August 7, 2013

27-year-old Madison man faces reality and takes action.

So there you are, sitting on your own front porch, working on your laptop, and...

1. A stranger comes up on the porch? What do you do?

2. He sits down next to you? What do you do?

3. He asks you for a cigarette? What do you do?

4. He grabs your laptop and runs? Now what?

In this case, the man did nothing at #1 and #2, and at #3, just said he didn't have any cigarettes. At #4, the man gave chase, tackled the thief, and got the computer back.

Now, next time, don't let a stranger come up on your porch, and whenever you're anywhere in public with your laptop, expect thieves.

I am nostalgic for a culture of front porches, where residents meet the world and chat with passing strangers, but in this vision, no stranger comes up on the porch without invitation. Anyone crossing the sidewalk/porch line has stepped out of The Dream of Yesterday and into They're All Out to Get You. That is, I'm a liberal while you're on the sidewalk, but step onto the porch and I'm a right-winger.

47 comments:

Broomhandle said...

Hence the whole "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged..." riff.

DanTheMan said...

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

Beldar said...

Wikipedia tells us of Irving Kristol: "One of Kristol's most celebrated quips defines a neoconservative as 'a liberal who has been mugged by reality.'"

But I'm not sure if he made a distinction for reality only when it crosses onto your porch.

Perhaps it's not so much a matter of reality changing as your ability to ignore cognitive dissonance, Professor Althouse. That's a useful survival trait for legal academics.

Trust your porch instincts.

surf-ed said...

Most of the nuns that taught me were closer to Leslie Nielson than Raquel Welch. And most of them meaner than snakes. Addendum- Don't get caught in the Girl's Building across the street without a hall pass signed by Jesus himself.

Matthew Sablan said...

You'll be amazed what thieves will do to get closer to their targets. Asking for a cigarette, directions, etc., are all part of the crooks attempt to close distance [and hoping that if you say no, he can get agitated with you without seeming suspicious!]

But to just blatantly walk up and sit down like that? That's different; people do that approach in public places (sitting next to your table/bus seat) to try a grab and dash, but on your own porch? Different.

Sidenote: Kind of unfortunate how quickly it looks like the comments devolved on the original site's link.

annk said...

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

Almost Ali said...

A big, bright, visible dog bowl* does wonders. In really iffy neighborhoods, add a heavy link-chain, thick enough to tow a Buick.

*Arrange both accordingly.

Bill R said...

"That is, I'm a liberal while you're on the sidewalk, but step onto the porch and I'm a right-winger. "

That's an excellent summing up.

You might add "Step into the house and I'm the Terminator"

Anthony said...

The first sign of bad behavior is that the stranger didn't (apparently) say anything when he came up onto the porch.

Lots of people might have a perfectly valid reason to come up on my porch if I'm sitting there, but at that point, it's as if they knocked on my door and I've answered it. It's up to them to say something first.

Sitting down on my chair before you've started a conversation, or at least asked permission to sit there is so presumptuous I'd probably tell the person to get off my property right then.

Kelly said...

"I"m a liberal while you're on the sidewalk." Are you saying conservatives would tackle the person just for being on the sidewalk? Or conservatives don't enjoy front porches and interacting with people on the sidewalk?

For lack of a front porch, I sit in my garage despite having a nice back deck. It's boring there.

I think if someone had came onto my porch/garage, uninvited, I might try to play it off as well.

gadfly said...

Fortunately for the thief, the homeowner's name was not Merritt Landry.

cubanbob said...

So the victim stood his ground. Didn't it occur to him he could have become another George Zimmerman?

MadisonMan said...

Is a conservative a liberal who has been mugged?

When seconds count, the police are minutes away. That's another bromide that works here.

LarsPorsena said...

DanTheMan said...

A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged.

8/7/13, 10:15 AM
____________________________________

A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested.

bpm4532 said...

Coming on the porch uninvited would get a "Can I help you?" and would cause me to close the laptop, grab it firmly with one hand and stand up. Even if he sat down, I would repeat my question. If he asked for a cigarette, I would explain I didn't have any and then ask if he was in trouble and needed me to call someone for him. If he made a move for my laptop, I feel fairly confident that I could "help" him off the porch then inform him he is trespassing, should leave and not come back.

It kind of depends on how fast all the events happen, but I would be on my feet before he sat down.

Should he somehow get my laptop from me, the data is highly encrypted, regularly backed-up, and with recent documents cached to Dropbox (used as my working directory) so I wouldn't lose anything. He wouldn't be able to boot it off an external drive without a BIOS password so it'd be pretty much useless to him.

