Meditations on paper armour

I’m fond of paper.

A single sheet of paper can hold ideas, hopes, dreams; it can carry a song, orders, love; it can recall history, bear witness when none are left and it can serve as the base of art for bairns as well as their great-grandsires.

Many folks name the invention of the printing press as a foundation stone of human civilization — but what is the use of a printing press with no paper to work with?

For all of it’s utility and history, though, there is one area in which paper is sorely lacking:

It makes lousy armour.

Oh, I’m sure there are fantastic suits of papier-mâché hauberks using fabled Oriental Death Bamboo paper and sacred Tibetan yak lacquer — but let us cast our gaze upon a single sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper.

Let us further stipulate that it is of a good, heavy kind of paper — quality stuff — say, 32 lb paper. Pretty, is it not?

We shall hang this sheet of paper from something. A clothesline, maybe, or a door frame. Something that will hold the paper at the top and at the bottom, yet allow some room behind the paper.

Now, flick a hand at the paper and see how much force it takes to tear through it. A simple pass of the fingers, I’d wager. Nothing as vigorous as a baseball bat, or a fireplace poker, surely.

If you were to lay a similar sheet of paper — flat, as it is meant to be read — upon someone’s cheek and then slap that cheek with all of your strength … would it absorb the blow? Would an 8.5×11 inch sheet of paper cause the impact to hurt less?

How about a punch? Would a sheet of paper — or two sheets, or three — laid upon your stomach turn the trauma of a punch? A kick?

Does anyone think a sheet of paper will stop a kitchen knife, or a bullet?


Let us change the exercise a bit. Take a new sheet of paper, then rummage around and find your very favourite pen. With this most wonderful of writing instruments, I want you to write two words upon the pristine white surface of this sheet of paper.

The first word shall be, “RESTRAINING”, and just below that, write the word, “ORDER”. Just those two words. If those two words are not to your liking, you may substitute the words, “PEACE” and “BOND”, the former above the latter.

As you admire your penmanship, I urge you to contemplate how much those two words change the ability of that sheet of paper to stop slaps. To absorb punches. If this single sheet of paper was held in front of your stomach, would it stop a kick?

Not so much?

Take this sheet of paper and add columns of section signs (§) here and there, write “In The Name Of The State of Texas” to the top, scribble a judge’s name somewhere near the bottom.

How about now? Has the paper now suddenly become magical? Will you now trust this sheet of paper to stop a baseball bat aimed for your face — because it has writing upon it?


Paper makes rotten armour, no matter how many inked symbols it holds.

And when it comes down to you and a critter, in a deserted parking lot in the afternoon; or a busy office at brunch; or your living room at midnight, at bad-breath distances — that’s all your ex parte restraint order or your peace bond is … or even your Protective Order — it is merely a piece of paper.

Oh, I hear you now: “LawDog, if I have a valid Protective Order, and the critter violates it, he goes to jail!”

Yes. He does. Remember, however, that when he does that violating, you have to be able to contact the men with guns to come help you. And then they have to come to you from wherever they are at the time you call. Until they get there, if the only thing you’ve got is that piece of paper …

Well, as we’ve seen, paper just doesn’t make decent armour at all.

Gentle Readers, nothing says, “Protected” quite like a Protective Order in one paw backed up by a self-defence tool in your other and the mindset and willingness to use it behind your eyes.

Stay safe.


We have a Class III Beverage Alert!

44 thoughts on “Meditations on paper armour”

  1. Amen…

    But if you don’t mind. I think I’ll just tack the paper to the doorsill. I need the other hand free for reloading.

  2. Agreed. Nothing sez “You don’t read well” like something noisy and with some stopping power to it.

  3. “paper srmour”? no it doesn’t do very well. we had a case up this way some years ago, she left her boyfriend for a woman, he didn’t like that so he stalked them until he caught them at a filling station and butchered her with a carving knife. he’s doing 25 to life,she is dead, her girl friend is grieving and and i’ve often wondered how things would have turned out if the two women had had an old police surplus .38 special handy in the car when ex boyfriend reached in with his knife.

  4. I think you are so correct. You need to be your own first line of defense. Not some worthless paper.

  5. “LawDog, if I have a valid Protective Order, and the critter violates it, he goes to jail!”

    Yes, he goes to jail AFTER he’s violated the Protective Order.

    If he violates the order by standing in your front yard yelling obscenities then wonderful … you’re safe and he’s punished.

