BSG - Lack of Ethics
#1
Hi I'm new to this forum. I did a search for a BSG forum because I wanted to read the thoughts of others on certain issues re. the new series. This seems to be the forum so here goes....

An issue which seems to come up regularly on this show is ethics. Now it is noted on the front of this website that the concept of a Battlestar is modelled to some degree on that of an aircraft carrier, including a definite military environment. But no naval crew worth its salt would put up with the behaviour exhibited by many of the significant members of the BSG crew.

Treason. Mutiny. Sedition. Giving comfort to the enemy during time of war. A few military-related "ethical crimes" noted so far, in no particular order:
  • Helo sabotaged the war effort by killing the infected cylons.
  • The Chief turned against his commander by siding with the "unionists".
  • Dee and the others actively plotted against their commander when Tigh filled in for Adama.
  • Cally executed a cylon prisoner out of her own personal need for vengeance.
  • Apollo held a gun to the head of his own XO when they were sent to relieve the President.
All done in the name of democacy or human rights or merely with the best of intentions. The people who produce this show can't seem to decide between portraying a "realistic" sci-fi military operation and inserting their own fanciful ideas of what is just and right into such an existence.

The only mitigating factor in all the events mentioned above is the fact the humans are on the verge of extinction. In any other war situation, these acts would call for imprisonment or execution (as Adama threatened in the unionism episode).

Helo should have been executed for what he did.

The chief should've been locked up then busted to the bottom rung. Again. (It's not the first time he has demonstrated the wrong qualities for his leadership position.)

Dee and the others should've been locked up and the key thrown away. Or worse.

Cally gets a slap on the wrist and restored to normal rank and duty.

And Apollo... what he did is unforgivable.


Adama is soft. He's running a family not a warship. This is fine if the producer wants to portray a family but don't try to paint it as a fine military operation; it's a slap in the face to the real pros whose profession this show pretends to emulate.
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#2
You'll like Admiral Cain in Razor then. She definitely runs a warship.
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#3
Good. But it was a shame what happened to her.
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#4
The issue is indeed "ethics", but not a "lack" thereof.

Yes, many examples could be given of behaviors which would result in very different consequences in a "normal" military setting. However, the BSG story isn't depicting any "normal" military, at all, at all. And also, even military "ethics" embodies more than simply following orders.

The Galactica isn't just "an aircraft carrier" in a fleet of military ships. She's the only military vessel left of a once-mighty fleet. Adama isn't just her military top official. He's the last military person of his stature; there no longer exists any command structure of which he should naturally be a part.

The civilian fleet is the last of humanity. They are akin to a fleet of ships at sea fleeing a nation destroyed by war, bound across an ocean to an unknown continant they hope will provide refuge; or, perhaps, akin to a wagon train which is traversing the Plains, 'civilization' left behind, having only their own resourses to survive their perilous journey.

Things aren't "normal", nor can all the old rules equally apply.

When Apollo/Adama Jr disobeys orders and takes Pegasus to rescue Galactica during the evacuation of New Caprica, he {a} disobeyed a direct order and {b} lost his ship. Each would have resulted in a Court Marshall in a 'normal' military, not a hug a thank you from Dad. But Sr Adama had to consider: What would have been the alternative result, had Jr done as he was told? The evacuation from New Caprica would have failed; Galactica and all the civlilans marooned there would have perished, and humanity would have been reduced to a fraction of the remnant that survived because Lee decided to act against orders.

Should Lee be shot for this behavior? In "normal" military context, perhaps; but that doesn't make much sense in the story at hand ......... not the least because all human lives are precious when there are so few left; and a person of Lee's talents is something no sensible person would discard, when he cannot be easily replaced.

And then there is the issue of what true "ethics" entails, which the story asks us to examine. Yes, the military is organized around a basic hieracharchal structure, which does assume that the lower ranks will obey the orders of their superiors. But is this idea the only consideration of "ethics"?

As I recall, following WW II, people were put on trial for their actions, and their most common excuse for their "crimes" was, "I was following orders". And in many cases, they were {'just following ordders'}. This did not excuse them in the eyes of the tribunals.

Should it? Should any and all actions be justified on the basis that someone in authority orders them?

In the BSG world, the society depicted was a democratic one, with a miliary whose purpose was to serve and protect the civilian population which created it. [I mean, it wasn't a military dictatorship, where civilians can be viewed as existing only to serve the military's needs.] The military is guarding the last remnants of its' populace. Further, they are aboard ships in space, so that normal production of food and goods is curtailed; their journey is of indeterminate length, and their needs {until they can settle at a perminant refuge} are unknown.

This takes us out of "normal military" situations. Adama is the last of his kind; he cannot seek replacements for his trained people at a "normal" level, nor has he a "normal" chain of command to fall back upon.

So the story lines make sense in this context.

