Dec 022011
 

"You have good warp drive? I pay many ruuuuubles..."

December 2, 2011

This is an edited version of something i wrote for a class back in college. It got me an A, too. As you can see, while I enjoy Star Trek in all its forms, I still have serious reservations about one little aspect of its mythology…

In the Star Trek Universe, there is no greater commandment for Starfleet personnel than the Prime Directive, otherwise known as General Order #1 (“The Drumhead” TNG 095). It dictates that Starfleet personnel must not interfere with the development of less technologically advanced worlds. This includes, but is not limited to, sharing advanced technology, “helping” a world develop, or even revealing that there are other intelligent beings in the universe.

At first glance, the Prime Directive seems both benign and logical. If a pre-warp1 civilization is exposed to the truth about life in the universe, or is given technology too quickly, they might self-destruct.  Our own history shows that when two societies with a large technological gap between them meet, the results can be disastrous. The Prime Directive serves to both protect alien cultures and the Starfleet personnel who study them.

However, the Prime Directive also prevents humanitarian action and places all other priorities, even sentient life, on the back burner. It is an absolute law. In effect, it prevents Starfleet captains from taking action that could save lives, even in instances where such help would go unnoticed by other civilizations. In the two hundred years since it was created, the Prime Directive has become a plague upon the Federation.  In fact, despite Starfleet’s protests, a captain’s test of morality should be judged on whether he or she had actually broken the Prime Directive, not whether they upheld it.


Star Trek ENT All Crew by ~KadouCreations on deviantART

The United Federation of Planets was founded in 2161 (“The Outcast” TNG 117). Ten years before, the various species in our section of the galaxy existed with each other through loose alliances and treaties. Humans had barely left the Solar system and lagged behind several other species, notably the Vulcans.  In an effort to prove themselves, Humans entered the world of galactic politics with a small fleet of ships capable of nothing faster than warp 52 (“Broken Bow” ENT 001).

The first ship sent to explore the galaxy, the Enterprise NX-01 commanded by Captain Jonathan Archer, faced hostile alien species and caused shifts in the political field.  For example, Archer and his crew exposed Vulcan spying equipment on the Vulcan monastery of P’Jem, increasing tensions between the Vulcans and their neighbors, the Andorians, in the summer of 2151 (“The Andorian Incident” 007).  By mid-fall, both sides were on the verge of war, and the Vulcan consulate on Earth placed the blame on Archer’s meddling (“Shadows of P’Jem” 014).

Throughout Enterprise’s mission, the Vulcans, who exercised a control over Starfleet3 that many Humans did not appreciate, shepherded Earth. Captain Archer, for example, often blamed the Vulcans for stifling human technological development. It took Humans nearly ninety years after inventing warp drive to even hope to become a truly interstellar civilization. The Vulcans, however, insisted they did not interfere because Humans were irrational and driven by impulse.

In the Vulcans’ eyes, they never interfered and only offered their services where needed (every episode after “Broken Bow”). In reality, the Vulcan High Command unofficially controlled Starfleet for many years. They could say what ships could launch, where they could go, and even what Humans could and could not do once in space. In early 2151, they tried unsuccessfully to delay the launch of Enterprise, citing threats to planetary security from the newly encountered Klingon Empire. In some cases, the Vulcan ambassadors asked Starfleet to divert Enterprise so the crew could help with Vulcan internal affairs (“The Seventh” ENT 033).

Meanwhile, Vulcans condemned Humanity’s intrusion into alien affairs since they felt Humans could cause more harm than good. This fear would later be echoed by the Federation towards its own captains, and the Prime Directive would be written in such a manner that it bound Starfleet from acting on emotion.


Vulcans 2.0 by *Blackwidina on deviantART

Even in pre-Federation times, however, the Vulcans had something akin to what would later be called the Prime Directive. As early as 1957, when a Vulcan survey ship crashed on Earth, the survivors knew they could not interfere with human development4 (“Carbon Creek” 027).  Starfleet adopted a similar, unwritten system nearly two hundred years later.

When the crew of Enterprise explored new worlds, they tried their best to not interfere, although there would be no legal repercussions if they did. The Prime Directive was not made into law until sometime after 2168 (“A Piece of the Action” TOS 049). The early Starfleet (pre-Federation) is shown trying to prevent cultural contamination in “Civilization” ENT 009 and “The Communicator” 034. In both instances, the crew disguised themselves in order to blend into the culture they were studying.

In “The Communicator,” though, Archer is faced with the choice of either sacrificing himself or telling the people on the planet his real identity5. In this instance, only the crew’s quick thinking saved him. He was willing to sacrifice himself to protect a culture bent on killing him. Even before the concept of the Prime Directive was made law, Captain Archer knew the importance of preventing cultural contamination. However, had Archer actually shown the aliens who he really was, there would have been little legal repercussions from Earth, though the Vulcans would undoubtedly have put pressure on Starfleet to either court marshal or reprimand him.


Boldly going by ~Damon1984 on deviantART

There may actually be a reason why the concept of the Prime Directive was not made into a written law with pre-Federation Starfleet. Humans were in the lower end of the technological spectrum in relation to their neighbors. They lacked shields, advanced weapons, and even transporters were fairly new to them. There would have been little for them to interfere with in the way of technological development. They only encountered a small handful of species that lagged centuries behind humanity. Therefore, early captains had leeway with its application.

The unbending nature of the Prime Directive, however, may also have come about because of the nature of space travel.

Starfleet ships employ a mode of faster-than-light travel known as warp drive. Though the early warp drives required weeks or months to travel from one star system to another, the warp drives of the 24th century (TNG, DS9, VOY) still required many hours or days to travel from place to place. Points along the Federation frontier often require travel times as high as several months (“The Neutral Zone” TNG 026, “The Icarus Factor” 040, “Second Chances” 150, etc).


Star Trek – TNG era by ~davemetlesits on deviantART

Even though ships also use faster-than-light communications known as subspace radio, it still takes time to receive orders when a ship is far from the core Federation worlds (“Heart of Glory” TNG 040, “Ensigns of Command” TNG 049, “Night Terrors” TNG 091, etc). Since direct contact with Starfleet Command is impossible in many cases, the lawmakers who originally created the Prime Directive as an unbending rule may simply have been trying to automatically destroy any possibility for cultural contamination. If the law leaves no room for interpretation, it is unlikely a starship captain would attempt to find some way of breaking it. However, in the 22nd and 23rd centuries, the Directive was not enforced with an iron fist. Human ships never wandered too far from contact with Starfleet command, so orders could be received in real-time. Violations of the Prime Directive were analyzed on an individual basis, as was shown in the hundred years after the Federation was founded.

By the mid-23rd century, the Federation had spread to include several species and encompassed at least a thousand planets (“Metamorphosis” TOS 031). Humans and Vulcans remained the most influential species, and Starfleet worked to protect the Federation and study the galaxy. By this time, the Prime Directive was a much more powerful force and every starship captain was willing to uphold it to the fullest extent. Blatant violations could be prosecuted.


Star Trek The Crew by ~KadouCreations on deviantART

However, one captain saw that the Prime Directive was too unbending to adapt to the challenges of exploration.  Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701 (the second starship to bear this name) was notorious for his utter disrespect for regulations when he felt the greater good was at stake. During his historic five-year mission onboard the Enterprise (2264-2269), Kirk amassed a record of seventeen time travel violations, a record even into the mid-24th century (“Trials and Tribble-Attions” DS9 503). His disregard for the Prime Directive was also infamous.  During his mission, however, he influenced only those cultures he felt needed help.

For example, in late 2266, the Enterprise accidentally became embroiled in a war between Eminar VII and the planet Vendikar. Since neither planet was a Federation member, Starfleet had no right to intrude. The inhabitants of both planets, though spacefaring for five hundred years, lagged behind the Federation technologically, making them candidates for non-interference. However, when the Enterprise visited the planet and was declared a casualty in an electronic war, the crew was required to report to disintegration chambers so the kills could be confirmed. Instead of sacrificing his crew, Kirk worked to end the computerized war, ending the conflict and saving his crew (“A Taste of Armageddon” TOS 023). Though his interference was a blatant disregard for the Prime Directive, Kirk was never prosecuted for it. In fact, Kirk felt he was justified in breaking the Prime Directive. He placed sentient life and the welfare of his crew above regulations. In his mind, the countless lives lost to the war outweighed any cultural contamination.

