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

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Old April 5 2013, 11:53 AM   #1
Dal Rassak
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decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

I've just watched again the second season episode "Cardassians" paying closer attention to the boy's fate than I did the first time round, and I still can't get my head around how the decision was reached to send him "home" to Cardassia.

We don't know how old Rugal is supposed to be but he looks about fifteen. He was orphaned at the age of four. He has never even seen his home planet as he wasn't born there.
So Cardassia isn't his home in any meaningful sense of the word, and the only close familial bonds are those forged with his adotive parents.

Of course you have to sympathize with Pa'Dar, but after all that time he simply has no right to claim Rugal like a possession. Well, according to his own understanding, he does, since one assumes in Cardassian society, the blood claim trumps all others, and the technicality of biological relation can't be denied. However, Rugal was legally adopted under Bajoran law, which was the only law applying at the time, and he is now on a joint Bajoran-Federation run station where Cardassian law also has no authority.

Most importantly, what about Rugal's feelings in the matter??
Surely these should be considered above all else, and it is obvious where he wants to stay.

We're not shown how the final decision is actually reached, but Sisko's justification for it in his logbook entry sounds lame and unconvincing. Rugal has been "the victim of a conspiracy" - true - and it is "time for his healing to begin".

Excuse me?? How does it help the boy to be ripped out of the only familiar environment he knows, to be taken away from people who care for him and have shown him nothing but love and affection? The conspiracy has nothing to do with anything as far as his wellbeing is concerned, and there can be precious little good to come out of a relationship with a father who shows up in your life like an officially sanctioned kidnapper.
According to the much vaunted Federation ethic, Rugal's welfare and therefore his own stated wishes should have been the prime consideration and guiding principle here. The Federation certainly doesn't subscribe to Cardassian notions of right and wrong in matters of jurisdiction. That's why I can't for the life of me understand this judgement. It seems to go against the Federation's own ideals - i.e. no coercion, no individuals made to suffer intentionally.

Was Rugal just used as a kind of diplomatic bartering chip, a goodwill gesture,as it were, to an uneasy ally? ...
...Certainly, Rugal should have learned something of his heritage beyond the crimes that his people committed, and it would be good for him to get to know some of his blood relatives. However I believe this should have taken the form of arranging visits by them on Bajor, or on the station. Simply taking him off to live with effective strangers in a strange place can only be traumatizing and there's no reasonable justification for it.
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Old April 5 2013, 02:07 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

...And that's the human side of it.

Apparently, the Cardassian side is somewhat different. And humans really are the very last to be allowed to make decisions on this issue, which involves no human beings at any stage, legally or morally.

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Old April 5 2013, 02:47 PM   #3
R. Star
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

There's no clear right or wrong decision here. Sisko very well can't play Solomon with the child, and both Pa'Dar and Rugal's Bajoran parents had legitimate claims to him. Both sides can convincingly make a case, which is why it's such a compelling scenario. You can argue Bajoran law or Cardassian law all you want in a circle too. Technically Bajor was part of the Cardassian Empire when Rugal was lost giving them claim to jurisdiction, whereas Bajor's argument that they're not any more.

I wouldn't be surprised if Sisko's decision was made in hopes of gaining goodwill in the Cardassian government as well as to spite Dukat, that was a weak part of the episode as Sisko really didn't elaborate on that and his decision was made almost as an afterthought to Dukat's scheme being exposed. Certainly O'brien was right in telling Rugal that he should be telling them what he wants, but that didn't seem to factor in to Sisko's decision.
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Old April 5 2013, 04:43 PM   #4
SchwEnt
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

I was always mindful of Sisko's and Picard's differing decisions.

Here, Sisko has a Cardassian child raised by the enemy and ultimately returns the Cardassian to his home.

Picard has a human child raised by the enemy in "Suddenly Human" and tries to return the child to his home... but then stops and lets the child remain with the only family he's ever known.

Sure there are differing Cardassian, Human, Bajoran values involved, but it's a very similar situation and the two captains come to opposite conclusions. Interesting.
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Old April 5 2013, 05:21 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

One factor possibly influencing the decisions, even if the respective skippers never dare explicate it, might be that the child eventually goes to the culture with the better material means of seeing to his future. Bajor is in postwar shambles in stark comparison with Cardassia, and the Talarian society in turn has to compete with the famously affluent Federation one...

