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How About Charges Of Stupidism?
In the end, I'm with Brad from WendyMcElroy.com -- the charges that should be filed in the Turner Broadcasting "bomb scare" case are those of idiocy, and against the officials who thought this thing was a bomb:

Yeah, that looks like a terrorist device to me. (Not.) Yesterday Boston went on high alert because several suspicious devices had been sighted around town. Turns out it was a marketing campaign for Turner Broadcasting, and the devices were electric lightboards showing a cartoon alien. (It took me a while to actually find a photo of the "device.")

Having overreacted with pants-wetting hysteria, the city officials now blame Turner Broadcasting for the panic, and have actually arrested two culprits for the advertising gambit. They're charged with "placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic," a felony. (Never mind the fact that other U.S. cities have ignored identical devices for weeks.)

Do people really think Muslim terrorists have an iota of a sense of humor? That they'd put up little cartoon figures giving everybody the finger?

Of course, it doesn't help that the president has stirred the nation up into a furor by inventing four incidences of "terrorism" "we" stopped. Anything to justify that unconstitutional, illegal surveillance, huh?

Posted by aalkon at February 1, 2007 10:30 AM

Comments

I agree that the people who freaked out over these devices are stupid. But I'm not sure they people who did this are all that clever. When my brother emailed this article to my dad (whose common sense is highly reliable), here was my dad's response:

"It was a really stupid stunt and given today's climate, an overreaction was guaranteed."

Posted by: justin case at February 1, 2007 10:36 AM

There should be charges against Turner Broadcasting... for littering. You're right about the zero-risk Chief Wiggum approach to public safety.

How does it benefit us as a nation to reveal what we know, or how we came by it, in the intelligence world? SCOTUS spent the last half of the 20th Century destroying constitutional protections by fabricating new ones, and the political left was all for it. Now, they're willing to endanger the nation as a political expedient, because they hate the President. During wartime, we need to heed the Churchillian formulation that, "Truth is so precious, it must have a bodyguard of lies."

Posted by: Casca at February 1, 2007 10:52 AM

Casca, if we lose basic Constitutional protections (e.g., those provided by the 4th Amendment), then the U.S. begins to slide toward being something else. And as frequently noted by another regular poster here, the intelligence services have a piss-poor track record with their operations. Skepticism regarding intelligence, our government (all branches) and what they're doing is quite well-earned. Bumbling is the rule, not the exception, and I don't think people are inclined to just hand off privacy to incompetents for the duration of a struggle that is likely to last for generations. To defeat Islamism, we primarily need to keep doing the things that have made the West the most successful civilization in history. I would submit that open governments and the rule of law are one of the cornerstones of that success.

Posted by: justin case at February 1, 2007 11:18 AM

Drudge is linking an interesting pressconf/gangbang with the 'suspects.' Anyone who mocks TV news people is a good friend.

Posted by: Crid at February 1, 2007 11:47 AM

Also, what Justin said.

Posted by: Crid at February 1, 2007 11:49 AM

First and foremost, muslim terrrorists aren't the only terrorists that have made trouble in America.
Don't forget Timothy McVeigh.

The first person to see one of these things and to call the cops saw it attached to the metal structure of a bridge in the daylight. All he could see was a circuit board, wires and batteries.

These were placed all over different parts of the city, on bridges, in subway tunnels, on buildings.
Outdoor "marketing campaign", my ass. Viral Marketing, my ass. Guerilla marketing, my ass.

People who put up billboards are required to get permission, and pay for the priviledge.

Sticking magnetic signs that light up at night under bridges or in other public space is vandalism.

some blog twerps are saying things like

"It's an LED not an IED!!!! "


Ha freakin' ha.
Blow me. It wasn't the little guy that freaked people out, it was the batteries and wires.

It was a nifty idea made stupid by the lack of proper permission, notification of authorities, and the fact that BOSTON is the place where the planes took off on 9/11— so I kind think it's not unreasonable for people to be freaked out.


Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 1, 2007 12:02 PM

If we lose? They were lost when justices began devining the constitution vice reading it.

If your understanding of military, and intelligence activities is informed by the MSM, then I understand your misgivings. However, they are peddlers of fiction. An informed opinion would have to begin with reading Anthony Cave Brown's most excellent biography of Bill Donovan, The Last Hero. To accept as fact, that our national security is historically incompetent, or currently in the hands of boobs is fallacious.

