Thursday, December 04, 2008


In the United States' infant stages, piracy in the Mediterranean was a huge problem. Pirates based along the Barbary Coast in cities like Tripoli and Tunis attacked American merchant ships, seized cargo and held Americans for ransom.

For many years, the US government chose to pay these pirates tribute in exchange for the promise of safe passage.

However, everyone knows an extortioner/blackmailer's next step...

The Barbary Pirates began to up the amount of money for tribute. It took awhile until finally the third president, Thomas Jefferson, decided that enough was enough. He ordered the infant United States Navy and Marines to sail into the Mediterranean and, in the words of Commodore Stephen Decatur, "offer them liberal and enlightened terms, dictated at the mouths of our cannons."

The "negotiations" worked. After Decatur's bold exploits, the United States payed no more ransoms at all.

Similarly, when I was in 6th grade, an 8th grader named Mike, used to pick on me at the bus stop. He was relentless, and his friends used to laugh when he'd call me names and shove me around before the bus picked us up and after it dropped us off.

Finally, I snapped--not unlike Ralphie against Scott Fargas in A Christmas Story. We had just been dropped off, and Mike was at it again. I remember that he said something, but I just kept walking home. This seemed a decent plan since our homes were not in the same direction.

But he followed me, no doubt egged-on by his buddies.

After a dozen or so steps, he shoved me from behind. However, I was ready for it.

He pushed me, but I turned to the left at the exact moment that his hand touched my back. This caused him to fall forward a bit, such that he was utterly defenseless when I threw a fast right-hand punch into his left ear (sources later told me that Mike's ear rang for two days).

He went down, and I jumped on top of him. First, I pounded the back of his head. He rolled to his side, but I stayed atop of him and began to punch his face over and over.

He screamed. He cried. He begged me to stop.

I did not stop. I beat the hell out of him until someone's mother pulled me off and called me a "foul little rat."

As the mother lent forward to Mike and asked if he was all right, I noticed the blood pouring from his nose and lips. My first instinct was to yell something like, "See what it will getcha?" But instead I ran home.

Once home, I figured that Mike's mother would call mine, so I decided to tell my own mother exactly what had happened.

After the story was over, she simply asked "Did you really make him bleed?"

"Yeah," I confessed.

"Good," she said. "I'll bet you anything he won't be a problem from now on."

So I ask rhetorically: What shall we do with the Pirates off the eastern African coast?

Fight them and destroy them all AND everything that they're holding for ransom. That will send a message.

1 comment:

  1. Did you read the WSJ article from a week or two ago on this situation with the pirates? Good stuff. Check out my blog for the link- my post is called Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?


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