Author : Bob Newbell

The members of the Galactic Security Council watched on the viewscreen as the bipedal alien in its bulky, white spacesuit erected a rod with a rectangle of cloth into the regolith of its planet’s satellite. The starred and striped flag, the computer noted, represented the planet’s predominant nation-state. The council members exchanged concerned glances.

“Am I to understand,” asked the violet-colored gelatinous being representing the Upsilon Andromedae star system, “that this is the same species that just a few years ago had yet to discover electricity and employed animals for transportation?”

As soon as the Upsilon Andromedaen’s gutteral language was translated for the various other council members, an insect-like creature from the Mu Arae system responded. “That’s correct. These aliens went from agriculturalism to industrialism to the beginnings of interplanetary travel in the shortest span of time ever observed.” The insectoid’s antennae moved in a pattern indicating astonishment, the dance of the appendages stirred the green chlorine atmosphere inside the Mu Araen’s sealed chamber.

“But this is fantastic!” exclaimed an aquatic council member representing the Zeta Reticuli system, its carapace involuntarily opacifying due to the creature’s excitement. Somewhat embarrassed, the being quickly composed itself, returned its carapace to a more dignified translucency, and went on: “We must move to admit these — what are they called? ‘humans’? — into the Galactic Security Council. They’ll be a galactic power within a few centuries. Better to start grooming them into a decent and responsible galactic civilization now.”

“But look at their history!” said the cyborg council member from Psi Serpentis whose organic components consisted of plant tissue. “They recently developed nuclear fission and then adapted the technology into a weapon. Two cities on their planet were devastated by fission bombs.”

“They created nuclear weapons?” asked the Tau Ceti representative. No other intelligent species in the Milky Way had ever conceived of such a thing, let alone done it. The squid-like creature added, “They must be contained. Or, failing that…” He let the sentence trail off.

A silence fell over the chamber. What could be done with these humans? Brilliant, but savage. Enlightened, but violent. Not other civilization had ever demonstrated such a paradoxical combination.

“We could dumb them down,” came a voice across the translators. It was the oldest council member, a shapeless field of high energy plasma from the HE 1523-0901 star system, who had spoken.

“You mean, make them mindless primitives?” asked the Mu Araen.

“Nothing so gross,” responded the flickering particle field. “Just imagine if we used nanomachines introduced into their brains to subtly blunt the human intellect. For example, what if their politicians became gradually inept, their business leaders incompetent, their art and entertainment coarse and tawdry. Nothing dramatic at first, just a nudge here and there.”

The council members considered the suggestion. A silicate being from Beta Canum Venaticorum asked, “How would we know if such a plan worked?”

“Industry would deteriorate. Economies would stagnate. Over time, their governments would become increasingly inefficient and malignant. Culture would become vapid and moronic. Rational thinking and commonsense would be impaired. Human expansion into space, the odd robotic probe or tiny planetside space station aside, would stall,” replied the plasma being. “They wouldn’t expand out any further than their moon. It’s conceivable they might even lose that capability.”

Ultimately, the Galactic Security Council implemented the suggestion of the old plasmatic from HE 1523-0901. They monitored Earth’s television and radio signals. They soon learned they’d succeeded beyond their wildest expectations and that the galaxy was quite safe from mankind.

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