Open government in matters of national security has NEVER been a part of our methodology in time of war, and we have always struggled with traitors in our midst. The Revolution had the Tories who were run out of the country after the war. Lincoln suspended habeus corpus and threw them in prison. Roosevelt locked up anyone who looked Japanese, and executed the German spies we caught after sham trials. I'm not for judging the man in the arena. I'm for giving him all the support he requires to bring us victory. History will judge him, if we have that luxury.

Posted by: Casca at February 1, 2007 12:14 PM

These stunts were done in other cities and there wasn't any hysterical reactions reported in L.A., NYC and Chicago.

Also, ATHF is quite funny for 15 minute cartoon.

Posted by: Joe at February 1, 2007 12:19 PM

If we lose? They were lost when justices began devining(sic) the constitution vice reading it.

What has been lost? Be specific.

Now you're just being dramatic.

History looks upon what Roosevelt did with Japanese in America as a blight upon his administration. Not everything that an administration does to prosecute a particular conflict is a good idea.

Posted by: justin case at February 1, 2007 12:31 PM

These stunts were done in other cities and there wasn't any hysterical reactions reported in L.A., NYC and Chicago.

I'd like to know where in those cities the little doo-dads were placed.

Like, were they on bridges and under freeways in those towns?
In subway tunnels?

It was criminal mischief and vandalism and teh st00p1d.
But I don't think they should pillory the guys who made the signs and placed 'em around-- snag the guys who hired 'em and make them pay for the costs incurred.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 1, 2007 12:33 PM

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 1, 2007 12:36 PM

Thanks for correcting my spelling. You must be smot.

When the constitution means anything SCOTUS decides fits the moment, it means nothing. We've been doing business on that basis since the Warren court, with the left fighting for rule from the bench because they can't get their agenda past the electorate. If you want to rail against losing constitutionally protected rights, go after something more meaningful like McCain-Feingold. It's blatently unconstitutional.

I didn't say that locking up the Japanese was anything but our history. If history judges at all, it's from the victors chair, where it's possible.

Posted by: Casca at February 1, 2007 1:18 PM

Ah, now we care about the Constitution. A little too late, don't you think?

Congress passes a Ponzi scheme called Social Security, and everybody acquiesces. Congress passes "campaign finance reform" making it illegal for citizens to petrition their government sixty days before an election, and everybody acquiesces. Congress passes "gun control" laws, and everybody acquiesces. Congress tramples on the attempt of states to allow people dying of cancer to have their pain relieved by an illegal drug, and everybody acquiesces.

Now they do something you don't like and hey, how dare they?

We let them ignore the rules, that's how.

Posted by: markD at February 1, 2007 1:27 PM

Don't forget Timothy McVeigh.

How can we, he's trotted out every time a Muslim blows something up.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 1, 2007 2:13 PM

I beleive that it is too narrow a view to say "Do people really think Muslim terrorists have an iota of a sense of humor?"

That's why I "trotted him out".

Muslims aren't the only cretins blowing up this country.
They just use the biggest weapons.

Posted by: deirdre B. at February 1, 2007 2:43 PM

If history judges at all, it's from the victors chair, where it's possible.

I agree with this statement, which is why I disagree with some of what's being done today. Becoming more like the regimes we deplore is no strategy for victory, and anything that comes of it would be hollow.

McCain-Feingold doesn't concern me much these days. SCOTUS will be reviewing it again, and I don't think that it will fare too well given the recent changes in the court's makeup.

Regardless, acts of Congress such as the laws mentioned by markD above can be remedied through elections and the power of votes. These don't trouble me as much programs such as the NSA surveillance scheme that are implemented by executive fiat. No real remedy for that.

Posted by: justin case at February 1, 2007 3:40 PM

Don't forget Timothy McVeigh.

There are, like, 12 people blowing stuff up who aren't doing it because they're Muslim. They're mostly in the ELF or anti-abortion nuts. People aren't going around using Christianity to preach kill thy neighbor. No, in the past, Christians were not exactly giving my people or a lot of other people a pass. But, that was then and this is now, and there's story after story in the news of mosques that are fronts for some really creepy preaching to encourage evildoing...kill the infidel, beat women, and off the homos...that sort of thing.

For example:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2007/01/the_evil_among.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 1, 2007 4:47 PM

Hey, I saw one of those things on La Brea the other morning! I just assumed it was supposed to be a Space Invader. Well, it's clearly not al-Qaeda's style, but who knows about those evil Silver Shamrock bastards?

