If this doesn’t piss you off, I’ve failed

If you’re easily upset, don’t read this. I’m calling BS on all of the media coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings for several reasons.

Up front: I am sort of still a member of the media, I have always loved the marathon that I grew up with and I deplore the misguided actions of the two young men who detonated explosives at last year’s marathon, killing 5 people (four at the race, one police officer at MIT), but it’s important to take a “global view” of what’s going on here:

Since that event a year ago, 235 people have been shot in Boston and 35 died.

You didn’t know that? Could it be because the (almost all-white) media has covered every step of the marathon bombing victims’ recovery process ad nauseum but provided nowhere near equal coverage of the everyday dangers faced by those in Fields Corner and on Blue Hill Ave? These people are traumatized and struggle for their lives too, but there’s no One Fund to dip into if a parent or supporting relative is maimed or killed.

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Many aspects of this media coverage are insidious: the media echo chamber effect of repeatedly hearing about the bombings and seeing the images of bloodied sidewalks makes us feel less safe — even inspiring paranoia in some people — so  we’re justified in beefing up security everywhere, as if every misguided college kid who wants attention is another potential bomber. When did we completely lose perspective on people’s rights to protest or just be weird? When did it become a threat to public safety to carry a backpack? (Does anybody remember this incident from 2007 when major roads in Boston were shut down for some kind of TV show ad that freaked out the authorities? At least then there was a sense of “oops, we overreacted” when now it seems that any level of restraint has completely vanished.)

If you’re not a bleeding heart liberal like me who cares that others get decent opportunities or that justice be applied with a healthy dose of common sense, think about your wallet. What did it cost to shut down the city last year and for the massive police presence that’s lined up to “keep people safe” at this year’s race? We will pay for that with our taxes of course. Yet officials won’t say how much those “security measures” will cost, and they’re effectively raising our taxes without asking if we consent — all in the interest of “public safety.”

According to CNN: “Authorities have not disclosed how much the extra security will cost. All they will offer is that it will be “much greater” than last year’s. According to Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the marathon and related events will bring in an estimated $175.8 million — the highest-ever Boston Marathon spending impact.”

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This year there will be one cop for every 10 runners. Is that ridiculous or not? Plus new restrictions will limit bags — runners are not allowed to bring extra clothes, food or supplies for the hours they may spend waiting to start the race, and spectators who have for generations had picnics and set up impromptu water stations along the route are likewise restricted. I’ve seen this “security creep” happening for years — police on paid details stationed at every cross street on the race route who make rules for the people in their vicinity, some allowing local residents to get through to their homes while others are like the Gestapo, restricting the movements of every mom with a cooler and a gaggle of kids.

Don’t even get me started on the prohibition of “bandit” runners who the BAA can’t cash in on.Turns out many were raising funds for great causes but didn’t meet the race’s stringent qualifications for legitimate numbers. Despite running unregistered for years (as I once did) they could be physically removed from the course now. Tell me, if there’s a law (adverse possession) that allows you to take over property you’ve used for many years, shouldn’t there be something similar to allow bandits of longstanding to continue running?

And now there are now cameras all along the 26-mile route. Do you suppose those will  be removed after the race or continue to be used indefinitely, scanning license plates and keeping records on the movements of private citizens? Oh no, that would never happen here, right? Just ask the NSA who knows exactly how often you call your mom.

The peculiar thing is that anyone with a brain cell can tell you that the next act of violence is going to happen in Dorchester or Mattapan or Roxbury but nobody is unilaterally beefing up security there, making those people feel safe where there’s real danger. Perhaps someone should point out that the already-safe suburbs don’t need the security cameras and that the millions being spent on extra police for this one event might do a lot to save lives in those neighborhoods on a daily basis. Aren’t they worth it too?

There’s ample evidence that we’re well on our way to becoming a police state, and pretty soon there won’t be enough taxpayers to pay all of the prison guards we’ll need: In 1979, around the time that imprisonment rates began their sharp uptick, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 314,000 people sat behind bars in the United States. As of mid-2013, that number stood at about 2 million. Today, the United States has roughly 5% of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its inmates.

Or, we could just let the FBI handle the “justice” problem and kill people they feel are a threat.

The worst part is that just raising this issue and asking these questions can get you branded as “unpatriotic” and probably put on a watch list somewhere. I will happily accept this as my fate for asking unpopular questions, but please make sure they spell my name right: there’s only one “L.”

 

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One Response to “If this doesn’t piss you off, I’ve failed”

  1. imarunner2012 Says:

    I think the authorities have over reacted to this. I firmly believe that this was an act of 2 stupid kids and will not hapen again.
    This surveilance society is getting creepy. With facial recognition technology, you can’t go anywhere without someone knowing you were there.
    I feel that the media spend too much time on teen-aged performers and not enough on real news. I can barely watch the local news anymore. All ads and teasers, very little substance.
    I watch BBC and Al Jazeera mostly.
    I paid $325 to run in the Boston Marathon this year. The BAA is awash in cash to pay for all of these extrapolice details.

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