We are very pleased to be able to present a transcript of our interview with Ron Moore and David Eick, the creators, producers, and writers of the TV show Battlestar Galactica. Joe Beaudoin, Jr., the project leader of the Battlestar Wiki, transcribed the interview for us. We edited the transcript, but the bulk of the work was done by Joe. The transcript is also posted at the Battlestar Wiki, which has a ton of great information for fans of the show. In editing the transcript, we took the liberty of cleaning up grammatical errors and eliminating “ums” and other distractions in order to make it more readable.
In this interview, we explore the legal, political, economic, and social ideas raised by the show. If you prefer to hear to the interview, click here to listen to the audio files.
Below is the introduction to the interview and the transcript for Part I, which explores the legal system, morality, and torture. I couldn’t fit the entire transcript into one post, so Parts II and III are contained in another post. Part II examines politics and commerce. Part III explores the cylons.
In the interview, Daniel Solove, Deven Desai, and David Hoffman ask the questions. We would like to thank Professor John Ip for suggesting some of the torture questions.
Our goal was to explore some of the themes of the show in a deeper manner than many traditional interviews. Ron and David graciously agreed to give us an hour of their time, and we had a fascinating conversation with them.
The new Battlestar Galactica, which premiered initially as a miniseries in 2003 on the SciFi Network, is only loosely based on the earlier show by the same name during 1978 and 1980. The new Battlestar Galactica is breathtaking science fiction, and it has widespread appeal beyond science fiction fans. Numerous critics have hailed it as one of the best shows on television. Time Magazine, for example, listed it as one of the top television shows and described it as “a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal.”
The show chronicles the struggle for survival of a small band of humans who escaped a devastating genocidal attack by intelligent robots called cylons. The humans created the cylons for use as slaves. The cylons rebelled and a war erupted between the humans and cylons. But a truce was reached, and the cylons disappeared. But forty years later, the cylons launched a massive surprise attack, destroying the human society (called the Twelve Colonies) with nuclear missiles. Only a small group of humans aboard spaceships survived.
Battlestar Galactica depicts the humans’ difficult fight for survival and the tough choices they must make along the way. The cylons have developed technology to allow them to take human form, and some of the humans within the group of survivors are really cylons. The show is heavily influenced by modern events, especially terrorism, war, and torture.
Battlestar Galactica was honored with a prestigious Peabody Award and twice as an official selection of the American Film Institute top television programs for 2005 and 2006.
Because the show explores so many interesting issues so deftly, it has attracted a large group of fans in the legal academy. We know of many law professors who count Battlestar Galactica as one of their favorite shows, and this is why we thought it would be fascinating to speak with the creators and writers of the show — Ron Moore and David Eick.
Ron Moore is a co-creator, executive producer, and writer of Battlestar Galactica. Previously, Ron wrote or co-wrote 27 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including the two-hour series finale “All Good Things,” for which he won a Hugo Award in 1994. That same year, Ron was honored with an Emmy Award nomination and was eventually promoted to producer. In 1994, Ron joined the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as supervising producer and was elevated to co-executive producer the following year. Ron spent five seasons on the series until the end of its successful run in 1999. In the fall of 2002, he was named show-runner and executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed one-hour drama Carnivale. In 2006 Ron was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for his work on Battlestar Galactica. Ron studied political science at Cornell University, and he lives in California with his wife and three children. He has a blog, which he started during the Writer’s Guild Strike.
David Eick is also a co-creator, executive producer, and writer of Battlestar Galactica. Prior to his involvement in Battlestar Galactica, David was Executive Vice President of USA Cable Entertainment (USACE), where he was the company’s point person to the creative community and oversaw all aspects of the division, which developed, financed and acquired product for initial exhibition on USA Network and SCI FI Channel. While there, the studio produced USA Network’s critically lauded drama series Touching Evil, as well as the hit series Monk. Prior to his network experience, David spent six years at Renaissance Pictures, where he held a variety of positions and produced the hugely successful syndicated series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. David also co-developed and launched its successful spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess. Additionally, David also produced many others shows. He recently developed The Bionic Woman for NBC. David graduated from the University of Redlands in California with a BA in political science. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
For readers unfamiliar the show, you should catch up by watching the DVDs of the first few seasons. Currently, the show is about to start its fourth and final season on Friday, April 4th at 10PM Eastern.
Additionally, you can watch the movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor, a made-for-TV movie that premiered in fall 2007.
