Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Friday, June 21, 2024

While Somali gunboats and high-seas kidnappings have once again moved the most visible pirates back out into the open ocean, the piracy of copyrighted information remains one of the main grassroots responses to the flows of data products deemed legitimate by the controlling global corporate structure.

Unlike that burned Lil Wayne CD you play much too loudly in mom's old sedan, actual pirates are once again disrupting the global supply chain for the first time in a couple hundred years.

Old-school pirates once again dominate the headlines, and thus far 2009 has undoubtedly been the "Year of the Pirate." This week alone, a $3 million ransom parachuted down to complete the release of the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star and a dead pirate washed ashore with $153,000 in soaked U.S. currency have vividly completed the saga of the most daring and ambitious act of piracy in modern history. These North African pirates represent a clean break from the romanticized buccaneers who parlayed three movies into almost $3 billion in worldwide box-office receipts. The world embraced those scalawags with both arms, yet few in the media have approached actual working pirates with the same enthusiasm.

Real pirates, like their egalitarian cinematic counterparts, still embrace themes of equality and freedom - any ransom paid to them is always split up evenly amongst the whole crew. That sopping wet $153,000 in the pocket of our unfortunate drowned pirate is currently being dried out by his family in central Somalia, where it will be put directly into the local economy one way or another. A report from BBC News states that this lone dead man was the only one of the pirates to have held on to his loot in the aftermath of the Sirius Star release.

Since January 1991, Somalia has been without a functioning government. Eighteen years of crushing poverty and utter mayhem seems to have created the ultimate crucible for the formation of a full-fledged cottage industry in the acquisition of seafaring salvation. Global corporations send 20,000 vessels a year past the Somali coastline, and the starving desperadoes raised in hell on earth should do what, exactly - wave serenely from the shoreline?

An editorial in the London Independent last week drew international fire for daring to suggest that these pirates were anything other than crazed subhuman marauders. Johann Hari states that these Somalis certainly count a number of outright criminals amongst their ranks, but that the men we call pirates are actually functioning as the de facto Somali Coast Guard.

European fishermen seeking to evade strict EU regulations illegally take an estimated $300 million worth of fish from Somali waters each year. Quite a bit more sinister is Hari's accusation that European countries, using the well-known discounted disposal services of the Italian mafia, have been dumping huge amounts of nuclear and medical waste into unregulated Somali seas since the 1991 collapse.

Perhaps the truth of the matter behind these pirates is more difficult to ascertain than simply splitting the distance between Black Hawk Down and the Pirates of the Caribbean series. If so, I suspect most of us will simply go back to downloading that bootlegged copy of The Dark Knight.

Tommy Maple is a journalism graduate student. His column appears on Tuesday.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox
Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.