In an act of mobbing, people on a social media website misidentified some people as suspects. Roughly 272,000 people accessed the website that was involved, according to BBC news. Within no time families were being harassed and frightened, on-line and by telephone; their homes surrounded by media vans.
Management of the website later issued an apology to the people who were wrongly targeted, and their families.
This was just one of the ways that due process was disregarded following the tragic bombing. Looking at the photos of the two misguided young people who caused death and injury for so many, I see two children. They were old enough to know better than to kill, yet they acted like children.
I look at the photos of the armed men in the assault vehicles that hunted them down, and wonder, what’s our excuse? Can we let law enforcement do its work without baying for blood like a wolf pack? And law enforcement, can we make due process an absolute requirement?
Technology allowed us to zero in on these two children like omnipotent parents with 360-degree vision. That’s not a bad thing. However, we let our love of technology ride us straight into summary execution. We have the infrared cameras, the surveillance cameras, the laser-sighted guns, the massive assault vehicles, the bullet-proof carapace, the helicopters -- and the animal desire to kill creatures which run (could that instinct be part of the Tsarnaev brothers’ targeting of runners?).
And if you couldn’t actually be in Boston, you could go on-line and pile on in a monstrous click-mob. Click somebody’s life into deadly chaos without even revealing your name. Virtual murder.
We are free to rise above the mob instinct and set a better example. Technology enabled law enforcement to quickly catch the suspects; even to instantly convict them of the crime. Now we are free to imagine the possibility of restoring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to life without lusting to take his life. It’s been done before. We are free to affirm life in honor of those whose lives were wrongly taken. The technology to overcome bloodlust is within each one of us, controllable as the click of a mouse button. It’s the right way to live.