Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Politics Government Your Rights Online

Proposed Legislation Is Mooninite Fallout 280

Posted by kdawson
from the against-stupidity-the-gods-themselves dept.
theantipop writes "Ars Technica has a story about the Terrorist Hoax Improvements Act, a bill introduced recently by the Senate. The bill aims to 'amend the federal criminal code to include a number of new clauses meant to up the ante on wasting government resources. The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.' This is undoubtedly a reaction to the Great Mooninite Scare of 2007."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Proposed Legislation Is Mooninite Fallout

Comments Filter:
  • by Srass (42349) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:09PM (#19044283)
    Congress has just passed a bill making it illegal to make government officials look like idiots. Government officials were unavailable for comment, having been immediately arrested upon passage of the bill. This has started talk of a bill to make "making stupid things illegal" illegal, but it is unknown whether anyone is now left to vote on the bill, or, possibly more to the point, who will argue incessantly over whether the bill is self-contradictory or not.
  • Watch out for DHMO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:09PM (#19044291) Homepage Journal
    Hmm, "prohibitions on the spread of false information...."

    Does that mean that if another city starts considering legislation to ban dihydrogen monoxide (like Aliso Viejo, California did [msn.com] in 2004), that the government could seek damages from the mainainers of DHMO.org [dhmo.org]?
    • by 72beetle (177347) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:16PM (#19044403) Homepage
      prohibitions on the spread of false information....

      Like the existence of WMD's?
      • No. In the case of WMD's in Iraq, spreading false information was the government's job. THey just don't want any competition.
        • by smbarbour (893880)
          Much like the laws against stealing.

          The government hate competition.

          (That said, with the laws against spreading false information, shouldn't a certain news channel named after an animal and you know who in the elliptical-shaped office be careful?)
      • by Rei (128717) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:08PM (#19045961) Homepage
        Nonsense! The war in Iraq was launched to establish freedom for the Iraqis, not to find weapons of mass destruction, which obviously weren't there. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was threatening America with them, and wouldn't let the inspectors in. Iraq destroyed all of the weapons before the war, after shipping them to Syria and Iran, to make us look bad. We then found the weapons when we invaded.

        At least, that's what I'm told by the good people at Fox News. By the way -- why do you hate America?
    • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:18PM (#19044431) Homepage Journal
      "prohibitions on the spread of false information...."

      I smell a veto coming!

      -Rick
    • Took me a second or two for me to remember my chemistry :D
    • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:24PM (#19044551) Journal

      Yup. Government officials are only allowed to make themselves look like complete morons. God forbid anyone else should be allowed to do so.

      Frankly, I think this bill gets dangerously close to thought crime. Making a threat is already illegal. Doing something that a f*ckcing moron thinks is a threat should not be. If you are too mind bogglingly stupid to look at the mooninite thing and realize that it is probably not a bomb, you not only do not deserve to be in any position of authority, but also probably do not even deserve the life support that they must be using to keep your body alive in the absence of a central nervous system (both parts).

      The best one was Boston police blowing up a traffic counter. Seriously, there is one very massive sucking sound caused by the vacuum between the ears of the people who are reacting to these "credible threats".

      Here's a counterproposal. Make it a crime punishable by termination and fines for any person in charge of any government entity to waste taxpayer resources. THAT would be a useful law. It would make it possible to can people in civil service for gross ineptitude, a condition which unfortunately seems all too prevalent in those circles, and for which which no viable solution currently exists due to fundamental brokenness in government hiring practices.

      We can start by arresting Congress plus the entire Executive Branch and starting over from scratch.

      • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:24PM (#19045469) Homepage Journal
        Once when I was in the military, stationed in Okinawa, we had a situation. The political environment wasn't exactly good for us right then, a drunk Marine had hit and run a local Prom Queen, we had a few large groups of protesters at the base gates, and it looked like the newly elected official for the island was going to push for moving the Marines out of Japan. So anyways, on night while walking home from the base PX (err, a mall for ya civies) I saw a bulging cardboard box sitting by a mail box in front of one of the Barracks (it caught my eye, but it was a ways off). When I got to my barracks I told the Duty that there was a box by the mail box in front of the other barracks. It was like hot potato. Given the social/political climate at the time, it very well could have been a bomb, and no one wanted to be the one to go poking at it first. After way to much drama, I wound up going back out with a budy to look at it.

