19

The Earth Stargate was first activated in 1945. According to the in-universe timeline, it has been at least a decade since the events of the Stargate movie and at least nine years since regular operations began at Stargate command. Yet it has been kept a secret.

I can understand the politicians and the Pentagon top brass wanting to keep it secret for strategic purposes. However, almost every one of the better characters on the show (Hammond, O'Neill, Wier and even Daniel Jackson at times) subscribe to the idea that "the world is not yet ready".

What does this mean? What kind of catastrophe do they expect? Riots? Collapse of the politico-economic order? Mass hysteria? Worldwide religious cultism?

It goes without saying that a certain part of the population will always respond hysterically or irrationally, but on the whole, it is hard to imagine anything that is so bad that the secret has to be kept for decades (and I'm not even asking about the practicality of keeping such a massive secret!)

Even in-universe, most civilians who were exposed to the secret took it surprisingly well. There were future timelines where the secret was out and nothing bad had happened.

So why is "the world not ready"? When will it be ready?

15

I think the world was ready, but the characters had to be slowly convinced of this fact. The SGC had secrecy as part of it's MO for decades, so all of the main characters had to believe that it was an acceptable status quo. The show steadily showed them this was not the case, especially in later seasons of SG-1 as security breaches became more frequent.

By the end of SG-1, the IOA worked with many countries who knew of the existence of the Stargate. So a pretty large portion of the governments of Earth knew of the Stargate and all the accoutrements (i.e. there are aliens, we have starships, etc). One of the recurring things that happened late in SG-1's run were more Earth-centric episodes, and more regular people being exposed to the secret of the Stargate program or at least that there are aliens.

They'd shown that the governments of the world could know of the Stargate without major issue. They steadily showed more regular people also dealing with the existence of the Stargate or at least aliens and such. There was honestly no reason for the program to continue being a secret by the end of the show. By then there was effectively a fleet of American starships, and they were a powerful force in the galaxy. The threat of the Gould was neutralized, and so were the Ori. I think they show was steadily working towards revealing the program to the public, but they got canceled a season or two early so it never happened.

5

While the Stargate was activated once in 1945, its actual function was not understood and the knowledge of the Stargate and a functioning Stargate program dates only from 1997. That's not really a long time to dither over whether to make knowledge of the Stargate public, and in fact, the US has been moving slowly toward that almost from the beginning of the program, with the Stargate Alliance Treaty which leads to the forming of the IOA/IOC.

4
  1. Scenario 1: Stargate is a resource whose value is tempting enough to warrant any state (or powerful actors within a state - think NID) with resources to try and obtain it to actually do so. That's a major risk. Think nuking the complex (possibly from the inside) to pre-emptively overcome resistance, banking on Stargate being resistant to nuke blast.

  2. Scenario 2: All the countries decide it's a "world resource", and demand equal access and ownership. Probably under U.N. aegis. You know, the body that is composed of a whole bunch of tinpot dictators and other untrustworthy characters with the same weight of vote as US. The body where Libya chaired UN Security Council.

  3. Scenario 3: Egypt claims that Stargate was stolen and demands it to be taken over. UN approves. Make your pick who you want running Stargate program: a corrupt dictator or a bunch of fundie Muslim Brotherhood nutcases.

  • 5
    Yea, the pseudo-democratic regime or rather black ops military wing of the US is a much, much better choice. Scenario 4: The series makers had limited resources and screen-time; they decided not to deal with the global effects on earth a publicly known Stargate would have. – Raphael Feb 19 '12 at 14:24
  • Point 3 is invalid at the end of the series, they were using the beta gate at the end of the series. stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Beta_Gate – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 19 '12 at 15:02
  • @Pearsonartphoto - I don't think the question was restricted to the specific point in the series, unless I'm misreading. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 19 '12 at 15:05
  • @DVK: Tinpot dictators? Don't you mean tinplated dictators with delusions of godhood? – Tango Feb 19 '12 at 15:52
  • 3
    By the time the IOA became operational, almost all nuclear-capable state actors were aware of the Stargate. It's members had already called it a world resource. And if Poland has a member on the Atlantis team, Egypt most probably does too. – HNL Feb 19 '12 at 16:43
1

I think it's mostly a setting conceit that goes largely unchallenged for Out Of Character reasons -- having it be revealed would, or at least should involve plot arcs involving said revelation, the massive changes to international politics, people's perceptions of space, having to deal with possible corporate/empire-building interests off-world, and so on. It's a fairly significant change to the existing setting, which is largely similar to the earth of today.

You can see similar status quo locks in other settings, particularly secret magic/urban fantasy settings, where it would seem to make sense to go public, but doing so would mean vast changes to the baseline paradigm. (Sorry, I have in the past played Mage.)

Other aspects of this Out-Of-Character reasoning seem to me to include the SGC in general seeming very conservative with their off-world base and personnel numbers -- to keep the show's locales and fronts focused. (If I recall correctly, there never seem to be more than two off-world human bases at any given time.)

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