last night on late night

Stephen Colbert Explains Why Privateering May Make a Comeback

Avast, me hearties! The Russian attacks on Ukraine have not only brought back Cold War nuclear anxieties, but could mean a new golden age of piracy. Stephen Colbert explained on The Late Show Wednesday night that America could potentially issue Letters of Marque to private individuals to seize foreign vessels. Specifically Russian megayachts. For those who aren’t cramming pirate lore ahead of Our Flag Means Death’s premiere, a Letter of Marque is what separates a pirate (like Blackbeard) from a privateer (like Sir Francis Drake). Privateers are licensed by a government to yoink whatever they want from enemy ships, for war reasons. Apparently the practice was mostly outlawed in the 19th century, but America held out because we love taking stuff and thought the practice could come in handy again. And it very well may! Colbert (and the Washington Post) believe Americans could be legally encouraged to shiver their timbers in the name of taking Russian oligarchs’ superyachts. Y’arr!

Stephen Colbert on Why Privateering May Make a Comeback