        It was a pair of boots in the box.

        I still don't know who the clown was who left his boots in a box by the mail, but it had the Duty on the verge of calling the MPs, Hazmat, and the OOD.

        Point being, sometimes innoculous crap is just that. The bitch of it though, is that some times it isn't.

        -Rick
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by AmiAthena (798358)
          I remember reading a similar story; possbily in Reader's Digest, a very long time ago. One day, a mysterious package was found on the General's porch. One bomb squad and a few hours later, the box was found to contain silk pajamas. I assume all involved parties thought this was pretty swell.
          On the one hand, it's always good news that that wasn't a bomb on your doorstep. On the other hand, aside from the time and money wasted, that particular General probably got a few new fun nicknames.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *
          I still don't know who the clown was who left his boots in a box by the mail, but it had the Duty on the verge of calling the MPs, Hazmat, and the OOD.

          That's easy - a tipsy leatherneck who thought it would be a hoot to see a box of boots get blown up by the ordinance disposal team. :)
      • by Mistlefoot (636417) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:35PM (#19046203)
        And Canada has just been sent a bill.....to pay for the money spent investigating our "poppy" quarters after US agents thought they were being 'bugged' due to the red embedded on the coins.

        How could we be so careless.

        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM .20070507.wspycoins0507/BNStory/National/home/ [theglobeandmail.com]

      • by Cyberllama (113628) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:47PM (#19046295)
        Honestly, does anyone who followed this incident believe that anyone other than the Boston PD/local government/etc was to blame for the wasted money?

        These were not "hoax devices". A "hoax device" is meant to fool you. This wasn't meant to fool anyone, but fools were nevertheless fooled by it. A similar incident occured a couple of years ago when someone staged a protest outside of an army recruitment office dressed like prisoner from one of the famous abu-garib photographs. Wearing a black hood, standing on a crate, with wires hanging from his arms.

        Apparently in that situation they also called in the bomb squad and charged the protesters with a "hoax device" because apparently wires are serious business and EVERYONE should know that you can't just go attaching wires to things this day in age and not expect the bomb squad to be called -- EVEN IF YOUR MIMICKING A FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPH THAT HAS BEEN SEEN ON NEWS BROADCASTS ALL OVER THE WORLD AD NASEUM FOR MONTHS AND MONTHS.

        The appropriate response would be to start firing people. Clearly there are people in positions of power who simply do not belong there. These are people Who do not have the common sense that god gave to most creatures with an intellect greater than a tuna fish. Who can't look at protester with wires attached to his arms and say "Oh yeah, I've seen that photograph before" or who can't look at a god-damned light-bright for a popular tv show and say "Neat advertisement". Who can't understand that something INCH THICK composed almost entirely of LEDS does not have explosive potential. There is simply a limit to how tiny explosives can be, you need something capable of exploding -- some kind of fuel.

        The city of Boston fucked up, big time. Instead of admitting their mistakes like men/women and firing the people responsible, they're going to go after their innocent victims in court and try to pass laws to put the burden of their stupidity on the public at large. Beware: If we mistakenly identify something completely innocuous as a bomb, it will be your fault for owning that innocuous item! Nice going, guys.
    • by ringm000 (878375) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:25PM (#19044579)
      False information? It looks like all the information on DHMO.org is true.
    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:27PM (#19044599) Homepage
      Making the government look like a bunch of idiots is my God-given right as an American. If people can't let off steam by making fun of the government, they might actually get angry enough to do something more serious to the government.
  • the finger (Score:5, Funny)

    by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:10PM (#19044301)
    I'm giving this act the finger, AS HARD AS I CAN.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Great, now take the finger, a few others to a pen, and press it to a piece of paper.
      Now write a damn letter to you representitives and tell them how you feel.
      Nicely.

