Keep the crafts at home, please.
September 21, 2007 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Star Simpson, a MIT student, wears her art project to the airport. Fearing her to be some sort of bomber, she is arrested for having a fake bomb. It sure looks like a bomb to me. I call the Boston tag.

Much like all the other Boston incidents, I find the repeated use of the term "fake bomb" to be odd; it is as if every media outlet accepts the term at face value.
posted by Bovine Love (725 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
9/21 NEVAR FORGET

(In all seriousness, though, I imagine she got exactly what she wanted...how do you wear a machine of unclear purpose on your chest through airport security without expecting to get pulled aside, at the least?)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2007


She's suffering for her art -- waaaah!

Christ, what an asshole
posted by mazola at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Indeed. For this to be considered a "hoax device" don't they need to establish intent?
posted by hellphish at 10:53 AM on September 21, 2007


she apparently didn't expect to go through security.

reading the stories, it sounded insane, looking at the picture, the security is insane.
posted by twjordan at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2007


"Pare said the device had wires connected to a battery, allowing it to light up."

That's like a red rag to a bull in Boston!

Oh, and no, it doesn't look much like a bomb to me, it looks like a bunch of LEDS, a battery and breadboard (As electronics projects go it looks kinda crappy though).
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


She didn't actually go through security, she just made an inquiry at the information desk. I just think that everybody's just so *touchy* about these things these days. Relax everybody!
posted by MythMaker at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]




Star, please don't pet the lions. Star! Star, ... oh shit.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used,' Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.'

BULL-SHIT. Officer Pare is extremely lucky no one on his staff pulled out a gun and shot a college student through the chest for wearing a sweater.
posted by yhbc at 10:56 AM on September 21, 2007 [44 favorites]


Everyone knows that bombs have a lot of blinkenlights on a breadboard. Fear the wire wrapping.
posted by ryoshu at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tase the bomb! Tase the bomb!
posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2007


Boston, I love you, but you're kinda silly with the fake bomb fear. Also, it's common these days to college students, didn't you get the memo?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:57 AM on September 21, 2007


Thank God the University of Florida police were not there to apprehend her -- no Taser, but fully-automatic machine guns!
posted by ericb at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2007


A college student with a fake bomb strapped to her chest

This is in the AP report and it is nothing but bad reporting. "Fake bomb" implies that the person was portraying the thing as a bomb and using it to terrorize people.

What this person had was some wires and LEDs and stuff, sort of like the "47-in-1 Electronics Fun Kit" my 1-yr-old son has in his room and there is no indication she ever tried to portray it as a bomb or use it to scare people. (Thank heavens we have security and media folks to rush in an fill that dearly needed role . . . )
posted by flug at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do you think terrorist know that bomb-giveaway number one is badly soldered exposed wiring and random LEDs? Cos if I was a terrorist I think I'd want to minimise them in my bomb design once I knew that.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


When did Boston become so wicked retahded?

(Plus, Kihei provides Barely Legal with the greatest number of amateurs per capita, for some reason).
posted by klangklangston at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Christ, it looks like an LED project. What the fuck is wrong with everyone these days? I just know those news stories have 190 comments worth of, "She should have known better." When can we expect that the authorities aren't going to lose it over the mildest hint of a threat? I mean, she was "lucky" they didn't lose deadly force? I'm "lucky" I don't have a brain anneurysm from reading this crap.
posted by agregoli at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2007 [12 favorites]


You know what bombs have that this lady didn't?

EXPLOSIVES.

We are afraid of wires in this country? Fuck everyone involved in this debacle from the cop on down. Pulling a gun on a teenager due to your own ignorance? Is their only excuse that they've been following a national propaganda program? Screw this.
posted by phooky at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's like security forces have only seen a bomb in a Hollywood movie or an episode of "MacGuyver".
posted by stevis23 at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2007 [10 favorites]


Use deadly force. Sorry, I'm flummoxed.
posted by agregoli at 11:00 AM on September 21, 2007


Oops. I hope they don't read metafilter.
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2007


You'd think Logan Airport could let down their hair a little bit about this sort of thing...

What a dumbass stunt
posted by porn in the woods at 11:01 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Her arrest is is so fucking stupid.

My little brothers used to wear tennis shoes that had LED lights in the heels ... the lights would flicker based on the motions of the wearers. Should they have been detained on suspicion of wearing shoe bombs?

I have seen little journal/diaries made of recycled circuit boards. Should someone carrying one of those be arrested on suspicion of carrying a "diary bomb"?
posted by jayder at 11:02 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, I agree. It was a dumb stunt for the security at the airport to pull. There is NO evidence she intended it to be a "stunt" at all. Sounds completely innocent to me.
posted by agregoli at 11:03 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


twjordan writes "the security is insane."

Security ? That's Walmart-level rent-a-cop !

Ask the professionists : Blackwater would have shoot her with a sniper rifle from 2 miles away, on the ground that she looked armed with electronics and with curly hair, a clear sign of arabic/sandnigger genes. That's for YOUR security, keeping you safe from violent deaths by inflicting violent death !
posted by elpapacito at 11:04 AM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Lite-Not-So-Brite
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:05 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Note to self: LEDs + wires + plugboard = BOMB.

Also, Terrorists are planning on pinning these bombs onto t-shirts worn by nerdy looking college students and having said students walk brazenly into an airport to blow shit up with their LED-asploder.

Christ we are a nation of retards.
posted by Avenger at 11:05 AM on September 21, 2007 [12 favorites]


Maybe I'm showing that I'm aging by saying this, but are college students REALLY this stupid now? I mean, either the girl HONESTLY thought this would be okay, OR she just wanted to cause a scene in an airport. Either way, someone that bereft of anything approaching intelligence or common sense should not be taking up one of the limited spots in a seat of higher learning.

I'm not saying it's arrest-worthy behavior, or that this type of foolishness should be considered "fake bombs" etc., but I cannot muster up a shred of sympathy for this twit.
posted by bunnycup at 11:05 AM on September 21, 2007 [13 favorites]


From her website (which is down now):

"She described herself as someone who loves 'crazy ideas' and has been 'traveling the world and saving the planet from evil villains (sic) with my delivered-just-in-time gadgets.'"*
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on September 21, 2007


Now if I were an art critic, I just might have to tase her.
posted by kozad at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


ZOMG AN AL QAEDA FRONT!
posted by ryoshu at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2007


Blackwater would have shoot her with a sniper rifle from 2 miles away, on the ground that she looked armed with electronics and with curly hair, a clear sign of arabic/sandnigger genes.

You're nuts...
posted by SweetJesus at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was a stupid stunt designed to get a reaction. I hope she got the shit scared out of her.

What's the odds that if she hadn't been apprehended she'd have gone straight to the press about how she had something on her chest that might have been a bomb (in FULL VIEW) and no-one reacted?

Anyone want to take those odds?

She was carrying (wearing is irrelevant) something that was suspicious (how many people that work at airports can identify a bomb without getting close enough to risk someone triggering it?). Pointing a gun at someone and saying 'STOP! Put your hands up so we can see what that is you are wearing" seems perfectly sensible to me.

I'd rather that, than get blown to shit just after a cop said "Dunno. Maybe it's an art project from some stupid student?"

KABOOM.
posted by Brockles at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2007 [13 favorites]


That AP article is quite possibly the worst piece of yellow journalism I've ever read.

With journalists like that, who needs a propaganda bureau?

"Fake bomb" indeed.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:07 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This why the media is shit: The links above keep describing it as "strapped to her chest", except for the first one, which says she had it on her hands. It was on a fucking sweater, not sure how that is "strapped".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2007


She also had Play-Doh in her hands*. Huh?
posted by ericb at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2007


"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."
Holy fuck.

First of all, that thing doesn't look anything like a bomb. It looks like a piece of crap, but not anything like a bomb. I certainly wouldn't have shot her. Jesus. And even if it was bomb-like, it would have been too small to really hurt anyone (IMO) so I don't think shooting her would have been warranted.
posted by delmoi at 11:08 AM on September 21, 2007


I'm with bunnycup. Stupid over-reaction by airport security is what she should have expected. Yep, they were completely wrong.

But she couldn't possibly be that naive.

And WHY was she carrying play-dough?

If you ask me, she wanted press, and she got it. Now way would her "art" have received attention by conventional methods. That thing is helluva ugly.
posted by misha at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have seen little journal/diaries made of recycled circuit boards. Should someone carrying one of those be arrested on suspicion of carrying a "diary bomb"?

You're really asking the wrong website. We have a contingent here who thinks people who talk out-of-line towards a Senator at a public event "deserve what they get" when they're electrocuted.
posted by Avenger at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


but are college students REALLY this stupid now?

College students have always been wrapped up in their world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2007


Brockles writes "'d rather that, than get blown to shit just after a cop said "Dunno. Maybe it's an art project from some stupid student?""

Exactly ! I'd rather subject ALL the passenger to a full accurate cavity search, rather then being shoot in pieces ! Why isn't that done, that's beyond me !
posted by elpapacito at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I knew it was a bad idea to try to travel with my new black bowling ball with the word "Bomb" written on the side. I'm just lucky I made it out of there with my twirl-able mustache.
posted by drezdn at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2007 [15 favorites]


Apparently she was picking someone up, and not planning on going through security. So this is even more of an over-reaction.

"She could not explain why she had play-doh in her hands"

Well why should she have too?
posted by delmoi at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


From a comment on abcnews.com

She was coming from a career fair. To the fair, she wore a circuit board with a couple of lights and a battery, not unlike the kinds of toys the vendors sell to kids in the park. The back of her shirt is advertising her school's electrical engineering department. She was holding some silly putty which someone had given her at the career fair. The silly putty wasn't "wired" to the light display. She wasn't making a political statement or anything of the kind. She was simply wearing an innocent toy while coming to meet her boyfriend. The media and the cops are having a great time with this one.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2007 [31 favorites]


terrorist training manual exerpt:

Step 10) now that you have constructed your bomb, make sure you decorate it with bright LED lights so that you can draw maximum attention to it.

Step 11) do not conceal your bomb. the best way to get it into the airport is to display it conspicuously, attached to an article of clothing, or swinging it around your head attached to a piece of rope.
posted by mano at 11:11 AM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


When is Boston going to learn that the most explosive thing in their city is those stupid fucking beans?
posted by davelog at 11:12 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Being electrocuted is not the same thing as being tased, Avenger, but lets not have that fight here. As one of that "contingent", as you say, I see a world of difference between that asshole and this incident. If she had been tased, I would have been all over the cops, and like I said above, if they had shot her that would have been murder one.
posted by yhbc at 11:12 AM on September 21, 2007




I'm with you Bovine Love what's with all the "fake bomb" talk?

Security theatre is annoying, doesn't provide security, but does provide opportunity for petty authoritarians to act like assholes. It seems as if Boston has been taken over by authoritarian jackoffs with delusions of grandeur.

And for the "she had it coming" crowd: you are scum. She didn't have it coming. She wore a fucking LED star into the NON SECURE part of the airport, she had no intention of going into the secure zone, and anyone with the IQ of mayonnaise could tell that it wasn't a bomb. This is, if you may remember, America, we're theoretically the land of the free, not the land of the cowed, cowardly, and cautious. Your mentality is what lets the security theatre jackoffs get away with the bullying authoritarian schtick that they so love. We need to stand up to the idiots who arrested the poor woman, not tell her that if she'd just been properly sheeplike it wouldn't have happend.

The airport in Boston is, surprise, part of the USA, not the bloody Saudi Arabia or some other authoritarian hellhole, but thanks for doing your part to make America more shitty.

pyramid termite They weren't arrested for having a noose, but for DUI and behaving in a threatening manner. Having a noose makes you an asshole, which isn't and shouldn't be illegal. Having a noose while driving slowly past a group of people bussing back from a protest over the gross miscarrage of justice in Jenna while shouting racist stuff is making threats and inciting to riot.

Free speech I'm all for, even for racist assholes; but I'm going to draw the line at making credible threats and inciting to riot.
posted by sotonohito at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2007 [24 favorites]


And WHY was she carrying play-dough?

Well, that's the thing. It's not illegal to carry play-dough, and I'm sure she had some really stupid, pointless, reason. We can't be arresting people and shooting them just because they are doing something "unusual". I mean, WTF?!

I think it's totally insane that, failing to identify a device as a non bomb means that it is a bomb and you should be treated as if you are a potential suicide bomber.

And again, she was not planning on going through security, because she was going to be picking someone up, rather then taking a flight. I think most people, these days, understand that they can get hassled by security when they fly, but not when they are just picking people up.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


O.J.'s just glad that another Simpson is in the news, diverting attention away from him. Oh, wait.
posted by ericb at 11:17 AM on September 21, 2007


We have a contingent here who thinks people who talk out-of-line towards a Senator at a public event "deserve what they get" when they're electrocuted.

Heh. I've generally got a lot more sympathy for people who don't act with the intent of getting themselves hauled off by security.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on September 21, 2007


but are college art students REALLY this stupid now?

College
art students have always been wrapped up in their world.

Fixed that for you.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:19 AM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Hah!

They should have tazed her.
posted by smackwich at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2007


From the looks of the device, she has a fine career ahead of her on the Zune 2.0 design team.
posted by paddbear at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


State Police Maj. Scott Pare: "She certainly jeopardized her own safety by bringing this to the airport, as well as the safety of everybody around her.'

It sounds like Massachusetts state troopers must have pretty piss-poor aim. I guess that's why they carry machine guns.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


It seems as if Boston has been taken over by authoritarian jackoffs with delusions of grandeur.

Logan International Airport has been extremely "touchy" since 9/11, as it utterly failed in the security clearance of the two planes that left that morning and took down the TWC twin towers. There are layers-and-layers of security ... some seen; others not. It has become the testing ground for new technologies, etc.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


yhbc wrote: Being electrocuted is not the same thing as being tased, Avenger, but lets not have that fight here.

Fair enough.

As one of that "contingent", as you say, I see a world of difference between that asshole and this incident. If she had been tased, I would have been all over the cops, and like I said above, if they had shot her that would have been murder one.

Also fair enough. But, maybe I'm just having trouble seeing the differences here between the two incidents. To me, both signal a massive abuse of authority and extreme, fruitless paranoia thats become de rigueur for 21st century America.
posted by Avenger at 11:21 AM on September 21, 2007


*WTC twin towers*
posted by ericb at 11:21 AM on September 21, 2007


what a fucking twit.
posted by docpops at 11:21 AM on September 21, 2007


nobody commented on the clown wig?

zomg the clowns are taking over
posted by desjardins at 11:22 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by Avenger We have a contingent here who thinks people who talk out-of-line towards a Senator at a public event "deserve what they get" when they're electrocuted.

And you're part of the contingent here that lacks basic reading and comprehension skills.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:22 AM on September 21, 2007


Oh Boston, Boston, Boston. You poor miserable pack of cowards.
posted by aramaic at 11:23 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


also, mad props to sotonohito for calling this what it is: "security theatre". How much of our "increased security" since 9/11 has been security theatre? Esentially no different than adding another foot of steel to the fence around our wealthy gated community?

85%? 90%?
posted by Avenger at 11:24 AM on September 21, 2007


Having a noose while driving slowly past a group of people bussing back from a protest over the gross miscarrage of justice in Jenna while shouting racist stuff is making threats and inciting to riot.

and wearing a suspicious circuit board in the same airport that two of the 9/11 planes came from is what?

i find it interesting how freedom of speech issues seem to have differing slants according to who's involved and who's offended

and then there's the whole taser thing, too ...

not a lot of consistency here, though, is there?
posted by pyramid termite at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2007


Geez.

Someone arrived at an airport. The police carry automatic weapons at airports. The country in question is more than a little panicky about security.

All that is fact.

You are then wearing something that the uninitiated (an airport info desk clerk, for instance) will most likely not understand. There is no decent reason (to said person) for someone to be at an airport with 'electronics' on them. So you report it as suspicious (as would anyone rather than be the one that didn't, surely).

Cut to the police bit: They are told that someone is carrying a 'suspected bomb'. The police are more likely to know what a bomb looks like than the info clerk.

They are approaching a potential (albeit most likely stupid) bomb carrier. Do you wander up to them in your uniform and ask nicely what they have? Or do you try and scare them into not moving so you can find out what it is they have for yourself?

So you point guns at them and get them to stand still. You get closer (now you are sure you aren't going to get killed) and find out it was just a bunch of wires, some LED's and a lump of playdough.

At this stage, the only stupid thing is that the person on the help desk doesn't know what a bomb looks like. The police merely reacted to a suspected bomb threat.

They didn't kill her (that would have been an over-reaction), nor did they harm her. They just asked her to stop (at gunpoint, which seems reasonable to me for a suspected bomb) and found out what the deal was. Arresting her for being stupid and casuing a fuss is more than she deserved.

People are paranoid at airports. Just put the playdough down and take the shit off your chest. How hard is that? She was, I maintain, doing it for exactly this reaction. Well done, love. You got it.
posted by Brockles at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2007 [22 favorites]


America- the proud and the free retarded and scared shitless
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's not illegal to carry play-dough

...yet.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


There's no way she was unaware that at some level this was going to be provocative. You may as well stick a toy gun in your waistband and claim you just came from your nephew's birthday party. Anything the cops say is going to be turned on them as either over or under-reaction. They're charged with threat assessment and containment. What the fuck should they have done? Asked her out for ice cream?
posted by docpops at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said."


Had she just said it's my science fair project blah blah blah none of this would have happened. Moron.
posted by zeoslap at 11:27 AM on September 21, 2007


Yeah, she's a twit, but come on—she's only 19, and her parents named her Star. Let this be a warning to future parents who think it's cool to give your kids weird names!
posted by languagehat at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, and:
We are afraid of wires in this country?
Apparently, we were afraid of shampoo and deodarant first. Give us some credit.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2007 [8 favorites]


Brockles writes "Arresting her for being stupid and casuing a fuss is more than she deserved."

Exactly ! Stupid people, ignorant people, all of them needs to feel the full force of the law ! I am shocked, shocked that they didn't make her eat the playdoh while wipping her communist scum !
posted by elpapacito at 11:29 AM on September 21, 2007


Thank God for the Globe, and for the few remaining news outlets that still produce actual news, written by actual reporters. Those first two links are nauseating junk.

OK, time for my nap. :-)
posted by facetious at 11:31 AM on September 21, 2007


Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there.
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2007


There is no decent reason (to said person) for someone to be at an airport with 'electronics' on them.

I'll be sure to tell that to everyone carrying a Blackberry.
posted by stevis23 at 11:32 AM on September 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


Actually, stupid people deserve to have been picked off by natural selection rather than being allowed to survive through extensive legislative warnings on every single item.

"Progress' has a lot to answer for...
posted by Brockles at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2007


There's no way she was unaware that at some level this was going to be provocative.

There's absolutely no proof towards that conclusion. It was an LED light display that electrical engineering students might make. How is that threatening? Why should it occur to anyone that going into an airport (NOT the secure area) with that is going to cause them to be arrested?
posted by agregoli at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I see normal people.

Star should have thought about the implications of her device at an airport, but let's face it. She's 19, she's pretty fkn geeky, and may not have thought it would look funny. Sometimes we all have brainfarts.

Security, as usual, overreacted. They're sort of primed to. Most of yr frontline customer service jockeys and security personnel are not going to know the difference between your geeky science project and a bomb. In fact, Hollywood has probably conditioned them to see batteries and a breadboard as a detonation device. Deadly force? Not unless someone wanted to lose their job/career over it.

I'm glad she didn't get hurt or killed and I hope she's able to laugh about it later, and maybe think plans through a little bit more. You gotta know those MIT grrls. They're a bit on the Asperger's side just like the MIT boys. Cute and nerdy.
posted by kalessin at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Apparently, we were afraid of shampoo and deodarant first.

Wrong. The French were until the 1980s rolled around!
posted by ericb at 11:33 AM on September 21, 2007


I'll be sure to tell that to everyone carrying a Blackberry.

Way to go. If they had the blackberry opened up and not instantly/easily identifiable, then maybe so. Take it as far out of context as you like...
posted by Brockles at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


And you're part of the contingent here that lacks basic reading and comprehension skills.

*tasers fandango_matt*
posted by Avenger at 11:34 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


not a lot of consistency here, though, is there?

Or possibly the people you are upset up aren't actually saying the things you think they are saying.
posted by Artw at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2007


Did anybody read the article?

Star Simpson, 19, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and approached an airport employee in Terminal C at 8 a.m. to inquire about an incoming flight from Oakland, according to Major Scott Pare of the State Police. She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.

In other words, she got all the way into the Terminal, walked up to an airport worker, asked about a flight, but didn't answer a perfectly reasonable question about the circuit board on her chest?

Why didn't she answer the worker's question? What did she think was going to happen when she didn't answer? What if the employee did NOT call security, and it turned out it was a bomb? Would you all bve mocking security and the stupidity of the employee for not doing something when someone clearly has a makeshift circuit board attached to their chest?

This isn't an unreasonable response. This is a perfectly reasonable response. Person walks into terminal asking about incoming flights but not answering questions about the circuit board on their chest that does who knows what, I fully expect security to do something to this person. Why?

Because anyone who walks into an airport with any kind of circuit board attached to their chest not expecting a security response is crazy.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2007 [19 favorites]


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the student world, 2 students shot at Delaware State, Police identify two persons of interest; campus locked down, classes canceled.
posted by nickyskye at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2007


slut had it coming. she knew what she was doing, trotting around with that LCD display all lit-up in everybody's face. come on people--it's obvious she wanted it, real bad! any real man can see that.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:35 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


ANY reasonably mature person (and I think my 12-15 year old cousins know this, as an example) should by this time be well aware that walking around wearing a shirt like this would be problematic in an airport. It should occur to anyone having reached adolesence without brain damage, that there is NO wiggle room for jokes, political points, artsy garbage, etc. in an airport. At some point reality needs to kick in.
posted by bunnycup at 11:36 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe she didn't hear the question. At this point, we haven't had a statement from her saying she even heard it, much less what she thought about it.
posted by agregoli at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, you people are dumb. Wearing a fake bomb to the airport is not free speech. She's carrying a suspicious device. She refuses to say what it is and walks away. And they're supposed to ignore that?

Yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not protected speech. Neither is this.
posted by tom_r at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Doesn't really matter though. The American Public Crucifixion Machine has begun.
posted by agregoli at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2007


Boston needs to stop overreacting like this--we all know they missed all the 9/11 bombers--enough already.

This was a lame shirt and in no way a bomb. Whether she wanted publicity or not, the authorities (and the mayor and cops) way way are overdoing it--in no way does this or the Adult Swim litebrite thing show they're at all making us safer in any way. It's security theater and it's ridiculous.
posted by amberglow at 11:38 AM on September 21, 2007


It now appears that the circuit board and battery were on the INSIDE of her sweater, with only the flashy LED lights on the outside, which makes sense (if you are an MIT art student who wants to wear homemade light-up clothing).
posted by yhbc at 11:39 AM on September 21, 2007 [8 favorites]


She's like a young Steve Mann, but with $5.00 worth on gear instead of $500,000. I wonder what would have happened if she had called ahead.
posted by skullbee at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2007


but didn't answer a perfectly reasonable question about the circuit board on her chest?

Why didn't she answer the worker's question? What did she think was going to happen when she didn't answer?


all right, i can see where there might be legitimate room for confusion, but the "she was obviously trying to get a reaction crowd" are really starting to break my heart.

dude--did you look at the pictures of the device? if that's what a bomb looks like, what the hell doesn't look like a bomb? what's next? grandma's blinking rudolph the red-nosed reindeer sweater? "all i saw was that red-flashing LED, ticking rhythmically, hypnotically--what was i supposed to think?"

i mean, geez. i'm reminded of those cartoons where the elephant hops up on a shaky little barstool at the first sight of a mouse.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:40 AM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


That actually makes a lot more sense. It wouldn't look like crap for a start.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2007


First they came for the people who yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater...
Then they came for the people who make jokes about guns and knives in the airport security area...
Then they came for the people who say "Bomb" on airplanes...
Then they came for the people with LEDs and Play-Doh...
posted by fandango_matt at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


ericb So what? They let people onto a plane with box cutters [1], I suppose one could count that as blowing it, but even if we do why should I cut them slack for being authoritarian assholes today because they blew it seven years ago?

9/11 is not some magic wand that can be waved over all authoritarian behavior and somehow make it better. Authoritarianism is authoritarianism.

I'll go further: People do not establish authortarian behavior as a norm in airports to enhance security, they establish authoritarian behavior as the norm in airports because they want to enact authoritarian behavior elsewhere.

The objective of authoritarianism is authoritarianism.

pyramid termite wrote "and wearing a suspicious circuit board in the same airport that two of the 9/11 planes came from is what?"

I dunno, going to pick up her boyfriend? I mean, lessee here, the number of people killed by circut boards in the last decade is, um, wait I know this one, ZERO! The number of LED stars used in terrorist attacks since 2001 has been, yes folks that's right, ZERO! The number of terrorists who have concealed bombs in circut boards with flashing LED stars is, ZERO! The number of times the Boston security theatre people have been right about LED threats is: ZERO!

The number of people lynched by traitor worshiping southerners is: Over 4,000 [2]. The number of people assaulted by traitor worshiping southerners is unknown, but quite high.

So, let's see here, in one case we have a woman, not trying to enter a secure area, wearing a device of a sort that has never been used in any crime, never caused any deaths, never been used by terrorists, etc, and you think its good and proper that she is arrested and obliquely threatened with death by armed agents of the government.

In the other case we have a drunk driver making credible threats to people protesting what they considered to be a racist judicial decision, while equipped with the symbol of thousands of deaths and uncounted physical assults, but you think that's somehow bad?

"People in airports are jumpy" is not an excuse of authoritarianism. "This person was drunk, armed, and carrying a frequently used symbol of lynching and assorted violence" seems to be a reasonable excuse to arrest him for minor charges. What, exactly, is your problem here?

[1] If they'd gone first class they would have been GIVEN steak knives.

[2] Actually, quite a bit higher than that. The only accurate count of lynching started in 1882, and lynching had been going on for a LONG time before that.
posted by sotonohito at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2007 [15 favorites]


there is NO wiggle room for jokes, political points, artsy garbage, etc. in an airport

Yep. Anyone who has travelled into and out of an airport here and abroad has known since before 9/11 that even telling a joke about a 'bomb' will get you hauled off, questioned and possibly arrested and jailed.
posted by ericb at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2007


Jesus Christ, you people are dumb. Wearing a fake bomb to the airport is not free speech.

It makes as much sense to refer to her LED sweatshirt as a "fake bomb" as it does to refer to my cell phone as such. Neither of them are bombs, neither of them are trying to simulate bombs, neither of them contain explosives. I'm actually typing on a "fake bomb" right now...
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:43 AM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Or possibly the people you are upset up aren't actually saying the things you think they are saying.

upset? no, i was publicly wondering how these 3 cases affect the age-old argument between preservation of the peace and freedom of speech and whether people here could come up with a consistent method of judging all 3

i have to go to work - people can think about that - or just continue with their internet outrage
posted by pyramid termite at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2007


And WHY was she carrying play-dough?

The circuit board was obviously intended to be a fake timing device. The Play Doh, fake Semtex or other Plastique of some sort. She was clearly intending to provoke a reaction. She got the reaction she was seeking.

If I'd been the arresting officer, I might have waterboarded her a few times, just to give her the full fake terrorist experience.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is exactly right:

And for the "she had it coming" crowd: you are scum. She didn't have it coming. She wore a fucking LED star into the NON SECURE part of the airport, she had no intention of going into the secure zone, and anyone with the IQ of mayonnaise could tell that it wasn't a bomb. This is, if you may remember, America, we're theoretically the land of the free, not the land of the cowed, cowardly, and cautious. Your mentality is what lets the security theatre jackoffs get away with the bullying authoritarian schtick that they so love. We need to stand up to the idiots who arrested the poor woman, not tell her that if she'd just been properly sheeplike it wouldn't have happend.

The airport in Boston is, surprise, part of the USA, not the bloody Saudi Arabia or some other authoritarian hellhole, but thanks for doing your part to make America more shitty.

posted by amberglow at 11:44 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


nobody commented on the clown wig?

That proves she has access to hydrogen peroxide, which as we all know, is a major threat in an airplane lav. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
posted by ryoshu at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shoot, the boston.com sites, including my link above, are now asking for registration (at least for me). Perhaps someone else can find a discussion of the development I was talking about somewhere else?
posted by yhbc at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2007




Since Boston freaks out at light up clothing i wonder how they'd respond to the freakishly futurist technology known as "glow-sticks". It's a liquid and it lights up! It's frequently seen in the hands of criminals (ravers)! It's 9/11 WAITING TO HAPPEN ALL OVER AGAIN!
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on September 21, 2007


bunnycup writes "there is NO wiggle room for jokes, political points, artsy garbage, etc. in an airport. At some point reality needs to kick in."

Abso-fucking-lutely ! Indeed I am proposing that every passenger needs to come with the same suit, approriately colored of orange, with a serial number that identifies the preidentified passenger, so that there is no room for error. Indeed wearing two different colors may be a sign of some flag, expecially white and green remember the arabian flag and anything resembling a crescent moon MUST NOT be weared, as clearly means you support islamic jihad.

Not mentioning the need for ALL passenger to wear their underwear over their pants, so that we can accurately check they don't contain any suspicious package, or if it does it must be the passenger package ! Should the package contains suspicios balls , they shall be removed as they indeed could be plutonium spheres, that collided at a sufficient speed may cause a fission chain reaction.
posted by elpapacito at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


It now appears that the circuit board and battery were on the INSIDE of her sweater, with only the flashy LED lights on the outside, which makes sense (if you are an MIT art student who wants to wear homemade light-up clothing).

Um...are there any bigger, better pictures of this? Because if her sweater really was just the homemade equivalent of something like the Magic jersey (which is a little hard to tell from that photo), then....
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2007


Sorry, Bruce Schneier fans (myself among them), I think ericb nailed it in this case.
posted by twsf at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2007


It now appears that the circuit board and battery were on the INSIDE of her sweater,

Right. Don't keep your Blackberry in your pocket.

Do we arrest old grandmas in LED sweatshirts carrying play-doh to meet their grandchildren?
posted by stevis23 at 11:46 AM on September 21, 2007


Fools! You're all fools! You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull on Superman's cape. You don't f*ck with the Lone Ranger and You don't wear fake ass bombs to the airport
without expectin' to be bitchslapped by security.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2007


Shoot, the boston.com sites, including my link above, are now asking for registration (at least for me).

Clear your cache of the boston.com cookie. After a number of repeat visits to their site(s) they ask for 'free registration.'
posted by ericb at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2007


I've met a couple of members of Boston's bomb squad in The Burren in Davis Square. After a few pints of Guinness, one talked about The Mooninite Terrah that hit a week previous. Basically, the bomb folks knew just by looking at the lite-brites that they were harmless, but because the rest of the city (media) was so riled up that there really wasn't any going back from Full Blown Panic.

Boston's emergency first responders appear to have been trained to take Everything As A Threat. While I can understand the "better safe than sorry" mentality, how many more oblivious college students, lite-brites, and road use counters must fall before we get some better trained security officers?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:47 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


she was wearing a sweater with a home-made led display of a blinking star because her fricking name is "star" when she went to pick up her boyfriend at the airport on the way to an electrical engineering convention.

yeah, the smart money's on the conclusion she meant it to be taken as a fake bomb to make a political statement and so she could get attention.

jesus--i can barely breath with so much stupidity in the air.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on September 21, 2007 [17 favorites]


but she's QUIRKY. Obviously, she was asking for it. She has a blog, after all.
posted by empath at 11:49 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is what a real bomb looks like.

The grey stuff is the explosive obviously. If that was concealed under the sweatshirt, all that would be exposed would be that relatively small circuit board and a mess of wires. Now, would you know by looking at the circuit board only that its a bomb?

An airport worker does not know what a breadboard is, and they do not know how to trace a circuit in 2 seconds. All they see is part of a makeshift electronic device in an airport, and someone who is not responding to normal questions.

Do you really think they were supposed to do nothing? Really?
posted by Pastabagel at 11:49 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anything that confuses anybody should be illegal, the person responsible for it should have known better, and no matter how extreme the reaction, it is not overracting.

There. I think I've summed it up for the next four thousand times this happens in the next year in our lovely country of panic.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2007 [20 favorites]


Indeed I am proposing that every passenger needs to come with the same suit, approriately colored ...

Bad rhetorical posturing aside, again, any mature adult without brain damage should not have to be taken aside and had patiently explained to them that there is a WORLD of distinguishing factors, a WORLD of logical distinction, between "don't wear exposed circuitry" and the "same suit" nonsense. That same mature adult should see that grandma's reindeer sweater (which, frankly, grandma is probably mature and intelligent enough to simply NOT wear to the aiport anyway) is likewise not in the same ballpark.
posted by bunnycup at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ericb: You're comparing apples to oranges here. You link to articles about people who joked about bombs in a thread about a girl who wore a sweatshirt with LEDs in it.

Relevance, your honor?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't know how some of you people tamp down the screaming, hysterical terror long enough to post.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:50 AM on September 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


STOOPIT BITCH. MIT? LOL!
posted by quonsar at 11:51 AM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Someone needs to arrange a prize for the first person who can fly unharrassed and unquestioned from Logan Airport to La Guardia dressed as Osama bin Laden and carrying a shoebox full of Play-Doh and blinking LEDs.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:52 AM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do you really think they were supposed to do nothing? Really?

the latest word is the circuit board wasn't even exposed--only the LEDs were, which would make sense. if that's true, it was the bulge under her shirt that prompted the insane overreaction.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on September 21, 2007


ericb after citing genuine examples of people making bomb jokes, asks if various airports overreacted.

No. Because those people, unlike Simpson, actually made bomb jokes. Simpson made no such jokes, but simply wore a shirt that was, self evidently, not a bomb.
posted by sotonohito at 11:53 AM on September 21, 2007


9/11 is not some magic wand that can be waved over all authoritarian behavior and somehow make it better.

Where have you been the past six years? People demanded such behavior after 9/11.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on September 21, 2007


You know who else wore light-up toys in his clothing at the airport?

That's right.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:53 AM on September 21, 2007


I am proposing that every passenger needs to come with the same suit, approriately colored of orange...

Better yet, how about we all just fly naked?
posted by ericb at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2007


And there is the cause of all the problems in the world, that dirty scum fagot Bre Pettis explaining all the terrist how to make a t-shirt with these explosive LEDS we all know about ! He doesn't hide he's part of the notorious Gay Wolves of Turkey, fagot !
posted by elpapacito at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2007


Anything the cops say is going to be turned on them as either over or under-reaction.

It's been six years. Long enough for a stoont, who has probably flown on occasion, to realize that acting or behaving oddly at an airport is the equivalent to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

Oh, and walking around Boston with any LED-equipped device is going to get you some attention. It's not that the cops actually believe that you have a bomb or anything, it's just that they're itching to catch someone with one so that they can justify all of their recent embarrassing activities.

Boston Cops/Staties: hire a good PR firm to handle all communications with the press. Trust me on this one.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:55 AM on September 21, 2007


she's an idiot.....

good for the police, we would be all over them had they ignored it...

now, get off my grass and out of my airport.. I want to fly when I go there, not have my experience screwed up by some college student without enough brains to think past her next latte...
posted by HuronBob at 11:56 AM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Naked Came The Passenger.
posted by ericb at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2007


posted by ericb how about we all just fly naked?

Your flight is waiting.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2007


Where have you been the past six years? People cowards, Republicans, and assorted bedwetters demanded such behavior after 9/11.

Fixed that for ya.
posted by sotonohito at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2007


ericb writes "Better yet, how about we all just fly naked?"

Dammit you should be Presidin't or sumthing !
posted by elpapacito at 12:00 PM on September 21, 2007


"Hello! I'm the United States and I'm completely fucking insane."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:00 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's like they're deathly afraid of bad action movie prop bombs. Can't the airports hire actual explosives experts instead of jumping on anything that looks like an electronics project?
posted by JHarris at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2007


I don't think she expected this at all but her BIG mistake was not answering and walking away when asked what it is. Has she said it's just a flashy star thing this whole mess could have been avoided.
posted by zeoslap at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2007


I want to fly when I go there, not have my experience screwed up by some college student without enough brains to think past her next latte...

And I want to live in a country that isn't so hysterically terrified of a threat so minor as to be practically nonexistent that nonsense like this happens. So get the fuck out and move to Saudi Arabia or some other authoritarian state.

