Was Kirk right to report Finney's mistake? ("Court Martial")

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by dswynne1, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. dswynne1

    dswynne1 Commander Red Shirt

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    I understand the reason for James Kirk to do so. After all, not properly monitoring the power systems of the USS Republic could have been catastrophic. But in hindsight, we're dealing with the more straight-laced Kirk, who was a model cadet during his Starfleet Academy days. Also, I read nowhere that Kirk had to file an official report on Ben Finney's mistake. In my mind's eye, if I was the relief watch person, and saw the error that Finney had made, I could see myself seeing the problem, shrugging my shoulders, fixing the error, and then moving on to other things.

    I'm posting this as an ethical quandary, considering what we, as the television viewers, know what will happen later. And reading the follow-up to "Court Martial" on both the Memory Alpha and Memory Beta sites, on what happened to Finney, was very sad.

    At any rate, would you have done as Kirk had done, or simply not say anything unless called upon to do so, unless otherwise required? Hmm...
     
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  2. Poltargyst

    Poltargyst Captain Captain

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    Suppose you don't report it, Finney makes that kind of mistake again and ends up blowing up a ship. Then how do you feel? If you don't report it, and someone else finds out, now YOUR career is wrecked for not reporting it like you were supposed to.

    At the very least, if you're not going to report it, you need to find out why Finney made that mistake and make sure it damn well never happens again, but I can see why Kirk would report it.
     
  3. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kirk was supposed to be a headstrong stiff necked by the rules kind of guy back then according to many of his friends! Kirk himself says grim in Shore Leave too!
    JB
     
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  4. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    I would have spoken to Finney first.
    If he didn't take the mistake seriously I would have reported it.
    It also depended on whether my career was on the line for not reporting it.

    Finney ended up as a Lt Cmdr. Thats not really such a bad fate. Not everyone makes Captain.
     
  5. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    As a squeaky-clean, honor-bound officer, Kirk has to report it. But it would be a painful thing to report on your friend, and a lot of guys in Kirk's position would find a way around it.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Furthermore, this is Ensign Kirk. According to his own words, Kirk never "left the Academy" before beginning to serve under Captain Garrovick of the Farragut. According to Gary Mitchell's, a "Lieutenant Kirk" taught the class he attended.

    In all likelihood, it was not (just) Kirk's duty to make sure that the atomic matter pile was properly maintained. It may (also) have been his duty as an instructor to see that his student Benjamin Finney maintained it properly, and to carefully report everything Benjamin Finney ever did, right or wrong, so that his performance could be objectively graded. Sorting out Finney's problems for Finney would have been the one thing Kirk was specifically forbidden to do, as it would badly skew the results and undermine the whole training process. Kirk would in essence be falsifying exam results if he failed to report on Finney's mistake.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  7. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    All Kirk did was make a log entry; for all we know there was a box for "circuit open/closed" and he just entered the correct information. His bosses took it from there, he may have not known just what the consequences would be. Maybe it wasn't Finney's first screw-up?

    There were no doubt others in engineering who knew what happened, and it would be a terrible example to them for Kirk to gundeck the log on something so serious, aside from the consequences for Kirk if word got out and he was caught. Bottom line, ignoring things like that gets people killed. Kirk did nothing wrong.
     
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  8. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes. It was his duty to do so and he did.
     
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  9. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    When someone stuffs up at work do you immediately report them to the boss?
    I don't. I discuss it with the person to ensure it doesn't happen again.
    Everyone makes mistakes.
    If a simple mistake can result in a ship's/whatever destruction then perhaps the process of checks and balances need to be changed.

    I'm not saying that Kirk was wrong to report him. Finney's got to look at himself before he lays the blame on anybody else.
     
  10. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Assuming that instructors at the Academy have a rank of Lieutenant or higher, Finney would have had seniority over Kirk at the time.

    Kor
     
  11. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

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    Like a possible covered up mistake that leads to a delta radiation accident that harms instructors?

    Warp reactor systems aren't an office, mistakes have far bigger repercussions later, Kirk was right to report him.
     
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  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yup. Even without assumptions, Finney would have held instructor position over Kirk previously. This relationship could have flipped thanks to Finney stalling careerwise and Kirk supposedly skyrocketing as usual. Whether this would have happened despite Kirk holding the lower rank is debatable, though. But if we do assume Kirk instructed and Finney studied, then we're already assuming an Ensign can be instructor... And Finney's career may have stalled at that rank instead.

    This wouldn't change the fact that he would be Kirk's senior in every sense - senior to Ensign rank, certainly. But Kirk being the instructor in charge of evaluating his senior friend would be the thing that mattered in that setup.

    If we drop the instructor assumption, we can speculate whether Kirk even knew Finney was involved in the mistake he reported. If we go by the assumption, Kirk must have known. Either way, Kirk wouldn't be to blame. It's only in the scenario where he isn't under the instructor obligation but does know Finney was the culprit that we get to the original ethics question.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    But that's not really a comparable example. A more analagous question might be "When someone screws up at work, do you falsify an official document to cover for them?"
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There's also the bit where it's the official duty of you to report to the boss. Significantly, we don't know if the reporting truly carried any lasting repercussions for Finney - the system may work exactly as it should, not morally compromising either party in any fashion. It's just that Finney and Kirk both, possibly baselessly, assumed the incident and the related reprimand was what sent Finney to the bottom of the promotions list. Might have been it was simply because Finney was a slacker and an asshole, and the reporting procedure was neutral on that as such, fully accounting for all the circumstances and not exaggerating the significance of Finney's failure.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  15. dswynne1

    dswynne1 Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, after further research, and plenty of rest, I have to concede that Kirk was obligated in logging Finney's error, according to Starfleet regulations. Dang. I guess there is no way around it...
     
  16. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Commodore Commodore

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    A simple mistake shouldn't have resulted in a delta radiation accident. It should not have ever even nearly happened. If simply leaving switches on or off leads to death for all then perhaps there needs to be a combination of switches with a key to turn them on like in Terminator 2.
    I know in Court Martial all Kirk had to do was press one switch to apparently send Finney to his death. This was ridiculous too. Kirk could have accidentally pressed that switch any time.

    Perhaps the people who designed these processes should be getting the court martial.

    And in my office we have checks and processes to ensure that mistakes are minimised. If we can do that in an office surely then they can do it where lives are endangered and the stakes are higher.

    No I'd never do that. But why have an official document when you could have a failsafe built into the system to stop the danger in the first place.
     
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  17. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    The question of a failsafe, interlocks etc. is a good one, but all we've got is what's on screen. Keeping official logs, though, can be useful in all kinds of ways.
     
  18. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    The situation was undoubtedly made more simple and straightforward than something comparable that might happen in real life, for the benefit of having a well-paced story within a one-hour broadcast slot (including commercials).

    Kor
     
  19. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

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    Minus the Enterprise computers not having any way to check for a lower deck moron hacking them, internal sensors not working, and any number of other things that have to fail or rely on the complete stupidity of everyone for this idiot to get halfway through his plan.

    Or the ion pod in the first place, or the ET-va robots not doing it for them.

    Fuck that episode is so bad.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dunno - sounds rather modern to me. A complex and extensively automated system is completely subverted to serve the evil designs of the IT support dude, who holds a decade-long grudge while skulking in some server room for most of the season and probably most of the decade as well. All this against a backdrop of a thrilling tornado-hunting mission. I could see Tom Cruise signing in.

    I could have skipped the Matlock part, though.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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