A few months later, in early 2267, the Enterprise encountered a pre-warp civilization in the Gamma Trianguli system. Upon closer inspection, the crew found that the inhabitants had lived in cultural stagnation for ten thousand years. At that time, they created a machine named Vaal who fed them and protected the planet, extended their lives, but also prevented them from growing culturally. Eventually, they reverted to a technological stage similar to the North American natives at the time of Columbus’ discovery. Kirk saw this and concluded Vaal had to be destroyed in order to free the people from its grasp (“The Apple” 038). In this case, however, the security of the ship was also threatened.  Vaal concluded that the Enterprise could disrupt the balance of power, so it tried to destroy the ship. Even before the crew was placed in danger, however, Kirk already contemplated freeing the people fromVaal’s influence. Ship’s doctor Leonard McCoy also supported Kirk’s decision, citing it is every culture’s right to change and grow.


Kirk Study by ~hoganvibe on deviantART

This pattern of interference repeated throughout Kirk’s five-year mission. If he felt something threatened freedom or life, he acted. His interference into other cultures also included the inhabitants of Betta III (“The Return of the Archons” TOS 022), the Terran Empire of the mirror universe (“Mirror, Mirror” 039), and the miners of Ardana (“The Cloud Miners” 074). In each instance, Kirk placed the Prime Directive below the lives of sentient beings. No legal retribution was ever brought down on him, and he became a legend to other Starfleet officers for over a hundred years after his missions (“Trials and Tribble-Attions” DS9 503).  This should come as no surprise since, in modern times, legendary heroes are the people who defied authority and helped change history: Thomas Jefferson, Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., Abigail Adams, etc.  Kirk understood a law is not just simply because it is a law. Laws exist in order to preserve the common good, but if the law prevents a greater good from occurring, then that law must be broken.

By the mid-24th century, however, both the Federation and Starfleet underwent several changes in policy. The United Federation of Planets changed from a capitalist society to neo-Marxist system6, and Starfleet hid its intentions behind a mask of exploration. Though some spirit from the vast expansion of the 23rd century remained, the 24th century was marked by armed conflicts and massive political changes.

This might be linked to something called the Tomed Incident, which occurred in 2311 and created a fifty-year-long isolation between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire (“The Neutral Zone” TNG 126). Thousands of Federation lives were lost (The Defector TNG 158), and the Federation agreed to never develop or use cloaking technology onboard their starships7 (“The Pegasus” 264).  In this new era of political and military conflict, the Prime Directive changed in order to protect the Federation more than it protected others.


Star Trek TNG by ~KadouCreations on deviantART

For example, the Prime Directive forbade Starfleet officers from interfering in the affairs of any government, regardless of its technological status.  It even forbade humanitarian aid towards other worlds, even if it could be kept from less civilized species. This was not the case in Kirk’s time. Violations of the Prime Directive for humanitarian aid were not explicit, but since Kirk never received punishment, it is likely Starfleet Command thought his actions were justified. By the 2360’s, however, any interference in the affairs of another world was seen as worse than death for the inhabitants of that world.

In late 2365, the crew Enterprise NCC-1701-D discovered that the fourth planet in the Drema system would destroy itself through a geological anomaly and kill the native population, a pre-warp culture. Captain Jean-Luc Picard could not prevent the catastrophe, even though the Enterprise-D had the technology and time to do it. In the end, Picard violated the Prime Directive and restored the planet’s geologic stability (“Pen Pals” TNG 141).


Picard Funny by ~dalehawkster on deviantART

Picard actually needing to figure out whether or not to help means that the Directive was engrained so deeply into Starfleet behavior that even basic humanitarian instincts were called into question.  A similar situation occurred in mid-2370 when the Enterprise-D received a distress call from a Federation observation post on Boraal II.  The planet’s atmosphere underwent violent electrical disruptions, and, by the time theEnterprisearrived, most of the planet was uninhabitable.  Though Picard could have saved a single village of the native population without their knowledge, even taken them to a new planet without contaminating them, he chose to sit by and watch the planet destroy itself (“Homeward” 165). The difference between the motivation in the first and second cases is not clear. Except for the fact Picard heard broadcast pleas from someone on Drema II, the situation remained the same. He could have helped Boraal II without cultural contamination. Instead, he adhered to the rigid Prime Directive and allowed countless people to die.

Picard is not the only member of Starfleet to display this isolationist and non-interference policy.  For almost forty years, the entire Federation stood by while the Cardassians tortured, enslaved, drove the Bajorans from their home world, and left for many more for dead after the Cardassian Occupation finally ended. In those forty years, the Cardassians killed roughly ten million Bajorans (“Cardassians” DS9 425). Since the early 24th century, the Cardassians occupied Bajor and left only after decades of terrorist activities (“Ensign Ro” TNG 103, “The Emissary” DS9 401), but not before they poisoned much of the planet’s farmland (“Shakaar” DS9 470). Throughout the Occupation, Starfleet cited the Prime Directive as their reason for non-interference. As Captain Picard would later lament, it occurred in someone else’s territory, so it was not the Federation’s place to intervene.

Keeve, a Bajoran resistance fighter, replied to Picard:

…You were innocent bystanders for decades as the Cardassians took our homes…  as they violated and tortured our people in the most hideous ways imaginable…  as we were forced to flee […].  How convenient it must be for you. To turn a deaf ear to those who suffer behind a line on a map. (“Ensign Ro” TNG 103)

In the 20th century,America turned a blind eye to the plight of the Jews during Hitler’s reign, then later as he stormedEurope.America only became involved in both World Wars because we were attacked directly. Politicians feared that the situation inEurope was an internal affair, therefore something we had no business in.


No War by ~Urday on deviantART

In both instances, Star Trek and real life, a major superpower with the means to end suffering and destruction failed to live up to its own principles. Both theUnited States and the Federation claim to value life and freedom. In both cases, each failed miserably. The Prime Directive makes it worse because it makes it illegal to assist someone, whereas in the real world, it was simply a matter of politics. The Federation therefore condones the most hideous acts, like the Cardassian Occupation, under the guise of neutral bystanders. However, there are no neutral bystanders. As soon as someone learns of a preventable catastrophe, they become participants. An unwillingness to help when one has the means is tangible to negligence and apathy.

The isolationist policy of the Prime Directive also has a secondary effect: since Starfleet cannot provide aid unless a world is a member of the Federation, less advanced worlds that achieve warp capabilities must vie for membership.

In effect, the Federation lures other worlds into becoming full-fledged members by promising to protect them and give technology (“The Price” TNG 156, “The Hunted” 159).  Since many hostile species roam space, it is a bargain many less advanced worlds cannot afford to pass up.


Starfleet Logo by ~firebox on deviantART

It is a weighed bargain, however. New worlds must conform to the ideals of the Federation or they may not join.  Bajor faced this problem when their ancient caste system was reestablished for a time. The Federation does not tolerate caste systems (“Accession” DS9 489). Member worlds are therefore assimilated into the Federation, leaving them well-protected and economically secure, but without some traces of their former culture. The Prime Directive is used as a political tool. Instead of exploring new life, the Federation exploits it.

It should be evident by now that the Prime Directive, despite its idealistic beginnings, has been turned into a political safety net by the 24th century. Over two hundred years of implementation, it is apparent a captain needs room to make choices that can affect millions. Starfleet often finds itself in situations it never encountered before since it usually charts areas of space unknown to others.

