TheGodBen Revisits Deep Space Nine

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by TheGodBen, Oct 16, 2011.

  1. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    You can make it clear how you feel, but without behaving in a way that will scare the friend off and ruin the friendship. It's hard, and I sympathise entirely with what TheGodBen says, that if you find something ethically unacceptable it can be foolish and distasteful to hide behind IDIC or "it's okay if it's you, so long as not me". That's distasteful. On the other hand, telling people up front that their ways are wrong and unethical is a perfect way to alienate them; not only do you lose the chance to subtly influence them, but you lose a positive relationship too. Is it worth causing hurt to them and you, and risk sacrificing the friendship? I suppose that can only be answered by each individual in each particular case.

    Personally, I believe, in an example like this, that "the Jake" should make it clear that they don't and can't endorse or support what "the Nog" is doing. It's not a personal distaste for the Nog, it's just being true to your own values. So in this case, Jake could say "no offence, Nog, but I don't want to be in a situation like that again where I have to confront something so alien to my values. You're a good friend, so let's agree to avoid those situations when we're together?" If you phrase it passively but firmly - not "you're wrong" but "I can't accept this", it reduces the chance that they'll be offended - it's just your hang-up, as it were. And if they truly care about you, not only might they agree to avoid throwing in your face something that disturbs you, but they might, through their empathy for you, start to understand what it is about their ways that troubles you. That may not be much comfort - the idea that "maybe this will eventually cause a shift in their views" is pretty poor when you might want to say up-front "no, that's wrong, don't think/act that way". So again, I fully understand where TheGodBen is coming from. But by my nature I prefer passive ethics to active imposing morality. Maybe short-term that looks cowardly or even like it's excusing or dismissing that which you deem unethical but long-term it's much more effective and respectful, or so I personally believe.

    Again on a personal level, I've been in this situation myself. My personal view of the world and our people is often different from the majority view and the majority view often pushes my buttons and offends my personal sense of ethics. I know well the guilt that arises when you don't act to assert your ethical and philosophical beliefs, but I know too that people can be hurt, and hurt greatly, if you're not very careful in how you express yourself. I'm sure all of us agree that there's a difference between commendable defence of your ethics and crusade against others, but where the line is drawn...which of us can truly say?

    This is a difficult issue, but the discussion is rewarding.
  2. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Mar 22, 2001
    Burlington, VT, USA
    Well, if one really considers another's behavior "unacceptable", then to me it seems a bit toothless and hypocritical to be wiling to say it but not to do anything about it. I understand that on a larger scale politics tend to get in the way of actually doing things, but then, I don't approve of that either. Put your money where your mouth is, as it were.

    If I'd been Jake, I'd like to think I'd understand it was a cultural disconnect and not Nog's fault per se...but I'd also say that I wasn't comfortable going on another double-date because we had different and conflicting expectations.
  3. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    It's not about politics, it's about recognizing that you're ultimately powerless to truly have things your way other than through surrendering the very sense of ethics you adhere to. If you want things to conform to your ethics, I'd propose it must be achieved through reason, example and cooperation, a willingness not to impose just as strongly as you refuse to cave in. :) If not, everything is reduced to, essentially, bullying. He or she who aggresses the strongest, wins. In theory, anyway - in practice overt assertion might cause others to change or back down, but it might also cause them to bristle and push back, while simultaenously destroying the bonds that connected you. If you succeed, it's hollow because you only succeeded by imposing (and what's to stop someone who finds you unethical coming and doing the same?). And if it doesn't work, you're even more powerless, because you've lost their cooperation and sympathy. Meaning no offense, but while people like to assume that their ethical framework has some objective justification (a mindset I find a bit hypocritical, to be honest - ethics comes from the self, and if you truly have an ethical position it doesn't require validation from outside sources), in reality someone else might find your ways and opinions as unethical as you find theirs. What's to stop them from "doing something about" you? People hate it when someone comes in and tries to strongarm them away from their worldview; Jake could take a "zero-tolerance" approach to Nog's view of females' worth, and I might theoretically support it, but then what's to stop Nog taking a similar approach to Jake's values? How can any cross-cultural relationship work?

