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Poll of the Week: Most Morally Dubious Captain?

Randal Shayne

Poll of the Week: Most Morally Dubious Captain?   

19 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of the original five hero captains do you feel was the most morally questionable?

    • James T. Kirk
    • Jean-Luc Picard
    • Benjamin Sisko
    • Kathryn Janeway
    • Jonathan Archer

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To be made a captain in Starfleet is to be recognized with trust, respect and appreciation. Despite a variety of episodes in which our heroes encounter less scrupulous colleagues, for the most part, Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer performed their duties with honor, dedication and courage. 

Emphasis on the "for the most part." 

Even the best of us slip up or do something we regret from time to time. The pressures of commanding a starship and protecting ones crew can lead to a variety of ethically grey areas. No captain has been immune to this. Captain Kirk’s (somewhat understandable, if not commendable) bigotry toward Klingons was well documented. Captain Picard’s strict and uncompromising adherence to the Prime Directive lead to deep, lasting consequences on several occasions, and on one occasion, his refusal to order his tactical officer to donate blood to a Romulan doomed said Romulan to a slow and painful death. Captain Sisko was the first to engage in conspiratorially illegal actions, which included becoming an accessory to murder and a blatant violation of the Prime Directive. He was also responsible for utilizing a weapon of mass destruction on a civilian Maquis population. Captain Janeway’s decision to destroy the Caretaker’s array left the entire crew of Voyager stranded in an unfamiliar quadrant, and her obsession with exploration brought incalculable danger into their midst. Captain Archer’s often entitled attitude underlied actions with potentially disturbing implications, such as his refusal to give an entire civilization the cure to a mortal disease, and a desperate attack on an innocent alien vessel when diplomacy failed. 

Horatio Hornblower summarized it best when he said, “each of us may find a maggot in our past that would happily devour our future”. It seems clear our captains chose to move forward with their lives after these incidents, and maintained their strong moral compass. That said, which captain do you believe was the most morally dubious? Give us your vote, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 

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It is true that all captains faced situations where they acted in ways that the morality of their actions became a murky grey. But most of them did so under great duress of their respective situations, like being lost in the Delta quadrant or fighting a war against seemingly overpowering enemies.

For me, Archers refusal to provide a cure stands out like a sore spot. There was no need to hurry his decision, no gun to his head, no personal stakes for the man himself. It comes down to this: For all others I usually have an easy time to explain and understand their deeds, even their wrongdoings. With Archer, I am left flabbergasted at how he could come to his decision and therefore he is the logical choice in this poll.

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This was a toss up between Archer and Kirk, for me. In the end I went with Kirk because I think Archer's situation as a pioneer sometimes left him on shaky ground where he had few alternatives and was often just winging it.

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