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August 31, 2005

Looting For Survival

Many are distinguishing between looting for suvival-goods -- water, food, diapers, etc. -- and simply looting for profit -- DVD players, jewelry, etc.

I think that's a fair distinction. Anyone caught in the disaster area doesn't have the goods-delivery system they've come to depend upon, and they simply don't know when the National Guard or relief organizations will come to help distribute them.

Notions about the rule of law tend to go out the window when you don't know if you'll have drinkable water in two days' time, or if your baby will have milk.

One woman shown repeatedly on CNN looting a store had her arms filled with what look like Huggies or something. Obviously she's not planning to make a financial windfall in the high-profit black-market trade in disposable diapers with elastic gatherers and super-absorbant Flexi-Wings (TM). (She also attempted to cover her face with pack of diapers, which demonstrates shame, which is a mark in her favor.)

Of course, looters take property from its rightful owner, and from others who may need the property too. But allowances have to be made when people are literally in fear about whether they'll drink or eat in the next couple of days.

"You loot, I'll shoot" is a nice sign, but I hope there's some discretion used here. Almost every shopowner will be made whole through insurance, after all.

On the other hand, those looting ATM's, jewelry stores, and electronics stores are simply theives acting on opportunity, and should be treated as such. And, yes, shot if they do not submit peaceably to arrest, whether a police arrest or citizen's arrest by a shopowner.

Allowances have to be made on the other side of the ledger, too. Those who wish to defend their property can't rely on civil authorities to enforce order during a period of chaos, either.

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posted by Ace at 01:22 PM

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