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

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Old November 7 2008, 04:51 PM   #1
BillJ
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Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

Did Ron Tracey (Captain of the U.S.S. Exeter) actually break the Prime Directive in the The Omega Glory? Couldn't he have made the case that the planetary culture was stagnant (as we've seen Kirk do)? And by doing that made a case that it was his duty to help the Kohms fend off the Yangs.

If he hadn't crispy-fried Ensign Redshirt, I think a good lawyer would have gotten the Prime Directive violation dropped and he would've been back in command in no time.
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Old November 7 2008, 06:12 PM   #2
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

One might make the case that starship captains zealously guard each other against "PD violations" real and imaginary in order to bump competition down a notch or two. Were the situation reversed, Tracey might have tried to end Kirk's career by paying a visit during "The Apple" or "Return of the Archons", both instances where Kirk had to resort to violence for selfish personal protection and protection of ship. After all, "Bread and Circuses" sort of suggests that starships and crews are expendable if the price for survival is violation of the PD.

However, Kirk clearly wasn't punished for "The Apple", "Return of the Archons" or "Bread and Circuses", suggesting that Tracey might have gotten away with his own variation on the theme, at least had Kirk not been a personal enemy of his.

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Old November 7 2008, 06:47 PM   #3
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

^Timo:

Where did you get the impression Kirk was a personal enemy of Tracey's? I never got that, just that Tracey didn't like it that Kirk disagreed with how he handled the situation with the Yangs and the Coms, and that from that point on, they were enemies.

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Old November 7 2008, 06:56 PM   #4
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

As usual with Trek human villains, Tracey had clearly gone insane, and I don't think we are supposed to feel that he really believed the culture was stagnant, that phasering so many Yangs was the way to move things along, or that he ever intended to try to set himself up for a potential defense against the Prime Directive violation. While I don't believe Tracey's violations are remotely comparable to any of Kirk's and would be glad to try and stick up for that statement on a case-by-case basis if anyone cares, it's still an interesting point to have brought up.
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Old November 7 2008, 07:13 PM   #5
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

In any case, Omega III would pretty much have to be made a Federation protectorate, along with Gamma Triangulae VI and Beta III.
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Old November 7 2008, 10:55 PM   #6
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

BillJ wrote: View Post
Did Ron Tracey (Captain of the U.S.S. Exeter) actually break the Prime Directive in the The Omega Glory? Couldn't he have made the case that the planetary culture was stagnant (as we've seen Kirk do)? And by doing that made a case that it was his duty to help the Kohms fend off the Yangs.
Oh, no, not at all. Kirk only intervened when a planet was forced into stagnation by an all-powerful computer or being tampered with by an outside force. There was no evidence at all that Omegan society was stagnant, that it was somehow prevented from growing naturally. There was no external agency manipulating the Omegans, no computer enslaving them. Both cultures had regressed somewhat from their technological peak, but that was their own doing thanks to the war, and they had both evolved and adapted in their own distinct ways since then. There was nothing preventing them from developing further.

Besides, your suggestion contradicts itself. If the Kohms were in danger of being conquered by the Yangs, or vice versa, then that by definition is not stagnation, because the culture is showing dynamism and the capacity for change. Change isn't always forward or upward or positive, at least not for everyone at once. But as long as the people of the planet are free to pursue their own ideas of change, rather than being artificially trapped in a steady state, that's anything but "stagnant" by the Kirkian definition or any other. Kirk never sided with one nation over another; he just set people free to make their own choices, to strive and struggle and grow at their own pace. Well, he did side with the Hill People of Neural in "A Private Little War," but only because the villagers were being helped by the Klingons.

What Tracey did was the equivalent of what the Klingons did on Neural. He chose to take sides in an internal conflict and slaughtered thousands of indigenous people using advanced technology. That is a blatant and enormous breach of the Prime Directive, both in letter and in spirit. (In fact, what Tracey did was worse. The Klingons on Neural introduced technical advances gradually enough that they could be absorbed by the civilization. They may have done it only to avoid exposure, but the effect was that the culture would've been better able to adapt.)
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Old November 8 2008, 12:23 AM   #7
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

Capt. Tracey said "we drained four of our phasers and they still came".