And fuck, I'll reiterate, in case the point wasn't properly made: if you are, in any serious sense, afraid of terrorism, you are either too fucking stupid to dress yourself or you're a child screaming in terror at the uncertain dark. Either way, you're a far greater threat to America and to freedom and to humanity than Osama bin Ladin and his cadre of fuckups are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2007 [25 favorites]


People cowards, Republicans, and assorted bedwetters demanded such behavior after 9/11.

I think you must have been reading a different Metafilter to the one that I was reading on 9/12.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:01 PM on September 21, 2007


Metafilter: "Hello! I'm completely fucking insane."
posted by fandango_matt at 12:02 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think she expected this at all but her BIG mistake was not answering and walking away when asked what it is. Has she said it's just a flashy star thing this whole mess could have been avoided.

It's very possible that she simply didn't hear the question.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:02 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Or, for that matter, that the question was never actually asked and was invented post hoc in order to justify the OMG OMG OMG freakout.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:02 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there.

BTW -- after 9/11 Logan International Airport hired Rafi Ron who was one of the original El Al sky marshals and later director of security for Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport and the Israeli Airport Authority. Security procedures at Logan are based on those in Israel.
posted by ericb at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2007


Anything is possible; it's possible she whispered I've got a bomb under my sweater, but all we have to go on is what has been reported, and as such not answering was a BIG mistake
posted by zeoslap at 12:05 PM on September 21, 2007


if that's true, it was the bulge under her shirt that prompted the insane overreaction.

Well, we New England Puritans are terrified of the boob.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito - "I mean, lessee here, the number of people killed by circut boards in the last decade is, um, wait I know this one, ZERO!"

Please think more. I would guess that no-one actually expected her to use the circuit-board to physically harm someone. They suspected that the circuit board would be part of an electronic system that would detonate an explosive device. So, to rephrase your question: How many people have been killed by explosive devices that are controlled by electronic systems in the last decade?

Airport security's actions here only look foolishin hindsight. They acted appropriately given the report they received from the airline worker who asked about the device and was not answered.
posted by taliaferro at 12:07 PM on September 21, 2007


Somehow I suspect Israeli security is much less about the theatre.
posted by Artw at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by zeoslap it's possible she whispered I've got a bomb under my sweater

It's also possible she whispered, "I've got boobs under my sweater."
posted by fandango_matt at 12:08 PM on September 21, 2007


"In a sentence, I'm an inventor, artist, engineer, and student, I love to build things and I love crazy ideas," the [her] website says.

I stand corrected. She loves "crazy ideas." Lock her up, boys!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2007


All airport workers and police should have a training class on what bomb hardware looks like along with training on what bomb hardware does not look like. Seriously, a six hour class looking at photos along with some advice from people trained in such matters would do a world of good.

And for fuck's sake, BPD, that collection of wires and LEDs IS NOT A FAKE BOMB AND STOP CLAIMING THAT IT IS.
posted by MillMan at 12:09 PM on September 21, 2007


"if you are, in any serious sense, afraid of terrorism...."

pope guilty..... I'm not afraid of terrorism...hell, I'm not afraid of much of anything...

Well, maybe I'm afraid of idiots like Star, 'cuz they can fuck up my life with stupid pranks.... and pontificating fools like you...

look... a joke...
posted by HuronBob at 12:10 PM on September 21, 2007


The airport is not burning man. Say it with me. The airport is not burning man.

Have some fucking consideration for your fellow travelers. If America is insane, well, the insanity exists when we decided that "fuck ya'll im gonna wear a fake art bomb to the airport for kicks" made some sense.

Now we all know her name. Time for her to cash in, get famous, whatever.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:10 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


By the way, ericb: though those cases aren't much like this one, yeah, I'd say they were overreactions. I used to work as a skycap at an airport, and when checking in bags curbside, we had to ask whether anyone had given the passenger anything suspicious.

At LEAST once a day -- often up to once per hour -- some jackass would be all, "Ha ha, yeah, they gave me a BOMB!" I'm sure every single motherfucker who said so thought that no one had ever made such a clever joke before. Presumably, I was supposed to look surprised for a moment, then chuckle as I realized what a droll fellow I was dealing with, then wink and nudge him in a faux-conspiratorial manner. "O, such jollity! Really, Sir, you do go on!" I would chortle in the scene taking place in his head.

Anyway, what I actually did was: not alert the authorities, not freak out, not train a submachine gun on said jackass. I gave him a long, silent, baleful look that suggested I hated my job and everything associated with it.

And every single time, the jackass quickly said something to the effect of, "Sorry, I was kidding. No, I'm clean." Out of the many times this happened, not one of the people I checked in ever blew up a plane.

All it took to keep the homeland safe was a little bit of passive-aggressive weariness.

And that is what America means to me.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2007 [43 favorites]


it's possible she whispered I've got a bomb under my sweater

Given that she is now locked up and all information is coming from the BPD, I'm sure they're giving out all sorts of fabulous opinions on what she said, did, and had on her at the airport.
posted by MillMan at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by MillMan All airport workers and police should have a training class on what bomb hardware looks like along with training on what bomb hardware does not look like.

Hey, great idea. That way, unattended suitcases won't look like bombs!
posted by fandango_matt at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2007


The only thing ridiculous about this story is the reaction from Metafilter. How can you people possibly think it is ok for this imbecile to strap this on her chest and stroll into an airport??

I think they handled it superbly, considering the fact that she is still alive.

But hey, you guys feel free to open your own airport where you just ignore this kind of thing, and we'll see how long it remains intact...

sheesh...
posted by tadellin at 12:12 PM on September 21, 2007


Put yourself in the airport worker’s shoes.

Girl with some "weird board" attached to her chest with some sort of bulge, blinking lights, some kind of... what is that... putty? explosive? stuff on her and her hands, asks about a flight, then doesn't respond to a "WTF is that on your chest?"

I'm no republican bed wetter. There are still things you don't fuckin' do in a crowded theater. Like yelling fire.

As much as we keyboard warriors want to demonize "the bureaucratic security institution", WE, the keyboard elite, are just as much to blame when we do nothing but pigeonhole them when they do nothing and harangue them when they attempt to do what they have trained for. It's so easy to Monday morning quarterback it and say "HAW HAW! You goons! It was a nerd, not a terrorist!", but how are they going to know that pre-investigating? They are not omniscient. They are risking their lives every day in an attempt to save lives.

Bah. I'm not usually "RAH RAH The System", but I have met the people busting their ass to save the rest of us. For every power hungry pig, there are fifteen boy scouts that want to put their life down to protect others. I just wish we could keep this in some sort of perspective...
posted by cavalier at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


If it was on the inside, why does the sweatshirt have a big pocket on the inside and a logo painted on the inside?

In the photo, the circuit board is clearly either on the outside of the sweatshirt, or it's a really bizarre sweatshirt with a big pocket on the front of the inside and a logo painted on the inside.
posted by The World Famous at 12:14 PM on September 21, 2007


Not everyone is an electronics expert with the magical ability to differentiate a bomb from an "art project." When entering a secure environment (and yes, I understand that she was outside the security zone, but I think it reasonable to hold that the entire airport is in some sense a secure environment) one has to be aware of the effect their behavior and appearance can have on others.

For example, I recently had to go to the local courthouse. As I was waiting in line I realized I had my multitool in my backpack. Is a multitool dangerous? No, but the security personal don't want to spend any excess time making that determination. They are charged with getting people through the security safely, quickly and without incident. Rather than cause trouble, I merely check my multitool (there's a hotdog vendor on the corner who checks stuff for courthouse visitors. Weird, but true) and continue on my way.

This person, however, showed no understanding of the environment she was entering. She did something very, very stupid. Period.

In closing and to repeat, not everyone is a trained electronics expert. Not everyone has the benefit of a MIT education. Some people are security guards and cops and are only interested in performing their jobs without having to kill anyone or be killed themselves.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:15 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Regardless of whether you think she didn't deserve such treatment, she illustrated clearly stupid behavior. I dislike cops as much as anyone, but what did she REALLY expect? I mean, it's a fucking airport!?!?!

The pigs overreacted, I'd support that position. She had a right to wear whatever she wanted I'll support that position.

That she didn't expect to have a problem, I don't support that position.

It's absolutely amazing how easy it is to become national news these days.
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 12:16 PM on September 21, 2007


zeoslap writes "Has she said it's just a flashy star thing this whole mess could have been avoided."

Assuming that she , indeed, did go away refusing to answer any question that could have been a suspicious behavior, as it takes only two second to answer a guard.

But let's factor in the following
1. she's a youngster and being a MIT student doesn't make you less young
2. she possibily was pissed by the whole security theatre, by the way it may be handled by self righteous unprofessional security idiots

That wouldn't excuse -running away- or screaming or yelling, but I bet $5 she was more either scared or somehow confrontational, again an error typical of
the youngsters that may see all authority as necessarily abusive, invasive and useless.

Again, it's a damn kid and not all kid do political statements...unless of course they are dirty disrispectful non-arian looking niggers, of course , some rent-a-cop could have tought.

elwoodwiles writes "This person, however, showed no understanding of the environment she was entering. She did something very, very stupid. Period."

How do you know that exactly ? From the same media that overhypes bomb scares to get audience-a-plenty ? Tangentially, how is any place with more then 2-3 person not a place in which one shouldn't do anything "stupid" ? It's prejudice, prejudice that anything "curious" at airport is necessarily a bomb threat, but in a WalMart must be a dumb redneck.
posted by elpapacito at 12:17 PM on September 21, 2007


...then there was the time I forgot I had this this in my carry on.
Boy, was MY face red! Mostly from the pepper spray, but a little from embarrassment, too.
We all had a good laugh when I explained that it was just a kitchen timer.
posted by Floydd at 12:18 PM on September 21, 2007


Hey, great idea. That way, unattended suitcases won't look like bombs!

We need fewer people like you working in airport security.
posted by MillMan at 12:18 PM on September 21, 2007


But, maybe I'm just having trouble seeing the differences here between the two incidents.

The difference is in how the two people reacted when confronted by authority. She stayed calm, complained about being detained but didn't struggle or fight, and cooperated with the police while they checked out the circuit board and put her under arrest. My guess is that the charges will eventually be dropped, or she'll get some probation-- a slap on the wrist.

The guy at the Kerry speech fought the cops every step of the way. He could have just let them escort him out when they first approached, yelling his points out as he went. He chose to fight them physically, struggling to break free as they brought on more and more officers to try and restrain him. Hell, he was still struggling while he was being warned that he was about to be tased. If he'd handled things the way this girl did he would have gotten a slap on the wrist too, but I'll bet he's going to do some time now.

Even when the cops are being complete morons, you can still usually influence how things are going to go when they confron you. I don't have any respect for people who push things and push things and then take no responsibility for where that pushing takes them.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:18 PM on September 21, 2007


Listen, I don't care if it was obviously not a bomb, or if the police responded with machine guns, she's a latte drinking college student who thinks she's at burning man, and so I can't muster up any sympathy, because she's obviously a young punk with no sense or experience in the real world, and her naive assumption that trained security officers will not confuse LED lights with bombs might have fucked up my flight.

I think I've gotten that right. Oh, wait, maybe I need to toss in a little more condescension for college students. The tone is so hard to out your finger on.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the photo, the circuit board is clearly either on the outside of the sweatshirt, or it's a really bizarre sweatshirt with a big pocket on the front of the inside and a logo painted on the inside.

Eh, when I was a teenager painted or put patches on any sweatshirt with a stupid logo, I put it on the inside. Why on earth would she have put the LED's on the inside, then? They are not showing in the picture of the circuit board and battery.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2007


So does this mean I shouldn't dress up as a terrorist clown this Halloween?
posted by effwerd at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2007


"And for fuck's sake, BPD, that collection of wires and LEDs IS NOT A FAKE BOMB AND STOP CLAIMING THAT IT IS."

Intent doesn't matter - only interpretation does. A worker thought that it COULD BE a fake bomb. The worker didn't call security - she very reasonably asked a question of the person carrying the device in question. When this person didn't answer - and again, it doesn't matter why she didn't answer - and walked away, the worker quite prudently called security. Security, having a bomb threat called in, acted as though there were someone with an actual bomb, which is exactly what you are supposed to do as airport security when someone calls in a bomb threat.

This was a multi-step process, and each step escalated the apparent threat level. Security acted GIVEN THE INFORMATION THEY HAD AVAILABLE TO THEM.

Worst. MeFi. Reaction. Ever.
posted by taliaferro at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2007


Airport security's actions here only look foolishin hindsight. They acted appropriately given the report they received from the airline worker who asked about the device and was not answered.

who cares about that, what bothers the hell out of me is the way the press has been referring to it as a "fake bomb"--it's far from clear that this device was anything at all that can be characterized as a fake bomb. might it be reasonable that it was mistaken for a bomb? maybe (though I personally think you'd have to be a pretty emotionally-jumpy and kind of stupid to make that mistake). but in no way does that make the frickin' thing a "fake bomb." Nor is there any evidence at all that she intended to mislead anyone into thinking it was a bomb. the circumstances all point to a completely different picture, so in no way does it make sense to attribute this incident to any intention to make a fuss. Just because there was a fuss doesn't mean she intended to make one.

See also:
Fundamental attribution error — the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior (see also actor-observer bias, group attribution error, positivity effect, and negativity effect).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:21 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


How can you people possibly think it is ok for this imbecile to strap this on her chest and stroll into an airport??

Despite what the press is saying, it was not strapped to her chest. It was on attached to the front of her sweater.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2007


There's this procedure for determining her intent or lack of it. This thing is called, for lack of a better term "due process". In another article she was quoted as saying she wanted lots of exposure. If that's true, well, I guess she got it.

Due process has been weakened by opportunistic pansies, but it's still the law of the land. If she was pulling a stunt and hoping to get in the papers for pranking a bomb scare then she will probably have violated some law.

If not, there are no laws against art, no matter how bad it is.
posted by substrate at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fixed that for ya

Please, God, if you love us, let that meme die.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2007 [14 favorites]


posted by MillMan All airport workers and police should have a training class on what bomb hardware looks like along with training on what bomb hardware does not look like.

If we're training airport workers to know what bombs look like, maybe we should train them to know what terrorists look like, too, don't you think?
posted by fandango_matt at 12:23 PM on September 21, 2007


If she was picking someone up at the airport, she may have been wearing that shirt just to show off her handiwork to her friend.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:24 PM on September 21, 2007


I don't get all y'all who are saying she should have known better, why didn't she realize that her shirt looked like a bomb, etc.

To her, it didn't look like a bomb because she's not a bombmaker. To her, it was an art/science project, not a fake bomb, and not something that she thought anyone would think was threatening. She's a 19-year-old artistic engineer, or engineering artist, or whatever MIT's producing these days.

A couple of times in the past few years I've nearly forgotten to take my Swiss Army knife out of my pocket before I go to the airport, because to me, it's not a "weapon", it's a tool. (The tweezers ang bottle opener are the most handy items.)

If you kick me, you might get charged with assault with a deadly weapon - your shod foot. Nearly all of us have feet, and most of us wear shoes most of the time; how many of you walk around thinking of your feet and shoes as weapons?
posted by rtha at 12:26 PM on September 21, 2007


As a result of years of training in preying mantis-style kung fu, I have been trained to think of my feet as a deadly weapon, and, in fact, must check them when I go to the airport.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


"This was a multi-step process, and each step escalated the apparent threat level. Security acted GIVEN THE INFORMATION THEY HAD AVAILABLE TO THEM."

Sure, OK, fine. They should have stopped her, and it's OK that they did so all guns-out. Though I'd say that's because she, from the news photos, looked more like some schizo who might have built a bomb than some actual terrorist. She coulda just been nuts. OK.

But why charge her? Why not just look at it, give her the all clear, and be done with it? Why does Boston want to look retarded and reactionary AGAIN?
posted by klangklangston at 12:29 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


In short, what she did was the modern equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

How so, exactly? She never said "bomb." By all accounts she wasn't drawing attention to herself in any way. She didn't act in a way specifically intended to cause a panic.

She asked a information clerk for information, in a non-secure area.

Perhaps I'm being pedantic, but the "fire" analogy really falls apart in this case. Crying "fire" in a theatre involves intent to cause a disruption of civil order. It is a deliberate act.

This girl maybe didn't think things through when she stepped into the terminal, but there's no act, no intent. This is in no way similar to the intent to cause a panic; this is just poor thinking.
posted by lekvar at 12:29 PM on September 21, 2007


maybe we should train them to know what terrorists look like, too, don't you think?

What, exactly, do terrorists look like?
posted by The World Famous at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2007


Not everyone is an electronics expert with the magical ability to differentiate a bomb from an "art project." When entering a secure environment (and yes, I understand that she was outside the security zone, but I think it reasonable to hold that the entire airport is in some sense a secure environment) one has to be aware of the effect their behavior and appearance can have on others.

And not everyone in the world pays attention to the security goings-on at airports. When I was 19, I had only been in an airport twice in my life. Hell, plenty of people who are actually going on trips and going throu spite of all the information out there about what not to bring. I'm not entirely sure I would think much about Airport Security if I was just going to pick someone up, why would you expect a teenager to consider all the worst case scenarios of wearing an LED t-shirt to pick up her boyfriend? Teenage college students often have plenty of things on their minds like classes, projects, deadlines, social life, boyfriends. It's not unreasonable to imagine her life revolves around something other than airports.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


she's a moran.
posted by gnutron at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2007


When is Boston going to learn that the most explosive thing in their city is those stupid fucking beans?

Maybe after they get rid of this.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:31 PM on September 21, 2007


(there's a hotdog vendor on the corner who checks stuff for courthouse visitors. Weird, but true)

You learn something new every day on these internets.

Tangentially, how is any place with more then 2-3 person not a place in which one shouldn't do anything "stupid" ?

You're kidding, right?
posted by jsavimbi at 12:32 PM on September 21, 2007


Intent doesn't matter - only interpretation does.

Good to know. So if the woman at the front desk was a paranoiac who interpreted my sneakers as "fake bombs" then the press should unapologetically report that I showed up at the airport with fake bombs. Genius.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:32 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by The World Famous What, exactly, do terrorists look like?

Golly, I don't know! Maybe MillMan can tell us how airport workers and security will be able to know what bombs and terrorists look like.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Given that she is now locked up...

"She was held on $750 cash bail and ordered to return to court Oct. 29." I'm sure she made bail and is now back in Cambridge.
posted by ericb at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2007


If she's smart enough to get into MIT she should have been smart enough to answer the question. Airport security did their job.
posted by zeoslap at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2007


Not everyone is an electronics expert with the magical ability to differentiate a bomb from an "art project."

Sure, but if your job is security at an airport I would hope that you had a little more electronics knowledge than average joe.
posted by Big_B at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2007


Crying "fire" in a theatre involves intent to cause a disruption of civil order.

I'm not sure that it wouldn't be treated as strict liability, that is, to yell "fire" for any reason other than to alert others to the presence of an actual fire, REGARDLESS OF INTENT, would be criminal.

(I'm not sure, but it's logical.)
posted by bunnycup at 12:34 PM on September 21, 2007


oneirodynia writes "Why on earth would she have put the LED's on the inside, then?"

Give a look at the the Bre Pettis video here. That shows you how to make a t-shirt with LEDs. Obviously the c-board and batteries are place on the INSIDE of the sweater, because on the outside the LEDS are arranged to depict a STAR (which is her name) and nicely too because it's a costellation of leds making a star ! Star <> Costellation , get it ?

Obviously sensationalistic headliners say something to the tune of "strapped a bomb looking device" because it makes a lot more audience that "had some led with a batteries and lights". I suspect the person who called the police did knee-jerk react when seeing the LEDS , and not understanding what she/he did saw she reported something to the tune of "bomb" or "suspicous electric device" . Clearly IF that is the chain of events police reacted with the info they had ; the arrest and charge is clearly wrong, but the reaction of police, considering she wasn't tased or brutalized (Afaik) seems reasonable ; probably arresting the suspect temporarily is part of the procedure, but what was she charged with, possession of hoax device ?

Hoax device ? How did they determine intent ? How doesn't it look like a decorative electronic thingie ?
posted by elpapacito at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If America is insane, well, the insanity exists when we decided that "fuck ya'll im gonna wear a fake art bomb to the airport for kicks" made some sense.

Girl with some "weird board" attached to her chest with some sort of bulge, blinking lights, some kind of... what is that... putty? explosive? stuff on her and her hands, asks about a flight, then doesn't respond to a "WTF is that on your chest?"

In short, what she did was the modern equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

It was not a fake bomb, it was a set of LEDs on a shirt no different from the ones that silly old people wear around Christmastime. If you're not fucking willing to read, STOP INTERACTING IN A TEXTUAL MEDIUM AND BECOME LITERATE.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [22 favorites]


@saulgoodman: I'm glad I'm not the only one who's really bothered by the way the press is reporting it. They keep calling it a "fake bomb," over and over again, as if any piece of electronics which is not a bomb, is, somehow by definition, a 'fake bomb.'

Following their line of reasoning, anything which is not something else is a fake something-else, instead of just, you know, being whatever it really is.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2007


she was quoted as saying she wanted lots of exposure.

She was quoted as saying she hoped to get attention at the MIT electrical engineering conference she and her boyfriend were supposed to go to AFTER she picked him up at the airport if you actually bothered to read the fucking thing. How does getting herself embroiled in a homeland security clusterfuck move her any closer to achieving that goal?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've just gone through the news cache on google, and I've realized it's her fault, because at least once per day someone walks into the unsecured area of an airport with flickering light son their chest and blows themselves up. I had not realized this country was suffering such a plague of suicide bombers, and people need to be very careful not to be mistaken for one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fixed that for ya

...using a stale Saltine for a circuit board, bits of gum wrapper for wire, and silly putty. Oh, and an old sweatshirt, of course.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:36 PM on September 21, 2007


ANY reasonably mature person (and I think my 12-15 year old cousins know this, as an example) should by this time be well aware that walking around wearing a shirt like this would be problematic in an airport. It should occur to anyone having reached adolesence without brain damage, that there is NO wiggle room for jokes, political points, artsy garbage, etc. in an airport. At some point reality needs to kick in.

No, that's idiotic. It shouldn't be everyone's responsibility to know what every other person in the world might consider "suspicious"

Jesus Christ, you people are dumb. Wearing a fake bomb to the airport is not free speech.


No one is saying anything about free speech. What I, personally, am defending is the right for people not to be arrested because of other people's mistakes. It's not her fault that some moron thought it was a bomb. Unless you can prove there was an intent to fool people into thinking it's a bomb, it shouldn't be a crime.


Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there.
--ericb


Sorry, Bruce Schneier fans (myself among them), I think ericb nailed it in this case.



Hey, guess what. America is not Israel. And I sure as hell would it want it to be either. The fact that we don't have suicide bombs going off every fucking week means that we shouldn't have to deal with insane security.


Bad rhetorical posturing aside, again, any mature adult without brain damage should not have to be taken aside and had patiently explained to them that there is a WORLD of distinguishing factors, a WORLD of logical distinction, between "don't wear exposed circuitry" and the "same suit" nonsense. -- bunnycup


Look, if it's not against the law to wear "exposed wires" (And we don't know if they were exposed or not, it sounds like the wiring was inside the shirt)


I don't think she expected this at all but her BIG mistake was not answering and walking away when asked what it is. Has she said it's just a flashy star thing this whole mess could have been avoided.

But that's the key here. People are basically saying it's OK for her to nearly be killed because she was "Odd" or did something that was open to misunderstanding. We don't know what the worker asked, and maybe she did say something like "it's a star" or something. Who knows? We certainly don't. Which is why this is all bullshit. Rules must be a list of things that you can't do, they can't just be "be normal" because what one person thinks is normal may not be what another person thinks is "normal".

And I want to live in a country that isn't so hysterically terrified of a threat so minor as to be practically nonexistent that nonsense like this happens. So get the fuck out and move to Saudi Arabia or some other authoritarian state.


And fuck, I'll reiterate, in case the point wasn't properly made: if you are, in any serious sense, afraid of terrorism, you are either too fucking stupid to dress yourself or you're a child screaming in terror at the uncertain dark. Either way, you're a far greater threat to America and to freedom and to humanity than Osama bin Ladin and his cadre of fuckups are.
-- Pope Guilty


Damn straight.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


What, exactly, do terrorists look like?

Interesting question. Had she been blue eyed and blonde, would there have been this reaction?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:36 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn, apparently I was smart enough to go to MIT.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:38 PM on September 21, 2007


"Thankfully, because she followed instructions as was required, she ended up in a cell..."

hahahahahahahaha
posted by tehloki at 12:38 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


The biggest problem with her IBD (Improvised Blinky Device) is that she kept the circuit on the breadboard. She should have tested it on the breadboard and then soldered it together on some perf board so it didn't have that terrorist-breadboard-LED-strapped-on-the-sweater-bomb-signature that DHS has been looking for.
posted by ryoshu at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2007


It was not a fake bomb, it was a set of LEDs on a shirt no different from the ones that silly old people wear around Christmastime. If you're not fucking willing to read, STOP INTERACTING IN A TEXTUAL MEDIUM AND BECOME LITERATE.

Wow.. I can sense you're angry here, but, er, if you're going to flame me for reading... did you get the first part of "Put yourself in the airport worker’s shoes."? Look at the pictures. Pretend you're not a hobbyist.

*dons asbestos*
*coughs*
posted by cavalier at 12:40 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Teenage college students often have plenty of things on their minds like classes, projects, deadlines, social life, boyfriends. It's not unreasonable to imagine her life revolves around something other than airports.

Security guards and police officers often have other things on their minds too. I don't understand why so many posters here are willing to see things from the MIT students position, but not the position of those charged with securing the airport. Everyone in this situation has interests, but somehow the interests of a college student trump those of working people?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:41 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't judge an airport worker until you walk a mile in his shoes, and make sure that mile does not include going anywhere near an electronics store, because you will seriously LOSE YOUR SHIT.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


People are basically saying it's OK for her to nearly be killed because she was "Odd" or did something that was open to misunderstanding.

Being detained by the police, even at gunpoint, is simply not being "nearly killed". I think, to be "nearly killed" one needs to experience physical danger, or at least a physical threat reasonably likely of coming to fruition. Several comments specifically stated their opinions would be different had she been tased, assaulted, shot, etc.

If we had to have a written down rule for every single piece of the most basic human common sense, this morass would be a helluva lot worse than it already is. You can't truly think that we need written laws stating "don't wear shit that dumb people will probably think is a bomb, to the aiport". Honestly?!?!? WOW.
posted by bunnycup at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2007


She didn't act in a way specifically intended to cause a panic ... This is in no way similar to the intent to cause a panic

With regard to immediate police reaction, intent is irrelevant. Something is unusual and demands attention and investigation, period. Whether the student in her own head doesn't intend anything is irrelevant. This is the height of "just don't look right" observation that virtually all policing is based on.

We can argue the level of ferocity in the response, I suppose, but that's a training and guidelines issue, not a policy issue.

This applies to the "fire in the theater" analogy, too. Whether you intend to cause a panic is irrelevant. A reasonable person would not yell fire in a theater, regardless of intent, simply because of the inherent danger. Being ignorant of the danger (or of the law) is no excuse, either.

We can talk about intent and ignorance after the fact, when we're determining indictment, sentencing, etc.

But ... at the time ... hands up, please. Because it just don't look right.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2007


How so, exactly? She never said "bomb." By all accounts she wasn't drawing attention to herself in any way. She didn't act in a way specifically intended to cause a panic.

And if she was just wearing the circuit board/t-shirt, I might buy that. However, when you combine the circuit board with the Play Doh and her statement about how she likes 'travelling the world, saving it from evil villains with her just-in-time gadgets', I think that she was being a deliberately provocative art student.

Well, as someone else said, now she's suffering for her art.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Fixed that for ya

Please, God
Flying Spaghetti Monster, if you love us, let that meme die."

Fixed that for you.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:42 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sure, but if your job is security at an airport I would hope that you had a little more electronics knowledge than average joe.

That's crazy talk right there.

Interesting question. Had she been blue eyed and blonde, would there have been this reaction?

Of course not. That's a silly question.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2007


If we're training airport workers to know what bombs look like, maybe we should train them to know what terrorists look like, too, don't you think?

The Washington Post: TSA taking closer look at travelers' mannerisms.
posted by ericb at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2007


Intent doesn't matter - only interpretation does. A worker thought that it COULD BE a fake bomb.

What if she'd been deaf? Then they would have shot her?
posted by delmoi at 12:43 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by Big_B if your job is security at an airport I would hope that you had a little more electronics knowledge than average joe.

If your job is security at an airport I would hope you are an expert on security, not electronics. But as we've seen, employment for airport security and Radio Shack require the same level of intelligence.

posted by Brandon Blatcher Had she been blue eyed and blonde, would there have been this reaction?

Gosh, this sounds familiar!
posted by fandango_matt at 12:44 PM on September 21, 2007


The Justice League of America regularly used Play Doh to thwart evil deeds. Just look at the stuff -- it terrifies me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:44 PM on September 21, 2007


Everyone in this situation has interests, but somehow the interests of a college student trump those of working people?

Um...the fuck?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2007


The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.

In other words, she got all the way into the Terminal, walked up to an airport worker, asked about a flight, but didn't answer a perfectly reasonable question about the circuit board on her chest?


An employee. Not security.

"Hey, what's that on your shirt?" from some random employee could be:
a) unwanted flirtation
b) small talk -- sorry, in a hurry
c) something she didn't even hear
d) something she in fact responded to but the employee didn't catch, from a smile to an offhand response

But apparently we should all know that any question, from any airport employee, from the person emptying garbage cans to the old woman mopping the floor, is deserving of SERIOUS attention lest you be dragged off by overzealous rent-a-goons.
posted by dreamsign at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


did you get the first part of "Put yourself in the airport worker’s shoes."? Look at the pictures. Pretend you're not a hobbyist.

I'm not an electronics hobbyist- I couldn't tell you the difference between a breadboard and a perfboard, and I certainly don't know how to look at a circuit and say anything other than "Um, look, shiny wires!" But when I see someone wearing a shirt with LEDs on the front, I don't assume it's a bomb, because I'm not a fucking moron. This has nothing to do with "Well, naturally we geeks know about this sort of thing" and everything to do with the security people having an irrational freakout and looking to blame the victim. Victim-blaming is extremely popular in this country, as the comments in this thread demonstrate.

Everyone in this situation has interests, but somehow the interests of a college student trump those of working people?

When she's not doing anything wrong and they decide the freak the fuck out irrationally, then yes, I'm siding with her. Had she been screaming "I'VE GOT A BOMB I'VE GOT A BOMB" the situation would be different, you condescending twit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:46 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


When is Boston going to learn that the most explosive thing in their city is those stupid fucking beans?

Maybe after they get rid of this.


Yeah ... as I live near the Waterfront and watch the towering LNG tankers pass by, I'd be one of the first toasted.

Study spells out high toll on city in LNG attack.
posted by ericb at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2007


Whether you intend to cause a panic is irrelevant.

So I should reconsider showing up to summer camp with my hockey mask and axe?
posted by ryoshu at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2007


But apparently we should all know that any question, from any airport employee, from the person emptying garbage cans to the old woman mopping the floor, is deserving of SERIOUS attention lest you be dragged off by overzealous rent-a-goons.

Uhhhhhhh, YEAH, if you're wearing a fake bomb on your shirt.
posted by bunnycup at 12:47 PM on September 21, 2007


http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/21/mit-student-arrested.html
The boing boing thread is quite up to date.
Christy from Instructables.com says (1125am PT),
I talked to Star briefly -- she's out on bail, is just fine, and thinks the whole thing is crazy.
Of course, they've impounded her sweatshirt, so she's got to do something else for Career Day.


And if you read the globe article mentioned earlier:
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/brainiac/2007/09/boston_cracks_d.html
She was in an airport, wearing an blinking electronic circuit on her clothing and was handling a lump of putty , and declined to explain what it was upon being asked.

How is arresting her and seeing what's going on innappropriate behavior on the cops' part?
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2007


Uhhhhhhh, YEAH, if you're wearing a fake bomb on your shirt.

Treu. But nobody was wearing a fake bomb on their chest.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


What exactly does a bomb that's not disguised as something else look like? Because I think that most people have no idea. Is there some sort of database of bomb pictures?
posted by 23skidoo at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2007


The only thing ridiculous about this story is the reaction from Metafilter. How can you people possibly think it is ok for this imbecile to strap this on her chest and stroll into an airport??

I think they handled it superbly, considering the fact that she is still alive.


Can you fucking read?
posted by odinsdream at 12:48 PM on September 21, 2007


Oh and BTW I want to see the movie that the airport worker ! Playdoh + Led + Weird Hairdo ? ................ OH NOES IT'S DON KING ! RUN , RUN FOR YOUR LIVES !
posted by elpapacito at 12:49 PM on September 21, 2007


I bet this is all a viral marketing stunt for Bionic Woman.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:49 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Astro - chill the hell out. I already stated early on in the thread that I thought the "fake bomb" was nonsense. You need some warm milk and a nap.
posted by bunnycup at 12:50 PM on September 21, 2007


I think the real lesson here is that your boyfriend should man up and take public transportation from the airport instead of having to be chauffeured like a little kid.
posted by 2sheets at 12:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, for fuck sake, it wasn't a FAKE BOMB. It as a sweatshirt decorated with LED's. LED's that DID NOT spell "FAKE BOMB". Sheez.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


The airport is not burning man. Say it with me. The airport is not burning man.

The United States of America is a free country. Say it with me. The United States of America is free country.
posted by jonp72 at 12:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


Uhhhhhhh, YEAH, if you're wearing a fake bomb on your shirt.

More fake bombs. Custom designs in only three to four weeks!
posted by yhbc at 12:51 PM on September 21, 2007


So I should reconsider showing up to summer camp with my hockey mask and axe?

As long as you don't put a big blinky IT'S JASON VOORHEES, YO on your chest, I...guess that'd be cool?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:51 PM on September 21, 2007


Hey, ericb - you know that big tree that the Halifaxians send down every year? Are we going to put a fake bomb on top of it again this Christmas?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:52 PM on September 21, 2007


I already stated early on in the thread that I thought the "fake bomb" was nonsense.

Oh, sorry. Next time I will go through the entire thread, double check your comment against all your other comments, and drink milk and nap before responding. Let's see, 227 comments and counting ...

Oh, fuck this. You provide the context for your own comments, instead of expecting me to remember everything you say.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:52 PM on September 21, 2007


Sure, because following a conversation in which you're vocally criticizing would be too much to ask.
posted by bunnycup at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, big liberal here and whatnot but....

Personally, I would rather the security confirm the fact that it is not a bomb. It doesn't look hugely dangerous, but it does look suspicious. I mean, come on.

Thing is, if they are going to respond to a suspicious device, regardless of how much they might not think it is dangerous, they have to act like it is worst case scenario.

Gloating about how she could have been in a morgue etc (at least that's how it read to me) is pretty messed up though.

I'd prefer it if they approached her in a more casual manner (read: guns not out) and said the plain old truth:

"Excuse me, Miss. Whatever that is on your shirt looks a little suspicious, especially at an airport. You seem pretty normal and we don't think you really want to hurt anyone, but for the peace of mind of everyone here we would appreciate it if you could explain to us what that is exactly and then remove it until you leave the airport. Thanks!"

Is that so hard?
posted by lazaruslong at 12:53 PM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


Everyone in this situation has interests, but somehow the interests of a college student trump those of working people?

again, who the hell cares. what i want to know why is the press going off half-cocked repeating like some drooling simpleton that a college kid showed up at the airport with a "fake bomb" when that's not at all what happened? that's the issue for me. i don't necessarily think the cops handled this the wrong way, myself. but the press' reaction and the reactions of those here on MeFi who jumped to the conclusion that she "was obviously looking for attention and had it coming" are absurd. it was a misunderstanding. no harm, no foul. no need to make that front-page news so that all the mouth-breathers out there are led to think there's been another rash of fake bomb threats from those wicked little atheist college kids (probably carried out in the name of the ACLU, don't you know).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


All I know is, Flavor Flav better stay the Hell out of Boston!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


The airport is not burning, man.





Sorry - it doesn't seem to do anything.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by bunnycup YEAH, if you're wearing a fake bomb on your shirt.

