In this episode -- my personal favorite -- Picard, acting as counsel for Lt. Commander Data, delivers a rousing defense against Number One, who has acted out of necessity as counsel against Data.

The opposition has defined sentience as "intelligence, self-awareness, consciousness". Having demonstrated that Data possesses the first two attributes, Picard concludes:

You see he has met two of your three criteria for sentience. What if he meets the third, consciousness, in even the slightest degree? What is he then? I don't know. Do you? Do you [the judge]? Well, that's the question you have to answer.

Your Honor, the courtroom is a crucible. In it we burn away irrelevancies until we are left with a pure product, the truth, for all time. Now sooner or later this man, or others like him, will succeed in replicating Commander Data. Your ruling today will determine how we will regard this creation of our genius. It will reveal the kind of people we are, what he is destined to be. It will reach far beyond this courtroom and this one android. It could significantly redefine the boundaries of personal liberty -- expanding them for some, savagely curtailing them for others. Are you prepared to condemn him, and all those who come after him, to servitude and slavery?

Your honor, Starfleet was founded to seek out new life. Well, there it sits, waiting. You wanted a chance to make law... well, here's your chance. Make it a good one.

Spoiler in small text:

Data's rights as a sentient being are recognized, and he extends a laurel to Bruce Maddox, urging him to continue his work. Data hints that, when it is safer to do so, he will participate voluntarily in android research.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." -Ann Landers

The willingness to aid a stranger is one of the little ways in which humanity shines through, and gives even the most embittered the shadow of a glimmer of a hope that mankind is perhaps not completely unsalvable.

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