fash of the ‘european traditionalist, let’s go back to a mythical idea of pre-modern europe’ variety, who also call themselves ‘nationalists’…like how old do they think the concept of the nation state is? Nationalism is a modern ideology., Europe had no hard borders or immigration controls till after the first world war, and now “traditionalists” have them at the centre of their politics? ‘Against the modern world’ my arse
Dustin huffed, grabbing a card from the stack centred between them all, and Lucas snickered with delight.
Mike rearranged his hand. He looked to Lucas triumphantly. “Got any fives?”
Lucas squinted. He reluctantly handed over his five, and Mike paired them. “Suckers,” he said, grinning.
El rolled onto her stomach. She loved watching them—there was something so natural about the way they sat, effortlessly teasing and laughing, throwing bits of popcorn and occasionally eyeing that winning stack of comics and candy bars.
Will straightened his pairs, head down. He’d confessed to El that he was terrible at bluffing. I just don’t look at them at all, he’d said. I’ve won a few times.
Her gaze shifted to the window, where rain was lightly pattering against the glass and rolling down in clear streams. She loved the smell; Mrs. Wheeler had cracked it just a touch, so that the fresh scent permeated the living room.
Lucas quickly glanced at his tally. “Me,” he said, sitting up a little straighter. “Obviously.”
“Cheater,” Dustin muttered. He bitterly ripped his twizzler in half, handing the larger part to El. “Man, I swear, if your sister doesn’t get back with the pizza soon I’m gonna combust.”
“Lucas doesn’t cheat,” El advocated.
“I’m naturally brilliant,” the other boy added. “Sevens?”
“Son of a bitch!”
The lock on the door clicked, and in came Nancy, Steve, and Jon, bearing pizzas and sodas. Their hair was soaked, and Jon was holding Nancy’s jacket. She whacked him with it when he gave it back.
“Stevie!” Holly jumped up from her perch on the Lay-Z-Boy, running across the floor toward him. “Did you get pepper-pony?”
Steve laughed. “I sure did. And cheese, before you monsters freak out.”
El followed Nancy into the kitchen and helped her dish up the food. For a moment, the house was silent. El watched the boys re-deal their cards, and Steve rewind a VHS tape.
Max came running up the stairs from the basement, where she had fallen asleep a few hours before. Her hair was frizzy and tangled. “I smell food,” she said, wandering over. El handed over a plate of pepperoni, which Max took gratefully. “You’re a lifesaver, El.”
El smiled. What are friends for?
Max grinned at the thought. She helped El carry over the plates. El settled down beside Mike, who had enough pairs, she thought, to win this round.
“Pretty in Pink, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?”
Mike glanced up at Steve. “Is that a real question?”
“Everyone’s favourite movie it is.”
El leaned against Mike, smiling happily, because everything about that moment was perfect. She was with her best friends, her family. No adult supervision, plenty of junk food, and peace.
Hours later, when night had fallen and the ten of them had crashed in various places in the living room, El softly intertwined her fingers with Mike’s and pulled Holly a little closer. This is what friends are for.
Starfleet’s moral relativism problem: is it ever ok to
condemn another culture?
Central to all of Star Trek has always been the Prime Directive – that set of rules that governs our intrepid space explorers from Captain Kirk to Captain Janeway and everyone in between. Poor Captain Archer existed in a time before, and I’ve often pitied him for having to shoulder the burden of having to make some really questionable ethical decisions without having a Prime Directive to shift the blame to when it turned out his decisions really sucked.
At its core, the Prime Directive dictates that Starfleet cannot interfere with the internal affairs or development of alien civilizations. Some of the best Star Trek episodes involved our heroes clashing with the ethics of a rigid application of this doctrine, but there was always one implication of the Prime Directive that bothered me – the idea that we shouldn’t judge other cultures through the lens of our own because who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong?
This philosophy of moral relativism argues that there are no universal moral standards – sentient beings are completely at the mercy of their own societies to impart a code of moral behavior and whatever it comes up with is “good enough.” There may be common themes among many societies in terms of morals – most seem to agree it is wrong to commit murder, for instance – but ultimately, what is “right” according one society is not guaranteed to be “right” for another. And let’s be honest with ourselves – even with the topic of murder, we still fiercely debate exceptions to the “no murder” rule such as war, capital punishment, or self-defense.
Our own society provides an incredible patchwork of thorny moral and ethical issues that we still have yet to decide upon. We debate things like abortion, torture, slavery, free speech, and more. We probe these issues by asking ourselves questions like, “At what point does life truly begin?” and “Is torture ever justified?” We explore them by posing philosophical experiments like the Trolley Problem and asking ourselves whether it is morally acceptable to kill one person to save the lives of two or more others.