From now on, everyone must put "THIS IS NOT A BOMB" stickers on their luggage and wear "I AM NOT A TERRORIST' buttons. Anyone not wearing the button will be jailed and searched, and their luggage destroyed. Problem solved!
posted by fandango_matt at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If that passes as art at MIT then maybe the should just drop their art program altogether.
But visual arts are in the eye of the beholder... so art it is, just not to me.
My dog left some art on the lawn this morning.
posted by a3matrix at 12:54 PM on September 21, 2007


But when I see someone wearing a shirt with LEDs on the front, I don't assume it's a bomb, because I'm not a fucking moron.

Please, I’m not trying to condescend you; I'm trying to have a calmer level of discourse. You're reading more malicious intent into my words then I placed there -- again, I dig you're angry.

I'm just saying if you placed yourself into the mindset of someone who is facing, whether it is real or perceived -- which can be just as real -- potential threat on a daily basis, isn't there enough there to spark some form of action? You can carry on and say it is unwarranted, I look at it and say that it is warranted based on the circumstances surrounding it.

When she's not doing anything wrong and they decide the freak the fuck out irrationally, then yes, I'm siding with her. Had she been screaming "I'VE GOT A BOMB I'VE GOT A BOMB" the situation would be different, you condescending twit.

Please re-read my original comment. We disagree, and I don't think we're going to reach a consensus unfortunately, but my point is that given the situation as it was spelled out the people doing their jobs did their jobs as they were supposed to do.
posted by cavalier at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2007


From now on, everyone must put "THIS IS NOT A BOMB" stickers on their luggage and wear "I AM NOT A TERRORIST' buttons. Anyone not wearing the button will be jailed and searched, and their luggage destroyed. Problem solved!

I bet the first person to do that gets the same reaction this twit got, and pretends to be REALLY, REALLY SHOCKED.
posted by bunnycup at 12:55 PM on September 21, 2007


Since no one's said this yet, I will. She's pretty cute. She can "blow me up" any day.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:56 PM on September 21, 2007


Another point that keeps being brought up is that the guards could be expected to overreact beacuse they can't be expected to have any pior knowledge of electronics, not being MIT students themselves.

Y'know what? I'm no MIT student, I barely have an Associate's degree from the local community college, and I'm the furthest thing from a hobbyist or an electronics expert.

However, I also haven't had my head up my ass for the past 34 years, so I actuall know a little bit about how the world works, enough to realize that a blinky shirt, or even a rudimentary circuit board is not the same as an explosive device.

It's really fucking sad that, having read The Anarchist's Cookbook and The Poor Man's James Bond makes me more of a security expert than the people who are actually employed to keep the airports secure. It doesn't do much for my faith that they can do their jobs, and it certainly doesn't make me any more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
posted by lekvar at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2007


kittens, just saying. I keep reading comments like this (sorry to single you out, oneirodynia.) Yet, I see very little sympathy for the people who stand in front of the x-ray machine for 8+ hours and just want to go home.

I mean how is a security guard supposed to know that she is a MIT student, she is just picking up her boyfriend, she is too young to understand the effect of her behavior on others (I just don't get that argument) and all the other ancillary facts posters keep presenting? Someone saw something that looked kinda like a bomb and reacted - because that is their job.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2007


Sure, because following a conversation in which you're vocally criticizing would be too much to ask.

It's a long and winding conversation with dozens of people commenting. I don't know how familiar you are with the internet, but, honestly, you are expected to provide your own context when you say something in a thread, rather then suppose that your pearls of wit and wisdom will be separated from the strand and remembered as the distinct and exquisite mots of stunning intellect that they are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by bunnycup I bet the first person to do that gets the same reaction this twit got, and pretends to be REALLY, REALLY SHOCKED.

Is that with real or pretend Tasers?
posted by fandango_matt at 12:57 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm just saying if you placed yourself into the mindset of someone who is facing, whether it is real or perceived -- which can be just as real -- potential threat on a daily basis, isn't there enough there to spark some form of action? You can carry on and say it is unwarranted, I look at it and say that it is warranted based on the circumstances surrounding it.

It's blinky lights on a shirt. Christ, let's start arresting people for having writing on their shirt- it may have been printed in Semtex!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:58 PM on September 21, 2007


and wear "I AM NOT A TERRORIST' buttons

Sorry, that doesn't work either.
posted by ryoshu at 12:58 PM on September 21, 2007


saulgoodman: "Nor is there any evidence at all that she intended to mislead anyone into thinking it was a bomb. the circumstances all point to a completely different picture, so in no way does it make sense to attribute this incident to any intention to make a fuss. Just because there was a fuss doesn't mean she intended to make one."

I agree. There is no strong evidence that she was trying to attract attention.

klangklangston: "But why charge her? Why not just look at it, give her the all clear, and be done with it?"

Well, that's a good question. I don't have a good answer. I mean, she should probably be de-briefed by the authorities so that she understands exactly what happened in that situation. I agree that she shouldn't suffer long-term legal consequences.

saulgoodman re: intent vs. interpretation: "Good to know. So if the woman at the front desk was a paranoiac who interpreted my sneakers as "fake bombs" then the press should unapologetically report that I showed up at the airport with fake bombs. Genius."

C'mon man, be generous in your reading of my words please. Yes, it should have read "reasonable interpretation." Also, thanks for conflating my argument that security was reacting reasonably with the press's insistence on calling the device a bomb. I have in no way supported the media's word-choice or coverage of this event.
posted by taliaferro at 1:00 PM on September 21, 2007


About that putty-

I've known smokers who use Silly Putty to keep their hands busy when they're stuck in places like, oh let's say, airports, where puffing is forbidden. I myself have spent many hours reading MeFi while absent-mindedly snapping a handful of my kid's Silly Putty. It's addictive stuff.
posted by maryh at 1:00 PM on September 21, 2007


Is that so hard?

How are the cops going to become televised heroes if they go around asking stupid questions? How else are they going to keep them on the job if they never get the chance to taser someone, bro?

On, and predictably, the Boston Herald is going batshit insane over this latest Town vs. Gown episode. They're going to have to cancel tonight's game is this nonsense continues.
posted by jsavimbi at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2007


what i want to know why is the press going off half-cocked repeating like some drooling simpleton that a college kid showed up at the airport with a "fake bomb" when that's not at all what happened?

My guess -- and it's just a guess -- is that someone at the BPD who isn't a complete tool took one look at the girl's shirt and realized that, yes, their people had freaked out over fucking Lite Brite AGAIN. So that non-tool, in the interest of making the BPD not look like a bunch of trigger-happy dipshits, presented the media with the reverse side of the woman's shirt, not bothering to clarify that the exposed circuit board was not at all what anyone in the airport saw her wearing, because an exposed circuit board could much more plausibly be identified as a bomb than could Lite Brite. Hence, my guess is that it's not the media going off half-cocked so much as it the BPD deliberately obfuscating how exactly they screwed the pooch this time (incidentally, the same exact way they screwed the pooch last time).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2007 [14 favorites]


I have to say, if someone behind a ticket counter asked me about what I had under my shirt or some other question about my clothes, I would definitely walk away without answering, roll my eyes, and mutter about the apparent lack of sexual harassment training for ticket counter employees in that particular airport.

I'm really not clear how not answering the ticket counter employee's question could really be interpreted as the problem here.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is the height of "just don't look right" observation that virtually all policing is based on.

Yeah -- like London, New York and other metropolitan areas Boston has its Say Something Campaign -- with posters ("See Something, Say Something ") on subways, buses, at the airport and train stations, asking the public to be diligent and to report any behavior that may appear suspicious. Since such relies on human perception -- often fallible -- there will be incidents that later appear "foolish." I guess it's all part of a "better safe than sorry" approach to crime prevention.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on September 21, 2007


Yet, I see very little sympathy for the people who stand in front of the x-ray machine for 8+ hours and just want to go home.

I have every sympathy for such people, but if they're incapable of doing their job without freaking the fuck out over nothing, they need to not have that job anymore. There's a reason that blind people don't get jobs as crossing guards.

Someone saw something that looked kinda like a bomb and reacted - because that is their job.

OH MY GOD IT'S A BOMB! Oh, wait, no it isn't. It doesn't look anything like a bomb and no human being capable of dressing him/herself would confuse it for a bomb.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:02 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Breath a little bit, everyone.

First of all, we haven't heard her side of the story yet. As mentioned above it seems quite plain that this was not any kind of publicity stunt. She was a geek doing something geeky for her geek boyfriend, and to suggest that she's going to "cash in" is ludicrous and baseless--it's an anti-intellectual, knee-jerk crap response that lowers our entire level of discourse. Any evidence to suggest that she's going to cash in? Because everything else suggests just the opposite.

Second, it's plain to most of us that airports are unique places through which we must tread softly. But even given that context, no matter how stupid her nerdy shirt may have been it did not merit this kind of response:

"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."

And I think that's the rub. This kind of inhumane attitude toward security is precisely what is so infuriating, and makes so many of us actually feel more insecure. Any reasonable human being would not be so reckless when discussing matters of life and death--especially when the person they are talking about is guilty of nothing beyond wearing a light up LED shirt (with no exposed wires, as we've come to find out).

Is it really so lucky that Star is not in a morgue, or is it lucky for Mr. Pare that he doesn't have to answer to a jury and explain why an unarmed girl's brains are smeared across the taxi lane at Logan International? His comments are reckless and frightening. Worst of all is the AP's insistence on using the words "fake bomb," which is not only a misrepresentation (for something to be a fake there must be intent), but it heightens this culture of fear and further encourages these gunslinging morons.

It's one thing to be an idiot in an airport; it's another thing to be an idiot in an airport with an automatic rifle and an itchy trigger finger. No matter how stupid Star may be, she is a person and a passenger, and comments like "she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue" further prove that a GED is too low of a bar to set when hiring security.
posted by dead_ at 1:02 PM on September 21, 2007 [15 favorites]


saulgoodman: I agree the press is making a mess out of this. I don't mean to come off anti-intellectual, I'm just saying there seems to be a disconnect in this thread concerning the different roles of the players in this story.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:03 PM on September 21, 2007


Can I make a very belated comment in this thread. This is why those bomb detection air sniffers, or naked x-ray machines are so great. Sure, everyone is searched, but everyone is searched for specific things. Presumably she wouldn't have even been flagged, no matter how weird she wants to be, if she doesn't have the capabilities for detonating a bomb.

People decry loss of privacy with such searches, or call them as invasive, but indeed it allows for greater degrees of freedom than we'd have otherwise. Searching everyone for explosive compounds passively would obviously have false positives, but at least they are done by machines and not people unfamiliar with how weird MIT art students have become.
posted by geoff. at 1:04 PM on September 21, 2007


I think a good gift for the president would be a chocolate revolver. And since he's so busy, you'd probably have to run up to him and hand it to him.*
posted by Slap Factory at 1:04 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's blinky lights on a shirt. Christ, let's start arresting people for having writing on their shirt- it may have been printed in Semtex!

picture of shirt, probably gonna expire asap

Agreed. On hindsight, it's an overreaction. You get to stare at the photo and see it's just a bunch of lights. But what if you didn't get a good look at it, it was only for a few seconds, and you say "hey... wires... lights... what the heck is that grey stuff".

Agreed, it's stupid, and the media is inflating it to ride the cash on the fear balloon. But at its inception, at its heart, you see somebody going "Wait... what?... Excuse me? Er... *phone*"
posted by cavalier at 1:05 PM on September 21, 2007


unfamiliar with how weird MIT art students have become.

A shirt with lights on it is weird? I'll go back in time before my grandma died and tell her how weird her Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer shirt was.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 PM on September 21, 2007


Perhaps I'm being pedantic, but the "fire" analogy really falls apart in this case. Crying "fire" in a theatre involves intent to cause a disruption of civil order. It is a deliberate act.

The "fire in a crowded theater" analogy also falls apart, because there would have been no disruption if the worker at the information desk wasn't such an ignoramus about electronics and had simply ignored the sweater as the harmless garment it was. The thing about "yelling fire in a crowded theater" is that it's a disruption caused by short-circuiting people's ability to act rationally. Unless this MIT girl had mind control powers, it's not her fault that the airport worker failed to act rationally.
posted by jonp72 at 1:06 PM on September 21, 2007


Cavalier, I think that is the INSIDE of the shirt and the outside was just flashing lights. Not sure, can't find pic of what the outside actually looked like...
posted by bunnycup at 1:06 PM on September 21, 2007


More fake bombs. Custom designs in only three to four weeks!

I am so there.
posted by ryoshu at 1:06 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm turning 38 in a few days. I suspect that a lot of the "she got what she deserved!" posters are younger than I.

Which means that they're going to be running things in my dotage. Old age is going to suck, isn't it?

"When I was yer age we had rights! And used our judgment, not this zero tolerance BS! We did! Dangit, don't walk away..."
posted by bitmage at 1:07 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


But what if you didn't get a good look at it, it was only for a few seconds, and you say "hey... wires... lights... what the heck is that grey stuff".

The assembly has clearly been removed from the shirt and placed on top of it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:07 PM on September 21, 2007


I think the real lesson here is that your boyfriend should man up and take public transportation from the airport instead of having to be chauffeured like a little kid.

Err -- the articles say she took the "T" (i.e. subway) to the airport. I suspect they would be heading back to MIT via the blue, then red lines.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on September 21, 2007


I've found out who's supplying the terrorists!

I can't imagine the pictures are how it was being worn - why would the LEDs and the breadboard be on the same side of the shirt? If I wanted a light up shirt, I'd have the LEDs on the outside and the wiring on the inside. And I wouldn't have made it with a breadboard, looks uncomfortable.

Yeah, she's dumb as a brick, though. Should have had more sense than to go to an airport with something unusual. Doesn't make the reaction justified at all, though. (To detour into another can of worms, I understand MIT's implementation of affirmative action is such that admissions standards are frankly just vastly lower for females, as in a girl with xxxxx scores/grades/whatever will automatically get in while males with the same scores/grades/whatever would have zero chance.)

Basically, though, our fearful American society is so afraid that often people creating what would normally be a consumer item, or doesn't exist as a consumer item, tends to be unacceptable. Do you know how to perform chemistry, maybe want to do some as a hobbyist? Meth manufacturer. Want to do some electronics? Bomb builder. Too interested in gardening? Pot grower. The basic message is that your skills should involve, for the lower class, working at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, for the middle-upper class, working at a desk producing nothing but bullshit, and for the very-upper class, watching the money roll in while you don't work.

Seriously, I would much rather live in a free country that lets people carry LEDs into the airport, even if there's some tiny increased risk of bombing. Arresting people with LEDs will not stop terrorism. It's security theatre. If you let all the people with LEDs, pocket knives, liquids, whatever, onto the planes, and focused on useful things like bomb-sniffing machines, x-rays, metal detectors, it would be just as safe, but no theatre to point to.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:09 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Being detained by the police, even at gunpoint, is simply not being "nearly killed". I think, to be "nearly killed" one needs to experience physical danger, or at least a physical threat reasonably likely of coming to fruition. Several comments specifically stated their opinions would be different had she been tased, assaulted, shot, etc.

"Gunpoint" is probably as close as you get to "nearly killed" as far as the interactions of people and guns go.

How is arresting her and seeing what's going on innappropriate behavior on the cops' part?

Do you know what "arresting" means? What would have been appropriate would have been to stop her, ask her questions, handle the device if necessary, and, upon reaching the obvious conclusion that it isn't a bomb or even close to a bomb, letting her go. I know that's anti-climactic, and really seems like everyone went to all that trouble for nothing, but that's how it happens if you want it to make sense. Not everyone you stop has to then be arrested.
posted by odinsdream at 1:09 PM on September 21, 2007


The girl has brownish skin. Case closed.
posted by Mister_A at 1:10 PM on September 21, 2007




Also, thanks for conflating my argument that security was reacting reasonably with the press's insistence on calling the device a bomb. I have in no way supported the media's word-choice or coverage of this event.

taliaferro: sorry, i didn't mean to mischaracterize your position. as i've said elsewhere, i don't necessarily think the security response was inappropriate (that is, i don't have an opinion either way because there isn't enough information). i do, however, think that the employee who initially alerted security overreacted in a pretty serious way, and that the press' mischaracterizations of the incident reflect much more serious problems with the quality of news media in general, particularly where security issues are concerned.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:11 PM on September 21, 2007


Not sure, can't find pic of what the outside actually looked like...

But you're pretty damn sure "the twit" got what she deserved, aren't you?

You disgust me.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Someone should call these dudes so they can hand out 1000 black sweaters with a battery pack and a wiring board taped to them at Boston Airport.
posted by sour cream at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2007


no worries, elwoodwiles.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:12 PM on September 21, 2007


Unless this MIT girl had mind control powers, it's not her fault that the airport worker failed to act rationally.

The "fire in a crowded theatre" analogy falls down, because had the cinema manager gotten a PhD in human psychology, he would have known that the person shouting fire was actually doing so as a joke, and the people who were crushed in the run for the exits were just morons like Star 'Homer' Simpson.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:13 PM on September 21, 2007



bigger picture?
boingboing, assumed its already made the rounds.

fandango, so help me god, if someone lolcats this, I will kill a kitten.
posted by cavalier at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2007


The "fire in a crowded theatre" analogy falls down, because had the cinema manager gotten a PhD in human psychology, he would have known that the person shouting fire was actually doing so as a joke, and the people who were crushed in the run for the exits were just morons like Star 'Homer' Simpson.

It's actually much more akin to shouting "That show was awesome!" and then being arrested for shouting "Fire!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


All I know is, Flavor Flav better stay the Hell out of Boston!

Oh, Flav visits Boston without hassle.
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2007


Being detained by the police, even at gunpoint, is simply not being "nearly killed". I think, to be "nearly killed" one needs to experience physical danger, or at least a physical threat reasonably likely of coming to fruition. Several comments specifically stated their opinions would be different had she been tased, assaulted, shot, etc.

That's true, however, if the polie go and tell reporters that they nearly killed you, and in fact you're lucky to be in a "cell" and not "the morgue" then that does mean you were nearly killed. Unless you think they police are lying.
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."

As stupid as this sounds, the folks from F Troop, Massachusetts State Police (not the baseball-rioter-shooting BPD as some of you contend) are trying to send a message to everyone that they're under a lot of pressure and they're freaking out.

One more time for the cops: HIRE A REPUTABLE, PROFESSIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM TO HANDLE ALL OF YOUR COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE MEDIA.

And stop trying to justify your freakouts with baseless charges, fear mongering and woefully misrepresenting "evidence".
posted by jsavimbi at 1:16 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If that raggedy piece of shit that she had on her shirt is the best a MIT student can do for and electronic art project this country is hurting in the talent division. More likely she is an attention seeking brat that deserved a “Well hello dip shit” from the police. Play Dough uhm…. Yeah I don’t know why I have that in my hand. It may look like play dough but it smells like bullshit. The only thing this shouldn’t be is news, because obviously she now has what she wants, victim hood.

This is the don't tase me bro generation, without any inherent sense of personal responsibility. This is what happens when parents refuse to discipline their children.

Why don’t all you people who think she is innocent and the officers actions were unwarranted and unprovoked hook your ass up some crap like that and go to your local airport in protest. No? Oh, you know better? And I bet you didn’t even need to go to MIT to figure that out.
posted by MapGuy at 1:17 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


ericb writes "I guess it's all part of a 'better safe than sorry' approach to crime prevention."

I agree with this approach to prevention, but not when it becomes justification for any behavior.

The bottom line problem is : regrettably, there is NO WAY we will always be able to filter all the possible explosive devices / combinations of deadly devices that could flow on a passenger / in a passanger luggage. We may pick a lunatic every now and then, which is good, but that doesn't deter any determined person from achieving their goal.

An airplane/airport is JUST the most inconvenient place to mount an attack on, exactly because of the increased harrassment measures, but these measures come at a price of significant inconvenience, slow down and possible lethal accidents.

Curiously enough everybody remember the planes hitting the tower, but they forgot the explosion in the towers' underground garage that could have ended a lot worse ; yet that proves airport isn't THE only target.

Additionally, hijiacking an airplane is done for a purporse : bringing the plane away, arise media attention, obtain as much attention as possible for as long as possible while giving the HOPE to the hijackers that they MAY eventually escape by flying away, or surrender and survive.
posted by elpapacito at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007


Man, I remember that time I was eating an overripe banana in a coffee shop and some lady seated nearby called the cops, said I had a firearm.

Well anyway, cops came and arrested me, and for the next few weeks I was burdened with explaining to everyone why I had brought a "fake gun" to Starbucks.

"Newspaper said you had a fake gun, dead_. What were you thinking, bringing a fake gun into Starbucks like that? You trying to cash in on something, with your fake gun? You should have known better than that. Everyone knows you can't bring a fake gun into a coffee shop."

I tried to tell them it was just a banana but they wouldn't listen. I guess I was cradling it too suggestively. If only the woman had thought it was a fake penis, then everyone would be asking me why I was gay instead of why I'm on the terror watch list.
posted by dead_ at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


This is what happens when parents refuse to discipline their children.

This is what happens when people mistake welding together prejudices for thinking.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007 [12 favorites]


Delmoi - "What if she'd been deaf? Then they would have shot her?"

Can we not play the stupid hypothetical game (what if it had actually been a bomb!!!)? That game gets us nowhere. But, to answer, if she had been deaf, she never would have walked up to airport personnel to ask a question about flight arrivals. Said worker would not have then noticed the device and inquired about it.

lekvar - "makes me more of a security expert than the people who are actually employed to keep the airports secure."

Yeah, but it wasn't airport security that reported the bomb threat. It was other airport or airline staff that called security after misinterpreting the device as a bomb.

saulgoodman: agreed, the airport worker who reported this thing probably over-reacted. I wish we knew exactly how the worker phrased his/her question to the girl - It would shed some light on how foolish/reasonable her decision to ignore the question was. Anyway, I think we're on the same page on this, just focusing on different facets of this giant fiasco.
posted by taliaferro at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007


That's true, however, if the polie go and tell reporters that they nearly killed you, and in fact you're lucky to be in a "cell" and not "the morgue" then that does mean you were nearly killed.

If the police and the newspapers say I'm the president, I'm still not.
posted by bunnycup at 1:19 PM on September 21, 2007


Good thing she wasn't wearing one of these.
Or one of these.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:20 PM on September 21, 2007


If the police and the newspapers say I'm the president, I'm still not.

When did this become a discussion about George W. Bush?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Terrorist.
posted by dead_ at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2007




(To detour into another can of worms, I understand MIT's implementation of affirmative action is such that admissions standards are frankly just vastly lower for females, as in a girl with xxxxx scores/grades/whatever will automatically get in while males with the same scores/grades/whatever would have zero chance.)

awesome.
posted by docpops at 1:21 PM on September 21, 2007


everyone: please evacuate MapGuy's lawn immediately.
posted by psmith at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


someone at the BPD who isn't a complete tool took one look at the girl's shirt and realized...

FWIW -- security at Logan is provided by the State Police (with an "elite unit" and "rapid response team), not the Boston Police Department.
posted by ericb at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2007


So I should reconsider showing up to summer camp with my hockey mask and axe?

This guy would say, "Yes, you should reconsider your plan." Unfortunately, he's dead, so it's me telling you this, and not him.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:22 PM on September 21, 2007


Q: "if you are, in any serious sense, afraid of terrorism, you are either too fucking stupid to dress yourself or you're a child screaming in terror at the uncertain dark. Either way, you're a far greater threat to America and to freedom and to humanity than Osama bin Ladin and his cadre of fuckups are."

A. What PeterMcDermott said.

I fly weekly for work. I deal with pat-downs, lines, TSA, delays, waiting, lines, surly gate and ticket agents, lost baggage, fondled belongings, lines oh and did I mention the waiting?

I'm not afraid of terrorism; I'm afraid of attention-whoring and/or thoughtless dumbasses adding hours on to the time I already have to spend enduring mind-numbing procedures in the name of safety. I don't have the time to take it up with the TSA, but I certainly have the right to be chafed by one stupid kid who was either 1. ignorant of her surroundings or 2. intentionally trying to cause a scene (and my gut tells me it's the latter).

I might feel differently if the girl had been hurt (and I will feel differently if this doesn't all just get dropped and dismissed, because the benefit of hindsight shows that it was clearly a misunderstanding and not a thwarted suicide bomb). But since all that has happened to the dimwit thus far is that she was detained and charged, I feel pretty solid in the reaction of "lucky it didn't turn out worse, and p.s. DUMBASS."

Seriously. Dumb. Ass. This could easily have become an incident that shut down the whole airport, delaying flights up and down the East Coast for hours. If it had and I'd been on one of those flights, the only "bomb" Star would have to worry about would be the flaming bag of dog poo I fantasized about leaving in her dorm room.
posted by pineapple at 1:24 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


FWIW -- security at Logan is provided by the State Police (with an "elite unit" and "rapid response team), not the Boston Police Department.

I think I was happier thinking it was run-of-the-mill cops and not an "elite" force. Because the just kinda okay cops must be...yikes.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:26 PM on September 21, 2007


For the love of Jebus, please stop being reasonable. We've clearly reached the conclusion that America is the Land of the Free to Do Dumb Shit, and if anyone seeks to curtail your right, nay, duty, to do dumb shit, then they are fascist incarnates of Satan McHitler himself. To suggest anything otherwise makes you "scum," as noted above.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:27 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"That's true, however, if the police go and tell reporters that they nearly killed you, and in fact you're lucky to be in a "cell" and not "the morgue" then that does mean you were nearly killed."

er, bunnycup, I agree with most of what you're saying, but I think delmoi is correct on this one. It is reasonable to say that this girl was nearly killed. As the officer noted, had she reacted differently to security, they may have used deadly force.

dead_: your analogy is stupid. Sorry.
posted by taliaferro at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2007


Whether you intend to cause a panic is irrelevant.

Ach. So the next time a couple of Muslim guys with beards, dressed in shalwar kameez, go to get on the airplane that's going to take them to see their sick mother or whatever, and face a planeful of irrational passengers who are panicked by their appearance, it's the Muslim guys' fault? They should have shaved their beards and shown up in jeans and t-shirts?

Feh on this country. We shake in our boots at nonevents, cower under the bed when we see a blinky light. When did we become such a pitiful place?


I fly weekly for work. I deal with pat-downs, lines, TSA, delays, waiting, lines, surly gate and ticket agents, lost baggage, fondled belongings, lines oh and did I mention the waiting?


Security theater is your problem, not college students with blinky sweatshirts. Blame all of the people who - despite how many months/years of notices and warnings and news stories? - continue to bring full-size bottles of shampoo in their carry-ons, or look surprised when asked to empty their pockets before going through a metal detector.
posted by rtha at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


Good thing she wasn't wearing one of these.

In all fairness, if she was wearing one of those she deserved to be shot.
posted by ryoshu at 1:28 PM on September 21, 2007


For the love of Jebus, please stop being reasonable. We've clearly reached the conclusion that America is the Land of the Free to Do Dumb Shit, and if anyone seeks to curtail your right, nay, duty, to do dumb shit, then they are fascist incarnates of Satan McHitler himself. To suggest anything otherwise makes you "scum," as noted above.

We're all getting that the dumb shit in question is having some Christmas lights on your shirt? Really? Okay. Checking, is all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2007


I find the journalistic replies to be more appalling than the event.

I may be a bad person.
posted by OrangeDrink at 1:29 PM on September 21, 2007


The "fire in a crowded theatre" analogy falls down, because had the cinema manager gotten a PhD in human psychology, he would have known that the person shouting fire was actually doing so as a joke, and the people who were crushed in the run for the exits were just morons like Star 'Homer' Simpson.

OK, fuck the "fire in a crowded theater" analogy. I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ on a pogo stick, we're talking about a shirt with some blinking lights on it. That's all. Unless there's an explicit airport policy that says you can't have "blinky" things at Logan Airport, it's not that girl's fault that some random airport employee in a non-security area at the airport overreacted like a complete ninny and nearly got that girl killed.

How many "false positives" in airport security do there have to be before we starting drawing the line and demanding some accountability from the people who tread on our freedoms?
posted by jonp72 at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2007


Seriously. Dumb. Ass. This could easily have become an incident that shut down the whole airport, delaying flights up and down the East Coast for hours.

That's exactly what my dad said to my grandmother when we tried to board a plane on Christmas Eve. She had brought her light-up Frosty the Snowman sweatshirt, and my father had spend thirty minutes trying to convince her against it.

I still remember dad shaking the security guard's hand after grandma was fettered and hauled off. Let me tell you, we weren't late for Christmas dinner because of granny's attention-whoring.
posted by dead_ at 1:30 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


dead_: your analogy is stupid. Sorry.

Care to comment on it, or are you planning to leave it at that?
posted by dead_ at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2007


Actually, Krrrlson, some of us are mourning an America where if you wear blinking lights to the airport has, you might as well just strap a bomb to your chest, and where so many people think a logical, and expected, response is machine guns and arrests.

But go ahead and characterize it in whatever way makes it easiest for you to live in this country without feeling a constant, gnawing disgust.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


In all fairness, if she was wearing one of those she deserved to be shot.

So - you're one of the Elite Fashion Police, then?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:31 PM on September 21, 2007


Yeah, she's dumb as a brick, though... I understand MIT's implementation of affirmative action is such that admissions standards are frankly just vastly lower for females

Women admitted to MIT earn slightly better grades than do their white male classmates.

You could have gotten across your feelings about women in technology fields more succinctly by calling her a "cunt" like PeterMcDermott did.
posted by transona5 at 1:32 PM on September 21, 2007 [30 favorites]


I have every sympathy for such people, but if they're incapable of doing their job without freaking the fuck out over nothing, they need to not have that job anymore. There's a reason that blind people don't get jobs as crossing guards.

It's been said before, but let's repeat ... the person who contacted the State Police was a Massport employee (and not a security person) at the Terminal C Information Desk who reported what he/she thought appeared to be suspicious. That triggered the State Police response and procedure.
"Simpson walked up to an information desk manned by a Massport official and asked about a male passenger on an incoming Continental flight from Oakland, authorities said. That passenger turned out to be Anderson.

When the Massport employee asked Simpson about the device, she walked away and the worker contacted state police. State police, explosive experts and canines swarmed the area, and found Simpson outside on an island on the lower roadway.

Simpson was immediately surrounded by police holding machine guns.

'She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands, and not make any movement so we could observe all her movements to see if she was trying to trip any kind of device,' Pare said at a morning press conference at Logan."*
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by jonp72 How many "false positives" in airport security do there have to be before we starting drawing the line and demanding some accountability from the people who tread on our freedoms?

September 11 changed everything. In American airports, the new motto is "Shoot first, check out rave toys later."
posted by fandango_matt at 1:33 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Well, that's a good question. I don't have a good answer. I mean, she should probably be de-briefed by the authorities so that she understands exactly what happened in that situation. I agree that she shouldn't suffer long-term legal consequences."

Yeah, that's kinda where my sympathy for the security folks goes right out the window—when they start pulling Rambo bullshit like saying she should be glad she's not dead.

And it does scare me how many people, at least in this thread, seem too willing to absolutely pillory a girl based on something so scant, in the face of obvious over-reaction after the fact by the authorities. It's like their sense of security comes from the government always being right, and having this power of life and death over us, and without demonizing this girl, they'd have to question whether the government has too much power. At which point, there'd be all sorts of questions about whether we're really safe.
posted by klangklangston at 1:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


9/11 is a convenient fiction.
posted by Mister_A at 1:36 PM on September 21, 2007


Much like the first post, i don't find the event, and the cops' overblown rhetoric, that distubing; but that the media would report the event to make the student look malicious rather than naive is very disturbing.

the media are tripping over themselves to align themselves with the authorities. not that this is new, it's just more exaggerated and obvious than usual. It's more the reaction of the media that leads people to compare this to life under fascism, even tho it's obvious the girl should not be in prison because the police haven't been trained to identify bombs.
posted by eustatic at 1:37 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


pineapple: please take a few moments to review the thread and reconsider. there's no factual basis for thinking this person was attention-whoring at all--and that's exactly what's pissing me off about how the press is covering this. their coverage is distorting people's perception of what actually happened to the point that half the people talking about this topic are taking as givens assumptions that have no basis in reality, apart from the initial, misleading and prejudicial reports of the incident. so now, here we are, constantly having to debate on mostly fictional points related to what happened.

remember this article posted recently about how hard it is to change people's misperceptions once they've been established? that's why it's absolutely critical that the press report responsibly and narrow its reporting as much as possible to verifiable facts.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:37 PM on September 21, 2007


So - you're one of the Elite Fashion Police, then?

A proud member of the 82nd Hairborne.
posted by ryoshu at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


and here I thought only smart people went to MIT. oh well.

I really wish I could join the chorus LOLPARANOIDASSHOLESLOL, but I can't. the Adult Swim Boston fiasco was indeed a shameful example of paranoid overreaction by clueless, useless law enforcement authorities. this thing, not so much.

yes, the AP reporting is obscene in its bad faith, and yes airport security is often run on the cheap using total incompetent, badly trained pricks as staff, but the situation of this young woman is not as clear cut as the Adult Swim one, I'm sorry, this is my opinion.

it's not like there is no threat whatsoever to airports worldwide -- Glasgow, anybody? -- because airports are still a prime target for the primitive fucks who would get a kick out of blowing up me and you and all the other passengers who have the misfortune of finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. airports are a target and not all terrorists may be as well organized as the 9-11 crew (again, see Glasgow of Richard Reid). that thing she was carrying does look suspicious, especially in an airport, nowadays

it may not be a bomb but it's not art either, it's at best a stupid prank. stupid pranks that may look like bombs, in airports, in 2007, may get you in trouble. I don't care if she wanted to make a point about personal rights or punk the Logan staff or if she is simply very dumb; also, one's rights are definitely diminished in airports. I'd worry more about shit like the Padilla case or the adoption of torture as official US policy or about the banana republic censorship known as "free speech zones"; the right to wear Play-Doh and batteries and electric wires in airports is very, very low on the list, sorry.
posted by matteo at 1:38 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Worth repeating: The only thing showing on her sweatshirt was blinky lights. No exposed wires, no batteries.

It's appalling that the only picture of this sweatshirt of hers is of it turned inside out. Everyone jumps to the conclusion that she was walking around with wires and a battery "strapped to her chest"... hilarious, you americans.
posted by anthill at 1:39 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Her hair stylist is the real terrorist here.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:39 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


And she wasn't wearing the play-doh.
posted by anthill at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2007


see Glasgow or Richard Reid)
posted by matteo at 1:40 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm afraid of attention-whoring and/or thoughtless dumbasses adding hours on to the time I already have to spend enduring mind-numbing procedures in the name of safety. I don't have the time to take it up with the TSA, but I certainly have the right to be chafed by one stupid kid who was either 1. ignorant of her surroundings or 2. intentionally trying to cause a scene (and my gut tells me it's the latter).

I don't care what your gut tells you. We should all be using our brains instead. If the people at the airport had used their brains a little more, this whole thing might never have happened.
posted by jonp72 at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


9/11 is a convenient fiction.

So true. I was there in 2001, and it just went straight from 9/10 to 9/12.
posted by The World Famous at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I agree that the shirt is pretty obviously turned inside-out in this photo. Why aren't they showing pictures of the shirt's exterior, so we can see what the airport employees actually saw? (Perhaps because it didn't really look like a bomb at all?)
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:41 PM on September 21, 2007


I wish to kick this... Office Pare... in the nuts.
posted by kbanas at 1:42 PM on September 21, 2007


[a few comments removed, dial it BACK. If you can't talk about this without YOU'RE AN IDIOT then you need to go to metatalk, or on a nice long walk]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:43 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


it may not be a bomb but it's not art either, it's at best a stupid prank. shirt with blinking lights on it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:43 PM on September 21, 2007


The only thing showing on her sweatshirt was blinky lights. No exposed wires, no batteries.

Says who?

It's appalling that the only picture of this sweatshirt of hers is of it turned inside out.

Did you even look at the picture? It's clearly not inside-out, unless it's some bizarre sweatshirt with the pocket on the inside and the screen printed logo on the inside.
posted by The World Famous at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2007


September 11 changed everything. In American airports, the new motto is "Shoot first, check out rave toys later."

Freedom in America does not have a 9/11/2001 expiration date. At least not if I have anything to say about it...
posted by jonp72 at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2007


Any beans left?
posted by From Bklyn at 1:44 PM on September 21, 2007


So if the woman at the front desk was a paranoiac who interpreted my sneakers as "fake bombs" then the press should unapologetically report that I showed up at the airport with fake bombs.

Depends. Do the sneakers have fuses hanging out of them? And are you toying with a ligher for no apparant reason?

If not, then I'm guessing that such a woman would not be hired in the first place, nor last all too long is she were.

