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Lockdown: Becoming Prisoners of Our Own Fear

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Yesterday's attacks at the Boston Marathon were horrific. We are right to be outraged. But what we must not become is prisoners of our own fear. "Fear is the mind-killer," as Frank Herbert wrote in Dune.

What increasingly concerns me is our knee-jerk recourse to "lock down." You've probably heard the term. We "lock down" our schools when someone sees a potential threat lurking near school grounds. We "lock down" the streets of Boston after the bombs go off. We think we're being prudent in doing so, and so we are.

I don't object to prudent measures of enhanced security. I object to the word "lockdown." It's what you do in a prison to control violent prisoners during riots.

America is not a prison, and American citizens are not prisoners. In uncertain times, in times when we must confront the ugly face of wanton violence, we need to be vigilant, we need to be tough, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our fears.

What we don't need is a lockdown America. For if our reaction to every act of violence is to "lock down" our public areas while deploying armored cars to the streets, the bad people have already won.

Astore writes regularly for TomDispatch.com and can be reached at wjastore@gmail.com.