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at February 1, 2007 4:55 PM

Hey, no error message! And the page refreshed and everything. Your boyfriend deserves some extra lovin', Amy.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at February 1, 2007 4:59 PM

There are, like, 12 people blowing stuff up who aren't doing it because they're Muslim.

I know, and I'm not apologizing for any muslim nut-jobs. I just don't want my intelligent pals to assume there's a towel-head behind every terrorist act. It leads us to make mistakes we can't afford.

I mean, we do a pretty good job of killing each other in this country.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 1, 2007 5:05 PM

Yeah, look at all the murders that AREN"T commited by Muslim terrorists! Somebody should do something about all the problems.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 1, 2007 5:21 PM

If all it takes is an usual shoebox with batteries and wires to bring our cities to their knees, we're fucked anyway. D., I'm sorry it happened in your city and glad it didn't happen in mine. But how brittle are we supposed to be? This is just more evidence (as if we needed it) that government isn't the thing that's going to keep us safe. I don't want to have to notify the authorities every time some kid gets a new play set from Radio Shack.

Posted by: Crid at February 1, 2007 5:45 PM

"It was a nifty idea made stupid by the lack of proper permission"

*Tries to imagine self going forlornly from office to office, looking for someone to give permission to put up cute, harmless, magnetic art in a public location*



*Decides that there will be snowplow dealerships in Hell long before I find someone who would authorize that.*

Posted by: kenmce at February 1, 2007 6:37 PM

"I don't want to have to notify the authorities every time some kid gets a new play set from Radio Shack."

Even at Federal facilities, we have difficulty with the honest truth: IEDs look like ordinary soda cans. Cars can drive around barricades. Right now there's a Federal requirement that keeps anyone from parking a personal vehicle within 30 yards of a Federal building; we have barricades up all over Savannah River Site. Apparently no bad guy can get a Government license plate - those cars are all lined up against the building - and no one recognizes that suicide bombers care about parking regulations exactly as much as murderers care about gun registration (not at all).

Posted by: Radwaste at February 2, 2007 2:51 AM

It's just reprehensible! Anyone should know that such a gesture is apt to be misinterpreted as a bomb threat, because you can't be too careful in this post-11/5/1605 world!

/sarcasm

Posted by: Melissa G at February 2, 2007 7:45 AM

I love sarcasm. Because you CAN be too careful. Language misleads people, as with 'We should do everything we can to protect our environment.' Everything, Kemosabe?


Sincerity is overrated.

Posted by: Crid at February 2, 2007 8:31 AM

*Tries to imagine self going forlornly from office to office, looking for someone to give permission to put up cute, harmless, magnetic art in a public location*

Harmless, magnetic art put up in public places or on private property without permission is VANDALISM.

You know, all the bitching about "over-reaction" is just a bit rich for me. From what I've gotten so far, someone called it in as a "suspicious device". Once that, or other key terms are used, OPSEC rules are quite clear in that, even after an initial investigation, all devices are to be treated as though potentionally explosive devices, even when it's obvious that it is not.

People would be screaming for blood if something REAL had blown up somewhere.

The PLANES took OFF from BOSTON on 9/11.
If we're a bit skittsh, so be it.
Vandalism gone bad, Turner pays.
Assholes.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at February 2, 2007 2:56 PM

Posted by: Crid at February 2, 2007 3:26 PM

Too lazy to look it up in the law, checked it out on Websters.com: van·dal·ism /ˈvændlˌɪzəm/ [van-dl-iz-uhm]
–noun 1. deliberately mischievous or malicious destruction or damage of property: vandalism of public buildings.
2. the conduct or spirit characteristic of the Vandals.
3. willful or ignorant destruction of artistic or literary treasures.

Deliberately? Malicious? Literary treasures?

I guess in my book (the dictionary), it wasn't vandalism. They pay for public property, too, and private property can take them down. Unless it left holes in the wall, I don't see any harm done.

The people who reported the Lite Brites are not to blame, but who the hell authorized closing down the entire city when one was discovered? How long does it take to figure out when a "suspicious package" isn't a bomb? Here in DC, I've seen it done in 15 minutes. You might call some people here assholes, Deirdre. I call the majority of the public officials in Boston idiots.

