Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 20, 2013

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. — Blaise Pascal

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 10:33 am

April 20 – Those who murdered and maimed at the Boston Marathon and who subsequently murdered MIT Police Officer Sean Collier have now been killed or captured. Cambridge, Watertown, and surrounding areas are no longer in a state of siege. There are a few things that come to mind now that I’ve finally been able to sleep after this ordeal.

  • There should now be no doubt that surveillance cameras are valuable tools for identifying criminals and helping to bring them to justice. Elected officials who fail to understand this should not be elected. The argument that these cameras infringe on civil liberties is an argument I no longer wish to hear.
  • If ever there was any doubt that the dissemination of local news is important, this should no longer be in doubt. How that information is distributed is rapidly evolving, but it now clearly includes such tools as Twitter and other forms of social media. It’s also clear that when so many people are taking part in the rapid exchange of information, it’s important that everyone understands that there have to be some rules, especially regarding things that could make it more difficult for the police and other officials to do their work. Those rules are not yet established, but experiences like this help to create them.
  • I greatly appreciated all of the people I know who openly expressed their anger and their unvarnished points of view during this ordeal. I find honesty very refreshing. What I despise is when the thought police try to dictate what emotions you’re allowed to have. Put it all out there, folks. Repressing your honest thoughts is like stifling a sneeze.
  • To all the conspiracy theorists with their "false flags" and other rubbish, get a life. – Robert Winters


  1. Total agreement with your stance re: surveillance cameras.

    Comment by Wade — April 20, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

  2. 1) Surveillance cameras have been a no brainer for a long time however, based on the events in Boston, giving everyone a camera in their phone seemingly has the same effect. Those councilors who have repeatedly fought this suggestion really ought to rethink their politicized motives. I say “politicized” only because I know that said councilors are unaware of the legal/constitutional argument. You can start with the parks.

    2)I’ve never used “twitter” before, now I do.

    3)I’m not sure I agree with your last point. State senators have already used this tragedy to promote their own political agendas and I do not think hate speech ought to be protected. Where I will agree though is your point on repression. I’d rather know what I’m up against rather than have people hold back their opinions for fear of reprisal. People try to find a reason in times like this, and unfortunately I don’t really think there is one here. Hating on Muslims or thinking that an ar-15 could have solved this may be constitutionally protected doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere. If you need to let off steam buy a punching bag, go for a jog, get involved, or learn how to play the drums (that’s what I did).

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 20, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  3. I support free speech with few exceptions, but I also believe everyone has a right (and often an obligation) to beat back idiocy by overwhelming the idiots. For example, when the Westboro Baptist Church shows up at military funerals and the people there surround them, marginalize them, and prevent them from getting near, I find that to be a very civilized thing to do. The government has only limited rights to restrict free speech, but if civilized people outnumber the idiots this can be pretty effective.

    I don’t believe civilized people should engage in “hate speech”, but it’s often not so clear what this is. If someone speaks critically about a religion, is that “hate speech” that must be suppressed? Shall we be restricted from criticizing Scientology? That strikes me as outlawing blasphemy, and I don’t think government should be doing that. Providing restrictions for the sake of public safety (as in not yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater) makes a lot of sense to me, but otherwise I think people should be free to criticize and lampoon. This is different, of course, from making threats – a common pastime of all extremists.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 20, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

  4. I am certainly in favor of surveillance cameras. But one of the issues that bothers me about surveillance cameras is is to clarify how long the information is kept, who controls the information, and how it gets used. Rarely does anyone talk about this topic. For example, can the information be used in a Divorce hearing?

    Record keeping and what happens to the records is a factor as to why so many people still pay cash tolls instead of getting a transponder which often offers cheaper tolls since they don’t want a record of where they have been – that is about change though since cameras are going to be used on toll roads.

    I’d like to see cameras used for traffic enforcement. The other day when I was coming down the Riverway (or whichever Way) where it crosses Brookline avenue, Brookline avenue was clogged and cross traffic was stuck and completely blocked the intersection so that Riverway traffic couldn’t cross the intersection during an entire green light cycle several times. There is no way police officers standing there could issue tickets; but cameras recording license plates of cars that were blocking the intersection could result in tickets being issued. Do this, publicize it, and a lot of people’s habits would change and traffic would flow better. (“Don’t Block the Box” signs and more street painting as other cities have done would help, too).

    Comment by John Gintell — April 21, 2013 @ 1:31 am

  5. I’d think there’d have to be some serious language around use and implementation, but so far this council hasn’t even gotten out the door on this issue. Certainly if London can figure out how to do it, then so can we.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 21, 2013 @ 11:03 am

  6. That’s why we pay the city councillors the big bucks.
    And give them reserved parking spaces and personal assistants.
    OK, facetiousness over.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 21, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

  7. don’t forget the pensions…

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 21, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

  8. Kudos to Teamsters Local 25 and Sean O’Brien. They showed up in force in Medford yesterday, prepared to frog march those sub-human Westboro Baptist Church morons off the scene, enveloped in a human chain, if they showed up while the town buried Krystle Campbell

    Comment by Bob Metcalf — April 23, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

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