Sunday, February 23, 2014

When did "badass" come to equal "evil"? (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

This definitely wasn't what I expected to write as my next post, but I've been a bit busy and a bit under the weather and ended up looking into what scenes I might be able to pull out for a revised version of this post that could go up on the Slacktiverse.  Speaking of which, you know what's a real problem?  A lack of beta readers, or alpha readers, or anything readers.  Feedback givers.

I've wanted to make a Slacktiverse post combining this and this for ages now.  (The second serves to clarify the first, so is making the two into one makes a lot of sense)  Apparently about four months.  I reached out to the people I knew to reach out to, never got any feedback.  It's ... aggravating.

Anyway, I was on youtube.  One thing led to another and then I saw a thing saying the scene proved Sisko was apparently the most badass captain ever.  So I checked to see what the scene is.  The scene is Sisko's he who fights monsters moment.  It's the nadir of his moral arc.  It is when he becomes undeniably evil.  It doesn't last, of course, DS9 may have been the series that did the most to turn Star Trek on its ear and rip apart load bearing walls of the Trek moral universe, but it was still fundamentally Star Trek and it couldn't go on very long with the guy in charge as evil so naturally he's doing soul searching by the end of the episode.  (At least I hope I'm remembering that right because otherwise capital WTF?)

But that's not the point.  The point is that Sisko is apparently the most badass because he's willing to go on a biological warfare campaign against innocent people because there is one man, and one man only, who he simply does not like.  The only thing that stops him is that the guy he doesn't like is less evil than he is.  The guy he doesn't like is all, "I used biological weapons, you used biological weapons.  Why don't we stop?  I'll trust you to stop, and give you all of mine so you know I have no choice but to stop."

Sisko screams, "Not enough,"* tries to cut off communication, and orders his crew to take him to the location of his next war crime.  He's already proven that he doesn't bluff.  When he says that he will go against everything he ever claimed to stand for, destroy the lives of innocent people on a whim, and generally become the most evil human currently alive, he fucking means it.  He has proven that when he says he has no morals he fucking means it, cross him and an entire planet will suffer.  An entire unrelated planet.  An entire planet of innocent people whom he knows had nothing to do with it.

You know what is enough?  The surrender of the guy Sisko does not like.  Would Sisko have surrendered to stop that guy's war campagin?  No.  It's only because the guy Sisko doesn't like is fundamentally more moral than Sisko** that the matter ends.

But forget about who is more moral for a moment, they've both done horrible things at this point.  The guy Sisko doesn't like is doing it for complex reasons that relate to the attempted genocide of a native people on the boarder of two empires after one empire gives the native's land to the other empire.  It's a moral quagmire that would probably take an entire book or series of books to unravel.  What he does is definitely wrong, but his motivations are more complex.

What Sisko does is equally wrong, but his motivations are simple.  He is emphatically not doing it to stop the other side from using biological weapons.  The other side offered that, he turned them down.  He is expressly doing it to catch a single person he doesn't like.  The other guy actually feels pity for Sisko because Sisko has sunk so very low, and seems to feel sorry that he is the cause of this sinking.

Sisko claims to be doing it because the other guy disgraced the uniform, but the other guy never did nearly so much as Sisko intends to and Sisko is technically committing treason this entire time.  (The higher ups are not completely useless and have called the morally fucked Sisko off of the case that he's morally fucked on, plus Sisko's ship is damaged.)  So, basically, Sisko has said, "Fuck Starfleet, I'm stealing this ship to do my own thing," that's ... not uncommon.  Starfleet captains are known for ignoring orders.  Sisko takes it a step further.

The people he attacks don't want to be Federation citizens.  They didn't ask to be and all the Federation ever did for them was give their homes away to an empire that sees them as pests to be exterminated.  But no matter how many times the Federation has stabbed them in the back, and no matter how many times they've stabbed or tried to stab back (back or front), they ARE Federation citizens.

Which means that when Sisko steals a warship (the Defiant may be the only prominent Star Trek Federation ship designed explicitly as a warship) to make unauthorized biological weapons attacks on these people he's going to war against Federation citizens.  That's treason.

It's made clear through the episode that it's about Sisko taking things personally.  Never more so than the end.  Stopping biological attacks isn't enough.  He doesn't give a shit about those.  Catching the guy who pissed him off is all that matters.

Sisko knows that what he's doing is evil.  He's actively trying to be evil.  He's trying to play into the fact that the other guy sees himself as the hero and so has decided to cast himself as the villain.  But it's not a bluff.  The evil he does is real evil.  Equal and opposite to what the other guy did.  Except the other guy is willing to compromise.  The other guy is willing to end things.  Sisko isn't.  The only thing that will stop Sisko is the surrender of someone who harbors him no ill will, but simply managed to piss him off.

