Signs of the Times

Yesterday Rigoberto Alpizar’s was shot by a Federal Air Marshall while boarding an American Airlines flight in Miami, because he claimed he was carrying a bomb. All the while his wife was trying to tell the air marshall that the man was mentally ill and off his medication.


“She was chasing after him,” said fellow passenger Alan Tirpak. “She was just saying her husband was sick, her husband was sick.” When the woman returned, “she just kept saying the same thing over and over, and that’s when we heard the shots.”

Of course no bomb was found when they blew up his luggage. Part of me really wants to understand both parts of the story (although having guns in a pressurized cabin has always seemed like a bad plan). I understand the idea of protecting the innocent on the plane and on the ground. I remember what happened that morning in September when airliners fell into the wrong hands.

Then I remember friends and associates i know who have what we socially acceptably call ‘some problems.’ It seems shockingly cold to put four bullets in a man who’s wife is screaming behind him that he’s sick. Even if it is for the greater good.

This covers a lot of things for me. The ignorance regarding Mental Illness in this country. The brutality that law enforcement seems inclined to use in this country. The security measures that seem shockingly draconian (They couldn’t restrain the guy ? Didn’t they already scan his bag ?)

Seems like we could do better. Seems like we should expect more. Seems that when we look back on the ’00’s we’ll remember it as a decade of self preservation regardless of our supposed humanity.

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