Pillory the Pirates

Here we are in the 21st century and still having to deal with the problem of piracy.  Just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun once again.   Most of our knowledge about pirates and piracy comes from the movies or novels and they usually depict piracy in the Carribbean Sea area.  Blackbeard, Capt. Kidd and Morgan, those types of unruly fellows and they are mostly romanticized.   Piracy has a history that goes back much further than that.   From the earliest civilizations there has been the threat of piracy.  The ancient Phoenicians, then the Greeks and the Romans had to deal with  the menance.   The Roman empire on more than one occasion had to organize a fleet to go seek out and destroy pirates that roamed mostly the north coast of Africa.  They would raid the ships bringing grain and other goods from Eygpt or the far east that were transported across Eygpt to  Rome.  The Greeks had done the same thing.  Centuries later the Venetians mounted several expeditions against pirates in the Mediterrean Sea and the Black Sea because they were disrupting commerce.  

Pirates in the real world are not romantic fellows.   If you study some history of them you will see that they are nothing more than murderers and thieves.   In the last few centuries most of the pirates were located in or around Madagascar.   I am talking about the era you are most familar with in the last 300 years or so.   The pirates go were the money and easy pickings are and that was the sea lanes used to ship the goods from the Spice Islands, India and China to Europe.  This was in the days before the Suez Canal and the ships had to go around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.   That route took all the ships right past Madagascar.  Take a look at a world map and you will observe why that was their hangout.  It was the Somalia coast of its day.   Pirates by their very nature were not organized very well.   The movies always depict some Captain being in charge of everything and all the men being subserviant to him.  That was rarely the case.  They were a gang of villians that came from the four winds to join together to pillage for some quick loot.  Normally they would elect a “Captain” but he would only be in charge during an actual battle.   The Captain was also normally the one who knew how to navigate.   Imagine that.   Even uneducated thieves didn’t want to end up on the shoals of some hidden cosatline.   Otherwise they worked by consensus especially when it came to divving up the spoils.   They also would often hold hostages for ransom.  You do recall the Barbary pirates of North Africa and that Thomas Jefferson ultimately sent a fleet and the marines to deal with them in the early days of the 19th century–“the shores of Tripoli”.

I don’t know why there is such hesitation in dealing with these rogues today.  Our Constitution in Article One gives specific authority to deal with piracy.   We should in consultation and conjunction with our allies grab some of these characters and take them ashore in Somalia at Ely and hang them.  They could receive a trial on the quarterdeck just like in the old days.   It should be a public hanging.   The word would get out quickly that piracy has it drawbacks.   If any crime deserves the death penalty it should be piracy.   They don’t care who they kill or maim or even if a ship goes down and drowns many innocents.   I ask exactly who  is going to come to their defense or protest against their execution?  They are terrorists  without an ideology; they have a lust for loot and an total disregard for decency and the lives of their victims.  Other nations would be happy with that result just like we would be if the Belgians, British, Indians or South Africans did the same thing.   The world simply cannot allow such brigandage to exist.   These are not jolly little fellows singing hohoho and a bottle of rum.   They are murderers and they act outside the law.   All civilized nations have a right to suppress piracy and someone needs to take the lead now.   Laxness will only embolden them to more outrages.

Under Einstein’s theory of relativity a clock in motion slows down time compared to a clock that is stationary.  A simple example of this principle at work it one of those modern devices that are so ubiquitous nowadays–the GPS system.  Those satellites orbiting the earth are off ever so slightly from the clocks on earth and they are calibrated for that difference.  Remember that it is time and distance that gives location.   If those clocks were on the “same” time then your GPS would not be accurate.   It is only a portion  of a second but it matters if you want that little voice on the GPS to give you the right directions and when to make a left turn.

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Filed under Culture, history

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