With the bombings last month in Boston, and the ultimate capture of one of the suspects, law enforcement immediately were on the airwaves talking about their intention to interrogate him. They broadcast to the world that they had no intention of reading him his Miranda rights, which are the guarantees given to us by the United States Constitution through the Fifth Amendment. Rather, it was their intention to invoke the rarest of exceptions to the requirement that Miranda rights be read, using the argument that there was an emergency situation and public safety took precedent over Constitutional rights.
Ironically, at the time that they broadcast this event, some of those same officials were championing, and rightfully so, their success in capturing this terrorist and that the public emergency no longer existed. Of course, if the public emergency no longer existed, even if the emergency exception to the requirements of the Fifth Amendment right be given is invalid (a subject for discussion at a later date), with the broadcast that no emergency existed, only legal fallacy allowing for the eroding of our constitutional rights could uphold the validity of that interrogation.
That brings us to the true focus article. There were two known subjects of the Boston Marathon bombing. They had not been apprehended and no one knew where they were. Then, tragically, they ambushed and killed a police officer, car jacked a vehicle, robbed a store, and one of them was killed. This left one known suspect on the loose.
Certainly there was reason to fear this suspect and certainly he posed a danger. Yet, when one million people are by and large ordered to remain in their homes, and a city, such as Boston, is virtually shut down, then haven’t the terrorists actually won? When one 19 year old can close a major metropolitan area, haven’t we let terrorists or terrorism defeat us? Being brave in the face of terrorism is what the United States stands for. Cowering in our homes or shutting down our society in the face of it goes against everything that this country has stood for, for over its two centuries of existence.
Some would say that these were necessary safety precautions. Yet, if this is the case, then every metropolitan area on every given day needs to be shut down, because on every given day there is some murderer or psychopath on the loose. The problem is, when we use the word terrorist or terrorism, our sensibilities get thrown out of wack. Our reactions become disproportionate and much in the way that we are willing to close down a city, we are willing to shut down our Constitution.
As said above, whether the emergency exception to the Miranda rights truly does exist or should exist is a topic for another day. What is not a topic for another day is the fact that we are willing, wanting and ready to toss by the wayside the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the right to remain silent and have a lawyer, because after all, he was a terrorist. Again, when that occurs, the terrorist has won. A few dead bodies and a hundred or two hundred maimed human beings of course is a victory for them. But the greater victory for terrorists is changing the American way of life. To cause ourselves to take away our own freedom can only be the greatest victory that those who hate what we stand for could achieve.
We are reminded about the Second World War and the Nazi blitz on London. Night after night London was bombed and lit up in flames. And every day the English people came out of their cellars, put out the fires, cleared away the debris the best they could, and went about their daily business. They did not yield to the Nazi onslaught. They kept that stiff upper lip and they never lost that British spirit. We could learn a lot from their example. We could, instead of taking away the rights of those that we accuse of being terrorists, afford them those rights, and thereby keep ourselves the same democracy that we cherish. We, of course, should be vigilant when there is a murderer on the streets desperate in every way, but we could still keep our society going and be the people and the country that we are.
One of the great quotes in history is “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. When we close off the city, when we take away Constitutional rights, aren’t we giving in to that fear? And isn’t that what we should fear in and of itself? By fearing that terrorist, by fearing that mass murderer, and by changing who we are, that is what we have to fear more than anything. So, to those people and families that were effected by the bombing in Boston, we certainly send our best and our condolences. To those law enforcement officials who tracked down and captured the terrorist, we say thank you. To the citizens who aided law enforcement in the capture, we say that we are proud of your civic duty. But to those officials who make the decision to suspend the Constitution or twist it to find exceptions and thereby erode our rights for everyone, we say wait, don’t do it, our rights and liberties are too precious to waste on a 19 year old miscreant.