A few days ago, Mississippi's good ol' boy governor, Haley Barbour, promised to deal "ruthlessly" with looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Yesterday Barbour compared Katrina's devastation to Hiroshima, which was unnecessarily inflammatory. Hiroshima was an act of man, while Katrina was an act of nature.
Of course, government officials have no choice but to insist upon law and order at all times. Even though I disagree with Barbour's language, in his shoes I would have made the same point.
Since I'm not a government official, I can say that the term "looters" is being applied too generally to the people in Louisiana and Mississippi. Yes, some people are taking advantage of the situation and stealing anything they can find. But many people are simply taking food and water, because they don't know when things will get back to normal.
Is Barbour really going to be ruthless with these people? Katrina has been brutal enough.