Thursday, February 01, 2007

WAR ON TERROR-OSIS: Nation loses sense of humor, suffers collective nervous breakdown

"We're the laughing stock," said Tracy O'Connor, 34, to the Associated Press.

"It's almost too easy to be a terrorist these days," said another twenty-something girl. "You stick a box on a corner and you can shut down a city."

It's true. The government, newsmedia and the counter-terror industry have worked so hard to gin up fear over terrorism and what it's allegedly easy for terrorists to do, common sense is absent from the playing field. DD has written about the it's easy concept more than anyone else and what it has meant for the country and pursuit of terrorists, real and imagined.

The latest news, which your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow assumes you've seen, comes as a furor over a marketing ploy for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Never seen it.

However, in promotion of the show, electronic boxes displaying one of its animated characters flipping the bird were placed in cities around the country. In Boston, the mayor and the bomb squad flipped out at the flipping lights, roiling various transportation lines and clogging things up in their zeal for removing the items, which were said to look suspicious.

The problem was they looked like what they were. Harmless. And DD reckons a bomb squad man, if he wasn't incompetent, certainly knew it upon examination of one. At which point, some common sense could have been deployed, a few phone calls made, and the arrests of harmless people and the bloviating on the calumnies of such pranks after 9/11 avoided.

However, the nation lost its collective sense of humor and ability to laugh at itself long ago. It has so allowed the manipulators of fear to run wild in the name of security, it is a bit astonishing to DD that more people aren't arrested. In this respect, terrorists have won.

When someone is booked on something as silly as a viral marketing campaign for a cartoon, we've shown that our country has made the work of terrorists easy.

Last summer, the Los Angeles Times ran a promotion for "Mission Impossible III." It involved putting movie theme music players into newspaper boxes. At the time, DD was picking up the Times at the corner in one such box. I was slightly surprised by the music and amused by the contraption in the box. It was poorly installed and had wires coming from it.

However, I work from the belief, informed by some real experience, that terrorists don't seem to be as clever as our leaders would have everyone think, in spite of one bad day. They were not going to be in Pasadena at the corner of Sierra Bonita, one block north of Colorado to ambush a couple of people near the coffee-making company. They're in London, being sent over for trying to make bombs out of flour and hydrogen peroxide, or WMDs from thousands of smoke detectors.

In any case, the same thing happened with the Mission Impossible III promotion. It was mistaken for bombs.

"A newspaper promotion for Tom Cruise’s upcoming “Mission: Impossible III” got off to an explosive start when a county arson squad blew up a news rack, thinking it contained a bomb," wrote one news story.

"The confusion: the Los Angeles Times rack was fitted with a digital musical device designed to play the “Mission: Impossible” theme song when the door was opened. But in some cases, the red plastic boxes with protruding wires were jarred loose and dropped onto the stack of newspapers inside, alarming customers.

"Sheriff’s officials said they rendered the news rack in this suburb 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles 'safe' after being called to the scene Friday by a concerned individual who thought he’d seen a bomb."

In today's Los Angeles Times was an article telling of how the federal government was immediately going to sue the paper and the moviemaker for the year old stunt. Forgotten, it now comes about as a direct result of the arrests and confusion resulting from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force promotion.

The local federal attorney tied the Times promotion to an incidence at the VA Medical Center in LA. "The VA sustained damages as a result of the evacuation," claimed the DA. And an evacuation occured because a music player was mistaken for a bomb at the hospital. "Our preliminary estimate of the VA's loss is $92,855.77."

An estimate of damages, down to seventy-seven cents! One would laugh if it weren't so sad, an indication that an authority has lost her mind to the war on terror.

Returning to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force promo, "[the] New York Police Department removed 41 of the devices — 38 in Manhattan and three in Brooklyn, according to spokesman Paul Browne," wrote AP. "The NYPD had not received any complaints. But when it became aware of the situation, it contacted Cartoon Network, which provided the locations so the devices could be removed."

Another annoying item to be gleaned from these imbroglios is that alleged government information sharing, the kind that actually might benefit people, still isn't so hot. Other cities, like New York and Philadelphia, knew of the gadgets but no one bothered to get their heads together and send out informative memos to peers. No one appeared to pick up the phone to say, "Hey, don't lose your shirt if you see this."

Or perhaps they did pick up the phone and no one answered or it was impossible to get through. Can you get through to anyone at a company or a government agency? Of course not. You get a phone maze and robots.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Destiny, you are a brave and noble man, for you speak the truth! I can not read this story without convulsive laughter. I now feel we are safe from attacks by cartoon characters and realize the monsters are due on maple st. at any time.

7:43 PM  

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