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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies XI+

Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

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Old October 17 2013, 06:09 PM   #1
Gaith
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STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Apologies if this has been discussed to death, but I ran a few searches and couldn't find a thread on this particular subject, so here goes.


Was anyone else seriously put off by the ethics of Starfleet's treatment of Kahn (i.e., re-freezing him)?

I think we can all/most of us agree that, regardless of how we may feel about capital punishment in today's world, in which child starvation still exists, the future Starfleet/UFP does not execute prisoners, ever. If STID had ended with Khan biting it via prison yard phaser rifle firing squad, I'm sure the fan outcry would even have exceeded that of Man of Steel's.

So here's the question: how is freezing a prisoner (and presumably in so doing halting brain functions) and locking him up in a storage facility any more humane than execution? Kirk promised Khan he would stand trial. Did he? I can't imagine him consenting to be frozen again - why would he, as opposed to being locked up but allowed to read and write, a la Arik Soong? I could imagine him requesting execution rather than spending the rest of his life locked up, but that doesn't mean the Starfleet/UFP authorities would grant it.

And here's the real kicker: in a movie with several dubious TWOK callbacks, TPTB ignored a perfectly good and appropriate callback ending solution: grant Khan his cherished dream of waking up all his friends, but dump them all on an uninhabited M-class planet - albeit with regular satellite surveillance this time, per a word to the wise from Spock Prime. To be honest, simply locking Khan him up like Arik Soong makes the most sense to me, but I'd also have been entirely happy with them ripping off/paying homage to "Space Seed" in the above manner. As for the ending we got, in seems to me like nothing more than another Raiders shout-out, at the expense of all notion of ethics and judicial propriety.

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Old October 17 2013, 06:38 PM   #2
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

In a fit of anger, Khan did tell Admiral Marcus that he should've let him sleep. I imagine he was put on trial, and Starfleet probably doesn't have the death penalty. It could be that the humane thing was to actually let him go back to sleep rather than essentially rot in a cell for the rest of his life.

The real ethical question is what should be done with the other 72 people. Why are they still being kept frozen?
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Old October 17 2013, 06:48 PM   #3
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Franklin wrote: View Post
The real ethical question is what should be done with the other 72 people. Why are they still being kept frozen?
Do you honestly think 72 supermen that are likely to be just as ruthless and dangerous as Khan should just be let go?
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Old October 17 2013, 06:55 PM   #4
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
Franklin wrote: View Post
The real ethical question is what should be done with the other 72 people. Why are they still being kept frozen?
Do you honestly think 72 supermen that are likely to be just as ruthless and dangerous as Khan should just be let go?
I'd think you'd have to at least identify and check the background of all of them. If all of them were indeed fleeing criminal punishment, then if they already had due process, I suppose you can keep them frozen in lieu of whatever their sentence was. However, if they've yet to even face trial for any crimes, then I think keeping them frozen is problematic.
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Old October 17 2013, 06:56 PM   #5
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Gaith wrote: View Post
Was anyone else seriously put off by the ethics of Starfleet's treatment of Kahn (i.e., re-freezing him)?

I think we can all/most of us agree that, regardless of how we may feel about capital punishment in today's world, in which child starvation still exists, the future Starfleet/UFP does not execute prisoners, ever. If STID had ended with Khan biting it via prison yard phaser rifle firing squad, I'm sure the fan outcry would even have exceeded that of Man of Steel's.
Maybe, but I don't think there'd be as much complaining about it after the whole "demolishing part of San Francisco" thing.

So here's the question: how is freezing a prisoner (and presumably in so doing halting brain functions) and locking him up in a storage facility any more humane than execution? Kirk promised Khan he would stand trial. Did he? I can't imagine him consenting to be frozen again - why would he, as opposed to being locked up but allowed to read and write, a la Arik Soong? I could imagine him requesting execution rather than spending the rest of his life locked up, but that doesn't mean the Starfleet/UFP authorities would grant it.
It's more humane because you're not killing them and you're not hurting them. And I don't think that Starfleet would give a damn about the consent of a man who killed thousands in San Francisco, the head of Starfleet, and blew up one of their black ops R&D facilities.

