The Complete IDIOT’S Guide to Dealing with a Runaway Terrorist in Your Neighborhood
Honesty first, then I’ll bite. Oh, will I bite.
As you all know, this week was like an action movie in the Boston area; “Heat” immediately comes to mind for me because of the two shootouts that both occurred in the street within a mile or two of my apartment.
One single week filled with so much hard hitting tragedy, heroism and emotion.
Hundreds of rounds of gunfire, explosives and a carjacking in the quiet fucking streets of Watertown.
Dramatic ebbing and flowing, waves of highs and lows; awesome cresting law enforcement followed by empty dips of uncertainty.
So much destructive preemptive planning to be uncovered and such very careful judicial aftermath to formulate.
So many tough questions to be answered in the days ahead.
So many crappy upcoming memes to endure.
Data to analyze and motives to solidify.
Fear lifted and faith restored.
So much for so little.
None of the news stations said that. Local didn’t say that, and neither did Fox. The outcome here is a triumph right? At least, given the circumstances and all things considered?
Let me walk you through my Friday. Strap in.
6:49am, My out-of-town girlfriend wakes me up with a worried phone call; I am groggy and impatient. She brings me up to speed with the basics in under a minute: “They’re in Watertown.” On 4/19/13 you could’ve said that sentence to anyone in Boston, maybe anyone in the entire country, and we’d know who you’re talking about.
6:50am, The TV is on and the coffee is brewing. Within two minutes I had confirmed that both my doors were locked.
6:52am, Knife is in hand.
Because, while undeniably cool, that will stop a possibly suicidal gun/bomb wielding terrorist. Riiiight.
7:30am, Sitting in front of my TV with my work laptop out, trying futilely to actually do work while watching piles and piles of state police move through my town in armored vehicles, mere blocks away from my current location. And as you all know, at that point in time no one actually knew where this guy was; he could’ve been in my own backyard.
“Oh shit, he could be in my own backyard.”
[A visual inspection of my backyard reveals no terrorist]
7:31am, Safe…for now.
9amish, As the hours dragged on and the situation unfolded, the day got more and more tense. Second to second, each news station gave a slightly different account of the events but they all seemed to be pretty much in sync with each other given a grace period of about 10 minutes. The theme was consistent: We don’t know where this
guy murdering terrorist is, he’s scared, pissed off, on the run, likely armed, maybe wounded, extremely dangerous, and is literally loose somewhere in your town.
[A visual inspection of my backyard reveals no terrorist]
Like many (all?) of Watertown’s residents probably did that day, my thoughts turned inward.
What do I do? I don’t have a play for this in my playbook; I don’t even own a firearm. I looked down at my manhands – what kind of defense will my years of on-and-off martial arts training afford me against a homemade hand grenade tossed in my direction? Perhaps the terrorist will be so kind as to challenge me to a fistfight? Aren’t the State and Federal governments aware that he could break my door down at any moment? Why aren’t FBI agents posted on my street corner? WHERE’S MY BACK UP??
10amish, There were several points in the day where tensions bubbled to an almost tangible boil. He’s in this general area, so move all the civies out of their homes and into the Safe Zone over on Laurel Street! Wait, now we think he’s in a different house and that house is right smack in the middle of Laurel Street! Immediately hustle all the civies back out of the Safe Zone into the new Safe Zone, hope that no one watching paid any attention to any of the footage from five minutes ago that displayed all of the tactical positions of all of our units on Laurel Street, get the media back at a safe distance and stop calling Laurel Street by name goddamnit! Someone could be watching!
11amish, People of Watertown! Stop posting the FBI’s whereabouts on your facebook feed as they run through your front lawn with automatic weapons; this compromises their positions! You could somehow be facebook friends with terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not know it, and he could be reading your facebook wall right now!! SHIT!
11:30amish, What exactly is a Shelter in Place order? Is this martial law and if so, can you make it a little more martial? Can SWAT please come to my apartment and search my bathroom? I dare not leave the TV even to bathe for fear of missing a helicopter video of him running down my street.
And the day dragged on.
Helicopters buzzed overhead for hours.
Both FBI the and State police appeared on my street at different points in the day to question my neighbors; at one point I counted eleven agents/officers. I crept to the window and snapped some pictures very carefully so as to avoid being seen.
An hourish later I was on the phone with my sister when I heard “STATE POLICE, PLEASE COME TO THE FRONT DOOR NOW” over a megaphone. Was it outside of my street or down the block, carried by the wind? Do they mean me? Is he hiding out in the house next to me? No way of knowing. I hastily got off the phone, threw a shirt on (you don’t want to be the topless guy on TV), hid my knife in my apartment, grabbed my wallet, phone, charger and keys and opened the front door. Nothing – my street looked like a ghost town. Back inside, lock door, remove shirt, deposit keys and wallet, recharge phone and reclaim knife. Take a seat on the couch and continue the dread-a-thon.
4pm, Still nothing of value. Official reports every few hours being filmed at the Arsenal Mall about a mile from me. Shelter in Place order still in effect. Have resorted to frozen chicken. Two beers in fridge. Moral low.
6pm, Terrorist still on the loose. Beers long gone. Feeling of worry that he is somehow in my bulkhead style exterior-accessible basement growing. Pocket smaller, concealable folding knife, break Shelter in Place order to go outside and clear basement. Basement is cleared. Neighbor clears backyard shed. House, yard and basement temporarily certified terrorist-free.
