Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Black Police Trilogy!


As I watched television and  radio reports of the manhunt in Massachusetts yesterday I was put in mind of the handsome volume I received in the mail a week or so ago. The Spider Versus The Empire State by Norvell W. Page is a trio of Spider pulp stories pitting the ultra violent hero against a brutal police state established during World War II in New York City.

While there was certainly a valid public safety factor to consider (isn't there always), the response yesterday to the threat seemed so overly outsized that it gave pause. A literal army of police invaded the outskirts of Boston to ferret out one lone criminal lurking in the shadows. The military nature of the house to house search within these borders while arguably necessary was startling. We saw defacto martial law put into effect to find one man. I'm reminded of Truffaut's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.


The advertising blurb on The Spider volume reads "They said it couldn't happen here." That's not what I believe really, it could happen of course. But it won't be dramatic and sudden as in the Spider stories, it will be incremental and steady and always, always done with the "best" of intentions for the welfare of the populace. Ironically some of those folks who are calling for more police powers are some of the same voices who decry any and all gun restrictions; oddly these latest pronouncements on police authority might just convince me they're right on the gun issue.

The last week or so has startled me a bit at the lack of proportionality of the response to the Boston Marathon event. A truly tragic but admittedly high-profile crime resulting in surprisingly small number of deaths seems to have the potential to trigger a wave of security concerns similar to what we experienced over a decade ago and from which we are only beginning in some measure to recover. The willingness of the people to sacrifice their liberty, to become sadly an all too captive audience, in the name of safety in the face of a threat so remote is not something to be lauded. I wish more voices, reasoned voices were speaking out against some of this eruption of security.


On a lighter note, below are the cautionary covers for the pulps the trio of Spider stories originally appeared in. The story of a Fascist government seizing power in America and rearing up a police state might serve as balm for my troubled spirit in these unusual days. Fiction has that power, the power to free the mind not confine it.
 



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4 comments:

  1. I thought the response seemed overboard too, like they were going after Rambo not two a$$hole kids. I guess they felt the eyes of America watching and didn't want to screw up.

    Fahrenheit 451 is a good analogy especially how they ordered everyone to stay inside.

    The analogy I kept thinking of is white blood cells attacking and enveloping diseased cells.

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    1. I don't mean to sound cold about it, certainly the carnage these two characters wrought is significant, but the response both in the media hungry to squeeze the final gram of pathos from any yarn and the authorities who seem oddly interested in some cases in magnifying the nature of this threat alarms me mildly.

      The proper response to crime and terror especially is to try and live normally. Like the war on drugs which has been a debacle, the war on terror has a chance to leave us as a society worse than before, and needlessly so.

      In my lifetime, there has always been some "war" to fight it seems. Orwell nailed it I fear.

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  2. That's well said, Rip. We saw a great deal of security theater which was also used to set precedents for future government action.

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    1. I heard later on some news report that the authorities use the Boston Marathon as a practice for their emergency first responders to test the network, and that was why the response to the blast was so immediate and so effective. Maybe they thought it might be a good idea to practice some other tools in the kit as long as they were up and about it.

      I have to say I groan when folks start talking about how Boston has endured so much. Really? The Texas town that suffered the fertilizer plant blast has greater loss of life and much more property damage and impact on that community will be far graver than what will ultimately impact a large metropolis like Boston. I'm not saying what happened in Boston was nothing, far from it, but let's get some perspective for Heaven's sake! Many, not even most Bostonians had to stay inside their houses for twenty-four hours, and that was the extent of their "sacrifice". This is not "Greatest Generation" stuff by a very large margin.

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