Friday, February 2, 2007

Grow the F up...

Ok. Let me get something straight.

You, you twenty-something slacker skateboarding blogger punk iDioT Whu Kant SPELl in yeR BloGGG Idiotarian, you think the city of Boston and State of Massachusetts are governed by fools because they took seriously a number of phoned-in threats related to various objects attached to major pieces of public infrastructure?

Boston's getting the heat from the enlightened Generation Y for their "fascist overreaction" to the (sarcasm)brilliant(/sarcasm) marketing campaign that brought several major roadways to a standstill yesterday.

And the two dudes busted for actually installing the "devices" held an improptu news conferences acting like, well, jackasses. Here's the link, I'm not wasting the space putting it up.

What a bunch of idiots.

Here are the facts.

  • Wednesday morning at all about the same time:
  1. Separate from the Mooninites ads, two simulated pipe bombs were found, one strapped to a major highway bridge and another in the offices of the New England Medical Center (NEMEC).
  2. A clearly disturbed man who was not a patient was busted running out of NEMEC saying that today (Wednesday) was going to be a horrible day, and God was going to get us all.
  3. A sequence of calls went in to Boston Police giving the locations of a number of the infamous "lite brite" marketing devices.
  • These "devices" were attached to landmarks and pieces of important infrastructure, not stuck to Joe's Autobody or the neighborhood Dunkin' Donuts.
  • While authorities had figured out fairly early in the day that they were a cartoon character, and the blogosphere was buzzing about this fairly early on, Turner Broadcasting did not get in touch with the city until something like 5pm.
  • Bombs, or IED's as the media loves to call them, are often disguised as something innocuous. For instance:
"Another new tactic identified involves women carrying IED disguised as a baby while trying to enter hospitals (two hospitals were targeted in Baghdad in early November 2003 using this tactic, and so far reports claim that five women have attempted this kind of action)."

and, remember, the Soviet Union used to disguise bombs as toys in Afghanistan.

So. You're responsible for the lives of the around one and a half to two million people who work and live in Boston. What are you going to do? Treat this as real until proven otherwise, or
wait until someone gets blown up?

Fine, you sit around in your mother's basement playing guitar hero all day. I get it. You're too cool to be fooled by some dumbass marketing ploy.

But when you're on this side of the line, the side actually responsible for shit other than deciding whether to put in the stainless lip ring or go with the gold, well, that's a different kettle of fish. Sure, if you live in East Butt-truck Indiana it's easy to dismiss Bostonians as a tightly-wound group of nincompoops. But nobody wants to bomb Indiana.

And as to the other major metropolitan cities and why they didn't catch it, well, did they have people calling them in?

There's the crux of the matter:

Somebody, or maybe a series of somebodies, called these things in. You can't go ignoring calls from the public about things attached to pieces of public infrastructure that don't belong there. That would be a serious dereliction of duty.

I think that maybe the "starving artists" who put the things up didn't think they were getting enough attention out of them, and called them in. Now if that's the case, then there's your jailable offense. That's when it crosses the line from simple trespass (there's no way they had permits for any of this) to felonious hoaxing. That's what I'd be worried about, were I them.

I'm glad they took this stuff seriously. I was on a train that was stopped, we all had to get off, and bomb-sniffing dogs were run through. Nothing was found of course, and I was ten minutes late getting home. Big deal. My civil liberties weren't infringed by getting off the train for ten minutes. And I got home in one piece.

Let the folks who are responsible for the public's safety protect the public. Let the folks responsible for body piercing and graffiti worry about other crap.

Am I wrong?


Brian said...


Kal said...

But Brian, I would expect that reaction. You live in North Carolina...

Brian said...

Kal--a more detailed response is here, if you are interested.

Kal said...

Brian - You raise some very valid points; but the state and city governments could not respond when something like this happens.

First of all, the shutdowns were overhyped. The Red line was stopped for a little while, and the bridges were only shut down for a short time.

Boston PD and state public safety folks knew fairly early on that these things themselves weren't dangerous, but because Turner, and to a greater extent the marketing company behind it, didn't do anything to let the city know it was definitely them, then they had little choice.

As it was explained to me by a friend still on the inside, one of the tricks to doing bad things is to distract public safety officials with phony bad things. And once the calls came in about things that were intentionally made to look like pipe bombs, well, that raised things up a notch.

Couple of points worth making:

1) it's BS that these things were up for weeks. And in many cities they hadn't been put up yet at all, so that end of the story is bogus.

2) They weren't placed on critical infrastructure in other cities. There were a lot of these around Boston, but the ones that caused alarm where placed on bridges and at transit stations.

3) The marketing company sent "Borat" Bedovsky an email telling him not to say anything during the height of the situation. That's obstruction of an investigation. At the very least these guys were trespassing (their YouTube video shows them climbing on things, as well as using long sticks to put up the devices).

The presence of the pipe bombs makes this a different kettle of fish.

Actually, I say we blame the media. We've got a Murdoch-style tabloid TV station up here that lives for this crap, and they were on this story like white on rice.

Brian said...

That all may very well be, but unless the "pipe bombs" are shown to be connected to the ads by anything other than unfortunate coincidence, I don't really see how the escalating effect that they had on the situation is something for which Turner, the marketing firm, or these two guys can be held responsible.

The mayor's dire pronouncements about prosecution and jail time are difficult to interpret as anything other than scapegoating for a situation that made the city (by which I mean the city gov't) look foolish. It wasn't a "hoax", it was a marketing stunt. There was no ill intent.

And in light of the city's response, the instructions not to say anything strike me as sound legal advice, not "obstruction".

If there's a case to be made for trespassing, then prosecute it...but it seems like littering would be more appropriate.

Gino said...

i see both sides of this.

intellectually, brian is right.

but kal is dealing with the real world where people, and people in govt, are not necesaarily all that bright.
if people in general were a little better thought out, people in govt would have a tad more leeway in conducting the business of public safety.

Kal said...

I don't know guys, I still say that the folks in government had to do exactly what they did. If anyone went overboard, it was the media which was calling these things "suspicious devices" well after Time Warner/Turner confessed to what was up.

Turner's agreed to pay the costs of the ballyhoo (which is probably still much less than what an ad campaign that generates this kind of hype would've cost). I don't think the two idiot artists are going to get in too much trouble; they'll get a fine and maybe some community service/"probation" (which essentially means don't do anything bad for 12-24 months and you're okay).

I'm interested what you do with Interference Inc., the geniuses who thought up this ad campaign. Clearly they didn't intend to make people think these were bombs, but still, what they did waspretty stupid, and then not coming clean when they figured out that public safety folks were freaking out, well, that's not kosher.

Avitable said...

The end result is that Boston looks like the laughingstock of the country.

Avitable said...

Oh, and they came clean within four hours of the mayor's overreaction. That's pretty quick, but people are acting like it's a lifetime.

Kal said...

Well, Turner didn't come clean until 4:30pm, and it turns out Bedrovsky and his idiot buddy were out there taking video of the bomb squad detonating the first device at 9:30AM... That's 7 hours. And F***ing irresponsible.