"Children of Earth" & the Right to Bear Arms (spoilers)

Discussion in 'Doctor Who' started by The Borgified Corpse, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    There’s a statistic the police trot out here in the UK as part of the anti knife campaigns that says you’re more likely to be stabbed with the knife you’re carrying than stab someone with it. It’s been a while since I checked but what are the comparative statistics of Americans killed or wounded with their own weapons? There’s also the incidence of children killed messing about with their parents’ weapons…which is one way to stop the 456 getting your kids I suppose…

    I understand the cultural aspects of gun ownership in the US, but things change. A few hundred years ago we burned witches at the stake but we don’t now. It does interest me, and I really must point out I’m trying not to generalise here, but for citizens of the most powerful nation on the planet, an awful lot of Americans seem awful scared. Scared of terrorists, or home invaders, heck judging by recent events even scared of universal health care. Sometimes I even think some of you are scared us Redcoats are coming back one day :devil:

    As Sci points out, gun ownership doesn’t necessarily equate to a violent society (although interestingly the murder rate in Finland—the most armed European country I believe—is also the highest in Europe, though Switzerland where many citizens keep an assault rifle at home as part of National service, is equally high).

    There’s the notion that an armed society is a polite society…I’d point to Africa as disproving this. Every other guy has an AK but it’s ain’t a polite place. People also say that if only the kids at Columbine had had guns too, well that’s true, but one could also argue that if the loony kids hadn’t had access to guns that would have sorted things too.

    Given the 456 scenario, or the notion of a government turning against its own people, I’d argue that even then gun ownership isn’t going to be much help. You can fight off the first group of soldiers they send—maybe—but not the second or the third. Most dictatorial governments are brought down, not by armed civilians, but either by foreign invasion, or else by their own armed forces turning against them. Even the American revolution was less about the American citizenry than it was about our ineptitude, the fact we weren’t that bothered, and the fact that the French sided with you!

    To bring this back to CoE, if possible, I think what was so fantastic about it was that it generates debates like this, more so than an awful lot of television these days, and that, really, it was the ultimate Kobyashi Maru scenario (until the end which had to have us survive). In most respects the governments’ ability to resist the 456 was about as much use as the citizenry’s ability to resist the government. Little more than pissing in the wind.
     
  2. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I've never been convinced that this is true. The 456 claim to be master geneticists capable of producing biological weapons capable of wiping out the Human race... Yet they're too inept to just clone the 40-some-odd kids the Brits handed over to them in the 1960s? And the only bio weapon they actually release turns out to kill its victims so quickly that in reality, it would never spread beyond more than a few sectors of London because its victims would all die before they could spread it?

    It's fair to say that the 456 probably could have caused millions of deaths, but I'd say they didn't prove themselves an existential threat.
     
  3. Ensign_Redshirt

    Ensign_Redshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Realistically, the government won't become "the enemy"... at least not in the so-called Western world. So, those questions above are pretty much irrelevant.

    For any country in the developed world to turn into a dictatorship again it would require some drastic changes (specifically, some drastic crisis or catastrophe) in the world. Just like the threat of apocalypse by an extra-terrestrial force in "Children of Earth".

    For instance, Germany turned into Nazi Germany because of the Great depression ("drastic change")... and the Weimar Republic wasn't even a stable/established democracy to begin with.
     
  4. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I agree -- but I think that it's also fair to say that if the populace has a relatively high degree of gun ownership, that's just one more check in place to dissuade governments from becoming truly dictatorial.

    Mind you, I'm in favor of gun control -- I don't think someone who has a history of major mental illness, or who is a convicted felon, ought to be allowed to own guns. Nor do I think citizens need "cop killer" bullets or automatic or semi-automatic or other military-grade weapons.

    But by the same token, there's a strong tradition of independent hunting and gun ownership in the United States, and I don't think that's a bad thing or something that can or should be suppressed. It does provide a check -- not a definitive one, but one nonetheless -- against government encroachment on peoples' rights, and, well, it is a Constitutional right in the U.S. (as per the Supreme Court's 2007 ruling on the 2nd Amendment and the District of Columbia's gun control laws), and I for one am not a fan of taking away a right that has been found to exist. Prohibition didn't work against alcohol, it hasn't worked against drugs, it's failing against gay marriage, and it would fail against gun ownership.
     
  5. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    Chill a bit. The insults help nothing.
     
