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 Post subject: Thou shalt not steal
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 4:25 pm 
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Are all the looters in New Orleans breaking the seventh commandment - Thou shalt not steal?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 4:30 pm 
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If you are getting stuff you need to survive, then no.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:07 pm 
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But how far can you stretch that? Food and water, obviously. But what about clothing? Shoes?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:39 pm 
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Anything required to maintain your health (and even more importantly the health of anyone dependent on you) can legitimately be taken, in my opinion.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 5:57 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Anything required to maintain your health (and even more importantly the health of anyone dependent on you) can legitimately be taken, in my opinion.


As long as there is no other way to obtain them without taking someone elses legal property. Sometimes, another way may be harder to do, but if it is available then taking the property as a easier means may not justify you.

The Natural Law explanation of this, btw, is not an exception to the Commandment. Natural Law says that there is enough for everyone on this planet. If some are going without, it is because there is an injustice happening somewhere. Thus, the haves are trying to claim a right over property that really isn't theirs as long as honest and hardworking people are starving to death in their area. Once everyone's bellies are full (the ones who are really working or willing to work, that is) then the legal distribution rights are back to being fine.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 6:11 pm 
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kirkjunkie wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Anything required to maintain your health (and even more importantly the health of anyone dependent on you) can legitimately be taken, in my opinion.


As long as there is no other way to obtain them without taking someone elses legal property. Sometimes, another way may be harder to do, but if it is available then taking the property as a easier means may not justify you.


Thank you for the clarification. I was assuming the context of someone stuck in New Orleans with no other options.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 6:13 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
kirkjunkie wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Anything required to maintain your health (and even more importantly the health of anyone dependent on you) can legitimately be taken, in my opinion.


As long as there is no other way to obtain them without taking someone elses legal property. Sometimes, another way may be harder to do, but if it is available then taking the property as a easier means may not justify you.


Thank you for the clarification. I was assuming the context of someone stuck in New Orleans with no other options.


Yes, I knew you were probably working out of that context, but I didn't want you to be copy/pasted onto another website by someone trying to argue that theft was always ok if your hungry.

Which, btw, has happened to me and other people I know... Just gettin' your back Obi!! :wink:

FJ


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:06 pm 
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This much is certain when your stealing a DVD player or TV or gameboys or XBOX's or playstations things that are popularly looted into shopping carts and plastic bags there is motive that goes beyond survivial and just is plain stealing and wrong with no justification.
Food and water is one thing but electronic entertaiment is quite another.
SInce there is no power in the city for manybe months its also riduculous.
What is very scary is that guns are very popular looting items and will fall into the wrong hands.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:04 pm 
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I believe that all looting, even for food and water, is wrong, however, this does not mean that all looting is EQUAL. Stealing food and water is the 'least bad' option and I personally wouldn't prosecute it very harshly if I were a police officer. Looting for 'fun and profit' however is unacceptable, anyone caught looting non-essentials should be shot on sight by the proper authorities.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 9:48 pm 
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Volatile Geek Doom wrote:
I believe that all looting, even for food and water, is wrong, however, this does not mean that all looting is EQUAL. Stealing food and water is the 'least bad' option and I personally wouldn't prosecute it very harshly if I were a police officer. Looting for 'fun and profit' however is unacceptable, anyone caught looting non-essentials should be shot on sight by the proper authorities.


Yes, but if you are at least willing to work, and you have exhausted every possible way to get the necessities for you or your family, but are still lacking, then this is an injustice and you getting these essentials is not looting. The community cannot claim a right to all their property if members of the community are without the essentials when they are willing to be productive.

FJ


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2005 9:55 pm 
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kirkjunkie wrote:
Volatile Geek Doom wrote:
I believe that all looting, even for food and water, is wrong, however, this does not mean that all looting is EQUAL. Stealing food and water is the 'least bad' option and I personally wouldn't prosecute it very harshly if I were a police officer. Looting for 'fun and profit' however is unacceptable, anyone caught looting non-essentials should be shot on sight by the proper authorities.


Yes, but if you are at least willing to work, and you have exhausted every possible way to get the necessities for you or your family, but are still lacking, then this is an injustice and you getting these essentials is not looting. It is a person claiming what is theirs, when the community has refused to give it up. The community cannot claim a right to all their property if members of the community are without the essentials when they are willing to be productive.

