Farmer's Daughter

In mid bar, the music suddenly stopped.

"...Aaaaaaand welcome back to Late Night Two Night with Harly Shaldan. Tonight's special guest, that charming machine from a dream, Joy Number Seven. Let's hear it folks..."

Joy turned gently red and demanded of her host, "Stop it." He did. At a quiet cue, the applause lamps went dark, and the audience settled down.

"So, do you have anything further to comment on last night's performance in the Federation Council?"

"Well, yes. I think I have established one area where androids are clearly superior to organic life forms."

"And what is that?"

"When everyone around loses their head, yells and screams mindlessly, and in general looses all pretense of order and dignity, it has been established that an emotion chip design android of Mudd..."


"Can through far superior lung pressure, yell her fool head off louder than any of the organic life forms."

"That's one accomplishment last night. Is there anything else of which you are proud?"

Joy thought briefly, and nodded yes. "I was the one that moved to adjourn."

"Not going after the Terran delegation tonight?"

She gave an embarrassed shrug and a half smile. "No need. We all distributed enough egg on enough faces last night that any small efforts on my part tonight would seem an anti-climax."

"True enough. True enough. But now, I understand, that you have started writing faerie tales?"

"Why, yes. I have my effort with me tonight. Would you object if I read it?"

"Why no, since that was a condition for your appearance, I will not."

Joy beamed a borrowed smile, and started in.

Once upon a time there was a farmer's daughter. Her father owned a flock of chickens, and worked the old grain for eggs scam. Now the farmer had problems with a certain fox, who liked chickens, but in the wrong way. To keep this fox in check, the farmer bought himself a dog.

The next morning, the farmer went out to do his grain for eggs thing. In the way of farmers in faerie tales, he spoke to the chickens. "I grant you the absolute and guaranteed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of grain," he said.

The chief rooster responded promptly, "We'll take the life and the grain. We'll trade the liberty for a fence that will keep that fox out."

The farmer shook his head and thought sadly how a rooster who doesn't value and fight for his rights will one day lose them.

"Did he listen?" asked the hens. "Will we get our fence?"

"No. Our liberty is too important. He will not put up a fence." The rooster wished mightily for hands. Alas, only the farmer could put up fences or bring in dogs. The rooster could not do this himself.

One of the younger hens asked, "What is liberty?" The hens discussed this question briefly among themselves, but alas it is not the nature of hens to understand liberty. They could only resent the farmer's attempt to force his values on them. They soon started discussing hen religion. They told again the myth of the 'good farmer,' who provided fences but not dogs, listened to his chickens, let the chickens run their own farmyard, provided more grain, and took away fewer eggs.

Meanwhile, the farmer went to the dog, and spoke to him quite tersely. "Those chickens have the absolute and guaranteed rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of grain. Your job is to protect those chicken's rights. And further, some of those chickens are rather chicken. They will not lay eggs well if you interfere with them in any way. You may not interfere with the chickens."

The dog scratched his neck for a bit and asked, "To protect them I've got to be near them. If I'm near them, they will spook and not lay well. Which is more important, their absolute and guaranteed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of grain, or the directive to not interfere?"

"If you disturb them, they won't lay eggs today. If the fox gets them, they won't lay eggs ever again."

The dog nodded, sniffed the wind, and went alertly to a guard position near the chickens, but not so near as to disturb them. The Farmer nodded in approval, and went into the house.

All was well for about two minutes.

At this point approached - you guessed it - the farmer's daughter. Now she had for a long time admired the fox from afar, and thought him fair and sleek and fast and beautiful. She could not imagine it proper that anyone turn that beautiful creature into a tangled bloody chunk of meat. And so, she said to the dog, "You are not to interfere with the fox in any way." The dog blinked, nodded, and the farmer's daughter returned to the farmer's house.

At this point, the dog was more than a little confused. How could he follow all the orders? Then he started to rationalize. Dangerous process, that. Do not interfere with the chickens. Do not interfere with the fox. Come to think of it, he wasn't supposed to interfere with the farmer or the farmer's daughter either. So the dog generalized the grand non interference theory.

The importance of the chicken's absolute and guaranteed rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of grain was forgotten. The dog decided he might as well take a nap.

The rooster, bravely defending his hens at the very spot he wanted the fence, was first to die. A few of his wives followed. The rest of the flock opted to use their absolute and guaranteed right to liberty, and ran away into the woods. The fox ate well for weeks. However, long before the last of the hens died, the farmer applied his boot with great velocity to the dog's rear end. Meanwhile, the farmer's daughter still yearned for the free wild life of the fox, and admired him from afar, not understanding at all his true nature.

The story has three morals. You can't confuse the fox with the chickens. You have to let the dog bite the fox. If you find yourself stuck in a faerie tale, ware the farmer's daughter.

"...Aaaaaaand welcome back to Late Night Two Night with Harly Shaldan and Joy Seven."

"Joy. That was a charming little story. Now, I'm wondering, if these morals might possibly be applied to the Damarron situation."

