Mind-Boggling News Item of the Day

I’m not sure where to go with this one. A man in Madison County, Kentucky was shot while trespassing back in 2009. He is now suing the man whose property he was trespassing on for excessive force, emotional distress, and physical pain.

Now, being shot sucks, don’t get me wrong. But so does coming upon a strange man in your barn/house/whatever and not knowing if he intends to hurt you or your family. What did Charlie Harvey, the trespasser, expect the man to do? Say, “Good sir, I’m sure you do not realize it, but you are trespassing upon my property, and I have no idea who you are. I would very much appreciate it if you left, so sorry to be so rude”?

I can’t imagine how John Fair, the man who shot Harvey, felt and feels in dealing with this ordeal. I’ve been in some sticky situations myself, and I’ve not exactly kept a secret my thoughts on self defense. I can’t tell you what I would have done in Mr. Fair’s place. I can tell you that I don’t exactly blame him, or fault him, for doing what he did. Regardless, Mr. Fair will live with what he did for the rest of his life–shooting someone, even someone breaking in, is a big deal. I hope he can deal with that in any way he finds healing.

I can say, however, that this being Kentucky, Charlie Harvey will not win his suit. He will be, more than likely, laughed out of court.


About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

6 Responses to Mind-Boggling News Item of the Day

  1. Whiner says:

    Be aware that there are extreme cultural differences on this issue. In other cultures, the mind-boggling nature of the situation is that someone SHOT a guy just for being in the wrong place… and the idea that this case will be laughed out of court is profoundly disturbing.

    ‘Trespassing’ is viewed very differently in different settings, and as long as it is ‘trespassing’ rather than ‘breaking and entering’ it’s not even a crime. YES, the correct response in some locales, if you see someone on your land that you don’t want to be there, is to say “Hey! Please leave!” (It’s quite different if they’ve actually broken into your house.)

    I know nothing about this particular case, but for instance, imagine that your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere and you’re cutting across land trying to get to a town to call for help – then you stumble through land that happens to belong to someone else, and they SHOOT you on sight. Does this seem reasonable?

    Imagine that you’re homeless and alone and it’s raining and cold and you find an open barn somewhere and curl up to sleep somewhere dry, and then someone shoots you. Does this seem reasonable?

    • Brittany-Ann says:

      While I appreciate your attempt to educate me, I do not appreciate your inherent assumption that I do not understand that other cultures work in different ways. Nor do I appreciate your disregard of Kentucky culture.

      To make this clear: Harvey broke into the barn. In that area of Kentucky, there are many people who make their living farming. To break into someone’s barn is to threaten their livelihood. I do not know if the owner was in the barn at the time of the break in or not, but I assume you would fault him even less for his response if that’s so.

      I also don’t know if you’ve ever been the victim of a burglary. I have. Someone has also attempted to carjack me. If there could ever be a comparison, the break-in at my home was the most frightening, and the most threatening. Had I been there? Yes, I would have shot them. And that decision is a big deal. Shooting someone, as I said in my post, is a big deal. But I do not, and will not, dick around when it comes to my safety. Not anymore. I put my safety at risk for far too long for the comfort of others. I don’t care anymore. If someone cares that I own a gun, that’s their problem. If someone cares that I am willing to protect my life by harming someone else who has already shown disregard for my safety, peace of mind, and my autonomy, that’s their problem.

      Also, first and last warning: do not assume all gun owners are lead-brained fart heads who will shoot willy nilly, at anything that moves, for any reason. We are not, and do not. Suggesting that gun owners in Kentucky would shoot a person asleep in their barn is absurd. Do not do this again.

      Let me clear something up: hiking through private property unannounced is SUCH a bad idea in rural Kentucky, or rural anywhere, and it has nothing to do with someone mistaking you for a threat. People hunt on their property. You could be mistaken for a doe and shot. If you find yourself in a situation like you describe, hike up the road. You are more likely to find people, and people are more likely to find you on the road. And really, the situation you describe happens more in horror movies than in reality, especially with the wide-spread use of these things called cell phones.

      • Whiner says:

        Also, first and last warning: do not assume all gun owners are lead-brained fart heads who will shoot willy nilly, at anything that moves, for any reason. We are not, and do not. Suggesting that gun owners in Kentucky would shoot a person asleep in their barn is absurd. Do not do this again.

        I didn’t – it seemed to me like that’s what YOU were saying, which is why I was puzzled.

        I clearly stated that I had not read the particulars of the case and wasn’t commenting on it specifically. I was responding to the idea being put forward that it is reasonable to shoot someone solely for trespassing.

        If someone has actually broken into a locked barn, that’s not trespassing, that’s breaking and entering, and I made a clear distinction between the two in my comment. If someone is on your property and acting threateningly towards you, then again, it’s not trespassing that’s causing you to threaten them.

        I never said anyone in Kentucky would shoot people on sight, but YOU said that if you saw someone on your property and didn’t know why they were there, it would be ridiculous to ask them politely to leave rather than act to defend yourself. I’m not even objecting to pointing a gun at someone and _telling_ them to get off your property… but it seemed like you were advocating the idea of shooting someone just for being there.

        And I can’t personally accept that it could ever be right to attack someone just for that.

        Not everyone owns or carries a cell phone. Have you never in your life gone for a walk and gotten lost? I know rambling is more common in England, but surely people do it in the US too? Sometimes stupidly; people aren’t always smart. (But aren’t hunters supposed to confirm targets before shooting them?)

        Anyway, I understand that Kentucky is a very different place from England, but since a Kentuckian dutifully not trespassing in England will be just fine, and a foolish Brit going for a hike in Kentucky apparently runs the risk of personal violence, I find it more important to suggest that trespassers may not always have your cultural values in mind. 🙂

        • Brittany-Ann says:

          Read this post, Whiner. In this post, I am discussing someone who is breaking and entering. If you want to discuss trespassing, I suggest you write your own blog about it. I made clear what I was talking about:

          Regardless, Mr. Fair will live with what he did for the rest of his life–shooting someone, even someone breaking in, is a big deal.

          If you had any doubts my thoughts on gun owners and self defense, my past posts on the issue are linked in the post. Pleading ignorance is not acceptable, and do not attempt to pass the buck on to me for your seemingly bull-headed insistence on inserting meaning that is not there.

          Finally, stop making false equivalencies. First you were talking about a driver in distress, and now a hiker? I don’t know about you English (see? I can do it, too. And it accomplishes nothing but disrespect, which I don’t tolerate here.) but hikers don’t hike on others’ private property. It is foolish, as well, to assume that even double-checking, hunters will be able to see you as a human. If you’d prefer to forgo Red River Gorge for the private property of hunters, go ahead. See what happens.

          This conversation is over.

      • Chris fair says:

        Brittany Ann. You are so right love your post. Chris fair.

  2. Pingback: Beemer’s Exciting News Update! « A Bookish Beemer

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