The moral question that has the internet divided

Piggy bank thief
Stealing from a charity - justifiable? Photo credit: Getty

If you could become rich by taking an insignificant amount of money from a large number of charities, would you do it?

Reddit user Bonzai33 posed the scenario, and it's divided users of the popular site.

"You can become $100,000 richer, catch is you get this money by taking $100 from 1,000 charities. No one would ever know, would you do it, why or why not?"

The practice, known as 'salami slicing' or 'penny shaving', featured in the plot to Mike Judge's cult classic 1999 comedy Office Space. But in the film they were stealing from a bad boss - not charities.

But that didn't stop many Reddit users saying they'd do it in a flash to punish fake and corrupt charities.

"I'm sure I can figure out a way to justify it, like telling myself that a lot of charities are corrupt, or that missing $100 won't change much," said user grisioco.

"Just take it from those 'charities' that are just masquerades for rich people to get more money...Take it all," said SomeStupidPerson.

"I'll just go to one of those charity navigator websites and take it from anywhere that spends more than 50 percent... on payroll and other bullshit," said egnards.

Charities singled out by these would-be Robin Hoods include Komen, a US breast cancer charity under fire for its perceived excessive executive pay packets and promotion of fast-food outlets like KFC, and Autism Speaks, which used to promote a bogus theory that vaccines cause the condition.

The Church of Scientology and animal rights group PETA also featured in posts encouraging theft.

Some people keen to rob charities were less high-and-mighty about their motives, however.

"I'm a shitty person. Thanks for asking," said RectumCheese.

"I'm broke and have student loans to pay off and things I want to own. I'd do it no questions asked," said Sturdybody.

"I would. Last time I heard charities were throwing orgy parties on islands where they were 'helping'," wrote Iamlennard, referencing the recent Oxfam sexual misconduct allegations.

Some said they'd do it, but then donate the money back, pocketing the tax breaks.

Reddit comments are ordered by popularity, and it was these posts in favour of looting that shot to the top of the thread. Scrolling further down however revealed numerous people whose ethics wouldn't let them do it.

"No. Taking the money would probably make me feel guilty," said MarmiteCashews.

"No, I'm not a thief. Holy shit, this thread sucks. You usually see people on reddit clamoring for thieves to be put to death for less," wrote Sharrakor.

"Too much evil for too little money," added DrunkenShitposter.

As of midday Friday (NZ time), the Reddit thread had almost 8000 responses.