I love Star Trek. Always have. There are so many great episodes, so many unforgettable lines, so many forgettable guys in red shirts dying, so many hotties in uniforms that could pass for negligees. That was possibly the best thing about Star Trek. How cool is the thought that space exploration would mean the armed forces would start to look like The Playboy Mansion, but with ray guns? I mean, really. Sign me up.
Of course, the central greatness of Star Trek has always been the preposterous overacting. In fact, for a long time I’ve been getting big laughs by identifying some actor, often DeNiro (before he enrolled in the “Anything for a Buck” Acting School), as one of the five greatest American actors of all time. To the inevitable query, “Who are the others,” I answer, “Well, DeNiro, Duvall, Pacino, Brando, and…….Shatner.” Now that he’s the star of Boston Legal and the force behind PriceLine’s market share, who’s laughing now? (OK, all of us are still laughing, but you get the point.)
Still when I think about Star Trek, and forget for a moment about Playboy Bunnies and bombastic emoters, what I remember most is that for all the talk of technology and transporters, for all the “strange new worlds” and aliens, what the various plots focused on the most was humanity. That is, whether it was the human failings of the human characters, or the human tendencies of the alien characters, everyone on the show, and by extension in the universe, was somehow tied together by a fundamental “human” goodness. Perhaps it was simply another example of anthropomorphism at work, but I’d like to think that it was a reflection of the times, the post-nuclear, Cold War times, when technology and space travel were still new and a bit frightening, and something about believing that whatever we found out there would share our fundamental goodness made the whole enterprise a little less terrifying. There was something very cozy about putting a human face on space.
Contrast that vision with the world of Aliens, or the Terminator series, where space is dark and cold, and the future is sinister and inhuman. Yes, it’s probably a more realistic vision, but I’ll take Star Trek and its Styrofoam boulders, plastic models suspended from wires, and brightly colored landscapes (with hotties in mini skirts) any day.
It is perhaps because of my affinity for the show that I often find myself remembering particular episodes in response to things that are happening in my world today. Previously I have likened the experience of riding the New York City subway during rush hour to living on the planet Gideon, from the episode “The Mark of Gideon.” Recently, as I spent part of a sick weekend reading through more than 120 comments on Jim Parinella’s blog, I again found myself thinking about Star Trek. This time the episode that came to mind is “Court Martial.”
As an aside, the totality of Henry Thorne’s comments to Jim Parinella’s HOF discussion blog post is such that I can’t possibly go through everything here, but I encourage anyone who is interested to go and read them yourself. I will be addressing certain statements in this entry, and I expect to address more in the future, but in the interest of expediency I will be pulling comments out of context. I will make every effort to explain the context when I do so, but again, please go read them yourself. I am trying to present them in the way I believe they were meant, but I might be getting it wrong. I urge you to form your own opinions.
So why did reading Henry’s comments about my HOF candidacy make me think of “Court Martial?” Early in the string, when Corey questioned him on why he game me such a low score for sportsmanship, he brought up the concept of evidence, as though the HOF selection process were a court proceeding.
“The evidence from the three sources I described was overwheliming [sic].”
The sources in question were the HOF peer reviews, the responses to the Call to the Community, and my blog entries. I have already addressed the issue of blog entries and why I think it’s inappropriate to use them to determine the merit of a particular player’s candidacy (Seventeen). But even if I were to accept that all three of these sources should be used, do they really rise to the height of “evidence?” Maybe we’ll come back to that question later.
What I want to point out now is how, as this discussion continued, and other comments raised the point that perhaps many people who might have a more positive view had simply not responded to the Call to the Community, Henry seems to relent somewhat.
“To be complete here, there were a lot of people who said what you heard, that he didn't cross the line, that he must be in. In the data I got the split was roughly even, and there was a lot of it, the 60 person peer review group, then the 58 responses on KD from the Call to the Community.”
So, forgive me for quibbling, and perhaps all I really need is some elaboration, but how did the evidence go from “overwhelming” to “roughly even?”
But let’s be honest, regardless of whether the “evidence” was “overwhelming” or “roughly even,” when it’s as damning as this, perhaps the amount doesn’t really matter.
“KD's blog post quoted below was typical of the stuff we were hearing but, worse than this, it was happening at high levels of play effecting [sic] championships won and lost.”
Now that is a serious accusation. My actions changed the outcomes of multiple championships. A careful reader by the name of AJ is one of the few who caught on to just how serious it is.
“AJ asked: "Are you saying that based on your discussions with "the hive" you found that KD was "un-spirited" (kind of a dick on the field, but not systematically effecting [sic] the integrity of the games), or that KD was "cheating" (changing the outcomes of series games through systematic violation of the rules)?"
So now it’s out. Henry Thorne confirms that I am not only a cheater, but my cheating has changed the outcome of multiple championship games. Even as I was reading this I couldn’t believe it. Was a UPA Board member and the UPA HOF Liaison really stating in a public forum that I had stolen multiple championships for my team by cheating? I was blown away. Reading further, I saw that another reader named Kyle needed clarification. He had seen me play. He also had trouble believing what Henry was saying.
I watched Kenny make that leap, it was amazing. I'd just won with the Seven Sages in the Masters division. But answering your question, did he cheat to win championships? There are players who have told me he did. Finals of Nationals.”
