Err on the Side of Caution?

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The terrorists have already won.

If the furor that ignited over yesterday’s surprise revelation that Err and Ignignokt had secretly infiltrated Boston (and nine other cities) is any indication, this climate of fear birthed in the wake of 911 has locked us in a stranglehold of our own design more constricting than any plot Osama could ever devise. Where’s Jack Bauer when we need him?

As I spied on one Blogger’s site “There’s a fine line between an LED and an IED (Incendiary Explosive Device).” That’s a great point.

To recap, yesterday morning Boston authorities scrambled to invesitigate a suspicious device found by a T employee affixed to a structural support beam. As images of the device began to make their way through the local government, the APB was called out to look for other suspicious objects. As the day ticked on, more and more of these objects were discovered attached to support structures throughout the city – leading to a number of building evacuations and street shutdowns. As Boston Mayor Tom Menino stated, the city was in crisis.

I have no problem with the initial reaction. Sure, in the wake of 911, strange devices aught to coax a second look. But one look at this device – a lite brite image of a Mooninite (from Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force) – shows that this is as innocuous an object as any random flyer or poster you see plastered throughout the city. It’s a marketing tool and a piece of art – a conversation piece.

The problem is that par for the course, our leaders overreacted to great extremes without doing a little bit of research. Hell, two minutes on Google could have cleared this whole mess up. 

Last night, while watching the FIFTEEN MINUTES OF LIVE COVERAGE!!! on the Fox 25 News (that’s more than a quarter of their news programming devoted to this non-story) – I got the sense that the city was playing the blame game. They know they overreacted to great cost to the community and now they were going to make someone pay. Menino was calling for 3-5 years of prison time for every Mooninite found to be levied against the poor starving artist who hung them up. Governor Deval Patrick backed him up.

So Deval is in favor of giving a rapist a second chance but if you hang up a poster, he’ll throw the book at ya’. The crazy thing is, where was this vitrol and outrage when the Big Dig began collapsing around us. Sure there was some grandstanding on behalf of Governor Romney but that was all just a power play to remove Matt Amorello from office. The scumbag lowball contractors pretty much skated on that one.

Menino’s reaction is just one more overreaction in Mumbles’ long career. You’ll recall last year, when on the morning of the Playstation 3 release, a crowd of consumers trampled a few individuals in a bid to claim a PS3 at the Copley Place mall. The furor was kicked off when the group that was lined up at one entrance spied a security guard opening an entrance directly opposite from where they were queued. The stampede left a few people injured and questions arose as to where the police support was for such a high profile location. Menino immediately deflected blame toward Sony, stating that their lack of available inventory was the true cause of the melee. Now, I’m no Sony fan, but I have a hard time connecting the dots and laying the blame at Sony’s feet whose apparent crime is producing a popular product.

It’s not just Boston, this sort of thing happens much too often these days and the media just laps it up. I’m reminded of the frenzy that developed around ‘Runaway Bride’ Jennifer Willbanks. If you recall that story, Willbanks disappeared fairly close to her wedding date, prompting her fiance to call out an all points bulletin to find his missing mistress. Next thing you know, agents from the State Police, FBI, CIA, NSA, Interpol and SETI were scouring the land looking for the lady on the lam. As the story turns, Willbanks had cold feet and didn’t want to marry the creep. Happens all the time, all over the world – yet because this guy had a few state government connections, a manhunt was launched. With egg on their face, the authorities decided that Willbanks needed to foot the bill for their manhunt. That’s a huge price to pay for ditching a dude who wouldn’t put out.

My point is, why must someone always pay? Menino is calling for the head of the Mooninites over a clear misunderstanding. Let’s focus our efforts on the rise in domestic crime on Boston city streets. An article in yesterday’s Boston Globe pointed to the fact that for the last 6 months, on average, one teen has been murdered per day on Boston city streets. Let’s move beyond caging the cartoonists and turn our attention to the true evil in our midst.

To quote my good man Ignignokt,

Mr. Mayor. I’m flipping you off as high as I can.”

Comments now closed (6)

  • Author’s Note – In re-reading my post, I can see clearly that some people may interpret my comments on the Jennifer Willbanks situation as being tied to MA state government. I know that case didn’t occur in our jurisdiction – I’m just using it to illustrate another example where some governmental authority sought to deflect blame in a situation where perhaps, blame wasn’t warranted.

  • On the FOX 25 point, I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a non-story. The magnitude of the response made it a news story.. for better or for worse.

  • @Sean – I knew I’d end up misquoting the wrong fictional character. Thanks for the correction. I hope I don’t have a libel suit here.

    @Mook – My label of this as a non-story is purely my opinion. Lite Brite decorations hung around a city is as much a story as those fiberglass cows you see dotting every Midwestern hub. It’s a non-event. True, the response makes the story but it could be argued that the news created a story out of a non-story through their round-the-clock coverage – hence fanning the frenzy throughout the day. Either way – what a tremendous waste of tax dollars this was and I for one don’t feel Turner Broadcasting or some dude looking to make a quick buck should have to foot that bill.

    BTW – I heard on WBZ this morning that there was commentary received from officials in NYC and Portland, OR – two cities which also housed these devices. The NYC official said there was never any concern. “We’ve got plenty of flashing lights in this city already.” The Portland, OR sheriff stated “We looked at one of these devices and it doesn’t appear suspicious in any way.”

    Either way, the point of my commentary stands. This non-story became a story because cooler heads couldn’t prevail.

  • You know who I blame for this?

    The Partiots. Plain and simple.

    If they had won their last game in Indy, the media hype-mongerers would have been focused on Miami, the pols would be getting their requisite face-time by betting clam chowda for deep dish pizza, and the fine citizens of Boston would have had something better to focus their attention on.

    As it stands, the mid-winter blues have gotten the better of us. What we won’t do for a little excitement around here…