Friday, September 12, 2014

Changing Public Perception of Privateers

Have you noticed that certain occupations, professions and trades, which used to be perfectly respectable, seem to come under fire at a particular juncture in time, and all of a sudden people find themselves under attack and on the defensive for doing something that had been perfectly fine just a short time earlier?

The moral indignation that goes with these attacks can be the most puzzling thing of all to people whose practices suddenly come under fire. New words are used as epithets or old words are conjured up to blacken their name which had never applied before.

Take the term "puppy mill". Recently it has been used to tar and feather anyone in the dog breeding business. Do you sell puppies for a living? Do you tear them away from their mother's bosom and ship them off to strangers? You must be a very bad person. Puppies, for God's sake! Why can't you find something decent to do for a living, like sell health insurance or lottery tickets, instead?

And the person thus attacked doesn't even understand what happened. Yesterday, this was a good and decent way to make a living, and all of the sudden the only right way to get a new dog is from a shelter, where they have been "rescued", And sometimes these "rescued" animals are taken by force from their owners.

I am not myself a dog breeder, nor have I ever been, nor do I plan to become one, but I know a few, and I see how their life has been made harder by the changing fashion concerning the right and the wrong of dog breeding.

The same thing happened to Jean Laffite. He was a respectable privateer, and they branded him as a pirate. But it was not just to him that it happened. It happened to many others. One day it was a respectable profession, a decent way to make a living, and then, almost overnight, it wasn't anymore.

How did that happen and why? That is going to be the topic of my talk in Galveston this October.

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