      Or an email, whatever.
  • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:16PM (#19044383) Homepage Journal
    And all of the actors form War of the Worlds would be locked up...

    And yet it still wouldn't make us any more safe from a real terrorist attack. Huh.

    -Rick
    • by dircha (893383) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:59PM (#19045099)
      "And all of the actors form War of the Worlds would be locked up.."

      RTFA for crying out loud!

      According to the article, you can only be held liable if 1) they (the government) react as if it were a real emergency, 2) you are aware of their overreaction, and 3) you fail to tell them that it is not a real emergency.

      The War of the Worlds broadcast was broadcast with disclaimers. And I'm not aware of any government emergency response triggered by the broadcast. This law doesn't cover activities wasting private citizens' resources, only government resources. And CBS certainly would have informed the goverment of the nature of the program had they been aware of any official emergency response.

      And the radio broadcast was ORSON Welles, not H.G. Welles.
      • by Intron (870560)
        So its another law that makes government a noble class above citizens. Like murdering a postman is a worse crime than murdering a shopkeeper. Congress was not outraged at Gonzales and the Justice Department before they raided a congressman's office, now suddenly he's breaking the law.
      • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:23PM (#19047129)
        except under those conditions the Moonite incident clearly fails to be covered. While the Boston govt did overreact (1), the cartoon network people contacted them as soon as they heard about it (#2 fails) and made themselves available to answer questions (#3 fails)... which the Boston PD REFUSED to acknowledge and continued to propagate the false info. The Cartoon Network people also did this in several other cities with no police problems. This was clearly deliberate, planned mismanagement by the Boston PD.. any law needs to take that into account with even harsher punishment for being wrong.
    • And yet it still wouldn't make us any more safe from a real terrorist attack.

      Unlike all of the other laws passed in the last six years? Well, most anyway. There might be one law I haven't heard of that makes sense. Nah...
  • The bill aims to 'amend the federal criminal code to include a number of new clauses meant to up the ante on wasting government resources.
    Won't that pretty much make the entire US government illegal? No one wastes government resources like the government itself. It is only a matter of time before someone gets charged under this law for leaving a carton of milk in the sun too long making someone think it smells like a bomb, calling the bomb squad and creating panic.
  • Thus, ever higher do the jail sentences creep.

    Soon, the difference between a normal sentence and life will be one of title only.
    • Re:Thus, ever higher (Score:5, Interesting)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:38PM (#19044757) Homepage
      When we get to that point, expect all out lawlessness to ensue. If jay walking will get you a few years, you might as well do a real crime. And when minor crimes take most of your life, WTF, might as well go out big.

      Increasingly draconian sententencing is rather counter-productive in the sense that it may help increase the severity of crimes performed, or the desperation of those close to being nabbed.
      • by dircha (893383)
        "When we get to that point, expect all out lawlessness to ensue."

        That seems quite unlikely to me. Quite to the contrary. So long as it isn't the children of senators and white middle class americans carrying out civil disobedience and being jailed, a majority of the country will rally behind the administration and law enforcement.

        It would be for the same reasons that people react violently against anti-war protesters, and against people denouncing and criticising the government or the troops. I don't know w
      • Re:Thus, ever higher (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dykofone (787059) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:25PM (#19045477) Homepage
        Outstanding point, and reminds me of being 16 when a friend and I tried to buy paintballs. Not paintball guns, just the paintballs. We were instructed by the clerk at checkout that we must be 18 to purchase paintballs, and had to show ID. We left, rather disappointed, and had a chat about it in the parking lot. We realized that "it's illegal for us to buy them, and it's illegal for us to steal them," so, naturally, we chose the option that would get us our damn paintballs.

        We had to break the law to get our paintballs, and we had to chose the option that was not only illegal, but highly immoral. It's certainly sophomoric logic, but I'm pretty sure it's the type of logic that would prevail in an over-lawed state.

