Post readers debate the Boston bombings

April 23, 2013
An MIT student from Tunisia writes a message on the ground in chalk near a makeshift memorial for MIT officer Sean Collier, who was killed in a shootout Thursday night (Steven Senne / AP)
An MIT student from Tunisia writes a message on the ground in chalk near a makeshift memorial for MIT officer Sean Collier, who was killed in a shootout Thursday night (Steven Senne / AP)

Those who write comments to washingtonpost.com have been understandably obsessed the past few days about the Boston Marathon bombings. We have received thousands of comments as I write this. There are expressions of horror, theories about whatever might have inspired the Tsarnaev brothers, praise for the police work and a certain amount of nuttiness.

The surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged by federal prosecutors Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction, which can carry the death penalty. Several commenters have noted that Massachusetts does not have a death penalty and cite that as a reason for the federal charges, instead of letting Massachusetts prosecutors carry the ball. There have also been attacks on President Obama for an alleged “pro-Muslim bias,” for reasons that escape me.

We’ll start with a positive comment, from TomR3, who wrote, “Here is an example of real American Exceptionalism: You are accused of doing something godawful that, yes, you probably did — and you still get a fair trial according to the laws. That’s exceptional.”

Familynet asked, “How exactly is “mass destruction” weaponry defined? If a killer drives his Humvee into a crowded street at high speed, is that mass destruction? What if the engine dies before any pedestrian, is it still an attack deserving of the crime of WMD? Yes, I know that many were seriously wounded, but is the govt using this terminology to make it a federal crime and remove it from the anti-death penalty jurisdiction of Massachusetts?”

Familynet agreed, writing, “I think the charges are just to provide an excuse to take away the case from an anti-death penalty state. If this happened in Texas or Virginia it would be state-prosecuted.”

Gneubeck said, “The characteristics of the recent Boston bombings should have been a wake-up call for all Americans motivated by concerns for our nation’s security. The inexplicable pro-Muslim bias residing in the WH in the form of Barack Obama has once again reiterated its refusal to label Islamic extremism as the source of the evident Jihad being waged against American interests at-home and abroad.”

To which HeavilyinfluencedTexan replied, “Now now … let’s not get carried away.”

Quillerm wrote, “First order of business with Terrorists, protect your Cell from authorities. Don’t divulge the names, places, or dates of contacts with other extremists. The older brother met SIX times with terrorist agents in Russia. Will the FBI be ordered to ignore all those meetings as insignificant? This PC garbage will get more people killed. This guy is feeding the media and FBI what Obama wants to hear, not the truth.”

Mklvntwar asked, “Where are they supposed to find an impartial jury? On another planet? Won’t find one here.”

But RetiredOfficer replied, “People take jury duty as a very serious, precious business. There is no doubt a jury can be seated to make the right decisions based on the facts presented.”

hit4cycle said, “Government malfeasance is largely to blame for the bombings. First, they allowed Muslim Chechens to immigrate here (dumb) and then they failed to act on intelligence that the elder brother had spent time in Russia and had become more radicalized.”

seattlenerd wrote, “It is fairly obvious that the existence of the death penalty is no deterrent to murder or mayhem. It is fairly obvious that the death penalty is not cost-effective. So, arguments justifying capital punishment must seek support elsewhere.”

We’ll close with SeaTigr, who said, “He’s an American citizen. Ergo, he is to be afforded all the protections of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

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Doug Feaver | April 15, 2013