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Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

Obi-Wan has been all over the galaxy and seen many more wretched hives of scum and villainy. He's been to Geonosis, which was where Count Dooku was building a droid army. Obi-Wan has been in the Chancellor's office, and that surely counts as a hive of villainy. And don't get me started on the Galactic Senate! Then there's the hive of villains at Utapau and Mustafar.

And we know Luke ended up in this wretched hive of scum and villainy.

What was so bad about Mos Eisley Spaceport?

It can't be the fact that their bartenders discriminate against droids.

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    Have you been in the chat room here? Definitely an accurate assessment. – Broklynite Apr 21 '16 at 7:31
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    @Broklynite Thanks for the laugh! Being somewhat new to StackExchange, I did not know the name of the chat room. Certainly didn't mean that Mos Eisley! – RichS Apr 21 '16 at 7:41
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    Could be he is just speaking in hyperbole so Luke knows to be careful. – Golden Dragon Apr 21 '16 at 13:17
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    He actually doesn't say it is the worst. Just that it's at least tied for worst. – Organic Marble Apr 21 '16 at 20:12
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    @OrganicMarble, there could be worse, it's just that Luke won't be able to find them. Certainly in the case of the three places you named, he won't find them unless he develops Force Time Travel. – ThePopMachine Nov 16 '17 at 21:32
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The spaceport was lawless.

According to a databank entry on the official Star Wars web site:

Obi-Wan Kenobi warned Luke Skywalker that he’d never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley spaceport, and he was right. The famously lawless port on the surface of Tatooine was home to Hutt servants, rogues and smugglers of all species, lowlifes and fugitives, and desperate people trying to make a living any way they could. Whether one visited during the Clone Wars or under Imperial rule, in Mos Eisley, money talked (in various denominations) and questions weren’t asked.

So it seems that Mos Eisley space port was a place that in which people could engage in criminal activity without fear of arrest.

This establishes why it would be a hive of scum and villainy, but perhaps not why it is the most wretched one. It's quite possible that Obi-Wan was exaggerating for the benefit of young Luke.

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    Anything Obi-Wan says is only true from a certain point of view. – Molag Bal Apr 21 '16 at 13:54
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    It's quite possible that Obi-Wan was exaggerating for the benefit of young Luke. - Praxis Yeah, well that kind of exaggeration undermines his credibility as a Jedi. Imagine Luke thinking, "Old Ben thinks this is the worst hive of scum and villainy? Does this old fossil get out much?" – RichS Apr 22 '16 at 6:30
  • @RichS You haven't read How many times was Obi-Wan less than honest with Luke? then. – Mr Lister Apr 24 '16 at 7:59
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Well, let's consider what they found there (droid-racist barkeeps notwithstanding)

  • Jawas (theft ring)
  • Bounty Hunters (one tries to kill Han, the other informs the Storm Troopers where Luke and company went)
  • A guy who tries to kill Luke for unclear reasons
  • Jabba the Hutt, a gangster who apparently runs the town (Special Edition, sure, but Han was there looking for him in the original)
  • Smugglers (i.e. Han Solo). This is why they went there in the first place

Even for a seasoned Jedi, this was a dangerous place. So Obi Wan was pulling from his life experiences to warn Luke to watch his back.

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    Note that someone was killed and another lost an appendage and the music barely skipped a beat. – user31178 Apr 22 '16 at 1:47
  • @CreationEdge I dunno. That has happened before. Was probably just a flesh wound – Machavity Apr 22 '16 at 2:07
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What Kenobi says could be considered truthful from a certain point of view.

What he says to Luke is (emphasis mine):

Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

He isn't saying that more wretched hives don't exist, he's just saying Luke probably won't visit them. Luke had never been to any of the places you mentioned and likely never would. You can't fault Kenobi for having an assumption, even if it's wrong.

On the other hand, Obi-Wan is a lying liar who lies, so exaggeration isn't particularly out of character for him.

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    He was grooming Luke to be a Jedi -- you really think Obi-Wan thought Luke himself would never find a more wretched hive? I've always interpreted it as hyperbole, not a literal statement that applies to Luke. – Null Apr 21 '16 at 13:57
  • @Null Strange way to train a Jedi. The younger Obi-Wan wasn't so absurd and hyperbolic. He spoke far more precisely then. Maybe we should go with the theory that Old Ben went koo-koos while in exile for 20 years. – RichS Apr 22 '16 at 6:33
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Let's compare Mos Eisley to the examples you gave to speculate why they may not count.

Geonosis wasn't wretched. Dooku was building an army, not a gang of thugs. Villainy, sure, but not scum so much.

The Chancellor's office is just one person's office. It certainly can't count as a hive.

The Galactic Senate may have been full of villains, but they were also esteemed diplomats. They were lawful evil, not chaotic.

Utapau and Mustafar may have been battlefields, but who's to say who's right and who's wrong? There are just opposing sides. (I mean yeah, the dark side is technically evil, but...)

Jabba's Palace is probably the best candidate for a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, so it's the hardest to pick that one apart. To start, Jabba is a very wealthy gangster, and so even his miserable underlings are at least living in a classy palace. Also he's pretty picky about who he lets live, so it's not a place more scum and villainy can just show up and congregate.

I think Obi-Wan's meaning rings true in general.

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Because if Obi-Wan tells the teenager "yeah, this is a bad part of town", he's gonna get blown off. If he tells him "this is the worst place I've ever seen, you could get shanked out of nowhere", there's a slight chance of Luke actually paying attention. (Slight.) This seems like pretty straightforward hyperbole to me.

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Tatooine is an ‘Outer Rim’ planet, governed by vile gangsters — the Hutts. There’s bound to be at least ‘one’ wretched hive of scum and villainy there, if not ten, and go figure that the Mos Eisley Spaceport is not far from where Jabba the Hutt lives and conducts most of his illegal business. Because of the ‘strangle hold’ that the Empire put on the economy of the universe, many beings within it were ‘dirt poor’ and drawn to crime that would go ‘mostly undetected’ on the remote planet of Tatooine. By 0 BBY, the Jedi had long been ‘vilified’, or forgotten, and one could hardly count on the Rebellion to make up for the Jedi’s absence since the Rebellion was outnumbered by Imperial forces 100-to-1. So basically, there was no ‘potent authority’ to ensure peace, justice, or order anywhere on Tatooine, least of all within the Mos Eisley Spaceport. Look at how many bounty hunters, mercenaries, hired assassins, and contraband smugglers gravitated to the Mos Eisley Spaceport and Jabba’s Palace. Han Solo and Chewbacca were drug smugglers “trying to avoid any Imperial entanglements” who often docked at the Mos Eisley Spaceport. So, it’s extremely likely to me that a place like Mos Eisley would exist given all that was wrong with a federation of planets governed by a power-thirsty despot, that gave way to an Outer Rim planet controlled by the Hutts. Mos Eisley is the ‘tragic offspring’ of corruption and neglect.

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