Editorial: Here we go again

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A double bomb blast has killed at least three and injured/crippled many others at the Boston Marathon, among the world’s most prestigious sporting events and something of a rite of spring passage in the U.S. If you wanted to make a gruesome, evil statement with all eyes watching, this fit the bill.

As with the Newtown shooting — the 26.2-mile race in fact was dedicated to its 26 victims — the initial reporting has been all over the map, starting with casualty counts ranging from a couple dozen to more than 140, including children. The blast occurred near the finish line of the vaunted race — which draws more than 20,000 contestants and half a million spectators — some four hours after its start and long after the winners had finished. Law enforcement officials were uncertain if there was any connection to an “incendiary device” that caused a fire at the John F. Kennedy Library at the University of Massachusetts about an hour later. Reportedly other devices were found around the area that did not explode.

At this writing there had been little official commentary as to who might be responsible for the bloodshed. If this sounds like an improvised explosive device (IED) of the kind we’ve read so much about over the last decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, it also has the feel of an act of domestic terrorism, in part because no group has taken credit. In any case it’s all speculation, though the conspiracy theorists are out in full force.

Already some have drawn lines to Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City this week in 1995, which readers may remember was on the anniversary of the Waco debacle in 1993. Hitler was born on April 20, also the date of the Columbine school massacre in 1999. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was arrested this month in 1996. Monday was tax day. Again, April is proving to be the mean season. Of course, it’s possible this had nothing to do with any of the above, that it’s the handiwork of a single angry or deranged or politically motivated individual. It’s important not to jump to conclusions, as so many wrongly did following the bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

It’s just another sad day in one of the freest if also the most violent nations on Earth. This tragedy will almost certainly change the tenor of the race, as it may for many a sporting event, from the World Series to the Super Bowl to the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

For a runner, getting to Boston alone is quite the accomplishment. Unlike other marathons, you have to meet a time that requires much training and discipline. It should be a cause for celebration, not grief. Completing a dream one minute, fighting for your life in the ER the next, two healthy legs one second, an amputee the next — it just shouldn’t be this way.

Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.