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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.

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  1. Good points Brad. I think also that RF’s point regarding the victims not having the situational awareness to realize that the two scvmbags were following them is the real difference maker here. SA affords those who do think about this kind of thing with a layer of protection greater than any alarm or weapon.

  2. With you 100% on all points, Brad. In reality, there is no “one size fits all” security system. As I’ve said before here, you have to evaluate the threat, and then evaluate the pros/cons of any countermeasures. Some countermeasures can be taken without serious disadvantages: Secure door and window locks (and using them!) fall into this category. But for alarms and such, you have to factor in both the cost of installation, of monitoring, and of the inevitable false alarms (nothing like being put face down on the concrete at your own house.) For dogs the issues are protection vs. the likelhood that Rover may become Cujo at the wrong time and for the wrong person (Biting a burglar = Good Dog! Biting the mailman = Lawsuit time.) For home carry you have to weigh the likelihood that you’ll need your piece vs. being “that crazy guy across the street who’s always wearing a gun.” It’s not a simple yes/no question, each person has to weigh the merits and the risks.

  3. …And regarding the above, before someone says “I don’t care what my neighbors think”, I gotta say, I do care about what my neighbors think. In fact, I think having nosy neighbors who care about what happens in the neighborhood is way better than an alarm system or even a dog. The nosy neighbor is the one who’s going to say “I thought Tom and Sue were out of town this week, why is there somebody at their house?” and then call the cops. The nosy neighbor is the one who’s going to see that car parked down the street with the two guys in it who don’t live in the neighborhood and call the cops to investigate. Not everyone is blessed with good neighbors, but we are and we cherish them and want to stay in their good graces (as they, also, want to stay in ours.)

  4. Great points, Brad. I too find strapping in my home unnecessary (given my situation).

    I don’t think enough has been said about how a good security and camera system can allow someone to simultaneously enjoy Snoopy-like relaxation and a modest level of security. Yes – no security system is perfect. Tech security guru Bruce Schneier’s quote “Security is a system, not a product” is nails.

    But those who will spend $250 Large on a dream home and balk at a $5K security / camera system perplex me. The functionality of these devices has improved geometrically in recent years. With proper use and a good plan, one’s home security can be likewise geometrically improved.

    A scenario: A thump from outside awakens you at 3am. Instead of leaving your (very secure) bedroom, you check the handy system monitor/computer/mini-screen at your bedside, pull up the relevant (IR-equipped) cameras, and fast-rewind the last 10 minutes (from DVR). It’s probably a racoon tipping a trash can (or your drunk teen son/daughter) – but you can gather a LOT of tactical info quickly if its a SHTF scenario.

    The above sort of security was the stuff of sci-fi novels 15 years ago. Furthermore, for those who don’t have (or want) this type of system (sorry Dr Petit?), I think we’re at a tipping point. Homes that don’t have these systems become targets. Stalkers intent on a home invasion (or robbery when no one is home), will probably avoid residences with notable monitoring. Would the Petit invaders have been so bold if they had seen cameras looking down on them as they scoped and entered?

  5. Interesting that this interview with Mr. Petit became about you and your security preferences. I understand what you’re saying about having an alarm system, etc. but to criticize the man for telling his story is assinine. Maybe he didn’t want his youngest daughter to simply beremembered as a rape/sodomy victim who was tied to her bed and burned alive. Maybe he didn’t want his wife’s memory being solely that of a surveillance video at a bank, being raped then strangled to death. Maybe he wanted to redefine what people knew and give vioce to their lives not just rehash their deaths. And if itbrought him closure or helped him in any way, who are you to criticize? After all, what have you gone through that’s similar that you’re in any kind of place to judge?

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