In the final analysis none of this matters.  The people that Sisko intended to drive from their homes (with the use of biological weapons) turning them into a giant refugee population with nowhere to go (when their problem was that they were already a giant refugee population and were in the only places that they could find to go) will eventually be genocided by the Cardassians Sisko is supporting in these scenes, so in the end they all get killed off regardless.

Sisko's aborted attempt to cause them a slow death by making them into homeless wanderers when they were already people who could barely find caves to live in wouldn't really have killed them any faster because their quick genocide was on the way whether anyone knew it or not.  Thus Sisko gets two outs.

First, the other guy surrendered thus appeasing Sisko so the attempted slow genocide never happens.  He may be ready, willing, and salivating at the prospect of committing genocide, much to the dismayed but not disobeying expressions of his crew, but he never gets the chance.  The other guy folds too soon and Sisko never gets to put as much evil in the pot as would be necessary to kill all those people.

Instead his treason streak doesn't make enough worlds uninhabitable to cause the deaths of all those thereon.  Populations can be moved and innocents may have to drop everything and leave their homes, which will doubtless cause lots of pain, suffering, and likely death, but things can be shuffled and no one has to die the slow death of a planet-less wanderer lacking the resources necessary to survive such a life and seen as a thing to be exterminated by both empires they find themselves caught between.

That's out one.  The people he made homeless have enough space to resettle because he stopped before he made too many planets' populations homeless for resettlement to be possible.

Out number two is that they're all going to die soon anyway, so how much does a little forced relocation matter when they'll all have their heads on the chopping block soon and a population of hundreds of thousands will be reduced to a couple dozen (maybe less) of which none were probably involved in the forced relocation?

But all this is somewhat missing the point.

Sisko is, allegedly, the most badass captain because he's willing to steal a warship to launch a biological attack on innocent civilians (of his own people) and intends to keep on doing it until he can get the one man he has a personal vendetta against to surrender.

When did badass come to equal evil?

Seriously.  I get that it has "bad" in the name, but evil?  Evil?  Sisko is the most badass because at his moral low point he embraced evil on a planetary scale (with plans for more planets to be involved) as a means to satisfy his own personal hurt feelings?

It seems I don't know the meaning of words anymore.


* Seriously anything less than bold, italic, and underlined isn't a quote so much as a laconic impression.

** And remember, the guy Sisko does not like is the one who struck first with biological weapons.  This is a very low bar to meet and yet Sisko still manages to limbo under rather than rise above.


  1. One thing that might be worth pointing out is that for Sisko's plan to work he had to be evil. Not pretend to be evil, actually be evil.

    If he had been bluffing, as his entire crew assumed he was (it was total unrepentant evil that they would never have expected to be called on to carry out), the bluff would have been called. Indeed the other guy thought he did call the bluff only to realize in horror that it wasn't a bluff.

  2. so naturally he's doing soul searching by the end of the episode. (At least I hope I'm remembering that right because otherwise capital WTF?)

    Oh, you wish. He never faces consequences from this, not even from his own conscience. The big soul-searching moment you are likely thinking of comes a season later, and at no point during it does he mention this incident. I'm pretty sure they just decided to quietly forget this episode ever happened, a bit like "Threshold".

    (The thing that really gets me is the utter lack of mutiny when his bridge officers realise he's serious. They are all complicit in this atrocity.)

  3. I'm sorry. Still.

    I really can't think about examples to offer. I mostly see "this is For Boys, this is For Girls" stuff, not "this is For Girls, this is For People".

    Maybe you could post them there just the way they are? My only problem with the first part was "you're either cis or trans" thing, and you explained what you meant.


    1. I very, very, very much do not want you to feel bad about it.

    2. On a related subject, I've been seeing a lot of products lately that are new versions of traditionally feminine products, care stuff, hygiene- and appearance-related products generally... And it's basically the same thing, but with FOR MEN in big letters and no pastels in the packaging or whatever, so that it really means something like, "For people who fear their masculinity will be threatened by moisturizer."

    3. Lonespark, some of it's "we tried to sell this unnecessary garbage to men as well as to women, but without centuries of being belittled over trivial details of their appearance it's harder to get men to buy it, so now we're trying a different tack".

    4. I can't offer helpful feedback from a minority point of view, but I can provide some general editing help if you want it.

  4. Those episodes kind of suck. Sisko is frequently badass, but why in holy hell would someone think that was an example?!?! ("In the Pale Moonlight" is an example I'd large part because of the soul searching. I can't immediately think of any other detailed examples, which probably means I need to rewatch some seasons of DS9.)

