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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old February 4 2012, 04:40 PM   #841
Deranged Nasat
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

You can make it clear how you feel, but without behaving in a way that will scare the friend off and ruin the friendship. It's hard, and I sympathise entirely with what TheGodBen says, that if you find something ethically unacceptable it can be foolish and distasteful to hide behind IDIC or "it's okay if it's you, so long as not me". That's distasteful. On the other hand, telling people up front that their ways are wrong and unethical is a perfect way to alienate them; not only do you lose the chance to subtly influence them, but you lose a positive relationship too. Is it worth causing hurt to them and you, and risk sacrificing the friendship? I suppose that can only be answered by each individual in each particular case.

Personally, I believe, in an example like this, that "the Jake" should make it clear that they don't and can't endorse or support what "the Nog" is doing. It's not a personal distaste for the Nog, it's just being true to your own values. So in this case, Jake could say "no offence, Nog, but I don't want to be in a situation like that again where I have to confront something so alien to my values. You're a good friend, so let's agree to avoid those situations when we're together?" If you phrase it passively but firmly - not "you're wrong" but "I can't accept this", it reduces the chance that they'll be offended - it's just your hang-up, as it were. And if they truly care about you, not only might they agree to avoid throwing in your face something that disturbs you, but they might, through their empathy for you, start to understand what it is about their ways that troubles you. That may not be much comfort - the idea that "maybe this will eventually cause a shift in their views" is pretty poor when you might want to say up-front "no, that's wrong, don't think/act that way". So again, I fully understand where TheGodBen is coming from. But by my nature I prefer passive ethics to active imposing morality. Maybe short-term that looks cowardly or even like it's excusing or dismissing that which you deem unethical but long-term it's much more effective and respectful, or so I personally believe.

Again on a personal level, I've been in this situation myself. My personal view of the world and our people is often different from the majority view and the majority view often pushes my buttons and offends my personal sense of ethics. I know well the guilt that arises when you don't act to assert your ethical and philosophical beliefs, but I know too that people can be hurt, and hurt greatly, if you're not very careful in how you express yourself. I'm sure all of us agree that there's a difference between commendable defence of your ethics and crusade against others, but where the line is drawn...which of us can truly say?

This is a difficult issue, but the discussion is rewarding.
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Old February 4 2012, 06:07 PM   #842
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Well, if one really considers another's behavior "unacceptable", then to me it seems a bit toothless and hypocritical to be wiling to say it but not to do anything about it. I understand that on a larger scale politics tend to get in the way of actually doing things, but then, I don't approve of that either. Put your money where your mouth is, as it were.

If I'd been Jake, I'd like to think I'd understand it was a cultural disconnect and not Nog's fault per se...but I'd also say that I wasn't comfortable going on another double-date because we had different and conflicting expectations.
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Old February 4 2012, 06:38 PM   #843
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

DonIago wrote: View Post
Well, if one really considers another's behavior "unacceptable", then to me it seems a bit toothless and hypocritical to be wiling to say it but not to do anything about it. I understand that on a larger scale politics tend to get in the way of actually doing things, but then, I don't approve of that either. Put your money where your mouth is, as it were.
It's not about politics, it's about recognizing that you're ultimately powerless to truly have things your way other than through surrendering the very sense of ethics you adhere to. If you want things to conform to your ethics, I'd propose it must be achieved through reason, example and cooperation, a willingness not to impose just as strongly as you refuse to cave in. If not, everything is reduced to, essentially, bullying. He or she who aggresses the strongest, wins. In theory, anyway - in practice overt assertion might cause others to change or back down, but it might also cause them to bristle and push back, while simultaenously destroying the bonds that connected you. If you succeed, it's hollow because you only succeeded by imposing (and what's to stop someone who finds you unethical coming and doing the same?). And if it doesn't work, you're even more powerless, because you've lost their cooperation and sympathy. Meaning no offense, but while people like to assume that their ethical framework has some objective justification (a mindset I find a bit hypocritical, to be honest - ethics comes from the self, and if you truly have an ethical position it doesn't require validation from outside sources), in reality someone else might find your ways and opinions as unethical as you find theirs. What's to stop them from "doing something about" you? People hate it when someone comes in and tries to strongarm them away from their worldview; Jake could take a "zero-tolerance" approach to Nog's view of females' worth, and I might theoretically support it, but then what's to stop Nog taking a similar approach to Jake's values? How can any cross-cultural relationship work?

Relationships with those who live by other value systems is risky and dangerous, because these are exactly the sort of ethical dilemmas that result. Not taking that risk is far worse, though, as I assume most people would agree. Personally, I don't think there's any "right" answer, and we all must do our best to find our own way.

