COMMENTARY | Former Texas Rep. and Presidential candidate Ron Paul is getting blasted for criticizing the imposition of martial law for the city of Boston in an attempt to track down the remaining Boston Marathon bomber.
But what you may not realize is that Boston is hardly an isolated case. And I’m not just talking about American history, but also recent days. And unless we set some ground rules, someone will, in a town like yours.
Of course you heard about Boston and how the city was shut down to flush out the second bomber of the Boston Marathon. You probably haven’t heard of Valley Springs, California. But like Boston, it’s experiencing the same thing.
An unknown assailant was accused of stabbing and killing an eight-year-old girl in her home, in front of her 12-year-old brother. “A region of oak-studded hills in California, where big-city dwellers come to get away from crime, was on lockdown” as a result, according to Tracie Cone with the Associated Press earlier this week.
Further descriptions had residents holed up in homes and ranches, as well as police reports looking for a man “with long gray hair.” Everyone in the town of less than 10,000 residents loaded multiple guns, waiting. Police have ruled out a connection to a nearby kidnapping.
Sure some obsessed with civil liberties might object to being cooped up indefinitely until a crime or act of terrorism is solved. But if it helps track down the killer of kids or bomber of runners, it’s worth it, right? It would be a case of the ends justifying the means. And since we caught the second Boston Marathon bomber after martial law was imposed, the system worked, right?
Well, that’s a question that deserves further scrutiny. You see, the Boston resident who found blood on his boat after a day of no leads for the police wasn’t hiding in his panic room with his finger on the trigger. If anything, keeping people off the streets deprived the cops of many eyes and ears, and valuable tips.
Martial law for Boston and for Valley Springs seems hastily conceived, and it doesn’t seem to have borne fruit to this point. Perhaps it is good to have this conversation about whether it is a good idea and what are the rules for such a policy if we need one on the national, state, and even local level, before the next crime has us confined to our homes until it is solved.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.
Picture of CCTV warning sign was taken by the author in Oxford, England last summer.