    I do think it's a decent example of being aware of and manipulating narrative expectations. As in, people will do stuff if you let them be the hero... And sometimes doing what you feel needs to be done means accepting that you did evil and deserve punishment. Which is part of the reason I love Capt. Yates so much; not that what she did was evil, but she did it with an awareness of consequences and accepted the consequences. I think the show uses that theme pretty often, with varying results in terms of quality and having a point, with Kira and the resistance, with Kai Winn, and also with Sisko and Dukat and Damar and probably Odo and Quark and his family and ...stuff.

    In a Doylist sense, some of that stuff sucks. The only black captain is the one who's not portrayed as a shining hero? A woman goes to jail for something minor but the male protagonist gets to pull this shit? Bashir gets out of a bunch of stuff, too... I mostly love the stories DS9 tells about the characters and the imperfect Federation that is sometimes glimpsed but rarely called out in other Trek series, but sometimes the storytelling really slips its moorings and we need to stamp it with OOC to go onward.

    I apparently have a lot to say on the subject... do you mind if I use this as the foundation for a post on my Livejournal and/or Dreamwidth?

    1. A woman goes to jail for something minor but the male protagonist gets to pull this shit?

      That's another thing, if the episode had any of the justice and goodness that Star Trek tries (and often fails) to deliver the episode would have ended with Sisko and Eddington sitting side by side in the same cell discussing whether they would each testify at the other's trial for treason (spoiler alert, each would totally testify against the other) while the rest of the Defiant's bridge crew had been relieved of their duties and stripped of their rank pending a full investigation into why they followed such clearly illegal and immoral orders.

      Mind you it would be hard to continue the show if that happened (though one can imagine a time skip to a point when the Federation is losing against the Dominion so badly that they offer pardons to anyone with starship experience provided they serve on the front lines, which would allow the cast to return to the front lines which happen to be where the show takes place anyway.)

    2. So... the final arc of Gurren Lagann, basically. Except that in your version the hero would be in jail for actual atrocities, while in Gurren Lagann he was jailed for making cronyism and making some calls that seemed correct at the time but turned out to get people killed due to factors no one on the planet knew about. So... rather a lot less clear-cut and more interesting. I would watch that show.

  5. Holy fucking what. D:

    I have like nine million things I want to say, both on the specific (WTF????????????) and on the general concept, but I'm not sure if I can organize them into coherence because my face is literally frozen in D: after reading the post. Do not want. Do. Not. Want. DO. NOT. WANT.

    I will say I'm sort of glad I never got into DS9. More realistic takes on things, like darker and edgier (assuming they're not one and the same...which they usually are) are not my cup of tea. So I saved myself from seeing that giant pile of no and trying to figure out what you do when a TV show gives you a wallbanger. A multi-level wallbanger, at that.

    Sisko knows that what he's doing is evil. He's actively trying to be evil. He's trying to play into the fact that the other guy sees himself as the hero and so has decided to cast himself as the villain.

    This is not a plan that makes sense. Or rather, it only does in a sideways sort of way if you acknowledge that the other guy is right about the situation. It's supervillain thinking, it's Bond villain thinking, it's fucking villain logic from the get go. "If I do this terrible thing, the hero will surrender to stop me doing more terrible things." It's a good thing there are no Star Wars/Star Trek crossovers, because I'd hate to think what Sisko would do with a Death Star.

    If you are not a villain, and you realize that your enemy sees themselves as the hero, you work with that. You use the things Star Trek has always been known for, like words and reason and logic. You do not go out and become a villain. Only a villain would do that!

    To target civilian refugees, to make a planet uninhabitable, to... this... I... just no. A character who did this would need one hell of a redemption arc to ever get them remotely back in the "good" category. And that their crew didn't stop them!? #$@$#%^&**((*^#$#$%^% I do not know what the shit this is, but it's not Star Trek. Star Trek is supposed to be better than this. It's supposed to be showing us how good humanity can be. I'm surprised the studio wasn't attacked by zombie Roddenberry.

    And that's before one gets to the problematicness of having the first black captain be the "morally questionable" one.

    Badass as a concept has tended to lean questionable, because good is seen as boring and wussy. (Not that there aren't characters who have pulled off badass stunts of incredible goodness, but those are far rarer.) It's not really surprising to me that flat out evil, perpetrated by the supposed hero of something, is seen as "badass."

    1. I really don't think Sisko is the only morally questionable captain; it's more that the show does sometimes call out Federation bullshit... But yeah, the portrayal is different...