Language question - What's a quick way of referring to the device as something suspected of possibly being a bomb, but which is in fact nothing of the kind? Clearly "fake bomb" doesn't qualify, but something else must. Mustn't it?

Editors, step up!
posted by IndigoJones at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2007


dead_: okay, yeah, sorry. That was cheap - I'm running out of steam. Anyway, what I meant was:

Here is your analogy - banana:LED device::gun:bomb::coffee shop:airport.

The problems as I see them are 1) airports, particularly the airport in question, have a history of being involved in terrorist incidents. As such, a set of expectations is created that affects the way the human mind interprets sensory input. The idea of potential terrorism is, unfortunately, tied to airports by the media and by recent history. Coffee shops, by contrast, have no such history. Fearing terrorism/random violence in a coffee shop is true paranoia. Fearing terrorism/random violence in an airport is informed paranoia. There is a significant difference.

2) no part of a banana is, or can reasonably be mistaken for, part of a gun. The shape of a banana in a pant pocket is also unlikely to be mistaken for a gun, since bananas are curved, and guns have hard edges. As you note, it is more likely that this banana be mistaken for a penis in an indeterminate state of engorgement. The LED device did contain components that could be used in an explosive device (though obviously not the lights themselves). The issue of whether or not the circuit board and wires were visible to the aiport worker is up for debate - he/she may have been able to see the outline of the circuit board behind the sweater.
posted by taliaferro at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2007


That was a stupid stunt designed to get a reaction. I hope she America got the shit scared out of her it by the overzealous and dangerous stupidity of the people that are supposed to be protecting us.

Her stupid stunt has ended up making a pretty good point, even if (or, though most likely) in spite of itself.

I mean, seriously. The 19-year old art student with a futuristic cribbage board taped to her sweatshirt is looking like the smart one right now. What the hell, America?
posted by poweredbybeard at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2007


An airplane/airport is JUST the most inconvenient place to mount an attack on...

But people still try, as per the incident at the airport in Glasgow this summer.
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on September 21, 2007


No exposed wires, no batteries.

Says who?


All Tech men carry batteries.
posted by transona5 at 1:46 PM on September 21, 2007


Decades before 9/11, when I was not quite 18, I was flying out of Toledo after visiting some friends, and right around the security area, I made some remark including the word "gun." It was not a "Ha-ha, I've got a gun" joke, but more something like "Whew, these metal detectors will keep the guns out" inspired by nervousness about flying. Anyhow, the security personnel apparently heard only "gun." Nobody drew on me, but I was bodily escorted off, patted down, security wanded, detained for several minutes, given an extremely scary, stern lecture, and barely allowed to board my plane. That was an entirely called-for response, and the fact that I was young at the time doesn't excuse my dippy, irresponsible behavior. I was fucking lucky.

In Boston, I'm not sure it was necessary to take What'sHerFace into custody, but stopping her at gunpoint and ascertaining what the hell was going on hardly seems Gestapo-like considering the circumstances (and I say that as a big lefty). And for god's sake, if you want to let her off the hook, fine, but stop with the "aw, she's just a widdle kid" baloney. Nineteen year olds are not children, but they'll surely act like it when we keep infantilizing them.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:46 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


The U.S. in general and especially Boston seems to have somehow fallen into the hands of Oligophrenic Cowards. And for some reason their press, rather than pointing out this fairly obvious fact, cheers them on, applauding there imbecility and lack of any discernible spine.
You people didn't use to be this way, what happened?
posted by signal at 1:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Language question - What's a quick way of referring to the device as something suspected of possibly being a bomb, but which is in fact nothing of the kind? Clearly "fake bomb" doesn't qualify, but something else must. Mustn't it?

Suspected bomb?
posted by mazola at 1:49 PM on September 21, 2007


it may not be a bomb but it's not art either, it's at best a stupid prank.

jeebus farkign chirst.

It wasn't a "prank". She didn't put on a "fake bomb" and then go to the airport as performance art. She made the stupid fucking thing for a science fair, where she was going after she picked her boyfriend up at the airport.
posted by rtha at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2007


I feel like I'm in a cyclical vortex, where new comments are coming in without seeing those before. My eyes, they spinning! Wait.. something blinking? tic... tic..
posted by cavalier at 1:53 PM on September 21, 2007


I went to MIT and all I got was this crappy blinking shirt.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can we please retire the line "you can't shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater"? It's so hackneyed. Here are a few suggestions for a replacement:

You can't shout "Dirty bomb!" in a crowded restaurant.
You can't shout "Magneto!" in a crowded laundromat.
You can't shout "Lion!" at a crowded Dylan concert.

Shouting "Freebird!" is pretty dickish too.
posted by painquale at 1:56 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find the remarks from non-Americans, our UK friends in particular, about how trigger happy American airports are puzzling considering how no one in an American airport has been shot dead yet.
posted by ozomatli at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2007


The problems as I see them are 1) airports, particularly the airport in question, have a history of being involved in terrorist incidents. As such, a set of expectations is created that affects the way the human mind interprets sensory input. The idea of potential terrorism is, unfortunately, tied to airports by the media and by recent history. Coffee shops, by contrast, have no such history. Fearing terrorism/random violence in a coffee shop is true paranoia. Fearing terrorism/random violence in an airport is informed paranoia. There is a significant difference.

Actually, there are a whole lot more terrorist attacks in coffee shops and pizzerias than there are in airports, as anyone who has spent any time in Jerusalem can tell you.

I think I will begin referring to airports as "mental illness centers."
posted by gum at 1:57 PM on September 21, 2007


You could have gotten across your feelings about women in technology fields more succinctly by calling her a "cunt" like PeterMcDermott did.

Let's try not to de-rail too much, but I didn't say anything about their grades once they got in. I didn't even make a point about women in technology or schools in general. (Fuck, I'm a grad student in EE, I want more women in technology.) I said MIT's affirmative action implementation, from what I've heard, is quite fucked up. (I can't provide hard data, because at least back when I was curious about this sort of stuff they held it very close to the chest.) The understanding I got was that a female applicant with say a 1400 SAT, before the latest change, to simplify to one measure, was pretty likely to get in while for a guy to have a 1400 is pretty much disqualification. They may both have the qualifications to do well, but one has a free pass and the other has a roadblock.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2007


I find the remarks from non-Americans, our UK friends in particular, about how trigger happy American airports are puzzling considering how no one in an American airport has been shot dead yet.

Los Angeles airport shooting kills 3.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on September 21, 2007




anthill: The photograph of the sweatshirt/hoodie was not inside out [CNN video]. The circuit board, battery, and writing was visible on the outside of the shirt.
posted by desjardins at 2:06 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


anthill: The photograph of the sweatshirt/hoodie was not inside out [CNN video]. The circuit board, battery, and writing was visible on the outside of the shirt.

yeah. because she was going to a electrical engineering fair and thought it would be cute, not because she wanted people to think it was a bomb.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:08 PM on September 21, 2007


anthill: The photograph of the sweatshirt/hoodie was not inside out [CNN video]. The circuit board, battery, and writing was visible on the outside of the shirt.

You can clearly see the circuit board, hanging battery and the "lighted star" which is affixed to the center of the board. It is obviously on the outside of the hoodie, as you see the front and back logos/writing.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2007


ahem. "an electrical engineering fair"
posted by saulgoodman at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2007


Also, there was the Miami airport shooting, in this case a mentally ill civilian they determined to be a threat
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:09 PM on September 21, 2007


You people didn't use to be this way, what happened?

Although we've been steadily gentrifying the place, it's been hard to root out the provincial ignorance that was once the majority. Sooner or later they'll all die out or move away, but until then you can expect more of the same from the woefully unqualified.

And the gentrification has been a sore spot for those on the losing side, so they pile it on whenever something happens to someone they ineptly see as "superior" (MIT/Harvard/et al) and never mention it when their own kill each other.

Oh, and btw, we don't have "press" as you call it. There's no reason to report the unbiased facts when "BOMB SCARE" sells better than "Weirdo cautioned about attention-whoring at airport".
posted by jsavimbi at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2007


...from what I've heard...

The understanding I got was...

Yeah, that's some incendiary shit to toss out there on the basis of, like, something somebody said to you this one time, I forget, but he really was a guy who would know, you know? Plus, it doesn't have anything to do with the subject at hand, so you really may want to consider dropping it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:10 PM on September 21, 2007


Mia culpa.

but still as a true blueblooded mefite i cannot fully admit defeat: this is NOT a strictly American phenomenon (which was the point I was poorly trying to make)
posted by ozomatli at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2007


Ironically, all this could have been avoided if she had been a member of the National Bomb Association, and had a concealed carry permit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:11 PM on September 21, 2007


saulgoodman - I'm making no judgment as to her intent. I wanted to correct anthill's fallacy. Whether only the blinking lights were visible, or whether the circuit board, battery, and wires were visible makes a big difference in assessing the Massport employee's perception of the shirt. anthill was incorrect in saying that only the blinking lights were visible.
posted by desjardins at 2:13 PM on September 21, 2007


"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."
This is what scares the bejeezus out of me. The police are discarding some basic community-based policing in favor of a John McClane Die Harder attitude. Heaven forbid I space out and walk more than 10 feet away from my bag while Au Bon Pain on a layover.

Over the last 6 years, we've had case after case where law-abiding customers were treated as terrorists when a simple "hey, can I ask you a few questions?" would have resolved the issue. This is just one symptom of the climate of fear in which people of the wrong color are booted from flights.

On preview: I was going to say that it's just a matter of time before this leads to a fatal error of judgement, but it looks like that already happened. Unfortunately with Greyhound on the rocks and Amtrak suffering, it looks like my next trip will require car rental.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:14 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Although we've been steadily gentrifying the place, it's been hard to root out the provincial ignorance that was once the majority. Sooner or later they'll all die out or move away, but until then you can expect more of the same from the woefully unqualified.

I wish I shared your confidence. AFAIKT, we're rapidly moving towards more ignorance, more fear, and more overreaction. Worse, we're raising a generation for whom freedom and rights are just dusty concepts in a book. If you've been subject to search at any time with every move watched by cameras since grade school, you're not going to really feel what 'freedom' means.
posted by bitmage at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2007


I love the way people keep claiming the young woman was "attention whoring" even though at the time of this writing she hasn't issued a press release, made a statement, or done anything that could even vaguely be construed as "attention whoring."
posted by fandango_matt at 2:15 PM on September 21, 2007


Blame all of the people who - despite how many months/years of notices and warnings and news stories? - continue to bring full-size bottles of shampoo in their carry-ons, or look surprised when asked to empty their pockets before going through a metal detector.

Those people piss me off too, don't get me wrong. My point is that there are myriad other possible reactions to this than just "OMG TEH TERROR TEH BOMBS" and "fuck the Po-lice, it's the art, it's the freedom, it's the PEOPLE being oh-pressed, this country is a bunch of fascists, man." My reaction has nothing to do with the Patriot Act, but more of a weariness (and admitted self-interest) that people can't seem to leave the airports alone in peace and let the travellers just get there already.

there's no factual basis for thinking this person was attention-whoring at all

I don't need a factual basis to have a gut reaction. That's the nice thing about a gut reaction, and how I'm allowed to post it on the internet without having to bear your burden of Proof that my opinion is somehow Legitimate or Factual. My opinion was derived not from the verbiage of the press in the articles but from the student's own words and her actions. But, hey, thanks for not giving me enough credit to be anything other than a sheep-like mouthpiece for the Boston Globe.

I happen to agree that the press are being reactionary and stupid on this, but let me see if I can muster a shred of surprise there. What's the more interesting lede: "College Student Arrested for Fake Bomb at Logan Airport"? or "Blinky Sweatshirt Creates Much Ado About Nothing in (Wait For It) Boston"?

I don't care what your gut tells you. We should all be using our brains instead. If the people at the airport had used their brains a little more, this whole thing might never have happened.

Lovely Monday-morning quarterbacking there, but as we've clearly already seen, we're getting inflammatory misrepresentation from the first articles, and there's not enough follow-up info out there yet for this awesome "FACTUAL FACTINESS!" you're clamoring for. Who in this story did not execute quite enough "using her brain" -- Star, or the airport agent who alerted security when wire-and-battery-wearing Star wouldn't respond to a question?

Fact: The person walked into an airport, behaved in a way that alarmed an airport worker, and a security procedure ensued.

Opinion: What the rest of us think about that fact. Believe it or not, that means you too.

So, "using my brain" gets me to my opinion that the girl was either ignorant or pulling a stunt. Either one doesn't make her look all that great. I'm not saying it makes the Boston authorities look any better, but this "leave the poor blameless innocent student and her blinky-sweatshirt-just-like-my-grandma's alone!!!!1!!eleven!!" is a bit histrionic.

Yeah, that's kinda where my sympathy for the security folks goes right out the window—when they start pulling Rambo bullshit like saying she should be glad she's not dead.

Seconding this. Talk about some really bad crisis communication. "Shit, guys, we freaked out over a teenager with a blinky sweater! what to do, what to do..." "I know, we could kill her!" "Hm, no, too messy..." "I know!!! Let's say we almost killed her." "Yeah!" "That's the ticket!"
posted by pineapple at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


TheOnlyCoolTim, & you brought it up when you saw a woman doing something (you thought was) stupid because what again? Because you think that based on your dim recollection that MIT + woman ==> stupid? Or as I guess you'd put it: stupider than an MIT male on average? What other fucking relevance does AA have here? Please share with us more of your internal rationalizations.

Look if you just thought it wasn't fair, which hell maybe it ain't you wouldn't bring it up in the context of "stupid woman".
posted by Wood at 2:16 PM on September 21, 2007


Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech. While you may not necessarily be prosecutable under the law for saying something stupid/racist/bitchy or just plain rude, there are always some consequences to same. You could piss someone off. You could start a riot (which, if you're intending to do just that, is apparently a crime). You could just out yourself as a big dumb asshole.

We have freedom of speech, meaning you can say any damn fool thing you want. But there is no guaranty, under the law or anywhere else, that what you say isn't going to have repercussions one way or another.

Does that mean this girl should have been arrested at gunpoint? Well, maybe not. Same with the idiots in the pick-up truck driving around with nooses hanging out the back. Are they "free" to do these things? Sure. Are other people "free" to misinterpret and be offended? Yep. Welcome to America.
posted by jennaratrix at 2:19 PM on September 21, 2007


anthill was incorrect in saying that only the blinking lights were visible.

Why do you say this? The pictures of the shirt clearly show that the entire assembly was on the outside of the shirt.

Is there some alternative source that people are relying on for the premise that only the lights were visible?
posted by The World Famous at 2:19 PM on September 21, 2007


Over the last 6 years, we've had case after case where law-abiding customers were treated as terrorists when a simple "hey, can I ask you a few questions?" would have resolved the issue.

And by all means don't let your toddler prattle on, pray or wear a “Meet the Fockers” T-shirt. Nine Great Ways to Get Thrown Off an Airplane.
posted by ericb at 2:19 PM on September 21, 2007


For the time-impaired, here is my summary of the arguments to this point in the thread:

1) With a name like Star, she deserved to be preemptively tasered.

2) If that is "art," I'm Charles Bronson's perfect chest.

3) If we can't bring blinky things into airports without being submachine-gunned, the terrorists have got to start figuring out a way to hide their blinky things.

4) You can pry my play-dough from my cold dead hands.

Did I miss anything?
posted by found missing at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


anthill was incorrect in saying that only the blinking lights were visible.

Why do you say this? The pictures of the shirt clearly show that the entire assembly was on the outside of the shirt.


You're agreeing with him. He is pointing out that anthill was wrong in characterizing that only the lights and not the full assembly with battery were visible on the outside of the hoodie.
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on September 21, 2007


oops. my bad reading. Thanks, ericb.
posted by The World Famous at 2:22 PM on September 21, 2007


Is there some alternative source that people are relying on for the premise that only the lights were visible?

This is where reading the entire thread starts to pay off. Start from the beginning. Work your way down. Happy hunting!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:22 PM on September 21, 2007


jennaratrix: this has nothing to do with "Freedom of speech", this has everything to do with "Freedom from being arrested and/or shot because some dumbass made some dumbass mistake."

Since there is no specific law against wearing blinky lights at the airport, she shouldn't be arrested. And while most people might think twice about wearing that shirt to the airport, not every single person would. It's not reasonable to hold people accountable for other people's mistakes.

The guys with the noose knew exactly what message they were intending to send.
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by ericb Nine Great Ways to Get Thrown Off an Airplane.

This should be required reading for all Jet Blue passengers worried about getting stuck in a plane on the tarmac for eight hours.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2007


From the CNN video desjardins links to above, it looks like the shirt did have the circiut board, wires, battery and lights all on the outside of the shirt. The contrary report (assumption?) I linked to further above should probably be disregarded.
posted by yhbc at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm stopping the derail. I made a parenthetical, and if anyone really needs to argue about it all day someone can start up a gray thread.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:24 PM on September 21, 2007


Can we just agree that the last person to post in this thread gets to decide the issue? Thank you.
posted by craniac at 2:25 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by delmoi this has nothing to do with "Freedom of speech", this has everything to do with "Freedom from being arrested and/or shot because some dumbass made some dumbass mistake."

Since there is no specific law against wearing blinky lights at the airport, she shouldn't be arrested. And while most people might think twice about wearing that shirt to the airport, not every single person would. It's not reasonable to hold people accountable for other people's mistakes.


Welcome to Delmoi's Wacky World of Logic.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:26 PM on September 21, 2007


desjardins = she
posted by desjardins at 2:26 PM on September 21, 2007


gum: Actually, there are a whole lot more terrorist attacks in coffee shops and pizzerias than there are in airports, as anyone who has spent any time in Jerusalem can tell you.

Right, you are correct, but I'm talking about something taking place in America. Context baby - you shouldn't have to spell it out every time. There is no history of terrorist attacks in coffee shops in America. This incident took place in America. For Christ's sake, please be reasonable instead of deconstructively nit-picking.

Having a discussion about terrorism in the context of Israel and its surroundings is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING ELSE. It's not a response to my argument, its a shifting of the grounds of the discussion.
posted by taliaferro at 2:27 PM on September 21, 2007


I love the way people keep claiming the young woman was "attention whoring" even though at the time of this writing she hasn't issued a press release, made a statement, or done anything that could even vaguely be construed as "attention whoring."

In our new America, whatever she gets, she deserves.

She just shouldn't have worn that dress.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


As to intent, I'm not yet convinced that she intended to garner attention and set off this fiasco.
"A woman from Instructables.com who knows Simpson tells Boing Boing that Simpson's friends at MIT 'say she wears the hoodie on a regular basis -- it's just unfortunate that she had it on while trying to pick a friend up at the airport. MIT students don't really do mornings, or worry about what they're wearing, so I can't imagine she'd even think about her clothes before heading out to pick up a friend at the airport before 8 a.m.'"*
posted by ericb at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't need a factual basis to have a gut reaction. That's the nice thing about a gut reaction, and how I'm allowed to post it on the internet without having to bear your burden of Proof that my opinion is somehow Legitimate or Factual. -- pineapple

Entirely true. And we're free to dismiss that attitude as moronic, which it is.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


anthill was incorrect in saying that only the blinking lights were visible.

desjardin: I'm with you. But IMO it's irrelevant. The problem is with the way the press has persisted in characterizing it as a fake bomb. Even now, there are people in this thread continuing to argue that the girl was clearly "attention seeking" when consideration of the larger context and other facts strongly suggest she had no intention of creating any confusion. I realize you're not arguing she did, but many others still are. Why? Because the misleading coverage created a false impression, and it's nigh impossible for many here to think about this topic now without bringing those false impressions to bear on their analysis.

"BOMB SCARE" sells better than "Weirdo cautioned about attention-whoring at airport".

But neither is accurate. "Misunderstanding Escalates at Airport" is closer to the mark. There was never a bomb so why report one? There was never an attention-whoring weirdo, only a college student picking up her boyfriend on the way to an electrical engineering fair.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:30 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


The United States of America: Where morons are lucky to be shoved into cells instead of being shot outright.

I like it.
posted by splice at 2:33 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Welcome to Delmoi's Wacky World of Logic. -- fandango_matt

Are you saying you think people should be held accountable for other people's mistakes? Or are you just retarded?
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


"BOMB SCARE" sells better than "Weirdo cautioned about attention-whoring at airport".

saulgoodman, that was set aside in your comment as if it were a quote. Can you tell us who/what you were quoting, there? I can't find that piece.

Entirely true. And we're free to dismiss that attitude as moronic, which it is.

You are free to do just that. Just try to keep your moral-high-ground-over-The-Facts and your oh-I-forgot-that-it's-just-my-opinion separated, if you can. They seem to be getting a bit tangled, there.

I love the way people keep claiming the young woman was "attention whoring" even though at the time of this writing she hasn't issued a press release, made a statement, or done anything that could even vaguely be construed as "attention whoring."

Are you kidding? This is fucking MetaFilter. We pass judgment around here like it pays cash money*, based on much lesser behavior than wearing a wired LED device to a major airport and claiming to have as one's hobby "traveling the world and saving the planet from evil villains with my delivered-just-in-time gadgets."

Seriously, y'all -- get your briefs in a wad over people making assertions of fact, but this "only stupid people have opinions" stuff is getting silly.

* ™Divine_Wino, I believe
posted by pineapple at 2:36 PM on September 21, 2007


Wow, let's review here:

(1) Airport employee is not a security expert, but has had security training. Training most likely included:
- Reporting electronic devices with exposed batteries or wires
- Reporting electronic devices with exposed breadboards
- Or more broadly, suspicious electronic devices.

As we all know, a well-funded terrorist organization can hide an explosive in an iPod or laptop fairly easily. There are a lot more Mark David Chapman types who aren't as clever. They both have the potential to do the same amount of damage.

(2) Being on airport property is an admission to be searched. I don't think anyone believes they have a right to privacy on airport grounds. Are you sweating? Pacing? Perhaps you took cold medicine, perhaps you're nervous about a terrorist attack. Detain, make sure they are the former because the latter has enormous consequences.

(3) The police went Tom Clancy Rainbow Six. And the media went crazy. This is not okay and is even worse than wearing something questionable in retrospect.

This is why we need to codify, and make the rules of engagement for suspected persons clear. In the case where immediate dangers isn't obviously imminent (e.g., man running around yelling he has a bomb, running around with a gun), discretion should be used. It shouldn't be a total take down, but polite and courteous as it can be. Obviously if there's significant restraint things should escalate.

I am all for security personnel to carry firearms, but do they need to be armed for small squadron warfare? Of course not. Let's make them highly paid, highly trained and appearing like suave guards at a Swiss bank. A concealed firearm and less war fatigues uniform go a long way in toning down their conduct.

So yes, I think her LED t-shirt or grandma's sweater or a laptop making funny noise is grounds for a search. I don't think that search should include death as a default. The reaction here is what is horrifying.

9/11 took place because security was horrific. We aren't going to get a Michael Mann crack team of Al Qaeda operatives taking down an airport one day. Effective terrorism is far less costly than that, and Al Qaeda knows it.

So maybe if we stop treating airports as a demilitarized zone we'll both increase satisfaction for fliers, maintain the same level of safety and decrease the potential that a politically motivated person can use terrorism hysteria for their own personal gains.

But you know, that's not as easy as sending meaningless bills back and forth in congress.
posted by geoff. at 2:37 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also -- for context -- she was on the lower level of Terminal C. This is where baggage claim is located along with rental car counters and the information desk. Most activity there is folks picking up their baggage, exiting to the attached garage or getting a taxi cab or boarding a bus. It has fewer security personnel on that level. Mostly a handful of State Police keeping traffic moving along. When the police encountered her she was on one of the concrete islands which divide the traffic lanes. If she really wanted to attract attention, I suspect she would have gone to the upper level where ticketing, check in and security gates are located...and where armed police, some with dogs move among the soon-to-depart passengers. Also -- there's a ton of video surveillance on that level. Just look up, smile, wave and say "hi!"
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the CNN video desjardins links to above, it looks like the shirt did have the circiut board, wires, battery and lights all on the outside of the shirt. The contrary report (assumption?) I linked to further above should probably be disregarded.

Yeah, I can see that now (that I'm on a computer where I can watch video). A better shot of the "bomb" does make it look remarkably...um...not like a bomb, though. About as good as this story can get for the cops, as far as I'm concerned, is that they weren't any more stupid than the girl.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:39 PM on September 21, 2007


delmoi: "Are you saying you think people should be held accountable for other people's mistakes? Or are you just retarded?"

The wacky logic in question is this: "Since there is no specific law against wearing blinky lights at the airport, she shouldn't be arrested." What's illogical about it? Well, she could have broken other laws, unrelated to blinky lights but related to her behavior, and so arrest may be legitimate after all. I'm not asserting that she did break other laws, or that her arrest is legit, only pointing out that, yes, your statement was illogical.
posted by taliaferro at 2:40 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm not reading all 400 posts in this motherfucker, but vote goes to:

1. 'Fake bomb' implies intent on her part to make someone believe this was a bomb. Wildly inaccurate, and any news sources with proper ethics will retract this verbage.

2. This is proof that the terrorists have won. I'm buying a fucking koran and learning arabic in advance of their inevitable takeover, this country is finished.
posted by mullingitover at 2:44 PM on September 21, 2007 [6 favorites]


geoff.: "This is why we need to codify, and make the rules of engagement for suspected persons clear. In the case where immediate dangers isn't obviously imminent (e.g., man running around yelling he has a bomb, running around with a gun), discretion should be used. It shouldn't be a total take down, but polite and courteous as it can be. Obviously if there's significant restraint things should escalate."

This may have happened. The airport worker did follow-up and ask the girl directly about the device. We don't know what he/she said - so it's tough to judge. Only then did airport staff escalate to the police.

Also, someone with a (suspected) bomb on their chest IS an obvious, imminent danger.
posted by taliaferro at 2:45 PM on September 21, 2007


2. This is proof that the terrorists have won. I'm buying a fucking koran and learning arabic in advance of their inevitable takeover, this country is finished.

I have this mental image of a sports announcer on 9/11.

"And the plane's going... going... it's into the second tower! Terrorists win! Terrorists win!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:47 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


here's a link to the comment.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:48 PM on September 21, 2007


saulgoodman, that was set aside in your comment as if it were a quote. Can you tell us who/what you were quoting, there? I can't find that piece.

sorry--that last was in response to pineapple.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:50 PM on September 21, 2007


it really doesn't matter if you think airport security is a gaggle of insecure otherwise-unemployable junior fascists or the front line heros in the global war on terror. it doesn't really matter if you think their extreme paranoia and tendency to assume the worst about the least is ignorant bullying or prudent caution. what matters is, unless you have been living under a fucking rock, you know this is how it is. it doesn't matter if you feel it is right or wrong, you know it simply IS. therefore, the woman is a STOOPIT BITCH. you can rant all day long about how the tropical sun is cruelly intense and should be milder, it doesn't make you one whit less a stoopit bitch for standing around naked in it's glare for hours without sunscreen.
posted by quonsar at 2:51 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


You could have gotten across your feelings about women in technology fields more succinctly by calling her a "cunt" like PeterMcDermott did.

Actually, here in the UK, cunt is an equal opportunities insult and doesn't refer to gender. In fact, here in the UK, it's not even necessarily an insult. So don't tar us all with your own misogyny.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:52 PM on September 21, 2007


she could have broken other laws

Her charge: possessing a "hoax device."* -- the same charge* that was levied against Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens in the Boston Aqua Teen Hunger Force fiasco earlier this year. FYI -- On May 11, 2007, the prosecutors dropped the charges after the Berdovsky and Stevens had performed 60 and 80 hours community service and apologized in statements read in court.

The judge released her on $750 bail. The prosecutor was seeking $5,000. Looks like the judge handled the situation fairly and denied the "overreacting" prosecutor.*

Good luck to the prosecutor on proving "intent to panic the public."

* -- Chapter 266: Section 102A½ of The General Laws of Massachusetts, which makes it a crime to place a "hoax device" with the intent to panic the public.
posted by ericb at 2:55 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Why do you say this? The pictures of the shirt clearly show that the entire assembly was on the outside of the shirt."

When I saw the story first thing this morning, the caption on the photo was that it was showing the shirt inside out.
posted by 2sheets at 2:56 PM on September 21, 2007


What's illogical about it? Well, she could have broken other laws, unrelated to blinky lights but related to her behavior, and so arrest may be legitimate after all. I'm not asserting that she did break other laws, or that her arrest is legit, only pointing out that, yes, your statement was illogical.

Well, I for one thing I wasn't trying to enumerate every possible axiom precondition, I was making an argument within the context of what we know about the incident. It sounds like she was arrested for having a "fake bomb", but how do you define that? The point I was making is that unless you legally specify the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a "fake bomb", then every object, except for a real bomb, could be a "fake bomb."

In my view, there are two ways to do this. The one I think is correct is to go by intent. If a person intended for other people to think it was a fake bomb, then it's reasonable to consider it that.

The other would be to specifically list every feature of a "fake bomb" so that people who don't want to break the law can follow the guidelines.

In the absence of either of those two measures, I don't think it's fair to arrest people for something they have no control over. If the laws say they should, then I think the laws are wrong.

As far as breaking other laws, about her 'behavior', well no one is accusing her of that, then why would you assume it? I mean you might as well say she could have been arrested for an outstanding warrant or something.

Anyway, it was fandango_matt who brought up "logic" not me. I don't think you can make purely logical statements about real world situations like this, because there will always be factors that you're not considering. Logic really only applies to formal systems, etc, etc, etc.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on September 21, 2007


saulgoodman -- I missed the earlier comment, so thanks for the clarification; at first I thought you were paraphrasing something I'd said.
posted by pineapple at 2:58 PM on September 21, 2007


I saw a lot of speculation about the location of the board -- above or below the fabric of the clothing. This article states rather authoritatively that she was, "arrested at gunpoint at Logan International Airport while wearing a computer circuit board and wiring in plain view over a black hooded sweat shirt." Coming from a once androgynous, nerdy and socially inept young female, I can see both sides. Security had no choice but to react the way they did -- the girl was too busy being broody to take the inquiry seriously, and it is their job to error on the side of caution.
posted by biggity at 2:58 PM on September 21, 2007


Regarding the 'hoax device' charge: good luck proving intent. If this was a civil suit, it would be a blatantly frivilous lawsuit. I'm not sure what you call it when it's a criminal charge: 'future acquittal' maybe?

They should take the money they will spend prosecuting her, put it in a small pile, set it on fire, and then let her go home. Same end result.
posted by mullingitover at 2:59 PM on September 21, 2007


So maybe if we stop treating airports as a demilitarized zone we'll both increase satisfaction for fliers, maintain the same level of safety and decrease the potential that a politically motivated person can use terrorism hysteria for their own personal gains.

There's the issue. It's the militarization of airports that's the problem. We're so used to local police officers being military wannabes in this country (especially when compared with, say, British "bobbies") that we don't complain when the same process of militarization is happening to our airports. I'm not saying there should be no security safeguards, but the people responsible for security should think of themselves as professionals not as warrior wannabes.
posted by jonp72 at 3:00 PM on September 21, 2007


Yeah, $750 bail? That's probably as low as the judge could go that wasn't a free pass. 3-1 she gets a diversion deal.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:11 PM on September 21, 2007


I almost got arrested at the airport in Rochester, NY once, in 1995. I went along to pick up a friend, and I was plastered. I went rolling along in a concierge wheelchair with a cosmetology mannequin head in my lap (she was named "Elena" after my Ukrainian roommate's mom).

So I started rolling up to people and telling them I was FDR. Eventually two cops came up behind me and told me to cut the shit, and I responded with "but I'm responsible for the New Deal!" Then the cops turned to my buddy and said "take your friend back to the car or he's sleeping downtown."

That is a true anecdote, and I guess the point is that I think they would have been right to arrest me for being an asshole at the airport. And they didn't even think the mannequin head was a bomb.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:11 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Regarding the 'hoax device' charge: good luck proving intent.

Uh-huh.

For the purposes of this section, the term “hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine. For the purposes of this section, the term “infernal machine” shall mean any device for endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both, by fire or explosion, whether or not contrived to ignite or explode automatically.

Well, every judge I've met have been pretty geeky, tech-savvy modern thinkers, so she won't have a problem with this "reasonable belief" test.

Wait, hold on. None of them have been like that.
posted by dreamsign at 3:13 PM on September 21, 2007


Did someone say that MIT admits the best and the brightest?

Let's just say - to be kind - that Star Simpson makes a mockery of any such claim.

And let's further say that I will be appalled if she gets any positive publicity for committing this idiotic act. I feel not a shred of pity for her ignorant (more likely, stupid) action.

Anyone who has been reading the news for the last 5 years shuold know that you don't go into an airport with ANYTHING that might be construed to look like a bomb.

Wires, silly putty, a circuit board, and blinking lights? Really? Now you can convince me that most of the security guanrds at the airport have experience in spotting a phoney piece of mute electronic non-equipment, based on their in depth knowledge of electronics. NOT! If it MIGHT look like something that MIGHT explode, don't bring it into an airport!

Let's just chalk this up to Star SImpson's juvenile attention-getting, complete idiocy, or a simple inability to intuit what might be the results ofo her "free speech" action.

You can't shout "FIRE!" in a movie theatre, and you shouldn't be tempting fate by bringing anything that even is even remotely - and deliberately - made to look different enough, with certain similarities, to what someone MIGHT THINK is a bomb.

They should fine her for this, at the very least. What if, in tight quarters, some passenger had ignorantly construed what she had as an explosive device - and caused a panic by yelling (she has a bomb!) - then what? A little kid gets trampled, or worse?

Gimme a break! and ban this little twerp from airports for the next 5 years, until she grows up!
posted by MetaMan at 3:18 PM on September 21, 2007


Mayor Curley -- you one crazy motherfucker son-of-a-bitch! I love that story. Pray tell, how often did "Elena," um, service your lap?
posted by ericb at 3:19 PM on September 21, 2007


You can't shout "FIRE!" in a movie theatre

I suppose you can, if there really is a fire! ; )
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on September 21, 2007


Mayor Curley writes "That is a true anecdote, and I guess the point is that I think they would have been right to arrest me for being an asshole at the airport."
That's no way to treat the president and father of the New Deal. Thank you for Social Security, Mayor Curley.
posted by mullingitover at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2007


Did someone say that MIT admits the best and the brightest?

Let's just say - to be kind - that Star Simpson makes a mockery of any such claim.


Oh, please. This is the school whose students introduced the Smoot to the world of weights and measures.

At MIT or Podunk Community College, 19-years-olds are 19-year-olds, and it shall ever be.

juvenile attention-getting


You should really RTFA, or the rest of the thread, and spare anyone else having to explain why she's not an attention-whore (at least, not in this case - I can't speak for the rest of her life).
posted by rtha at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2007


They should fine her for this, at the very least. What if, in tight quarters, some passenger had ignorantly construed what she had as an explosive device - and caused a panic by yelling (she has a bomb!) - then what?

Well, actually, then the passenger is the one who's just shouted "fire" in a crowded movie theater.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:24 PM on September 21, 2007


delmoi: "Are you saying you think people should be held accountable for other people's mistakes? Or are you just retarded?"

This is illogic, delmoi, sorry.

I can think of several examples where you would be logically and lawfully held accountable for other people's mistakes if their mistake is reacting inappropriately to something you triggered, which is what we're talking about here. I know it's getting tired, but the "yelling fire in the theater" example is precisely this situation.

1) You yell fire in a theater.
2) People mistake your warning for the truth.
3) People mistakenly trample each other on the way out.
4) You are held accountable for those mistakes.

I mean, c'mon, delmoi. If I wave a gun at you* and scream, "Gimme your money or I'm gonna kill you," I'm going to jail for assault with a deadly weapon, regardless of my claim that you mistakenly failed to notice it was a toy gun and was therefore no threat to you.

* if someone calls this a strawman argument, please go look up the definition of a strawman argument
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:24 PM on September 21, 2007


Mayor Curley: Well, yeah. And if the cops had reacted to this situation with the enlightened common sense that they used in reacting to your drunken obnoxious self, then this wouldn't be a news item that has attracted a few hundred posts on mefi.

A simple "what are you wearing on your shirt?" by a uniform would have handled the entire situation with far less risk than a squad with itchy fingers on automatic weapons.

dreamsign: Well, $750 down from $5,000 bail is a pretty good sign that the judge is skeptical here. (And for that matter $5,000 bail isn't a big deal, given that a bondsman will front 90% of it.) As I said above, I expect this to go to diversion with an apology, small administrative fine, and a weekend of community service.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:25 PM on September 21, 2007


If we're going to make dumb analogies, let's at least make them more accurate.

