One of the more depressing and dispiriting things about these terrorist attacks is the battle people have over proper usage and nomenclature in their aftermath. When can we call something terrorism? What constitutes cowardice?
As a general matter, these debates don’t interest me and I wish we didn’t have them. I thought Bill Maher was correct when he said that it took some courage to pilot a plane into a skyscraper knowing that you would die in a fireball. Those men didn’t strike me as cowards because they did something that I wouldn’t do not only because it was evil but because I would be too scared to do it.
But the person or people who detonated the bombs in Boston do strike me as cowards. They didn’t die or risk dying. They didn’t give their victims a chance to fight back as the passengers of Flight 93 successfully did on September 11th. What they did was deliver a sucker punch. They waited until people were not looking and they blew their legs off. I suppose the only courage in that is the courage to risk being arrested.
We don’t know who did this, but we do know that they are attempting to get away with it. If I sucker punch you, I know that you might press charges. Even a sucker puncher has more balls than this psychopath.
So, even though I don’t think it matters or that debating it is a useful endeavor, I think it is entirely appropriate to refer to the perpetrator as a coward (or cowards).