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Tragedy halts debate, hopefully not for long [Commentary]

The tone of civic discussion shifted noticeably this week in the aftermath of the tragic attack at the Boston Marathon, an attack that narrowly missed Harford County participants in the storied footrace.

Discussions and name-calling relating to the usual public policy discussions has been taking a back seat to a shared sentiment across the American spectrum of viewpoints that such mindless and cowardly acts of violence have no place our society, be they the actions of intruders or violent homegrown terrorists.

As happened in the aftermath of 9-11 and other shocking tragedies, a broad consensus that such acts of violence are out of place in a free society generally is reached. In the coming weeks, there will be discussions as to how such things can be prevented, how should security and freedom be balanced and what could have been done to prevent what happened.

Differences of opinion will give way to more discussion and, hopefully, a few useful conclusions. It is the ability to have such discussions, however spirited they may be, that has the ultimate power to curb violence of this nature in the future. It may seem crass when the civic debate circus resumes, but if the freedom to argue, persuade and be persuaded were more widely accepted, there would be less reason for people to use violence or force in an effort to be heard.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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