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MIT Student Arrested For Wearing 'Tech Art' Shirt At Airport 1547

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-be-a-jerk-to-the-police,-they-have-guns dept.
SuperBanana writes "According to a report by the Boston Globe, MIT Student Star Simpson was nearly shot by Logan Airport police who thought she was armed with a bomb. She approached an airline employee wearing a prototyping board with electronic components, crudely attached to the front of her sweatshirt and holding 'putty' in her hand. She asked about an incoming flight, and did not respond when asked about the device. Armed police responded. 'Simpson was charged with possessing a hoax device and was arraigned today East Boston Municipal Court. She was held on $750 cash bail and ordered to return to court Oct. 29. "Thankfully because she followed our instructions, she ended up in our cell instead of a morgue," Pare said. "Again, this is a serious offense ... I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport."'"
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MIT Student Arrested For Wearing 'Tech Art' Shirt At Airport

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:57PM (#20701489) Homepage Journal

    Hrmmmm.... looking at the "device" from the images on the link makes me think the police overreacted. Come on now.... holding her at gunpoint? Granted, it was likely not the smartest move on her part not to respond about the "device" when asked, but once again, I am dismayed that people are getting owned by fears of terrorism and things and people that look "abnormal".

    Reminds me of that guy who dressed up as the alien predator in the UK and got the British police all over him. Anyone have a link to the video of that?

    Or how about the Muslim men that were asked to leave a flight because they spoke in Arabic?

    Or how about the guy who was not allowed to fly with his breadboard that he was using for prototyping. They let him fly with one in its package though if *that* makes any sense.

    Pare said. "Again, this is a serious offense ... I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport."'"

    Why is it that airports have special significance? Seriously, think about it. There are many other places with large concentrations of people that we are not spending any money on for security that would be ideal terroristic locations. Would you say that "I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to a college campus"? or how about "I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an art show"? or how about "I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to a concert"? or "I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to a park"?. Is all this paranoia actually making us safer? I suspect what it is doing is making flying more inconvenient for the traveler, more expensive for the airlines, reducing businesses ability to function and more because let's be honest here.... It is not hard to imagine any number of amazingly effective scenarios that terrorists could use that would be far more effective than focusing on airports, so quit with all of the panic reactions already.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:08PM (#20701707)



      Hrmmmm.... looking at the "device" from the images on the link makes me think the police overreacted.
      I had exactly the opposite reaction. I think the response was totally appropriate. Look at it. Not only is it extremely provocative from the average persons TV-level awareness of bomb gadgetry, but personally with a EE background I'd be even more alarmed by it's context.

      It's a tough call on when cops should draw their guns. If this was in the frozen food section at Safeway and the person seemed to be acting like a shopper then drawing guns would be an overreaction. In a crowded airport is a different venue and one rife with bomb-related contexts and plentiful warnings that stupid remarks will be taken at face value. The purpose of drawing guns is not to shoot but to immediately control a situation that could be deadly. Shut it down and sort it out in a safe place.

      I've had guns drawn on me when I was drunk hiding in the bushes near the scene of what looked suspiciously top the cops like breaking into a car. (it wasn't but it was reasonably confused). I did not blame them for flushing me out that way, cause sometimes it owuld not have been a drunk collge student but someone with intent to escape. Cops just never know what the situation brings when they show up.

      • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:26PM (#20702167)
        I'm an EE too.

        I'm going to agree with you on this one. To a layperson (e.g. TSA screener), that looks a hell of a lot like a TV bomb, what with all the blinking lights and whatnot. Add in the silly putty (which looks a LOT like plastique) and you're just itching for trouble.

        The screeners acted appropriately by drawing their weapons, removing the device, and sorting it out in a safe place. She's lucky she's not dead. There are parts of the world where she would have been killed for this. I don't know what I would have done. Maybe I'd have [Internet Tough Guy]. Hopefully, I'd have run away and not just stand there.

        Yes, the airline rules are stupid and pointless. That doesn't mean you strap on a fake bomb and walk into an airport for a lark. Yes, we all know that there's no bogeyman, but not everyone reads /.

