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Old June 18 2013, 08:19 AM   #1
Charles Phipps
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Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

Just curious what your opinion is over the course of the franchise. We've got Worf, obviously, but the majority of Klingons we meet are pretty much the embodiment of dishonorable. Less Miyamoto Musashi and more Genghis Khan crossed with Hell's Angels.

Is the whole thing just a con?
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Old June 18 2013, 08:44 AM   #2
iguana_tonante
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

Miyamoto Musashi didn't give a flying fuck about honour. He was all about winning.

Just like the Klingons.
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Old June 18 2013, 09:12 AM   #3
M.A.C.O.
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

Yes.

I really like the ENT episode "Judgement" because it opens up a dialogue about other careers in the Empire being viewed as less honorable than choosing to become a warrior.

Here is a short dialogue between Kolos and Archer

Kolos: "You didn't believe all Klingons were soldiers?"

Archer: "I guess I did."

Kolos: "My father was a teacher. My mother, a biologist at the university. They encouraged me to take up the law. Now, all young people want to do is to take up weapons as soon as they can hold them. They're told there is honor in victory – any victory. What honor is there in a victory over a weaker opponent? Had Duras destroyed that ship, he would have been lauded as a hero of the Empire for murdering helpless refugees. We were a great society, not so long ago. When honor was earned through integrity and acts of true courage, not senseless bloodshed."

Archer: "For thousands of years, my people had similar problems. We fought three world wars that almost destroyed us. Whole generations were nearly wiped out."

Kolos: "What changed?"

Archer: "A few courageous people began to realize... they could make a difference."

This only warriors are worthy of honor societal trend is the cause of Klingon decline I think. The Klingons of TOS never seemed preoccupied with honor. Not even the TOS films that overlapped with TNG shows. Like TUC and season 5 of TNG.
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Old June 18 2013, 10:22 AM   #4
Mario de Monti
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

I believe this whole honor thing was invented during the planning and production of TNG because they again wanted to have an alien on the regular cast. Roddenberry insisted that no Vulcans be on the show, so that basically ruled out Romulans, too. So they decided to use a Klingon character. And since you can´t very well have a ruthless, treacherous warrior among your bridge crew, they simply had Klingons and Romulans (who really were an honorable people in TOS) switch roles.

But still through the whole run of TNG few Klingons acted truly honorable. So I´d say yeah, it is "a bunch of hooey"!
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Old June 18 2013, 10:33 AM   #5
F. King Daniel
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

-Klingons are honorable

-Humans have evolved beyond greed or want

-Vulcans cannot lie


Common lies of the Trekverse. All probably from 24th century travel brochures!
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Old June 18 2013, 01:24 PM   #6
R. Star
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

In Way of the Warrior Bashir made a quip about it not being honorable to cloak and lay in ambush to which Worf tartly replied, "There's nothing more honorable than victory."

So when you have a culture based on the tenet that winning erases all sins, you're going to see wide spread corruption.

I think the only reason Worf was the way he was, is that because he grew up away from any Klingons. So when he read about honor and glory, he took it to heart instead of growing up around other Klingons and seeing how it really is.
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Old June 18 2013, 01:33 PM   #7
Lance
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

I have sometimes wondered if Worf isn't the best representative of the Klingons, so much as he is representative of what they should be. As a Klingon who grew up "off world" he holds himself to a much higher ideal than those back on Qu'onos. Worf pretty much grew up reading all the scriptures and holds himself to them as if they're a sacred text on how a Klingon 'should' behave, whereas the high council likes to talk up honor and ritual but seldom truly practice what they preach.

As a quick n' dirty retcon we might say that they like to put on pretenses of that ritualistic old Klingon vibe for the benefit of outworlders, a kind of Disneyland Klingon Empire. But in reality the Klingons of the 24th century are a fractured lot who aren't as into all that blood oath stuff as they like to pretend. They cling on to the old traditions as a way of keeping something of themselves as a culture in the post-Praxis Disaster era, but none of them truly believe any of it anymore. Except for Worf.
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Old June 18 2013, 01:36 PM   #8
Mario de Monti
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

That seems like a logical explanation
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Old June 18 2013, 01:45 PM   #9
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

Lance wrote: View Post
I have sometimes wondered if Worf isn't the best representative of the Klingons, so much as he is representative of what they should be. As a Klingon who grew up "off world" he holds himself to a much higher ideal than those back on Qu'onos. Worf pretty much grew up reading all the scriptures and holds himself to them as if they're a sacred text on how a Klingon 'should' behave, whereas the high council likes to talk up honor and ritual but seldom truly practice what they preach.

