February 1, 2007

Attack of the Terrorist Lights

Posted in News, Politics, Random Oddments at 9:00 pm by Calico Jack

Last night, the entire country was abuzz with the revelation that foot-tall signs covered in blinking LEDs and batteries were hanging from overpasses and bridges in Boston — never mind that they had been up for weeks in cities all across the United States, and no one had cared until yesterday. Wil Wheaton has a pretty good summary of what happened:

1. [adult swim] has a clever viral marketing program.
2. People begin to notice the clever viral marketing program.
3. Someone wets their pants, because LEDs in an odd shape clearly mean we’re all about to die.
4. Police City Officials overreact. (Corrected. Bostonians say police acted appropriately.)
5. Media overreacts.
6. Entire city of Boston is f***** for an entire day.
7. Entire city of Boston is (understandably) pissed.
8. Media, which overreacted and labeled the viral marketing campaign a terrorist hoax, decides that [adult swim] and Turner somehow owe people of Boston an apology, and also owe city all the costs the city incurred as a result of Media-induced hysteria.

The two men responsible for placing the signs were arrested and charged with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. During the arraignment, Assistant Attorney General John Grossman revealed his keen intellect to those in the courtroom:

“It’s clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location…The appearance of this device and its location are crucial,” Grossman said. “This device looks like a bomb.”

Ahem.

Yep, that really looks like a bomb to me.

Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens pleaded not guilty this morning and were released from jail…after which they held a press conference. It must be seen to be believed:

Those guys certainly are fearless, aren’t they?

I agree with Wil: most of the blame here should be placed on city officials and the media for overreacting. You can’t really fault the police for doing their job, but it shouldn’t have taken long to realize that this supposed bomb threat was nothing more than a bunch of lights hooked up to batteries. By labeling this incident a “terrorist hoax,” the media is only encouraging weak-minded people to become paralyzed, recoiling in fear at anything that could possibly harm them. Caution is wise, but a colossal overreaction such as the one in Boston yesterday is inexcusable. The greatest danger to society is crying “Wolf!” too many times. Eventually, just like car alarms, people will grow tired of acknowledging warnings and we will be too slow to react to a true crisis.

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