Jan 27 2010 6:51pm

Something that really bugs me about the recent Star Trek movie

There’s a scene at the end of the movie—and I don’t think this is a spoiler, the movie has been building to this point the whole time—where Kirk has the bad guy on the main bridge viewscreen. The bad guy is defeated, his ship crippled, and Kirk offers amnesty. The bad guy proudly refuses, and instead dies with his ship.

Spock approaches Kirk afterward and asks if Kirk was really going to help the bad guy out. And Kirk smirks and says, no, of course not. Spock is happy about that.

It seems to me that one scene spits in the face of one of the greatest things about the original Trek. The show was primarily an action-adventure program, with plenty of fistfights and stirring ship-to-ship battle. But in the end, Gene Roddenberry and the rest of the people who created Trek were espousing a philosophy of peace and forgiveness. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise extended forgiveness to enemies many times, including the very first time they encountered the Romulans, in a sequence that the movie echoes.

The message of Trek: It’s better to talk than to fight. It’s better to forgive your enemies.

When I was in my teens and 20s I thought that was sappy, but now that we’re a decade into the Never-Ending War On Terror, I think it’s lovely. It’s even more lovely because the original creators of Trek were themselves warriors, in real life. The older ones, at least, were part of the generation that served in World War II. Gene Roddenberry was a decorated bomber pilot who flew 89 missions. He crashed one of them. He later became a cop.

James Doohan fought at Normandy on D-Day. He shot two snipers, led his men to higher ground through a field of land mines, and got hit with friendly fire and lost a finger, an injury which he tried to conceal as an actor. A bullet to his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case. Doohan also trained as a pilot.

Leonard Nimoy served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army 1953-55. DeForest Kelley served as an enlisted man during World War II.

These men who knew war, evangelized peace, a message which the creators of the current Trek movie laugh at.

One of the scenes in the original series where Kirk grants clemency to a defeated enemy is “Arena.” That’s the one where Kirk is forced by the god-like alien Metrons to fight a man-sized lizard Gorn, played of course by a guy in a rubber lizard suit, making breath sounds like he has asthma and a problem with uncontrollable salivation. Kirk incapacitates the Gorn enemy and, as described by Eugene Myers:

[Kirk] snatches the alien’s dagger and is about to finish [the Gorn] with it when he relents:
          No. No, I won’t kill you. Maybe you thought you were protecting yourself when you attacked the outpost.

He yells to the Metrons that he won’t kill the Gorn and his felled opponent disappears. A young boy materializes, which makes Kirk wary, considering his track record with powerful children these days, but no worries: the Metron is actually 1500 years old. He congratulates Kirk for showing “the advanced trait of mercy” and tells him the Enterprise won’t be destroyed. He offers to destroy the Gorn instead, but Kirk declines (perhaps realizing they’re still testing him), and suggests that maybe they can talk through their conflict. The Metron seems pleased:

Very good, Captain. There is hope for you. Perhaps in several thousand years, your people and mine shall meet to reach an agreement. You are still half savage, but there is hope. We will contact you when we are ready.

But that was in another timeline. The Kirk in this timeline will fail the Metrons’ test, if he encounters it.

I take this seriously because I think pop culture both leads and reflects cultural sentiment, and apparently we’re now a culture that thinks mercy for one’s enemies is a big joke.

Mitch Wagner is an science fiction fan, Twitter and Facebook addict, Second Life enthusiast, Internet marketing consultant, technology journalist, husband, and co-owner of a cat who holds him in disdain. He hides from the sun in San Diego, blogs at Mitch Wagner's Blog podcasts at Copper Robot, and tweets far too often at @MitchWagner.

1. SimonDH
So, you're assuming that because someone does something when they are older (i.e. in the 'sequels' that is the original Trek) that the person should behave consistent with how they do in that future in their past? That seems odd to me. It's quite feasible that both Spock and Kirk learn to behave compassionately exactly because they don't behave that way and then realise the error of their ways. Maybe I'm being a bit too forgiving of behaviour that I, too, disagree with, but it seems to me that the two could be consistent in terms of character development.
2. Stefan Jones
You're right. This scene is one of the things that disappointed me about the new movie.

RE veterans writing SF . . . I'm always amazed at how seriously people take Starship Troopers.

Heinlein served, in the Navy, for a little while. He didn't see combat.