PART I-A: LEGAL SYSTEMS
Daniel Solove: Greetings, this is Professor Daniel Solove of the blog Concurring Opinions with professors David Hoffman and Deven Desai.
We’re delighted to have the opportunity to speak with Ron Moore and David Eick, the creators of the terrific television show, “Battlestar Galactica”, on the SciFi network. “Battlestar Galactica” chronicles a small group of humans that survived the mass destruction of their society by a group of machines they created. The machines are known as the Cylons.
As “Battlestar” enters its fourth and final season, it enjoys tremendous stature. The show has been one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows. It raises many fascinating legal, political, economic and social issues. And we’re here right now with Ron Moore and David Eick, the two writers, co-creators, producers of the show, to talk about some of the issues with them.
Ron and David, thanks so much for being here with us today.
Ron Moore: Well, thank you for having us. It’s a pleasure to be here.
David Eick: Absolutely.
Deven Desai: Fantastic! So this is Deven Desai, and I wanted to kick off with a somewhat general framing question. At a very simple level–but from the mental level — I’m trying to get at exactly what role the law plays in the show. And I think the real question there is: Is it fair to say that “Battlestar” examines what happens to a social and legal system under extreme stress, and maybe even questions whether there is law at all in those circumstances?
Moore: Yeah, I think that is a fair way to put it. I think from the very beginning, one of the things we wanted to examine in the show is what would happen in a circumstance where civilization as we know it was literally wiped out, and you and a bunch of other survivors would gather together. What elements of the existing society would you choose to continue? What are the things that you would leave behind? What are the things you would try to retain?
It’s called “Battlestar Galactica,” so it has a very strong military component to it, but I felt very strongly from the get-go that there are other remnants of the civilization here, and [we needed to know] how they organize themselves, what kind of government they have. What the role of law was in that circumstance [post-apocalypse] was one of the key ideas we wanted to start talking about right from the mini-series.
In fact, in the mini-series you’ll see that one of the first questions that comes up is the line of succession for the presidency — what role the president has in that circumstance versus the military. By the end of the pilot, they settled into a bit of compromise between Laura [Roslin] and [Commander William] Adama.
Eick: Right. It is also important to point out that [the military vs. government issue was] one of the things, I thought, Ron’s script for the pilot (the mini-series) [addressed] so well. In fact, [it] really intuitively circumvented some of the things that befall a lot of so-called genre sci-fi pieces when they try to examine or postulate legal precedents or refer to laws.
There was a show called “Century City” on a while ago which was a law show about the future. And I was friendly with some of the executives who made it. Not to pick on “Century City”, but I remember saying at the time: “You know, guys, the joy of a law show — I know a lot of people who watch law shows (I don’t) — and not that “Battlestar” is — but the joy of these [shows] is to match your wits against the characters in the piece.” [The joy of law shows is] to be able to go to yourself, “No, no! Brown vs. Board of Education you idiot, or whatever… [It is] to be able to have a common frame of reference. And the thing that I thought Ron’s script did so well was to essentially say their world is our world. And we’re not literal about that necessarily, but what I think we try to do is avoid the trappings of contrivance and deus ex machina to justify a story point when it hits against the reality of: “No, in our culture that wouldn’t be allowed, we have a law about those kinds of things.” We have things like freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and there are certain basics of the show that are essentially just transplants [from our society] that allow us to play fair with the storytelling and with the audience whenever a story point comes up that involves the law or the issue of morality or ethics.
Desai: Right. And I think, if I hear you right, that explains why there are remnants of the older legal system, but there are still — because of the stress — the military tribunals, there are criminal trials and civil actions. And it seems like lawyers lurk behind some of this. If I remember correctly, Adama’s father [Joe Adama] is a defense attorney, and then you later have Romo Lampkin. And I’m wondering, how do the lawyers and these ideals play out with those characters? And are you exploring what pieces of the legal culture and system you keep or don’t keep in developing a society that’s perhaps reinventing itself?
Moore: Well, for Adama, we gave him the backstory that his father was a defense attorney who specialized in civil liberties, primarily because I wanted to say that about the character of Adama. Typically the military commander in a fictional world comes from a long line of military commanders, going back to the [American] Revolution or something, and I wanted to set him apart from that tradition. This is a man that believes in a lot of the ideals that the uniform stands for, and [he] approaches it from a slightly different point of view [than Laura Roslin], and I wanted to set him up in a different way than Laura. Laura came to this position through a different process, and her ideas of the law and how she would wield authority would come from a very different place as a character.