    • According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms.
      http://www.straightdope.com/columns/040206.html [straightdope.com]

      Personally, I think it's as much of a threat to the rest of the world as nuclear arms.

  • Eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:17PM (#19044407) Homepage

    The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.

    Wait a minute here. How the hell can the government enter into civil suits?

    These are suits which are outside of the usual prosecutorial parts of the justice system -- ie civilian.

    They can pass a law to make it a crime, but I can't imagine the badness of the precedent of governments being able to take civil action. Take criminal action, or bugger off. You can't really ask to do both.

    Does this even have a valid basis in law?

    Cheers
    • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:40PM (#19044799)

      How the hell can the government enter into civil suits?


      The government has always been able to enter civil suits.

      These are suits which are outside of the usual prosecutorial parts of the justice system -- ie civilian.


      Yes, they are outside of the criminal justice system. That means, for one thing, no one is going to be sent to jail, executed, etc.

      Government engages in civil lawsuits all the time.

      They can pass a law to make it a crime, but I can't imagine the badness of the precedent of governments being able to take civil action.


      Government has been able to take civil action forever. So there is no real precedent in it being able to do so now.

      Take criminal action, or bugger off. You can't really ask to do both.


      Not only can they, but they have been for quite some time.
    • by einhverfr (238914)
      Obviously the government can enter civil suits just like any other corporate entity.

      However, that being beside the point, this could actually be quite pernicious. Imagine a scene at an airport. Suppose one removes a small box from one's suitcase which contains a gift. You remove the gift and accidently leave the box on the seat as you leave.

      After you take off, the box is discovered, bomb squad is called in. You hear about it on the news after the fact, but fail to call the TSA for fear of the result. Y
  • won't happen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MooseTick (895855) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:17PM (#19044417) Homepage
    This will never happen. It would open the door for the government to artificially get excited about any action someone does and then declare it a "terrorist act". Some may say they would only go after reasonable "hoaxes", but all the ATHF people did was hang some light brites in public places. There was no signage or any other indicator that the things were terrorist related or even dangerous.
    • There was no signage or any other indicator that the things were terrorist related or even dangerous.

      Terrorists may not be the sharpest forks in the drawer, but I doubt even they would be stupid enough to put a sign saying "This is a dangerous bomb placed here for terrorist related activities." on their bombs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FLEB (312391)
      This will never happen. It would open the door for the government to artificially get excited about any action someone does and then declare it a "terrorist act".

      This junction is where I lose your train of logic.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:18PM (#19044429) Homepage Journal

    The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information

    did not RTFA, but the government is the single largest distributor of false information around...

    everything from telling us that reducing your cholesterol intake will lower your risk of heart disease (false) to telling us there were WMDs in Iraq.

    seems like they're going to need a "no tag backs" clause in this one.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      "..everything from telling us that reducing your cholesterol intake will lower your risk of heart disease (false) "

      you care to back that up? Having seen data that backs that up, I would find a link interesting.

      Or are you talking about certian kinds of cholesterol?
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Go google for Gary Taubes' article "What if it's all been a big fat lie". I will tell you now that the issue is hotly contested; Many people have attempted to debunk it, and I've read many debunkings, and none of them are accurate. But then, when the government is culpable in drastically lowering the quality of life of [nearly] all Americans in order to produce revenue, it's going to be pretty hotly contested, now isn't it?

        The NIH spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer money trying to make a link betwee