Plenty of SF authors did see combat in WWII. Joe Haldeman saw action in Vietnam. They didn't romanticize war when they wrote about it. Many didn't write about war at all. They didn't glamorize the military. And sometimes quite the contrary.
3. Elizabeth Donald
I agree with the importance of these nuances, in reflection of popular culture. But I think you might be misinterpreting the scene. It's Spock who asks what he's doing, and Kirk says it may be the only way to earn peace with the Romulans and that it's logical, Spock would like that. "No, not really, not this time," Spock says. Etc.

But my interpretation (and it's based on the shooting script, I don't have the DVD yet) is that Kirk made the offer in earnest and was turned down, one of the very few signs I saw in the movie that Roddenberry's philosophy survived in any form. If anything seemed out of character, it was Spock's reaction, though I suppose we are meant to interpret it as a significant change in him due to the destruction of his world and death of his mother.

That said, you are absolutely right about the original series being created by "men who knew war and evangelized peace," which I would like your permission to quote. That message is nearly buried in the modern shoot-em-up versions, and I hope for better, smarter writing in the inevitable sequel.
j p
4. sps49
Bill Mauldin once wrote "the surest way to become a pacifist is to join the infantry".

I believe that this movie was named Star Trek to reach an existing customer base, but it isn't Star Trek. This bit is one reason.

You're a bit late with this article, though, aren't you?
Fabio Fernandes
5. fabiofernandes
I really liked the new Star Trek, but you've got a point here. Elizabeth @3 : you also raised a valid argument today, which we could call the "rise of the shoot-em-up versions", that pretty much transforms the original stories into trigger-happy extravaganzas.
Clark Myers
6. ClarkEMyers
It's certainly true that Ginny spent more time in the Navy than Mr. Heinlein did - and as most people know he was proud of her service - more than he admitted being of his own.

"RE veterans writing SF . . . I'm always amazed at how seriously people take Starship Troopers."

You mean like this?
"The intent of the Commandant in issuing this list (MCBUL 1500) is stated as follows: "In an era of constrained resources, our professional reading program is designed to provide Marines with an intellectual framework to study warfare and enhance their thinking and decision making skills. The mind, like the body, grows soft with inactivity. All Marines must understand that mental fitness is as demanding and as important as physical fitness, for both require commitment and perseverance. In a world characterized by rapid change and great uncertainty, our reading program will act as a combat multiplier by providing all Marines with a common frame of reference and historical perspective on warfare, human factors in combat and decisionmaking. In so doing, the program will also strengthen the threads of cohesion that make our Marine Corps unique." Selectons of recommended works are to be made from the listings under each rank. The sub-categories of readings for "All Marines" listed at the end, are shown in parentheses. "
Private, Private First Class, Lance Corporal
Heinlein Starship Troopers

No doubt the reason that "hen Robert Heinlein accepted the very first Grand Master award, he recalled his brother, Major General Lawrence Heinlein, telling him that there are only two promotions in a man’s life that mean a damn: from buck private to corporal and from colonel to general officer." Don't have to read Starship Troopers professionally any more might be the reason more than getting a blood stripe?

Consider Jerry Pournelle. He's been accused many times of doing for war what pornography does for sex. David Drake most explicity distinguishes between his own military SF and his own space opera with I think suggestions that such a distinction might be generalized. I'd call Star Trek (any) space opera.

Consider that when Star Trek was new this country - U.S. of A. - faced nuclear destruction (along with the rest of the world) See e.g. Kris Reusch on the hope Star Trek brought to a few children in the days when Duck And Cover was taken seriously.

Mr. Heinlein suggested in Tunnel in the Sky that Romantics and a Romantic Age are a poor match. A time when most people have forgotten the reality of global war and think in terms of surgical air strikes and civil police rules of engagement is a time when the Star Trek restart can titillate rather than empower the viewers.
7. cranscape
I totally read that scene the opposite of all of you and loved it. Have you watched recently? Maybe you miss heard. Kirk offered help and was denied. It was Spock who turned to him and asked if his offer had been wise and Kirk said he wanted to reach peace with the Romulans. I don't think either were particularly heartbroken at the baddies ultimate demise, but they did give him an offer and at extreme risk to themselves (as they could get sucked in too if they waited too long). I am really not sure what you were watching, but it wasn't what happened on any copy I've seen.
8. digitalbusker
I confess, I initially thought this post was part of Rabbit Hole Day, because all through the set up I kept thinking "That didn't happen. Did it? Did I forget something? I'm sure that didn't happen," etc.

