In the same week where the iconic daredevil Evil Knievel passed away and a British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in prison for naming a teddy bear Mohammad, a cunning Irishman decided to create some more uplifting headlines. The man – given the moniker the “beer bandit” by the Irish press – stole 450 full kegs of beer from the Guinness brewery in Dublin.
Now, I ask you this: Have you ever walked by a liquor store and seen a huge truck outside, unloading case after case of beer? If you have, and you’re anything like me, then you’ve stopped at some point and wondered what it would be like to take a few 30 packs for yourself. The legality of the matter aside, I fail to see any moral problem with the theft of beer in this situation. Apparently, neither did the beer bandit, who made off with $250,000 worth of brew. Meanwhile, his actions were rooted in the same mental process I go through each time I see a truck stockpiling beers. Instinct tells me to take some, but a fear of prosecution, as well as the social taboo associated with theft, holds me back. For this unidentified Irishman, however, intuition prevailed. His actions prove, under the right circumstance, theft can be comical, harmless and – I’ll argue this point later – socially expressive.
Before you start thinking I’m a kleptomaniac with no soul, let me lay out for you my logic behind an acceptable theft. Let me also say that I have never stolen anything, ever – but I admit the thought is compelling. Really, if you’ve got the nerve to do it, and you go by my guidelines, I see no problem. Of foremost importance, if by stealing you put any person in harm or make a blow to an individual’s earnings, then it’s morally wrong and unacceptable. In other words, if you steal a pair of jeans from a privately owned boutique, the owner is the one who pays for the loss and thus your actions are unjustifiable. On the other hand, if you are stealing from a conglomerate like Gap, who specifically trains their employees not to stop shoplifters, but to politely ask them if they would “like to try that on,” then I say go right ahead.
Living in a society so petrified of liability that you have to sign your life away when you get your wisdom teeth pulled, I feel the only way to knock some sense back into this nation is to start exploiting its weaknesses. If the social fabric of America is so poorly structured that it’s become wrong to accuse someone of shoplifting, then I think the only logical response is to shoplift more. Shoplift until companies like Gap realize how idiotic their policies are, and change them accordingly.
Not wanting to sound too radical here, I nevertheless feel if something can be exploited, then it’s meant to be. Exploitation is part of the framework of America. Women exploit the weaknesses of men everyday, flirting with them, and getting what they want in return. Students exploit the weaknesses of TA’s, showering them with compliments and free coffee, with the intent of receiving better marks. On the corporate level, companies exploit our society’s collective naiveté, nefariously going about their business, while we assume they’re doing everything by the books. Is it acceptable for Coca-Cola to get away with stealing groundwater from tribal villages, only to keep bottling us a product? No. But that doesn’t mean they’ll stop doing this anytime soon. So why shouldn’t we be able to exploit them in return? It’s time to bring credence to the old adage: Stick it to the man. It’s time to accept that theft, when done right, can be an effective means of expression, as well as just downright fun – and in the case of the beer bandit – comical. I cannot emphasize this enough: I am not condoning arbitrary theft. Kleptomaniacs are deranged, and so are degenerates who steal a few bags of chips from their local gas station. That said, I don’t think my mom should have ever shown me Disney’s “Robin Hood.” Damn propaganda.