The Good Woman with a Gun and Poe’s Law

A Good Woman with a Gun

Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström

The headline of a Slate article about a “Good woman with a gun” caught my eye this afternoon:

Good woman with a gun shoots up Home Depot parking lot trying to take down suspected shoplifters

The 47-year-old woman had a concealed carry permit, and — clearly — some good sense to go with it

My first thought was, “Huh? Shooting up a parking lot does not sound like good sense to me… I guess I better read the article; maybe the author is being intentionally ironic. Or sarcastic.”

But after reading the article, I can’t tell. It sure sounds like he’s being serious. But, then again, there’s Poe’s law to consider:

Poe’s law is an Internet adage which states that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied views.

If author Scott Eric Kaufman was being ironic, fine. But he should include a 🙂 emoticon or some other clue to de-Poe-ify the article. But if he was being serious, I think he’s misguided.

Under what legal theory would a woman in a Home Depot have the right to shoot at unknown persons in the parking lot because she believes they are shop lifters? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. The answer is “None.”

It seems to me the “Good Woman with a gun” displayed exactly the opposite of “good sense” when she chose to open fire in the parking lot.

And then there are the police, who, as the article states, were “still deciding whether to charge her for shooting up a Home Depot parking lot to stop a suspected shoplifter.” Again, “Huh?” Why is there any question at all about this? You simply cannot unilaterally decide to shoot at (and potentially kill) someone based on suspicion of shoplifting. Heck, you cannot shoot a person convicted in a court of law for the crime of shoplifting. Shoplifting is simply not a capital offense.

The “Good Woman with a gun” exhibited extremely poor judgment and should be arrested, just as she would be arrested if she had fired shots into a movie theater or a restaurant.

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