Patterico's Pontifications


“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is Good Law in Texas

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:43 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Consider this a light item, but Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was cited by a concurrence in the Texas Supreme Court (the opinion of the court is here).  At issue was the application of the principle of Ex Post Facto in the Texas Constitution, so I won’t bore you with the details.  But here is the key passage:

Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan21), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.

And of course at footnote 21 it says this:

See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”

So there you go, Texas lawyers.  You may cite Star Trek II as controlling law.  Non-Texas lawyers can cite it as persuasive authority.  I would not, on the other hand, recommend citing Star Trek V.

Also, someone pointed out ages ago that the recent “Star Trek” demonstrates that the biggest Star Trek fan in history might be…  Spock himself.  See if you follow this.  In the most recent movie, a young James Kirk steals a car and as he drives, he puts the song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys on the radio.  So the Beastie Boys existed in the Star Trek universe.  But the Beastie Boys made another song called “Intergalactic” where they say, “Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop/Like a pinch on the neck by Mr. Spock.”  That is a reference obviously to the TV show, Star Trek.  Which means necessarily that all the Star Trek TV shows and movies exist, which means that according to their universe every action they have taken—including the changed timeline that debuted in the most recent movie—was predicted by a string television shows and a series of movies that appeared in the 20th and 21st centuries.  And that means necessarily that people depicted in these movies and shows are consciously imitating the real actions predicted by these movies and shows.

Well, either that, or they decided to stick a rap/rock song in a movie because it seemed like a good song for the scene, without considering the metaphysical ramifications of it all.  I mean I suppose that is a possibility.  :-)

Still I am waiting for a scene in the sequel where like in Spaceballs, they fish out a copy of the movie they are in, and fast-forward it to figure out what their enemies will do next.

Returnig to the court case, it’s also worth noting that the majority opinion in that case was written by the Honorable K. Noonien Singh.  The dissent, by J. Tiberius Kirk simply read: “Khhaaaaaan!!!”

(No, not really.)

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing, who admittedly can be a real geek sometimes.]

22 Responses to ““Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is Good Law in Texas”

  1. Does this now, therefore, mean that the Prime Directive was violated? A legal opinion in this century based on their actions centuries forward?

    If a butterfly’s wings can bring down a massive suspension bridges, then surely this decision could move jurisprudence to entirely new and problematic directions. The course of humanity could be altered thanks to Spock and Kirk!

    Ed from SFV (c16c43)

  2. Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!!

    Icy Texan (2e2a15)

  3. icy

    I resemble resent that comment.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  4. “I knew it! I’m surrounded by Assholes!”
    — Spaceballs

    mojo (8096f2)

  5. The Beastie Boy paradox can be explained away by assuming that the Beastie Boys exist (or once existed) in a Star Trek universe, but the Beastie Boy songs which reference “Star Trek” do not (and never did).

    Doesn’t matter. The space-time continuum got itself totally f*cked up .

    Kman (d25c82)

  6. Define “sometimes”

    AW Check out Volokh – the stomping incident

    EricPWJohnson (2d1c68)

  7. “The Usual Suspects” will, of course, blame Bush for all of this – they got the message from Keyser Söze.

    AD-RtR/OS! (7aca2e)

  8. Eric


    i mean for the link. not for implying i am always a geek. 😉

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  9. Mathesar: “Those poor people!”

    RNB (6a1e7d)

  10. No, really, set your speakers to medium volume, then click here.


    furious (71af32)

  11. Alternative explanation:

    Intergalactic was in 1999, which was over 10 yeras after Spock went back to save the whales and used his nerve pinch on a bus in front of dozens of witnesses. Spock was referred to by name in front of people in that movie. It’s possible that someone on that bus also heard him referred to by name, and began telling tales. It’s possible that by 1999, word of the mysterious “Mr. Spock” and his nerve pinch had filtered out into certain corners of the culture, where it was picked up by the Beastie Boys.

    Michael E. Lopez (a38623)

  12. Good grief! I agree with Kman. What’s next? Cats and dogs, living together?

    The Star Trek scenario would be similar to an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart went to a comic book convention and met Matt Groening … who was famous as the creator of Futurama.

    Murgatroyd (fd5fcd)

  13. I’m still waiting to buy stock in the first company that makes crystal aluminum on a commercial scale.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  14. Don’t be ‘crossing the streams’ Mugatroyd, there’s also the theory Futurama episode which was a takeoff on that episode where Lincoln met Kirk. It’s transparent aluminum btw.

    ian cormac (6709ab)

  15. Did any of them ever have a crossover with St. Elsewhere? All of reality might be on very shaky ground!

    Murgatroyd (fd5fcd)

  16. No wonder I missed it, ian.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  17. Tale of Two Cities? Did they even watch the movie? It hits pretty heavily on a classic piece of literature all right, but the book is Melville’s Moby-Dick. A copy is shown in Khan’s quarters and Khan does an almost word-for-word quote of Ahab in his (and Ahab’s) final scene. There are a lot of other deeper parallels as well (monomaniacal pursuit of an enemy, etc).

    A Friend of the Devil (cac8e0)

  18. MD in Philly,

    Star Trek really was ahead of its time. Transparent aluminum armor. More here.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  19. As long as we’re on sci-fi TV footnotes in judicial decisions, has anyone seen a Babylon 5 sourced footnote? If there was ever a sci-fi series that was internally consistent, B5 was The One (heh-heh).


    Captain Ned (bc1312)

  20. I sure hope that “transparent aluminum armor” is more substantial than the “aluminium armour” that the Brits used to tragic effect on Naval vessels in the Falklands.

    AD-RtR/OS! (7aca2e)

  21. all of reality is on shaky ground.

    galactica (5461e3)

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