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Our rights are bomber’s rights

And if they are taken from him, they could be taken from us, too

When the bombs went off in Boston, we all watched and waited. But unlike 9/11, our world didn’t stop spinning. Perhaps we’ve been desensitized somewhat to terrorist threats due partly to recent mass shootings. That’s not to say we don’t care or that we don’t get upset. We just have come to realize that we’re not immune to such tragedy.

From what I’ve seen, the people of Boston showed us how to react to a terrorist assault. People were civil, helpful toward each other and cooperative with authorities. A single horrible act was matched by countless heroic acts for which Boston should be proud.

I’m not as impressed with the media coverage. While much of it was good, even vital, there was a tendency to fill the gaps with illogical conclusions and speculation that feed on people’s fears and prejudices.

No sooner had the remaining suspect been apprehended, the pundits started the blame game. Why had the FBI not stopped this from happening? After all, the older brother had been the subject of a brief investigation — what? two years ago? Perhaps these pseudo-news people don’t realize that there are more police officers in the city of Chicago than there are FBI agents worldwide.

Now there have been — and will be — calls to strengthen our immigration laws. There are those who want the surviving suspect to be held as an enemy combatant without the American right of due process.

The problem is, if that’s the case, then any religious zealot who is also an American citizen,who blows up an abortion clinic or commits a similar crime, must also be held as an enemy combatant.

What I want to know is why are we afraid of due process? Why are we afraid to give this guy a lawyer and let him plead his case? I’m certain that justice will prevail.

But here’s the other thing, and this is just my opinion – this thing we have called the Constitution is not just for some Americans and not others. And if you truly believe in the Constitution, then you must also want the provisions it contains to be afforded to all people in the world.

The Constitution says that all men are created equal. It doesn’t say all American mankind is created equal. It’s all of mankind. Just because some governments don’t allow the same rights that we have doesn’t mean those rights don’t exist. Rights are rights, not privileges.

We hold these truths to be self-evident. Everyone in the world has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but some governments suppress those rights. If you advocate the suppression of those rights for one individual, how can you call them rights? And who do you suppose we take those rights away from next? Me? You?

If we can take them from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is a U.S. citizen, then we can take them away from me and you, too.

The Constitution is fluid, but it’s also ironclad. If it were not fluid, then blacks and women would not be able to vote today. And if it’s not ironclad, then they may not be able to vote tomorrow. We can amend — and have amended — the Constitution, but when we do, the change applies to everyone, not one individual who did a very bad thing.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tighten our borders and do a better job with immigration. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t review the Boston case to see what could be done better in the future.

I’m just saying, let’s not overreact to the point that our own rights are placed in jeopardy.

© Copyright 2013 by David Porter, who can be reached at All rights reserved. My heartfelt sympathies go out to Boston and the families impacted by the Boston Marathon bombing.

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