Deconstructing the Great ATHF Freak Out of 2007

Dion Dennis, an assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College (MA), has a fascinating analysis of the City of Boston's ATHF panic attack. It's the best explanation I've read so far.
200702081024 Official and local media reactions constitute a classic case of what psychologists call "hostile attributional syndrome." In this syndrome, subjects inappropriately react to neutral stimuli as if such stimuli were signals of real hostility. ...

First, we can see the historical and hysterical echoes of the 17th Century Salem witch trials. The two artists, the long-haired, bearded Belorussian immigrant Berdovsky and his sidekick, Stevens, stand publicly accused of producing, as defined by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 266, Section 102, an "infernal machine." (Etymologically, the term "infernal" refers to Hell and the identities and products of the demons of said residence). So, like Arthur Miller's John Proctor, they will undoubtedly be asked to "make a deal" with official reality, to acknowledge their "infernal" (demonic) specific intent (as defined by the statute) and, in doing so, externalize the demons of the populace as they reaffirm the dominant symbolic order. [3] Contemporary ritual exorcisms will be performed in court, press conferences and press releases, and remixed and expanded by local and 24 hour news media, as they are archived for subsequent use.


Reader comment:

Brad says:

1st: Love your coverage!

Boston repeatedly says "If they had been bombs, they could have done damage"... Must treat them like bombs in this post 9/11 world..

Well... They had been in plain sight for weeks.. One could say "Had they been snakes, they could have bitten people". In this post Steve Irwin world we live in... Anyhow, I think animal control should have been called out. I'm not sure if, instead of, or in addition to the bomb squad.

Previously on Boing Boing:
Mooninite on the Haunted Mansion
Stickers: This is engineering, not bomb-making
State of Massachusetts insists on calling ATHF ads "hoax devices"
Boston LED terror scare: a message to the media
Mark on ABC news about Mooninite devices
Fake pipe bombs found in Boston
Video of Mooninite menaces
Boston Mooninite installer arrested
Boston Channel photoshops Mooninite LED signs
Aqua Teen Hunger Force is the Bomb T-Shirts
LED ad campaign ignites terrorism scare in Boston