FJ


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:23 am 
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kirkjunkie wrote:
Volatile Geek Doom wrote:
I believe that all looting, even for food and water, is wrong, however, this does not mean that all looting is EQUAL. Stealing food and water is the 'least bad' option and I personally wouldn't prosecute it very harshly if I were a police officer. Looting for 'fun and profit' however is unacceptable, anyone caught looting non-essentials should be shot on sight by the proper authorities.


Yes, but if you are at least willing to work, and you have exhausted every possible way to get the necessities for you or your family, but are still lacking, then this is an injustice and you getting these essentials is not looting. The community cannot claim a right to all their property if members of the community are without the essentials when they are willing to be productive.

FJ



I don't agree with that at all. Any stealing is an encouragement and only opens the door to all stealing everywhere. Human nature being what it is, if people are openly stealing food and water in broad daylight, other people will see that and take it to the next level. The idea that you can have only a limited, moderate amount of anarchy is nonsense, pure fantasy. You don't get to pick your own particular comfort level when it comes to anarchy, you get the whole, ugly ball of wax or nothing at all. It is purely an 'all or nothing' game, either you have order, or you have chaos, there is no middle ground, there is no 'orderly chaos' the existence of chaos in one place becomes a justification for chaos everywhere. In the eloquent words of Wittgenstein 'An argument is not like a taxi cab, you cannot simply stop and get off when it has taken you only so far as you wish to go.' If you allow for looting in one instance, then you are ultimately allowing for all looting. Give an angry mob one inch, and they will take a mile.

That being said however, one needs to be prudent, it would be unwise to TREAT all looting the same way, the police have only finite resources, and must of course direct their attention to the most egrerious offenders. Effective law enforcement is, to a very large extent, the art of when it is appropriate to turn a blind eye to some wrongdoing. Effective law enforcement is the art of knowing which laws don't need to be enforced very strictly.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 10:33 am 
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Volatile Geek Doom wrote:
kirkjunkie wrote:
Volatile Geek Doom wrote:
I believe that all looting, even for food and water, is wrong, however, this does not mean that all looting is EQUAL. Stealing food and water is the 'least bad' option and I personally wouldn't prosecute it very harshly if I were a police officer. Looting for 'fun and profit' however is unacceptable, anyone caught looting non-essentials should be shot on sight by the proper authorities.


Yes, but if you are at least willing to work, and you have exhausted every possible way to get the necessities for you or your family, but are still lacking, then this is an injustice and you getting these essentials is not looting. The community cannot claim a right to all their property if members of the community are without the essentials when they are willing to be productive.

FJ



I don't agree with that at all. Any stealing is an encouragement and only opens the door to all stealing everywhere. Human nature being what it is, if people are openly stealing food and water in broad daylight, other people will see that and take it to the next level. The idea that you can have only a limited, moderate amount of anarchy is nonsense, pure fantasy. You don't get to pick your own particular comfort level when it comes to anarchy, you get the whole, ugly ball of wax or nothing at all. It is purely an 'all or nothing' game, either you have order, or you have chaos, there is no middle ground, there is no 'orderly chaos' the existence of chaos in one place becomes a justification for chaos everywhere. In the eloquent words of Wittgenstein 'An argument is not like a taxi cab, you cannot simply stop and get off when it has taken you only so far as you wish to go.' If you allow for looting in one instance, then you are ultimately allowing for all looting. Give an angry mob one inch, and they will take a mile.

That being said however, one needs to be prudent, it would be unwise to TREAT all looting the same way, the police have only finite resources, and must of course direct their attention to the most egrerious offenders. Effective law enforcement is, to a very large extent, the art of when it is appropriate to turn a blind eye to some wrongdoing. Effective law enforcement is the art of knowing which laws don't need to be enforced very strictly.


I think we are talking past each other because you seem to be intent on only speaking of the civil aspect... whereas I am including a moral judgement. I agree that on the civil level, looting is looting. If the Law judges that this property belongs to this person and someone else takes it, then it is looting by legal definition.

However, as for the moral judgement, where civil law it trumped by Natural Law, looting (or stealing) is more specific. For, many times our civil law makes judgements on a case incorrectly. Whenever civil law judges that all property is claimed by members of a community, and no more resources are available, but there are some who are without essentials when they are willing to work, then Civil Law is in error here. Natural Law says that this situation is an injustice for there is enough for everyone to at least have the essentials, and if some don't have them, then actually the "looting" has been done by society against the individual. And that individual has the Natural Right to correct the situation by taking some essential property for himself.

