L. Neil Smith's
Number 223, May 11, 2003


Keelhaul Enterprise!
by William Stone, III

Exclusive to TLE

Until becoming a philosopher of the Zero Aggression Principle, I was a huge Star Trek fan—a Trekkie, in fact, back when "Trekkie" was considered a politically correct term by fans. Rather than expound the depths of my adoration for the show, I would suggest my essay "When Star Trek Was New", available in my Tales From SYL Ranch collection.

Suffice to say, I've been a huge fan, particularly of original Star Trekno bloody A, B, C, D, E, or NX-01.

That is, until the episode "Cogenitor" aired on April 30, 2003.

I've voiced the opinion that with some notable exceptions, Enterprise (the current series in the Star Trek Franchise) has been derivative at best and boring at worst. "Cogenitor" was a thousand light-years beyond boring, derivative, or illogical. It was downright evil. For those who may not have watched it, the plot is fairly simple:

The Enterprise encounters the Vissians, a race of beings with three sexes: male, female, and "cogenitor." The Vissians are all geniuses by human standards, technologically far in advance of humans, and extremely friendly. The humans and the Vissians get along famously.

There's only one oddity: cogenitors are apparently unintelligent. They are treated by males and females with considerably less regard than a family pet. The are regarded as property, without even a name to distinguish them. Indeed, Chief Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III (Connor Trineer)—the only character on the show to consistently display any humanity and the moral indignation to go with it—notes that even Captain Archer's dog has a name.

Trip knows when something seems rotten in the state of Denmark. He starts snooping around and discovers that the cogenitors are geniuses as well—simply oppressed. He takes pity on the one aboard the Vissian ship (Becky Walhstrom) and teaches "her" to read. Considering the brilliance of the species, this quickly leads to a very emotional epiphany as an entire new universe is opened for the cogenitor.

The scenes as the cogenitor begins to discover her potential are among the few truly moving scenes ever filmed for the series. They are so atypically well-written that it makes what happens in the rest of the episode all the more appalling.

The cogenitor—who takes Trip's first name "Charles" in honor of her emancipator—rapidly becomes interested in the world around her. As would any sapient individual, she begins to want a piece of it for herself.

The problem, of course, is that the male and female to which Charles is currently "assigned" don't want anything other than property. To have another sapient individual in the picture would completely alter their worldview and lifestyle.

Realizing that the Vissians will never help her, Charles applies for asylum on the Enterprise. Ejecting anything like a human soul, Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) dutifully hands her over for the sake of political expediency.

Here's a tip for Archer:

Have you ever noticed that your logical, unemotional Vulcan science/political officer (bizarrely outfitted in a tight-fitting catsuit and industrial-strength, custom push-up bra that according to actress Jolene Blalock adds two cupsizes while simultaneously achieving weightlessness) hasn't agreed with you about any major decision up to this point? Have you ever noticed that with only a couple of exceptions, she's been dead wrong every time?

Well, when T'Pol starts agreeing that sending an individual back to slavery is "the right decision," chances are you've blown it completely.

Despondent over what she correctly perceives as a future of abject servitude, Charles commits suicide.

Whereupon Captain Archer gives Trip the reaming-out of his life. Trip dutifully loses all sense of humanity and righteous indignation, has a politically correct change of heart, and becomes a self-absorbed, guilt-ridden, inhuman dirtbag just like his disgusting Captain.

"It's all my fault!" Trip inexplicably moans.

Fade Out. The End.

Star Trek has been on a long-term trend toward an irritating level of moral retardation. The NextGen episode "Homeward", which aired nearly ten years ago, was a landmark in immorality. In that episode Picard uses the non-interference principle for which Star Trek is famous to justify the extinction of a species through inaction.

In the intervening decade, there have been a number of occasions when I've had to restrain myself from drawing my Kimber Custom Classic and puting eight to ten .45-inch holes (depending on the capacity of whatever magazine was handy) in the cathode-ray tube of my television. No doubt this would have improved my viewing habits considerably, but then I'd've missed Firefly.

"Cogenitor" represents a new low. One wonders if Star Trek's producers know the story of "Operation Keelhaul"?

The disgusting brand of immorality embraced by Star Trek's current producers is easy to understand: they lack anything resembling a workable moral philosophy. By this, I don't mean anything as complicated as a religious faith. They lack a simple, easy-to-understand principle against which their actions may be judged.

They lack the Zero Aggression Principle:

"No human being has the right—under any circumstances—to initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation."

By extension, the ZAP applies to any sapient species. Were we to discover (a la seminal libertarian author L. Neil Smith's works)—that Chimpanzees or Dolphins are sapient, the Zero Aggression Principle would apply equally to them. The ZAP will apply to any non-human sapients encountered after we unshackle ourselves from government and begin to conquer the stars.