An unbending law like the Directive can cost millions of lives, and cultural contamination is placed even above the preservation of life.  On at least two occasions, Captain Picard was willing to let millions die simply to preserve their culture (even though said cultures would become extinct). In the Federation (at least in Starfleet), such an act is proof of high morality. In the real world, it is a perfect example of the consequences of isolationism. It was not seen as a problem in the 22nd and 23rd centuries.  By the 24th, however, the Directive’s goals made it incompatible with the government’s policy. Therefore, captains of this era are certainly justified in breaking it when the situation demands it.


NO BLOCKADE ON HUMAN RIGHTS by ~ademmm on deviantART

If we discovered a technologically inferior society in some remote corner of the world, untouched by modern civilization, we would undoubtedly try to study them.  If we then discovered that they would be killed within a week by some natural disaster (hurricane, lava flow, or maybe some disease we have a cure for), would we sit by and watch them perish? If we assisted them, even if they knew where the help came from and they saw our technology, would it really damage them more than death? Picard and the rest of the Federation seem to think so. They place themselves on a high pedestal and watch the rest of the galaxy as wars and injustices occur all around them. The Federation may claim to be enlightened, but they ignore basic ethics, like the sanctity of life, and the edict that with great power comes great responsibility. Instead, the Federation is content as long as it is safe and Starfleet stays out of trouble. Preventing cultural contamination is a lofty goal, but it is not the only ethical Starfleet should vow to uphold.

If modern-day Earth followed the Federation’s example, President Roosevelt would have followed his political advisors when they declared the Nazi invasions as an internal European matter, something the United States had no concern with. Powerful nations would turn a blind eye whenever an earthquake devastated a section of a third-world country.


Your Siblings Logo by ~sdknex on deviantART

Might would make right, and the people with the most power, hence the most responsibility, would be content to let death and destruction ravage the Earth. The Federation is a powerful organization. It commands resources that dwarf modern-day standards (fusion power, massive engineering projects, etc), and it holds the technology to wipe out hunger and disease across entire planets. Instead of helping where they can or when humanitarian issues are at stake, the Prime Directive steps in and the resources remain unused. Starfleet then claims to be a neutral bystander.

The Prime Directive started as nothing more than something to consider when exploring new worlds. It was intended by the Vulcans to prevent Humans from letting their emotions get the best of them. In the first hundred years, it evolved into a law designed to protect less-developed worlds and help them find their own way. By the 24th century, however, the Prime Directive was a shell of its former ideology. The Federation used it to boost its membership, and countless lives were lost elsewhere as isolationist policies took hold. Captains and Starfleet officers who break the Prime Directive should not be court-marshaled. If anything, they should be given commendations. Each time a Starfleet officer breaks the Directive in order to help someone, or to fight for basic freedoms the Federation cherishes, he or she sees beyond the law. Laws can never be absolute, or justice will be stifled.


star trek group shot by *nightwing1975 on deviantART

And now, before we get to the end notes and the references and all that jazz, let’s enjoy a little fun with Trek, shall we? I love the shows and movies (for the most part, but as you can see, I’m willing to have some fun with it. See you Monday, and keep sharing links and telling people about the site!

 

End Notes

1The term pre-warp refers to a civilization without faster-than-light capabilities.  In essence, it is any society that is confined to its home solar system.  “First Contact” TNG 089 establishes that the Federation makes official contact with a world once it develops warp drive, but even then only after extensive study and even surface reconnaissance by trained operatives.  Captain Picard called First Contact missions the most dangerous mission any starship could be sent into.

2Starfleet started out as an Earth-based program.  It was apparently assimilated by the Federation after the Constitution was ratified, probably because it had proven its merit in the Romulan Wars of the late 2150’s.

3The Vulcans had ships capable of warp 7, and speeds beyond that were rumored for other species but never confirmed.  Though no actual speeds for warp factors were ever given, “Broken Bow” (ENT 001) suggests than the Enterprise NX-01 is capable of at least 100c, and as high as 125c at warp 5 (the official policy is that warp factors for TOS and ENT-era ships are cubed in order to get their respective speeds.  Warp 2 would therefore be 8c and warp 5 would be 125c, which is consistent with the shows).

4During the months the Vulcan crew stayed on Earth, though, they affected Earth’s development in several ways.  T’Mir, the leader of the expedition, sold a piece of Vulcan technology to allow a friend of hers to attend college, a young boy named Jack.  The technology she sold was an adhesive substance called “Velcro”.

5Archer and Lieutenant Reed were captured while trying to retrieve a piece of advanced technology they accidentally left behind on a pre-warp world.  The government that captured them mistook their physical differences to mean that their enemies had engineered super-soldiers.  As a result, Reed and Archer would be put to death and dissected.

6The reasons behind this assumption would require a report onto themselves, so I refer you to Mike Wong’s excellent essay on the subject, “The Economics of Star Trek”, at http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/index.html.  In short, there is no money, the government controls nearly all means of productions, there are never any references to private business beyond something small like a restaurant, and military work is the best chance to advance in society.

7In early 2371, however, the Federation reached an agreement with the Romulans.  The Empire agreed to lend Starfleet a single cloaking device for use onboard the Defiant NX-74205 when the Dominion threatened our section of the Galaxy.

 

Works Cited

“Ensign Ro”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Michael Piller.  Directed by Les Landau.  Produced by David Livingston.  NBC,20 October 1991.

 

Works Consulted

The Original Series

“Balance of Terror”.  Star Trek.  Written by Paul Shneider.  Directed by Vincent McEveety.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC,15 December 1966.

“The Return of the Archons”.  Star Trek.  Written by Boris Sobelman.  Directed by Joseph Pevney.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC,9 February 1967

“A Taste of Armageddon”.  Star Trek.  Written by Written by Robert Hamner and Gene L. Coon.  Directed by Joseph Pevney.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,23 February 1967.

“Mirror, Mirror”.  Star Trek.  Written by Jerome Bixby.  Directed by Marc Daniels.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,6 October 1967.

“The Apple”.  Star Trek.  Written by Max Ehrlich.  Directed by Joseph Pevney.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,31 October 1967.

“Metamorphosis”.  Star Trek.  Written by Gene L. Coon.  Directed by Ralph Senensky.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,10 November 1967.

“A Piece of the Action”.  Star Trek.  Written by David P. Harmon and Gene L. Coon.  Directed by James Komack.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,12 January 1968.

“The Cloud Miners”.  Star Trek.  Written by Margaret Armen.  Directed by Jud Taylor.  Produced by Roddenberry.  NBC,28 February 1969

The Next Generation

“Heart of Glory”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Maurice Hurley.  Directed by Rob Bowman.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC,3 April 1988.

“The Neutral Zone”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Maurice Hurley.  Directed by James L. Conway.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC, 29 May 1988.

“The Icarus Factor”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by David Assael and Robert L. McCullough.  Directed by Robert Iscove.  Produced by Robert L. McCullough.  NBC, 7 May 1989.

“Pen Pals”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass.  Directed by Winrich Kolbe.  Produced by Robert L. McCullough.  NBC, 14 May 1989.

“Ensigns of Command”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass.  Directed by Cliff Bole.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC,15 October 1989.

“The Price”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Hannah Louise Shearer.  Directed by Robert Sheer.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry.  NBC,26 November 1989.

“The Hunted”.  Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  Written by Robin Bernheim.  Directed by Cliff Bole.  Produced by Ira Steven Behr.  NBC,21 January 1990

“First Contact”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Dennis Russell Bailey & David Bischoff and Joe Menosky & Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller.  Directed by Cliff Bole.  Produced by David Livingston.  NBC,3 March 1991.

“The Drumhead”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Jeri Taylor.  Directed by Jonathan Frakes.  Produced by David Livingston.  NBC,29 March 1991.

“Night Terrors”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Pamela Douglas and Jeri Taylor.  Directed by Les Landau.  Produced by Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman.  NBC ,31 March 1991.

“Ensign Ro”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Michael Piller.  Directed by Les Landau.  Produced by David Livingston.  NBC,20 October 1991.

“The Outcast”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Jeri Taylor.  Directed by Robert Sheerer.  Produced by David Livingston and Herbert J. Wright.  NBC,29 March 1992.