LarsPorsena said...

cubanbob said...

So the victim stood his ground. Didn't it occur to him he could have become another George Zimmerman?

8/7/13, 11:14 AM
___________________________________

..and like Zimmerman he should have never followed the perp.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Thank you, Ann, for not injecting race into the incident. (Anyone who wants to see what happens if you do can check out the comments at the link. Sigh.)

Ann Althouse said...

""I"m a liberal while you're on the sidewalk." Are you saying conservatives would tackle the person just for being on the sidewalk? Or conservatives don't enjoy front porches and interacting with people on the sidewalk?"

Note that I did not use the word "conservative."

The issue isn't when do you tackle the guy, but when do you act friendly, and when do you say get the hell out of here. I like the old fashioned idea of meeting strangers from your front porch -- or front yard (as we do at our house). I'll assume you're a good person (liberal style) as long as you are on the sidewalk. But approach me on my property, and I'm going to assume you mean me harm.

Ann Althouse said...

And I do think conservatives are friendly to strangers, and would do the porch-to-sidewalk sociability, maybe even more than liberals, depending on the level of crime in the neighborhood.

tim maguire said...

Bill, my take was a little different. I don't think it's an excellent summing up at all. In fact, I think the mistake is fundamental. Kelly is closer to right--in this scenario, the professor is a conservative both on the sidewalk and on the porch.

tim maguire said...

Oops, I see you addressed the issue. I still disagree with how you make the distinction, but my comment no longer makes sense given your follow-up. This one can be safely lost in moderation.

Lance said...

When I first saw the post title, I thought it was about MadisonMan. Guess I've read the comments section too much.

traditionalguy said...

Setting your boundaries is a necessary act. Until you set them, no one kows where yours are. And being nice to strangers is no excuse for failure to enforce your boundaries.

Heavy hail storms have been coming heavier than usual as Global Cooling has continued to send colder air south into Georgia most of July. Which means a knock on the door by a child like sweet Roofing Company sales person every few days.

A kind no response is all most manipulators need, but the few of them intimidators require a harsh old white man's angry response.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

He steps off the sidewalk onto my property -- "Hey, guy, good-day, what's up?" No satisfactory answer, "Please leave my property, NOW."

If he does not, retreat to my house and load. Appear on the porch at "low-ready" and again order him to leave. One move in my direction will be interpreted as hostile intent.

Bob_R said...

To me, the most important line was crossed at step 2, when he sat down without being invited. Since people are expected to come on the porch to knock on the door when no one is sitting on the porch, it's a bit of a grey area. (If someone was on the porch, I wouldn't come up without being invited. I'd just get close enough to talk.)

Sitting down without an invitation is pretty aggressive behavior, and I think I would have stood up immediately.

Conserve Liberty said...

See when I was growing up a Boy Scout (which I continued well into adulthood as a volunteer leader), a visitor stopped at the edge of a campsite and called out, "Hello there!! Permission to enter the Camp?"

Usually a young Scout (since youth are in charge) would just invite the visitor right on in, given that we all wore the uniform and everything.

But every one in a while a more feisty one would step over to talking distance and ask the nature of the person's business and decide what to do next.

An interloper who didn't ask caused all sorts of runniing around and finding of adults - which often led to some friendly but rather firm re-education in proper camp visting etiquette, especially if the interloper was an adult.

Catch my drift?

Tom Gallagher said...

This is where dogs come in handy; they'll typically bark first (at a potential threat) and ask questions later.

Inga said...

I guess it's a good thing he didn't shoot him instead. That would've really been unliberal.

MadisonMan said...

When I first saw the post title, I thought it was about MadisonMan

I wish I was 27 again. (sigh). If I knew then what I know now....

We don't have a porch (well, not one big enough to sit on to do work). I can't imagine, though, sitting on a porch, working, and tolerating someone coming up uninvited and sitting down. That's what the phrase Get the Hell out of here was made for. That 27-year old Madison man should be reading The Gift of Fear.

CWJ said...

Funny, but having read the linked story and its comments, this seems to be a case of white guilt rather than racism.

I cannot fathom #1 or #2 happening without any verbal exchange, either greeting, question, or challenge. I can only assume that the occupant allowed this to happen for fear that any other action would possibly label him a racist.

Obviously, I'm assuming the occupant is white, and if I'm wrong, then nevermind.

DanTheMan said...

