not sure why I liked it. Maybe because it almost feels like a season 1 concept but with humans acting more like actual humans then season 1.
Silly
Tue, Apr 13, 2021, 12:43am (UTC -5)
I just watched it again and think it's maybe even a 3.5 star episode.

Aaron is well written and very well cast. Being very honest and likable makes the story work.

This also contains a "romance" subplot between Deanna and Aaron, and it's one of the most convincing I've ever seen. It's also completely organic and doesn't feel bolted on or out of place. These two have natural chemistry far more than Riker/Deanna ever did.

All the characters behave believably.

The chief negative are the aforementioned Picard wangst that simply makes no sense.
Maq
Tue, Apr 13, 2021, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
It was a very intense discussion above. This was written 1991, a few years after the fall of the iron curtain. Old Sovjet was quite dissordered, China had started to expand econimically but was still not so agressive internationally as thea are today. I can not really connect this to any political situation, rather to a scientifical regarding genetical manipulation and screening.

This discussion and problematic was very well articulated in the dialogues between Hannah and Geordi.

@Silly I agree with you regarding the quality of the romance subplot. Although being man I can really understand why she did fall in love with Aaron. Very good portrait of a vers symphatic and pragmatic leader.

But there is a disturbing sexism there if you compare with Rikers adventures.
"The Game" starts with a bed room scene where only lust is involved. Troi needs to fall in love first and have a bad consious afterwards.
Mal
Tue, Apr 13, 2021, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
@Maq, very interesting comments. Especially the difference between Riker and Troi’s attitude towards sex. I wonder if that difference in attitude is a reason that they weren’t able to make it work? That is until they had both reached their mid-fourties (ST:Insurrection), at which point in life, presumably, there a few things other than sex that start to matter more?

Troi was not only unusually reticent about sex compared to other people on the ship, but also compared to other women on the ship.

In “Justice”, for example, Tasha jumps right into sex with the natives. But Troi keeps her distance and never lets go enough to enjoy the planet. In “The Host”, Beverly has a fling with the Trill, and all goes swimmingly - they even have a threesome with Riker (!), and it only falls apart when the Trill transitions to a woman. Beverly, bless her heart, just isn’t into that kind of thing.

Troi seems to be quite aware that she reacts differently towards sex than the other women on the ship, and even sometimes uses that to trick her crewmates,

TROI: But it was a thrill. Lutan is such, such a basic male image and having him say he wants you.

TASHA: Yes, of course it made me feel good when he - Troi, I'm your friend and you tricked me.

And it goes without saying that Deanna's attitude is very different from her mom’s. Lwaxana loves to visit the mud baths of Parallax Colony, surrounded by scantily clad (or downright naked) women. Riker loves Risa. What about Troi? I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about what she does with her free time - hobbies, vacation spots? The only thing I know is that she likes to eat chocolate and brush her hair during her off time. Is “brushing her hair” code for getting herself off?

And so, you find this woman, Deanna, who by all accounts, far prefers deep relationships to casual flings. And she often finds herself in lots of trouble when she does go all in. In “The Price,” she’s sleeping with the competition. In "Man of the People” she is used and abused. And so “The Masterpiece Society” is really a natural continuation for Troi, and completely within her character.

I don’t know how many shrinks you know socially, but it is weird how many of them tend to have fucked up personal lives. Troi was written better than we sometimes give the writers credit for.
Maq
Wed, Apr 14, 2021, 4:41am (UTC -5)
@Mal

Ok, I buy your argument. Of coures it is allowed for diffrent characters to have different approach to sexual freedom.

But I will still argue that there is a sexism here. Star trek has moved borders, and that is great. Still it reflects the time and culture in wich it was made. My European point of view also has an impact.

When Crusher get sexually involved with the Trill ambassador it is through love not lust.

Although Lwaxana take the same rights as Riker it is presented in a quite silly way.
When Ro "seduces" not to unwilling Riker ind Condorum she comes up like a manipulator. In enterprise Hoshi gets sex through romance rather than lust.

Male sex can be just for fun and pleasure.

Tasha was first. In Discovery Emperess Giorgiou enjoys life in the last episode S1.

I want to add that I find this sexism quite funny. I do also like when they play with it and "boldly goes where no one has gone before".
Booming
Wed, Apr 14, 2021, 5:36am (UTC -5)
I think for Lwaxana it is intersectional. She is not only a women, she is also old. Society expects old people to be nice porch dwellers who play Canasta all day. But you are right. Female lust is often portrayed as bad or threatening in classic literature with long lasting influences. The trope of the lusty old women is also well established since ancient times, most famous in the Gorgons.
Booming
Wed, Apr 14, 2021, 5:40am (UTC -5)
whoops, I meant the sister of the Gorgons ( who were probably perverts nonetheless), the Graeae.

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