        Next on the MIT agenda:
        Get a bunch of old railroad flares, tape them to an alarm clock, and mail them to various white house staffers. Should be a laugh.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lymond01 (314120)
        Well said. The incident should not be downplayed. The police, in my opinion, did the right thing. She walked into a crowded facility not carrying but wearing a circuit board. I mentioned this story to a friend and he simply said, "So she's dead?" assuming the police had shot her. He figured she was trying to commit suicide.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Starteck81 (917280)
      Do you know what an IED looks like? Are you a bomb expert? I have a friend that is and that device does look similar to an IED. click here [fusion94.org] for an example and then decide if that doesn't look like a bomb.
    • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:09PM (#20701735) Homepage Journal
      First, have you seen the picture [yahoo.com] of the circuit board?

      Second, the person who reported it as suspicious was a person who worked at an Information booth, not the TSA or somebody else (marginally) trained as to what a potential explosive device looks like.

      She was also reported as carrying a putty-like substance in her hands (which turned out to be Play-Doh.

      The police, acting on a tip that somebody was wearing a Rube Goldeberg electronics device and carrying a putty-like substance, jacked her up.

      Were this a real terrorist carrying plastics and wearing an electronic trigger, the average person would expect a full-on response from law enforcement. The police, not knowing whether it was real or not delivered a full-on response.

      She's a dumbfvck and deserves whatever she gets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why is it that airports have special significance? Seriously, think about it.

      you are right, of course.

      there is NOTHING special about airports vs bus stations or concerts or schools or large corp buildings or WHATEVER!

      its our society-of-fear that instills this "oooh, scary place!" stuff in our heads when we think 'airport'.

      but you are right - inherently, its just a place where people go to travel from, as a travel nodepoint. the false conditioning that the gov is placing in us is VERY suspect, to me. it se
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill (739463)

      Why is it that airports have special significance? Seriously, think about it.

      There are many reasons that airports have special significance:

      1. Terrorists have a track record of targeting them
      2. A small bomb in a park can kill a few people. A small bomb on an airplane can kill a few hundred.
      3. If you set off a bomb at a gas station or a grocery store, people will still buy gas and groceries. But most business travel and all tourism is discretionary. So one bomb can result in the loss of millio
    • by timholman (71886) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:22PM (#20702073)

      Hrmmmm.... looking at the "device" from the images on the link makes me think the police overreacted. Come on now.... holding her at gunpoint? Granted, it was likely not the smartest move on her part not to respond about the "device" when asked, but once again, I am dismayed that people are getting owned by fears of terrorism and things and people that look "abnormal".

      Yes, it does look innocuous enough to someone who knows something about electronics. It looks like a solderable protoboard with some LEDs and a battery. She was probably using an NE555 or something similar to flash the LEDs. Harmless enough, although it looks tacky as hell. Someone needs to teach her good construction technique.

      However, to a layman that circuit board would be completely incomprehensible. I know from personal experience that airport screeners are also paranoid about 9 V batteries, as I was questioned about a bunch that I was carrying in a bag with some video equipment. Add to that the fact that she was carrying modeling clay, which just so happens to look like plastic explosive (or at least what a layman would think plastic explosive looks like).

      Assuming this was a truly harmless mistake on her part, and not some misguided prank, then she has just learned a valuable lesson that all techie types should take to heart: laymen do NOT understand what we do, or what we perceive as "harmless". In their minds, "I do not know what that is" equates to "it may be dangerous". You simply cannot walk into a government facility or an airport with a homemade electronic device in plain view and not expect to be challenged about it!
    • by MikeyTheK (873329) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:24PM (#20702137)
      The Darwin Awards are crying right now. So close and yet so far.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "Hrmmmm.... looking at the "device" from the images on the link makes me think the police overreacted. Come on now.... holding her at gunpoint?"

      That's a no-win situation. If they don't stop her, and if she went kablooey, there'd be all sorts of people demanding to know why they didn't. It's human nature, really. When something tragic happens, we try to figure out how to prevent it. Sometimes that goes to silly extremes.

      "Granted, it was likely not the smartest move on her part..."

      It was't a smart move at
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550)
      Absolutely idiotic reply. I'm sure you're a decent bloke, but that reply just staggers me.

      There's a 40 year history that, even barring 9/11, one would have to be a staggering incompetent to not understand that anything that suggests "explosives" + "airport" is a bad idea.

