Thursday, February 01, 2007

Boston Bomb Scare

As a enthusiast of geocaching and letterboxing, the Jamestown Lawyer may admittedly be a little biased on this matter. This isn't a strictly legal post, in the sense of advice on procedures and substance, so feel free to skip ahead. Apparently there was a widespread panic in the Boston area yesterday, following the discovery of number electronic devices featuring a cartoon figure (based on the old square aliens of Space Invaders) waving a middle finger at viewers. The idea was "guerilla marketing" wherein numerous pictures of a character from the show are posted in random places, leading spectators to wonder what's up, talk about it, look into it, etc. The CNN story linked above notes that similar devices have been in place for days in other cities.

Perhaps it is a known fact to MA authorities that Al Qaeda operatives always design their explosive devices with cartoon figures, and if so, then the City's reaction makes a little more sense. Otherwise, what resulted was masses of people, including city leaders, assuming that anything left in a public place had to be nefarious. To me, the calls for apologies and threats of criminal prosecution against the network that sponsored the promotion seem to be excessive. This was not a "hoax" in the sense that fake bombs were left around town. It was a poorly designed marketing plan that resulted in overreaction when it was assumed that full-scale panic and fear is the only suitable reaction to anything out of the ordinary.


Anonymous Dee said...

You may recall the cache at the Sam's in W.E. was blown up by the bomb squad. And the one in Wesleyville PA was also blown up. In both cases, someone in authority knew about it--but obviously, not all the employees at both places. So people saw something suspicious in their mind, and even though both cqches were clearly marked as caches, immediately decided they were bombs.

The Wesleyville one I can kind of understand--it was placed by police station (with permission of police)and I guess people looking in bushes around there, looking like they were hiding something would raise suspicions. But the one at Sam's I really don't understand. If it had been a bomb, it would have made a hole in the parking lot and the grass in an area where people never went, where cars never drove.

So that's a couple examples of panic right here in WNY and NW PA. It's too bad we have come to this point, but we're all a bit more jittery with recent world events So I can understand how mistakes can be made, how something innocent can seem to be dangerous.

But in this case, they were silly cartoon figures. I was also amazed that people were making such a big deal out of this. Do they not have anti-icing devices on any bridges in Boston? Those take a lot of electronics and sensors and gizmos to sense when the road is freezing and spray the anti-icing agents. I suppose a person could look carefully at a bridge like that and think it was a bomb.

To get back to your legal theme, after I have strayed far, far away,
it is especially upsetting to hear the threats of arrests and lawsuits. Law is not the answer to everything. How about a little civility instead?

12:13 AM  

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