Once I finally figured out that we're talking about the "What are you doing?" "Showing him mercy may be the only way to patch things up with the Romulans...." bit, I started to see it. Maybe it's just that I've been steeped in the Trek mercy-towards-thine-enemies thing my whole life, but it never remotely occurred to me that Kirk's offer wasn't genuine. Sure, the reason he gave for offering to save the life of the genocidal madman was calculated, but I don't think that implies that he wouldn't have followed through if somehow Nero had found it in himself to accept his offer.

Maybe he phrased it to Spock the way he did because he was afraid his first officer would flip out and choke him again.
Mitch Wagner
9. MitchWagner
Elizabeth @3: You most definitely have my permission to quote. I'm glad you liked the phrase.

sps49 @4: I would not say I'm late with this article. One of the things I like about is that it recognizes that anytime is a good time to talk about a book or movie or TV show, you don't have to jump in as soon as it comes out. The level of discussion on this post indicates they're right.

digitalbusker @8: The way I interpreted the scene was that Kirk only made the offer to the Romulan because he knew the Romulan would turn him down.
Tasneem Gould
10. Latecomer
@8 DigitalBusker - yeah now that Spock has found his 'sensitive side', perhaps Kirk is taking no chances :)

@4 sps49 - Au contraire, Mitch is absolutely on time with this post - I watched it for the first time 2 days ago. Why yes, the world does revelove around me ;)

To be honest, I took it as more of a joke than anything - Kirk is still young, and takes a lot of stuff very lightly. So I can totally see him making that kind of joke - the important thing is the offer, which he made. It kind of threw me actually - his character had done nothing to imply compassion or mercy until then, and I only see the rationale once I read this post.

However one thing did irk me greatly in the movie - the sudden ascendancy of Cadet Kirk to Captain. Actually I should say First Officer rather than Captain - it all smacked rather of 'the good ole boys club). Was there NO other competent officer on board? Was Captain (Old guy) soooooo in awe of Kirk's dad 20 years later that he would put a untested, wild-card junior cadet in that role.

Seriously, Dude.

Also - that movie BELONGED to Scotty - he was in it for all of 20 minutes, and he managed to save their bacon about 5 times before the end.
James Goetsch
11. Jedikalos
You've said it for me too. I hated that scene as well: it left a bad taste in my mouth for the whole movie, which I have no desire to see again.
12. aburke2435
I had interpreted that scene as Kirk making a genuine offer, but not expecting it to be accepted. He was seriously offering to rescue them, but he had no problem firing on them once Nero said no. Spock, though, was bloodthirsty, but as was admitted earlier, he was emotionally compromised.
13. J.C. Towler
The problem with the Gorn analogy is that a) The Gorn and Kirk were pitted against each other in a sci-fi cockfight that neither presumably wanted to be a part of, but which they were pressured into and b) The Gorn didn't just implode Vulcan.

What disappointed me about the scene was the decision to attack the Romulans when they were clearly doomed. It served no purpose except to put the Enterprise in a jackpot so they could effect one more edge-of-the-seat escape. Loved the movie, was stunned by how much I enjoyed the cast, but that little stunt was feeble.

Jacy Clark
14. Amalisa
I sort of did the "wha- huh?" thing, too, when I read the post. Went back and watched the ending again...

I'm totally fine with it. I mean, totally. Mercy offered, declined. See ya!

I perceived Kirk's offer as completely genuine and Spock's reaction as understandable, if not completely logical. And maybe the firing on the Romulan ship could possibly be considered merciful, in and of itself. The ship was being crushed in a singularity. Would a quick death by phaser/photon torpedo be better? Who knows...

One other thing to consider. We know that there was some change in the timeline as a result of Spock Prime's initial encounter with Nero and his ship. Perhaps, in this timeline, the Federation isn't as pacific as the original. Just a thought...

I'm an old school Trekkie. I was a child when the series originally premiered and loved it. I've enjoyed the things that came after but haven't felt the same thrill I did for the original.

