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Pirates Walking the Plank

In light of the inadequacies of international law relative to piracy (a serious topic nowadays, thanks to the Somalis), an alternative solution has cropped up in Europe. "Not wanting to involve himself in legal wrangling," the Russian captain who rescued a ship seized by pirates decided to "release" them. "And thus they were 'set free' in a tiny inflatable raft, with no navigation equipment, 350 miles off the coast of Yemen. The raft has disappeared. In the 21st century, this is how pirates walk the plank."

Note that "pirate" is simply the nautical term for "terrorist." Now, if we can only find the land-based equivalent of "walking the plank...."

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Discussions - 3 Comments

You should have filed this under political philosophy.

If our U.S. A.G. cannot bring himself to use the word "terrorist", does he use the word "pirate"?

Isn't this story horrible and wonderful at the same time? As people, we are really more concerned with justice than with law. "Rule of law" is only a tool to secure justice. When law ties itself up and thereby gives evil liberty, this kind of extra-legal justice begins to seem fitting.

Political philosophy, or criminal law, the outlaw, vigilante, jury nulification(activist juries), Robin Hood, Marxism. "not wanting to involve himself in legal wrangling"=judicial efficiency vs. due process.

Terrorist, criminal, pirate, is there a disctinction without a difference, all are occupations or behaviors that society frowns upon, except when it doesn't, then they are vigilantes.

While the rule of law is only a tool to secure justice, and when it fails the extra-legal justice or vigilante is born.

Perhaps vigilantism is more natural among russians. It is likely, more necessary or natural on the high seas. Vigilantism in New York subways gives you Bernhard Goetz. Of course New York at the time was nasty, and if the procedural defense(when you say the law is tied up and gives evil liberty do you mean this?) of double jeopardy wasn't involved a judge would have entered a judgement not withstanding the verdict finding him guilty, but jury trial and jury nulification are built into the system to permit a certain level of vigilantism, when in actual accord with the moral frustration and condemnation of the community(some say racism) Bernhard Goetz was punished by the civil trial.

Of course vigilantism runs deep in the lore of the west and even modern country music glorifies it see/listen to Toby Keith/Willie Nelson Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses.

On the other hand a lot of these somali pirates are also vigilates or claim to be enforcing somali waters. They support the local somali gun industry, and there is no doubt that some of them are popular not unlike the outlaws of the wild west. One man's terrorist isn't someone elses freedom fighter unless that terrorist is also a vigilante.

A corrupt police officer acts under color of law, but a vigilante acts under color of justice, a romanticised "corrupt" police officer acts under color of law and under color of justice, or finds a maverick way to get his criminal despite legal procedural restraints(or as Kate puts it that which ties the law up and thereby gives evil liberty.)

Of course a terrorist, a criminal and a pirate can all be vigilantes. When they are vigilantes they are vigilantes because a certain percent of the population (or a jury of their peers) in the area they are from would choose jury nulification rather than find them guilty of the legal offense. The law is not seen to work justice under the particular circumstances.

While a lot of vigilante political philosophy is in the american west, it can also be found in various literature on outlaws and in some marxist writtings, where it occupies a special place. In some sense the story of Robin Hood is retold and refashioned whenever there is fertile ground for vigilantism.

While this is probably not the view of Mr. paulette it seems to me that opposition to the rule of law is the foundation of moral relativism. That is deviations from the law seek justice which make sense on a subjective standard. To some extent the law itself has allowed these subjective standards to relax the self-defense requirements as in the case of battered spouse syndrome.

Vigilantism is the persuit of justice outside the scope of the law, carried out by an individual usually with some community support, culture, philosophy or religion or rationalization claiming color of justice/title to ursurp and set aside the process and codified moral condemnation of society embodied in the criminal law.

The actions of the russian captain were vigilante, rationalized by judicial efficiency, with Habeas Corpus available by the grace of god if he chose to have them swallowed by a whale and spit up on the coast of Yemen.

Yes, that is why I say horrible. Yes, in a sense all were vigilante, except that the word has to do with being vigilant, like a night watchman, protector of the peace and I cannot see how those pirates really fit in that description. Are they defending their coastline from oil tankers? I don't think so.

In addition, the captain was Russian, not American, though I see how his actions relate to cowboy justice. In a sense, he is dealing with justice on a frontier. Somalia is not exactly the world's bastion of legality and guarantees of anyone being brought to justice in that area are pretty thin. I would suggest that Russian captain acted with community support in the wide world and with all the tints of justice you could ask for. That is why what he did was wonderful. He may have acted on the fringe of the law. I don't know if what he did was legal where he was, do you? Certainly, what he did was efficient and it even looks like justice from where I sit, at the moment in safe and orderly Ashland, Ohio. Perhaps they did become the Jonah brothers on a raft, swallowed up and delivered to safety, protected by Allah and if so, that would be a great testament to their faith and to their god, assuming they have one.

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