As a quick n' dirty retcon we might say that they like to put on pretenses of that ritualistic old Klingon vibe for the benefit of outworlders, a kind of Disneyland Klingon Empire. But in reality the Klingons of the 24th century are a fractured lot who aren't as into all that blood oath stuff as they like to pretend. They cling on to the old traditions as a way of keeping something of themselves as a culture in the post-Praxis Disaster era, but none of them truly believe any of it anymore. Except for Worf.
This is very well argued. It is clear that humans and Klingons have a vastly different definition of honour and Worf has clearly been influenced by how he was brought up. I am sure the Rozhenkos would have enriched Worfs upbringing by exposing him tho what they believed to be the 'best of Klingon culture' - or at least what may have believed to have been the best. Ultimately, Worf would represent, or at least try to represent, the best of both worlds.
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Old June 18 2013, 02:19 PM   #10
stj
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

There were not many Klingons in Star Trek. The primary episodes, Errand of Mercy and Day of the Dove were about making peace. In the tribbles episode, relations were cool, but there was still determination to keep the peace. The emphasis on Klingon villainy (even at the expense of empathy for them as people) was secondary to the message of peace. Star Trek was aware you make peace with your living enemies, not their graves.

The sole exception, A Private Little War, is pretty directly allegorical of Vietnam. After explicitly adopting the false premises of the administration justification for war (that the Communists were manipulating cat'spaws, empowering them with force, not popular support) the episode still argues against intervention. Thus it is highly ambiguous.

Thus, Star Trek has nothing much about Klingon honor.

From the bits and pieces of TNG I've seen Worf began as an allegorical figure for US/Western militarism. As such, he wasn't dishonorable but he wasn't heroic. On Voyager, Torres and the dreadlock Klingons aka Kazons are symbolically Black people. This is why practically every Torres episode is gruesome. The seventh season episode where she tries to create a blonde blue-eyed child by genetic engineering is particularly problematic. Treating Black people as literally Alien, even symbolically, is incredibly wrongheaded. Ron D. Moore, in his quasi-psychotic rant about Voyager, told of being invited to do something with Torres but naturally, given his skill level, passed.

Klingon honor then is strictly a matter of later TNG and DS9.
The question to ask, what does this society tell us about ourselves? Now there are basically two ways that the fantastic can try to answer this. One is rigorous counterfactuality, where to the best of the writer's ability, what might become is presented. The other is to dramatize our deepest wishes as honestly as possible.

The late TNG/DS9 Klingon honor fails on both counts. The honor society presented couldn't run an empire, couldn't even feed itself. It has no relevance to our choices for our future. Nor does Klingon honor dramatize our fantasies honestly. A society of all chiefs and no Indians? It is not an accident that the Klingon empire did not have any subject races depicted in ordinary life.

Yes, Klingon honor is hooey. It is a permanent stain in the oeuvre of the writers who perpetrated it. By unanimous report, the main culprit is Ron D. Moore.
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Old June 18 2013, 04:45 PM   #11
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

stj wrote: View Post
There were not many Klingons in Star Trek. The primary episodes, Errand of Mercy and Day of the Dove were about making peace. In the tribbles episode, relations were cool, but there was still determination to keep the peace. The emphasis on Klingon villainy (even at the expense of empathy for them as people) was secondary to the message of peace. Star Trek was aware you make peace with your living enemies, not their graves.

The sole exception, A Private Little War, is pretty directly allegorical of Vietnam. After explicitly adopting the false premises of the administration justification for war (that the Communists were manipulating cat'spaws, empowering them with force, not popular support) the episode still argues against intervention. Thus it is highly ambiguous.

Thus, Star Trek has nothing much about Klingon honor.

