A Star Trek Writer Explains How Data Became A Citizen Of The Federation

Illustration for article titled A emStar Trek/em Writer Explains How Data Became A Citizen Of The Federation

Whether dismantling his own evil twin or making the whole bridge vaguely uncomfortable with his first laugh, Data was the Federation's very own android with a human side. But just how would Data have become a citizen of the Federation in the first place? A writer for Star Trek TNG explains.

After reading this article on the rights of non-human species in science fiction universes, Melinda M. Snodgrass, the writer for Star Trek TNG's famous musing on the topic, The Measure Of A Man, joined us in the comments to expand on the two possible avenues that could have landed Commander Data in the Federation:

Melinda M. Snodgrass

Fascinating article. I really enjoyed reading it. The Measure of a Man was the Dred Scott decision set against the Star Trek universe, and I never reached the issue of citizenship. After reading the article I found myself considering the question in the context of the Federation, and I saw two potential solutions for the granting of citizenship. One would be an expansion of the "natural born" language. One could argue that if Data's creator/builder Noonien Soong was a Federation citizen then Data would also be a citizen by reason of "birth". The other option is that Data's military service would grant him citizenship after a certain period of time had elapsed. This is a bit akin to the question of whether the Constitution follows the flag. Thanks for raising questions that let me go back to playing in the Star Trek universe.

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I just kind of wished that towards the end Data gave up on trying to become a real boy and instead embraced all the robot things that make him special. His whole story seemed to be a weird arc about downplaying what you are so you can be something you are not in order for people to like you better, which at its core is just an AWFUL message.

I would have love if he had run into a machine race like the creators or V'GER who called him out on trying to act like a human and forced him to stop being more human but instead explore what it meant to be a machine.