Saturday, May 30, 2020

Zero Tolerance for Looters

Dom Armentano emails:

It may be time to run this again! The names (and cities) change but the basic story always stays the same.

Zero Tolerance for Looters

By Dom Armentano

The recent riots in Ferguson and in Baltimore featured, among other things, multiple examples of the looting (or burning) of private property. Rioters were observed (and filmed) smashing automobiles or emptying stores and carrying away other people’s goods which they had clearly stolen. And in almost no cases was there any serious attempt by property owners or by the police to stop the crimes or apprehend the criminals. Absolutely shameful.

It can be argued that it is both moral and efficient for property owners or the police to stop the burning and looting by any practical means possible including, as a last resort, the firing of shots at those who choose to burn or steal other people’s property.

A civil society is founded on a simple but profound principle: No one has the right to hurt anyone else or to take their stuff. Aggression against person or property violates individual rights and is wrong or criminal under the law. Finally, individuals have a natural right of self-defense to protect all of their property rights.

In situations of open violence like Baltimore, it would be appropriate for business owners to take specific steps to protect their property. Boarding up windows and doors to prevent unwanted access would be a reasonable first step. In addition, business owners could go further and decide to post a warning indicating that “looters will be shot” if they chose to engage in criminal trespass and theft. And if looters fail to heed that “fair warning” and still persist in acts of arson or theft, they could, as a last resort, be lawfully shot at by property owners, by private security or by the police. A best-case scenario is that all of this is captured on video.

There will be those who assert that shooting at individuals who are burning cars or stealing property may be out of proportion to the crime. Oh really? Why should we accept the notion that intentionally burning down someone’s business is, somehow, less provocative or coercive than, say, the firing of shots in order to stop that criminality? Certainly injuring looters is not the intent--stopping the looting or the burning of cars and buildings is the intent--but those who choose to engage in such blatant and obvious crimes always assume the risk of serious injury or even death. Does anyone still have to be reminded that violence often has unfortunate consequences?

What is clear about torching cars or looting drugstores (unlike many other illegitimate activities) is that it is prima facie criminal; it is difficult to discover any “presumption of innocence” associated with these physical activities. A person engaged in a direct act of arson or theft has, by his explicit behavior, forfeited rights to liberty (just as a rapist engaged in a personal assault has forfeited rights to liberty); a warning to stop the activity and then the firing of shots, if necessary, is an entirely legitimate response in either case.

Will property owners or the police follow this advise? Probably not. Property owners are more likely to decide that any attempt to stop looters is too dangerous or that business insurance will reimburse theft losses. In addition, the integrity of any legitimate police response has been seriously compromised by their own highly publicized acts of criminality against innocents and a consequent prevailing atmosphere of political correctness.

All of this bodes ill for business and property owners who live and work in cities where blatant acts of criminality by both cops and looters will be increasingly overlooked or rationalized by both conservatives (the cops) and liberals (the looters).

Dom Armentano is the author of ANTITRUST & MONOPOLY and has written many hundreds of public policy opinion articles for newspapers and websites.

The above originally appeared at Target Liberty on June 17, 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps Dom is not aware that officials in Minneapolis have concluded that those looters are actually WHITE SUPREMACISTS!
    Hey, ya can't make this stuff up. Like someone commented earlier, looks like that KKK outreach and diversity program is working.