      The police are supposed to tell at a glance that it's fake? And let me ask, if they were wrong, treated it (and her) as simply a moronic college student and she DID blow up, killing herself, a few cops, and injuring dozens of bystanders -
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:58PM (#20701501) Journal

    Hmmmm, I think as an art project I'd like to create something that I definitively know is not a bomb but really could look like a bomb to the average person, and maybe even people whose job is security at the airports. As a matter of fact, I think I'll try this out for fun and go to the airport and see what their reactions are. Geez, this'll be fun.

    This MIT genius almost became a SBC. I think security at airports is lousy, and it's mostly a joke, but this is hardly a prank I'd consider pulling, and while this "artist" is likely to get mileage out of the alleged overreactions of security, I have no admiration for what looks to be if not stupid, an incredibly mis-guided caper.

    These are the idiots who goad people trying their best to do their jobs into making split-second decisions, but have magnitudes more time to create accusations about why the split-second decisions were wrong, or violated their civil rights, or something to make "bad people" look bad. Arrrrgggghhhh.

    Notably about this student, she's 19, meaning she's certainly old enough to have understood the gravity of 9/11 being 13 at the time. She might think it's funny, she ought to apologize. </i> (from last post)

    • Apologize?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by darkmayo (251580)
      For What.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nate nice (672391)
        For causing a scene like this and almost forcing someone to blow her head off and having to live with that. Do you think the security officer wants to blow an innocent girls head off? Of course not, but he has to make split second decisions and this is something that looks suspicious.

        She wasn't thinking when she decided that this type of fashion was something that wouldn't maybe turn some heads in an airport.

        And frankly, I'm not sure of the legality of a piece of fashion like that in an airport.

        She certai
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          And frankly, I'm not sure of the legality of a piece of fashion like that in an airport.

          Wow, we're outlawing clothes now?

          • Re:Apologize?? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by p0tat03 (985078) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:24PM (#20702135)

            While I know that Slashdot loves their anarchist sentiments so much, let's consider common sense here. If you wear something that looks like a bomb into a public place, airport or otherwise, it's not "clothes" or "fashion", it's just dangerously stupid. I suppose I can walk around carrying a gigantic bloody butcher knife and call it "fashion accessory" when I'm arrested also?

            I'm all for free expression, but people like her give us freedom-loving people a bad name. The freedom to express ourselves comes with self-policing responsibilities.

      • Well, for starters how about:
        1. Doing something insanely stupid.
        2. Causing a major disruption to the operations of an airport (assuredly causing travel delays for others)
        3. Scaring the living shit out of people
        4. Not responding to questions about her shirt/putty in her hand.
        5. Wasting the time/resources of police officers.
        6. Soiling the good name of Duracell for involving it in her "device"
        Do we really need to keep going?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aaronl (43811)
          Perhaps she'd been wearing it the entire day and didn't even think about it any more. #4 can be trivially explained by anyone that's around most engineering school techies: query was answered, moving on, no longer paying attention.

          #2,3,5 can be explained by another idiotic response by the already embarrassing law enforcement actions of the Boston area.

          Perhaps if they had held off on the thugs with MP-5s, and tried a direct question, then they wouldn't have had panic, a needless arrest, and mocked-up charge
          • Perhaps if they had held off on the thugs with MP-5s, and tried a direct question, then they wouldn't have had panic, a needless arrest, and mocked-up charges

            From TFA

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

            Sounds like they tried exactly what you recommend, and she decided not to comply (perhaps with the smarmy "moving on, no longer paying attention" attitude as well) which would be more than enough reason to raise suspicion.

            Perhaps these antics by law enforcement are disgusting and against the public interest?

            As a member of the public, I can say that their actions were in my interests. I would much rather have airport security that is willing to investigate s

    • by spud603 (832173) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:04PM (#20701611)
      I think you're approaching this all wrong. The point is that it was not a "stunt" or "prank" or "joke". The way I read it she really was just wearing the thing.
    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:15PM (#20701889) Journal
      Dead on. (Almost literally.) Some addenda:

        - Security people are paid to have NO sense of humor.