“Second Chances”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by René Echevarria.  Directed by LeVar Burton.  Produced by Peter Lauritson.  NBC,6 June 1993.

“The Pegasus”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Ronald D. Moore.  Directed by LeVar Burton.  Produced by Ronald D. Moore.  NBC,23 January 1994.

“Homeward”.  Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Written by Naren Shankar.  Directed by Alexander Singer.  Produced by Peter Lauritson.  NBC,30 January 1994.

Deep Space 9

“The Emissary”.  Star Trek:  Deep Space 9.  Written by Michael Piller.  Directed by David Carson.  Produced by Rick Berman and Michael Piller.  NBC,3 January 1993

“Cardassians”.  Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  Written by James Crocker.  Directed by Cliff Bole.  Produced by Peter Allan Fields and Peter Lauritson.  NBC,24 November, 1993

“Shakaar”.  Star Trek:  Deep Space 9.  Written by Gordon Dawson.  Directed by Jonathan West.  Produced by René Echevarria.  NBC, 22 May 1995.

“Accession”.  Star Trek:  Deep Space 9.  Written by Jane Espenson.  Directed by Les Landau.  Produced by Hans Beimler and Steve Oster.  NBC,26 January 1996.

“Trials and Tribble-Attions”.  Star Trek:  Deep Space 9.  Written by Ronald D. Moore and René Echevarria.  Directed by Jonathan West.  Produced by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Steve Oster, and René Echevarria.  NBC,4 November 1996.

Enterprise

 “Broken Bow”.  Enterprise.  Written by Brannon Bragga and Rick Berman.  Directed by James L. Conway.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,26 September 2001.

“The Andorian Incident”. Enterprise.  Written by Rick Berman, Brannon Bragga, and Fred Dekker.  Directed by Roxann Dawson.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,31 October 2001.

“Civilization”. Enterprise.  Written by Phyliss Strong and Michael Sussman.  Directed by Mike Vejar.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,14 November 2001.

“Shadows of P’Jem”. Enterprise.  Written by Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong.  Directed by Mike Vejar.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,6 February 2002.

“Carbon Creek”.  Enterprise.  Written by Chris Black.  Directed by James Contner.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,25 September 2002.

“The Seventh”. Enterprise.  Written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.  Directed by Davig Livingston.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,6 November 2002.

“The Communicator”.  Enterprise. Written by Andre Bormanis.  Directed by James Contner.  Produced by J. P. Farrell and Dawn Velazquez.  UPN,13 November 2002.

 

 

Apr 272011
 

Hey, you! You're making me question my beliefs! Stop it!

April 27, 2011

It was bound to happen.

The Right Wing has officially jumped into Orwellian territory. Remember that plot point in 1984 wherein the Party would use phrases like “Freedom is Slavery” and “War is Peace”? The idea was that having the population believe two mutually exclusive ideas would create such a dissonance that more mundane lies would be much more easily accepted. It is the willingness to believe something that cannot be true by its very nature that would make the population easier to control.

Behold the American Conservative Movement.

The Heritage Foundation is pushing for something called “conscience rights.” In essence, they claim that things like abortion and gay rights are assaults on freedom.

Think about that for a second. When the blood stops shooting out of your nose, keep reading.


. Cognitive Dissonance . by *DigitalBaptism on deviantART

The argument goes something like this. Say you believe that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God. By making same-sex marriage legal and otherwise embracing the homosexual community as normal members of society with the same rights and freedoms as everyone else, the government is encroaching on your moral fiber by making something you believe is a sin acceptable.

I’m really hoping you see where this plan falls apart.

They want to push to make things illegal because they are against their own morality, a morality that is quite clearly based on religious belief. But they’re not phrasing it like that. They’re phrasing it to somehow mean that we, as a collective, are outraged.

So… in order to protect speech, religion, and the right to love each other, you must take those rights away from others who believe, say, and love what you will not. After all, having worked with gays and having lived next door to one for three years clearly affected my ability to be attracted to women.


Love has no Limits by =MyLastBlkRose on deviantART

Okay, I‘m being snippy. The specific example they go for is that if a doctor against abortion is asked to perform one, he will have to comply. This is clearly an assault on his morality, right?

Well, if he didn’t want to deal with this, he shouldn’t have made choices to put himself in this position.

So, if I am offended that Republicans are against gay rights, immigrants, and a woman’s right to choose, can I deny to help students at TAMIU who identify themselves as Republicans and write papers on conservative opinions? I’d be helping the ideological opposition spread its message, and I just couldn’t live with that.

Without actually claiming and admitting that this course of action is about fundamentalist Christian morality trying to weasel its way into our legal system, they’ve set themselves up for failure. A small part of me wants for this to get taken up just so the Right sees the whole thing blow up in its face like liberal-hearted claymore.

A claymore filled with progressivism!


Explosion are Always Fun by ~GreenApples109 on deviantART

Hey, look! Links!

  • Cupcake-flavored vodka? I predict scores of sorority girls chucking this stuff, then puking their intestines out at parties in the very near future.
  • If you live in Tennessee, you will no longer be able to say “gay.” More specifically, schools won’t be able to address homosexual issues. Way to go, Tennessee. It’s not like gay teens were already marginalized, right?
  • And speaking of awesome things that don’t have anything to do with this, a new photo of Spiderman’s new costume (with battle damage) for the reboot film was released. The best part, we can now confirm the mechanical web-shooters are real. Even though it’s not the exact costume from the comics, I really like it.
  • And finally, Alessandra Torresani and some more geeks star in this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek video, “Tonight I’m Frakking You.” Can you name every character, reference, and actor by the end? Don’t think so. Anyway, enjoy the slave Leia outfit, female Ghostbusters, and in-jokes out the butt. See you Friday!

Mar 092011
 

It's offensive because brown people do it.

March 9, 2011

Ann Coulter may laugh when someone brings up racism since she believes racism no longer exists. It’s possible to say that we’ve cleared away a lot of the old racism, but racism is still here. Yes, we elected a black president, but that gets rid of racism much like going to college means you develop common sense.

It just doesn’t happen.

The wave of Islamophobia moving across the country, everything from the Park51 project, to the vandalized mosques across the country, and even to the new “high birther” comments from Mike “Selective Outrage” Huckabee, show that racism is alive and well. We once targeted Catholics, the Irish, and Jews, and blamed the country’s problems on minority groups with little to no representation or way to get their message out.

And if you think Islamophobia is just a legitimate concern over real terrorism, then please explain this video.

In case you skipped it, we now have video of two state representatives saying, among other things, that they would be willing to let Muslims go to paradise by force (do I have to spell it out) and that they were proud of the protestors.

Yes, I can see how you would be proud of protestors heckling and shouting insults at women and children a worthy cause.

Women and children… This was a fundraiser to build a women’s shelter and help the poor. Now, granted, one of the speakers was linked to the 1993 WTC bombings and has some anti-Semitic viewpoints, but does that taint the entire group?

I know Mexicans who would love to invade Texas. Does that make me dangerous radical because I too hail from the land of tequila?


Mexican Death by ~AidaDisguise on deviantART

Of course not. My anarcho-humanist tendencies and the fact that I know how to build an A-bomb with smoke detectors is what makes me dangerous.

And for the twelve federal agencies monitoring internet content, that last line was a joke.

Watch that video again. Multiculturalism is bad. Islam is bad. Muslims all support terrorism. Muslim men beat their wives. Muslims are pedophiles. Death is the only solution.

This is the mentality of the Far Right, but it’s only because the Far Right doesn’t mind being exposed. It doesn’t care what others think of it. There are people who espouse similar beliefs and cloak them under the guise of academics and logic.

Representative King’s congressional inquiries into the Muslim community are one such case of “high class” racism. It’s the same old, bigoted arguments in a new cloak. Make no mistake. These are two sides of the same coin.

Racism is alive and well. It just got a new suit and got elected on the Tea Party ticket.