And here's the real kicker: in a movie with several dubious TWOK callbacks, TPTB ignored a perfectly good and appropriate callback ending solution: grant Khan his cherished dream of waking up all his friends, but dump them all on an uninhabited M-class planet - albeit with regular satellite surveillance this time, per a word to the wise from Spock Prime. To be honest, simply locking Khan him up like Arik Soong makes the most sense to me, but I'd also have been entirely happy with them ripping off/paying homage to "Space Seed" in the above manner. As for the ending we got, in seems to me like nothing more than another Raiders shout-out, at the expense of all notion of ethics and judicial propriety.


You think a man with intimate knowledge of Starfleet's black ops division and one of the most powerful ships we've seen to date in the Abramsverse is going to be allowed anywhere but cryo or death? Especially a superhuman with 73 companions with similar abilities? Khan's lucky that Starfleet isn't ruthless and pragmatic enough to lobotomize him and use his blood for medical research until they can synthesize it and just dump him and his people into a star or gas giant.
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Old October 17 2013, 07:12 PM   #6
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

I always thought the whole banishing them to a deserted planet was pretty much just a cruel as killing them, like stranding someone of a deserted island.

Either way, based on Khan's action and inside info of Starfleet in this universe I think they went with the best option. They wouldn't execute him, and given the events of STID they would likely see prison as too big a risk for escape.

As for the 72, I always thought it was clear that they were his followers so-to-speak and that they were all fleeing together and their plan would be what ever Khan's plan was.
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Old October 17 2013, 07:19 PM   #7
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

bullethead wrote: View Post
Gaith wrote: View Post
Was anyone else seriously put off by the ethics of Starfleet's treatment of Kahn (i.e., re-freezing him)?

I think we can all/most of us agree that, regardless of how we may feel about capital punishment in today's world, in which child starvation still exists, the future Starfleet/UFP does not execute prisoners, ever. If STID had ended with Khan biting it via prison yard phaser rifle firing squad, I'm sure the fan outcry would even have exceeded that of Man of Steel's.
Maybe, but I don't think there'd be as much complaining about it after the whole "demolishing part of San Francisco" thing.

So here's the question: how is freezing a prisoner (and presumably in so doing halting brain functions) and locking him up in a storage facility any more humane than execution? Kirk promised Khan he would stand trial. Did he? I can't imagine him consenting to be frozen again - why would he, as opposed to being locked up but allowed to read and write, a la Arik Soong? I could imagine him requesting execution rather than spending the rest of his life locked up, but that doesn't mean the Starfleet/UFP authorities would grant it.
It's more humane because you're not killing them and you're not hurting them. And I don't think that Starfleet would give a damn about the consent of a man who killed thousands in San Francisco, the head of Starfleet, and blew up one of their black ops R&D facilities.

And here's the real kicker: in a movie with several dubious TWOK callbacks, TPTB ignored a perfectly good and appropriate callback ending solution: grant Khan his cherished dream of waking up all his friends, but dump them all on an uninhabited M-class planet - albeit with regular satellite surveillance this time, per a word to the wise from Spock Prime. To be honest, simply locking Khan him up like Arik Soong makes the most sense to me, but I'd also have been entirely happy with them ripping off/paying homage to "Space Seed" in the above manner. As for the ending we got, in seems to me like nothing more than another Raiders shout-out, at the expense of all notion of ethics and judicial propriety.


You think a man with intimate knowledge of Starfleet's black ops division and one of the most powerful ships we've seen to date in the Abramsverse is going to be allowed anywhere but cryo or death? Especially a superhuman with 73 companions with similar abilities? Khan's lucky that Starfleet isn't ruthless and pragmatic enough to lobotomize him and use his blood for medical research until they can synthesize it and just dump him and his people into a star or gas giant.
This is, of course, what happened to Khan and crew in the Mirror Universe.
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Old October 17 2013, 07:22 PM   #8
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Gaith wrote: View Post
What says the BBS Fleet?
John Harrison was supposed to stand trial. Khan Noonien Singh had already stood trial and had been convicted for war crimes and the mass murder of millions of people in the Eugenics Wars. He was, essentially, an escaped fugitive; the fact that he managed to out-live his original judge doesn't automatically negate his sentence, especially if the legal system that convicted him is still at least partially recognized by the Federation.

OTOH, the Federation has a different view of punishment than we do. Americans just stick heinous criminals into prison cells and let them slowly age to death; less seriously criminals sit in a jail cell and spend a few years trying to avoid getting raped in the shower. Federation prisoners are sent to some kind of make-work camp where they're supposedly retrained and psychoanalyzed to remove or at least reduce their innate criminal tendencies; those who cannot be rehabilitated are "incurably criminally insane" and they have very special facilities for people like that.