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Old April 6 2013, 12:12 AM   #6
Mr. Laser Beam
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

^ Also there were the allegations that Rugal's adoptive parents were intentionally poisoning his mind against his own people and making him hate all Cardassians. Sisko may have felt that this needed to be fixed, by having Rugal returned to his homeworld.

The Proka family may not have been physically abusing Rugal, but if these allegations are true, that could count as a form of emotional abuse - making Rugal hate his own race. What must it be like for somebody to be brought up to hate Cardassians despite the fact that he IS one? Every time he looks in a mirror he hates what he is. That can't continue...
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Old April 6 2013, 12:59 AM   #7
R. Star
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
I was always mindful of Sisko's and Picard's differing decisions.

Here, Sisko has a Cardassian child raised by the enemy and ultimately returns the Cardassian to his home.

Picard has a human child raised by the enemy in "Suddenly Human" and tries to return the child to his home... but then stops and lets the child remain with the only family he's ever known.

Sure there are differing Cardassian, Human, Bajoran values involved, but it's a very similar situation and the two captains come to opposite conclusions. Interesting.
As I said in my original post, I can't see any one of them as being "wrong" in ruling as they did, even if it was differently. However you choose it's going to break a family pretty much.

As Laser Beam suggested, there is the psychological abuse even if it's passive, to factor into the situation. The boy -did- clearly hate Cardassians and that had to be some sort of internal hell for that. It could be that maybe Rugal's only way to find some sort of peace is to come to understanding his own heritage.

In Suddenly Human, they did everything they could to reawaken Jono's humanity. Pa'Dar never really got a chance to expose Rugal to Cardassian values at all. Certainly Jono didn't hate humans and their existence even if he considered them adversaries and culturally weak.
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Old April 6 2013, 01:01 AM   #8
DeepSpaceWine
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
I was always mindful of Sisko's and Picard's differing decisions.

Here, Sisko has a Cardassian child raised by the enemy and ultimately returns the Cardassian to his home.

Picard has a human child raised by the enemy in "Suddenly Human" and tries to return the child to his home... but then stops and lets the child remain with the only family he's ever known.

Sure there are differing Cardassian, Human, Bajoran values involved, but it's a very similar situation and the two captains come to opposite conclusions. Interesting.
I think political considerations come into the picture. The custody case with the Talarians was causing trouble there, so eventually the kid was left there to keep the issue from threatening relations. With Rugal, the kid was being used as a pawn in political machinitions on Cardassia, being part of a scheme by Dukat against a prominent politician. Normally, the Federation doesn't get involve in internal politics, but this was a case where it became 'international'. There was no easy choice but it looks like there were 3 motivating factors behind sending Rugal to Cardassia:

1.) The question of verbal abuse. So much self-loathing and being told by others how much Cardassians are evil can lead to a hellish, tormented existence on Bajor for Rugal. His wellness on Bajor is in question.

2.) The biological father was shown to have not abandoned Rugal. In fact, the child was taken from him. He thought the child was dead for years. Add in here he seemed hurt by the whole affair and how central family is to Cardassians.

3.) Dukat. Dukat was using this issue as a time bomb to defeat a potential rival down the road. Uncovering his involvement was a way to defeat him at this scheme and Sisko likes beating Dukat.
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Old April 6 2013, 07:23 AM   #9
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
The Proka family may not have been physically abusing Rugal, but if these allegations are true, that could count as a form of emotional abuse - making Rugal hate his own race. What must it be like for somebody to be brought up to hate Cardassians despite the fact that he IS one? Every time he looks in a mirror he hates what he is. That can't continue...
Now unproven allegations are - even in part - the basis of Sisko's decision?
This alone would make Sisko a garbage judge.
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Old April 6 2013, 11:59 AM   #10
Dal Rassak
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

The allegations came from that one odd-looking alien playing dabo in Quark's bar and we never learn his motivations. Rugal's adoptive father vehemently denied them and before anyone says, "well, he would if they're true" , Rugal's behaviour showed where the truth lay very eloquently - he ran to Proka embracing him and was visibly distressed when it looked as though they were going to be seperated. That's not how you react to someone who's mistreated you.

