Understandably Cause for Alarm
December 10, 2015 10:08 PM   Subscribe

Star Simpson, on the aftermath of the airport "bomb hoax" case, how her school failed her, and how MIT's new student law clinic could have helped. "I would have been grateful to ask questions of someone. Was I actually going to go to prison? What were my options? Should I, in the great American tradition, try to sue somebody? What would accepting a plea deal mean? Was it a good plea deal? Should I keep going with the case, instead? On top of having nobody to turn to, I was disallowed from talking about the case in public. Someone needed to make those decisions and I was completely on my own. Honestly I just wanted it all to be over, but that option was mostly unavailable. I just want you to consider for a moment asking the nearest 19-year-old with no prior interest in nor experience at all with the law for guidance on what to do with any court case. You can tell me how it goes."

The MIT press release on the law clinic, linked from the article, which "will advise students from either MIT or BU about legal issues associated with their entrepreneurial and innovation-related efforts." MIT student paper article about the law clinic, which also describes how it will be focused on giving legal advice to would-be student entrepreneurs.

Star Simpson previously.
posted by j.r (52 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Boy oh boy is that old thread embarrassing.
posted by crashlanding at 10:30 PM on December 10, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, that old thread is real cringey.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's utterly mind-boggling how completely MIT failed in this case. Presented with the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel they nevertheless somehow managed to miss the barrel completely and shoot themselves in the foot.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't know whether to be embarrassed for 2007 because that thread is so she-had-it-coming, or embarrassed for 2015 because available evidence says she'd have been shot on sight today.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:37 PM on December 10, 2015 [34 favorites]




MIT does not give a crap (in fairness, few schools do, but most people expect better from MIT).

We've seen this with Star Simpson and we've seen it with Aaron Swartz, and they hardly did much for Jeremy Rubin and Tidbit (but they were quick to leap to the support of Ahmed Mohamed before they had any facts there too). Reif concluded MIT did everything right when it came to Swartz, and he wasn't ousted from his office by a pitchfork and torch-carrying mob. Even this clinic seems to be devoted to helping students with their startups rather than actually supporting MIT community members when they are in trouble.

MIT is basically operating as a defense contractor that has some cute hacker kids running around so the place looks all friendly. If anything comes up that interferes with the Institute's real business, it will be squashed in a hurry.
posted by zachlipton at 10:45 PM on December 10, 2015 [28 favorites]


I read a comment from a security officer at Ben Gurion Airport (Tel Aviv) a few years ago that really stayed with me. He said, basically, that if they reacted to every security alarm the way the US airports do they would be closed all the time. Instead, the airport is designed to localise security incidents: if something happens in one area it doesn't mean that every other area needs to be evacuated. Also, they actually have ways to deal with dangerous items - they have blastproof containers, walls that stop fragments, that sort of thing.

Compare this to any US airport I've been through - they're basically giant barns. If someone goes through a door backwards they may literally close down an entire terminal because they can't trace them. People lining up for security checks go through back&forth lines that may be hundreds of meters long, and items deemed to be "dangerous" are put in flimsy bins right next to the passengers and staff!

I'm not really surprised that the security officers reacted so badly: they obviously have very limited training and experience, and they don't have the equipment they'd need to do their job. The officer who made the initial contact may have been right to call an alert, but their subsequent actions put Star Simpson at risk and would have endangered everyone around her. I think (not an expert here) that the right thing to do would have been to discreetly isolate her before addressing her, and have her approached by someone specifically trained in disarming suspects. Instead it was all RESPECT MY AUTHORITY, and then - once their actions had caused them the maximum embarrassment - they did a whole song and dance to hide the fact that they had acted like clowns. It's a shame that their pride led them to ruin this poor woman's life instead of, you know, learning from their mistakes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:09 PM on December 10, 2015 [38 favorites]


The real problem is the "and then" part of Simpson's story. The vast majority of security alarms are going to be false alarms because terrorism is incredibly rare. Having all that weaponry pointed at you is going to ruin your day no matter what, but it was the subsequent actions, after they determined there was no threat, by the police, MIT, prosecutors, and the press that ruined the next several years of Simpsons' life.
posted by zachlipton at 11:20 PM on December 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


What zachlipton said: MIT selling her out, and the university, police, and newspapers portraying her as a terrorist, a hoaxer, and idiot, or all three, is the larger problem.
posted by zippy at 11:22 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The real problem is the "and then" part of Simpson's story

Yeah, very much this. It's stupid and ridiculous that the airport security responded the way they did, but not all together surprising, and in the long run, it would be one of those things that really sucked and would probably leave a person pretty freaked out, but it wouldn't be this huge thing that totally messes up your life.

