I've spent much time this week thinking about Jack Sparrow, pirate of the Caribbean.
Channeling his inner Keith Richards, Sparrow is a good pirate. Ugly and drunk, but good.
The Swedish pirates from the Bay are supposed to be good pirates too. You know, the ones who, according to a local court, channel Richards, Mick Jagger, and a whole host of other musical acts in a not quite legal fashion.
But the whole concept of piracy is rather current and vexing. Think of those other fresh-faced pirates, the ones in Somalia. The ones who captured Indians, Filipinos, and Egyptians on the open water for quite some time. The ones who, just like their Swedish counterparts, became famous only when they took on some Americans.
You might choose to think, in fact, that both groups of pirates are doing exactly the same thing: taking on those bigger than themselves, those with more money, more power, more status.
Yet the Somali teenagers are bad, bad dudes. While the Swedes seem to be embraced by many as hoodie-wearing Hoods. Robin Hoods. Taking from the rich and giving to the, well, rich. At least in some cases.
Now Jack Sparrow just wouldn't allow for that, surely. His innate sense of warped fairness might have rebelled just a little against the thought that his piracy could benefit the loaded just as much as the poor.
I fear, in fact, that he would have had a little more sympathy with the Somali skull-and-crossboned than with the Swedes. He wouldn't have liked the Somalis' violence. But he might have had some empathy with their predicament.
The Somalis, Jack might say, seem to be opportunists, eking out their survival in a mean and hostile land on the mean and hostile seas.
The Pirate Bay chaps aren't about survival. Rather enamored of their ho-ho-ho-and-a bottle-of-rum self-image, they pursue their digital notoriety with their middle digit aggressively poking in the face of the recording industry.
It's not as if the recording industry inspires anything that might approach sympathy. But the ways of the pirate are recondite, strangely subtle. It's almost as if most pirates don't choose the life. Piracy happens to them.
Johnny Depp apparently believed that pirates were the rock stars of their day. But Jack Sparrow, according to the story, was forced by circumstance to become a pirate. He refused to transport slaves, and his ship was sunk by the evil Lord Cutler Beckett.
Jack might look upon the Pirate Bay and feel that it resembles less a pirate organization and more a marketing organization. The Pirate Bay folks do interviews. There's already a Pirate Political Party that wants to run in European Parliamentary elections.
While Jack would have appreciated the Pirate Bay boys' robust egos, he wouldn't want anyone remotely associated with him to have ever run in European elections. Not even, one suspects, if their platform had been free grog for everyone over 21.
This is why, perhaps, Jack might feel that The Pirate Bay is a slight misnomer.
The Pirate Bay Four, he might say, weren't rejected by society. They aren't folks who became pirate heroes. They're folks who set out to be heroes and thought the word 'pirate' was a fine flag to fly. This makes them a little less sympathetic as characters. They seem so certain of their moral rectitude that they don't merely think they deserve sympathy. They expect it.
One can have some sympathy with their service, which some have interestingly likened to Google.
But would Jack Sparrow, a man whose doubts heavily outweigh his certainties, welcome them onto his good ship?
I'm not so sure. Savvy?