In The Possibility Of Ridiculous Outcomes I noted that overreaction by Boston police, putting an entire city under “lockdown“, had gone too far. Americans are not subject to being “locked down” by anyone! Prisoners can be locked down, children can be locked down, Chinese peasants can still be locked down, Soviets formerly under Stalin could be locked down, just about anyone oppressed can be locked down. But Americans are still free and theoretically you need to arrest them one at a time and not merely bark orders from a megaphone.
I originally understood “lockdown” as something only applied to prisoners; this lasted until the militarization of police started getting a decent head of steam. For example:
“On April 20th 1999 two murderous raging assholes went on a rampage. [The Columbine shootings in Colorado] … During the tragedy, which was entirely constrained within a single building, the school was placed in ‘lockdown’. That day was the first time I’d heard the phrase ‘lockdown’ applied outside of a prison. Maybe I’m sheltered. Maybe I was naive. Regardless, I heard the word ‘lockdown’ and my frame of reference was a prison.”
I wasn’t alone. Liberty’s Torch had the same reaction; “lockdown = prisoner”.
“During the first days after the bombings, the city of Boston was in ‘lockdown.’ This term, usually associated with the confinement of imprisoned felons to their cells, caused no small stir among the more observant commentators on the Web.”
Liberty’s Torch, quoting Popehat, pointed out something I’d missed. During the lockdown the cops asked everyone except Dunkin’ Donuts to shut down. To me this was the funniest thing I’d ever heard; akin to the Simpson’s or South Park satirizing police. It was so much of a punchline that I couldn’t stop chuckling for days. If you were watching Big Bang Theory (to randomly pick a work of fiction) and they said “lockdown everyone in the city except for Dunkin’ Donuts”; the exception would be a punchline. In fact it would be a pretty funny one.
Popehat noticed something deeper:
“The government and police were willing to shut down parts of the economy like the universities, software, biotech, and manufacturing…but when asked to do an actual risk to reward calculation where a small part of the costs landed on their own shoulders, they had no problem weighing one versus the other and then telling the donut servers ‘yeah, come to work – no one’s going to get shot.'”
Talk about a blinding flash of obvious! Law enforcement, unleashed and slightly unhinged was willing to do darned near anything; but only to other people. They went for it! They had military equipment in the streets, they shut down subways, they did door to door searches, you name it and they demanded it. Yet even as they were harassing a couple million citizens they couldn’t stomach the cruel reality of securing their own donuts.
Time for a Curmudgeonly Gem of Insight:
“There are people on this earth who are willing to (and have) disrupted the lives of everyone in a large city. They have done this to free, adult, American, citizens. They did this despite the fact that they weren’t personally tough enough to endure a donut shortage. These people have badges.”
What do you say to people that think like that? They looked us in the face and said (without breaking into gales of laughter) “everyone in the entire city is in dire danger except the people that are making our snacks”. Chalk up another “special day” for history. April 15th, 2013 was the day that people outfitted like mall ninja SWAT teams and carrying real legal badges couldn’t make their own coffee.