It’s about as black as black letter law can be: The defense of property is not worth the taking of a human life. Except, of course, the Castle Doctrine, particularly the Texas version which makes the Procaccino flavor taste like it needs salt. To the extent morality comes into play in the law, however, the defense of your television doesn’t justify your taking a life.
Or does it?
Peaceful protests are happening, but so is looting. which as the AP Style Book now states, isn’t looting but rather “protesters breaking into stores and stealing what’s on the shelf.” Don’t blame me. I didn’t say so. Some argue that looting is not merely understandable, but justified by some bastardization of Martin Luther King’s “voice of the unheard” quote or historical injustices that will be historical injustices forever. Is that so? If not, what can be done about it? What should be done about it?
The problem is that there is a difference between an individual thief and a hundred rioters
looting stealing stuff off the shelves, whether it’s a Target, a Louis Vuitton boutique or the office of the progressive newspaper, the Indy Weekly in Raleigh.
If there is no one present, just a store filled with stuff, and “protesters” decide that their frustration compels them to break the windows, run through the joint and grab whatever catches their eye, what’s to stop them? If police arrive to find this happening and one officer, in his best stentorian voice, commands the looters to “drop the computer,” what are the cops to do when the hundred looters just don’t obey?
Then there’s another scenario, where a store owner (or amicus) stands in front of her shop and refuses to move out of the way so the “protesters” can “protest” by removing items of value that demonstrate the depth of their despair.
Do you know any of these men❓Yesterday, May 30, these men violently attacked a store owner & her husband who were trying to protect their business from being looted. Please look at the video & still images. If you know any of them, please call Crime Stoppers @ 423-9300. pic.twitter.com/ECSNcfIcDc
— Patrol_Investigations_RPD (@PatrolRpd) May 31, 2020
The store owners were protecting property, unarmed and with nothing more than their moral suasion to safeguard them. They are certainly entitled to use force once the looters took the two by four to their heads, as that would be self-defense, but what were they do to other than stand there, boldly asserting their authority to deny the looters entry into their premises, as the looters used that piece of wood to vindicate their feelings of frustration against the store’s windows?
Do store owners stand aside and let looters do as they must because it would be wrong to defend property at the risk of a human life? Does it change when it’s ten, a hundred, looters as opposed to one thief? What are the cops to do to stop them, assuming the hundred looters are disinclined to obey their commands to stop looting? The law is clear and a crime against property doesn’t justify the taking of a human life. So is there no way to stop looting other than rely on the sound moral conscience of looters?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.