"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." -- George Washington, Farewell Address, 1797
The bombing of the Boston Marathon evoked a great deal of fear. Governments, supposedly pledged to the protection of their citizens' rights, actually like fear rampant among the citizenry; it enables them to exercise powers never granted to them, under the pretext of "public safety." And indeed, in the "investigation" that followed the Marathon Bombings, we saw exactly that.
It was not an exception, but the rule in full flight.
During the first days after the bombings, the city of Boston was in "lockdown." This term, usually associated with the confinement of imprisoned felons to their cells, caused no small stir among the more observant commentators on the Web. Popehat provides a trenchant sample:
That said, a large percent of the reaction in Boston has been security theater. "Four victims brutally killed" goes by other names in other cities.
In Detroit, for example, they call it "Tuesday".
…and Detroit does not shut down every time there are a few murders.
"But Clark," I hear you say, "this is different. This was a terrorist attack."
Washington DC, during ongoing sniper terrorist attacks in 2002 that killed twice as many people, was not shut down.
Kileen Texas, after the Fort Hood terrorist attack in 2009 that killed three times as many people, was not shut down.
London, after the bombing terrorist attack in 2005 that killed more than ten times as many people, was not shut down.
"But Clark," I hear you asking, "what about the lives saved?"
There is no evidence that any lives were saved by the Boston shutdown.
"Yeah, but you can't know for sure!"
True. I can't. But in London, Washington, LA after the El Al shootings, and so on and so on and so on, there were not lockdowns, and there were no further fatalities. It's not perfect proof, but it's suggestive.
Commentator Clark Bianco goes on to note the conspicuous exception to the lockdown, made by the police for their own comfort:
But the Boston police didn't shut down an entire city. They shut down an entire city except for the donut shops.boston.com: Law enforcement asked Dunkin' Donuts to keep restaurants open in locked-down communities to provide… food to police… including in Watertown, the focus of the search for the bombing suspect.
The government and police were willing to shut down parts of the economy like the universities, software, biotech, and manufacturing…but when asked to do an actual risk to reward calculation where a small part of the costs landed on their own shoulders, they had no problem weighing one versus the other and then telling the donut servers "yeah, come to work – no one's going to get shot."
And they were right.
There were reports from the lockdown, some with photographic documentation, of Boston residents being herded out of their homes at gunpoint, and being told to keep away from their own windows or they would be shot. Bob Owens provides a chilling example:
The Daily Mail shows just some of the photos of Watertown citizens being forced from their homes, but missed the cop in a armored vehicle's gun turret pointing a rifle at a citizen that dared photograph their thuggish actions.
None of these goons will be reprimanded for their behavior, and it will happen again.
Police commanders will be given a pep talk before their next armed incursion against the citizenry, telling their rank-and-file officers that pointing guns in the faces of children is protecting them, and most of these cops will chose to believe it, all of whom consider themselves "protectors." It’s easier for them to "go along to get along" than admit they're becoming the execution arm of the state's brute force mentality.
And yes, Bob does include a damning photograph.
Does any Gentle Reader imagine that any of that was done with "public safety" uppermost in mind?
There is absolutely no connection, ever, between the actions of government and true public safety. In the usual case, the "safety" being promoted is that of the State's enforcers, in a minimum of two dimensions:
- Safety from citizen resistance against violations of their rights;
- Safety from legal consequences to such violations.
Sometimes the "safety" of the authorities that dispatched these myrmidons is also being protected -- in this case, real protection in contrast to the sort trumpeted about at other times. For the official who dispatches an armed agent of the State to commit a violation of some citizen's rights is just as culpable for the deed as the thug who commits it with his own hands. Such an official will often go to great lengths in the aftermath to silence or buy off anyone willing to testify to such events. The stories, when they finally emerge, are among the most lurid demonstration of Lord Acton's Axiom available to us of the present day.
Thus, as in the other Debunkings presented here, the phrase "public safety" should be a bright red warning flag to freedom lovers. Hunker down or flee upon the instant you hear it, for the State will shortly send out its goons -- and the "safety" they'll be least concerned about is yours.