WashPost Columnist Slams Opponents of Ferguson Looting: Think 'Personal Property Is Worth More Than Life Itself'

Clinton Yates, Washington Post online columnist and commentator for Washington D.C’s WTOP radio station, decided to wade into the controversy in Ferguson by slamming those who oppose the looting and violence in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. 

On Thursday, August 21, during his “My Take with Clinton Yates” segment on WTOP, which is the main news radio station for the political class in Washington D.C., Yates insisted that someone who says “looting is never acceptable is implicitly saying that personal property is worth more than life itself.” Listen to MP3 audio here.] 

The Post columnist began his rant by falsely claiming that opposing looting and supporting someone’s life are mutually exclusive: 

I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently regarding my thoughts about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. Many from former or current law enforcement officials arguing one of two things. Either they believe that the social contract that they think grants them near absolute power is something that everybody should buy into or they can’t understand why anyone would loot in the wake of a controversial death. 

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Material goods by definition are typically replaceable. Of course the violence associated with the act of vandalism and then theft is not desirable but think of it this way. In this case, saying that looting is never acceptable is implicitly saying that personal property is worth more than life itself. 

Yates seems to think all looting is the same, which is not true. For example, stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family is one thing but looting a beauty supply store in Ferguson, Missouri is simply stealing and is a violent act. Yates fails to recognize that the looting in Ferguson has put the lives of numerous minority store owners in jeopardy. It seems that by supporting the looting in Ferguson, the WTOP commentator is doing the very thing he is accusing those who oppose looting of doing, minimizing people's lives. 

Yates also took direct aim at so-called “trigger-happy” cops in places like Ferguson: 

There’s an argument that if you believe that resorting to trigger-happy overzealousness is the lone way to guarantee your own safety, then maybe law enforcement is not what you should be doing. They goal is to help people and they will then respect the marginal level of authority you’re given over their lives. If they live in fear, that’s what we call a police state.

It’s nice to know that Clinton Yates’ outlandish views are perfectly acceptable for D.C.’s main news radio station. Unsurprisingly, Yates is no stranger to making inflammatory comments on WTOP’s airwaves. Immediately following Michael Brown’s death, Yates called it “flat out brutality” so expect more commentary like this from the Post writer in the near future.  

See relevant transcript below. 


WTOP 

My Take with Clinton Yates

August 21, 2014

CLINTON YATES: I’ve gotten a lot of emails recently regarding my thoughts about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, many from former or current law enforcement officials, arguing one of two things: either they believe that the social contract that they think grants them near absolute power is something that everybody should buy into, or they can’t understand why anyone would loot in the wake of a controversial death.

On the first point, of course being a police officer is a difficult and risky job. But there’s an argument that if you believe that resorting to trigger-happy overzealousness is the lone way to guarantee your own safety then maybe law enforcement is not what you should be doing. The goal is to help people, and they will then respect the marginal level of authority you’re given over their lives. If they live in fear, that’s what we call a police state.

As for looting, material goods, by definition, are typically replaceable. Of course, the violence associated with the act of vandalism and then theft is not desirable, but think of it this way: In this case, saying that looting is never acceptable is implicitly saying that personal property is worth more than life itself. I’m Clinton Yates and that’s my take. 

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.