Chris Roberts

Delance

Victory, you say?
Bandit LOAF said:
Oh, there's plenty: Amish, Shakers, Mennonites...

I don't think Privateer is so much a mean spirited critique of the Amish, though, as much as it is creating an intentionally hypocritical and overblown situation to criticize religion as a whole -- the message is that religion on the whole is stuck in the past, not specifically those religions that don't want laser cannons and jump drives.
I find that an interesting statement, considering a significant amount of religions (and religion-like ideologies) are indeed based on the future, and not the past. The very idea of historicism (particularly, but not necessarily Hegelian), which is used by some religions and philosophical systems, is based on the concept that time will improve everything, so there's no need to be "stuck" in the past.

I suppose what is behind that is mankind's age old pursuit of truth. If truth changes, then there's no need to care much about the past. If it doesn't change, than it's foolish to trade what you have for the latest version. But that leads to yet another question -- is truth something atemporal? If someone is holding to a truth that exists outside time, to claim they are "stuck in time" would make no sense, and the other way around, I suppose.

Back to WC, if that was the case, it was so heavy handed I missed it completely. Perhaps a more subtle and balanced critique would be more noticeable.

Well, both these series' have their problems -- Star Trek suffers from an unfortunate cult of personality formed around Roddenberry in which the fandom believes Roddenberry had some kind of consistent well formed high minded belief system for Star Trek. In reality it's just something he hyped up when TNG started... and no one liked the stories or the setting that trying to force those ideas into the fiction resulted in.

Babylon 5, on the other hand, is just cloying.
That sounds correct. Most of the secular utopia stuff comes from TNG, and it's very overt and preachy about it. On that greek gods episode on TOS, Kirk says Scotty doesn't require more gods, just the One, giving it a hint of monotheism. And it's not just about religion, there's the money thing that they began to take far too seriously, and some other items, like mankind being motivated solely by a selfless drive to evolve and help your fellow man. Yeah, right. It’s almost as if the cult status of Stark Trek had something to do with the devotion it preaches certain ideas. And, again, there’s a Futurama reference about it.

Babylon 5 had its problems, but at least it doesn’t smack you in the forehead with the author’s worldview almost every episode. If anything, most characters tend towards a pantheistic belief on "the universe" (tiring, after a while). Curiously, some followers of this belief were not favorably portrayed on that hidden level episode. B5's non-commitment goes to great degrees: even "the Day of the Dead" episode doesn't outright say there's an afterlife, some characters that experience it are not totally convinced.

(I also think there's a huge difference between saying you or someone you idolize is an atheist as a hip and cool image thing and actually being one... the latter being much, much harder.)
I agree. Some would say it'd be impossibly hard, in fact.

Here I would argue that the Kilrathi do have a distinct separation between church and state -- quite literally, in fact. This is exactly how their system is supposed to balance power... with the Cult of Sivar being run by an apolitical sect of priestesses and the Empire being run by the dominant clan.

Of course, in practice there's corruption... but both ways. Thrakhath can use his family connection to force the Cult to grant the nar Kiranka more power -- and that, in turn, results in other priestesses organizing their planets to rebel against the Empire.

The separation between church and state in Kilrathi society is why the Ghorah Khar rebellion worked -- Kilrathi have loyalty to a church that is theoretically independant of Thrakhath's regime.
That's a very fine point. What we currently understand as separation of church and state is, in effect, a separation of religion and government, something that doesn’t' entirely happen with the Kilrathi. By our own standards, the government wouldn't be allowed to pull ships from the front lines for the sake of performing a ceremony.

Even from the point of Male/Female division of society, the Kilrathi are more developed than your generic sci-fi race. We ever saw Kilrathi males on WC1, but by SM2 we already knew that the females did have power, but for different reasons.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
That's a very fine point. What we currently understand as separation of church and state is, in effect, a separation of religion and government, something that doesn’t' entirely happen with the Kilrathi. By our own standards, the government wouldn't be allowed to pull ships from the front lines for the sake of performing a ceremony.
For one thing, you're forgetting that the Kilrathi aren't furry humans. They don't have a single monolithic government that owns and commands all their warships -- rather, warships are sponsored and controlled by individual clans - who can ultimately do what they want with them..

Second, the government doesn't order all its ships to the site of the ceremony. Rather, those ships which are not needed on the front are allowed to go. Look at the Ras Nik'hra - it was supposed to be part of a strike force forming at N'Tanya for an attack on the Deneb Sector. (Thrakhath does bring in additional forces from the front lines *after* things go awry... but that's in direct response to the marine attack).

