3 Percenters Could Learn a Lot from Star Trek: The Next Generation

There is a notion — an insane one, but one that persists nonetheless — that the 2nd Amendment exists primarily as a means to rise up against a tyrannical government regime. This is what groups like the 3 Percenters and the Oath Keepers believe, that their constitutional right to bear arms is about being able to take down the government should they step out of line by *checks notes* asking them politely to stay-at-home while there is a global pandemic, or *checks notes again* requiring that they wear masks in public. You know, things that dictatorships do. Nasty stuff.

It seems like the entire idea of a “3 Percenter” revolves around what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “dubious” and what I’ll call “straight up bullshit” claim that only 3 percent of Americans fought in and won the Revolutionary War. It’s a power fantasy created by a bunch of people who are trying to convince themselves that, in the event that their glorious revolution ever actually happened, they’d have a decent shot of winning.

Instead of simply calling them on their copious amounts of bullshit, let us turn the medium of television, and the most timeless of television shows, Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode comes in Season 3 and is titled “The Ensigns of Command”.

In it, our Intrepid Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the starship Enterprise-D find themselves in the middle of a dispute when the insanely bureaucratic and pedantic Shelliac Corporation, a conglomerate of aliens who look like your grandma’s old comforters. Seems the Shelliac are preparing to wipe out an entire settlement of humans on a planet that shouldn’t be able to support human life, thanks to one of those good ol’ fashioned treaties that the Federations loves to sign without ever thinking of the consequences. With sensors and transporters scrambled by radiation on the planet Tau Cygna V, Captain Picard sends down Lieutenant Commander Data, our favorite android, to investigate.

Once Data lands, he learns that humans from the missing colony ship the S.S Artemis took a right turn at Albuquerque and wound up on Tau Cygna V, forcing them to find a way to deal with the radiation. There are over 12,000 people on the planet. With no transporters and help from Starfleet three weeks away, Picard has to convince the Shelliac to give him more time, and Data has to convince a group of people to abandon the only life they’ve ever known.

The relevant parts comes when Data tries to convince their leader Gosheven to leave the planet. Gosheven is arrogant in only the way that someone who inherited their power instead of earning it can be, and dismisses Data outright because he is an android. Throughout the episode, Data tries to convince Gosheven and the people of the settlement that evacuation is the only way; the Shelliak have a binding claim to the planet regardless of the remarkable job this human colony has done terriforming the planet and adapting to the radiation.

Data tries to appeal with reason, but Gosheven blows him off. Gosheven goes as far as to say that this colony will successfully defend themselves against the Shelliak. Data tries a little reverse psychology, pretending to admire their doomed effort to find the Shelliak. Gosheven uses this to rally the members of the settlement even more. And then Gosheven goes and shocks Data into a system shut off.

Fresh out of options and fucks to give (as if Data could give a fuck; as an android, his programming prevents him from giving a fuck of any kind), Data modifies a phaser from his shuttle and tells Ard’rian, the woman who has been helping him try to convince the colonists to leave peacefully, to tell the villagers that he intends to blow up the aquaduct that has been supplying the colony with clean water. Gosheven posts four guards inside the town, but Data walks through all of them and blows up the damn aquduct anyway.

Data makes his case clear; he’s one android with one phaser and he could destroy the whole damn colony if he wanted. There were hundred of Shelliak on the way, with far more powerful weapons, and just in case they though they could overwhelm them with numbers, Data points out the Shelliak could glass their entire colony from orbit; they would die never having seen the face of the attackers.

Gosheven finally relents, remarking that he was ready to die to protect what his ancestors had built. Data points out that the pumping station and the colony were only things, and things can be replaced; human lives can not.

It’s a great episode that also features one of Jean-Luc Picard’s finest moments as captain. But the context of what Data was saying is extremely important to what I think some 3 Percenters and Oath Keepers are gearing up for.

A battle they can not possibly win.

A lot of the back and forth that appears in these circles are nothing but trying to talk a big game. The internet has allowed a lot of these people to congregate, to formulate plans and strategies that could help them win some sort of Civil War. They are trying to convince themselves that a small community of like-minded right-wing extremists could stand up to the most formidable military on the planet and win, if it ever came down to it.

They wouldn’t. They wouldn’t come close.

These men would be lucky to get past most local police departments and SWAT teams before military intervention even occurred. They are talking themselves into taking terrorist action against a country they say they love, and they would be thoroughly and completely outclassed.

Like the humans of Tau Cygna V, the military could simply destroy their bases from the sky with drones. They would die, without ever seeing the face of their attackers, without a single bullet fired from a single gun. If it came down to it. And that’s a big ass if.

And they would do so just to…protect what? Their right to bear arms? Their jobs from immigrants? Those are just things. You can replace a gun. You can (theoretically) replace a job. You can’t replace a life. They aren’t necessities.

I always find myself hesitating when people say things like “I hope these stupid Trump supporters actually take his advice and drink bleach”, because at the end of the day, they’re people. Scared people. Stupidly fearful people being fed propaganda by other people to keep them scared. A life is a life, even if it’s a life you disagree with. It’s easy to think “if all these people just died, shit would be better off!”. But even if you transported all those people off-world to a place where they can be as racist and scared as they were, new scared, uneducated people are born every day. They will never, really, die out.

The best hope we have for people like that is that they can put their fears aside for a day, sit in front of the TV, fire up some Netflix, watch some Star Trek: The Next Generation and try to learn something. It’s not a one-to-one comparison; the humans settlers of Tau Cygna V being forced to leave the only place they’ve ever called home all because the Federation signed a treaty that had no party to is pretty unfair, but lots of people think they’re unique situations are horrifically unfair.

But if the “hey, maybe you shouldn’t be fearful of the government taking away shit you don’t need” angle keeps failing to work, the “you would get blown up before you had a chance to grab your weapon fighting for something that’s worth less than your life” angle might.

About KC Complains A Lot 135 Articles
KC Complains A Lot is another refugee from Deadspin. He enjoys writing and not caving to pressure from herbs.


  1. A lot of these fuckers, particularly from the South, also like to delude themselves into thinking that they’ll bring most of the military with them, because most of the military is populated with Southerners. They are wrong, but that’s how they comfort themselves.

    That whole BS argument about why the 2nd Amendment exists was never what I was taught growing up. We didn’t have a standing army during the period of the Articles of Confederation. The country and its leaders were very skeptical of having a standing army. The 2nd Amendment during the drafting of the Constitution was part of this line of thinking. We were supposed to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves against foreign attack. Fucking morons.

  2. Truth is these gung ho Wolllllllllverrrrrriiiiiiiines wannabes make it very difficult to empathize with them. I’m sure they feel the same way about Libs.

    One thing that seems to be true is in order to save ourselves we have to save others (even if they’re stupid scared dumbasses who vote against their own self interests.)

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