How does that line go again? Something about “needs of the many” or something?
But at the end of the day, might (in terms of numbers) makes right in moral relativism. While I don’t subscribe to that theory, there are times when our beloved Star Trek characters do under the guise of defending the Prime Directive. On the surface, it sounds very peaceful and anti-colonialist. After centuries of watching many empires from the Romans to the British set fire to cultural diversity – and given arguments that many Western nations continue to do this today, just without being quite as invadey – this sounds like a nice change of pace. Live and let live. But this also creates a mind-boggling acceptance of suffering, genocide, exploitation, and oppression within Starfleet.
One of the first chronological examples of the faults of moral relativism is found in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, “Cogenitor.” Archer and his crew meet an affable, three-gendered species called the Vissians, but we quickly learn that only two of the society’s genders have any real rights. The third gender is referred to as a “cogenitor,” and Trip Tucker ends up on Captain Archer’s shit list for teaching it how to read and putting ideas in its head. When the cogenitor later begs for asylum, Archer refuses. It gets worse – the cogenitor is sent back to the people who basically treat it as chattel and commits suicide, and Archer points out that Tucker’s interference led to its death and will mean the Vissian couple will probably never get to have a child. No winners in this ethical dilemma of an episode, only losers. Until you remember none of this would have happened in the first place if the Vissians had just treated the cogenitors like people.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Angel One,” we encounter the cringe worthy society of Angel I, a planet of misandric women who oppress men. We all got a few giggles at the ladies of Enterprise-D being suddenly held in higher regard than their male counterparts, but things get very dark when Beata, the Elected One of Angel I, decides some dudes need to die for spreading heretical teachings that imply men are equal to women. We get a sort of cop out solution in which Beata has a change of heart and decides to banish rather than execute these “heretics” after Riker makes an impassioned speech about basic rights, but Riker was more than willing to let things go bad if need be, because, “The Prime Directive” and “Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
The 80′s were a weird time. That outfit is a few inches of fabric away from having a codpiece.
In another Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Symbiosis,” we’re introduced to the Ornarans and Brekkians and we find out that after an ancient plague, the Brekkians started peddling an expensive and addictive drug to the Ornarans and calling it a “treatment.” There’s no plague anymore – the Brekkians just control the Ornarans through their drug addiction. Dr. Crusher finds a way to synthesize this drug and offers to help wean the Ornarans off their addiction, but what does Captain Picard do? He tells her to mind her own damn business because it’s not the Federation’s place to tell the Brekkians that it’s wrong to deceive and enslave the Ornarans through an addictive drug.
This episode also gave us one of the weirdest brawls in Star Trek history. Like a Reefer Madness for the 24th century, if you will.
And this is the most uncomfortable part of moral relativism – who gets to draw the line and where do we draw it? On one end of the spectrum, we have moral relativism which claims anything goes – societies should be able to torture animals, employ the slave labor of children, and oppress women as they see fit – just as long as enough people agree it isn’t wrong to do so. At the other end of the spectrum sits moral absolutism, a theoretical construct that would result in a perfectly unified, homogenous culture, but one that would also strip away many facets of culture that lead to human diversity.
If Star Trek is supposed to serve as a guide for how we might become a more progressive society, it does a terrible job a lot of the time. Now, there are many instances of our protagonists saying “to hell with the Prime Directive!” and taking what most of us would agree is the more morally praiseworthy route. But there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Just look at how they treat the Borg. Why is it ok to let some societies oppress men or drug another species into submission but it’s not ok to let the Borg assimilate the galaxy in their ultimate quest for perfection?
I’m going to guess the answer is that until the Borg decided to stick nanoprobes in a Federation citizen, the cheerful little robots simply weren’t the Federation’s problem. We might argue that the Prime Directive certainly has provisions for self-defense - how ridiculous would it be to consent to being annihilated or assimilated just because the Federation is afraid of offending another culture and refuses to draw a line in the sand where right stops and wrong starts? The slope gets slippery here though. We could say this mirrors the concept of large Western nations trying to police the rest of the world and impose their customs on other societies - but how many of us watched documentaries about the Holocaust in school and wondered why the hell previous generations allowed shit to get that bad? How many of us continue to stand by while people in Iraq and Syria live under the threat of the Islamic State? I doubt most people even realize what’s going on in the Philippines or Venezuela right now because hey, “Not my country, not my problem.” It is a huge gray area for what constitutes forcing certain customs on unwilling societies and trying to genuinely help people, but if we can’t agree that Nazi extermination camps and religiously motivated beheadings are bad and need to stop (even when they aren’t happening to us personally), I’ll be surprised if we ever make to the 24th century. It makes me wonder how exactly Earth “solved its problems” and created a utopian society in the first place with this attitude of moral relativism.
