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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old June 6 2013, 01:44 PM   #31
Re: Why Let Khan Live?

[qujote]Khan was not a legitimate government. He was a dictator who seized power by force.[/quote]

So was George Washington. Doesn't mean zip for his legitimacy or lack thereof.

He wasn't recognized as a head of state according to normal diplomatic channels.
There's no basis for such a claim.

And if Kirk and the rest of Starfleet had been more diligent about putting warning beacons in orbit and all that, there would have been no chance of somebody else accidentally stumbling across Khan.
So you don't think there are any warning beacon chasers in Trek?

A class M planet not claimed by anyone? Seemed a little peculiar to me
...But happens rather frequently in all the shows. It's probably just that in the billions of years that various civilizations have reigned over the galaxy, about 100% of suitable rock planets have been terraformed (which in turn has promoted the growth of younger cultures that are compatible with terraforming, including mankind). When cultures die or ascend to higher planes of boredom, planets are left to fallow and, depending on the quality of terraforming, may remain Earthlike for billions of years. Or then degrade into hellholes that nevertheless retain an otherwise unlikely oxygen atmosphere...

And I'd have expected a probe would be left in the vicinity to monitor things like keeping away visitors.
I don't really see this sort of a scheme working. If somebody is interested in taking empty-looking Class M worlds, he will take them, probe or no probe... If not, he won't bother coming close enough to make a difference.

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Old June 6 2013, 02:00 PM   #32
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

starburst wrote: View Post
It was an error in the writing of the episode in some ways, but not the biggest one - worse story points include Kirk giving unknown persons full access to the ships computer to the point they can work out how to work it, McGuivers helping Khan after he smacked her about and Khan wanting her after she helped Kirk and Spock retake the ship.

But what did you want him to do, Kirk killed Mitchell as a last resort, he didnt want to do it, and we know he offered to help the Romulans after he crippled their Bird of Prey - Kirk was a man who would kill when he had to but would offer a chance to live when he could.

The biggest problem is why no one stopped off every so often to see how a potential threat was doing, by WOK Starfleet seemed to forget they were in that system (and hadnt noticed a missing planet), any Starfleet ship surveying that system should have had orders to scan the planet.

In the real world if we found a group of mass murdering dictators in a bunker in cryo sleep and didnt have the option of keeping them in the freezer are we really saying we wouldnt take them back for trial and instead dump them on an island somewhere?

Seems a little short sighted.
"In the real world" has no place in this discussion. It's Star Trek. It's fiction. Reality doesn't count.
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Old June 6 2013, 02:52 PM   #33
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

R. Star wrote: View Post
Because Trek hadn't become just "kill the badguy, save the day" yet. Morality, ethics and other things that make you think are what make for a good episode.
Thematically, Khan was discovered having been banished from earth in the Botany Bay (or voluntarily escaped, depending on your narrative). Their punishment was to complete the voyage of the Botany Bay, by reaching "landfall" where they could be given free reign without risking established society. From a story perspective, it's a suitable resolution.
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Old June 6 2013, 03:35 PM   #34
Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Of course, in-universe we're left with some pretty big questions.

- Who defeated Khan?
- What did Khan really intend to achieve with his flight?
- Did Khan get what he wanted when Kirk marooned him?
- With the whole "incomplete records" thing, how many of the "facts" of Khan were accurate, and how many were distorted?

The episode plays out nicely prima facie, but the truth about Khan could easily be more complex. On awakening, his first and only question is "How long?". In which circumstances would this really be relevant? A journey intended to achieve a destination would rather call for the question "Where?", not "When?"...

If Khan in fact had no destination in mind, but merely hoped to wait out the opposition to him, then "How long?" would be a highly relevant question. If Kirk says "More than three lifetimes", then Khan is safe, because he has been forgotten. If he says "Oh, I estimate three months", then Khan is screwed, because those who want his head on a platter are still alive and sending out Wiesenthals.

Perhaps Khan just wanted to loop back to Earth after the dust had settled? Or perhaps he bet that his ship would eventually be discovered and he could do exactly what he did in the episode. Evidence for him wanting to settle a distant planet is lacking: we never hear of people in the 1990s knowing where or even whether there would be habitable worlds, and we never see colonizing gear or even a means of landing when we study Khan's ship! Indeed, when Khan does colonize, his equipment is stamped with UFP symbology...

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Old June 6 2013, 03:58 PM   #35
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
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Okay, so Kirk executes Khan.

Kirk then becomes one more uninteresting, unexceptional TV cowboy of that era. Who'd remember him or the show now?
Who remembers this scene?
I do. It is a totally different situation.

