Monday, October 6, 2014

Law, Ballet and the Canadian Indian Residential School System

When Alexandra Harrington and I started Jurisculture several years ago, we envisioned an exploration as to how law intersects with various forms of popular culture. Although we intended to focus on more than just films, television and sports (staples of our own regular popular culture diets), we have largely stayed close to exploring those select mediums without venturing too far afield. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see "Going Home Star" (GHS) a production of Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet (a full synopsis of GHS is provided below thanks to the RWB).

GHS examines the trauma inflicted upon First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities through the Indian Residential School system in Canada. This "educational" system was established in the late nineteenth century and lasted throughout much of the last century. The last school was closed in 1996. This school system was designed to remove First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children from their homes and to "civilize" them by attempting to remove any connections between them and their culture. They were not to speak their own language(s), wear their traditional clothing, or maintain any practice that would allow them to retain their identity. There were to be thoroughly Europeanized. Furthermore, children were subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse by the various clergy who ran these schools. Some of the more powerful and disturbing scenes in GHS relate to such violence and brutality.  

The violence perpetrated against children from Canada's indigenous communities were not just breaches of what we would otherwise consider criminal law. The violence was arguably part of a much greater crime. As Justice Murray Sinclair posits, the violence was part and parcel of a genocide waged against these communities.[1] According to the United Nations' Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide includes acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. The Convention specifically includes the forcible transference of children from one group to another group as constituting genocide. As such, genocide does not require the physical destruction of a group through murder (though this is the construction that often comes to mind), but may be accomplished by racially indoctrinating children so as to remove any identifiable cultural characteristics associated with that group (language, dress, ways of living) from their existence. In the case of indigenous children, their transference away from their families and communities so as to "civilize" them and eliminate their indigineity and "backwardness" falls within this mode of genocide.

The goal of effacing indigenous identities from the Canadian cultural landscape found voice in the following quote from one of the architects of this school system, Duncan Campbell-Scott. He asserted: "Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indian question and no Indian Department. ... I want to get rid of the Indian problem."[2]

One should of course not be quick to dismiss such cultural destruction as being unimportant enough to qualify as genocide (even if it could be somehow accomplished without the loss of one physical life). Cultural identity is vital to most people's existence, even though it may be taken for granted. As University of Manitoba sociologist Christopher Powell observes: "Membership in a cultural group, participation in a collective identity, is part of our social nature and is necessary to human well-being." He articulates that while many take their cultural identity for granted, if it were taken away suddenly, we would quickly recognize its vitality and importance.[3]   
Though GHS does not squarely refer to this history as genocide per se, it is perhaps enough, at least as an initial step, to have the violence which constituted the genocide depicted at all and to draw attention to it. One can only hope that this will inspire further cultural forays on a much broader scale about the violence perpetrated against these communities and their psychological aftermath. 

[1] Chinta Puxley, "Racial Indoctrination: Residential Schools Called A Form of Genocide" Globe and Mail (17 February 2012), online: Globe and Mail: ; Christopher Powell, "Sinclair Was Right -- It was Genocide"Winnipeg Free Press (24 February 2012), online: The Winnipeg Free Press .   

[2] Powell, ibid

[3] Ibid

Synopsis of Going Home Star. 


Act 1

Going Home Star is the story of a young contemporary First Nations Woman named Annie. She is confident and self reliant living in an urban city; and, she finds some creative satisfaction working as a Hair Stylist for upwardly mobile, chic, urban women. At the end of a typical day, Annie joins the fast paced activity of the city and the carefree encounters that come with it. Her nights often end with a line of cocaine and a random lover. Work, commute, clubs and random lovers are the highlights of Annie’s existence. Her restlessness comes from this meaningless life style. Annie feels strangely disconnected within her superficial urban loop.

Gordon is a homeless First Nations man. He was born on the reserves, but was scooped from his home as a young boy and forced into the Residential School system. Ultimately, Gordon fled this life to live on the streets not as a victim but as a true survivor. Gordon remembers and understands the teachings of Anishinaabe trickster. It’s this magical power and the deeper story of his people that is present when Annie and Gordon first meet.

In the bowels of the subway commute, surrounded by urban people, Annie and Gordon’s initial attraction is more than just physical. Annie has the sensation that Gordon knows something deeper about her being. Although Gordon struggles with his conflicted past he recognizes the disconnected spirit in Annie. Gordon becomes that being that teaches Annie about her people, her past and ultimately, her story.