Racism .. by ~HAZEMSHEHAB on deviantART

Let’s get some links to wash the taste of dumbass out of your mouth.

Nov 122010
 

Editor’s Note: This will be the third time Time Warner drops my internet after I PAID them. I’ll insert links and images later when I don’t have to upload this at the university, but for now, enjoy a block of text.

November 12, 2010

It’s important to know who you’re dealing with, so it’s time we had a chat.

This fiasco with Olbermann got me thinking about some things. He got suspended because he made donations to political candidates, something you apparently have to ask to do first and then get permission at NBC. This comes only a few weeks after Fox made donations worth almost $2 million dollars to several Republican organizations while hosting Republican candidates and using airtime help Republicans raise funds.

So just in case anyone is wondering where I stand on the issues, and so there will be no misunderstanding later, this is my confession to you.

I believe that while religion can bring hope and comfort, it can also be easily turned into a cudgel to beat someone or a knife to discreetly destroy lives. Like George Carlin once said, religion is like a pair of shoes. If your shoes let you walk and get through the world, that’s fine, but don’t think your shoes will fit me.

I believe Disney is a business, pure and simple, and has no interest in the well-being of children. Also, the last good movie they made was The Lion King.

I believe cartoons were better before Nickelodeon’s major star became a talking sponge. Bring back the Chihuahua, the cat, the wallaby, and the babies.

I believe science and logic and reason are some of the greatest tools humanity ever developed. Although some refuse to acknowledge this information and still believe the Earth is a mere six thousand years old, the truth is there. No one had to fight against Zeus worshipers. People just realized that lightning was not the work of angry gods.

I believe cherry pie beats apple pie hands down.

I believe physical books are better than ebooks or any digital format.

I think vegetarians who don’t eat meat just because they want to make some sort of statement, not for health or religious reasons, are insulting to people who do not have the luxury of choosing what to eat, or if they CAN eat.

I believe chalkboards are better than dry erase boards. If you’re not willing to get your hands dirty when you teach, you’re not teaching. You’re babysitting.

I believe art is at the same time the most important and hardest to define endeavor anyone can undertake. Art in many forms helps us understand the world, ourselves, but how we go about it, or if it works or is even art, is sure to baffle us for the rest of human history.

I believe government has the duty to protect the people. This includes a well-funded military and departments to wisely spend the funds gathered from our taxes. I hate paying taxes, but I like having paved roads and knowing the fish I consume won’t kill me. I like knowing the medicine I buy has been thoroughly tested to make sure it complies with certain standards? Why?

Because I also believe that while capitalism is one of the best ways for each person to make use of his or her potential, its sole goal of making money means there is no incentive to be humane or rational about employees or customers. How do I know this? Because unregulated markets and businesses cost us our economy, the Gulf, and have made a mockery of our health care system.

I believe Kirk could kick Picard’s ass, but Patrick Stewart would wipe the floor with Shatner.

I really can believe it’s butter.

I believe that if a foreign movie is good, we should see the foreign movie, not remake it. Get over the fact that it will require subtitles and watch it.

I believe choosing between Republicans and Democrats is choosing between the heartless and the spineless, and both choices are brainless.

I believe politics is the art of making people give you a job for a few more years so you can convince them to give you a job for a few more years.

I believe education should make children capable of thinking for themselves, not just fill their heads with facts. Education is about making them productive members of society, and filling their heads with lies and cookie-cutter answers is evil.

Most importantly, I believe the moment you express an opinion without being prompted, the instant you throw your hat into the ring, you are a free target for criticism. You have put yourself, willingly, into the arena of free speech. You are game. If you can’t articulate your opinion, defend it, or don’t want others questioning what you believe, don’t speak.

So that’s where I stand. You?

Aug 302010
 

It's an Armageddon sale and everything MUST GO!

August 30, 2010

It happened. Glenn Beck has a legion of black-clad priests to do his bidding and spread his message. The Cult of Beck is here.

Seriously. The only thing missing from this Saturday’s Beckapolooza, aka Restoring Honor, was kool-aid for all and a promise that the spaceship would soon arrive to take everyone home to the comet where Jesus lives with the seven dwarves. It was fairly tame by most expectations: no signs, no calls for blood, no racism (at least from the speakers), etc. In a nutshell it was, “We need more God, STAT!” That was it. That was the message. That’s what all the hype turned into. No miracles. No great revelations. Nothing. Beck even backtracked on his comments that he was “reclaiming” the Civil Rights Movement. Now he says he only agrees with SOME of the movement’s philosophies.


God Help Us by ~mattthegreat1313 on deviantART

But something stuck out. Beck announced he was recreating the Black Robe Regiment. Who are the members of the Black Robe Regiment?

Glad you asked.

Back in the Revolutionary War, these were preachers who would go up and preach in favor of certain political issues. Think of them as “preachers for America.”

And why is Beck bringing back this group?

The same reason he’s bringing back badges of honor, revisionist history, and connections between his crusade/ promotion and Dr. King: it serves his purpose. Here’s the kicker, though. Now, instead of just having fake professors teaching at a fake university or using his show to spout lies, he’s going one step further than even fear-mongering.

He’s targeting people’s souls.


I have lost my soul by ~korinoryu on deviantART

The idea behind the Black Robe Regiment is simple: make people believe that the opinions of Beck and people like Beck are divinely inspired and mandated by Jesus Christ and God, compatible with Judeo-Christian scripture, and the only solution to our problems. Beck himself has repeatedly said we must follow him or Armageddon would rain down on us.

And now he has clergy working for him. All Judeo-Christian, even if Beck insists they represent all faiths. These aren’t the people working at Beck U (oh, how do people not see the name is a not-so-subtle flip off?), but rather a group of preachers and holy men and women who Beck insist represent millions of people.

Let me stop him right now.

I don’t doubt the members of the Black Robe Regiment are members of major denominations, but they do not speak for every member of their faith, just like radical Islam does not speak for all of Islam. They speak for Beck because they’ve bought into his condemnation of liberation theology and social justice. They’re with him because he has money to pay.

They’re the money sellers in the temple, and if you’re Christian, you should be livid at these folks.

Beck keeps saying that America wants truth, even if it hurts. There are far, FAR too many examples of his dishonesty even for this site. If I typed for three days straight, I wouldn’t be able to cover a single episode of his radio or television show, so let me just say this:

If Beck wants to make this Biblical, fine. I’ll play.

And I’m old school.


oLD sCHoOl gAMinG 2… by ~uNDer3fOLdinGstARs on deviantART

Beck, if you’re reading this, and I sincerely hope you are, let me enlighten you as to how you inject fear into the hearts of your enemies. If you want truth, I’ll bring you truth.

I’m the snake in the garden.

I’m the happy sin that gives humanity knowledge.

You want to be Martin Luther King Jr.? Great. I’m the devil himself. I’m Lucifer. I’m a daemon. The Great Enemy. I’m one in a legion of people across the country who want to see you fail and want to show people the light.

We believe that America was imperfect, but it can be made better. We believe religion has no role in government. We believe every man and woman has the right to say what they wish, worship how they choose if at all, and that progress makes us a better nation.


Temptation by ~Island-Wolf on deviantART

If you want biblical, I’ll get biblical. Even if you claim to think that mixing religion and politics is a bad idea, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Make yourself an angel, an envoy of God, and you’ll fall. Hell, you’re going to give out those ridiculous merit badges for honor and you’ve made reference to your cause being divine. I could make an excellent case for you being the Anti-Christ.

But I won’t. Don’t believe in it, although the imagery is nice.

This is what we have to look forward to now, folks. Beck-approved clergy. I will gladly be the serpent in the garden for this. I will play that role.

Link time!

