Friday, September 28, 2007

Idiocracy I: Star Simpson's "hoax device".

The reaction to Star Simpson's arrest at Logan Airport has been crazier than the arrest itself, with one kook named McPhee, who some how managed to land a job at the Boston Herald, claiming that the young lady's murder at the hands of ill-trained, adrenaline-pumped airport security guards would have been "rightful", and many a blogger or commenter (one example) making the bizarre claim that Simpson was wearing a fake bomb. MIT, for its part, has been milquetoasty, opting to agree that Simpson's actions were reckless instead of condemning the reckless endangerment, false arrest, and malicious prosecution of one of its own.

That's not a "hoax device"; I can tell at a glance that it's no more plausibly a bomb than a Gameboy or Walkman. (Then again, Walkmans have gotten airport security panties in a bunch in the past.) It's a common breadboard, with a few LEDs crudely attached in a star shape (get it?) and powered by a nine-volt battery. There are no visible stray wires (leading to explosives inside the sweatshirt or elsewhere), nor are there any control switches or active electronics. A 35mm camera is more bomb-like. As for the "Play-Doh" being carried, it's likely it was a wad of Smart Mass putty or a similar knock-off.

Wayne Margolis, the prosecutor assigned to the case, attempted to secure unreasonably high bail, claiming, among other things, that Simpson showed a total disregard for her situation. If anything, as I see it, it was mere failure to realize that compared to a techie like herself, the average airport functionary is an ignorant, stupid, and dangerously loutish barbarian. Bostonian officials, especially, have shown themselves to be dumber than bricks when confronted by electronics. Still, a reasonable person would have pegged Simpson as a geek, not a threat, and there's no accounting for the behavior of the truly unreasonable.

Can we raise a legal offense fund for Ms. Simpson? I'm not willing to do the paperwork, but I'll contribute at least $10 to the effort of suing the pants off of:

  • The arresting officers, for false arrest.
  • The State or County, whichever is engaging in the baseless and possibly malicious prosecution.
  • Prosecutor Wayne Margolis, who is plainly disregarding the letter of the "hoax device" law several times over.
  • The unidentified lady at the counter, whose provision of false information to security nearly (according to police spokescritters) resulted in Simpson's wrongful death.

Additionally, Margolis should be disbarred for violation of Rule 3.8 of the State's Professional Rules of Conduct.

There's no need to shoot the bastards yet: If we start making malice and willful stupidity pay dearly, the powers that be will be more mindful of our rights and dignity, and our fellows will perhaps behave more like responsible citizens and less like Stasi.

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