August 31, 2005
— Ace 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.
Didn't look like survival clothes.
More like high-priced items.
And I don't think those dresses were those fellows' size...
Posted by: Uncle Jefe at August 31, 2005 08:33 AM (xuO8w)
Posted by: Defense Guy at August 31, 2005 08:36 AM (jPCiN)
Presumably, absent the chaos, she would have bought them. But the store was deserted and locked up.
Posted by: ace at August 31, 2005 08:40 AM (W7JEQ)
Posted by: BrewFan at August 31, 2005 08:51 AM (Byr3j)
However, I would add one caveat: the authorities have no business making statements like that. Publicly stating that some types of looting are OK would simply lead to more of it, and too many of the people currently doing that in NOLA and Biloxi are looking for plunder, not food and water. The proper place for mercy would be in the courts after the fact, where prosecuters, judges and juries can sort out whether a given "looter" was trying to survive or was simply helping himself to other people's belongings.
As far as the "You loot, we shoot" argument goes, please keep in mind that the only law enforcement available in most of the areas devastated by Katrina right now consists of private citizens with guns. In NOLA especially, you're looking at "Lord of the Flies on the bayou" right now. Sorry to be so callous, but seeing a couple of corpses with stolen color TVs still clutched in their dead hands and bullet holes in their heads would do a lot more to curb the lawless than any number of weepy press conferences by Louisiana's hand-wringing Democrat governor.
Posted by: Wes S. at August 31, 2005 08:53 AM (MBpwU)
That should have been able to be organized by now.
Posted by: Tony at August 31, 2005 08:56 AM (dYcZw)
I agree, Wes, on the legal analysis, but as a practical matter I don't think there's going to be much of that going on here.
This city is in full-tilt chaos. The entire civic system is non-functional. It will be a long time before the courts are back to working, if ever.
This is just unbelieveable. It's like a plague city or something.
Posted by: Phinn at August 31, 2005 09:00 AM (DiZv6)
My family and I lived through the double-strike hurricanes of Florida last year. Do you know who provided us with water?
Not FEMA. Not the State of Florida. Not the National Guard.
No one has been actually able to show me what exactly FEMA does. They hold a lot of news conferences and talk about "planning" and "preparedness," and they have these nice shiny SUVs and polo shirts with nifty insignia. But I've been through three hurricanes now and have yet to see them actually supply something.
Posted by: Phinn at August 31, 2005 09:05 AM (DiZv6)
Posted by: bbeck at August 31, 2005 09:18 AM (qF8q3)
Case in point, hypothetically - California residents can be victimized by Earthquakes at any time, so most of us have a well stocked disaster prep cache, in my case a Rubbermaid shed in my back patio filled with all sorts of useful stuff. Now, if we get hit, and a wall collapses on my cache, and destroys it, I will have to resort to looting to stay alive. The argument that I didn't prepare is invalid, as I did prepare but was trumped by Murphy's Law.
What's to say that some of the "basic needs" looters we are seeing today had prepared adequately, but didn't expect their house and supplies to be under 15 feet of water?
Even the luxury looters - have you ever considered what type of currency you'd use to gain goods and services in a "Lord of the Flies" situation? I'm not trying to justify stealing a TV in a powerless, underwater city, but certainly jewelry or rifle rounds could buy you some diapers in a barter system.
There are way to many variables and unknowns about what is really going on down there...
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 09:18 AM (S6Wcf)
A lot of people got free ice cream that day.
Posted by: cirby at August 31, 2005 09:21 AM (fY33n)
My shotgun is my currency- gimmee. Gimmee your food, water, your daughter, your life.
These folks that are doing the looting are not some bed-ridden grannies that couldn't get out of town.
They had every opportunity to leave.
They had every opportunity to prepare otherwise.
They chose to stay, and no doubt for many, to have just this opportunity to loot.
Could Murphy's Law lead some to take what's needed? No doubt.
But there's not too many excuses for most of these scum.
Posted by: Uncle Jefe at August 31, 2005 09:27 AM (xuO8w)
The looting would STILL be wrong. You're not entitled to other people's property just because you NEED it.
Posted by: bbeck at August 31, 2005 09:28 AM (qF8q3)
Posted by: geoff at August 31, 2005 09:37 AM (J0ZE/)
At least, I hope that's morally justifiable.