    Relationships with those who live by other value systems is risky and dangerous, because these are exactly the sort of ethical dilemmas that result. Not taking that risk is far worse, though, as I assume most people would agree. Personally, I don't think there's any "right" answer, and we all must do our best to find our own way.

    Also, and this is an entirely neutral comment :), the phrase "put your money where your mouth is" is an interesting one, because it suggests an ethical system that functions on the basis of action and agency, competition and force (I don't mean force as in violence, by the way, I mean it in a more harmless sense, in terms of activity). My ethical sense is different, it's based around being true to oneself and seeking to be a passive nexus for change rather than an active force for change. I'm not saying my way or yours is "the right one"; but they're different. :)

    I agree with this entirely. :)
  4. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2009
    basking in the warmth of the Fire Caves
    I think it's even more dangerous to say that there are no universal moral values at all, and "oh, so what if they are killing/torturing/raping people and mistreating, oppressing and enslaving parts of the population? It's their culture!" Which is really a thinly veiled "meh, they're barbarians, who cares what they do to each other!", hypocritically dressed up as "respect for other cultures" when it's really the opposite.

    Every individual has the right to choose their lifestyle, unless it's hurting and infringing on the rights of other people. That should be the universal rule. The hypocritical drivel about "it's OK since it's another culture" is a slap in the face of every person who happens to live in that society but didn't choose to be oppressed and to follow those rules. So "it's their culture to mistreat women", what about the Ferengi women, did they choose they want to be mistreated? Right of the individual > right of a collective. The moment you start ignoring individual rights in favor of some abstractly defined collective, be it "nation", "culture", whatever, you're on the most dangerous ground imaginable.

    If people were sticking to the idea that "it's just the culture so it's OK", slavery and oppression of women would still be universally accepted. Two centuries ago people might have just said "well slavery is just a part of American culture!" And women should stay at home and not have jobs and not be able to vote because it was a part of most cultures at the time. However, when it comes to another culture, suddenly it's OK and they don't need to change? Why is that? Because it's important for my society to get better, but yours can stay shitty since I don't really care about yours and I find your people inferior, but I'll wax poetic about their culture because I see your people as exotic and funny and not real people like those from my culture?

    Now, I don't think that outside interventions in the form of war are the solution, obviously not. :eek: But just telling it as it is instead of hiding behind a badly misunderstood multiculturalism? I very much prefer that.

    I'd be happier if they were honest about what they think we're doing crappily, rather than showing fake respect for those exotic funny creatures that can't be expected to act any better.
  5. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Fascinating discussion, all. :)

    I suppose my next point is this: If your ethics are truly built around the individual rather than the collective (as mine are), you are dependent on the goodwill and friendship of others because you have nothing else - no tribe, no religion, no nation, no pack of any description. There's only the drop and the ocean - you, the drop, and the myriad other drops around you. It's easy to say "be upfront and open with your distaste for others' ways", and I see the wisdom in this, but you won't make many friends that way, and if you're psychologically unable to join the pack you value empathy, fairness and support far more than power and force (of which you either have none or you know it will be ineffectual and self-destructive). The benevolent anarchist - for such I am, by nature not by choice - values cooperation, quasi-objective fairness, and friendship more than they do posturing, no matter how justifiable that posturing may be. I understand why this can be problematic; if everyone were a natural anarchist, things would run smoothly. But they're not, a harsh lesson that I had beaten into me (sometimes literally) by those who valued the pack and their own power over fairness and mutual support. How to stop the individual imposing on others when they don't share the anarchist nature and thus value power and control, the natural concern of the group-minded? If you all followed my ethics, how could you prevent that which strikes you as unjust? This is one reason why I'm open to other ways of seeing things and doing things; my ethics work great, so long as most people share them. If they don't, then a perspective like DevilEyes' is valuable as a counterbalance.