  6. wamdue

    wamdue Admiral Admiral

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    doesnt TrekBBS have a forum for discussion of the 2nd amendment?
     
  7. Chaos Descending

    Chaos Descending Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've never heard of a "2nd Amendment Forum" here on TBBS.
     
  8. Count Zero

    Count Zero Welcome to the Danger Zone! Moderator

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    So, would you say, the US government hasn't encroached on peoples' rights since 9/11? ;)

    This isn't aimed at you specifically but I have to admit I always have to chuckle whenever this argument comes up because I think it's amusing how people imagine totalitarian regimes to come about.
    Usually, governments don't decide to become evil overnight. It's not like it's a liberal democracy one day, the Fourth Reich the next. It's a process, and usually, a large number of people go along with or even support it for various reasons.
    So even in an armed society, only few people would fight the regime, they'd be terrorists, and terrorists have a way of getting weapons, even in countries that don't grant the right to bear arms like the US does. So, it wouldn't make much difference, anyway.
    In the end, for most people, living in a totalitarian regime isn't that horrible, so long as their material needs are satisfied. The vast majority of my fellow countrymen continued to live their ordinary lives in the Third Reich, at least until the war. They didn't particularly miss the freedoms of the Weimar Republic. In fact, many of them later missed the Third Reich.
    So, it's a nice illusion to believe there would be an armed mass uprising, but it's an illusion nonetheless. The only way to fight encroachment on our rights is to fight every little one by legal means, by protesting, by raising awareness in the media. Thankfully, for all of us living in liberal democracies, these things are possible.
     
  9. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I think your scenario is completely plausible -- and that the scenario of an armed uprising is also plausible. (How could I not, living in a society that is itself the product of just such an armed uprising?)
     
  10. wamdue

    wamdue Admiral Admiral

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    TNZ maybe
     
  11. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    The Doctor really doesn't like guns, so please... keep the discussion on the Whoniverse and the 2nd Amendment or there will have to be infractions.

    :vulcan:
     
  12. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    I kept wondering about that myself. I also thought, if the 456 were so powerful, why do they need us to select & gather the children for them? Why can't they simply abduct them themselves? And what do they possibly gain by exterminating humanity? It seemed like a bluff to me and a fairly obvious one. I wish the Prime Minister had had the stones to call them on it.

    I agree that it's unlikely but it is certainly possible. We can't predict the future. For all we know, such a catastrophe could occur tomorrow or next year. Isn't it prudent that we take precautions in case of such a contingency? Otherwise, it's like not having smoke detectors in the house because you think it's unlikely that the house will ever catch fire.

    Sadly, I'd say it has. It simply has not yet become intrusive enough to spark a popular revolt. The only people that have been significantly negatively affected by it so far have mostly been criminals & illegal immigrants; much in the same way that the Third Reich mostly only persecuted Jews & other "undesirables."

    There's certainly a tipping point where the government clearly becomes the enemy of its general citizenry. Thank god we have not reached that point in any Western country in recent history that I'm aware of. But what happens if we reach that point? What if we reach a dire crisis like in "Children of Earth" where the government unilaterally makes the wrong decision? Don't the people have right to defend themselves (regardless of how effective their resistance may be)? Shouldn't we have a better plan than "We're just hoping it never happens"?

    I'm not saying everyone should have a gun. There are a lot of morons out there and I shudder to think what kind of stupid shit might happen if they had one. However, I don't see any indication that any government is so trustworthy that only they should be allowed guns. I'd be pro-gun control too if it included forbidding the government from having any guns either.

    One of the oddest political alignments in recent U.S. history was that a lot of the people who are pro-gun control were the same people who were convinced that George W. Bush stole the 2000 election. If you believe that the democratic process can fail and the government can be subverted like that, why do you want to live in a world where those are the only people that have guns?

    What happens when we're not in a liberal democracy anymore? You're right, the deevolution of a government from democratic to totalitarian is usually a slow process. But what do you suggest the citizens do when they suddenly realize that they are at the tail end of that transformation?

    Bringing things back to the 456, I think an apt comparison would be to the Third Reich. Even after the other European powers conceded to Hitler's "final" territorial demands, he still demanded more territory. I suspect the same thing would have happened with the 456 even if they had received the children they asked for. If history teaches us one thing over & over again, it's that nothing good ever comes from negotiating with bad people. I wish the PM in "Children of Earth" had remembered that.
     