One night after her random lover departs Annie lays motionless on the floor dreaming of her day. Gordon appears in her dream. He approaches and kisses her on the forehead. Dreaming she is flying through time Annie sees a nomadic First Nations woman pulling a great weight though blowing snow. Upon waking Annie senses her dream was more like a vision and the strange connection she felt with Gordon is somehow connected with this faraway image.

Annie begins her busy day at the Hair Salon. She feels out of place after her dream. All the urban women want highlights and coffee. Mistakenly, Annie gives one patron her measuring cup full of hair bleach to drink. Luckily the patron spits it out; but, Annie is mortified.

Closing the hair salon and escaping toward the clubs Annie finds a wallet dropped on the subway floor. When the owner returns he aggressively retrieves his wallet. Annie becomes aware that all the urban commuters are looking at her suspiciously.

Gordon, the trickster, enters. The mysterious cloth that Gordon usually carries (which Annie thought he used for sleeping) is now spread out upon the floor. Resting on top is a Reliquary (Shrine) model of a Residential School. Gordon pulls the cloth and the Reliquary in a similar manner to the First Nations woman in Annie’s dream. For Annie, Gordon’s burden (the Reliquary) and the burden of the nomadic First Nation’s Mother are both strangely familiar.

The Reliquary is an exact replica of the Residential School from Gordon’s past; and, like the Greek Sisyphus, Gordon is somewhat banished with this burden. Gordon is a story-telling trickster and his life experience is at the heart of his teachings.

Afraid of Gordon’s mystical power, Annie runs back to her lover. She has another dream of flying and this time a dream of urban people walking all over her. Upon waking Annie realizes that her life, thus far, has been spinning on the spot. When Gordon is near she feels part of something greater than herself.

Annie and Gordon are now separated from the urban world. Gordon stands behind the Residential School Reliquary, waiting for Annie’s attention. When she looks his way Gordon lifts the Reliquary over his head. The weight, the burden, is too great and crushes him. Annie comes to his aid. Now having Annie’s attention, Gordon begins to tell his story of the Residential Schools.

Moving back through time, towards a Residential School in a birch wood forest, Gordon’s story begins with two First Nations children, Niska and Charlie. They were forced from their home to be educated by a Clergyman. Abusing the power entrusted to him, the Clergyman subjects the children to corporal punishment and his religious zeal.

Annie is heartbroken over the treatment of the children but Gordon knows she must venture deeper into the story; that to know only a few surface details makes it easier to dismiss the truth. Gordon leads Annie to a dilapidated wall of an abandoned school. She has passed this wall many times but never even considered its origins. They climb and sit upon the wall. Staring at the night sky Gordon continues his story.

Moving back through time Annie sees Niska and Charlie in the Residential School. They sneak around looking for food and mischief. They are excited to be out of bed and even more elated at their ability to avoid the Clergyman’s detection.

When Niska entered the School she managed to hide the tobacco pouch which her Mother placed around her neck for protection. Niska now retrieves the tobacco pouch from its hiding place for her and Charlie to enjoy. The smell of tobacco remind Niska and Charlie of home and the rituals practiced by their family. Although they cannot fully remember the details their desire to be with Mother and Father is too great. Homesick, Charlie lights a Votive candle for fire and Niska sprinkles tobacco in the flame. The kids recreate their parents’ prayer ritual.

The ever-watchful Clergyman discovers Niska and Charlie practicing their sacred ways. The Clergyman is bent on destroying their culture and assimilating these children into his way of life. His retribution against the children is severe.

Sitting upon the wall with Gordon, Annie learns of Charlie’s beating and of Niska’s hair shearing by the Clergyman. When she returns to her hair salon chair she understands that the antique chair may have a darker history. Searching through the hair on the floor Annie looks for the tobacco pouch. Gordon has inherited this artifact and he gives the tobacco pouch to Annie.

Continuing his story Gordon reveals the truth hidden in the cracks of the Residential School wall. Annie sees the loving moment when Niska’s Mother and Father gave her the tobacco pouch: the moment Niska’s parents said, “goodbye”. She then sees the moment that the Clergyman rapes Niska.
Annie is greatly distressed by this final story and Gordon moves to console her. Repulsed and angry Annie pushes Gordon away and exits.

