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The Freedom of Pirates or the Liberty of Civilised Men · Wednesday August 08, 2007 by Crosbie Fitch

It all depends upon your respect for human rights, and whether you use force to protect them, or to suspend them…

REDBEARD
Arr. The pirate life is the life for me!
The freedom of the high seas,
the culture of any port that takes me fancy,
the wealth of fat merchants,
the fast ships of slow captains,
the occasional admiral's unsullied daughter,
and plenty of the navy's finest rum!
ONE EYED JAKE
Aye cap'n. Tis a fine life.
We can cheat and lie and no judge can gainsay us,
and we can do what we want and no jail can hold us.
REDBEARD
Indubitably. Every man should be a pirate.
Indeed, that wouldst be my true mission
- were I to suffer such -
to let every livin' man on this earth see nature's true calling.
ONE EYED JAKE
If he be so minded to know what's best for 'im.
PEG LEG PETE
If I may be so bold cap'n?
When your mission is complete - godspeed - and we're all pirates,
then who will be left for us to murder, rape and pillage?
ONE EYED JAKE
Other pirates?
PEG LEG PETE
What, like us?
REDBEARD
Aye. Tis a fight to the death me hearties.
But, at least we'll die free men!

One could say that pirates are those engaged in an aggressive pursuit of freedom.

They have contempt for justice, regard all property fair game, and hold forfeit the lives of all who stand in their way.

There is a more civilised and agreeable approach to freedom than can be found in the inclement domain of the pirate’s harsh mistress.

We call this liberty. It is a lesser freedom, but a more ethically wholesome one, because of its constraint by human right.

If each human being’s natural will and right to life (health, equality, fraternity), privacy (personal space, private possessions, home, and other property), and truth (in attribution and justice), are taken as inalienable, then what is left of the pirate’s primordial freedom belongs to all, by right.

However, if this liberty is further constrained, to privilege merchants, then it should not be surprising if those who have found their liberty so strained have taken to piracy – or what may be termed piracy by the merchants.

I am fearful that those misnamed as ‘pirates’, in reasserting their right to liberty (suspended by the merchants’ privileges of copyright and patent), are in jeopardy of similarly misnaming their cause as an aggressive pursuit of freedom instead of a rightful claim to the restoration of their liberty.

  • Piracy against mercantile privileges of copyright and patent – good.
  • Piracy against human rights to truth, privacy, and life – bad.

But, make no mistake, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a merchant, nor with commerce. The wrong is in privileging them with our liberty, for then pirates and piracy are the natural result.

So, please, let us be civilised men in ethical pursuit of human rights, not primitive pirates in aggressive pursuit of freedom.



 

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