Until this movie. Totally awesome, and I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel... :D
15. Heather J.
I agree, this scene bothered me as well. But as another commenter said, it was Spock's reaction that really got to me - it just didn't seem true to his characters. But then, his entire world had just been destroyed, so who know how that affected him? Still, this scene just didn't sit well with me despite how much I loved this movie.
16. XtremeCaffeine
And one of my main disappointments of the movie was that it confirmed that tattoos make you a bad person.

Also, it triggered my Scotsman-Who-Can't-Watch-A-Movie-Without-Shouting-At-The-TV mode, "He's gonna put boogs in yer ears! Oh no, now you've got boogs in yer ears. Y'arnae usin' yer brain! And now it's been eaten ba boogs!"
17. musicshark32
Nice way to misremember the scene. Spock speaks with Kirk before the baddie proudly declines the offer. Kirk doesn't say "no, of course not", he states that showing mercy might be the only way to gain peace with Romulans. It's Spock who doesn't want to help the Romulans. Kirk never actually smirks in that exchange.
18. Catbunny
Kirk doesn't say that. He tells Spock, "I thought you would like that." Kirk obviously didn't expect the bad guy (his name is Nero) to accept, but the offer was made and I took it as sincere. He never 'smirked' and it was Spock who said he wasn't happy with the offer Kirk had made.

When writing an article based on a scene in a movie, it helps to get the scene correct.
19. Blake Stacey
The whole movie is a remake of Star Wars Episode IV with names lifted from Star Trek. Worse yet, it takes a story which was silly and trite (but unpretentious and entertaining) in 1977 and tries to play it seriously. Every "spectacular" event only happens because everyone present has both hands on the Idiot Ball. (Sulu and Kirk having that "awesome" fight scene on the Romulan drill? What moron decided to give the grenades to only one guy? And when the drill which took out Alderaan^H^H^H^H Vulcan is used on Earth, its monument-tracking guidance system has it blast into the crust just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge . . . and within sight of Starfleet Academy. Remember, at Vulcan it got shut down by two guys with rifles. You think the Academy doesn't have a spare shuttlecraft and a pistol team?) I'd given up on it long before the final battle.
20. Dr. Blam
Um...Dude killed his daddy. Debate over.
21. odaiwai
I'd like to see a graph of Author Service Experience vs Depiction of War.

Where Author Service Experience goes from 0 (never served but likes the idea) to 10 (having to clean friends' blood from his uniform/trenches in WWI/Vietnam);

and Depiction goes from (Glorious and noble Undertaking) to (Waste of Humanity).
22. JoeNotCharles
Yeah, as many people said, you've got the scene completely backwards.

What bothered me about it was that it came out of nowhere, and then left to nowhere just as quickly. It was the only part of the movie where Kirk's character actually reminded me of the original Kirk, and it was over in a flash and had no buildup, so it only served to highlight how inadequate he was for the rest of the movie.
23. otakucode
Welcome to 2010. We've been building up to this for awhile now. Anti-intellectualism is GIGANTIC in the world today, along with anti-ideology. Expect to see more and more of it in every mainstream movie. The good guy will always turn out to be a shithead with absolutely no principles. Having principles makes you an "extremist" or at least "naive and unrealistic." Go watch Surrogates, where Bruce Willis, the "hero", forces the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE into agreeing with his opinion. Or Hostel, where the "good guy" runs down and then murders the bad guys. You can forget watching a movie and being able to respect the hero after it's over. Whatever base, ignorant impulse the average imbecile would have is what the "hero" will play out. Hell, at the end of the Torchwood TV series (a British Doctor Who spinoff) the "hero" murders an innocent child. Having the audience root for the most terrible people possible seems to be a contest nowadays.
Marcus W
24. toryx
JoeNotCharles @ 22:

... it was over in a flash and had no buildup, so it only served to highlight how inadequate he was for the rest of the movie.

That I absolutely agree with.

And though people have been saying that Kirk wasn't smirking at the time of the conversation, I don't know...I got the impression that he was smirking on the inside. I remembered it as a smirk myself, until everyone jumped forward to say that's not true at all.

