Suburban Paranoia Redux: This is How Rumors Get Started

A couple of days ago I wrote about how a kind neighbor stopped by our house and warned me about the few uncharacteristic home invasions that our neighborhood had been experiencing. I opened up the paper yesterday and found this article discussing an email that has been circulated to neighborhood listservs that seems to have spun what has happened in my neighborhood (cited in the article and email) into something worthy of suburban paranoia. You have to read the full article for all of the details, but I have a couple of thoughts on this as follows:

1. Yes, the email confirms that living in the suburbs does make people more paranoid.

2. Yet, at the same time, the information that the Durham Police Department uses as evidence to counter the “misinformation” in the email isn’t too comforting either. They cite that between July 5-10 there were four instances of home invasion in the Mary Dell neighborhood. Granted, that isn’t the “two to three instances per day” that is stated in the email, but don’t four attempted invasions over a five day period in one isolated neighborhood still seem like alot? Furthermore, the Durham Police Department is only using statistics for a five day period. That doesn’t seem to compelling in light of the fact that it is now almost the month of August and they haven’t offered up any evidence about crime statistics post July 10. I know for a fact that there have been home invasions since then, as recently as this past weekend in fact. How do I know this? Why, my neighborhood listserv, of course (to which I have been added thanks to the kind neighbor).

3. I also love that according to the email, my neighborhood may have been picked as a target because its residents “are not likely to call the police if African-Americans that do not live there look and act suspicious.” In other words, according to the email my neighborhood is too “politically correct.”

4. Last night when I was trying to fall asleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about this news story. If the police were trying to make suburban homeowners less paranoid, to put it bluntly, this is one big police FAIL. I was less paranoid before I read this stupid story.

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