Just to say it again… ugh…
I don’t want to be that asshole, especially this soon after the bombing and before anyone knows the full number of injuries or deaths that have occurred but… life is going to become even less fun to live in this country than it has been for the past twelve years. And it’ll be done for two words: Homeland Security.
Remember all the fun we had after September 11th? The reorganization of several government agencies into the Department of Homeland Security in the first place. The creation of that wonderful group of people who grope us at the airports and like to take naked pictures, the Transportation Security Administration? The trillions spent on wars that had little to do with any of it? No Fly Lists? Terrorist Watch Lists? Increased spying powers by the FBI, CIA, and local police on everyday citizens?
I doubt seriously it’ll be that bad. But government never says, “Well, that didn’t work. Screw it.”
Examine the photo above for a moment. It was taken by a Getty photographer moments after the explosions took place. You can tell because they’re still emptying the grandstand. Notice all the bright green vests? Most of those are cops, serving as security.
As someone who has been to the New York Marathon, and who assumes Boston doesn’t do anything less than New York when it can help it, I’ve seen cops line the entire route. Hundreds of them. Multiplied across the entire route, we’re talking thousands. All that manpower… and some asshole still managed to set off a pair of bombs.
It’s terrible what’s happened. Two people are said to be dead at this point and no one knows how many are critical or injured but right now NPR is reporting over a hundred. But, given the way the United States has reacted to supposed threats, I’m just going to guess at what might happen now that an actual attack has finally happened again after twelve years…
Life will certainly get a lot more annoying. I know, I know, “Who cares about annoying if it stops the next attack?” Well… anyone who lives near where these events happen. Live near a place where more than a handful of people congregate and could be targeted for a terrorist attack? Get prepared to have your bags searched and possibly pat down (especially if you’re the wrong skin color). Like those police dogs? They’ll probably be sniffing you each time you go in and out of your front door. That’ll really get old if you pulled a pair of jeans over your PJs to run down to the bodega to get a carton of milk or a pint of ice cream.
It could even begin to involve some serious civil liberties issues, not that getting pat down isn’t a civil liberties violation in the first place if you haven’t done anything.
Are they running a route past your house? Maybe the police get the courts to make up another exception to the Fourth Amendment so they can search the residences along the route to ensure there aren’t any bombs or guns inside. And, hey, if they find your stash of weed, well… you knew the cops would be coming by to check things out, right?
Thus far, I’ve already heard commentators speculating that it might be domestic terrorism. Well… get ready for names being put on lists. Don’t be a small government “radical” when a Democrat is in office or an environmentalist or Occupy protestor during a Republican administration.
Of course, we’ll need someone to create and add to those lists (but not remove any names) so of course that’ll mean even more police and federal agents will be needed. As for police, they’ll mostly be symbolic. I mean, all the cops along the route didn’t stop this bombing from happening. But more federal agents mean more spying into your email and bank accounts and social media and cell phone locations. Most of it done without a warrant, just a handy little document called a National Security Letter justified by the belief that you might be in someway connected to a possible terrorist threat.
And all of this will probably be justified by what happened today.
There’s no easy answer to the problem of terrorism. The whole point of it is to make the society struck change itself as a reaction, usually for the worse. But doing nothing leaves us open to another attack. I guess the question is, are the changes worth it?
After the last twelve years… I’d have to say no. But that’s not the way our government works.