Alone, Gordon remembers Charlie’s story. Charlie escaped the Residential School and the punishments of the Clergyman. He fled into the nearby woods looking for the railroad tracks that would lead him home. He also used the North Star, known by his people as “ the Going Home Star” to help navigate his course.

For Gordon the stars in the night sky are intuited as spirits or Star Children. In Gordon’s past these Star Children and his Mother and Father have acted as guides and helpers. Gordon’s hope is that they were there for Charlie on his frightening journey home.

Gordon holds the artifacts from the past and communes with Charlie’s plight. The Votive candle and matches were carried by Charlie for energy and strength. Charlie’s fate, his disappearance, is like the fate of many children from the Residential Schools. Gordon knows it could have been his fate as well.

Annie returns to console Gordon. Like the vision in Annie’s dream—the vision of the nomadic First Nations woman pulling the great weight—Annie now realizes she shares Gordon’s burden. Like the First Nations woman before her Annie picks up the burden of the past and begins her new destiny as healer for Gordon and potentially healer for her people. The “Going Home Star” is clear in the sky and Annie knows the direction of her future.

Act 2

Annie, having picked up the burden of the past, immerses herself fully in the healing of Gordon. Harnessing the ancestral power of the Sweat Lodge, Annie stokes the stone fire pit. The turtle shell mirror from her hair salon and the shallow vanity it represented is gone. In its place Annie has hung a large turtle shell. For Annie, the turtle shell has a deeper meaning. It is an inspiration to unite with her people’s Creation Story by building a new home for her and Gordon.

Mourning the loss of his own childhood Gordon’s every thought is with Niska and Charlie. He remembers the torture these young children endured and he knows there was more than just one abuser. Many Clergymen practiced corporal punishment and more. It was an approach to education unknown to his people. The abuses haunt Gordon’s thoughts. His body is present, but his mind is trapped with these children in the past.

Earlier Annie followed Gordon through the underworld to learn about the past. Now she follows Gordon to help him reconcile his own conflicted memories.

Gordon knows he has to “build his fire up” and Annie aids in this endeavor. In search of answers Gordon contemplates a time before the Residential Schools. He questions how European colonialism became a campaign of forced assimilation for his people. A comical image of Louis the 14th, Divine Louis, are imagined by Gordon. Gordon remembers the first contact with his people. He believes that Canada was not discovered by these Divine explorers, but was shown to them by his people. Their very survival depended it.

Gordon wants to laugh at these earlier explorers, but when he thinks of Niska being raped he only feels anger; and, his anger leaves him weak. He tries to remember a better time when Niska and Charlie were with their Mother and Father; but, the Clergyman’s abuses are difficult to forget.

Annie continues to make a home for Gordon and herself. Her hope is to commune with the Star Children without anger; to hold them in loving memory. Annie brings the turtle shell down as an idea of shelter for Gordon and herself; it is her way of unifying all the past lives under one beautiful idea, shelter…refuge.

The loss of Charlie, his disappearance, is too painful for Gordon. He cannot so easily forgive this mistake. Gordon holds the Votive candle and says a prayer for Charlie. Gordon’s hope is to find reconciliation. He imagines both sides joining in a prayer for Charlie. He also imagines both sides coming together in prayer for all the survivors and the damage that’s been done…for the child taken, for the parent left behind.

Annie crosses the stage with her playful animal being. Gordon is at a cross-roads: his ancient path of animal tracks lead one direction and the difficulties of his more recent path, the railroad tracks, lead another. Annie invokes a new symbol for Gordon’s dilemma. She also invokes the healing power of the medicine wheel. Entering with ribbons representing the medicine wheel’s four colours, Annie begins hanging these ribbons on the trees. Recognizing the sacred ways of his people Gordon and Annie begin making a shelter for their Sweat by placing the glowing stones underneath the turtle shell.

Annie has prepared one more healing action for Gordon. She leads Gordon to the pyre that she has built. Resting on top of the pyre is Gordon’s ever-present burden: the Residential School Reliquary. Annie instinctively desires another realm for Niska, Charlie and Gordon’s past; a realm where the children no longer live trapped in the Residential School. Annie envisions a world where Niska and Charlie run free and happy as Star Children. Annie hands the flame to Gordon.

