Patriots Day bombings in Boston

Patriots Day bombings in Boston April 15, 2013

I don’t know any more than you do at this point, quite likely even less.

Two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I’m keeping track of events via CNN, which is reporting two killed and as many as 100 people injured in the initial blasts. They’re also saying two unexploded devices have been discovered elsewhere in Boston.

Talkingpointsmemo seems to be doing a good job in keeping pace with official responses.

Charlie Pierce describes the situation in Boston.

No news yet as to who did this, or why.

If you’re the praying sort, please pray.

Let me share this, via Joe Hanson, which seems like a good reminder today.

Look for the helpers. And whenever possible, be one of them.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Victor has his problems, but nastiness doesn’t seem to be one of them.

  • An American friend of mine on h2g2 has written up a list of reasons why he thinks this was domestic terrorism.


  • Steele


    “To score petty points about religion being useless.”

    You’re right, that’s far more respectful.

  • Ursula L

    I’m willing to downplay the events in Boston, at least to the extent that they are being over-played, and with awareness of how that over-playing is causing real damage.

    When I see more resources getting thrown at this bombing than at all the bombings of women’s health clinics in the US, I get angry. Likewise when I see more resources being thrown at these murders and assaults than at the many murders and assaults related to the ongoing problems related to domestic violence and gender-related abuse.

    Particularly since when we throw this much excessive attention at this sort of gaudy attack, we are giving the perpetrators exactly the attention they want. While simultaneously while we downplay or ignore deaths from domestic violence we give the misogynists who consider this violence the right of men against the women they have a right to exactly the space they want to do as they please.

  • Jamoche

    I like the British approach to tea and adversity:

    That’s Britain for you. Tea solves everything. You’re a bit cold? Tea. Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You’ve just been told you’ve got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? Tea dammit! And if it’s really serious, they may bring out the coffee.

    Though this is Boston – they might have different ideas about tea.

  • Fanraeth

    If you’re going to be enraged by religious people saying religious things in the comments section on a religious person’s blog, perhaps you might consider browsing elsewhere?

  • Helena specifically visits the blog from time to time to do this, hence why I phrased my reply as I did: Some people see tragedy as nothing but an opportunity to be an asshole to people.

  • banancat

    I kind of view this as a subtle form of racism. Like, I can’t wait to find out the race of bomber so we can determine if this was terrorism or just a completely isolated act from an isolated white guy which is unrelated to anything ever and has no cultural or legal implications.

  • For what it’s worth, I’m a Mass resident who was pretty emotionally devastated by the Boston bombings, and I nevertheless agree with you.

    It doesn’t change my emotions, nor should it, but it’s important for me to be aware of the difference between my emotional reaction to an event on the one hand and my understanding of it on the other.

  • aim2misbehave

    Make a tinfoil hat!

    But, I more or less agree – it’s Patriots’ Day, too, but since that’s a Monday holiday, it only coincides with Tax Day once every so many years. IMO, it suggests someone who was very familiar with certain aspects of American politics. IDK if it was from the specific movement that has a lot to say about Boston and taxes and patriotism, but regardless it’s looking very, very much like a domestic thing.

  • Dash1

    TRiG, thanks for linking to that. It’s a very persuasive list, and it’s also got some helpful explanations for those who aren’t familiar with all of our special brands of U.S. craziness. It’s also reassuring on the subject of the upcoming London marathon.

  • aim2misbehave

    My roommate is Bostonian, and I’ve got friends and family who are avid marathoners who’ll do every big race they can get into – luckily nobody that either of us knew was near the explosions, but at the end of the day, pouring drinks definitely did help.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Ah, got it. We have a child in our midst.

    Note: I don’t believe in prayer either, so I guess you could say Justin’s train of thought is akin to mine. But, hey. I’m not being a dick about it. If people want to pray, let them pray. Hopefully it will motivate them to then go out and help some other way.

  • AnonaMiss

    Mm. I’m from the midwest, so I’d never heard of Patriots’ Day before this thread. When I first read the thread title, I thought Fred making a point about the patriotism of paying your taxes (which would have been inappropriate for the occasion, but I assumed from the lack of explanation that it was a well-established Fred-ism which I had forgotten).

    I’m still inclined to think tax day is the more likely reason, because the only people I can think of who would want to make a point about Patriots’ Day would be Brits with a chip on their shoulders… and while that’s not impossible, that’s a much smaller pool of potentials.

  • AnonaMiss

    Since you’re doing this as some sort of revenge against downvoters (which makes no sense at all to me, but whatever), you should note that only registered users can downvote. Between this fact and the heart-wrenching situation she was relaying in the comments you downvoted, your downvoting of SisterCoyote is dickery of the first order.

  • Steele

    I think speculating on who did it at the moment is fairly useless. It could be right-wingers, left-wingers, religious extremists, or just someone who wanted to kill people. It could have been because it was Patriot’s day or because it was tax day or because it was the Boston Marathon and that seemed like a fairly easy place to blow up. They might hate taxes or America or people running.

    We don’t really have evidence pointing at one group or another at the moment. Until we do, I want to be cautious of pointing the finger at ‘those people,’ and be careful about wanting to believe the worst in people I disagree with.

