Saturday, September 22, 2007

Art or Bomb? Intelligence or Stupidity?

What is intelligence? Is it knowledge? Is it problem solving ability? Is it daily common sense?

I have encountered people who are extremely knowledgeable who can't match their own socks, remember to water their plants, or know when the milk in the fridge has gone over. I have also known people who never finished high school who could solve a Rubrics Cube in under three minutes, who can diagnose any car problem in under thirty minutes, and who could walk around 'dangerous' neighborhoods without ever being 'in danger' by comporting themselves properly.

Common sense really isn't that common, is it? Things like "Don't leave a candle burning when you go to bed," "Don't change lanes without turning your head to really see if you can do it safely," and "Don't wear wires and lighted circuit boards on the outside of your shirt at an airport" should just be common sense. This last bit comes from a story in yesterday's news about an MIT student who walked into Logan airport wearing a sweatshirt with a lighted circuit board on it, which also included the added embellishments of the battery used to light the board and some loose hanging wires.

Did Logan employees and security personnel overreact by arresting the student? No. I am very satisfied with their reaction. Should she get jail time for her actions? I don't think so. Should she get some sort of community service as punishment? You betcha! This 19 year old (knowledge) intelligent kid needs to learn and serve as an example. Your deportment in a public place matters.

Some of you may remember the prank pulled off in January publicizing the movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force. A publicity company placed amateurish cryptic lighted LED signs around the Boston area, several of them on bridges and overpasses. The devices had lots of wires and large batteries. When authorities were made aware of the devices, they did not know what they were and responded with appropriate concern and caution (in my opinion). It was highly irresponsible to place an electronic device in a public area, in the 'post-9/11' era. Turner Broadcasting, the corporate entity ultimately responsible for the marketing campaign paid a huge fine. The gentlemen who placed the devices performed community service.

Star Simpson, the MIT student with the shirt, says her shirt was 'art' not a bomb. If her shirt displayed a couple sticks of dynamite or maybe a couple of handguns, maybe she would have been smart enough to leave it home. Then again, maybe not. After all, 'knowledgeable' doesn't always mean 'smart'.

UPDATE> There have been those that have said that law enforcement should have been able to quickly ascertain that her shirt was merely an LCD display and not a bomb. Perhaps. However, I don't want our law enforcement officers to have to analyze whether or not someone is just foolishly drawing attention to herself or is a real threat. Star, dear, the last thing you want to do in a HIGHLY SECURITY-MINDED public space is draw any attention to yourself!


Anonymous said...

MIT egghead. They should have shot her as a deterent for future idiots

Seraphic Single said...

I agree with you, dear kitten herder. I think safety personnel responded appropriately in both situations. God help Boston if the authorities start ignoring weird wire-trailing devices stuck on bridges and--oh!--brought into Logan airport.

Summer said...

Simpson got more attention to her art than she bargained for. Or maybe she knew exactly what would happen. Glad she's not my kid.

briwei said...

I've known quite a few MIT types. I don't think she intended for it to happen. That said, it was incredibly boneheaded. I can't believe they are trying to spin this as an overreaction by the police.

I suppose it depends on whose version of the interaction between her and the gate attendant you believe.