But the fact that this wasn't immediately cleared up is just mind boggling. MIT's response was absolutely terrible, and the fact that anyone in the criminal justice system actually thought this was worth pursuing is just ridiculous.

Honestly, one of the most terrifying things to me, though, is the fact that I could see something like this so easily end up with the person being killed.

I really wish that, 8 years after this incident, we could look back on something like this and say, "Thank god this isn't the kind of thing that would happen now." Even more disturbing is the fact that I could see something like this so easily end up with the person being killed.

Also:

“Luckily she followed our instructions, so she ended up in our cell, as opposed to the morgue.” said Major Scott Paré of the Boston Logan state police

This makes me feel nauseous and angry and disgusted and just so many bad things. I just can't even.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2015 [33 favorites]


Oh also, speaking of feeling angry and disgusted, many of the comments in that old mefi thread are so terrible.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:33 PM on December 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Video of Star's amazing talk on the subject at the Freedom to Innovate summit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQdl_JdTars
posted by jjwiseman at 11:44 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh also, speaking of feeling angry and disgusted, many of the comments in that old mefi thread are so terrible.

There's a lot of desperate victim-blaming going on there, yes. It's pretty shameful. I'd be curious what those posters have to say now about what they said then.
posted by kafziel at 12:01 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


When you fall below a certain level of competence the security theatre itself becomes a threat.
posted by fullerine at 12:47 AM on December 11, 2015 [15 favorites]


The TSA in Boston, at least, seemed to be sort of overcompensating for some of the 9/11 flights having originated there. I remember about 2003 I went through Logan airport and they made a huge deal out of this little squeeze-to-turn-on flashlight that was on my key ring. Finally I said look, if it's a problem item for TSA, just take it, I bought it for a dollar at a drugstore, I don't care. Then they gave it back to me.
posted by thelonius at 2:02 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


That old thread is full of interesting and amusing comments, there are also a lot of idiots parading their ignorance. Life in all it's rich variety! Many of those comments would be flagged and deleted on today's Metafilter, if they were made at all. It is from eight years ago! There was no twitter and Facebook wasn't as ubiquitous, so access to the ignorant stupidity different opinions of your friends and acquaintances was more limited.

I think that thread may have been where I first came across the concept of 'security theatre', something that has only got worst since then.
posted by asok at 2:13 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


While that old thread is a great testament to how far we have come, it is equal testament to how gross we can be.

I mean, yikes.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 2:18 AM on December 11, 2015


Unless my basic web skills have taken a nosedive this am, is anyone else surprised that there's no Wikipedia article about Star Simpson? I was going to do a little background reading on her case, and thought — maybe naïvely — that this would have been a notable intersection of tech and civil liberties that would cause a couple of wiki editors to maintain an exhaustively documented article.

Or is this a case of WP:NOT_A_BLOKE?
posted by scruss at 3:48 AM on December 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


I actually felt the need to go back to the old thread and make sure I wasn't one of the people saying idiotic things. If so, I'd feel ethically bound to repent. I got lucky, this time.
posted by mystyk at 4:22 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was much more of an asshole in 2007, but I guess at least I was on the right side.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:29 AM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's amazing how naive she still is about the "real purpose" of places like MIT.