Also, and this is an entirely neutral comment , the phrase "put your money where your mouth is" is an interesting one, because it suggests an ethical system that functions on the basis of action and agency, competition and force (I don't mean force as in violence, by the way, I mean it in a more harmless sense, in terms of activity). My ethical sense is different, it's based around being true to oneself and seeking to be a passive nexus for change rather than an active force for change. I'm not saying my way or yours is "the right one"; but they're different.

DonIago wrote: View Post
If I'd been Jake, I'd like to think I'd understand it was a cultural disconnect and not Nog's fault per se...but I'd also say that I wasn't comfortable going on another double-date because we had different and conflicting expectations.
I agree with this entirely.
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Old February 4 2012, 07:21 PM   #844
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

DonIago wrote: View Post
I rather like the notion that Winn really could have handled the negotiations herself, but wanted Bareil out of the picture for good.

I think it's very dangerous for one culture to say that its values are "better" than another's, regardless of how "universal" it may be.
I think it's even more dangerous to say that there are no universal moral values at all, and "oh, so what if they are killing/torturing/raping people and mistreating, oppressing and enslaving parts of the population? It's their culture!" Which is really a thinly veiled "meh, they're barbarians, who cares what they do to each other!", hypocritically dressed up as "respect for other cultures" when it's really the opposite.

Every individual has the right to choose their lifestyle, unless it's hurting and infringing on the rights of other people. That should be the universal rule. The hypocritical drivel about "it's OK since it's another culture" is a slap in the face of every person who happens to live in that society but didn't choose to be oppressed and to follow those rules. So "it's their culture to mistreat women", what about the Ferengi women, did they choose they want to be mistreated? Right of the individual > right of a collective. The moment you start ignoring individual rights in favor of some abstractly defined collective, be it "nation", "culture", whatever, you're on the most dangerous ground imaginable.

If people were sticking to the idea that "it's just the culture so it's OK", slavery and oppression of women would still be universally accepted. Two centuries ago people might have just said "well slavery is just a part of American culture!" And women should stay at home and not have jobs and not be able to vote because it was a part of most cultures at the time. However, when it comes to another culture, suddenly it's OK and they don't need to change? Why is that? Because it's important for my society to get better, but yours can stay shitty since I don't really care about yours and I find your people inferior, but I'll wax poetic about their culture because I see your people as exotic and funny and not real people like those from my culture?

Now, I don't think that outside interventions in the form of war are the solution, obviously not. But just telling it as it is instead of hiding behind a badly misunderstood multiculturalism? I very much prefer that.

As we don't know what may have led to Ferengi society forming the way it did, I don't think we're in any position to objectively judge them. Not saying we have to approve, but I have a pretty good idea how humans would feel if an alien race came along one day and told us all the ways in which we were doing things wrong.
I'd be happier if they were honest about what they think we're doing crappily, rather than showing fake respect for those exotic funny creatures that can't be expected to act any better.
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Old February 4 2012, 08:25 PM   #845
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Fascinating discussion, all.

I suppose my next point is this: If your ethics are truly built around the individual rather than the collective (as mine are), you are dependent on the goodwill and friendship of others because you have nothing else - no tribe, no religion, no nation, no pack of any description. There's only the drop and the ocean - you, the drop, and the myriad other drops around you. It's easy to say "be upfront and open with your distaste for others' ways", and I see the wisdom in this, but you won't make many friends that way, and if you're psychologically unable to join the pack you value empathy, fairness and support far more than power and force (of which you either have none or you know it will be ineffectual and self-destructive). The benevolent anarchist - for such I am, by nature not by choice - values cooperation, quasi-objective fairness, and friendship more than they do posturing, no matter how justifiable that posturing may be. I understand why this can be problematic; if everyone were a natural anarchist, things would run smoothly. But they're not, a harsh lesson that I had beaten into me (sometimes literally) by those who valued the pack and their own power over fairness and mutual support. How to stop the individual imposing on others when they don't share the anarchist nature and thus value power and control, the natural concern of the group-minded? If you all followed my ethics, how could you prevent that which strikes you as unjust? This is one reason why I'm open to other ways of seeing things and doing things; my ethics work great, so long as most people share them. If they don't, then a perspective like DevilEyes' is valuable as a counterbalance.