Cardassian law may have applied on Bajor when Rugal was lost, but to my understanding not when he was adopted.
Besides there's more to being a father than biology. Proka and his wife have loved and cared for the boy all these years, they are every bit as attached to him as though they were related, is that to count for nothing? You can't own a child like a possession; in any case Rugal's childhood is forever lost to Pa'Dar, he can't re-create it. The best he can hope for is a relationship with Rugal in terms of who he is now,
which is a youth growing into adulthood who has lived a different life. He risks jeopardizing even that by dragging him off against his will to an unfamiliar place among a people who are strangers to him - certainly not the best introduction if he's meant to learn about Cardassia and Cardassian ways without prejudice.
Whether Pa'Dar is prepared to acknowledge it or not, Rugal hasn't grown up on Cardassia, it's not a "birthright" he desperately desires, he's found a home on Bajor with his adoptive parents and he's settled and happy with them.
Why come charging in and destroy that? If you truly love your child you love him unselfishly, and you give him what he needs to be given, not what you want to give - and in tragic circumstances such as these that may not always be one and the same thing.

Of course it was wrong of his Bajoran parents to teach him that all Cardassians (excepting him) are evil. However it's unfortunately understandable given the undeniable evils perpetrated under Cardassian rule. The family, like most of Bajor, must have suffered greatly during the occupation, lost many loved ones. That doesn't tend to give you a balanced and forgiving view. I'm absolutely certain they had no intention whatsoever to damage Rugal psychologically in any way - they just couldn't help how they felt. And it can't be forgotten that despite their hatred of Cardassians in general, they could look at Rugal and see past his race to an orphaned child who needed a secure and loving family. You'll notice they left him his birthname - they could easily have given him a Bajoran one instead. And they must have been through a lot on his account - imagine how most Bajorans would look at other Bajorans adopting a child of the hated invaders.

Now on Bajor, all he gets is the one-sided perspective of the victims, but at least that's based on personal experiences with a basis in fact. On Cardassia, all he'd get is the official propaganda line on the reasons for the occupation, a "truth" distorted at best and fabricated at worst. And perhaps he should be exposed to that - between two biased extremes he might actually come to his own conclusions.

I don't argue for a second with the fact that Rugal should come to know people of his race, and learn about them without prejudice - that's why transplanting him against his will is the very worst way to go about it. Rugal has learned that all you can expect from Cardassians is pain. So here this Cardassian stranger shows up to take him away from all he knows and loves, causing him pain. What favourable conclusions is he meant to draw from that?
Such abrupt and fundamental changes in his life can only be damaging him further.
The approach by his biological family should be a gradual process. They could start by just regular communications, then visits. But it should be up to Rugal when, indeed whether, he ever goes to Cardassia. He stands a much better chance of making peace with his heritage if finding out more is his own decision, freely made.
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Old April 6 2013, 07:32 PM   #11
-Brett-
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

I had the impression that Sisko's own sheltered upbringing gave him a fairly narrow definition of family. Biological parents raising their biological children. That's how he was raised (or so he thought at the time), that's how his son was raised, that's probably how his father was raised. That's how Rugal should be raised. Because that's the right and proper form a family should take.

Not saying I agree. It was a bad decision. Just saying that was probably what Sisko thought. Or if not Sisko, it was probably what the writers thought.

Last edited by -Brett-; April 6 2013 at 10:46 PM.
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Old April 6 2013, 08:11 PM   #12
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

I just watched this episode an hour ago for the first time and I thought they should have tried to share custody. I know that would have been nearly impossible considering the bad relations between Cardassia and Bajor, but it would have probably been best for the child.
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Old April 10 2013, 12:21 AM   #13
WesleysDisciple
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

have to agree this episode DID fill me with fury.
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Old April 10 2013, 04:30 AM   #14
JirinPanthosa
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

It is interesting how they make the exact opposite decision in that episode as Picard did with Jono. This implies to me that the decision in that episode arose out of 'Human guilt' rather than moral imperative.

Rugal is a minor so his feelings wouldn't have any legal standing, and besides his feelings were the result of psychological manipulation. He would probably have a better life growing up on Cardassia than Bajor, because at least that way he can grow up with a sense of who he is and where he came from through a lens that isn't 'All Cardies are evil conquerers'. A normal life for him on Bajor was out of the question whereas a normal life on Cardassia is possible after an adjustment period.

In the long run, although his adoptive parents clearly loved him strongly, you simply can't justify forcing him to be a lifelong pariah.
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Old April 10 2013, 03:35 PM   #15
WesleysDisciple
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Re: decision regarding Rugal incomprehensible!

anyone read the novel "neverending sacrifice"

Its pretty dark at times.
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