Crazy, crazy, crazy in Trenton, Michigan

I was interested to learn that in the nearby Trenton, Michigan, we have a textbook perfect case of chaotic crazy.

Three years ago, Jennifer Petrov wanted to have her children invited to the birthday party of Kathleen Edwards (a young girl who lives right across the street). Petrov sent a text message to Kathleen’s stepmother requesting an invitation, but the message was not returned in time to attend (I wonder why she would text and then wait for a time sensitive response from someone across the street when she could have walked over and knocked on the door, but that remains unanswered). Petrov took umbrage at the lack of an invite and at some point began to taunt the family and child who had failed to extend an invitation.

The seven year old, Kathleen Edwards, has Huntington’s disease. Both her biological mother and her grandfather died of Huntington’s. I don’t know much about Huntington’s other than the patients suffer increasing pain and gradual loss of motor control and there is no cure. Diagnosis with Huntington’s is a death sentence. Kathleen Edwards’ father has publicly stated that he does not want anything from the Petrovs other than to be left alone.

Among other insults, Petrov posted a picture on her Facebook page in which she had superimposed the face of Kathleen Edwards on a skull and crossbones. Petrov also posted a picture of Kathleen’s deceased mother being embraced by the grim reaper. The taunts included, “I’ll be glad when you are dead!” Her husband built a coffin of plywood and affixed it to their pickup truck. Neighbors said the Petrovs would stop the truck in front of the Edwards house and gun the engine to draw attention to the vehicle, but the Petrovs subsequently claimed the truck was just an expression of their interest in television shows like “Sons of Anarchy” and not intended to be offensive.

The Edwards took out “Personal Protection Orders” with the Trenton Police against the Petrovs which prevent the Petrovs from speaking to or contacting the Edwards.

One of the local news channels went to the scene of this trainwreck and asked Jennifer Petrov why she was taunting this 7 year old girl. “Personal satisfaction,” she said. “Because it rubs their a—s raw. Burns their a—s.” She said all this in front of reporters with at least one video camera and, of course, this being ‘journalistic gold,’ the clip of Mrs. Petrov’s less than charitable rationalization of her crusade against a seven year old girl and her family ended up on the evening news and the web.

The story and video went viral. The condemnations, threats and insults against the Petrovs have poured in from around the globe. Her husband was suspended from his job. People threw eggs at the Petrov’s house.

At some point, however, the community’s overwhelmingly negative reaction seems to have forced Jennifer Petrov to feel compelled to issue an apology of sorts (see above link). The ‘apology’ came in the form of a statement saying that she was sorry if her statements and actions hurt anyone’s feelings, thus implying (tangentially) that the problem lay with the Edwards’ oversensitivity rather than with Mrs. Petrov’s public relishing of the girl’s impending demise. This is just idle speculation on my part, but I wonder if Kathleen’s stepmother decided to NOT respond to the text message in question three years ago because she didn’t want to deal with having the Petrovs (or at least their mother) in her house. It is not inconceivable to me that Mrs. Petrov was mean spirited or irascible before the invitation incident and that might have encouraged the stepmother to ignore the text in order to avoid having her at the party.

Aside from it’s tabloid value, I find myself wondering if this sort of story is a “sign of the times” or have people always been capable of being this crazy? Clearly, Jennifer Petrov relished stoking the conflict (at least until it began to backfire, resulting in her husband getting laid off, etc). And there are some truly horrible people in history, but historical evil, at least in my view, seems to be coupled with ambition. The Adolf Hitlers of the world seem to do what they do to create empires or write their names in history. Setting up a Facebook page to taunt the family of someone dying of Huntington’s seems so pathetic and pointless in comparison. Hopefully no one sees my statement as an attempt to rationalize Hitler’s evil by saying, “Well, at least Hitler had ambition!” But I just can’t understand why Jennifer Petrov had become so invested in attempting to harass the Edwards family and their daughter. Perhaps historical evil is easier for me to understand because it is often framed in the context of ambition and empire. But harassing your neighbors because they didn’t invite you to a birthday party? What kind of sick shit is that?

2 Comments on “Crazy, crazy, crazy in Trenton, Michigan”

  1. Dr Rotwang! says:

    Naaahh…people've always been crazy. It's kinda what we do.

    Just some people use their crazy better than others.

  2. limpey says:

    Marjasall said, Too many pharmaceuticals.

    Or not enough. I'd like to think of myself as a “live and let live” kind of guy, but sometimes people like this make me feel less tolerant of my fellow humans.
    My partner told me about an article she read by an anthropologist who had spent some time with the Inuit a number of years ago. According to tribal lore, the Inuit realized that some tribe members would occasionally be what the Inuit termed, “wrong.” I'm guessing we would call such people 'psychopaths.' Since the Inuit live in an unforgiving climate, someone who can't be trusted is considered too great a liability to be allowed to live. The traditional solution was, after a meeting of the tribal elders in which the 'wrong' person was determined to be a liability, a family member would push this person off the ice and into the sea, where they would freeze and drown, and no one would ever mention them again. The anthropologist noted that the Inuit had very strong cultural taboos against murder, but made this important distinction.

    I'm not suggesting that anyone push Mrs. Petrov off the ice, but if she were Inuit I don't think she would remain topside for long.

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