Did Gene Roddenberry's idea of a future in Star Trek include a form of brainwashing?


When Melissa Snodgrass wrote "The Measure of a Man" for Star Trek: The Next Generation, she ran into an issue with series creator, Gene Roddenberry. He didn't think there would be a need for lawyers in the future. He thought people would be so evolved, they wouldn't have conflicts with one another. And, of course, Snodgrass' script included lawyers and even a trial.

When Snodgrass addressed Roddenberry's concerns, according to Giant Freakin' Robot, he told her that some people would still have criminal intentions in the future, but they wouldn't act on those intentions because their minds would be "made right." And this would even be people who "indicated signs of a criminal mind."

Roddenberry's explanation chilled Snodgrass as it came across as though people in the future would have their minds forcibly changed if they had criminal intentions. So, effectively, they would be brainwashed into being good people. Whether that was what Roddenberry meant wasn't made clear, but it did cause some concerns, and Snodgrass changed the script so that Roddenberry would approve of the conflict presented in "The Measure of a Man."

Snograss swayed Roddenberry by telling him that the future would still have to include lawyers for contract negotiations and other legal matters, including potential conflicts with other alien races. Her changes and arguments worked, and "The Measure of a Man" was produced, but it still didn't take away the uneasy feeling of Roddenberry's earlier comments. How would criminal minds have been "made right" other than by forcible correction?

This brings to mind the episode "The Outcast" from season five where Soren, a member of the humanoid race called the "J'naii" who have no gender, falls in love with Commander Riker and begins to feel a feminine identity. At the insistence of the J'naii, Soren undergoes psychotectic therapy – a form of conversion therapy which "fixed" gender-specificity and allowed Soren to be accepted back among her people.

Star Trek is filled with disturbing episodes like "The Outcast," and one of its biggest villains were The Borg, who took brainwashing to a new extreme. But did Roddenberry really intend for the future generations in Star Trek to have their minds changed against their will? And if that was the case, where would the line have been drawn between a "good mind" and a "bad mind?" And who would make the decision to have a mind changed? Perhaps Roddenberry meant something totally different, but it doesn't change the fact that the statement in and of itself was certainly unsettling.

Next. Did Paramount manipulate Gene Roddenberry for Star Trek: The Next Generation?. Did Paramount manipulate Gene Roddenberry for Star Trek: The Next Generation?. dark