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  • A Hurricane Katrina Moral Dilemma

       August 31, 2005

    On the way to lunch today, a few of us were talking about the looting going on in New Orleans. Everyone thought it was awful, but we agreed that it was okay for people to loot grocery stores at a time like this. After all, they'd probably only be able to use perishable items anyway and those items were going to just, uh, perish.

    Right Wing News has a post on the same topic today and how, in the author's opinion, it's always wrong to loot. He has a couple of good points. First, that in the process of looting other property like windows and doors are damaged. Second, that it's the first step down a slippery slope. If it's okay to loot in during a natural disaster, then why isn't it okay to steal when your family is hungry?

    They are interesting points and something to chew on. But what do you all think? Please feel free to expand on your opinion in the comments.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by at August 31, 2005 07:34 PM

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    #  August 31st, 2005 8:11 PM      james

    the question is really whether taking food and water IS looting.

    you should ask whether it's OK to take, not whther it's OK to "loot."
    #  August 31st, 2005 8:12 PM      james
    and, to answer your question, it IS ok to steal when your family is hungry, provided that you have no other options  
    #  August 31st, 2005 8:14 PM      kris
    maybe i was just talking about black people.  
    #  August 31st, 2005 8:16 PM      james
    amazing, really, that people like rwn can throw down moral absolutes like "it's NEVER ok to loot" but then at the same time defend the death penalty and necessity killings (eg self defense) as important exceptions tp the "it's never ok to kill" maxim.

    the fact is, it IS ok to take food out of necessity. just like it's ok to kill someone else out of necessity.

    according to RWN, you should starve to death simply so you dont break someone's window, yet if someone comes at you with a knife you can cap his ass.

    oh the hypocrisy.  
    #  August 31st, 2005 8:24 PM      JohnTant
    I think stealing food and water is objectively wrong.

    I also think a hurricane that basically destroyed the city is one hell of a mitigating factor and not morally equivalent to stealing when one is starving.

    Hence, I'm inclined to be the anti-Javert and give a pass on this one. Just leave my DVD player alone.  
    #  August 31st, 2005 9:41 PM      james
    my dvd player sucks. it's this crappy zenith that doesnt play half of the dvds i put in it. sometimes it shows a computer style directory listing (on store bought dvds!) and sometimes it accuses the DVDs of being from out of the region. (they're not!) still other DVD's constantly "skip," jittering all the while through playback. best buy had these players on "super markdown," reg. 150, now only $40. i think they knowingly unloaded defective merchandise. that's a breach of warranty of fitness right there. bastards.

    so if anyone wants it, im just off CT ave in DC. come and take it.

    #  August 31st, 2005 9:49 PM      Laura
    Heh, my DVD player is a playstation. However, if State Farm ends up buying me a new one I think I'll go with a different brand.  
    #  August 31st, 2005 9:52 PM      kris
    i don't even have a DVD player  
    #  September 1st, 2005 7:27 AM      marcus
    Survival is a powerful motivation and I do forgive the people of NO for wanting to survive.

    I have no problem with the people who are in NO to help themselves to the food left in the stores. It is just going to rot on the shelves. It's not like the owning merchants are going to come back in two-three months and sell the food at that time.

    However, people walking out of the stores with TVs, stereos, etc should be shot on the spot. Martial law, no?  
    #  September 24th, 2005 1:20 PM      neiko
    If someone really NEEDS food, water, medical supplies, or tools in an immediate life-or-death situation, and there are no stores open for business, then I think it's always OK to "borrow" the vital supplies. But an honest person would also leave an "IOU" listing what was taken, along with their name, phone number, etc., and they would pay for the stuff (and any property damage they had caused) after the crisis had passed. One news report said that some people who took stuff off store shelves in N.O. were actually leaving notes. Good for them! I don't consider these people looters. But the others were being dishonest, and just trying to get free stuff.  



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