After reading RF’s thoughtful piece on the Petit tragedy, I was moved to respond. But as I collected my thoughts, I realized what I had to say would take more space than the comments section allows, hence this separate post.
First of all, let me state, for the record, that I missed the Oprah interview. On purpose. Unlike some of the guys and most of the women in this nation of ours, I find Oprah Winfrey to be unwatchable and her show to be a total load of crap. I’ve not watched more than two or three minutes of it, ever. I find it to be the worst that television has to offer – self-important, moralizing, biased, bigoted, sensationalistic drivel of the worst order.
Having said that, I have seen the news coverage of the Oprah/Petit interview, and I have to say that Oprah has sunk to a new low on this one, even for her. And that’s saying something. First of all, let me ask the REAL question “all America is asking,” namely: Hasn’t this man suffered enough?
I mean, put yourself in his position (if you have the guts). Imagine what it would be like to suffer through a night like this, losing everything that matters to you, save your life. Then having to relive it in court, not once (already) but a second time (yet to come). What kind of sick bitch would put someone that has suffered this kind of tragedy through the mill, on national television, just for ratings.
I would have had a tiny sliver of respect for Winfrey, had she publicly announced that she was would NOT interview Petit, but instead and in honor of his loss, donate money to a victims fund, or run a week’s worth of shows on how to protect and defend your family against home invasions. But not this. Not this.
My next question is why would Dr. Petit choose to put himself through this torture? I can’t imagine he needs the money. In fact, I can’t imagine how he must feel, or more importantly, how he’s able to put one foot in front of the other, to make it through the day. Were I him, only vengeance would keep me going.
Now I’m gonna cut him all the slack he needs and then some. (Not so much on whoever’s helping him manage his life – surely somebody must be helping the man deal with things.) But if I were advising him, I’d have suggested that perhaps a better way to get my story out there, in the hopes of helping others would be to sit down with a legit ghost writer and spill my guts. Less painful. More effective.
Of course, we can’t get off the Oprah Train without mentioning the absolutely, positively most egregious question that harpie asked during the show. You know the one I mean. Where she asked him, “Can you forgive the men that did this?” WTF?! Could YOU, you stupid bitch?! What gives you the right to ask something like that? What power on Heaven or Earth makes you think you have the moral authority to pry into that man’s psyche and demand he expose his heart like that on national television, thereby allowing all manners of commentators to smugly express their self-imagined moral superiority over him?
Oprah, you truly are a media whore.
Now to RF’s points about the interview. He makes some excellent ones. But the overwhelming takeaway from this for me is the question, “where do you draw the line?” I mean, look…it’s obvious that there’s a scale here, from living in blissful, exposed ignorance to living in a place that would most resemble the Green Zone in Baghdad. The right answer lies somewhere in between.
There’s a Peanuts strip from years ago, where Snoopy’s lying on his back, atop his doghouse. Lucy walks by and berates him for his sloth. Snoopy thinks, “I have two choices…I can be prepared, or hope that an emergency doesn’t occur.” After thinking it over, he decides “I hope that an emergency doesn’t occur,” and goes back to his chil-laxin’. Too many people will leave the Oprah interview with that same kind of sheeple mentality: What can ya’ do, huh? No point in worryin’…nuthin’ I can do to prevent a tragedy, so I’ll just hope one never happens. Nice job, Oprah.
On the other hand, the idea of walking around my home with a gun strapped to my hip strikes me as waaaaay outside reality. Now my experiences (and neighborhood) differ from Robert’s. I am NOT judging here. I am, however, saying that I think it’s more than adequate for me and my peace of mind to have a number of guns in a variety of rooms.
Sure, I’m playin’ the odds. I’m assuming that I will be able to make it the five to ten feet that mark the greatest distance between me and the nearest gun in my home, should an invasion occur. But Robert’s playing the odds, too. Just different odds. What if someone throws a canister of tear gas in the house? Are you gonna walk around with a gas mask strapped to your body?
I don’t mean to sound ridiculous, here, and I am NOT making fun of anybody that feels such measures are prudent or necessary. All I’m doing is pointing out that every decision you make is based on what you think are the odds of encountering a worst-case scenario. If we all did the same thing and truly wanted to live based on worst-case ideas, we’d all be buying decommissioned missile silos somewhere off the map in the middle of Nebraska.
I like what RF said about layers of security. And I think more attention needs to be paid to that concept. People need to think in those terms, and see security from the perspective of how many layers you feel are appropriate, you can afford, and are likely to need. We learned NONE of that in the sob-sister approach that Oprah took. And as a result, nobody learned anything of use in that interview, save that we don’t ever want to be in the position of Dr. Petit or his late family.
Ideally, I’d like to live in a semi-rural area near a large city, with about forty acres, with my home placed strategically in the middle. I’d have a perimeter fence with motion-detector lighting with alternative power supplies (generator and/or solar) so that tripping my power switch wouldn’t kill my first line of defense. I’d add plenty of closed-circuit cameras with infrared/night vision capabilities, tied to a DVR with the capacity to record at least a running log of 24 hours for each camera. I’d add a second ring of sensors half-way between the fence and the house, to let me know trouble’s coming. And I’d have some surprises for anybody that tried to get any closer.
Nice fantasy, isn’t it. But if we wanna be REALLY paranoid, what about the psychos that simply overwhelm my defenses with superior numbers? Or what if they come with, say, the ability to lob some Molotov cocktails through my windows? Do I wanna live in a bunker? See, no matter how thoroughly you plan, there’s always some whack-job who can find a way through your best laid plans. That’s the nature of the defense paradox. Build a better lock, and you’ll find a more devious, motivated thug who is determined to break it.
What’s the solution? I don’t honestly know. Prayer, I think. Coupled with knowledge, reason, logic, and common sense. It’s impossible to plan for everything. But the lesson we should be taking away from the Petit tragedy is that some tragedies can be avoided, or at the very least, mitigated by not assuming we’re safe and living accordingly.
You’d think a “great humanitarian” like Oprah Winfrey (note the sarcasm, please) would have gotten that one, and tried to actually help people, instead of just padding her ratings. You’d think.