Gordon feels deeply the damage that has been done and the anger he carries inside. Following Annie’s lead, her hope, Gordon knows what he must do next. Gordon sets the pyre on fire. His gesture is a willing surrender to never returning moments. For a brief period, Annie and Gordon commune with Niska, Charlie and their Elders.

Gordon is weakened but feeling held only by love. Annie builds back his strength by braiding his hair. The future that shines in Annie’s youthful spirit unites with the dark past haunting Gordon. Annie and Gordon validate each other’s truth. Their journey has been like a dream and in their hearts are the words from their people’s Morning Song: “Sun finally here. Beautiful day. Just got back from a long walk in the forest”.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Separate and Privileged

Disparate treatment based on one's race (and/or other characteristics) is alive and well (as if this were in some doubt). Being a member or being perceived to be a member of a particular racial/ethnic group continues to give rise to differential treatment. Over the past weeks, there has been a great deal of attention to the disparate treatment African-American men in particular receive from White police officers and certainly the lethal aftermath of some of these confrontations.
The disparate treatment isn't restricted to police officers (though their reactions are of significant concern given that they carry firearms and use them). A number of filmed social experiments over the years indicate the contrasting reactions White and Black men can experience with respect to the same activities. For instance, some years ago, Oprah Winfrey presented the story a young White man named Josh Sullivan who took pills to darken his skin so that he could appear as an African-American male and experience what that was like. Here is the clip: 

In contrast to his experiences as a White man, while Black, Sullivan experienced what it was like to be stopped by the police for no apparent reason, followed around while in a shop as well as refused a place in a restaurant despite there being spaces - experiences he never endured as a White man. With respect to this privilege he held, Sullivan observed: "Whites receive this prima facie respect. I walked into a room and regardless of how much money I had in my pocket, there's a certain level of respect that I get from folks. And the first thing that I realized when I was Black was it's gone. You don't get any of that. You know White people get this respect and Black people are constantly trying to prove that they deserve it or worthy of it." 

Another striking illustration can be seen in the following footage from ABC's "What Would You Do?" It illustrates the differing reactions people have while witnessing a person commit a particular illegal activity (stealing a bike) based on the thief's race (and gender). In one instance, it is a White male, the second instance an African-American male, and the third, a White blonde haired woman. The reactions are partly comical but nevertheless revealing. One word of caution of course is that these are clips that ABC had selected and we must trust that the reactions presented are in some representative of those elicited when encountering the three different "thieves".

What we witness is that the African-American male is consistently confronted, while the other two White thieves tend to enjoy a much different experience, with the female enduring the least scrutiny. One of the more striking and interesting reactions were those of the older African-American women in the footage who gave the White male thief the benefit of the doubt on the assumption that stealing wasn't something we associate with young White men. None of this is surprising when we consider that Whiteness is often inherently associated with "goodness" and Blackness or darker skin tones are almost automatically associated with criminality, wrongfulness or at the very least suspicious behavior. (As an aside this privileging of Whiteness or fairness is replicated in other societies and cultures - see my earlier blog posting here).

These differential experiences can (not surprisingly) have profound implications for one's experience of law and law enforcement. The differences may come into play when dealing with sentencing disparities in a criminal matter, whether someone receives bail, who will be identified as a suspect or a "person of interest" or the credibility accorded to certain witnesses. And yes of course at a more basic level there is the presumption of innocence and whether it is really experienced equally.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Subaltern Resistance in the City of Joy

For many, depictions of Asia and Africa can consist of a variety of (sometimes competing) archetypes. Amongst these embodiments is the image of poverty and life in slums replete with disease, crime, and open sewers. For many living in such countries, these images reify certain caricatures of the "developing" South/East and simultaneously provoke (naturally) defensive responses as though such tropes of otherness singularly define the nations' existence and that of its people. Yet embedded within films that display such imagery, there are still other powerful narratives that depict more than just the abject poverty - there are also stories about law and resistance.

In this posting, I shall explore, in particular, one film's exploration about law and resistance, The City of Joy, directed by Roland Joffé. The film was based on the book of the same name written by Dominique LaPierre about the rigors of life in Calcutta's Anandnagar (City of Joy). At the time of its filming, in the early 1990s, there were local protests against the production for fear that it was portraying India in a poor light. The filming nevertheless continued and it was eventually released in 1992.

