Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What bomb?

I wish that they would simply go ahead and make it against the law to scare people, so we can quit pussyfooting around. The magnetic lights that were placed in several United States cities to promote Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" show are being refered to by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as "a hoax," and this blitheringly incorrect interpretation of events is gaining ground fast. Even NPR, whom one would expect would know better, is using the headline "Bomb-Hoax Publicity Stunt Shuts Down Boston." The mayor is bombastically threatening 2 to 5 years in prison for each light for the poor sod who set the things up. Even the Homeland Security Department is getting in on the act.

This WOULD simply be utterly moronic, except that I refuse to believe that the people involved in this misrepresentation of the facts are THAT stupid. Instead, they've decided that WE'RE stupid. Rather than just say: "In the atmosphere of heightened caution brought about by concerns about terrorism, we reacted strongly to what turned out to be harmless advertisements. There was no real danger, sorry if we spooked you," people are making accusations of intentional misleading behavior. If you see a bag of computer parts in my apartment, and mistake it for a bomb, that's NOT a hoax. If I make a device intentionally designed to make an observer think it's a bomb, and it isn't, that IS a hoax. The mayor of Boston, the Governor of Massachusetts and the Homeland Security Department are all well aware of this, and are posturing in order to make themselves look like they're doing everything they can to keep us safe. And they're posturing because they've determined that Joe on the Street is dumb enough to fall for it. Of course, now that they've started this song and dance, they can't back down without looking like idiots, so they soldier on. The promo lights look like pissed-off Lite Brites, for Pete's sake. Let it go. But they can't, and in all honesty, I understand why. Admitting to an overreaction would be an admission of error. And if "to err is human," American culture really only tolerates humanity in children, a lover, political enemies and other people against whom it can be used as a weapon.

This is either about showmanship over security, or we've allowed ourselves to become so afraid of terrorism, that we let our fear trump all sense. No matter which way it goes, I'm not reassured.

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