    DevilEyes says it's highly dangerous ground to ignore individuals in favour of "the group". I agree, though I have a problem with the idea of "individual rights". I would propose that rights are themselves a concept imposed by a collective that disempower the individual in favour of a group. The individual choice has been subordinated to an imposed framework that cheats by insisting that it's actually inherent to the universe rather than a construct of the sapient mind. It can't even be honest with itself. The very idea that individual dignity can be protected through an imposed framework drawn up by others is itself dangerous. If the rights are guidelines for ethical behaviour, that pleases me - I'm in agreement with most of them, and would encourage others to see how we're all elevated through internalizing them. But making them rules, suggesting they are intrinsic, to me not only defeats the supposed purpose and reveals the hypocrisy in the concept, but doesn't actually confront the real problem. The real problem is the desire to control others and to exploit others for your own gain; the anarchist only has this problem if they're also a sociopath, hence the chaotic anarchist whose archetype seems to have taken over people's perception of anarchists in general, but the group-thinker, to whom cooperative groups are not merely a wise choice or an emotional desire but instead an instinctual psychological need, always seems to struggle with the problem. Which is not to say they haven't tried to balance that need with a sense of individual liberty, because obviously people on the whole have. :)
  6. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 4, 2008
    Cardăsa Terăm--Nerys Ghemor
    I agree. Things like that are not just wrong because you don't like them...they are objectively wrong, unlike frivolous things like what color or flavor is best. And maybe it's just me, but there's a point when if things become bad enough, and all efforts to politely explain why a behavior makes me uncomfortable fail, yet the person keeps doing it, I would rather cut ties than be associated with or a party to that behavior in any way. If a polite (but firm) request to stop the given immoral and unethical behavior fails, I do not want it to look to that person or to anyone as though I were lending support to an abuser. Sending that kind of message--being willing to take a stand--encourages others to do so as well. Someone has to be bold enough to take that first step. It shouldn't come with an assault or even unkind words, but there is no problem with factually stating (for instance) that one cannot associate with an abuser or denigrater of women (or any other person who might be abused by the individual in question).

    When you look at what the Federation as whole does, they are party to a LOT of abusive behavior, by failing to call their member and allied states on it. One of the most egregious examples is with the Klingons. By maintaining a tight alliance and trade relation with the Klingons (and not a mere non-aggression pact, which simply means they won't shoot each other), they are in effect endorsing Klingon conquests and brutality, which has continued even while the Klingons are allied with the Federation. Yet they dare to rail on about the same things when talking to other powers. If they mean it, then they shouldn't endorse it when the Klingons do it either. They really ought not be associating with the Klingons any more than it takes to prevent a war from breaking out.
  7. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    A wise position, in my opinion. :) Again, speaking from the "natural anarchist" position, if something makes you uncomfortable or angry, if it offends your sense of ethics, you should not feel obligated to support it.

    I agree; and you're right to point out that the Klingon alliance is a big problem at times. Peace with the Klingons is one thing (that's desirable), but active alliance often seems shocking, given that the Klingons are still active conquerors.
  8. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Thinking further, this whole issue is even more complex than it appears. I said in an earlier post that if everyone were natural anarchists things would work out; that may have been premature and foolish on my part. After all, my personal sense of ethics not only stem from being a natural anarchist but by being one who grew up in a culture of "pack-hunters", so to speak. Perhaps the very reason fairness and non-aggession were so important to me is that I instinctively perceived that if I aggressed, the other person's whole pack would respond and I had none of my own to fall back on. If everyone were like me, that would be negated, and maybe aggressive selfishness would be common (if not the desire to control)? Who knows?

    I also acknowledge that some people's minds are naturally different from mine and do indeed acknowledge a truly objective ethical standard intrinsic to the universe. One who truly believes in God or gods, for instance, perceives the universe as having intrinsic ethical qualities, like the Hamalki in the Trek novels. This because their mind naturally understands the universe in terms of a creative ethical intention.

    This is perhaps my biggest personal obstacle in terms of ethical debate; I know that so much of my ethical worldview is natural to the way I am rather than a true choice. We can challenge our nature if we feel we should - and, again, I recognize that other angles are necessary - but I never quite know how to explain myself. After all, how can someone come to share my worldview if they're originating in a totally different place? Is it wrong for me to even try? For them to even try? I guess not; we can all only live as we believe best. But, to return to DevilEyes' argument, does that not implicitly excuse maltreatment of others?
  9. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 30, 2008
    But in this case Nog's actions have already caused offence to one person directly and two others indirectly. While I don't subscribe to the idea of an eye for an eye, if a reaction to his offensiveness causes him offence then that's his problem. Jake and the others tried to act somewhat diplomatically in the beginning, but Nog didn't want to take the hint.