The only reason I have for watching Star Trek is to see McCoy. Everyone else annoyed the hell out of me.
25. asldfj
Something really bugs me about this article:
THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS IN THE MOVIE!!! Either you didn't see it, are misremembering it, or you are deliberately misrepresenting it to make some kind of point. Go watch the movie again, then come back and correct your article.
26. brundlefly
Yeah, wow, you got that scene completely wrong.
Jason Ramboz
27. jramboz
I got the impression that Kirk's offer was only pro forma, that he knew there'd be an inquest if he didn't make a token effort. I can't tell if this is in the delivery of the line or the script, or a combination of both. The delivery felt flat and rushed, like Kirk didn't really care about what he was saying and was just throwing it out there because he had to. Then he doesn't follow it up at all, no pleading, no moral choice on whether to try to save his enemies... just "Oh thank God they didn't take it, now I get to shoot them."

It was exremely disappointing. It was almost as if the filmmakers were explicitly telling the audience, "You know all that idealism that's such an integral part of the original Trek? Well you can FUHGEDDABOUDIT, 'cause now we're all badasses!"

Our times have spoken: we don't care what a person believes, as long as he's a badass about it.
28. Jaryd Weiss
Ya, that's not what was said at the end of Trek.

He offers help to Nero. Spock then pulls him aside and asks if he's serious. Kirk says he is serious, and he then says, "I thought you'd like that."

"In this case, not really." is Spock's reply.

And you can't blame him. Spock just had his mother and his whole planet taken away from him because of this jackhole.

And when Nero says he would never accept help, they destroy him. Had he accepted, Kirk probably would have helped.
29. Ludon
I read that scene as a genuine offer but I also felt that Nero declining the offer had been expected. The fact that the offer was made was important in two ways. First - it would be a factor considered by Star Fleet in their evaluation of Kirk's performance during the mission/crisis. Second - The offer would have been documented then it could have been a factor in the discussions this crisis would trigger between the Federation and the Romulan Empire.

The thing that bothered me the most in the movie was that promotion at the end of the movie. Was that scene immediately after the crisis or was it two or three years later? (Is it worth trying to avoid this spoiler?) Having a simple "Three Years Later. . ." graphic would have made that scene more acceptable for me.

otakucode @ #23 - I think you're correct about the trend in current entertainment media. I don't see too many movies or TV shows but when I look back at the shows/movies that I've liked these past few years I can see what you mean. The best example of this, for me, is "In Bruges." I happen to love that movie but none of the lead characters are anyone who I'd feel comfortable being around.

Paul Lewandowski
30. Snowkestrel
Let's also not forget that Kirk in the original timeline was willing to forgo mercy under certain circumstances, such as when Kruge had murdered his son in ST:III. In The Man trap, when they could have found a preserve or vacant salty planet or some such for the apparently sentient salt vampire, they killed it instead. The ending of Dagger of the Mind was similarly merciless.

In the latest movie, I pretty much feel that the responses of both Kirk (whose father was killed by this guy, and who even in his bravado can't be so inhuman as to not be affected by the deaths of billions) and Spock (whose later movie & series progression into someone more balanced between logic and emotion seems to have been accelerated) were right on.

As #14 Amalisa said, there was some change in the timeline- the Enterprise was apparently built later for one thing, there seemed to be less of an emphasis on the exploratory nature of original timeline Starfleet as well, so there is possibly a more martial mindset to Starfleet members.

Mercy is offered when mercy can be offered. The explanation of the motivations for it will rarely encompass all of the complexities of the decision.

And when mercy is refused, with spite, how is it wrong to finish your enemy swiftly, helping to ensure that he will not (somehow, as happens often in fiction) rise up again to continue his war against you?

In the end, Kirk acknowledged that peace is preferable to war, and when peace was refused, he did what Kirk has always done- he defeated his enemy as thoroughly as his Humanity demanded.
31. DBratman
If you're going to cite the TOS episode "Arena" as an example of the wisdom of mercy, it's worth remembering that the episode changed the ending, and the moral meaning, of the story that it's based on.

In the story, the hero - who, like Kirk, was a warrior, but, also like Kirk, didn't want to be in this artificial cockfight - does kill the alien, having determined that no accommodation is possible, and having been assured by the mysterious referees that it's either you or him.

What decides the battle in the story is human determination and ingenuity. That in the Trek episode it's mercy, instead, is the addition of the Trek writers.
Jason Ramboz
32. jramboz
@DBratman, 31

All of which shows that mercy and humanity are the very things the Trek writers focused on to make it Trek instead of something else.
33. ecthelion
yep. Wagner probably needs to stick with his dayjob. way off base.
Marcus W
34. toryx
Snowkestrel @ 30:

Let's also not forget that Kirk in the original timeline was willing to forgo mercy under certain circumstances, such as when Kruge had murdered his son in ST:III.