  • For anyone who still thinks Liberation Theology is about Marxism, please read this article that explains its roots and what it really means outside of Beck-Land.
  • Like I mentioned before, Amanda Palmer will be in Cabaret. Check out this article outlining her first forays into entertainment. It also has, as Neil Gaiman pointed out in his Twitter feed, one of the worst headlines ever.
  • What happens when you leave a McDonald’s burger out for weeks? It looks the same. A friend of mine tried this back in high school and got the same results, or so he said. I didn’t believe him until I saw this.
  • This video has all the makings of a FailBlog entry, except these guys are really athletic and do a great job jumping from walls to roofs and back. However, wait until the very last jump… it’s not a lack of physicality that got the last runner in trouble. It was not seeing the drop.
  • And finally, in a weekend filled with FAIL, here’s a look at people who failed just a little more than the rest of us. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you here on Wednesday or on the Facebook page!

Apr 152010
 

Socialists... Windmills... Whatever.

April 16, 2010

Glenn… Can I call you Glenn? “Mister Beck” seems so formal. My name is Michel Martin del Campo, and I am one of those immigrants who you’ll love. I love this country. I came here legally. I received most of my education here. I am a writer and an educator.

Now that we’ve gotten the get-to-know-you out of the way, let’s get to the meat.

You are, and I want to be sure I say this as clearly as possible, an idiot. For many reasons. First and foremost, your wild conspiracy theories have been proven wrong by people with much more time than me, but it bears repeating. Secondly, you use bad data or jump to conclusions instead of, as you so often claim, letting people think for themselves. Your dishonest tactics have fueled the fires of fear and racism and we’re close to true violence.

But, I have to admit it took some chutzpa to go on the air and say that no one’s proved you wrong.

Really? No one? You CAN read, right? Actually, I take it back. You can’t read. Everyone makes mistakes, Glenn. Everybody’s human. I’ve fixed typos and broken links and images on this site days after the articles get published. My job requires me to look at my writing and the writing of others and find out how it can be made better. I could edit and revise ad-nauseum, but at some point I have to say, “It’s good enough.”

You, on the other hand, seem to have a trained chimp doing your research and just go with whatever crap it flings at you. The chimp however doesn’t look at the crap and see dragons coming to eat his liver.

I’ll be honest, though. You’re a good showman. If you hadn’t gone into journalism-

Oh wait. You’re not a journalist by your own admission.

Anyway, if you hadn’t gotten into… commenting, you could have had a wonderful career as a master of ceremonies at a circus or as that rodeo clown you compared yourself to in the last link. But these people know they’re putting on a show. You? You live the show. You’ve become so delusional that basic facts are not relevant to you. Not dissenting opinion. Facts. Measurable, objective facts.

You’ve gone off the deep end.

Social Justice = Nazis

I wrote an entire article on your rant a while back regarding the term “social justice” and how it’s code for communism, socialism, and Nazism. You, however, claim that you never said this. You quote Biblical passages showing that social justice is a good thing.

Except you did say social justice was a Nazi concept and anyone who went to a church that preached social justice should leave. You said it. I heard it. And my left eye is still bleeding a little bit.

But, on the up-side, more pastors are preaching social justice because of what you said. My stomach churns as I type this, but you actually helped there.


no to nazi by ~scarscobwebstime on deviantART

Net Neutrality

You spoke with Phil Kerpen, Policy Director for Americans for Prosperity. Both of you wanted to do away with net neutrality. Why? You told viewers that it was a plot to allow the government to control what got said on the internet. With net neutrality, they could control the press. It was really about taking away the internet from the public and getting government control.

Except that is NOT what net neutrality is about.

Net neutrality is about making sure that everyone gets equal access to the internet. It’s also not, as you claim, the right to free internet. It’s a regulation designed to keep free speech, not oppress it. In other words, it’s a law to make sure things stay the way they are.

Also, in case you didn’t know, the guy sitting with you in that clip works for a front for company lobbying. If you want to hear them blatantly admit this, fast forward to 4:00 to see the relevant exchange.

You got punk’d, Glenn.


net neutrality poster by =bugbyte on deviantART

Death Panels

You went defensive when people brought up death panels because you had truth on your side, you told your listeners. The truth! Who can argue with the truth? You even had a reputable source: The New York Times. The article that stated that the health care bill would create rationing and thus require death panels. And someone has to ration, right?

Okay, we already knew you were illiterate, but whoever read this article to you may not have noticed that it’s not about health care. In fact, it doesn’t mention the phrase “death panels.” It’s about the US debt and what will happen if we keep borrowing money.

Similarly, you’ve raved for months about how we’ll have a doctor shortage if we pass health care reform. And you’re right.

In a “You’re actually wrong” kind of way.

Because we have more people with access to health care, the number of available doctors will not be enough. No one disputes this, but we don’t have more sick people and we don’t have less doctors. We have more people who now can see a doctor.

We will eventually get more doctors as the demand rises. It’s called supply and demand. I think you’re familiar with it. Part of the reason we don’t have enough doctors is because, frankly, few people could go to one, hence demand dropped. The people who won’t be able to get health care in the immediate future will not get it not because someone tells them they can’t, but because a doctor doesn’t have the time to see all of them. More doctors are also becoming specialists, which means less family doctors.
Once demand goes up, we’ll get the doctors we need. Not before.

But it’s not a conspiracy, Glenn. Men in suits are not plotting grandma’s demise or the death of Trigg Palin.


Life by ~Forfeit on deviantART

Glenn Beck is Jewish?

After your rant against one of the core beliefs in many of the world’s religions, and a concept that even atheists and agnostics can claim as good for humanity, you lost some sponsors, didn’t you? Oh yes you did. You went on the air and claimed that anyone who advocated social justice was using code words intended to spread socialism.

And now, with sponsors dropping like inhibitions on Spring Break, you’re going on the defensive. Except you don’t try to make a case for what you said. You don’t try to give more information to back your point.

You just claim that what you’re going through is like what the Jews had to endure under Hitler. You said this little gem in a rant starting at 5:30.

Right. The Holocaust. Nazi Germany. You are living under the kind of persecution the Jews had to endure. Do I even have to mention just how wrong you are in this? The government is not coming to kill you. People hate you and wish to silence you because you are a virus in American culture. Your fear-mongering has turned what should be a very real debate on issues that affect all of us into a shouting match. You made millions last year. Millions. Someone telling you to shut up or using legitimate capitalist means to deny you of revenue is not censorship. It’s capitalism. That thing you want to keep completely pure. The fact that you haven’t been yanked from the airwaves proves that the White House, as much as I’m sure doesn’t like you, doesn’t have the ability to shut you up on a whim.


Pity by *jeffrey on deviantART

I hate, yes, HATE what you’ve done to this country. You’re not entirely responsible for the current state of things, but you’ve put on a show for a population that is looking for a scapegoat as often happens in hard times. People need someone to blame and you’ve directed their anger.

And now we’re under the very real threat of violence from within because you’ve lied and played to people’s worst natures.

Even Don Quixote had a moment of clarity once, Glenn. And he too finally saw that the windmills weren’t the monsters he made them out to be.

Sincerely,
Michel Martín del Campo

Mar 102010
 

He's down! The Gladiator from Galilee is down for the count!

March 10, 2010

Glenn Beck is a loon of the highest caliber, an egomaniacal, paranoid man-child whose very existence makes me ashamed to belong to the same species as this vacuous clown.

Okay, that was a bad argument. No evidence. No facts. Nothing. Let me start over.

Over the last few years, Glenn Beck has gone after everyone from 9/11 victims’ families, Muslims, and his latest crusade is against progressives, a group he claims is really a cover for Nazis and communists. Like any conspiracy nut, Beck’s stories may sound good on the outside, but much like Bobby Langdon’s adventures, they are so full of illogic that Mister Spock might bitch-slap him if he ever heard this. Wait, scratch that. Leonard Nimoy himself would bitch-slap Beck. Then light him on fire. I’m all for debating this man’s erroneous claims about liberals and progressives, but Beck has just crossed a line I never thought he would cross.

In a recent radio show, Glenn Beck actually called for people to leave their churches if the church preached social justice and economic justice. These terms, he said, are code words for Nazism and communism.

The snippet from the show starts at 0:54.

