More on the anti-looting lynch mob
As if the police bashing a young autistic man for stealing light switches isn't bad enough, a Herald article today illustrates some of the offenses that looters are being accused of. More disturbing, Judge Michael Crosbie is taking a hard line with these offenders, who include the mentally unwell, the hungry and drug addicts. See the excerpt below:
Judge takes hard line with earthquake accused offenders
Another man arrested for breaching a no-alcohol condition of his bail said he had gone drinking to get arrested because he could not get help for his mental health problem.
Since his arrest he had seen a psychiatric nurse and been given medication. He further remanded on bail.
A Lyttelton man found in a house said he was trying to steal a toaster because his family only had stale bread to eat.
Duty solicitor Kerry Cook said the risk of further offending could be covered by strict bail conditions and the man had no previous convictions.
But Judge Crosbie said there was justification for a remand in custody under present conditions.
"I would have thought that if he has done something like this at this time, he is capable of doing anything, and capable of doing it again," he said, remanding the man to March 28.
Another man got bail after being arrested for trying to siphon petrol from a car so he could drive to a local chemist to collect his methadone prescription.
Judge Crosbie granted him bail, with a curfew at home but a two-hour window each morning to get his methadone.
It is imperative to emphasize at this point that people are under a large amount of psychological distress after an event that killed around 200 people and have been exposed to trauma. People do not necessarily behave rationally under these conditions, and penalizing people too heavily or naming and shaming as in the deplorable Facebook group that attracted over 56,000 supporters is not necessarily the best way of dealing with people that have gone through a major disaster. It is not uncommon for people in these kind of disasters to drink, as detailed in the TV3 blog on ethics of public urination going out the window. These people need help by and large NOT harsh prison sentences or vigilante-type violence.
It is also imperative to realize that after the last quake, which had a death toll of zero, family violence and suicide numbers rose. Add to this the drive for demolition and uncertainty about the salvaging of houses and this is a city under stress. Let's hear some strong government support for people suffering from mental illnesses, a number that is likely to have risen following the trauma of the quake due to many people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Yes, order has to be maintained. But do we have to be completely unsympathetic to people behaving strangely under stress? This is a well-documented effect of such disasters.
***UPDATE**** As often happens in social networking, there are a group of people that have largely taken control of the Public Humiliation page and have been debating it out with those who are calling for violence. These people should be commended for spending their spare time rationalizing with what was initially a very angry groundswell.