You won’t last long in my business if you let the news of an average day get you down (she said, snapping the brim of her fedora, the one with the PRESS card sticking out of the hatband), but man, this one? Was a total downer:
CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — Deanne Westbrook had tried everything to keep her husband, Ronald, in the house.
He was 72. Alzheimer’s had erased much of his talent for music and flying airplanes.
No one is sure how, in the frigid hours before dawn last Wednesday in this small north Georgia community near the Tennessee border, Mr. Westbrook ended up nearly three miles from home with a handful of other people’s mail, jiggling Joe Hendrix’s doorknob.
Mr. Hendrix, 34, stepped onto his porch with a Glock pistol in his hand and his fiancée inside on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. He fired four shots. One hit Mr. Westbrook in the chest.
Yes, another American has stood his ground, and bravely defended his home. You can read the rest of the story. Joe Hendrix feels really bad about what happened. It says he’s under investigation, but you don’t have to be much of a bettor to figure he won’t be charged with anything. This is Georgia, where gun ownership is a civic religion, and anyone who rattles your doorknob at 4 a.m. is asking to be ventilated.
I just keep coming back to what, precisely, goes through a man’s head when stuff happens — admittedly scary stuff — at 4 a.m. and there’s a loaded gun in the house. I’ve often told Alan that I would happily watch a thief take anything he might want from our house and wouldn’t feel the need to shoot anyone. If he moved on one of us, sure. But even a doorknob-rattle is only a doorknob-rattle, as long as the rattler stays on the other side of the door. More:
Sheriff Wilson said he wished Mr. Hendrix had just stayed inside. But he knows it was a tense situation.
“When you listen to the 911 calls, it’s evident to me that there was fear displayed at least by the female who lived there,” he said.
As Mr. Westbrook came around a corner of the house, Mr. Hendrix took his gun and repeatedly called for him to identify himself, he told the police. Then he fired the shots. Mr. Hendrix told investigators that Mr. Westbrook continued to approach him, so he fired the shot into his chest.
I guess fear is an unpredictable thing, but this is a 72-year-old man we’re talking about.
I don’t know how you hear a rattle at 4 a.m. and immediately think SERIAL KILLER COME TO DO ME HARM, but maybe I do. Maybe that’s the prevailing myth of the country at the moment. It’s the story we’re told in every crappy crime show and every lousy movie. I’m not much of a Michael Moore fan, but he sees things. The parts in “Bowling for Columbine” where he fingered media-generated fear as the motivation for all this strapping up? That was dead-on. Of course he screwed it up later in the movie, but he got that right.
So let’s move on. To Katie Couric, helping reverse the gains of medical science. Here’s the promo for a recent show on the HPV vaccine:
The HPV vaccine is considered a life-saving cancer preventer … but is it a potentially deadly dose for girls? Meet a mom who claims her daughter died after getting the HPV vaccine, and hear all sides of the HPV vaccine controversy.
Love that weasel word: “Potentially.” More:
On the anti-vaccine side: Couric’s guests included a mother whose daughter died of undetermined causes 18 days after getting the vaccination; another mother and her daughter, who came down with a hodgepodge of symptoms that sound an awful lot like depression a few days after the vaccine; and Dr. Diane Harper, a skeptic of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s push to vaccinate all girls and who is careful to avoid obvious untruths but has been criticized for her involvement in the anti-vaccination movement. On the pro-vaccination side, Couric only hosted one guest, Dr. Mallika Marshall, a ratio that wildly underplays how dominant the pro-vaccination opinion is in the medical profession. Marshall was only given a few minutes to state that vaccines are safe and that the side effects mentioned by other guests were probably unrelated to the vaccine. Unfortunately, Couric and her producers allowed these facts to be totally overshadowed by the heartrending tales told by the two mothers.
I think we need something a little more fun. Lions examine a remote camera somewhere in Africa. Great pix.
And now, let’s get through to the weekend.