“It’s the least I can do” is a common social pleasantrie, often used as a substitute for the more formal, “You’re welcome.” I’d like to offer it as a code of conduct for defensive situations. The least you can do is exactly what needs to be done.
I’m sure by now every man, woman and child in the free world has seen video tape footage of an Oklahoma City pharmacist thwarting an armed robbery. Everyone knows how that ended, with the pharmacist convicted of a first degree murder charge. Had that pharmacist done the least he could do, we would have a very different outcome.
When confronted by 2 armed robbers wearing ski masks, the pharmacist had few options. There seems to be no back door, or other means of retreat, so he felt compelled to use force. He fired his revolver, striking one of the masked men who fell to the floor immediately. The other ran out the door. At that instant, the fight was over, and he had won. That was the least he could have done. Instead of stopping, however, he chased the second robber down the street. Upon returning to his pharmacy counter, he acquired a second handgun, and put several more shots into the fallen man. That was not only significantly more than the least he could have done, but it was found excessive by a jury of his peers.
Upon arrival of the police, again, the pharmacist failed to do the least he could do. The least he could have done was to provide his ID to the officer. Again, he did too much and talked at length with the police without an attorney. When the press arrived, again, he talked and offered interviews. This is all greatly in excess of the least he could have done.
I suspect the details of this case will be discussed for many years to come. I foresee many theories offered as to what led up to the final outcome of a murder conviction. And I suggest that in the end, everyone will agree that the pharmacist did too much, greatly in excess of “the least he could do.”