Thursday, February 01, 2007

Let me buck conventional wisdom here...

As I watched the news last night, I found myself growing more and more perturbed about the incident that shut down Boston yesterday. Unlike the chattering masses of punditry I saw holding forth in horror at the supposed senselessness of the people responsible for the "hoax", (what occured by the way was NOT a hoax at all) I think what happened yesterday is a sign that America is teetering on the edge of insanity. I mean this nation has been driven by fear to acts that can not be explained rationally.

To briefly recap, some program on the cartoon channel, which no one has ever heard of before yesterday, needed some hype. So they hired a firm who decided to go with some underground marketing. They planted lite brites in several locations in a few cities around the nation. The lite brites were arranged with the image of one of the characters from the cartoon with his arm extended and a (supposedly middle) finger in the air. The lite brites had been planted for a couple of days when suddenly the city of Boston became aware of a couple of them and thought the turrists were trying to wipe out the city.

The coverage of this last night was at times hilarious, and other times disturbing. Here is an example of the absurdity of the coverage of the event. I actually saw a picture of one of these lite boards with a cartoon character, and the arm raised in the air was fuzzed out! As if seeing the representation of a middle finger as best can be replicated on a lite brite, (which is basically a line with another line rising from it) would somehow violate decency standards.

My wife was raised in a very upstanding, religious, moral setting. She will not watch R rated movies. Damn is a dirty word to her. I get a kick out of making her say words with "dirty" words in them (assumption, hello etc...) just to point out that she said the dirty word and laugh. It's all very funny, but instructive of how sensitive she is to these types of issues. We were watching the news and the fuzzed out picture came on. I knew what they were fuzzing and started off on a rant. She was unwilling to join in with me, because she had not yet seen the entire image, but when she did see it later she thought it was pretty stupid to blur out. If she feels that way, I KNOW there is no earthly reason for the censors to worry.

So the news is all a twitter with talking heads expounding on the wrongness of the cartoon channel and the marketing company in planting these lite brites. One major theme I heard was to question why the marketing company had not alerted the police that they would be placing lite brites. Are you freaking kidding me? Here is my imitation of what a call to the police by the marketing firm before planting the lite brites would have sounded like.
BPD: Boston Police Department, how may I help you?

CC Marketing: Hello, I am calling on behalf of a marketing firm and want to...

BPD: Excuse me, we're not interested. You realize you've called the police?

CCM: Well yes and I'm not trying to sell you anything, or do a survey. We need to alert you to an upcoming event we are planning.

BPD: *sigh* I see...

CCM: We intend to place images of a cartoon character on some lite boards, and place the lite boards in various public areas around Boston.

BPD: *heavy sarcasm* So the people placing these lite boards. They won't be heavily armed right?

CCM: Heavens no!

BPD: Will you have pictures of Osama arranged on them with threatening messages attached?

CCM: Just pictures of a cartoon character.

BPD: *voice tinged in anger* and exactly why do you think you need to get the police involved in your little publicity stunt?!

CCM: Well our crystal ball reader says that if we don't alert you that the entire city will be thrown into a panic due to this.

BPD: You realize this call can be traced right? Prank calling the police is not funny. Kids these days!

CCM: **click**
Frankly anyone who questions why the marketing company did not call the police before going forward with this stunt needs to take some courses in common sense 101.

So far I've focused on the reaction of the media to the event. But what does the Boston panic say for us as a nation? An entire city can be brought to a stop, lives thrown into disarray, and society brought to it's knees because the sheople are thrown into a panic over lite brites.

This nation has to pull itself out of this self induced terror. It is self induced because it is the message that has been drummed into our psyches by the administration. Be afraid, be fearful, be wary, watch out, they want to kill you. The attacks of 9/11 started us down the road, but the administration has been responsible to a far greater extent for the continuing state of fear that leads to these types of panics. I can't help but think that some people in the administration looked at what happened yesterday in Boston and approved. Not in approval of the events that led to the panic, but that the response was highly indicative that the nation is still on edge.

I say no to this. Let the Boston panic be the starting point of a new awareness in America. We can not be held hostage to this unreasoning fear. We must bring ourselves back to the true meaning of what it is to be American. 9/11 may have changed us, but did it make us sniveling scaredy cats?

I can promise you this. If I had come across one of those lite brites I would not have been on the horn to homeland security. (Besides... those public phones have all kinds of germs and hazards to be scared of!) I would have been rearranging the lites to make an impeach sign. Maybe this lackadaisical attitude will get me atomized some day, but I'd rather approach life like a free human being than a terrorized little koolaid drinker.

I think what the Boston panic says about this nation is actually a bit shameful.

Here's another interesting fact: According to CNN, who made this story seem larger than life, the parent company which owns the channel doing the advertising owns CNN. Just more coporate "news" to keep us all entertained and distracted from the real stories.
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