    But if he violates the order by kicking your door in, having his way with you and finishing up with a bullet in your head or a knife through your gut, the fact that he’ll end up in jail for it is kind of a hollow victory.

    In reality all an Order of Protection is good for is speeding up the Grand Jury process after you’ve ventilated the order violator in your living room and increasing the probability of a “no-bill”.

    Of course on the other hand, I’ve known critters that didn’t decide to get real nasty until AFTER they got that notice of an order of protection delivered by the nice process server. Some critters see such a thing as an insult.

  6. I’m willing to bet that piece of paper develops armour properties not entirely dissimilar to an Abrams tank when viewed immediately adjacent to the business end of a .357 magnum.

  7. Lawdog, you brought the mindset into the equation and I am sure you know that is the hardest part. After all, she “loves him” and knows he wouldn’t “ever do that again” now would he?

    According to a Crisis Intervention Center I used to work with, a domestic violence survivor leaves the abuser no less than seven times before making a permanent break. Many die before round seven is concluded.

    One thing that might help a little bit is that any cell phone that will hold a charge can be used to dial 911. People who “recycle” their old cell phones generally don’t know that many of them go to ensure a victim’s ability to contact big men with guns. Some have survived only because they could make that call.
    I buy old cell phones whenever I see them at yard sales, etc., test them and donate the usable ones to the nearest Crisis Center. They always know what to do with them.

  8. Well written, LD.

    “One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.”

    -Thomas B. Reed

  9. LawDog, as a woman who has been in abusive situations {not for long, though – with the exception of the progeny’s sperm donor, at the first sign of violence, ‘he’ could color me GONE}}, as usual, you’ve scored a bull’s-eye ………………. we’ve a neighbor who’s spouse is constantly verbally abusive, HAS struck her, moves home to Mama to the point of revolving door – yet she takes him back …………….. I’ve TRIED, believe me, I’ve tried, to ……………. “enlighten” her …………… but “he loves me” ……………. last time she said that, I told her if he truly loved her, he wouldn’t treat her the way he does ………………

    Semper Fi’

  10. There’s another piece of paper armor a lot of people rely on, that also works better if a suitable self-defense tool is held in the other hand. The piece of paper armor I speak of begins with “We The People”.

  11. Dag, man, you always say it so much better than me…

    I recently spent much energy on this arocity:, headlined “Protection orders not enough to save them.” (Dead tree edition title “Protection orders not enough to save 3 Women.”)

    At least in that one, no one was actually quoted as saying “She was doing everything she was suposed to…” Unfortunately, the first murder cited in that article, one which I had blogged about before and after which someone DID utter the dread phrase, involved the local constables showing up in the AM to serve the protection order and then again that PM to clean up the mess.
    Critter is now in the prison infirmary, trying not to die after unsuccessfully doing to himself what he did to his schmoopie.

  12. Well said LD! It is sad that too many people think that is all that is necessary to stop the violence… As we know, it isn’t! I personally like Jenna’s response 🙂

    As we all know and continue to see on a daily basis, criminals will not obey laws; and will do what ever they want, unless stopped by a greater force.

  13. My dear Old Dog, you could have stopped where you stopped – with the mindset behind the eyes.

    But it’s essential to pry the gates of the mind open, which I hope your missive does – even if you’ve spelled “Armour” correctly in a country which despises the proper use of the letter “u”.

    My fondest regards, as ever,


  14. You know, I find it extremely you can find eighty five different ways to say the same thing, yet there is obviously people in our society who just cannot get the simplicity of your message. And those are the ones that must be “served and protected”

    Thanks for taking the time..

