Thursday, September 1

[Shooting first, asking later]

Even as I was writing that post about how some in the far reaches of the country might not be paying attention to or caring about Katrina enough, it felt a little too cocksure and a little too heavily based on assumption and emotion. But I was mad at the thought that there are people out there who don't know and don't care what's going on (because I know they're out there), so I just went with it. And then I got a second opinion, and now I feel much better because I was, for the most part, wrong.

After posting the rant, I asked Patrick about the nature of the local Syracuse news coverage and how he and his fellow residents have reacted to it. He said it's been played above the fold in the Post-Standard every day since the hurricane hit, and the local 24-hour news network has devoted more than half its coverage to it. As for reaction, he polled three people who all said they were following the story, and one guy even thought there was excess coverage that might cause saturation apathy.

And there has been a steady stream of photos moving today of people collecting money and supplies in Illinois, Nebraska, and elsewhere. I saw a picture of a woman in New York praying with for hurricane victims with a group of Sept. 11 victims' families. Russell Simmons and Chris Rock announced a telethon to raise money. There are even kids selling lemonade in Alabama to donate the profits.

There are people above and beyond the Mason-Dixon line paying attention and doing what they can to help. That was all I had hoped for, really.

There has been an ongoing discussion about looting pretty much everywhere — blogs, TV, radio, etc. I fall squarely on the fence with this issue, because it's easy for me to sit in my air conditioned apartment, sipping on a tall glass of iced tea and condemn people for doing what I might do if put in an every-man-for-himself situation where you can't count on the authorities to help you in the nick of time.

And while I do think a clear moral distinction can be drawn between the people taking food and water and the people taking TVs and Shrek DVDs, I still can't count myself among those who call for a shoot-to-kill policy, because I agree that this kind of treatment only incites further madness and further loss of (potentially innocent) life. If you feel that stealing is a sin, why not just let God sort out the thieves when their number is up? This kind of situation doesn't exactly lend itself to orderly enforcement of standard laws. It's a shame that the proper authorities are just now getting to town, when the people who needed guidance the most are now being hauled out by the busload.

This is what happens when the desperate become even more desperate. There are no easy solutions, and people who say "yes there are and they are spelled b-u-l-l-e-t-s" are delusional.


Blogger Jason R. Cox said...

Yup. I fail to see what social order is possible when you have scant or no clean water, food or clean clothes. You're lucky just to have everyone in your family alive. You may just be swimming in snake and alligator-infested waters pushing aside the dead bodies.

Or perhaps you're in the Superdome, where there have reportedly been murders, suicides, rapes, multiple deaths by various causes (and a couple of births).

The situation is entirely too tense to be riddling desperate (and yes, many greedy and stupid) people with bullets. We would see urban warfare like we haven't seen since the Civil War.

And in the end, every business that's being looted (should) have insurance to cover everything - how many of these places are going to be a total loss, especially considering that a lot of the looting happening was in stores where the water was rising?

It's a matter of gravely misplaced priorities: Valuing property over people. Which many of the "shoot and ask questions later" people are demonstrating all too well.

Thu Sep 01, 09:06:00 PM  

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