  • Fanraeth

    Oh, one of those. I used to have a “Christian” acquaintance who used every tragedy as an excuse to say bad things happen to people to drive them to God.

  • Lori

    The kind of person who would want to make a point about Patriot’s Day wouldn’t be a Brit with a grudge, it would be an American with a whole lot of resentment. Specifically someone involved with the far Right militia movement. Among regular folks Patriot’s Day is a thing in Massachusetts & Maine, and somewhat less of a thing in a couple other states. If you’ve never lived in any of those places then it makes sense that you’ve never heard of it. However, if you were part of the militia movement you’d know about even if you’d never set foot in any of those places.

    The particular segment of the far Right that I’m talking about is often referred to as the “patriot movement” for a reason. They fancy themselves the last True Patriots and see themselves as the vanguard of reclaiming the Revolution. For someone like that committing an act of violence on the day that commemorates the shot heard round the world would make sense (within the totally nonsensical boundaries of his world view). Tax day is far more important/obvious to the vast majority of Americans, but these guys live in their own subculture and they don’t see things quite the same way that we do.

    The violent anti-tax folks really do tend to confine themselves to targeting the Federal government. By & large they have no beef with the rest of us so if they’re going to harm someone or blow something up they focus on IRS offices or personnel, Post Offices, federal buildings, that kind of thing. Some of the Patriot guys definitely see the rest of us as part of the problem and/or fair game. Think Eric Rudolph.

    None of which is to say that it couldn’t turn out to have nothing to do with Patriot’s Day. It’s just that if we were laying odds I’d still go Patriot’s Day over tax day. (The nature of the device would tentatively, although not definitely, mark it as domestic terrorism rather than the work of an outside terror group.)

  • other lori

    With the use of “lone wolf,” it refers to something specific, that’s common among anti-government/white supremacist groups. When a person associated with one of those groups commits an act of terrorism, they often do it as a “lone wolf,” which means that they don’t get any direct help from the group, the group doesn’t provide financial support/materials, they make sure there’s nothing to tie the group directly to the attack, so that the group won’t be implicated.

    But, they are only a “lone wolf” if they are associated with some group/movement. A solitary person who just decides on their own to blow something up wouldn’t be a lone wolf bomber, but something else.

    I don’t know if that makes the terminology any better, or where it originated. But it’s referring to something different than a solitary person deciding to commit an attack on their own.

  • Yup, therein lies the irony. Same tactics, same jerk attitude, only what they’re proselytizing is atheism instead of Christianity. They fail to recognize the import of the fact that once you adopt this kind of behavior, it ceases to matter what you’re preaching because your attitude will never win any converts. It becomes all about establishing the tribal boundaries.

    And when they use tragedies to push this message, I frankly consider them no better than the WBC.

  • I fully agree with SisterCoyote’s point that some people simply can’t do anything to help. I disagree with her lack of opposition to the irrational practice of prayer. This “revenge”, as you put it, isn’t a targeted practice of revenge against registered users; it is merely a change in the thoroughness of my use of the Disqus ratings. What constitutes “dickery”?

  • Hm. Another strange downvote.

  • Just to make sure I understand: does your new “thoroughness” involve more consistently downvoting things you disagree with, or is there a more narrow target?

  • AnonaMiss

    Mmmm, I see the point about them considering themselves the spiritual descendants of the American partisans, but… assuming that’s so for the perpetrators in this case, why would they bomb an event which I would assume they would see as honoring them? Because liberals are celebrating it too liberally/trying to co-opt it/whatever? I’m inclined to think this wouldn’t be the motivation, because if it were, you’d think the secularization of Christmas would have attracted this kind of attention long before the secularization of Patriots’ Day.

    Not arguing, curious.

    Actually, my confusion, and more to the point the confusion of “NOBODY’S FOOL” upthread, brings to mind another possibility: someone who hadn’t been familiar with Patriots’ Day, found out about a “Patriots’ Day celebration” being held on tax day, and flipped their shit.

  • Lori

    If it turns out to be someone from the patriot movement my guess is that their motive would be more or less the same as Eric Rudolph’s motive for the Atlanta Olympics bombing—to undermine the government by demonstrating that it can’t keep its citizens safe. That’s a very big thing with those guys and within their (totally immoral and wrong) worldview that makes perfect sense.

    Part of the definition of a sovereign state is that it holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within its territory (via some combination of police and military power). In exchange for that monopoly the state takes on the responsibility of ensuring the safety of its citizens (in general and within reasonable expectations). If you undermine that enough you undermine the legitimacy of the state itself. When people take about failed states one of the things that pretty much all of them have in common is a lack of a functioning monopoly/responsibility deal.,

    If the responsible person or group is from the Mass-Maine area then the marathon and Patriot’s Day would be closely linked in his/their mind(s) because it’s the big holiday event (the two are on the same day on purpose, not by coincidence). It’s basically a smaller version of Olympic park—-a high profile event with lots of media coverage that has lots of people in a space that’s hard to secure. That makes it a good target.

