December 6, 2013

The Prime Directive

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Decrees!,Idiot Box,What the hell? — Katrina @ 2:28 pm

I hereby decree…

Screw the Prime Directive.

Been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation lately. I like it, but one thing that just keeps pissing me off is the Prime Directive, that Starfleet may not interfere with another planet’s way of life, must not reveal themselves before that planet is “ready”, even when a situation is life-threatening to one individual or to the whole damn society.

Yeah, seriously, even where the whole planet is in danger. In one episode, Worf’s human brother saved a society whose planet was about to be destroyed by stashing them in the holodeck until they could get them to another planet, all without them knowing what’s actually happening because they don’t know about space yet and can’t know because Prime Directive. And the Enterprise crew was all pissed at Worf’s brother because of this, that he didn’t just let them all die, because Prime Directive.

Then there’s when Deanna Troi’s usually-nonsensical mother Lwaxana is the only one making any damn sense when a man she meets is about to turn 60 and thus according to his planet’s culture, he was celebrate his life and then kill himself because they’re all like “eww, old people!” And Lwaxana is the only one who rightly calls this shit out for being despicable, while her daughter and everyone else is all like “it’s their culture, it’s not our place, I’m sure our traditions look just as weird, PRIME DIRECTIVE!”

I’m thinking of the popular image of Picard facepalming, except he’s on the receiving end of this one.

Cultural relativism is one thing. Yeah, people have their different celebrations and symbols and whatnot, and that’s where such open-mindedness makes sense. But then there’s moral relativism, as if this tolerance must carry over even to things that are actually heinous and wrong, and that is not okay. If the best its adherents can come up with is “you’re not one of us, this is our culture, don’t criticize our beliefs!” Go to hell. Your beliefs are stupid and are maiming and/or killing people.

And even beyond that, the Prime Directive forbids interacting too much with planets that haven’t ventured into space yet. There are episodes where the people on such a planet find out about the Enterprise and that there’s life beyond their planet, and their society is then somehow damaged over it, whether their top scientists want to leave and explore the galaxy or they just plain go ape shit over it in some way. So, basically, leaving some planet to live under the delusion there’s nothing beyond their society and thus missing out on greater knowledge is the right thing to do? These are questions brought up in such episodes, yet there’s still Picard and others so sure they “ruined” the society by arriving there.

Maybe what is ruined by mere knowledge deserve to be ruined.

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