Quick Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing

Boston, where the fight for liberty began. image from shutterstock
Boston, where the fight for liberty began.
(image from shutterstock)

I haven’t posted on this yet for two good reasons.

First, I’ve been on vacation in Florida for the last week. (More on that in a post coming soon!) Second, I’m not driven by the news cycle and I don’t need high ratings to pay my bills (Please don’t tell my editor I said that!) It is my policy to allow the families of the dead and wounded a grace period to begin to heal and to cope with their tragedies before I begin to weigh in on the events. I find it rude and disrespectful to try and use their pain and horror for political or monetary gain and I refuse to participate in the inevitable blood dance that goes on as various media outlets and their political masters try to take advantage of a crisis and turn it to their advantage. And finally, it usually takes several days before we get any reliable information and I don’t want to look anymore of an idiot than is absolutely necessary.

If we ignore the rights of one, we diminish the rights of us all.

Just over a week has gone by, and we know a lot more about what happened and who did it, and we will learn more as events continue to unfold. But for right now, here are a few thoughts I’ve had over the last several days, in no particular order.

  • A few months ago, some folks were very upset at rhetoric that suggested that the blood of innocent victims at Sandy Hook demanded that some American citizens should be stripped of their Constitutional rights. They were outraged at what they called ‘dancing in the blood of the victims.’ Now those same folks are using the exact same tactic, screaming that the blood of the innocent victims in Boston demand that an American citizen be stripped of his Constitutional rights. Folks there is no middle ground here; either we are citizens, or we aren’t. We either have rights or we have privileges. The suspect should be tried in a court of law, not in a military tribunal as an enemy combatant.
  • By the way, our rights are not given to us by the Constitution; the Constitution is a social compact written to ensure that our government recognizes those rights that are inalienable and endowed to us by our Creator. In case you missed Civics class, that means our rights are not dependent on the Constitution; they apply to us all, regardless of where we are born.  They are human rights, and are so designated in the Declaration of Independence. As such, they can be ignored, but not taken away. The proof of our dedication to our principles comes not when it is easy to hold to them, but when it is hard. If we ignore the rights of one, we diminish the rights of us all.
  • As a human being, a parent, and an American, if found guilty, I want the suspect to fry for what he did. AS a libertarian, I don’t believe the state should have the power of life and death over its citizens. That kind of power corrupts those who wield it, as events in Philadelphia have demonstrated. Life without possibility of parole in solitary confinement seems right to me. As a Christian, I am supposed to be able to forgive. Yet another way I fall short of the glory of God.
  • The FBI and the DHS failed to prevent this attack despite warning information they were given. This does not represent a failure on their part, although there will be many people who will rush to blame them. Instead it is a demonstration of the limitations of a law enforcement approach to combating terrorism. Law enforcement is reactive, not proactive. Prevention of crime is their secondary or even tertiary duty. Their primary responsibility is to respond to a crime that has already occurred. Their job is not to stop the mugger, but to capture him and make sure he is tried and if found guilty, punished for his crimes. Deterrence only comes after the initial capture. Once you realize this simple truth, the only logical conclusion is that the person most responsible for the defense of you and your family is they face you see in the mirror every morning.
  • I’ve already hammered on them in the opening, but really, does the press have any credibility left? Two bombs, then four bombs, then seven bombs, then back to two bombs. One outlet prayed that the bombers be white Americans (And I refuse to link to them. Google it if you want to know which one) while others spun a cotton candy conspiracy based on the attack occurring in Boston on Patriots Day. Apparently it never occurred to them to think that maybe the bombers lived in Boston and were looking for an easy target.
  • While I understand the need for security and keeping civilians out of the way during the manhunt for the fugitives, I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that the police have the authority to shut down a city, force people to remain in their homes or forcibly pull them out of their homes and search them without a warrant of any kind. Like I said before, we demonstrate our commitment to our ideals when times are hard, not when it is easy. Each time we abandon our commitment, it becomes a little bit easier to do so again.
  • The only surprise to me about the bombing is that it took this long for terrorists to start hitting smaller targets. After all, this is their chosen method everywhere else in the world.  They made a grand statement on 9/11; but for a more long term and politically effective strategy, the small scale soft target approach seems to be  the way to go. The large scale attack did two things the terrorists did not count on. First, it gave us a concrete enemy to attack, and second, the will, albeit briefly, to fight back. The small scale attacks will do neither.
  • While I understand that some family members of the bombers are also upset, and deserve our sympathy and compassion, I am uneasy about putting them into the same category as the families of those who were killed or maimed by the bombs. It just seems wrong to me.

I’ll have more to say on these issues in days to come, but for now, my heart is with the families of those killed or injured, and my thanks go to the law enforcement officials who put it all on the line to end the threat the bombers represented.

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