There’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that always kind of bugged me. It was a Borg episode, and in this one, the crew of the starship Enterprise capture a young Borgling and devise a plan to use him to destroy the Borg. Their cunning plan is to upload an unsolvable problem onto the Borgling and then reintroduce him to the Borg mothership. Upon doing so, the rest of the Borg will be infected with this same unsolvable problem and thus be rendered useless. For you see, being a computer, the Borg will be forced to expend all of their resources in solving this unsolvable problem. And because it is unsolvable, they’ll be at it for a long long time; and thus, rendered harmless. Or so goes the theory.
But I’ve always had a problem with that episode. I mean, how could they know that it’s unsolvable? They don’t have Borg-like minds, and the Borg are most certainly more advanced than the crew of the Enterprise. How could the Enterprise know that this problem would stifle the Borg? Maybe the Borg would contemplate it for a few mere seconds before spitting out the answer in a lofty and arrogant fashion? And boy, wouldn’t the Enterprisers feel pretty stupid after that. They had just engaged in at least half an hour of ethical debate regarding the morality of infecting this Borg youth with the Borg-destroying problem; and it took no longer for them to answer it than it would take for us to sneeze. Embarrassing.
But that wasn’t my bigger problem. My bigger problem was, why would the Borg be so stupid as to be sidetracked by such a silly problem? Why would they devote any time at all to such a trivial and silly task? My god, are we talking the Borg here, or a bunch of teenage stoners hopped up on loco weed? Next thing you know, they’ll be contemplating whether “big” could ever be the new “small”, and why Triskets are so scratchy, yet somehow so delicious. Could a super-race of computer-humans be so easily confused? Why not just stuff them full of frozen burritos and watch them pass-out into oblivion?
And that always bugged me. There are a lot of ST:TNG episodes that bug me, but that one especially so. Because I just don’t buy it. I don’t see this as a working solution against the Borg. It was just a meaningless setup so they could have yet another silly discussion on ethics. This was the bigtime PC-era of Next Generation and so everything just had to be loaded down with ethical debate. But you know what; sometimes it really is best just to blast em and move on. Not everything has to be a moral dilemma. Sometimes, the right thing is the obvious thing and you should just push ahead and do it.
I suspect that this had to do with the lack of decent hookers on the Enterprise. I’m not saying they didn’t have any. I’m just saying they didn’t have enough of them. And so we were stuck with a whole lot of pussyfooted pansiness in space. Week after week, great gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair preceded each and every decision; and it was all enough that you kind of hoped that the Borg would finally win out and give these pussies a taste of real leadership. Especially whenever Whoopi Goldberg was involved.
But this one episode was particularly silly. I’m sorry, but if you’re balancing a decision that could potentially doom billions and billions of people to a horrible Borg-like existence and/or certain death, versus preventing that fate in a slightly underhanded way, you always pick the underhanded way. I’m sorry. It’s that simple. And you better believe that the Borg wouldn’t think twice about using such a technique on us. So you got to wonder how it is that ethics could possibly allow the unethical guys to win. If anything, that should be the ultimate in unethical behavior.
So even the ethics of this one was wrong, silly, and ultimately harmful to mankind. And if some TNG fan uses the ethics they picked up from that episode and decide to not save the billions of people, I think it’s safe to say that a lawsuit or two wouldn’t be unimaginable; to say the least. They really had it coming.
Rightwing Psycho-out Bullshit
Back on earth, I’ll tell you why I’m thinking about that episode. I was over at the glorious and eponymous Roger Ailes website (a truly wonderful individual who will soon be including me on his Blogroll, ahem “Enemies List”), and was reading about Scum Drudge’s recent suggestion that the opposition of Judge Alito smacks of anti-Italianism. And that’s nothing but a joke; and Drudge knows the punchline is on us.
He doesn’t think we’re anti-Italian. The idea is beyond laughable. But he doesn’t care. In fact, the absurdity of the charge makes its defense all the more unbearable and irritating. They’ve done this with other judges who have had specific ethnic backgrounds. They did this with Iraq, by implying that liberals didn’t think that “brown skinned people” were intelligent enough to handle democracy. And they’re doing this now. They know that these things aren’t true, but they don’t care. And they even know that they’re the bigger bigots regarding these matters. But that’s just the icing on the cake for them. Hypocrisy can be quite delicious, if served properly.
They’re doing these things because it messes with our heads and throws us off our game. Here’s what I wrote over at Roger’s:
This is just more rightwing psych-out bullshit to take the discussion away from where it should be. We're supposed to waste our breath defending against the absurd idea that we're anti-Italian, so that we won't use that time discussing the issues of Alito's nomination.
