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Monday, January 23, 2006

Mutiny, Dissent and Piracy

Me and the old man on the Suez Canal, October 1973.

I have a few comments in lieu of recent news.

First, regarding the report of a threatened mutiny aboard the Queen Mary II. This is yet another case of the media blowing a story way out of proportion. According to reports, passengers are planning a sit-in because the ship is missing three of its intended ports of call. But, of the 1,000 passengers, how many are really planning a sit-in? Probably a very small percentage. And is a sit-in considered a real mutiny? Maybe by definition, certainly not by naval standards.

I'll further bet the cruise line and the passengers will reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. I'm thinking full refund, which is what I would do if I had veered off course and busted a propeller in the shoal water of a channel.

Hey, they have insurance, right?

But nooooo. The owners want their money even though they are no longer providing the advertised service, and the media has to take the story, and as usual, make it sound as outrageous as possible. The headline from Independent Online touts:

Passengers threaten mutiny on crippled 'Queen Mary 2'

Let's get real. Is the ship actually crippled in a marine sense? Well, yes it is. It had to be towed back to Ft. Lauderdale. But that was more than likely a Coast Guard mandated safety precaution. In fact, the ship lost capability in only one of its four propulsion pods. It still had three fully operational pods. Ships like these are built for every contingency. They have redundant systems galore. Four independent propulsion systems is proof of that.

Now, is a passenger sit-in a mutiny? If you ask me, I'd say no. Despite the fact that by definition a mutiny can be a form of passive resistance, in my opinion, on a ship, passengers can't be mutineers without violating the law and/or forcibly rebelling against authority. If you rented an apartment, and decided to stay after your lease was up, you would not be violating the law until it was so determined by legal proceedings and a judge's order.

The headline for the story implies the ship was incapacitated and the passengers were running to and fro with parrots on their shoulders and knives between their teeth.

Why must the media take these events and turn them into stories of catastrophe, mayhem, Armageddon?

The headline should have been written as follows:

Disgruntled QM2 Passengers Threaten Sit-In

Now here's another interesting story: American naval forces chased and captured a pirate ship off the coast of Somalia. It was a large motor driven Arab Dhow with a mixed crew of Somali and Indian men. Apparently, the Somalis captured the Indian crew and their ship and forced them into piracy. At least, that's the crew's story.

Nice little business opening up there, running guns from Somalia to Egypt and then through tunnels into Gaza.

Speaking of terrorism, another worthy news item came to my attention recently.

To all the people who like to claim their anti-government criticisms and dissent don't help the terrorists, I offer the following from Reuters:

Apparently, William Blum's book is so good, it got an Oprah-like endorsement from Osama bin Laden, which boosted book sales on Amazon to bring its rating from somewhere over 200,000 on the list to 30 on the list. Read the story here.

According to the story, Blum wasn't too upset about Osama's endorsement. As long as Blum's making money, I guess.

Just another spin-doctor opportunist willing to jeopardize his fellow-Americans for a buck. Shameful.

-seabgb

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