There are limits to forgiveness.
Most of us are merciful at heart. We’re willing to forgive almost anything. Consequently, there are few crimes for which any majority support capital punishment as a response. We believe deeply in the power of redemption.
Many still support capital punishment for cases of premeditated murder, and some would more than happily extend capital punishment for malicious abuse of a child — but those are generally the only extremes for which we are willing to take human life in recompense.
However, there are some crimes that are so heinously done, so beyond the pale, that it rends the fabric of social trust. Looting during a disaster scenario should be added to this short list. It’s worse than a crime against a fellow human being. When entire cities are facing crisis and no one is certain of their next meal, looting is more than socially reprehensible: it is a crime against humanity itself.
Hurricane Harvey has brought the best out of Texans: beneficence and charity and kindness — all without a government mandate. However, tragedies will sometimes bring the worst out of human beings — cruelty, avarice, nihilism. Human beings who have once shown this brutal capacity are like rabid dogs. Stealing a man’s food when it’s all he has is stealing his life away. Anyone who would loot someone’s home when they are at their darkest hour is someone who can never be trusted in any community.
Nor should the God fearing tax payers be forced to subsidize the rest of their wretched lives in a prison. For some criminals, only the ultimate price can restore the social order and the web of communal trust that connects us all.