At first glance, the film appears to model and replicate the notion of a Western savior (in the form of Dr. Max Lowe played by the late Patrick Swayze) swooping in to save the local residents of the slum - from the miseries of disease (such as leprosy) and from the local mafia crime lord and his son who extract high rents from the local residents and businesses. Max does indeed improve their lives through his medical skills and his assistance. Yet, as the film progresses, another narrative develops that highlights the subjectivity of the local residents, and in particular, the resistive qualities of the relatively docile Hazari Pal (played by Indian actor Om Puri). While Max acts as a catalyst to inspire and taunt individuals such as Hazari into action, it is ultimately their own decisions to resist that makes them legal agents/subjects in their own right. Before explaining how Hazari asserts his (legal) subjectivity as a resister, rather than merely being saved by an outsider, I shall explain how and in what manner law plays a role in this film.

The "legal" framework is not one that centers around the legal norms of the governments of India, the state of West Bengal, and/or the city of Calcutta - it is an informal (if not illegal and unjust) system of norms created by a local crime lord and enforced by his son, Ashok, and their henchmen. The crime lord's control in many ways operates like a mini-government/fiefdom. He mandates that "taxes" be paid for "protection". When Max and other residents of the slum seek to build a free clinic to treat lepers without paying the crime lord's tax, and thus engage in their own form of a tax revolt, they are besieged by "protestors" - in essence the crime lord's hired thugs. The clinic is damaged and the property destroyed. The residents eventually capitulate and agree to be "protected". This crime lord-operated "government" also functions as a licensor for rickshaw pullers who must pay fees to work as pullers. It is a system that limits free(er) enterprise and places restraints on commerce.

Hazari's legal subjectivity as a resister emerges in two ways within this normative context. First, it comes into play when Hazari takes defiant steps to pull his rickshaw without the permission of the crime lord. After Ashok deprives Hazari of his "license" to pull a rickshaw (retribution for his part in setting up the leprosy clinic without the clinic paying taxes), Hazari decides, after some prodding from Max, to reconstruct/repair an unlawfully acquired rickshaw with the intention of using it to earn money. This act of reconstructing the rickshaw is itself an act of resistance against this local polity that restrains him from earning a livelihood of his choosing. Hazari furthermore involves himself in a strike by rickshaw pullers against an increase in "fees" imposed by Ashok. During the strike, Hazari asserts himself by urging his fellow pullers to continue to strike after Ashok threatens to take away their rickshaws if they persist in their strike. He advances to where Ashok is situated and grabs the microphone to speak to the rickshaw pullers. This causes a commotion and Hazari is arrested for this act. Later in court, before the judge, he in effect proudly declares his right to strike and to carry a rickshaw without having to pay illegal fees to Ashok (who has now taken over the mini-government after his father's passing) as well as bribes to actual policemen. The judge agrees with Hazari's rights to strike and pull a rickshaw without let or hindrance and furthermore issues a restraining order preventing Ashok from prohibiting Hazari from pulling his rickshaw. The judge formally legitimizes his act of resistance which here is in furtherance of a right to earn a livelihood, not to mention more essentially, a basic right to liberty in carrying on a livelihood of his choice. Although his defiance comes at a cost as he must pay fifty rupees as a fine for his part in the "disturbance" or stay in jail for several days. Legitimized resistance thus comes comes at a cost.
Second, after undermining Ashok's control by being able to pull his rickshaw, Hazari's penultimate act of defiance is manifested by physically confronting Ashok directly. While transporting his kids (a teenage daughter and two younger sons) and Max on the rickshaw, Hazari is stopped by Ashok and his henchmen. As Ashok takes hold of Hazari's daughter and threatens to disfigure her face with a razor blade, Hazari lashes out and lunges at Ashok. Although stabbed, Hazari physically bests Ashok and is on the verge of killing him when Hazari notices his children are watching and witnessing. He then stops and admonishes Ashok to stop his oppressive activities against him and the other residents of the slum.