I was fuckin' hungry, man. And then we got into an argument about who fucked up with the compass and he said "Eat me" and, well, I just thought it would be funny.
Posted by: ace at August 31, 2005 09:38 AM (W7JEQ)
bbeck - Then you can starve. I won't. WalMart needs their product a lot less than I need the food. Of course, I'd be more than happy to leave money on the counter where the cash register used to be, but I won't starve or go barefoot for who knows how long.
ace - Was he delicious?
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 09:40 AM (S6Wcf)
Posted by: Inspector Javert at August 31, 2005 09:40 AM (kUNrb)
Posted by: Defense Guy at August 31, 2005 09:42 AM (jPCiN)
The idea is to make the best use of available resources rather than multiple agencies duplicating each others efforts. How well that works in practice is another story but in general the people dealing directly with survivors aren't going wear FEMA windbreakers.
Posted by: epobirs at August 31, 2005 09:45 AM (51CH/)
What raises the red flags for me is that they insist on the exclusive use of fuzzy bureaucrat-speak.
Even if FEMA spends all its time and money directing and coordinating and managing, if they weren't bogged down with infinite layers of bureaucratic redundancy, they would occasionally manage to share some concrete information about food, water, power, gasoline. That sort of thing.
All we ever heard was "we're working hard" and "preparedness plan .... coordinating officials blah blah blah."
I swear, it's they spend more time on PR trying to justify their budget than they do disseminating helpful resources or information.
Posted by: Phinn at August 31, 2005 10:00 AM (DiZv6)
wtf? Stealing is wrong, josh. Sorry you don't see it that way but its true. Your attempt to rationalize these behaviors by creating fantastic scenarios doesn't change that fact either.
Posted by: BrewFan at August 31, 2005 10:03 AM (Byr3j)
Posted by: Dman at August 31, 2005 10:21 AM (m2CN7)
Damn right, and I'm sick of everybody having to pander to people with children. Did I tell you to have children? No, you decided to reproduce and then expect the world to cater to you. You made the decision, you take care of them, leave me out of it.
Posted by: Lipstick at August 31, 2005 10:29 AM (QX681)
Posted by: Tres at August 31, 2005 10:33 AM (6krEN)
If you'd rather die, and your children die, than steal food and water, that is up to you. But you can hardly expect others to blame themselves for not preparing, and summarily lay down to die.
Now, stealing stereos and bling...that is just bullshit.
Posted by: lauraw at August 31, 2005 10:55 AM (0+tK7)
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 11:12 AM (S6Wcf)
And now my EQ kit is as far away from collapsible walls as possible.
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 11:17 AM (S6Wcf)
Let's hope YOU get the idea to do it before your buddy does, Ace.
bbeck - Then you can starve. I won't.
Well, in the words of Heinlein: it's better to be a dead hero than a live louse. Have fun being a live louse.
You know, there are thousands of people on this planet who starve to death, die from exposure, and/or croak because they lack the proper needs, and we have people here saying, "They should have STOLEN to stay alive, because if they NEED it then it's okay!" Oh, it's okay in an emergency, you say? Well, goodness, what's a bigger emergency than DYING if you don't get it?
And of course people are overlooking the fact that the looting -- whether it's necessities or something else -- makes it that much harder for order to be established by the authorities, but hey, it's what YOU deem necessary so screw the big picture along with the morality.
This IS a conservative site, right? I thought the DUmmies were the only ones with the looting-is-okay-because-of-the-circumstances attitude.
Posted by: bbeck at August 31, 2005 11:18 AM (qF8q3)
"...lot different than being in a situation where you either do or die, quite literally"
The problem with the scenarios you guys are putting forth is that they are hypothetical. *Nobody* yesterday was in danger of starvation or dehydration. So what was the rationalization for stealing then? And, I would bet nobody is in danger of starvation today either. Maybe I'm more cynical but my guess is that 99.99% of the people who are stealing are doing so based on greed and not survival.
Posted by: BrewFan at August 31, 2005 11:20 AM (Byr3j)
I know, why not just have "national loss insurance" so people could just walk into a store and take what they need any time, not just after a natural disaster?