DevilEyes says it's highly dangerous ground to ignore individuals in favour of "the group". I agree, though I have a problem with the idea of "individual rights". I would propose that rights are themselves a concept imposed by a collective that disempower the individual in favour of a group. The individual choice has been subordinated to an imposed framework that cheats by insisting that it's actually inherent to the universe rather than a construct of the sapient mind. It can't even be honest with itself. The very idea that individual dignity can be protected through an imposed framework drawn up by others is itself dangerous. If the rights are guidelines for ethical behaviour, that pleases me - I'm in agreement with most of them, and would encourage others to see how we're all elevated through internalizing them. But making them rules, suggesting they are intrinsic, to me not only defeats the supposed purpose and reveals the hypocrisy in the concept, but doesn't actually confront the real problem. The real problem is the desire to control others and to exploit others for your own gain; the anarchist only has this problem if they're also a sociopath, hence the chaotic anarchist whose archetype seems to have taken over people's perception of anarchists in general, but the group-thinker, to whom cooperative groups are not merely a wise choice or an emotional desire but instead an instinctual psychological need, always seems to struggle with the problem. Which is not to say they haven't tried to balance that need with a sense of individual liberty, because obviously people on the whole have.
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Old February 4 2012, 09:08 PM   #846
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

DevilEyes wrote: View Post
I think it's even more dangerous to say that there are no universal moral values at all, and "oh, so what if they are killing/torturing/raping people and mistreating, oppressing and enslaving parts of the population? It's their culture!" Which is really a thinly veiled "meh, they're barbarians, who cares what they do to each other!", hypocritically dressed up as "respect for other cultures" when it's really the opposite.
I agree. Things like that are not just wrong because you don't like them...they are objectively wrong, unlike frivolous things like what color or flavor is best. And maybe it's just me, but there's a point when if things become bad enough, and all efforts to politely explain why a behavior makes me uncomfortable fail, yet the person keeps doing it, I would rather cut ties than be associated with or a party to that behavior in any way. If a polite (but firm) request to stop the given immoral and unethical behavior fails, I do not want it to look to that person or to anyone as though I were lending support to an abuser. Sending that kind of message--being willing to take a stand--encourages others to do so as well. Someone has to be bold enough to take that first step. It shouldn't come with an assault or even unkind words, but there is no problem with factually stating (for instance) that one cannot associate with an abuser or denigrater of women (or any other person who might be abused by the individual in question).

When you look at what the Federation as whole does, they are party to a LOT of abusive behavior, by failing to call their member and allied states on it. One of the most egregious examples is with the Klingons. By maintaining a tight alliance and trade relation with the Klingons (and not a mere non-aggression pact, which simply means they won't shoot each other), they are in effect endorsing Klingon conquests and brutality, which has continued even while the Klingons are allied with the Federation. Yet they dare to rail on about the same things when talking to other powers. If they mean it, then they shouldn't endorse it when the Klingons do it either. They really ought not be associating with the Klingons any more than it takes to prevent a war from breaking out.
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Old February 4 2012, 09:13 PM   #847
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
And maybe it's just me, but there's a point when if things become bad enough, and all efforts to politely explain why a behavior makes me uncomfortable fail, yet the person keeps doing it, I would rather cut ties than be associated with or a party to that behavior in any way. If a polite (but firm) request to stop the given immoral and unethical behavior fails, I do not want it to look to that person or to anyone as though I were lending support to an abuser.
A wise position, in my opinion. Again, speaking from the "natural anarchist" position, if something makes you uncomfortable or angry, if it offends your sense of ethics, you should not feel obligated to support it.

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
When you look at what the Federation as whole does, they are party to a LOT of abusive behavior, by failing to call their member and allied states on it.
I agree; and you're right to point out that the Klingon alliance is a big problem at times. Peace with the Klingons is one thing (that's desirable), but active alliance often seems shocking, given that the Klingons are still active conquerors.
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Old February 4 2012, 09:25 PM   #848
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Thinking further, this whole issue is even more complex than it appears. I said in an earlier post that if everyone were natural anarchists things would work out; that may have been premature and foolish on my part. After all, my personal sense of ethics not only stem from being a natural anarchist but by being one who grew up in a culture of "pack-hunters", so to speak. Perhaps the very reason fairness and non-aggession were so important to me is that I instinctively perceived that if I aggressed, the other person's whole pack would respond and I had none of my own to fall back on. If everyone were like me, that would be negated, and maybe aggressive selfishness would be common (if not the desire to control)? Who knows?

I also acknowledge that some people's minds are naturally different from mine and do indeed acknowledge a truly objective ethical standard intrinsic to the universe. One who truly believes in God or gods, for instance, perceives the universe as having intrinsic ethical qualities, like the Hamalki in the Trek novels. This because their mind naturally understands the universe in terms of a creative ethical intention.

