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I'm a masshole, Massachusetts

A few words about "Boston Liberals," Civil Rights, Lockdowns, and Cowering.

Posted on 2013.04.20 at 13:24
I've heard a few folks, both individuals and opinion journalists, talk about yesterday's "Lockdown" in Boston as a "surrender to fear" or "bowing to terrorism." The premise seems to be that Bostonians surrendered their civil rights, letting our authorities give us orders far beyond their authority, and thereby, terrorism was effective.

No. Bostonians are a tough, smart, practical people. We don't flinch from tough choices, and when it's needed, we roll up our sleeves and tackle unpleasant tasks. Our law enforcers needed room to work, and to mobilize in a big way to capture a uniquely dangerous criminal, and the best way for them to do that was with the particular cooperation of the citizens. What Bostonians needed to do to see the situation resolved was sit out a day, and stay where they were, to give the authorities a clear field. They made that choice willingly and in good faith, and the state met that good faith by keeping faith with them. They took the day of unprecedented cooperation and the clear field the citizens gave them, and at the end of the day, when they had not been successful, they rescinded the "Shelter in Place" order.

That's not surrendering, it's taking on a difficult task. Bostonians, including and especially "Boston Liberals" have the strength and courage to do that, and one important element of that strength and courage is the strength and courage to trust those we ask to protect us.




Speaking of Civil Rights, I'm seeing a lot of coverage today of the decision that's been made that, under what's called the "Public Safety Exception," the FBI won't "Mirandize" Dzhokhar Tsarnaev before questioning him.

(If that's unclear, "Mirandize" means to read to him, as you've seen on American TV police dramas, what is legally known, after the Supreme Court case that governs it, as the Miranda Warning: "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to consult with an attorney, and to have him present during question. If you so desire, and cannot afford one, one will be provided for you, free of charge. DO you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?")

I'll start here: It's the wrong decision. America stands for something, and one of them is equality under the law. We shouldn't be treating some criminals differently than others. The putative "advantage" the FBI gets from this is minor. Tsarnaev still has those rights. As an American kid, he's doubtless seen enough cop shows that he knows he has those rights. If he clams up, there's nothing the Feds can do about it, and if he demands a lawyer, they have to get him one, whether they read him his rights or not. So making a decision not to read him his rights, and declaring that they'll fight in court to admit anything he says under such questioning as evidence under the claim that the questioning prior to such reading was necessary for the safety of the general public has very little payoff, and the potential cost -- because a judge will rule whether or not she agrees with that, and could well make any such testimony, and any evidence developed from such testimony, inadmissible -- is really high. It's a dumb decision.

You know what, though? So what? As I said, he has the rights, whether they're read to him or not. And does this case look to you like it's going to depend on statements Tsarnaev makes during interrogation? He's on videotape planting the bomb. A victim looked him in the eye as he planted it. He took part in the murder of a police officer, and a carjacking in which he or his brother told the victim, who can and will testify, "We did the Marathon bombing, and we just killed a cop. Give us your car or we'll kill you, too." He took part in a high-speed chase and a gun battle with police, then another gun battle with them. Same gun in both? I'll bet it was. Will there be GSR (Gunshot Residue) on his clothing and skin? Yes. Similar bombs and bomb-making ingredients and components were found in his car, in the carjacked car, and in his home. You wanna bet against there being fingerprint evidence all over all of this? I certainly don't.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be convicted of all the crimes without a word of testimony from his questioning now. And his Fifth Amendment rights are his. If a judge declares everything he tells the feds inadmissible against him, it will still be admissible against anybody his responses lead them to. Any evidence developed against any other parties based on his responses under FBI questioning will stand up in court.

So, what the hell? As long as they don't try to convict him with testimony given during un-Mirandized questioning, and as long as, if he chooses to remain silent, or asks for an attorney, the law is properly followed, I don't see where his rights are violated.




Lastly, in response to Arkansas Republican state representative Nate Bell, who wrote on Twitter yesterday, "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine," I will point this out again. Bostonians don't cower. Not ever. Not in their homes, not anywhere.

You know where people do cower, though? Not Bostonians -- at least, not enough of them to matter -- but waaaaaay too many Americans?

They don't cower behind their doors, but many cower behind their guns, and the bigger, more over-powered a gun is, the more likely the civilian behind it is to be cowering.

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