Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Justice Tempered With Star Trek

The Uncommon Wife is an uncommonly big fan of almost everything Star Trek, which is how The Common Man got roped into watching four episodes of The Next Generation last night. Much of the time, The Common Man tunes out, but last night The Common Man got some wisdom from one Jean-Luc Picard (who The Uncommon Wife often refers to as "a total panty-dropper;" seriously, sometimes all The Common Man has to say is "engage" and he's, well, engaged).

Picard and his Enterprise buddies find themselves orbiting a Eden-esque planet where all the people wear flimsy, satiny outfits that cover only their naughty bits (there's an uncomfortable amount of guy-nipple in this episode) and make love "at the drop of a hat...any hat." They play all day and freaking do it all night, basically. Nice life. Anyway, there is a downside to this existence (didn't you just know there would be?), and that's that the penalty for any infraction is death. Texans would love this place. Anyway, Wesley (perhaps the most annoying character in Star Trek history, with his whining and penchant for trouble) violates the law and is all set to be executed when Picard saves him with a soliloquy:

Picard: "The question of justice has concerned me greatly of late, and I say to any creature who may be listening, there can no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions."

Riker: "When has justice ever been as simple as a rulebook?"

First of all, shut up Riker. Trying to upstage your captain. Not cool, dude. Grow a beard or something. Second, Picard's speech came to mind again today, when The Common Man heard about young Marie Morrow, a member of the Douglas County Young Marines, who has been suspended from school and faces possible expulsion because some idiot in her school's parking lot can't tell the difference between this:

a drill team rifle that is "made of wood, with duct tape, to resemble a real rifle," and this:

you know, a real rifle.

It's not really the school's fault. State law mandates that "a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm" mandates the suspension and possible expulsion. It's a tough policy, but one that makes sense in the wake of the Columbine tragedy. What's missing from the law, as Morrow points out, is the opportunity to allow trained educators who work with kids every day to use their own discretion in determining which threats constitute real threats to the school (for instance, if Morrow wasn't on her local drill team and had fake rifles in the back seat of her car) and what does not.

What makes this worse, in The Common Man's opinion, is how measured and responsible Morrow's being about the whole thing. She tells reporters, "I take responsibility, it was my mistake," and "I understand exactly why the policy is there," and only wants to "go back to school and graduate with my class and take my AP tests and all that." She's clearly not the student this policy was intended to catch and handle. And she's in it now.

There may not be anything that can be done for Marie, under current laws and regulations. And this should not become an excuse for gun nuts to lobby for loosening the restrictions on guns and schools around the country. But it should be an opportunity to add some common sense to the lawbook, to remember that there can be no justice in absolutes, and to help the next Marie Morrow who comes along.


lar said...


You don't need to make excuses for watching Star Trek. I'm just saying...

Here's a great review of that episode that was on last night. It's written by Wesley Crusher himself (he has a good sense of humor): http://wilwheaton.typepad.com/wwdnbackup/2009/02/justice-is-served-edo-style.html

The Common Man said...

He doesn't need to, lar, but he chooses to. Honestly, The Common Man does like the show and how it aspires to one-up its progenitor with a bigger, more-developed crew, and more social relevance. But The Common Man will take Firefly and Starship Troopers any day over it. The way to The Common Man's heart is paved with snark.

gman said...

Sir: As you state the real problem is the "numb-knobs" who want a simplistic check off the box world. Add in a "need to do something", particularly evident in the wake of the tragedies at Columbine and Virgina Tech, and you get a bunch of regulations allowing zero discretion to staff. This event is the equivalent of elementary school kids getting expelled for having aspirin or cough drops in their possession on school grounds.

Ron Rollins said...

It's all crazy. I went to high school in a small town/farming community. It wasn't unusual to see a truck in the school parking lot with rifles in it, particularly during hunting season.

And it could have been students, teachers, administrators, didn't matter. This was in the early 80's. And there was never an issue with anyone trying to bring a gun into the school.

The problem isn't where the guns might or might not be. Teach gun saftey just like drivers ed, and you solve a lot of problems. In Missouri, it was mandatory for shcool children to have boating saftely classes, but not gun safety.

The funny thing is, people think if you make something illegal, it automatically goes away and doesn't exist anymore. But murder is illegal, abortion is illegal in many places, cheating on you taxes is illegal, speeding is illegal. But people still do all of that.

Instead of making up silly, zero-tolerance rules/laws that hurt more than help, why don't they look at the root cause of the problem. Go after the people casuing the problems, not the innoncent ones jsut trying to live life and being penalized because society is afriad to solve the real problems.

Just my soapbox for the day.

I love Star Trek. Can't wait for the new movie.

Marie Morrow said...


I must say, of all the articles I have come across about my incident last year, I must say this is the most interesting I have ever come across. lol.
Thank you for your support. I never thought I would in anyway be compared to Star Trek.
I got a kick out of this article lol.