When challenging the ruling that Data was the property of the Federation, Captain Picard had a conversation with Guinan where she talked about 'disposable generations of people' and in response Captain Picard said, "You're talking about slavery... But that's not the issue at all, is it?"

Captain Picard's defense centered around Data's sentience.

Later, Captain Louvois, in her ruling, mentioned that "We've all been dancing around the basic issue, does Data have a soul?"

Was Captain Picard referring to sentience, a soul, or something else when he said, "but that's not the issue at all"?


The entire quote is:

Picard: You're talking about slavery.

Guinan: I think that's a little harsh.

Picard: I don't think it's a little harsh. I think it's the truth. That's a truth we've obscured behind a comfortable, easy euphemism: property. And that's not the issue at all, is it?

I believe the "that" that Picard is referring to is "property." What he's getting at is that the opposition is making like Data is a thing, and calling it a dispute over the ownership of a non-living thing, but really what they're talking about is the slavery of a sentient being.

  • It's "But that's not the issue" - not 'and'. So he's clearly speaking about something other than slavery and property. – Tracy Cramer Oct 12 '19 at 4:20
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    Even if I misheard "and" instead of "but," the important part of the quote is that he says it, referring to slavery, is the truth. Does it not seem odd to you that he would say it's about slavery in one sentence, and then in the next say, "it [referring to slavery] is not the issue at all"? I'm pretty sure he's meaning the issue IS slavery. – Kai Oct 12 '19 at 4:34
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    It sounds as though "property" is "not the issue". That is, the question is not whether Data owns Data or the Federation owns Data - it's whether anyone is allowed to own Data in the first place. – Cadence Oct 12 '19 at 4:40
  • @Kai, He was saying that Guinan is talking about slavery when she said property, and he doesn't think it's harsh to use that word - it's the truth. But that's [slavery or property is] not the issue at all. And if not property, then, as Cadence said, no one should be allowed to own Data - but that is not the issue at all... – Tracy Cramer Oct 12 '19 at 5:16
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    An excellent analysis. Picard is pointing out that Data isn't a thing to have its ownership disputed, he's a he to have his status as a slave (or not) to be determined. This helps him to formulate his strategy. He jumps straight past property rights into trying to make the court accept that Data is a living thing. – Valorum Oct 12 '19 at 6:19

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