That sounds pretty blatant to me. Tracey was introducing Federation weapons technology to a primitive culture, not to save the planet from an unnatural force but to project his own personal agenda. Tracey could've lived on Omega III in peace, keeping to himself and safeguarding his own well being with minimal use of technology. Instead, it's break-out-the-phasers and take sides in a local war the Federation has no stake in.

Contrast that with Beta III or Eminiar VII, where the locals (or an unnatural force among them) were responsible for the unprovoked attack on at least one Federation starship, and the Federation obviously sent the Enterprise in to confront a security threat. And the Ekosians fired on the Enterprise, proving their predisposition for interplanetary war was dangerous if not technologically advanced. Kirk was obviously sent to intervene between Zeos and Ekos because civilians like John Gill had already inserted themselves in the situation, thus establishing a relationship. (Same holds true for Sigma Iotia II; the Horizon's actions committed the Federation there as well.)

What was never made clear to me is how/if the Prime Directive applied to non-Starfleet personnel. Kirk identified Ron Merrik as a captain in "the merchant service". Yet Kirk zingered the First Citizen: "what happened to your oath is obvious", not making it clear if the oath was to the S.S. Beagle's crew or to the Prime Directive. Setting aside the TNG "Angel One" precedent for the moment, Kirk told Septimus that "it is one of our highest laws not to interfere in the affairs of others. If Captain Merrik is Merrikus, then he has violated that law and he must be taken away and punished". Does this mean that the Prime Directive is actually more than just a Starfleet regulation? Does it apply to Federation civilians as well?
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Old November 8 2008, 06:32 AM   #8
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

Timo wrote: View Post
However, Kirk clearly wasn't punished for "The Apple", "Return of the Archons" or "Bread and Circuses", suggesting that Tracey might have gotten away with his own variation on the theme, at least had Kirk not been a personal enemy of his.
Objection: First, the planets in ``The Apple'' and ``The Return Of The Archons'' were explicitly frozen cultures and as described when the noninterference directive was introduced in ``The Return Of The Archons'' not subject to prime directive protection. And on top of that the evidence suggests that Kirk would have been fine letting them be if he could have taken his crew back. It's only after the local governments decide to open fire and attempt to destroy the Enterprise that Kirk fights back.

And in ``Bread and Circuses'' there isn't any prime directive violation. Kirk even makes a point of commending Scott for helping them through the problem without doing anything that would disrupt the course of the anonymous Romans' civilization.
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Old November 8 2008, 11:48 AM   #9
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

it was greed on tracys part pure and simple, he gave kirk a sob story to throw him off, he drove off an attack by the yangs so he could further his plans, he clearly did not give a damn if he broke the prime directive or not, as long as he got what he wanted, i think by the time the enterprise arrived the point was moot.( by his point of veiw)
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Old November 8 2008, 06:36 PM   #10
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

I tend to agree with most of what has already been said, each time Kirk did it could be argued that it was in self defense of his ship (in both the Emiinar case and the Apple Case The Enterprise was under a direct attack), as well as attempting to aid an arrested culture.

Captian Tracey had clearly gone insane, not to mention I believe he had a character flaw that might've slipped through the profiles tests they are supposed to give Starship Captians.

His entire crew had been killed, yet at no time do we see any sign of remorse. I mean think of how much a mess Kirk would've been had ALL of his crew been killed by a plague brought back by the landing party? I mean look at Decker, he was consumed and later destroyed by the guilt he carried with him after the third planet was destroyed...

"..there /was/...but not any more!" then sobs. You feel pity for Decker..Tracey was clearly beyond help, he showed nothing except his lust for personal gain. Which makes what he did mass murder. He did not act for the Coms in the villiage to save them, merely they to were the quickest means to his own end. Not unlike Admiral Dougherty in TNG's Insurection later on with a very similar theme. Though i doubt the Admiral wouldve allowed mass slaughter as we saw in the film.

So rambling aside there is a big difference between Tracey's motivations and Kirk's. I think he would've been burned good lawyer or not, whether he killed Galloway or not.

