Mr. Laser Beam wrote:
"Future's End" showed a TIC officer attempting to destroy a starship on suspicion of its involvement in a disaster, guilty until proven innocent, with no attempt at due process.
That can be blamed on Braxton alone. He was obviously insane - suffering from the temporal equivalent of psychosis when he did this. Indeed, we would later learn exactly that.
No, the text doesn't support that interpretation. The "present-day" Braxton who recruits Seven in "Relativity" remembers the events of "Future's End," but he hasn't yet fallen prey to the temporal psychosis that affects his future self. Indeed, the very fact that he's still a TIC captain after "Future's End" demonstrates that his actions there were not the result of insanity and were not in violation of TIC regulations. (Again, while the Braxton at the conclusion of FE had never committed that act, the Braxton in "Relativity" remembers it, so the Braxton who did commit the act must've been reintegrated with the other -- and going by the views of culpability manifested in "Relativity," that reintegrated Braxton would've been held culpable for the actions of either of his temporal copies. Thus, since he's still a captain, the only logical conclusion is that his attempt to destroy Voyager
was not deemed to be illegal, unethical, or insane by TIC standards.)
Ducane arresting Braxton for crimes he's going to commit...well, I chalked that up to an entirely new kind of criminal law having to be invented, to deal with a society like this which is so dependent on time travel. It may be incomprehensible and draconian to US, but not to them.
Yes, obviously there are new laws in place, but the question is whether those laws are ethical. I don't care how you rationalize it, punishing someone for a crime he might
commit in the future is just plain inexcusable. Certainly it's irreconcilable with the morality of the Star Trek
franchise. Sure, maybe you could tell stories in which such compromises of individual freedom are treated as justifiable -- it would be no different from something like 24
presenting torture as justifiable -- but such stories have no place in the Star Trek
universe. There are certain ideals that are fundamental to Star Trek
, and one of them is the primacy of individual rights.
And besides, just how do we know exactly that the version of Braxton who is arrested, truly IS innocent?
That very question is incompetent. One of the most fundamental principles of justice is that everyone is presumed
innocent unless they are proven guilty. No one should be required to prove their innocence against a presumption of guilt.
Besides, it's right there in the text
. When Ducane places Braxton under arrest, he explicitly says, "I'm sorry, sir. I'm taking command of this vessel, and I'm relieving you of duty for crimes you're going to commit." Not "on suspicion of crimes you might have committed already," but "for crimes you're going to commit
." It doesn't get any more explicit than that. Since it was a formal declaration, he can't have been speaking figuratively or imprecisely. The only reasonable conclusion is that the regulations of the TIC/29th century Starfleet allow arresting people for future
crimes -- i.e. arresting people who are, as of the present, completely innocent, and who, due to the shifting nature of time in the Trek universe, may never actually commit any crime.
(Remember, the later version of him did experience the events of "Relativity" that we see not-criminal Braxton do. So in a very real sense, not-criminal Braxton was destined to become criminal-Braxton.)
Wrong. As I already said, the ST universe makes it very clear that the future is highly mutable. There is no predestination. Every future we see is just one possible
future, not a guaranteed one. So even if you have a criminal Braxton from the future in your custody, even if you actually watched him commit an act of terrorism, it doesn't mean that the present-day Braxton standing next to you now is certain to commit the same crimes in the future. Just witnessing the acts of his future self could be enough to change his own path. So you're arresting him for something he may never do, which is ethically indefensible.
Finally, I admit I'm a bit fuzzy on the details, but Braxton said that he was relieved of duty and forced to retire, but he did NOT spent a lengthy time in prison or anything like that. That would seem to indicate that the TIC is not quite as evil as they are made out to be.
He said he was "sent into rehabilitation," which we know to be the Federation equivalent of prison. Naturally we can expect their penal practices to be relatively humane. But that doesn't constitute an excuse. The presumption of innocence is absolutely basic to justice. A state that can justify arresting people for crimes they haven't committed, regardless of the excuses they make for it, has crossed a line into corruption. Because if you can justify such an act for one reason, it opens the door for justifying it for other reasons. Okay, so you can arrest that guy because time travel showed you that he'll commit a crime in one possible future? Okay, so why can't we arrest this inconvenient political protestor who hasn't broken any laws yet, but who we really really think might break a law in the future? Why can't we lock up that child who was born with a neurological disorder that predisposes him to violence and is thus likely to become dangerous when he grows up? Really, what's the difference?
There is never an excuse for presuming people guilty, let alone punishing them for things that you actually know
they haven't done. I shouldn't even have to explain that.
Does that make the TIC "evil?" No. It makes them Well-Intentioned Extremists
. But still, they represent a Starfleet that's lost its way, that's made too many sacrifices of freedom in the name of security.