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Your Guide to How Not to Respond to The Boston Marathon Bombing

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Have a theory on the bombing? Keep it to yourself, please (image via Shutterstock)

There is a lot of misinformation swirling around the internet regarding the bombing of the Boston Marathon, and the tragedy is being used by people from all ends of the political spectrum to project their own particular agenda. If you have a theory regarding who was responsible for the atrocity and why, read this before taking to Facebook and Twitter to inform the masses of your brilliance.

1. This is not the time to use the tragedy to promote your pet political interests. Yes, America does horrible things around the world, yes, it is entirely possible that the attacks were a response to America's continued wars abroad, but the thing is, we don't have any idea who did it so it is entirely pointless speculating. As many people have pointed out, this type of thing happens every day as a result of American foreign policy, and we rarely show the slightest bit of concern. The thing is, the inverse is also true - people tend to care about things that happen on their doorsteps and not thousands of miles away to people they have no connection to. It's sad, but it is human nature. Nations are entitled to grieve atrocities, so please wait until we find out who did this to start linking the marathon bombing to Obama's drone policy/the occupation of Afghanistan etc etc.

2. Do not allow the bombing to scare you into giving the federal government more powers of surveillance. As Bob Cesca wrote today:

It doesn’t require much of an imagination to predict what’s next. More surveillance cameras, more metal detectors at sporting events, more security measures, more armed men wrapped in Kevlar scanning you up and down to make sure you don’t appear too suspicious or, gasp, too brown. Scores of otherwise good people will not only acquiesce to these measures but zealously demand them with the familiar refrains of “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about” or “you can’t have a Bill of Rights if you’re dead” — the impotent rationalizations of the shocked and frightened. Before long, the illusion of safety and the illusion of freedom will criss-cross as security increases and freedom dissipates. Yet we’ll go on merrily capitulating to each new layer of so-called protection against the evildoers, as long as we feel safer than we did on Monday.

3. Don't go out and buy lots of gold or move to a bunker in West Virginia. Despite what Glenn Beck might have you believe, the Boston Marathon bombing is not a sign that America is doomed and the dollar is on the way to irrelevancy. Acts of terror are awful, but they happen at some point to most countries. Your chances of dying in a terrorist attack are incredibly slim. As an article in Reason points out:

A rough calculation suggests that in the last five years, your chances of being killed by a terrorist are about one in 20 million. This compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

The attacks didn't affect the stock market particularly badly, and gold prices have actually gone down:

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This is not the end of the world, so take a deep breath, calm down and don't waste your money on crackpot schemes promoted by Mormon Doomsday frauds.

4. If you have a theory on who is responsible for the attacks, do everyone a favor and shut up about it. I repeat: As of now, there is no hard evidence to link anyone or any group to the attack. If you think it was a guy on a roof, the US government, the Chinese government, an alien, etc etc, you are projecting your own psychological imbalances onto a very serious matter. Don't. Instead, make an appointment with a psychologist/psychiatrist and stay off the internet.

5. Don't accept the argument that it is ok for the authorities to use racial profiling. The Saudi Arabian student tackled by a civilian and taken into custody immediately after a bombing was questioned because he was 1. an Arab, and 2. running away from the bomb blast. Think about that for a second. It is true that he could have run into the explosion to prove his innocence, but probably better that he be protected by the law assumes innocence until proven guilty. The fact is, the attack could have been extreme right wing Christians, militant Leftists, Al-Qaeda, a new cult, or a dozen other possibilities from a wide range of ethnic/religious/political backgrounds. Racial profiling is ineffective and largely distracting when it comes to tracking down criminals, and now is not the time to start the debate again.

Have some suggestions to add to the list? Leave comments below and we'll select the best.