Hollywood glamorizes and romanticizes pirates. Johnny Depp and Kiera Knightley looking sexy in outlandish costumes, "Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum me hearties," and all that. It goes all the way back to one of my favorite early Hollywood movies, Captain Blood. Sexy pirate costumes used during Halloween like the one pictured at left* contribute to the romantic image associated with the word "pirate" in the popular imagination.
Real pirates are different than that. We're not talking about Errol Flynn or that guy who played the character lovingly described by The Wife as "the hot Elf" in Lord of the Rings. They look a lot more like the fellow pictured to the top right. Real pirates are criminals, thugs, murderers, kidnappers. These are not nice people. They do not deserve to be romanticized; about all they deserve is a fair trial before they are incarcerated. Not for nothing did the British Royal Navy condemn pirates as a "scourge of humanity."
Which is why international law allows any navy to take whatever action they want against pirates; these are "stateless criminals" and are subject to the jurisdiction of anyone who can bring them to heel. Which is why it's really cool to see pirates lose their prizes, which is what the US Navy did to some of these criminals today off the coast of Somalia. According to the Beeb, some of the pirates are still holding the ship's captain hostage on a lifeboat, and that's a serious issue to deal with. But the Maersk Alabama is back in the hands of legitimate authorities and that deserves praise and recognition.
* In a shameless bid for extra hits on the blog, no less. Welcome, google image searchers for pictures of sexy pirates wearing thigh high boots and fishnet stockings. I have indeed posted a picture of such here for your viewing pleasure. Stay for coffee, politics, and atheism, won't you?