As to Admiral Cain:

She seems to have forgot what the purpose of a military is for. When she abandonded her civilian populace, she became a Rogue Elephant. If she was not to serve and protect them, what was Pegasus for? To attack Cylons? If all the civvies are dead, why bother?
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#5
I wouldn't necessarily 'shoot' Lee for his behavioral problems. But I'd definitely put him on medical leave until he saw a counselor and got his schnizzet together. He's a sad excuse for an officer, IMO. Good pilot, yes. But too much of a frak-up for command.

Everybody in uniform hates Tigh. Even though he rose to the occasion during the Resistance, he tends to alienate subordinates. So everyone will eventually mutiny against him in some way.

Agreeing with Darq...
Quote:The issue is indeed "ethics", but not a "lack" thereof.

The small number of qualified military personnel in the Fleet demands adjustments in legal matters. Granted some people have crossed the line and committed serious offenses (like Helo sabotaging the mission to infect the Cylons with the virus, via killing the infected Cylon prisoners), strict sentences are unlikely.

What would happen if they started imrisoning people for life, or executing them? They don't have replacements to re-fill those gaps.

And writers don't want to have to conjure up stories where central characters are chilling in the brig for five seasons.:jawdrop:
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#6
Agreed.

Except that I reckon Tigh is one of the few characters with balls in the show.

Lee is a tragedy when it comes to Officer Qualities.
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#7
Leeis indeed not higher rank officer material. [Assuming that all pilots are officers of some basic rank.]

Frankly, Lee is one of the poorer written characters.

That said, Starbuck {though better written} is also a frak up who is at best a good pilot and instructor; she has the 'balls' enough for dangerous missions and even the savvy to help plan them ... a good lower level combat officer .... but not a person to put in a 'command' status.

But you get my point. Few replacements are to be found. Sr Adama must work with what he has, for better or worse.
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#8
Darq, I sort of agree about Starbuck, though not about her potential.

Writing withstanding, let's not forget that Apollo has made good calls. He had the savvy to save Roslin's ship in the miniseries. And within the mythos of the series, saving Roslin later on was not a bad idea; took guts.

I like the idea of working with what one has, realizing potential. Look at Kat, and Hot Dog.
Custos inferior narrati
The essence is all one.
I may be mad, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.
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#9
Afiriel Wrote:I like the idea of working with what one has, realizing potential. Look at Kat, and Hot Dog.

Kat definitely. She rose from cadet to highest-scoring pilot in the Fleet in about a year.:jawdrop:

Hot Dog? Well, maybe if he got some dialogue, I could better assess his 'potential'. So far, he just straps into the Viper and looks really intently out the canopy.
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#10
Well, there is the fact that he's still jumping into that cockpit. Says something that he's still around. Smile
Custos inferior narrati
The essence is all one.
I may be mad, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.
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#11
The decision of not sending in the infected cylons was unplausible: in war, when you are in a corner, there is no fair fight. For bombing Pearl Harbour, Japan earned two atomic bombs: if it actually managed to wipe out the entire US as in bsg, but a single carrier survived and it was holding a super biological weapon, you can rest assured that they would have used it against their whole population, twice.
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#12
'kin oath, xdiesp.

And seconds later Helo is not even demoted, rather he's still everyone (including the boss)'s best friend.

It's all reminicent of Star Trek when the war-mongering Klingons changed their very nature and became a human ally, however implausible it would've seemed decades earlier. All in the name of detente and the end of the Cold War.

It is a foolishly simplified arrangement by the producers (who think the viewer is an idiot) whereby a Cylon can suddenly be trusted. This, despite the mysteries of their very nature (programming) such as that which allowed Sharon to go as long as she did believing herself to be human and then attempt to kill Adama, and all of which seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

Sack the writers.
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#13
BlackTigh Wrote:An issue which seems to come up regularly on this show is ethics.

I really think Darq has answered the substantive issues.

My additional thought is more a query.

I am thinking perhaps you haven't had the opportunity to see Crossroads 1/2? Mostly because I cannot imagine attacking Lee in a message about ethics if you had. So, assuming you haven't, I would not want to spoil it; but you should take the first chance to watch it. Afterwards, we can continue the discussion about ethics.
Custos inferior narrati
The essence is all one.
I may be mad, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.
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#14
BlackTigh Wrote:It is a foolishly simplified arrangement by the producers (who think the viewer is an idiot) whereby a Cylon can suddenly be trusted. This, despite the mysteries of their very nature (programming) such as that which allowed Sharon to go as long as she did believing herself to be human and then attempt to kill Adama, and all of which seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

R.D. Moore said that he wanted to 'blur the lines' between Cylon and human by doing this type of thing. I never bought it. The Cylon character played by Grace Park is ALWAYS the 'Boomer Unit', no matter which incarnation is shown in a paritcular scene.

Good Boomer, Bad Boomer, Athena, Ms. Agathon...by whatever name, I still view her as the Boomer Unit.

Blurring the lines might be thought-provoking, but it's frakkin' nutty in the context of the BSG universe.