Not that they necessarily think that it'll permanently change the subject. It's just one more monkeywrench in their toolbox. They just toss out a bunch of crap and laugh as we scramble to refute it all. But Drudge takes this kind of thing as seriously as if we accused him of fucking his sister. He'd know that we didn't have the proof, and would just blow it off. To even discuss it is to give it a form of success. But to ignore it is to risk having the label stick.
That's why they do it. They toss out a bunch of crap and get us on the defensive. Swift Boats was a prime example, and they do it all the time. In the end, we spend more time defending against absurd charges than we do discussing real issues. And that's exactly what they want. The best defense is a good offense, and the Republicans are very good at being offensive.
We’re the Borg
And I finished writing that, and my brain started to wander (I have been drinking for a few hours), and somehow I ended up thinking about that episode. And it struck me what this is all about. We’re the fucking Borg. We’re the ones who have these programs loaded on us that we spend all our energy fighting. And we think about it and argue against it and attack and defend and everything; and for what? A silly point. An absurdity. Something that is laughable on its face, backside, and ass.
Top-down, these are silly suggestions that shouldn’t warrant the tiniest amount of thought. These aren’t accusations. They’re silly little games, intended to fuck us up. And it works; everytime. And we’ll even spend time discussing how these tricks aren’t working, and how it’s good for us to shoot down these ideas. We could even get into the idea that perhaps it’s healthy for us to discuss and refute such things, and how this only makes us stronger. Perhaps it’s intellectually lazy to dismiss such theories too quickly. And in the meantime, we’re completely getting reamed up the ass.
This is exactly what they want. Not for the label to stick, but for us to have to waste time discussing it. Because they know that’s our weakness. We like to think about things and engage in rational debate. And we take things very serious and give everything thorough consideration. I’m not necessarily saying we’re smarter, or that all liberals are geniuses. I’m saying that we waste time thinking about shit that doesn’t need to be thought about and we’re being kept off-message and off-track. Don’t get me wrong; back-to-basics debates are fun and everything; but they don’t win elections. And that’s our weakness. The Borg might not be fooled by an unsolvable problem, but the liberals surely are.
In fact, that’s the ultimate irony of this. In our universe, it’s the Borg infecting the humans with pointless abstract debate, which distracts and confuses them. Because the Republicans don’t engage in this kind of debate. I know they like to think they do, but all they’re ever looking for is the big rationalization for whatever it is they want next. They’re end-result kind of people and they really don’t care how they get there. Not action-wise, of course. They’re not willing to commit genocide and whatnot to get their ends (or I should hope not). But as far as internal debate goes, there is none.
For them, it’s all about how they sell the next idea. Democrats use polls to determine what position to take, and Republicans use them to determine how to sell their position. Because unlike us, they’re not trying to hash out what the best end-result is. They don’t care what the public wants; they want the public to want what they’ve got. They already know what results they want, and they’re just trying to figure how to get it. And one way is to devastate your enemy with silly accusations and meaningless debate. And it works.
The Best Defense
And here’s the thing, there is no easy answer to this. I’m not necessarily saying that we can ignore these things. Swift Boats was ignored by Kerry, but that didn’t work. But an immediate assault isn’t that great of an idea either. And that’s the whole point. If we could easily avoid falling into the trap, it wouldn’t be much of a trap. We’re supposed to fall into this. They’re very good at this and they know that we will. They know that we can’t risk dignifying their absurd attacks with a response, nor can we waste the time and energy; but they also know that if we don’t respond, the attacks look valid. And so what can you do? Nothing. That’s why the Repubs do this.
But there is a way out. The best defense is a good offense, and that’s what we need to do. We need to figure out how to get things back onto them. This is all just a game of tennis, and we just need to make sure that the ball either stays on their side, or they overreach and knock it out of bounds. But the dumbest thing to do is to wait for this to happen. And that’s exactly what we do too much of the time. We sit back and wait for the attacks. Because that’s what we like to do.
Imagine a star tennis player going up against a tennis machine with unlimited tennis balls. The star player will do a much better job of fielding the ball, but in the end, the machine will win. Not because the machine was better or smarter or more right; but because the machine isn’t trying to win. It just wants to keep shooting out more balls. And that’s what the Republicans do to us. They keep shooting more balls at us, hoping that we’ll spend our time whacking them back. And in the meantime, they gut our government and ruin our economy and design a society more in fitting with their greedy desires.
And that is what this is all about. We need to take the fight to them. It’s not enough to defend your position; and in some cases, it’s best not to defend at all. There are unsolvable problems, and it’s simply foolish to answer them. We need to learn how to do that.