Star Trek by the Minute 110: No Mercy

Spock turns and asks: “Captain, what are you doing?”

Kirk responds, “Showing compassion, it may be the only way to earn peace with Romulus; It’s logic Spock.”  I would agree it is logic of a sort, but not one with which I would agree because of its unstated premises, in other words: somewhat fallacious logic.

Although virtues like “compassion” have been recognized as intrinsic goods for thousands of years, this film can’t even meet good ethical standards of virtue from thousands of years ago.  Instead, Kirk, (and one may assume Abrams & Co.), actually feel the need to JUSTIFY a virtuous action by explaining that an act of compassion and mercy cost nothing and actually could be profitable in the future.  Under Roddenberry, what was once a defining vice of the Next Generation’s capitalist foil: the Ferengi and their profit motive, a type of stunted utilitarianism has now become the moral pinnacle of the hero of nuTrek.  This actually would seem to provide almost a gauge we might use to rate the relative strength of different Treks found across the franchise.  Aspirations of using Trek for raising consciousness and promoting human flourishing have been replaced by pandering to the most base utilitarianism philosophy where “Of what use is it?” can only have the most myopic, self-serving answer.  Jeremy Bentham, born in 1748 ( was, if you’ll forgive the phrase: light-years ahead of Kirk on this one.

Kirk continues: “I thought you’d like that.”  Spock responds with a near-grin: “No, not really…not this time.”  This reminds me of the conversation I had with a relative who claimed to be in favor of government executions of the mentally disabled if they were found guilty of murder, even if incapable of understanding the concept of “harm to others,” much less that their actions would result in killing, and what death or suffering to others means.  Anti-Semite bigot extraordinaire Mel Gibson depicted a greater level of moral rectitude in Thunderdome when upon discovering Blaster’s condition, refused to kill him.

In this confrontation however, we have an insane criminal, (admittedly badly written), who has been informed that his enemies recognize no restrictions on their treatment of the Narada crew.  Nero may very easily conclude the Enterprise crew might re-enact the horrors of the U.S.-back Pinochet regime in Chile for example, where doctors like this incarnation of McCoy supervised the torture of government critics to ensure victims survived until the “final solution” was elected by the administrator.  Villa Grimaldi ( here in Chile was one place where such things occurred. 

The other murderous option is simply mass slaughter without even a pretext of mercy, such as Spock happily endorses when he replies with “No, not really…not this time.”  
“I would rather suffer the death of Romulus a thousand times, I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you.”  Given what he’s been through and the behavior of these monsters, one can understand and empathize with his hatred. 

“You got it,” Kirk sneers in a toughboy wannabe voice.  In Abrams’ world, murdering the defenseless and/or insane is strong and heroic.  Actually, it would be more correct to say that for his worldview and those of   many others, a hero committing murder is a logical impossibility – it simply cannot exist.  In the United States for example, the concept of “US terrorism” is unthinkable.  I once mentioned that a National Science Foundation study of international terrorism featured all the major militaries in the world except the largest one, that of the U.S., and I was unable to get any explanation from anyone I could find associated with the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism database.  Nothing the U.S. does can be considered terrorism, by definition.  Similarly, for this guy, ( the murder of 9 peace activists is “being polite,” which he ridicules as “weakness”.  Instead, Jonathan Mark advocates making the (non-Jew) world “furious”, that everyone should “fear Israel”, that Israel should “take out Iran”, and sink every "fake humanitarian" flotilla, with torpedoes.  He claims that inducing fear, perhaps even more fear than the Nazi’s were able to generate with their created war, is the way for Israel to “win it” with theirs.  This is a view echoed in this film as Kirk orders: “Arm phasers, fire everything we’ve got.”
The remainder of this segment shows the inexcusable, stupid, criminal, and murderous attack against a helpless enemy by the Enterprise.

No women speak in this segment.

This crime almost has a negative consequence in our next episode of Star Trek by the Minute 111: Gravity Well


muser said…
I read somewhere that Kirk's motivation according to the writers was supposed to be that the red matter might send the Narada into another universe (again) and Kirk was trying not to export his problem. Again I have to say that IF the writers had this in mind when they wrote the script (as opposed to retconning it) then they did a poor job of demonstrating it, as Kirk's destruction of the Narada seemed entirely gratuitous, if not actually spiteful. In fact it disturbed me quite a bit when I saw it the first time... not because I cared much about any of the characters, but because it seemed to me the moment when this Trek most set itself apart from what I always believed that Star Trek stood for, even at its worst.
BurntSynapse said…
The writers' claim would be difficult to justify since half of the Narada was on each side of the 2-dimensional wormhole. Unless they want to claim an additional miracle that each half of the Narada could emerge in another universe and survive, in which case you can make up anything you like, including the opposite, that the destruction of all life would occur if Nero didn't survive.

This is much like the God argument, where people can make up any claim they like, and appeal to supernatural intervention as justification for why things aren't "really" the way all available information suggests.

Total dishonest retcon on their part seems the most plausible explanation of their claim, IMO.

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