A student legal clinic will have to be independent of and be asked to be antagonistic towards MIT, if it is going to actually serve the interests of students. Asking MIT to support such an endeavor is like thinking HR is about helping people...
posted by ennui.bz at 4:52 AM on December 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not naive to try to change institutions for the better, and if you think it is, you are naive.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:32 AM on December 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wow. I clicked on that old thread and did a ctrl+f for my username and let out a sigh of relief to find I hadn't made a comment or, if I did, the comment was deleted. Because god damn in 2007 I would have said something really stupid and regretful about that. In fact, I'm pretty sure I did somewhere else. Phew.
posted by bondcliff at 5:57 AM on December 11, 2015


I was struck, on reading this time around, about how racism probably played a role in this - that she was perceived as non-white [I don't know what her actual background is] and was described to security as a "dark-skinned" person with a device must have amplified things immensely and made everyone reluctant to be like "hm, it's unlikely that you're going to blow up the airport with your cardigan". If she had been blond [and had long hair - I surmise that her very short hair/perceived lack of femininity amplified things too], I wonder if this might have been de-escalated.

Also, my god, I would never in a million years have even bothered reading metafilter if the threads were all like that old one. Thank goodness for the sweet, sweet balm of moderation and a change in the community.
posted by Frowner at 6:13 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember a much greater tendency to just assume whatever police did was fine, and if it went south it must somehow have been the arrestees fault.

This was absolutely a product of privilege, and I'm glad it's being chipped away at. It's becoming less and less easy to assume cops are inherently in the right nowadays.
posted by maxsparber at 6:32 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Compare this to any US airport I've been through - they're basically giant barns. If someone goes through a door backwards they may literally close down an entire terminal because they can't trace them. People lining up for security checks go through back&forth lines that may be hundreds of meters long, and items deemed to be "dangerous" are put in flimsy bins right next to the passengers and staff!

I flew on the day of the Great Toothpaste and Shampoo disaster, and I got to O'Hare about 5:30 AM. The security lines were insane, disorganized mobs of hundreds of people, either milling around cluelessly because they couldn't figure out where they were supposed to go and how the hell they were supposed to make their flight, or, if they knew where they were going, pressing together like a mob of cattle, inching toward the checkpoints at an excruciatingly slow rate. The TSA had these plastic dumpsters that they were parading everybody past, and you had to put all your gels and liquids in them. I was thinking that if terrorists got to O'Hare and saw that setup, they'd rub their hands in glee–won't be able to take out an airplane that day, but the blast might kill a healthy number, which would be far exceeded the number who would be trampled to death...
posted by BrashTech at 6:39 AM on December 11, 2015


It's worth noting that the administration was called out by the faculty for their horrible response to Star's situation. That editorial alludes to it at the end, but there is a sense on campus that while the faculty wasn't paying close enough attention, in the early 2000's the administration slowly evolved into a more corporate, defensive posture. My (and many others long-timers') sense is that even 10 years earlier the administrative response would have been very very different. Unfortunately only after-the-fact, but many people saw this event (and Swartz, and several others large and small) as a very surprising willingness to throw in loco parentis out the window to protect The Corporation, and it's led to a very different, more-involved approach the last few years from folks who maybe feel like they spent too long on the sidelines. Support for stuff like this is part of the founding mythology we're all told when we get to MIT (a mythology that Star, obviously, now has a complicated relationship with).
posted by range at 6:43 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am shocked given the initial reports of a "dark skinned male with a device strapped to his chest" did not get Star killed. I wonder if MIT would have come out to defend a dead girl who was found innocent? They would've probably more likely do that. Our current "stand your ground" environment really encourages those who can to shoot to kill. The dead are less likely to put up a good defense. Though cameras and citizen activists have turned the tide on this a bit.

It strikes me that we always want to be on the side of a winner. It happens in politics all the time, your favorite candidate can't win? You switch sides. A dark skinned female is just not a winner. No one is going to stick their neck out for her, least of all a power structure like MIT.
posted by amanda at 6:44 AM on December 11, 2015


Also, my god, I would never in a million years have even bothered reading metafilter if the threads were all like that old one. Thank goodness for the sweet, sweet balm of moderation and a change in the community.

