Sunday, February 22, 2004
LILEKS (James) The Bleat:
Patrick Stewart jumped the shark. Snagged his foot caught in the beast’s mouth on he way over, too.

Actor Patrick Stewart - better known as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - says he thinks humans have no business traveling in space.

"I'm a bit of a wet blanket when it comes to the whole business of space travel," Stewart said in an interview posted on the BBC Web site.

The man whose mission was to "explore strange new worlds" as the captain of the starship Enterprise from 1987 to 1994 thinks space exploration is the height of "arrogance."

Great job, Pat! Nice of you to wad up all the goodwill you’ve accumulated and flush it down the toilet. Let’s review: you’re most prominently identified with which character? No, not Ahab. Perhaps Professor Xavier? After 2 more movies and 280 TV episodes, perhaps. No, you’re Jean-Luc Picard. That’s how millions know you; that’s the character that millions enjoyed, because you did a good job of portraying a civilized, intelligent explorer who projected the values of Western Civ into the inky void while confronting the baffling nuances of worlds we have yet to imagine. Many of us aging dweebs enjoyed ST: TNG because you invested the silly thing with gravity and brains, and our wives loved it as well: that shiny skull worked for them big time. In a few years NASA will have a crop of engineers whose desire to put robots on other planets was first sparked by the opening fly-by sequence of TNG. They thought you were on their side. Silly people?

"I would like to see us get this place right first before we have the arrogance to put significantly flawed civilizations out onto other planets," Stewart said.

Oh: right. Actor talking. “Get this place right.” What would that look like, exactly? And how would we know? If in 2079 there’s one monomanical Marxist sub-saharan leader starving his people for political gain, does this obligate other nations to shut down their rocketry programs until the guy dies and crop production returns to pre-tyrant levels? “Arrogance to put significantly flawed civilizations out onto other planets.” So it’s arrogant to put Americans on Mars, because our myriad “significant” flaws would somehow contaminate the gentle Martian polity that reigns today.
The 63-year-old British actor says manned missions are too expensive. "It would take up so many resources, which I personally feel should be directed at our own planet," he said.

Making movies takes up many resources which could be directed at our own planet. For that matter, millions of pounds are spent in England annually for theater productions – I propose a ten-year moratorium on all stage shows, with the money distributed directly to our own planet. And after we have gotten things right on this planet we can get back to such frivolous luxuries as theater. What’s that, you say – theater employs many people? Theater inspires imaginations, adds to our store of knowledge, helps us define what it means to be human?

And exploring other words doesn’t, eh. Noted: the future of humanity shall consist not in getting this place right but watching angry Pinter screeds about that wretched meat we know as our own flawed species. And when we leave the theater we can look up and behold an infinite world we must never pollute.

And this from an Englishman! If he’d been around when first the Brits put out to sea he’d be a wet blanket on the whole idea of boats.

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