I think that the lawyers in the show, [such as] Romo Lampkin [whom] we’ve used, and the lawyers, laws, and things [we allude to], are in service of the idea: Okay, this society is destroyed, [and] it’s very important for society to have a rule of law, to have a system that governs people lives — even in this circumstance — that they can rely on. There are ideas of justice and fairness within the society, but there’s still picking and choosing which laws they’re going to adhere to. We had a line in an episode that actually got cut: there was a press conference early on in season one where Laura’s assistant, Billy [Keikeya], was fielding various questions from the press about all kinds of things, and someone actually asked about income taxes and whether they were going to be filing returns.
We played it as a joke — you know, we’ll get to that later, but it was an interesting notion because it was symbolic of the [idea] that if we’re hanging on to this form of Republican government, and we’re not trying to hang on to all the things we used to have, how far does that go? How far is the point where it becomes absurd, given the circumstances that they were in? But the notion was that we’re going to try to hold on to as much of this democratic society as we can, that this was one of the founding beliefs of this culture. [It was] really, really important to them — to hold on to this form of government and hold on to as many of the forms and rituals (and symbols of it) as possible because it defined them as a people. It defined them in terms of how they chose to view themselves.
Desai: So as a follow up then, when you talk about how they choose to view themselves, it seems like there’s a real contrast in terms of evolution of society. In [the episode] “Litmus,” you have these early almost Crucible-like interrogation boards or inquiry boards, and later on you get to [Gaius] Baltar’s trial and the acquittal, which reminded some of us of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission — where you examine something without prosecuting it. Obviously, as you develop stories, sometimes things take on their own life, but was there an evolving plan for these sorts of crucial moments of the story? Were the characters getting to these, “How are we really going to do it when we’re up against the wall here?” [moments]?
Moore: Yes. There was a certain evolution in our thinking of the culture within the show, and I think it just grows out of the fact that, in season one, soon after the apocalypse and the destruction of their world, it’s sort of like everything is up for grabs at that point. Everything is possible. Tribunals can go far astray. Laura can pretty much rule by dictate.
A lot of it has to do with observing of our society in the post-9/11 aftermath, and how everyone was willing to do a lot of things that the government asked them to do in those early days without real question. So we wanted to reflect that into the show, but as time went on you start to settle in and say “Ok we’re not going to do that anymore” and “Wait a minute, maybe this was too far” and “Let’s really re-gather and decide what the rules of the society are.” And that happened in the writer’s room, as well as on the show. [When] we’re [no longer] a few months after the attack [and] a few years have gone by, and here’s a former president of the Colonies [Baltar] up on treasonable charges, [we] feel that this has to be examined in a different context than the earlier sort of tribunal-type formats would have permitted.
Eick: It’s funny you know, and this sounds to be more political than it is, but [in] the episode “Pegasus” in season two, a long lost ship [found the] small fleet and [was] helmed by an admiral [Helena Cain] who outranked Adama and who, as the story wove on, was a war criminal, basically, and was someone [to whom] human rights were utterly meaningless in the face of war and [who just] did what [she thought] needed to be done. And I felt like that epitomized a lot of what was going on with the culture [in America post 9-11]. There was a certain, “Whatcha gonna do about it?” that seemed to be in the culture. It isn’t so much to say, “Well gee, look at what our real life administration did” as much as it was to say, “What could it do? Where would the line be drawn? Would one be drawn?” There was this feeling of recklessness in the air [post 9-11], and I do think that it served [to some degree as a starting point]. [But] we said on a number of occasions that we don’t rip headlines to serve as starting points for storytelling. We’re not “Law & Order.” We’re not looking to do literal metaphors necessarily, and yet it was impossible to dodge the sense of what was creeping into our culture.
So [let’s] get back to your question, “Where did you decide to adhere to the strictures of our modern, contemporary legal system? Where did you decide to deviate?” It was more about: What would you buy? What feels real? What feels like: “Gosh, that kind of feels contemporary, that kind of feels resonant with what’s happening today”? I like a show where you’re making it up as you go, and you’re able to pull solutions out of your hat whenever you want because you made the rules up anyway. [But] this [attempt to be contemporary and resonant with current events], I think, maintained enough of a sense of reality and a connection to our culture that we didn’t feel allowed to do that. That there were repercussions, even in a situation like the tribunal, where the nature of the discussion was: “Well, hold on a second. You can’t do that.” And a part of you goes, “Well, why not? We’ve already done this!” And that seemed to reflect what was going on in the culture anyway. So in that way it felt real.
