As trial lawyers, we’ve been blamed for a lot of stuff over the last ten years, but today brought a new one. Today, conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote an editorial blaming the “pirate problem” on lawyers. But not just any type of lawyers. Goldberg would never miss the chance to slam us, trial lawyers. Goldberg writes:
And that raises the primary reason this all seemed so complicated. Lawyers. Layers and layers of lawyers. Bret Stephens asked in a prescient Wall Street Journal essay last November, “Why Don’t We Hang Pirates Anymore?” And the answer, he discovered, is that “there is no controlling legal authority.” A combination of international and domestic law has made dealing with what Cicero dubbed “hostis humani generis” — enemies of the human race — just too darn complicated.
Add to this the fact that trial lawyers, bureaucrats and accountants for too long have conspired with corporate honchos to make paying ransoms the least costly option. Shipping companies don’t want their crews armed to defend themselves.
It’s almost comical, except Goldberg seems serious about it. But I guess he didn’t really consider the facts before testing out his theory. According to Goldberg himself, there has now been one American flagged ship and crew taken by pirates in the last 200 years. And that band of pirates was “taken care of”. That doesn’t sound like a “pirate problem” to me. That sounds like an isolated incident.
Now, I’ll admit that overall a pirate problem exists. Pirates are taking ships at an alarming rate. But they’re not American vessels. And I don’t think even Goldberg would claim that American trial lawyers are responsible for attacks on foreign ships. But he conveniently leaves all this out. It’s much easier (and much more fun) to take another cheap shot at trial lawyers.
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