While the second terrorist in the Boston Marathon bombing still was being hunted, Boston and a number of surrounding suburbs were put on lockdown, as police recommended (strongly) that everyone should stay indoors while they searched for the terrorist, a terrorist who, as it turns out, had escaped the perimeter the police had set up to enclose a small part of the city.
During that lockdown, Boston took a number of hits, and so I have some thoughts about the pros and cons of the matter.
- easier to spot the terrorist on the move (which the police never did)
- clearer lines of fire should they need to engage
- citizens were unable to participate in the manhunt, even though part of a citizen’s duty is to aid the police
- citizens were unable to go about their own business, except at government behest
- economic activity in the city came to a halt for the duration
- a “go inside and hide” mentality makes it easier for a government to dominate its people
The city and people of Boston took hits from the impairment of their individual freedoms (this time, brief) and to their economic activity (this time, both brief and local). In the end, too, the lockdown contributed very little to the actual tracking and capture of the remaining terrorist.
There are a couple of things about this: for one, these now are tools for subsequent terrorists in their subsequent activities. On an individual basis, the loss to Boston and to Bostonians was small—but scaled up, with terrorists now acting so as to prompt further lockdowns, the losses can easily mount to a scope far beyond the reach of any physical terrorist act or collection of them done in concert. Disruptions to our lives get us dancing to the terrorists’ tune as surely as actually killing us.
Widespread lockdowns also get us in the habit of letting the government corral us, for our own good.
Keep in mind Benjamin Franklin’s warning:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, will have neither Liberty nor Safety.
Although the warning might be hard for some to understand, it being older than one hundred years.