Her offense is more like wearing a t-shirt with a picture of fire on it to a crowded theater. She failed to comprehend the stupidity of the average moviegoer, and failed utterly to comprehend the stupidity of the below-average moviegoer. So to everyone ready to hang her for her senselessness, you're all correct. Some moviegoer might've seen the picture of fire on her t-shirt and yelled 'ZOMG fire!' and caused the trampling of a helpless baby and a litter of kittens. It would've all been Star's fault.

Someone, please think of the kittens.
posted by mullingitover at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread is a litmus test.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2007


At MIT or Podunk Community College, 19-years-olds are 19-year-olds, and it shall ever be.

19 year olds are adults, last time I checked.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:33 PM on September 21, 2007


Pray tell, how often did "Elena," um, service your lap?

Elena was a gift from a friend whose sister was at cosmetology school back in Maine. A mannequin head was a useful prop for a lot of college pranks (the simplest was having a woman friend shriek and then drop Elena off our fourth floor balcony into the busy courtyard.

I thought that someone else had grabbed her when I was packing up, but my dad was going through old boxes in the basement three years ago and got a great scare.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:37 PM on September 21, 2007


you shouldn't be tempting fate by bringing anything that even is even remotely - and deliberately - made to look different enough, with certain similarities, to what someone MIGHT THINK is a bomb

Well, here's the problem: there are dumb shits everywhere. Dumb shits who cause panic, and even more dumb shits who panic over nothing.

I brought a beautiful stone chess set that I bought in Toronto on a flight bound cross-country. Unfortunately, it was wrapped in the most godawful way by the store. I just couldn't believe it, but time was tight so off I went. I mean, it wasn't even a box. It was cut cardboard, folded into a kind of triangular mound, with a bunch of string tying it all together. It looked like a fucking mess. Security looked at in on x-ray and were concerned, until I heard one of them exclaim, looking at the display: "It's a chess set!" But I sat at the front of my section on the flight, the box exposed on the floor in front of me, and nearly everyone who passed, passenger and crew alike, eyed it with worry.

I suppose had security done something dumb; something they felt embarassed about and needed to justify, you'd be screaming at me that I'd brought a "fake bomb", or hey, a "hoax device" on board a plane, because somebody panicked. Then you could justify the panic with more fear-mongering. It's all good.

KJS: ah, good to see the bail decision. I hadn't noticed that earlier. Some sanity prevails after all.
posted by dreamsign at 3:38 PM on September 21, 2007


Did someone say that MIT admits the best and the brightest?

Let's just say - to be kind - that Star Simpson makes a mockery of any such claim.


The idea of using a breadboard for her IBD was pretty lame. Breadboards are bulky, heavy, and quite unwieldy for a piece of clothing. The complexity of a cool flashing light circuit can is also rather limited on a breadboard of that size. She should have used a pic microcontroller.

Best and brightest indeed. Harumph.
posted by ryoshu at 3:39 PM on September 21, 2007


Cool Papa Bell: Well, just in contrast, a pair of teenagers really did call in a bunch of bomb threats to the local school, a fairly clear case of intentionally causing a heap of trouble. And even with an explicit threat of an explosive device the police didn't pull out the automatic weapons to serve the search warrant.

With all of the "she should have known better" tush tushing going on, what should give anyone the willies is that a situation that could have been resolved by a uniformed officer asking a question, was treated as a full-scale terrorist incident. Was security justified in being suspicious? Certainly. Was that reason for suspicion severe enough to warrant a situtation in which the police put suspect and bystanders at risk? Certainly not.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:42 PM on September 21, 2007


Part of me wishes that people would pull stunts like this all the time, every day - maybe the increasing insanity, stupidity and cost would finally make people stop and think for a fucking second how completely T-whipped we all are.
posted by tristeza at 3:44 PM on September 21, 2007


This thread is a litmus test.

And it goes to 11.
posted by ryoshu at 3:44 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


19 year olds are adults, last time I checked.

And this means what, exactly? What's your point?

(And if your point is that she should act as mature as all her other 19-year-old peers, I'm going to laugh.)
posted by rtha at 3:47 PM on September 21, 2007


It's art!

or maybe not.
posted by bluesky43 at 3:47 PM on September 21, 2007


Please re-read my original comment. We disagree, and I don't think we're going to reach a consensus unfortunately, but my point is that given the situation as it was spelled out the people doing their jobs did their jobs as they were supposed to do.

In other words, the system is broken, but that's nobody's fault. They're just obeying orders.

People will obey any orders, as has been demonstrated many, many times.

Who's culpable here? The citizens of Boston and of Massachusetts for not slapping down their authoritarian asshole cops who are issuing those orders.
posted by Malor at 3:49 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread is a litmus test.

And it goes to 11.


Well, this is The Blue. So the thread was based to begin with.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:49 PM on September 21, 2007


And, Boston people... requiring at least three working brain cells in your police officers would not be a bad idea.
posted by Malor at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2007


pineapple, ftw in this thread.

The best headline would have been, "Miscommunication and Flawed Reasoning Lead to Near Tragedy at Boston Airport," but you won't see that anywhere.

Star Simpson either wasn't thinking, used poor judgment, or wanted attention by wearing the shirt. I don't know her motives or her thinking, so I really shouldn't have assumed she was vying for attention. Regardless of her motives, though, everybody knows that these days even the word 'bomb' is taboo anywhere near an airport. You can't make jokes about bombs. You have to put your shampoo in clear plastic bags so we know it isn't some kind of accelerant for an explosive. It may be ridiculous, but it's no secret.

So, to sum up: Star should not have worn the shirt.

The Massport person over-reacted.

The police over-reacted.

Star Simpson did not deserve to be arrested.

The guy who suggested in the press conference that she is lucky she wasn't shot should not be allowed anywhere near the press, ever again.

The most important part: Star acting stupidly and the over-reaction to her actions being stupid are NOT mutually exclusive concepts. There is plenty of stupidity to go around here.
posted by misha at 3:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Misha, she wasn't flying, she was just picking up a passenger. If you're not going through the security gates, you probably wouldn't even think about something like that. I certainly wouldn't.
posted by Malor at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2007


caused the trampling of a helpless baby and a litter of kittens.

We know about babies and strollers in the movie theater. Who brings kittens? ; )
posted by ericb at 3:52 PM on September 21, 2007


The guy who suggested in the press conference that she is lucky she wasn't shot should not be allowed anywhere near the press, ever again.

He should be the designated press liaison! That way it just might dawn on some fraction of the good citizens of the Commonwealth that the gendarmerie maybe ought to be restrained a bit.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:54 PM on September 21, 2007


I had a knife that went through security. it was in my bag in a small side pouch. I felt like an idiot for forgetting about it but, isn't security screening for knives? What happened there? I got lucky and i was stupid.
But I think the documentary Aliens said it best," lets take off and nuke the site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure."
Now thats how to deal with a airport security issue.
posted by wolfewarrior at 3:54 PM on September 21, 2007


For Boston, for Boston
We sing our proud refrain
For Boston, for Boston
'Tis Pussy's earthly fane
For here are all scared
And our hearts fall through
When the Lite Brite on the bridge
Blinks green and blue
For Boston, for Boston
'Til the Lite Brite blinks again!

P.S.: Red Sox suck
posted by Flunkie at 3:55 PM on September 21, 2007


here's the problem: there are dumb shits everywhere. Dumb shits who cause panic, and even more dumb shits who panic over nothing.

And there are dumb New York shits who don't even notice the wax dummy of Abraham Lincoln sitting in the front row of their Delta Shuttle to D.C. - NBC video.
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2007


I can think of several examples where you would be logically and lawfully held accountable for other people's mistakes if their mistake is reacting inappropriately to something you triggered, which is what we're talking about here.

That's really not the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater" argument at all, though. Charging out of the theater you said was burning is actually a completely appropriate reaction to the suggestion that the theater is on fire. What is inappropriate is that you said it was when it wasn't.

There are two questions here:

1. Did the girl (essentially) yell "fire" in a crowded theater?

and

2. If so, did the police react appropriately?

Obviously, there's a degree of disagreement over 1. So for the sake of argument, let's assume the answer is yes, whether that's true or not -- if it isn't, then there's no point in going on to 2.

Did the police react appropriately? Well, they certainly reacted forcefully. But if their intent was to keep the people in the airport safe, I think they reacted pretty stupidly, too. Let's pretend the girl was Osama bin Laden in schoolgirl drag; no moral problems with killing her whatsoever. Still stupid. The Lite Brite is a bomb. What happens if a bullet hits it? Does it explode? Doesn't seem implausible. If it is a bomb, why is it flashing? Is it because it's ticking down? Seems likely. What happens if you kill the person who knows how it works? Are any of the cops who think Lite Brite is a bomb capable of defusing a bomb? You'd think they'd have some idea, given that this is their detail, but...they think Lite Brite is a bomb. So maybe not. But maybe this part's not on them; maybe they haven't seen the Lite Brite with their own eyes yet, at least not well, and don't yet realize it's Lite Brite. Maybe they can defuse it. Even if they can, can they do it in time? Maybe not.

This is all, mind you, leaving aside the possibility of innocent bystanders being injured or killed when guns are fired in a crowded public place.

So yes, I would say that by drawing their weapons, the police did react inappropriately. It may have been appropriate to approach the girl; it probably was. Batons at the ready, even. Better safe than sorry. But the Rambo approach could have gotten a lot of people killed. It sounds badass and all, but in real life, it's kinda dumb sometimes, and this was one of those times. That's the biggest mistake, to my mind -- not that they thought she had a bomb, but if she HAD had a bomb, they still would have fucked up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


So if Star Simpson had a pair of glow sticks and this shirt, would she be a raving bomber?
posted by ryoshu at 3:59 PM on September 21, 2007


We know about babies and strollers in the movie theater. Who brings kittens? ; )

Well, I do. But only when I'm hungry...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:00 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


P.S.: Red Sox suck

Yankees Suck -- fixed that for ya'!
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on September 21, 2007


Sure, you say that now, but let's see what you say when a light bulb comes on.
posted by Flunkie at 4:03 PM on September 21, 2007


dreamsign,

mullingitover said : "Good luck to the prosecutor on proving 'intent to panic the public.'"

And you responded skeptically by quoting the definition of "hoax device".

But the reference to "intent" comes from here:

"Section 102A1/2. (a) Whoever possesses, transports, uses or places or causes another to knowingly or unknowingly possess, transport, use or place any hoax device or hoax substance with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment."

I haven't seen any reports indicating she had any such intent. Given the facts as they now seem to be (unless I missed something relevant in the last 30 minutes), the prosecutor will need some very good luck indeed to prove intent.
posted by psmith at 4:04 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by wolfewarrior But I think the documentary Aliens said it best," lets take off and nuke the site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure." Now thats how to deal with a airport security issue.

Yeah, but you'd never be able to get the nuke through spaceport security.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:05 PM on September 21, 2007


I got stopped bringing a harmonica through Saskatoon Airport last year. It was all sorted out very quickly, but I think it was karmic punishment for sneaking a gun-shaped lighter through security when I was fifteen and flew from the Dominican Republic to Toronto.

Stupid lighter broke, like, a week later.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:10 PM on September 21, 2007


Sure, you say that now, but let's see what you say when a light bulb comes on.

Q: How many Yankees does it takes to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. If Steinbrenner owns the light bulbs they’re already screwed.

Q: How many Red Sox does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Who needs light bulbs, the Red Sox are already well lit by the gentle glow of victory.
posted by ericb at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2007


That's really not the "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater" argument at all, though. Charging out of the theater you said was burning is actually a completely appropriate reaction to the suggestion that the theater is on fire.

The mistake is panicking, trampling, etc, lacking any other evidence beyond what you provided. In other words, the fuck up is that they trust you.

So, you can be accountable for the mistakes of others -- actually, you are accountable for creating a situation in which an otherwise reasonable person makes a mistake and causes a damage to himself or others, which is the point I was making to counter delmoi's point.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:12 PM on September 21, 2007


elwoodwiles writes "19 year olds are adults, last time I checked."

Meh, I know people 50 years old that don't fit the definition of aged, but not that of adult.
posted by elpapacito at 4:14 PM on September 21, 2007


She is walking around with something under her clothing has what could be C4 in her hand (By its consistency C4 resembles Play Dough ) and is non responsive to a question? There are 100's of people i the airport and someone is acting strange and oh I might have seconds to figure if it is a bomb or a blinkey Santa? Many lives may hang in the balance there is only one choice, you have to stop her and if she does not respond to the command you have to do all in your power to stop her before the potential bomb goes off. There is a history of airport attacks at JFK Glasgow and numerous others The real error here was in having here raise her hands, if this is fact is what happened; as she could have had a dead man trigger. In the Middle East her behavior would get her killed. MSP have a lot of Iraq Vets, they have first hand experience in suicide bombings aftermath. Checkpoint guards have a saying "If my rifle goes click before the bomber's trigger goes click, I win)
posted by Rancid Badger at 4:16 PM on September 21, 2007


Here's her MIT page.

She's smart enough to get into MIT, smart enough to do what was required to not get killed. Not smart enough to make a better looking art project, not smart enough to realize that wearing a circuit board and carrying playdo/sillyputty in the airport would get a reaction.

No hoax, no fake bomb. Cops and airport staff responded appropriately, except for the arrest. I suspect the charges will be dropped. If it becomes illegal to be a doofus, the President's gonna have some 'splainin to do.
posted by theora55 at 4:16 PM on September 21, 2007


I've lurked here for about two years, and in the end it took one of my high school friends getting arrested at gun point to buy an account. I'm glad I waited.

And after 420 posts (which I haven't read all of), I guess I don't have all that much to say. Star, although somewhat crazy in the way that loves lots of people paying attention to her, very likely did not mean to cause a scare. She much more likely was delighted to have made a shirt which said, in effect: "look at me, I am a HUGE NERD." Which she was, and apparently, still is. She used to make odd little circut sculptures when we built robots together, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go comment on her facebook wall.
posted by postcommunism at 4:17 PM on September 21, 2007 [11 favorites]


If it is a bomb, why is it flashing?

This is actually my favorite bit about the entire incident. Too many people have their perceptions of bombs set by TV and movies. No, a bomb is not going to have a lot of blinky LEDs on it counting down until detonation. Just like no one is going to mix two liquids on an airplane and create a bomb (but DUDE, I totally saw that in a Die Hard movie).

This is worse than security theater, this is security dumbfuckery. Want to know what incidents like this and the Mooninites tell me? Terrorists don't need to do a damn thing. We're doing the terrorists' work for them.
posted by ryoshu at 4:18 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Fuck, she took her profile down.
posted by postcommunism at 4:19 PM on September 21, 2007


Yes, I guess you could charitably describe a light that comes on once a century or so to have a "gentle" glow.
posted by Flunkie at 4:20 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by ryoshu Want to know what incidents like this and the Mooninites tell me? Terrorists don't need to do a damn thing. We're doing the terrorists' work for them.

So true.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:22 PM on September 21, 2007


the prosecutor will need some very good luck indeed to prove intent

Somewhere else in the MA criminal code or precedent, there is likely a useful definition of intent, and it's not likely to be solely limited to direct evidence on the order of "We found her diary and it says 'I am doing this deliberately to mislead people.'"

I would venture to guess there are several arguments and lines of questioning to make that would together constitute a valid accusation of intent, starting with "So, what's with the Play-Doh? What is the artistic statement you're making with the Play-Doh, exactly? Prior to the date in question, were you aware of the similarities in appearance between Play-Doh and C4...?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:23 PM on September 21, 2007


Too many people have their perceptions of bombs set by TV and movies.

Or stories about bombs.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:25 PM on September 21, 2007


Who's culpable here? The citizens of Boston and of Massachusetts for not slapping down their authoritarian asshole cops who are issuing those orders.

Yeah -- I'm heading over tonight to the Massachusetts State Police, Troop F center at Logan and goin' start slapping those bitches around. Whose with me? Mayor Curley, you coming?
posted by ericb at 4:25 PM on September 21, 2007


Prior to the date in question, were you aware of the similarities in appearance between Play-Doh and C4...?"

:sigh:
posted by ryoshu at 4:26 PM on September 21, 2007


*who's with me*
posted by ericb at 4:33 PM on September 21, 2007


For the record I do not like the Jackbooted MSP but they serve a necessarily function Their union is super strong with a large number making more money than the Governor. This is a hard core blue state but at Logan Airport and the port you have rights only after they have you under control. As an aside I am a yellow dog democrat.
posted by Rancid Badger at 4:37 PM on September 21, 2007


*who's with me*

/me grabs a 555 timer circuit and a handful of blue LEDs and waits for the police to piss themselves in fear
posted by ryoshu at 4:38 PM on September 21, 2007


rtha: And if your point is that she should act as mature as all her other 19-year-old peers, I'm going to laugh.

Oh bite me.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:44 PM on September 21, 2007


No, a bomb is not going to have a lot of blinky LEDs on it counting down until detonation. Just like no one is going to mix two liquids on an airplane and create a bomb (but DUDE, I totally saw that in a Die Hard movie).
posted by ryoshu at 7:18 PM on September 21


I can't believe this thread has 450+ comments. According to this comment, the way to build a bomb and slip it through security is to cover it with blinking LED lights because bombs are never going to have LED's on them EVER. if it has LED's it cannot be a bomb, is that it? Oh wait, it could still be a bomb? Oh. What?

And people could very well mix ammonia and bleach on an airplane to create a disturbance. The law is not limited to checking for or preventing bombs.

And the reason the 9-11 hijackers used boxcutters is because it was legal to bring boxcutters on planes before 9-11.

There's a staggering amount of myopia in this thread. An airport is not the place for an art prank. You can't say the word "bomb" in an airport without getting asked questions. You can't leave your luggage unattended without security being alerted. This circuit board shirt is something that any reasonable person would realize that any other reasonable security person in an airport would consider to be suspicious. Parse that sentence again if you didn't get it.

And one last thing. From an engineering standpoint, this is a shitty circuit. The wiring is sloppy and tangled, the LED placement is haphazard and imprecise, and no one uses a breadboard for anything even semipermanent, especially mounted vertically.

Frankly, I expect higher quality work from an MIT student. I suspect if the circuit was neater, the wiring short and linear, and the circuit wirewrapped on a board, security would have been more forgiving, because it would have looked less like something a crazy person put together.

My crappy blinkenlight circuits in junior high were better than this, and they didn't look like spaghetti.
posted by Pastabagel at 4:45 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


An airport is not the place for an art prank.

Good thing no art prank took place then, eh?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:47 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Rancid Badger writes "For the record I do not like the Jackbooted MSP but they serve a necessarily function Their union is super strong with a large number making more money than the Governor."

I'm generally pro-union, and think that they make peoples' lives better.

That said, I am wholeheartedly opposed to police unions. I think they should be completely eradicated. When I lived in Portland, Oregon I saw the union again and again support the police when they committed murder and other breathtaking abuses of power, and the union was strong enough to ensure that the officers never faced justice. The police shouldn't be allowed to unionize any more than the military can.
posted by mullingitover at 4:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since no one's said this yet, I will. She's pretty cute. She can "blow me up" any day.

Wow. I really, really, REALLY couldn't disagree more to that statement, but I digress...
posted by (bb|[^b]{2}) at 4:50 PM on September 21, 2007


She did not yell fire in a crowded theater!!

She yelled something else that others misunderstood to be fire.


essentially the argument is that you should never do or say anything that others might concievably take to be a threat.

Don't make anything electronic by hand. don't read the Quran. Don't be brown. if you do any of these things expect to be arrested.
posted by Megafly at 4:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


posted by Pastabagel An airport is not the place for an art prank.

She didn't go to the airport to pull an art prank. She wore the shirt to greet her boyfriend and go to the engineering fair.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:51 PM on September 21, 2007


"I would venture to guess there are several arguments and lines of questioning to make that would together constitute a valid accusation of intent, starting with "So, what's with the Play-Doh? What is the artistic statement you're making with the Play-Doh, exactly? Prior to the date in question, were you aware of the similarities in appearance between Play-Doh and C4...?""

And she'd say, "I wasn't making any statement. I was going to pick up my boyfriend and forgot I had it in my hand. Then a bunch of jackasses on the internet suddenly became illiterate and started spinning these elaborate plots in which my sweatshirt wasn't something I breadboarded for a career fair and then didn't think about when I went to the airport, but rather some intentionally disturbing performance art."

And you'd hear that and comment, "Oh, that's right. In my haste to get sanctimonious about one of those evil college students, I forgot to read the fucking article and comported myself like a moron. In order to make up for that, I'm buying cupcakes for everyone on the internet who had to read my retarded comments. Sorry about that, I was being a jackass!"
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


posted by Megafly Don't make anything electronic by hand. don't read the Quran. Don't be brown. if you do any of these things expect to be arrested.

So the ultimate art prank would be to build an audioanimatronic Osama bin Laden with flashing LED eyes and a robotic voice uttering phrases from the Quran and set it loose in lower Manhattan.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I expect about half of the commentors on this thread to have that reaction, and thus am skipping lunch in anticipation of the veritable deluge of cupcakes that will soon be showered upon me.
posted by klangklangston at 4:55 PM on September 21, 2007


"
She yelled something else that others misunderstood to be fire."

Yeah, to cudgel this analogy, she was yelling "Flyer, flyer," to promote her handbills, and was then arrested by ushers who had freaked the fuck out and were too deep into their over-reaction to calm down and apologize.
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2007


Whose with me? Mayor Curley, you coming?

I'm there! I'm going to force them to listen to my poem:

"Here I sit on the poopah/Givin' birth to a Bay State Troopah"
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm digging the latest AP headline: MIT Coed With Fake Bomb 'Art' Arrested.

"Coed", like this is 1971.

BTW, the man identified as her boyfriend, Tim Anderson is a well known very creative / slightly crazy guy. He writes for Make among others.
posted by Nelson at 4:57 PM on September 21, 2007


Well, every judge I've met have been pretty geeky, tech-savvy modern thinkers, so she won't have a problem with this "reasonable belief" test.

Wait, hold on. None of them have been like that.


In Massachusetts, you might be surprised. Lot of litigating along route 128.

Not that tech savvy really has anything to do with the case, not if you're talking the reasonable man.

The real question is, will she sue and if so, for how much and would she win? (And if she does, will it encourage get rich quick copy cats? Oh, I see a bad Hollywood screenplay here!)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:58 PM on September 21, 2007


the way to build a bomb and slip it through security is to cover it with blinking LED lights because bombs are never going to have LED's on them EVER. if it has LED's it cannot be a bomb, is that it? Oh wait, it could still be a bomb?

Yes! That's exactly what I was saying! Thank you for breaking it down in such an honest manner.

And people could very well mix ammonia and bleach on an airplane to create a disturbance. The law is not limited to checking for or preventing bombs.

I'm sure chlorine gas is *exactly* what the DHS was thinking of when they made that rule. Nothing silly like TATP (which, as someone pointed out in another thread, is an explosive we should encourage terrorists to make).

An airport is not the place for an art prank.

If Ms. Simpson was performing an art prank, you'd have a point.

The wiring is sloppy and tangled, the LED placement is haphazard and imprecise, and no one uses a breadboard for anything even semipermanent, especially mounted vertically.

Look up thread. I doubt she had any idea her IBD was going to be receiving national attention. I certainly wouldn't have liked anyone to inspect the first time I breadboarded a parallel port controller. And I even wirewrapped it!
posted by ryoshu at 4:59 PM on September 21, 2007


Mayor Curley, Rumor has it that you're still with that mannequin - true?
posted by MetaMan at 5:04 PM on September 21, 2007


Anyone who has been reading the news for the last 5 years shuold know that you don't go into an airport with ANYTHING that might be construed to look like a bomb.


That's ridiculous. An idiot can construe anything to "look like a bomb." No one should be wearing any clothing to the airport either then, because it can't be too hard to squish some plastic explosive into the seams/lining of a jacket and have a lighter-sized detonator in your pocket.

A cellphone or mp3 player or laptop is just as likely to be a bomb as something stitched to the outside of a hoodie. In fact, probably more so because I imagine a real bomber would make some effort at concealment. But what are the odds they drew down with submachineguns on everybody seen in the airport with a cellphone or mp3 player, hmmm?
posted by juv3nal at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by juv3nal That's ridiculous. An idiot can construe anything to "look like a bomb."

What does a bomb look like?
posted by fandango_matt at 5:11 PM on September 21, 2007


I was going to pick up my boyfriend and forgot I had it in my hand

And here's where it strains credulity to the point where a jury of one's peers goes, "Oh bitch, please. You didn't know how that looks? You forgot?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:14 PM on September 21, 2007


fandango_matt writes "What does a bomb look like?"

More like this.
posted by mullingitover at 5:21 PM on September 21, 2007


What does a bomb look like?

It has a lot of LEDs that blink and is worn on a hoodie. Obviously.
posted by ryoshu at 5:23 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was going to pick up my boyfriend and forgot I had it in my hand

And here's where it strains credulity to the point where a jury of one's peers goes, "Oh bitch, please. You didn't know how that looks? You forgot?"


That's right, Cool Papa Bell. She'd better do a better job than that if she wants to prove she's innocent! They're all guilty until proven innocent, I always say--well, except technically in a court of law, but then that's just a legal formality, not some kind of, gee, I dunno, foundational democratic principle.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:32 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does this look like a bomb? Or a strange fanny pack? It's a bomb worn by an elderly female suicide bomber that didn't go through with the plan. Note the ball bearings.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:33 PM on September 21, 2007


that's just a legal formality, not some kind of, gee, I dunno, foundational democratic principle.

Funny. I mentioned prosecutors. Criminal codes. Precedents. A jury. In other words, a due process. You seemed to miss all of that...?

Or are you just interested in flinging poo?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:35 PM on September 21, 2007


Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law; but because 'tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to confute him.
John Selden "Table Talk, 1689"
posted by Rancid Badger at 5:37 PM on September 21, 2007


Examples, Ratzlaf v. U.S., 510 U.S. 135, 149 (1994); U.S. v. Freed, 401 U.S. 601, 612 (1971) (Brennan, J., concurring); Minnesota v. King, 257 N.W.2d 693, 697 (1977).
posted by Rancid Badger at 5:39 PM on September 21, 2007


If Ms. Simpson was performing an art prank, you'd have a point.

She was the one who called it 'art'. According to the officer's statement, which has not been rebutted by anyone, "She claims that it was just art and she was proud of the art and wanted to display it." They asked her what it was, and she walked away without answering. Those are the facts we have.

If you don't think security should have stopped her an taken her out of the airport, do you think there is anyone security should stop? If the circuit didn't have LED's would it have been okay to detain her then?

Stop arguing that they should have done nothing based solely on information you have only because they stopped her. Stop making assumptions that have no basis.

You are a security guard at an airport. Someone is walking around with wires and a circuit board attached to their chest. They inquire about an arriving flight. The employee asks about the wire and is ignored. Now what? What are you going to do? Make assumptions?
posted by Pastabagel at 5:39 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread is a litmus test.

I assume a passing grade means not getting tasered or shot to death.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:40 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


[...]
(3) PROFIT!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:42 PM on September 21, 2007


Pastabagel writes "If you don't think security should have stopped her an taken her out of the airport, do you think there is anyone security should stop?"

She wasn't even in the airport.

If I were the police officer in the situation, I would use it as an excuse to brandish a weapon and arrest the girl. I would know that it was probably not a legitimate threat (because a real threat would be very discreet), but arresting a harmless college student and getting everyone whipped up into a frenzy would get me a lot of attention and maybe even get me in the news.

The cops at the airport obviously think a lot like I do.
posted by mullingitover at 5:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread is a litmus test.

blue. alkaline. got it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Does this look like a bomb? Or a strange fanny pack?

Crowd: It's a bomb! It's a bomb! It's a bomb!

MSP: How do we know it's a bomb?

Crowd: It's made of electronics!

MSP: What do electronics do?

Media person 1: Beep?

Media person 2: Blink!

MSP: Yes, electronics blink! And this woman is wearing something that blinks!

Crowd: It's a bomb!
posted by ryoshu at 5:48 PM on September 21, 2007 [6 favorites]


You didn't know how that looks? You forgot?"

Never ascribe to malice that which could be explained by being young and naive and a nerd.

She was the one who called it 'art'.

Art is not a prank. Someone else upthread pointed out that she didn't think about these things probably because she's not a bombmaker.

The employee asks about the wire and is ignored. Now what?

Ask the obvious question "what do you mean it's art? It kinda looks like a bomb."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


CPB: not flinging poo. just meaning to point out that the principle of "Innocent until proven guilty" is still regarded by many of us as a little more than a mere courtroom formality.

and i just don't think it's star's place to have to prove to you or anyone else that she's innocent. the burden of proof is on the accuser, in this case you, who seems to be insinuating she had some kind of malicious intent in holding that play dough.

just offering up the argument "i mean, please, why else could she have been holding that play dough?" doesn't do a whole lot to advance your case and hardly meets reasonable common-sense standards of proof. in fact, ever seen the trial scene in idiocracy? it gives me shivers how much it reminds me of that.

and this character testimony from someone actually in a position to offer new information seems to support star's case.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:53 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. Her boyfriend Tim Anderson is the guy that tried to sail to Cuba on a sailing canoe completely unprepared and went kinda crazy in the process.

Sounds like the perfect couple!
posted by marionnette en chaussette at 5:57 PM on September 21, 2007


Boston still hasn't figured out that terrorists aren't plotting to hurt them with LEDs?
posted by sweetwildandmad at 6:01 PM on September 21, 2007


She was the one who called it 'art'. According to the officer's statement, which has not been rebutted by anyone, "She claims that it was just art and she was proud of the art and wanted to display it." They asked her what it was, and she walked away without answering. Those are the facts we have.

Well, yeah, umm, no, not really. Ms. Simpson said it was art and she wanted to display it. "They asked her what it was, and she walked away without answering", implies that the police asked her what it was and she wouldn't tell them. That's not the case. An airport employee asked Ms. Simpson and she didn't reply. We have no idea why she didn't reply to the airport information desk employee. Perhaps she didn't hear the question?

From the information provided so far, there is no reason to state that Ms. Simpson was involved in an "art prank."

The employee asks about the wire and is ignored. Now what? What are you going to do? Make assumptions?

My criticisms (heh) aren't aimed at the employee that asked the question. It's with the response generated afterwards, from the asshat that said Ms. Simpson is lucky she isn't in the morgue to the hack ass media that reported the blinkenlights as a fake bomb. As such, I'm treating this topic with the reverence it deserves.
posted by ryoshu at 6:02 PM on September 21, 2007


And the police quote of "She's lucky she's in a cell and not the morgue" is fucked up. Why is she even in a cell, it wasn't a damn bomb?!

Instead it shoulda went something like this:

"Hey ya'll.

We're real happy this just turned out to mistake, really happy. But we'd like to take this opportunity to remind the public how to respond in these situations. Now we know it's scary, believe me we're scared too, but if we get a call about a bomb threat we are going to respond to it as if the bomb is real. If you happen to be in the middle of one of these situations, just be as calm as you can and follow our orders and we'll sort everything out as quickly as we can and get your on our way. We don't want to hurt anyone, so just bear with us and we'll all both get through it together, ok. "

The motto is to protect and serve, not "i have a license to beat your ass at anytime for any reason."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 PM on September 21, 2007 [25 favorites]


Does this look like a bomb? Or a strange fanny pack?

A muslim woman is out shopping for a new burqa. After trying a few on, but still undecided, she turns to her shopping companion and asks, "hey, be honest with me...does my bomb look big in this?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boston still hasn't figured out that terrorists aren't plotting to hurt them with LEDs?

Perhaps Christo can wrap Boston in a giant one of these.
posted by ryoshu at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2007


"...get you on your way..".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on September 21, 2007


(oh, that mightn't work on americans. what you call a fanny, we call a bum. curiously enough, a fanny for us is what the british politely refer to as a twat. happy to have explained that for you)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:10 PM on September 21, 2007


Ha! Ha! Ha!

Now do a nigger joke.
posted by Flunkie at 6:15 PM on September 21, 2007


Oh man, approaching 500 comments! I have to get in on this.

I think there are bigger things to get worked up about than this, but then this provides an easy way to avoid them.
posted by Eekacat at 6:16 PM on September 21, 2007


Actually I think the fact that her last name is Simpson had something to do with it. Ashlee and Jessica better watch out.
posted by Eekacat at 6:18 PM on September 21, 2007


CitrusFreak12: Oh bite me.

Okay.

*goes off to get baconsalt*

but dude, you didn't even make the 19-year-olds are adults comment, so why would I bite you? Why so pissed?
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on September 21, 2007


Actually I think the fact that her last name is Simpson had something to do with it. Ashlee and Jessica better watch out.

Like all Boston bomb hoaxes. It's viral marketing for an animated movie. She did it a few months after the Simpson's movie so that no one would suspect.
posted by delmoi at 6:24 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


507
posted by krinklyfig at 6:27 PM on September 21, 2007


I howl about Fascist Pigs at the drop of a hat-- and indeed, would have been pleased to have had the opportunity to do so again-- but I'm not sure my howling would have been merited.

I doubt this was either pure naivete or a calculated PR ploy; it was probably just "la la la, here's what I usually wear on campus, la la la, I'm not going to change my routines just because I'm headed to someplace where jittery guys are waiting with firearms, la la la, let's just see what happens".

I have no evidence for this supposition, of course; I note that her expression in the later photographs looks a bit smug rather than outraged, shocked, or wounded.

So, on principle, would I like to sympathize with Spunky Young Art Science Fusion Burning Moppet Girl? Sure.

Do I?

Not really.

And particularly not if the battery and circuit board really were on the outside of the shirt.

And decisively not if she was carrying Play-Doh with the battery and circuit board visible.

//gender filter

On another note, if it had not been a cute girl, but instead a guy, particularly an ugly guy, and certainly a Middle Eastern guy doing this, I suspect things would have ended rather differently... cooperation or no.

/gender filter>
posted by darth_tedious at 6:28 PM on September 21, 2007


"And here's where it strains credulity to the point where a jury of one's peers goes, "Oh bitch, please. You didn't know how that looks? You forgot?""

What a horrible, scary world you live in. Not just that you think play-doh looks like plastique, but that you both imagine and endorse a judicial system filled with morons who would immediately assume such a far-fetched plot on such scant evidence.
posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


What does a bomb look like?

Easy. Like a black bowling ball with a fuse sticking out!
"I put bomb in squirrel's briefcase and who gets blown up? Me!" -- Boris Badenov
posted by ericb at 6:34 PM on September 21, 2007


About the cell vs. morgue thing, I'm pretty sure that if they did react with deadly force, there would be little, if any, accountability. Officers facing Murder One charges for killing an unarmed person on-duty? HA. Maybe on Law and Order, after the second episodic plot twist, of course. And that's the scary part, without a feedback system, things will only get worse. Now that the media are buying the authority's every spin and the public, as evidenced here, are buying the media's every puppet word, that's some really fucked up stuff, indeed. Even the cynics think this thing will work itself out in the end, which will hopefully be the case because no judge (well, never say never) who took this threat seriously after having way more facts than we have here would post such a ridiculously low bail.

Nevertheless, this scenario has played out so many times with people making the exact same arguments and the exact same media-police obfuscation, however, it's not always terrorism, sometimes it's a case of Driving While Black or some other nonsense. It's just really depressing to me that there are so many people here still willing to knee-jerk side with authority, especially before we've heard the other side of the story. For instance, you don't need blinking lights and you don't need to be at an airport, all you really need is a denim jacket and a train to catch.

Unless you're the most boring, conformist person on the planet: Something you do is considered suspicious by someone. Unless you always have perfect situational awareness of your own non-conformity when you go to a sports arena, step on a bus or train, go to the bank, go to church, go to the park, go to an airport, step on an elevator, walk over a bridge, or go to a political rally, you're going to trip somebody's paranoia meter. The question at hand is whether or not we're going to let the lowest common denominator trigger a full fledged security response plus face saving cover-up if the threat doesn't pan out. About one in five people in our society have an anxiety disorder, so the LCD bar is pretty low.

And the "I don't want to miss my plane" authoritarian apologists need to take their entitlement and shove it. Don't make me break out a "trains on time" Godwinism.
posted by Skwirl at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2007 [8 favorites]


Now do a nigger joke.

um, ok. since you asked.

a muslim nigger is out shopping for clothes. the rest of the joke is the same, except she asks "does my bomb look big enough in this?"

happy now?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear, a bomb doesn't "look" like anything -- it looks like anything its maker wants it to look like. So all the idiots here saying "Well, it doesn't look like a bomb!" should think about how stupid that statement is. A bump on the side of the road certainly doesn't look a like bomb either, yet that hasn't stopped some Iraqis from using them as IEDs.