Just my two cents,

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Old November 8 2008, 09:01 PM   #11
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

I don't really see the distinction. In "The Apple", Kirk destroyed a machine that sustained an entire culture so that his starship would be saved and his landing party could pursue a life of their liking rather than worship said machine. That's self-defense leading to the destruction of a culture. In "Return of the Archons", pretty much the same happens: the ship is under threat, the landing party is about to be enslaved, and Kirk acts in self-defense and destroys a culture. In "Omega Glory", Tracey's ship is already lost, and his landing party fights for the right to lead their preferred sort of life, the Kohm one, as opposed to Yang savagery and slavery.

In all the occasions, Kirk and his crew or Tracey and his crew could just have chosen to die or be enslaved, if preserving the local cultures was such a big deal. In all the occasions, the Starfleet folks decided to act in self-interest. Kirk destroyed two cultures outright, and Starfleet didn't mind. Tracey merely winged half of one, barely making a difference with his little phaser massacre before Kirk barged in and started accusing him. Why would Starfleet have minded when Tracey's interference was barely noticeable compared with Kirk's?

It seems Kirk was just out to get Tracey's scalp, and pissed off that Tracey's antics had endangered Kirk's landing party as well. It didn't help matters that Tracey was a bit crazy, of course, but that was quite separate from his supposed "crimes" against Starfleet rules.

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Old November 9 2008, 12:49 AM   #12
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

Timo wrote: View Post
I don't really see the distinction. In "The Apple", Kirk destroyed a machine that sustained an entire culture so that his starship would be saved and his landing party could pursue a life of their liking rather than worship said machine. That's self-defense leading to the destruction of a culture. In "Return of the Archons", pretty much the same happens: the ship is under threat, the landing party is about to be enslaved, and Kirk acts in self-defense and destroys a culture. In "Omega Glory", Tracey's ship is already lost, and his landing party fights for the right to lead their preferred sort of life, the Kohm one, as opposed to Yang savagery and slavery.
What??? How in the hell do you justify genocide as an act of "self-defense?" Tracey went hugely beyond protecting himself. He slaughtered thousands of people who had no way to defend themselves.

And it's bigotry to see the Yangs' way of life was "savage" just because it wasn't as sedentary and technologically advanced as that of the Kohms. The Yang culture was basically analogous to that of Plains Native Americans, according to Kirk. The Plains peoples certainly weren't "savages," except in the racist propaganda of their rivals. They were just as much victims of Kohm aggression as the reverse; there was no unambiguous right side. If Tracey chose to embrace one culture's denigration of the other and commit mass murder using that as a justification, that is a huge and obvious Prime Directive violation in every imaginable way, and a grossly evil act regardless of Starfleet regulations.

Besides, Kirk didn't "destroy" those cultures, he merely removed the artificial controls that were inhibiting their development. That did disrupt their status quo, but it's nothing like genocide. And he didn't make an arbitrary choice to side with one faction over another; he destroyed computers that had enslaved everyone on the planet equally. Most of all, he didn't personally murder thousands of them with his own phaser!!! Tracey's actions weren't self-defense, they were a one-man Holocaust.

You've offered some truly bizarre interpretations of Trek-universe concepts in the past, but this one really takes the cake.
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Old November 9 2008, 01:54 AM   #13
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

Slightly off-topic, but worth mentioning: In the novel, Prime Directive, there's an intro written by a top Starfleet admiral, explaining how the rigorous selection process for starship captains produced both admirable captains like Christopher Pike, and others less gifted, and they mention both Ron Tracey and James Kirk, in relation to breaking General Order Number One. -- RR
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Old November 9 2008, 03:43 AM   #14
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

^^I think that's unfair to Kirk. Personally, I suspect any good captain is going to have a record that involves bending the Prime Directive as much as Kirk did. After all, 23rd-century captains weren't constantly on a leash from their superiors, having to follow every order to the letter. They were often deep in unknown territory, the only authority on the scene, charged with the responsibility of not only enforcing Federation law, but interpreting it when necessary. They were sworn to uphold the Prime Directive, but they had latitude in defining what that meant in a given context.
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Old November 9 2008, 04:04 AM   #15
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Re: Ron Tracey and the Prime Directive

BillJ wrote: View Post
I think a good lawyer would have gotten the Prime Directive violation dropped and he would've been back in command in no time.
Nah, any jury could see Ron had the Crazy Eyes.
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