Actually, that example is not true. He tried to save Kruge and all he got for it was nearly getting pulled into the abyss filled with lava. It was only afterwards that Kirk decided to hell with it and kicked him into the flames.
Paul Lewandowski
35. Snowkestrel
@34 toryx
Good point! All I could remember clearly was "I...HAVE HAD...ENOUGH...OF YOU!!!"

But looked at with your point in mind, I kinda think it mirrors the actions of young Kirk even more closely- he offered mercy, was rejected, and responded with force, finishing off his opponent.

In both cases, a very human reaction to someone the character might see as a heinous criminal.

BTW- to all and sundry- thanks for a lively and intelligent discussion. You demonstrate the spirit of what Trek (and SF in general) are all about
Jon Evans
36. rezendi
In the interests of hard data, here's the scene from the script, via IMSDB:

Hail them -- now!

NERO appears on screen from the Narada bridge -- the Narada's on its last legs -- a beat before Nero TURNS, realizing Kirk's fucking GRINNING at him from the screen:

This is Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise -- your ship is compromised -- too close to the singularity to survive without assistance -- which we are willing to provide.

Captain -- what are you doing?

We show them compassion-- it may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus. It's logic, Spock! I thought you'd like that.

No, not really, not this time.

I would rather suffer the death of Romulus a thousand times than accept assistance from you.

You got it.
Lock phasers! Fire everything we've got!
37. DBratman
jrambox @32: Yes. Thank you for pointing that out explicitly.
Mitch Wagner
38. MitchWagner
Some of you had me wondering if I'd gone soft in the head, if I'd been hitting the Saurian Brandy too hard. Could I have remember this scene entirely wrongly?

But then rezendi came and saved my confidence in myself.

The way the scene is played, Kirk's offer of amnesty is obviously insincere. He's only making it because he knows it will be refused. It's a cynical strategy to win future negotiating leverage.

In other Trek episodes and movies, we've seen various incarnations of the Enterprise are quite capable of using surgical phaser strikes to disable other vessels, and then pluck the crew out of the ship using transporters. Kirk could have had the same thing done here.

But instead he gladly fires on the Romulans' ship and kills them. And Spock applauds.

@otakucode (#23): I didn't really have a problem with that scene because Capt. Jack's actions were clearly portrayed as being vile. I have no problem with rooting for a hero who occasionally does awful things because he thinks he must.
Jacy Clark
39. Amalisa
I have gone back through the ending - again - frame by frame.

First - there is no grinning. None. Zilch.

After Nero has thrown Kirk’s offer of mercy (not amnesty, by the way) back into his face, the left corner of Kirk’s mouth is slightly elevated. If that qualifies as a smirk, okay… whatever.

Second - I have had occasion in my life to be in a life-threatening situation where, afterwards, I had to put on the veneer of normalcy. Not easy to do after rivers of adrenaline have flooded through one’s veins. I guess, for that reason, I found Kirk’s clipped, less-than-empathetic delivery of the mercy offer very believable. Much more so than if he had thrown wide his arms and said “come home, all is forgiven”. Professionalism, especially in the aftermath of great trauma, does not equal insincerity.

Had Nero accepted the offer of assistance, he and his surviving crew would have been prosecuted as war criminals. And after the Federation got through with them, the Klingons would have certainly wanted a piece of them. Not a lot of mercy there, I’m thinking’…

I guess it is all about perception. As Spock said to McCoy: “…however, if crew morale is better served by my roaming the halls weeping…” If some think the movie would have been better served by a hug-fest at the end, I’ll respectfully disagree. Yes, Mitch, you are right in saying that the “message” of this Star Trek is more martial than the original. Gene Roddenberry’s war experience may have played a role in that. So may the fact that his target demographic at the time was 18 to 25 year olds - and “the time” was certainly rife with anti-war sentiment, particularly among that demographic. Yes, that’s a cynical view for an old Trekkie, but there it is.
40. Basara549
Mitch, otakucode, boy have you got it all wrong.

We're talking an emotional reaction here, but still somewhat of a logical one.

You offer to save the man; if he accepts, then you're taking him to trial, to be executed by his own people. If not, it's an execution of a known war criminal, that you don't want to give the chance to escape. Picture it being Hitler, not Nero. Maybe you'll understand better.