Posted by: OCBill at August 31, 2005 11:20 AM (bN6S/)
Posted by: Dman at August 31, 2005 11:23 AM (m2CN7)
I helped out the Red Cross one early morning distributing supplies to Northridge refugees. I came away with a couple of impressions: 1) aid came, but it was too much too late; and 2) the Red Cross boasts of incredibly low overheads, but that's because there's nobody in charge. I got there expecting to be dumb labor, but this other volunteer and I ended up running the show, deciding which camps would get how much of what. There was no Red Cross official involved at all. I even had to do all the calculations for divvying things up in my head, since the Red Cross didn't have a calculator.
Posted by: geoff at August 31, 2005 11:27 AM (J0ZE/)
You'd be amazed how that changes in a survival situation, but then you may not ever have been in one, and hopefully never will. It's easy to have a true moral compass when you aren't watching your family and friends die from exposure or starvation without doing anything about it.
What amazes me, as a conservative and avid AoSHQ reader, is that so many of you usual suspects would rather die than deviate from your normative behaviors. I guess it must be my natural vanity that won't let me allow myself to die. Does that make me a bad conservative? Maybe. But it (might) make me a live one.
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 11:31 AM (S6Wcf)
Indeed. My development (800+ houses) caught a goo dose of two of the hurricanes. Nobody came by to see of anyone needed anything.
A small handful of people wound up with FEMA tarps several weeks later, but that was it. Prior to the first hurricane I stocked up on roof tar and some roofing felt and glass cloth. My prepositioned "patch materiel cache" is what did temp repairs for people on my street.
It was my cordless hammer drill and tapcon supply that helped board up about a half dozen houses on the street too since most of these suburban dwellers are completely incompetent when it comes to building tools or materiels. I keep working on people's places until the winds got too high to stay outside safely...
FEMA is a joke - they push paper.
Some savvy load masters and willing pilots should be able to organize relief drops in a matter of hours if the moron administrators would simply authorize their planes to fly.
Posted by: Tony at August 31, 2005 11:36 AM (dYcZw)
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 11:36 AM (S6Wcf)
No one is dying from exposure or starvation. They are stealing, Josh, s-t-e-a-l-i-n-g. They are walking past the grocery store to get to Best Buy. When they're done there, then they'll come back to the grocery store.
Posted by: BrewFan at August 31, 2005 11:40 AM (Byr3j)
Aside from my first post where I posited a hypothetical akin to Lord of the Flies, I never mention it again. My whole point is that if me or loved ones were DYING, yes I would be a looter. If my dad needed shoes to walk out of harms way with me, yes I'd steal them. If my friend needed a big screen, fuck 'im, no friend of mine. Big differences...
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 12:03 PM (S6Wcf)
Perhaps this false impression is why insurance rates are so high?
However on point this is really a tough dilemma - steal or starve is not a good choice for any of us, but I would say in that situation every single one of us would steal.
Posted by: LifeTrek at August 31, 2005 12:32 PM (1pVVo)
Posted by: Dman at August 31, 2005 12:42 PM (m2CN7)
No, it makes you a bad PERSON, which is a bit of a difference. If YOU are taking goods that don't belong to you, then you may very well be depriving someone in even a worse position than you are...and they may even have a greater claim on them than you do.
And, as Dman points out...
Robbing a store of their water okay, robbing an individual of their water not okay?
...you're STILL taking from SOMEONE when you're taking from a STORE, it's just easier because it's a faceless crime.
As Brew and others have pointed out, these people aren't in a life-or-death situation, and not enough time has elapsed to even remotely justify theft in Josh's limited situation.
Furthermore, once you start saying "It's okay to steal food to save your life," then justifications can be made for stealing OTHER necessities. Blankets? Radios? Medications? Clothing? Heck, people die of heat stroke in the South, so be sure to steal a 5000 btu generator, plenty of gas, and a good air conditioner! AND, since we're in a Road Warrior scenario, take the TVs and VCRs so you can TRADE for the food someone got to first!
You'd be amazed how that changes in a survival situation, but then you may not ever have been in one, and hopefully never will.
Thanks, but as you can see, I know exactly what I'd do, and what I wouldn't do.