Will the human law recognize this? Well, as you said, it depends on how they enforce. But, they will still call it looting even if it really isn't.

FJ


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 11:39 am 
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kirkjunkie wrote:



I think we are talking past each other because you seem to be intent on only speaking of the civil aspect... whereas I am including a moral judgement. I agree that on the civil level, looting is looting. If the Law judges that this property belongs to this person and someone else takes it, then it is looting by legal definition.


I am making a moral judgement as well: stealing for ANY reason, is morally wrong, period. But, some stealing is worse than other stealing, nevertheless, it is all stealing. If I were to steal food and water from a strore in an emergency, I would keep a list of what I took and return to pay back the store owner ASAP. I wouldn't just take it, that would be wrong.

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However, as for the moral judgement, where civil law it trumped by Natural Law, looting (or stealing) is more specific. For, many times our civil law makes judgements on a case incorrectly. Whenever civil law judges that all property is claimed by members of a community, and no more resources are available, but there are some who are without essentials when they are willing to work, then Civil Law is in error here. Natural Law says that this situation is an injustice for there is enough for everyone to at least have the essentials, and if some don't have them, then actually the "looting" has been done by society against the individual. And that individual has the Natural Right to correct the situation by taking some essential property for himself.

Will the human law recognize this? Well, as you said, it depends on how they enforce. But, they will still call it looting even if it really isn't.

FJ



I don't agree at all, that sounds far too Marxist, the bottom line is that 'society' doesn't 'owe' me anything, they 'owe' me a car, they don't 'owe' me a house, they don't 'owe' me a job. The big bad world doesn't owe me a thing!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:00 pm 
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Doom, I'm sorry, but I am not aware of any Catholic moral theologian who would disagree with FJ's thesis.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:02 pm 
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CCC 2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another's property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one's disposal and use the property of others.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:46 pm 
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from the CCC
2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another's property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one's disposal and use the property of others.

So then the person is not morally responsible if they are stealing for survival.

1754 The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent's responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death). Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.

But I interpret that to mean the stealing itself is still evil even if the person is not morally responsible. I could be wrong (no really! :) ). We never covered this aspect in the moral theology training I have had but it is really out of the realm of ethics and more in the area of the qualities (nature) of evil.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 12:51 pm 
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Quo Vadis wrote:
But I interpret that to mean the stealing itself is still evil even if the person is not morally responsible.


I don't think so. The universal destination of goods means that there's no absolute property right--everything we have rightfully belongs to God anyhow. Therefore, if I am unreasonably preventing you from having something you need for your survival, or even more so for the survival of your dependents, then I have no right in the property and you are justified in taking it from me, and this is not theft at all.

That doesn't give you carte blanche to do whatever it takes to get it. For example, I can't shoot a grocery store owner to get food for my starving family, so this isn't a recipe for utter anarchy.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 1:15 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Quo Vadis wrote:
But I interpret that to mean the stealing itself is still evil even if the person is not morally responsible.


I don't think so. The universal destination of goods means that there's no absolute property right--everything we have rightfully belongs to God anyhow. Therefore, if I am unreasonably preventing you from having something you need for your survival, or even more so for the survival of your dependents, then I have no right in the property and you are justified in taking it from me, and this is not theft at all.

That doesn't give you carte blanche to do whatever it takes to get it. For example, I can't shoot a grocery store owner to get food for my starving family, so this isn't a recipe for utter anarchy.


Exactly... And I will concede that "essential goods" can be argued... By this, I do not mean a house or a car. I mean enough food, water, and shelter to sustain life and health. A box of crackers and a cardboard box, while not the Hilton, can be considered enough, and that person, though suffering, can indeed find great sanctification in that suffering, and probably cannot claim any more for himself. But, take away the crackers, and I believe that the person has a claim to the first box he sees. (Caveat... AGAIN, this is only true for the person who is willing to work and be productive. This does not apply to those who choose to be unproductive)

No one is arguing for an equal distribution. Or a marxist morality.

FJ


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2005 1:34 pm 
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And maybe the Civil Law IS in the right in the sense that when they find someone suffering so much that they are "stealing" to sustain life, they will put them in a nice secure prison and feed them 3 squares a day...

So, perhaps this is moot, except to talk about the MORALITY of it. And if that is what we are doing, then Natural Law is immutable. If it is stealing as Doom says, then these people are commandment breakers and deserve our anathema. I don't see that happening, though, so I ask that you rethink your position.

FJ


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