Let's all hold hands and remember this moment the next time someone complains about censorious mods or echo-chambers or whatever the shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 AM on December 11, 2015 [9 favorites]


ah, the genesis of clock boy.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:58 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mod note: Yeah, I totally get the impulse to revisit related threads from the bad old days: all I'll suggest is we try to avoid straying too deeply into "boy, weren't I/you/they *terrible* back then" territory. That's because it'd be metadiscussion if not some sort of debate with our past selves.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not naive to try to change institutions for the better, and if you think it is, you are naive.

a student legal clinic that actually supports students has to be independent from the university and able to exist outside of university support. Simpson still seems to think that when MIT feels threatened by the actions of a student, that it can be convinced to act in the interests of the student instead of the interests of a billion dollar defense contractor and multi-billion dollar research corporation. She seems completely naive about the position of undergraduates in that multi-billion dollar corporation:
What I am asking is that MIT fix its approach and stand behind the people who make its community what it is, and as part of that, commit to providing support in the inevitable future situations when they occur.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2015


all I'll suggest is we try to avoid straying too deeply into "boy, weren't I/you/they *terrible* back then" territory. That's because it'd be metadiscussion if not some sort of debate with our past selves.]

It's actually important. Not only is Simpson naive about MIT, but she also thinks that her fellow tech elite would have supported her. But, that MeFi thread shows that all you had to do was suggest she was doing something "activist-y" and her peers were willing to throw her to wolves... at a time when hundreds of thousands of people were dying in Iraq.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:28 AM on December 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think the difference between 2007 and now is that we collectively have less faith in the honesty of police, the TSA, and in MIT. Especially MIT. Part of the reason we responded the way we did was that MIT preemptively made an announcement of Star's guilt. Whether we consciously knew it then, the combination of the state and a smart university both blaming her made it hard for anyone to treat her fairly.
posted by zippy at 8:31 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's because it'd be metadiscussion if not some sort of debate with our past selves.

Like a tattoo!
posted by maxsparber at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2015


Thank you, gnfti. Hindsight is 20-20, isn't it.
posted by Melismata at 8:36 AM on December 11, 2015


I was struck, on reading this time around, about how racism probably played a role in this - that she was perceived as non-white [I don't know what her actual background is] and was described to security as a "dark-skinned" person with a device must have amplified things immensely and made everyone reluctant to be like "hm, it's unlikely that you're going to blow up the airport with your cardigan". If she had been blond [and had long hair - I surmise that her very short hair/perceived lack of femininity amplified things too], I wonder if this might have been de-escalated.
This.

I have an acquaintance/friend who brought a homemade device onto a plane. It was (I fucking kid you not) a 'remote-fireworks fuse igniter that would trigger via an SMS message'. ('lighting fireworks can be dangerous, this device makes it safer'). While they did shut down much of the airport, they eventually let him through, *with his device*, and he had no further repercussions (he might have missed a flight, but was let on the next one).

Needless to say he was white.
posted by el io at 8:45 AM on December 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


and thought — maybe naïvely — that this would have been a notable intersection of tech and civil liberties that would cause a couple of wiki editors to maintain an exhaustively documented article.

Or is this a case of WP:NOT_A_BLOKE?


You're as far as I know looking for WP:BLP1E if looking for an article on Star Simpson. But WP:NOT_A_BLOKE definitely deserves its own page. I'm not sure that the arrest would make it through notability for Wikipedia (it's just an arrest without major coverage AFAIK) but think that it would be more likely to if she were a bloke.
posted by Francis at 8:46 AM on December 11, 2015


Yeah, Star says in the article that a lot of alumni were getting ready to reach out and lend support, but then MIT's statement totally distancing themselves from her made a lot of people drop it. The student sentiment at the time seemed to be overwhelmingly, well, that wasn't super smart to show up like that to the airport, but a lot of us are sleep-deprived space cases so we can see how it happened. Most of all MIT really, really shouldn't have said what it did and acted the way it did.* What I found most interesting, though, was the juxtaposition between what Star would expect from a student law clinic, and what was actually in the very link that she posted. When I read the press release from MIT, though, it makes total sense. Student startups and IP are the kinds of things that bring prestige, so MIT will do the least it could do to help protect that. For something like this, though, Star would have shown up and those BU law students would have been completely clueless as to how to help her, and that would probably be it. As it happened, it's heinous that the president's office didn't at least refer her to Student Support Services, or if she went, they were unable or unwilling to help her. That's what they're for!