    I think that is subject to the golden rule. If someone takes offence to the way I act then I'm okay with them telling me so. I may disagree, and I may get upset or angry with them, but I'd rather them be truthful than pretend as though I did nothing wrong in their eyes. However, if they attempted to force me to act as they desire through threats of violence, I wouldn't be okay with that at all.

    Also, one more point. Societies where women are discriminated against tend to base that discrimination on the idea that women are somehow inferior to men or that they are ruled by their emotions. In western societies we know that this isn't the case by the use of science. While the average male and average female have different sets of advantages and disadvantages, in general there is nothing preventing women from being competitive with men. So any society that bases their discrimination of women on that concept is "wrong".

    Ferengi males discriminate against Ferengi females because "they don't have the lobes for business". But the two Ferengi females that we see show an aptitude for business that exceeds that of the three main Ferengi characters. While that is an admittedly small sample size, we're never given any evidence during the show that Ferengi females are inferior to males, and if it is the case that they are discriminated against based purely on that erroneous claim, then I feel no qualms in saying that their culture is "wrong".
  10. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Fair point. :) As I say, I can definitely understand your objections to how the subplot was handled.
  11. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I'm reminded of an exchange from Babylon Five, in which Londo is rewriting Vir's political reports:

    Vir: "They're highly tolerant of cultural differences!"

    Londo (rephrasing): "They have no clearly defined sense of morality".

    In part, this is the heart of our discussion, isn't it? :)
  12. defiantfan

    defiantfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 6, 2011
    Wow the comedic B-Plot in a episode about medical ethics gets the strong debate. Odo's gonna arrest everyone at this point.
  13. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral


    Maybe everyone's been through the A-plot ethical debate one time too many, and now the B-plot is demanding attention? Or maybe people think the issues the B-plot explores are too serious to be relegated to semi-comedic sub-plots? :)
  14. Jar Jar Binks

    Jar Jar Binks Admiral Admiral

    Feb 24, 2005
    My biggest issue with the B-plot is it felt really out of place in this episode. It's like they finished writing it and then they realized they were about ten minutes short, so they threw some random crap in there to fill the extra time.
  15. Admiral Shran

    Admiral Shran Admiral Admiral

    Oct 30, 2009
    In the Before Time - the Long, Long Ago
    Excellent discussion everyone. I won't try to throw my two cents in (because, hey, I'm not a very good debater) except to say that I agree with DevilEyes and Nerys Ghemor about abandoning all universal moral values. Maybe that's because I'm a theist and like Deranged Nasat said, I "perceive the universe as having intrinsic ethical qualities." ;)

    Which is pretty much what Ron Moore said about the episode - it sounded good in theory to have a light B-plot to counterbalance the intense A-plot, but in practice it was a huge mistake.
  16. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 1, 2011
    The great gig in the sky
    I'm not so sure about that. It seems in the late 24th century the Klingons had quietened down their aggressive/conquering shenanigans quite a bit. I base this on Worf saying in The Way of the Warrior about 'his people returning to the old ways' (i.e. the sort of aggressiveness we saw in TOS and in the Star Trek films). Plus Kang in Blood Oath talks about how Klingons have mainly given up the true values and meaning of honour and how some of them have taken up other occupations instead of being a loyal soldier of the Klingon Empire (or some other job which assists the Empire). In fact the only real 'conquering' or battles that the Empire engaged in were with the Romulans (all those skirmishes between the two sides borders).

    Besides the Federation is using diplomacy to protect itself. Why double the size of Starfleet when with diplomacy you have allies to protect you, and to keep other quaralous factions in check? Now I don't think it is wrong for the Federation to make peace with the Klingons (or any other aggressive species), if the Klingons are conquering other non-Federation worlds. Why kick up a fuss for the supposed moral high ground against the Klingon's conquering someone?

