Martial Law in Boston – A good end to a troubling event.

M5A1 (Stuart VI) Light Tank. 1941- 43.

Last weeks events in Boston show the importance of critical thinking and asking questions. We need to ask whether the end justified the means. The outcome was almost the best that could have been expected after the tragic murder of three people by bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Whilst I am happy that a good end was achieved, I have concerns about the means to achieve it, and I do not mean that the terrorists were killed or injured, they deserved their fates.

The law enforcement authorities did an excellent job by killing one of the Boston bombers and capturing the other within a few days of the blasts. They also prevented further casualties amongst the population, but at what cost?

Readers will be aware that I have a distrust of big government, no doubt heightened by what has happened to me, my family and the two countries I called home for most of my life. Even discounting my personal bias, the events that unfolded in Boston are disturbing and raise serious questions.

From media reports (and I watched very few) it seems as if residents of a large part of the city were “ordered” to stay in their homes. Almost the entire city was in “lockdown”. That sounds like Martial Law to me. It also sounds very much like the actions of Hitler’s storm troopers in the 1930’s before WW2.

I am not an expert on the US or any other constitution, but I do know that declarations of Martial Law in democracies are rare events and never taken lightly. I also believe that such declarations are the domain of Presidents or Prime Ministers, parliaments,  or other national governing bodies, not law enforcement agencies.

Other than from a scarce few right wing commentators, adverse comment on the events in Boston have been conspicuous by their absence. I may have missed them, but I have not seen any complaints from civil liberties groups or in the liberal media, particularly blogs like Huffington Post which are so eager to point the finger at any suspicion of right wing activity.

Could it be that because most of the inconvenience occurred on  a Friday, the campaign ended successfully and the extent that the tragedy was elevated in the media to almost the level of 9/11 that the sinister side of unofficial Martial Law was overlooked?

Or could it be that all those who normally complain about “infringement of rights” are already in favour of more government control over everyone’s lives and are happy with tactics such as these?

Or is it yet more evidence of the Pendulum theory – in a “We” cycle, individual rights can be trampled in the name of a perceived common benefit?

Whatever the reasons, in the context of terrorism around the world, as tragic as it was for the victims and families in Boston, this was not anywhere near the level of a 9/11, London transit system bombing or shooting down of civilian aircraft.

What would have happened if other major, perhaps unrelated, violent incidents involving terrorists, criminals or the mentally deranged had occurred in other big American cities in the same few days? Would their residents have been “ordered” to stay in their homes and their cities “locked down”. What cost to the economy then?

It appears that the whereabouts of the second bomber was noticed by a member of the public who alerted the authorities. Was it just through luck that he spotted blood on his boat or because he was looking out for himself and not just trusting those that “ordered” him to stay inside?

One terrorist is dead and the other captured, unarguably a better end to the tragedy than if one or both had escaped, but the media attention, alarm and inconvenience to thousands has multiplied the effects of the original terrorist act exponentially.

I am not against the use of massive force to neutralise the bad guys. I have been critical that the police have been too reluctant to use the necessary force to stop rioting mobs in cities like Vancouver, London and elsewhere, with ordinary, law abiding people suffering personal injury and property damage as a result of that reluctance.

Contrast the speed with which the authorities inconvenienced thousands of law-abiding residents in Boston with the wimpish reluctance to take action against those involved in the “Occupy” movements last year. Despite widespread criminal acts, blocking traffic, drug use, trespassing on private property and allegedly, murder & rape.

The “ordering” of thousands of people to stay at home, ignoring the demands of jobs, businesses, customers, clients, perhaps elderly relatives needing assistance without a lawful declaration of Martial Law does worry me. I have experienced at bitter cost what happens when governments and government officials believe they have a divine right to act outside the law.

Another huge reason to question everything and think for ourselves before blindly following the media-driven herd.

What do you think?

Leave a comment.

Peter Wright




photo by Andrey Korchagin via Compfight

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  3 comments for “Martial Law in Boston – A good end to a troubling event.