      I'm not into "darker and edgier" mostly, but I like complexity, worldbuilding, strong ensemble casts with prominent women not all the POC having to play aliens... and it's not like the show never engages with issues of colonialism and...stuff...

      Why did I come here? I need to get ready for work!

    2. I'm pretty sure all the captains have had their questionable moments, but Sisko was - as far as I can tell from having watched part of the first season and seen ads and such - supposed to be edgier. The captain who'd make the tough calls, and punch Q, and generally be grittier than the previous captains. Okay, maybe they were mostly playing up how he wasn't Picard, but it still seems to be appealing to questionable tropes. Especially when there aren't a whole bunch of other black (or PoC in general) captains/main characters to compare Sisko to. You end up with a side of unfortunate implications to go with the general WTFery under discussion.

      I think DS9 had great potential. It just failed to capture my interest in the first season and then nearly everything people have told me about it to sell me on it has been a bit like our kind host's experience with "Sisko's most badass moment!" Where I'm left going "Whut." and also "Why is that supposed to sell me on the show/character!?"

      And I really have mixed feelings on the Federation/flawed Federation stuff. Star Trek is supposed to be (or was as I understood one of Roddenberry's desires) about how much better humanity could be. It seems like a better way to address that an institution is still going to be flawed would be to show the Federation and Federation people striving to be good (a process model of good, basically) rather than to either show it as perfect or hopelessly flawed. But, sadly, we mostly got one or the other of those.

      (And this isn't the only case of seriously WFT morality in the series, by any means. I think the writers of various episodes in the various series bit off way more than they could chew. Enterprise has some doozies, and Voyager. And I can think of a few bits of Whut in Next Gen and the Original Series as well.)

    3. I completely disagree that DS9 shows the Federation as hopelessly flawed. I think it's mostly just that it takes place on the margins of Federation society and culture, and that there's less valorization of the Federation, (or the Bajorans, or anybody...) than previous series, but most especially the original. There is very little boldly going blah blah blah...(I was thinking about the Starfleet mission and how it kinda says (especially in Next Gen) that only Starfleet or at least Federation people count. If you go where no one has gone, and there are people there...??)

      One thing I think it suffers from is an unfortunate combination of long story arcs with good character development and one-off adventure-of-the-week plots. I feel like we get rich characterization, and interesting and meaningful narratives, but at the price of consistency.

      I can't compare DS9 to other Star Trek Series, except the original, since I haven't seen them.

    4. My problem (beyond things like the one highlited in this post), and Lonespark already knows this, with DS9 is that it pointed to flaws, and when there weren't flaws it invented them (see Section 31), but never offered solutions to those flaws.

      "Everything is broken here," isn't the most interesting of stories, and isn't a really a Star Trekian story unless you add, "so let's fix it," to the end of the statement.

      Using Section 31 as an example, it undermined basically everything that made Star Trek Star Trek and instead implied that the idea of improvement was impossible, all that we could do would be to push the nasty aspects into the shadows (where they'd be free to operate as they saw fit because there's no oversight there.)

      Julian Bashir wants to try to put an end to them but no one ever does.

    5. Or, to put it a different way, Star Trek started as the idea that one day we would be better. Bigotry and greed and so forth would be gone. We'd live in John Lennon's Imagine and explore the universe discovering things that no human being had ever seen before.

      Where the shows and movies failed to do that it was because the writers were imperfect, there was an idea that was Star Trek and they were failing to reach it.

      DS9 turns that upside down. It says that the problem isn't that writers of today are so mired in today's problems that they don't know when they're putting them into the world that supposedly moved passed them, it says that the problem is that we NEVER move passed today's problems.

      It started with on the fringes. Before he went all guns blazing on the Maquis Sisko said, "On Earth there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window at Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it's easy to be a saint in paradise. But the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there, in the Demilitarized Zone, all problems have not been solved yet. There are no saints, just people; angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with the Federation approval or not."

      That's what Lonespark is talking about with being on the margins.

      Section 31 was created in response to that, saying that earth could only be a paradise because it was allowing other people to do horrible things for them and it was Omales times a billion but without knowing about the child in the first place and when you learn about the child you pretend you don't know.

    6. You and I have the same issue with DS9. There are few enough sci-fi stories saying people can be better, so undermining the one series (or series of series, however on would describe the Star Trek-verse) that I know of that tried bothers me. It's not even that the ideas are necessarily bad, it's that I'd rather they'd been told in a different universe. (Though it still wouldn't be my cup of tea.)

    7. I don't dislike DS9, it must be said. Criticism can come off as, "This sucks," and that is not my point. What I dislike is more of at a meta-level.