This is perhaps my biggest personal obstacle in terms of ethical debate; I know that so much of my ethical worldview is natural to the way I am rather than a true choice. We can challenge our nature if we feel we should - and, again, I recognize that other angles are necessary - but I never quite know how to explain myself. After all, how can someone come to share my worldview if they're originating in a totally different place? Is it wrong for me to even try? For them to even try? I guess not; we can all only live as we believe best. But, to return to DevilEyes' argument, does that not implicitly excuse maltreatment of others?
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Old February 4 2012, 09:29 PM   #849
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
I know well the guilt that arises when you don't act to assert your ethical and philosophical beliefs, but I know too that people can be hurt, and hurt greatly, if you're not very careful in how you express yourself.
But in this case Nog's actions have already caused offence to one person directly and two others indirectly. While I don't subscribe to the idea of an eye for an eye, if a reaction to his offensiveness causes him offence then that's his problem. Jake and the others tried to act somewhat diplomatically in the beginning, but Nog didn't want to take the hint.

DonIago wrote: View Post
Well, if one really considers another's behavior "unacceptable", then to me it seems a bit toothless and hypocritical to be wiling to say it but not to do anything about it.
I think that is subject to the golden rule. If someone takes offence to the way I act then I'm okay with them telling me so. I may disagree, and I may get upset or angry with them, but I'd rather them be truthful than pretend as though I did nothing wrong in their eyes. However, if they attempted to force me to act as they desire through threats of violence, I wouldn't be okay with that at all.


Also, one more point. Societies where women are discriminated against tend to base that discrimination on the idea that women are somehow inferior to men or that they are ruled by their emotions. In western societies we know that this isn't the case by the use of science. While the average male and average female have different sets of advantages and disadvantages, in general there is nothing preventing women from being competitive with men. So any society that bases their discrimination of women on that concept is "wrong".

Ferengi males discriminate against Ferengi females because "they don't have the lobes for business". But the two Ferengi females that we see show an aptitude for business that exceeds that of the three main Ferengi characters. While that is an admittedly small sample size, we're never given any evidence during the show that Ferengi females are inferior to males, and if it is the case that they are discriminated against based purely on that erroneous claim, then I feel no qualms in saying that their culture is "wrong".
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Old February 4 2012, 09:31 PM   #850
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

TheGodBen wrote: View Post
Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
I know well the guilt that arises when you don't act to assert your ethical and philosophical beliefs, but I know too that people can be hurt, and hurt greatly, if you're not very careful in how you express yourself.
But in this case Nog's actions have already caused offence to one person directly and two others indirectly. While I don't subscribe to the idea of an eye for an eye, if a reaction to his offensiveness causes him offence then that's his problem. Jake and the others tried to act somewhat diplomatically in the beginning, but Nog didn't want to take the hint.
Fair point. As I say, I can definitely understand your objections to how the subplot was handled.
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Old February 4 2012, 10:15 PM   #851
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

I'm reminded of an exchange from Babylon Five, in which Londo is rewriting Vir's political reports:

Vir: "They're highly tolerant of cultural differences!"

Londo (rephrasing): "They have no clearly defined sense of morality".

In part, this is the heart of our discussion, isn't it?
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Old February 4 2012, 10:17 PM   #852
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Wow the comedic B-Plot in a episode about medical ethics gets the strong debate. Odo's gonna arrest everyone at this point.
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Old February 4 2012, 10:18 PM   #853
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defiantfan wrote: View Post
Wow the comedic B-Plot in a episode about medical ethics gets the strong debate. Odo's gonna arrest everyone at this point.


Maybe everyone's been through the A-plot ethical debate one time too many, and now the B-plot is demanding attention? Or maybe people think the issues the B-plot explores are too serious to be relegated to semi-comedic sub-plots?
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Old February 5 2012, 12:49 AM   #854
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

My biggest issue with the B-plot is it felt really out of place in this episode. It's like they finished writing it and then they realized they were about ten minutes short, so they threw some random crap in there to fill the extra time.
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Old February 5 2012, 05:56 AM   #855
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Re: TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Excellent discussion everyone. I won't try to throw my two cents in (because, hey, I'm not a very good debater) except to say that I agree with DevilEyes and Nerys Ghemor about abandoning all universal moral values. Maybe that's because I'm a theist and like Deranged Nasat said, I "perceive the universe as having intrinsic ethical qualities."

Skywalker wrote: View Post
My biggest issue with the B-plot is it felt really out of place in this episode. It's like they finished writing it and then they realized they were about ten minutes short, so they threw some random crap in there to fill the extra time.
Which is pretty much what Ron Moore said about the episode - it sounded good in theory to have a light B-plot to counterbalance the intense A-plot, but in practice it was a huge mistake.
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