Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Talking About Boston

In preface to this post, I'd like to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston, and my condolences and best wishes to the victims of the bombings which killed 3 and injured over 170. May God bless you and keep you in His everlasting grace during this trying time. We are, all of us, with you.

With the blizzard of information, both credible and otherwise, flying around about yesterday's bombing at the Boston Marathon, here's what we know for sure.
  • There were two bombs exploded about 15 seconds apart over a 2 block area.
  • The bombs appeared to be pressure cookers loaded with shrapnel and ball bearings.
  • There were no other unexploded devices found in the area.
  • The current toll stands at 3 dead and at least 176 injured (as of this writing).
  • A fire at the JFK Library an hour after the blasts was determined to be unrelated to the initial bombings.
  • An injured Saudi national who is recuperating at a Boston hospital is being questioned as a "person of interest". He is not considered a suspect.
  • No group or individual has come forward to take responsibility.
  • No actual arrests have been made in the case.
  • The attack is being treated as an act of TERROR.
Now with all of the news coverage, coupled with the buzz of social media, our first instinct is to begin speculating about the who, what, where, when, whys and hows of what happened. Our second instinct is to try and clamp down on the first, usually with no great success. The problem with that second instinct is, as well meaning as it may be, that we think that in order to clamp down we have to shut up. In our effort to prevent rumor, panic, and unfair accusation, we seem to believe the only solution in situations like this is to simply not talk about it, which is, or course, impossible. And thus our failure. Me, I have to admit that I prefer to go with the first instinct. And you know what? It's really ok.

Look. We don't live in a media vacuum. The news of the Boston attacks is going to be with us for a while, and unless we plan to hide ourselves under a rock for the next few weeks, we're going to talk about this. And in talking about it, naturally we're going to speculate based on what we know, what we think we know, and what we believe. And it's ok to talk about it. It's possible to have a reasoned, rational give and take about this tragedy.

It's called conversation.

If you think that these attacks were done by an individual or a group, say so, and tell us why you think that. If you believe this is a domestic attack, or foreign terrorism, that's cool to. Feel free to elaborate. If you think this is done by Islamic extremists or good ol' all-American White boy, tell us how you come to that conclusion. Being able to "compare notes" as it were, is a kind of necessary catharsis as we work to process and assimilate this event into our psyche. Where the danger lies is when the conversation devolves into paranoia, hate-speech, fear-mongering, and unfounded conspiracies.  Check out this set of tweets by World Net Daily's Erik Rush.

Then there are the conspiracy gun nuts like Alex Jones and this tweet.


This is what happens when mere speculation becomes fear-mongering, when a discussion about him or her being a suspect becomes about "those people".  This is what you get when folks who stir up stuff just to get listeners, mouse-clicks, or book sales are allowed to lead the conversation.  We saw it happen after 9/11 and it has taken us 12 years to finally get over it.  Obviously, as you can see here, some of us haven't.
It's ok to discuss the Boston attacks.  It's ok to share your feelings, or theories on what happened, or who did it.  I like to believe we can have these discussions without them descending into lynch-mob rule.  We are more than capable of this.  So, let's talk.