Posted by: bbeck at August 31, 2005 01:08 PM (qF8q3)
Posted by: Josh at August 31, 2005 01:54 PM (S6Wcf)
and I'm sick of everybody having to pander to people with children. Did I tell you to have children? No, you decided to reproduce and then expect the world to cater to you. You made the decision, you take care of them, leave me out of it.
That's bullsh#t. Did a helpless two year old ask to be born? Did the child ask to be dependant on someone that can't/won't provide for them? No child should starve if there is food at hand. The world doesn't cater to the PARENT... the world should cater to the CHILD. Not to sound like a sappy moonbat (i.e. "the children are the future"), but there is something to be said for providing for helpless innocents.
That said, the parents should be held accountable for the value of the food/supplies looted. There needs to be an accounting in the end. Most moral people would understand the need to loot for neccesities. They also would understand that the looters are responsible for reimbursing the owner after the emergency passes.
Posted by: Matt at August 31, 2005 04:08 PM (dgwts)
Next time around, it may not remind us so much of Lord of the Flies as Lord of the Flyswatters.
Posted by: Matt at August 31, 2005 04:16 PM (dgwts)
I can't say as I wouldn't loot if I were in a similar situation - AFTER I got really hungry or thirsty. 20 hours doesn't make a whole bunch of people in these United States real hungry or thirsty. Hunger pains? Maybe, even probably. But on-the-edge-of-starvation? I really don't think so.
And BTW, if I was in that situation, and it did get to starvation looting or dying, that still has nothing to do with whether it's right or wrong. It only has to do with whether I would live or die. And that's all. Stealing, even for survival, is still stealing.
Finally, I have a hard time picturing any of the looters of the finer things in life (like widescreens and nice clothes) will ever be back to the stores they're putting out of business and offer to make the proprietor whole. Just doesn't add up, to me.
Posted by: Carlos at August 31, 2005 05:09 PM (/RF5n)
What bastards. Don't they know that those drugs, that they are using to treat themselves and people injured in the hurricane and flood, belong to Walgreens?
Who is going to pay for that?
Posted by: lauraw at August 31, 2005 05:34 PM (ywZa8)
Yes it is still stealing. No one can dispute that. But sometimes (pardon the liberal phrase) there are shades of gray.
Posted by: Silk at August 31, 2005 09:01 PM (6lUcn)
There is no legal obligation for them to protect your property - or your life for that matter.
This has been tested at the SCOTUS level MANY times. There's no obligation for the police to protect you and no recourse when they don't.
Call 9-11 and they take 5 hours to get there? Tough.
Plead for a weapon permit because of a psycho "ex" who threatened to kill you and they do kill you? Tough.
Posted by: Tony at August 31, 2005 09:14 PM (dYcZw)
Correct me if I'm wrong but don't the authorities have the right to appropriate goods and services in a declared state of emergency? Excellent sarcasm lauraw but that was a bad example I think.
Posted by: BrewFan at September 01, 2005 03:51 AM (Byr3j)
I never meant to imply that they have a legally enforcable obligation to protect property (or even lives). What I merely said that if the the authorities don't protect property in a situation like this, people will be less likely to evacuate for the next natural disaster (knowing that it's unlikely that the authorities can/will protect their possessions in their absense).
In other words, people will understand that they themselves have to protect their possessions. The more people sticking around for this purpose, the higher the death toll next time. It's in all our interest to maintain/restore order asap.
Posted by: Matt at September 01, 2005 04:22 AM (dM/OM)
This is why computer keyboards should require a breathalizer test after a certain point in the evening.
Ya got me.
Posted by: lauraw at September 01, 2005 07:00 AM (or85O)
I should be so lucky
Posted by: BrewFan at September 01, 2005 07:05 AM (Byr3j)
Posted by: Slublog at September 01, 2005 07:07 AM (V7NgR)
Posted by: Megan at September 01, 2005 07:13 AM (s22mC)
I repeat; I should be so lucky
Posted by: BrewFan at September 01, 2005 07:38 AM (Byr3j)
Welp, since I've lived through THREE TYPHOONS (Cats 4 and 5, two direct hits) on an island over a 6-month period and never stole anything from anyone, we'll just ignore part of that and dwell upon your implication: if NO ONE knows what they'll do in a situation without living it, then YOU don't know what YOU'D do either, so arguing over any of this just makes you look like an idiot. Or rather a bigger idiot.
