Prime Directive problem with "Homeward"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by chrinFinity, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    This really rubs me the wrong way.

    Forbidding Federation members from deliberately interfering with less advanced cultures is a totally reasonable concept. Otherwise, cultural contamination and colonialism would destroy those cultures.

    The idea is to keep cultures from being destroyed, to allow them to continue to develop on their own.

    It is absolutely beyond ridiculous that the Prime Directive prevents advanced cultures from saving primitive people who are otherwise completely and utterly doomed by impending natural disaster.

    In Homeward, the atmosphere of planet Boraal II has spontaneously decided it would be fun to completely dissipate into space for some poorly-defined reason. This is bad news for the pre-industrial civilization of Boraalans on the surface, who require the atmosphere in order to breathe as they go about their pre-industrial business in neat little multi-racial villages where they live.

    So, Nikolai uses the ship's technology to save one small village of Boraalans by tricking them into thinking the Holodeck is their own backyard, while the Enterprise races to find them a suitable new planet to live on.

    Picard self-righteously opines "This is one of those times when we must face the ramifications of the Prime Directive, and honour those lives which we cannot save."

    I am calling bullshit on this entire affair. This is not reasonable.

    While I cannot calculate the hypothetical "risks" associated with cultural contamination represented by a pre-industrial society having first-contact with the Federation, it seems that whatever hypothetical risk cannot possibly exceed the 100% certainty of death and extinction represented by the impending natural disaster.

    This is a moment where Federation policy should be for specialists to dress up like the locals, come into the village bearing gifts, and explain very politely "We come from a distant home among the stars. Normally it is our law not to communicate with you, but we have seen that a natural disaster is coming and that your home will soon be destroyed by forces that are beyond control. We do not have the power to prevent the disaster from coming, but we are willing to save you by bringing you to a different land under a different sun."

    Accusations of godhood could easily be addressed with the explanation to the effect of "we are not gods, we are simply people, like you, with very advanced tools." Use the analogy of the village's well as a technological improvement over going to the river for water, etc.

    Contamination? Yes. They will know spacefaring races exist. They will learn that stars are other suns, and that other suns have lands. But they will survive. It won't imbue them with knowledge of weapon technology they're too young to handle responsibly, or anything like that, it would only alert them to the fact that their planet was hopelessly doomed and that there are other people in the universe who cared enough to save them.

    Once Nikolai's deception is made clear to the crew, instead of coming clean to the Boraalan people, they continue the charade on the holodeck.

    Then the pool of water in the holographic cave starts to shimmer and dissappear as a result of the convolutitron particles interfering with stability of the holodeck's plot matrix, or whatever. GREAT opportunity to gather them all together and explain what's really going on. But no. Worf tells EVERY SINGLE LIVING BORAALAN that it was A MAGICAL OMEN, setting back their philosophy, science, and metaphysics by thousands of years. Way to go, Worf.

    This whole situation is just stupid.
     
  2. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Let me also add Justice to the BS list.

    Why the hell were they prancing around that half naked planet? They had no warp technology. And of course, they end up screwing with their culture big time.

    That whole episode made no sense. Why were they there in the first place?
     
  3. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    Why does the Federation maintain diplomatic relations with the (matriarchal) constitutional oligarchy on Angel I, which is explicitly described as having "mid-twentieth century" technological developments.
     
  4. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    "Homeward" doesn't have "it was the first season" as an excuse. It was the seventh season. They should have known better by this point.
     
  5. The Castellan

    The Castellan Commodore Commodore

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    Just another reason why I say the Prime Directive is just a pile of overrated CRAP.

    A primative world's gonna be destroyed.....GET OUT THERE AND HELP THEM, 'contamination' be damned. These policies, be it the Prime Directive of Trek or own world's Bookings Report, never work, using some outdated mentality of panic or 'contamination' as an excuse to just sit back and let someone be killed, enslaved or just plain miserable. Sometimes, I think it's more of policy that keeps current lesser worlds from being competitors to them, and keeping them 'leashed'.
     