      What I dislike is that it's writers determined, "This is the fundamental thing that makes Star Trek be Star Trek, let's ruin it."

      The idea of Star Trek was always that humanity had gotten over its problems by and large though there were individuals (not load bearing institutions, individuals) within humanity who hadn't and while it was sometimes dealing with those parts of humanity that hadn't gotten over said things (see for example the episode where someone wants to dismantle data to see how he works, against Data's consent, and the basic idea behind it a disposable slave labor force) it was more about what happens when you drop these more socially advanced people into a universe that hasn't gotten over those problems.

      How do the people who know of racism only as something in history books deal with an extremely racist culture? (Ok, that was actually part of point 3, not mentioned above, which is that it was used to make social commentary that wouldn't be allowed in a contemporary setting but was ok if it was IN SPACE with funny makeup.) How do non-sexist people deal with a sexist culture? How do people who have put greed behind them deal with a culture that is built around greed?

      But also about exploration. Quite a few episodes were, "We've found something new and different, awesome!" (Usually with a side order of, now how do we let new and different thing survive without getting us killed?)

      You get the impression that in DS9 it wouldn't be "We killed giant space mother in self defense due to an attack resulting from a misunderstanding, now how do we stop giant space baby from suckling from us (which will soon drain us of power to the point we all die from lack of life support) without killing it too?" But instead, "Hey you assholes, we wanted to NOT kill it! Well I guess there's nothing we can do about it now. Carry on. We'll get to you assholes later. (Later never comes.)"

      It's a different kind of story.

    8. DS9 isn't my kind of thing, which is why I don't like it. That doesn't mean I think other people shouldn't like it. You like it despite the issues. That's okay, and I hope I didn't suggest otherwise. I like stuff I think is way problematic, so I wouldn't have room to talk.

      Like I said, it's not that the stories are necessarily bad - they're not my thing and I think it's kind of unfortunate that they're happening in Star Trek, since Star Trek is one of the few stories I know of that suggests humanity will become better in the future.

    9. You weren't coming off like you were saying other people shouldn't like it. I was worried that I was.

    10. Oh, good. It's always so hard to tell with online communication!

    11. Whereas I seem to find it harder to tell IRL, or at least using my dreaded nemesis, the telephone!

  6. Just to put it out there...

    Eddington was a terrorist who was in the habit of stealing Federation resources and using them to build weapons to use against the Cardassians in the DMZ - more than once threatening the larger peace (between the Federation and Cardassians) on a much larger scale.

    Eddington wasn't the FIRST Starfleet officer to betray Sisko, but he was the first one to directly affect Sisko's personal life (remember Sisko's love interest - a cargo captain - was also assisting Eddington with getting supplies).

    Granted, the Cardassians were a bunch of jerks to those in the DMZ, but the peace was saving more lives than it was costing.

    In the course of escaping, to distract Sisko from capturing him, Eddington rendered an entire planet uninhabitable to Cardassians, but the toxin wasn't harmful to humans.

    Sisko did the same thing in reverse (toxin harmful to humans but not Cardassians) to Eddington's last known colony and then threatened to keep going until Eddington turned himself over. Sisko hunted Eddington relentlessly not because he was evil - but because Eddington in the wild (and emboldened by his latest victory over Sisko) would have continued to cause as much ruckus as he could until captured or killed. He proved it by taking out Sisko's relief (those Starfleet sent in after telling Sisko to sit it out) with hardly any effort. Dude had to be stopped - it's made pretty clear throughout several episodes that Eddington is getting more and more bold and the Cardassians are about ready to start a war.

    In the end of the episode, the Cardassians and Federation opted to simply trade planets since they could each inhabit the other's affected world without problems. Ultimately, though, the Jem'Hadar put a stop to the entirety of the Maquis AND disputed territories when the Cardassians joined the Dominion.

    I don't see Sisko's choice as evil so much as a demonstration as to the real cost of peace in truly difficult situations.

    1. You're not going to convince me that responding to terrorism with terrorism is a non-evil solution.

      Also, Sisko makes very clear that he doesn't want to stop Eddington's attacks, that was Eddington's opening offer which Sisko flat out rejected. He wants to catch Eddington, the person who goes out of his way not to kill people (my source on that: Sisko.) Eddington may have taken a non-lethal solution to the problem of Sisko (disabling rather than destroying ships), but Sisko was actively blowing up the Maquis (I point to the Maquis ship he blew up and his stated attempt to blow up another.)

