The Plastic Hippo

April 22, 2013


Filed under: Law,Rights,Society,World — theplastichippo @ 3:09 am

Citizens of the United States of America enjoy the right to bear arms as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution and ratified by the Bill of Rights. With just a week having passed since the start of the terrible events in Boston, Massachusetts as a marathon ended, a city in fear can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

With one of the brothers suspected of barbarous atrocity at the finish line dead and the other wounded, in custody and probably close to death, the great city of Boston is again safe. It is difficult to imagine the anxiety and fear generated by two heavily armed, dangerous individuals threatening random and indiscriminate deadly violence. That the affluent suburb of Watertown should endure 24 hours of abject terror and Boston, the cradle of the American Revolution, suffering nearly a week of lock-down is almost beyond comprehension. The deaths, the maiming and the trauma of survivors can never be forgiven and the relief of cheering crowds at the end of the nightmare is perfectly understandable. As they mourn their dead and care for those that were so horribly injured, the rest of humanity stands with them at their time of loss. However, the good people of Boston might wish to consider exactly what else has been lost as a result of this dreadful tragedy.

Defenders of the Second Amendment, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”, continue to claim that adequate gun control would not have stopped the killing spree. Based on the evidence that the bombers used ball bearings and pressure cookers, the gun lobby, the NRA and the weapons manufacturers claim that if the sale of firearms is controlled, then the sale of ball bearings and pressure cookers should also be controlled. This rather bizarre logic suggests that no American is to be trusted with a wooden spoon, an egg whisk or an X Box controller and so all Americans need to arm themselves with bazookas, howitzers and thermo nuclear devices. The only way to stop bad guys using a garlic press is for the good guys to buy a Black Hawk attack helicopter.

The Second Amendment has clearly survived this latest crisis of slaughtered innocents but the cheering crowds in Watertown were applauding the demise of the Fourth Amendment. This states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

It is certain that the terrified people of Watertown welcomed black clad paramilitary enforcement officers into their homes to search for the fugitive and considered the frantic search as reasonable. The precedent, however, is disturbing. Watching live coverage of the unfolding drama, it was difficult to not draw comparisons to the Keystone Cops or the colossal pile up of police cars in the Blues Brothers film. Dozens of officers armed to the teeth pointed weapons at empty houses and raced around town with sirens wailing and lights flashing in what can only be described as blind macho panic. SWAT teams clung to the outside of armoured vehicles as a show of strength blissfully unaware that the best place to be to avoid being shot is inside an armoured vehicle. It seems that one FBI Special Agent climbed over a spiked gate only to find that it was unlocked as it swung open. If an irrational, 19 year old with gunshot wounds can evade hundreds and hundreds of the best assets available to homeland security, then it could be suggested that the best assets to homeland security are a bit dim. It was a member of the public who discovered the bleeding youth in a boat which resulted in another Blues Brothers car chase and lots of portly middle-aged men in uniform standing with hands on hips, legs apart, pretending to be John Wayne.

If the Fourth has bit the dust; then so has the Fifth and the Sixth. It seems that the right of silence to avoid self incrimination and the right to have an attorney present at questioning has been thrown into Boston Harbour on the orders of the office of the POTUS. The “subject”, as the enforcement agencies describe him, has not been issued with his Miranda Rights which, if he survives, could jeopardise any successful prosecution. Miranda Rights are similar to a caution in the UK which is along the lines of you have a right to remain silent but anything you say will be used in evidence against you. Rather than a reference to Shakespeare`s Tempest, Miranda Rights are so named due to a certain Ernesto Arturo Miranda who in 1966 had his case of domestic violence thrown out because he wasn`t read his rights. Ernesto was a very bad guy and subsequently re-offended and was convicted. The bulk of the prosecution time and effort went into proving that double jeopardy was not applicable. Should the 19 year old alleged murderer survive, the defence brief is already written.

Boston, like Atlanta, New York and Oklahoma City, will recover from external and internal terrorism. The brothers were American citizens and, if anybody, had the right to be described as Caucasian. Some older residents of Boston, now seething with anger at the fact that random and indiscriminate violence has visited their city, might wish to reflect on the sound of a drone above a village far away or on the decades of the anxiety and fear generated far away in the north of Ireland when donations to Noraid funded weaponry and explosives for the Provisional IRA. There were no cameras in Omagh.

In the final act of The Tempest, the innocent and unworldly Miranda finally comes into contact with a host of other people. She says:
“O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in`t.”

Let us hope that eight year olds live to be more than eight.

1 Comment »

  1. A powerful post.

    Another US bombing tradegy occurs and rightly gets world-wide media coverage. A brutal and callous act, cowardly, contemptible and without any sense of humanity.

    Almost inevitably, it is followed by a shoot-out of colossal proportions. Meanwhile, other similar daily atrocities, on an even bigger scale, remain unreported, unremarked or somehow justified.
    One can only assume that, according to the media, some lives are of less value than others.

    As for Miranda and Gun Law, Hippo makes a good point, but misses the heart-beat of American psychology. It is one of constitutional obedience at all times, except when the nation/City/town/homestead/person seems to be under threat. Then, any measure will do. This seems to include almost killing the only witness to a heinous crime.

    The FBI was created to further the dream of national security and to overcome parochial legal debates regarding state juristiction. As usual, this mish-mash of an arrangement has failed.

    On the basis of an ‘if-it-moves-shoot-it policy’, the local Sheriff and his national cohorts have made it difficult to find out exactly what happened and why.

    There is an irony here for those old enough to remember.

    The Realist

    Comment by The Realist — April 22, 2013 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

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