The Empire proper simply has no choice but to allow the ships to go - look at Thrakhath in Secret Missions 2... he wasn't manipulating his fleet by their adherence to the Cult, he was incredibly frustrated by it. When the leader has to shoot his generals to force them to fight against their religious objections, you have a pretty good suggestion that there's a gulf between state and religion.

Even more important, though, you're wrong about separation of religion and government with this example. The United States Navy does its darndest to keep its ships in port at Christmas, for instance. Look at the attack on Pearl Harbor -- one of the reasons it was so effective was because it was routine for ships to stand down for Sunday morning church services.

Another minor point - the Cult of Sivar is what the majority of Kilrathi believe in... but it is *not* a universal cultural religion. That's something that gets overlooked, but it's also very important in creating a more 3D picture of the Kilrathi as a species.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Delance said:
My argument about Just War does not depend on that. There's a quote in Armada somewhere that supports this point, I simply don't remember what it is. Do you have any quote? What's your point?
This is pretty silly. Your posts are so incoherent. They jump from topic to topic, blindly ignoring the conversation threads and simply tangentially replying to the surface material that is used to refute your previous post. It's amazing that LOAF continues to pull out such rich information to support this thread. It's pretty worthless now otherwise.
 

Edfilho

Cry some more!
Damn, I get t2o busy days at work and two busy nights at the bar and the thread goes way too bonkers for me to answer loaf. crap.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Lt.Death100 said:
I think it was something Delance said.

Oddly enough I think it was actually quarto that brought up religion. Not that that changes anything.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
AD said:
Oddly enough I think it was actually quarto that brought up religion. Not that that changes anything.
What I did, was state the incredibly obvious - that you can't discuss morality outside of the context of religion, because there is no such thing as morality without religion. That's the difference between morality and common sense - one tells us that an action is right or wrong no matter what, while the other tells us that an action is right or wrong only because of the way the world might react to it.

(...not that this would explain why we're discussing this stuff in a threat titled "Chris Roberts", mind you ;))

Delance said:
Quatro, if you are willing to argue about the Kilrah Bombing under a solid universal and absolute moral standard, I'm all for it. Let's make it even better. Let's argue it from natural law, universal law that bonds everyone.
Ok, I actually responded to this post on friday at work, but unfortunately our network was messed up somehow for most of the day, so I wasn't able to actually post my post. As usual, I don't feel like retyping what I wrote... so this is gonna be the short version, where I reply in point format without quoting what I'm replying to :p.

1. Genocide is a technical term. It doesn't matter how many nations do it. It doesn't matter if all nations do it - it still becomes no less meaningful. All it means is that human history is pretty bloody and violent... which I'm sure is no surprise to anyone. And again, I'd like to stress the fact that as a technical term, genocide carries with it no moral connotations whatsoever. Even if we couldn't come up with any "good" genocide (I'd be quite happy to discuss further the Aztec example I brought up earlier - but not in this thread).

2. We don't need to weigh the evil of the T-Bomb against anything - not according to the Catechism fragments you posted (in particular, 2314). There is nothing, nothing at all that can be used to argue that the T-Bomb was morally justified. It doesn't matter that it's a Just War - because it cannot possibly remain just once you resort to unjust means.

3. "not every single Confederation citizens is bound by these rules"... so? The people in charge (...if they happen to follow this particular moral system) certainly can't be expected to disregard their morals. This is particularly true in a democracy, where the leaders were elected based not only on their abilities but also character. Democratically-elected leaders are more than anyone obliged to be themselves.

4. The possible results of not using the T-Bomb are just that - a possibility. Naturally, if Confed chooses to do nothing, that possibility will come true. But the idea isn't to do nothing, it's to keep fighting using just means - and even if things are looking 100% hopeless... hell, no, especially when things are looking 100% hopeless, that's when you really show what you're made of. A person who, faced with a hopeless situation, abandons his moral values just to get out alive simply has no backbone. And maybe it will result in enslavement - but maybe it'll also save everybody without the moral price. Heck, ask yourself this - if Confed had refused to use the T-Bomb, and finally won the war through conventional means, would Tolwyn have ever put his genocidal plan into action? Is it not possible that by committing one genocide, Confed triggered another one, this time to be inflicted on human beings? Heh, as far as consequences go, that sure would be pretty Biblical :p.