Kruge had just murdered Kirk's son after torturing him for information hours after obliterating the entire crew of the USS Grissom and attacking the Enterprise. Still, after all that, when Kruge was in danger of falling, Kirk offered his hand. Kruge's response was to pull Kirk down into the lava with him. To save himself and Spock, Kirk did the only thing he could: he kicked his adversary over the side. At that point, Kruge had done one thing after another and another, so Kirk's exasperation added the "I have had enough of you" to it.

Self defense / justifiable homicide / justice. Executing Khan and his followers after having them in custody would be brutal, heartless murder. Sorry, not in support of that.
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Old June 6 2013, 04:07 PM   #36
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

ssosmcin wrote: View Post
Executing Khan and his followers after having them in custody would be brutal, heartless murder. Sorry, not in support of that.
99.9% of the time, I would agree with you. But people like Hitler, Napoleon, Stalin, Khan, etc.... I say, release the hounds. (oh and people who dress up their dogs in people's clothes...take them out too!).
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Old June 6 2013, 05:06 PM   #37
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Timo wrote: View Post

The episode plays out nicely prima facie, but the truth about Khan could easily be more complex. On awakening, his first and only question is "How long?". In which circumstances would this really be relevant? A journey intended to achieve a destination would rather call for the question "Where?", not "When?"...

Timo Saloniemi
I disagree completely. He probably knows something has gone wrong since humans have awoken him. For all we know, he might also be able to feel that he has been "sleeping" for much longer than intended. Whether he asks "when" or "where" doesn't make him more or less realistic. When I've been sleeping for too long the first thing I do is look at the clock.
If I for some reason don't remember where I went to sleep, of course I wonder where I am when I wake up. If I am traveling on a boat and have slept I wonder both what time it is AND where I am. I most often ask what time it is because I know what time I will arrive at my destination.

Anyway, I would probably ask "how long" if I had been on a spaceship and feeling as if I was halfdead and the people bending over me had thingamajigs looking a lot more advanced than what I was used to.
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Old June 6 2013, 05:21 PM   #38
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Unicron wrote: View Post
Khan was a tyrant in many respects, yet Kirk and Scotty acknowledge that he had a sense of honor other respects. He committed no massacres during his rule and didn't attack anyone offensively
The crew of Regula One would have been happy to hear that, if Khan hadn't SLAUGHTERED them all in cold blood.
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Old June 6 2013, 05:27 PM   #39
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Eisenhower an his followers were responsible for the deaths of millions upon millions, too.

Are you comparing Khan to Eisenhower??
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Old June 6 2013, 06:26 PM   #40
Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Probably in Khan's favor, even.

Many of you seem to proceed from the assumption that Khan was a so-called bad guy. But the dialogue does not support this at all.

Let's not forget what was said about Khan in the episode itself:

Kirk: "This Khan is not what I expected of a twentieth century man."
Spock: "I note he's making considerable use of our technical library."
Kirk: "Common courtesy, Mister Spock. He'll spend the rest of his days in our time. It's only decent to help him catch up. Would you estimate him to be a product of selective breeding?"
Spock: "There is that possibility, Captain. His age would be correct. In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over forty nations."
Kirk: "Well, they were hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant. They began to battle among themselves."
Spock: "Because the scientists overlooked one fact. Superior ability breeds superior ambition."
Kirk: "Interesting, if true. They created a group of Alexanders, Napoleons."
Spock: "I have collected some names and made some counts. By my estimate, there were some eighty or ninety of these young supermen unaccounted for when they were finally defeated."
Kirk: "That fact isn't in the history texts."
Spock: "Would you reveal to war-weary populations that some eighty Napoleons might still be alive?"
So Khan is compared to Napoleon, a leader of good repute who is widely admired in the 21st century still. He is compared to Alexander, a leader of mythical proportions. Both killed an awful lot of people - but any modern leader has the capacity to do much worse, and most have indeed done so. Trying to nail down Napoleon or Alexander as a "butcher" just puts you in the loonie bin, by modern sentiments.

Moving on:

Kirk: "You fled. Why? Were you afraid?"
Khan: "I've never been afraid."
Kirk: "But you left at the very time mankind needed courage."
Khan: "We offered the world order!"
Kirk: "We?"
Like Kirk points out, Khan uses the language of tyrants. But so did Winston Churchill and a long string of US presidents in times of national crisis. Kirk is playing games here; he's not really interested in passing judgement, but merely in tripping Khan into exposing himself.


