"When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story." -Barney Stinson

RSS


In Which I Turn to Douglas Adams for Advice on the Boston Marathon Bombings

April 16th, 2013 by David Safar

The media are in a frenzy today with stories about the Boston Marathon bombings. KGO Radio’s coverage this afternoon was entitled, “Terror in Boston: The Aftermath”. The portions of this broadcast I heard were characterized by discussions of how little we actually know and descriptions of “high alert” security measures being enacted in major cities across the United States.

I don’t wish to make light of the events at the Boston Marathon yesterday, and I very much look forward to hearing that the perpetrator has been caught and brought to justice. My heart goes out to the families who’ve lost loved ones and the individuals in pain as a result of these events. But with those things in mind and in light of how little we actually know about what happened and why, I feel it necessary to say:

Let’s keep a sense of scale here.

Here are some notable mass killings in the United States in the past 20 years, in order of increasing lethality:

Name Date Location Dead Injured
Centennial Olympic Park Bombing 07/27/96 Atlanta GA 2 111
Boston Marathon Bombings 05/15/13 Boston MA 3 183
Batman Shooting 07/20/12 Aurora CO 12 58
Columbine High School Massacre 04/20/99 Littleton CO 15 21
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting 12/14/12 Newtown CT 28 2
Oklahoma City Bombing 04/19/95 Oklahoma City OK 168 680+
September 11 Attacks 09/11/01 NY VA and PA 2996 6000+

That really puts things in perspective, don’t you think?

The Boston Marathon attack yesterday was one of the least fatal attacks in recent history. We have no idea whether it was perpetrated by an organized terror group, a single unbalanced individual, or some other sort of organization altogether. We have no concept of what the motive was or when or how or where the attack was planned and prepared. It much more closely resembles in scale the 1996 Olympics bombing (perpetrated by an American member of a Christian terrorist organization) and last year’s shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado (in which the shooter was a single individual of unclear mental health status working alone).

What all of this adds up to is one simple conclusion:

DON’T PANIC.

In 2001, the September 11 attacks resulted in a dramatic curtailing of our liberty, which has done little to make us more secure and much to make us less free. Those attacks were also used as a flimsy pretext for an unwarranted war in Iraq (an act of terror which has killed significantly more Americans than the 9/11 attacks themselves).

What was described on the radio today as taking place across the nation today is what we call “disproportionate response” (everywhere except for Boston, where immediate response is warranted). People are already talking about terrorist groups, speculating about war, grounding flights because they hear people speaking Arabic, and just generally allowing the terror to take hold.

STOP IT.

If we allow the terror to take hold — if we use this as a pretext for more unjust killing, if we allow our government to use it to deprive us of more of our freedom — the terrorists have won. You’re doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO DO.

Wait for the investigators to do their jobs and to come up with some information that’s actually worth acting on. Until then…

Keep calm and carry on.

Leave a Comment

*

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.