Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So is it a bomb, a bagel, or a Breitling?



The setting:  You're a high school English teacher, and one of your students brings this small briefcase to your class, opens it, and this ^ is what you see.

You go tell your principal what you saw (he/she may have come to personally see it, I don't know), and concerned that it was a homemade bomb, called the police.  Erring on the side of caution the police arrested the student, and the school suspended him for three days.

A justified, reasonably cautious reaction?  Discuss.

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What if the student's name was David Carson.  Would it make any difference?

What if the student's name was Mahatma Patel.  Would it make any difference?

What if the student's name was Ahmed Mohamad.  Would it make any difference?

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It turned out the "device" was a homemade clock that the student made and proudly brought to school to impress his teacher.  He was obviously a super smart kid, and after checking out his story and his project, the police said no charges would be filed.  They said they had simply erred on the side of student safety, considering the times we live in.

Do you see a clock in that briefcase?  I'm not an electrical engineer, and I have no idea what all those wires and that circuit board are for, but I would never have guessed this was a clock. 

For the record, the student's name was Ahmed Mohamad, and his parents are now enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, angrily claiming before TV cameras their son was the victim of Islamophobia.  The social media is on fire, praising the student for his ingenuity (agreed), the President has invited him to the White House, and because of this one-sided response, I'm guessing the police are in effect being accused of overreacting.

Is this much ado about nothing....overreacting....or a play of the race / religion card?

Your opinions would be appreciated, but please, BE NICE.

S


12 comments:

  1. I would think it could be easily determined this was a clock and not a bomb before calling the police and removing this kid from class in front of his classmates. I doubt this would have happened if he wasn't Muslim. I'm glad to see the overwhelming support given to this young man from both sides of the political aisle.

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    1. I agree the removal of this rather meek looking student from class in handcuffs was over the top, but I respectfully disagree that it could have easily been determined what it was without calling in an EE or the bomb squad. I say screw political correctness. If I'm the police chief, and it looks like a bomb or a gun or a knife, I'm going to assume the worst case scenario. If it were to be fluffed off as something innocent, and it turns out to be the real thing, the press would crucify me. And I couldn't live with myself if someone were wounded or killed and I didn't take action just because I was afraid of ruffling some PC feathers. And I would have made that decision before I ever asked the kid his name. It would be a non-factor. If you look at the school massacres to date, they have been perpetrated by white kids (I think). I wouldn't have given them a pass just because they were white. When in doubt, play it safe.

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  2. Questioning the device was reasonable, the kid being a Muslim may have caused extra caution and given rhetoric from radical Muslims, that may not be unreasonable, though personally I don;t think it was a factor. After having questioned the device, the whole thing was handled very poorly and the young man was not treated fairly.

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    1. "After questioning the device", my understanding is that the police agreed there was no harm intended and released him, saying no charges were to be filed. Isn't this what they should have done?

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  4. It appears the opinion that will be agreed with is that yes it was all reasonalble, and of course the fact he's muslim and of middle east ethnic background had nothing to do with it.

    I don't think it really matters. The fact is we're there, firmly ensconced in the land where everything outside our 'normal' everyday life and what we expect to see is immediately suspect, and a potential danger. The saudi bombers who carried our the attacks on the world trade center and pentagon were astoundingly successful: they changed our everyday life and attitudes about those different than us, and made us suspect even more than the already-present nativistic streak that abides in Americans. We've accepted as a given that we will have fewer rights to privacy, and restrictions.
    This kid was nothing more than yet another sign about how life is now, here in the land of the free.

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    1. Sadly we've been horrified by world events and atrocities here at home to the point I think we're shell shocked. Kids can no longer play in their front yards or ride their bicycles around the block for fear of pervs kidnapping them. Anyone buying more than a little fertilizer is looked at like they are the son of Timothy McVey. And yes, kids minding their own business at school can and have been be targeted too many times. How can we NOT be extra careful these days? It's a crazy, sometimes sick world we live in.

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  5. I think the school and police overreacted, but no surprise when it's a Muslim in Texas. However, it's ironic that Obama told him to bring it to the White House, because if the kid had brought this to the White House I'm sure the Secret Service would have been just as harsh, if not more so..

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  6. So...wait a minute...the principal was concerned enough about this being a bomb and called the police and they did not bring a bomb expert with them? Someone who could have confirmed or denied the fact that this is a bomb? They arrested the kid...what was the clock doing while all this was going on - ticking away in the class room?

    Of course, if teachers [sarcasm on] were allowed to carry guns inside schools, this problem wouldn't exist. The teacher would have shot the kid, and then another teacher, thinking this teacher had gone over the edge, would shoot that teacher. Problem solved. [/sarcasm off]

    I can understand the initial concern of the English teacher, who may not have much science knowledge. But beyond that, I can't help thinking that stuff just went overboard (including the smart kid's parents).

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    1. Actually Betina, not all suburban cities have dedicated bomb squads. Many times neighboring cities each pick a specialty, such as a bomb squad, then share. And they don't just sit around waiting for a call as there are so few calls. Whenever they do get a call, it takes a while to get the crew together and on scene. Patrol cops, in contrast, usually respond in 4-6 minutes, probably faster, if the call is to a school. And yes, the kid took his clock to science class first (I believe) THEN took it to his English class where the English teacher HEARD IT TICKING and responded according to Irving ISD protocol. Today the IISD reiterated that the teacher and principal responded appropriately considering the recent history of school violence and that their response protocol would not be amended. I agree the handcuffing of this nerdy kid was over the top, but other than that, it seemed the response was correct, and when the truth was learned, the stand down and release of the student was appropriate, too. All things considered, I would rather the response be too much with no one getting hurt, than too little and possibly guessing wrong, with all the tragedy that might follow. Just my opinion. (Would it be OK if teachers only carried little tiny caliber handguns? Maybe just enough to raise some small welts? *sarcasm* :)

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  7. I did not see a clock but neither did I see anything that could explode. No sticks of dynamite, no plastic explosives. So I think the teacher and the police were both at fault. But, as SWMBO and I have discussed this tonight, we both find the reaction of the President, the head of Facebook, and various others to be at fault as well. In other words, he's just a very bright 14 year old kid. Leave him alone.

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