Oscar Pistorious and the Consequences of Paranoia

My new security system.

For the record, I don’t believe for a minute that he accidentally killed his girlfriend. I think this is yet another case where what could have been another case of domestic abuse turned into murder because of the availability of guns. But let’s, just for a moment, pretend we buy his defense. Basically, he’s yet another person who has become so terrified of the outside world that even inside a high-security gated community, he slept with a gun under his bed and has repeatedly…repeatedly…mistakenly thought his house was being invaded by intruders. Here’s what Slate has to say about that:

There’s no record of any burglary-like incident at Pistorius’ home. The two incidents he has acknowledged were false alarms. A year ago, the New York Times reported that according to Pistorius, “a security alarm in the house had gone off the previous night, and he had grabbed his gun and tiptoed downstairs. (It turned out to be nothing.)” Three months ago, Pistoriustweeted: “Nothing like getting home to hear the washing machine on and thinking its an intruder to go into full combat recon mode into the pantry!” These episodes gave Pistorius plenty of warning that his hair-trigger reactions were rash.

That’s right, the man damn near shot his washing machine!

This made me think of the time I almost stabbed my cat. As a single-lady, I sleep with a very small but pointy screwdriver next to my bed.  (Be warned, intruders: You can take my TV, but if you get close to me, my screwdriver and I are ready to take you out.) But like most people, I’ve never actually needed to use my “weapon.” Sometimes, though, I have a crazy bad dream and wake up to the sight of a hoodie draped over my bed post. Before you know it, a little bit of night-terror has me reaching for my screwdriver. I don’t get up and stab my hoodie. Generally I just go back to sleep. But one morning, after a particularly bad dream, my alarm went off and startled me. I flung my hand toward the alarm, which was still holding the screwdriver I’d picked up, and damn near stabbed my cat. Luckily, my early-morning flailing does not come with accurate aim.

I’m sure my cat is glad I don’t own a gun…and so are countless hoodies that have spooked me in the middle of the night. We all get spooked from time to time, but not all of us pull out a gun every time we get scared. But thanks to the marketing efforts of gun companies, there are plenty of well-armed people ready to shoot at every bump in the night.

Frankly, you’re wise to listen to your instincts and steer clear of people and places that give you the willies… But when you’re scared all the time, even when you have every reason in the world not to be… bad things happen. But ladies, let me give you a word of advice, if you find yourself involved with the kind of guy who sees threats in every corner, trust you own instincts and  get as far away from him as fast as you can, because sooner or later you’ll be on the receiving end of that paranoia.

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