  15. Once upon a time in my speckled career, I was night manager for a restaurant. There was a pretty little blonde named Holly who turned up one evening, rather more well-spoken than the average waitron, but I hired her. She was polite, efficient, and very well-liked by the customers.
    One evening she was back in the service area, looked toward the front door, screamed, and dashed out the exit. A nicely dressed man came through the door, across the restaurant floor and toward the exit. I confess, I didn’t like the look on his face and I tripped him.
    He called me several different rather inventive names, but I didn’t back up, and by that time both the busboy and the cook had emerged from the kitchen holding unconventional weaponry that looked no less damaging than the meat fork I was holding.
    The upshot of this was that, protective orders notwithstanding, this man had stalked Holly from Orlando Beach, Florida, to Amarillo, Texas, and still she couldn’t shake him. It seems law enforcement could do nothing unless he was “caught in the act” or there were witnesses to his beating the hell out of her.
    There seemed to be just no escape for her. She felt obliged to let her family know where she was, and sure enough, Mommy, or Sis, or someone would say, “But he loves her; we just had to let him know where she was.”
    And they did. Holly was one of the very few abused women I have ever known who had done everything she could to escape-short of cutting herself off totally from her family. It didn’t work.
    We never saw her again, and I hope the next place she ran she contacted no one-but I wouldn’t bet on it. I wouldn’t bet she was alive by the end of the year, either.
    LEOs have their hands tied by ‘the law’ to help these women, although few of them want more than momentary help. They’re enslaved, no less. I know of only one wife-abuser (in another career as a counselor) who ever stopped the abuse. His wife caught him asleep one night, stuck a shotgun in his ear, and the next thing he heard was it being cocked. She told him he’d have to kill her to keep her from using it or something like it the next time he ever hit her.
    He never did. He turned into a complete yellow worm; you would never know he was the same person who used to beat her nearly to death every Saturday night. Unfortunately, as I said, that’s the only case I’ve ever known where a ‘cure’ was effected. Abusers aren’t curable; I don’t care what our mental health ‘experts’ say. And a protective order isn’t worth the paper it’s written on as protection (read ‘prevention’).
    That’s what firearms schools are for.

  16. It’s the difference between accepting responsibility for your own safety and abdicating it to others. All too often people rationalize their way into the easy course of action. It is easier to think nothing bad will happen, so that’s how all too many people plan (or don’t plan).

  17. This is one of those things that reminds me of an old saying…

    “It’s better to be tried by 12 then carried by 6.”

    Sadly, I think far to many people seem to think bits of paper, locks and other passive devices are “protection”.

    More or less, they do give some protection but, they are more deterrent then protection I think.

    Locks are for honest people and so are bits of paper with “the law” on them.

    It takes folks like you LD to put a little teeth in them nice bits of paper and true protection in front of those that have them I sez.

    And thank you..once again..for doing a job I sure don’t want to do.

    Don’t have the temperment I think for it…too set in my ways *wink*.

  18. Dog, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve cut and pasted your entry (with your name and blog addy) to the head of security at my daughter’s former college. He told us that if the guy that was stalking/threatening my daughter didn’t respond to ‘a good talking to’ by campus security, then an order of protection would make her safe.
    BTW, She’s back home with us – far from the college – and I’m afraid that guy is likely stalking another coed by now….

  19. Lawdog,

    Clearly you have never had a really bad paper cut. Paper can be nasty. Just ask anyone who pushes it all day.

  20. A long time ago I had a ‘bad’ boyfriend that I had to get a restraining order against. It didn’t work and he still harassed and bothered me. And my friends.

    At the time I would not have even been inclined to carry a weapon. 10 years on I feel a lot differently about it and find that now it’s virtually impossible to get a permit (paperwork, bureaucracy etc – I should point out I live in the city of Philadelphia)

    I have the utmost respect for what cops do, but they can only enforce that piece of paper if they are there. And it only takes a second for violence to enter the picture.

  21. Relying on a piece of paper to keep you safe is lunacy. That always reminds me of the famous picture of Neville Chamberlain getting off the plane and holding up the piece of paper (the “peace treaty” with Germany) and saying “At last, peace in our time! Hitler has given his word!”

    We all know how that turned out. Well, at least the ones who study history know how it turned out.

    — chicopanther

  22. In Philadelphia, even the police are shot on a pretty regular basis.

    Those gun laws are very effective؟

  23. Aren’t those things multiple pages? If so, spreading it on the floor could at least simplify cleanup.

    They should include something for the walls, though; all that buckshot can really splash stuff around.

  24. A Protective Order is a valuable piece of paper, and I recommend that victims of violence obtain one even beyond the Emergency Protective Orders that we usually request from the judge when we arrest the actors in such cases as family violence.

    A Protective Order is far more useful to responding officers than, say, a Restraining Order. With a P.O., responding officers can make an arrest on view, or even in some case not on view, for violating it. A Restraining Order only allows us to report to the court that he violated that court’s civil order, and the actor might be subject to sanctions for Contempt of Court, or the like. Yawn.

