Philosophically, I am very sympathetic to the argument that in a crisis, when no legal means are available, theft is morally permissible to save a life. Stealing a bottle of water for your thirsty kids, food for your starving brother, etc. These things are morally defensible and the state and/or juries should have the power to forgive them.
But looting for personal gain is repugnant and inexcusable. Last night on NBC news they ran a piece about the looting and interviewed a lady who was talking about how the imperative was to survive. Fair enough, but in the background you could see another woman walking by with a giant cart full of clothes. That’s not about survival. I could have sworn I saw a segment this morning showing police looting stores themselves. And the looting of peoples’ homes cannot even be draped in the quasi-Marxist asininity we hear from some quarters defending the looting of stores.
From the Times of London:
“One man, who had about 10 pairs of jeans draped over his left arm, was asked if he was salvaging things from his store. “No,” the man shouted, ‘that’s everybody’s store!’”
From a wire service story (posted by Rich below):
Mike Franklin stood on the trolley tracks and watched the spectacle unfold.
“To be honest with you, people who are oppressed all their lives, man, it’s an opportunity to get back at society,” he said.
Meanwhile, a policeman was shot in the head by a looter and one looter shot another looter.
The devastation along the Gulf Coast really is heartbreaking and I understand that there are competing priorities. The need to rescue people and stem the flooding should take precedence. But while the physical destruction is monumentally depressing, the moral destruction this reveals is equally sad. And the longer the authorities take in stemming this tide, the more depressing it will get.
And, it should be needless to say, the whole world is watching.