He goes on to paint the precarious position he found himself in once he came into possession of this “evidence.”
“They could be wrong, but I'm just telling you, it isn't that we're making this up, there is a real problem here, either those players who claim that will feel that we've completely dropped sportsmanship as an important criteria or we'll have the Toad's yelling and screaming.”
At times I tend to make light of things, but there is no making light of this. This is a very serious issue, and I’ll get into just how serious in a moment, but for now let’s take a look at how Henry, an elected UPA representative, sees this situation.
First, Henry uses the plural, “players,” but my HOF source tells me the cheating accusation appeared on one response from the Call to the Community. Still, Henry saw them; I didn’t. I’ll go with his recollection. So in Henry’s perception of how this very serious issue is manifested, what we have is:
On one side, players fighting for sportsmanship by anonymously accusing me of cheating to win National Championships.
On the other side, we have “Toads yelling and screaming.”
Is it just me, or is this pretty much a textbook example of the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy? Surely there’s some middle ground somewhere out there, isn’t there? I mean, Henry, are you seriously telling your constituents, all the members of the UPA, that in your world view there are anonymous accusers on one side and Toad and his ilk on the other? And that’s it?
As you can probably imagine, at this point in my reading I was getting a little bit upset, and that’s when I thought of Star Trek.
In the “Court Martial” episode, Kirk is on trial for causing the death of a crew member through negligence. I won’t go into details. The important point is that the testimony the court is relying on is the computer record, and it’s pretty incriminating. As Kirk watches himself on the monitor release the pod during a yellow alert as opposed to a red alert, thereby causing the crew member’s death, even he is perplexed, twisting in his chair as he offers a passionate, albeit feeble, defense: “But that’s not how it happened.” But just when all hope seems lost, Spock discovers that the computer has been tampered with, Kirk’s attorney, Samuel T. Cogley, takes the floor, and the computer takes a back seat to humanity once again.
“I'd be delighted to, sir, now that I've got something human to talk about. Rights, sir, human rights--the Bible, the Code of Hammurabi and of Justinian, Magna Carta, the Constitution of the United States, Fundamental Declarations of the Martian colonies, the Statutes of Alpha 3--gentlemen, these documents all speak of rights. Rights of the accused to a trial by his peers, to be represented by counsel, the rights of cross-examination, but most importantly, the right to be confronted by the witnesses against him--a right to which my client has been denied.”
Wouldn’t you know it? Someone else, our friend Kyle, is also a fan of Star Trek, and he suggests to Henry I should be given a chance to face my accusers, or at the very least they should be identified. Henry’s response?
“Like a public trial Kyle? Zero chance of success.”
Clearly Henry does not adhere to the Fundamental Declarations of the Martian Colonies, as he clarifies in a subsequent, more elaborate explanation.
If we present the actual incidents then shouldn't KD be given the chance to "contest" their "calls?" I think so, which gets you to the public trial.
And would the people make those "calls" on him if they were to be publicized with their names attached? No. Why should they take the public hit?”
I’m guessing Henry doesn’t feel very strongly about the Statutes of Alpha-3 either. But in his defense, Kyle, he might be right. I mean, why should they take a public hit, when they can remain anonymous while UPA Board Member and HOF Liaison delivers the public hit to me, and then argues passionately why it is so critically important that they remain anonymous.
“If instead, they were not only not allowed to be anonymous to the voters but they were also going to be publicized with their names attached, then we would be forcing them to essentially be whistle blowers and the number of people willing to step forward and give data would drop a lot. Why should they be the ones to take the hit, they care more about their friendships than whether KD gets into the Hall.”
Once again, Henry returns to the safety and comfort of the false dichotomy.
On one side we have people’s friendships.
On the other side we have my HOF candidacy.
I hate to break it to you Henry, but by going public with these anonymous accusations, you kind of upped the ante just a smidge. Allow me to explain.
Taking the accusations at face value (I’ll address in another post how there’s ample evidence not to do so), let’s take a look at the ripple effect.
First, you have publicly questioned my character and integrity, which is a hell of lot more important to me than the HOF.
Second, all the Nationals Finals I played in were observed games, so by suggesting that it is plausible that I could have cheated enough to alter the outcomes of those games, you have questioned the competence of the UPA Observers and the UPA Observer system. Or maybe you simply think they might have been in on it.
Third, by stating that there is some reason to give credence to these accusations, you are effectively calling into question the legitimacy of multiple UPA National Championship tournaments, and by extension the integrity of the UPA National Championship Series as a whole.
So, Henry Thorne, UPA Board Member and HOF Liaison, do you really think that preserving the anonymity of the players who made these anonymous accusations so that they don't risk friendships is more important than everything you have called into question by repeating those accusations in a public forum?
But I guess I’m really asking the wrong person the wrong question.
“On the appreciation for the work I do...
Thanks. I love this game. But It's also a privilege, a privilege to be given the authority to make decisions like this one. And I've been given that authority by voters who hope I'll represent their views.”
So, voters who put Henry in the privileged position to exercise his authority, is he representing your views? Do you also believe that protecting the friendships of the anonymous accusers whose accusations have called so much into question is of paramount importance?
Is that the spirited thing to do?
If the Code of Hammurabi and of Justinian can be invoked on behalf of Captain Kirk, why not me?
After all, I’m Captain of the ship.