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I have to say, it has seemed very fishy to me for quite a while that as carb intake goes up in America, so does the average weight. The fact that every single person I have ever met that actually did a high fat/low carb diet lost weight, and a lot of it, while 95% of the people that I have met who did the high carb/low fat diets have not, doesn't lend credence to the fat is evil theory either. Then finish it off with the fact that carbohydrates are by definition sugar. I have a real hard time swallowing
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by adrianbaugh (696007)
            Bloody hell! It really isn't difficult. If you want to lose weight, eat less. The choice shouldn't be between a high fat / low carb diet or a high carb / low fat diet, but between overeating or eating the right amount. The word "diet" shouldn't even be necessary were it not for the fact that we are constantly in the crossfire of a propaganda war between the junk foodists and the diet peddlers. Those advocating the sensible middle ground, of eating as much as you need and listening to what your body craves,
            • by Belial6 (794905)
              You seem to have become confused about the definition of the word diet. It is probably due to the fact that we are constantly in the crossfire of a propaganda war between junk foodists and the diet peddlers. Saying 'eat less' is a red herring. It is just a way for thin people to feel superior to fat people. At some point, you are starving yourself, and that might not happen before you loose weight. I had an aunt, a very very stupid aunt that ended up in a hospital after she fell for the low calorie fib
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by maxume (22995)
                You just misinterpreted that comment as much as you possibly could have.
          • by Kelson (129150) *
            Similarly, I have a real hard time swallowing the idea that a high fat diet is a good thing.

            Whatever happened to the concept of a balanced diet? Why is it always about eliminating one type of nutrient or another?

            Declaring "carbs are the enemy" or "fat is the enemy" doesn't solve anything except for people who are already eating too much carbs, or too much fat. People go haywire, eating too much of the "safe" foods, or eliminate more of the "unsafe" foods than they should and end up with a nutritional defi
  • Was that more the fault of the guy who put up the signs, the people who became terrified of them, the officials who ordered the response, or the governmental folks who can't let this thing alone?

    Besides, isn't wasting government resources precisely what government does best?
  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aadain2001 (684036) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:18PM (#19044441) Journal
    So, if a local/state government agency overreacts and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that you basic citizen wouldn't even look at twice (see Mooninites), they can sue the group/person/etc that they overreacted too for large sums of money? How is this not a gigantic loophole just asking for $$$$$ to be "recovered" from people/groups that disagree with said government agencies?

    If a group posts fliers and holds rallies against some government official because he is corrupt, couldn't he simply call in the police/feds on the group as a "possible terrorist group", ransack their offices, etc, run up a huge bill and then sue the group out of existence under this new bill?

    • Re:Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:31PM (#19045563) Homepage
      If a group posts fliers and holds rallies against some government official because he is corrupt, couldn't he simply call in the police/feds on the group as a "possible terrorist group", ransack their offices, etc, run up a huge bill and then sue the group out of existence under this new bill?

      Yes! This is one step shy of being the domestic equivalent of the "enemy combatant" doctrine (I say doctrine because as far as I know none of our laws refer to the concept of the "enemy combatant" and that's just some new thing Bush made up). With enemy combatants, they can simply declare you to be one and at that point your guilt or innocence is irrelevent. The mere fact that they thought you were an enemy fighter is enough for them to do whatever they want.

      Here, they at least aren't able to ignore the fact that you are actually innocent of plotting any real terrorist act, but they are still able to punish you for the fact that they merely thought you might be a terrorist. So all they have to do is say that they thought some activity of yours was terrorist-related, and when it turns out not to be, any expenses they incured "figuring out" what they already knew are your problem. So your innocence is irrelevent in the sense that you are still punished, just not as severely.

      This is going to be fantastic for anyone who enjoys abusing their law enforcement powers. Imagine being able to accuse any woman wearing a short skirt of being a prostitute, drag her down to the station, and when it turns out there's no evidence of her being a prostitute, you can then charge her with the crime of making you think she was a prostitute. That short skirt was very deceiving! Okay, well, actually it wasn't even that short of a skirt. But it doesn't matter how stupid the inference is, the cop says he thought it was true! Ah, such a glorious time it is for fascists. If this bill passes, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the same principle is applied to other crimes like prostitution.
    • by mikael (484)
      Another example:

      Explosive Alert caused by Bat Boxes [bbc.co.uk]
  • by Associate (317603) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:19PM (#19044453) Homepage
    I was informed by a coworker that I might get into trouble over the finger. So I erased just the finger. But that hasn't stopped others from adding penises or hats or other features to my mooninite.
    • by dgatwood (11270)

      I used the mooninite "PARANOIA: If it's not an American flag, it's probably a bomb." picture as my screen background. Of course, on looking at it, it has two typos. I think I may draw in the missing apostrophes on my copy....