PART I-B: TORTURE, NECESSITY, AND MORALITY
Solove: I’d like to explore some of the issues involving the show’s depiction of torture, which occurred at several points during the show. It’s obviously a huge area up for debate after 9/11. How did the United States experience of torture affect the way that you chose to depict it in the show?
Moore: It’s interesting [because of] the fact that there was actually a question suddenly, which in the first time of my experience in this country was actually a subject of discussion. There was a notion that [torture] was permissible under some circumstances but not others, or at least we should have a public debate about it. And that alone just felt like . . . well, okay then, just by having it in our show we would touch into what’s going on in America today. I think that given the circumstances of where they are, it was completely believable that people in different circumstances would choose to use aggressive, physical coercion on their enemies.
[This is] especially [true] in the circumstance [in the show] where we have the distinction [between humans and cylons.] [In the show,] Kara [“Starbuck” Thrace] and the rest of the Colonial officers did not view the Cylons as legitimate people. They were not accepted as [humans] — they were not human, and they did not have the rights of humans, and they would not be accepted as anything other than machines. So when we approached the first episode that really dealt with this, “Flesh and Bone,” one of the key concepts was: ”Well, it’s a machine.” Is there anything morally wrong about beating a machine? And torturing machines? And making a machine go through all kinds gyrations? It’s a thing, and if this thing in front of you screams and cries and bleeds, can you ignore that? Can you as a human being distance yourself from the visual, from the empathetic impulse, and say, “Oh, I have to keep reminding myself this thing is not real. It’s just a really good simulacrum. It’s a really good software program. It’s designed to fool me into believing it’s human”?
And we wanted to play with that [issue] in the show, and that no matter how much Kara told herself that, how much she told that to Leoben [Conoy], she couldn’t help but have a human connection. She couldn’t help but be affected by what she was doing within the show. I think when we approached that episode we were a little bit more interested in the dynamic between interrogator and subject — how does the emotional response reverberate back and forth? — than we were really invested at that point in legal questions. We took as a given that Kara could walk into that room and do whatever she felt she had to do. She could have probably chopped his arms off if she felt like she wanted to, because Adama essentially told her at the top of the show, “It’s a machine, don’t forget that. Don’t get involved.” But we were interested in this more character-oriented idea.
Eick: That episode remains somewhat notorious in that it probably represented the most extreme period of tension and disagreement between ourselves and the network. I know those stories are legion, and show people like to talk about how they weathered the storms, and put up a good fight, and saved the show from the cretins who’ve gotten their fingers. That has not been the case with this show at all. We’ve actually enjoyed a great deal of support and a lot of courageous spiritedness and boldness from this network.
However, in that particular case, there were drafts of the script that were pretty extreme in terms of what Kara was going to do to Leoben, and they were emblematic of what was going on at Guantanamo and places like that, and the connection to our own culture was probably a bit more literal and precise and less metaphorical than it had been [in other episodes of the show]. But as a microcosm, in and of itself, it serves as an example of what Ron was just talking about — which is that we would find ourselves saying things like, “But it’s not a person, why are you telling us to cut the scene where she gouges his eyeballs out?! No, there wasn’t that scene, but why are you giving us grief about this?” In a way, it became our argument because we were trying to take something real and force the audience to have the same trouble with it that the network was having. Anyway, it was just an interesting microcosm of everything you were saying.
Solove: I heard that the show’s ethos is encapsulated by the line, “It’s not enough to survive, one must be worthy of survival.” As you both talk about the depiction of torture and how extreme it is, there are views such as, “Look it’s just robots.” But there are also times when [humans such as] Gaius Baltar get tortured [in Season 3’s “Taking a Break From All Your Worries“]. To what extent did you want to portray [torture] in a way that got so extreme that in fact it earned the audience’s sympathy, or got the audience to say, “Wait a second. This isn’t effective,” or “It is effective”? To what extent did you depict [torture] to try to illustrate certain points about torture, and its effectiveness or non-effectiveness, or the justifications for it, or the arguments against it?