More than just another movie that portrays life in the Third World as tantamount to a slum dwelling, The City of Joy is a film about normative (and indeed oppressive) structures and how resistance can operate within such structures - indeed to defeat or substantially undermine the system itself in defence of larger and perhaps more fundamental legal principles (e.g. the right to work, right to liberty and notions of fair taxation and good governance). Furthermore, the film also recognizes Indian/Third World characters as having subjectivity to reconstruct legal normativity without having it delivered upon them by outsiders (read: Westerners) as saviors. Undoubtedly Max's character is influential and is a catalyst. But he does not, vis-a-vis this informal governing structure, act as its vanquisher. Indeed through much of the film, Max hardly ever wins a fight (of course this is usually because he has to face 3-4 of the crime lord's henchmen at once). It is ultimately Hazari who frees the residents of the slum from Ashok's oppressive control.

None of this of course is to suggest that there is nothing problematic about other aspects of the film perhaps, however I will reserve that for another blog posting.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Right versus Rule

The latest installment of the Star Trek movie series, Star Trek Into Darkness, presents viewers with a good dose of fantasy and escapist entertainment. Beyond this, however, Star Trek Into Darkness also presents audiences with questions relating to the balance between acting in away that is right and acting in a way that is in compliance with the strictures of governing rules.

This issue first appears early in the movie, when the iconic Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise is forced to chose between following orders not to reveal the Enterprise to other planets or saving both an indigenous civilization and Kirk’s friend and first officer Spock from an erupting volcano. Over Spock’s objections, Kirk’s choice is the latter option. After returning from the mission, Spock reports Kirk for violating his orders and the rules governing Star Fleet, and Kirk is relieved of his command of the USS Enterprise as a result.
Shortly thereafter, this balance again appears in a conflict between Spock and Kirk. Following an attack on Star Fleet headquarters, Kirk is again promoted to captain of the Enterprise and, despite their differences, selects Spock as his first officer. The initial parameters of the mission are to hunt for the terrorist responsible for the attack on Star Fleet headquarters and kill him. When Spock is made aware of the orders, he strenuously objects to them on the grounds that extrajudicial killing violates the rules and laws of Star Fleet. At first Kirk disregards these objections, however when he announces their orders to the general crew he changes them to capturing the terrorist and transporting him back to Earth for an appropriate trial. Kirk attributes much of this decision to the points raised by Spock.

During the course of the movie, we learn that the Enterprise is being set up in order to start a war between Star Fleet and the Klingons, and that Star Fleet’s chief admiral had used and then intended to destroy superior warriors from another planet to craft battle strategies. It also is revealed that the terrorist the Enterprise is hunting, Khan, was used by the chief admiral and then forced to attack Star Fleet headquarters on the threat that his own crew would be killed if he failed to do so. Kirk is confronted by the chief admiral, who gives Kirk the option of surrendering Khan or having the Enterprise destroyed. Kirk refuses to surrender Khan on the basis of the near certainty that Khan will be killed by the chief admiral. In an effort to save the Enterprise, Kirk and Khan find a way onto the chief admiral’s own ship, only to have Khan kill the chief admiral – against Kirk’s wishes – and take Kirk and several others from the Enterprise hostage.
Among those left in control of the Enterprise is Spock, who agrees to the terms requested by Khan in exchange for the return of Kirk and the other hostages. Assuming that Khan will renege on his part of the bargain, Spock engineers a plot in which the targets of Khan’s request are switched with weapons that ultimately will be used to destroy Khan’s ship. This is something that could be questioned given Spock’s adherence to the rules above all else, yet he does so to save the Enterprise, Kirk and the other hostages. Once the hostages are returned to the Enterprise, the ship encounters a potentially fatal loss of power. In order to save the ship and crew, Kirk enters the radioactive area of the ship to start the power device needed to provide the ailing Enterprise with the necessary energy to return to Earth. In the process, Kirk is exposed to deadly levels of radiation. Before his death, he and Spock talk and each notes that they acted to save the ship and the crew in the way that the other would have done – Spock acting outside of the rules and Kirk following his duty to save the ship rather than protecting himself.

To the relief of audiences everywhere, Kirk is ultimately saved through a transfusion from, rather ironically, Khan. It is obvious that both Kirk and Spock are changed by their experiences throughout the movie, although Spock is perhaps more demonstrably changed in terms of demeanor. More than an interesting series of plot twists, however, the continued stressing of right versus rules as a bi-polar and strictly construed narrative raises important questions of law and morality in the larger cultural context. This narrative itself highlights the question of whether in fact there is such a bi-polar binary – and indeed whether there should be such a relationship – and further asks if it is better and more culturally acceptable to use a flexible construct of the relationship between right and rules.