  1. Roberta
    April 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I don’t think I can answer all of your questions in a short response in a Comments section of a blog. But let me try.

    Americans will put up with a lot. They want to support their government. I did not hear any complaints on Friday; not even from the ACLU. I think everyone knew this was a very dangerous situation – more on that later.

    I think that if the “lock-down” had been extended to a second or third day there would have been complaints; especially from the business community because a lot of money was lost last week.

    I did a brief internet search this afternoon after first reading your post. There were some people who were concerned and complained and wrote letters to the editor.

    Since you say you did not watch much of the going-ons let me give you some background of what was going on. I have no idea how much you know. So if I give info you know or have please forgive me for stating them again.

    On Thursday night there was a horrific car chase, shootings, and bombs and other IEDs being thrown at the police during this chase. One of the bombs thrown was another pressure cooker bomb just like the original bombs on Monday. It was a miracle that it did not explode. If it had it would have killed and/or maimed dozens of police officers and citizens on the streets. What prevented it from exploding was that when it was thrown from a moving car it hit the ground in such a way that the impact locked the key mechanism that would have made the bomb explode preventing it from exploding.

    During the car chase other bombs and exploding devices were thrown at the police. There was also a report that at least one of the suspects was wearing a jacket rigged with explosives.

    The police did not know how many of all these various types of explosives the two had. They also did not know if they had set any explosives in public locations to go off later.

    The two also had guns and had just shot a police officer just sitting in his car earlier that day. Another police officer had been shot and almost bled out during the chase and subsequent fire fight.

    When the youngest suspect got away in the dark of night police knew he had guns and also bombs and they had no idea how many and if he would bomb houses, businesses or any one he might find on the street.

    Police did not make the decision to go on lock down alone. The mayors of all cities involved and the governor of the state were part of the decision making. If the citizens were upset they could easily vote those elected leaders out at a later date.

    The decision was made for the safety of the citizens since, as I said already, the police and elected leaders did not know how many explosives the one suspect had after his brother died. They also did not want ordinary citizens to be in the line of fire if there was another shoot out while they looked for the one remaining brother.

    This is my understanding of the situation.

    As far as I know this was the first such lock down in American history. I am sure this will be discussed and debated in the future.

    Don’t know if this helps you or not.Had I been in the area on lock down I would have understood. I probably would not understand after 24-36 hours. To know a mad man with explosives was in the neighborhood i would have locked myself down if the police had not!!!

    The second brother was discovered soon after the lock down was lifted when the person who owned the boat he was found in stepped out on his patio to smoke a cigarette and saw the tarp had been lifted and he saw blood on the boat. He went inside and called the police. The rest, as they say, is historyI

  2. Roberta
    April 23, 2013 at 7:38 am

    UPDATE: I just read and saw the following this morning in one of the usual blogs I visit to get the news.

    I had no idea this kind of stuff was going on.

    This is unconstitutional and shameful.

    I hope citizens take appropriate actions.

    “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,
    deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin

  3. April 24, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Thank you for the detailed background Roberta. As I said in my post, this incident ended well in that the remaining bomber was captured without further loss of life, the lockdown may have been the best way to handle it. BUT having lived with terrorism and violence, including bombs in supermarkets and shoot outs on school playing fields, for a big part of my life, I have two concerns with this type of heavy handed response.

    One, it generates far more publicity, disruption, and panic than necessary, thereby extending and multiplying the effect of the original terrorist act. Secondly it is a dangerous precedent, since writing the post, I have heard that some owners were treated quite brutally when ordered out of their houses, that is very worrying and raises the question does the end justify the means. It is that precedent and disregard for individual property owner’s rights that concerns me. It is a first step down the same slippery slope that led to the holocaust and illegal government persecution in many other countries, including Zimbabwe where I became a victim.

    A further factor I suspect is that both the publicity and heavy handed use of force (whether justified or not, real or perceived) will arouse even more suspicion of government in the minds of those on the far right, gun owners and libertarians and will set back all hope of any reasonable improvements to gun ownership requirements.

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