It comes down to what the role of a university really is. Star mentions in loco parentis, but does that really hold true any more? I know now I'm in an incredibly privileged position, where if it had been me I would have called my parents and they would have immediately found and paid for an excellent lawyer. (Plus I'm white, so I doubt I would have gotten the gunpoint treatment.) Not all students have that, and to what extent should the university look after one of their own, who in this case was just a teenager at the time?

*Disclosure: I was also a sophomore at MIT at the same time as Star, but don't know her personally.
posted by j.r at 8:53 AM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


a student legal clinic that actually supports students has to be independent from the university and able to exist outside of university support.

In this case, a good advocate might conceivably advise Simpson to sue MIT, for defamation. MIT presumably had that thought, which is why they changed their policy about commenting on legal problems faced by their students.

In general, the student-university relationship is so encompassing that if you're a student and you have a legal problem, you probably have a legal problem with your university.

But I suppose this is probably not the kind of problem that MIT is aiming to help with. And that's okay.

For some problems, there's just no substitute for private legal counsel. It's a shame it's so expensive.
posted by grobstein at 8:54 AM on December 11, 2015


Otoh, maybe by virtue of being a student clinic run by outsiders the office will have some independence. Students presumably join the clinic because they are interested in IP and bu$ine$$ law, but if someone comes into open hours with a story of being persecuted, they might be interested or they might know someone who would be interested.
posted by grobstein at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2015


> You're as far as I know looking for WP:BLP1E if looking for an article on Star Simpson

Yeah, my reference to WP:NOT_A_BLOKE was intended to be tongue in cheek, but the article for the “2007 Boston Mooninite panic” seems unduly large by comparison. Star is not unknown for other actions, so I'm still calling this as WP:LITTLE_GIRL_BEGONE_FROM_OUR_HALLOWED_SAUSAGE_PARTY.
posted by scruss at 10:56 AM on December 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


an arrest without major coverage

It was pretty well covered at the time. Internet certainly noticed. The old metafilter post links to two different ABC news stories (local and national), boston.com, the guardian. Doing a search now I found New York Times and Washington Post with an AP story.

What followed was not well covered - I had no idea it went so poorly for her in the aftermath.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 5:37 PM on December 11, 2015


If anyone is wondering what the so-called "bomb" looked like, here is a photo of it--from this BoingBoing thread. For those too incurious to click the link, it looks exactly like what it is--a little circuit board with some leds and a battery and stuff. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever about it that reads "bomb" in any way.

The thing that is totally missing in this case, that could possibly make this into a "hoax" device, is any sort of claim from the person that this WAS a bomb. If a person were going about saying, "I have a BOMB!!!!11!!" and brandishing a shoebox or a bagfull of sand, or whatever, then those items or just about any otherwise ordinary object could become a hoax bomb, sure.

But Star was wearing a little circuit board, perfectly ordinary--certainly nothing different or more dangerous than those found in everyday cell phones and laptop computers--and never claimed or insinuated that it was anything different. Surely the very word "hoax" means that you are claiming that one certain thing is something that it is actually not.

Right?

FWIW a high-school acquaintance of mine once called a bomb threat into an airport, to try to delay a flight that someone was on (short version, longer version, even longer version). Quite rightly the banhammer of the law came down on his head--though not as hard as on Star's, interestingly. But, he was making an actual threat. That little fact makes an actual difference--or at least, it should.
posted by flug at 7:14 PM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


a little circuit board with some leds and a battery and stuff. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever about it that reads "bomb" in any way.

I agree that the entire situation was handled badly by both the authorities and MIT but I'm curious what you think real bombs look like. They aren't giant movie bombs with clocks and stuff...
posted by Justinian at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2015


I'm curious what you think real bombs look like.