        - Bad guys are known to probe security with plausibly-deniable bogus threats, in order to identify weaknesses, before perpetrating the real action. To counter this, when security detects such a probe they must react in a way that takes the bad guy out of circulation, rather than letting him continue to probe until he finds and exploits a weakness. If that means such "artists" as this one who deliberately probe security become "collateral damage", too bad. They knew the rules when they performed their "art". (But it's still up to security to distinguish between deliberate probes and accidental appearances, to avoid penalizing true innocents.)
  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Friday September 21, 2007 @03:58PM (#20701513)
    Do they just need to do some public service announcements about what a real bomb looks like and what fake electronic gadgets look like?
  • Insane (Score:3, Insightful)

    by endianx (1006895) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:02PM (#20701573)
    She is very lucky she didn't get shot. You'd have to be insane or a moron to wear something like that to an airport. She got in to MIT though so I vote "insane".
    • Re:Insane (Score:5, Funny)

      by mcmonkey (96054) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:10PM (#20701743) Homepage

      She is very lucky she didn't get shot. You'd have to be insane or a moron to wear something like that to an airport. She got in to MIT though so I vote "insane".

      You're right. I'm flying (out of Logan FWIW) next week and plan to show up at the airport wearing nothing but a sign reading, "this is not a bomb."

      And I'm not eating any beans between now and then, just to be on the safe side.

      (If I wanted to be a troll I could make some comment about how fast the police respond to a 9-volt battery and some wires at the uptown airport, but they never seem to catch the folks with the real guns at the downtown bus stops.)

  • by hodet (620484) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:02PM (#20701579)
    This person is insane and has a death wish. I almost got shot for trying to smuggle toothpaste in my carry-on bag and I think I may be on a terrorist list for a nail clipper. Attaching shit to your T-Shirt that looks like a bomb sounds like a great way to end your life. MIT pumping out the best and brightest I see.
    • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:12PM (#20701809)

      This person is insane and has a death wish. I almost got shot for trying to smuggle toothpaste in my carry-on bag and I think I may be on a terrorist list for a nail clipper.
      What airport were you in; Baghdad? There is no way in hell you "almost got shot" for having toothpaste in your carry on, and your nail clipper isn't going to land you on any lists except America's Most Trimmed. I'm not defending the airport paranoia that has followed the war on terror, but you're taking hyperbole to the realm of sheer fantasy.
  • Boston (Score:5, Funny)

    by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25&cfl,rr,com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:03PM (#20701587) Homepage Journal
    So is there anything that Boston authorities WON'T mistake for a bomb?
  • who think playdoh, a circuit board, and some wires hanging off your person should not be a problem in an airport, and to think it is a problem is a sign of the coming fascist apocalypse
  • by JamesTKirk (876319) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:05PM (#20701627)
    I think this is a classic case of someone who is obviously very bright academically, but who doesn't have an ounce of common sense. Yes, upon close inspection, the device might not look like a bomb, but the police don't have time for close inspection when it's the real thing. I actually WANT the police to overreact in cases like this in order to keep me safer.
  • It's suspicious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nate nice (672391) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:06PM (#20701653) Journal
    Regardless of if it looks like a bomb (isn't that subjective anyways) it is certainly suspicious and the airport guards did the right thing.

    I mean honestly, how many wear a bread board with led's, etc (and possibly hold putty or what appears to be in their hands) when they walk into an airport? Airports personal are going to look for suspicious activity and this definitely was.

    WTF was this girl thinking? Was she trying to make a statement that a lot of people with no electronics experience think a bomb might look like something out of the show 24? She could have paid with a bullet to the head. Just stupid.

    you just can't walk into an airport like this. You don't fuck around in those places.
  • by loggia (309962) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:08PM (#20701699)
    From I've heard, this is not like the Aqua Teen Hunger Force situation at all.

    She clearly wanted to provoke a reaction. She was holding clay in her hand, she was wearing a circuit board that may have looked like a bomb and she WENT INTO AN AIRPORT.

    Hello?

    Do we automatically defend every artistic tech person or only the sane ones?

    Unless some other information comes forward, this artist wanted to be arrested.

    And she was.

  • by bladel (104002) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:09PM (#20701715)
    ...but what the hell was she thinking with a shirt like this?

