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View Full Version : Star Trek TNG: "The Enemy: Do you order Worf to save the Romulan?


Skald the Rhymer
12-09-2015, 11:28 AM
In case you don't recall the NextGen episode mentioned in the thread title, here's the TVTrropes recap (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS3E7TheEnemy).

Here's the heart of the dilemma. For the sake of this post, consider that you rather than Jean-Luc Picard are captain of the Enterpirse-D, charged with keeping the Federation out of war if possible. You have a gravely wounded enemy officer on board, who can only be saved by a tissue donation from one of your officers: Lieutenant Worf, a Klingon who hates Romulans because (a) he's a racist, (b) Romulans killed his parents when he was a child, and (c) he's a racist. Worf refuses to volunteer his tissue, but will obey an order to do so. Part of your job as captain is to avoid armed conflict with the Romulans if possible, but also to win if that's a peaceable solution is not feasible; that includes gathering intel on the Romulans, who are not nearly so pacific as you. Buyt you also have an ethical obligation to respect Worf's human sentient rights, and Worf honestly believes that he would be betraying his culture and his parents by literally giving a portion of himself to the Romulan -- who, incidentally, is just as racist as Worf and has declared that he'd rather die than owe his life to a Klingon.

Do you order Worf to donate the tissue sample?

Robert163
12-09-2015, 12:22 PM
It seems pretty obvious to me that you order him to do so. Greater good outweighs his bad feelings.

Dinsdale
12-09-2015, 12:23 PM
Saw this ep w/in the last month or so (just about finishing up S4).

Yeah, I thought he should have ordered the donation. I think Worf even said he'd comply if ordered.

I forget the outcome - how was it resolved?

Mr Shine
12-09-2015, 12:25 PM
If the Romulan would rather die than be saved by a Klingon I respect that and let him die. Without that part of the summary I will have to order Worf to save him.

kunilou
12-09-2015, 12:33 PM
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

Your Great Darsh Face
12-09-2015, 12:34 PM
I give Worf the order. He's a Klingon, he understands obedience to orders, and his honour is not compromised by doing as he is told. The Romulan will get what he's given and like it, if necessary being enjoined to take his medicine like a man.

billfish678
12-09-2015, 12:37 PM
Yeah, that was one of the more lame moral problem / preachy assed episodes.

Order that Klingon and be done with it.

Nonsuch
12-09-2015, 12:58 PM
Can military personnel today be compelled to donate material from their own bodies against their wishes? I don't mean for purposes of providing evidence in a criminal investigation; we know they can do that. According to this old thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=569217), soldiers in the Army are strongly encouraged (even pressured) to give blood, but have the right to refuse. I would think in the enlightened Federation, ordering someone to be a tissue donor is a pretty ethically tricky prospect.

Mr Shine
12-09-2015, 01:00 PM
I would only order Worf though because I can order him. If it was Guinan who could save him and was being a racist I would let the Romulan die rather than give orders to someone I had no authority over or force to have surgery perfomed on against her will.

AncientHumanoid
12-09-2015, 01:12 PM
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

Indeed.

Quercus
12-09-2015, 01:13 PM
Yeah, order Worf to save a life? All over that.

Force someone to undergo a medical procedure they have explicitly refused (with fully informed consent)? No thanks. So I guess the first one becomes moot.

mbh
12-09-2015, 01:15 PM
"Mister Worf, I obviously cannot order to to something which you feel would be unethical."

"Mister Data, go get a phaser, and set it on 'stun'."

Chronos
12-09-2015, 01:28 PM
I'd cover my ass as much as possible. Get the Romulan's refusal to accept the procedure as well-documented as I possibly can. Make sure that the Romulan's superiors know of his refusal. Ask his superiors if they want to order him to accept the procedure, and give them the opportunity to suggest any other courses of action. If, after all of that, the Romulan still refuses the procedure, that's the end of the decision tree: I won't save his life against his will. If, however, the Romulan accepts the procedure (whether under orders or otherwise), then I apply escalating pressure on Worf, up to and including a direct order if needed, until he cooperates.

steronz
12-09-2015, 02:01 PM
I'm gonna dissent here and say that you shouldn't force people to undergo medical procedures. Would you order Worf to participate in a bone marrow transplant? Kidney transplant?

