death penalty in star trek

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Faria, May 26, 2013.

  1. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But our view of an enlightened society (i.e. 23rd century Federation) has changed. I think you'd struggle to think of a society as near utopian as the Federation that kills its criminals.
     
  2. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Fans can try to explain the error any way they want, but it arose after a de Forest research memo called the order number four instead of number seven -- probably the result of confusing Talos IV with General Order 7.

     
  3. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    TRACEY: He will if you order it. We must have a doctor researching this. Are you grasping all it means? This immunising agent here, once we've found it, is a fountain of youth. Virtual immortality, or as much as any man will ever want.
    KIRK: For sale by
    TRACEY: By those who own the serum. McCoy will eventually isolate it. Meanwhile, you inform your ship your situation's impossible. Order them away. When we're ready, we'll bargain for a whole fleet of ships to pick us up. And they'll do it.
    KIRK: Yes, I suppose they would.
    TRACEY: We've got to stay alive. Let the Yangs kill us and destroy what we have to offer and we'll have committed a crime against all humanity. I'd say that's slightly more important than the Prime Directive, wouldn't you, Jim?
    KIRK: It's a very interesting proposition. Let me think it over.

    To me this sounds more like a Ferengi than a devoted starship captain. ;)

    @ Harvey

    Interesting behind-the-scenes anecdote, but it deserves "in-universe" rationalization to exit a vicious cycle.

    It seemed Chekov wasn't aboard the Enterprise during TOS Season One, but the encounter with Khan in ST II suggested otherwise.

    Hence, there's no reason not to assume he was aboard during events of "The Menagerie" and from whatever angle you look at it, Spock had objectively violated General Order 7.

    Thus Chekov's statement in "Turnabout Intruder" has to refer to General Order 4, otherwise you get two production mistakes for the price of one, which I find unacceptable.

    Besides, what's the use of such a General Order if it becomes irrelevant or obsolete the moment it is violated? In this particular case, I believe Starfleet and Robert Comsol had the wisdom to rethink their attitude regarding General Order 7.

    Bob
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Yet "Catspaw" suggests Chekov is new to the ship a few stardates before "Space Seed"... And several stardates after "The Menagerie".

    On the other hand, "The Deadly Years" has Chekov indicate understanding of what's so funny about a "corbomite device". If he wasn't there to witness Kirk's original use of the bluff, and his crewmates just brought him up to speed, surely they would also have done so on the issue of Spock hijacking the ship and defying GO7 without consequence.

    I think there's plenty of reason to think that death penalties come and go as Starfleet encounters new, dangerous but tempting things mere mortals easily succumb to. Sometimes these are simple utilitarian quarantine measures ("He got contaminated, so it's convenient we have this rule that automatically makes his liquidation not just possible but mandatory"). Sometimes they are there to deter, too ("Few will risk their lives for a potentiality when we slap this approach ban and refuse to explain anything, but if somebody does and gets contaminated, hey, we have the mandate to liquidate him"). These are temporary solutions, though, and eventually Starfleet sends a few Vorgon ships under GO24 to take care of the quarantine problem once and for all. Or then negotiates a peace treaty with the contaminant.

    Fundamentally, every Starfleet order contains the potential for death penalty in some form or another: Starfleet employees have the license to kill, and the GO series just regulates how this killing should be conducted.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Crazyewok

    Crazyewok Commander Red Shirt

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    General Order 7 always confused me.

    Such a wierd thing to place a death penalty on.....

    It is really 1960 Si Fi tacy
     
  6. You're sentenced to death for going to the Talosian home planet, but murdering of fellow Starfleet officers or mutiny during wartime doesn't bring about such a penalty?
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Makes good sense. Criminals in TOS aren't punished - they are cured. You can be cured of being a murderous asshole, and punishing you would serve no purpose whatsoever. Well, except satisfy the bloodlust of your victims. But if they have such bloodlust, they are disgusting criminals themselves, and need to be cured.

