It’s more than semantics
Driving in my car this afternoon, I heard an NPR reporter say some people in Port-au-Prince have had neither food nor water since the earth shook two full days ago. So I find the words in the lead story on The New York Times web site this afternoon grating: “The national police had all but vanished, and officials reported looting at a collapsed grocery store.”
From all I’ve heard and read, the people of Haiti thus far have been remarkably restrained, helping their neighbors, desperately trying to move concrete with their hands as corpses lie in the streets. I heard another NPR report of a man whose family had survived but who was seeking out those who were suffering to console.
So a question: Is it looting to feed yourself and your family? Is it looting to take food that will rot in time from the shelves or floor of a “collapsed grocery store?”
Shame on the officials. And shame on the Times. One man’s looter is another’s humanitarian or mother or father. I’d urge the media to choose their words with care.