Chapter 10 April 20. Clean Cut Kid is Captured while Bob Dylan heads to Kalamazoo

CNN exploited the Boston bombings and their aftermath to create a reality mini-series that thrilled and shocked the world for five days straight.  It was the crowning achievement of the infotainment media, and the deepest plunge into exploitive depravity yet taken by any news group in the free world. For five days, the country gorged on rumors, lies, suppositions, assumptions, retractions, promises, deceptions, anticipations, and finally closure.  It was an episode of Criminal Minds played out in real time, with real people.  This was interactive media, in which anybody might have the opportunity to play hero, even if it was only by keeping their eyes on the game and registering their observations.  And it was a game in which anybody might get killed. Boston was transformed into a miasmic labyrinth of fear and suspicion that enthralled the outside world.

Spending the week watching the garbage spinning out of the CNN wheel was like reading a trashy novel that is written in that tricky way that allows an illiterate to race through 400 pages a day.  The trick is to let the reader know what is going to happen before it happens so they will keep reading to find out if their suppositions are correct. One example of this Stephen King technique is to tell the reader that a suspect is being questioned at the hospital. Then you have the police deny that any such suspect exists.  Later, you issue another statement that someone in fact had entered the hospital and was being questioned as a person of interest. Then it is denied that the person is a suspect.  Later, it is confirmed that this interrogation led to some vital information.  The reader knew from the start that a suspect was being interrogated at the hospital, but the series of denials and retractions keep them reading so they can feel superior to the characters in the story by knowing what they do not know.

Is the bomber a homegrown lunatic or is a foreign terrorist group sponsoring his deeds? We are given clues that point in either direction, and a denouement that could go either way. Whatever happens, the viewer knew it.  It is the easiest way to hook an audience. In writing class, they call it good storytelling. But I don’t want a news media that is manned by good storytellers.  I want factual news updates interrupting the scheduled programming. I don’t want the manipulatively belated exposure of the victims’ identities to be the scheduled entertainment.

One thing that really frightened me was the attempt to profile the killers.  Everybody had trouble believing that kids who were good at sports and liked to party could commit such acts.  The younger brother especially was well-liked by all who knew him, none of them being able to believe that he could be responsible for acts that seemed inconceivable to the civilized mind.  . You may remember Bob Dylan writing a song about just such a clean-cut kid:

 

 

Everybody’s asking why he couldn’t adjust

 Adjust to what? A dream that bust

They took a clean cut kid

And they made a killer out of him

That’s what they did.

They said what’s up is down, they said what isn’t is
They put ideas in his head that he thought were his.

They took a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

He was on the baseball team, he was in the marching band
When he was ten years old he had a watermelon stand.

He was a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

They said, “Listen boy, you’re just a pup”
They sent him to a napalm health spa to shape up.

They gave him dope to smoke, drinks and pills
A jeep to drive, blood to spill.

They said “Congratulation, you got what it takes”
They sent him back into the race without any brakes.

They took a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

He bought the American dream but it put him in doubt
Only game he could play was Russian roulette.

He drank Coca-Cola, he was eating Wonder Bread
He ate Burger Kings, he was well fed.

He went to Hollywood to see Peter O’Toole
He stole a Rolls Royce and drove in a swimming pool.

They took a clean-cut kid
But they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

He could’ve sold insurance, owned a restaurant or bar
He could’ve been an accountant or a tennis star.

He was wearing boxing gloves, took a dive one day
Off the Golden Gate Bridge into China Bay.

His mama walks the floor, his daddy weeps and moans
They gotta sleep together in a home they don’t own.

They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

Everybody’s asking why he didn’t adjust
All he ever wanted was somebody to trust.

They took his head and turned it inside out
He never did know what it was all about.

He had a steady job, he joined the choir
He never did plan to walk the high wire.

They took a clean-cut kid
And they made a killer out of him
That’s what they did.

This kid is probably the most hated person in the United States right now, and for good reason. When his old friends shared their memories with the CNN reporters, they were repeatedly asked whether he had said anything detrimental against the United States. They were asked if he had adjusted well to the new land, or if he was having trouble fitting in. Did he ever talk about his homeland?  In the end, he seemed like such a nice kid that the CNN reporters tried to shift all the blame to his older brother, suggesting the the sway of an evil influence.  Maybe it is so, but a person can kill without any reason, just as one can eat without any appetite. There is so much disassociation in the world today that almost anything can happen without a purpose. The daily violence that plagues the United States is not by foreign powers hostile to the US.  Violence is a product of the person committing it.

Is it so hard to believe that a person who plays sports is incapable of violent acts?  Eric Naposki, Robert Rozier, Rubin Carter, and Jim Mahady are among America’s celebrity sportsmen who have been convicted of murder. Those convicted of criminal sexual assault include Mel Hall, Eddie Johnson, Tom Payne, .Ruben Patterson, Thomas Henderson, Dave Meggett, and Keith Wright. Criminals are criminals.  It doesn’t matter what their politics are or what country they are from.  Ideas are not crimes. They come from thinking.  There is nothing wrong in having ideas that are critical of your homeland. Having ideas is simply evidence that your brain is not dead.   There are few ideas that can be said to be inherently bad.  It is the manner in which ideas are carried out that leads to ends that are ultimately good or bad. If convicted, Dzhokhar Tsamaev will not be sentenced for being a Muslim, or even for his attitudes about the United States.  He will go to prison, and possibly the death house, for committing murder.

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