Thursday, July 15, 2010

Prudence or Paranoia

            I've been watching the first season of Law & Order, Special Victims Unit on Netflix.  Last night I watched an episode in which there was a clever serial rapist.  The whole unit was after him and toward the end they thought they had him.  A man had the ring and watch of one of the victims.  He said he bought them from a guy on the street but the unit didn't believe him.  Detective Olivia Benson (played by Mariska Hargitay) had the difficult job of talking a severally traumatized victim into identifying the suspect in a line-up.  The victim said she was over the events and didn't want to revisit them or look at the SVU's suspect, but Benson tells her she isn't over it and asked her, "when is the last time you went to bed without your running shoes on?"  The victim doesn't answer which tells us that she still wears her running shoes to bed.  If the victim were indeed "over it," we are led to believe, she wouldn't wear her running shoes to bed.  I have a problem with that.
            Why running shoes?  That is never explained.  Perhaps she thought she could kick the next rapist -- or more effectively run from him.  But whatever her rationale, she thought the shoes would give her an edge she didn't have when she was raped.  I can think of other things that would be more effective, but the running shoes were what she thought of.  I suspected the writers of this episode wanted the viewers to see the running shoes as a sign of the victim's paranoia, but the writers offer no alternative other than catching the particular rapist that raped her, and then it turns out that she can't identify him in the lineup.  Her rapist is never caught.  So would it be a good thing for her to quit wearing the running shoes to bed or not? 
            If I were advising her I would not lead her to believe, as Detective Benson did, that if she identified her attacker she would be freed of her fear.   I would offer her alternatives to the shoes.  Her window opened onto a fire escape.  I would suggest that she install a system that while letting her get out in case of fire would prevent an intruder from coming in.  I would suggest that she get a gun and learn how to use it.  I would also suggest that she get a protective dog.  Running shoes imply that the rapist will be in her apartment, but her paranoia might be alleviated if she took steps to make sure that he could not get in.  She could install a dead-bolt on her door and a wrought-iron covering over her window locked into place with another dead-bolt. 
            The writers tell us that her boy-friend moved out partly because she wouldn't take off her running shoes in bed.  Maybe she didn't view her boyfriend as being very protective.  But if she got herself a nice little Pit-Bull Terrier, he could  sleep on her bed and probably provide her the confidence she would need to leave her running shoes off when she slept.  Her boyfriend might not wake up if an intruder entered her bedroom, but her pit-bull would.
            In our early years, Susan and I lived in an apartment, and on one occasion when I was out, someone broke in and stole something while Susan was asleep.  It turned out that someone who worked in the complex had a master key.  Fortunately for Susan he was a thief and not a rapist.  Later, when we moved into our first house and Susan's illness prevented her from working, I insisted that she get a protective dog.  I would have settled for something like a Pit-Bull Terrier, but she insisted on a Rhodesian Ridgeback
            At one point after a serious operation Susan felt she should start getting out more.  I strongly recommended that she take Trooper along on these outings, but one time she saw Trooper and I taking a nap and went out alone to do a bit of shopping, and was mugged.  The mugging happened in Garden Grove.  Here in San Jacinto she tells me she has better places to park and the risk of a mugging is very slight.  There are no nearby freeways for a mugger to get onto; so perhaps the situation is a bit different.  In any case she doesn't think it necessary to take one or our Ridgebacks along when she is out after dark.  I don't second-guess her -- at least not too much.  She says she is prudent in regard to where she parks and where she shops and I believe her.
            I have insisted that she have her own gun.  She has a small light-weight Taurus 357.  The 357 rounds would be too powerful for her; so I have her gun loaded with 38 wadcutters.  When I take my Ridgeback girls out for a late night walk, I find her gun and set it by her and then make sure the house is securely locked before we leave.  Is all this prudence or paranoia?  In my opinion it is prudence.  In Boot Camp I was taught that "a Marine is always prepared."  That isn't a statement of fact but a goal.  A Marine should strive to be prepared for whatever might happen.  Are Marines being prudent or paranoid?  A Marine isn't being paranoid if he takes along his rifle and ammunition when he leaves for a mission, even if he never needs to use them.
            Living anywhere in these United States is something like being "on a mission."  There are dangers in every city and town.  No place is free of them; so rather than feel defensive about the precautions we take, we should instead view those who take no precautions as foolhardy.  Why trust in luck or chance if there are precautions you might take?  Would it damage your macho image of yourself if you took precautions?  Are Marines not macho enough for you? 

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