Family escaping consumer society is captured by pirates, father killed

A French family that was so sick of living in a consumer culture that it sold everything and moved onto a yacht were abducted by pirates on Saturday in the Indian Ocean.

Florent and Chloé Lemaçon, their three-year-old son, Colin, and two friends were seized off the coast of Somalia in their 33-year-old, 41-foot boat. French authorities say they know where they are but they have not yet received a ransom demand.

In the family's blog, Mr. Lemaçon, who is an experienced sailor, said earlier that he was aware of piracy in those waters. "The risk exists but it is minimal for a boat like ours," he said, adding that he would be staying clear of shipping channels, as instructed, on their way to the tourist haven of Zanzibar. But there's been a recent surge in attacks in those waters, with 13 boats captured in the past month, and staying away from the major shipping lanes was apparently not enough.

The Lemaçons' journey was not some playboy quest. "We want to flee the consumer society and its routine," he had told a French newspaper a while back. "We don't want our child to receive the sort of education that the Government is concocting for us. We have got rid of the television and everything that seemed superfluous to concentrate on what is essential."Now the French government will be acting as the savior of their lives.

These people wanted so badly to live on the margins of the grid that they ended up falling off of it. It's another reminder that no matter how sick we may get of the game of consumerism -- the credit, the debt, the mailbox flooded with bills from countless corporations -- it's nearly impossible to live without it. Try to escape the net, and you may find yourself in a wilderness.

I hope this family is rescued, and quickly, because I'd like to think that their dream lifestyle could someday be more than a dream for more of us.

"It is really very difficult in our society to reverse away in the area of consumerism," Lemaçon, a former engineer, had written. "We simply want to show Colin that we don't need all that (Christmas catalogs, magic cereals, Spider-Man) to be happy."

UPDATE: On Friday, after ransom negotiations broke down, French special forces fired on the yacht and killed two of the pirates. Unfortunately, Florent Lemaçon was also killed, possibly by a government bullet. His wife, child, and two friends were rescued, and three pirates were taken into custody.
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