    I personally think that the Federation only started trading with the Klingons when the Klingons toned down their battle-like ways and conquests. One thing I have noticed on this site is the occasional Federation bashing, and all this hoo-har about how hypocritical the Federation is. Well firstly the Federation is trying to deal with races and civilizations who don't share the Federation's values. Now the Federation does with its diplomatic dealings try to do things prim and proper to the best of its ability.

    Remember that the Federation only kicks up a fuss about say the Romulans or Cardassians (or any other race/civilization) when Federation interests are threatened. For instance if the Federation is contact with say race X who live near the Cardassian border, and the Cardassians are giving this race trouble, then the Federation asks the Cardassians to stop doing this. Of course the Federation will never militarily help race X if they are not part of the Federation, and so ultimately when all other diplomatic and soft options have been worn out, it would take an awful lot for the Federation to directly defend this race from the Cardassians.

    Whatever people say about the Federation I prefer their way of doing things because it is fairer. The Klingons would just conquer you, with no questions asked. The Romulans would pretend to be your friend, and then back stab you if it suited their interests. As for the Cardassians, if you oppose them then they get nasty quick, and get pretty brutal on you if they feel they can get away with it. The Federation ain't no angel but sure is a damn sight better than other civilizations/races we know of.
  17. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 30, 2008
    This has been an interesting discussion. Time to prematurely end it. :p

    Heart of Stone (***½)

    Back in the dark days of the 1990s, it would often takes months, and in DS9's case over a year, for new episodes of American TV shows to make their way across the Atlantic, presumably because they were transported by rowboats. To counter this, hardcore fans would get their friends or relatives in the New World to record episodes onto VHS tapes and send them over on a new invention called an "aeroplane" so that the latency was closer to weeks and not years. This resulted in Star Trek fanclubs springing up where you could pay money to sit in a room with other nerds and watch new episodes of Trek. I was a member of such a club for a time, and it was while attending this club that I became a Niner. Looking back on it now I realise that this whole endeavour was probably illegal, but I feel surprisingly little compassion for the media companies that let their love of rowboat transportation get in the way of providing a quality and timely service.

    Why am I telling you this story? Because this was the first episode of DS9 I saw at that club, and I kinda wanted it to end so that I could see that awesome-sounding new show called Voyager. I saw this episode before I saw The Search, so I was fairly surprised by the reveal that Kira was a shapeshifter as I didn't know Odo had found his people. Thinking back, I'm actually fairly surprised that I wasn't more surprised.

    The a-plot here is okay, it follows the principle that if you put two people in a room and have them talk for an hour then something interesting might happen. It's a bit undermined by the fact that Kira isn't really Kira, but all the important character stuff was coming from Odo anyway so it's not such a big deal. This episode tells us that Odo is mellowing out, he's finding time for activities outside his work and he's growing closer to the rest of the cast. It suffers a bit from that fact that we're being told these things and not shown them, I for one would enjoy seeing Odo and O'Brien rafting together while singing Louie Louie, but I guess I'll have to settle for the mental image of it. There is the big scene where Odo admits his feelings for Kira for the first time, but that's victim to a bit of a reset button by the end of the episode.

    The better part of the episode is the b-plot where Nog tries to join Starfleet. What could have been a side-plot played for laughs ends up being the turning point in one of the most impressive character arcs in the show, and it contains one of the best emotional scenes too. Having Jake decide not to join Starfleet was a great move, but having Nog decide to do it instead is a masterstroke. I especially love Nog's line where he tells Sisko that he wont regret this decision as it reminds me of Nog's final scene in the show.
  18. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral


    You make me realize just how spoiled we are, nowadays.
  19. Sykonee

    Sykonee Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 11, 2003
    West Coast of Canada
    Replace 'rafting' with 'camping', and 'Louie Louie' with 'Row Your Boat', and you'll have a good idea of how it probably would have worked out.:shifty:
  20. defiantfan

    defiantfan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 6, 2011
    I missed "The Search" myself when I watched it too but I liked that they making Odo a little more than just the gelatinous Policeman