You'd want to have some explosives there, surely. Primer cord? Decent-sized batteries or capacitors I expect. Anything electronic can only be the trigger, but you don't actually need electronics for a trigger: two bare wires would do the trick. Blinky lights making a star pattern on a piece of circuit board have nothing to do with explosives and they don't look much like a trigger - which could be anything, as I said. And if they're not attached to explosives then they're not part of a bomb.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:19 AM on December 12, 2015


That's what I thought too... but apparently she was carrying around a bunch of play-doh as well. Why, I have no idea. But play-doh looks basically the same as plastic explosives from a distance.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 PM on December 12, 2015


Here's what she says in an interview:
XENI: You were also, if I remember from these reports, you were carrying around a piece of play-doh and playing with it, and people thought maybe it was C4 or some kind of explosive -- what was that?

STAR: Sure. That was this little hand-sculpted flower I brought to give my friend at the airport. (holds it up to camera, it's a bright pink rose, hardened clay)[...] I found out later that the Boston State Police use play-doh to train for recognizing [the explosive material] Semtex.
If I read this in a fictional account I would have found it hard to swallow, but if coincidences didn't happen we wouldn't need a word to describe them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, which is why I don't really object to the idea that someone stopped her to find out exactly what was going on with the circuit board and play-doh. The gross overreaction was the arrest and the throwing-under-the-bus by MIT.

The correct reaction would have been "oh, a blinky star. Cool. But you probably don't want to walk around an airport with a circuit board and play-doh anymore. Thanks? Have a nice day."
posted by Justinian at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2015


If anyone is wondering what the so-called "bomb" looked like, here is a photo of it--from this BoingBoing thread. For those too incurious to click the link, it looks exactly like what it is--a little circuit board with some leds and a battery and stuff. There is absolutely nothing whatsoever about it that reads "bomb" in any way.

Especially from the outside. That's what it looked on the inside of the shirt, but all you'd see while she's wearing it is blinking lights. The circuit board is hidden.
posted by kafziel at 10:58 PM on December 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am shocked given the initial reports of a "dark skinned male with a device strapped to his chest" did not get Star killed.

From the video I linked above (which I highly recommend--the details and perspectives she has are interesting, and the emotional toll of the event and its consequences, even after all these years, is plain):
I later learned that I owe my life to the state police because I was actually in the sights of a sniper, who sort of vaguely saw me walking away from the airport terminal and not towards it, and had the thought that that's not what a terrorist would do, and so I'm able to be here to tell you about this story today. It's also worth noting that in the baggage claim at logan airport, at least at the time, you're legally allowed to have up to 11 pounds of ammunition on you, as a passenger. I had 13 LEDs.
Also:
The state police had very good people responding who in the course of about 5 minutes were able to determine that what I had was harmless, and yet they continued because Massachusetts has wrongful arrest laws so if you arrest someone and it turns out that the arrest was wrongful then the police can be sued, so they went ahead and pressed charges and took the case forward even though it was pretty clear early on that there was no threat.
Also the story of being pushed off her bicycle by someone, who then yelled at her "You should have gotten prison time!"

The next video that YouTube chose to show me is Hal Abelson's talk immediately after Star's, which was awesome; He utterly had her back. "The thing we have to understand is that Star was persecuted for being a witch. I mean that seriously." Which is an excellent point.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:24 AM on December 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


'I would never in a million years have even bothered reading metafilter if the threads were all like that old one.'

Maybe Metafilter wasn't ready for you, or maybe you weren't ready for Metafilter. Either way you would have missed out on the best of the web. There was plenty of fine moderation at the time, with a slightly different ethos to today.

Anyway, glad you have stayed to contribute to the community!

The state police had very good people responding who in the course of about 5 minutes were able to determine that what I had was harmless, and yet they continued because Massachusetts has wrongful arrest laws so if you arrest someone and it turns out that the arrest was wrongful then the police can be sued, so they went ahead and pressed charges and took the case forward even though it was pretty clear early on that there was no threat.


That is not good for anybody, what a waste of resources!
posted by asok at 1:51 AM on December 15, 2015


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