Friday, May 17, 2013

Bomber's Body Not Worthy of Controversy

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on May 17, 2013
By Bill Gouveia

When the body of Boston Marathon bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev somehow wound up at Dyer-Lake Funeral Home in North Attleboro a week or so ago, it touched off what becamean intense process of determining where the alleged murder (I add alleged here forlegal purposes) would be buried.

There were protestors at the local funeral home, led there by a media horde trying to keep up with the public’s insatiable thirst for news related to the tragic events.  There was plenty of raw emotion towards the deceased individual responsible for the cowardly attack, and some of that spilled over to the owners of the funeral home.

A few neighbors of the business were upset at the media crush and that the alleged terrorist was – even in death – so close to their home.  Some residents were outraged his body would even be allowed within town borders.  Others were justifiably and rightly concerned the commotion was disrespectful to the family of a person being waked that afternoon.

After the incident at Dyer-Lake, the body was moved to Worcester where it became a much bigger fiasco.  Boston Mayor Menino swore Tsamaev would never be buried in Boston.  Local police wanted to charge the funeral home for the cost of police details to control angry crowds and provide security.  Finally, a Christian woman from Virginia stepped forward and arranged for the body to be buried there in a small Islamic cemetery.

There is no doubt most if not all the emotions generated by the handling of the body were real and genuine.  Our area has been through a lot in the last month, and the frustration, anger and sorrow associated with all that has happened has raised tempers and lowered tolerance levels.           

When you have dead and crippled children, young men and women with limbs blown off while just watching a storied sporting event in one of America’s premier cities – well, that’s simply not supposed to happen here at home.  While our brave and heroic Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are sadly accustomed to such violence, it is not expected to be a part of where we live.

Maybe that explains the unusual behavior surrounding the body of a heinous criminal.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev was an evil man, and few beyond his family felt even the slightest twinge of remorse over his death.  But generally speaking, death is considered the final punishment.  In this case, it was not enough for many.

We have had awful serial killers in this country who – once dead – were buried and relegated to the evil section of the history books.  In death, we gave them the one thing they could never handle.  We expressed our complete disdain by not caring what happened to their remains.

But we seemed obsessed with this terrorist beyond his richly deserved violent ending.  We are so obsessed we unfairly mistreat people like the owners of Dyer-Lake Funeral Home, who were just doing their job. 

Rep. Betty Poirier of North Attleboro actually went to Dyer-Lake when word broke that Tsamaev’s body was at the funeral home.  She said she had “no idea what he is doing here.  I’m very unhappy he’s in our town.”

Poirier was undoubtedly upset and concerned for her community.  But you have to wonder if she called the funeral home owners for an explanation prior to going before the media at their business.  Maybe she did, and wasn’t happy with their answer.  Maybe she didn’t, and expressed her own frustration through her presence.  Either way her trip clearly inflamed a situation that needed no further provocation.  It was a poor decision.

The worst thing we as citizens can do is to keep allowing these horrible human beings to continue to exert control over our behavior.  Reacting to where Tsarnaev’s worthless body is being shipped for disposal is not a good use of our time or effort, and is beneath us.  We should let our hatred of him go and use that wasted energy to concentrate on helping and supporting the injured he left in his wake.

We should not make innocent folks like the funeral home owners in North Attleboro and Worcester targets for our frustration and anger.  Let’s not allow Tsamaev to claim any more victims.

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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