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Old August 22 2012, 04:08 PM   #1464
Lieutenant Commander
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Location: Seattle, WA
Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

"Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" shows another dark side of 24th century Earth/Federation society. But this time we can't blame DS9 for creating it. It was created by Gene Roddenberry himself back in TOS. Yes, I'm talking about the negative view of genetic engineering.

I actually really like this "new" aspect of Bashir. Really develops his character. And put all of him in a new light.

But before I get into that, let me talk a little bit about the rest of the episode. Starting with the other "dark" side of 24th century humanity presented here: Richard Bashir. Here we have, really for the first time ever on Star Trek, a "failed/looser" human. Richard succeeds at nothing. And he isn't comfortable with that. He continues to move from one failed project to the next, lying about all his "successes" along the way. And I like that. Too often we are told that Earth is a paradise and all of humanity is awesome and in great shape doing exactly what they want in life, "enriching the world in which they live". Well, not EVERYBODY can be successes. Not everybody can have their perfect job. Somebody has to do the crap jobs like "waste processor", etc. Unless all crap jobs are done by robots or something. (There are surprisingly few robots cleaning up the back-ground of Star Trek society.)

I liked Rom and Leeta getting together. And it was done in a fun, but realistic way.

Robert Picardo was great, as usual. And it was nice that Louis Zimmerman was actually fairly well developed for a guest character. Sure, he's a bit of a jerk, but he's also quite charming . . . and a genius of course.

I loved the development of the friendship between Miles and Julian.

OK, now I'll talk about the elephant in the room, genetic engineering.

I think the way the genetically enhanced appear to be treated in Federation is wrong. They are being singled out and treated like criminals, having unfair limitations put on their lives just because some "artificial/unnatural" means was used to turn them into who they are today. Why should that mater? They, like everyone else, should be judged solely on their actions in a democratic society like 24th century Earth/Federation, not on unimportant things like genetic differences. Heck, even a number of states in the modern-day USA have laws against discrimination based on genetic differences.

Even if you concede that genetic engineering is wrong (which I don't), you still shouldn't punish the innocent. Julian had no say in the genetic engineering that happen to him as a child. He didn't even know it had happen until he was 15. It was his parents' decision, not his.
(Side note, I love how Jules decided to change his name to Julian once he found out about his nature. I think names are so important to someone's identity. And when you learn something that significant about yourself, a change in name seems appropriate. [This from someone who had his name legally changed to Data.])

I think you can't (shouldn't) treat someone differently just because you question where they come from. You can't withhold them from participating in society just because they are smarter or stronger. Only if they have other issues or reasons they can't fit into society. Real reasons, like severe autism or pervasive personality disorder.

Some would argue that you can't allow anyone to reap the benefits of their illegal genetic tampering because it will just motivated more to go do it. And I think that's ridiculous because there's nothing intrinsically wrong with genetic enhancements. Having more abilities does not make you a power-raving madman like Khan Noonien Singh just because. That's a circular argument I never agreed with Star Trek on.

If the argument that "superior ability breeds superior ambition" is to be taken as a truism, then it means that EVERY SINGLE creature of advanced ability will become a power-hungry criminal like Khan. But if you admit that Bashir would never do that, then you must admit that not EVERY single advanced person will make immoral decisions or "think like that".

Therefore, I argue that there is no moral ground to curtail their lives, nor people who choose to bring them into the world. It's part-and-parcel in a democratic society like the Federation: equality for all, innocent until proven guilty. You have to prove that a person is a danger to society before you can over-ride their civil liberties. And even if the genetically engineered do TEND to be meglomaniac (which I don't concede), you still can't just take away civil liberties from the entire group based on the majority. Ever single person must be treated separately, requiring their own separate burden of proof before society can take away their rights.

And people are not dangers to society just because they are more capable. Even if they do tend to be more "ambitious", that does not mean that that ambition will lead to criminal or immoral acts. It takes ambition to become a doctor and help people, too.

And genetically engineered do not have a monopoly on crime. There are plenty of examples of non-augmented common men that did horrible things. One example off the top of my head: Kodos the Executioner.

I understand Gene Roddenberry wanted to keep the show about the common man. And so he limited the number of superior men (genetically anyway). But I disagreed that he had to make the genetically engineered a censured sub-race to do so.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating running blindly into the murky waters of genetic tampering. We need to take these steps slow. Especially when our test subjects are living, sentient beings. When things go wrong we can't just "throw away the batch" and start over.

We also need to be careful to not have everyone jump on the band-wagon and ride off into the most perfect genetically engineered future we can make for ourselves. We still need diversification (IDIC). We don't all want to have "genetically perfect" kids only to find out later that they are all equally susceptible to the same ailment and the entire human race dies out.
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