Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Lite-Brite Jihad
I'm truly amazed about this Turner Broadcasting prank to promote one of its Cartoon Network programs totally going out of control and the reaction to all of it. But, unlike all the government officials who are outraged by the promotional stunt - and the media excitedly covering the incidents - I'm actually a tad surprised by law enforcement.
It is clear that in the wake of 9/11, government officials have lost all common sense when it comes to these types of things and we clearly have to look at this as a policy and as a people. How anyone - a passerby, a police officer, a homeland security or government official - could confuse Lite Brite boards as a terrorist attack is beyond words. It is one thing to be safe. It is quite another thing to be foolishly safe, holding up traffic throughout Boston to the Lite Brite Jihad, which was clearly a prank or a promotional stunt.
Are we really that scared? Do we have to now force companies like Turner Broadcasting to contact all law enforcement entities to let them know when a publicity stunt or promotional event is going to occur? And why are these guys involved in the marketing of these things being arrested? They were doing a job. Are they the only ones to be arrested, for a promotional gimmick? Will someone at corporate be punished for this or will it just be the freelance marketeers?
Over at the list, a debate has been raging about FCC licenses and other things related to punishing the network for this prank. Since they are a cable network - and not a broadcast entity - the FCC is going to have some difficulties with that. But, it was an interesting discussion. One person did note, after I questioned the dragnet, that "Someone called WBZ radio tonight and said IEDs have four parts: power, switch, low density explosive, and high density explosive (something like that). These devices had the first two, at least. Supposedly one of the devices looked very convincing." Others likened this to the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.
One good thing which has come out of all of this is the fact that homeland security and law enforcement officials quickly moved to prepare everything for what seemed to be a legit concern. Congratulations to them. In some ways, we can all be thankful that all of these preparations have proven to work. But I just wonder if this is actually the way we want to go in America.

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