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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Looting v. Finding

 I encourage everyone to respond to  Orin Kerr's challenge to raise money for victims of the hurricane.  Great idea!

After donating, consider  media's different captions under these photos:

Photo1A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Email Photo Print Photo







Photo2Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.(AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)













What distinguishes "finders" from "looters"?

Note: I'm not saying that taking items isn't theft, nor that society shouldn't condemn the anarchy that currently plagues  New Orleans.   But we ought to be applying labels consistently, or not at all.  And I'm not sure that there is a widely shared belief that taking necessary groceries after a natural disaster is "looting."  Clothes, jewels, etc. are a different matter.

(Hat Tip: Atrios.)
[UPDATE: Eric Muller beat me to the comment about these pictures.  He also has a great post on the idea of shooting looters here.  And as a commenter notes, MetaFilter had a discussion on the caption topic yesterday.  Guess that will teach me not to do a thorough pre-emption check before blogging.]

Posted by Dave Hoffman on August 31, 2005 at 11:49 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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» We've Totally Moved Beyond Racism from The Debate Link
PrawfsBlawg alerts me to the story of two photos and two captions. Both photographs show persons wading through chest-deep water after procuring items from a flooded grocery store. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2005 2:52:43 PM

» Finders Keepers, Looters...Well, They're What We Call Black "Finders" from The Moderate Voice
Two photos, both showing Hurricane victims dragging items while wading through chest-deep water. Two captions--the first in which the man is labeled a "looter," the sec... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 31, 2005 3:08:33 PM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 8:41:28 AM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 8:45:59 AM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 8:48:11 AM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 8:53:12 AM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 9:00:47 AM

» Looting in New Orleans from PointOfLaw Forum
Glenn Reynolds suggests shooting looters. Eric Muller proudly looks down his nose at the idea. How uncivilized! But the irony is that it's Muller whose position is uncivilized. There are lots of snarky remarks about looting coverage (Prawfsblawg, unlik... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 10:23:19 AM

» On lawlessness and looting from protein wisdom

I fully acknowledge that shooting looters is an inappropriately disproportionate response if one views looting as mere larceny. But one doesn't shoot looters to protect property, one does so to protect order. Somebody is going to suffer unjustl... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 12:06:53 PM

» the idiotsphere from Blog: Derek Rose
Well, I’m just back a day … and I see that that pajama-clad bloggers are still attacking journalists risking life and limb to bring them the story. Specifically, this “looters” vs. “finders” controversy. One photo... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 1, 2005 2:39:47 PM

Comments

Ouch. That's pretty sharp commentary.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Aug 31, 2005 12:05:49 PM

There was a pretty substantial discussion on these captions yesterday at MetaFilter. At least one important distinction is the wire agency distributing the pictures. The two pictures included in this post, for example, are from different news agencies, and each may have different policies on captioning photographs.

Posted by: Dan | Aug 31, 2005 1:26:25 PM

In this case, it appears "Finders" are whites, and "Looters" are black.

But sure, we've moved beyond racism...

Posted by: David Schraub | Aug 31, 2005 2:35:45 PM

Frankly, the woman in the bottom photo does not look white to me. But this is a fruitless argument, because so many want her to be.

Posted by: TomH | Sep 1, 2005 2:13:40 PM

If you read the Snopes entry, the distinction is actually defensible. The "looter" went into a store and took stuff; the "finder" was walking past a grocery store that had groceries floating away.

Posted by: Captain Spaulding | Sep 1, 2005 8:02:02 PM

How is taking clothing different from taking groceries in the context of the "looting" discussion of these Hurricane victims?

Hasn't anyone in the legal profession ever been so impoverished to know what it means to be in a fight for one's very survival to live? I am a law school graduate who has been subjected to these things in my more than 16 year fight for my bar admission in California and Florida, kept out because when one is disabled, and therefore among the poorest of the poor, those in control of entry to the profession don't understand what it means to be poor and the criteria they use to screen people out und "character and fitness" are really about screening out the poor and disabled, or in the past women, African Americans, European Jews, commnunists anyone who is unpopular among the lended gentry. It is all about empowerment and who gets to live and who gets to die.