That said, I barely remember the episode and don't know how much the tissue extraction could be considered a medical procedure. I imagine there'd be some blinky lightbulbs on the end of magic wands. Still, the principle stands.

Skald the Rhymer
12-09-2015, 02:06 PM
I'd cover my ass as much as possible. Get the Romulan's refusal to accept the procedure as well-documented as I possibly can. Make sure that the Romulan's superiors know of his refusal. Ask his superiors if they want to order him to accept the procedure, and give them the opportunity to suggest any other courses of action. If, after all of that, the Romulan still refuses the procedure, that's the end of the decision tree: I won't save his life against his will. If, however, the Romulan accepts the procedure (whether under orders or otherwise), then I apply escalating pressure on Worf, up to and including a direct order if needed, until he cooperates.

Rational choice of action, but just asking for trouble. The Romulan commander was merely going to say "You want so badly to save my man's life, get your ass to the agreed-upon rendezvous coordinates at maximum warp. We know far more about Romulan medicine than your doctors."

Nor would i separate the hulls, leaving Riker (or, more likely, Worf or Data) in command of the saucer section to continue the search for Geordi while the battle section goes to the rendezvous. Too many ways for that to go south. If nothing else, bringing just the battle section is going to scream "We're spoiling for a fight!" to the Romulans, who are looking for an excuse to start a war.

Skald the Rhymer
12-09-2015, 02:10 PM
I'm gonna dissent here and say that you shouldn't force people to undergo medical procedures. Would you order Worf to participate in a bone marrow transplant? Kidney transplant?

That said, I barely remember the episode and don't know how much the tissue extraction could be considered a medical procedure. I imagine there'd be some blinky lightbulbs on the end of magic wands. Still, the principle stands.

Everyone's favorite beautiful-but-not-generally-all-that-sexy-except-when-costumed-as-a-gangster's-moll-on-the-holodeck redhead assured everyone favorite supposedly-badass-but-generally-laughably-ineffectual-until-he-got-to-the-space-station-then-wow! racist that the procedure was, from his POV, trivial, both painless and safe.

steronz
12-09-2015, 02:16 PM
Well, yeah, she WOULD say that.

Just Asking Questions
12-09-2015, 04:46 PM
Well, yeah, she WOULD say that.

"Now this isn't going to hurt a bit."
"That's what you said the last time."
"Did it hurt?"
"Yes."

Arkcon
12-09-2015, 08:31 PM
Yeah, that was one of the more lame moral problem / preachy assed episodes.


Order that Klingon and be done with it.

That's just the way this flavor of Trek rolls with ethical decisions. Instead:

Load him into the transporter, and fix the damage in there. That thing works at a quantum level, y'know.

Dematerialize him into the transporter pattern buffer, and keep him preserved until rendez-vous. Spock did it with coffee in an early novel, and Scotty did it to himself. Seems like a typical medical procedure to have handy.

Download the Romulan's brain into a spare positronic net, and up load it into a copy of the Romulan recreated from data stored from his last transport. Like they did to Dr. Pulaski, and Captain Picard when he beamed his energy into space.

They don't do these things, because it conflicts with their ethics, as defined by the program. So they likewise can't find a simple solution to this dilemma. As they said on the USENET on AD&D -- There's no saving throw vs. plot device.

ExTank
12-09-2015, 11:39 PM
I give Worf the order. He's a Klingon, he understands obedience to orders, and his honour is not compromised by doing as he is told. The Romulan will get what he's given and like it, if necessary being enjoined to take his medicine like a man.


