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"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." -- John Philpot Curran

I came across an interesting blog post via my Facebook feed today. It's a personal account of one man's experiences and some of his thoughts during the Boston bombing and manhunt. The author, Phil Johnson, discusses a few interesting issues, the first of which is the contradictory feelings one has when simultaneously feeling relief you or your friends weren't affecting by a tragic event, while knowing full-well others have been devastated. He concludes "You can't really call that luck", and I agree. It is the dialectic of life, the yin yang of our existence, karma. Poorly understood, I think it leads some to conclude life is a zero-sum game.

He goes on to explain his mental journey from envisioning the perpetrators (especially after seeing a picture of the younger brother, Dzhokhar) as "pure evil" to reading an innocuous tweet of his and thinking "What could be more human that that?" As one who generally believes people are complex and capable of both great good and despicable evil, I found this revelation interesting and somewhat instructive, but hardly new or particularly revealing.

There is one thing he writes about that got my attention, though. Keep in mind I've read a lot of personal accounts of the bombing and subsequent activities (you probably have too), so it's not that I'm dismissive of the personal tragedies experienced. It's just that this particular issue that kind of lept out at me is something many thoughtful people are discussing, though usually in a slightly different direction than I gleaned from this tidbit. Here's his paragraph:

"Throughout the day I jumped between Twitter, Reddit, the Boston Globe, and local TV for news. Jeremiah, a PJA developer, wrote a blog post about how social media gave us all our own private situation rooms from which to monitor events, something totally absent during the events of 9/11, when we were still dependent on the mainstream media."
There are, it seems to me, a whole bunch of important issues contained in this paragraph. One of them is the way our consumption and processing of news and information is being transformed by social media (further encouraged by the alternate realities of the incompetence and disingenuousness of the MSM). In case you didn't click on the link in the quote of his I've provided, consider this other blog post written by a colleague who discusses the communication differences between 9/11 and the five days between April 15 and 19, which I think are truly profound.

However, what I find of greatest interest is sussing out the implications (if any) of the entire City "sheltering-in-place" during the manhunt. I'm not entirely certain how I feel about it. On the one hand, for the period of time everyone was confined to their homes a heavily militarized police force had complete control of the City streets. On the other hand, the people of Boston, Watertown, etc. seemed quite willing to forego a little bit of freedom to expedite the search for a perpetrator they wanted to be caught. So, is their willingness a product of a situation in which most everyone was on the same page regarding the desired outcome, or is it an indication our citizenry is slowly giving control of the streets to law enforcement? Furthermore, is this a good thing or is it something more sinister and less-than-benign?

Some may argue it's "unpatriotic", perhaps cynical, of me to question what seems to have been a salutary outcome. However, I've never been one to believe the end justifies the means. This is one reason due process of  law is so important in this country. It provides, theoretically, a means to ensure all are treated fairly. As well, it's hard to be sanguine in the face of the possibility we are slowly giving way to the transformation of our nation into a police state. At the pace I'm envisioning, most would not notice and, once in place, would be difficult to convince it had happened. I don't have a good answer to these questions. Neither do I wish to be paranoid. I do, however, want to explore the implications further. I would like to see others do the same.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)

    If the theories of Karl Marx have been so completely disproved, why are people still arguing with them?

    by crankycurmudgeon on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 01:16:00 PM PDT

  •  In my opinion.. in this specific case (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Cassandra Waites, CroneWit

    The shelter in place was a good and necessary thing. With bombs being thrown, possibly more placed along the way that they didn't know about, and these two people on the loose it was a case of the common good being served by the way it was handled. I think if they hadn't done it, a lot more people would have been injured and these suspects wouldn't have been caught, not without a much higher death toll anyway. Imagine if they'd gotten on a train or subway with one of those bombs, set it off, to cover their escape.. etc. Or even worse, a school held hostage. It's not a far stretch considering what they were carrying with them.

    I too am normally hesitant about the whole over militarization of he police force. I don't like it and how they've handled many things, including the Occupy Movement.

    But, I'm willing to look at the situation rationally (especially as I wasn't physically close to it, which I admit makes that easier). And in this case, in these specific circumstances I think it was the best possible solution for public safety.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 01:29:59 PM PDT

  •  I do not think there was anything mandatory. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, FG, BalanceSeeker, CroneWit, elmo

    You could still drive and work in the City of Boston on friday and many many people did. I do think many people also stayed home as there was a fear of further harm. So in this instance I do not think the authorities went as far as they could have gone.

    •  I agree with this. I heard it as a request (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, elmo

      Our Governor said "We Request that people..."
      I know people who live in Boston who went to work and they didn't have a problem. No one got fines or was arrested.

      I was within the "shelter in place" area. And I was online with many people in my area. The attitude felt as if we were ALL contributing to the effort to find and arrest the second bomber. I didn't hear any complaints. It was not unlike when we have a blizzard. You don't go out or to work and that is how it is. You adjust. Perhaps because we have severe weather sometimes people were flexible.

      I agree that if it had gone on for days it would have been an issue for people. My guess is that they'd hoped to apprehend him in a few hours and he'd escaped their perimeter so it went on longer.

      I've been annoyed with people who suggest that the people of Boston just were zombies or sheeplike in following the dictates of "the Police State". It was THE OPPPOSITE. We the People CHOSE to contribute. IT felt like we were part of the effort. Honestly, most people seemed to feel this way.

  •  Thanks for the comments (0+ / 0-)

    I appreciate those who have commented. As a veteran of the Vietnam anti-war movement, as well as the overall Peace & Justice struggles of the 60s and 70s, I am predisposed to distrust the authorities. My concern is we will slowly become inured to this type of thing and, somewhere down the line, we'll find ourselves with far less control than we'd like. Not saying it is happening or that it's likely; just can't help being cautious and skeptical. Thanks again for the responses. Much appreciated.

    If the theories of Karl Marx have been so completely disproved, why are people still arguing with them?

    by crankycurmudgeon on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:59:16 AM PDT

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