Red alert! Call IT security immediately! The Nation has been hacked by right-wingers!
In the January 25 issue, they slipped in a vicious parody of left-wing craziness called “Asking for a Friend,” in which someone posing as a socialist condones the theft of private property as long as the victim meets certain politically incorrect criteria. This hit piece makes it look as if Democrats and socialists have no respect for the rule of law and utterly lack ethical standards and moral values.
Please be vigilant and do not allow this kind of dirty trick to appear in your pages again.
san carlos, calif.
I was flabbergasted and horrified to read in Liza Featherstone’s advice for “Hungry but Principled” words to the effect that shoplifting doesn’t cost anybody much of anything. Or since employees do a lot of stealing, what the heck if customers do it too? Collectively, shoplifters and security measures cost these businesses several billions of dollars a year in the United States. These sums are mostly passed on to consumers, just like any other expense. In other words, we all pay the costs of shoplifting. It is not a victimless crime, or one that just hurts evil corporations. We all pay through higher prices.
I sympathize with someone truly hungry. It is easy to imagine circumstances in which I might end up starving. And like any other starving person, I would acquire food any way I could—illegally if I had to. But many shoplifters are not in dire straits (even Featherstone indicates that “Hungry but Principled” can make a choice), and we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the rest of us don’t pay for their actions.
golden valley, minn.
Liza Featherstone Replies
My reply to the advice seeker who wondered if it was OK to steal food from chain stores incurred considerable dissent; the above represents only a sampling of the responses that The Nation received. Some readers seemed to think I was encouraging theft, though I actually suggested that shoplifting wasn’t the wisest way for the writer to cope with her financial distress, given the significant criminal penalties.
But I did say there was no good moral argument against stealing food from chain stores, especially if you’re struggling to afford it. And I wrote approvingly about political shoplifting in the context of the autonomist movement in 1970s Italy—a political climate that, I noted, was rather different from our own. I stand by my answer, but I’m happy to clarify my reasoning on the moral dimension of this question.