      We can further discuss the difference between the resettlement possibilities of the two groups. Eddington's attempt at non-lethal "get off my lawn" was probably more lethal than intended because relocation on that scale is going to involve massive suffering and probably death, but since the Cardasians are newcomers to the disputed territories with a genocidal government on their side propping them up they likely have the resources to pick up and move to a different planet. They haven't used all the resources to pick up and move to the planet they have to leave yet.

      The Maquis get no support from either empire, have already spent their resources, are reduced to mostly living in caves, and probably don't have the resources to fully evacuate much less put down fresh roots. Whatever suffering and death Eddington caused, and make no mistake: he's almost as evil as Sisko in the episode, Sisko caused more.

      But that's not the problem. The problem is that putting an end to making planets uninhabitable was not enough for Sisko. One to one and you can have the suffering and death swap, but if he went to a second, as was a part of his plan if Eddington didn't surrender very, very fast (remember that he ordered communications to be cut, Eddington had all of seconds to surrender or else another planet's population would be homeless and this one would have no trade to make), that wouldn't be possible anymore. If he went to three, as was his plan if two wasn't enough, definitely not possible.

      And, in addition, how exactly would it maintain the peace if the Cardasians learned that Sisko had the chance to stop the biological weapons attacks against them and flatly turned it down? (They never do learn that, because unlike Sisko Eddington is willing to surrender to stop things, so you'll have to answer on your own, it's not in the show.)

      Remember that for almost the entire duration of the episode Sisko is a terrorist who is in the habit of stealing Federation resources and using them to build weapons to use against (mostly, but there was one ship's crew's worth of exceptions) unarmed Federation civilians.

      Are we meant to believe that the Cardasians would look fondly on the Federation's only local starship going rogue in the DMZ (note: De-Miltarized Zone; note: Sisko took a war ship in for the express purpose of making war) after its captain said on a (presumably) uncoded frequency that he doesn't care about stopping the sterilization of Cardasian planets?

      Even if you believe that fighting terrorist actions against innocent civilians is best served by carrying out other terrorist actions against other innocent civilians, Sisko didn't stop there. He made clear to everyone, the captain of the ship sent in to take over, Dax, the bridge crew, Eddington himself, that he didn't care about the biological weapons. He only cared about Eddington. An end to biological warfare wouldn't satisfy him. He didn't even consider it as an option.

      This was emphatically not Fail-Safe where an American city (New York) has to be nuked by the Americans to prevent Soviet retaliation for the nuking of a Russian city (Moscow). This is not an attempt to balance the scales. It's made very clear that it's all about Eddington and the civilians don't matter to Sisko.

    2. You're arguing hypotheticals about how Cardassians would respond to Sisko's "ability" to stop Eddington's terrorist attacks? Eddington had shown absolutely ZERO reason he could be trusted to keep his word that he'd stop.

      Let's keep in mind, Cardassians are the same people who brought us such tender moments as "There Are Four Lights", "I've Murdered My Own Daughter", "Planetary Genocide", and "We Didn't Quite Finish Our Planetary Genocide, So Let's Tear Open The Alpha Quadrant Because We Don't Like Your Nose Ridges and Earrings."

      They wouldn't blink an eye about a planet wiped out, two, or even three. And it never got there because Sisko pulled out all the stops and met Eddington at his (eventual) level in threat alone and with very little actual harm. You're crying foul over some potential, but unrealized harm.

      The Maquis and refugees had made their choice. The refugees opted in to their dangerous situation by not evacuating the DMZ and thereby opted out of Federation protection. Sisko viewed them as any reasonable strategic-minded officer would: as acceptable losses who had the chance to escape and chose not to. They had no expectation of protection and Sisko no duty to provide any, especially considering they were aiding, abetting, and actively benefitting from Eddington's terrorist acts.

      I put to you that Picard's explicitly potentially genocidal act of returning Hugh to the Borg Collective was, on the whole, a much more quantifiably "evil" act and resulted in a lot more actual harm than anything Sisko did in this episode.

    3. Also, let's be really clear here: Sisko didn't *steal* the Defiant. That he even disobeyed an order is questionable as well. Captain Sanders of the Malinche becomes the operational commander in the mission to capture Eddington, but Starfleet didn't ground Sisko. The Defiant was disabled due to a computer virus and barely in operational condition, but Sisko didn't *steal* the ship nor did he disobey an order in taking her out to assist the Malinche or hunt for Eddington.

      Furthermore, your assertion that Sisko left DS9 with the express intention of launching a biological counter-attack or waging a one-man war (rather than his stated purpose throughout the mission: apprehend Eddington) is fallacious. Eddington initiated the biological attack, Eddington escalated the violence at every turn (disabling the Defiant, poisoning the planet, disabling the Malinche, and then poisoning a second planet, then attacking and disabling a fleeing cruiser filled with evacuating Cardassians to assist his escape).

