One man’s pirate is another man’s coastguard

Over the past few centuries the word “pirate” has been used in a very similar way to “terrorist.” You can apply either to “the enemy” and win instant support from the masses.

People who speak out against the the status quo have been labelled “terrorists” for hundreds of years, even if the most terrible thing they ever did was to suggest that the rich should give more money to the poor. Likewise, “piracy” has been applied to everything from armed robbery, to kids recording copies of “Manic Miner” on cassette tapes after school.

Terrorist groups sell pirate DVDs to raise fundsPerhaps the most beautiful abuse of both words can be illustrated by this 2005 poster, about which I have previously blogged. In a nutshell, if you copy a DVD, you are not only a pirate, but a terrorist. Brilliant.

So the recent tales of invincible “pirates from Somalia” have confused me. How can this happen in the 21st century ? I’m sure we’ve all made jokes about them having one leg, a bunch of parrots, and making the victims walk the plank, but perhaps that’s significant; we have no idea what pirates are, or even were. “Pirate”, like “Terrorist”, is a word that is more emotive than descriptive. So what is actually going on ?
Here’s an article that may muddy the waters even further, but it’s thought provoking if nothing else.


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