Every Star Trek series has a tendency to preach the Starfleet bible to the audience. And in today’s episode we take a look at the laws of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets and ask ourselves, does this make sense?
One thing that you get from watching Star Trek is the sense of high moral values that the federation has, but the question is do they really? Today we’ll take a look at 3 different cases where the Federations own morals and rules seem not to apply and cast a dark shadow on Star Trek. Let’s Begin.
1. The Phage VS Tuvix
In my opinion, one of the biggest missteps of Justice occurs in the Star Trek Voyager episode “Tuvix“. In this episode a transporter accident causes Tuvok and Neelix to be combined into 1 new and sentient life form Tuvix. The crew spends the first part of the episode attempting to figure out how to undo the catastrophe but ultimately come to the conclusion that they can’t and as such Tuvix begins to build a life for himself. So at what point does he gain the right to choose his own path in life? At what point does he gain the rights afforded to ALL life forms in the federation?
Remember in Season 1 Voyager episode “The Phage” Janeway says she doesn’t have the luxury of killing one life form to save another. So I have to ask myself why? Those were Neelix’s lungs, his property, but she can’t take them back? She herself says she can’t kill one life form to save another, I guess unless it’s her personal friend and tactical officer Tuvok.
Don’t forget Tuvix was very willing to accept the situation in the beginning. Willing to have himself separated if they could figure out how to do it. It’s only after the doctor says he doesn’t hold high hopes it will ever happen that he comes to terms with his situation and moves on.
What Janeway did was murder a sentient life form to save 2 others. Even though previously she was unwilling to do that, and when he doesn’t want to go through the procedure we get a heart-wrenching scene where Tuvix is pleading for his life. And then Janeway stone-faced does the whole thing anyhow and kills him. Does this seem right? The speech she gives stating that Tuvok and Neelix have family and friends didn’t seem to matter when Neelix was trapped dying on bio-bed.
And then to add insult to injury when Tuvix gives his execution speech to her she tries to twist it on him by stating that isn’t he executing Tuvok and Neelix with his actions? Isn’t wait for the damage already done? Aren’t Tuvok and Neelix already gone? A Situation not of Tuvix’s making. Janeway should be spending the rest of her days in a penal colony for that reprehensible behaviour.
2. Unnatural Selection VS Genetic Engineering Laws
Speaking of Murder, it doesn’t seem limited to Voyager alone. In the Next Generation episode “Up The Long Ladder” the Enterprise comes upon a colony of humans that use DNA to clone themselves to keep their colony going. And when faced with extinction, the colonists decide to steal the DNA of Riker and Pulaski and make clones of them. When the 2 officers find this out we get a scene where Riker vaporizes the 2 clones. Does that seem right? Killing another life form because it has your DNA? And from what ODO says in the episode “A Man Alone,” Killing a clone is still murder. Or are we supposed to believe that the Bajorans are more morally advanced than the Federation?
And what about Genetic Engineering in general? After the TOS episode “Space Seed,” we’re left with the impression that Starfleet did the right thing outlawing Genetic Engineering within the Federation. But in the TNG Episode “Unnatural Selection,” we come across a Starfleet Scientific Outpost that is doing just that. Attempting to create genetically superior children.
And before you say that this is not a Starfleet Facility I say this, it is a facility in the Federation that Starfleet knows about and even supplies. One that the USS Lantree knew full well what they were up to given that the contracted the disease that killed them from exposure to the children. And since this facility has been in operation for years are we to believe that no one ever said what is it you’re doing here? Or that Starfleet wasn’t informed as to what this scientific colony they were supplying was doing with those supplies?
Then Consider the Deep Space 9 Episode “Dr Bashir, I presume?” When it’s found out that Bashir is Genetically Engineered he makes it quite clear what Starfleet’s position is on that, that he will be kicked out of Starfleet for something he had no control over? And in fact, he is only spared being thrown out of Starfleet because his own father makes a deal with the federation and will serve jail time for what he did. And we get a lovely speech about why Starfleet outlawed it. Where was that speech when Starfleet set up or accepted the Unnatural Selection outpost? How can they be so hypocritical?
3. A measure of a Man VS The Offspring VS Clues
For our last case in today’s episode, we look at Starfleet’s own inability to get out of its own way when it comes to laws in the Federation. Hailed as one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode “Measure of a Man,” deals with whether or not Data, an android is sentient and has rights OR if he’s the property of Starfleet. It is a really great episode and by the end, it’s ruled he is NOT Starfleet property and has the right to chose not to undergo a dangerous procedure which could have left him destroyed.
First off, why would Starfleet even consider his property in the first place? Because they found him? This doesn’t seem to be an evolved sensibility, does it? And if he WAS the property of Starfleet why was he allowed to go to Starfleet Academy and become an officer in Starfleet? Does the Enterprise’s main computer afford that luxury as well? Or maybe it can just be granted shore leave when it feels tuckered out?
Then in the TNG Episode “The OffSpring,” Data creates an own android, his daughter, he names Lal. And what does Starfleet do? The immediately try to take her away from him? Huh? Does Starfleet not have laws when it comes to parents and their children? And again, before you say that it is not his child I remind you Data has been already determined NOT to Starfleet’s Property, so why would Lal be then? Shouldn’t she be given the same rights as Data right off the bat? Who does Starfleet think it is?
Then in the final indignity in the TNG episode “Clues,” Picard suspects Data is lying about what had happened while everyone else was apparently unconscious and tells Data he will most likely be stripped down to his wires to find out what went wrong with him. What? Wasn’t Picard the one who fought for Data’s rights in the first place? Or is that in Starfleet and the Federation, if you’re suspected of committing a crime, doctors can dissect your brain to find out why? Does this seem right?
Star Trek has always been about hope for the future and how humanity has evolved to a point where we can really be proud of ourselves. The problem is sometimes the writers of the episodes have no clue what that really means. So for the sake of good or exciting storytelling, we’ll ignore, forget or re-write the fundamentals we’re supposed to believe exist. And what does that mean for us the audience? It means that Starfleet is just as shady as every other organization out there.
That it talks itself up, but when push comes to shove they’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want, while at the same time chastising others that behave in the exact same manner.
Seems like humanity hasn’t evolved as much as we thought…
Watch episode 8