>they feel there's an inequitableness that pervades the transactions
>of life, so they set out to even the score on their behalf.
I don't think it's nearly as noble as you suggest. Given the many wonderful shareware programs out there that are extremely inexpensive for what they give you (and the payment is optional), disturbingly few people actually donate. In fact, it takes people like Jeff Atwood needs to encourage people to do it simply because it's the right thing to do. Perhaps my view is more cynical, but I think people are just too cheap to support developers, big or small. They're too cheap to buy a CD when they could download MP3s.
>While we can agree that theft is generally wrong, I wonder if you
>can acknowlege that there are circumstances that can justify it?
Certainly. However, even if the justification is there it doesn't mean one should take advantage of it. A brilliant example that comes to mind is from the movie Cinderella Man (if you don't mind me using glamorized hollywood events) where James Braddock forces his son to return stolen food despite the fact that the family was poor, freezing and starving, and he was risking losing his children to uphold is ideals. People like that do exist, and they makes the ones who can throw away their morals when life gets hard look ridiculous.
Naturally I can't expect everyone to uphold their morals when things get difficult. Hell, I can't even expect that when it's not difficult. Other posters in this thread proved that.