Kirk and the Prime Directive.

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Greystone_06, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Anytime a series lays down rules and breaks them continually instead of as an exception is usually when writers back themselves into corners, an example of bad writing. Its no coincidence some of Trek's worst episodes were prime directive breakers.
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    I think some of the series best episodes involved the Prime Directive. Errand of Mercy would be considered a 'Prime Directive breaker' and it's one of the best episodes of any Trek series. A Private Little War and Too Short a Season are both very powerful episodes about the Prime Directive. :shrug:
     
  3. paudemge

    paudemge Captain Captain

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    I don't think the Apple is a PD case at all, and as has been mentioned, Kirk did try to leave, but was prevented, so because another highly advanced race has already interfered with these people and now directly threatens with the Enterprises ability to leave we should just up and die because of the PD says we can't interfere. No, I don't think the Apple shows Kirk violating the PD.

    Errand of Mercy and Fridays Child, private little war, would seem to be cases where it is nice if we can avoid interfering with the local people, but if we don't' the Klingons will interfere them into slavery, so also cases where the PD would not be in effect.

    I don't really think there where many cases where Kirk and company came upon a civilization advancing normally without interference from other highly advanced cultures. They probably did from time to time, but they where just too boring to make an episode out of.
     
  4. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    From a thread about "Return of the Archons" . . .

    " . . . The Apple also had a threat to the E. Does he ever mess with a happy-but-stagnant culture when there's not a threat? "This Side of Paradise" has a threat, right? The stepford colonists are going to make the E crew like themselves.

    Darn, it would make a better dilemma and argument set-up between Spock and McCoy if it were a "pure situation" with no contrived threat. Then the threat/suspense would be to Kirk's character, depending on how the viewer sees it. Intervening would make him an imperialist to anti-imperialists; leaving them alone would make him morally weak to those who believe in the need for strife, struggle, and growth.

    Somebody write that ep. or novel, wouldja? I'll buy it.
    And remember, NO THREAT to the Ent. or plague on Whoziz IV that needs that serum to rendezvous with the USS Ludington in time!

    Setup/exposition; proposed way to mess with culture and introduce strife; arguing about prime directive; decision and implementation; denoument; scene of Ent. flying away with Kirk promising a team of advisors.

    There, I've done the hard part. Someone take a handfull of uppers like it's Sixties Hollywood and flesh that out overnight."

    [Someone on that thread said there is an ENT episode that sort of does that.]
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They beam down ten and a half miles from the nearest village (feeders of Vaal), Hendorff isn't killed until they take their first steps toward the village, at that point the transporters still work (the body is beamed up).

    Then the Enterprise start to lose potency in the antimatter pods, but they can still transport up and the ship can still leave.

    The real trouble starts after the incident with Spock and the exploding rock, in case you didn't notice, when the planet's natives are feeding Vall, they're feeding it these rocks. Spock is messing with Vaal's food. Only then does Vall shut down the antimatter pods, shoot at Kirk, shut down the transporter, and kills Kaplan with lightning.

    Debateably, Scotty could have left orbit at this point. Only later came the tractor beams.

    Supposition on my part. At one time the People of Vaal were a technologically advanced species who decided to make a change to a simpler lifestyle, but they didn't want to be completely primitive. So they hung on to a lot of their technology, they just made it automatic. They had weather control, planetary defenses, agricultural control, their medical science had given them long life and perfect health. Over time the original members of this species died and there were replacements or descendants. And they lived a life of peaceful existence until the day that the Federation came and destroyed it all. The Federation didn't believe in their rights, their diversity or their choices.

    That's supposition. What isn't supposition is the fact that Vaal didn't build itself, the people of that world created it for their own reasons. In destroying Vaal the Federation (through Kirk) created a entire planet of people, perhaps many millions spread all over that world, who now were actual primitives, and defenseless.

    Spock delivers these points to McCoy:

    1) Doctor, you insist on applying human standards to non-human cultures ...
    2) Another is their right to choose a system which seems to work for them ...
    3) Doctor, these people are healthy and they are happy ...
    4) What ever you choose to call it, this system works

    The second, third and fourth points might be tenets of the PD. The second certainly should be. The people of Vaal were too weak to say no, don't destroy our culture. Part of the Prime Directive that is directly quoted in Bread and Circuses is; "No interference with the social development of said planet." The Federation hardly respected their particular choice on social development.

    McCoy: Learn sex from a machine? Now that's something I'd like to see.

    :)
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    This is all supposition as well. We have no idea about planetary population nor do we have any idea who built Vaal.
     
  7. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Fairly often Kirk's actions to break the PD were based on supposition as well...often almost totally without input from others.
     
  8. Greystone_06

    Greystone_06 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Thanks Captain, if this works I've got the hang of it.

    Yes, that is no doubt at the heart of it.



    There is that too...

    Yes, I think I've got the hang of this:techman:
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
  9. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    We don't really know who built Vaal. For all we know, it could've been the Preservers.