From the bits and pieces of TNG I've seen Worf began as an allegorical figure for US/Western militarism. As such, he wasn't dishonorable but he wasn't heroic. On Voyager, Torres and the dreadlock Klingons aka Kazons are symbolically Black people. This is why practically every Torres episode is gruesome. The seventh season episode where she tries to create a blonde blue-eyed child by genetic engineering is particularly problematic. Treating Black people as literally Alien, even symbolically, is incredibly wrongheaded. Ron D. Moore, in his quasi-psychotic rant about Voyager, told of being invited to do something with Torres but naturally, given his skill level, passed.

Klingon honor then is strictly a matter of later TNG and DS9.
The question to ask, what does this society tell us about ourselves? Now there are basically two ways that the fantastic can try to answer this. One is rigorous counterfactuality, where to the best of the writer's ability, what might become is presented. The other is to dramatize our deepest wishes as honestly as possible.

The late TNG/DS9 Klingon honor fails on both counts. The honor society presented couldn't run an empire, couldn't even feed itself. It has no relevance to our choices for our future. Nor does Klingon honor dramatize our fantasies honestly. A society of all chiefs and no Indians? It is not an accident that the Klingon empire did not have any subject races depicted in ordinary life.

Yes, Klingon honor is hooey. It is a permanent stain in the oeuvre of the writers who perpetrated it. By unanimous report, the main culprit is Ron D. Moore.

you've hit upon the key issue, beyond whether the "honor" stuff is hooey. The way TNG-era Klingons are depicted, they just wouldn't be able to sustain a society. Even Earth cultures that valued war and militarism didn't place it in such a central way as to exclude just about every other path in a society. Either the Klingons would have destroyed themselves in infighting, would have eventually been defeated/conquered in one of their many wars, or would have reformed themselves among Vulcan lines.
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Old June 18 2013, 05:17 PM   #12
Dale Sams
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

You guys took the words right out of my mouth re: Worf.

Remember how square he looked at the party in "Redemption"
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Old June 18 2013, 05:35 PM   #13
C.E. Evans
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

I always looked at it that not all Klingons are the same.

It's also possible that what is honorable for Klingons isn't the same as what is honorable for Humans. For a Klingon warrior, the use of trickery and deception may not be considered dishonorable if it's done to further the glory of the Empire (defeat or capture in battle, a major display of cowardice, or anything that brings shame to the Empire might be regarded as a stain on a Klingon's personal honor--if it's something really big, it could even extend to his entire House).
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Old June 18 2013, 05:57 PM   #14
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

All of the alien races kind of remind me of Christians. There's some moral imperative towards some type of desired behaviour, and this behaviour is difficult to maintain, so people do all kinds of stupid bullshit and simply claim that they are honourable, logical, holy despite their regular actions to the contrary.

Considering that Star Trek chronicles the story of military crews, it makes sense that you would see a disproportionately large number of disreputable aliens.

I personally think it would be cool to watch a series based on normal Klingons, living their lives as doctors, priests, etc, going about their religious, social, and economic life. But I can see why many people might find it boring.
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Old June 18 2013, 11:31 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Is Klingon honor a bunch of hooey?

Well, honor by definition is always a bunch of hooey.

It's simple enough: you define what honor means, making sure it makes life easy for you and difficult for your enemies, and then argue that you meet the definition. If you don't meet it, you change the definition.

You don't necessarily aim to paint your enemies as dishonorable. Rather, you try to coerce them into behaving according to your honor code, lest they make themselves dishonorable. In the general case, your enemy isn't the soldier in the foreign uniform - it's the soldier in your own. You have to place arbitrary and downright niggardly limitations on how he can behave, in order to humiliate and control him, because a soldier free to act in his own interest is your worst enemy regardless of the color of his uniform - and one who has keys to your fortress is the greater threat.

Klingon honor is honor all right: from what we see, it's a code that makes soldiers unlikely to challenge their chain of command (except in the controlled manner of assassinating your immediate superior) but also likely to pursue victory in the most efficient manner available (victory is honorable, kicking of opponents when they are down is honorable because it's their own damn fault for being down, etc.).

It's also malleable, so that in lean times people gather around to worship the minutest whims of Kahlessian code, but in times of heroic victories they concentrate on those honor rules that pile up the Qapla'.

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