Thirty-eight Lite-Brite signs, displaying a character from a well-known cable television cartoon, somehow evolved into "suspicious devices" in a "terrorist hoax," in one of the best examples of fear-mongering and reckless overreaction in the digital age. Government officials accused Turner Broadcasting of carefully orchestrating the entire incident to produce such results. What is so interesting is that these signs had been up for weeks, in 10 cities (including Atlanta), and nobody said anything. In fact, Boston police say that not a single person called 911 about the signs. Ever.
This incident made the generation gap explode into the Grand Canyon. The Boston Herald's Howie Carr wrote an incredulous editorial calling the show's viewers and creators "potheads," and referred to one of the suspects, from Belarus, of being a "terror-scare slacker" from a "Third World hellhole."
Meanwhile, many expressed outrage at the city's response. One resident, a 34-year-old retail manager, said they were now a "laughingstock," and the police chief of Seattle's King County said that "people don't need to be concerned about this. These are cartoon characters."
I completely understand the need for vigilance in our country. But the only people who disrupted Boston were city officials and law enforcement. They, ironically, ended up terrorizing and paralyzing the city with fear, not the television show or its creators. And even then, the "publicity stunt hoax" will most likely end up drawing far more viewers than Turner had ever intended.
Now, I don't necessarily agree with the suspects' decision to hold a press conference and only field questions about 1970s hair styles, but perhaps it's a fitting response to a bizarre overreaction.
Oh, and the cartoon character's name is Err. How oddly appropriate.
Andrew Rauch, Evans