Let’s face it – we have no shortage of modern travesties that sound ridiculous in the context of this philosophical approach. The Chechen Republic has been reportedly rounding up gay men and torturing them in recent months, and moral relativism would have us shrug and say, “But their culture says homosexuality is a sin.”
To anyone who actually thinks that, fuck you.
Bacha bazi, a practice where adolescent boys are groomed for sexual relationships with older men, remains pervasive in many Pashtun societies. Moral relativism would tell us that we shouldn’t condemn predatory pedophilia because to do so would mean unfairly imposing our Western beliefs on their culture.
Just because one culture says widespread sexual coercion is ok doesn’t make it so.
I could keep going on, but this post is already long enough. The bottom line is, all too often, Star Trek lazily glosses over a lot of moral and ethical dilemmas by using the argument, “Who are we to judge?” June is Pride Month, and in honor of LGBT individuals all over the globe who all too often have less rights than their cisgender heterosexual counterparts, maybe we should avoid looking to the “progressive” future of Star Trek and instead ask the question, “Who are we to not judge?”
While I can’t resolve one of the greatest philosophical questions ever devised, someone once gave me a great piece of advice that I think applies to this idea of moral relativism: no person’s belief is inherently worthy of respect, but every person is.
I can’t believe myself… writing up a really in-depth analysis of APH America & APH England’s cannon relationship. Kind of addresses the England and America being related subject, blows holes through it, actually.
andrew ryan: laws and regulations are what destroy the economic structure of a nation. the concept of completely free enterprise and the ability to pursue a limitless array of business ventures are the basis of rapture’s existence
By the time bidding closed Tuesday, there was no lack of companies competing to build the wall President Trump has proposed for the border between the U.S. and Mexico. In fact, by The Associated Press’ count, upwards of 200 organizations had expressed interest in designing and building it for Customs and Border Protection.
Despite their common goal, the companies submitting bids have followed some radically different paths in their approach.
Among the submissions are walls with solar panels, wire mesh and sloped, slippery surfaces. There are even walls that are no walls at all — statements standing instead as protests of a policy that from the start has drawn a lot of resistance.
Yet, of course, Ulysses still calls Legion his brothers, and still favors them in comparison to the NCR.
Moreover, Ulysses is furious with the White Legs for attempting to honor him and not the Legion.
Note how Ulysses hates the idea that he would be honored, and not the Legion as a nation.
When asked why Ulysses didn’t just kill the Courier in Primm, Ulysses replies:
Since the encounter Ulysses had at Primm was likely just months or maybe one or two years before Lonesome Road, this indicates that Ulysses was recently respectful of Caesar’s orders, and Caesar’s rule.
But this doesn’t mean, necessarily, that Ulysses loves Caesar. (Ulysses actually never uses the word love.) What this means is that Ulysses loves the concept of a powerful nation that operates with the Legion’s same sort of strength and authority.
Ulysses calls Legion his brothers. Perhaps, to Ulysses, the question of Caesar’s authority is just a sidenote to the loyalty shared amongst people.
Ulysses is the sort of person who would prioritize a nation before a people. He’s done this before. Participated in spying and violent acts for a strong nation because he believes that a strong nation is virtuous.
That’s why The Divide being destroyed angered him so. It was the destruction of a nation that he had some faith in.
So the conclusion I believe can be drawn is that Ulysses is aware that Caesar is basing a nation off of the historical Roman Empire, yet this doesn’t matter to him. He’s aware that Caesar may fall and that the Legion is misguided, but still aligns himself more closely with them. (He respects a Legion courier more easily.)
It’s not that Ulysses is Legion-aligned or not. Even if he is not specifically working under Caesar’s orders, his personal political philosophy is in alignment with the Legion, and with a strong nation. He is willing to commit great crimes against humanity (such as nuking the NCR’s main supply line to starve them to death) if it means that a strong nation will be formed.
we’re not forever
fill it with tears, with a sad ending
the end of us both, never
outfit inspired by Produce 101 Season 2 Never by Nation’s Sons
it’s a bittersweet reality that now Produce 101 Season 2 is now over but I wish each and every trainee success in their futures, whether it be as an idol, actor, or outside of the entertainment industry! work hard and chase your dreams everyone