    But going to Talos is not a crime. It's a fatal mistake. You can't be cured of going to Talos, because you are irrevocably corrupted by Talosians; you will help them escape their planet; and then the whole galaxy will fall to their telepathic powers. The only cure to that is death: if you return from Talos, you can't be allowed to live.

    That is, until the events of "The Menagerie" prove that the quarantine of Talos is futile from the get-go, as Spock has been corrupted across interstellar distances and a starship has been brought for the Talosians to use. All is lost at this point, and the death penalty makes no sense: either Talosians have proved their goodwill by not taking over the universe and the penalty is not needed for containment, or they have already taken over Starfleet with their illusions and the penalty won't do any good!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Crazyewok

    Crazyewok Commander Red Shirt

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    Or you could have just confined anyone who you suspect currupted in a penel colony or a Federation loony bin were they are confined and cant hurt anyone?

    But execution?

    Why not have capital punishment for crossing the Romulan neutral zone or playing the bongo on a klingons forhead? Both of which would have caused a equal amount of hurt for the federation.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Obviously not an equal amount, as Starfleet can "clean Klingon chronometers" or whatever, whereas the Talosians are invincible.

    But you miss the point. It's not punishment - it's a cure. Nobody would benefit from having an agent provocateur executed after he has done his deed with Romulans or Klingons; nothing would be won by that. (The TOS criminal cure system could of course cure the agent of the desire to instigate war, and probably would. But punishing him would not be part of that cure.)

    No. You would have to execute, from a safe distance, anybody who attempted to do such a thing to a suspect - because they, too, would be potential carriers of Talosian evil now.

    The key here being "safe distance". Prior to the episode, Starfleet thinks that Talos can be quarantined by preventing starships from approaching too close to it, and by destroying any ships that do go there and attempt to depart. They need a mandate to kill without a trial anybody who attempts to depart, and in GO7 they have it; a trial would defeat the quarantine, as it would mean contact, and contact would mean Talosian victory.

    After the episode, Starfleet knows that there is no safe distance. Spock was goaded into doing crazy things from a great distance. And even if Spock went mad all on his own, the illusion of Mendez was created across a great distance, and the compromising messages were sent to the Enterprise across an equally great distance. Nobody is safe; nobody ever was. So GO7, once considered supremely logical, never did any good, either.

    Why did the Talosians not reach that far out previously? (Aside from the real-world reason that the writers of "The Menagerie" did not think things through, and never seemed to realize what "The Cage" had been all about.) Well, presumably, after Pike provided Talosians with data on the Federation, they could concentrate their efforts and mentally compromise Kirk into seeing the Mendez illusion and so forth... Or something.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Crazyewok

    Crazyewok Commander Red Shirt

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    Then I think execute and capital punishment are the wrong terms as it implies punsihmnet.

    Just the term quarantined implies that if you break it you will be killed.
     
  11. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I took it to prevent people from going to Talos and learning their vast powers. Not to prevent the Talosians from doing anything.

    "KEEPER: Your race would learn our power of illusion and destroy itself, too."

    Which, if a simple thing, is exactly what would happen. And if it is a simple thing, then I think the death penalty is very warranted. But as someone else noted....the sheer curiosity this would create...how will you keep it a secret? Hell, the Klingons were all over Genesis before Kirk even got back to Earth.
     
  12. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I love the twisted morality at times in Trek. "We won't kill a criminal, but if a random disease or geological disaster strikes... well screw those billions of people, it's not ethical to help them."
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That's the Talosian argument. And Starfleet would see the Talosians as the villains, so it isn't likely they would listen to their argument... Rather, they'd suspect the worst.

    The TOS folks never let billions die, while the TNG folks never cured any criminals...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's the only argument that makes sense. If the Talosians were true villains they'd have said, "Oh, mutual cooperation. That's a great idea. Let's do that."
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Starfleet believes that mankind should not learn things? TOS stands testimony against that. "We can handle superpowers!" is the unofficial Starfleet motto, even if said handling generally consists of forgetting all about them by the next episode.

    Talosians may say true things, say false things, or stay quiet; after Pike's report, Starfleet won't listen. (Indeed, they have put a death penalty on listening!)

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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