Agreed. Worf stood on Klingon "honor" by refusing to donate; but, being a good Federation Officer, gave his Captain an honorable "out" by letting Picard know that he would donate, if so ordered. If Worf never intended to donate, he could have simply kept his mouth shut and let Picard assume that he (Worf) would never donate, under any circumstances.

So, Picard should have given the order; Worf's honor would be satisfied, as he was obeying a direct order from his commanding officer, and the Romulan would still be alive (if he could be similarly encouraged to take the medicine).

Tom Tildrum
12-10-2015, 12:08 AM
Agreed. Worf stood on Klingon "honor" by refusing to donate; but, being a good Federation Officer, gave his Captain an honorable "out" by letting Picard know that he would donate, if so ordered. If Worf never intended to donate, he could have simply kept his mouth shut and let Picard assume that he (Worf) would never donate, under any circumstances.

So, Picard should have given the order; Worf's honor would be satisfied, as he was obeying a direct order from his commanding officer, and the Romulan would still be alive (if he could be similarly encouraged to take the medicine).

I see it the other way around. Worf satisfied discipline by making it clear that he would follow orders, but he knew that Federation and Starfleet morality would not permit Picard to give such an order. See also "Ethics," where Picard respects Worf's decision to commit suicide, and declines to order him otherwise.

Garula
12-10-2015, 12:28 AM
I'm largely on board with Chronos' approach here.

Federation officers are regularly called upon to make much greater sacrifices for much lesser causes. If it's for the greater good, the Federation is quite willing to send its people on suicide missions. I don't see a compelling reason why protecting this sort of bodily integrity is so fundamentally different. Now, if it were a much more invasive procedure, like maybe Worf needs to donate a chunk of his brain which will leave him with permanent mental damage, then that might be a line I'm not willing to cross.

It's pretty much moot without the Romulan's consent, though. If someone of sound mind outside of my authority outright refuses my help then I would respect that decision.

Peter Morris
12-10-2015, 07:10 AM
... the Romulan -- who, incidentally, is just as racist as Worf and has declared that he'd rather die than owe his life to a Klingon.

Do you order Worf to donate the tissue sample?

Not an issue. The Romulan is an intelligent adult, and has the legal right to refuse the donation. Since he has declined I have no right to force him. No transfusion will occur, even if Worf is willing.

Peter Morris
12-10-2015, 07:36 AM
Dematerialize him into the transporter pattern buffer, and keep him preserved until rendez-vous. Spock did it with coffee in an early novel, and Scotty did it to himself. Seems like a typical medical procedure to have handy..

But only works 50% of the time.

RikWriter
12-10-2015, 07:42 AM
I'd order the medical officer to use the highly advanced medical technology that a civilization which has FTL and matter transmission WOULD have in any logical setting to save the damn Romulan. Because nothing about Trek biotechnology makes any sense at all.

mlees
12-10-2015, 09:20 AM
So, the Captain can order a crewman to their death to save the ship (like in Troi's test), but can't order a (harmless to the donor) tissue donation?

Just Asking Questions
12-10-2015, 09:28 AM
So, the Captain can order a crewman to their death to save the ship (like in Troi's test), but can't order a (harmless to the donor) tissue donation?

Yes.

The current military is the same way. You can be ordered to storm the beach in which there is 99% certainty you'll die, but you can't be ordered to donate blood.

Makes sense to me. it's a question of personal liberty. And I wouldn't order Worf, even if the Romulan wanted it. Even if the Romulan High Command personally demanded it. The line is drawn HERE.

Hypno-Toad
12-10-2015, 09:51 AM
"Mr. Worf, do it and stop bothering me with your talk of honor. I have more important things to concern me than your honor."

Gothic
12-10-2015, 10:03 AM
No, I would never give that order. I can order a crew member to sacrifice themselves to save the ship, but ordering Woof to do this crosses the line. What's next, scrapping Data so we have a chance to make more?

BigT
12-10-2015, 10:38 AM
Yes.

The current military is the same way. You can be ordered to storm the beach in which there is 99% certainty you'll die, but you can't be ordered to donate blood.