  6. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    They only saved small village of Boraalans right? That means the species is pretty much dead, not enough people to reproduce and start over.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Yet we never learn that this would be the driving force behind the Prime Directive.

    We never hear any hero or villain say that the PD would keep natives native or help preserve uniqueness or whatever - it's always just the ambiguous buzzword "non-interference", which goes two ways. What we do see basically always is the PD stopping our heroes from acting. Yet it never seems to stop civilians from acting ("Angel One" even says it protects civilian meddlers from being stopped by Starfleet!). So it's pretty natural to assume that this is the true purpose of the PD - to keep the soldiers of the UFP from practicing vigilantism, especially of the good-intentioned kind.

    Now, there'd be no harm to anybody from the act of saving the Boraalans. But that would mean Picard would be exercising powers he's not allowed to exercise - and it might well be deemed it's better to let a planet die than to create precedent for allowing the likes of Picard to make decisions that belong exclusively to the UFP civilian government and, supposedly, through democracy to the UFP people. Letting soldiers decide is a recipe for disaster, after all.

    Now, the unfortunate fact is that while this explains a lot about Star Trek in general, it explains virtually nothing of "Homeward". Sergey wasn't a soldier acting rashly in an unexpected situation, but a civilian authorized to monitor a culture whose demise was known well in advance and could have been discussed in the civilian government until proper countermeasures were decided upon. Yet while Picard and his crew used the PD as an excuse for their own inaction, they also claimed Sergey was obligated to follow the PD as well, and would be punished for not having done so.

    That's probably more a myth than biological reality, at least by the 24th century. If a few dozen people can't produce sufficiently diverse offspring to ensure healthy future generations, the generations can be retroactively healed and vitalized by the medical technology of the day.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    No it's not.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, that one is hardly attributable to the UFP Starfleet Prime Directive. For all we know, it's the incident that led to the adoption of the Prime Directive as a counterreaction...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

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    Like allowing an entire planet's civilization that is addicted to a drug just lose their means of acquiring? Sounds like that will result in the planet being plunged into chaos.
     
  11. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    For a time. But eventually they'll realize they're not dying and begin putting their resources to other uses instead of supporting the Brekians.

    In the long run, it'll be far more damaging to the Brekians than the Onarans.
     
  12. chrinFinity

    chrinFinity Captain Captain

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    I don't follow what you mean about "Dear Doctor," there is no Prime Directive during the time of Enterprise.
     
  13. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    I think at some point you have to ask is the Federation going to save every humanoid species that is in danger and relocate them to new homes? That would take massive manpower, we are talking about billions of people per planet. Who gets to choose who lives and who dies? How many starships would be required for this? Would the Federation only be saving those in Federation space? What about their own territory, are they just suppose to ignore their own homes?

    I think the whole thing becomes too big.

    If they are capable of FTL, they can save themselves. The Federation wouldn't have any issues helping them through the process.

    As far as we know the Q Continuum are omnipotent, but you don't see them going around saving cultures.
     
  14. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I agree. I agree with the prime directive in this case. If a primitive culture is doomed due to the natural way of things, it's not the federation's obligation to save them.
     
  15. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    Why? You're invading their space and their world for your own benefit then acting like its some great disservice to help them.
     
  16. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think you're supposed to have a problem with the prime directive in this episode.
     
  17. BillJ

    BillJ Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think so. Because we have the ending where Picard waxes philosophical about the tragedy of the Boralaan dying alone because of what Nikolai had done. But I always thought the guy died knowing his village was saved. :shrug:
     
  18. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    so...do you oppose trying to cure "natural" diseases as well? After all, disease is the "natural way of things."

    What makes it different about being a primitive culture, as long as the Federation has the resources and knowledge to save them?
     
  19. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Another episode with this concept is Pen Pals. While the same conclusion is reached that it's basically Federation doctorine to let a primitive species doomed to natural extinction die out rather than intervene, the main characters actually do debate the morality of it rather than just accept it.
     
  20. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    "The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy... and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous."

    Picard's own words in Pen Pals.

    He was going to leave the system until of course Data decided to play the message from the little girl. I wouldn't be surprised if Picard somehow forgot to note his actions in his logs.
     

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