My thanks to Bilge at bilgemunky.com for sending out a link to this story loaded with incredulity:
During a press conference, First Admiral Datuk Anuwi Hassan of the Royal Malaysian Navy made the following statement concerning acts of piracy off Sandakan:
“There is no piracy in our waters unlike in the peninsula; they are only sea robberies,” Anuwi said, before adding, “piracy and sea robberies have two different meanings; the people have been quoted wrongly.”
I’ve seen plenty of acts of trying to ignore the facts to make something go away, from old Soviet declarations of non-personhood to “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” but this just shoots to the top of the list right there. The idea that you can re-classify a pirate out of existence and make them go away with a thesaurus is at best laughable, were it not fatally delusional. A pirate by any other name would still be just as dangerous; if you cross them, do they not shiver your timbers?
Let’s get one thing out there right now: Piracy is one of humanity’s oldest professions. It may not be the oldest, but it comes pretty close. To claim that the act of seizure during transport is not piracy is as ludicrous as finding euphemisms to soft-pedal those professions older than piracy…
(And yes, I do think the definition ‘seizure during transport’ allows you to legitimately call hacking and illegal downloads piracy in the true sense of the word; in an environment that requires data to move from node to node and accumulate value in its transport, the seizure of same is no less piratanical than the actions of Calico Jack or Abdi Wali Abdulqadir Muse.)
Piracy has been with us from the earliest of days. Piracy was practiced by the Sea Peoples, the naval barbarians swooping down on the classical world at the time Troy fell, who may have become the Philistines when they made landfall and beached their craft in the Eastern Med.
It was Anatolian pirates that seized Gaius Julius (not yet Caesar) and taught him to appreciate going after your enemies with overwhelming force. It was the piracy practiced by the Norse as they went fara í víking that shaped northern Europe for a thousand years after the last longboat went to sea.
It was the Barbary pirates that encouraged the merchants of Europe to try sailing west if they wanted to get to the Spice Islands. It was the Brethren of the Coast that brought representative government and venture capitalism to the New World. It was out of privateers hired to refrain from wanton piracy that the United States Navy was born. And it is off the coast of Somalia that we are reminded how ingrained piracy is in our bodies and souls.
And there will be pirates tomorrow, when climate change disrupts American agriculture and buccaneers based in Buffalo ply the Great Lakes to claim Canadian beef shipments meant for luxury export to the Russians. And they will be there the day after tomorrow, when human sub-aquatic colonies built to escape the harsh conditions on land are in danger of submarines seizing transports for their cargos to end up either for sale on the black market or to help abandoned landlubbers.
And they will be there the day after that, sending sorties into low-earth orbit to intercept valuable shipments from privatized bases on the moon and asteroids. And they will be there a few weeks later on, waiting in the Oort clouds of the stars we visit just as ships move from near-light speed to grab their contents. And even well after that, there will be pirates in the deep black between galaxies, on station constantly like spiders in their webs, waiting with patience for morsels to come close enough to jump on.
Pirates: Get the hell use to them, damnit! They ain’t going nowhere!