The Young Pirate

–We need to rethink the facts leading to piracy and the motivation of the pirates—We’re so proud of ourselves, we’ve caught a pirate. His parents say he’s 16, we say he’s 18. For one thing that legalizes trying him in adult courts. Given what we know of Somalia and some of the background reports we have since learned, the case cries out for our rethinking our stereotypes and placing the crime in context. Somalia, we all know is a failed state. There is no economy, no real jobs, no infrastructure, no banks, no schools. People exist as best they can with no good way to earn a living. Enter those we call pirates, criminals to be sure, but criminals with mitigating circumstances. What would you do if you were a young man, whose whole life had been lived in a country with anarchy, who had not been able to go to school, who has no skills, no professions, no hope to get any, no real knowledge of the outside world, and then you’re approached by a group of enterprising—if wrongfully so—men who tell that you can earn money by joining them? Indeed you can see how some are driving Mercedes, mostly because the economy of Somalia is now a pirate economy. The ransom money collected from high-jacked ships goes to support immediate and extended family as well as friends. While it may be true that the young man who was caught did board the ship and shoot at the rescuers, it is also true, that this is all he’s known, all that’s basically been open to him. Surely if we call ourselves civilized, that ought to make a difference.