Swirling around within the recent Pirates of the Indian Ocean ride is a notion I thought I'd explore a bit. It has to do with something that seems so basic to me that I stopped thinking about it long ago: The right to defend yourself.
We don't live in a civilized world. We still have pointed teeth, and there still is a need for them, alas. But in the more -- relatively speaking -- civilized portions of our planet, the laws recognize the idea that, if somebody attacks you with the intent of causing you harm, even unto death, why, you are allowed to try and stop them.
What a novel concept this seems to be to some people.
Legally, ethically, morally, the basis of common law rests upon the idea that unjustified initiation of force is wrong. Now, there are a million and one arguments about what constitutes "justified," and these depend on whose ox is being gored. Or who is doing the goring. But in the end, all power comes out of the barrel of a gun, and I'm not speaking metaphorically. Governments maybe be elected democratically, but that's a voluntary agreement.
In the land of sheep, the wolf is king. Unless, of course, the sheep have guns or knives and the wherewithal to use them ...
I hear, in the ongoing walla about the pirates, the rationalization that, well, you know, people have been dumping radioactive shit into their waters and treating the country bad and all, so somehow this makes it okay for them to sally forth and rip off the non-third world countries rich enough to own ships.
There's a term for this. Let me see if I can nail it down precisely ... oh, yeah ...
Of course, one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, that's always been the way of it and likely will continue to be be so, but if you are merchant marine sailor listening to machine gun fire rattling against the hull plates of your ship, you might be excused for taking the small picture view. These guys aren't freedom fighters, no Ragnar Danneskjöld, they are armed robbers, thugs at best.
The notion of self-defense is that, unlike the missionary about to be boiled in the cannibal's pot who says, "Bless you, my child, you are but a product of your environment," you have the right to jump out of the kettle and haul ass, and anybody trying to stick a fork in you as you do deserves anything he gets to cause him to cease and desist.
If you don't embrace that basic belief, you can't learn self-defense that will do you any good. You can have the biggest gun in town, and if you won't shoot it come the need, it might as well be a canoe anchor.
Yeah, yeah, you aren't allowed to bend down and cut the villain's throat once he drops his fork and goes fetal, the law only permits sufficient force to stop his attack. But being the guy in the pot, you are the fellow who must determine that on-site, and -- despite what anybody has to say about it otherwise -- it is better to have to explain it to a jury than having somebody discover your wedding ring in a pile of scat. If you are one of those people who would, you know, rather be alive and than dead, that is. Run if you can, always. If you can't, do what you need to survive.
Not that complex a theory, is it?
I am perfectly copacetic with the notion that few U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyers sailing in the waters off Somolia should light up assorted pirate craft as soon as they fire a BB at a merchant ship, send them to see Davy Jones, and AMF. Like the death-penalty, it might not deter other pirates from trying again, but it certainly would deter that particular bunch of ne'er-do-wells real good. There is a time for the speak softly part, and a time for the big stick.
I'd guess that they'd run out of pirates before the Navy ran out of ammo.
And to all those folks who say, Well, it's not that simple, I say, Yeah, it is.
The idea that a mugger wants my wallet isn't surprising. The notion that I don't have to give it to him ought not to be. And if I have the means and mind-set to keep my ass intact, why, I believe I will give it the old college try.
You are a child of the universe. You have a right to be here. If you aren't willing to defend that right, who else will?