NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 20, 2013

Marathon tragedy has us glued to screens

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — I had finished my coffee and morning newspapers and was preparing to give up on Big Freddy when he finally joined me.

“What’s with you?” I asked. “This is the second week in a row that you’ve turned up late,” I said.

“Glued to my TV,” Freddy said.

“The massive man hunt,” I said.

“Massive kid hunt - they took down his older brother,” Freddy said.

“I know that,” I said. “Remarkable the way they pin-pointed the two of them by picking them out of what? Hundreds in the crowd at the finish line?

“Everything about this is remarkable,” Freddy said. “Everybody they can get to mikes from Obama on down are having their say.

“They even find the bombers’ uncle -- or maybe he finds them because he says he wants the world to know that between him and his brother’s family, things haven’t been what you might call cozy for some time.

“I don’t blame him. The bombers are his brother’s sons, and he wants the world to know whatever love they may have had between them once is long gone.

“This really has been an extraordinary news maker,” I said. “ Television, the new media? The FBI, Boston cops to a man, armed to the teeth and on the move from here to wherever?

“You name it, they’re there.”

“Made for TV,” Freddy said.

“You’re cynical,” I said.

“No, I’m saying the bombers made it happen,” Freddy said.

“Somebody might have dreamed up a movie based on blowing up the Boston Marathon, but I doubt it because nobody would have backed it.

“But these two didn’t need much money. There was no cast to hire. No permits needed. A couple of pressure cookers, and what they fill them with didn’t cost all that much. No dialog. They just do their thing and walk off the set.”

“There has to be a back story here,” I said. “Apparently they can’t find anyone who knew him who didn’t know the 19 year old to be a sweetheart of a kid.

“But if that’s true, how come he follows the lead of his big brother to bomb the marathon?”

“You’re saying he’s a victim?” Freddy asked.

“Probably, brothers being brothers, but who knows? It turned out to be a shocker to some of those who knew him,” I said.

“Well, unless he turns himself in he’s a dead man running who can’t hide because the whole world’s watching,” Freddy said.

“Incredible,” I said.

“Not in this world,” Freddy said. “Nothing’s incredible any more. The world’s the stage and everyone’s either an actor or a witness. There are all the tools out there to watch just about everything that goes on, and where there aren’t, somebody will figure a way to do it.”

“So much for privacy rights,” I said.

“You want privacy rights for something like this?” Freddy asked.

“No,” I said. “This was an indiscriminate attack on innocent victims. Our rights to privacy have shrunk for the common good in our lifetime. Living in what the world has become has been much more complicated than the one we were born in.

“What we have been watching is reality up close on fast forward, and It’s comforting to witness the effectiveness of the responders.

“But it’s frightening to witness how easy it is for those who would do evil without a great deal of effort while we watch it being done.

“It puts a much more worrisome meaning on ‘Made for TV.’”

Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.