“Hysterical Morons”

by on February 2, 2007 · 4 comments

Via Bruce Schneier, Wired has an analysis of the legality of the great Light Brite Terrorist Plot:

Intent, in essence, is the entire substance of the charge: if Beredovsky meant to cause a panic (somehow psychically being able to foresee the abject hysteria that would grip the officials of Boston in response to a picture of a cartoon character giving onlookers the finger), he’s guilty. If he didn’t–and it’s pretty obvious he didn’t–he’s innocent.

The word, though, that everyone keeps on throwing around is that his Mooninite Boxes were ‘hoaxes.’ What exactly does the state of Massachusetts mean when they claim a bunch of stray Lite-Brites were hoax devices?

Again, according to the law:

For the purposes of this section, the term “hoax device” shall mean any device that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such device is an infernal machine. For the purposes of this section, the term “infernal machine” shall mean any device for endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both, by fire or explosion, whether or not contrived to ignite or explode automatically. For the purposes of this section, the words “hoax substance” shall mean any substance that would cause a person reasonably to believe that such substance is a harmful chemical or biological agent, a poison, a harmful radioactive substance or any other substance for causing serious bodily injury, endangering life or doing unusual damage to property, or both.

The million dollar term here? “Reasonably believe.” Could a bunch of light-up boxes advertising a cartoon really be reasonably mistaken for an infernal device? I guess it depends what you mean by reasonably. In my book, someone being reasonable presumes they aren’t a hysterical moron, but I’m not really sure the state of Massachusetts shares my definition.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    “Infernal machine”???? That has a certain demonic sound to it. Perhaps appropriate for a state that still has blasphemy laws on the books.

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    “Infernal machine”???? That has a certain demonic sound to it. Perhaps appropriate for a state that still has blasphemy laws on the books.

  • dennis parrott

    do the gubbmint weenies who have their undies in such a bunch over a viral advertising scheme understand just HOW STUPID they look in all of this?

    i guess psychiatry has progress some while we weren’t looking… they are now able to pith an elected leader in such a way as to kill off their sense of humor once elected.

    note to the good people of Massachusetts: you elected these IDIOTS. please go clean up your mess.

  • dennis parrott

    do the gubbmint weenies who have their undies in such a bunch over a viral advertising scheme understand just HOW STUPID they look in all of this?

    i guess psychiatry has progress some while we weren’t looking… they are now able to pith an elected leader in such a way as to kill off their sense of humor once elected.

    note to the good people of Massachusetts: you elected these IDIOTS. please go clean up your mess.

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