    Her choice of "artistic expression" isn't immediately recognizable, and therefore has to be treated as a threat.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:09PM (#20701729)
    I see several posts here of the form "its obvious this isn't a bomb because...". What everyone is overlooking is the fact that the average person at the airport, including the guards, are not nerds that would have knowledge of C4 or how bombs really work, etc. They don't all read Slashdot.

    In short, while I agree that the US in general is very much over-reacting to threats, this person was a major doofus, and she should be treated as such. She's damned lucky she only ended up in a jail cell, and not with a sudden and terminal case of lead poisoning. I wonder if she, or her nearest surviving relatives, would have thought it was so funny if an innocent bystander were killed or injured had it gone down a different way.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:10PM (#20701741) Journal
    All the training and FUD put into anit-terrorism won't stop a reasonably intelligent and determined terrorist. All that has been accomplished is to show the WORLD how ineffective anti-terrorist measures really are. While we are busy concentrating on stopping boy scouts and grandmothers from flying, REAL terrorists are figuring out how to shut down power grids, poison water supplies, or get a job in China so they can poison us with the US Government's consent.

    I'm amazed they didn't tazer the girl and turn a piece of artwork into a real exploding device!

    Seriously this country needs to get a grip on itself. These types of incidents would not seem all that bad if there really WERE terrorists walking around every airport in the US. Trouble is, there just isn't. Even when London was being bombed semi-regularly by the IRA, anti-terror measures were not so intrusive or blatantly idiotic.

    It has been shown (sorry no links) that these anti-terror measures have failed to reduce terrorism at all, and in fact, recent anti-terror triumphs were due to ordinary pre-9/11 police methodologies.

    If it wasn't such a dire situation, I might want to laugh...
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:13PM (#20701833)
    Someone edited my story and added sensationalist quotes I could swear I didn't include. Oh, and added a link to Boing Boing, which was pretty pointless, given I linked to an actual newspaper.

    Key facts:

    • She was wearing an electronic circuit board taped to her chest which contained an assortment of wires, components, LEDs, and a battery.
    • She was holding a "putty like" substance in her hand which could easily be viewed as plastic explosives.
    • She approached an airport employee, asked for information about a specific flight. The employee asked about the circuit board on her chest, and she turned around and walked away without answering.
    • Airport security responded to the description of what sounded like a suicide bomber.

    I am rabidly for freedom, privacy, and personal rights. I'm quite set against abusive use of police force. This was not even remotely an unreasonable action by the airport police, and it has NOTHING in common with the whole "mooninite" incident, save similarities in the type of device.

  • Talk about dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

    by intx13 (808988) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:16PM (#20701911) Homepage
    I'm surprised at the posts defending this girl - suggesting that airport security should be able to identify electrical components and distinguish art putty from plastic explosives at a glance. If they were trained to do that, they'd be the ones at MIT, not this girl! It sounds like they handled the situation correctly - asked her what the device was, and then detained her without needing to use violence when she didn't respond.

    As to the girl herself - how dumb do you have to be? What would convince someone to question the arrival time of a flight while wearing electronics and handling putty? How about some common sense? I hesitate to say "she's lucky she's not dead", since that implies that deadly force would have been justified in this case, but at a certain point it's hard to have pity.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to paint a squirt gun black and walk into a kindergarten, then complain when the teachers can't distinguish my toy from the real deal.
    • Re:Talk about dumb (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bockelboy (824282) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:40PM (#20702543)
      It's a tricky situation. She was headed to MIT's career day, and dropped by the airport to pick up her boyfriend. For career day, she made a little LED nametag with a 5 point star which lit up.

      Get it? It's a light-up star on her nametag, and her name is "Star".

      It sounds like a ticket person outside asked her what it was and she ignored/didn't notice them. Don't know what the silly putty was about. The ticket person did exactly what they were supposed to do when something is suspicious and called the police. The police responded exactly to protocol.

      It sounds like the police is running on a little too much testosterone when he said "she's lucky she is in a cell, not a morgue"; that's the sort of thing which exacerbates a media situation. He should have shut up an let a PR person handle it. I'm sure they would have shot her if she started running or something, but she had no reason to.

      The police responded according to protocol. The girl did a thoughtless thing (should have answered the ticket lady's question about what it was). In the name of good security, you sometimes have false positives. If there was a mistake made and it so obviously wasn't intentional, the police should search you, question you, and send you away with the crap thoroughly scared out of you.