How is the view from up there, BTW?
Why, I'll be glad to tell you. Could you please pull your head out of your azz so I don't have to yell?
And a big thanks to Brewfan for pointing out that yes, police and professionals do have certain extended rights to confiscate goods. That isn't the same as looting.
Furthermore, this looting has gotten out of control. A helicopter that was trying to deliver goods -- like NECESSITIES, which is "okay" to take -- to a hospital couldn't land because of the armed looters who were waiting to strip it.
Whenever any of you would care to change your support of looting for needs, feel free.
Posted by: bbeck at September 01, 2005 07:44 AM (qF8q3)
I noted in my previous post that under extreme circumstances I would undoubtedly also go after those things that would keep me (or my family) alive.
What I am posting about is the thought that, when it's done to survive (no one is starving yet that wasn't starving before the storm), then it's not stealing. That is wrong. It is stealing. I may justify it to myself, to the child who gets fed, etc., but it is still stealing. If it isn't, Lord help us.
I would think that in a court of law, such a circumstance would be taken into account. What I won't brook, though, is the bastard who takes the HDTV, then pleads the same as the mom who took the bread. They both would steal, but the mom could be justified. I can't think of a single case where the HDTV thief would be.
Posted by: Carlos at September 01, 2005 08:32 AM (/RF5n)
Stealing a loaf of bread off a shelf is not the same as armed robbery.
Posted by: lauraw at September 01, 2005 09:57 AM (pTpit)
But I don't think obeying the law and being a good citizen matters when you're in crisis and you just saw two bodies float by, and you reason over night that groceries are going to spoil in two days anyway and your stomach's filled with panic. Anxiety and the will to live ain't pretty.
Posted by: ChrisG at September 01, 2005 10:22 AM (nfnmD)
How many people went in and stole just one loaf of bread? I don't think it's unreasonable to assume the answer is Zero. So comparing the two doesn't apply here.
The looting of the grocery stores started before people had time to be starved and before authorities could arrive and control the distribution, which is what people should have done: waited.
Once the looting starts of any commodity, should anyone logically assume that looters would only take food? And now, the looting is out of control...and that's happened only from the looting of non-food items? Hardly. All of the looting contributed to the anarchy we're now seeing, because one rule gets broken, and then another, and another...
That is what happens when people begin to think that the laws stopped applying.
Posted by: bbeck at September 01, 2005 04:28 PM (qF8q3)
I'd like to see some dead looter carcasses being dragged before TV cameras, tonight.
One of my customers today, before he went all MOONBAT on me (Oh! you should only witness the day full of fuckin nutbags I've had today!) , said that during the Connecticut flood of '55, the Governor told the cops to shoot looters on sight. There was very little looting.
Stealing bread and foods from a flooded grocery...I still don't see the line, from that vantage point. Especially when mothers are holding babies that will surely be dead tomorrow.
But everything else across that line...shoot to kill.
Posted by: lauraw at September 01, 2005 04:48 PM (M7kiy)
Well, the only way I could consider looting acceptable is if you're talking about an end-of-the-world scenario where no one was expecting the government to restore order because the gov't is GONE.
And really, any policeman aiming a gun is going to balk at tapping a woman with a baby in one arm -- regardless of what she's carrying in the other.
I'm sorry you had to deal with moonbats. I HATE having to deal with moonbats.
Posted by: bbeck at September 01, 2005 06:03 PM (qF8q3)
After a 7.6 earthquake in Taiwan, we all went and rushed to buy tents, but even then we made sure the kid who had driven for 2 hours from the worst zone got tents before we did...and our 7-11 network was awesome...pallets of water ready right away...ironically of a brand coming from a town that was flattened.
But I think a serious flood would really freak me out and I could see rushing frantically to the store.
Posted by: Aaron at September 01, 2005 10:58 PM (7BU3N)
Posted by: at September 03, 2005 01:50 PM (LcweH)
Posted by: at September 03, 2005 01:51 PM (LcweH)
FWIW, I think he was a DUmmie coming over here to embarass the site.
Posted by: ace at September 03, 2005 02:01 PM (hBAty)
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