    I doubt Scott had the authority to break orbit without Kirk's orders.

    The issue of whether the Enterprise crew brought Vaal's wrath upon themselves is an interesting angle. But when Kirk began fretting about his "orders" and how he should disregard them, it was Spock who reminded his captain of their mission to be there.

    The Prime Directive wasn't brought up until much later in the hut. And you'll recall that Spock had misgivings that Starfleet Command would agree with Kirk's plans. This seemed to me to be a clear indication that the Federation did leave loopholes in that directive.




    The Sigma Iotia incident ("A Piece of the Action") has also been brought up in this thread. Was Kirk wrong? Was the Federation wrong? I'd say in the "present tense" (TOS era), the answer was "no" to both questions. The episode strongly indicates two things: (1: the Starship Horizon's first contact with Sigma Iotia predated the Prime Directive being codified; and, possibly... (2: the Horizon could have herself been pre-Federation. IIRC, the Horizon was never referred to as a Federation starship. It could be that the Enterprise was dispatched to the planet only to take responsibility ("in for a penny, in for pound") for the Horizon's prior interference regardless of who actually sowed the seed.




    A similar issue would be "The Return of the Archons". The Starship Archon was sent to Beta III a century before. We don't know what the Archon's mission was and we don't know what the crew of the Archon did at Beta III, but we can assume its mission was exploratory. Whatever the case, the Archon was obviously destroyed. Kirk was sent to investigate. Upon discovering that Beta III was a starship trap much like Eminiar VII, Kirk obviously had the authority to take action. Landru was a threat, and Kirk "took care of business".


    None of this should be a surprise. TOS was, after all, a Cold War series and it reflected its times well. Does that make its conventions and philosophies disingenuous? I don't think so. You have to consider the philosophy behind the Prime Directive. Was it just meant to isolate non-aligned planets without question? Why would we assume that? If that were the case, the Federation wouldn't need manned starships to explore inhabited planets.

    We don't know all the purposes and reasons behind the Prime Directive. We can readily assume that General Order One is meant to regulate the actions of exploring starship crews, but we can also assume that such regulation also protects the Federation from over-extending its resources. Beyond that, we don't know.
     
  10. paudemge

    paudemge Captain Captain

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    My limited understanding of the PD during TOS, was that yes, it was so important the entire crew and starship where expendable to preserve it, however, at the same time, most anything that would directly threaten a starship would also be outside the bounds of the PD.
     
  11. Maximara

    Maximara Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    The problem is TOS was inconsistent with the use of the Prime Directive. If you look at the series by production number this is clear:

    "The Return of the Archons" (22) referred as Non-interference Directive to by Spock

    "A Taste of Armageddon" (23) ignored to the point the Federation Ambassador insisted on beaming down

    "Errand of Mercy" (27) We are about to go to war with the Klingons so we will ignore the Prime Directive for now.

    "Friday's Child" (32) Pre-warp culture offered aid because the Klingons also want it. Prime Directive is not even referred to even though it should apply.

    "The Apple" (38) Spock again refers to Non-interference Directive and Kirk uses same argument as in "The Return of the Archons"

    "Bread and Circuses" (43) quoted at length

    "A Private Little War" (45) referred to and then discarded due to interference by the Klingons

    "A Piece of the Action" (49) - clean up a mess we made :)

    "Patterns of Force" (52) We fix the mess made by John "Darwin Award Winner" Gill :confused:

    "The Omega Glory" (54) Kirk's quote conflicts with his behavior in "A Taste of Armageddon"

    "The Paradise Syndrome" (58) Neither Spock or Kirk make any reference to the Prime Directive though they should

    "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (65) Again the Prime Directive should come up but doesn't

    "The Cloud Minders" (74) Prime Directive? We need that Zenite to stop a plague so forget that noise.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Both of these might be case where contact was initially made prior to the Prime Directive as a Starfleet policy, and so continued contact was "grandfathered" in.

    Even through traveling slower than light, the ship in that episdode was interstellar.

    Interesting in that episode, the planet's leader told Kirk that Federation order couldn't override a Federation members governments decisions.

    :)
     
  13. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    @Maximara: There's just a tad less tangible citation of situations and reason, compensated by a heaping helping biased opinion in that list, don't you think?

    There seems to be the suggestion that TOS' adherence to the Prime Directive was somehow disingenuous. Why should we accept that when we don't even know the full text (and context) of the directive and how it is supposed to be applied?

    It should be obvious that the final judgement of how to apply the Prime Directive rests with three entities: Federation Starship captains, Starfleet Command, and the Federation leadership. That chain of command also reveals the accountability mechanism for Prime Directive.

    But in TNG's "Justice", Picard pretty much spoke Roddenberry's overriding philosophy on laws in general and the Prime Directive in particular when the good captain said that "no laws are absolute... even life itself is an exercise in exceptions".
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Not a primitive culture. Prime Directive doesn't apply in the 23rd century.

