One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I have have ever learned was “honor the threat.” If someone or something threatens you, treat that threat as very real and very imminent unless and until proven ineffective.
Rigoberto Alpizar, who met his untimely end on a jetway in Miami yesterday, made a threat. It was a plausible threat — he didn’t threaten tofire a bazooka at the plane, or to smash the plane with his bare hands — and was treated as such. And while it may be a sad fact that he was mentally ill, and didn’t in fact have a bomb, the air marshal who shot him did exactly the right thing. Mr. Alpizar’s death is entirely his own responsibility. If he had merely taken his medication, he’d most likely be alive today, and a lot of people would be trying to find something else to write about.
No, skipping one’s meds is not a capital offense in and of itself. But the things he did led a lot of people to reasonably conclude that he did pose a plausible threat — and one of them was an air marshal with a gun.