Let one with first hand experience provide a little insight. When someone is to impoverished from conservative protect-the-wealthy-at- the-expense-of-everyone-else Republican economic policies ensuring that the poor do not have (1) jobs that pay a living wage, (2) transporation, (3) medical care, (4) enough food, (5) housing, (6) clothing, etc., the impoverished people will seek however they can to obtain these things in order to live, i.e., survive. Supposedly, even under original intent, our Constitution protects the right to life. Take it from a disabled bar applicant who has been homeless and forced to live among rats in an unheated chinchilla barn during the winter by a 16 year denial of acccess to bar admission and the courts to enforce disability livelihood rights what it means to fight for one's survival and very life.

The debacle of Hurricane Katrina showcases that we have a Republican administration, protected by numerous members of the legal profession, and many State and Federal Judges and Bar members who think whole classes of other people do not need to have these things. As a survivor myself, firsthand, I can state unequivocally, survival is a biological law of nature that no amount of legal theory, court rulings that are not based on reality, Bush administration sound bites, and statutory or regulatory or rules criteria can change. Anyone who still does not get the picture, should recall the Boston Tea Party.

In sum, when you have nothing, no food and you are walking through chest deep toxic chemical, feces, dead rotting bodies-water in shirts, blue jeans, and shoes that already had holes in them because you have been made so poor by Bush administration conservative compassion that you can't even buy them at the Salvation Army, you will "loot" food as well as new clothing in order to survive. After a few days there in what can only be likened to the movie "Escape from New York" I would like to hear how it feels.

And anyone in the legal profession who does not understand this basic life lesson the States of California and Florida and their destruction to the elderly, disabled, and poor have taught me firsthand by withholding a disabled person's bar admission necessary to earn a livihood for so long (and my parents were upper middle class), I would challenge you to roll up your sleeves and go to New Orleans without any way out, and see what it is like -- firsthand. When you come back, if you make it out alive, I would like to know what you think.

Desperation? Anyone who has not experienced the desperation that accompanies a real fight for survival of one's life itself cannot possibly have anything to say based in reality from experience.

And, I have been literally threatened with sanctions, near contempt by several District Court Judges and two Magistrates in the Middle District of Florida (who refuse to follow Tennessee v. Lane as applied State Court services) for having the courage to bring a case (now filed in incomplete form due to virus delivered to my disability accommodation device on the eve of the due date) in the United States Supreme Court, alleging that placing disabled people in such circumstances not only violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, but international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention Against Torture, and Convention Against Genocide. In addition I have been laughed at and mocked because as a disabled person denied every possibility of survival I think this way. I think this way as one who has taken International Law in law school, I might add. And I know I am not alone, because I hear the same thing from hundreds of disabled people who tell me so. There is much discontent in this Country right now that the mainstream media is not talking about.

Leaving all those impoverished African Americans, elderly, and disabled people to die in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, no food, no water, no medicine, and in a chemical toxic brew of water breeding infectious diseases by the Bush administration, then they are ripped from their disability service animals from FEMA rescuers in a major disability violation -- how can anyone say this does not merit a serious appellate hearing before the Supreme Court as to whether these violations of international treaties and other customary international law as well as civil rights should not be enforceable by Americans against their government?

Our Courts allow foreigners to enforce human rights violations against their governments in our Courts under the Alien Torts Claims Act and the fiction of Filartega (2nd Cir. 1980), but Americans do not have the same rights, and Americans are not protected by the same international human rights as people in third world Countries? Somehow we don't have the same rights, we have lesser rights than third world Counties, how can this be? What kind of America are we living in?

Maybe, as my mentor, a Harvard L.L.M. professor and esteemed civil rights fighter tells me, one like myself, educated in the legal profession, will become a martyr just like all those helpless people dying in New Orleans at the hands of our government for exercising vital First Amendment rights to speak out on this important subject -- but I don't see the difference between taking food and taking clothing as one justifying being shot and the other not when people are fighting to live and survive.

What I see is the morally depraved failure of conservative Republic policies to justify ostentatious aggrandizement of the wealthy to become more wealthy at the cost of a genocide on the elderly, disabled, poor African Americans, and impoverished single woman mothers everywhere. Our government wonders why Saddam's building of gold-gilted palaces when half the Iraqi people were starving and denied medication and health care breed terrorists and contempt. What is the difference between that and what is going on in our own Country? We are breeding the same outrage here when we see the refusal of our Courts to protect women's rights, civil rights, disabled people under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the human rights violations of our governments response both before and after Katrina to the people of New Orleans. We are, as a society, getting to the point where people no longer believe in our government or the integrity of our Courts to protect the rights of ordinary people, ordinary Americans.