    I don't think about it as ignoring it. It's more about the reality of the situation. This type of situation may fall under on of the 47 sub-sections Janeway mentions.

    Prime Directive in mentioned indirectly. We have no idea here how first contact was originally made or by whom. All we do know is that the Capellans seem perfectly at ease with the idea of life on other worlds. The contact with the Klingons or Federation didn't send their world down some catastrophic path.

    Probably another situation covered by one of those 47 sub-sections.

    Not really. Two different civilizations at two different levels of development.

    What would you have them do? Blast the asteroid out of the sky to save Daran V? This is where people take the Prime Directive to the ludicrous extreme, based on the 24th century version.

    Why would the Prime Directive apply to a Federation member state?

     
  15. Maximara

    Maximara Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Actually based on the conversation regarding the Federation Starship Horizon in Piece of the Action the Prime Directive went into effect nearly a hundred years ago.

    Spock: Captain, informing these people they're on a ship may be in violation of the Prime Directive of Starfleet Command.

    Yes but the retroactive description of the Prime Directive would seem to cover this: "As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture"
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  16. Maximara

    Maximara Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Which is ironic as TNG was where the Prime Directive took a turn for the bizarre. It was used to justify letting entire cultures die and seemed to be working on the idea that there was some form a of predetermined goal. :scream:

    I was NOT happy with what the Prime Directive became in TNG (neither was sfdebris) and don't get me started on the even more totally messed up way it was used in Voyager.
     
  17. Maximara

    Maximara Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    While it is true that the Horizon was never directly referred to as a Federation starship it is implied it was one:

    OXMYX [OC]: Hello, Captain. You're from the same outfit as the Horizon?

    KIRK: Yes. Unfortunately, the Horizon was lost with all hands shortly after leaving your planet. We only received her radio report last month.

    Thought to be fair TOS played very fast and loose with its past even when referencing the time period it supposedly occurred in. For example Squire of Gothos clearly sets Star Trek in the 28th century:

    JAEGER: Notice the period, Captain. Nine hundred light years from Earth. It's what might be seen through a viewing scope if it were powerful enough.
    TRELANE: Ah, yes. I've been looking in on the doings on your lively little Earth.
    KIRK: Then you've been looking in on the doings nine hundred years past.

    (Later)

    TRELANE: A matched set. Just like the pair that slew your heroic Alexander Hamilton. And Captain, I never miss. (For reference Alexander Hamilton was killed July 12, 1804)

    These two statements taken together set this episode c2704. Can you oops they really goofed? :cardie:
     
  18. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    Nah, Kirk was relying on the information provided by Jagger, who clearly wasn't as much of a history buff as he liked to think! ;)
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree with this
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No, dialog says that the prime directive was nonexistent a hundred years prior to the episode, with no mention of when it came into effect.

    "May be" a violation? Spock is perfectly capable of presenting his Captain with definite factual information. Spock's uncertainty could be the result of the prime directive's exact terms being in a state of constant flux.


    I'm reminder of the old Epiphany Trek website, the last of it's seven point take on the Conundrum of the Prime Directive was "These rules are suspended for those that make war on us."

    Yonada did fire missiles at the Enterprise. A act of war?

    1) Life is sacred. Do what you can to preserve life while following the rest of these principles.

    2) First, Do no harm. Examine you actions for potential harm, if acting is significantly worse than not acting, do not act.

    3) Second, Allow no harm
    . This calls upon principle one. Life is more important than anything else. If preserving the life of a world will destroy that world's culture, preserve the life. The culture will rebuild. Sentients have been creating cultures for millions of years, and cultures have been dying out for as long. There is nothing sacred about a culture.

    4) There are players (warp capable), and non-players (non-warp capable). Leave the non players alone. Yes, this principle is arbitrary. Like any set of rules, a line has to be drawn between one point and another, between the allowed and the unallowed. We choose to place this line at warp travel. Non-players must be left be to develop their own right ways. They do not need to have them delivered on duralloy tablets from the stars. Principles 1 and 3 can over ride this, but remember principle 2.

    5) Our way is not the universal way. Don't shove it down anyone throat. This applies even to players. If someone asks us to let them be, and lets us be also, we will follow their wishes. Some sentients might need the protection and comfort of a totalitarian state. Others might thrive only under total anarchy. Do not judge others by our standard of decency, but by whether the culture is working for them. Someone out there may invent a superior social system we all might find better. They will not however if we give them ours.

    6) Free will is paramount
    . If any Individual feels that their native culture is not working for them they may ask Starfleet for asylum, and they should be granted same. Don't be stupid. Those persons clearly criminal by both the standards of their own culture and the standards of ours cannot expect our protection. Any creature enslaved or oppressed can and should expect our help, even unto risk to ourselves.

    7) These rules are suspended for those that make war on us
    . We will not make war on anyone that does not attack us first. If attacked we will seek peaceful resolution, but not beyond the point of reason. Then we will throw our full combined might against those that make war on us. Once the fighting is over we will seek reasons and resolutions.


    .

    :)
     

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