Who Gets to be Human?

“One is my name. The other is not.”

BBC America just showed two of my favourite Data episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are disturbingly fitting to what is happening now.

I never liked Dr. Pulaski. Her casual disregard of Data’s personhood bristled maybe as much as when Commander Bruce Maddox tried to get him declared property.

The idea that any being capable of acting on the behalf of others would be Othered seemed (& continues to seem) beyond comprehension. Maddox wanted to manufacture an entire race of Datas to perform dangerous tasks, which Captain Picard rightly pointed out is a form a slavery. Pulaski just didn’t care how to pronounce Data’s name, or tried to send him out of a delivery room (the mom put the kibosh on that malarkey).

Both are acts of depersonalizing another being. It is the greatest injustice — to deny the humanity of others. It is used to justify horrific acts, & it is also used to justify reaction to horrific acts.

Every time you hear yourself saying “All [blanks] are [something derogatory],” replace the group you are talking about with yours & see it if still rings true. It isn’t true, is it? Does it feel terrible? Yes. Does it lead to healing? No.

You may feel justified based on an experience with someone you have decided is a representative of that group, maybe even more than one. But you will never be right, because your basic premise is Othering, is depersonalizing. You are denying the humanity of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people you don’t know.

An army of Datas, programmed to do your will, if only they thought like you. The greatest injustice.

History shows it always leads to violence. Why be historical? Be the future. “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Sorry, nerds. This one was never going to be funny.

2 thoughts on “Who Gets to be Human?

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