Posted by: Brenda at February 3, 2007 7:52 AM

Found on Bruce Schneier's (an actual world-renowned security expert) blog-- here he's quoting August J. Pollak from xoverboard:

Let's get a few facts straight on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force sign fiasco:

1. Attorney General Martha Coakley needs to shut up and stop using the word "hoax." There was no hoax. Hoax implies Turner Networks and the ATHF people were trying to defraud or confuse people as to what they were doing. Hoax implies they were trying to make their signs look like bombs. They weren't. They made Lite-Brite signs of a cartoon character giving the finger.

2. It bears repeating again that Turner, and especially Berdovsky, did absolutely nothing illegal. The devices were not bombs. They did not look like bombs. They were all placed in public spaces and caused no obstruction to traffic or commerce. At most, Berdovsky is guilty of littering or illegal flyering.

3. The "devices" were placed in ten cities, and have been there for over two weeks. No other city managed to freak out and commit an entire platoon of police officers to scaring their own city claiming they might be bombs. No other mayor agreed to talk to Fox News with any statement beyond "no comment" when spending the day asking if this was a "terrorist dry run."

4. There is nothing, not a single thing, remotely suggesting that Turner or the guerilla marketing firm they hired intended to cause a public disturbance. Many have claimed the signs were "like saying 'fire' in a crowded theater." Wrong. This was like taping a picture of a fire to the wall of a theater and someone freaked out and called the fire department.

Read Schneier's comments on the Boston security fiasco at http://www.schneier.com/blog/

Posted by: Melissa G at February 3, 2007 8:00 AM

I love Schneier. Thanks for posting that.

Here's his piece on airline security theater:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2006/11/airline_securit.html

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 3, 2007 8:53 AM

Exactamundo, G. I *like* living in a country where grown men can make a living by putting vaguely obscene gestures on children's toys and scattering them across urban America in support of trivial marketing campaigns.

Does anyone doubt that we're at risk for IED's? Of course we are. So it's not like these guys exposed the soft underbelly of our national security apparatus by showing how easy it is to plant electronic devices. If they did damage at all, it's by showing the sluggish, rote and unimaginative responses that our authorities bring to their responsibilities.

Sorry about the tie-ups in Boston the other day. We had a crane fall down on the freeway out here in LA last night, and hundreds of thousands were greatly inconvenienced... An aggregate of several lifetimes of productivity, comfort and (who knows?) sexual encounters was probably lost. But that's how it goes in American life. We move around with great independence, but we have to make adjustments. It's better to live that way than to check in with City Hall every time you want to play with a Lite-brite.

Posted by: Crid at February 3, 2007 9:21 AM

OK, so when are we going to start hanging those fuckers who staple lost cat signs to telephone polls? I'm ready.

Posted by: Casca at February 3, 2007 9:36 AM

Number One in the 'hood, Crid! ;)

I note, from Theresa Nielsen-Hayden's blog, that this isn't the first time Boston has overreacted to something with wires sticking out of it as a terrorist threat:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008619.html

Amy, I should have known you'd be a Schneier fan. His work really resonates with the stuff you and Crid say about using our reason in the face of perceived threats. I love the girl in the Seattle Times article who said, "It's almost too easy to be a terrorist these days. You stick a box on a corner and you can shut down a city."

Posted by: Melissa G at February 4, 2007 12:58 PM

And as a person who favors libertarian social policy, sticking a "box" on a corner is too big a problem for too many people, too.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 4, 2007 1:02 PM

I agree with that statement for all the definitions of "box" my brain can currently access.

Posted by: Melissa G at February 4, 2007 3:27 PM

It was a dirty reference. Dirty ho. I like the ones on the street corner, but loathe the ones in government. Also, the ones on the street corner tend to have much more interesting shoes.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 4, 2007 3:42 PM

Sometimes you think like a girl.

Posted by: Crid at February 4, 2007 3:44 PM

Or a transvestite?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 4, 2007 3:59 PM

This whole thing is a practical joke from Lena, isn't it? There's no redhead, there's no dog, nobody goes to Paris. Gregg does the website from a laptop in a Starbucks in the Valley for an hourly rate. He's never even been to Michigan.

Very clever, Lena. Hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: Crid at February 4, 2007 9:40 PM

That's pretty funny. As I'm deleting spam at 2:16am, I only wish it were true!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 5, 2007 2:16 AM

Well, indeed the first thing I thought of when you said "box" was a giant floating purple vagina.

All Hail Hovercunt!

Posted by: Melissa G at February 5, 2007 7:40 AM

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