  • When they, for example publish official reports about, say, "Canadian Spy Coins".

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070507/ap_on_go_ot/sp y_coins [yahoo.com]

  • Report everything! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by myowntrueself (607117) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:22PM (#19044513)
    The best thing that people could do is to start reporting every single unattended piece of garbage, shopping trolly, paper bag, cardboard box, tin can etc to the authorities as a 'suspect device'.

    Something along the lines of: "You wanted to be notified of any suspicious devices or activities? Well theres a paper bag lying on the ground here at (insert location) and noone seems to know anything about it. Its big enough to hold a few sticks of dynamite or something. Just being a good citizen, sir!".

    If the 'authorities' want to take *obvious* stuff like the mooninites publicity stunt *that* seriously then let them try to apply the same level of serious for any notification of 'suspect objects'.

    The problem of stupid overreaction on the part of the 'authorities' will go away very very quickly.
  • So it cost cartoon network 2$mil in settlements plus their incidental costs with the case, added to the original investment for the terrist-ads themselves. Considering this got more press than most Superbowl advertisements it seems like the return on investment was pretty solid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fred Ferrigno (122319)

      Considering this got more press than most Superbowl advertisements it seems like the return on investment was pretty solid.

      You would think that, but practically no one went to see it. It was in 877 theaters for two weeks, half that the third week and it's all but gone from theaters now. But thanks to the movie's low production cost ($750k), the movie still managed to make a profit, bringing in about $5 million to date. The $2 million settlement therefore cut their profit margin in half, so I doubt anyone thinks it was "worth it". The story may yet change, as I'm sure the real target for the movie all along was in DVD sales.

      Box [boxofficemojo.com]

  • Boston (Score:2, Interesting)

    by normuser (1079315) *

    The amendments include extensions to the prohibitions on the spread of false information and mailing threats, increases to maximum prison terms, and allowances for civil suits so that local and federal governments can attempt to recoup expenses related to an incident.'


    Um, wasnt the boston government the ones "spreading false information" and making bomb threats?
    • by k1e0x (1040314)
      Haha, TRUE!

      But they would just say..

      "Not in a post 9/11 world! Everything *COULD* be a bomb. That card board box there. That ladies handbag.. This rubber chicken in my pocket *MIGHT* be a bomb! Call the bomb squad! Scramble the aircraft! Call CNN, Soooomeooone call my barber!"
      • Re:Boston (Score:4, Insightful)

        by e4g4 (533831) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @09:49PM (#19046821)
        And the real kicker is that a bomb, should some city in the US fall victim to one, is going to be precisely that: a ladies' handbag, a cardboard box, or even a pile of trash (as a number of IEDs in Iraq were). What it sure as hell isn't going to be is a bloody lighted sign placed in a location visible to any/all passersby. If you want the bomb to stay in one place until detonation, in an area that gets high people traffic - would you put a whole bunch of leds in the shape of a pop culture icon on the fucking outside of it? Sure, maybe one or two discreet leds to show armed/unarmed status. Surely the one thing we should have learned from the many Al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks around the world is that these people are not idiots. If they're smart enough to con an otherwise reasonable person into blowing themselves up, and they're smart enough to build a massive, worldwide, decentralized terrorist organization, then they're abso-fucking-lutely smart enough to conceal a bomb in an urban environment. I'm pretty sure that a number of the higher-ups in the "war on terror" underestimated the capabilities of Al Qaeda et al, even after 9/11, simply because a large majority of them come from so-called "third world countries" and more or less lack formal (as in western style university/corporate/military) training. And yet, the engineering and combat tactics by insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan have continuously and dramatically improved.