I don’t even want to put the clips for the show where he talks about this dribble. Needless to say, you can view parts 1-4 here, here, here, and here. While he doesn’t bring up the churches on the television show, his assertion that progress leads to tyranny, that social justice is a stepping stone, a codeword, for the kinds of atrocities perpetrated by Mao, Hitler, and Stalin, is a slap in the face to every hard-working social worker, homeless shelter, and advocate for the poor.

Thou shalt not help those who cannot help themselves, for if the Lord thine God had wanted them to be rich and lead happy lives, he would not have put the meek beneath thine heal.

Say what you want about organized religion. I’m not going to defend the institution of religion here. There are wackos in the wings. I have a beef with every religious zealot or mild-mannered parishioner who insists we shouldn’t teach evolution or who thinks gays are subhuman, baby-eating degenerates. I will fight these claims tooth and nail every time I encounter such ignorance or willful adherence to dogma that goes contrary to experience, logic, and basic human decency.

I have words and opposable thumbs. That gives me an advantage over many of these idiots.

However, there are still people, and I’ve met many, who subscribe to some of the Bible’s positive messages about helping the sick, the poor, doing unto others… The Golden Rule, if every Christian followed it as it was meant to be followed, would transform the entire religion into a more humanitarian force. Selflessness, charity, good-will, love… these are the kinds of messages Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people from other faiths or no faith at all can follow and be better human beings.


The Way of Love by #christians on deviantART

There are three main problems with Beck’s argument. A fourth if you count his paranoid delusions and possible insanity.

To begin with, he is subscribing to something called the Fallacy of Guilt by Association, also known as the Company You Keep Fallacy. Beck goes to great lengths to show that Stalin, Hitler, and others were actually liberals and progressives and there was no difference between communism and Nazism. They favored things like universal healthcare and “progress,” the key word he says is really a code for their murderous philosophies.

One problem, though. Economic systems have no bearing on whether or not things like health care and government-run business lead to tyranny and murder. Unless, of course, Beck believes that Canada is on its way to becoming a communist haven for a Franco-centric tyranny flying under the banner of a swastika-shaped maple leaf. The fact that a group or person is associated with something does mean the thing itself is intrinsically tied to that person or group. For example, Stalin and Che had facial hair. Are we to assume that beards and mustaches are now visual identifiers for communists? What about armies? The USSR and Nazi Germany both had armies and used them to devastating effect. Should be now get rid of our military least we emulate these groups?


Mustache DP by ~Sadiee on deviantART

Second of all, Beck seems to be a little confused as to the meaning of “social justice.” In its broadest term, it means the application of justice on a societal scale. To many on the left, it means that everyone should have the basic needs of food, shelter, and health met. There should be a way of regulating unfairness and punishing those who discriminate based on sexism and racism. For many on the right, the idea of equality is still present, but they typically believe government should not have a role in creating or enforcing this fairness. If someone has wealth, he or she is encouraged to share and create a more balanced world, but it should not be regulated through higher taxes.

Two viewpoints, two ways to achieve it.

And Beck will have neither. The concept of helping the poor, those with less, is at the center of the Christian teachings Beck espouses. Our nation was founded on Christian principles, he tells us, yet he’d like to do away with things like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and welfare. Personally, I would love it if we didn’t need these things. I would love to see a world where the standard of living was high enough that even someone who was economically labeled as “poor” could afford health care, a decent home, and education. Sadly, we’re not there yet, and getting there through this kind of charity, whatever path we take, is socialism, which, as well know is the same as Nazism and communism.


- national socialism 2 - by ~summershade on deviantART

I guess Beck is also glossing over the fact that other religions actively promote social justice. Judaism preaches the concept of tzedakah, which is the practice of giving to the poor, the downtrodden, and others in need in order to make the world a better place. Muslims have a similar practice called sadaqah which translates as “voluntary charity.”

Boy, that Jewish Nazi conspiracy really has the world fooled.


identity by ~SnugglesXcore on deviantART

The worst problem, the most dangerous one, is Beck’s Appeal to Fear. The argument is true, because if you don’t believe it, something bad will happen to you!

We’re living in a volatile country right now. People are jobless or can only get part-time jobs. Everyone is scared. There are wars on two fronts. On top of all of this, Beck is using the fear of the unknown, of the Other, to grab attention and preach that those who want to change things are really out to get you. It’s the best tactic for conspiracy theorists. Come up with an explanation for trouble that makes the listener the victim of some crime. The government is lying to you. The enemy is everywhere. The sense of paranoia, the shot of adrenalin, is almost invigorating. Many, I’m sure, relish the chance to do something, to have a cause worth fighting for. We were born too late to fight the Nazis. Vietnam was a lost cause. The War on Terror is going nowhere. Now, the Right has an enemy, a real enemy, someone they can fight.


Americans Will Not by *SwordOfScotland on deviantART

I thought I’d heard the worst Beck had to say. His belief that an education from a library is the same as an education at a reputable school was bad enough. His claim that progressives, people who advocate change in any way shape or form, are really Nazis in disguise, would have been laughable if so many people didn’t take him seriously.

But this… Like I said, I’m not trying to defend organized religion or promote it. The idea that helping the poor, trying to make a better world for everyone, and promoting equality are bad things, that they will lead to genocide, is so mind-numbingly ignorant that I actually got a headache watching the videos for this show. My brain cells were committing ritual suicide.

We’re living in a world that needs people to come together. We need to help each other. If it means putting your pride aside… well, Marcellus Wallace had a few choice words to say about pride. As J. Michael Straczynski wrote, “We have to care for one another, because if we don’t, who will?”

Just to spite Glenn Beck, I’m going give a few bucks to any charity’s jar I see. Who’s up for a little revolution?

Feb 252010
 

It makes more sense when you get to the end of the article.

February 24, 2010

Education is one of the pillars in my life, both personally and professionally. When the Texas educational system failed me, I looked on my own. I was lucky enough to find teachers and mentors willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. They helped me grow. Eventually, I went to college and met some of the most influential people in my life. I asked questions of people who had traveled the world, studied with great men and women, and challenged me to question not only my own beliefs, but their own teachings. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, but the things I learned, both about writing and life, will stay with me until the day I die.

Apparently, you can have the equivalent kind of experience by going to a bookstore. Combine that with the belief that a little blip on the radar MUST be an incoming attack from your enemies and not a flock of seagulls or balloons, and you get Glenn Beck. The man has never had a formal education in… well, anything, and he’s not only proud of it, but he thinks it makes him some kind of superhero.

I swear the entire conference was a massive call to war. “This is it, boys,” I could hear them thinking. “This is war!”

If you skipped the video, Glenn “Master of His Own Domain” Beck goes on about how we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. It’s the one things conservatives hold to be most true. Okay, so far so good. The pursuit of happiness is a good summary, I think, of the rights of speech and religion. However, Becky-Boy goes off the deep end. And he didn’t see the pool wasn’t filled with water.

We are not entitled to anything else, he claims. We are not guaranteed “health care, housing, or handouts.” If we let the government help others with our tax money, we will ruin our children’s futures.

Everyone say it with me: Who will think of the children?!


children by ~csillagharcos on deviantART

Beck then goes into education. He proudly exclaims that he went to college for all of one semester and took a single class because that was all he could afford. He is not bitter about it, though, because he never thought he was owed an education. He was thirty and continued on his own. Glenn Beck got his education in a library “where books are free.” “When did it become a matter of ridicule to be a self-made man?” he passionately asks his audience. The man practically oozes dignity as he exclaims he didn’t pay a cent to learn.

And boy does it show…

Oh, where to begin? I’ve had to grade ESL papers written by first-generation immigrants with a low understanding of the English language who went through the Texas public school system and made more sense than this clown.

Beck seems to forget that this precious right to the pursuit of happiness is accompanied by two others: Life and Liberty. All are capitalized in the Declaration of Independence. The full phrase is:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I had a whole article prepared on health care, the right to live and not die, and other tasty rants… but his statements on education, I think, are much more dangerous than any of these.

