Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looters Arrested In Theft Of Native American Artifacts,0,7158558.story

I'm sure many readers have seen this article, or some other version of the same story. 24 People were arrested in the 4 Corners area where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Mew Mexico meet. These people were digging up Native American artifacts on public lands, where such activity is illegal. Kudos to the law enforcement agencies involved in this operation.

What disturbs me even more is this article:

This article talks about the outrage of the citizens of Blanding, Utah over the raids and the suicide of one of the defendants.

"The federal government has a responsibility to protect antiquities," he said. "But they have a responsibility to protect people, too. Anytime somebody loses his or her life, like Dr. Redd, it's gone too far."

"People already are feeling at a loss without their doctor, said Shalain Lucero. And many are blaming federal authorities for his death."

So should law enforcement no longer arrest criminals for fear that they might be so distraught over the arrest and embarrassement that they might commit suicide? I'm sorry, but Dr. Redd made his choice, the federal government didn't do it for him.

When a federal informant recently offered large sums of money to people for pots, sandals and other antiquities, they were "set up,"

If someone offered me a large sum of money to sell crack cocaine or heroin, I still wouldn't do it. No one coerced these people to go onto public lands and illegally dig up artifacts. They did it of their own free will just to make a few bucks. Was it worth it?

When you knowingly, repeatedly break the law, you will eventually be caught. If you don't like the idea that you might be publicly embarrassed by the arrest and jailed, you shouldn't be doing things that you know are illegal.

I'm a collector myself, and I love my collection. But I started collecting because I love history. When items are ripped out of their context, as these items were, so much knowledge is lost that can never be replaced. The knowledge is what is most important, and wanting to own whatever you want should never stand in the way of or destroy what we could learn from these items when studied in their origional context.

No comments: