More on the Mythology of Disaster
Awhile back we had a guest post from Lisa Grow Sun (BYU) on the various myths surrounding disasters and the challenges that they pose for policy makers who are grappling with events such as we’re seeing in Haiti and Chile. For those who are interested, Lisa has now put her most recent paper on the topic up on SSRN. Here’s the abstract
This Article considers the legal implications of perhaps the most important disaster myth: the myth that natural disasters produce widespread looting and violence. The Article examines a number of unfortunate legal consequences of the myth, including deployment of military troops in a law enforcement, rather than humanitarian, capacity; distortion of response priorities outlined in disaster plans; and imposition of restrictions on freedom of movement and other basic rights. Ultimately, the Article concludes that the deleterious effects of the myth on our disaster laws can best be countered by constraining official discretion to overemphasize security risks in immediate response decisions, rejecting calls to pass broad looting laws that can reflect and perpetuate the myth, and reforming the structure of federal disaster agencies by removing the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security and reestablishing it as a cabinet-level agency.