KIRK [voice-over]: Captain’s Log, Stardate 52015.19. I have asked Ensign Collins to report to my quarters and brief me on his recent mission to the Planet Earth, where he has undertaken an important but necessarily secret assignment.
COLLINS [at cabin door]: Permission to enter, Captain.
KIRK: Permission granted, step inside, Ensign. [Door shuts behind COLLINS with a squeaky whoosh.] Damn, that door still needs oil! I’ve mentioned it to Yeoman Cheney three or four times, and nothing. Doesn’t he understand who is in command here?
COLLINS: Yes, Captain. I assume he does.
KIRK: Anyway, enough of him. At ease, Ensign. Have a seat. [KIRK motions to a chair across the table.] Collins, do you know why I chose you for this mission?
COLLINS: I can only speculate, Sir.
KIRK: Well then, I’ll explain. This is the part that I said was “secret” in the Captain’s Log.
COLLINS: I did not overhear your log entry, Sir. I was outside your door at the time, waiting for the introduction to end.
KIRK: Damn, I keep forgetting — no one ever seems to hear it but me. But getting back to my point. You remember your last assignment — the Enterprise left you on that planet in the Tulsar Quadrant so you could destroy the Comfort Device that the people had grown dependent on.
COLLINS: I do recall that, Sir. It was just last year.
KIRK: And you are aware, Ensign, that you violated the Prime Directive by interfering in their society. And that violations of the Prime Directive are dealt with very harshly.
COLLINS: Yes, sir. And I would do it again.
KIRK: And that is why I picked you for the Earth assignment, Collins. You had already been sullied, so to speak. Another violation or two, well, how much harsher can the punishment be? You understand what I am saying, Ensign?
COLLINS: I believe you are telling me I am your “Society Intervention Officer.”
KIRK: Exactly. [KIRK rises to his feet.] All societies need a kick in the ass. I never understood this idea of waiting around for centuries, watching people all over the galaxy kill each other and make the same stupid mistakes, over and over! Our standing aside, Ensign, would be a cruelty of much greater magnitude than our simply stepping in and doing something. But then there’s the Prime Directive. If people are to be helped along, someone has to violate it. [KIRK leans down to COLLINS.] So, why not you and I?
COLLINS [leaning away]: With respect, Captain, I had already come to this conclusion and remain well aware of the implications of my actions. I am ready to brief you on the Earth mission, if you are ready, Sir.
KIRK [straightens]: By all means, proceed, Ensign.
COLLINS: As you warned me, Captain, when I beamed down to Earth, I saw societies that were in disarray. Almost all of them, actually. The most disturbing thing I observed was the way that those who were in power, usually the majority, treated the people who were in the minority. Every region of the planet I visited had one or more minority groups who were being denied the same status and privileges enjoyed by the majority. In some places, being in the minority was an inconvenience; in other places, it was life-threatening.
KIRK [sitting down]: Precisely what you needed to see for yourself. Go on.
COLLINS: What was remarkable, and very sad, is how the people on Earth were sorted into groups based on the most trivial differences among them. In the United States, for example — they call it a melting pot for some reason — people were assigned to groups based mostly on skin color, nose shape and eyelids. The majority called themselves white but their skin color ranged from pink to tan and they had a variety of nose shapes. All the groupings seemed very arbitrary to me.
[COLLINS stands and strolls a few steps.] In other parts of the planet, minority groups were isolated from the mainstream based on their spiritual beliefs, or heritage, or lack of wealth, or gender, almost any reason you can think of, really. In every case, the majority used its power to secure its own position and disadvantage the rest. But here is the odd part, at least to me. Generally, the majority would not use its numeric superiority as justification for its oppressive acts; instead, it would point to these superficial differences among peoples as their rationale.
KIRK: Yes, but your assignment, Ensign, was not simply to observe, but to do something. We are … [KIRK breathes in] … men of action.
COLLINS: And I have acted, Captain. I was considering ways to resolve this situation, when I came across a crime report from a place called Gulfport, Mississippi. The report said that the police were “looking for a black man, about 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, wearing a red hoodie and tan pants.” I compared this to another crime report, from a town in Canada called Petrolia. Petrolia has a population of over five thousand, but only ten black people live there. The Petrolia report said, “Police are looking for a man in his 30s who is about 6 feet tall, wearing sunglasses, gloves, a grey hoodie with a logo on the front, and a white shirt.” This report didn’t mention the man’s skin color, apparently because the reporter thought it was obvious.
KIRK: Please get to the point, Ensign. I have a date… I mean, an appointment… with Nurse Chapel at 0800 hours.
COLLINS: Yes, Captain. These reports made me aware how easy it is to single out people who have skin of a different color than the majority has. The problem, as I saw it, was not that there are too many colored people, as some people on the planet claimed, but too few. So, with the help of Doctor McCoy, I prepared a special biological agent and released it into Earth’s atmosphere. The agent interacts with human mitochondrial DNA —
KIRK: Please, Ensign Collins, these technical details make my head spin! Along with that Aeolian brandy last night… but please, wrap this up!
COLLINS: Essentially, the agent makes each person’s skin turn a different random color based partly on their geographic origin and partly on chance. People who are of Slavic origin, for example, tend to have blue skin but some are orange. People whose ancestors are from the British Isles are various shades of magenta or green. There are hundreds of different skin colors. Everyone on the planet is now a colored person. There are no more majorities, only minorities. There is no longer any privilege in having the same skin color as the majority, because the majorities have been divided and subdivided to the point where they no longer exist.
KIRK: Interesting solution, Ensign. Not one that I would have considered. Did you have to do any fighting? [KIRK looks hopefully at COLLINS.] A good fist fight, perhaps.
COLLINS: I’m afraid not, Captain. I had to beam up from the planet quickly, since my own lack of color would have caused me to stand out among the population and my intervention would have been more easily detected.
KIRK [chuckling]: Yes, Ensign, you would not want to read a crime report that said, “Police seeking man, early 60s, with no color, last seen wearing a Federation uniform, without a hoodie.” Good work, Collins. The Enterprise will visit Earth again in a few years and we will see whether your intervention has made a difference. You’re dismissed.
COLLINS: Thank you, Captain. [COLLINS salutes and walks to the cabin door, which whooshes open with an annoying squeak.]