Wineke: Who are these guys?

Columnist struck by mobilization of law enforcement

The Boston bombing was real and real people lost their lives or were maimed for life. I'm not losing sight of that tragedy as I concentrate on some of the surreal aspects of that act of terrorism.

But there were aspects that seemed to be derived from movies, giving new credence to the idea that truth can be even stranger than fiction.

One was the Six Degrees of Separation aspect of the situation. Everyone seems to have some personal – but a degree or two removed – link to Boston.

One example: I work in Platteville, where the local paper last week ran a front page headline proclaiming that Platteville participants in the Boston Marathon completed the race before the bombing.

Another example: The daughter of one of my friends was watching news footage of "Suspect Number 2" (Dzhokhar Tsamaev) when she noticed one of her friends standing right in front of the bomber.

Now, for some reason, what really struck me, however, was the mobilization of law enforcement. It seemed right out of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and from "Thelma and Louise."

In each of those movies, armies of cops turned up out of nowhere to pursue two semi-losers.

In Boston, we saw a seemingly endless parade of police cruisers, ambulances, specialty vehicles and helicopters transporting Boston Police, Watertown Police, the FBI, Boston Transit Police, and, if I recall, National Guard troops.

A recurring line in Butch Cassidy has Butch looking to Sundance and asking, "Who are those guys?" But, at one point, Sundance turns to Butch and notes, "You know what?. . .They're very good."

Finally, and this has nothing to do with movies but has everything to do with another national controversy, the police are very good.

I keep getting messages from readers telling me that we cannot pass gun control legislation because citizens need their guns to protect them from a rapacious national government.

You can have any perspective on gun control that you want, but just take one look at the Boston coverage and explain to me how you would protect yourself from a theoretical government crackdown using your arsenal of semi-automatic assault weapons.

Actually, as we all now know, the terrorists didn't need to protect themselves from the government (until they set off their bombs) but the government needed protection from the terrorists. One police officer was killed and another critically wounded in pursuit of the brothers.

But the romantic notion that we are ruled by gangs of jack-booted thugs wearing government uniforms seems a persistent myth.

If you are hoping a weapon of any kind will help you maintain some weird freedom from those sworn to protect you, I'd only advise you to look at Boston and the massive power of law enforcement and ask yourself "who are those guys?"

City Life

E-Newsletter Registration

This Week's Circulars