Stealing Is Wrong, No Matter What The Gain

I, for one, am disappointed in Gizmodo. Not only do I think they did the wrong thing in not returning the iPhone 4G to Apple before reporting on it, but they also ruined Christmas morning for me.

First things first. I work hard to teach my kids that stealing is wrong. I hope they have learned that if you do it, you are wrong. And if you stand by while someone else does it, that is wrong too. It is not yours and does not belong to you.

The same thing is true for objects that are found. Before they keep it, it is my children’s responsibility to try and return it to their rightful owner. Sure, you may get nothing in return for it, but I believe in good mojo, karma, what-goes-around-comes-around, etc.

Gizmodo failed on both accounts. They enabled the theft of something that belongs to someone else and didn’t even think to return it until after they published their story on the 4G. Anything for a story, huh, including integrity.

Given that, it is their integrity. I might be more disappointed in what Gizmodo ruined for me. I find that Apple’s product launches are one of the most exciting on the planet. All the weeks of speculation followed by the big reveal. It is true show business and makes me feel like it is Christmas morning. What’s Apple going to pull out of their hat this time? Will all the speculation be right? What did the press miss from their sources and parts suppliers? Gizmodo ruined that for me. All in the name of scooping a story that no one will remember in a few months.

Given these events, I decided that I will no longer go to Gizmodo’s website, link to their stories, or follow their RSS feeds. I can’t, in good conscience, support an organization with such a low-integrity threshold. Not if I want to look my daughters in the face, anyway.

5 thoughts on “Stealing Is Wrong, No Matter What The Gain

  1. I think you are too harsh on Gizmodo — it was an open question whether the device was real (i.e. belonged to Apple), until Apple requested its return. At that point, they returned it. No one stole the device – it was abandoned (abeit unintentionally) by an Apple employee. It is courteous to return something privately, rather than publicly, but unreasonable to demand a news organization not report on news.

    • Scott, I’m not happy about it but it sure proves my point. This situation is just unethical and I will not support organizations that are unethical.

      Doug, found or stolen both the guy who “found it” and Gizmodo had an opportunity to do the right thing and return it, whether to the bar or to Apple. And I would expect a news organization to act ethically and return the “found” property without reporting on it. We aren’t talking Watergate here. We are talking about a piece of metal and glass.


  2. You are just plain flat-out wrong on this one. There is NO evidence that this device was “stolen” from anyone. “Finders, keepers” has been the law of this country for more than two hundred years and the law of England for centuries before that. The reason for this simple rule is based in a policy decision that the burden of caring for items of personal property is best left to the owner as opposed to imposing that burden on society at large. So, unless the person who gained possession of this item stole it from the person who brought it into the bar, he did nothing wrong, and anyone who purchased it from him also did nothing wrong. As for Gizmodo, unless they knew or had reason to know that the device was “stolen”, they did nothing wrong in publishing the article they did. They weren’t writing about something that was classified or constituted a threat to national security. That is why high tech companies have to have their employees sign non-disclosure agreements, because without one, revealing confidential information is not Illegal (although certainly would give the employer the right to fire the employee. I would bet that Gizmodo never signed one So, the lesson you should be teaching your children shouldn’t be to accuse people who committed no crime at all of “stealing” but rather that they should be careful not to lose their stuff or entrust it to irresponsible employees.

    • I recognize your point and generally agree with you if you find something that you don’t know who owned it. My wife found a very expensive bike in the park behind our house the other day. She took it to the police so the owner had a chance of getting his property back.

      The point of my post was not that the guy who found it stole it originally but that once he knew who owned it, he made no attempt to return it. In my book, that is theft. (And, apparently, it is also theft according to the state of California.)


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