7pm, Shelter in Place order lifted, but terrorist’s whereabouts still unknown. Immediately drive 500ft down Mt. Auburn to nearest Shaw’s Market for supplies. News crews interviewing people in empty parking lot. Get out of car, confirm parking lot is empty because store is still closed. Attempt to leave parking lot to drive 500ft back home when WWRREEEEEEEOOOOWWWW – unmarked police vehicle fucking screams down Mt. Auburn going at least 60mph with blue lights flashing. Attempts to pull out of Shaw’s Market parking lot stifled for the next minute by about ten additional police vehicles whizzing by like bats out of hell. Radio is going apeshit; reports of more gunfire about two miles away. Timidly drive 500ft back to apartment and rip a shot.
730pm, Standoff in effect. Suspect believed to be pinned down in the back of a boat. Weigh potential of missing crucial coverage in the next five minutes against the possibility of going another five minutes without beer and supplies. Make the
right only sane choice.
830-9pmish, Terrorist apprehended. Half a bag of chips down. Weight lifted. Knife returned to hiding place. Televised celebration in the streets less than one mile away. Shirt remains off.
What the fuck do we make of this? More importantly, what the fuck do I make of this? The first thing I think of are the costs, and the list below even excludes the terrible events [the bombings themselves] which occurred prior to Thursday and Friday:
- One MIT law officer ambushed and murdered in cold blood.
- Another cop shot up and seriously wounded.
- A carjacking and gun battle, with explosives, in the streets.
- An entire city basically shut down for these two, (well, at the time it was shut down, only one was left) scumbags.
- Probably millions of dollars of taxpayer money spent to find the little shit (helicopter fuel, shutting down businesses, everything).
Seeing this list in writing really fucks with my sense of justice and balance. How can this possibly be made fair? Clone a city of Dzhokhars and send me in there to just cause as much chaos as I possibly can before I get caught? Sadly, the technology does not exist yet.
What about the people who lost limbs – how can we make it fair to them?
What about the four dead?
I have no answers; I’m not even sure there are any. Perhaps this is a scenario where my sense of right and wrong is outmoded. Perhaps balance, true justice, cannot be applied here.
Dzhokhar doesn’t have nearly enough legs, or lives, for him to lose one for every one he’s taken.
Perhaps the only thing to do is to heal and continue to move forward.
But don’t we want more? These murderers have taken so much and we, society, will get so little back. For what does he have to offer?
- In a best case scenario, leads and intel which point at a puppet master, or a foreign terrorist agency.
That’s it. That’s all he really has to offer, and that’s just a band-aid. The US will always have enemies, foreign and domestic. Even if the brothers received some kind of help, (currently it looks like that is NOT the case), successfully tracking those theoretical leads to their conclusions will not ‘solve’ the problem of terrorism. Osama bin Laden is dead, and yet terrorist continues to exist. The root of terrorism is an idea, and not to quote V for Vendetta, but ideas are bulletproof. Obviously the government should relentlessly pursue any such lead or intelligence they glean from this asshole, but let’s not delude anyone into believing that that will achieve anything but placing a band-aid on a wound that will never really heal.
- Perhaps he is just crazy.
Who cares? What will that give us? How do you prevent crazy from ever happening again?
- Perhaps he was motivated by religious fanaticism/radicalization.
At the moment that’s what it looks like. Great so now we know, but what do we gain? Will the US government do anything differently in light of that fact? Should it? Of course not – there will always be religious fanatics just as there will always be crazy people, and bending to the will of a crazy person is, well, pretty crazy in my book.
I submit that other than satisfying public curiosity, there is really not much to be learned here. Maybe there’s a gap in first responder time that was exposed or something like that (it certainly didn’t seem that way), but at last, here is my beef:
I don’t fucking like how the news and the media are marketing the idea that we’re going to get some kind of valuable data or insight out of this piece of shit. It’s not like anything he says is going to make anyone say “Oh wow he’s right, we should do/stop doing XYZ from now on” and then we as a society will, and then this kind of thing will magically never happen again. Hopefully anyone reading that sentence can see that that won’t happen, because it’s bullshit.
So what do I want? What would finally calm me down?
I want as much justice as is humanly possible for all of the victims. The victims, or in the case of the four dead, their families, should get the chance to sit with this scumbag and look him in the eye. They should get five minutes alone with him, and I’m not fake-macho-implying that they use those five minutes to beat his ass. I mean if they want to, they should have to right to express their viewpoint, or ask some questions of their attacker. Just five minutes each.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not fit for this society, but I don’t know exactly what that means. The death penalty is tricky for me from a moral standpoint; I personally don’t ever want the weight of deciding whether another person lives or dies on my soul unless there’s no other way. I would lose precisely zero seconds of sleep if he is put to death, but I still don’t know if that’s the best solution in a perfect world. Then again, he and his brother did a fantastic job of reminding us all that this is not a perfect world, and come to think of it, I can’t think of a better answer to the riddle of his fate. Perhaps his victims should each get to vote, after their individual time with him.
It is both a sad and triumphant time for the city of Boston. Things are calming down, victims are being mourned and buried, evidence is being collected and compiled and legal proceedings are under way. Currently in custody, Dzhokhar is reportedly recovering from bullet wounds to the neck, head, hands and legs and is receiving pity from approximately no one.
The heroes, both of the marathon bombings themselves and all those who participated in Thursday and Friday’s manhunt, cannot easily be counted.
funny drastically drastically serious business happens while he’s incarcerated, Shitkicker Jr. will be convicted and either imprisoned forever or put to death, and that’s a wrap as far as I’m concerned. Despite knowing a few people who (one way or another) were very close to the bombings themselves, despite knowing people who lived under a mile away from where everything finally went down and despite having a fairly front-row seat to the last 24 hours of events leading up to the capture and arrest, I feel extremely lucky to say that no one I know was hurt, at least not physically.
So what’s the take-away message here?
Always have more than two beers in your fridge.