Moore: I think our goal was to stay away from that, actually. We were sort of at pains in the story discussion room and at the script phase to not send [any particular] message [about torture]. We were trying not to say, “Hey, guess what, torture’s bad!” or to go through the rationalizations of why it should be employed in certain circumstances. We really just wanted to put the audience in the room and make them really uncomfortable. We really wanted them to struggle (we like to do this a lot in the show) — we wanted them to struggle with [the questions]: “Who am I supposed to be rooting for in this circumstance? Whose side am I on? I thought I was on her [Kara’s] side because [Leoben has] said he’s got a nuke somewhere in the Fleet, and that’s a pretty scary thing, and Kara, you better do what you’ve got to do to get the information out of him. . . . Okay, now I’m sitting here, and now I have to watch him be smacked around, blood flowing from his mouth, and watch him be, in essence, water boarded. And I’m starting to really feel uncomfortable with that. And I’m starting to feel like she’s going too far and . . . wait a minute . . . whose side am I on?”
We just wanted to ask the questions. We really just wanted the audience to have to get in that room and really search their own souls for how they felt about this, and what’s right and what’s wrong. [We wanted] to just let it live in the ambiguity of the circumstance. That’s something that television generally shies away from. Ambiguity is not something networks like. They like an answer. Give the audience an answer. Tell them who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy. Let them root for justice and boo at evil.
Our show, I think, is at its best when you’re just not sure, [when] you’re just uncomfortable because you can’t decide — should Gaius Baltar get off the hook or not? — when you’re struggling with these moral dilemmas. I don’t think we [as writers] need to have the ego that says, “Hey, guess what, I’ve got the answer to torture in 44 minutes or less, and here it is.” It was just like, “Okay, this happens, this is a real world circumstance. Here’s the classic ticking-bomb scenario, and here’s the guy [Leoben] who says he knows where it is. What are you going to do?” And here it happens, and he starts talking, and he [Leoben] gets into her [Kara’s] head. It just becomes this very complicated wash of emotions.
Solove: It’s interesting too in that you, to some extent, avoided the issues that have plagued the show “24.” There was a New York Times story about the politics of depicting torture in “24” and criticizing the show for the way it depicted torture. To what extent do you feel that you managed to survive that kind of criticism? Also, more broadly, to what extent do you feel pressure at all from the Left, the Right, or others in terms of how you depict certain hot topics such as torture?
Eick: You know, I’ll just say briefly, that’s the great thing about science fiction. Exactly that point. I don’t watch “24,” I don’t know what their issues were, what kind of trouble they got into, but I would reckon that we’d probably be able to get away with exactly what they tried to do, and got in trouble for, in a different way because of the nature of sci-fi, and the fact that it tends to not, frankly, be taken as seriously. People can look down their nose at it, or say, “That’s just a fantasy” or “That’s just an escapist piece” — with the exception, of course, of the people who actually watch shows like “Battlestar” and they realize that’s not the intent. But I do think the genre has always served as an excuse or justification or a metaphorical way to talk about the issues of the day and what’s happening in the culture without necessarily having to be subjected to the same kind of scrutiny [that is directed at] something that’s doing it in a literal way.
Moore: One of the hallmarks of our success is that we get glowing reviews from The National Review [and also] from Salon. I think that just says a lot. We’re not trying to play everything down the middle, where it’s just neutral. There are ideas and messages and themes strewn throughout the show, but I think we always try to make it really ambiguous, and let the audience take away from it what they will. Some people will see exactly what they want to see in the given circumstances, and I’m sure there are people on the Right who watched the torture scenes and felt like, “Well, absolutely! She’s justified in doing whatever she’s got to do to get that information out of that guy.” And there are probably people who on the Left felt like it was appalling and sympathized completely with him, and there were probably people on both sides who had their views challenged and felt vaguely uncomfortable about holding the position that they started with.
Solove: It’s a great testament to the show it does have fans both on the Left and the Right, especially when it tackles issues that have been hot button issues on both sides where there’s so little agreement. So I think that’s quite a testament to the show.
I’d like to shift a little bit to a related issue, which is the issue of necessity and morality. Throughout the show there seems to be a tension between instrumental necessity and moral principle, and we see characters doing things that they often find contrary to their own morality and principles. Examples would be Roslin trying to rig an election, people turning into terrorists to fight the Cylons [on New Caprica], the destruction of a ship [the Olympic Carrier] in “33” with over a thousand people on it. To what extent do you think these decisions have effects on the people that make them and on the human society? And how have you’ve chosen to depict those effects?