Note the change in Federation history. Apparently, thanks to Nero's attack on Kirk's father, the Federation KNOWS who the Romulans are (not just the Vulcans), and this might have gone so far as to preventing several Romulan/Federation clashes - if not the actual war!

Romulus ITSELF will be wanting Nero's head on a platter, not just for doing what he did in the name of Romulus for 25 years, but also for DESTROYING THE ANCESTRAL HOMEWORLD. The Romulans, other than Nero in his crazed state, NEVER wanted to DESTROY Vulcan - they WANTED IT FOR THEMSELVES. All Romulans, in their hearts and education, probably consider themselves to be the TRUE Vulcans, not the current peaceniks living there. What Nero did was the ultimate sin against his own people, and frankly, what Kirk did in the movie was probably a mercy to what the Romulans would have done to him.

And Odiwai's comment up in 21 & Stefan's in #2, are fatally flawed by using Vietnam experience as an example. There's been plenty of other conflicts, and dwelling on that misbegotten war that had its origins going back to Truman & Eisenhower not stepping in and telling the French to GTFO of Indochina is every bit as much a fallacy as thinking that real, bloody, war experience leads to writing that is critical of war.

Star Trek, the SERIES, had the death penalty. It had murder, bigotry, and many other items. IT also had hope, and the characters stood their ground for right, against the darkness - even when it meant violating the Prime Directive to do so - and, timecops in the later series to the contrary, Kirk never got in trouble for any of them. By the standards of the original ST series, Picard and the rest of the high command of the Federation and Starfleet would have been tried, found guilty, and executed many times over, for crimes against sentient life, for their heartless, compassion-free, uber-strict deliberate mis-interpretation of the words of the Prime Directive as opposed to its spirit, to convince themselves that watching a race die without trying to save it, clandestinely, was better than messing with "the natural order". The closest thing I saw to the real, original, Star Trek, in the TNG episodes, was where Data helped save that little girl's world, in violation of the vaunted PD, and the actions of Worf's human stepbrother. ANY of the original crew, would have done what those two did - not what the Federation of the Picard era would have them do.

Interfering with "natural evolution" of societies is MEANINGLESS if there is NOTHING LEFT TO EVOLVE. Nothing is more unchanging than something DEAD. Anyone who believes that a sentient race is better off dead, than saved from extinction they are powerless themselves to prevent (but you could stop easily), probably would have fit right in with the Eugenics War bunch, if not the NSDAP.
41. Ludon
Basara549, On your comments about the Prime Directive. Where would your opinion fall on the Next Generation episode in which a star system had two inhabited planets - one planet inhabited by junkies and the other inhabited by their suppliers? (It's been so long that I can't remember the names of most of the episodes.)

I remember having mixed feelings about that episode but I also remember that the discussions between Picard and Dr. Crusher made me think about both sides of the issue.

"Nothing is more unchanging than something DEAD. Anyone who believes that a sentient race is better off dead, than saved from extinction they are powerless themselves to prevent (but you could stop easily), . . ." I can find sound reason in your statement but I find myself also thinking about the playing god aspect of such actions.

The problem on that little girl's planet was solved in a way that should have had little - if any - impact on that society. All is well and good. Except - Data decided to let the girl keep that stone. He went off feeling that he had done good. Did he? Could that stone have triggered new pathways to the memories Dr. Crusher had blocked? How would those memories of impossible people and places impact the girl's life within her society? In my opinion, Data played god then walked away from his responsibilities. On the other hand, Worf's stepbrother decided to take responsibility for his decisions and actions.

This whole discussion reminds me of what it is that I love about Star Trek. It (well, most of it) has been good storytelling. Not great storytelling, but storytelling that gets me to thinking about issues I hadn't given much thought to or it leads me to think about old issues from a different point of view.

42. ChakaTodd
The part I don't get is the fact that they fired on the bad guy while he was already in the process of being eaten by a black hole.
43. cube3
well duh mitch..

30 years of tech journalism and GOOGLE heros has made DARTH VADER and THE BORG, the good guys...

mr. copper robot.

read laniers new book..
and THE MACHINE STOPS while your at it.

and stop pandering to SL folk.:)
Mitch Wagner
44. MitchWagner
Oh, noes! You has disclosed my seekrit identity!
45. cube3

so much for avatar

Samuel T Cogsley Cube:)

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