      Eddington was on a tear. He was escalating his violence and his entire story arc was filled with deception. To assert that Sisko is evil because he had the option to trust Eddington at his word and didn't, that he could trust Eddington to stop the biological attacks and turn over his cache of weapons, is laughable.

      Actual harm was occurring due to Eddington's actions and his perpetual escalation forced Sisko's hand into demonstrating his conviction - not on innocent civilians, but on a Maquis (resistance) settlement. Sisko went only as far as he had to in order to eliminate the threat. He didn't cut loose and start killing civilians - he made a calculated and tactical strike against an imminent threat. Classic brinksmanship.

      Did actual harm occur as a result of Sisko's actions? The two sides traded planets, so no. Compare this to Eddington's two planets, three disabled starships, etc, etc...

      Evil intent just isn't there - but a strategic mind is - and trying to prove evil by misrepresenting Sisko's actions doesn't help your case.

    4. Sisko was explicitly taken off the case. He took the Defiant to do the one thing that he wasn't allowed to do with it: get back on the case. That's called stealing. When you take something under the only conditions you're not allowed to take it it's stealing. It's in the definition. You can't change that without changing the English language to better suit your arguments about a TV show from the 1990s.

      It was only well after he stole it that Sanders gave him an unofficial pass to help, something Sanders didn't have the authority to do anyway. (Sander's didn't have the authority to take him off or put him back on the case, Sander's earlier made clear that he didn't particularly like taking the case from Sisko.)


      your assertion that Sisko left DS9 with the express intention of launching a biological counter-attack

      No, I just think that when he converted the quantum torpedoes into biological weapons it was for launching a biological counter attack.


      To assert that Sisko is evil because he had the option to trust Eddington at his word and didn't

      When did I say that? I said that Sisko had the option to know. Sisko knows where Eddington got the biological weapons, the process by which he made them, and how he stored them for safe keeping. If Eddington were to give up so much as one milliliter less than he had Sisko would know. AT NO POINT in the entire episode is there a point where Sisko would have to trust Eddington. There are many points where Eddington has to trust Sisko,


      not on innocent civilians, but on a Maquis (resistance) settlement.

      Formed out of unarmed civilians. Almost every resistance movement has civilian components. In most, the civilians outnumber the militarized components. In this case the entire planet couldn't scramble so much as one ship to intercept the torpedoes and when they did scramble to leave it was in transport vessels. In an evacuation of that magnitude military vessels would be called in if they existed, since they weren't then the contrapositive says they didn't exist. (Unless you're rewriting logic along with your changing the definition of words.)


      Sisko went only as far as he had to in order to eliminate the threat.

      Only because the bridge crew hesitated on each of his orders. Kira hesitated on cutting off Eddington for about as long as Worf hesitated on launching the biological weapons. If his orders were followed promptly, Eddington wouldn't have been able to surrender until Sisko took out the next planet.


      Did actual harm occur as a result of Sisko's actions? The two sides traded planets, so no.

      That's just plain bullshit. Forced relocation don't work that way, not even in Star Trek. Disabling a Starship requires a mechanic to fix or, at worst, scuttling an object. Forced relocations not so much.

      The single most evil thing Eddington did in his entire career was the forced relocation bit. Sisko did the same but to a group where the suffering would be much greater. At BEST Sisko is Eddington's equal, DS9 is not a show about "at best."


      Evil intent just isn't there

      Intent isn't magic. Sisko tried to bring about the forced relocation of the populations of two planets, thanks to the fact his entire crew was hesitating to carry out his orders (notably Kira in this case) and the fact that the other side surrendered before he thought they would it ended up being only one planet, but it's still evil.

      Also, Sisko ignores the suffering he caused and instead focuses on the geopolitics of the region (planet was traded for planet, the past balance is restored) which is textbook evil because it treats the real people whose real suffering he caused as nothing more than means to an end. Treating people as tools to be screwed over as you please in order to keep the larger game on your side is, again, textbook evil

    5. [Split for character limit]

      Eddington had shown absolutely ZERO reason he could be trusted to keep his word that he'd stop.

      Again, that never comes up in the episode. He didn't say he'd stop. He said he'd give up the weapons and they knew exactly how much he had, so if he gave them up they could CHECK. No trust involved. Either, "This is all of them he can't make more attacks," or, "This isn't all of them, he's trying to pull one over on us." In no case does trusting Eddington come up. The fact that you're pretending it does is just plain weird. It's like if I talked about the role Bugs Bunny played in the episode.