Diverting $71.6 million dollars meant for the Army Coprs of Engineers to fix the levees in New Orleans to fund the luxury-preppie war in Iraq. The Bush administration and every lawyer in American who supports those policies against the poor and middle class civil rights, equality, and all opportunities for ordinary Americans, right down to the notion of confirming a Supreme Court nominee in the mold of these failed policies now being portrayed in all the human suffering and misery we are witnessing on television -- all should be ashamed.

And someone has to step up to the plate and ask how can we in the legal profession just sit by and watch this human suffering and a genocide in our Country go on and not do anything about it. You know, I actually heard people calling in to a local talk show here in the Tampa area saying the Hurricane victims in New Orleans were already 40% unemployed and now have no jobs and will costs all of us billions in welfare, so they should just be allowed to die in the sewage? Where there is a 40% unemployment rate in a mostly African American, elderly disabled city, one can be sure the jobs they used to have were exported to India and China for $1.00 per hour wages in American's globalization enrichment of the super-wealthy corporate ownership society. And somehow this justifies a genocide on American soil? Are we ready for New Orleans to become the new Auschwitz? Someone has to say it. It is time for the pendulum to swing the other way.

We need to change this moral outrage -- change the policies and laws that deprive these disenfranchised people of the food, housing education, medical care, transportation, and career opportunities to survive living a life if decency and safety. We are now living in a society where right has become wrong and wrong has become right. Everything has been stood on its head. We no longer live by the values that defined us as Americans.

It is time to stop cutting taxes for the wealthy and giving out corporate welfare. It is time to stop the nonsense of destroying Social Security and blaming people who do not have the economic means to escape natural disasters for lacking "personal responsibility." There is a huge difference between the words "wouldn't" and "couldn't" evacuate. It is time to stop the real estate commodity trading that is enriching people who own four empty houses, while other people who live under bridges and sleep on the concrete of American cities cannot even afford one house. Has anyone in the legal profession actually tried to sleep on concrete with a medical injury requiring bed rest? My bar admission was denied by the California Bar for exactly this, while they have deemed two convicted murderers to be morally fit for bar admission there. Shame, shame on the legal profession I loved and aspired to as a child.

It is beyond the hour now to vote down Judge Roberts, and any other in this conservative "compassionate conservatism" and "Justice Sunday" mold of destruction of the right to survive and live of the poor, minorities, and disabled. I know my late mother who died in a self-immolation Equal Protection protest (yes, you heard me right, that is the price of a Court that makes a family member be the accommodation instead of the Court complying with its own obligation to reasonably accommodate the disabled) would say there I go again sounding like Thurgood Marshal who kept telling the Courts that separate is not equal. But the fact is separate is not equal, and Thurgood Marshal was right.

Why isn't anyone talking about these things? The underlying cause of the difference between "looting" for food and clothing when you have starved without food and water for four days, sick old people, babies, and toxic chemical festering on your body because you don't have protective clothing?

Maybe reality is hard to stomach, but it sure isn't Alice in Wonderland like it seems to be to far too many in our government, the legal profession, Bar, and Bench to a very large part of the rest of the American population.

Posted by: Mary Katherine Day-Petrano | Sep 2, 2005 9:10:38 PM

Looting is looting but these were obviously rasict captions. Besides, here is a better question... what would you do if you needed food to live? Do the stores expect to sell anything anyways when they're underwater? It's an insurance write-off.

Posted by: car donation | Sep 3, 2005 12:10:49 PM

In response to the picture of the "finder":

That women does not look white to me either. Why is everyone jumping over this opportunity to condemn white people? Thousands of white people lost there homes in New Orleans as well as black people.

then why does America love to assume all white people in america hate (or dont care about) black people? it seems to me that according the the US census data that a large portion of the population was also asian and hispanic...but only mention of the dispare of black people.

it appears that people assume black people cannot take care of themselves and are helpless at the hands of the white world. from a black man, white people love feel sorry for us.

trust me, we dont need it. if it makes you feel important to feel sorry for an illosory image of the plight of black people, more power to you.

I believe these white people who make it their mission in life to condemn other white people for thoughts that those white poeple secretly hate blacks is because those people feel insecure about being white themselves and were some how not accpted by white culture as they may not look a certain way. keep your cross for yourself...simply because you dont feel acceptance by your own white community does not translate into you feeling any less secure in the black community.

your problem is not white people, it is you.

enjoy.

Posted by: roger moore | Sep 21, 2005 7:39:21 PM

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