      My frustration here is when the police take a simple, thoughtless mistake (she was just on her way to career day!) on some poor college student's part and blow it up into an international media incident, make it sound scary ("We almost shot her! blah blah blah"), and charge her with a crime (hoax bomb device) that obviously is false.

      The definition of hoax is "humorous or malicious deception" according to my dictionary. Unless the bit about the Play-Doh ends up being a significant part of the story, you *really* have to stretch things to make her actions sound malicious.
  • by SamP2 (1097897) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:18PM (#20701971)
    Let's say I work as a police officer at the airport. I see some girl coming forward with this device with chips and wires which bears reasonable resemblance to a bomb.

    It is either a bomb, or it is not.

    I can either choose to take action, or not to.

    If I choose not to take action, and it does happen to be a bomb, then innocent people will die, the world will be in chaos all over again, and I'll probably go to prison for dereliction of duty. If it is not a bomb, then at best nothing will happen, but much more likely I'll get at least a reprimand for negligence and at worst will lose my job for the same reason.

    If I choose to take action, then at best I will prevent a major catastrophe, become famous for quickly and bravely acting, and in general be the hero of the day. And if it is not a bomb? Well then probably I'll be able to justify my actions anyways, on grounds of reasonable assumption and the surrounding situation where time can be critical. At the worst, all I'll get is some trolls flaming me on Slashdot.

    I'll go with the second option, thank you.
  • by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:19PM (#20701985)
    Problem #1 with arresting someone for wearing a "suspicious" breadboard: Terrorists wouldn't do that.

    Seriously, are we honestly so stupid to believe that terrorists are going to go walking around with wires all over their clothes? They're going to put the fucking bomb UNDER their clothes. It's not going to tick, it's not going to beep, and there's not going to be an obvious bright LED countdown clock.

    This isn't 24, it's real life.

    There's nothing wrong with questioning the kid or examining the device - that's just common sense. But there is exactly zero reason to arrest the kid once it's clear that it's nothing but a blinking T-Shirt. It's not a "hoax device", it's a blinking T-shirt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krgallagher (743575)
      "Problem #1 with arresting someone for wearing a "suspicious" breadboard: Terrorists wouldn't do that."

      I am old enough to remember the '70's when the airports all had signs saying that even joking about having a bomb or hijacking a plane could get you arrested. If it had been a real bomb and gone off, everyone saying it is stupid to assume it is a bomb would be saying it was stupid to take a chance that the bomb was a fake. Corollary to Problem #1: The best way to hide a bomb is out in the open where no o

  • "Hoax device" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Belgand (14099) <belgand@nOSpaM.planetfortress.com> on Friday September 21, 2007 @04:37PM (#20702469) Homepage
    Ok, enough with the constant claims of something being a "hoax device" and prosecuting someone for it.

    If it's a hoax worth prosecuting over the person involved had damned well better state or firmly imply that one object is, in fact, another. In this case as before in the Mooninite issue it was a third-party who made a mistake about an object that was never intended to be misinterpreted. This makes it a misunderstanding. You tell the person why you made the mistake, probably suggest that in light of this mistake they avoid doing it in the future (although that's entirely up to them, of course), apologize explaining that you were only trying to do the right thing, and send them on their way.

    In other words: "Oh, we're very sorry, but from our laymen's point of view it looked like it might be a bomb of some sort. I'm sure you can understand where we're coming from with this and, in light of this fact, why we reacted the way we did."

    The lack of an intent to deceive is really the issue here. The Piltdown Man was a hoax, this is just a misunderstanding.
  • by xzqx (866110) on Friday September 21, 2007 @08:07PM (#20706169)
    This is one of the reasons I hated going to MIT. There were so many people who came from these high school backgrounds where they were ostracized and ignored for being nerds, and suddenly they're at MIT! Such an enlightened place! People understand me! So for some reason, people decide to act in ways that get attention from everyone around them. And when they're off campus, it's so exciting to make all the "normal" people think they're so weird! I absolutely agree with the police in this case; she was not using common sense; she just wanted to impress people with her brainyness and weirdness. I was kind of like that (although not quite that stupid!). I feel sort of bad for her; she'll never live it down, but that's what happens.

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