In fact, I would suggest that given the narrow psychological requirements of intelligent life, it's not possible to conquer the stars without first having developed the Zero Aggression Principle.

People wonder why any aliens observing humanity don't show themselves. To a ZAP philosopher, the answer is simple: until we get it collectively through our skulls that initiation of force is immoral, we're not going anywhere—nor would they want us to. Why bother with us? There are no doubt far more interesting races who aren't mired in their governments' webs of force initiation.

If Star Trek's producers understood it, the ZAP would apply to the Vissians of "Cogenitor."

Charles was a sex slave. There are no other words for it: a sex slave. Slavery in any form is one of the most hideous initiations of force imaginable. Star Trek portrays her emancipation as a terrible event, and her emancipator as a murderer.

"We don't know anything about their culture!" Star Trek opines through Archer. "What right have we to judge whether slavery was bad on their planet?"

Only a hopeless moral cripple can justify slavery simply because they may be personally ignorant of the circumstances surrounding it. The "moral" of this story crumbles to dust under even the most superficial examination:

Suppose alien space travelers came to Earth during the heyday of the Roman Empire. Would the aliens' unfamiliarity with Roman culture make its practice of slavery justifiable?

Imagine how this episode would have proceeded if the producers understood even the simplest application of the Zero Aggression Principle:

Immediately after asking for asylum, Archer would have checked the ship's table of organization for a vacancy: since There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, an individual asking to join the crew would naturally need to be hired or find someone willing to provide her grubstake until she's capable of paying her own way.

Archer would no doubt be inclined to invent a position for Charles, even if it was Second Junior Assistant to the Night Janitor. Given the intelligence she displayed, in a matter of weeks, Charles would be competing with Trip or T'Pol for their jobs.

Archer would then have called the Vissian Captain to inform him that Charles had joined the crew. The outraged Vissian would no doubt have screamed bloody murder, at which point it would be made perfectly clear that Charles asked to join the crew, there was an opening, and Archer considered the matter closed. The Vissian Captain would make noises about how it would impact future relations, at which point Archer would say something like:

"To blazes with future relations. You're all a bunch of no-good, filthy slavers! We need future relations with you like we need future relations with a shipful of Regulan Bloodworms!"

Then Archer would have called a meeting with his department heads and Charles, and they'd have come up with the following project:

As soon as feasible, the Enterprise would come into orbit of Vissia. She'd make several sweeps, each orbit passing the most populous cities. With each pass, they'd beam down thousands of cheap, disposable handheld computers—"air-dropped propaganda"—left in enormous numbers where cogenitors are bound to pick them up.

The computers would be programmed first with reading tutorials. The first phrase taught would be the one stamped across the face of each machine in raised, embossed lettering:

"No sapient being has the right—under any circumstances—to initiate force against another sapient being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation."

The computers would be jam-packed with as much information as they could possibly hold: moral philosophy, art, and science—including instructions on the manufacture of weapons from the flintlock to the Phase Pistol. Among its prominent literary selections would be Aristophanes' Lysistrata.

Just before breaking orbit, Enterprise would beam down a grateful, teary-eyed Charles: trained by Tactical Officer Malcolm Reed (Dominic Keating) to lead her gender into a revolt for their rights.

Six months later, the Enterprise would return to discover that the "revolution" had been utterly bloodless. The cogenitors would have taken their lead from Aristophanes and informed the males and females that if they wanted the species to continue, the cogenitors better be recognized as sapient individuals.

This is not, however, what happened. The producers of Star Trek are not Zero Aggression Principle philosophers but slavery evangelists.

I'm finished with Star Trek as of this episode. Over. Done. Elvis has left the building. I'm never watching another episode or movie, at least not as long as the current collection of moral cripples is producing it.

Star Trek has evolved from a compelling morality tale-of-the-week to boring Statist claptrap capable of glorifying slavery. I'll never watch it again. Instead, I'll pull out some of my Trek Classic DVDs:

Classic Star Trek had humanity and some level of morality. I might not agree with everything James Kirk did, but at least his heart was in the right place. The NX-01 incarnation is nothing more than a twisted, disgusting excuse for Statist indoctrination.

No human being—under any circumstances—has the right to initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation. The moment Star Trek's producers understand this, I'll watch the show again. As long as they're nothing more than slavery evangelists, I'll change the channel.

They're free to spew this disgusting tripe, and I'm free to exercise my finger and turn it off.

Freedom, Immortality, and the Stars!

William Stone, III is a computer nerd (RHCE, CCNP, CISSP) and Executive Director of the Zero Aggression Institute. He seeks the Libertarian Party's nomination for the 2004 Senate race in South Dakota.


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