        Frankly, this whole post can be summed up as me yelling "Learn some fucking common sense!" at the current administration (yes, yes, this was Boston local government - but it was the Bush administration that injected them with fear and paranoia), but I suppose I should know better, given that anyone actively seeking (and attaining) high public office is already clearly lacking a common sense gland.

        *to the parent*: btw, didn't mean to get all serious in reply to your comment - it was hilarious. One question though - who carries a rubber chicken in their pocket? :-P.
  • What the fuck is wrong with this country? When did an issue like this become something the federal government has jurisdiction over?

    Actually, I know our states gave that up a while ago. It's still stupid, along with the bill in the first place.
  • Who is going to recoup the cost of longer jail terms? We only need to lock someone up if they are a continuing threat to others if not locked up, which in this case would mean they would continue to intentionally make terrorist hoaxes (which, if only a hoax, is not really a threat per se so much as a considerable annoyance). This bill is inherently contradictory. If someone *intentionally* and *with malice* makes a terrorist hoax, I want them contributing some portion of their income to paying responder ove
  • Either work to change the law, or leave the country. This isn't a "love it or leave it" comment - I don't care if you love America or not. But if you want to change things, then you should either enter politics and work to change it, or work on taking your brain and your skills to some other nation. If all the smart people leave then America won't be able to build new bombers :D
  • From the article:
    "...the provisions in the bill would allow the government to take civil action against parties involved in perceived hoaxes if they fail to "promptly and reasonably inform one or more parties... of the actual nature of the activity" once they learn about investigative action taking place. In the case of Boston, this means that everyone involved could be sued for not immediately informing the police of the campaign upon receiving news of the emergency reaction."

    So if you find out that the pr
    • by tgibbs (83782)

      Where's the problem here? Emergency responses are expensive. I'd rather not give any more leeway than the constitution requires to some punks working for a marketing agency wasting my tax dollars, thanks.

      Because it doesn't seem like the onus should be on citizens to inform their public officials that they are acting like idiots.

      In the case of the mooninite hysteria, it was idiotic in the first place not to realize that terrorist devices are not normally designed to call attention to themselves, and the idio

    • by Lithdren (605362)
      How on earth are you supposed to know when someone else is over-reacting?

      Sure, its pretty damn clear AFTER the fact, but before, part of defusing a bomb is to not tell anyone about it being there, so they dont crowd the damn place or cause panic.

      You can tell the police are on the way, once the sirens are sounding and there's 40 cop cars around. By that point, the money is spent, its too late.

      This 'law' solves, NOTHING, causes even more Bullshit, spends even MORE MONEY (gotta man phones incase someone
  • This is exactly what we needed: A law that will allow a government office to sue a citizen based upon some subjective criteria. What is a "perceived hoax?" Who is going to be nailed for the next Mooninite fiasco? The guy who leaves his lawn mower by the curb for a week? Someone traveling through an airport? There are already laws for creating a disturbance, and causing unrest.
  • There's a big difference between a hoax and a publicity stunt that is mistaken as possible terrorism. If someone attempts to fool people into believing a terrorist activity is in progress, that's a terrorist hoax.

    If someone does something completely unrelated that is somehow interpreted as terrorist activity, that is not a terrorist hoax. It's a mess, yes, but not a terrorist hoax.

    The intention and execution is what makes the difference.
  • Mooninite HOAX? (Score:2, Informative)

    by srothroc (733160)
    According to dictionary.com, the Random House Unabridged Dictionary definition of "hoax" is "something intended to deceive or defraud". I don't see how, at all, the mooninite publicity stunt would be a "hoax" under the proper definition.

    Sure, if they had intended to scare the public into thinking that terrorists were attacking America in order to drive them into their homes (where they would no doubt cower in fear watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force), then yes, I would agree that it was a hoax and that they
  • I agree! The people behind this act should suffer tremendously for wasting government resources!

