It used to be acceptable to shoot looters.
In fact, when declaring a state of emergency, it was understood (even required) that you will be shooting looters.
The problem is that shooting looters is horrifying to people. The idea of shooting someone because they broke into a store and are carrying away a TV is just… well, it’s too much.
However, the rule of law is a funny thing. It only works if people believe that it works. And, when it breaks down, getting it to work again is very, very difficult.
In fact, I suspect that the only way to get ‘The Rule of Law’ to start working again is the ‘Reign of Terror’. You get everyone so scared of you that you can quietly start slipping in the rules and regulations that society needs to live by – making sure that you are abiding by them yourself.
Once society sees that they are protected from you by the law, they’ll start following it. They will see that itÂ is in their best interests to follow the law, especially if they see their neighbors and coworkers following it.
The neighbors and coworkers thingÂ is important. If your neighbor tells you that he follows the law, youÂ don’t have to worry thatÂ he will slash your tires because you don’tÂ cut your grass short enough. And, if your coworkers follow the law, you won’t feel so embarrassed that you are the only one who does.
When you are driving on the highway, and a carÂ zooms past. You speed up, don’t you!
When you are driving down a single laneÂ road, and someoneÂ races up behind you, what is your first urge? Speed up, right?
(Except, when I’m feeling a bit ornery, which meansÂ that I slow down.)
What does all that have to do with shooting looters?
Looting is a sign that the law isn’t working anymore. ItÂ says that the average person is no longer protected, which means that they have to take steps to protect themselves. It also means that the penalties for violating that law have been removed.
And, when you see your neighbor carrying away that really cool TV from the store down the street… well, you start to feel like you should go get one yourself before they’re all gone – which means that there’s MORE looting.
And, MORE looting means that the law REALLY isn’t in effect anymore.
I am being overly simplistic here. There is a lot of psychology and sociology and all kinds of other things to bring in here, and I have neither the time or space to do that. But, I think that you get the picture.
When the US coalition went intoÂ Iraq the second time, it was awesome. Incredible. But, when IÂ saw the looting, I was concerned.
However, it wasn’t until I saw that the soldiers weren’t shooting the looters that I realized that Iraq wasÂ going to be a disaster. The moral of the story is this one.
Always, always shoot the looters. You’ll be saving lives.Â