Girl - 19 - says it all. Immature, judgment not exactly what you might expect from someone with another 10 or 20 years under their belt. MIT or not, 19 is still 19 and 19 says FU to authority and commonsense more often than not.

There's no story here and no reason for so many comments. The only story maybe is that Boston is a little sensitive to these things. Gee, go figure, given they were the site of 2 of the airplanes leaving on 9/11 and the more recent (and silly) LED scare last year. So here's the real story -- Don't mess with Boston right now. Give us a decade or two to calm down, k?
posted by docjohn at 6:42 PM on September 21, 2007


"We're real happy this just turned out to mistake, really happy. [...] We don't want to hurt anyone, so just bear with us and we'll all both get through it together, ok. "

IAWTP, but failure to incite fear doesn't keep the lights on.
posted by Skwirl at 6:52 PM on September 21, 2007


This is a MetFilter-defining thread, unfortunately. If she had be shot and killed it would have been worthy NEWS-FILTER.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 6:56 PM on September 21, 2007


I can think of several examples where you would be logically and lawfully held accountable for other people's mistakes if their mistake is reacting inappropriately to something you triggered, which is what we're talking about here. I know it's getting tired, but the "yelling fire in the theater" example is precisely this situation.

1) You yell fire in a theater.
2) People mistake your warning for the truth.
3) People mistakenly trample each other on the way out.
4) You are held accountable for those mistakes.
-- Cool Papa Bell

First of all, my comment was about what should be illegal, not what actually is illegal. I don't think old grannies should be arrested for smoking medical marijuana, but that doesn't mean I think it's legal.

Second of all, the "fire in a crowded theater" thing? It's just an empty sort of slogan that people throw around, not an actual specific crime. But, I don't think people should be arrested if, for example you actually think you see a fire and really are trying to warn people about it. Should that be illegal as well, if your intent was to save people's lives?

But the general "fire in a crowed theater" presumes that the person doing the yelling is intending to cause panic. Not just the result. And like I said, it's a slogan, not a law.

In terms of the MA hoax device law, yes, you do need to prove intent.

Somewhere else in the MA criminal code or precedent, there is likely a useful definition of intent, and it's not likely to be solely limited to direct evidence on the order of "We found her diary and it says 'I am doing this deliberately to mislead people.'" -- Cool Papa Bell

What are you, a legislator now? Why don't you go find that definition if you think it exists. Or "likely" exists. I mean come on, you can just run around assuming that your view of reality is likely correct. Probably you don't need a direct statement to prove intent, but there is actually a lot of evidence that she didn't have any sort of intent, like the fact that she wore that shirt all the friggin' time.

There's a staggering amount of myopia in this thread. An airport is not the place for an art prank. You can't say the word "bomb" in an airport without getting asked questions. You can't leave your luggage unattended without security being alerted. This circuit board shirt is something that any reasonable person would realize that any other reasonable security person in an airport would consider to be suspicious. Parse that sentence again if you didn't get it. -- Pastabagel

There is no evidence that there was any "prank".

the way to build a bomb and slip it through security is to cover it with blinking LED lights because bombs are never going to have LED's on them EVER. if it has LED's it cannot be a bomb, is that it? Oh wait, it could still be a bomb? -- Pastabagel

Yeah, but it's not likely to be a bomb. any object can be a bomb, so it makes sense to only focus on likely bombs. I'm not saying it was wrong for the cops to check things out, but they shouldn't have freaked the fuck out and then told the press she's lucky they didn't kill her.

No reasonable terrorist is going to stick blinking LEDs and then strap it to the outside of their jacket.

She was the one who called it 'art'. According to the officer's statement, which has not been rebutted by anyone, "She claims that it was just art and she was proud of the art and wanted to display it." They asked her what it was, and she walked away without answering. Those are the facts we have. -- Pastabagel

Well, if you'd read the thread you'd also have the "fact" that she wore the shirt all the time. Obviously if you pick and choose facts to make her look as bad as possible, she'd look pretty bad.

She wasn't even in the airport.

I think she was in the airport, but not in the 'secure area'. She was waiting to pick someone up. I think it's important to remember that most of the precautions people have to deal with refer to the "sterile area" that only people who have passed security can access.

Also, we don't know why she didn't answer the airport employee, but I think it's safe to assume that she didn't know not answering was going to get her arrested and nearly shot to death. She may not have heard him, or she may have given an answer she didn't understand, etc. We really don't know the details, and never will.
posted by delmoi at 7:03 PM on September 21, 2007


Well, if you'd read the thread you'd also have the "fact" that she wore the shirt all the time.

What difference does this make? The security people don't know she wears it all the time.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:08 PM on September 21, 2007


I think she was in the airport, but not in the 'secure area'.

Not when she was surrounded by cops, she wasn't. She was outside, between the lane where cars & buses drop departing passengers off and the through-traffic lane. About thirty feet from the door into the building. See ericb's description up there somewhere ^.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:13 PM on September 21, 2007


Just to be clear, a bomb doesn't "look" like anything -- it looks like anything its maker wants it to look like. So all the idiots here saying "Well, it doesn't look like a bomb!" should think about how stupid that statement is.

Agreed. Since a bomb can look like anything, we should consider everything to be a bomb. This is only one of the tenets of my 27 Point Guide to Security Dumbfuckery: How to sensationalize any incident and look like a jackass in the process. Available soon through Regnery Publishing. The book is targeted at media and law enforcement folks, but everyone should buy a copy.
posted by ryoshu at 7:14 PM on September 21, 2007


IMO she's lucky they didn't kill her was meant for a wider audience
posted by Rancid Badger at 7:16 PM on September 21, 2007


Haven't seen this mentioned before: from the picture in Farhad Manjoo's defense of Star Simpson in Salon.com it appears the circuit board is designed to light up LEDs in the shape of a... star. Which is her name.

(Comments to the Salon article point this out too.)
posted by Schmucko at 7:23 PM on September 21, 2007


I can think of several examples where you would be logically and lawfully held accountable for other people's mistakes if their mistake is reacting inappropriately to something you triggered, which is what we're talking about here. I know it's getting tired, but the "yelling fire in the theater" example is precisely this situation.

1) You yell fire in a theater.
2) People mistake your warning for the truth.
3) People mistakenly trample each other on the way out.
4) You are held accountable for those mistakes.
-- Cool Papa Bell

First of all, my comment was about what should be illegal, not what actually is illegal. I don't think old grannies should be arrested for smoking medical marijuana, but that doesn't mean I think it's legal.

Second of all, the "fire in a crowded theater" thing? It's just an empty sort of slogan that people throw around, not an actual specific crime. But, I don't think people should be arrested if, for example you actually think you see a fire and really are trying to warn people about it. Should that be illegal as well, if your intent was to save people's lives?

But the general "fire in a crowed theater" presumes that the person doing the yelling is intending to cause panic. Not just the result. And like I said, it's a slogan, not a law.

In terms of the MA hoax device law, yes, you do need to prove intent.

Somewhere else in the MA criminal code or precedent, there is likely a useful definition of intent, and it's not likely to be solely limited to direct evidence on the order of "We found her diary and it says 'I am doing this deliberately to mislead people.'" -- Cool Papa Bell

What are you, a legislator now? Why don't you go find that definition if you think it exists. Or "likely" exists. I mean come on, you can just run around assuming that your view of reality is likely correct. Probably you don't need a direct statement to prove intent, but there is actually a lot of evidence that she didn't have any sort of intent, like the fact that she wore that shirt all the friggin' time.

There's a staggering amount of myopia in this thread. An airport is not the place for an art prank. You can't say the word "bomb" in an airport without getting asked questions. You can't leave your luggage unattended without security being alerted. This circuit board shirt is something that any reasonable person would realize that any other reasonable security person in an airport would consider to be suspicious. Parse that sentence again if you didn't get it. -- Pastabagel

There is no evidence that there was any "prank".

the way to build a bomb and slip it through security is to cover it with blinking LED lights because bombs are never going to have LED's on them EVER. if it has LED's it cannot be a bomb, is that it? Oh wait, it could still be a bomb? -- Pastabagel

Yeah, but it's not likely to be a bomb. any object can be a bomb, so it makes sense to only focus on likely bombs. I'm not saying it was wrong for the cops to check things out, but they shouldn't have freaked the fuck out and then told the press she's lucky they didn't kill her.

No reasonable terrorist is going to stick blinking LEDs and then strap it to the outside of their jacket.

She was the one who called it 'art'. According to the officer's statement, which has not been rebutted by anyone, "She claims that it was just art and she was proud of the art and wanted to display it." They asked her what it was, and she walked away without answering. Those are the facts we have. -- Pastabagel

Well, if you'd read the thread you'd also have the "fact" that she wore the shirt all the time. Obviously if you pick and choose facts to make her look as bad as possible, she'd look pretty bad.

She wasn't even in the airport.

I think she was in the airport, but not in the 'secure area'. She was waiting to pick someone up. I think it's important to remember that most of the precautions people have to deal with refer to the "sterile area" that only people who have passed security can access.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on September 21, 2007


I think she was in the airport, but not in the 'secure area'.

Not when she was surrounded by cops, she wasn't. She was outside, between the lane where cars & buses drop departing passengers off and the through-traffic lane. About thirty feet from the door into the building. See ericb's description up there somewhere ^.


Major Scott Pare, Massachusetts State Police (WHDH | CNN):
"Approximately 8:00 a.m. this morning we had a female walk into lower Terminal C....a number of officers found her out in the lower roadway on the island. We had K-9; we had explosive ordinance division there within minutes [after receiving the call from the Massport employee at the Information Desk]. She followed instructions..."
posted by ericb at 7:28 PM on September 21, 2007


It seems the comments in this thread can be divided into two groups - those that consider the situation from the girl's perspective, and those that consider it from the airport/security perspective. The fact is that there is a third perspective - what a reasonable person would consider to be reasonable behavior in an airport.

The problem I have with considering it from her perspective is that (a) it is very backward-looking, relying on facts not available at the time of the event, (b) her appearance and behavior is unusual in the context of an airport, and (c) she knowingly entered en environment where the social norms are distinctly different than those in public.

I think (c) is the most important factor here. This wasn't the case of someone getting stopped on the street. An airport is a unique environment. The security apparatus is present and overt, your freedom of movement and speech is curtailed (you can't make bomb jokes in airports, but you can in other places), and there is a heightened awareness of danger among passengers.

This is just how it is. It may not be right, but frankly airports were weird places before 9-11. When someone enters an airport, they should understand that they are being watched as they do so, and the people doing the watching are trained to err on the side of caution in using force.

In other words, the standard in an airport is not the probable cause standard of cops of the street. The airport security standard is that if the possibility of a threat is greater than the background noise level, then you intercede. For example, a lot of people are saying that anything could be a bomb - a purse, an iPod, a bulky sweatshirt etc. While this is true of course, this would constitute the background noise level of danger. People do not get stopped in airports in the US for suspicion that their ipod is a bomb. Security and everyone else accepts the small risk that it could be.

But again, the sweatshirt the girl was wearing was not an ordinary one. It had wires a circuitboard, a battery hanging off it, etc. This is not the background level. This rises above the threshold level to the "take a closer look" level.

If she starts giving odd or cryptic answers like "it's my art", that is silly. You are in an airport. Airports are security zones, like it or not.

I honestly don't understand what some people think the security people were supposed to do in this situation. What they said after the fact that amounted to "she's lucky we didn't shoot her" is unarguably moronic, but what they said after the fact doesn't matter at all, just like her explanations after the fact doesn't matter.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Okay, she was inside when she asked the question, and outside when she was arrested.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on September 21, 2007


Not when she was surrounded by cops, she wasn't. She was outside, between the lane where cars & buses drop departing passengers off and the through-traffic lane.

Actually, on the lower level is where taxis, buses and the occasional car (if the Staties don't shoo you away) pick up arriving passengers.
posted by ericb at 7:33 PM on September 21, 2007


It seems the comments in this thread can be divided into two groups - those that consider the situation from the girl's perspective, and those that consider it from the airport/security perspective. The fact is that there is a third perspective - what a reasonable person would consider to be reasonable behavior in an airport.

Well, when you find a machine that will automatically spit out "reasonable people's opinions" please let us know.

If she starts giving odd or cryptic answers like "it's my art", that is silly. You are in an airport. Airports are security zones, like it or not.

Well, there is a secure zone inside an airport, called the "Sterile zone" and then there is the external outside area. She had no intention of entering the sterile zone, and in fact only went into the airport to ask her question, then went back outside.

What's cryptic to one person might not be cryptic to another.

It seems the comments in this thread can be divided into two groups

Well, clearly it can be divided into one group who doesn't think she was wrong, and one group who does. the definitions of those two groups are hardly obvious. I think the determining factor is whether or not you know what a breadboard looks like.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm pretty late to this thread, and I'm not going to read 526 comments to see if someone has already said this, so...

Looks like her HAIR was an art project!! AMIRITE?!
posted by papakwanz at 7:47 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Well, there is a secure zone inside an airport, called the "Sterile zone" and then there is the external outside area.

Actually, after 9/11 Logan shut down sections of Terminal B parking --- and Central Parking -- as they were considered potential "flash points" for "blast zones" initiated by car bombs that would affect airline terminals.

The new Central Parking Garage is located beyond such a zone; all vehicles that park in Terminal B are now inspected before allowed entry and "must be parked head in."
posted by ericb at 7:51 PM on September 21, 2007


Well, clearly it can be divided into one group who doesn't think she was wrong, and one group who does. the definitions of those two groups are hardly obvious. I think the determining factor is whether or not you know what a breadboard looks like.

I don't think the divisions into groups is that simple. I don't think the airport employee overreacted in calling attention to security that she saw an IBD on someone. I do think the police *may* have overreacted with the response of drawn weapons and such when Ms. Simpson was waiting outside, but hey, I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt and be thankful they didn't shoot her.

What I have a major problem with is the follow up to the incident by the LEOs and the media. Fake bomb, hoax device, lucky she isn't in the morgue, etc. The potential threat was easily identified and cleared. If the police had approached her and inquired about what she was wearing, decided it wasn't a threat, and left it at that, we wouldn't have 500+ comments here.

Instead the entire thing turned into a media circus and ZOMG TEH TERRORISTS!! BLINKENLIGHTS!!! RUN FOR COVER!!!!!!

It's idiotic.
posted by ryoshu at 7:54 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


You know how after you've had a big meal, chili verde let's say, and you're sitting down to a quiet evening with the wife and kids. As you relax at the closing of another productive day...it hits you. There is going to be some poopin' going on, and soon! With the sports page under your arm you dash to the water closet and sit down for some post game wrap-up. And it's one for the history books, folks! 45 minutes to an hour later the combined dislodging of a truly epic amount of both volume and weight from your person leaves you feeling like a changed man. As you rise with a satisfied sigh you marvel at how a simple and necessary biological process can produce such transcendent delight.

Reading this entire threat is like that, except backwards and in my eyes.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 7:58 PM on September 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


This is in the AP report and it is nothing but bad reporting. "Fake bomb" implies that the person was portraying the thing as a bomb and using it to terrorize people.

The AP is the king of conservative bias- and you should know that every mainstream TV news outlet in the country- local and national- rips its news from the AP.

It is fucking frightening.
posted by wfc123 at 8:00 PM on September 21, 2007


I read this post and most of the comments earlier, and then it popped up on the local news. Talk about biased reporting:

Woman at Boston airport claims fake bomb is art

Police say an MIT student who was arrested Friday morning with a fake bomb strapped to her chest at Boston's Logan International Airport claims the device was just art.

If I hadn't heard anything about it before I read that little story (or heard it during the evening news report), I'd have thought she actually had a "real" fake bomb that she intended to be a fake bomb, but she was now trying to play it off as art ... fake bomb art.

I used to trust that channel too. Now? Not so much.
posted by Orb at 8:07 PM on September 21, 2007


And yeah, they apparently got this information from the AP.
posted by Orb at 8:08 PM on September 21, 2007


I feel bad for her, it's gotta suck.
posted by Rancid Badger at 8:10 PM on September 21, 2007


And the "I don't want to miss my plane" authoritarian apologists need to take their entitlement and shove it. Don't make me break out a "trains on time" Godwinism.

A-fucking-men!
posted by jonp72 at 8:10 PM on September 21, 2007


Grandma got shot up for wearing reindeer.
Blinking on her sweater on Christmas eve...
posted by jonp72 at 8:14 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


And, just to be clear, while I think security did the right thing in taking her away, it is idiotic to prosecute her under the possession of a hoax device law. The device doesn't meet the definition of "hoax device" (a device a persona would reasonably think is a harmful or dangerous device) and she didn't have the requisite intent.

Once they found out what it was, they should have let her go.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:20 PM on September 21, 2007


The device doesn't meet the definition of "hoax device" (a device a persona would reasonably think is a harmful or dangerous device) and she didn't have the requisite intent.

All right, everyone. Go home. Show's over. Pastabagel has spoken.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2007


You can say there's no such thing as satan
But as for Beantown and Georgie, they believe.
posted by Eringatang at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2007


Does human stupidity follow some sort of power law of magnification?

She was stupid to wear blinky circuitry in the airport. The security response to her blinky circuitry was stupidty of a second magnitude. The subsequent OMGFAKEBOMBLOLCOPZ is yet a third order of stupidty. From individual, to group, and on to collective stupidity.

Stop wasting the Internet. It's slowing down my porn downloads.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:29 PM on September 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


I would like everyone in this thread to fill a shoebox with blinking LEDs, wires, batteries, and Play-Doh, go to your nearest airport, and show the box to the first uniformed officer you see and ask him what he thinks it is.

Please report back here, and let us know what happens.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:46 PM on September 21, 2007


Wow, take a day off of Mefi & you miss 542 comments. Wow.

Obviously I didn't read them all. I will say this... since they actually said my underwire bra was a security hazard in the Oklahoma City airport, this doesn't exactly surprise me. My bra wasn't even hooked up with blinking lights. (I packed that one.)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:50 PM on September 21, 2007


Play-Doh -- "Imagination Taking Shape." No affiliation with C-4 implied or warranted.
posted by ericb at 8:54 PM on September 21, 2007


Yes... that's a true story. It apparently set off the metal detectors and I almost missed my flight.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:56 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, I have now read all 544 comments in this thread and I can definitively say that I, for one, welcome our new terrorist overlords. Man, how depressing.
posted by The Bellman at 8:57 PM on September 21, 2007


miss lynnster, that story is useless without pix.
posted by yhbc at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2007


All right, everyone. Go home. Show's over. Pastabagel has spoken.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:25 PM on September 21


You do realize I was paraphrasing the definition of "hoax device" from the statute, right?

M.G.L.A. 266 § 102A 1/2 reads:


"(a) Whoever… uses or places... any hoax device or hoax substance with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons shall be punished by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than two and one-half years or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment."

"...the term "hoax device" shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine." (emphasis mine)


"...the term "infernal machine" shall mean any device for endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both, by fire or explosion, whether or not contrived to ignite or explode automatically."
posted by Pastabagel at 9:04 PM on September 21, 2007


I, for one, welcome our new terrorist overlords.

don't panic man! it's ok - people at metafilter are FIGHTING THE MAN for the narcissist revolution!
posted by pyramid termite at 9:06 PM on September 21, 2007


Well I did read every post and the linked articles, because it's not every day that such a massive thread comes along.

I don't think she did anything wrong by wearing the shirt. She's a weird and kooky geek, the world has always had them and the world always will. She's worn the shirt before, and if you know anything about this kind of geek, they don't treat the airport any differently than a party, a career fair. They barely change for a funeral. They're just in their own world. I don't think she had any malicious intent and I don't think she was pulling any kind of prank.

I also don't think the airport employee did anything wrong. I just can't agree with all of the "anyone could tell that wasn't a bomb". It is strange and electronic, it's decidedly not an ipod or a blackberry or anything like that. This wasn't an ordinary girl with an ordinary device and a crazy, tyrannical ignorant airport employee. I see all of these posts about LED and whatnot, and honestly, I can't recall what that even means without thinking about it for a while. Blinking lights, that I get, but after looking at the pictures, it wasn't just blinking lights. I'm not intimately familiar with what bombs are supposed to look like and I don't think the airport employees at the information desk need to be either.

The employee didn't just secretly call security, the young woman was questioned and she didn't respond. I think the employee did the right thing in calling security after not receiving a response. Security/police responding with guns drawn also doesn't bother me. In sum, I don't think she was "wrong" (she probably didn't hear the employee), I don't think the employee was overreacting and "wrong", and I don't think security was wrong in its response.

The only significant wrong is the way the media is reporting this. It's really a scary example of what they do on a more minor/local level every single day. But the majority of the thread is not about this, it's more of the "jackboot thugs" vs. "criminally stupid hippie" argument. I don't think the cops were overreacting jackboots, I don't think "the terrorists have already won" because the employee called security about a suspicious looking device, and I don't think this young lady was making a protest or pulling a prank.
posted by Danila at 9:47 PM on September 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


remember the shoe guy? or the shampoo liquids guy? and you all scratch your head over a bomb reaction for someone walking around w/ putty in her hands, wires and blinking lights on her chest? please....
posted by cgs at 9:48 PM on September 21, 2007


remember the shoe guy? or the shampoo liquids guy? and you all scratch your head over a bomb reaction for someone walking around w/ putty in her hands, wires and blinking lights on her chest? please....

There wasn't a "shampoo liquids guy", there was a band of people who wanted to build binary liquid bombs to smuggle on airplanes, and who would have failed (There design wasn't feasible)

All of those people tried to take steps to conceal what they were doing. none of them stuck their shit on the outside of their shirts.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on September 21, 2007


Pastabagel: I honestly don't understand what some people think the security people were supposed to do in this situation. What they said after the fact that amounted to "she's lucky we didn't shoot her" is unarguably moronic, but what they said after the fact doesn't matter at all, just like her explanations after the fact doesn't matter.

What is there to not understand? I'm starting from the basic principle that any time you have peace officers muster with unholstered firearms, much less automatic weapons, you dramatically increase the risks of a Diallo-style accident in which ambiguous actions have fatal consequences. As such, an intermediate intervention such as having a uniformed officer question the suspect, with an observer on standby, may be a good idea, especially if the suspect is engaged in the very unthreatening act of leaving the building for the parking lot.

Given the wide variety of actions and situations that warrant further investigation, (such as the relatively mild sin of wandering more than 10 feet away from a piece of luggage), a little bit of basic gumshoe policing with the goal of eliminating false positives, seems like a good idea to me.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:10 PM on September 21, 2007


My bra wasn't even hooked up with blinking lights. (I packed that one.)

i bet you did
posted by pyramid termite at 10:11 PM on September 21, 2007


the ballad of star simpson (self link)

i have no idea why this causes an sql error when i try to post it here
posted by pyramid termite at 10:14 PM on September 21, 2007


The strident pitch of the reactions to this story is appalling. Just last Sunday, Blackwater private security contractors working for the State Department machine-gunned a crowd of Iraqis, killing ten innocent people and wounding thirteen, for much the same reason as the arrest of Star Simpson in Boston -- perceived threat. The Iraqi government suspended Blackwater from operating in Iraq for a few days, but Condie quickly phoned them up and reminded them whose show it is, and now it's business as usual. There is absolutely no legal recourse for the families of the victims. None of these contractors will stand trial. I'm looking for the thread with the five hundred outraged responses to that story, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe you can help.
posted by limon at 10:17 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


All of those people tried to take steps to conceal what they were doing. none of them stuck their shit on the outside of their shirts.

does anyone seriously believe things like this? I mean Bush sucks and all but there's only so far you can torture logic before it veers into self-parody.

COP: "oh we let the guy with the Ak-47 walk right by. We assumed any real terrorist would conceal it."
LIEUTENANT: "great job- if you had reacted differently, that man could have been mildly inconvenienced! keep up the good work!"
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:24 PM on September 21, 2007


Sorry, but we reserve our outrage for our fellow LED-wearing geeks who are unfairly targeted by the trigger-happy, jackbooted cretins who couldn't get jobs as Blackwater mercenaries and were instead hired by cowards, Republicans, and assorted bedwetters after 9/11 to help turn our nation into a fascist theocracy. Since your sanctimonius and poorly-considered diatribe lacks even a semblance of relevance to the topic at hand, we have no interest in helping you rally to whatever your moronic cause may be. Nevertheless, I've taken up a collection to raise some private capital to send blinky LED t-shirts to the Iraqis so we can see them as fellow geeks, and the next time a group of cut-rate thugs decides to use them for target practice we'll grab our pitchforks and whip up some serious outrage on the Internet.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:31 PM on September 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


drjimmy: COP: "oh we let the guy with the Ak-47 walk right by. We assumed any real terrorist would conceal it."
LIEUTENANT: "great job- if you had reacted differently, that man could have been mildly inconvenienced! keep up the good work!"


Except of course, that a person carrying an AK-47 would be a pretty unambiguous threat. A person carrying an unidentified electronic device? Don't you think that is a situation that warrants more investigation before escillating the tension level several degrees?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:32 PM on September 21, 2007


Oh, I forgot. The other wrong besides the media reaction would be the charges they've filed against her. The humiliation and inconvenience was enough. They only embarrass themselves by making a big deal about this now, after the event is over. But this problem, like the media reportage, is an after-the-event problem.

But I disagree with you KirkJobSluder. If a bomb report has been called in, they can't really do any gumshoe detective-work. No time for that. They have to treat it as if it really is a bomb and make sure everything is safe before they can do any intensive interviews of the "suspect". They can't get close enough to her to ask all of those questions until after they've determined there is no threat. So I understand why they just drew their guns and didn't get close.

I feel like what happened afterwards really must be separated from what happened in the moment. This issue is being framed as a "our freedoms are at stake!" when the only culprits in that regard are the media. That's the big story here imo, although that probably wouldn't be a 500+ post thread. I think it's too much nitpicking to try to criticize any of the parties on the scene during the event itself. What's happened afterwards is worse and more significant.

If not for the media lies and hysterics, and the overly aggressive response of outside law enforcement (I speak here of charging her and the blustery, over-the-top quotes), this would be a minor story. The airport wasn't even shut down. It was an understandable misunderstanding.
posted by Danila at 10:35 PM on September 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


(limon)
posted by fandango_matt at 10:38 PM on September 21, 2007


A person carrying an unidentified electronic device? Don't you think that is a situation that warrants more investigation before escillating the tension level several degrees?

But that's not all. From the perspective of security, it was unidentified in large part because the person refused to identify it when asked. So it's a strange-looking electronic device, worn in an odd manner, carried by a person who does not respond to airport personnel when questioned about it. All of that is "suspicious" and since this is a potential bomb, they can't get too up close and personal.
posted by Danila at 10:38 PM on September 21, 2007


posted by Danila From the perspective of security, it was unidentified in large part because the person refused to identify it when asked.

And again, we don't know if that's what happened. Miss Simpson may not have heard the question, if in fact the question was actually asked. Right now, all we have are the frantic after-the-fact justifications whipped up by the police and airport security to explain their actions.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:43 PM on September 21, 2007


Can we not play the stupid hypothetical game (what if it had actually been a bomb!!!)? That game gets us nowhere. But, to answer, if she had been deaf, she never would have walked up to airport personnel to ask a question about flight arrivals. Said worker would not have then noticed the device and inquired about it.

First off, Logan is fucking loud - it's hard to hear. Heck, I'm almost entirely deaf in that sort of environment, and I communicate better than some hearing people simply because I read lips.

And if she was deaf, she still might have gone up to ask a question, and without writing even - again, lip reading. It's not always obvious, especially if you're 'just' hard of hearing, and it would be easy to turn away while someone is trying to talk to you and have no idea it just happened. That could fit with the account given (that she was asked a question and turned away).

In answer to the question asked by the post you answered, she might have been shot if she was deaf - it wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:54 PM on September 21, 2007


And again, we don't know if that's what happened. Miss Simpson may not have heard the question, if in fact the question was actually asked.

True, we don't know if she outright refused to answer or if she just didn't hear....and neither did they. I am assuming the airport employee is telling the truth, as I have no reason to assume otherwise. Given the situation as it has been described, which is all any of us has to go on, I don't believe anyone did anything wrong here.

Also, I'm already assuming she probably just didn't hear them, because I have no reason to think she was malicious. The fact that she hasn't said anything since the event makes it even more likely that she just didn't hear or understand. She probably wasn't making any intentional statement, or she'd be more outspoken now. But they don't know that, AT THE TIME.

A lot of bias and after-the-factchecking is going on here and being read back into the event.
posted by Danila at 11:00 PM on September 21, 2007


Doh! Is she related to the TV Simpsons?
posted by Cranberry at 11:09 PM on September 21, 2007



The strident pitch of the reactions to this story is appalling. Just last Sunday, Blackwater private security contractors working for the State Department machine-gunned a crowd of Iraqis, killing ten innocent people and wounding thirteen....None of these contractors will stand trial. I'm looking for the thread with the five hundred outraged responses to that story, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe you can help.

Limon, Blackwater sucks. Feel better?

Frankly, I'm relieved that the security police stopped her. She's OK (except for a bruised ego), and people whoh frequnt airports at least feel that there is a response effort to terrorism happening, even if it was a false alarm.
posted by MetaMan at 11:10 PM on September 21, 2007


And if she was deaf,

I should clarify - I know Star, if only a bit, and she's not deaf. This was just in response to the hypothetical. However, as I said in my first paragraph, the acoustic environment in Logan makes most people function like they're at least a bit hard of hearing.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:12 PM on September 21, 2007


BTW, in all the better frogman movies, plastique looks a lot like Play Doh.
posted by Cranberry at 11:13 PM on September 21, 2007


I'm looking for the thread with the five hundred outraged responses to that story, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe you can help.

Well, one of these stories has, at least superficially, more obvious legal consequences for US citizens. This is a case of US state versus US citizen, not a complicated fugue between nations, factions, mercenaries, and innocent bystanders.

I'd also say that this case spells out a more realistic anxiety for Americans. The danger for your grandchildren, and their grandchildren, is not that they're going to live in an Iraq-like state of anarchy, because anarchy eventually crystallizes into order, and power struggles subside. The real danger is that they're going to live under an impoverished legal and cultural framework where rights and privileges we take for granted today will be extinct.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:14 PM on September 21, 2007


Ok, so we're all agreed— The initial security reaction was both risky and somewhat predictable, but the ensuing media shitstorm and post-facto rhetoric from the cops has been deplorable.

And Papa Bell's buying us cupcakes.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 PM on September 21, 2007


Sweaters are so confrontational now. Bill Cosby better avoid airports for a while.
posted by stavrogin at 11:52 PM on September 21, 2007


Klang, I remain amused that you think I should be less stubborn than you are.

But seriously, there's not a cupcake on the planet to match your colossal insert_humorous_quip_here.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:00 AM on September 22, 2007


Threads like this make me wish we could anti-favourite comments. come on, think how much fun that would be!
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:01 AM on September 22, 2007


Just last Sunday, Blackwater private security contractors working for the State Department machine-gunned a crowd of Iraqis, killing ten innocent people and wounding thirteen, for much the same reason as the arrest of Star Simpson in Boston -- perceived threat. The Iraqi government suspended Blackwater from operating in Iraq for a few days, but Condie quickly phoned them up and reminded them whose show it is, and now it's business as usual. There is absolutely no legal recourse for the families of the victims. None of these contractors will stand trial.

Oh, dear. This thread is about an issue other than Blackwater and all of the other ghoulish guns for hire in the Global War on Terriers. Please take this thread with the appropriate level of outrage it deserves: mocking and derision.

Some people spend time addressing the issues that you bring up in a productive way. But it isn't on MetaFilter.
posted by ryoshu at 12:24 AM on September 22, 2007


Danilla: If a bomb report has been called in, they can't really do any gumshoe detective-work. No time for that. They have to treat it as if it really is a bomb and make sure everything is safe before they can do any intensive interviews of the "suspect". They can't get close enough to her to ask all of those questions until after they've determined there is no threat. So I understand why they just drew their guns and didn't get close.

But, as was mentioned several times in the thread, anything can be a bomb from the bag dumped into the trash, to the briefcase in the person's hand, to the parka worn in winter, to the bottle of baby formula.

So just as an example, the last time I was at the airport, a passenger wandered more than 10 feet away from a suitcase. This could have been a bomb how did security respond? By asking in a loud voice, "Does anybody belong to this suitcase?" The owner got a stern lecture, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the situation was quickly resolved.

But that's not all. From the perspective of security, it was unidentified in large part because the person refused to identify it when asked. So it's a strange-looking electronic device, worn in an odd manner, carried by a person who does not respond to airport personnel when questioned about it.

Well, to start with, this is a part of the story in which there could have been considerable ambiguity. Did she refuse to respond, or did she assume the conversation was over once her question was answered, or was the question phrased in a way such that she saw it as optional small talk? (As I would if asked by an information desk staff person.)

My elderly grandfather has a strange-looking electronic device, worn in an odd manner, and often doesn't respond to direct questions because he's overdue for a hearing-aid tune-up. I'll have to recommend that he not fly in that case.

It's an understandable misunderstanding. But this is the other side of the equation in regards to police response. When police escillate a critical incident, they put themselves, the suspect and bystanders at risk. Studies of critical incidents suggest that in most cases, dramatically escillating the response is a bad strategy. So the "this could be a bomb" side of the equation needs to be balanced by "police with automatic weapons are much more likely to make lethal errors in judgement."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:35 AM on September 22, 2007


But she's not fine. She's facing charges.

If she were searched and released (Like trout!), fine. I agree completely. Investigate suspicious activities and let them go. But there's an ongoing repercussion of legal charges and media charges.

Regardless, why did the AP article assume she was lucky not to have a heart blown through with lead? The yellow journalism is more deplorable than the arrest.
posted by OrangeDrink at 12:49 AM on September 22, 2007


Everyone with a stake in keeping the room-temperature-IQ masses terrified are chuckling tonight.
posted by maxwelton at 1:02 AM on September 22, 2007


OK, time for my nap. :-)
posted by facetious at 11:31 AM on September 21 [+] [!]


not buying it. you were wide awake this whole time, weren't you?
posted by Hat Maui at 1:24 AM on September 22, 2007


I'm looking for the thread with the five hundred outraged responses to that story, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe you can help.

It's called looking through the archives
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 AM on September 22, 2007


five hundred eighty outraged responses and that stupid girl still deserved to spend the night in jail.
posted by caddis at 5:00 AM on September 22, 2007


five hundred eighty outraged responses

Not all of them are outraged.

and that stupid girl still deserved to spend the night in jail.

Well, she is lucky she isn't dead!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 AM on September 22, 2007


By the way, how awesome would it be if the mods came in and deleted this thread.

WE WANT A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER!

Oh, and I can't believe no one has said this yet, but:

This will not wendell. If it ever wends at all.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:53 AM on September 22, 2007


This will not wendell.

God, if you beat to a pulp and then kill this meme, I'll actually go to church.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just last Sunday, Blackwater private security contractors working for the State Department machine-gunned a crowd of Iraqis...

In (off-topic) related news -- Feds probe Blackwater links to arms smuggling.
posted by ericb at 7:49 AM on September 22, 2007


MIT students offer melon with embedded LED to Fox News reporters soliciting comments on the Simpson case.
posted by jonp72 at 7:50 AM on September 22, 2007


I'm looking for the thread with the five hundred outraged responses to that story, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe you can help.

Maybe you can fashion an FPP worthy of consideration and discussion.
posted by ericb at 7:58 AM on September 22, 2007


A bit more detail from MIT's 'The Tech':
“Simpson approached an information booth in Logan’s Terminal C wearing the light-up device, Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Wayne Margolis said during Simpson’s arraignment today. Margolis also said that Simpson had been wearing the art for at least a few days.

She ‘said it was a piece of art,’ Margolis said, and ‘refused to answer any more questions.’ Jake Wark, spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said that Simpson only described the LED lights after she was ‘repeatedly questioned by the MassPort employee.’ Simpson then ‘roamed briefly around the terminal,’ Wark said. Margolis said this caused several Logan employees to flee the building. As Simpson left the building, she disconnected the battery powering the device, according to a press release provided by Wark.

Simpson had five to six ounces of Play-Doh in her hands, State Police Maj. Scott Pare said in a press conference this morning. The Play-Doh could have been mistaken for plastic explosives.