    Having lived in California if I was going to try something like this* I’d pick the Rose Parade. Same deal—lots of people in a fairly small area that’s hard to secure, for an event that draws a huge amount of coverage. Especially with a fairly high risk operation if the goal is not to get caught (as opposed to martyrdom) there are major advantages to targeting a familiar event. Knowing how the event works gives you planning advantages and allows you to blend in better.

    *I would never, ever do such I thing. I am speaking purely hypothetically as a thought exercise. It’s a hazard of having done graduate work in security studies. There is no need for any stern people wearing mid-priced suits and driving boring sedans to visit me.

  • Helena

    No. This one of the few blogs I read, because S.’s dismantling of Left Behind is so clever, and it turns out I share virtually every political opinion with him, except the belief in fairies. I’m flattered you keep track of me. The call for prayer is semantically equivalent to “I’m going to help you by doing nothing.” It is, as I said, insulting to the victims; it’s mockery.

  • I’m curious: on your view, when my secular friends who know I live in the Boston area contact me and they tell me they’re thinking of me, am I wrong to appreciate them for it?

    Should I feel insulted instead, since they aren’t actually doing anything, but somehow think I should care?

    Is it even reasonable for me to feel insulted in that case?

  • EllieMurasaki

    S.’s dismantling of Left Behind is so clever, and it turns out I share virtually every political opinion with him, except the belief that it is possible to respect a belief that differs from mine.


  • Lori

    I don’t keep track of you. I don’t have to. You make a point of being obnoxious every time you comment. It’s rather noticeable, which is clearly what you want.

    Thinking good thoughts and hoping for the victims’ recovery is also equivalent to saying “I’m going to help you by doing nothing.” If your actual concern was with whether or not people were doing something tangible then you’d focus on that. Neither prayer nor good thoughts automatically preclude doing something and not praying doesn’t automatically mean actually doing something.

    You don’t care whether people do something for the victims or not. We can tell because your post in this thread was just like every other comment you’ve ever made here. You’re simply using the bombing as an excuse to do your same old pissing and moaning and being rude. Using the victims that way is fair more disrespectful than praying for them.

    Beyond the fact that you’re just a user, you do realize that statistically the vast majority of the victims are probably believers themselves, right? You have no right to be insulted on their behalf. If you know for a fact that one or more of the victims is a non-believer who is insulted by prayer then do share that information. I’m sure that the praying folks here would be happy to exclude them out of respect for their preferences. If you don’t have that information then climb down off your totally unjustified high horse and can it.

  • PatBannon

    Wow. This is the sanest thing I’ve ever seen you post. I’m actually kind of proud.

  • I had to see how much a thing this was. Yeah… tribalism is a thing for atheists too, for sure.

    I collected a few excerpts, for the curious.

  • Jamoche

    If you have to eat your hat, order it in a sandwich – to go.

  • Fusina

    On the other hand, we now have a slightly less anonymous downvote–eg, anything with only one is probably our “friend” EH.

    Yes. I pray. My best friend is an atheist. She understands that when I fell helpless to change something, I pray. I understand that she thinks I am praying to my imaginary friend, and I understand that this makes her confused, as otherwise she thinks I am very intelligent. I understand that I may be a total fool for believing in a god, but it makes me feel more secure, so if you can just accept that some of us need a security blankie, maybe that will help.

    That said, downvoting someone who would help by giving blood, even if they do believe in a god and in praying for bad situations–oooh, very mature.

  • AnonaMiss


  • I’m downvoting a blog post reply, not a blood donation.

  • Jenny Islander

    They could have just assumed that everyone running the marathon was idle rich or librul. The Goldmarks were murdered back in the ’80s because some loser thought that they were both Communists and stinking rich and killing them would be righteous as well as lucrative. He was plenty focused, just on something that didn’t make sense to anyone but him.

  • P J Evans

    I suspect that they have to be – the number of people out there spreading their personal ‘theories’, and the amount of misinformation from the media (Fox, CNN, I’m pointing at YOU) is impressive in a negative kind of way.

  • Lori

    But the guy who killed the Goldmarks wasn’t an anti-tax whackjob. He was Christian Identity, which is a different flavor of Right wing awful. Hence his (mistaken) concern about them being Jewish and Communist. It’s possible that the Boston bombing will turn out to have been committed by someone like that, but if so then neither tax day nor Patriot’s Day will really be the issue.

    It really is depressing how many subgroups of hateful, potentially violent people we have in this country.

  • It is, as I said, insulting to the victims; it’s mockery.

    So… Those among the victims who want people to pray for them, they’re insulted too? Those who acquiesce to the requests of the victims for prayer are mocking them?

    See, this is why you’re an asshole. It’s not because you’re an atheist. It’s because you do not merely fail to give a damn about how the victims actually feel, but you accuse others of insult and mockery at exactly the same time as you yourself hold the victims feelings in utter contempt.

  • Lori

    The New York Post is the worst. The Post is terrible all the time, but they’re really outdoing themselves on this one. It would be morbidly fascinating if it wasn’t so scary. If they don’t end up triggering some kind of vigilante violence it won’t be for lack of trying.