    The mayor and police chief of boston should resign immediately, followed by whoever the hell proposed this bill to congress.
  • if this is aimed at all those government officials and tv stations and other news outlets that kept calling it a 'terrorist threat' well after they knew it wasn't, then they deserve it (it's not like they didn't pick up the phone and call cartoon network the second the cofee boy said "look, it's those dudes from adul swim")
  • They want improved terrorist hoaxes?
    I guess it would help if someone else perpetrated a believable hoax, it would take the pressure off the US government.
  • For the love of God (Score:5, Informative)

    by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @09:33PM (#19046697) Journal
    Stop linking to Ars. They never provide links to the actual laws or court filings. As a result, any discussion here will be flawed, since it's based on second-hand editorializing at best. If you want to actually read the law, it's here [loc.gov].

    The meat of it:

    (1) IN GENERAL- Whoever engages in any conduct with intent to convey false or misleading information under circumstances where such information may reasonably be believed and where such information indicates that an activity has taken, is taking, or will take place that would constitute [a hoax] is liable in a civil action to any party incurring expenses incident to any emergency or investigative response to that conduct, for those expenses.
    (2) EFFECT OF CONDUCT-
    (A) IN GENERAL- A person described in subparagraph (B) is liable in a civil action to any party described in subparagraph (B)(ii) for any expenses that are incurred by that party--
    (i) incident to any emergency or investigative response to any conduct described in subparagraph (B)(i); and
    (ii) after the person that engaged in that conduct should have informed that party of the actual nature of the activity.
    (B) APPLICABILITY- A person described in this subparagraph is any person that--
    (i) engages in any conduct that has the effect of conveying false or misleading information under circumstances where such information may reasonably be believed to indicate that an activity has taken, is taking, or will take place that would constitute [a hoax];
    (ii) receives actual notice that another party is taking emergency or investigative action because that party believes that the information indicates that an activity has taken, is taking, or will take place that would constitute [a hoax]; and
    (iii) after receiving such notice, fails to promptly and reasonably inform 1 or more parties described in clause (ii) of the actual nature of the activity.
    Discuss.
  • Nation of Cowards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by straponego (521991) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:07PM (#19046981)
    Snivelling cowards. That is what the USA has become. At least, that majority of it which supports this kind of law, this false sense of security.

    So, let me get this straight, betwetters. Every time I experience an object, sound, or symbol I don't recognize, or one which reminds me of something that could be used to inflict harm, somebody should go to jail?

    If you want your safety guaranteed to an arbitrary degree, well, I guess we'll have the brain in a vat plan available fairly soon. And before that, you're welcome to check yourself into total a surveillance camp. For the rest of us, a little common sense and a modicum of dignity will just have to get us by.

    Seriously, the best way, long term, to get people to make rational decisions throughout the day would be early exposure, in school, to elementary logic, statistics, and game theory. As important as pure math is, I think that this should be a separate set of classes, because... well, it'll be easier to market it if you tie it to real life. Here are a couple books I think should be required reading in high school:

    Innumeracy [amazon.com]

    Prisoner's Dilemma [amazon.com]

  • by Diacre (970924) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:40PM (#19047261)

    It would seem that since Senator Kennedy of Massachussettes is the sponsor of the bill this has something to do with the Mooninite fallout. IANAL but I still didn't read anything much that would put the guerilla marketing company in too much extra trouble. The thing that stands out to me is that the amended version still says

    `(1) IN GENERAL- Whoever engages in any conduct with intent to convey false or misleading information under circumstances where such information may reasonably be believed and where such information indicates that an activity has taken, is taking, or will take place that would constitute an offense listed under subsection (a)(1) is liable in a civil action to any party incurring expenses incident to any emergency or investigative response to that conduct, for those expenses.

    The key I think is in the first part of the sentence that says "...with intent to convey false or misleading information...". I guess a case could be made that their intent was to convey false or misleading information by not providing any information but it seems like that is stretching it.

    For the links I used:
    the proposed amendment [govtrack.us] and its full text [govtrack.us]
    Unamended Section 1038 of Title 18 of the US Code [cornell.edu]
    section 2332b [cornell.edu] since the amendment adds a reference to section 2332b(g)(5)(B) of this title ( Title 18 )

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

Working...