The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Boston overreacts to ‘alien’ invasion

Viewpoint by David Boyd/reporter

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, America has found a government full of hyper vigilance with orange alerts, metal detectors and no fly lists. Most of us have taken it all in stride.

Recent events in Boston, however, revealed no matter how prepared and vigilant we are, fear will circumvent logic in any attack-—even if the attacker is just a cartoon.

In mid January, Boston and nine other U.S. cities were invaded by aliens. Not illegal aliens, but the Moononites. As part of a marketing campaign for a movie based on Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force, small signs were placed in highly visible locations in Boston, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta and Austin. Similar in size and function to a child’s Lite Brite, the signs were small LED displays: a foot-long circuit board painted black, with an arrangement of lights depicting Aqua Teen Hunger Force characters Ignignokt and Err.

Some cities removed the signs immediately while others apathetically saw nothing wrong. When the first sign was reported in Boston, two weeks after 40 had been placed around town, Mayor Tom Menino and the Boston Police Department took a different approach.

After police received a tip about a suspicious device near a bus station Jan. 31, responding officers found the thin circuit board, complete with cartoon aliens giving the finger. Stunned, the officers called for reinforcements.

The Boston Globe referred to the response, with police cruisers, fire trucks ambulances and a bomb squad, as “an army of emergency vehicles.”

As TV crews and helicopters converged on the scene, police shut down the bus system and part of an interstate. An hour later, the bomb squad used an explosive to blow up the device as a precaution.

Other Moononite signs were found, and the Coast Guard helped cut off river traffic and close down major bridges. Under the direction of Menino, Boston basically shut down while it dealt with a crisis he later equated to Sept. 11.

Turner Broadcasting apologized and vowed to pay for the expensive scandal. Menino was derided as incompetent, tyrannical and out of touch with younger voters/viewers. Two young men who installed the devices were arrested and charged with felonies. Menino vowed to fight to take Cartoon Network off the air.

Vigilance and keen observation skills, especially involving public transportation may help us prevent the next terror attack, but observation without interpretive skills will not. And when law enforcement is so easily duped by a harmless device void of any sign of explosives, our lack of intuitive skills and common sense are exposed.

Could it happen here?

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