5. To everybody else reading here - no, neither I nor Delance are arguing that Confed is Catholic. We're not even saying they're Christian. But when discussing morality in a fictional universe, there's really very little else you can do other than discuss the morality of a given action from your point of view. Well, that, and to try to figure out what Blair and company thought, in order to work out whether the action in question was moral from their point of view.
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
Quarto said:
What I did, was state the incredibly obvious - that you can't discuss morality outside of the context of religion, because there is no such thing as morality without religion. That's the difference between morality and common sense - one tells us that an action is right or wrong no matter what, while the other tells us that an action is right or wrong only because of the way the world might react to it.
Well, that is obvious. Some would say there is a morality without religion... but that statement have to be based on some dogmatici belief, since it can be proven, what makes it a sort of religion on its own.

(...not that this would explain why we're discussing this stuff in a threat titled "Chris Roberts", mind you ;))
He might be surprised if he tries to google himself + religion + morality + temblor bomb + wing commander someday.

Ok, I actually responded to this post on friday at work, but unfortunately our network was messed up somehow for most of the day, so I wasn't able to actually post my post. As usual, I don't feel like retyping what I wrote... so this is gonna be the short version, where I reply in point format without quoting what I'm replying to :p.
Still not sure if that's good or bad. :)

1. Genocide is a technical term. It doesn't matter how many nations do it. It doesn't matter if all nations do it - it still becomes no less meaningful. All it means is that human history is pretty bloody and violent... which I'm sure is no surprise to anyone. And again, I'd like to stress the fact that as a technical term, genocide carries with it no moral connotations whatsoever. Even if we couldn't come up with any "good" genocide (I'd be quite happy to discuss further the Aztec example I brought up earlier - but not in this thread).

2. We don't need to weigh the evil of the T-Bomb against anything - not according to the Catechism fragments you posted (in particular, 2314). There is nothing, nothing at all that can be used to argue that the T-Bomb was morally justified. It doesn't matter that it's a Just War - because it cannot possibly remain just once you resort to unjust means.

3. "not every single Confederation citizens is bound by these rules"... so? The people in charge (...if they happen to follow this particular moral system) certainly can't be expected to disregard their morals. This is particularly true in a democracy, where the leaders were elected based not only on their abilities but also character. Democratically-elected leaders are more than anyone obliged to be themselves.

4. The possible results of not using the T-Bomb are just that - a possibility. Naturally, if Confed chooses to do nothing, that possibility will come true. But the idea isn't to do nothing, it's to keep fighting using just means - and even if things are looking 100% hopeless... hell, no, especially when things are looking 100% hopeless, that's when you really show what you're made of. A person who, faced with a hopeless situation, abandons his moral values just to get out alive simply has no backbone. And maybe it will result in enslavement - but maybe it'll also save everybody without the moral price. Heck, ask yourself this - if Confed had refused to use the T-Bomb, and finally won the war through conventional means, would Tolwyn have ever put his genocidal plan into action? Is it not possible that by committing one genocide, Confed triggered another one, this time to be inflicted on human beings? Heh, as far as consequences go, that sure would be pretty Biblical :p.

5. To everybody else reading here - no, neither I nor Delance are arguing that Confed is Catholic. We're not even saying they're Christian. But when discussing morality in a fictional universe, there's really very little else you can do other than discuss the morality of a given action from your point of view. Well, that, and to try to figure out what Blair and company thought, in order to work out whether the action in question was moral from their point of view.
1. It's not only a cold, technical term, it has a strong emotional reaction attached to it, and it's used to describe horrible crimes, not actions that wouldn't be considered deliberate. But since we are using it as a merely technical term, than, there's no reason to argue this further.

2. It’s simple to analyze an isolated situation. In theory, there’s no problem. But, in theory, what if not using the T-Bomb was even worst than using it?

3. I agree with that, but only if the leader is a good guy. :)

4. The war had already cost trillions of lives. The daily cost was horrific, especially on the more combat intensive parts like the one about to happen. To conventionally win the war arguably would cost even more. To use the T-Bomb would make the killing stop. That is common sense, and a sound utilitarian argument, but pointless from a moral point of view.

When it comes to balancing means and ends, the T-Bomb is probably so wrong it can’t be justified by any end. The only defense would be to argue against the consequences of not using it.

But that's problematic on its own. To use such a weapon could be a sign of desperation. That would be wrong, and could mean a loss of Faith in mankind, even Faith in God. Using that weapon could harm humanity because it attacks our values. It attacks what defines us. If we have to become less human more like the Kilrathi to win over them, what kind of victory that is? You're right about that part. That's a question addressed on WCIV. Since mankind had to become a little more like the Kilrathi to win the war, why not go all the way? That's why Tolwyn claims it was a fluke, and not a clear veredict. Had Confed won on conventional terms, it could be very different. Had Confed not used the T-Bomb, there would be no WC4, and no WCP either.