Kirk: "Name, Khan, as we know him today. [..] Name, Khan Noonien Singh."
Spock: "From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world. From Asia through the Middle East."
McCoy: "The last of the tyrants to be overthrown."
Scott: "I must confess, gentlemen. I've always held a sneaking admiration for this one."
Kirk: "He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen, in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring."
Spock: "Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is-"
Kirk: "Mister Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless."
Scott: "There were no massacres under his rule."
Spock: "And as little freedom."
McCoy: "No wars until he was attacked."
Spock: "Gentlemen!"
Kirk: "Mister Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time."
Our heroes are really pulling Spock's leg here with their "defense" of Khan's virtues, obviously. Scotty gets it started with a mischievous look on his face. But what they say is apparently factually true. Remember that Kirk loathes the 20th century in general (see his previous comment about 20th century men), even if he romanticizes the 19th century United States to a degree. Khan rises above Kirk's standards for that century, and while that's not much in absolute terms, it still paints Khan as a saint of his times.

Khan's attitude towards "freedom" is unclear. Are we talking about McCarthyism here? Or Berianism? Good old-fashioned monarchism with freedom of thought but no freedom of press?

Later Trek shows that Earth wasn't exactly heading for the better after Khan left. "The" tyrants were overthrown, but democracy didn't win, and things got worse before WWIII put an end to everything and Vulcans then apparently sorted it out.

Is Khan a Rommel to Kirk - a good guy fated to exist as part of an evil movement (in terms of myth, with the facts of the matter irrelevant)? Or is he something better or worse? Well, he's Napoleon and Alexander... If he were Hitler, surely Kirk would bring up the matter.

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Old June 6 2013, 06:43 PM   #41
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

Where there warning buoys placed in the Ceti Alpha system? If so would it be generic enough so that the message did not indicate what would be found on the planet?
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Old June 6 2013, 06:49 PM   #42
Re: Why Let Khan Live?

That might be even worse than saying "Supermen - keep clear!". Most people would not risk getting Tri-Bubonic Space Plague or whatnot, but there'd always exist the kind of person who thinks that anything worth locking up is worth stealing...

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Old June 6 2013, 06:53 PM   #43
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

The whole idea of Space Seed is to create a little ambiguity/mystery about who Khan is. If they just automatically assumed he was a menace, it never would have provided him with the opportunity to seize the ship. That does not mean the writers wanted the audience to sympathize with Khan. By the time he shows his true colors, he's as bad as bad can be, period. (This is also true in the plot of Into Darkness, BTW. Where Into Darkness deviates is by pumping up a home-grown problem with Admiral Marcus, which was not the case in Space Seed.)

I think it's really misguided to go on a moral-relativistic tangent about Eisenhower and Churchill. It's simply not the same. Khan shares a lot of similarities with Hitler, or maybe more accurately a Hitler youth who bought the kool-aid about genetic perfection. There is no question that the audience is meant to side against everything Khan stands for.

There are always going to be some people who side with dictators. Certainly Hitler, Pol Pot, etc... had followers who were not forced into servitude. It doesn't mean that figures like these were on equal moral footing with Churchill or Eisenhower just because, well, the allied powers committed the sin of killing lots of people to win WWII. If that had not happened, most people posting on this board would be writing in German, or more appropriately, Trek probably never would have been produced in the first place.

As a WWII vet, I'm certain Gene Roddenberry, despite his pacifism and utopianism, realized that sometimes war is necessary, and war is hell.
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Old June 6 2013, 06:59 PM   #44
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Re: Why Let Khan Live?

As we don't know what destroyed Ceti Alpha VI, it's possible warning buoys were destroyed at the same time.
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Old June 6 2013, 07:03 PM   #45
Re: Why Let Khan Live?

It's pretty disgusting to defend bloody dictatorships by appealing to the fact that these dictatorships were democratically governed. Eisenhower Jugend had no more choice on the issue of dying for the flag than Hitler Jugend did...

If type of government really matters, let it not be forgotten that Khan was never established as a dictator (only that he fought those). All we learned of his form of government was that he was a tyrant; whatever the correlation between the terms in the 23rd century, we don't know.

That does not mean the writers wanted the audience to sympathize with Khan.
Why should we care about what the writers wanted? Trek was written when the zeitgeist was sexist, racist and authoritarian, and it shows. Luckily, it doesn't show so strongly that we couldn't ignore it and enjoy the cool bits.

In any case, in the final act, our heroes and Khan part ways in amicable terms. Were the writers somehow being coerced to writing Khan in explicitly sympathetic terms there or what?

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