“Lock your car…” (EP.28)


“Lock your car, take your keys. Don’t help start a kid on a life of crime.”

That was the beginning of an oft-played public service radio announcement I remember from my youth. Note the emphasis on the saving the youth, not on saving the listener from having their car stolen. And I am certain this announcement was not absolving car thieves of any crimes if they found keys that were left in an unlocked car and made off with it. It was clearly pointing out that victims can bear some responsibility as well as the perpetrators. And I love it that the central point of this spot was to avoid tempting the would-be car thief. The implied–but secondary–point was about keeping your car from being stolen. Of course, people have every right to ignore this good advice, and if their car is stolen, the thief still needs to be caught and punished.

But isn’t there something called extenuating circumstances? The legal definition, taken from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary is: “Surrounding or mitigating factors that reduce a party’s level of responsibility or guilt, whether in a civil or criminal trial. Successfully showing extenuating circumstances might result in a lower damage award, a more lenient punishment, or a lesser charge.” Note the words, “…reduce a party’s level of responsibility or guilt…”

Now let’s apply the non-controversial legal principle of extenuating circumstances to a topic much in the news today: victims of different types of crimes. It should go without saying that this is not a “blame the victim” podcast; it is a shared responsibility podcast. And we’ll take one more step further into controversy and look at the victims of sexual assault. (Are we really ready for this?) Some victims of assault are young women. If you haven’t seen the billboards showing an alluring young lady in a short, black dress and high heels, the caption–in huge type–says, “Your little black dress does not excuse his wrong behavior.” Of course it doesn’t. But that is intentionally taking a world that is always shades of gray and making it into a world of black and white–pun intended. And the “little black dress” is not all that is going on. This young lady is intentionally made up and dressed to be sexy–attractive and alluring. As is her right. And very likely with the intention of going to places where there are one or more men and alcohol. Also her right.

In fact, she has the same right to dress as she pleases and go places she likes as she would have to leave her keys in her car unlocked. And expect it will still be there when she returns, even with the extra temptation. But in this example, she is highly unlikely to leave her keys in her unlocked car. Why? Because locking her car and taking her keys just makes sense. Who wants to have their car stolen? But looking sexy and being admired by visually-oriented men makes her feel good. She will be happy about herself while getting attention. And those are good things. But she is taking known risks; a risk to herself, and the risk that she might be tempting someone else to do something they might not otherwise have done. She has the legal right to expect not to be violated in any way. And common sense would clearly urge caution along the lines of “Lock your car, take your keys.”  The popular and widely-accepted philosophy, “It takes a village.” applies here. And she is part of that village. I want her to feel happy about herself, and to dress as she likes, and go where she wants. I also what her to drive the car she wants, and drive it where she wants. And use simple common sense in both cases.

In an example of care and love for both boys and girls, I once heard a female counselor at a for camp for 11-year old boys and girls say, “No strappy tops; let’s not tempt our boys.” in front of all the kids. She had the same emphasis as the public service announcement. In this case, protecting the boys from going wrong, in the other, protecting the potential car thief.

Moving away from assaults, here are some other really useful examples:

  1. If someone builds a home in a known floodplain and the home gets washed away in a flood, do they bear partial responsibility? Would their home likely have been flooded away had it been built elsewhere?
  2. If a credit card company seeks to get new customers by offering credit to high-risk borrowers, and then goes broke because of too many customers who didn’t pay, is the company partially at fault, or are the customers who did not pay completely at fault?
  3. If you and I go into a tough neighborhood to eat at an especially good diner and we get mugged, are we partially at fault?

In other words, are there extenuating circumstances in these examples?

“Lock your car, take your keys. Don’t help start a kid on a life of crime.” This principle has broad application in our lives.

Remember, the two main tenets, the core philosophies that drive our thinking and actions here at Revolution 2.0, are:

  1. Personal responsibility; take it, teach it and
  2. Yes, we are all our Brother’s Keepers.

As we apply these core principles to today’s podcast, the personal responsibility lies with the potential car thief and the boys in the camp. Clearly. And the Brother’s Keeper’s part rests with the young woman in the first example and the girls in the camp in the second. Where would you put the personal responsibility and brother’s keeper principles in the other three examples?

Please do contact me about anything. Respond in my Revolution 2.0 blog, email me at will@revolution2-0.org. And I’m easy to find on iTunes, Google Play and the usual Bat Channels, including Twitter and Facebook.

It is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Revolution 2.0, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around  you at the same time, all the better. Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

Will Luden
Join Me
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

4 Responses

  1. Charlie Reply

    Just some not completely thought out responses:
    What is the basic motivation of the woman in the black dress? Is she trying to “feel good about herself” as you say or attempting to gain attention (and some semblance of control) of others? Is this not the opposite of what Jesus teaches which, which is based on humility and putting God in control? I agree that the ultimate responsibility lies with the perpetrator, but this is definitely an extenuating circumstance. No means no, but after a long series of maybes and implied yeses, how seriously can it be taken? This is totally different from the misconduct of doctors, abuse of minors and drugging that are mostly in the news these days. There is no gray area there.
    BTW, I only recently started locking my car in the driveway. My former car being a soft top, I felt it would only increase collateral damage if someone wanted something inside. After someone stole my garage door opener and a snack bar I kept for passing out to those begging in the medians, I changed my approach. I wouldn’t want to be held responsible for the diabetes of the person who breaks into my car.

    • Will Luden Reply

      After someone stole my garage door opener and a snack bar I kept for passing out to those begging in the medians, I changed my approach. I wouldn’t want to be held responsible for the diabetes of the person who breaks into my car.” Now, that’s funny, Charlie.

  2. Charley Reply

    My sophomore daughter was perpetually late for PE class during a semester, since she felt the class was not important. Little did she know that each 1-2 minute tardy was resulting in 2 points deduction from her grade. Final grade in PE… a B, by 1/2 a point and suddenly her National Honor Society GPA takes a hit. She blamed the teacher for being accountable, the school for forcing the class, and her mom and me for just existing. She wanted to lay partial blame at someone’s feet, and the more she realized that strategy could not work, the madder she became at the situation. I just shrugged my shoulders and politely reminded her of all the days her mother or I sat (and still sit) in the car with the engine running waiting for her to determine she needs to be more responsible with her time.

Leave a Reply

Recent Episodes

Subscribe to Revolution 2.0

* indicates required

Follow me On Social

Subscribe to Podcast


Scroll to top
Skip to content