Simpson was confronted at a traffic island outside Terminal C by state troopers with MP5 submachine guns, and she was arrested at approximately 8 a.m., Pare said during the conference.

…MIT is cooperating with the state police in the investigation, according to a statement released by the MIT News Office this afternoon. ‘As reported to us by authorities, Ms. Simpson’s actions were reckless and understandably created alarm at the airport,’ the statement continues.

‘The statement was drafted in a consultation among colleagues who gathered to review the information we had on the incident,’ MIT Chancellor Phillip L. Clay PhD ’75 said in an e-mail to The Tech. ‘We prepared a statement after we discussed what our responsibilities are to the public regarding the incident.’

Clay said that MIT had not spoken with Simpson before issuing the statement.

Clay said that MIT considers Simpson’s actions to be ‘reckless,’ because taking the reported items to an airport could reasonably be foreseen to cause alarm. ‘We all have a responsibility not to cause alarm and to be mindful of security requirements.’

MIT Police Chief John DiFava likewise said that ‘reckless’ was ‘not a word that’s inappropriate.’ DiFava was the interim public safety director of Logan International Airport for two months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001.

The possibility of a suicide bomber ‘requires a significant and serious response,’ DiFava said. Machine guns are ‘standard equipment down at Logan,’ said DiFava, adding that machine guns are commonly seen at airports overseas. ‘There was a female party with a device wired on her body and a glob … a substance that looks like C-4, C-5, or Semtex [plastic explosives]. … To have guns drawn, I don’t have a problem with that.’

DiFava said that as he was not at the scene and did not want to second-guess the officers that were there. However, ‘we don’t know what the witness saw … what kind of a description she gave the police,’ DiFava said. ‘Eyewitnesses are notoriously inaccurate. … We don’t know the details.’

‘Still,’ DiFava continued, ‘of all places, an airport; of all airports, Logan. … Logan even confiscates water bottles.’ The two planes that struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 departed from Logan, and American Airlines Flight 63 was diverted to the airport on Dec. 21, 2001 after Richard Reid attempted to blow up the plane using explosives concealed in his shoe.”
So, it appears (according to Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Wayne Margolis himself) that Simpson did indeed answer the MassPort employee at the Information Desk and described it as a "piece of art."
posted by ericb at 8:07 AM on September 22, 2007


*(according to Jake Wark, spokesperson for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office)*
posted by ericb at 8:09 AM on September 22, 2007


Here's the Suffolk County District Attorney press release:
"WOMAN CHARGED AFTER LOGAN SCARE

"A 19-year-old Hawaii woman was charged with possessing a hoax device today after she walked into Terminal C of Logan International Airport with what employees thought was a bomb strapped to her chest.

Suffolk County prosecutors recommended that STAR A. SIMPSON (D.O.B. 3/23/88), of Lahaina be held on $5,000 cash bail at her arraignment today in the East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department. District Court Judge Paul Mahoney set bail at $750 and ordered her to return to court on Oct. 29 for a pre-trial hearing.

Evidence suggests that Simpson approached the information counter at about 8:00 this morning and asked a Massport employee for information on an inbound flight from Oakland, California. At the time, Simpson was wearing a sweatshirt affixed with a circuit board, light-emitting diodes, and wires connected to an exposed nine-volt battery.

Simpson did not respond when the employee inquired about the device she was wearing. When the employee repeated her question, Simpson did not answer except to say that it was a piece of art and left the counter to walk around the baggage claim area, eventually leaving the building. Word of her activity and device quickly began circulating inside the terminal, causing several employees to leave the building in fear.

As she left Logan, Simpson disconnected a nine-volt battery that was powering the device. Shortly thereafter, responding troopers placed her under arrest.

Simpson was represented by Boston attorney Ross Schreiber."
What doublespeak: "...Simpson did not answer except to say that it was a piece of art..."
posted by ericb at 8:17 AM on September 22, 2007


Oops -- link for press release.
posted by ericb at 8:18 AM on September 22, 2007


So to recap:

(1) Star Simpson went early in the morning (before 8:00 a.m.) to meet a friend at Logan.

(2) She was wearing the sweatshirt as she traveled on the subway to Logan. No alarm taken by transit police or passengers.

(3) She entered the terminal lower level to ask a Massport employee about an arriving flight at an information desk.

(4) The employee asked what the device was on her chest.

(5) She heard the question and answered: "It's a piece of art."

(6) She goes outside of the terminal.

(7) Employee calls the State Police to report a suspicious device.

(8) State Police K-9 and ordinance explosive unit confront her -- following protocol after receiving the report from the Massport employee. She is fully cooperative.

(9) State Police and Suffolk County Prosecutor release statements to the press, some of which many consider to be ill-advised (e.g. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.") and misleading.

(10) Media "runs with the story" (e.g. "fake bomb," "strapped to chest," "she didn't answer question when asked," etc.).
posted by ericb at 8:26 AM on September 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


(11) MeFites jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.

(12) Profit!!!
posted by jonp72 at 8:32 AM on September 22, 2007


Gotta love the NY Post. Their headline: Bomb Jerk: Gal Prank at Airport Backfires.
posted by ericb at 9:04 AM on September 22, 2007


jonp72: OK, agreed.

But who was the arttard on the grassy knoll with the play dough?

All charges should be dropped as long as she agrees to stop the Side Show Bob impersonations.

When I was very young I learned that if you piss off the monkeys they will throw shit at you.

How the hell do you get into MIT and not know that?
posted by MapGuy at 9:08 AM on September 22, 2007


And then we have Howie Carr at the venerable Boston Herald. Pardon me, but I just have to post this entire opinion piece.

Falling Star one of many brilliant fools at Hub schools
“‘Enough is enough.

I mean, what did Boston do to deserve this plague of punks?

And of course, this latest, utterly preventable chaos at Logan International Airport is now being brushed off as a work of art? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Just last winter we got the same preposterous alibi from those two spoiled losers who brought the city to a standstill with their Cartoon Network stunt, and please, no second-guessing the cops on whether they overreacted.

All that nice young foreign gentleman with the Rasta haircut and the aversion to bathing had to do was tell the police who responded to the first 911 call in Sullivan Square that it was a joke.

But no, the performance artist wanted some videotape. Of his art.

And now we meet the latest college kid to screw up the lives of people who have to work for a living. Young Star Simpson, 19, MIT sophomore, of Hawaii. Bringing a fake bomb into Logan Airport gives new meaning to the term sophomoric behavior.

Star is lucky, damn lucky, she was not shot dead right there in Terminal C, and kudos to the State Police for pointing out that obvious fact for once rather than beating around the bush.

Explained State Police Major Scott Pare: ‘She said that it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day.’

For which she could get a new career: jailbird.

I guarantee you Star was never spanked as a kid. So now she needs a timeout. How does three-to-five sound?

The problem is, those two loser punks from the Cartoon Network - they didn’t do any time, even after they came out of the courthouse and gave everybody the proverbial finger.

How much do you want to bet Star’s got a trust fund, and that her parents are aging hippie types?

Before today, the brilliant students of MIT were most recently in the news for trying to set fire to the Charles River. In their off hours, these brainiacs drink themselves to death at fraternity parties across the river in Boston.

These MIT students are not to be confused with the BU scholars, who riot in Kenmore Square and set fire to cars after athletic events.

And down the road from BU is Boston College, where wacky college kids can be found handcuffed to light poles outside Mary Ann’s. And back across the river is Harvard, home of America’s future leaders, who amuse themselves after Saturday football games by peeing in public and then calling Momsy and Pater when some cops have the temerity to lug them.

At some point, somebody has got to make an example of one of these college kids. Funny is putting a Volkswagen bug at the top of the stairs of the Widener Library in Harvard Yard, or wherever the hell they do it.

What’s not funny is arriving at Northeastern and two days later yelling out the window to a bunch of cops that if they want to buy pot, they’ve come to the right place. Actually, that was kind of humorous. As one poster on the Herald’s Web site put it, ‘UMass-Boston, here we come!’

The problem is, the college administrators and the local laws are loath to crack down on the little darlings. They blame it on hijinks and high testosterone, but I think it has more to do with high tuitions.

Even at the second- and third-rate private colleges, full-boat tuitions are up over $40,000. And the nouveau-riche white trash who spawn most of these young dolts just aren’t reproducing at the same levels as in a pre-birth control era. That’s why schools like Suffolk are recruiting Eurotrash teenagers to destabilize Beacon Hill.

In high school, Star surely learned a lot about self-esteem, but here are a couple of old sayings I’ll bet she never heard. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. And the First Amendment does not give you the right to yell fire in a crowded theater.

Or don’t bring what looks like a bomb into Logan Airport, while carrying what appears to be plastic explosives in your hands.

Life is hard, kid, but it’s harder if you’re stupid. Those words as true today as they were when George V. Higgins wrote them. Are you listening, Star? Next time you get a bright idea, just chug-a-lug another beer and take one more hit on the bong. And leave the rest of us alone.

Not that Star’s incarceration will stop the lads and lasses from double-parking all weekend up and down Newbury Street and Comm. Ave, or from partying all night long in Allston and Brighton. Just think, it’s almost time for the Red Sox [team stats] playoffs. Last one to throw a brick at a police horse is a rotten egg!

I know, they’re all wonderful and smart and the apple of Daddy’s eye and they’re going to someday be a law clerk for Justice Breyer. But my final question is, if these wacky college kids are so damned intelligent, how come they keep getting their U-Haul trucks stuck under the bridges on Storrow Drive?”
So, Howie, how do you really feel about college kids here in Boston?
posted by ericb at 9:11 AM on September 22, 2007


How the hell do you get into MIT and not know that?

How the hell do you get through real life and not know that getting into an elite, big name college is no fucking guarantee of intelligence, common sense, or morals? If anything, it means you're a mildly smart monkey, because you were able to jump through all the hoops when college said so at whatever height they said and do it with a smile.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on September 22, 2007


How the hell do you get through real life and not know that getting into an elite, big name college is no fucking guarantee of intelligence, common sense, or morals?

it helps if you work in human resources
posted by pyramid termite at 9:58 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


How the hell do you get into MIT and not know that?

how the hell do you become a police officer and not realize that a battery powered blinky thing pinned to a sweatshirt is not a bomb?

This is so insanely retarded that it really makes my head hurt. There is only interest in symbolic safety; there is no interest in any sort of actual security here. Any nondescript backpack or suitcase is far more likely to be a bomb than a tiny blinking battery powered thing pinned to a young woman's chest. But because they can see the blinking lights and some wires, they make a psychological connection to some subconscious notion of "bomb" and freak out.

But even then they react idiotically. Even if it was a bomb, she is not trying to board a plane, she could easily go around to a much more crowded area in downtown boston, and it's so small that it's hard to imagine it would blow up more than just her anyway. So why make a fuss? It's all for the symbolic impact. They make a point of being in charge, authorities, keeping you safe, even though they have done absolutely nothing that would show a capacity to deal with a threat put forth by a terrorist with half a brain.

It didn't even matter that they had a conversation with her - they didn't get the response they wanted or could catalogue, so they dismissed it as a non-response...
posted by mdn at 10:05 AM on September 22, 2007 [7 favorites]


Remember that handheld video game that pretended to be football, but was really just a series of blinking lights?

You'd get killed for playing that in an airport now. And you'd deserve it, you attention seeking bitch.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:12 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd rather that, than get blown to shit just after a cop said "Dunno. Maybe it's an art project from some stupid student?"

So you'd rather they shoot her, and have her dead-[wo]man's switch blow up everyone, shooters included? That doesn't seem wise.

just a bunch of wires, some LED's and a lump of playdough

Scratch the Play-Doh. It wasn't attached to the breadboard assembly.

Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there.

Well, yes. She's not white.

Yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater is not protected speech. Neither is this.

You can keep making this comparison, but it's still a long way from applicable.

The number of people lynched by traitor worshiping southerners

Way to derail, but I'm not sure what you mean by "traitor-worshipping." From the rest of your comment, you're probably not sure, either.
posted by oaf at 10:21 AM on September 22, 2007


how the hell do you become a police officer and not realize that a battery powered blinky thing pinned to a sweatshirt is not a bomb?

To be fair the ordinance team quickly determined that it wasn't a bomb.
"Simpson was confronted at a traffic island outside Terminal C by state troopers with MP5 submachine guns...'She followed instructions as was required by the State Police and within minutes [Explosive Ordinance Disposal] unit found that it was an innocuous device...'"*
The police were following protocol in responding to the call from the Massport information counter worker (who has been identified as Maria Moncayo).

The arrest and grandstanding to the media by State Police Major Scott Pare and Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Wayne Margolis are, in my opinion, unwarranted. I think the judge has seen through such by rejecting their bail amount and issuing a small one. As in the 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force' lite-brite case, I suspect charges will be dropped.
posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there.

Well, yes. She's not white.

The police were following protocol in responding to the call from the Massport information counter worker (who has been identified as Maria Moncayo).

obviously a WASP with hang ups towards minorities

interesting assumptions, oaf
posted by pyramid termite at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2007


That Boston Herald article has it all: Towns v. Gowns, classism, racism, anti-intellectualism, ageism ... somebody needs a chill pill. (I mean, heck, most of those attitudes have shown up somewhere in the thread, but not all in one post!)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:07 AM on September 22, 2007


And the "I don't want to miss my plane" authoritarian apologists need to take their entitlement and shove it.

I am just as entitled to not want to miss my plane as Star Simpson is entitled to make a stupid fashion choice when she walks into the airport. Who's the real apologist here? You can't both argue for "freedom for the people, man, fuck the PO-lice, man," and also argue that the only "people" whose freedoms count in this story is Star Simpson's.

(Well, you can, but we'll all think you're a dumb twit.)

Don't make me break out a "trains on time" Godwinism.

That was artless and unimaginative, by the way. But thanks for bringing your bon mot A-game to MeFi.

saulgoodman, further proving that this conversation is all just so much opinion and masturbatory internet ranting (all around), the statement from Star's high school friend -- the one that you took to be support for Star (and presumably for your argument) -- I read as proving that she was either ignorant or attention-seeking. I mean, read it again: "Star, although somewhat crazy in the way that loves lots of people paying attention to her..."

I truly do not get the backlash against anyone who suggests that she was attention-seeking. I mean, she either didn't consider that you can't go into an airport with wires and batteries strapped to your sweatshirt and then act unresponsive when questioned about it (FOR WHATEVER REASON -- I don't care if she could hear the question, or if she doesn't speak English or if she thought saying "It's art" before walking away would suffice. Whatever she did, the questioner didn't feel comfortable with Star's response and alerted security.)... or she did consider the possible outcomes of the sweatshirt and decided she didn't care about what might happen.

I think she was in the airport, but not in the 'secure area'. She was waiting to pick someone up. I think it's important to remember that most of the precautions people have to deal with refer to the "sterile area" that only people who have passed security can access...

Well, there is a secure zone inside an airport, called the "Sterile zone" and then there is the external outside area. She had no intention of entering the sterile zone, and in fact only went into the airport to ask her question, then went back outside.
-- delmoi

Disagree with this argument. It's not only the sterile areas beyond TSA that are part of the militarization of airports. Timothy McVeigh's Ryder truck was in front of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, not inside it. There's a reason you have to circle for pick-ups at the airport instead of being able to park and wait.

(I'm staggered that this monster of a thread hasn't spawned a MeTa. That must be some kind of record.)
posted by pineapple at 11:15 AM on September 22, 2007


The Boston Herald: enraged by LEDs.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on September 22, 2007


I am just as entitled to not want to miss my plane as Star Simpson is entitled to make a stupid fashion choice when she walks into the airport.

Sorry, but Star's right not to get riddled with submachine gun bullets kinda trumps your hypothetical inconvenience. Delays are the result of an airline industry that hasn't truly recovered from 9/11 and externalizes its costs (both in delays and poor treatment of passengers by overworked & underpaid security personnel) on the general public. People who fly airplanes should be treated like customers, not suspects.
posted by jonp72 at 11:29 AM on September 22, 2007


proving that this conversation is all just so much opinion and masturbatory internet ranting (all around)

Not a lot of people know this, pineapple, but what you've just described here is every conversation on every message board, ever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:31 AM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know, but I just like to say it aloud when the opportunity presents. Mostly because "masturbatory" is a fun word to type.

Sorry, but Star's right not to get riddled with submachine gun bullets kinda trumps your hypothetical inconvenience.

Wait, who's got the hypothetical in this statement? Hello, cognitive dissonance. Fact: she did go into Logan Airport and create a security disturbance. Hypothetical: that she was just about to get riddled with submachine gun bullets. You Pro-Star-4EVER folks need to temper the histrionics; it weakens your position.

Delays are the result of an airline industry that hasn't truly recovered from 9/11 and externalizes its costs (both in delays and poor treatment of passengers by overworked & underpaid security personnel) on the general public.

I should just ignore this assertion, because your logic is flawed -- the airline industry has nothing to do with airport security, which is TSA and local law enforcement.

Still, delays are also often the result of security scares, which Star Simpson created. She didn't shut down the airport or delay any planes, true -- but that was sheer dumb coincidence, since it can and has happened for far less significant reasons.

People who fly airplanes should be treated like customers, not suspects.

I am the "people who fly airplanes," here, and I have the right to get irritated over the stupid actions of thoughtless people. Star was merely the people who pick up people who fly airplanes. She wasn't treated like a customer because she wasn't one. Did she have the right to be treated like an American citizen? Sure, and what that means is what some of us are actually arguing.
posted by pineapple at 11:59 AM on September 22, 2007


The girl and the police both reacted appropriately before and during the incident. Afterwards, the distorted feed of to the press, which then made up a ficticious hoax-bomb-as-art story, is where things get stupid.

The cops think they're doing good - they're trying to use the media to ram home to people that you just can't be absent-minded any more about what you have with you when you're near an airport. But that's not the message the media is broadcasting or what people are hearing. They're hearing about a dstupid girl and/or a troublemaking punk, who got what she had coming to her. She is "them", not "us". That wouldn't happen to "us" because we're not malicious stupid dumbass hoaxsters looking for trouble.

The day after this is all over the news, some idiot WHO SAW THAT NEWS is STILL going to walk through security AT THAT VERY SAME AIRPORT forgetting that there is a old lighter or a pocket knife in one of their pockets.

Because the news was about "them", with no hint of any connection to "us".

The teaching opportunity was squandered in favour of breathless sensationalist garbage. Instead of "this is how the most innocent oversight can land you in a world of trouble, so YOU should think about these things beforehand", we got sensationalist LOLartstudentz! (and she wasn't even an art student)

I also think arrest and charges are BS. Once the incident was cleared up, that should have been the end of it, but I guess the cops want to make an example of her.

The trouble is, they can't make an example of her any more, because the press has already told everyone that it's not something you have to worry about happening to you. You're not a deliberate troublemaker.

Total waste.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:01 PM on September 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


Play-D'oh!
posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 PM on September 22, 2007


The police were following protocol in responding to the call from the Massport information counter worker (who has been identified as Maria Moncayo).

obviously a WASP with hang ups towards minorities

interesting assumptions, oaf


oaf made a comment regarding the Ben-Gurion post I made.

The second comment you cite is mine -- and not oaf's. And where in that comment is there an "interesting assumption" about "minorities?" The Massport employee's name is Maria Moncayo. It will be interesting to hear Moncayo's testimony (if charges are not dropped and this affair proceeds to depositions and/or a court case) about the question she asked Star Simpson and the answer given (as has now been determined via the Prosecutor's own press release that Star indeed provided one).

Regarding assumptions about WASPs and minorities, I suggest you take a look at your own.
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on September 22, 2007


well said, -harlequin-.
posted by pineapple at 12:39 PM on September 22, 2007


On second thought -- if I am reading your comment correctly, you appear to infer that my citing the name of the desk agent -- which one can assume is likely Hispanic -- has some sort of racist undertone. I'm am offending by this inference and would expect an apology from you. If there is no such inference and casting aspersion on me, my apologies to you. An explanation would be helpful.
posted by ericb at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2007


*offended*

I would have taken this to e-mail, but prefer clarity "in thread" in so much as you brought this to light publicly. A simple explanation here is all that I ask...and do not seek a mass derailment of the FPPs focus.
posted by ericb at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2007


‘Fake bomb’ was mistake, according to Maui mom
"Star Simpson probably went to a Boston airport yesterday mistakenly wearing a shirt she wore the day before that had a computer circuit board that security officials thought was a bomb, said her mother.

Stephanie Simpson said Star put on the shirt when she was going to pick up her boyfriend at the airport.

...her mother, Stephanie Simpson, said it may have been a mistake because Star used the shirt the day before on career day at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and when she went to pick up her boyfriend at the airport. 'It was just sleepyheads. She must have been just asleep to the fact of where she was going,' Stephanie Simpson said.

But Stephanie Simpson said it was an important lesson for her daughter. 'You can be shot if you're that stupid to come up to the airport with something like that,' Simpson said by phone from her Maui home. 'She's going to have to learn from this experience.'

...Stephanie Simpson said her daughter is not someone who has ill will or malice, but 'lives and breathes in the workshop' to build robotics.

...[Simpson's father, Gene 'Mauka' Simpson] said she sounded OK and that he and his wife were 'overwrought by this experience.' He didn't want to comment on the incident, but said, 'she's the kind of girl who can build her own robot from the ground up.'"
posted by ericb at 12:52 PM on September 22, 2007


‘We all have a responsibility not to cause alarm and to be mindful of security requirements.’

Fascinatingly fascist.
posted by ryoshu at 12:57 PM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I am the "people who fly airplanes," here, and I have the right to get irritated over the stupid actions of thoughtless people. Star was merely the people who pick up people who fly airplanes. She wasn't treated like a customer because she wasn't one. Did she have the right to be treated like an American citizen? Sure, and what that means is what some of us are actually arguing.

I fly airplanes too, and it's a little arrogant of you to forget to realize that other airline customers might think differently from you about what airport security arrangements are most desirable. In other words, it's not all about you. The fact that Star wasn't technically a "customer" is irrelevant. She was picking up the customer of an airline, and if I were that customer, I would be royally pissed off to learn that the friend who came to pick me up was facing the business end of a submachinegun, because some airport employees couldn't handle something that looked "funny" without going into escalation full-panic mode.
posted by jonp72 at 12:57 PM on September 22, 2007


Delays are the result of an airline industry that hasn't truly recovered from 9/11 and externalizes its costs (both in delays and poor treatment of passengers by overworked & underpaid security personnel) on the general public.

I should just ignore this assertion, because your logic is flawed -- the airline industry has nothing to do with airport security, which is TSA and local law enforcement.


Umm, if the airline industry has nothing to do with airport security, then why were did the Homeland Security Bill that set up the TSA include provisions that forbade airport security personnel from unionizing? And why are there delays to get effective bomb-detecting machines in airports without requiring taxpayers to pick up the tab? To think that "politics" and the desires of the airline industry don't enter into how security systems are configured at most airports shows you as extremely naive.
posted by jonp72 at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2007


600+ comments is way too many for something so cut-and-dry as this. We really need to stop repeating the "she was stupid" - "no, THEY were stupid" - "no, the MEDIA was stupid" argument over and over again.

It was a small oversight of judgement for her to wear something even remotely attention-getting into an American airport, the strange, high-security city-states scattered across the U.S. where you have few, if any, constituionally protected actions available to you.

However, it was a supremely large, hamfisted glut of stupidity to send the bomb squad after her. There is nothing wrong with having a security guard walk up and ask "what is that on your shirt? It looks kind of odd."

The media gets my infinite condemnation in this instance, however, for turning her into some attention-seeking bomb hoax perpetrator. It was a shirt with blinky lights! Who the fuck would wear a shirt with blinky lights if they were trying to sneak a bomb into an airport?! I'm going to exercise some restraint in judging them to be complete morons and assume they don't think a deck-of-cards-sized circuitboard covered in LEDs could actually be a bomb, or do any damage if it was a bomb.
posted by tehloki at 1:56 PM on September 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


Other MIT students said it is not uncommon to see people on campus wearing similar devices.

WTF, MIT? LOL!

And are you kidding me? Did you see how tiny it was ... with a fucking 9-volt?!? Boston tag, indeed.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:06 PM on September 22, 2007


Rtha: "but dude, you didn't even make the 19-year-olds are adults comment, so why would I bite you? Why so pissed?"

Because I happen to be a 19-year-old. Hooray for sweeping generalizations about maturity among a single age group. But that is neither here nor there. Carry on, folks.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:40 PM on September 22, 2007


I agree with the diagnosis of authoritarianism. After all, if you are female, you can now be thrown off a flight for wearing too short a skirt. I'm just waiting for a male transvestite to walk through security gates -- wearing a woman's pink skating skirt, something I once saw a guy wear on a public bus, and a top with disco-flashing LEDs -- and be arrested, on suspicion of deploying the "gay bomb."

The bus driver was cool about the guy in the skirt. Didn't throw him off, didn't do anything.
posted by bad grammar at 2:49 PM on September 22, 2007


on suspicion of deploying the "gay bomb."

What's the half life of fabulous?
posted by ryoshu at 3:04 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well the U.S. military has already looked into creating a gay bomb.
posted by ericb at 3:10 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, make love, not war!
posted by ericb at 3:11 PM on September 22, 2007


it's a little arrogant of you to forget to realize that other airline customers might think differently from you about what airport security arrangements are most desirable.

It would have indeed been arrogant had I done that... but I've never claimed to represent All Airline Customers. I've just tried to represent one. As has already been pointed out, everyone seems to want to polarize this into a binary Free Star! or Free the Police!, when there are other perspectives. I invite you to review my statements in the thread; I've taken care to only discuss my own opinions and not make generalizations about how "all frequent flyers feel" etc. Try reading my actual words, and not just what you wish I'd said.

So, how does this:

To think that "politics" and the desires of the airline industry don't enter into how security systems are configured at most airports shows you as extremely naive.

relate to your original assertion? (let me refresh you):

Delays are the result of an airline industry that hasn't truly recovered from 9/11 and externalizes its costs (both in delays and poor treatment of passengers by overworked & underpaid security personnel) on the general public.

I never said that I refute a collaboration between the airline industry and the security systems. What I refuted was your implication that delays aren't caused by people like Star Simpson, but by the airline industry by overworking and underpaying their security personnel.

Twist the semantics to revise things all you like -- but ultimately your original statement was silly, and your need to go "but, no, no, what I really meant was" is proving sillier.
posted by pineapple at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2007


My apologies for offending you, CitrusFreak12.

People of all ages make dumb decisions and have imperfect judgment. We don't, however, generally expect college-age people to have the same level of experience on which to make those judgments, and society (and the law) often treat people who are 19ish years old differently (e.g. alcohol purchase, consumption, or possession).

If someone who's 41 does something completely idiotic, many people say "He should have known better!" A 20-year-old making the same mistake would get "Ah - he's got a lot to learn."

Pax?
/derail
posted by rtha at 3:28 PM on September 22, 2007


However, when you combine the circuit board with the Play Doh

She didn't do that, but why bother being encumbered by the facts?

The guy who suggested in the press conference that she is lucky she wasn't shot should not be allowed anywhere near the press, ever again.

Or near a gun.

And there are dumb New York shits who don't even notice the wax dummy of Abraham Lincoln

Oh, you're from Boston. Can't stand to see your city criticized for overreacting to non-threatening objects when it's probably not even a main terror target?

According to this comment, the way to build a bomb and slip it through security is to cover it with blinking LED lights because bombs are never going to have LED's on them EVER. if it has LED's it cannot be a bomb, is that it? Oh wait, it could still be a bomb?

No, according to that comment, LEDs have no bearing on whether something is likely to be a bomb.

the term "infernal machine" shall mean

Jane, stop this crazy thing!
posted by oaf at 3:41 PM on September 22, 2007


And then we have Howie Carr at the venerable Boston Herald.

Is there something in the water up there that makes everyone up there stupid?

interesting assumptions, oaf

Fantastic misread, pyramid termite. The identity of the Massport worker is immaterial, unless this Massport worker also works at Israeli airports. But then, you just wanted to slag me for something I didn't even say.
posted by oaf at 3:57 PM on September 22, 2007


In case any of you are feeling safe because of this high level of close scrutiny, you should know that after a flight from Florida to Virginia I realized I had been carrying a nice assortment of fireworks (I had travelled overland with my backpack, which had some old leftovers from the 4th that I had forgotten about). None of them were lethally explosive -- just some smokebombs and sparklers -- but I'm fairly confident that, if pressed, a decent terrorist could make something better out of them than an LED and some silly putty.

Oh, and did I mention? I was singled out. My bag was given a cursory search. But, somehow, they missed the fireworks.

The truth is from a preventing people from bringing things on planes that could kill us standpoint, airport security is worse than useless. But boy, look at all the people who feel safe enough to take a plane now!

I still laugh at retards who say they will never get on a plane because it isn't safe, and will travel by car instead. Yeah, enjoy your massive head wound.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:24 PM on September 22, 2007


Oh, and can I just add: if any of you are scared of terrorism, but you smoke cigarettes, I hope one your lungs shrivels up and dies--not because of the cigarettes, but because of shame.


Sorry for the hate. It just seemed so appropriate on this thread.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:40 PM on September 22, 2007


Until yesterday, I wondered whether the U. S. would complete its ongoing transformation into a police state. Having now seen so many on a forum like Metafilter cheering it on, I have my answer: we're doomed.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:42 PM on September 22, 2007




oaf wrote "Way to derail, but I'm not sure what you mean by "traitor-worshipping." From the rest of your comment, you're probably not sure, either."

Just to clarify, it was actually Pyramid Termite who started the derail, I just went along willingly.

And as for "traitor worshiping southerners" I mean pretty much exactly what the phrase means, except for the exageration inherent in the word "worshiping", more accurate to say "revering" but it doesn't have the same ring, you know?

The leaders of the Confederated States of America comitted treason against the United States of America, making them "traitors". I'll also argue that all people who joined the military of the CSA were traitors in that they were committing an armed insurrection against the USA, murdered US soldiers, etc.

There are many people in the former CSA who revere these traitors, and there is (unsurprisingly) a large overlap between racists and those who revere the CSA and the traitors who worked on its behalf. Thus "traitor worshiping southerners". I'm a southerner (Texan), but I don't worship traitors.

Not to continue the derail or anything, but I thought the point should be clarified.
posted by sotonohito at 6:10 PM on September 22, 2007


I thought the point should be clarified.

Yes, but it applies equally, if not more, to those rascals we now revere (Revere included) as the founding fathers of our nation. At least when the Confederacy was formed, the states had the right to secede.
posted by oaf at 7:17 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


But keep pounding that canard about traitors. It makes you look as smart as you probably think those Southerners are.
posted by oaf at 7:17 PM on September 22, 2007


o hai. i heers we are re-fighting teh civul war. plz stop. kthxbai.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:41 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


ericb -

An explanation would be helpful.

the explanation is that i was talking to oaf, not you, which is why i specified him by name

The second comment you cite is mine

no, actually it's from a newspaper article - quoting it did not make it yours anymore than it made it mine when i quoted it, too

*offended*

*annoyed that i had to explain something this obvious*

oaf -

But then, you just wanted to slag me for something I didn't even say.

you played the race card, oaf, with no apparent justification

but then, i see that people are simply using this incident to justify their already fixed positions on political and social matters without any real reference to the facts at hand

and most of you aren't thinking, you're just emoting

sotonohito -

it was actually Pyramid Termite who started the derail

i don't recall saying anything about traitor worshiping southerners

and to derail a discussion, people would, of course, first have to have one, wouldn't they?

this thread sucks
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on September 22, 2007


Rtha: Pax?

Thank you for taking the time to say all that, rtha. Pax indeed.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:46 PM on September 22, 2007


But keep pounding that canard about traitors...

leave those ducks alone!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:44 AM on September 23, 2007


oaf Of course the founders of America were traitors, if they'd failed they would have been hanged by the British as such. As a historian I don't go much for reverence of any historic figures, they were people. I do think that the US revolution and treason against the British was justified.

The traitor worshiping southerners, however, are in the odd position of simultaniously claiming that by disagreeing with Dear Leader I'm a traitor, but honoring and revering people who didn't just disagree with an American president, but actually took up arms and shot US soldiers. The amount of cognative dissonance required to do that amazes me.

"But keep pounding that canard about traitors. It makes you look as smart as you probably think those Southerners are."

Which is an odd comment, becuase I am a southerner and mentioned that fact in my post... Further I regret to say that many of the traitor worshipers are quite intelligent, just horribly racist and wrong.

Your use of the term "canard" however, is completely wrong. A canard is a deliberately false story. I'll admit that my purpose is to, literally, defame the leadership of the CSA, but I'm doing it quite truthfully. If armed rebellion against a power (ie: the USA) isn't treason, what is? The leaders of the CSA were traitors to the USA, that's plain and simple fact.

Which brings us back to Pyramid Termite's derail, in which he attempted to claim that by thinking that Simpson's treatment was wrong, and the treatment of a pair of traitor worshiping southerners was right I was being intellectually dishonest.

I maintain that I'm not. Airport securty acted like idiots, and the BPD are continuing to act like idiots by not dropping all charges against Simpson and issuing a public appology for her treatment. The arrest of a drunk driver in Louisiana for DWI, and inciting to riot was entirely correct becuase he was a) drunk and driving at the same time, and b) making credible threats against people.

My point, which I think cannot be repeated enough is simple: American airports are part of America, you don't surrender your rights when you enter one, and Simpson wasn't doing anything wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 4:30 AM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


damnit....

"The traitor worshiping southerners, however, are in the odd position of simultaniously claiming that by disagreeing with Dear Leader I'm a traitor, but honoring and revering people who didn't just disagree with an American president, but actually took up arms and shot US soldiers is good, just, and proper."
posted by sotonohito at 4:32 AM on September 23, 2007


b) making credible threats against people.

2 people with a rope in a crowd of 200 people isn't a credible threat - mean, yes, a breach of the peace, quite possibly, but a credible threat?

that's a ridiculous overstatement

you cannot tell me that 200 people seriously thought they were all going to get hung by two drunken morons with the police present

it's my belief that these two and simpson both should be charged with disturbing the peace (and yeah, the DUI, too)

and Simpson wasn't doing anything wrong.

she was scaring the hell out of people - it's time for her to grow up and realize that what other people think DOES matter
posted by pyramid termite at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2007


you played the race card, oaf

If by "played the race card" you mean "did not play the race card," you're right. Otherwise, no.

If armed rebellion against a power (ie: the USA) isn't treason, what is? The leaders of the CSA were traitors to the USA, that's plain and simple fact.

They weren't part of the United States when they shot at U.S. soldiers, who were occupying territory that wasn't theirs.
posted by oaf at 6:27 AM on September 23, 2007


I've recently seen reports of other incidents where people with DIY electronics got detained by TSA, a trend I expect to increase dramatically over the next few years as open source hardware starts to come into its own as a field of experimentation & discovery. Right now it's in its infancy & its practitioners are few & far between. But I expect it to grow exponentially, much as open source hardware has. What happens when our "better safe than sorry" security paradigm is confronted with tens or hundreds of thousands of homebrew projects passing through its sights?
posted by scalefree at 7:22 AM on September 23, 2007


Some still think it was a calculated "stunt" by Simpson to wear the circuit board and carry the Play-Doh into Logan. Personally, I don't think so.
“‘What was the Play-Doh all about?’

The state cop who posed the question was not on duty at Logan International Airport on Friday morning when his colleagues trained their machine guns on Star Anna Simpson, a 19-year-old goofball genius from MIT.

But his intimate knowledge of Logan’s fail-safe procedures left him more disturbed by the Play-Doh than the circuit board or blinking lights fastened to the front of the sophomore’s sweatshirt.

‘You train for hours and hours,’ the cop explained, ‘you train against the possibility of numerous (explosive) devices. And when it comes to preparing for plastic explosives, what we use to simulate C-4 is Play-Doh. It’s the same texture.

‘That’s one of the things that amazes me about this incident,’ he said. ‘Bad enough she decides to walk into the same airport where two sets of terrorists boarded two separate jets and flew them into New York’s two tallest buildings, with wires attached to a battery and a circuit board.

‘Even if she says the board, the blinking (LED) lights and the battery were only art,’ the cop said, ‘what was the Play-Doh all about? Of all the things she could have been holding in her hand, she walks in with a hunk of Play-Doh? What did she think was going to happen?’

…But did Simpson also go to Logan in search of a YouTube moment, not unlike the one created a few days earlier at the University of Florida by unctuous self-promoter Andrew ‘Don’t Tase me, bro’ Meyer?