Moore: I always think it’s interesting when people run up against practical circumstances [and are forced] to try to go against things they’ve believed in their whole lives, and they find themselves doing that which they abhor, or that which they’ve sworn that they would never have done. I think it affects them in profound ways, and on some level it just brings in simple guilt and brings in a lot of self-loathing about certain actions, but it also makes them strive to over-compensate in some ways and to be more heroic next time.
I think the show is always interested in these barriers that people set up. “These are the bounds I will not step over. This is what defines me as a human being, and I’m going to hold that banner up high, no matter what, and I’m never stepping over this line . . . until I’ve got to step over this line.” That’s just human. To me, it’s always what people perceive as human failings. In a lot of ways, our defeats and our failures tell us more about ourselves as human beings than our victories do.
Solove: One thing the show often does is present us with situations where the military leaders have to act and make some very tough and sometimes very ugly decisions. I think the show is about these hard choices that people have to make. On the one hand, the show demonstrates the importance of deference to the military leaders. But on the other hand, there are also instances where there are objections to [the military leaders’] decisions. Lee Adama often engages in acts of civil disobedience, and we also have Colonel [Saul] Tigh’s rather unwise military decisions (as compared to [Commander] Adama’s mostly wise decisions). What do you think the appropriate level of deference to afford military judgments is? How do you depict the tension between the respect and understanding that should be given to their judgments versus the questioning that should be [given] to their judgments?
Eick: Were you asking about whether we feel a responsibility to depict it in a particular way?
Solove: Mainly just what your aims are, rather than your responsibility. Is this a question you thought of? Is this an issue that you think of as you present these choices?
Moore: Well, I think David and I are both students of history. In particular, I’m a student of military history, and I have always been fascinated by the fact that the military attracts a lot of different kinds of people in different eras and in different circumstances, but they’re all people. It always seems like there’s this tendency in popular culture or popular media when you’re doing a piece about the military. It splits into two broad categories. There’s this “put them all on a pedestal” [depiction] — that [military people are] just wonderful, amazing, heroic people. Even when they do terrible things they’re still doing it for the noblest of causes, with everyone’s best interests in mind. Or, [in the alternative depiction,] they’re committing the My Lai Massacre, and they’re degenerates, and they’re bloodthirsty, and they’re the cavalry guys in “Dances with Wolves” that can’t wait to kill those Indians. And it just seemed like the cliché — the truth is somewhere in between. There’s a lot of conflicting currents and cross-currents that happen in military service. In a time of war, a lot of actions are taken in very specific circumstances by very specific people. You have to have a lot of broad play there to try to understand what they’re doing and why, and it’s always permissible to question that. It’s always permissible to say, “Is this the right thing? Is this what we really want to do? Even though this is the smartest tactical move, is that the step that we as a people are willing to take?”
It seems to me the show wants to continually ask that question. I didn’t want the show to be a military piece about military people who just make all the decisions, and they’re unquestioned throughout. Typically, in TV if you were doing something like this, the military would. . . . Well, they did this in the original [“Battlestar Galactica”] actually. In the original show, the military was in charge, and there was a titular civilian government, but whenever they spoke up they were essentially just straw men. They stood up and said, “Hey, we don’t think that you should do that Adama!” And they were invariably wrong. They were always wrong. They were always out of line, and they were always portrayed as just fools or naïve, or something really stupid. The military was always the wiser, more paternalistic organization. I felt like that’s not really my society, I don’t want that to be my society. There’s a balance between trying to win and trying to win in a way that is worthy of winning. There are competing interests here. The military is an arm of politics, like the old saying goes, and it’s all about [this]: If you try to achieve a certain end, what means are you willing to go to do that? Just because destroying the village might be the smartest way to get from A to B, is it really worth it to get to B?
Eick: Ron was just talking about the human story beneath whatever the military issue might be. For sure, I think we’re about to see when the political season really gets going, a story about one of the candidates is going to be all about personal perseverance despite an abject military fuckup. That’s something we relate to, that’s something [like John McCain’s story]: it’s not [about] John McCain the solider, it’s about John McCain the policy maker. It’s not John McCain the field general, it’s John McCain the survivor who, in spite of what was perpetrated on him, in spite of the illegitimacy of the war he was in the middle of, [or] in spite of the failings of his commanding officer, was able to eke out a survival and return home a hero. That’s just a story we as a people relate to.
Solove: Thank you so much. These have been fascinating answers. We’re going to conclude this first part of the interview and shift in the second part to looking at some issues about politics and commerce in the Colonies.
Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions
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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.