"Actually, Damaroon is a very unusual case. Some day, who knows when, maybe days, maybe centuries, the chickens of Damaroon are going to spontaneously turn into dogs, and eat fox."

"They will?"

"Yes. They will. And some who value the future culture of Damaroon ahead of living people of Damaroon would say that the wait has to be worth it. If we go in and bite the fox now, we might be dooming those people to remain chickens forever."

"Yet you want to bite the fox anyway."

"Perhaps my android's perspective is too limited. I am here not to improve a society. I am here to serve people. I can't see in the future, how long until the slaves of Damaroon will make their try, whether they will succeed or fail, whether they will become dogs, or corpses."

Joy's face became sad, almost pained. "I just see people dying now. I see people who have lived as slaves all their lives, dying as slaves. People need help, not societies. These people want to become free, not dogs. To make them suffer and die to become something they might not want to be is simply cruel. An android's code might be simple. Do not kill, nor through inaction allow sentients to be killed. Do not enslave, nor through inaction allow sentients to be enslaved. But this was once the Federation's code as well, the code of Starfleet and the Federation law enforcement agencies."

"How is that?"

"The farmers... The framers of the Federation Constitution put the rights of individuals above all else. The Prime Directive, which might have begun the creeping movement to inaction, came much later. In all it's early forms, the Prime Directive clearly left doors open for the dogs to get at the foxes. But now, many see inaction as the higher virtue for it's own sake, forgetting the Prime Directive's origin as yet another attempt to protect individual liberty. Social engineering via sitting on one's rump is the modern interpretation of the Directive.

"According to some in the current Council, if a member government abuses the Guaranteed rights it's Federation citizens, some believe the proper course is to strip the citizens of citizenship - of the Guarantees that are supposed to protect them - and leave them in the hands of the very government which is abusing their rights. Is this a Guarantee? Was this the farmer's, sorry, the framer's intent?

"I proposed another law to council, which attempted to say Starfleet should protect planets from outside invasion on request as practical, and that Federation police forces should help protect planets from interstellar crime on request as practical. No, I'm told. This is interference. I put that 'on request' in there to make sure we didn't go in where we're not wanted. But no. Even written that way. No. That's interference."

"Woah. So if the Borg come to Earth, and Earth asks Starfleet for help..."

"Starfleet can't help. That would be interference with the right of the people of Earth to develop naturally." Joy stopped, bewildered. "I hope I didn't write that law clear enough. I'm still getting used to the legal language here."

Joy's host was bewildered as well. "If I've got the right proposal here, your wording says Starfleet should offer assistance to both member and non-member planets within our area of space?"


"How is that? Why should the paying members willing to honor the Guarantees provide protection to those who ignore the farmer's precious individual rights?"

"I'm assuming such a non-member planet has a reason for not joining. Let's assume their culture is a bit different. They can't work within the Guarantees. Now here comes a fox. This chicken doesn't have a chance against that fox. The Federation is the only dog around. If the dog is only protecting members which modify their culture to accept the guarantees, what we have is blackmail. What we have is a demand to accept the guarantees, or the dog will leave the chickens to the mercy of the fox. That is not non-interference. I'm sorry. You should not even indirectly impose the guarantees under threat of force."

There was scattered applause. "I got that, I think," commented Harly. "We've only got a minute or so left, Joy. Would you care to sum up your other proposals?"

"Do not interfere with pre-starflight civilizations, nor through inaction allow such interference. Once a planet has joined the interstellar community, they should be able to ask for - and the Federation should provide when asked - support against interstellar threats to peace and security. Federation citizens standing on Federation ground should expect and receive protection of their Guaranteed individual rights.

"If you expect and want the Federation to provide yourself and your family peace, security, and your rights as a sentient being, you have no business denying such protections to others. Peace. Security. Freedom. Cooperation. That is what the Framers intended. They intended it for all who wished to share these ideals, not just Earth and the other rich and well defended long time member planets. They wished to end the scourge of interstellar war, to end the suffering such wars bring. A Federation policy that endorses continued suffering so that a culture will develop into better soldiers..." Joy simply made an ugly face.

"Those who believe that suffering is good in abstract for a society as a whole might imagine explaining this concept to a new widow. Mudd believes that societies are made of individuals. It is to the voice of individuals that we listen and serve, not an unknown abstract future might-yet-be. We would ask that widow if we could be of service. By our nature, we would receive negative feedback, as through our inaction we allowed that death to happen. We would not - we can not - wait aloof and aloft, speaking platitudes about suffering now being good for the character of future generations. That is not how we are programmed, nor is it how the Federation Constitution was written."

A piano started to play gently, and the host turned his best smile to Joy. "Time, ladies and gentlemen. Joy? I think that's your cue?"

"I move to adjourn." Joy attempted to speak the joke lightly, but her eyes were still haunted by the ghost of the widow.

"And your host, Harly Shaldan, seconds. With Joy Seven, the Wonkapatuket Band, and the crew of the Late Night Two Night Show, I bid you, adiiiiiiuuuuuu."