  13. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    We did call them on it, we stood up to them and, in a matter of seconds, they killed everyone in Thames House apart from the old guy who had time to get a mask on.

    Whilst personally I would have liked to have seen more devestation on behalf of the 456 before we caved in, I do think there was sufficient evidence that they were a huge threat.

    1. They have interstellar travel, this potentially unbelivebly more advanced than us.

    2. They have teleportation technology meaning they could deposit poison or a bomb anywhere at will.

    3. Access to lethal pathogens.

    4. The ability to control every child on the planet.

    Now counterpoint to this is the fact that the 456 acted like junkies; irrational behavious, mood swings etc. In my mind this made them more of a threat, because they were unpredictable. Ok their control over children was limited (or else clearly they would have made them all walk to embarcation points) but it's still a hell of a power.

    Yes the pathogen used inside Thames House was quick acting, but maybe that's because they were targeting an enclosed space. You're making an assumption on what they don't have based on what they did use. Just because a cop raiding a house has a pistol it doesn't follow that he doesn't have a sniper rifle or a bazooka as well, he's just using the best weapon for the environment at the time.

    As for their inability to be able to clone children...well even the most advanced peoples have limits. In 1945 the US had access to, and used, bombs capable of destroying entire cities. Should the Japanese resisted further simply because the Americans couldn't clone people? Does that really matter?

    Like I say there should have been more proof, a small island somewhere wiped out in the blink of an eye, a town or a city. But still to not think the 456 were capable of wiping out our populace seems naive. (and yes they'd lose access to our children, but as stated above they didn't appear rational).

    Would private gun ownership have stopped the government taking children? Well possibly if the governments had taken kids from people's houses. Remember most of the children taken were lifted from schools under the pretext of innoculations, and many parents wouldn't have realised the truth until it was far too late. Even if you can mount some sort of defence against the government troops, again it becomes a moot point. 20 or 30 disorganised parents with handguns and no training vs 20 or 30 organised soldiers with training and automatic weapons. Tactically the only way to resist a dictatorial government is via guerilla warfare, but that's something you do after the fact not during the first stages, and again outside of a banana republic if anyone can give me an instance where a population has risen up against an indigenous regime without some form of external pressure or the collusion of the military. The American revolution doesn't count. The British were, in effect, an occupying force and political pressures back home had an impact how far we took the fight, we had the choice to walk away and still retain our own power, an indiginous regime will have nowhere else to go, and can therefore afford to fight harder, longer and dirtier, plus again external assistance was rendered by the French. Look at Afhganistan, the Afghans were being massacred in droves until the West levelled the playing field with supplies and funding. Before we supplied them with ground to air missiles it was a turkey shoot (despite the Afghan populace being a heavily armed one).
     
  14. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    So you're saying we should make it easy for them?
     
  15. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Tell that to the people of Northern Ireland.

    And I wish people would stop focusing on the UK as some great evil in CoE. The governments of EVERY nation on the planet were complicit--probably the only difference was how they were going to fill their quota.
     
  16. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    No, but knowing when to fight makes for a more meaningful rebellion. Also once you prove there is an internal revolt you potentially then can attract the interests of the big boys.
     
  17. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    I would gladly spread blame around if any country besides the U.K. had been given any significant screentime.

    Besides, in speculative fiction, whenever there's a crisis, it seems like the U.K. is always the first country to descend into chaos or totalitarianism. (SEE Children of Men, V for Vendetta, etc.)

    I also have a hard time believing every government in the world would be cooperating with 456's demands. I can't imagine these sorts of alien demands going over well in an Islamic theocracy like Iran. Then you have countries like Afghanistan where the government is so disorganized & incompetant that it can't even find its own ass with both hands. Countries like this couldn't cooperate even if they'd wanted to.
     
  18. Bob The Skutter

    Bob The Skutter Complete Arse Cleft Premium Member

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    I'm almost certain there was talk of American doing the same thing as the UK, but I may be wrong.
     
  19. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Children of Men and V for Vendetta were both written by British authors, so of course they're going to focus on the UK. Same way V focussed on the US ending up a totalitarian regieme, or Escape from New York/LA did.

    UNIT and the American general clearly implied that every country was complying with the demands. Like you I found this a bit hard to believe (Somalia doesn't even have much of a government!) but clearly at least the major nations of the word did seem to be complying
     
  20. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    Compare Children of Men to Escape from New York. The difference? When the U.S. descends into totalitarianism, it's stylish & cool! 8) ;)
     

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