Makes sense to me. it's a question of personal liberty. And I wouldn't order Worf, even if the Romulan wanted it. Even if the Romulan High Command personally demanded it. The line is drawn HERE.

Exactly. You sign up with the idea that your life may be put on the line. You've effectively already agreed with that.

Though, in the future, I would not be surprised if Picard could have ordered it. Captains seem to have a lot of leeway. They violate what is supposedly the prime rule all the time. It seems that Starfleet depends heavily on the morality of its participants. It seems that all they have to do is justify it.

Saving a Romulan's life to avoid an interstellar incident seems like it would fit.

John Bredin
12-10-2015, 12:51 PM
the Romulan -- who, incidentally, is just as racist as Worf and has declared that he'd rather die than owe his life to a Klingon.Without addressing the first half of the dilemna (whether Worf donates), the latter half (whether the Romulan accepts the donation) sounds like the episode of MASH (or M*A*S*H* if you prefer) where a racist soldier about to receive a blood transfusion says he doesn't want it if it contains black blood. Dr. Pierce not only gives the transfusion -- racist preferences be damned -- he paints the racist brown with iodine as he sleeps as a prank/lesson. Which raises the question of how a Romulan would look with temporary Klingon forehead ridges? :p

Elendil's Heir
12-11-2015, 03:21 PM
I would sit down and talk it through with Worf and try to persuade him that it would be in keeping with the highest ideals of the Federation for him to voluntarily donate, but at the end of the day I would probably order him if it made a difference between the Romulan prisoner dying or not. As noted above, the needs of the many yada yada yada.

turtlescanfly
12-11-2015, 04:09 PM
Saw this ep w/in the last month or so (just about finishing up S4).

Yeah, I thought he should have ordered the donation. I think Worf even said he'd comply if ordered.

I forget the outcome - how was it resolved?



Can't quote exactly, but I recall that after Worf informed the captain of his objections, but stated that he would do so if ordered, Picard stood up sharply saying "Mr. Worf". Worf snapped to attention, and it seemed as if Picard was going to order him to save the Romulan, but instead he simply says "Dismissed". He then contacts Dr. Crusher to tell her to make no further attempts to persuade Worf to undergo the procedure, and she at that point tells him the Romulan has died, rendering the whole point moot.

turtlescanfly
12-11-2015, 04:11 PM
Also, I am surprised to see that I appear to be in the minority when I say that I would have respected the rights and wishes of my crew member.

terentii
12-11-2015, 04:38 PM
But only works 50% of the time.

Depends on how long the pattern is stored in the buffer, doesn't it? Scotty and the other officer had been in theirs for, what, 75 years? Only logical that at least one of them wouldn't have survived.

The first time this procedure was mentioned, BTW, was in TOS's "Day of the Dove": Chekov wanted to leave Kang and his crew in the transporter, rather than have them rematerialized on board the Enterprise. He referred to it as "nonexistence."

Skald the Rhymer
12-11-2015, 04:57 PM
Depends on how long the pattern is stored in the buffer, doesn't it? Scotty and the other officer had been in theirs for, what, 75 years? Only logical that at least one of them wouldn't have survived.

The first time this procedure was mentioned, BTW, was in TOS's "Day of the Dove": Chekov wanted to leave Kang and his crew in the transporter, rather than have them rematerialized on board the Enterprise. He referred to it as "nonexistence."

From the way Chekov was talking, and given the rest of the events of the episode, I'm pretty sure he was talking about killing Kang & Co. in the most expedient fashion. Pavel was the first of the Enterprise officers to succumb to the hate-thing's influence.

terentii
12-11-2015, 06:21 PM
From the way Chekov was talking, and given the rest of the events of the episode, I'm pretty sure he was talking about killing Kang & Co. in the most expedient fashion. Pavel was the first of the Enterprise officers to succumb to the hate-thing's influence.