Khan would likely fall into the latter category, except that his inherent megalomania is a feature and not a bug. There's no real way to rehabilitate him, so freezing him is the next best solution other than killing him.


And no, marooning him on an M-class planet to rule for his own is NOT a viable solution. For one, they already tried that in Space Seed and history records it didn't work out too well. And secondly, it stands to reason that whatever society Khan and his followers would eventually build would have the exact same basic motivations as Khan himself: one psychotic augment is already bad news, so what do you plan to do when a whole race of them suddenly shows up with warp drives and starships they designed all by themselves?
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Old October 17 2013, 07:31 PM   #9
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Bob Orci did say in his interview with the Mission Log guys that Khan was supposed to be frozen, but awaiting trial, at the end of the movie.
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Old October 17 2013, 07:41 PM   #10
Gaith
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Crazy Eddie wrote: View Post
And no, marooning him on an M-class planet to rule for his own is NOT a viable solution. For one, they already tried that in Space Seed and history records it didn't work out too well.
The nu-cast doesn't know that, and it did work just fine until some incompetent Starfleeters mistook one freaking planet for another. As I said, surveillance would be needed to ensure the gang wasn't rescued, either deliberately or accidentally, but it's definitely doable.



bullethead wrote: View Post
It's more humane because you're not killing them and you're not hurting them. And I don't think that Starfleet would give a damn about the consent of a man who killed thousands in San Francisco, the head of Starfleet, and blew up one of their black ops R&D facilities.
Given that Marcus also tried to murder everyone on the Enterprise, one would hope not too many tears would be spilled on his behalf. And again, call me a wussy liberal if you like, but I just don't see much of a difference between killing and indefinitely freezing a guy. And I certainly think the latter qualifies as "hurting". One could argue there's an ethical difference between freezing a guy and not waking up other frozen people, so one could argue for putting Khan on some small tropical island with constant electronic surveillance or something, but freezing him just ain't right, no matter who he is.
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Old October 17 2013, 08:42 PM   #11
Harvey
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Gaith wrote: View Post
And again, call me a wussy liberal if you like, but I just don't see much of a difference between killing and indefinitely freezing a guy.
From one wussy liberal to another, I totally agree. Again, though, I should point out that Orci says the intent was that Khan was frozen awaiting trial in that scene -- although that isn't conveyed on screen, which is too bad.
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Old October 17 2013, 09:17 PM   #12
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

As a wussy liberal, I see the difference as being that he's NOT.DEAD.

Heck, for all we know they're only in stasis until a planet can be found to "settle" them on.

Feel free to apply your own interpretations to the word "settle" in this particular case.
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Old October 17 2013, 09:30 PM   #13
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Yeah, one of the flaws of the film was that it seemed that JJ ran out of time, patience, and money and really didn't want to write an epilogue at all. From the time Khan is knocked out by Spock to the end of the film is so rushed that my head is spinning. Paramount should have givin him money to film an ending. I'm like, "Oh, the film is over. Ok...."
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Old October 17 2013, 09:43 PM   #14
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Harvey wrote: View Post
Bob Orci did say in his interview with the Mission Log guys that Khan was supposed to be frozen, but awaiting trial, at the end of the movie.
I'm not sure if that makes sense, Mr. Orci. Frozen to await trial as opposed to being incarcerated? Odd.

It would've made more sense to say he was tried and convicted, and under the circumstances (what Marcus forced him into after finding him), he was given a choice of punishments. The normal punishment would be to spend the rest of his life at a maximum security penal colony, but he was also given the relatively more humane choice of being refrozen.

One thing is certain, the 73 of them are probably public knowledge by the end of the movie, and I'd think the Federation has to do something with them other than keep them frozen forever.
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Old October 18 2013, 03:30 AM   #15
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Re: STID: The Ethics of the Ending

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
Yeah, one of the flaws of the film was that it seemed that JJ ran out of time, patience, and money and really didn't want to write an epilogue at all. From the time Khan is knocked out by Spock to the end of the film is so rushed that my head is spinning. Paramount should have givin him money to film an ending. I'm like, "Oh, the film is over. Ok...."
Movies aren't shot in order. An ending may feel rushed, but it's not like they were there on the last day and just rushed the conclusion of the story. Who knows when those scenes were filmed. If the end feels rushed, it's more probable that in editing, they cut that section down for time rather than the big action parts.
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