the boston hoax
breaking away from the food and whatnot this time to chat about the little problem we had here in boston yesterday.
it appears that government officials and first responders -- as well as a number of this burg's citizens -- have swallowed the kool-aid of paranoia that the bush administration has doled out over the past five years and over-responded to a guerrilla marketing campaign gone awry. until i see evidence to the contrary i can now say i am living in the heart of urban dumb ass country.
there's a lot of ways to break this down, and everyone's gonna want a parse of the pie in blogland, but the basic fact remains: the city of boston shut the city down for four hours yesterday because, as much as they'd like to tout their homeland security, they didn't have the ability to actually figure out what they were dealing with until it was too late and decided not to lift the web of paranoia until they had a fall guy.
basically, until turner broadcasting came forward they weren't going to look like asses in public.
you can read the timelines and analysis elsewhere but the simple fact is that even once the city realized they weren't dealing with terrorists, even once they had enough clues to know it was a city-wide marketing event, the most they were willing to say was "it's a hoax, folks, don't worry about a thing."
a hoax. implying still that there was an intent to provoke city-wide panic. they're going to have a hard time proving that in court against those two patsies hired to put those things in place.
hoax: an act intended to trick or dupe. that's what the dictionary says. why would the mayor and newscasters call this a hoax?
...because they're clueless.
...because modern news is no longer based on facts, it's based on the same tactics used by the administration: fear. don't believe me? watch you local news for half an hour and count the number of stories that are doom and gloom, meant to make you feel small, bad about yourself, bad about your neighbor, or just plane afraid of the world.
...and because the government as a whole has no mechanism in place for admitting blame or guilt when they overreact.
government and first responders aren't the kind of people watching cartoon network's adult swim. they just aren't. so when they find a little homemade LED display on some public infrastructure the first time they blow it up, just to be on the safe side. that's what happened a little after 8 am yesterday morning. if had electronics, it was attached to a highway structure, play it safe and blow it to bits with a water cannon.
typical american response: blow up what you don't understand.
but four hours later the city is getting calls from people who have spotted more of these little things. bomb squads are dispatched. roads are shut down. public transit is halted. in those four hours leading up to this point has anyone bothered to analyze the first object they destroyed? are they comparing notes in the field? what conclusion are they drawing?
the news stations are picking up that the city is shut down. helicopters are showing bomb squads investigating. wall-to-wall coverage begins.hmm. it looks like it's a character from a computer game. hey, it's giving us the finger! it's giving us the finger! it's in our face telling us we're fools and asses! that does it! this is a hoax! it was meant to provoke us into overreacting! get the mayor on the horn, we're being made fun of!
pride before the fall and all.
no, the poor little mooninite didn't register with homeland security because it isn't a "known threat" or some sort of symbol affiliated with a terrorist group. it's a cartoon, and had it been a more widely known figure like bart simpson people i sincerely doubt anyone would have given it half as much notice. see, the police couldn't tell reporters "yeah, we've got some sort of light thing with bart simpson on it" all they said was "it appears to be a battery operated electrical device with blinking LED lights on it." that's what one guy said yesterday. doesn't that sound scarier than a lighted cartoon character? but because of their cultural ignorance the emergency crews didn't know the character and took it's meaning personally.
screw you, homeland security.
when turner broadcasting finally came forward and the origins of the "hoax" were explained it was clear that so many people over-responded in such a way that you just had to figure real terrorists were watching the news (a) laughing their asses off and (b) kicking themselves for not thinking about something like this themselves. in fact, i wouldn't be surprised to find the rest of the western world laughing at the city too dumb to know a fake "threat" when they see it. dude, check out boston shutting down the harbour because some hacker dudes put little lights on the bridges!
yeah, that makes us look really
during the whole ordeal, before there was much info, an "analyst" (and really, isn't that just a fancy title for a person who passes off quasi-educated opinions as facts?) was talking about how this looked more like a dry run by terrorists to see how quickly emergency response teams react and to test their ability to tie up a city.
fascinating. so now we know how easily it is to divert a city's attentions away from real terrorist threats and targets. it's going on 6 years after 9/11 and a city can be crippled by lite brites.
so here we are with all the morning-after quarterbacking. the mayor is promising law suits against turner, hoping to get sanctions against them by the fcc and make someone accountable for a minimum
state cost of three-quarters of a million in frosties. the news media continue to refer to the incident as a hoax because they refuse to accept any responsibility on their part for perpetrating the paranoia. and people are rabidly badmouthing the firm that created the campaign by accusing them willfully disregarding how this would all turn out.
if the reports are correct that there were 15 other cities where this campaign was carried out, why was boston the only one to react like this? either the other cities failed their homeland security tests or boston is too stupid to know the difference between a real and an imagined threat. and public response, judging from comment sections on news websites and elsewhere, is 9 to 1 leaning toward blaming the blamers.
the campaign was lame, perhaps criminal in failing to get a permit in advance but of little else. the government responded inanely. the news media fanned the flames. and in the end i didn't hear one word about the terror threat level being raised or lowered.
when you're raised on a diet of fear you can expect this kind of regurgitation. enjoy life, folks, the terrorists are
winning. they also happen to be your elected officials and your news media.
Labels: boston, fear, hoax, lite brite, non-food, stupidity, terrorism