The Drumhead

I love Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was watching The Drumhead episode from Season 4 on a flight recently.

In this episode, Admiral Norah Satie, a retired Federation officer renowned for her skills at exposing conspiracies comes aboard the Enterprise to lead an investigation about an explosion suspicious to be an act of sabotage.

Captain Picard, while co-operating with Admiral Satie at first, becomes fundamentally unhappy about the investigation turning into a witch-hunt. He voices his dissatisfaction and as a result becomes a subject of an investigation himself. At Picard’s hearing he recites writings of another fictional character:

With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored. The first thought forbidden. The first freedom denied — chains us all irrevocably.”

The hearings are eventually called off from higher up. At the end of the episode, there’s a dialogue between Picard and Worf that strikes so close to home I thought I must share it here.

We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches is all ancient history. And then, before you can blink an eye, suddenly it threatens to start all over again.

Mr. Worf, villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deed are well-camouflaged.

But she [Admiral Satie], or someone like her, will always be with us. Waiting for the right climate in which to flourish. Spreading fear in the name of righteousness.

Vigilance, Mr. Worf. That is the price we have to continually pay.

Man… Picard is awesome and the writing of this episode is just fantastic.