Given that I doubt he intended to materialize them anytime in the near-to-distant future, I'd have to agree with you there. :cool:

Dale Sams
12-12-2015, 01:35 AM
Depends on how long the pattern is stored in the buffer, doesn't it? Scotty and the other officer had been in theirs for, what, 75 years? Only logical that at least one of them wouldn't have survived.

The first time this procedure was mentioned, BTW, was in TOS's "Day of the Dove": Chekov wanted to leave Kang and his crew in the transporter, rather than have them rematerialized on board the Enterprise. He referred to it as "nonexistence."

I'd like to see the technological safeguard disaster that occured between now and TOS that had them say "EFF safety protocols and permissions"

Hyposprays ALONE should be locked up tight. The armory just opens for anyone apparently! But Engineering can be locked up by one drunk Navigator!

And really...an overload setting for phasers? Those things look like they'd make terrible grenades.

Get your priorities straight Starfleet!

billfish678
12-12-2015, 11:24 AM
I like to imagine how this episode would have gone down if Worf had refused to donate to some black guy, or woman, or gay guy for "insert Klingon reasoning here".

Elendil's Heir
12-12-2015, 01:27 PM
...And really...an overload setting for phasers? Those things look like they'd make terrible grenades.

Get your priorities straight Starfleet!
On the other hand, they had an emergency-disposal chute not far from the Captain's quarters that led all the way outside the hull. How often does that come in handy?

terentii
12-12-2015, 02:26 PM
On the other hand, they had an emergency-disposal chute not far from the Captain's quarters that led all the way outside the hull. How often does that come in handy?

Ever wonder why NOMAD was allowed to explode at all? Once the thing had been dematerialized in the transporter, there was no need to rematerialize it outside the ship.

The same was true of Hengist, but at least they had the good sense to rematerialize him on the quantum level. (On the other hand, how could they be sure that would render him harmless? Maybe he was just transformed into the hate-thingy in "Day of the Dove.")

ekedolphin
12-12-2015, 07:14 PM
I think I would have ordered Worf to undergo the procedure. They were balancing dangerously on the edge of war. Tomalak came damn close to firing on the Enterprise, and would have done so had they not miraculously discovered that second Romulan on the surface of Galorndon Core.

Baker
12-12-2015, 07:39 PM
I wouldn't order Worf to do it. But his career would be toast after that, if I had any influence at all.

You can't force someone to be charitable, but I would put a big black X in Worf's service record. Depending on Federation regs I'd dmote him from his position as head of Security, as I would know he would not cooperate for the good of the ship.

Trinopus
12-12-2015, 08:50 PM
Couldn't that be seen as harassment? You'd be retaliating against a guy for exercising his civil rights.

Has anyone suggested begging Worf to donate tissue, as a personal favor?

billfish678
12-13-2015, 11:02 AM
I wouldn't order Worf to do it. But his career would be toast after that, if I had any influence at all.

You can't force someone to be charitable, but I would put a big black X in Worf's service record. Depending on Federation regs I'd dmote him from his position as head of Security, as I would know he would not cooperate for the good of the ship.

I'm going on a long memory here, but I seem to recall getting the vibe that while Picard understood Worf's choice, he did not particularly respect it (how could he, its basically racist). And furthermore, I also recall getting the vibe that Worf realized that he had at that point kinda screwed up and disappointed his captain.

MrAtoz
12-13-2015, 12:31 PM
Hyposprays ALONE should be locked up tight.

A friend of mine used to refer to "The Bones McCoy School of Hypo-Fighting." If you could get close enough, those things were more effective than a phaser at putting people out instantaneously!

Boyo Jim
12-13-2015, 08:44 PM
"Mr. Warf. Donate the tissue today. Kill the bastard tomorrow."

Elendil's Heir
12-13-2015, 08:48 PM
"Mr. Warf. Donate the tissue today. Kill the bastard tomorrow."

He'd probably refuse out of spite if you misspelled his name.

Boyo Jim
12-13-2015, 08:49 PM
He'd probably kill me. Those Klingons are touchy. Good thing they're not allowed to drive on our highways.