There’s been a lot of really good discussion here in comments regarding the colonial attempt at genocide in A Measure of Salvation, and I thought I’d run down some of the arguments along with some of the commenters espousing them. Since I’m exerpting, you can click on the commenter’s name to see the entire comment — to put it in context if you’d like.
(If, BTW,I misrepresent anything you posted, jump right in and call me on it. It’s certainly not intentional!)
Cylons are machines, and as machines they don’t qualify as “life.” Therefore, killing (dismantling) them all isn’t really genocide.
Eyeless: “No matter how well the Cylons may fake emotions like love, there is no actual BEING feeling anything. Athena is just a collection of circuits (or whatever) acting within the exact specification of its programming. It’s not murder to deconstruct something that is built. Nor is it genocide to destroy a lot of them. Helo is delusional to think that Athena “loves” him. Love requires two people, not one person and a program designed to simulate love. The Galactica crew has obviously no concept of the soul, equating the displaying of emotion with the actual feeling of emotion. But then what makes humans special if that’s the case?”
Though I listed only one comment here, there are numerous comments to this effect on past posts.
Genocide is the only practical option to ensure human survival.
Browncoat Bryan: “To me, it’s a purely strategic decision. The Cylons destroyed the Twelve Colonies and attempted to subjugate the Colonial survivors. Now, they’re headed for Earth. Who knows what they would do when they finally arrived at Earth? Let’s face it, looking at things from a military perspective, we should deduce that the Cylons would reach Earth first. They have superior numbers, superior technology, and superior intelligence (in Baltar and his calculations). Also, look at their track record. Based on all of this, I would say drop the B-bomb on them, too. It would be a very hard decision and I probably would lose part of my soul, as Helo says. But I have to think about the people on Earth as well.”
Cavatar: “I am sure I don’t need to spell out the cycle here. If each side feels they need to kill every member of a race to survive, then for one to survive they need to destroy each living being of there enemy. Does that make Roslin right? When watching the episode I agreed with Admiral Adama, but now I am not so sure.”
Pike: “…to borrow a line from “Firefly”: If someone tries to kill you, you kill them right back!”
The cylons deserve genocide as punishment forattempting genocide themselves.
Eyeless: “Helo says that maybe some of them are nice like Athena. Fine. But you can’t very well take them each on a date before deciding which ones die. The Cylons committed genocide. They should have to pay for that, and it appears from what we’ve seen so far that they’re not exactly remorseful over the mistake.”
One of my favorites: The plan as described in the show wouldn’t have succeeded in killing all Cylons, so it wouldn’t have actually been genocide.
rodviking: “I just don’t understand why they think that they would exterminate the whole Cylon species by following Apollo’s plan. The Cylons don’t fly all together in a single fleet, do they? And besides that, I assume they still have a lot of people (units? copies?) in their home planet, isn’t it?”
Pike: “Introducing the disease to the pursuing fleet would not necessarily carry the disease to every other Cylon. The fact that they had a resurrection ship implied that they were effectively on their own. There is a possiblity that subsequent Cylon ships would encounter it and be infected too, but again, they’d be on their own. Eventually even the Cylons would determine that area to be a no-go zone. And if basestars selfdestruct when they die, as seems to be the case, there’s even less possibility of that. Thus you’re talking about something on the level of nuking a carrier fleet is definately threatening you, not just wiping out the species.”
Nick: “While highly effective against civilian population centers, the military effectiveness of chemical and biological weapons tends to be overstated. Yes, their effects can be significant, but they are generally not the “head shot” everybody expects them to be. Countermeasures/chemical suits limit exposure to the military and quarentines keep biological attacks from being 100% effective. Let’s say that the plan was carried out and the infected cylons resurrect on the resurrection ship, at that point wouldn’t they just say “Hey, we’re infected” and self-destruct the resurrection ship in order prevent further spread of the disease? The Genocidal attack would have failed, the cylons would be out their resurrection ship, and the humans would be guilty of having done everything in their power to attempt a Genocide. The fact that they failed would be their only ‘Measure of Salvation.'”
The “biological weapon” would work better as a defensive weapon than as an offensive one.
Darenin GA: “The fleet should let the cylons know they have an infected cylon on board. Thus, taking out the Battlestar with a resurection ship nearby would cause the death of the cylon race. And none of the cylons would want to engage the human fleet without a resurrection ship nearby. Mutually assured destruction.”
And regardless of where everyone stands on genocide, there’s almost universal scorn for Helo’s treachery:
Mark: “Also, no apparent consequence for Helo’s actions? Hopefully that will come back to haunt him later.”
NY Spinny: “Helo has a right to his own perspective, and I grant he had a right to express his views and to protest based on his beliefs. Where he crossed the line in my book was actively thwarting the purposes of his military superiors because of those beliefs. Recuse himself, ask to be relieved, refuse to take part in the operation, all those are what I’d agree were valid responses. Gross dereliction of duty, on the other hand, is not. When he took his dog tags off I felt a little better (it was obvious to me he was about to do something to thwart the mission) because I took it as a sign he was resigning his commission before acting. I don’t necessarily fault his doing what he believed in so strongly, I fault him for doing it while duty-bound as an officer, and that he got away with it with his rank and position still intact (unless Adama does something about that in the future, of which I’m doubtful). Using his dog tags, symbols of his duty to something greater than himself and his beliefs, was to me a desecration that I’m very uncomfortable with. Bear in mind I’m speaking as a retired officer in the US military and maybe where I’m coming from here will make more sense.”
Eyeless: “Helo should be charged with treason. And in the middle of a battle, no less. Couldn’t he at least have warned them before endangering all of their lives because he wants a robot lover?”
Also, though it doesn’t fit into any of the above categories, this comment just had to find its way into this post:
St. Cavil, on the Cylon resurrection-ship-disease-spreading-weakness: “What would happen if one of the hybrids developed Turrets syndrome? One wicked Cylon swearing machine!”