It's almost the reverse of that ancient Mandarin story from WC2. "The original Mandarins were continuously invaded by the Mongols, but conquered the invaders by converting them to the Mandarin way of life." So, instead of converting the invaders, the invaded would convert themselves.

As a side note, I don’ remember if the Mandarins actually used angle on their propaganda or were just traitors.

On the other hand, for a leader to risk allowing the Kilrathi to kill and enslave billions of people so just he wouldn't have to get his hands dirty can also be problematic. Maybe Confed would win the war, but there would be a terrible cost in lives. A lot of people that otherwise would live would be sacrificed for the sake of the leader's morality. You can turn the other cheek, but you can't take that decision for billions of innocent people unaware of the moral dilemma.

5. Yeah, I fear some could be offended by the slight mention of religion. I almost put spoiler tags on the subject. But it so happens that the Just War doctrine itself is not as religious as people might think, it’s a moral theory about what would make the act of war justifiable. The fact that the present was form it was written by a Catholic priest doesn’t invalidate it. If I mentioned the Big Bang theory, there wouldn’t be the same reaction.

Bandit LOAF said:
For one thing, you're forgetting that the Kilrathi aren't furry humans.
Of course not. But they do have goatees on occasion. :)

Seriously, I was not saying they were simplistic. The part you snipped made that clear.

They don't have a single monolithic government that owns and commands all their warships -- rather, warships are sponsored and controlled by individual clans - who can ultimately do what they want with them..
"Paladin: Their entire culture is based on a strict, centralised hierarchy: ‘All roads lead to Kilrah’. Every Kilrathi lives and dies for the Emperor. Destroy that hierarchy… and you destroy them."

I don't mention this to argue, but to corroborate the point.

Second, the government doesn't order all its ships to the site of the ceremony. Rather, those ships which are not needed on the front are allowed to go. Look at the Ras Nik'hra - it was supposed to be part of a strike force forming at N'Tanya for an attack on the Deneb Sector. (Thrakhath does bring in additional forces from the front lines *after* things go awry... but that's in direct response to the marine attack).

The Empire proper simply has no choice but to allow the ships to go - look at Thrakhath in Secret Missions 2... he wasn't manipulating his fleet by their adherence to the Cult, he was incredibly frustrated by it. When the leader has to shoot his generals to force them to fight against their religious objections, you have a pretty good suggestion that there's a gulf between state and religion.

Even more important, though, you're wrong about separation of religion and government with this example. The United States Navy does its darndest to keep its ships in port at Christmas, for instance. Look at the attack on Pearl Harbor -- one of the reasons it was so effective was because it was routine for ships to stand down for Sunday morning church services.

Another minor point - the Cult of Sivar is what the majority of Kilrathi believe in... but it is *not* a universal cultural religion. That's something that gets overlooked, but it's also very important in creating a more 3D picture of the Kilrathi as a species.
I appreciate the Pearl Harbor analogy, but as you are aware the US was not at war at that point. Of course a military force would do what they can to lift the morale. Besides, this is a much more debated issue now than on the 40's.

One interesting thing is that the Sivar cerimony is so important to the Empire that disrupting it becomes tempting to the Confederation. One of those Wing Commander politically incorrect moments: Confed makes a daring covert operation to strike and disrupt what is hardly a standard military target, for the purpose of psychological warfare.

What it's so nice about this feudal aspect of the Kilrathi, with their clans sponsoring ships, is that it's it's not simply filler, and important to the story. I was re-reading some of the dialogue for SM2, and they did a great job setting up the story.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Delance said:
Still not sure if that's good or bad. :)
Oh, anything that makes me less verbose is great ;).

2. It’s simple to analyze an isolated situation. In theory, there’s no problem. But, in theory, what if not using the T-Bomb was even worst than using it?
You mean, like, if Confed faced the choice of either destroying Kilrah or killing all Kilrathi everywhere? :p No, there is no "what if". What if you become an evil dictator in twenty years time? Shouldn't I be buying a ticket to Brazil to kill you? And yes, I know in the case of Confed, the possibility of the "what if" scenario was a bit more plausible... but it still doesn't matter. Heck, as I've tried to argue, from the point of view of our, Catholic moral system, it wouldn't matter even if the "what if" scenario was 100% certain.