…On the other hand, I can’t buy the pixie genius defense her court-appointed lawyer used at her arraignment in East Boston on Friday.

Simpson was a freshman at MIT last year when a couple of freelance bozos, looking to make a few extra bucks, sent this city into Def-Con 4 with a handful of cartoon circuit boards that gave everyone the finger.

Maybe Star Anna Simpson thought she could saunter through Logan and return to Cambridge with a helluva tale about how no one said a word to her. Or maybe she thought a half-dozen machine guns would do wonders for her Web site profile.

‘A couple of things struck me,’ the state cop said, ‘I thought about what a burst of machine gun fire might do to other people in the area. And then, of course, if it had been a real device, what those bullets would have done to everyone after the explosion.’”*
posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on September 23, 2007


Plate of pork and beans for the civil war reenactors!
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on September 23, 2007


AG to Prosecute MIT Jester, but Conviction’s a Tough Sell
“Prosecutors plan to pursue charges against the MIT sophomore who triggered Friday’s security scramble at Logan International Airport, but may face daunting odds obtaining a conviction, according to legal analysts.

‘I don’t think you could get 12 out of 12 jurors to agree this student actually meant for people to think she had a bomb,’ said Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense lawyer. ‘A suicide bomber is going to hide the bomb, not wear it on the front of their shirt.’

‘It could be quite difficult to obtain a conviction,’ agreed Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, yesterday said prosecutors will ‘follow the evidence and apply the law’ in the case of Star Anna Simpson, who was charged after she walked up to an information booth wearing a piece of ‘art’ authorities feared might be a bomb.

‘Like it or not, we live in a world in which a person might target an airport,’ Wark said. ‘There’s a reason why police patrol that area with canines and machine guns. This wasn’t a cartoon character she was wearing.’

…Under the law, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Simpson had a ‘hoax device . . . with the intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or discomfort to some person or group of persons.’

The maximum penalty is five years in prison, a $5,000 fine and mandatory restitution.

‘It seems as though police had probable cause to stop and search and maybe arrest her if she’s someone wearing wires at an airport and doesn’t answer questions,’ said Rose. However, when it comes to prosecution, Rose said, ‘we also have limited resources. I think it makes more sense to use them to go after people who pose an actual threat.’

That’s the conclusion Attorney General Martha Coakley came to in May, when she announced she would not prosecute Sean Stevens, 28, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, who planted dozens of lit-up boards with hanging wires and battery packs under bridges and others locations as a promotion for the Cartoon Network. The bomb scare shut down roads and diverted police. But Coakley dropped charges against them after they agreed to do community service.

Prosecutors may offer Simpson a similar deal once publicity about the scare has subsided, said retired Superior Court Judge Robert A. Barton.

‘Only a fool would do what she did, but she shouldn’t have to live forever branded as a terrorist,’ Barton said. ‘This is a kid who probably has a lot to offer society if she gets her head screwed on straight. But it has to be the right time before (prosecutors) give her a break because they can’t set a precedent too soon after the incident.’”
posted by ericb at 8:05 AM on September 23, 2007


What happens when our "better safe than sorry" security paradigm is confronted with tens or hundreds of thousands of homebrew projects passing through its sights?

the paradigm wins and people learn to keep their homebrew projects out of the airport the same way they've learned to keep millions and millions of open 40 ounce bottles of beer out of the airport
posted by pyramid termite at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2007


I think thats whats known as "creeping bostardation"

"I think it makes more sense to use them to go after people who pose an actual threat."

OMG, a Boston official said something smart!
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on September 23, 2007


I never said that I refute a collaboration between the airline industry and the security systems. What I refuted was your implication that delays aren't caused by people like Star Simpson, but by the airline industry by overworking and underpaying their security personnel.

Do you have any experience whatsoever in working any service industry or being a customer of that service industry? There will always be "difficult" customers, and many of them (such as Star Simpson) weren't even making a deliberate attempt to be difficult. The onus is on the people who are getting paid to do a job to make sure that they react reasonably to what customers do.
posted by jonp72 at 8:35 AM on September 23, 2007


You had me scared shitless at "service industry".
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on September 23, 2007


The second comment you cite is mine

no, actually it's from a newspaper article - quoting it did not make it yours anymore than it made it mine when i quoted it, too


pyramid termite -- check again -- those indeed are my words and not a quote from a newspaper article, just as they are my words in the first instance that you highlight in your attempt to "slag" oaf with a racist charge ("obviously a WASP with hang ups towards minorities interesting assumptions...").

Your comment:
Had she been at the Ben-Gurion International Airport, Eilat Airport or Haifa Airport in Israel she could have expected a similar reaction by security there. [-- quoting ericb original comment].

Well, yes. She's not white.
The police were following protocol in responding to the call from the Massport information counter worker (who has been identified as Maria Moncayo). [-- quoting ericb original comment].

obviously a WASP with hang ups towards minorities

interesting assumptions, oaf
posted by ericb at 9:58 AM on September 23, 2007


You had me scared shitless at "service industry".

Well, you have to make the distinction that the person Star Simpson ignored was not a cop or a security person, but an airport employee at the information desk in a non-secure part of the airport. (And that's if we assume the police's account of the situation is true.) Is everybody who wears a uniform these days whether it's a mailman or the french-fry jockey at McDonald's somebody we're legally bound to take orders from?
posted by jonp72 at 10:01 AM on September 23, 2007


You will obey the fries-fuhrer or you will be shot!
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2007


pyramid termite -- check again -- those indeed are my words and not a quote from a newspaper article,

they're a paraphrase from a newspaper article you linked to in the very sentence i quoted

quit being so hypersensitive
posted by pyramid termite at 11:07 AM on September 23, 2007


they're a paraphrase from a newspaper article you linked to in the very sentence i quoted

It's not a paraphrase. The only thing referenced from the article to which I linked is the desk agent's name.

I'm not being hypersensitive -- and am having fun watching you try and square your misquoting of oaf and me to claim some sort of racial bias in this thread.
posted by ericb at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite -- You tried to conflate one of oaf's comments and one of mine -- and not a newspaper quote or paraphrase -- (to which oaf has made no comment) with an implied racial insensivity (in which I made public the desk agent's likely-Hispanic name) -- so as to make him (and/or me) to be a WASP with "hang ups towards minorities." Excuse my French, but 'fuck you.' Apologize to oaf (and/or me) -- or bow out of what you have already deemed a sucky thread ('this thread sucks'). And, thanks for the derail. Some of us our benfiting from the discussion of the topic at hand.

Buddy, admit it...you screwed up.
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on September 23, 2007


*are benefiting*
posted by ericb at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2007


Well, you have to make the distinction that the person Star Simpson ignored was not a cop or a security person, but an airport employee at the information desk in a non-secure part of the airport.

She didn't ignore the desk agent. We know from the D.A.'s press release that Star Simpson answered Maria Moncayo's question about what she was wearing. Simpson stated that it was a 'piece of art.'
posted by ericb at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's happened afterwards is worse and more significant.

If not for the media lies and hysterics, and the overly aggressive response of outside law enforcement (I speak here of charging her and the blustery, over-the-top quotes), this would be a minor story. The airport wasn't even shut down. It was an understandable misunderstanding.


Yup--... A television newscaster announces that planes were delayed in Boston's airport and tells us the name of a college student, shows us her picture, and tells us that we should blame her. He tells us to give the airport security guards credit for doing their jobs. They mistook her school project for a bomb. Again, we must let the "authorities" handle things.
...

posted by amberglow at 1:37 PM on September 23, 2007


"adding that machine guns are commonly seen at airports overseas"

Saw guards with such gear at Heathrow many years ago. They probably would have shot first and examined the body later.

"how many people that work at airports can identify a bomb without getting close enough to risk someone triggering it?"

I used to work at an airport and went through some related training. Based on that training, if I was a law enforcement official, I would have had a word with her as well. Even if it was just to say "Look, cute art project, but you're freaking a bunch of people out."

Meh, they should have just tagged her with a taser instead. ;)
posted by drstein at 4:58 PM on September 23, 2007


Saw guards with such gear at Heathrow many years ago. They probably would have shot first and examined the body later.

Hang on, she's not Brazillian.
posted by Artw at 6:19 PM on September 23, 2007


Hang on, she's not Brazillian.

So as to preempt pyramid termite accusing Artw of any sort of "profiling" (racial or otherwise), it's helpful to source the reference Artw is making -- Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was erroneously shot to death at the Stockwell subway station in London, July 2005.
posted by ericb at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2007


I just made the 666th comment. OZZY RULES!
posted by jonp72 at 8:41 PM on September 23, 2007


Liza Minnelli would fuck him up.
posted by stavrogin at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2007


how do you fuck up someone who's always been fucked up?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 PM on September 23, 2007


I'm just saying that she's far more evil than Ozzy. If you're going to make a reference to Satanism, Liza is a much more appropriate choice.
posted by stavrogin at 9:44 PM on September 23, 2007


They weren't part of the United States when they shot at U.S. soldiers, who were occupying territory that wasn't theirs.

How did this break out? In any event, they were in territory that the U.S. decided was it's own. The Civil war was treason, plain and simple.
posted by delmoi at 7:02 AM on September 24, 2007


delmoi, it may seem plain and simple today. In the 1860s, not so much.
On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Maryland Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel said, "Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty." The northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace.

Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South's right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): "If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861." Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): "An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful could produce nothing but evil -- evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content." The New York Times (March 21, 1861): "There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go." DiLorenzo cites other editorials expressing identical sentiments.
Using the word 'traitor' is uncalled -for.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:10 AM on September 24, 2007


Kirth Gerson Bullshit, it is a perfectly accurate term and is quite called for.

Walter Williams isn't a historian, and neither is DiLorenzo. Further, DiLorenzo is a flack for the League of the South, which is one of the premier "mainstream" racist groups in America today. His friends at the League of the South support banning interracial marriage [1], expelling Jews from the USA, establishing a theocracy, etc... He obviously has an agenda, and its an agenda rooted in racism, bigotry, and anti-American ideals.

More to the point, DiLorenzo's viewpoint is self evidently false. If, as he claims, everyone in the 1860's agreed that states had a right to secede from the USA then the war wouldn't have happened. Self evidently a majority of politicians who remained loyal to America did not think that secession was right, or else they wouldn't have backed the war.

A non-historian's work of non-history is not evidence that the leaders of the CSA were not traitors.

Again, I'm amazed at the doublethink involved here. The leaders of the CSA engaged in armed rebellion against the duely elected government of the United States of America. If that isn't treason then what the fuck is?

I chose to emphisize the treason of the CSA because so many of the neo-Confederate people I encounter are of the extreme right wing variety who classify dissent over the Iraq war as treason, and I'd like to hope that I can make their pointy little heads explode.

The editor's note at the bottom of the Williams column is a delightful example of the cognative dissonance required to go along with the crap DiLorenzo spews.
Secession is not protection against establishing a government to prevent the abolishment of slavery. The key issue in the right to secession is not separating oneself from a government that prevents the "self-determination" of "peoples," but separating oneself from a government that fails in its purpose: the protection of individual rights.
Emphisis theirs. You'll notice that in order to accept their bizarro world view you are required to think that blacks have no individual rights, because you've got to assume that slavery violates the rights of the individual or we're literally entering Orwellian territory. Like the quote about "Five Millions of Southrons" you included above it requires one to simply think of black people as not existing, or at least not existing as people.

Face the facts: The CSA was established, if not exclusively to prevent abolition at least in large part to prevent abolition [2], and in order to achieve the vile goal of perminant slavery the leaders of the CSA comitted treason against the USA, murdered loyal Americans, and empovrished their own citizenry. And for what? So they could keep raping, murdering, and torturing their fellow human beings in the course of living as fat parasites on the labor of the people they so horribly abused.

Traitor is the *nicest* thing I can think to call the leaders of the CSA.

[1] Note: I'm involved in an interracial marriage, so I'm hardly an impartial observer here.

[2] As evidenced by the fact that one of the few differences between the US Constitution and the CSA's cheap immitation was that the CSA's knockoff explicitly forbid the government from abolishing slavery.
posted by sotonohito at 11:08 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Should have added, re the CSA and the Civil War, that the worst part is that the vast majority of the people who actually fought on behalf of the CSA were whites who did not benefit from slavery.

Many of my ancestors were such dupes, and for the life of me I can't think what would cause them to fight for a cause so against their economic self interest other than a general unawareness of the economic reality surrounding them, and a deep and abiding racism. Probably more the latter than the former.
posted by sotonohito at 11:14 AM on September 24, 2007


Another Boston Herald columnist doesn't like Star or college kids for that matter.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on September 24, 2007


Bullshit, yourself sotonohito. Are you claiming that the newspaper quotes are fabricated? I picked that link because of them, not because I think the people who wrote that page are keepers of the True Flame. Is it all about the messenger for you? So it seems:

I chose to emphisize the treason of the CSA because so many of the neo-Confederate people I encounter are of the extreme right wing variety who classify dissent over the Iraq war as treason, and I'd like to hope that I can make their pointy little heads explode.

So to further that lofty goal, you choose to paint "the vast majority of the people who actually fought on behalf of the CSA [who] were whites who did not benefit from slavery" as traitors? Do you suppose those people might have had some motive other than maintaining a system had no benefit for them? Like maybe they thought the Federal government was exceeding its authority? You're doing exactly the same thing to them that you object to the warmongers doing to peace advocates. That doesn't make the hawks any more wrong, and it doesn't make your calling all those southerners 'traitors' right, either.

Here is a Columbia law professor discussing the legality of secession. He finds a lot to discuss, which might give you a clue that it isn't "plain and simple"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:40 PM on September 24, 2007


In any event, they were in territory that the U.S. decided was it's own. The Civil war was treason, plain and simple.

And South Carolina wasn't part of the U.S. at the start of the Civil War, having already seceded. The U.S. acknowledged that by readmitting the states to the Union.

A non-historian's work of non-history is not evidence that the leaders of the CSA were not traitors.

And you've yet to present any evidence that they were. They fought against an occupying/invading force, and the ensuing war established once and for all that states cannot secede (practically, if not legally), but up to that time, there was absolutely no precedent either way, because it hadn't been tried before.

The leaders of the CSA engaged in armed rebellion against the duely elected government of the United States of America.

Which was not legally the government of South Carolina at the time the Union troops at Fort Sumter were driven out, because South Carolina had seceded.

The CSA was established, if not exclusively to prevent abolition at least in large part to prevent abolition

This didn't make secession illegal.

the leaders of the CSA comitted treason against the USA

Saying it over and over doesn't make it anything other than false.

murdered loyal Americans

...who were more properly labeled traitors for rebelling against the government of South Carolina, which was the ruling government at the time, unlike the government of the United States of America, which had ceased to have legitimate power at the time South Carolina seceded.

empovrished their own citizenry

That didn't make secession illegal.

So they could keep raping, murdering, and torturing their fellow human beings in the course of living as fat parasites on the labor of the people they so horribly abused.

That didn't make secession illegal.

Traitor is the *nicest* thing I can think to call the leaders of the CSA.

They may have done it for immoral reasons, but they were within their legal rights to do so. Because of this, it is not possible for them to have committed treason against a government that no longer had jurisdiction over them, and calling them traitors is ignoring the facts.

for the life of me I can't think what would cause them to fight for a cause so against their economic self interest other than a general unawareness of the economic reality surrounding them, and a deep and abiding racism

Again, that doesn't make them traitors, and it doesn't make what they were doing illegal.
posted by oaf at 12:44 PM on September 24, 2007


Another Boston Herald columnist doesn't like Star or college kids for that matter.

I like the poll on that story "Who is responsible?"

"Star Simpson,
Star Simpson and her parents
Star Simpson and MIT
Other"
posted by delmoi at 2:52 PM on September 24, 2007


[2] As evidenced by the fact that one of the few differences between the US Constitution and the CSA's cheap immitation was that the CSA's knockoff explicitly forbid the government from abolishing slavery.

It also made it illegal to even advocate abolition. So much for freedom of speech. Liberty, my ass.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on September 24, 2007


Why on earth would her PARENTS be responsible for this? Yikes.
posted by agregoli at 3:27 PM on September 24, 2007


Because anyone who would make the people of Boston look silly is a bad and terrible person to such a degree that they must have been evil from birth and raised in an enviroment of pure wrong.

Seriously, what is up with Boston? Where did the stick up it's collective butt that prevents it from responding to this sort of thing in anything resembling a sane way come from?
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on September 24, 2007


I agree with oaf on the legality of secession, but I agree with William Lloyd Garrison as to its motivation.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:08 PM on September 24, 2007


Anyone want to discuss the finer points fo the War of the Roses?
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


An update reports that Star said she was picking up her boyfriend, but he had already left the airport when security picked her up.

Also, she was asked twice about "the device" and the first time said nothing. The second time, she did answer and replied "It's an art project."

(She's 19. I think, at 42, her boyfriend is about the same age as her Dad, which has NOTHING to do with this case, but which I personally find a little disturbing).
posted by misha at 4:19 PM on September 24, 2007


Oh, sorry, here's the link for ^ above.
posted by misha at 4:20 PM on September 24, 2007


Why on earth would her PARENTS be responsible for this? Yikes.

Because they didn't BEAT HER INTO SUBMISSION at an early age. Establishing hierarchy is the most important thing parents can do with their children.

I mean duh
posted by delmoi at 4:44 PM on September 24, 2007


As I mentioned in the MeTa about this, I read a paper a couple years back where a historian had gone through mountains of confederate correspondence and found that something like 80% of them felt that they were fighting to uphold slavery, especially against a rapid abolition. Underneath that slavery prime cause were a bevy of justifications, like that it was a state's right to decide to have slavery, or that suddenly freeing black folks would lead to the collapse of Southern society, including mass rapes and pillaging. It was more complicated than just BAD REDNEX HATE BLACKS, but slavery was seen as inherent to the Southern character, whether or not the individual soldier benefitted directly from the institution.
posted by klangklangston at 5:02 PM on September 24, 2007


So -- Hawaii (from where Star Simpson hails) -- were they Union or Confederate during the Civil War? ; )
posted by ericb at 5:07 PM on September 24, 2007


So, the Founding Fathers were traitors too, according to sotonohito.

Treason, as it should be obvious, is relative to the observer.
posted by spaltavian at 8:27 PM on September 24, 2007


Are you rhetorically retarded?

The Founding Fathers WERE traitors to England. That was a good thing, because they did it for good reasons and it had a good outcome. The Confederacy WERE traitors to the United States of America. That was a BAD thing, because they did it for BAD reasons and it had a BAD outcome.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


How obtuse are you?

Firstly, sotonohito is apparently of the opinion that treason is a bad thing of itself.

But, to main attempt at a point, neither were traitorous unless you, (because you're stupid) believe one owes their primary allegiance to the state. This is NOT something you'll here from say, Jefferson. And the "state" most of the Confederate leadership had in mind would have been South Carolina or Alabama as opposed to the federal government in Washington.

The Founding Fathers were only traitors to Great Britain if you believe they owed obedience to Great Britain. George III and, apparently, you, believe they did. I do not.
posted by spaltavian at 10:15 PM on September 24, 2007


Treason is a crime defined by the party that has formal & historical power over a nation state. This tip may help clarify your thinking.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:46 PM on September 24, 2007




Treason has little to nothing to do with oweing anyone allegiance, and everything to do with legality. In 1776 England was the official goverment of the 13 colonies. Revolting against a government that officially governs your area is treason. This isn't hard. It has nothing to do with thinking that the goverment in question is good, or that the people in question owed it fealty or loyalty.

As it happens I think that the treason committed by the US founders was a very good thing indeed. But that doesn't make it any less treason.

The problem, you see, is that for many people "treason" is something of the ultimate insult, the charge for which there can be no reply, etc. Which is why the modern right wing loons are so desperate to define "disagreeing with Dear Leader's war" as treason.

The goverment of the United States of America decided that secession was not, in fact, legal and continued to claim it had authority over the seceded states. The fact that the seceded states disagreed with that assessment is irrelivant to the view, of the USA, of their leadership as traitors. That is kind of why there was a Civil War rather than a Peaceful Seccession of the Slave States. Since the US didn't relinquish its control of the slave states that made the action treason from the POV of the USA.

Obviously many of the white people in the CSA thought it was justifiable treason, in the same vein as the treason comitted by Jefferson, Washington, etc against England. I, as should be quite obvious, disagree strongly with that assessment.

Unlike the right wing loons, I don't see treason as some sort of ultimate, vile, insulting, charge. Sometimes its justified. When the colonies revolted (you can't "revolt" without treason, sorry) it was a good thing. When the slave states revolted (committing treason in the process) it was a bad thing.

I use the term because a) its accurate, and b) it turns the rhetoric of the right wing loons against them. I also like to use the term "communist" when describing various authoritarian or totalitarian right wing objectives because although its technically incorrect it does capture the emotional meaning that they give the word. For the rank and file in the right wing "communist" does not actually refer to the system of government and economy advocated by Karl Marx, but rather is a generic term meaning "authoritarian and bad".

Stealing the rhetoric of your opponents is a very good thing indeed, from my POV.

As for the newspaper articles, Kirth Gerson, I doubt they're fabricated but honestly it wouldn't surprise me to find that they are taken out of context (ie: op-ed pieces, letters, etc rather than official editorial positions), misattributed, taken from very small circulation newspapers etc. The person doing the quoting is a non-historian with an agenda, his book is not peer reviewed history, etc.

But, assuming that they are real, so what? Editorialists don't determine legality, or US policy. There's always disagreement over war, especially war against your own countrymen. There was disagreement over WWII, and if you cherrypicked quotes from IWW papers I'm sure you could claim that the people of the USA opposed war with Germany. When the messenger composes the message it isn't incorrect to consider him as well as the message.

But, you know what's funny, despite all the quotes Mr. Not An Actual Historian DiLorenzo came up with, the loyal citizens of the USA supported the war enough for the USA to win out over the slave raping traitors. So, self evidently, he's wrong in his conclusion that the US citizenry was opposed to the war. Some were, but obviously enough weren't that the USA was able to win.

oaf wrote "They may have done it for immoral reasons, but they were within their legal rights to do so. Because of this, it is not possible for them to have committed treason against a government that no longer had jurisdiction over them, and calling them traitors is ignoring the facts."

Yes, and its also ignoring the facts to pretend that the USA didn't conclude that secession was, in fact, illegal. Had the CSA won, the USA would have been forced to concede the point, but, in case you haven't noticed, the CSA lost [1]. War is a rather ugly way to settle legal disputes, but you know, it does work.

Might doesn't make right, but it does to a very large extent determine who's legal view is victorious.

[1] Many Confederate appologists seem to have existed in their own bubble of bullshit for so long that they tend to forget that critical point. I blame historical markers. Everywhere in the former CSA traitor worshiping groups such as the "Daughters of the Confederacy" have put up huge memorials to Confederate victories, but no where will you find a historical marker indicating a Confederate loss.
posted by sotonohito at 3:35 AM on September 25, 2007


As for the newspaper articles, ... But, assuming that they are real, so what?

So (for the third time) delmoi and your claim that "The Civil war was treason, plain and simple" is not true. The issue was neither plain nor simple. If it had been, there would have been no war, because everyone would have seen immediately that secession was treason. That there is still debate now, more than 140 years later, also proves that it's not "plain and simple." You can keep on ranting about DiLorenzo not being a historian and having an agenda all you want, but unless you can somehow prove unanimity of opinion about secession back then, it does nothing to undermine my point.

I see you love grinding your axe by calling all Confederates traitors, and you're not going to give it up, because you think it's so very clever. There are people here who think you're wrong, and they aren't apologists for slavery. A bunch of people in my family tree died fighting for the Union. Apparently, some in your family tree were on the other side. You can go ahead and call them racist dupes, but even if it's true of them, that doesn't mean everyone on that side was.

At any rate, congratulations! You've managed a major derailment of this thread with your irrelevant agenda.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:07 AM on September 25, 2007


Kirth GersonI'll admit that I have a large degree of hostility towards the CSA and its modern appologists. That's one reason why my specialty is not US history, but rather Meiji Period Japanese history; I recognize that I'm unable to attain a proper sense of historic detachment on the subject. I hate and lothe the CSA with an unseemly passion.

And, on that note, I'd like to complain about your word choice when you wrote "A bunch of people in my family tree died fighting for the Union."

My emphisis. There is no nation on Earth named "the Union", and there never has been. You had ancestors fought and died for the United States of America against one of its most dangerous and destructive foes. A foe that many of my ancestors served [1]. Refering to the United States of America by the various terms prefered by pro-Confederate types buys into their BS that somehow the people they venerate weren't fighting against a nation they claim to be loyal members of today. I'm aware that the term was in common usage then, but it isn't today and I maintain that its continued usage is to obfuscate the identities of the combattants.

As for "debate" on the subject, I maintain that its nonsense. The debate was settled when the CSA's Rapist In Chief surrendered. The US goverment has never acknowledged a right to secede, it fought a long and costly war to prevent what it viewed as an illegal act, and it defined (through indictment) the leaders of the CSA as traitors.

Plain and simple things can easily be obfucated by a few stubborn types clinging to an ideology long dead an burried. Answer me plainly here chum: "If waging war against the government claiming the territory you live in isn't treason what is?"

I cite Article III Section 3 of the US Constitution: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them [...]" The leaders of the CSA levied war against the United States government, therefore "traitor" is a perfectly accurate, factual, and indeed dispassonate, term for them. They did so after seceding and claiming that US law no longer bound them, but the USA has never acknowledged that secession was legal.

People have disputed that legal point, but the fact remains that the government of the United States of America has never, not once, taken the official position that secession is legal. All legal theorizing must end in the face of the simple fact that the US courts have not, ever in all US history, acknowledged a legal right to secession.

It doesn't take a unanimous legal opinion, then or now, to make it a plain and simple fact the secession and war against the USA was treason. It simply requires that the opinion of the US courts be that secession was illegal, and that has been the opinion of the US courts. It doesn't matter if 99% of the lawyers back in the 1860's thought secession was legal, the courts didn't agree so it wasn't.

Now, you can argue that secession was *right*, as opposed to legal, all you want. I'll disagree completely, but arguments over what's right are a completely separate issue from arguments over what's legal.

It was legal, in 1820 to own human beings, that doesn't make it right. It was illegal in 1940's Germany to give aid to Jews, and that didn't make it wrong. But to argue that the brave people who hid Jews during Hitler's reign weren't comitting a criminal act is foolishness. Of course they were criminals, German law declared them to be and they were German citizens. Which has nothing to do with the fact that their actions were absolutely right and they should be revered for the crimes they comitted.

Ideally "right" and "legal" are in accord, I maintain that they were regarding secession, it wasn't right and it wasn't legal. If some Confederate appologist wishes to claim that it was illegal, but right I'll argue with him. If some Confederate appologist wishes to claim that it was *legal* he's just wrong. Not because I say so, but because the US courts have said so. Plain and simple.

***

As for the derailment, it was Pyramid Termite who originally brought up the topic, though I'll certainly admit that my correct identification of the son of a KKK member who made threats on the lives of people protesting racism while driving drunk as a "traitor worshiping southerner" allowed defenders of the traitor worshiping southerners to get the vapors over my correct terminology.

However the thread, by then, had already turned into a hundreds of posts long shouting match essentially saying "SHE WAS RIGHT" and "NO SHE WASN'T". Can you really derail a flamewar?

Though, for the record, she was right and the idiots in the BPD were wrong.

[1] if I was into geneology I suppose I'd be ashamed of that, but since I view my ancestors as a matter of genetic accident rather than something I should take either pride or shame in I don't. You can't pick your family I don't think I shouldn't take credit or blame for what they did before I was born.
posted by sotonohito at 8:08 AM on September 25, 2007




Treason has little to nothing to do with oweing anyone allegiance, and everything to do with legality. In 1776 England was the official goverment of the 13 colonies. Revolting against a government that officially governs your area is treason. This isn't hard. It has nothing to do with thinking that the goverment in question is good, or that the people in question owed it fealty or loyalty.

I agree, this isn't hard.

The 13 colonies did not recognize Great Britain as the legal government, but Great Britain did. Treason has everything to do with whom you owe allegiance. Whether people are charged and convicted as traitors is merely an issue of who wins; treason has always been propaganda that governments attempt to codify.
posted by spaltavian at 9:15 AM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dude, who was the Declaration of Independence addressed to? John Hancock? Why would the colonies need to declare independence if they didn't believe that Great Britain was the legal government, prior to their, you know, having a revolution and shit?

I mean, if the Founding Fathers had failed, you don't think they would have been hung as traitors? This is, like, mega-duh stuff here, man. Treason is defined by the state. You think John Brown recognized the authority of Virginia? You think it mattered when they hung him? Or Thomas Dorr in Rhode Island?

I'm all for feel-good myths in elementary school, but you're too old for that shit.
posted by klangklangston at 9:29 AM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those who had been indicted received a blanket amnesty issued by President Andrew Johnson as he left office in 1869 screwed up Reconstruction and was chased out of office after being the first president ever impeached.

Fixed that for ya'.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:55 AM on September 25, 2007


700
posted by fandango_matt at 11:23 AM on September 25, 2007


And, on that note, I'd like to complain about your word choice when you wrote "A bunch of people in my family tree died fighting for the Union."

My emphisis. There is no nation on Earth named "the Union"


Are you serious?


Maybe you should stick to the Japanese history.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:30 PM on September 25, 2007


Maybe you should look for something more definitive than google searches, Kirth, since soto was making a semantic point.
posted by klangklangston at 4:38 PM on September 25, 2007


An empty semantic point. Calling the Northern side in the Civil War the Union is so common even today that it's idiotic to object to it as being imprecise, or obsolete, or whatever foolishness he's reaching for. As demonstrated by the Google search.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:45 PM on September 25, 2007


I wrote re: "Union" "I'm aware that the term was in common usage then, but it isn't today and I maintain that its continued usage is to obfuscate the identities of the combattants."

Outside the rather olde thyme-ie "State of the Union" address when was the last time you or anyone you know refered to the United States of America as "the Union"?

We call it "America" [1], for the most part. International travelers occasionally refer to returning "to the States", but not "to the Union". Which, as the sentence I quoted at the top there illustrates was my point.

Refering to the USA in the context of the Civil War as "the Union" is technically accurate, it is one of the common terms back then. However it is innaccurate from a modern perspective and the continued use of the antiquated term serves, from my POV anyway, as a rhetorical screen by which Confederate appologists can pretend that the people they so revere were fighting against the government they currently claim revere [2]. Similarly refering to the combattants as "North and South" or, worse "Blue and Grey" seems less a useful way of identifying the sides and more a way to rhetorically deny that the CSA was fighting the United States of America. There appears to be no utility in the use of terms other than USA and CSA, and a great deal of potential for rhetorical trickery in the use of alternate terms.

[1] Much to the annoyance of some Canadians and Mexicans who, correctly, observe that "America" is the continent.

[2] For the most part anyway, there is a variety of neo-Confederate who rejects the idea of loyalty to the modern USA.
posted by sotonohito at 4:53 PM on September 25, 2007


By the way, sotonohito, you keep referring to the BPD. As has been repeatedly pointed out, the Boston police do not patrol Logan Airport. The Massachusetts State Police do. None of the figures in the story are members of the Boston Police. Since you're so committed to precise language.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:54 PM on September 25, 2007


Since you're so committed to precise language

...like using a conjunctive clause as a sentence?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:07 PM on September 25, 2007


Kirth Gerson My mistake. MSP then. Which has squat to do with the actual argument...

I also notice you've fixated on the "Union" vs "USA" irrelivancy, does this mean you have conceded that "traitor" is an appropriate term for the leaders of the CSA and just don't want to admit it?
posted by sotonohito at 6:06 PM on September 25, 2007


Secession and treachery don't strike me as exactly the same thing. Secession is an overt, public withdrawal from a social contract, and treachery is a more covert or deceptive violation of a contract. If your spouse announces to you that he/she wants a divorce, they are overtly and publicly rescinding their vows. This is not a covert act of betrayal the way that an extra-marital affair would be. Of course, breaking contracts and promises is never a good, respectable thing, but I think "treachery" carries connotations of being stabbed in the back, rather than told off to your face.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:39 PM on September 25, 2007


kid ichorous Treason and treachery are different things. Treason *may* involve treachery, but it might not. The US Constitution defines treason for, the purposes of US law, and its a comfortably narrow definition. I quoted part of it earlier, but I'll quote the whole thing here:
Section III, Article 3: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
You will note that nothing in that definition requires treachery, secrecy, or subtlty.

spaltavian wrote "The 13 colonies did not recognize Great Britain as the legal government, but Great Britain did. Treason has everything to do with whom you owe allegiance."

No. Treason has everything to do with a government deciding that you owe it allegiance, not the other way around. Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Paine, etc were traitors to England. Not because they felt they owed England alligence, but because England legally required alliegance from them and they did not give it.

If I possessed state secrets of the USA, decided that I didn't like the USA and didn't owe it any alliegance, and then gave those secrets to Al'Qaeda I'd be guilty of treason even though in my own mind I didn't owe the USA any alliegence.
posted by sotonohito at 3:54 AM on September 26, 2007


Doh, right. I was reading "traitor" as "treacherous" rather than "treasonous." In a broad sense you are right.

But, in a precise legal sense, and going back to pyramid termite's point that no member of the Confederacy had been tried, you should be convicted of treason in court before I can label you with a legal verdict. In this same way, it would be inaccurate to call OJ Simpson a murderer, though it's pretty likely that he's killed people unjustly.

posted by kid ichorous at 9:06 AM on September 26, 2007


kid ichorous In a strict legal sense, yes. However we refer to Al Capone as a "gangster" despite the fact that the only thing he was ever convicted of was tax evasion and contempt of court. We refer to Stalin as a "mass murderer" despite the fact that no court ever convicted him. We refer to Pinochet as a "war criminal" even though he managed to run out the clock and die before the ICC could convict him.

The leadership of the CSA took actions which fall into the legal category of "treason", the fact that they weren't convicted is a matter more of politics than of lack of evidence. I think its not unreasonable to use the term "traitor" when refering to them.
posted by sotonohito at 9:26 AM on September 26, 2007


Be careful, sotonohito, since semantic quibbling cuts both ways.
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2007


Wow. From a current event to a debate on the 13 colonies and the revolution to bickering about the civil war.

Lemme know when you get to World War I.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:02 PM on September 26, 2007


This never would have happened if Simpson had maintained the tri-partite diplomatic balance established by Bismark, rather than succumbing to poorly-conceived military adventurism.
posted by klangklangston at 3:37 PM on September 26, 2007


LEAVE OJ ALONE!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:11 PM on September 26, 2007


why? - i'm damned if i'm mixing my vodka with cranberry juice
posted by pyramid termite at 12:31 AM on September 27, 2007


klangklangston Complete and utter nonsense. Bismark's legacy was inherently unstable and nothing, not even flashing LED stars, could prevent its ultimate collapse!

Wait.... I should have used some derigotory term for Bismark that would divert the discussion, shouldn't I?
posted by sotonohito at 3:36 AM on September 27, 2007


Mmmm... vodka cranberry.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:19 AM on September 27, 2007


1 1/2 oz Vodka; 3 oz Cranberry juice; 1 wedge Lime = 'A Cape Codder.'
posted by ericb at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2007


"klangklangston Complete and utter nonsense. Bismark's legacy was inherently unstable and nothing, not even flashing LED stars, could prevent its ultimate collapse!"

Arguably true, but Wilhelm pretty much made sure that it collapsed in the worst possible way. The insistance upon becoming a credible naval power instead of maintaining the world's best land army shifted the perception from defensive to offensive (though a brief review of Bismark's tenure shows that he was plenty interested in good offense, but he was fairly unthreatening).

"Wait.... I should have used some derigotory term for Bismark that would divert the discussion, shouldn't I?"


Well, you coulda gone with some play on "Junker," but a better tack might have been to point out the continuing legacy of internecine violence in Serbia/Croatia ("The only people proud of WWI are SERBS!").
posted by klangklangston at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2007


And, to combine these last couple comments, the recipe for a Bismark—

1/2 Stout
1/2 Champagne

Serve in flute.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2007


preferably ian anderson's flute
posted by pyramid termite at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2007


Aqualung!
"Sitting on a park bench
eyeing little girls with bad intent.
Snot running down his nose
greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run.
Feeling like a dead duck
spitting out pieces of his broken luck."
posted by ericb at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2007


Heh. Boston has LEDophobia. London has Chiliphobia.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:16 AM on October 4, 2007


Boston hosts blinky lights convention
posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on October 8, 2007


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