Friday, September 02, 2005

When looting is morally right

John Hawkins at Right Wing News has taken a pretty hard line on looting, with his position being that it is wrong to even steal food and water, in part because damage is being done to stores in order to get to the food and water. He also points out that it is a slippery slope from thinking it is okay to loot food and water during a disaster to it being okay to steal food and water in normal times because you're family is hungry. I enjoy Right Wing News, but I have to point out the hole in Hawkins' logic here. During normal times, there are places to go to get aid to feed your family. There are shelters, churches, and government aid offices which will help you make sure that your family gets sustenance. There is none of that in New Orleans right now, and if you have money, there is no way of buying food and water. That's a stark difference in situations, and that difference negates his slippery slope argument. You cannot expect people to dehydrate themselves and die just because during normal conditions it would be wrong to steal water. These are people that are truly in survival mode. We are doing a piss poor job of getting supplies into the city and people out of it, and I'm not going to hold anyone to the absurd standard that they shouldn't try and meet their family's most basic bodily needs.

Now, when it comes a lot of the other stuff being brazenly stolen, I have zero tolerance. How is a television or a DVD player going to help you survive? That's right, it isn't. It still is morally wrong to steal in order to enrich one's self during a disaster. It may be wrong to steal to survive, but I think enough people are willing to turn a blind eye to it, because it is damn tough to tell someone making a life or death decision to choose the option that will more likely entail death.

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