On April 15, twin bombs exploded in the spectator areas near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people, one of whom was an eight-year-old boy. The blasts injured more than 100 others as well, many of whom were hurt severely. In the days that followed, I have seen a remarkable outpouring of support for the bombing victims, for the city of Boston, for the running community, and for the many heroes who charged in through the smoke to save lives, heedless of any other dangers that might have been around them.
This column is not about all of that. I wish it was.
As you might imagine, social media channels lit up immediately after the bombings, and it was not even 90 minutes later that I saw the first jokes cracked about it on Facebook (“I guess marathons are bad for your health, huh?”). I saw other comments shared where folks bragged about how many people had defriended them over callous things they said about the bombings, as if such a mass alienation was something to be proud of (“I lost 138 friends over something I just said. I still got it!”). I also saw commentary that hand-waved away criticism that those offended by such wisecracking were simply being too sensitive about it.
This, in turn, prompted an expletive-laced rant from yours truly on the subject. For me, these bombings were personal. I have friends and family who live in Boston within short walking distance of the bomb site. One person I know stood directly in front of the second bomb a mere 15 minutes before it detonated. My whole family runs. My wife is a marathoner. She and my daughter also run half-marathons, and my son and I are always there to cheer them on. Had the diseased mind that struck the Boston Marathon hit, say, the Rock & Roll Half-Marathon in D.C. earlier this year, it very well could have been my son and/or myself blown to bits.