As an educator, I can tell where some of his “pride” comes from. He’s not bitter, he says. I think he is. He proclaims he is proud his education cost nothing. Nothing wrong with educating yourself, but to claim that it is the same caliber as a formal education really misses the point. Did he learn? He learned things, but without others to question, people to debate with, or people who knew what they were talking about pointing him towards reputable sources, all he learned was the masturbatory texts of whatever books he managed to pick up and fueled his preconceptions. It’s even more daunting to say that he questioned anything he read. He wasn’t asked to read anything he didn’t want to read. I’m actually glad that I had to read some of the things I did when I was in college. I would never have read Indian novels on my own. I probably would have skipped right past Freud, and I was lucky enough to be around people who could ask questions, answer them, and lead to intellectual growth. What did Beck have? The library and the bookstore.

That boy got his learning at B. Dalton. Good for him.

Still, one thing about this entitlement to education and story about how he learned everything by himself without a government handout is blatantly false, or it should be to anyone taking notes.

He got his education at a library, a government-sponsored institution. It cost the tax-payers. It’s not free. Just like the education his kids get if they go to public school.


Education by ~CJTheRainbow on deviantART

We are not entitled to an education, which is why, I’m sure, Glenn Beck would agree that we should shut down the Texas A&M system, other state-sponsored universities like the University of California, and should stop funding public schools with public money. After all, our kids aren’t promised an education in the Declaration of Independence, and Beck seems to be doing fine without the ability to spell “oligarchy,” so why should our kids have to go?

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We’re also not entitled to fire departments, police, Medicare, paved roads, trash collection, recycling centers, libraries, a space program, nature parks, and FDIC. Hey, if you chose the wrong bank, it’s your fault all your money went under. Personally, I’m sick and tired of people thinking they can have someone else pick up their garbage for them. It’s your crap! YOU pick it up!


trash by ~jseanXD on deviantART

If we hold the text of the Declaration of Independence to be the foundation for all future laws and regulations in this country, we should at least look at the full text. It implies there are other rights not mentioned. We’ve said that the government has a duty to provide for its citizens, but some see that help stretching too far and shout “Communism!” It’s indicative of people, Beck included, who not only don’t understand the concepts of governments and economic systems, but fail to appreciate what actual education can teach you. Spending years living and working with people, some of whom share your beliefs and many who don’t, is not a bad thing. I learn art from new experiences. I learn to write by reading things that have nothing to do with my genre. Progressing is not a bad thing, and some people can’t afford to go to college, so if government grants, loans, and schools are what they can afford, great! Let’s use what we have!

I’m not trying to mock people who didn’t go to college, so don’t misunderstand me. My grandfather earned his GED around 1994, long after it should have been a concern for someone who was retired. He wanted to better himself and prove that if he, at his age, could do it, there was no excuse for his grandchildren to ever slack off in their studies. I respect him for that one act more than I can write here, but he’s traveled, worked an assortment of jobs, and talks with people.

Glenn beck is convinced of his own superiority while proclaiming he is Everyman, superhero for the masses. Because, you know, Batman’s a trust-fund baby elitist, Superman’s an immigrant, and Wonder Woman’s a Sapphic feminist with a bondage fetish. So remember, kids, Uncle Glenn says you shouldn’t go to school, use those commie parks, and you can only get that degree to become a doctor if you already have the money. Oh, and the Aggies can’t play because, well, their school is socialist.

Beck’s entire rant, entire career, is built on the premise that you are under siege and must stand on your own two feet while subscribing to someone else’s ideology. Panic bells. It’s red alert. There’s something here from somewhere else. The conservatives, they spring to life, open up one eager eye. Focusing it on the sky, where-

Okay, I knew Beck’s paranoia sounded familiar.

Or, if you prefer a more mellow version (click on the lower right to get rid of the green window):

Feb 252010
 
 February 25, 2010  Posted by at 7:55 pm February Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,  No Responses »

The red-coats are coming!

February 3, 2010

There are three things you’re not supposed to talk about if you want pleasant conversation: sex, politics, and religion. Let’s talk about politics since we’ve already discussed sex in another article. Religion will make an appearance later, I promise. I’m slowly trying to work this site into a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

People need to get emotional in order to act. As much as I love science, I didn’t get involved with astronomy until I made the leap that we are all made from the dust and remains of dead stars. I don’t get excited about money and numbers until I remember the things I can do once I pay off my debt. Grabbing a beer doesn’t hold as much allure unless I can share the experience with a friend.

Now, with an economy in ruins, two wars, and social schisms everywhere, members of our government want to make it easy for us to get health care.

And we’re telling them, in so many words, no.

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I’ve heard the word “socialism” thrown around so much you’d think it was a football. Or cooties. Fox News, members of the Right, and anyone else opposed to this plan keeps coming back to this idea that health care reform, at least this version of it, is a stepping stone to a socialist takeover, quiet revolution. Never mind the debacle with Palin’s so-called death panels or the fact that our health care, if we can afford it, is already regulated by companies. It’s socialism, they say! Government wants to control our lives! They already bailed out banks, own the auto-industry, and next thing you know they’ll put fluoride in the water!

I swear to God, Allah, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster that the Right has screwed the word “socialism” over like it was a five-dollar whore.

Vocabulary time, boys and girls. “Socialism,” according to Dictionary.com, means:

1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

The Cultural Definition, lower than the regular definitions on the page, says all Marxists are socialists, but not all socialists are Marxists. Let’s think about this for a moment. The first definition seems to be the most open-ended. The second simply refers back to the original word and the third refers to Marxist theory.

However, I like this definition better: “Where capitalism stresses competition and profit, socialism calls for cooperation and social service.” It’s from Yahoo Education, and I think it sums the core difference between socialism and capitalism. It doesn’t have any of the connotations and political stigma of either and it sums up the main difference without applying the practices to any particular political ideology. After all, socialism is an economic system. If we really think about it, our country already has socialist aspects.

Don’t believe me? Ever seen one of these?

Government-controlled. Think you can run a business without reporting to the government and abiding by certain government regulations on everything from proper pay to environmental impact? All of that is government-controlled. Ever seen community gardens, public parks, or social security? All of it is government-controlled, maintained, and run.

These are facts. I’m not twisting anything. It’s not a matter of opinion whether we have socialism in this country. It’s there because we as a people said a long time ago that government had the responsibility to protect its citizens, that we needed laws to safeguard against certain kinds of behavior. I’m not arguing whether or not socialism’s a good thing. I’m just showing that the underlying concept is already present in our society.

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The part of the definition that gets a lot of people is the third one I mentioned, that socialism is a step towards Marxism. Well, having a drink is the first step towards becoming an alcoholic. Getting a girlfriend is the first step towards getting that girl pregnant. Buying a car is the first step towards dying in a mangled wreck. Maybe this slippery slope argument isn’t strong enough, so let me put it another way.

Do we need healthcare? Yes. WebMD reported that over 45,000 deaths each year could be prevented by having access to affordable health care. You’re 40% more likely to die if you have no health care.

How many people would die if the government didn’t mandate seat belts in cars?

Is socialism bad? That’s not what this article is about. It’s about learning the truth. Unlike what some would have you believe, it’s not a matter or Right and Left, good and evil, or progressive versus conservative. At the most basic level, socialism is the belief that communities matter, perhaps more than the individual. We’ve had such a backlash against this word because, at first glance, such a concept goes against the American ideals of the rugged individual, the country that doesn’t need anyone’s help and can do just fine by itself.

It’s the country that’s in debt to China. It’s the country that employs illegal labor in its fields. It’s the country that has an educational system designed to make children pass school, not challenge them to do it themselves and learn from their mistakes. It’s the country where we demand social security and Medicare.

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If you’re going to use the word “socialism” when discussing health care reform, know what it means. Know history. Know what’s at stake. Understand the problem, the vocabulary, and understand the concept of fear tactics. Understand that you’re already living a country where the government does regulate our lives.

Maybe when everyone learns the meaning of “socialism,” we’ll work on learning the phrase “high educational standards.”