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Boston is insane.

by Brandon on February 1st, 2007

Yesterday morning I chuckled when I saw the news reports about the “bomb scare” in Boston, where some off-their-rocker police person in Boston decided that a neon sign that was part of a viral marketing campaign for an upcoming movie looked like a bomb.  “That must be embarassing,” I thought – who could be so stupid as to think what is essentially a Lite Brite would be an explosive?  I suppose it’s good to know that Boston authorities are on top of things if some evil terrorists decide to place very small bombs with big flashing bright lights depicting a popular cartoon character on them in publicly visible places.  I feel safer already.

But this whole thing became a lot less funny when I heard they were pressing charges against two men who work for the advertising agency that Turner Broadcasting hired to run the marketing campaign.  Are they insane?  But wait, it gets better.  Apparently they’re being charged with a felony for placing a “hoax device that causes panic.”  Again, this would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that these two guys are actually being charged with this stuff.  The assistant attorney general there apparently refers to the signs as “bomb-like devices” and has gone on record saying “if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city.” 

He’s so right.  In fact, if the billboards along I-90 were explosive, they could injure passing motorists.  Heck, if my TV exploded right now that would really suck.  Maybe I should sue Starbucks, because if my cup of coffee here exploded, I could get hurt.

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  1. Chuck permalink

    Put yourself in the shoes of law enforcement before you call them “insane.”

    Can you imagine the fallout if there had actually been bombs disguised as toys (it has happened before), but the officers just ignored them? Or, if they saw the toy/bombs and said to themselves, “Oh, these are probably just part of some viral marketing campaign stunt”?

    Then the bombs go off, people are killed and injured, and the whole country wants to crucify everyone and anyone in Boston who is in any way connected to law enforcement, from the mayor on down. Of course, President Bush would get blamed as well, because he should have somehow prevented it from happening in the first place.

    Just because teenagers and twenty-somethings know about “viral marketing campaigns,” and recognize them for what they are, doesn’t mean everyone else in the country knows, or even cares, about such things.

    Your comments on this whole episode display a level of arrogance that is, unfortunately, typical of your generation.

  2. Chuck – I have no problem with law enforcement investigating something they have reason to believe is suspicious, that’s well within their duties.

    However, you are truly defending their decision to *PRESS CHARGES* against these guys? I should hope not, as that attitude displays a detachment from reality that is, unfortunately, becoming more and more pervasive in our society.

  3. I completely agree Brandon.. all too often when law enforcement agencies get cocky and think they have something “big” on their hands, they step over the line and start turning their duty of ‘law enforcement’ over to accusation, and in this case borderline creation of public panic. Cops love to blow things out of proportion. I even watched a man get arrested the other day because he had a syringe in his vehicle, even after he showed the officer an insulin bottle.

    It also doesn’t help when they start spreading false information before they even know what’s going on. When the authorities are notified of what could possibly be a bomb or a terrorist threat, they and the rest of the people involved should not be screaming “bomb”. They should keep their mouth shut, not only to avoid a false scare, but also to prevent the hypothetical terrorists from knowing what’s up.


    While I agree that every report to authorities involving this kind of thing should be fully investigated, and that they would have definately caught flak had they passed the devices off at toys, that doesn’t explain what they did afterward, which was allow the false news to be spread around to the public, and go on to accuse simple advertising employees with an attempt to cause public panic. Seems kind of ironic since it wouldn’t have been public OR a panic had the police force kept it under wraps, eh? Until authorities determine that what they found WAS a bomb, they shouldn’t be crying wolf, and in turn, should announce that the devices are harmless after the first one is torn apart.

    It seems to me that ‘detachment from reality’ attitude Brandon mentioned seems to be more present in YOUR generation, namely being too gung-ho to blame people for things they shouldn’t be blamed for. Everytime I hear about some jackass pointing fingers at the mayor or president Bush for a bombing, or suing McDonalds because *gasp* their coffee was hot, it’s never one of those damned twenty-somethings you mentioned.. it’s someone of the 40+ generation.

    Anyone who wants to blame advertising employees who put up SIGNS for causing a “hoax” or “public panic”, IS, infact, insane.. not to mention an asshole. If you want to talk about placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, how about the 2 men who will now have a felony on their record for advertising a TV show?

    If only ruining someone’s life for no reason at all were a felony..

  4. Mike permalink

    So the point here is not that there was concern about the devices initially, but that charges are being placed that are obviously so crap in the UK they wouldn’t bother – the Crown Prosecution Service would complain if they had to deal with it.

    I lived in Boston for two years just a couple of years ago. I’ve been back a number of times since. Seemed like a well-balanced place to me, given that Logan is where most of 9/11 started from. Airport security was a bit paranoid (as in there was more theatre going on than real security), but that’s the case all over the US right now, and in the UK (but not in Beijing!).

    From this side of the Atlantic, and having just come back from a 1 week trip to the Bay Area, I reckon the problem is the media, as much as the police. They’re looking for panic. Panic and fear sells stories. Explosive neon advertising is about as good as it gets for them. Much of this story has been over-hyped by the media, and sometimes that places the police in a difficult position as well….

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