It's hardly surprising that amid the destruction caused by the floods in Brisbane, some people are taking matters into their own hands and relieving unattended shops of some necessities.

Predictably, moral absolutists condemn this behaviour, calling these people "low-lifes". But thankfully there is some sensible and compassionate commentary in the blogosphere such as this offered by fellow traveller Jeremy Sear.

I guess what sticks in people’s craw is the sense that looting is kicking someone when they’re down – but is it really? Is it really vastly more serious than theft or burglary in normal times? If some desperate person takes something from your house to feed themselves before it’s destroyed by the water anyway, are you any worse off?

This post has angered one particular heartless reactionary, who thinks he's being too soft on them.

Actually I think that Jeremy was spot on. A compassionate person would realize that extreme situations force people to do things they otherwise wouldn't dream of, and forgive them for it.

For instance, one recent Friday my regular payment as a cultural sensitivity consultant for Fremantle artists didn't go through because of some bank glitch. They told me I had to wait until Monday for it to be sorted. Caught short for the weekend, I didn't know what to do.

Luckily, a businessman dropped two fifty dollar notes on the footpath in front of me as I was walking home. So I picked them up. Desperate problems require desperate acts, after all. (And anyway, judging by his expensive suit he clearly didn't need the money.)

What I did wasn't stealing. It was temporary justified wealth redistribution. That's how we should perceive the "looting" occurring in Brisbane too.