On the other hand, for a leader to risk allowing the Kilrathi to kill and enslave billions of people so just he wouldn't have to get his hands dirty can also be problematic. Maybe Confed would win the war, but there would be a terrible cost in lives. A lot of people that otherwise would live would be sacrificed for the sake of the leader's morality. You can turn the other cheek, but you can't take that decision for billions of innocent people unaware of the moral dilemma.
That might sound sensible... until you realise that you're arguing for a complete separation of government and morality. Because if there's even one situation where you feel the government has a duty to do something immoral, then logically, there must be others - and suddenly, morality changes from being a vital set of guidelines to simple dead weight, best thrown overboard at first opportunity. The line of argument you've taken here leads directly to the claim that Tolwyn was right to plan genocide for the good of mankind. He too, after all, was acting in good faith, hoping to spare the lives of countless trillions of people in future wars.

That having been said, society is, and has always been, schizophrenical on this point. We have a strange tendency to honour people who died for the sake of their morals (i.e., martyrs)... and to also honour people who gave up their morals for the sake of a greater cause. But the thing about the latter kind is that they're only worth honouring if they're aware of their sacrifice - that is, if they are fully aware of the fact that they're doing something wrong, and do it anyway, aware that they will have to pay for their sins. In other words, if they are knowingly sacrificing their soul for the sake of a cause - they thus become martyrs of a different kind. On the other hand, if they later try to explain how their action wasn't really evil, that it was justified because of this or that circumstance... then they're merely immoral.
 

Delance

Victory, you say?
Quarto said:
That might sound sensible... until you realise that you're arguing for a complete separation of government and morality. Because if there's even one situation where you feel the government has a duty to do something immoral, then logically, there must be others - and suddenly, morality changes from being a vital set of guidelines to simple dead weight, best thrown overboard at first opportunity. The line of argument you've taken here leads directly to the claim that Tolwyn was right to plan genocide for the good of mankind. He too, after all, was acting in good faith, hoping to spare the lives of countless trillions of people in future wars.
Well, I think government does immoral things every day. I realise there's a slippery slope, but there's a bit of a problem on stretching that argument to Tolwyn, it was based on self-defense. And I don’t really want to get back to that debate. But the Kilrathi Empire, Inc. was headquartered at Kilrah, Kilrah Sector, and the CEO Cyborg was right there. The guys who killed trillions of people. Tolwyn, on the other hand, was about to target Confed citizens to protect... Confed citizens! The place being targeted was the source of the aggression. There's no self-defense involved. The G.E. program, maybe, but not the Gen-Select. I have a real problem with this "oh, it was about doing something immoral for the greater good" being treated as if it’s a golden rule. It's not. It's the farthest thing from it. That doesn't mean that something some noble end might justify questionable means, but that's not a general rule that applied to everyone who has a plan for the greater good that involves killing people. Even if both actions are immoral, that doesn't make them the same. Ends and means must be balanced, and some means can never be justified.

And I guess that's the point. Since this line is so easily blurred to justify atrocities based on the greater good, its better to make is strict.

That having been said, society is, and has always been, schizophrenical on this point. We have a strange tendency to honour people who died for the sake of their morals (i.e., martyrs)... and to also honour people who gave up their morals for the sake of a greater cause. But the thing about the latter kind is that they're only worth honouring if they're aware of their sacrifice - that is, if they are fully aware of the fact that they're doing something wrong, and do it anyway, aware that they will have to pay for their sins. In other words, if they are knowingly sacrificing their soul for the sake of a cause - they thus become martyrs of a different kind. On the other hand, if they later try to explain how their action wasn't really evil, that it was justified because of this or that circumstance... then they're merely immoral.
Can you mention some example of someone being honored for doing that kind of "sacrifice"? Except for Clint Eastwood's character on "Million Dollar Baby".
 

TopGun

Vampire Ace
I was thinking about the movie (and watched it last night) and I came to the conclusion that the best way to look at it is "Well it could have been worse"
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Delance said:
Can you mention some example of someone being honored for doing that kind of "sacrifice"? Except for Clint Eastwood's character on "Million Dollar Baby".
Hmm, I didn't notice you'd replied to this thread until a new post appeared here :p.

But yeah, I can mention an example of someone being honoured for that kind of thing. We had a guy in Poland who, during the Cold War, spied for the Americans, and is now regarded as almost a national hero. A controversial one, mind you - a lot of people argue that he was nothing more than a traitor, and the thing is, they are right... but what makes him a hero (at least in my eyes - admittedly, most people want to honour him for totally the wrong reasons, namely that he was a traitor working for the "good" guys) is that he never denied that what he did was wrong and treasonous - he merely explained that he was willing to do it because it helped the country get out from under the Soviets.
 
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