Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You Just Can't Make This Stuff Up....

At first, I thought that Stephen Karlson, at C.S.S., was kidding. Outspoken support...for the pirates?

Then, I thought it must be a hoax. I mean....can this guy be serious? Mr. Scahill shares this tidbit, about the "Somali Coast Guard":

As one “pirate” said, “The French and the Americans will regret starting this killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do something to anyone we see as French or American from now.” Another added, “As long as there is no just government in Somalia, we will still be the coast guard… If we get an American, we will take revenge.” (Note that "pirate" is in scare quotes, original in Scahill)

The way I see it, there are four issues:

1. Are these guys pirates? Is there any other conceivable description of their actions, tactics, and treatment of prisoners / ships?

2. Was the U.S. justified to use deadly force to free the captain of Maersk Alabama?

3. Was the U.S. wise to end the stalemate in this way?

4. Are the "pirates" (to use Scahill's air quotes, notwithstanding the answer to #1 above) justified in using violence and kidnapping to air the legitimate grievances of an oppressed people?


1. Absolutely. No, no other explanation. These guys are pirates. Anyone who would put quotes around the word "pirates" in this context is criminally insane.

2. Absolutely. A pirate caught in the act of piracy, and holding a hostage at gunpoint, has zero claim to due process. And if the guy getting medical treatment wants to say that it was unfair to fool him like that, that they had a deal, what about the Pirate's Code?....Well, I'd amend Captain Barbossa's answer: "First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, one must be a pirate for the pirate's code to apply and we're not. And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Bainbridge...."

3. A legitimate question. I don't know the answer. I lean toward "yes," but Scahill may have some real arguments on the "no" side. Of course, I can't tell that, since he chose not to make any of those points.

4. Are you kidding me? You want to blame international shipping companies for the hell hole that is Somalia? One can have sympathy for the generation of young men growing up without law, or hope. But you can't seriously say that that justifies piracy, any more than poverty in Appalachia or Cleveland justifies armed robbery.



Anonymous said...

There's no link.

Tom said...

I'm entirely with Mungowitz until he answers question 4 about "justification" of the pirates' action. Justification is a concept that pertains to people who have actual or potential cooperation. I want to and I do live in society with Mungowitz (and most of the humans on Earth) and that is why I might need to explain or defend my actions. Let's borrow a leaf from Peter Singer and abandon speciesism for a moment, so as to consider how I might ask for justification of the coyote that attacked my pet... It's not a problem of communication; it's a question of having any reason for communication. Neither the coyote nor I have any desire or ability to cooperate. He will take from me if he can; I will kill him if I can.

It is the same with the pirate. I don't care how he got that way and I make no claim that I might not have made similar choices had I grown up in his harsh environment. We're just not going to be part of any society, he and I. He's a coyote.

(I am almost -- not quite -- still without speciesism. Baby humans get my respect for their potential. Baby coyotes? Not so much!)

AK said...

I'm curious to hear what you think about comments about the pirates from K'naan Warsame, a Somali rapper (now living in Canada).

Check out:

Tom said...

Responding to AK -- and to K'Naan, I suppose...

By now, I shouldn't be shocked, not after so many similar rants. The form of the justification is so familiar, too: "Persons A, B, and C did something bad to us, so we will punish persons D, E, and F, who 'look like' the former group in our eyes."

So somebody dumped waste in Somali waters and somebody else "stole" the unowned fish. And somebody deprived Somalia of the beneficence of central government. Therefore, people bringing food aid to Mombasa must pay! ...well, it's because those people look like the others (or like the suspects in the other incident!).

Like ain't fair -- so when you get hurt, be sure to hurt someone else. And if you can't get the ones who hurt you, just hurt someone who 'looks like' them (in your eyes). Then, life will be fair.

K'naan seems intelligent, certainly eriadite, and is utterly wrong.