Maybe it's me, but I listen to a lot of talk radio, read a lot of newspapers and when there's one of those big stories out there, I gobble up as much information I can. The stuff people say. The things mentioned in articles, like: "the bucolic neighborhood in which he lived was quiet." So what! Come on, nut jobs live everywhere. Insanity has no respect of ZIP code.

Maybe it's me, but I listen to a lot of talk radio, read a lot of newspapers and when there's one of those big stories out there, I gobble up as much information I can. The stuff people say. The things mentioned in articles, like: "the bucolic neighborhood in which he lived was quiet."


So what! Come on, nut jobs live everywhere. Insanity has no respect of ZIP code.


Believe it or not, just because your neighbor is "soft-spoken" a "friendly" person, or comes from a "normal family" means nothing.


From the FBI's account, Tarek Mehanna, the alleged Sudbury, Mass., terrorist suspect, was up to no good.


Don't know the guy. Can't say it's true. The FBI, however, says he was plotting to do some really terrible things, targeting malls to kill shoppers, his fellow U.S. citizens.


But, but, he couldn't do that, right? He lived in a nice neighborhood. "You could see the kindness in his eyes," said one neighbor.


With all due respect to the folks in Sudbury and other well-to-do communities, those with McMansions, Olympic-size swimming pools, and a Mercedes or BMW parked in their three-car garages, when are you going to wake up?


I can't recall how many times I've heard someone voice a nonsensical comment after something terrible happens in their town, expressing shock that this kind of thing would happen here.


Is it that wealth means your neighbors are all goody two shoes? Wealth means your community is perfect, it's crime-free? It's a utopia?


"Well, OK," the train of thought goes. "People sometimes break into our houses, but the perpetrators are not from here. It's one of those bordering towns."


Shootings, killings, house break-ins and the like, that stuff happens elsewhere. "Not here. Not to us. We moved here to get away from all that," some people say.


The lawns may be larger, the air cleaner, and the schools way less crowded, but that has nothing to do with the motives of some people to create chaos or cause harm.


It may be a different kind of crime - gangs tend to infest the inner city - and the rate is definitely lower, but that doesn't mean the streets in small town America are safe at night, or for that matter in the day.


Earlier this month in Mont Vernon, N.H., the same sentiments were expressed after the grisly murder of a woman, allegedly hacked to death with a machete by four teenage skinheads. The foursome is also alleged to have stabbed the woman's 11-year-old daughter, leaving her bleeding in the family's front yard.


"We're just all pretty shaken up, and appalled that something so horrific could happen here. It's a quiet little country town," one woman was quoted as saying.


Don't get me wrong, it makes sense to be shaken up. No one wants to live an area where such crimes are seen as an everyday thing. I'm not so hardened, so cynical that the shock factor escapes me. It's just that a bit of realism is in order.


Stuff happens. Even to good people. Even to people who have the means to escape the city. Even in gated communities. Even in suburbia.


"How can you be surprised anymore?" Julia Neff, 27, told our reporter Wednesday after Mehanna's arrest. "After the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City? This can happen anywhere. It's a global community."


Jeff Adair is a Daily News writer and editor. He can be reached at jadair@cnc.com.