Star Fleet's mission is geared towards exploration, deplomacy, humanitarianism and scientific discovery.
It also seems to run as a miliyary organization with a chain of command and a set of rules that includes obedience to a supprior officer.
I hadn't given this any thought untill I watched this scene from the STNG episode "Redemption II"
---------------------- "Redemption: part II"
The door CHIMES.
DATA Sir, I wish to submit myself for disciplinary action. I disobeyed a direct order from a superior officer. Although there was a positive outcome as a result of my actions, I have learned that... the ends cannot justify the means.
PICARD No, they can't. (thoughtful beat) However... the excuse "I was only following orders" is the epitaph of too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet does not want officers who will blindly follow orders without analyzing the situation.
Your actions were appropriate for the circumstance, and I have noted that in your record.
I feel there's a lesson for all of us.
From the original series to the most recent incarnations there have been examples of officers disobaying direct commands.
Here's a scene from "Conundrum" where Captain Picard himeself questions orders he's been given.
MACDUFF You wanted to see me, Captain?
PICARD Yes, Commander. Sit down.
PICARD I find myself with grave concerns about our mission.
MACDUFF Concerns... as to its success?
PICARD No. I have more fundamental doubts. Whether or not this mission is justified.
MACDUFF I've been asking myself the same thing. But I'm sure our superiors feel their orders are justified.
PICARD Orders which we cannot even verify.
MACDUFF Orders we cannot ignore.
PICARD But I also can't ignore the fact that we greatly outclassed the only enemy vessel we've encountered. And that every possible shred of information which could shed some light on our situation has been conveniently eliminated.
I feel as though I've been handed a weapon, pushed into a room and told to shoot a stranger.
I need a moral context to justify that action. And I don't have one. I'm not satisfied simply following orders. I want to know that what I am doing is right.
MACDUFF So do I. I'd feel a lot better about this if all the questions were answered. And if you want to abandon our mission until our memories return -- it's your choice.
But I must ask you... is it right to risk prolonging this war... to allow the needless deaths of thousands on both sides... solely on the basis of our moral discomfort?
As some would say in 21st century Earth, "That's some good shit." OK, just me.
Here's an example from TOS episode "Turnabout Intruder" I was 10 years old when I watched this.
MCCOY: I've been through this with Spock. He's not being scientific and neither are you.
SCOTT: It may not be scientific, but if Mister Spock thinks it happened, then it must be logical.
MCCOY: Don't you think I know that? My tests show there's nothing wrong with the captain. Now that's the only fact Starfleet's going to be interested in.
SCOTT: Headquarters has its problems, and we have ours. And right now, the captain of the Enterprise is our problem. They're going to call for the vote in a few minutes. Let me put one last question. Suppose you vote with me, in favour of Spock. That means two votes to one and Spock is free. What do you think the captain'll do?
MCCOY: I don't know.
SCOTT: Aye, you know, all right. It'll stick in his craw. He'll never accept it.
MCCOY: We don't know that.
SCOTT: I tell you, he won't. Then, Doctor, that's the time we move against him. We'll have to take over the ship.
MCCOY: We're talking about mutiny, Scotty.
SCOTT: Aye. Are you ready for the vote?
MCCOY: Yes. I'm ready for the vote.
KIRK: Play the tapes of the conversation in the corridor.
LYSA: Aye, sir.
SCOTT [OC]: Then's the time we move against him. We’ll have to take over the ship.
MCCOY [OC]: We're talking about mutiny, Scotty.
SCOTT [OC]: Aye. Are you ready for the vote?
MCCOY: That's enough. We know what was said.
KIRK: Enough to convict you of conspiracy with mutineers. And you're so charged. The sentence, death. Mister Lemli.
CHEKOV: Starfleet expressly forbids the death penalty.
KIRK: All my senior officers turning against me?
SULU: The death penalty is forbidden. There's only one exception.
CHEKOV: General Order Four. It has not been violated by any officer on the Enterprise.
KIRK: I am responsible. The execution will be immediate. Go to your posts. Go to your posts. (Chekov and Sulu leave)
KIRK: Mister Lemli, take them to the brig. Prepare for execution. Go on! (Scott and McCoy are escorted out at phaser point. Janice follows and Spock follow, also under armed guard)
SULU: The captain really must be going mad if he thinks he can get away with an execution.
CHEKOV: Captain Kirk wouldn't order an execution even if he were going mad. That cannot be the captain.
SULU: What difference does it make who he is? Are we going to allow an execution to take place?
CHEKOV: If security backs him up, how will we fight him?
SULU: I'll fight them every way and any way I can.
Sulu's question stands out for me. "What does it matter who he is?" A commanding officer has given an order Sulu doesn't feel obligated to follow.
Do you have a favorite mutinous moment? Why does it stand out for you?