      Sure, Bugs doesn't appear in the episode, but neither does the option to trust Eddington.


      You're arguing hypotheticals about how Cardassians would respond to Sisko's "ability" to stop Eddington's terrorist attacks?

      No, I'm arguing that it's pointless to argue hypotheticals about that so we should stick with what we do have which is that Sisko turned down Eddington's offer to give up his biological weapons.


      You're crying foul over some potential, but unrealized harm.

      Bullshit. Read up on forced relocations, even ones where there was in fact plenty of space at the place people were forced to relocate to.

      That's not unrealized harm. That's real harm.


      Sisko viewed them as any reasonable strategic-minded officer would: as acceptable losses who had the chance to escape and chose not to.

      I disagree that "strategic-minded" is the same as evil. Good officers have put their lives on the line to protect enemy civilians throughout history. Civilians are civilians are civilians. YANAKC.


      They had no expectation of protection and Sisko no duty to provide any

      Of course not, but that doesn't change the fact that Sisko stole a Federation war ship, repurposed parts of it to create biological weapons, and then used those weapons on a population civilians who happened to be Federation citizens. (Not one of whom, that we know of, had ever stood trial for anything, but that's not important right now.)


      I put to you that Picard's explicitly potentially genocidal act of returning Hugh to the Borg Collective was, on the whole, a much more quantifiably "evil" act and resulted in a lot more actual harm than anything Sisko did in this episode.

      Picard had the chance to commit genocide against the Borg with the return of Hugh, he chose not to. Instead he let Hugh decide for himself what would happen to him. The ramifications of that were great, but they were ultimately about self determination. The Borg determined what happened to the Borg without the Federation screwing with it (even though they initially intended to.)

      Sisko did not put it to a vote whether or not the individuals on the planet wanted their atmosphere poisoned. It was external determination, not self determination.

    6. The basic premise of your argument is that Sisko stole the ship, which is not what happened. (Strawman logical fallacy). From there you've extrapolated that his subsequent actions were negatively biased (composition/division logical fallacy), and that no good officer would ever put civilians at risk (no true scotsman logical fallacy) to achieve a bigger goal of a larger peace. Nonsense. We've seen Kirk, Picard, and Janeway do so as well.

      I whole-heartedly concur with you: "strategic-minded" is not evil. We saw Sisko cross exactly one line in this episode with his use of weapons on the Maquis planet; we saw Sisko do so to prevent the imminent threat of war and to force Eddington into surrender. Strategic. Not evil.

      I wouldn't call his actions badass, but Sisko put a stop to a person whose escalating trend of violence was placing the Federation on the brink of war with the Cardassians. I would call his actions morally questionable, but not evil. Malice of intent wasn't there; he wasn't poisoning the planet to get back at Eddington or out of spite. He poisoned the planet because Eddington would not have stopped without Sisko's full conviction. A strategic decision with a very high cost, clearly emotionally driven, but still not evil.

    7. "Strategic. Not evil."

      I really do not think those are mutually exclusive.

    8. So, first off, if you take something under conditions that you are not allowed to take it under, that's stealing. It doesn't matter how much someone lets me use the company car, if I'm under orders not to use it (or anything else) to do X and then I take if for the purpose of doing X I'm stealing it.

      But that's far from the most important thing in your post.


      From there you've extrapolated that his subsequent actions were negatively biased

      No, I didn't.


      and that no good officer would ever put civilians at risk

      No, I didn't.

      That an officer who is directly attacking civilians is preforming an act of evil I did assert, and will continue to assert, and if you can pull out examples of "Kirk, Picard, and Janeway [doing] so as well" then I will assert that it was evil for them to do it too.


      We saw Sisko cross exactly one line in this episode with his use of weapons on the Maquis planet

      We may disagree with the number of lines he crossed, but that was the big one, yes. That was when things crossed from theft and insubordination into evil.

      If you want to talk about evil intent then the next line he crossed: refusing to accept immediate deescalation by accepting Eddington's offer to give up all of his biological weapons (of which Sisko knew exactly how mush there was and so could know if that truly was all of it) is pretty damning. It means that deescalation wasn't the goal and neither was preventing a war with the Cardassians.


      Malice of intent wasn't there

      Evil is what you do, not what you feel.

  7. Maybe we could have a general Star Trek thread? The internet ate my comment complaining about NuKirk and comparing him to Ender Wiggin, but the general subject of "This is the Trek series I like best, and my reasons" or something could work. Or make it scifi or TV or fiction more generally, maybe in an open Slacktiverse thread?