If you dig too deeply into it, you wind up with the 'Humans are inherently selfish, weak, and spiteful creatures, so let's blame them for every calamity that occurs' argument.

If one adopts that POV, then what's the point? We already know Humans do bad things. Sermons to that effect don't further the cause. They just annoy the audience.
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#15
BlackTigh Wrote:It is a foolishly simplified arrangement by the producers (who think the viewer is an idiot) whereby a Cylon can suddenly be trusted. This, despite the mysteries of their very nature (programming) such as that which allowed Sharon to go as long as she did believing herself to be human and then attempt to kill Adama, and all of which seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

I don't really think there is anything at all sudden about trusting Sharon. She has earned the trust. She is an entirely different entity from Boomer, the programmed sleeper agent who attempted to murder Adama.

Sharon made her choices on Caprica, and they were not those programmed.

Blurring the lines? Perhaps clean your glasses? You guys really cannot think these two are a single character?

BlackTigh Wrote:Sack the writers.

Give the writers what they have earned on internet and DVD access to their work.
Custos inferior narrati
The essence is all one.
I may be mad, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.
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#16
Among the amazing things about this show is the Cylon actors managing to play different 'persons' of the same model number. The different Sharons are different persons, despite being cylons of the same model and {obviously} sharing some basic programming.

I think of them as identical siblings. With humans {I think} the natural number of such was five {the fabled Dionne quintuplets, the first and so far as I know, only natural identical quints}. Each begain with the same genome, identical parents, identical birth date, and a shared rearing ....... but each became a different person.

As for "trusting" cylons:

Well, what about Tigh, and The Chief? They {we} only lately learned they were cylons. Yet they decided, "what is, is, what we are, we are, but we return to our duties". Will they deliberately betray their fellows? I don't see it.

What is it to be Human? Why did the Toasters choose to become "like us"? Only to infliltrate, and destroy? I think not.

Humanity both creates, and destroys. And we share a fate with our creations. Who, also, are our gods ......... or god? Our own creations, after all?

Haunting questions BSG constantly reminds us to ponder. Between some frakkin' awsome scenes of combat, of course.
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#17
BlackTigh Wrote:Except that I reckon Tigh is one of the few characters with balls in the show.

But with Tigh's storyline they really screwed the pooch, making him look like a stupid drunken pirate : What will his line be in S3 ? "Arrrggg where's me peg leg...Aaaarrrggh where's me rum polly?" the writers spent a good deal of effort destroying the feel of the show, destroying time line continuity and with random guest characters like Bulldog and Tigh's involvement in the first Cylon war it got ridiculous. The writers should really be ashamed with the season finale, Tigh a CYLON ? and that stupid Bob Dylan music. The return of Kara Thrace was extremely lame, Jumping the Shark Nebula and replacing Jump the Shark with "hears Dylan music" are just two of the comments I've read that describe accurately the season 3 finale. They also expended an enormous amount of effort to "break" the Cylon detector.
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#18
Cuchulainn, thou art truly wise.
I agree wholeheartedly with all of your tirade. Bulldog, especially, was a great character, but he was reduced to a mere plot device. It's doubtful we'll ever see him again.

Two major gripes I had about the series as a whole are...

1) They took the pilots out of the cockpit almost entirely, and reduced them to whining overgrown adolescents. Rife with angst and self-loathing, they became embroiled in a stomach-turning love quadrangle -- the Kara/Sam/Dee/Lee affair. Relationships - even bad ones - are a normal part of life. But this a bad joke.

2) The quest for any means of distinguishing Cylon from Human has been aborted. Why? Doc Cottle can ID a dead Cylon through autopsy. So why not give us some sort of Cylon sniffer? The Doc could at least tell us HOW he can spot a skin-job. But nooooooooooooooooooooo (Edsel says in his best John Belushi voice)!!!Confusedtorm:

R.D. Moore wanted to 'blur the lines' so it will be 'thought-provoking'.:thud:
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#19
I gather the story lines which would appeal to you would be along the lines of:

{a} Good Guys wear white hats. They are good through and through.

{b} Bad Guys wear black hats. They are totally evil, with no redeeming traits.

{c} Whatever the Good Guys choose to do is right and justified, because the Bad Guys are sheer Evil and deserve whatever is done to them. For the Good Guys {as Tigh informed us} there are no limits.

{d} It is a given that the Bad Guys observe no limits to their behavior, either, but this is an inherent trait of Bad Guys, that they are Evil and will do anything to further their own goals; but their ends are bad, and their goals never justified by any history they share with the Good Guys. Reverse this for the Good Guys, who need observe no limits because their goals are always good, noble, and any means to their ends are justified by the evil nature and acts of the Bad Guys.

Even if the Bad Guys are former slaves. I mean, you'd cheer for the Romans and delight in Spartacus' downfall, right?
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#20
Custos inferior narrati
The essence is all one.
I may be mad, but that doesn't mean I'm not right.
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