    But the thing about this is, Protective Orders and their ilk only apparently work if responding officers are summoned, and they arrive in time. In other words, if you fear for your life, and you are depending upon a Protective Order to save you, what you really are doing is depending on people with guns to protect you, except that they aren’t there with you all the time. If you’re depending on someone with a gun to protect you, why not have him or her there all the time– why not make that person be YOU? Because, while you might not be Quick Draw McGraw or Annie Oakley, you most assuredly are on the scene with yourself, all the time.

  25. And my friend Oleg proves that the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words is quite correct.

    I wish I were as talented with a camera as you are, buddy.

  26. A very similar line of thought can be had from “Fate is the Hunter:”

    “Rule books are made of paper. They will not cushion a sudden meeting of stone and metal.”

  27. Curious question: When did the terminology change? When I was a kid, these pieces of paper were Restraining Orders. This word change isn’t really helpful, though. Call the paper anything you want, but it offers no protection from a bad guy who is bent on doing harm.

  28. Once again, as usual LawDog is able to drive the point home very eloquently.

    The most good a R.O. or P.O. will do for you, is in case you are forced to defend yourself in a manner that proves lethal to the critter, at least the police will know you followed the letter of the law prior to the event. Remember, criminals by their very nature do not care about or fear the law. They fear prepared citizens who are able to resist their violence.

  29. It works far better (and the miscreant can read it better) when you pin it to his forehead with a 14″ dagger shoved up to it’s hilt.

  30. Dear Mr. Dog,

    I dare say that this poetry ranks on the scales towards Lt. Col. Grossman’s “Sheep and Sheepdogs”. I shall save it and make it required reading for my daughters. (thankfully, too young to marry, but not too young understand)

  31. I’ve tried to explain this to reporters in my gun store before – they’re just amazed that we don’t collect pieces of paper called “firearms registrations” that would somehow magically keep people from shooting other people with actual, real-life guns.


  32. Restraining order = deer tag for stalkers

    Get your tag, and fill it. If you don’t have the tag, you have a greater risk of getting jailed.

  33. Amen! In order to enjoy the protective properties of that paper you have to be able to survive the encounter it’s meant to protect you from, no?

  34. I recall, vaguely, an incident of a woman being murdered by an ex-something or other. The news article stated that she had applied for a restraining order, but had not yet received it.
    I swear to God the reported lamented: “if she had only done it sooner”.

  35. My best friend from high school: took her 27 years and two murder attempts before she finally truly chose to be clear of the guy. She escaped while he was knifing her, she survived, he’s in jail on attempted premeditated charges, no trial yet while they assess his mental state, and in the State of Maryland the average amount of time he’ll serve for what he did to her is a whopping four years. The judge was going to grant bail, too, till she said, If you let him loose I am a dead woman. He will find me and he will finish the job. If you let him loose you will never see me again and you will have no witness, because I am not sticking around.

    The judge changed his mind. No bail. And her boss fired her for not showing up at work that day in order to be in court to see that the judge did that. (Turned out a blessing–now the guy doesn’t know where she works, and she got a raise at a new employer.)

    Three and a half years left now on that average four…

    What I want to know is, every single time his dutifully visiting daughter says her mom’s name at the jail, he threatens to kill his ex-wife. WHY isn’t he charged with making terrorist threats each and every single time he does? He’s in jail, fer cryin’ out loud, the conversations are recorded!

    Oh, and, you want chutzpah definition #2? He insisted he didn’t want a public defender: his wife should be forced to pay for his defense. On charges of trying to kill her.

    And she’s afraid to finalize the divorce while he’s refusing to sign the papers, on the grounds that some idiot judge will throw it out later when the guy appeals when he gets out, saying he wasn’t represented.

  36. I'm *way* late to the party, having just been directed to your blog a few days ago via the Saga of Mr. Johnson. That was beautiful, but I digress.

    I wish I'd had this to hand my clients, once upon a time. I practiced family law for 20 years before I couldn't stand watching people tear their kids apart anymore and closed my practice. What you've said here was part of my set-speech for abusive relationships. "Sure, I can get you a restraining order, but I'm a lawyer, not a fairy godmother. All it does, really, is create a record that you're afraid of this guy. It's not magic. It's a piece of paper. It won't stop a bullet, a knife, or a fist." I said that over and over, and over and over watched women (and one man) put their faith in the Magic of The Law(tm) and find out that, like the Wizard of Oz, it was all smoke and mirrors.

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