Jeez, Bart. Shoot a lot of door to door salesmen, do you?
Taking a step towards you is hardly justification for deadly force.
Switch to decaf my friend, and consider asking him to leave a second time before shooting. And maybe learn an option or two between "run away" and "Homicide".

Freeman Hunt said...

We don't get a lot of that kind of property crime here. Most property crimes are not of the confrontational type. I imagine this is owing to the not unlikely possibility of getting shot.

Truckee Man said...

A liberal is someone mugged but refuses to press charges.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

@Dan: Hey, guy, read the fucking comment. It includes two warnings. I've done door-to-door and always stated my intent, and *never* continued when asked to leave.

"Hostile intent" does not mean shooting the guy right away, but if I'm at low-ready and he keeps coming towards me he is either hostile or a complete fool. Normal people explain themselves. End of discussion.

DanTheMan said...

Bart,

OK, you got me. You ask him twice to leave. He still refuses.
Assuming he takes no other offensive action, other than walking in your directtion, please tell us at what point you fire? One step? Two? Five?
By your own words, he might just be foolish (or mentally ill, or lost, or deaf). That's no reason to shoot.
Really,you tell somebody to leave your porch and he doesn't, and your ready to kill over just that?
How about you go inside, and close the door?
Again, do you have no option between "Go away" and "Die!"?

Keystone said...

A young black guy in sneakers who can not outrun a homeowner does not have a bright future in thievery.

Lyle said...

My laptop was stolen off the front porch of a coffee shop/house within the last year. I was foolish to leave it in a chair on the porch with some apparent thieves also sitting on the porch.

Some people.

madAsHell said...

He could have run faster, but his pants were sagging.

Skyler said...

I don't see the problem. The man clearly sized up the thief when he approached and decided that he could handle him if he turned out to have bad intentions. Turns out he was right.

Now, if you're a geriatric female law professor, your assessment of what could go wrong is entirely different. You should not trust strangers so easily. But if you can handle the consequences, then being friendly isn't so wrong.

Paul said...

1. A stranger comes up on the porch? What do you do?

Put my hand on my gun (I have a CHL here in Texas) and tell him to leave.

2. He sits down next to you? What do you do?

Bring my gun up onto my lap and tell him to leave.

3. He asks you for a cigarette? What do you do?

Ask him what kind he likes, Winchesters or Federal smokes as I have both.

4. He grabs your laptop and runs? Now what?

This is Texas. He had better be Super Man, for he needs to be faster than a speeding bullet.

DanTheMan said...

I guess petty theft is a death penalty offense in Texas.
Which is at least better than Kansas, where you can get shot for just walking up to somebody.
Look, you threaten me or my family, you'll get 6 rounds in the 10 ring... but if you steal my laptop, I'm calling the cops, not shooting....

jr565 said...

You're on your porch and its dark and rainy outside.
You see a shadowy figure wearing a hoody and he doesn't belong in your gated community.
He appears to be looking in windows across the street.
Do you call 9/11 and "profile" him, or do you assume because he's black that he can't be up to no good and so let home keep looking in windows.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

@Dan: "Really,you tell somebody to leave your porch and he doesn't, and your ready to kill over just that?
How about you go inside, and close the door?"

I've actually done that. Stop attempting to set me up as a straw-man. Truly hostile intent, as opposed to a retard or a drunk, is obvious.

Guy on the porch breaks down my door after several warnings beforehand, he'll get three rounds, center of mass.

Moneyrunner said...

A more likely scenario.

Young black man (YBM) walks up to Ann Althouse on her porch.
ANN: Please leave.
YBM: I just want to chat with you. Aren’t you the famous law professor and blogger? I didn’t think women like you would have a problem with black people. Do you lock your car doors when you see me?
ANN: I’m not a racist bigot. Some of my best friends are black. I even voted for Obama.
YBM: OK. Before I go do you have a cigarette?
ANN: I gave it up. Mind of I take your picture for my blog?
YBM: Takes Ann’s camera and runs off.
Ann wonders if she should call the cops or if that would be bigoted. Anyway she has more cameras.

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roadgeek said...

A fair number of the commenters to the story (not your commenters) seemed embarrassed that the perp's blackness had been pointed out. I'd say it was typical Madison, except that i live in Austin and people would react the same way here.

I have to say I'm surprised his ethnicity was mentioned in the description.

Kirk Parker said...

Bart,

"If he does not, retreat to my house and load." [emphasis added]

Did you misword that, or do you really operate under the assumption that any such event will proceed in such a leisurely fashion that loading can really be a step in the process?